Early Settlers - Part I
Early history of the town of Hopkinton :
history of East Village (Nicholville) and vicinity,
diaries of Elisha Risdon and Artemas Kent,
soldiers of the Civil War,
genealogical record of sixty of the pioneer families
Carlton E. Sanford
Boston: Bartlett Press, 1903
[Transcribed by Dave Swerdfeger]
Where the Pioneers Settled — The Experiences of some of Them — A Brief Sketch or History of the Farm or Place, with some Interesting Incidents — Pictures of some of the Early and Modern Homes.
As is shown by Mr. Hopkins's old account book there were some thirty men, very many of them with their families, in what is now Hopkinton, in the latter part of the year 1804. Very likely there were a few others whose names we do not know, since they did not happen to open an account with Mr. Hopkins. Those men settled in and about the village, along the road to Nicholville, and southerly up along what soon after became known as the Northwest Bay Road, as far as Jared Dewey's, westerly along the Potsdam road to Joseph Durfey's (Herman Fisher's), and northwesterly to Gaius Sheldon's, on the road to Stockholm, where were their only neighbors. They did not seem to settle southwesterly till about 1810. In Mr. Risdon's story of his hunting trip to Cookham (Parishville) in the fall of 1809 with Amasa Blanchard, he states that the line of road, the St. Lawrence Turnpike, had just been cut out and that there were then no residences along it west of Hopkinton village. A reference to the map which I have prepared of the north part of Hopkinton from the original deeds will show the location of nearly all the settlers of 1803, 1804 and 1805, and for many years thereafter, of those who took the first title. That, of course, does not tell in all cases just where they first settled, as some of them built a cabin, made a little clearing, met with sickness, trouble, misfortune of some kind and sold out before getting a deed. Some of these took up a tract, in another locality, and some became so disheartened that they gave it up entirely and returned from whence they came or went into Stockholm or Chesterfield or Parishville. There are a few men among them of whom I have been able to learn but very little. These are Isaac Sheldon, Eliphalet Hancock, Joseph Delong, Ezra Church, Eli Tomlinson, Luther Bingham and Robert Train.
SETTLEMENT EAST OF THE VILLAGE.
who is next to Roswell Hopkins in importance in the earliest history of the town, since he was the father of the first son of the town and the builder of the first frame house, according to Dr. Hough, took the tract beginning one hundred and sixty rods east of the Chittenden store corner (east end of Reuben Post's Mechanic Lot number eight) and extending on east, taking in what are known as the George H. Brush and Deacon John Sheldon farms. He built a small frame house in 1809, which is part of the George H. Brush house. He died from the kick of a horse at Rupert, Vt., early in 1809 or 1810. His widow married Joseph Brush in 1814. He built over and added to the little frame house of Mr. Sheldon. The children by this marriage were Joseph A. and George H. Brush. Deacon John, son of Abraham, took the east part of the farm, and it is still held by his, widow. George H. took the west part and held it till about 1880, when he sold to Harry Haselton and went to Lamoille, Ill., where he died in 1888.
The story of Mr. Joel Goodell's coming into town with wife in February, 1804, to settle is told by his grandson, John Leach, to whom he often told it with much clearness and certainty. They came in the dead of winter to the cabin already built, a half mile north of the present residence, reaching it after dark and on the eighteenth birthday of his wife, which was the twenty-fifth day of February. She was Lydia Henderson, sister of John, and they were married February 7. What a journey was that for a wedding trip. His father, Ezekiel, came with him on horseback. They came with a yoke of oxen to haul their goods, and drove a cow. The horse got tired out wallowing in the snow when near the cabin, and the men went on ahead, leaving wife, oxen, horse and cow where they were to rest while they built a fire in the cabin, to thaw it out and get it habitable, when they returned and took all to camp. The only food for horse and cattle was some corn in the ear and what they could get by browsing. The floor was made of puncheons, that is, split or hewed out logs. The fireplace was a rude affair with a hole in the roof for the escape of the smoke. He very soon after built a chimney, which improved matters. This was the home to which he came and where he lived for seven or eight years, when he built a log house some thirty rods west of the present brick residence. The British officers called there on some errand at the time they took the flour in 1814. He later built a frame house which his son Joel took down when he built the present brick residence about 1870. The farm extended from that of Abraham Sheldon on the west to that of his brother Samuel on the east and does still. It is held by his granddaughters, Amelia and Mary E.
also built himself a cabin in 1802 or 1803 and a blacksmith shop in the latter year. In all probability he built near to Joel's cabin, though nothing definite can be learned. He soon after built up on the Turnpike where Josiah Smith now resides and had his shop on the east bank of the brook and north side of the road. It was the first shop of that kind between Malone and Ogdensburg. His farm extended east to the turn in the road to enter Nicholville. He was compelled by the British to hitch up his team in 1814 and carry some of the officers to Fort Covington. On his death in 1822 the farm was divided up among the heirs, and in a few years it passed entirely out of the hands of the Goodell family, except the house and a few acres held by the widow. Hiram Mead held the west part of the farm and sold out in 1843 and went to Nauvoo, Ill., to join the Mormons. Mr. Eggleston held that part of the farm next east of Mr. Mead, with his buildings only a short distance west of the Goodell residence. Rev. Seymour C. Goodel bought the old home on the death of his mother, with about twenty acres many years ago, and held it till his death in 1893. The pioneer Goodell built a frame house as is shown by the diary in July, 1815, with a hall on the second floor which was used more or less for school and religious purposes. This house burned down in 1867 or 1868 when the present house was built in 1869 by Rev. Seymour C., which is owned by Josiah Smith.
