Profiles of Some Town of Warren Residents
Contributed by Steven Knight
From the book "Richfield Springs and Vicinity" by W. T. Bailey, published 1874.
(This book is about the Village of Richfield Springs, Town of Richfield, Otsego County, New York and surrounding areas. - ed.)
The Andrustown Settlers
Allusion has already been made to the ancient "German Settlement", in the north part of the town of Warren, known as "Andrustown". One cannot but contemplate with interest this little colony of seven families, subsisting through many years upon the small area of land from which they had cleared away the forest, the dark primeval wilderness shutting them in on all sides. Let it be born in mind that we write of a period long before the Revolution; anterior even to the "Old French War", before the adventurous New-Englander had turned his attention to the wild solitudes of Central New York. For the Andrustown colonists the nearest point of civilization was the German settlement at Herkimer (then German Flats), nine miles distant, and only accessible by an Indian path.
From the hostile incursions of the French and their barbarous allies, the savages, these settlers were in constant danger; and when, in 1756 and 1757, these enemies overran and devastated the "German Flats", the Andrustown colonists shared the dangers and sufferings of their countrymen in the valley. A letter published in the "New York Mercury", of May 22d, 1758, being a relation of a murder committed at the "German Flats", near "Fort Herchamer", by about "80 Indians and 4 Frenchmen" states as follows: "About 3 o'clock, most part of the inhabitants, having notice from Captain Herchamer, left their homes, and assembled at the Fort. Four families, that fled from Henderson's purchase (Andrustown) in the spring for fear of the enemy, could not get in, and had in their houses two Indian traders, of the name of Clock, and six wagoners that were carrying Captain Gage's baggage to the Fort. At 4 o'clock, all of a sudden, the houses were attacked; and the wagoners, being surprised, ran up stairs the better to defend themselves. The Indians immediately rushed into the house and killed and scalped all that were below; some of the Indians attempted the stairs, but were knocked down by the wagoners; they then fired up through the loft, and soon were joined by more Indians, who fired many shots quite through the house, and proposed to set it on fire, which intimidated John Ehel, a wagoner, to such a degree, that he leaped out at a window, thinking to make his escape, but was soon killed. The other five defended themselves with great intrepidity, having killed one Indian, until they were relieved by a party of rangers who came to their assistance; and after exchanging a few shots, the Indians fled, seeing our people having the advantage of a log fence." We have given the above extract, only to show the participation of the "Andrustown" colonists. Could they be collected into a volume, it would form a story of thrilling and patriotic interest. The names of the seven families forming the colony were Moyers, Starring, Osterhout, Crims, Bell. Descendants of all these families are still living, and in some instances upon the sites originally chosen by their ancestors. George Henry Bell, a member of the Andrustown family of that name, married Catherine, the sister of General Herkimer, and participated in the sanguinary battle of "Oriskany". Referring to him Mr. Benton, in his history of Herkimer County, says, "Although not among the militia officers appointed in 1775, he (Bell) commanded a company at the Oriskany battle, was wounded there, and afterwards placed on the invalid pension-roll. His disability continued through life. Captain Bell remained on the battle-field with General Herkimer", until the action was over, and took charge of the escort which carried his wounded commander more than thirty miles on a litter. He brought with him from Oriskany a gun which he took in a hand-to-hand fight with a British officer, whom he killed. This trophy was long retained in the family, and exhibited as evidence of military prowess. George Bell, Esq. of Jordanville is a descendant of this family.
The first liberty pole erected in the Mohawk Valley was at the German Flats, in 1775, and was cut down the same year by British authority. The first settlement of Andrustown was made in the year 1722.
The Cruger Mansion
Known as the "Henderson House", was erected in the year 1836, at a cost of thirty thousand dollars. It is an ancient-looking stone structure, situated at an elevated point, in the extreme northern part of the town of Warren, Herkimer County, overlooking the deep valley of the Mohawk River. It is seven miles directly north from Richfield Springs. The estate on which this mansion stands was originally granted to Dr. Henderson, a surgeon in the royal army of Great Britain, and consisted of twenty-six thousand acres. Mrs. Harriet Cruger inherited fifteen hundred acres of the estate, and built the mansion that bears her name. Mrs. Cruger was descended from the Douglas family of Scotland. Was born June 29th, 1793; died May 5th, 1872.
