Remiscences continued from p 63
On being more particularly questioned, he said that the log cabin excitement of 1840 lay heavy upon his mind; that he had always been a Democrat, ‘dyed in the wool,’ but that his love for hard cider and military glory had led him astray; that his attendance at log cabins, singing puerile songs, was degrading to one of his years, and at that moment was a subject of peculiar annoyance and vexation.
"He was asked if this was the only subject of regret, which attended his review of the past, to which he answered--No, there was something worse; a judgment he once rendered as a magistrate! He stated that a man came to his office, attended by his wife and son, and detailed with great feeling the loss of a favorite dog, which had been shot by a neighbor, and demanded legal process for redress of the injury. The detail of the sufferings and death of the dog produced floods of tears on the part of the complainant and his wife and son, and he remarked that he himself, influenced by the force of sympathy, involuntarily invited on the lamentation. He immediately issued a summons and had the offender promptly brought before him. On his appearance in Court the parties were called. The defendant answered by his counsel, whom the ‘Squire said he disposed of at once, by telling him his peace, as he had made up his mind in the matter, and any remarks from him were unnecessary, and directed the plaintiff to proceed to prove the value of his dog. The witness testified that the value of the dog was $15. ‘I was so fierce,’ said he, ‘to do speedy and exact justice in the premises, that I entered judgment instanter, for the $15, without taking into consideration the wounded and lacerated feelings of the family, for which I should have added at least 10 more!’ At this stage of the preceedings, Judge D-- came in, for the purpose of watching with him also. On being told of the cause of disquiet, he remarked to the patient; ‘I can relieve your mind in this matter; you recollect that I appeared as counsel for the defendant on the occasion referred to, and you would not have me. I was attended by three witnesses to prove that the dog killed sheep, and that he had actually killed one of the defendant’s sheep that day, for which he had shot the dog.’ He then asked-- ‘Do you recollect the defendant?’ The ‘Squire replied: ‘No; do you suppose I would retain the name of a scoundrel who would kill his neighbor’s dog?’ The Judge then mentioned his name, and it turned out that he was a near neighbor, who had recently removed to the village, who had been exceedingly kind to the ‘Squire and his wife during his illness. ‘What,’ said the ‘Squire, ‘is it that good creature who has set up with me so much, who has fed and milked the cow, when the snow was so deep, and has split the ovenwood for PEGGY during my sickness?’ The Judge assured him that he was the man. ‘Judge, give me your hand; do you pledge your veracity that the dog actually killed sheep?’ The Judge solemnly replied ‘It is an undoubted truth.’ Then lying down, he said: ‘It is enough, I now die happy, by ---.’
"In his excited moments he was in the habit of closing a strong expression with an oath, like STERNE’s ‘Uncle Toby,’ though differing from him in using the name of the second person in the Trinity; it was, however, done in such a way and with an earnestness of manner, as scarcely to seem like profanity, and he appeared unconscious of having committed a breach of decorum. Probably in both cases the ’tear of the recording angel blotted out the oath forever.’
"In the morning, when one of the watchers was about leaving him, he asked for a quid of tobacco from a silver box, the gift of a friend, which lay near. It was done, and handing back the box, he said, ‘Take it with you; I give you the box in token of our long and uninterrupted friendship. I shall need it no more.’ Pausing a moment, he remarked, ‘Hand me the box. This is a solemn proceeding and requires some ceremony. Taking the box and rising up in bed, and assuming the dignity of manner which characterized him on occasions which he deemed important, he proceeded-- ‘When I shuffle off this mortal coil, and the last faint flashes of life’s expiring lamp have quivered out their little moment, thy friendly hands shall close my dying eyes, thy tears shall moisten my clay cold form, thy prayers ascending to the throne of Grace, shall waft my disembodied spirit to the gardens of the Paradise of God. When I give the last kick, grab the box, or PEGGY will steal it, by ----.’
"The remark attributed to NAPOLEON, that ‘there is but one step from sublime to the ridiculous,’ was here exemplified. He had previously requested the same friend to select him a suitable burial place in the village graveyard. On being questioned as to location, he said he should depend upon the discretion of his friend in the matter, only desiring ‘a healthy situation and a good neighborhood,’ remarking that he did not want to be buried in an unhealthy spot, and preferred to be near the more respectable portion of the community, as he had no desire to rise with loafers. His friend selected a lot for him, between those of Mr. O--- and Mr. T--, two old friends of his, and when informed of the location, he remarked: ‘It is well, they are gentlemen; I am willing to rise in such company.’"