came early in 1804 and took a large tract south from the village Green and east a half mile to the land of Oliver Sheldon. He also bought other parcels amounting in all to one thousand acres or more. He at once built a log house and opened a hotel. Mrs. Caroline (Sprague) Laughlin, widow of his grandson, T. Harmon, told me that this log house stood on the south end of the Green, which confirms King S. Chittenden's recollection. It stood in the southeast corner of the park. There was a well there which Mr. Chittenden remembers that has been filled. Henry McLaughlin died at Middlebury, Vt., in 1813, and his only child, Thaddeus, inherited the property and continued the business. He married Hannah, a sister of Artemus Kent. In 1808 Roswell Hopkins drew and signed a deed of the present Green to the inhabitants of the town which took in Laughlin's log house. The diary of Mr. Kent states that Mr. Laughlin went to Vermont in 1814 for materials for a house which I feel confident is the present residence. The log house on the Green was probably occupied by Dr. Gideon Sprague from 1811 to 1814, as his daughter so remembers it. Artemus Kent was in partnership with him for three years from 1813. The present residence was long used as a hotel and the front west room as a barroom. Thaddeus W. Laughlin of Fond-du-Lac, Wis., son of Hiram K., a grandson of Henry, seems to be the only survivor of the family. What was left of the farm, some two hundred and twenty-five acres, was sold in 1902 to Silas H. Sanford. I secured a photograph of the old fireplace with swinging crane, bake oven and boiler arch before its demolition by Mr. Sanford, which is given elsewhere. The picture of the residence was taken a few years since by King T. Sheldon and kindly loaned me.
took the farm next east of Laughlin as early as July, 1804. He bought some fifteen acres, the northeast corner of Mr. Laughlin's farm, to enable him to first build near a brook which ran through this lot. His farm consisted of two hundred and fifty-five acres, extending east to Eliphalet Brush, taking in the farms since known as the Dr. J. A. Sheldon, Joseph A. Brush and David F. Henderson farms. All the original farm or tract, except the Henderson farm, is now held by John Hurley. The old house, a cut of which is given, was built by him at a very early date. It is claimed that he built the first frame barn in town, and that all the men, women and children in town were present at the raising. It stood back of the house and was a part of the large barn which burned in 1902. Mr. Sheldon sprained his ankle in 1815, which resulted in the loss of foot. (See diary, June, 185.)
came in 1805 and settled on fifty acres, where David F. Henderson now resides, as his grandson, Norton F. Thomas, informs me. He does not seem to have opened an account with Mr. Hopkins, though his son John did in 1808. If he bought a tract there he must have done so from Oliver Sheldon.
took one hundred acres, the tract next east where his son Jason lived and his grandson, Charles H., now resides. His deed bears date 1804. A cut of the house built by Jason is given. A fuller sketch is given in family records and in the settlement of the town.
evidently came in the fall of 1803 and took the one hundred and fifty acres next east of Eliphalet Brush, where J. T. Canfield and A. A. Hawkins now have farms. He had twelve children, several of whom were grown. He took an active hand in town affairs and was something of a hunter. He went with Mr. Risdon on the trip to Cookham in the fall of 1809. He built and they used a hunting camp south of the Turnpike in common.
took the one hundred acres next westerly of William Brush in 1803, and the story has come down that he selected it on account of the fine springs there and that it was given to him by his brother-in-law, Roswell Hopkins. His son William W., who held it many years, now ninety-two years past, resides at Western, Minn. The farm is now held by Ira A. Murray.
came in 1804 and took a hundred acres up near Jared Dewey's. He was quite active in town affairs, as we shall presently see, but that is all I learn of him. I do not find that he was related to Joseph and Eliphalet Brush, who were brothers. Title was taken to the lot by himself, wife Sarah and one Epenetus Brush, November 24, 1817.
came in 1807 or 1808 and took up a hundred acres on the road adjoining Jared Dewey's. He at once got a cow, and he and the cow moved on to the tract. They lived in the same cabin, partitioned off. He spent several winters chopping and clearing land, and his cow out of sheer lonesomeness would follow him daily to the woods and browse about all day on basswood trees that Mr. Brush felled for the purpose while he chopped, returning at night with him to the cabin. During those first few years Mr. Brush lived at times entirely on bread and milk. The latter he got from the cow, and the bread of a neighbor a mile or so distant. In 1814 he married the widow of Abraham Sheldon and took residence with her on the farm known in late years as the George H. Brush place, now owned by Harry Hazelton. Mr. Brush lived till 1879 and often told his early experiences to King S. Chittenden, Esq., and others.