This pleasant and sequestered little village is situated five miles to the north of Richfield Springs. It was first located by Hon. Jonas Cleland, in 1788. It is a neat thrifty hamlet, containing a population of 350 souls. Surrounded by a rich farming people, it is the centre of a profitable business, represented by one store, tailor and cabinet shop, two shoe stores and two blacksmith shops. Has one Baptist Church, organized in 1799. The land on which the church stands, together with the cemetery ground, was donated by Eber Hyde; present pastor, Rev. Peter Goo. One Methodist church; present pastor, Rev. D. O. Edgerton. A Reformed Dutch church, one and a half miles northeast of Jordanville, was organized in 1831; present pastor, Rev. J. M. Compton.
Deacon Jonathon Bloomfield emigrated from New Jersey in 1790, and settled near this village, in the town of Warren, Herkimer County. Here he purchased a farm of 120 acres, of Mr. Hull Thomas*. Two of his sons, Samuel and Joseph, continued to occupy this farm until their death, it having been divided between these brothers. Soon after his settlement, Jonathon Bloomfield built the saw-mill on Ocquionis Creek, known as the Bloomfield Mill. While the dam for this mill was being constructed, Mr. Bloomfield sent his son Joseph (a lad of only nine years of age) into the adjacent forest with his hatchet to cut brush to be used in the construction of the dam.
He had been at work but a short time, however, when he was startled by a huge black bear, slowly approaching, but a short distance away. He immediately fled to the mill, breathless with fear, where he related the adventure and his narrow escape. Joseph Bloomfield died July 26, 1862, aged seventy-two years, leaving one son, Mr. Allen Bloomfield**, who is now a resident of this village.
Deacon Samuel Bloomfield inherited that portion of his father's estate including the "Mill". He died December 23d, 1866, aged eighty-two years and four months, leaving two sons and three daughters. Mr. Bloomfield was an exemplary member and officer of the Presbyterian Church of this village for many years.
*Descendants of Mr. Thomas are now residents of the town of Winfield.
** David C. Bloomfield, a younger brother of Allen Bloomfield, was accidentally shot while out sporting in the woods on his father's farm, in the summer of 1854. He was twenty-eight years of age.
Jonas Cleland was a native of Massachusetts, and was born in 1780. His father, Samuel Cleland, emigrated to the State of New York, and settled in the town of Warren, Herkimer County, in 1788, with his family, consisting of Norman, Salmon, Jonas, the subject of our sketch, Martin, and Moses.
Norman died in 1831, aged sixty-two. Salmon went to his final rest at the advanced age of eighty-four. Martin died when he was about twenty years old, and Moses still survives*. They were the first New England family that settled in the town of Warren. They lived first on a farm now occupied by Martin Goes, a short distance east of Richfield Springs, where they remained about one year, when they removed to Jordanville. Near the remains of a house in Henderson, that had been destroyed by the Indians, they found the bleached bones of a man, which they buried, supposed to be those of a MR. Bell - one of the seven families that settled in Henderson prior to the revolutionary War.
Perceiving that he must be the architect of his own fortune, he went manfully to work, acquired a good education, and was noted for industry and perseverance in every laudable undertaking; thus establishing a character that entitled him to the confidence of the public.
On reaching his majority, he was at once admitted to the seat of magistracy in Herkimer County, which office he held for forty years in succession, during which time he never had a suit reversed. He was elected a member of the State Legislature in 1814, and held the office several terms; was an ardent supporter of the Erie Canal project, then in agitation. In one of his speeches in support of the canal, he made this prediction: "that before 1875, tea from China and Japan would come to New York by way of the Pacific Ocean, the great lakes, and the Erie Canal". Previous to the formation of the Republican Party he was a Democrat of the old school, but in 1856 was a firm supporter of the republican Platform, and his affiliation continued with this party through the remainder of his life. He represented his town in the Board of Supervisors for several years; was also a judge of the Court of common Pleas of Herkimer County. While acting as judge, Nathaniel Foster, the renowned hunter and trapper of Northern New York, was tried for shooting Peter waters, a St. Regis Indian, in the spring of 1834.
The Hon. Hiram Denio, the circuit judge, presided, assisted by Jonas Cleland, John B. Dygert, Abijah Osborn, and Richard Henderson, judges of the Common Pleas. During the trial, the prisoner's counsel asked one of the witnesses on the stand if he heard this Indian threaten the life of Foster. Objection being made, Judge Denio abstained the objection, and ruled that the evidence was not admissible, without consulting the other judges. Judge Cleland dissented from the decision, and was sustained by two of the other judges, thus overruling the decision of the presiding judge.
