The McNeil Patent

In reference to the original lot lines of the McNeil Patent
in the southern part of the Town of Stark

An Original Essay by
A. Ross Eckler

On Aug 7 1753 John McNeil and others requested from the Crown a license to purchase a four-mile square (that is, 2560 acres 2 miles on a side) tract of land on the south side of the Mohawk River, about eight miles to the west of Canajoharie Castle, contiguous to lands owned by David Young, lying between two places called by the Indians Johaide and Joshua. (Theobald Young was granted a patent of 14000 acres in the present-day Town of Warren in 1752; his son Adam settled at present-day Warren, between Young Lake and Weaver Lake.) Apparently nothing came of this petition, for on Jun 15 1761 it was resubmitted by John McNeil, Alexander McKay, Alexander Stewart and Oliver Templeton. This time the tract was described as beginning at a hole where a stream runs into the ground (the Chyle, in the present-day Town of Springfield a short distance from the Town of Warren line), being the beginning of a tract formerly granted to Adam Young and others. Quit rent was paid on Aug 15 1761, the date of the patent; it consisted of 4000 acres.

No map of the individual lots of this patent has ever been found. The boundary of the patent is shown in the map of the Town of Stark in the 1903 Century Atlas of Herkimer County, enclosing an area of approximately 3400 acres (the other 600 acres are in present-day Otsego County). It is difficult to see how the Chyle could have been part of the original boundary, as it is located a couple of miles southwest of the western boundary as depicted in the 1903 atlas. Through detailed study of Town of Stark land records (as well as its predecessors, the Town of Danube from 1817 to 1828, the Town of Minden from 1798 to 1817, and the Town of Canajoharie from 1788 to 1798), it is possible to reconstruct the lot map. Land records prior to 1817 are on file in the Montgomery County courthouse in Fonda, and those since 1817 in the Herkimer County courthouse in Herkimer. Unfortunately, the early records are rather fragmentary in nature, so that a great deal of reconstructive work is necessary from scattered clues. Deeds occasionally mention not only the lot number but those of adjacent lots when the survey runs along a lot boundary. In addition, ghosts of the original lot boundaries are sometimes discernible as present-day road or field lines.

The western part of the McNeil Patent was first divided into nine lots of 100 acres each, arrayed along present-day Jordanville Road from a point slightly west of the Aney Hill Road intersection, to a point on present-day Puskarenko Road, midway between its turn to the northeast and its terminus at Travis Road. Each 100-acre lot ran 14 chains 75 links east-west and 67 chains 79 links north-south (a chain is 66 feet, or 80 to the mile). The southern boundary of these lots are clearly delineated by field boundaries visible on aerial photographs, but the northern boundary is indistinct. The Otsquago cemetery, the only remnant of the Otsquago settlement, is centered on Lot 5, the midpoint of the nine lots.

The Otsquago settlement was established prior to the Revolution. According to the George Clinton Papers 4:414 and the pension application of John Shaul W11441, the Indian chieftain Joseph Brant headed a small party of Indians who burned four houses and barns and took brothers John, Sebastian and Matthias Shaul prisoners at the Otsquago on Nov 23 1778. These almost certainly were the houses of Jacob Bronner (on Lot 8), John Fetterly (on Lots 14-15), John Shaul (on Lots 2-3) and Adam Young (on Lot 13).

However, the first recorded land sale in the patent had somewhat different dimensions; the Jul 7 1768 deed from Felix Callar to Jacob Bronner ran 17 chains 25 links east-west and 57 chains 95 links north-south. Although it was called Lot 8, in reality it was located half in Lot 8 and half in Lot 9, being bounded on the west by the southern end of present-day Aney Hill Road. Jacob willed the eastern half of this land to his son Christian and the western half to his son Felix. Their two home sites are probably marked by the first two houses on the north side of Jordanville Road, east of the Aney Road intersection.

In the early years settlers probably rented land from the proprietors; many deeds from the Stewarts were not issued until the early part of the nineteenth century, and some land remained unsold as late as 1836, when on Aug 1 a quit claim was entered in which John, James and Sarah Stewart of Sullivan County NY, heirs to the late James A Stewart, granted the "Osquaga patent" to J Hopkins Stewart of the Town of Warren.

Lot 1   deed Oct 4 1803 James A Stewart and Thomas Ten Eyck (of New York City), together with Alexander Stewart, William R Stewart and Thomas Benson, to Frederick and Sarah Smith. This land is adjacent to the west to land owned by Gershom Smith (1767-1846). No Frederick Smith appears in the 1799 Minden tax list or the 1800 census, but there is a Frederick Smith in the 1810 and 1820 censuses who was also a patron of the Van Hornesville store.