took the one hundred acres next westerly of Mr. Dewey, which locality was called Independence Hill. Dr. Hough says he came in 1804 or 1805. He did not start any account with Mr. Hopkins till 1807. A Mr. Robert Train did in June, 1804, but I do not find that he took title to any land, nor do I get any trace of him. Horace Train sold out some years later and settled down in Stockholm, near the Edwin O. Phelps place. He later went West where his children had gone, and died at Manston, Wis., in 1876. Harry Train, who worked for Mr. Hopkins, moved into Parishville and had dealings with David Parish at an early date. He later moved into Pierrepont and was the father of ten children, among whom were George H., now living at Hannawa Falls, Asahel, living at Potsdam, and Andrew J., who died at Potsdam in 1899.
took the farm adjoining and southerly of Jared Dewey and Horace Train. It is now known as the Nelson Lindsay farm. He came to town in about 1814. (See sketch.)
took title to the triangular piece between the east bounds of Samuel Goodell's lands and the large tract bought by David Parish (see map), taking in all the south shore of the river at Nicholville for some distance. He built a dam there that year. Eliphalet Brush assisted in its building, and his grandson has memoranda showing his charges for his labor. (See history of East Village.)
SETTLEMENT OF THE VILLAGE.
from what I am able to glean through the mists of near a century, must have lived in several places in the village. His first house in all probability stood on the west bank of Lyd Brook, some sixty or eighty rods south of the cemetery. Considerable has been said as to this cabin in a previous chapter. I cannot help thinking that this was his first home in town, and Mr. John A. Harran so thinks. He had many talks with Artemus Kent and other pioneers on the early settlement of the town, and since he has a very clear memory, his recollections are worthy of much credence. The house in which Mr. Harran resides on the south side of the road and west bank of Lyd Brook was built by Mr. Hopkins. It was certainly one of if not the first frame structure in town, a picture of which is given. Dr. Hough says Abraham Sheldon built the first frame house in 1809. Several elderly people are quite tenacious in asserting that the Harran house was the first, that they have always so understood it. Mr. Harran tells me that Artemus Kent, who came into town in 1808, told him that Mr. Hopkins built and used it as a store for some years. King S. Chittenden can remember its having a large front door of planks spiked together, with a heavy latch and catch made by a blacksmith, which tends to corroborate Mr. Harran's recollection. We know that Mr. Hopkins did keep and sell essential goods, for we still have his old account book. In all probability this was his first store proper and land office. It is pretty evident that it did not continue a store for a great length of time or else that it was used as a store and dwelling combined, since the minutes of the town meeting for 1810 rather indicate that Benjamin W. Hopkins was then residing there, as we know from tradition that he did at some time. The minutes for 1811 also clearly indicate that Roswell Hopkins was then living on the Dr. Sprague lot or near it, since they placed the burying ground near his residence, and we know that it was in the rear of the Goodnow and Sprague lots.
The day his body was brought home from Chazy in 1829 was training day at Nicholville and the company there drilling escorted his remains to his home in Hopkinton, the present Harran residence. Hiram S. Warriner, born in 1823, distinctly remembers it and so informs me. Mr. Hopkins had a family of five sons and two daughters, and still there is no one left bearing his blood and name except Isaac R. Hopkins, Esq., and his two children, in this section. His widow, Mary Armstrong, whom he had just married, soon after took up her residence in the third house north of the Town House known as the Sheals place, where she lived till her death in 1850. She was a sister of Mrs. Abraham Sheldon, Mrs. Willis Warriner, Joseph and Jasper Armstrong, and universally called "Aunt Polly."
came at a very early date, one of the first, as is shown by the place where he first built. He took Mechanic Lot number one, a strip twenty-eight rods in width and one hundred and sixty rods deep, east from the Jacob Phelps place lying on the north line of Islington. His first cabin was built on the rear or east end of his lot, near a fine spring and on the line of the road that was laid out and somewhat worked through there in 1802 and 1803. His cabin and those of Joel and Samuel Goodell, three-quarters of a mile farther east, are the only ones ever built on that road so far as I have been able to learn. The ruins of the cabin and stable and a few old apple trees near by are distinctly remembered by Mrs. Pauline S. Atwood and her sister, Mrs. Caroline M. Landon, who often went out there from their home, though they cannot recall ever hearing who lived there. It remained for Mrs. Orman Beecher to give me the name of the builder of this cabin. She states that her mother was a sister of Mrs. Armstrong and that when she and her husband, Heman Sheldon, came into town to settle early in 1812, her mother stopped there with her sister a week or two while Mr. Sheldon went on to the west part of the town and got his cabin comfortable for her coming. Later Mr. Armstrong built him a log cabin just south of the William S. Phelps place, and in about 1821 sold to Jacob Phelps, who held it till his death. I learn nothing further of the family of Mr. Armstrong.
came to town in 1810 and took the next lot south of Mr. Armstrong, being Mechanic Lot number two, of fourteen acres. His deed bears date in 1813. He married Nancy Armstrong. His son Hiram resides at Knapps Station, N.Y., and of nine children is the only survivor.
who married Waity, sister of Roswell Hopkins, held lot number three, next south. His deed bears date 1809, and his lot of twenty-three acres crossed the road west to Lyd Brook. I learn nothing of his family or descendants.
held the next lot south, extending across the road to Lyd Brook, of twenty-three acres, and his title was taken in 1807. He came to town as early as March, 1804, and at once built a tannery on the bank of Lyd Brook. Mr. Warriner says he can remember the tannery in use and operation. The bark was ground by a horse travelling in a circle. The first town meeting was held in his log house. He seems to have been a worthy and prominent citizen. That part of the lot on west side of the road is now held by Arthur Flanders. I do not learn that any member of his family is now living.
