Farmer Settlement, Conclusion
Town of Herkimer
Herkimer County, NY

Contributed by BetteJo Caldwell

Alexis L. Johnson, a venerable resident of East Schuyler, Town of Herkimer, contributed historical articles to the newspaper "Ilion Citizen," many of them written when he was in his late 80s and early 90s. His keen remembrances from childhood and young adulthood, and intimate first-hand acquaintance with people mentioned or their close family, provide anecdotal information about early 19th century residents not found in conventional history books. Local residents mentioned in his articles have turned out to be ancestors of many of our regular site visitors. Readers of other of Mr. Johnson's articles posted on this site are well aware of his occasional idiosyncratic sentence structure, punctuation and spelling. Thank you again to BetteJo Caldwell for this latest generous donation from her clippings collection.

Farmer Settlement

Part VI

Alexis L. Johnson of East Schuyler contributes to the Ilion Ctizen,

Friday, March 21,1902

Sixth of Alexis L. Johnson's Historical Sketches - History of the Hildreth Family.

Mr. Johnson announces that the following will conclude his "Farmer Settlement" sketches, although another article will be written giving notes, additions, corrections and explanations of this interesting series of the early history of Farmer Settlement. These papers have contained much history which would have been lost had it not been for the efforts of our ninety year old correspondent and Mr. Johnson is entitled to much credit for his work. His sixth article follows:

Reuben "Hildreth" was one of the first settlers on the upper part of the Settlement. The date of his arrival is not known to them as some of the records have been lost or mislaid. He was born in 1755 in Putney, Vt., and enlisted in the army of the revolution at Chesterfield, N.H. under Capt. Hines and Col. Read and served one year. For this service he obtained a pension under the act of congress in 1818. His wife was Susannah Sanderson, of Lyttletown, Mass., who was born in 1754.

In 1828, Mr. Hildreth told the writer of his first arrival on the farm where his future life was spent. It was a heavily timbered forest through which no axe man's blows had ever re-echoed. He came alone, bringing an axe, a bag of Indian meal, a small kettle, knife, fork, spoon and blanket, in all making a load that required an able man to carry. He found a place to deposit his stores and a lodging place beside a large tree that the wind had torn up roots and all, the roots and log forming a shelter on two sides. Some fine hemlock brush was used for a bed and larger ones was placed on poles for a shelter. Near a brook or spring he began a "clearing." Around a stump he built a small log house that was covered with "hollows and rounds," that is, a hollow basswood tree was cut in suitable lengths and when split in halves they were laid across the logs alternately, one side up and the next turned down. The enclosed stump was the table. This work was all done in the summer time, he returning late in the autumn to his old home. The next spring, he with his wife, returned to his "possession" and began the life they spent on the farm. They moved their few household goods with an ox team and sled, as many of the first settlers did, though no certain record of their moving is extant.

Two sons were born to them, Thaddeus, and Amos. Thaddeus married Betsey Willard, a daughter of Jonathan Willard, and most of his life was spent on the homestead that in his youth he had helped clear off. It is reported that his father had a small axe made for him when eight years old that he used trimming brush.

Six children were born to them. Louisa married Caleb Root and died in St. Lawrence County, N.Y. Nancy married Robert Stuart. After his death she married Joseph Sanderson and died in Farmer Settlement. Hiram married Cynthia Myers, daughter of Henry J. Myers. Both died where they had lived in Farmer Settlement, where their sons, Howard and Frank now live. Jane married George Ellison. They formerly lived at East Creek. He died at his son's in Michigan and she died in Utica. Heman married Sophia Farmer, youngest daughter of John Farmer, Esq. He was a farmer as well as his brother Hiram, both owning farms in the Settlement and dying there. She as well as Mrs. Tena D. Hildreth have been of much help to me. Elvira married Col. Wm. B. Goodrich, who was killed during the rebellion and buried at Canton, St. Lawrence county, where they lived. She married Chauncey Faulkner of Utica for her second husband.

