The First Settlement


Columbia County,

New York

By Capt. Franklin Ellis342


   It is no easy matter, in view of the conflicting testimony, to fix the exact date of the first settlement.

     There is a general claim that the southern part of the town was settled in 1750, but we cannot learn anything about the parties that will warrant any such conclusions.  The general settlement of the town did not begin until after 1760, and but few came before 1766.  Asa Douglas was one of the first.  He had an interest in the "Six-Miles-Square" tract of land, conveyed by the Massachusetts Indians, in 1758, and was the means of inducing many of his Connecticut friends to come to the new country.  His home was in the northern part of the town, and was a noted place of rendezvous for the Whigs during the troublous times of the Revolution.  The garret of his house was sometimes used to confine such of his Tory neighbors as had been deemed dangerous by the committee of safety.  In the army he held the rank of major, and was esteemed a brave man.  His sons were   Asa, Zebulon, John, and Horatio Gates.

     At Queechy settled Gamaliel Whiting, in 1763.  A two years' residence convinced him that he was unfit to be a pioneer, whereupon he returned to Connecticut and sold his interests in a large tract of land to his brother, William B., who came on in 1765.  He at once took position as one of the leaders of the various interests in developing the country, and actively engaged in the struggle for independence.  In command of his regiment, he marched for Saratoga to join Gen. Gates.  During his absence his enemies destroyed his mill.  Colonel Whiting's sons were Daniel, who removed to Troy; Nathan, the editor fo the Religious Intelligencer; Samuel, a book publisher in New York city; John, who remained on the homestead, which is now owned in part by his son, Henry J.  There were also three daughters, one of whom married Jason Warner, and another Colonel Tiffany, of Utica.

     In the month of February, 1764, came William Warner, from South Canaan, Conn., and settled at Canaan Centre, where he opened an inn near the present Presbyterian church.  He died Oct. 23, 1776.  Of his thirteen children there were sons named William, Jonathan, Jason, Lupton, John, Daniel, and James.  The well-known authoress Anna Warner is a descendant of Jason's family.  Henry L., a grandson of Lupton, is the only male descendant in town.

     Aaron Kellogg, from Wethersfield, Conn., came to the same locality in the April following.  In 1782 he erected a house on the turnpike, which is now occupied by D. W. Curtis, having his name and date of building engraved on the door-handle.  His sons were Joseph, Aaron, Martin, Robbins, Clinton, and John.  Edward Kellogg, Esq., a son of Aaron, jr., yet resides at Canaan Centre.

     Soon after the Warners and Kelloggs came Elihu Curtis, from Dutchess county, and settled near Flat Brook.  A son of his, Samuel A., was the first white male child born in town.  He became a tanner, amassing considerable property, and attaining a prominent position in town affairs.  He left two sons, Samuel A. and Daniel S.  The former is yet living at Flat Brook.  Near Whiting's lived Wm. Aylesworth and Zebulon Robbins, early settlers.

     North of Red Rock was Daniel Lovejoy, a pioneer having a son, Daniel, who was killed in the Revolution.  Other sons were Benjamin, Justus, and Ebenezer.  Two sons of the latter, John W. and Hezekiah, reside at New Concord.

     Ebenezer Cady was in the same neighborhood as early as 1760.  Of his family there were David, Elias, Elijah, Ebenezer, and Eleazer, whose descendants yet live in town.  West of these was John Bebee, whose sons were Daniel, Russell, and John.  the latter became a weaver, and made some remarkably fine goods for those times.

     South of Red Rock, in what is now Austerlitz, David Barret purchased a large tract of land about 1765, on which his sons John, David, Daniel, Jeremiah, Elijah, and Ezra settled.  Two sons of the latter, Egbert S. and Anson E., are well-known citizens of Chatham.  A little north of Red Rock was the home of the Ford family, and the mansion erected there at an early day is yet standing.  Jonathan Ford was a lieutenant in the American army in the Revolution; Joseph G. Ford was born in Canaan in 1787, and became a very distinguished surveyor.  The family is one of the oldest and most respected in town.

     Smith Park settled here in 1780, coming from Sharon, Conn.  A son of his served three years in the Continental army.

     Simeon Doty, a descendant of the Pilgrims, removed to Canaan in 1760, taking up the place now owned by A. Freehan, where he died in April, 1807.  He was one of the first deacons of the New Concord church.  His sons were John, Joseph, Samuel (who was a Revolutionary soldier, taken prisoner by the British, and nearly starved), and Simeon.  A grandson, D. S. Doty, lives at New Concord and other descendants of the Doty family are in the county.

     At what afterwards became Canaan Post-Office settled the Frisbies.  Philip Frisbie erected a house at that point, which yet remains.  His sons were Gideon, Samuel, and Roswell B.  Members of the family have lived here ever since the first settlement of the town.

     Other early settlers were Mathew Hawley, the Wilcox family, the Baldwins, and many others whose names appear in the civil lists, church histories, and other records given in this work.  In the last two decades the population of the town has changed materially, many of the old families removing.  In 1875 the total population was 1700,--males, 824; females, 876; native, 1492; foreign, 208.

      In the northeastern part of the town are several Shaker families connected with the society at Mount Lebanon.  They number about seventy-five persons.