DANIEL HINE, Jr.
and his wife, Imy, took title to Mechanic Lot number five, of nineteen acres, in 1818, east side of road. On Mr. Hopkins's map the name of E. Buckingham is placed on this lot.
REV. H.S. JOHNSON
who was for some years the Congregational pastor, had the next lot south, excepting that Chauncey Thomas had the front or road end of the lot where he lived and had a blacksmith shop. Mr. Johnson also held a lot just east of the church lot.
had the fourth small house lot just north of the Chittenden store corner.
JOHN K. WEAD
held, as shown by the map, a small lot on west side of the road next south of the Seeley lot. The lot, however, was first deeded by Mr. Hopkins to William Brown in February, 1817. It was eight rods in width and he had the right to build a dam not over five feet in height. He was a merchant and had a store for some time on the south side of the road opposite Dr. Sprague's office, as George S. Wright informs me. Mr. Charles W. Leete of Potsdam knew him and shows me a letter from him written in 1837 in New York City during the great panic, or should I say famine, asking for help to get out of the city, describing conditions there as deplorable. He went about among the farmers hartering stoves for cattle, horses, etc. The lot next south is noted on map as belonging to Philip Schuyler, who loaned money to John Thomas and got this lot and the Chittenden store corner by foreclosure of mortgage in 1820. For a few years prior to this Thomas had a fulling mill on the rear end of the lot. This shows that the map must have been made about 1820 or a little later. Mr. Schuyler lived at Rhinebeck, Dutchess County, N.Y. The lot marked L. Knowles was first deeded to Joseph Merrill in 1817. The next year it was deeded to Liberty Knowles of Potsdam, reserving twenty feet off the north side for a public highway. The grantee had a right to build a dam on the brook not exceeding eight feet in height. Ebenezer Frost, Esq., built a dam and trip hammer shop on the rear end of the lot in 1815. (See account of the shop in diary for year 1815.) It was on this lot that Aunt Polly Hopkins lived from 1829 till her death in 1850. Later William A. Sheals lived there for some years, and it has since been called the Sheals lot. It is now owned by V. A. Chittenden. It is one of the oldest places in town, and is thought by some to have been the home of Mr. Hopkins at an early date. A picture is given. The next lot south became the parsonage lot of the First Congregational Church in June, 1827, by deed from Mr. Varick and still is such. The lot adjoining this on the south was held for many years by George Stark and is still called the Stark lot. He had a blacksmith shop on the rear end. The first man to occupy the lot so far as I learn was Hiram Snell, a blacksmith. He was followed by LaFayette Packard, a blacksmith, and he by Mr. Stark. The place is owned by Mr. Stark's daughter.
The lot on the corner just west of the Green was first deeded by Mr. Hopkins to Samuel Wilson, January 20, 1817. He built a house and store on it, as I learn from Mr. Kent's diary, in 1817. Mr. Wilson conveyed the lot to Joseph Brush, April 6, 1820, but his title, like others given by Mr. Hopkins, must have been faulty, since Mr. Varick, who had become the owner of all that was left of Mr. Hopkins's lands, sold and conveyed the lot to Ebenezer Hulburd of Stockholm and Zoraster Culver, June 23, 1827. Prior to this last date John K. Wead kept store there for a time. The house Mr. Wilson built was so low that it had but little or no chamber except in the rear part, which was preserved by Mr. Culver when he came to build and is still the rear part of the residence now owned by Mr. Fred L. Trask. Messrs. Hulburd and Culver kept the store for six years, when the latter bought out the former, giving him $6,000 for the $2,000 he had put in. Mr. Culver tore down the old house and built the present residence in 1838 or 1839. He moved the old store north just west of the church and made a granary of it. He then built a new store on the site of the old one, just north of the house and close to the line of the village Green. Mr. Chittenden on becoming the owner of the property moved this store building to the corner where the stone store now stands. It was then a red building and used as a storehouse for some years. When they came to build the present store in 1868, 1869, it was sold and taken down the road and made into a dwelling. Later it was destroyed by fire. David Daggett was in partnership with Mr. Culver in this store for a term of three years. I get the most of this history from J. W. Culver of West Stockholm, who often visited his uncle when a boy.