Thaddeus Hildreth held a lieutenant's commission in the 8th Regiment of Artillery, signed by Gov. Clinton in 1814, and went to Sacketts Harbor with the Massachusetts militia. During his life time he built a commodious farm house of two stories near where his father made his bed on hemlock boughs. The Hildreth farm is now a tenant farm and owned by Lewis Mead of Herkimer village.

Amos Hildreth's first wife was Miss _____ Farmer, a sister of Esq. John Farmer. His second wife was Eunice Johnson, a relative of his brother's wife. Little is known of his family. He lived in St. Lawrence county. One of his sons was Reuben named after his grandfather. He married Nancy, eldest daughter of Joseph Kelly, sr. His second wife was Fanny Stearns. Reuben Hildreth and his son Thaddeus acquired a competency which they transmitted to their children and grandchildren, of whom several are now living on the creek road. The daughters of Reuben Hildreth were Phoeba, who was the wife of Samuel Farmer, and Hannah, who married Simon Farmer. The aged father enjoyed good health during a long life of 96 years, but was found dead one morning after rising and dressing, sitting in his chair. His wife died in 1841.

At one time a Dr. Benjamin Hazen lived near the Hildreth and Turtelott farms. The writer knew very little of his family or of his age, etc. We learned from the history of Herkimer county that he was made a member of the State Medical Society in 1806. Two of his daughters were among the people of this vicinity in 1828. One was Elision, who married John Durst, jr., who in a few years left his wife and country. The other, Emeline, married Peter Vosburg of the "Bush" in Schuyler. Both died in a year or two nearly at the some time of a fever, leaving no children. Their graves on the farm were marked by marble slabs, but the farm has had several owners since their burial and the slabs have fallen, lying scattered on the ground that has been plowed and mowed over many years.

Henry J. Myers, who perhaps was not usually considered as a member of the Farmer Settlement, yet he and his family were so nearly connected with it by the marriage of some of the members that we should be doing a injustice to leave them out. We have mentioned some other families that some would not call members of that place. Mr. Myers in his young days worked at blacksmithing as well as farming. He was born at Herkimer or near there in 1777, and a member of the large and prominent family of that name that held various and useful positions in the early political and military history of Herkimer county. He married Miss Nancy Helmer, a daughter of Phillip Helmer, a brave soldier of the revolution, and lived a few years on the west side of the Canada creek, but moved on the farm where he spent most of his life. The farm is now occupied by his grandson, Frank H. Myers. One son, John H. Myers, and two daughters were born to them. Nancy married Albert Taber and Anastine married Ira Farmer. John married Miss Bellinger, sister of Col. F.P. Bellinger. They lived a few years on his father's farm in a small frame house adjoining a log house. Later he bought a large farm west of Mohawk village, building a fine brick house in which the remainder of his life was spent. After the death of his first wife. Mr. Myers married the widow Frank of Fort Herkimer in 1813, to whom were born two sons, George H. and Peter, and two daughters, Mary and Cynthia. George H., born in 1818, married Miss E.M. McKennan. Several children were born to them of whom only Frank H. and his sister survive. George made many improvements on the farm buildings, raising the house another story and making other alterations. He also built a large new barn with basement and set out a fine new orchard, but did not live many years to enjoy his work, dying October 19, 1878. His widow survives and of several children only two remain, who with their aged mother occupy the homestead. Peter married Helen Golden. Mary married Samuel Franklin, who lived at Middleville; both are dead. Cynthia married Hiram Hildreth. They lived on their farm on the creek road.

In the family of Mr. Myers was an aged negro, who had been a slave in one of the older families. The tradition is that he had a wife who was a slave in some family in Montgomery county and when slavery was abolished in this state he made her a visit but returned to his old home. In the winter of 1828-9 the writer boarded some time in Mr. Myers family, and after supper Mr. Myers and wife would sit near each other beside the ample fire place. The negro would replenish the fire, and then from a convenient shelf would get two clay pipes, fill them with tobacco, and lighting them would hand them to his master and mistress. Then his own pipe was filled, and he in the opposite corner would enjoy his "smoke", all making a figure of contentment that was not often seen. The aged servant came to an unfortunate end. In harvest time while riding from the field on a load of grain it overturned and he was fatally injured.