Lot 2   deed Oct 4 1803 James A Stewart et al to John (1760-1844) and Elizabeth Shaul. John was a son of John Shaul, one of the original three settlers of Stark, and married a daughter of Jacob Bronner (see Lot 8).

Lot 3   deed Oct 4 1803 James A Stewart et al to John (1760-1844) and Elizabeth Shaul (see above).

Lot 4   deed Jan 16 1788 Conrad and Engletee House to Jacobus House, 40 acres from SW side of the lot. The House family were absentee landowners, and don't show up in the Otsquago area in any census.

Lot 5   deed May 6 1795 Henry (1740-1821) and Elizabeth Walrath to his son John H Walrath (1766-1814), 50 acres from the eastern half. On Jun 19 1800 John H Walrath gave a mortgage on this land to George Shaul; on Apr 26 1800 John H and Magdalena Walrath sold half an acre to the trustees of the Reformed Church of the Otsquago (for the cemetery?). Henry returned to his ancestral home on the Windecker Patent in the Town of Minden before 1810, and John H moved to Chittenango in 1808.

Lot 6   mortgage Nov 17 1796 Joseph Waggoner to John Wick (1762-before 1820). He resided in the Otsquago settlement in the 1800 census, marrying a daughter of Adam Young (see Lots 12-13).

Lot 7

Lot 8   deed Jul 7 1768 Felix Callar to Jacob Bronner (1717-1808), one of the original three settlers of Stark. Felix Callar (Keller) was a land speculator who never lived in the Otsquago area. In his will Jacob gave the eastern half of his farm to his son Christian, and the western half to his son Frederick.

Lot 9

Some time later, a number of additional 100-acre lots were created to the south of the original nine. These had new dimensions, 22 chains 12 links east-west and 45 chains 20 links north-south.

Since the new lots were half again as wide as the original ones, it took only six to fill the same east-west range. These were numbered in a boustrophedon pattern, Lots 10-15 from west to east, Lots 16-21 immediately to the south from east to west. The Herkimer-Otsego county line, established in 1791, cut off increasing segments of the last three lots. Similarly, Lots 16 and 17 were terminated to the south by the Otsquago Creek, a boundary of the Livingston Patent.

Several lot lines are traced out by present-day roads. Present-day Jordanville Road follows the line between Lots 3 and 4, the line between Lots 13 and 14 and finally Lots 17 and 18, before bearing southeast to follow a tributary of the Otsquago. Present-day Sickler Road follows the line between Lots 6 and 7, turning west at the southern edge of these lots and proceeding diagonally across Lots 11 and 12. (This deviation was no doubt dictated by the fact that a straight-line version of Sickler Road would have crossed the Otsquago in a rather deep gully.)

Several of these lots have never had road access. This problem was solved for Lot 15 by common ownership of it and Lot 14; eventually these two farms shared an east-west boundary instead of the north-south one. Similarly, Lot 12 was eventually acquired by the owners of Lot 13. The southeast corner Lot 19 is easily accessed from the Chyle Road, which forms the southern boundary to Lot 18. However, Lots 20 and 21 have always been inaccessible.

Lot 10   deed Jan 21 1825 Henry Brown to William Hoskins and Ethan Sawin, for 27 acres. Henry Shaul jr (1786-before 1832) may also have owned land in this lot; he is listed as a northern neighbor to Silas Conklin (Lot 21) on Jul 14 1808. His widow Mary sold land "where Henry Shaul jr lived" to Lewis Young (1787-1876), grandson of Adam Young (see Lot 13) on Apr 3 1837.

Lot 11   deed Oct 29 1812 Peter Eckler (1754-1834) to David Caswell; Peter's wife and several children had recently died in a house fire. On Apr 15 1829 David Caswell sold the land to David Ely, and on Jan 7 1829 David Ely sold it to Richard R Ward, a land speculator.

Lot 12   deed Mar 3 1824 Maria Louisa Stewart (widow of James) to George J Young (1789-1868), a grandson of Adam Young (see Lot 13).

Lot 13   there is no early deed on file for this land, but it was the homestead of Adam Young who settled there before the Revolution (his son Jacob A in his pension application reports abandoning the Otsquago settlement for the safety of Fort Plank, in the present-day Town of Minden west of Fort Plain, in the spring of 1778).

Lot 14   deed Oct 4 1803 James A Stewart et al to George Fetterly (1771-1862) and Margaret, and Henry Eckler (1766-1864) and Maria. Henry was a nephew of Peter Eckler (Lot 11); George was the son of John Fetterly (1727-1821), one of the original three settlers of Stark.