Railroad Avenue had not been laid out, 40 years ago. It was a mere path or by-road through the commons. Its termination was at Second Street. The barn of MICHAEL BLACK was a few rods northeast of the residence of H. R. LOCKE, and a lane ran past it to a 50 acre farm above, and west of the Canal, where a good proportion of the Depot buildings, the Rolling Mills and other industries, are now located. The ground on which the Depot and the surrounding hotels now stand, was not valuable in market. The advertisement of Mr. BLACK in the Gazette, April 7th, 1832, read: "Fifty acres of land, on the west side of the Canal, under a good state of improvement; also one acre of land on the south side of the above 50 acres, on which is a young orchard of 40 or 50 bearing apple trees. It all lies adjacent to the Chemung Canal, which will be navigable the present year, and to the enterprising holds out advantages worthy of attention." Like many others of that time, Mr. BLACK had the Western fever, and not having the gift of foresight, or second-sight, he did not realize how much he was sacrificing to realize his idea of a home on the prairie.
Between Railroad Avenue the Canal was a depressed, long piece of ground, which looked like the bed of some old water course, and east of Mrs. THURSTON’s Female Seminary terminated in a swamp. It was formerly, we believe, the natural course of Carr’s Creek, which was afterwards deviated to flow towards the River, through the western limits of the City. It has been illustrated by the tendency of the water to take the old direction, flooding the cellars along Third Street and the lots adjacent, how difficult it is to cause streams to take new channels, contrary to those provided by the natural flow or volume of water. By skillful engineering, the difficulty is being somewhat overcome.
JOHN H. KNAPP had the only building on Railroad Avenue, situated just north of Church Street, in the middle of a two acre lot. In the same had been a furnace, which early ceased operations. The low stretch was long considered of but little value, and the lots were though unfit or unhealthy for residences. JOSIAH DUNHAM built the first house on the tract, which was near Church Street, north side. An old couple, FRED and KATE JERVIS, occupied a shanty west of the old Canal basin. FRED, was reported to have been one of the original body servants of Gen. WASHINGTON, and must have been nearly 90 years old when he died. He was a town charge during the later years of his life. Wm. TRIDLEY, a native artist, made a portrait of the antiquarian, life size, and pronounced excellent by all who saw it. It is a grave mistake, that this was not preserved--the likeness of Elmira’s oldest representative, and a memorial of its earliest artist.
Below Main, on Church, there were no buildings except those already mentioned. On the present site of Trinity Church resided ARCHIBALD SMITH, and Dr. URIAH SMITH owned the house which stood where A. C. ELY built his splendid residence, which is now in the possession of J. LANGDON, Esq. The First Baptist Church was built about 1830, and the first Trinity Church, which stood on the southwest corner of Church and Railroad Avenue, two or three years later. The old Cemetery west of the First Baptist Church was the only place of burial until 1831, at the incoming of the Irish Catholics, who were engaged upon the Chemung Canal.
Almost every stone is a monument of the past, when the Valley of the Chemung was, for the most part, covered with a virgin wilderness, and the River took its course around umbrageous forests, amid sylvan scenes and solitudes. The hills, steep acclivities, bristled with sturdy trees and under-growth. It was a fitting place for the sleep of the forefathers, the pioneer settlers of this Western wilderness country, and nobly have their memories been cherished by children and children’s children of all generations. They paved the way and sought places for the smooth and tasteful civilization which has succeeded these late years.
An old pottery stood on the corner of Main and Market Streets. The residence of Rev. P. D. GILLETTE was above Church Street, where DORUS HATCH now resides, and the only building above it was the house of JEREMIAH HALL. On the old farm so long occupied by the late ROBERT COVELL, just north of the College, was a dense forest of yellow pine, extending directly east to the Canal and below the College. These woods furnished the most approved poles for the juvenile fishermen of those days. The young trees grew straight and tall, and when seasoned were light and competent to land the biggest fish in the River. College Avenue was not laid out, and there was no east and west street above Second. This was then outside the village bounds, and in the open country. West of Main, Church Street only extended a short distance, and ended at the western limits of the village. A small house stood in the public square opposite the Cemetery. On the north side of Church Street, west of Main, lived Mrs. STEWART and Mrs. SPARKS; and JACOB DeLaBAR in 1832 built a house on the south side of the street, above the square, and Mrs. FOWLER erected a residence about the same time, on the corner above.
Along the entire length of Church Street, in 1830, there were not many more than a dozen buildings. About the only families who resided on Cross Street, above Main, were those of THOMAS HILL, BENJAMIN VAIL, JACOB DeLaBAR, WYATT CARR, and perhaps one or two others. Market Street ended not far from Main. To the west was the property of ISAAC ROE, about 12 acres in extent, where he then resided; and still further on, the JOHN DAVIS farm, which adjoined, to the east, the lands of the late WM. HOFFMAN.
Elmira, 40 years ago, was a mere country hamlet, a mere cluster of houses in a beautiful Valley of great breadth and capacity, already putting on those interesting attractions, which, during the intervening years, have drawn hither a population of 18,000 inhabitants. Clinton Island was the play-ground for the boys. We have listened with delight to the narratives of the gambols and sports the boys used to have there in the days of the Rev. WM. H. WISNER, of Lockport, (whose father then resided at the corner of Main and Water Streets, in the old building which was so long known as the old Franklin House; this gave place to the elegant modern HIGGINS BLOCK, now occupying the same spot.) It was whole and intact in those days, and a beautiful summer retreat, throughout its entire length. The damming of the River first cut it in two, and the erection of buildings along its banks east of the contracting current against its sides, which are being gradually eaten away, until it now bids fair, in course of time, to be disintegrated and washed over. One by one its forest trees are disappearing, and there is no flood, scarcely, but prostrates one of two of these old monarchs of other days. It is only a question of time, when the whole will be bare, and the last survivor given up to the remorseless axe. Probably there is no remedy now, for checking such ruthless destruction. It must go on, until one of the most beautiful breathing places of the City--one of the emerald gems of our hot summer time--disappears piece-meal before our sight.