Mr. Myers was a very pleasant man to meet, always greeting his friends with a smile or joke, especially his young friends. He was an industrious and successful farmer. He died April 5, 1861, aged 84 years. His wife died in 1883, aged 94 years.

Early in 1828, the Farmer school district was divided, and a small schoolhouse was built on the land of Mr. Myers, and Miss Mary Pettis taught the first school in it, and the writer taught his first term there the next winter. When a new house was needed it was built near by on the hill at the intersection of the road.

In _____ a church was built not far from the schoolhouse by the M.E. church, also a shed. After several years it fell into disuse, and house and shed have been taken down and the site will soon be forgotten.

Some further additions, corrections, notes, et., will follow these sketches of Farmer Settlement.

Farmer Settlement

Concluding Article by Alexis L. Johnson - Notes and Corrections.

Alexis L. Johnson, the aged Schuyler Historian, concludes his very interesting series of Letters on " Farmer Settlement" with the following contribution:

Nathan Ainsworth who settled in Farmer Settlement, was the sixth child of Nathan and Phebe Kingsley Ainsworth, born January 12, 1772, in Suffield, Ct. He and wife Abigail were married about 1794, before they came hither. Their six children, John, Nathan, Abigail, Belinda, Sophronia and Fletcher were all born at Farmer Settlement. He was a large farmer and stock breeder, owning where the Hildreths are now seated. There were three dwellings. He occupied one near Thaddeus Hildreth's, his son John where Frank Hildreth's house is, and Nathan jr., where Howard Hildreth resides. He sold 200 acres of his farm to his son John, and he sold to the Rev. Simeon Osborn about 1843, and moved to Illinois. The writer knows but little of John Ainsworth's descendants, except that his grand-daughter is the wife of the Rev. Louis Albert Banks of New York City, who is widely known in Methodist circles as an author, lecturer and pastor, having served some of the largest churches in that denomination.

Nathan jr., son of Nathan and Abigail Ainsworth, married Polly Harvey. They had one daughter, Martha, a teacher. He had fifty acres of his father's farm, and built the house now owned by Daniel Farmer's descendants, and put up a steam saw-mill which he operated several years. He was an expert horse trainer. He will be remembered as a singing teacher, conducting singing schools in the surrounding neighborhoods, always accompanying with the bass viol. He was chorister of Osborn Hill church many years, of which he was a member. He moved west in the fifties.

Abigail Ainsworth married the Rev. David Harvey, a Methodist minister. They settled in Wisconsin.

Sophronia Ainsworth married Harvey Farrington. A son Sidney, was born to them. She survived but a few months.

Belinda Anisworth was the wife of Ira K. Harvey of Herkimer. Two sons, Joel and LeRoy, are in the far west. Their son Vernon, a soldier in the union army, was a victim of the horrors of Andersonville prison. He was released, but died before reaching home. He sleeps in the family plot in Herkimer.

The oldest daughter, Mrs. Charles Hopkins, died a few years ago. She had descendants in Utica, Herkimer and Michigan. The youngest daughter, Miss Amanda Harvey resides in Utica.

D. Fletcher Ainsworth, the youngest of Nathan Ainsworth's children, was born December 16,1811, died in Newport, March 22,1901, in his 90th year. He conducted a general store in Middleville and Fairfield, and in 1847 bought a farm near Newport village. A number of years ago he gave up farming and was a resident in town. He married Miss Charlotte Kniffin, who is now 87. Their daughter Louisa, Mr. Gladding Waterman, is a resident of Newport.

Abigail, wife of Nathan Ainsworth, sr., died in the early forties. Mr. Ainsworth, made his home with his son Fletcher afterward, dying in 1863 at the advanced age of 91. They are buried in the old cemetery at Farmer Settlement.