CLARK S. CHITTENDEN
came to town about 1821 and at once went into trade. His residence is shown in the background of the picture of the present store. The store building first used by him stood a few rods east of his house, nearly to or quite where his son King's house now stands. He did not trade there long when he built a store just west of and close to his residence, where he did business for many years and most successfully. It stood between the house shown in picture and the present store, which was built by his sons K. S. and V. A. Chittenden in 1868, 1869. The residence of King S. stands just east of that of his father, and that of Varick A. a few rods north of the store building. (See family records for fuller sketch of him.)
DR. GIDEON SPRAGUE
took title to the lot next west of the Culver place, six by thirteen rods, December 12, 1814. He came to town in 1811 and was the second physician to settle there. His daughter, Mrs. Harriet W. Sprague, born in 1819, living at Minden, Neb., writes me that her father first lived in a log house on the Green and that her eldest brother, Frederic P., born September 1, 1814, was born there. Very likely this was the log house built by Henry McLaughlin in 1804. Dr. Sprague, according to Mr. Risdon's diary, sold his ride to a Dr. Mott in March, 1814, but the people, hearing some things objectionable to him, rebelled in a public meeting, and so Dr. Sprague acceded to the people's wishes and remained till his death. He had a little office building which stood on his lot west, well over to the Goodnow lot. It now stands back in the lot on the west line facing the east and is used as a storeroom. Mrs. Sprague further states that her father built the little house now on the lot. Dr. Hough says the British captured some three hundred barrels of flour in the last of February, 1814, from a barn owned by Mr. Hopkins, but occupicd by Dr. Sprague. Mr. Artemus Kent in his diary states the number of barrels to have been two hundred and eighty-six. It would take a pretty good-sized barn to hold that number. Mr. John A. Harran tells me that Mr. Artemus Kent told him that most of the flour was in the old barn now on his place and the balance in a barn over in the village. Now, as his daughter, Mrs. Sprague, says her eldest brother was born in September, 1814, in the log house on the Green, to agree with Dr. Hough he must have been using the barn on the Harran place or on the Dr. Sprague lot. Since he took title to the latter from Mr. Hopkins in December of that year, and since it was much nearer to his residence, and for the still greater and better reason that his daughter says the flour was stored there, I think we must accept that as the place where a portion of the flour at least was stored. All elderly people who have any memory on the subject somehow, though faintly, feel that it was stored in the Harran barn. It has been a very difficult problem to solve, if it be now. Mrs. Sprague seems to be very clear and explicit in her memory of this quite important event in the history of the town. She states that she often heard her father relate the story of its capture and destruction.. As he told it, the flour was in a barn on the lot where he so long resided, that afterwards he (Dr. Sprague) moved that barn back and built another on the old site. There was a lane or alley to the barn along the line of the Goodnow lot. She further says that her father was present at the taking of the flour; that when the British found it they rolled it out to the top of the hill, broke in the heads of the barrels and started them rolling down the hill; that the officer told the people who were about and complaining of such waste and destruction that they could have the flour that did not get out of the barrels, and, as he did so, turned to Dr. Sprague and said, "Ain't I a generous man ?" When the British left town they took with them Dr. Sprague's horse. In later years Dr. Sprague became very corpulent, weighing two hundred and fifty pounds or more. He was a man of a good deal of ability as a physician and in every other way, and took an active part in all town and public matters, as will be noticed by a study of the records. His son, Dr. Fayette P., succeeded him in practice. His daughter, Harriet W. Sprague, of Minden, Neb., is now the sole survivor of his immediate family. The old home is held by her son, Calvin G. Sprague, a cut of which is given.
took title to the lot next west, six rods by ten, in 1819, known as the Nathaniel Goodnow place. (See story of Goodnow tannery for a history of the lot.)
purchased the lot eight by ten rods next west of the Goodnow lot in 1817, where the tannery so long stood and where the butter factory of Trask & Converse now stands. (See story of the tannery for a fuller history of the lot.) In 1815 he bought of Mr. Laughlin what has ever since been known as the Kent homestead, and is now held by his daughter, Adaline S. The wing on the east side was added after his death. The man seated in the picture is his son, Fred H. Kent. (See fuller sketch of Mr. Kent in pioneer records.)
THE HOPKINS HOMESTEAD
is situate on the point formed by the junction of the Turnpike with the Potsdam road. The front part of residence with piazza was built by Isaac R., son of Roswell, many years ago. Isaac R., the present owner, a great-grandson of Roswell, the pioneer, built a large addition in the rear some years since.
appeared in town as early as July, 1807. He took up one hundred and ninety acres a mile south of the village, where he built a sawmill on the westerly side of the road that year or the next. He got a deed from Mr. Hopkins, October 5, 1809, for one hundred and ninety acres at $475. His son, John S., later built a mill on the east side of the road and on the north side of the brook. This went into decrepitude when a mill was built across the stream on the south side, which is still in use by Benjamin Collins. The name was spelled Roburds all through the diary and in all old papers and maps, and is so signed by him to the old town room agreement, and yet in the old Bible it is Roberts, as also in the above deed to him. His grandsons, Ashford and Thurman, never heard of the name Roburds till this record was published. Thurman, son of John S., held the farm till his death in March, 1902, and is now held by his son.