The declivities of surrounding hills were little cleared up. Along the road leading eastward above TUTTLE’s Mills, the most had been done, and there were clearings here and there over to Jerusalem. The road past the Water Cure led to several farms three or four miles from the village; but little had been done in cutting down the forest. The markets were too distant to make the products of the soil of much value, and as we have referred, the only two articles of export, wheat and lumber, found distant market down the Chemung and Susquehanna. The strides of the town were wonderful after the completion of the Chemung Canal, in 1832, and thenceforward the village took on active growth, which has never ceased; and during and since the war, the increase of business and population has been quite unprecedented, but the history of the period is easily recalled by those who came here then and are still among our most prominent business men and most honored citizens.
--Our citizens will be more complete, by adding some reminiscences of the early settlers of the Chemung Valley, below the present City. This, being on the direct route of the earliest settlements, was occupied by sturdy pioneers coeval with those who preferred the land around Elmira. The account is taken from a work published by J. B. WILKINSON, in 1840, and is quite interesting:
"To follow now the settlement up the Chemung River: EBENEZER ELLIS settled four miles above the Point, towards Elmira. ENOCH WARNER settled just above the second Narrows; JOHN SQUIRES opposite, on the other side of the River. ABIJAH BATTERSON, on the same side of the River, nearly as high up as Wellsburgh. This little village is on the southwest side of the River, six miles southeast of Elmira. SAMUEL BIDLEMAN settled a few miles below Wellsburg, on the Elmira side of the River, where JOHN BIDLEMAN now lives. Judge HENRY WELLS, of Wellsburgh, is the son of ABNER WELLS, of Orange County, the first settler of the place, and after whom it is called. Between Wellsburg and Elmira, there settled on both sides of the River, ABRAHAM KELSEY, JAMES MITCHELL, a Mr. GARDNER, SAMUEL MIDDAUGH, ABRAHAM MILLER, first Judge, and father of the present ABRAHAM MILLER, LEBEUS TUBBS, from Wyoming, Parson CULVIER--as he was popularly called--a Congregational minister--RUFUS BALDWIN, WM. JENKINS, Esq., from Wyoming also, NATHANIEL SEELY, JOHN and TIMOTHY SMITH, SOLOMON BAVIER, Judge CALEB BAKER, near Elmira, LEBEUS HAMMOND, Esq., a little down the River. Mr. HAMMOND was the only person that made his escape, of 14 that were set down in a circle to be tomahawked by the Indians, after the great defeat at Wyoming. On the evening after the battle, the Indians, after their custom, set them down in a circle, a great number standing guard around; they then commenced the deadly work with the man sitting next to Esq. HAMMOND. But no sooner was this first one knocked in the head, and fell back, than he sprung and passed the ring, a volley of hatchets being thrown at him. He, however, cleared them. It is stated in a manner to be depended upon for truth, that Queen EASTER, a celebrated squaw, who has already been spoken of, was the person appointed to execute the work of death upon these 14 men; which she achieved with as much adroitness and coolness of blood as any of their warriors would have done. Her place of residence was at Tioga Point. The soldiers of SULLIVAN’s army having heard the part she took in that massacre, contrived, as they passed through the place, so to dispose of her as to leave no trace of her existence behind. At least, this is the supposition, as nothing was found of her afterward.
"Mr. HAMMOND was captured the second time. Having business about 12 miles from home, he set out under circumstances of some apprehension, at least according to the feelings of his wife, who had gloomy forebodings as to his safety. The particulars of his capture have been received from a gentleman residing in the immediate neighborhood of Esq. HAMMOND, and well acquainted with him in his lifetime:
"Sometime in March of 1781, Mr. LEBEUS HAMMOND, a citizen of Luzerne County, left his residence on the Susquehanna River, a few miles above where the village of Wilkesbarre now stands, in search of a horse which had strayed from him. HAMMOND directed his course up the River for the distance of about 10 miles, to a place he had formerly lived, where he expected to find his horse. According to his expectation he found his horse, and after making a bridle of hickory withes, he proceeded homewards. When within about five miles of his residence, he came to a clearing, where he found a Mr. BENNETT and his son logging, with two yoke of oxen. He stopped and conversed with them until the declining sun warned him that it was time to be on his way. He left them, but had gone little more than a mile, when he discovered several moccasin tracks in the road; he became alarmed, fearing that there was a party of Indians at hand. He stopped and listened, but could hear nothing; he then proceeded at a brisk trot, expecting every moment to have his horse shot from beneath him, and had gone but a few hundred yards from where he had seen the tracks, when two Indians sprung from behind a large tree, seized his horse by the bridle, and dragged him off the back of the affrightened animal. After a short consultation in the Indian tongue, which HAMMOND did not understand, they led him some distance into the woods, and fastened him to a tree with his hands tied behind his back.
