ANDREW A. BARTOW, 1773 - 1862

Fairfield's famous Barto Hill, 1653 feet above sea level, bears the name of Andrew Abramse Bartow, a down-stater. Andrew was the son of the Rev. Theodosius Bartow (1747-1819), an Episcopal priest known as "Parson Bartow", and his wife, Jemima Abramse Bartow. Theodosius was the grandson of the Rev. John Bartow (1673-1725), the first Bartow in America. John Bartow's descendants lived in Westchester and New Jersey for several generations. Andrew was born in Westchester County, the eldest of a family of eight sons and three daughters.

It is not known where Andrew Bartow was educated but his wide range of achievements and activities indicate knowledge in many areas. While his siblings were moving to other parts of the young county, Andrew remained on land originally owned by his grandparents, Theophilus and Bathsheba Pell Bartow. In 1795 Andrew married Mary Hunt, daughter of Thomas Hunt of Hunt's Point. (It is interesting to note that Hunt's Point is now part of the Bronx, parts of Westchester being annexed in 1874 and 1895 by New York City.)

The young Bartow family increased. Julia Maria (1796-died an infant), Charles Joseph (1797), Henry Theodosius (1799), and Mary Francis (1805). In 1806, Andrew and Mary purchased the farm on the hill on the Fairfield-Salisbury Road, now Route 29, from Moses and Sally Mather for $2500. The following year they purchased an additional 150 acres and became the owners of the entire hill. Two more children were born, Elizabeth Ann (1808) and John (1812).

Andrew Bartow was chosen warden of Trinity Episcopal Church on its founding in 1807. His name next appears as a charter member of the Board of Trustees of the newly established College of Physicians and Surgeons of the Western District of New York in 1812. Andrew made many trips to Albany on behalf of the new college, appearing at meetings of the Board of Regents, and was known to have been a friend of Governor DeWitt Clinton.

Managing a farm on the hill did not keep Andrew in Fairfield all the time. Soon he became interested in the Erie Canal and was appointed by the Canal Commissioners in 1817 to procure the land through which the western part of the canal was to be built. By 1818 he was contracting for the delivery of lime, sand, and timber for the construction of the canal between Salina and Utica and continued to work for the Canal Commissioners until the completion of the canal in 1825.

In 1820 a patent for waterlime, a hydraulic cement necessary for building locks, was issued to Canvass White. However, letters and documents exist that prove that Andrew Bartow deserved the recognition for this important discovery. To avoid the costly and time consuming task of importing hydraulic cement from Europe, Andrew examined the limestone in the Onondaga area. In Manlius he came upon a different kind of limestone and after experimenting, determined that it had the desired qualities. The next step was to bring the stone home to Fairfield to Professor James Hadley at the medical college. Hadley's work confirmed that the stone was perfect for waterproof cement. Bartow informed the canal engineer, Canvass White. White paid Bartow $2000, applied for, and was granted the patent. Bartow was to have a quarter interest in the patent. Little money was made by either man because others began to sell the water-lime without paying royalities.

In addition to his knowledge of construction, farming, science, and education, Andrew was sufficiently qualified in legal metters to serve as a master of chancery, his name appearing on many Herkimer County documents of his day.

Around 1820 the Bartows moved to Herkimer, on the south corner of Green and Washington streets. The Fairfield farm was sold to Philip Rees in 1833. Andrew became blind around 1836 and moved with his daughters to Little Falls. It is possible that his wife Mary died between 1836 and 1837 as she is not mentioned in Professor Hall's memories of Little Falls in 1838. Hall's notes of times past provide a picture of Andrew Bartow in those years. "...I can still see him walking up and down with his cane thumping on the flagstones."

Continuing the religious tradition of the Bartow family, Andrew became involved in the founding of several of Herkimer County's Episcopal churches. Trinity Episcopal, Fairfield - 1807 - warden; Emmanuel Episcopal, Little Falls - 1823 - vestryman; St. Luke's Episcopal, German Flatts - 1833 - warden; Christ Church, Herkimer - 1839 - warden.

In 1850 Andrew returned to Westchester County where he died in 1862 and was buried in the family burying ground at Hunt's Point.

Children of Andrew and Mary Bartow:

Taken from "This Green and Pleasant Land, Fairfield, NY" by Jane Dieffenbacher, Fairfield Town Historian
Copyright © 1999
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Last Updated: 4/16/99
Text Copyright© 1999 Jane W. Dieffenbacher, Middleville, NY
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