Nine children were born to John and Sophronia Johnson Farrington: Cephas, Betsey [Minott], Pamelia [Carpenter], John W., [died], Almeda [Mead], Wesley, Frances S. [Bailey], Horace and Varmum. John Farrington died 1849, his wife died 1880. Their grandson, Eugene V. Farrington, son of Cephas, has been judge of probate of Fillmore county, Minnesota, the past twenty years. Another grandson, Farrington L. Mead, is editor and proprietor of the Mechanicsville Democrat.

Amos and Aurelia Minott Farrington, moved to Sandy Creek, Oswego county, N.Y., in 1854. He died in 1871, his wife in 1876. Seven daughters were born to them; Mary [Shoecraft], Martha [Sheaf], Sarah [Buell], Nancy [Hazelton], Althesta, who was the second wife of Daniel Shoecraft. Seviah [McGilvry], Frances, born 1834, died 1851. Mrs. Martha Sheaf is the only one now living, aged over 80.

Henry and Betsey Johnson Farrington were the parents of five children; Emily [Jackson], Ira, Mary Jane [Carder], Helen [Pruyne], and Jerome of Utica, the only one now living. Henry Farrington died in 1867, aged 68, and his wife died in 1865, aged 63 years.

The children of Abel and Sally Farrington Simpson of Trenton, N.Y., were Mary [Barhydt], William, George and Sophronia [Hine]. They have grandchildren in Trenton, Russia, Norway, Ilion and Potsdam. Prof. C.F. Simpson, grandson, is principal of one of the schools in Potsdam.

Pamelia Farrington Delong settled in Michigan, dying there. She had one daughter, Carrie.

Polly Farrington, married Mr. Adams of Michigan. They had three children, Sidney, Mary and Elizabeth. The latter spent a number of years with relatives in Herkimer, teaching. She was a fine elocutionist.

Notes and Corrections.

The Pierce family came from Suffield and not Suffolk. Alvin Pierce had one brother, Prosper, born 1780.

Amos Farrington, jr., died in Jefferson county in 1871, and his wife died there in 1876.

Franklin Hawkins was born in Poultney, Vt. in 1810 and died in 1864. As a preacher he was "noted for his short and pointed sermons." His parents moved to Schuyler in 1816.

Dr. Stephen Turtelot was married in 1846, not 1856, and died in 1897, not 1817. His father, Isaac Turtelot, was at Sacketts Harbor in 1814 with the militia.

Isaac Stearns, the ancestor of the Stearns families came from England in 1630. Orson G. Stearns of Herkimer is one of the eighth generation and has furnished material for me.

The errors in the account of the Stebbins family were, that John W. Stebbins was principal of Macedon, not Madison Academy. The inscription on the Stebbins monument should read "corruption" earth and worms, instead of "consumption", etc.

The sulphur spring told of is flowing yet. People often take the hill road to get a drink. The thirsty traveler will find an inverted tumbler hanging on a stake for his use, and a well filled trough for his team.

Lavins, Mrs. Hadcock's name, was omitted from the list of James Farmer's children. She and her husband are dead.

Washington Farmer, the survivor of the triplets, children of Levi Farmer, lived in St. Lawrence county, but has been dead several years.

Washington, son of Luther Farmer survives and is told of in sketch No.5.

Thaddeus Hildreth went to Sacketts Harbor with all the militia that were involved, and the French term "enmasse" was shortened when applied to the militia and they were termed the "mass militia" and the printer understood this wrong and called it the Massachusetts militia.

The writer of these sketches wishes to make special acknowledgment to Mrs. Martha Pierce and Mrs. Katie Farmer for their help.

Mrs. Heman Hildreth, Mrs. Rema D. Hildreth, Frank Myers, the Turtelott brothers at Syracuse and Judge J. W. Stebbins of Rochester have kindly furnished me much material for which they deserve my thanks.

My correspondence shows me that some of the readers of the Citizen have read these sketches and I hope that some will follow my example. A.L.S.

For more about families covered by Mr. Johnson, and other local families, browse through the many original articles and family profiles written by Town of Herkimer Editor Betsy Voorhees.

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Created 10/1/03
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