"In this situation they left him, and were absent nearly an hour when they returned, dragging with them BENNETT and his son, having been joined in the meantime by four more Indians. The Indians appeared rejoiced at having taken BENNETT, who, it appeared had been their prisoner once before, and had escaped. They immediately commenced their march up the Susquehanna River, making BENNETT carry all the baggage they were in possession of; and traveled 13 miles that evening, to where they encamped in an old building, situated near the River Bank. The Indians were destitute of provisions, and the prisoners, though very hungry and faint, traveling with the burdens which they had heaped upon them, were compelled to lay down without receiving a morsel to eat. When they were preparing to lie down, the old Indian, who appeared to be their leader, went to the woods and cut three long poles, and then ordered the prisoners to lie down on a blanket which had been spread on the floor of the cabin; he then laid the poles over the prisoners, when three of the Indians laid down on each end of them, in order to prevent the escape of their prisoners. In this distressing situation they passed the night. They remained at this place until about 10 o’clock in the day, when a party of Indians came in canoes from the opposite side of the River, and took them over. When they reached the shore, one of the party which met them gave each of the prisoners a large piece of jerked venison, which they devoured eagerly, having eat nothing for nearly two days and a night. They left the large party here, and proceeded up the River shore all that day, and at night they encamped on the River bank; and the prisoners were secured in the same manner they had been the preceding night, and without giving them anything to eat.
"The next morning they commenced their march, still pursuing the course of the River; about 10 o’clock the sun shone quite warm, and melted the snow which still remained on the mountains, and raised the small streams which they had to cross to a great height, but they braved all difficulties and persevered on, and late in the afternoon they arrived at a creek, which the Indians called Mashoppin, where the Indians killed a deer, which they skinned and carried the meat with them. The creek was swollen very much by the water which had run off the hills during the day, and they were compelled to go up its bank for several miles, before they could get across it. After they had reached the other shore, they proceeded down the same, until within ½ a mile of its junction with the Susquehanna, where they encamped for the night. After a fire had been kindled they seated themselves around it, and were roasting the venison which they had got this day, when the leader of the Indians, who spoke tolerably good English, commenced a conversation with HAMMOND, and told him that he had expected to meet a largy party of Indians at that place, but as they were not there, he supposed they had encamped higher up the river. He then asked HAMMOND various questions concerning the war, such as, did he think there would be peace? and stated that he had understood that the white men wished to make peace with the red men; and whether he had ever known Lieut. BOYD? HAMMOND told him that he was intimately acquainted with him. The Indian then went and got a sword that lay a little way from where they sat, and drew the blade out of the scabbard, and with a smile of triumph said, ‘There’s BOYD’s sword!" HAMMOND took the sword out of the hand of the Indian, and discovered the initials of BOYD’s name stamped on the blade near the hilt. HAMMOND then gave the sword to the Indian, who appeared careful to return it to the place from which he had taken it, and returning again to HAMMOND, said, ‘BOYD a brave man, he as good a soldier as ever fought against the red men;’ and this HAMMOND supposed the savage well knew, for he had previously told him that he commanded the party of Indians that had massacred BOYD and his band of heroes, which consisted of 24 men, but one of whom escaped the hands of these merciless savages. BOYD, he stated, had been sent out on a scouting party by General SULLIVAN, when he and his party met them, and the bloody conflict ensued. We took BOYD prisoner, continued the Indian, and put him to death, by cutting off his fingers and toes, and plucking out his eyes; but still brave BOYD neither asked for mercy nor uttered a complaint. He related to HAMMOND the manner in which Yost, a friendly Indian, who acted as a guide for BOYD, had been put to death, which was much more barbarous and cruel than that inflicted on BOYD.
"HAMMOND sat in silence during all the time that the savage was relating the story of the massacre, knowing that it would be death to him to expostulate or express his detestation of the hellish deed, but his bosom burned with rage, and he uttered a silent prayer to Him who rules the destiny of all, that means of revenging the murder of his countrymen might be placed within his reach.