SETTLEMENT OF THE POTSDAM ROAD WEST TO THE EAST BOUNDS OF PARISHVILLE.
first settled on the Potsdam road, south side, a mile west of the village. He bought Mr. Asahel Wright's betterments in and to one hundred and fifteen acres south from the present road, as I learn from a crude old map of Mr. Hopkins's. Mr. Wright was a brother of Caleb and took up this tract very early, probably in 1803, and sold to Mr. Risdon in 1805. Mr. Wright went to Bucks Bridge in the extreme west part of Potsdam, where he settled and prospered, leaving several descendants, among them his grandson, Judson L. Wright. At that early time it was expected that the "Potsdam road" would run some rods southerly of where it does, the final location of which left Aaron Warner and the Asahel Wright lot back from the road, as may be seen by a glance at the map. When Mr. Risdon took title he got that part of the farm booked to Eli Squire which lay south of the road, and thus he got down to the highway. Mr. Warner a few years later bought a part of this of Mr. Risdon for the same purpose. An old, old barn built by Mr. Warner still stands back in the field as a sentinel of early miscalculation. Mr. Risdon's cabin was on a thirty-rod strip adjoining on the east taken from Mr. Hopkins's farm. The ruins of the cellar and fireplace may still be seen just over the roadway fence in the pasture, as also the shallow well a few rods south in the ravine with a stone over it. This now cheerless and dreary place was once a home, and that only eighty years ago. There three little children first appeared in the clearing, romped and played among the stumps and in the bushes, and they, too, have followed their parents into eternal and wakeless sleep. When we reflect that there in the old pasture over that hole in the ground and about that pile of stone once a fireplace in form, a good man and dutiful and loving wife worked hard to provide for themselves and their own, plain and simple in their ways and habits of life, God fearing and daily appealing to him for guidance, generous and warmhearted, nursing the sick and unfortunate of the neighborhood with that gentle and consoling sympathy which seems to be fading away, meeting great trials and hardships with a fortitude we do not now know, with joys and sorrows alternating and vying with each other, is it not sad that the hearth and rooms and walls so dear and sacred in memory's affectionate regard should so soon pass away, disappear, and the very ground become a pasture field ? In viewing these relics of old homes (there are many of them about our highways) I cannot help living again, as I see it, the life of those who there struggled in the cabin, which is sightless and gone like themselves. Possibly it may be irreverent and wrong, but I cannot keep back the inquiry: What does it all mean? What is life, what its object and what its purpose? Since the coming of the pioneers to this primeval forest three generations only have appeared, and yet how vague and indistinctly we see them. Another century and nothing will be known or can be told of them save what may be preserved in some memoranda or record, and to arrest and preserve what is now known and can be gathered is the sole purpose of this humble effort.
Mr. Warner's log cabin was near the old barn now standing, back in the lot a half mile west of the present residence. When the highway was laid out where it is he had no way of getting to it, and so purchased a part of Mr. Risdon's farm, which took him to the road where he built house and barns. On his death the farm passed to his sons, Friend and Lamed, who divided it, the former taking the west part, buying a small parcel of the Seth Abbott farm to get to the road, where he built. On his death it passed to his sons, Clark and. Henry, the latter recently purchasing the interest of the former. Larned kept the home place, and it is now held by his son Stephen. Aaron Warner, I learn in many ways, was a fine citizen and man and most highly respected, as were also his two sons.
engaged in the smuggling business between the settlements and Canada during the War of 1812. He did well for a time, but got caught by the sudden termination of the war with quite a quantity of cattle, etc., on his hands and lost everything he had made and more, as Mr. Zebina Coolidge informs me. His house was on the north side of the road, and whether where Jerome Squire now lives or a little east I am unable to ascertain. He was one of the pioneers of March, 1803. When Mr. Risdon moved over on the Turnpike in 1825, Mr. Squire moved into his cabin for a few years as it was better than his own. His family and descendants have disappeared, except the descendants of his son Asa, who had a sawmill in the woods south of Parishville.
took the farm across the road from the Risdon and Warner farms at an early date, being the Eli Squire farm. Charles Benham afterwards held it when Russell Squire took it, and on his death it passed to his son Jerome, who now holds it. Russell Squire, son of Ashbel, built a few rods west on the side hill, house on south side and barns on north side of the road. The barns are left, but all trace of the house has diaappeared. He moved from here to the Mosher place many years since. Mr. Mosher's first farm in town adjoined Gaius Sheldon's on the east and situate on the south side of the road. A Mr. Chubb held it before him.
took up a large tract next west of Eli, lying on both sides of the road and extending south to the Aaron Warner farm, being lot number twenty-one. The farm of Russell Squire was a part of this. He built his log cabin near where the present house stands near the brook in April and May, 1803. He was one of the first four men to settle in town and much is said concerning him in earlier chapters. His daughter Laura was the mother of Zebina Coolidge, who stoutly affirms that Mrs. Squire was the first woman in the town. On his death the farm passed to his son Ira and daughters. Laurel Coolidge followed for some thirty years, when Charles Macomber became proprietor. On his death it passed to his son Frank, who now holds it.