He was also agent for the Henderson and Douglas estate, and superintended the erection of the mansion called the "Henderson House".
He was twice married, first to Lydia Talcott, in 1805, who lived but two years, and again in 1818 to Abigail Tisdale, of Connecticut, by whom he had two sons and one daughter.
Judge Cleland died on Sunday, April 25th, 1858, aged seventy-eight years; was confirmed by Bishop Wainwright, August 5th, 1853. A short time previous to his death, although apparently in his usual health, he called his youngest son to his side, saying, "This is the last day I shall be with you in this tabernacle of clay. It is my request that you go to Richfield Springs, and ascertain the condition of John Tunnicliff" (Tunnicliff was very ill at this time), who was a relative by marriage. They were both members of the Episcopal Church.
On learning that Mr. Tunnicliff was not expected to live, he said, "I shall cross the river first, and be there to welcome him home". He then wrote a farewell letter to his son at Frankfort; sent for Mr. Hyde, the undertaker, and gave full directions in relation to his funeral; ordered the suit brought into the room, that was to clothe his remains after death; wrote in his Prayer Book the names of those he wished to bear him to his final resting-place; sank back in his chair, in full possession of all his faculties, and quietly ceased to breathe....
His daughter, Lydia, wife of the late Prof. John Abbott, now resides with her son, George C. Abbott, in Michigan.
E. T. Cleland, the eldest son, was an attorney, and resided at Frankfort. Was clerk of Herkimer County one term. He died in 1861, leaving one son, Charles B. Cleland.
George M. Cleland, the youngest son, now resides on the old homestead of his father in Jordanville. Has filled various offices in his town and county. Was elected sheriff in 1864, and was, previous to that time, supervisor and justice of the peace of the town of Warren. Was again elected to the said offices, his term expiring the present year. He still uses the same "desk" and office room that his worthy father used during the protracted period of his official life.
Ezekiel Comstock was born at New London, Connecticut, February 16th, 1774. Removed with his father to Berkshire County, Massachusetts, the summer before New London was burned. Phoebe Comstock, his wife, was born at Williamstown, Massachusetts, October 20th, 1776, and was married at the above place, July 13th, 1798. They removed to Granville, Washington County, New York, in 1804, and to Warren, Herkimer County, in November 1832, thence to Richfield Springs in April, 1850. Jay L. Comstock, Esq., of this place, was their only son. Ezekiel Comstock died February 16th, 1866, aged ninety-two years. His wife, Phoebe Comstock, survived him nearly eight years, and died November 5th, 1873, aged ninety-seven years and sixteen days. Isaac Holmes, father of Mrs. Phoebe Comstock, was a soldier of the Revolution, and participated in the battle of Bennington, Vermont. He died in Warren in 1843, aged ninety-two years.
The Hon. William Cullen Crain
The road leading northerly through the neighboring villages of Cullen and Jordanville, towards the old German settlement of Andrustown, has long been for the visitors of Richfield a favorite drive....On this road , and near the spot where the waters of the "Ocquionis" Creek issue from the ground, is "Cullenwood", an unpretending but tasteful country-seat of the olden style. This for a period of nearly forty years was the home of William Cullen Crain; a name prominently associated with the history of this beautiful region. Of the numerous visitors to Richfield in past years, there were comparatively few who did not carry to their homes recollections of pleasant hours passed at "Cullenwood"; for here, in the language of a prominent journal, "Colonel Crain administered a courtly and elegant hospitality....
He was born in the town of Warren, Herkimer County, August 31st, 1798. His father, Rufus Crain, is mentioned in "Benton's Herkimer County and Upper Mohawk Valley", as a skilful physician, a near relative of General Israel Putnam, and as having held the office of Judge of the Court of common Pleas for sixteen years.
The early education of William Cullen Crain was entrusted to the Rev. John P. Spinner*....After leaving the family of Mr. Spinner, young Crain pursued the study of the classics until prepared to enter the senior class at Yale, which was his intention to do; circumstances, however, induced him to change his mind, and he entered his father's office as a student of medicine, and practiced for about two years.
In 1826, Colonel Crain married Miss Perses Narina Tunnicliff, daughter of William Tunnicliff, Esq. and granddaughter of the Count George Ernst August Von Ranzau, an officer on the staff of the Baron Von Riedesel, and author of the interesting Journal of Burgoyne's Expedition contained in the archives of the general staff at Berlin. His landed interests in Warren being considerable, Colonel Crain now gave up the practice of medicine, and devoted himself to agriculture, of which he was a real lover. Through successive years he did much to improve the breeds of cattle in this part of the State, and early brought hither imported stock.