"Here the Indian ceased talking to HAMMOND, and ordering the prisoners to lie down, they were fastened in the same manner they had been the two preceding nights. About midnight the wind shifted to the north, and it became so intensely cold that HAMMOND and his companions in captivity nearly perished. At day-break the Indians loosened their prisoners and ordered them to kindle a large fire, and one of the Indians was set as a guard, whilst the other five laid down again and fell asleep. The Indian who had been set as a guard got the head of the deer which they had killed the preceding day, and with a spear held it into the fire to roast, and threw a blanket over his head and shoulders to shelter him from the north wind. After they had kindled a good fire and warmed themselves, HAMMOND asked leave for him and his companions to go to the Creek, which was but a short distance off, to wash, which the old Indian willingly granted. When they were done washing themselves, HAMMOND says to BENNETT, ‘My friend, now is the auspicious moment for us to effect our liberation from these barbarians; such a favorable opportunity may never again offer, and you have already seen enough to convince you that you will be put to death.’ BENNETT unhesitatingly agreed to make the attempt; it could only be death, and that he expected if he remained with them, and he might as well perish in at attempt to regain his liberty. The great matter then was to deceive the old Indian so as to prevent him from discovering their intention and giving the alarm to his savage comrades. To effect this, HAMMOND was to place himself at the opposite side of the fire from the old Indian, and engage him in an earnest conversation, whilst BENNETT and his son were to come up behind him and seize the guns and spears; the blanket which the Indian had thrown over his head would prevent him from discovering them. The arrangements were now completed. BENNETT stood ready with a spear to terminate the existence of the old Indian, who had been set to watch them. HAMMOND stood prepared to leap over the fire the instant the blow was given, and lay hold of the tomahaws which lay near the heads of the savages, and with them to aid in despatching the other five; whilst the boy stood ready to seize the guns, and render all the assistance in the conflict he could.
"The signal was given, and BENNETT drove the spear completely through the body of the old Indian, who sprang entirely over the fire and drew the spear out of BENNETT’s hand, uttering a most terrific yell. HAMMOND sprang over the fire, seized the tomahawks, and prepared for the work of death. The Indian who had the command of the party that massacred BOYD and his men, was first on his feet and gave the savage yell, ‘chee whoo! chee whoo!" when HAMMOND buried a tomahawk in his brains, and he fell headlong into the fire; the next blow he made, he struck one of them on the side of the head immediately below the ear, who also fell into the fire; and at a third blow he buried his tomahawk between the shoulders of a savage, who, on receiving the stroke, made such a sudden leap that he forced the tomahawk from HAMMOND, and ran some distance with it sticking in his shoulders. BENNETT, having lost his spear at the commencement of the affray, had seized a gun and despatched one of the Indians by beating out his brains with the butt of it. Not one of the Indians would have escaped, had it not been that three of the guns were empty; three of them having fired at a deer the day before, and had not re-loaded their guns. This rendered the boy almost useless in the struggle; he having made three attempts to shoot, but had unfortunately got hold of an empty gun. One of the Indians escaped unhurt, and the one wounded between the shoulders crept away and hid himself. They then gathered up the blankets, guns and sword, and threw every thing else into the fire; and in their hurry they neglected to save any of the venison to take with them.
"They immediately commenced their retreat, directing their course up the Mashoppin, and at the distance of three miles from the place from which they had started, they waded the creek, taking the boy between them to prevent him from being swept away off by the stream, which had risen considerably during the night, and was very difficult and dangerous to cross. The morning was extremely cold, and they had proceeded but a short distance until their clothes were frozen stiff, which rendered it very laborious and uncomfortable for them to travel. On their way home they kept behind the mountains and a considerable distance from the River, fearing that they would be pursued by the large party of savages, which one of the Indians had informed HAMMOND were in the nationhood. The weather continuing cold, the snow, which was still of a considerable depth behind the mountains, was frozen hard enough to permit them to walk on the crust without falling through. This, whilst it enabled them to travel much faster, rendered it almost impossible to track them. On the evening of the 6th day after they had been taken by the savages, they arrived at home, to the great joy of their families and neighbors, having traveled three days without a morsel to eat.
"Lieutenant BOYD’s sword, which HAMMOND had taken from the old Indian, was some years afterwards presented by him to Col. JOHN BOYD, a brother of the deceased.
"Several years after the bloody transaction which had taken place on the bank of the Mashoppin, at an Indian treaty held at Newtown--the same that we speak of as taking place in 1790--HAMMOND saw the old Indian he had wounded in the shoulders with a tomahawk, who walked with his head bowed down in consequence of the wound. HAMMOND, who was not altogether convinced that he was the same Indian, and not wishing to make himself known to the savage--if he was the same--requested a man named JENNINGS, to ask the old Indian the cause of his neck being so crooked. JENNINGS watched him, and an opportunity presenting itself, he asked the old savage the question, who promptly replied, ‘a d---d Yankee tomahawked me at Wyoming!’ This answer fully satisfied HAMMOND that he was the same Indian he had wounded at the contest on the bank of the Mashoppin.
"Mrs. HAMMOND herself was taken prisoner, and was among those who traveled through the wilderness called by them ‘the shades of death’, to the Delaware River.