took the tract next west of Mr. Squire's situate on both sides of the road the same as Mr. Squire's, though a narrower lot. It was lot number twenty. He built his cabin on the east side of the lot close to the brook where he lived some years. No trace of it now remains. When the land came to be more accurately surveyed his log house was found to be on Ashbel Squire's land and so he had to abandon it. He then built the present frame house on the knoll over near Caleb Wright's. He was one of the earliest pioneers and active in town and religious matters. He was a shoemaker by trade and followed that more or less in connection with farming. He was a lame man, using two staffs in getting about, which his only surviving child, Mrs. Lucetta Peck of Pottsdam, has preserved. He sold the farm to Reuben Wells, from whom it passed to his sons Amos and Phelps, and from them to Jefferson Rowell, and from him to Rowell, and from him to A. J. and C. R. Holmes, who now own it and lease it.
HISTORY OF SCHOOLHOUSES IN WESTERN DISTRICT.
The first schoolhouse in this district was a log building and stood between the last house built by Mr. Abbott and the road leading north, on rather low ground. No trace of it remains and its existence had nearly passed from human memory. Mr. George S. Wright can just recall his mother telling him that it stood where I have stated. Joseph B. Durfey and Zebina Coolidge also recall the fact of a schoolhouse on this corner. Artemus Kent taught school in the "west district" in 1810 and 1811, and at this place. Later, but just when I am unable to state, a new frame schoolhouse was built eighty rods west on the north side of the road in Mr. Wright's field. The tide of emigration and settlement setting west, as it always has, this building was abandoned and the present stone schoolhouse on the corner near the Durfey place built in 1840 at a cost of three hundred dollars. The trustees elected April 8, 1839, were Caleb Wright, Phineas Durfey and Reuben Wells. At a special meeting held December 7, 1839, Nathaniel Baldwin was elected in the place of Caleb Wright, deceased. It was also voted to take the northeast corner of S. C. Remington's farm as a "sight" for the new schoolhouse (opposite corner from where it stands). This selection of a site was "recalled" at a special meeting held December 14, 1839, and the matter "deferred" to Gideon Sprague, Thads. Laughlin and Z. Culver. At the adjourned meeting held December 24, 1839, it was voted to build on the northwest corner of William E. Eastman's farm, present site, and to raise five dollars to pay him for the land, to build the schoolhouse of stone twenty-five by thirty feet, walls nine feet high, and to raise three hundred dollars to pay for said building. It was built by Stillman C. Remington. Trustees in 1840, Phineas Durfey, Reuben Wells and Jonah Sanford. Sally E. Mosher taught in the summer of 1840 and received ten dollars and eighty-seven cents. The sum of ten dollars and eighty-three cents was paid to Hart Lawrence for teaching. At a special meeting held in December, 1848, it was voted to get one-quarter of a cord of good hard wood per scholar and to hire a qualified male teacher. William Newton furnished eighteen cords stove wood, two foot, at forty-nine cents per cord. Mary Armstrong taught in the summer of 1865. The old schoolhouse, built sixty-two years ago, has stood very well, as may be seen in the cut, though it was thought best to put an iron band about it some years ago.
came as early as October, 1803, and seems at once to have gone off by himself, taking the farm known of late years as the Philo A. Davis farm. He was a brother of Oliver and Heman Sheldon.
purchased the tract next west of Mr. Abbott at an early date. He soon got the one hundred acres on the opposite side of the road, lot number four, and a little later lot number eighteen west, on the north side of the road. His log house stood where the tenant house does now on north side of road. He built a frame house on the south side of the road, precisely where the brick house now stands. The log house having gone to wreck, his son, George S., in 1857 moved the frame house across the road to where the log house stood, which is still in use. In the same year he built the fine brick residence in which he and daughter now reside, a cut of which is given. At an early date an effort was made to continue the north road south across Wright's farm to the Turnpike, but Mr. Wright defeated it as it would injure or destroy a spring. George S. is the sole survivor of the children of Caleb, and holds the old farm intact, his daughter, Rosa L., living with him.
took up a tract on the north side of the road, opposite Samuel Eastmen's, at an early date, lot number eighteen, and had a log cabin there, of which no trace remains. The well has been filled. He had three small children. His wife sickened and died and, becoming disheartened, he sold out to Caleb Wright and left the town.
took up two hundred acres just west of Caleb Wright, on south side of road, as early as the spring of 1804. His log house stood in the dooryard a little west and north of the present residence. He built the front part of the present house. The diary of Mr. Risdon speaks of the raising of the same, June 15, 1815. The farm passed to his son William and the east half, or part, is held by his son Samuel E. The north end of the west part is now owned by John Leach and the south end by Silas H. Sanford. (See pioneer records for a fuller sketch of him, and see Eastman for picture of house.)