We shall here ...rescue from oblivion a singular fact in connection with [Ocquionis Creek] related by the Colonel, who received it from the venerable Paul Crim, of Andrustown.... Crim told the Colonel that he had frequently, when a boy, fished with Indians at the source of the Ocquionis at Cullen, and had caught beautiful salmon, and in large quantities there. It was a great fishing-place for all the Indians, and the absence of all dams between that point and the Chesapeake Bay, permitted these fish to penetrate thus far in times of high water.
The Colonel was through life an ardent democrat of the Jeffersonian school. For many years he occupied a prominent position in the field of politics. He was three times a member of the State Legislature; in 1832, 1845, and 1846.
He was a candidate for the State Senate in 1857, and in 1860 was the candidate of the untied Democracy for Lieutenant-Governor. He represented the Democracy many time in Democratic national conventions, and often represented his party in state conventions. William C. Crain died on the 16th of March. 1865. His five surviving children are Mrs. Henry Bowers of Cooperstown, the Hon. D. Jones Crain of New York, Mrs. John E. Warren of Chicago, R. T. Crain, Esq. of the same place, and Dr. William B. Crain of Richfield Springs. His sister, Mrs. Baker, a widow of the late Hon. William Baker, resides at Utica, in this state.
* Father of Hon. F. E. Spinner of Washington (F. E. Spinner was Treasurer of the United States and kept a home in Mohawk, Herkimer Co., NY - ed.)
Isaac De Long was born in Dutchess County, New York, in 1771, and when a lad removed to Columbia County, where at the age of nineteen he married Rebecca Allen, aged fifteen years. In 1795 they removed to the town of Warren, Herkimer County, where they commenced life with comparatively nothing. A farm was now purchased, and after years of untiring industry was paid for. Another farm adjoining was subsequently purchased, and from this time forward it was comparatively easy for them to add to their possessions. They reared a family of nine children, five sons and four daughters. The second son, named George, was killed by the falling of a tree when eleven years of age. The youngest of the nine, a son, whom they also called George, was killed at the age of twenty-two, by being thrown from a horse. At the present time there are but two of the family living, namely, Charles*, who was elected a member of the State Legislature in 1852, from Herkimer County, and Isaac Jr., now a resident of this village.
Isaac De Long died in 1858, aged eighty-seven years, and his wife died in 1865, aged ninety years, both highly respected by all who knew them.
* Hon. Charles De Long, now a resident of Peoria, Illinois.
Thomas Freeman was born in 1791. Emigrated to the town of Warren in 1807, and still resides where he first settled, near the village. Is a mason by trade.
Timothy Green was born in the town of Archfield, Massachusetts, February 3rd, 1791. Emigrated to the town of Richfield, Otsego County, with his parents, in 1794. Was a clothier by trade, which he followed for twelve years, when he purchased a farm in the town of Warren, Herkimer County, on which he continued to reside until 1863, when he became a resident of this village. Was married in 1821, but has no children.
Mrs. House There is now living near the "Kyle", in the town of Warren, an aged lady by the name of House. Remembers distinctly the events connected with the last destruction of "Andrustown" in 1778, by the Indian chieftain Brant and his coadjutors. Mrs. House was born at Fall Hill, near Little Falls, previous to the Revolution, and is now more than one hundred years of age. The writer recently had a very pleasant interview with this aged matron, and found her remarkable active and vivacious. She will probably see many more years.
It will be observed that Andrustown was three times destroyed by the Indians. Twice previous to the revolution.
After destroying the place, the Indians fled in the direction of the "Little Lakes", to which point they were pursued by a party of colonists, but succeeded in making their escape. "Benton" says there were a few white families at the "Little Lakes", called Young's Settlement, and the principal man was "Young", the patentee (a Tory), to whom the lands had been granted by the crown in 1752.
Sampson Mason (American root of this family) was a dragoon in Oliver Cromwell's army, and supposed to belong to his "troop", at the battle of "Marston Moor", in 1644. The precise date of his arrival in this country, and settlement in Dorchester, Suffolk County, Mass., is unknown. A "will", executed by him July 25th, 1649, and on record in the above county, makes his settlement anterior to this date.
He had thirteen children. Died Sept. 15th, 1676, at an advanced age. Six of his sons reached the age of seventy to ninety-four years.