Lot 15   deed Oct 4 1803 James A Stewart et al to George Fetterly and Margaret, and Henry Eckler and Maria. Henry sold his share of these two lots to Jacob Shaul (1788-1869) and Hannah on Apr 8 1830 and moved to Jacob's farm on Willsey Hill; Jacob in turn sold the land to George Snyder Dec 24 1830. Jacob Shaul was the son of Henry Shaul jr (Lot 10).

Lot 16   deed Apr 1 1790 James A Stewart to Abraham Van Horne (1738-1810), the founder of Van Hornesville.

Lot 17   deed May 25 1807 Goldsborough Banyar to Daniel (1768-1855) and Richard (1770-1823) Van Horne, sons of Abraham Van Horne (Lot 16), 42 acres; deed Aug 22 1808 Goldsboro Banyar to Abraham Van Horne, 47 acres.

Lot 18   deed Oct 4 1803 James A Stewart et al to Jacob Conklin (1755-1825). Jacob deeded his property to his son Andrew (1784-) on Apr 21 1814; Andrew in turn sold the northeastern 50 acres to John M Shaul (1789-after 1855), the son of Matthias and grandson of John, and the southwestern 50 acres to Silas Conklin (1772-1855), brother of Jacob.

Lot 19   deed Oct 21 1812 James A Stewart, Alexander Stewart and William R Stewart to Jedediah Lathrop (1747-1824).

Lot 20   deed Apr 1 1836 William Baker to John T Hall.

Lot 21   deed Jul 14 1808 Thomas Garland to Silas Conklin (1772-1855), 30 acres

Lots 22-23-24   deed Oct 4 1803 James A Stewart et al to Simeon Conklin (1769-1850), 137 acres in a triangular tract in the northern part of these lots, all located in Otsego County. Simeon was a brother to Jacob (Lot 18).

What about the inconsistency between the northern boundary of Lots 1-9 containing 100 acres and the McNeil Patent boundary in the 1903 Atlas? The land in question is a rectangular plot with east-west dimension 132 chains 75 links and north-south dimension approximately 24 chains. The western part is a swamp which drains into the Ohisa Creek; the eastern part is diagonally traversed by present-day Travis Road, crossing the Ohisa just south of the beginning of a rather spectacular gorge containing two 60-foot waterfalls. The eastern part was settled by Matthias Shaul (1756-1831), son of John. Unfortunately, there are no early deeds for these lands, so that one cannot determine how the lots were numbered.

The land to the north of the rectangular plot belongs to Lots 2-4 (each 172 acres in size) of the L'Hommedieu Patent, established in 1786, but these deeds offer no clues. Lot 1 was purchased by Conrad Harwick (1740/50-after 1820) on Jan 8 1797. Lot 2 was transferred from Philip (1742-1810) and Anna Harwick, and Conrad and Magdalena Harwick, brothers, to Joseph Harwick, another brother, on Feb 9 1795, for the nominal sale price of 5 pounds sterling. 47 acres from the eastern part of Lot 3 was purchased by Sebastian Shaul (1766-1849), brother of Matthias Shaul, from Christian Wormuth on Sep 12 1799. Jacob Fort (before 1755-1813) took a mortgage from Philip Schuyler on May 16 1795 on Lot 4; Peter Fort (1770-1859), perhaps a son of Jacob, sold the western 70 acres of Lot 4 to Sebastian Shaul on Apr 7 1804. (For the record, Lot 5 of L'Hommedieu Patent, to the north of Lot 4, was sold by Thomas Crill to Peter Rickert on Feb 1 1812.)

The corresponding lot layout in the eastern half of the McNeil Patent is not easy to determine, because most of the deeds reflect subsequent partitions of the land. The lots must have been laid out sometime after 1786, for the lots abut the southern line of the Vrooman Patent, established in that year. In any event, it is frequently referred to in the deeds as the second tract of the McNeil Patent. No doubt this area was being settled prior to 1786, as it contains the original road from Starkville to the Otsquago settlement (present-day Hoke Road and Travis Road).

Given the rectilinear nature of Lots 1-21 in the western part of the McNeil Patent, it seems likely that a similar pattern was imposed on the eastern part. The lot numbers as inferred from deeds appears to follow a boustrophedon pattern, with Lots 2 to 5 left to right along the northern edge of the patent, (adjacent to the Vrooman Patent), Lots 6 to 9 right to left to the south of Lots 2-5, and Lots 10 to 13 left to right to the south of Lots 6-9.