Below Wellsburgh, and on the same side of the River, within the distance of six or eight miles of the village, there settled a Mr. McKEEN, the father of Mr. McKEEN the United States Senator, EBENEZER GREEN, ABIJAH BATTERSON, SAMUEL WESTBROOK, ELIAS MIDDAUGH, GREEN BENTLEY, near Wellsburg, after whom Bentley Creek was named, ABRAHAM BENNETT, ASA BURNHAM, ABIEL FRY, THOMAS KENNEY; Elder JOHN GOFF, who was the first minister of that region, was of the Baptist order, and a useful man in his day. He came from Wyoming, and settled on the Chemung Flats in 1786. The BALDWIN family settled about the same time, opposite Wellsburgh. JOHN HILLMAN came about the same time, and settled a little lower down.
"The person who first broke the ground for civilized settlement, in the region which was destined to embrace the village of Elmira, with its suburb neighborhood, was Col. John HENDY. He was of New England origin, and emigrated thither from Tioga Point in the year 1788. A few years previous to this, he had moved from Wyoming. The place of his settlement was about two miles above the village, on the banks of the Chemung. He lived in his primitive style, in a double log house, retaining the manners and bearing of the generation that has just gone by, of which he was the happy representative. He was highly esteemed in the village and its vicinity, as a surviving hero of the Revolution, as the first pioneer in the settlement of the country, and as the friend, the paternal friend, of the generation that has grown up around him.
"The second person who made a permanent settlement within the range of Elmira village, was JOHN MILLER, afterward first Judge of Tioga County, who also settled immediately upon the banks of the Chemung, upon a farm afterward occupied by Capt. PARTRIDGE. THOMAS HENDY, a relative of the Colonel, was the third. In the same year, and in the following, (1789,) there came several families and settled on the south side of the river, now called Southport, and connected to Elmira by a bridge.
The same year, it appears, in which Col. HENDY settled on the Chemung, that section of country was surveyed by gen. JAMES CLINTON, Gen. JOHN HATHORN, and JOHN CANTINE, Esq., as Commissioners on the part of the State, and the land estimated and sold at 18 pence per acre. But a little previous to this, Judge GORE and Gen. SPALDING, from Tioga Point, rented the lands lying between the Pennsylvania line on the south, the pre-emption line on the west, the two Lakes on the north, and the Chemung Narrows on the east, for 99 years. Whether this transaction was recognized by the Commissioners, is not known.
"In the year 1790, Elmira was signalized with the presence of between 11 and 1200 Indians, who had met from various and distant parts of their wilderness country, for the purpose of holding a treaty with the United States. The distinguished TIMOTHY PICKERING was the principal negotiator on the part of the Government, and GUY MAXWELL acted as his Secretary. On the part of the Indians there were their most distinguished Chiefs, such as RED JACKET, CORN PLANTER, BIG TREE, and others, to watch over, elucidate, and defend the waning interests of the several tribes.
"In 1792, NATHANIEL SEELY built the first frame house in the village of Newtown, or Elmira, MOSES DeWITT, the year previous (1791), laid out the village of Elmira; and in honor of whom the village was first called De Wittsburg. For some reason it soon changed its name to that of Newtown; this name it changed to that of Elmira.
"In 1797, the village was honored with no less a personage than LOUIS PHILIPPE, the present King of France, with two French noblemen accompanying him; the Duke de NEMOURS and the Duke de BERRI. They came on foot from Canandaigua, with letters of introduction from THOMAS MORRIS, to HENRY TOWER, Esq., who then lived in the village of Elmira. Mr. TOWER, after his distinguished guests had tarried some number of days under his hospitable roof, recruiting their weary limbs, and enjoying the social parlance of their hosts, took them in a boat he fitted up for the purpose, down to Harrisburg.
"Southport, which is a beautiful and extended plain, on the south side of the Chemung, and the central part immediately opposite Elmira, was settled, as has been just stated, the first and second years after the settlement of the north side, by Judge CALEB BAKER, who still lives upon the sod that received its first cultivation from himself. JOHN and TIMOTHY SMITH, SOLOMON BAVIER, LEBIUS HAMMOND, Esq., WM. JENKINS, Esq., still living. RUFUS BALDWIN, still farther down the River, Parson CULVIER, a Congregational minister, LEBIUS TUBBS, the father of Mrs. HAMMOND, Judge ABRAHAM MILLER, and SAMUEL MIDDAUGH; whose names have been mentioned before.
"This plain, it should be stated, had, previously to its settlement by the whites, been cleared--so far as they clear land--and cultivated by the Indians. When Gen. SULLIVAN passed up on his expedition, he found it covered, in immense patches, with growing corn, from Post’s Corners to beyond Elmira, a distance of five miles or more. The destruction of this corn occupied portions of the army for several days.