was at least in town as early as March 18, 1805. His account opens with the purchase of twenty pounds of bread and a bushel of wheat. They settled all accounts, December 20, 1806, and there was found due Mr. Hopkins, a balance on lands, the sum of $209. He took lot number seventeen, on north side of road, and a strip off the east side of lot number sixteen. Soon after the road was cut through to Potsdam and there was some travel over it, he opened an inn. After a while he had three log cabins a little east of the present stone house, which latter he built in 1828, a cut of which is given. The celebrated "Old Grimes" was an occasional guest with Mr. Durfey. His son, Joseph B., born in 1811, now living, was the first child born in town after the coming of Dr. Gideon Sprague. He took the farm on the death of his father, and sold to ------ Aikins, and on his death it passed to his son Samuel, who now holds it.
came in April, 1804, and settled for a year or so north of the late residence of Joel Goodell. It must have been on the Moses farm or near it. Possibly Samuel Goodell had already gone up on the Turnpike, and he went into his cabin. He soon moved to a place on the road to Gaius Sheldon's and then to the tract across the road from Phineas Durfey, lot number seven. His cabin then stood a little west of south from the Durfey stone residence. While getting out timber he was killed by a falling tree in 1819. The farm passed into the hands of his son, Stillman C., then to Mr. Asa Miller, then to Mr. Frank Williams, then to George Bushnell, son of Simeon of Lawrence, then to Sidney Taggart, who sold to George S. Wright, and he to Ira G. Preston, and he to Michael, John and Dennis Hourihan, who recently sold to G. H. Morgan.
born in 1792, married Haddassa Post, six years his senior, in 1814, and moved on to the tract afterwards held by Elisha Risdon on the Turnpike. A Mr. Rockwell first took it up, as I learn from an old map of Mr. Hopkins. Probably Mr. Abbott bought his betterments. The autobiography of his son, Rev. Gideon S states that his father first settled about a mile west of Hopkinton village. This place is a little south of west, but applies to it very well in distance and direction. Mrs. Harriet Adsit of Perry, Ohio, the sole survivor of the children of Samuel B states that her father lived there in a log house and that her two brothers and a sister older than herself and a sister younger, Sarah E born in 1822, were born at this place. He sold his rights to his brother-in-law, Elisha Risdon, about 1824 or 1825, when he moved to the farm next west of Phineas Durfey, where he had built a small frame house. Some years later he built the house some forty rods west, a cut of which is given. The east fifty acres of the farm went to his son Reuben, and from him to Rev. Gideon S and from him to Charles Macomber, and from him to John Aikins, who now owns it. The west part of the farm was sold to Silas H. Leach, from whom it passed to his son John, the present owner.
account opens October 20. No year is given. The account contains but a few entries. The next date is November 3, 1806. Between the date of October 20 and that of November 3 is a credit for labor of sixty-one dollars, from which it is evident that the first date must have been October 20, 1805, since he could hardly have earned sixty-one dollars from October 20 to November 3, 1806. He built a log house a few rods west of the present residence of Herman Fisher, in which five of his seven children were born. He built the present frame house about 1825, a cut of which is given. He moved to Troy, Ohio, in 1836. Mr. George S. Wright says he had the reputation of being as honest a man as there was in town and his daughter Alice (now Mrs. Flummerfelt of Grand Rapids, Mich.) as handsome a young miss as the town could boast. Alanson Fisher owned the farm for many years and died there in ------, when it passed to his son Herman.
WILLIAM M. HUMPHREY
had a blacksmith shop in early times for some years near the east bounds of Joseph Durfey's farm, southwesterly across the road from John Leach's residence. The foundation of the shop may still be traced. Some of the timbers are in the highway fence. He sold out in 1840 or thereabout and went west. Nothing has since been heard of him. Eben Squire took the tract on south side of road next west of Mr. Durfey, lot number nine. I notice by the old map of Mr. Hopkins that it was taken up by a Mr. Wilson. It was first deeded to Elisha Risdon. Squire sold to Orman Beecher, who resided there for many years. The place is now owned by John Leach. The house is tenantless and fast going into dissolution.
first settled some twenty rods west of John Leach where he built a log house, and afterwards three-quarters of a mile west, where Michael Conner now resides. No trace of either log house remains. The well at the first place can, I hear, be located yet. Mr. Covey first took up eighty acres on the Madrid road in Potsdam. He soon sold to Myron Buttolph. Oscar Buttolph now holds it. He then took up the eighty acres adjoining this on the south where Leslie Robinson resides. There was only a trail road through there at this time. His son, Gilbert H born in 1805, was the first male child born in Potsdam. Norton F. Thomas lived in that neighborhood and learned these particulars. His daughter Julia married Carlos Humphrey, who had a blacksmith shop at Fort Jackson, and another, Amanda, who married Aaron Vanderker. I have found it impossible to get any trace of either. Mr. Covey and wife both died at this place, as I learn from the diary. The farm has been in many hands since his death. (See sketch in records of pioneers.)
settled on a seventy-nine acre lot, number ten, the last farm on south side of the road in the town. He married Sophronia Eastman, daughter of Samuel, who died in 1839, for want of proper medical treatment, in childbirth. His second wife was Lucina Gray. They went to Chilton, Wis. (See Abijah Chandler family.) His brother-in-law, Roswell H. Eastman, afterwards lived there for a time. The foundation walls, pit for cellar and chimney ruins are still to be seen. The barn built by him is still standing and in use.