Lot 14, however, is an irregular lot south of Lots 10 and 11, due to the fact that the southern boundary of the McNeil Patent follows a bearing of S 61°57 W from the Colden Patent (about 10 chains south of Hoke Road) for 88 chains, and then turns to the south on a bearing of S 18°57' W to the Otsquago Creek (see the survey of the Mar 26 1807 deed from Goldsborough Banyar to Johannes Guywits (10-390) which includes this bearing change). There is some evidence that the original boundary continued S 61°57' W for another 44 chains before taking the S 18°57' W turn (see the survey of the Aug 22 1806 deed from Goldsborough Banyar to Abraham Van Horne (11-248) which refers to an "old" patent line and also includes the bearing change).

This bearing apparently divided the area south of Lot 14 into two parts, Lot 16 to the east and Lot 18 to the west (see the Jun 27 1815 deed from Goldsborough Banyar to Nicholas Shaver (14-581) which mentions a 18°57' bearing as part of the deed boundary).

There is one deed that appears to establish the north-south dimension of Lots 2-13. The Sep 16 1816 deed (15-422) from Thomas Garland to Gershom Smith specifies that the southwest corner of Lot 10 is 10 chains east of the southeast corner of Lot 1 in the western part of the patent. Since this latter point is 90 chains south of the Vrooman Patent line, the lots must have a north-south measure of 90/3 = 30 chains apiece. Similarly, there is one deed that appears to establish the east-west dimension of Lots 2-13. The Jan 5 1808 deed from Goldsborough Banyar to Jacob W Philips locates the southwest corner of Lot 13 on the 61°57' bearing, due south of a point on a creek, 2 chains east of where the creek divides into two branches. This stream with its branches can be seen flowing eastward on the map, immediately to the north of and parallel to present-day Hoke Road. Since the southwest corner is approximately 85 chains east of the west line of the tract, the lots must have an east-west measure of 85/3 = 28.3 chains apiece. This measure, combined with the north-south one previously deduced, leads to lots of 85 acres.

The Aug 22 1806 deed from Goldsborough Banyar to Abraham Van Horne (11-249) places the southwest boundary of Lot 14 in a gully. This gully is also mentioned in the Mar 26 1807 deed from Goldsborough Banyar to Johannes Guywits (10-390) as being 22 chains 26 links south of the southwest corner of Farm 10 (apparently a synonym for Lot 10, above). The stream in which this gully occurs appears on the map as a tributary of the Otsquago Creek, emptying into it at the falls downstream of present-day Van Hornesville. Thus, the north-south dimension of Lot 14 is only 22 chains 26 links, rather than the 30 chains of the earlier lots.

Goldsborough Banyar, a land speculator with extensive holdings throughout New York state, apparently purchased the eastern half of the McNeil Patent sometime prior to 1800, but there is no record of the deed. In 1835 Martha LeRoy, the executor of his estate after 1818, transferred his residual holdings to Harriet Banyar White (37-2); this contains no McNeil Patent entries.

Lot 2   deed Apr 15 1818 Martha LeRoy to Henry Eckler jr (1766-1864), a rectangular tract of 5 chains 60 links by 32 chains 60 links (18 acres), with its western boundary dividing Lot 1 from Lot 2; deed Nov 7 1818 Martha LeRoy to Adam Fikes (1778-1834), a rectangular tract of 25 chains by 32 chains 50 links, minus a 14-by-5-chain rectangle out of the southeast corner (74 acres).

Lot 3   deed Mar 3 1807 Goldsborough Banyar to James Maxfield (after 1755-1814), a 102.5-acre tract in the shape of an inverted T, adjoining the LeRoy-Fikes land on the west.

Lot 4   there exists an Apr 12 1825 deed from John M Shaul (1789-after 1855) to Elizabeth Ellsworth (1797-1863) for a 22-acre triangular parcel with perpendicular sides of 20 and 22 chains. According to the 1857 O'Connor map of Herkimer County, her son Sylvester Harwick Ellsworth (1822-1904) resided in the northwest corner of Lot 4, on the west side of present-day Cramer's Corners Road (southwest from Cramer's Corners to Travis Road) near its intersection with a former road leading to Starkville.

Lot 5   no data

Lot 6   the LeRoy-Hollenbeck and Hollenbeck-Weeks deeds of Lot 13 extend north into the southern part of this lot.

Lot 7   the Banyar-Philip deed of Lot 12 includes much of this lot, up to the creek.

Lot 8   the Banyar-Maxfield deed of Lot 3 covers the northern half of this lot; the Harwick-Maxfield deeds of Lot 11 probably cover the rest.