"In corroboration of that which is said to have given rise to the Indian word Chemung, as appropriated to the River of that name, Judge BAKER relates, that a few years after his settlement upon its plain, he was passing up or down the River in a canoe with one or two others, and at the shore, near what is called the Second Narrows, when they were about to disembark, there was observed, under water, something protruding out of the bank, looking like the root of a tree. It was spoken of as a curious root. Judge BAKER requested one of the men to get into the water and examine it; and, if possible, to draw it out or break it off. It was soon found to be no root. Their curiosity was increased, and all got into the water to wrest it from the bank, in which it was partly embedded. They succeeded in getting it out, and found it to be a perfect, though an immense horn. It measured from one extremity to the other, nine feet in the curve, and was six feet, measuring in a straight line. It was somewhat corroded by time, though not enough to materially effect either its form or coherency. As not much attention could then be paid to curiosities, it was negligently left at a blacksmith’s shop, for a long time. Judge BAKER intended to have it taken care of, and to have it examined, if practicable, by some competent naturalist. It was left at the blacksmith’s shop, as nearly as the writer can recollect, to have a band put around, where it was split. After a while, the horn was missing. The blacksmith having an opportunity of disposing of it for a paltry sum, sold it to a pedlar; and it was taken to some of the New England States, and has not heard of since. A Capt. McDOWELL, who was taken prisoner by the Indians, and some time with them, saw pieces of a very large horn, which the Indians said their fathers had found in this River, and therefore gave it the name of Chemung--which signifies Big-Horn. Capt. McDOWELL, who saw the horn found by Judge BAKER, said he had no doubt but the two belonged to the same animal. Of what species that animal was, is for learned naturalists to determine.
"Among the early settlers of the village of Elmira, may be mentioned DANIEL CRUGER, who opened the first store; CORNELIUS Low, and his partner JACOB EMMONS, who were merchants also, and simultaneous with Mr. CRUGEL, JOHN KONKLE, Esq., the first Postmaster, and afterward, it is believed, was State Senator; B. PAYNE, who was afterward Judge. Judge PAYNE in company with WM. DUNN, built the first grist mill in the village neighborhood; JOHN STONHER, whose avocation is not now known; PETER LOUP, an attorney; VINCENT MATTHEWS, who was considered in those early times the first lawyer in the place; JOSEPH HINCHMAN, who was the earliest physician settled in the village; WM. MILLER, an early trader with the Indians; NICHOLAS GALE opened the first tavern; and last, though not least in importance, SIMEON R. JONES was the first settled minister.
"These few founded a present village, but a prospective city; whose thousands of inhabitants, in their successive generations, are to reach down, in all probability, through the millenium to the latest age of the world."
KLINE, the original owner and proprietor of the Kline House, kept the Ferry at the foot of Conongue Street, and the circumstance of the old gentleman’s habit of answering the cry of their wishes to ferry across-- "over, over;" "directly, directly"--the latter became by-words, indissolubly connected with the recollection of the old gentleman as among the aged residents at the present day.
The Kline House was probably the first hotel ever kept in Elmira, located near the bank of the River, about the termination of Conongue Street, a narrow street running between it and the River. The landlord was STONER. The next hotel was kept on the corner of Water and Lake Streets, first by WM. DUNN, and afterwards by JOHN DAVIS. DUNN was only a short time a landlord, having moved from Bath, where he had resided as Sheriff of Steuben County. He had lived there a number of years, and engaged in prosperous business. He married his wife here, having made her acquaintance in Elmira. She had two brothers by the name of SAYER, and a brother-in-law named CONKLIN, at Horseheads, where their descendants still reside. He lost his property at Bath by loaning and endorsing, in one instance $13,000. He came to Elmira before his residences at Bath, and traded extensively with the Indians. He was in the hotel here but a short time, and died of fever. DAVIS had been a bar tender in the hotel, and had been entrusted with the general business, and in due time married the widow. He kept it until 1847, when he died, and the next year the building was torn down to give place to the block recently burned, and now again replaced by the fine stores just finished by Judge JAMES DUNN. There was a low log tavern, also, below the site of the old Kline House. The landlord was one GRANGER.
There was another tavern on the site of the present Union Block, kept by "JIMMIE" BROWN, the father of JOHN BROWN, a hatter, who still lives here. Next was the Masonic Hall, with a tavern in the under part, which was kept by ELISHA BUNDY. Its location was on Water Street, about opposite BRINK’s News Room. It was a large three story wooden building. The Mansion House was afterwards located where the Hathaway House now stands, which became celebrated under the auspices of ELIJAH JONES. SILAS HAIGHT was his successor, in 1840. He was a merchant at first, then became a landlord. He was burned out twice. After the first burning, another wooden structure was put up. This was burned, and the present Hathaway replaced it, on the same ground.
The old Eagle Tavern was on the site of the present Rathbun House. This was built by a company, in 1832 or 1833. The first landlords were GAMBLE & HESS. They were succeeded by WEBB, who, during the temperance movement of 1842, by the Washingtonians, banished liquors from his bar. This reform pervaded the community extensively, but unfortunately its beneficial results were marred b a return to the old customs of society. The Eagle burned in July, 1850, and was revived in the present magnificent Rathbun.