Isaac Mason*, a lineal descendant, settled in the town of Warren, Herkimer County, N. Y., on lands adjoining the Cruger estate, on the north, in 1804. His youngest son, James Mason, is now a resident of this village.
*Isaac Mason died July 18th, 1866, aged eighty-nine years four months and twenty-seven days.
William G. Moore, son of James Moore, was born in Woodbridge, New Jersey, August 11th, 1801. Emigrated with his parents to Herkimer County, in 1803. Mr. Moore says, "My parents, with their seven children, embarked on board a sloop on Staten Island Sound, and sailed up the Hudson River to Albany. From the latter point we were conveyed by wagon, with all our effects, through the wilderness to 'Freeman's Mills", in the town of Warren." Mr. Moore became a resident of Richfield Springs, in 1829. Has been a popular horse-trainer more than fifty-three years. Is the only member of his father's family now living.
Richard Schooley was among the first settlers of the town of Warren, where he purchased a farm, about two miles north of Richfield Springs. He had eleven children, of whom but one son (Wm. Schooley, Esq.) and three daughters are now living.
Soon after his settlement here, an incident occurred, worthy of notice. The forests at this time were full of wild animals, who frequently trespassed upon the cultivated field of the settlers. On one occasion, two of Mr. Schooley's sons, John and Henry, lads of thirteen and fifteen years, discovered that their father's corn-field had been ravaged by some native of the forest... (The story continues for some length to reveal that the animal was a black bear and that the boys killed it - ed.)....Richard Schooley died in December, 1853, aged ninety-five years.
Gershon Skinner* was a Revolutionary soldier, and lived at Little Falls. Held the commission of Adjutant in the army. Was a miller by trade, and occupied a large stone mill at the above place, in 1778. This mill was a place of refuge during the war for women and children, and served also as a fort. In the autumn of 1778, it was attacked by about 500 Indians and Tories, who finally succeeded in overcoming the feebly garrison, killing three men, and taking prisoners the helpless women and children, about forty in number, who were soon after released, and returned to their homes. After a severe hand-to-hand conflict with four savages, Mr. Skinner succeeded in making his escape by plunging into a dark recess, in the lower part of the mill, where he remained nearly under water, until driven out by the flames of the burning building over his head.
Mr. Skinner died in Columbia in 1824, at an advanced age.
* [Gershon Skinner was] Grandfather of Mr. John Skinner, of the town of Columbia, who has now in his possession a trunk and pocket-book, rescued from the burning mill, the property of his grandfather.
Tunis Vroman was a native of Schoharie County, N. Y. At the age of ten years, in 1776, in company of three of his brothers, he was made prisoner by the Indians and taken to Canada. While on the way, a younger brother cried to return home, was taken to one side by a Tory, his throat cut, and his body thrown over a log, where it was left. The writer heard Mr. Vroman relate this circumstance. His parents were both killed by Indians near their residence. The mother was struck on the head several times with a tomahawk, before she fell. Tunis was kept prisoner one year and returned to his friends. He subsequently removed to the town of Warren, Herkimer County, then to Columbia, and died in July 1866, aged one hundred years, leaving two sons and four daughters. One son* and three daughters are now living.
*Peter Vroman, Esq. of South Columbia.
Alvin Weatherbee was born in Hartland, Windsor County, Vermont, March 14th, 1794. Emigrated with his parents to the town of Warren, Herkimer County, in 1798, and settled at Page's Corners, where his father erected a tannery, and conducted business for many years. Alvin was employed in the tannery with his father, and at the age of twenty-four was married; has two sons and one daughter.
Mr. Brayton Weatherbee, proprietor of the well-known Weatherbee Mills, near this place, is the eldest son of Mr. Alvin Weatherbee.
Gideon Wilbur was born in Rhode Island, April 9th, 1766. Was left an orphan when but a lad. Was bound out to learn the carpenter's trade, which he followed until 1786, when he was married, and came to Duchess County, N. Y., where he bought a farm and remained until 1804, when he emigrated with his family to Warren, Herkimer County, and purchased a farm, on which he lived to see seven sons and four daughters grow up, become married, and settled. He died July 6th, 1862, aged ninety-six years.
Mr. Wilbur was remarkably active to the last year of his life. Of the seven sons, but one now survives. The late Mr. Eseck Wilbur, of the town of Warren, was a son of Gideon Wilbur.
Copyright © 2003 Steven Knight
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