Lots 9-10   deed Feb 14 1805 Goldsborough Banyar to Gershom Smith (1767-1846), a rectangular tract 46 chains by 25 chains 50 links (118 acres); this land does not include the extreme eastern parts of Lots 9 and 10, which are probably part of the Harwick-Maxfield deed of Lot 11. On Oct 2 1844 Gershom Smith deeded 160 acres to his son Peter G. Smith (1814-1878), apparently the above land plus the Garland-Smith tract in Lot 1 (described below).

Lot 11   no Banyar deed could be found, but there is a deed Jun 1 1849 from William Harwick (1826-1900) to Stephen Maxfield (1811-1884), his stepfather, for 110 acres, and on May 12 1853 William's sister Mary Harwick (1831-1889) deeded 37 adjacent acres to Stephen Maxfield. On Mar 12 1854 George Tingue deeded to Catharine Walts 61 acres in Lot 11. The Banyar-Guiwits deed of Lot 14 covers the southern part of this lot.

Lot 12   deed Jan 5 1808 Goldsborough Banyar to Jacob W Philip of Claverack, 135 acres bounded on the north by a brook and on the south by the 61°57' patent line; the north-south distances along the east and west lines (36 chains 32 links, 60 chains 32 links) appear to have been interchanged. On Jun 23 1808 Jacob W Philip and Christina deeded the western 60 acres of this land to Peter W Philip.

Lot 13   deed Apr 15 1818 Martha LeRoy to Isaac Hollenbeck (1776-1851), 76 acres bounded on the north by a brook and on the south by the 61°57' patent line; on Jan 4 1833 Isaac Hollenbeck deeded to his son-in-law Levi Weeks (1800-1890) 46 acres (this land ran along the patent boundary northeast to its intersection with the Colden Patent), as well as 50 acres in the Livingston Patent and 24 acres in the Colden Patent.

Lot 14   deed Mar 25 1807 Goldsborough Banyar to Johannes Guywits (about 1770-1812), 160.5 acres in an L-shaped tract. After his death his widow Elizabeth obtained an act from the NY LEgislature (Apr 9 1813) enabling her to sell the westerly 80 acres of Lot 14 to Adam Shaver (before 1760-1831); this transaction was completed on May 28 1814, but involved only 59 acres.

Lot 16   deed Jun 27 1815 Goldsborough Banyar to Nicholas Shaver (1788-1857), nephew of Adam, 35 acres bounded by the 18°57' patent line.

Lot 18   deed Aug 22 1806 Goldsborough Banyar to Abraham Van Horne, 47 acres, proceeding 47 chains 68 links S 1°50' E from the southwest corner of Lot 14 in a gully to the old line, then N 18°57" E 40 chains 90 links, then N 61° E 17 chains 71 links to the east side of [Travis] road, then N 29° W to the west side of [Travis] road, then N 88°26' W 30 chains to the start. This odd-shaped tract appears to delineate the boundaries of Lot 18.

There is a rectangular strip of land between the western and eastern tracts of the McNeil Patent, 10 chains from east to west and 162 chains from the northern patent line to the Otsquago Creek in Van Hornesville (note that the acreages of lands in this strip are the same as their north-south sizes in chains). This land was purchased by Thomas Garland, a land speculator of Ireland, sometime before 1816, but the deed does not appear in Montgomery County records. It seems likely that this is the missing Lot 1 from the second tract, as suggested by the LeRoy-Eckler deed for Lot 2 on Apr 15 1818 (20-155). Moving from north to south, here are the early land transactions in the strip:

  • Oct 25 1816 Thomas Garland to Barnet Maxfield (1788- ), 71 acres. On Mar 4 1818 Barnet Maxfield sold 32 acres of this land to Henry Eckler (1766-1864), probably adjacent to the land Henry Eckler purchased in Lot 2 on Apr 5 1818.

  • Sep 6 1816 Thomas Garland to Gershom Smith, 35 acres; the southeastern corner of this property abuts the southwestern corner of Lot 10, also owned by Gershom Smith.

  • Sep 6 1816 Thomas Garland to Nicholas Shaver, 18 acres.

  • Jul 25 1816 Thomas Garland to Daniel and Richard Van Horne, 60 acres; the western boundary was 66 chains in length and the eastern boundary 54 chains. Apparently, the southern end of this land is on a diagonal, paralleling the Otsquago Creek.

Puzzlingly, the north-south length of the four deeds in the strip adds up to 184 chains, 22 more than 162.


These are large files that may require horizontal and vertical scrolling to view.

Full View of McNeil Patent Map
Closer View of McNeil Patent Map
McNeil Patent - Northwest Section
McNeil Patent - Northeast Section
McNeil Patent - Southeast Section
McNeil Patent - Southwest Section

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Created 1/23/05
Copyright © 2005 A. Ross Eckler
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