SILAS HAIGHT came here April 20th, 1836, and engaged in the mercantile trade of the firm of HAIGHT & HOLMES. He was afterwards Superintendent of Chemung Canal Feeder during 1838-9. In the early part of the latter year he took the old Mansion House, formerly kept by E. JONES. He remained here until the Fall of 1841, when E. JONES returned, and HAIGHT transferred his quarters to the Eagle Tavern, and remained there until 1844, in the Fall, when he bought the old Mansion House and went back. In 1849 he took down a portion of the old building and put an addition in the shape of the present Hathaway house, fronting on Market Street. On the 16th of February, 1850, it burned--the work of an incendiary. It was re-built in five months, and finished and opened in December of the same year. He remained until 1862, then went in the Army as Quartermaster of the 141st N. Y. V. He came back in 1863, and bought out the Arbour. That was burned and he transferred his quarters to its present location, opposite the Union Block. At the first fire he lost $15,000, aside from insurance, including coaches and horses for the line of stages to the head of the Lake. At the second, his loss was $8,000. On the 1st of January, 1868, he sold out his Arbour interest, and is back again in the old place--formerly Haight’s Hotel, but now the Hathaway.
The Eagle was taken by BRAINARD, after HAIGHT left it. Soon after it burned, BRAINARD re-built it. It was finished in about a year after, and for the most part, with some additions, remains the same as now. The landlords since will be recalled easily by those who are conversant with Elmira for the past 10 years. Its recent renovation, by its owner, Mr. J. T. RATHBUN, makes it one of the largest and best hotels in the State.
OLD COACHING DAYS.
One of the oldest stage proprietors in this Valley, still survives--Gen. WHITNEY GATES, who came here in 1825. ALFRED GRANGER, the landlord of the Kline House, succeeded TETER, and ran a two horse line between Wilkesbarre and this point. Afterwards, JOHN DAVIS, the landlord of the famous DAVIS Tavern, at the sign of the "Blank Horse," started a line between here and the head of the Lake. Next after DAVIS, COOLEY, MAXWELL, MAGEE & Co., established lines all over the adjoining country--West to Bath, South to Williamsport and Northumberland, East to Owego, and North to the head of the Lake and Geneva. Gen. GATES, during the first few years of his coming into the Valley, worked two or three years with SAM. BOYER, at Big Flats, at arking and rafting down the River to Baltimore, and he afterwards worked with a brother of SAM. BOYER, PHILIP BOYER, who kept a lumber yard in Philadelphia. After leaving BOYER, Gen. GATES went into the employ of COOLEY & MAXWELL, superintending the stables and stages at this point, and drove seven years or more on the Williamsport route. He soon went into the livery business, buying out the stock of BILLY P. RANDALL, of Cortland, who, upon losing his wife, left there and started the livery business here. About 27 years ago he took J. DAVIS BALDWIN into partnership. His first stage contract to Williamsport, which he secured by making the lowest bid. He kept this up, getting the contract each four years, until the building of the Williamsport Railroad. He also, in partnership with LEWIS and CHARLES MANNING, secured the line between here and Owego. LYMAN MILLER had first got the contract in REXFORD’s name, as his agent. He died here, and upon the sale of the teams and coaches, Gen. GATES bought these in. The route was kept up by MANNING, GATES & FISH, of Bath, during the building of the Erie Railway. GEO. HAMILTON, of Port Jervis, now became a member of the firm. COOLEY & MAXWELL failed in their staging business, and the stock was sold out, coaches, harness and horses. MANNING, GATES, FISH & HAMILTON, then took the route to Bath, making a thorough line between Owego and that point, and continued to run it until the railroad was finished.
Between here and the head of the Lake, after the failure of COOLEY & MAXWELL, there were several opposition lines, which ran their coaches neck and neck, almost the entire distance. It was one of the best paying routes in this section, the receipts of all the opposition lines averaging $4,000 per quarter. Gen. GATES sold out his interest in the Bath route to LANDER SEYMOUR, of Corning, two teams and coaches. COOLEY & MAXWELL ran the stage route to Jefferson until HARRISON’s administration. On their failure, J. DAVIS BALDWIN bought out their whole interest, coaches, horses, and fixtures. He ran it seven years. He then sold to SLY & McGRATH, and they kept it about a year, when the Railroad was finished to the head of the Lake. The stages connected with a steamboat on the Lake--the old "Dick Stevens." An opposition was put on, after the Railroad reached this point, by a man named HAMILTON. HAIGHT was concerned in the SLY & McGRATH contract. BALDWIN also bought the Ithaca route, a three-times-a-week mail, of COOLEY & MAXWELL, and ran that seven years, when he sold to SLY & McGRATH, who continued it until the contract expired. BALDWIN had an interest with Gen. GATES in the Bath and Williamsport routes.
These lines employed the best Concord coaches, and the finest horses elegantly caparisoned for the road. The lines to Bath, Owego and Jefferson, were daily, and those to Williamsport and Ithaca, tri-weekly. Gen. WHITNEY GATES, the veteran proprietor of these old staging lines, still lives, although infirm, and at present confined to his house. The contract of carrying the mails between the Post Office and Depot has been awarded him since the Railroad was opened to this City. There is now scarcely a vestige left of those old coaching days. Stages, horses and proprietors have vanished, and soon these coaching reminiscences will read like tales of the Arabian Nights.