Road Districts, 1808


Columbia County,

New York

By Capt. Franklin Ellis268


     We copy these with the names attached to each, as showing all the inhabitants of 1808,--though they can hardly be called early settlers.

     No. 1.--"Road leading from James Johnson's to John Harder, Jr., and then to begin at John Jacobus' barn, and so on south until it comes out at Barent Sipperly's."  Persons liable to highway labor:  John Acker, Henry J. Miller, Jr., James Johnson, David Barringer, Minna Fisher, Adam P. Clum.

     No. 2.--"Road leading from the Clermont line, and so past Philip Rockefeller's store to the cross-road to Josiah Nash."  Peter Lasher, Philip Shultis, Barent Shultis, Barent Sipperly, George Shulders, Conrad I. Lasher, William Rockefeller, Casper Smith, John Shulders, Frederick Waring, Barent B. Shulders, Christopher Lawyer, John Harder, Jr., John Best.

     No. 3.--"Road leading from Philip Rockefeller's landing, and so on to the store of the said Philip and to the school-house No. 2, past Wm. Fritz, then to the south line of Germantown."  John N. Taylor, Philip C. Lasher, Henry Rockefeller, Peter N. Blass, Diel Rockefeller, Conrad Lasher, William Fritz, William Becker, John D. Rockefeller, Philip Rockefeller, Philip Fritz, Benjamin Hover, William Hart, Conrad C. Lasher, Bastion C. Lasher, Peter Harder, Jacob Barringer, Frederick Rockefeller, John Salspaugh, Jr., David Gutry.

     No. 4.--"Road from the cross-road at Josiah Nash, and from thence to Peter Snyder's to the north line of Germantown, then begin at Sharp's old store-house past Sharp's old house, past Philip Salspaugh's to Henry Ashley's, where the road east and west joins."  Peter Sharp, Moses Wood, Philip Salspaugh, Peter Snyder, John Salspaugh, William Snyder, William Demott, Samuel Waters, Walter Winans, John Cook.

     No. 5.--"Road leading from Peter Hyser's, north to John Hover's, then east past John Kline's to the cross-road."  John Hover, Jacobus Kline, Peter Kline, Jacob A. Turk, Philip Staats.

     No. 6.--"Road beginning near the school-house No. 2, at the cross-road, from thence to Simon Rockefeller's to the road where it joins the road past Henry Dick's."  Peter Hyser, Herman Rockefeller, Henry Dick, Philip I. Rockefeller, Simon Rockefeller, John Fuhr, Jacob Smith, Philip Salspaugh, Jr., John Blass, David Barringer, Jr., Jacob W. Rockefeller.

   No. 7.--"Road leading from the store of John Kortz, past Philip Staats, and so on past Peter Millers to the line of Clermont."  Peter Philip, John Staats, Jacob Philip, John Kortz, George Cammel, Peter H. Miller, Philip Staats, and Zachariah Holsapple.

   No. 8.--"Road leading from a cross-road beyond Conrad Lasher's, so on to Conrad Fingar, then to George Snyder's, then to the south side of John Kortz's store, where it joins the other road."  Derick Johnson, George Snyder, Jacob B. Lasher, Conrad Finger, Christopher Kortz, Jacob Finger, Adam A. Clum, and Elias Finger.

   No. 9.--"Road beginning at John Kortz's store, then south along the line of Clermont, then past Abram Kisselbrack's until it comes to the Clermont line again, then to begin south where Isaac Wagner did live and Charles Dennerly to the line of Clermont."  John Moor, Marks Lasher, Abraham Kisselbrack, Adam Rifenburgh, James Boucher, Jacob M. Lasher, Peter Staats, William Funk, and Peter D. Rockefeller.

   No. 10.--"Road leading from Jacobie's landing past Snyder's, and so on as far as where Conrad Snyder now lives."  William Schepmoes, William Snyder, Conrad S. Snyder, John W. Rockefeller, Henry Snyder, Samuel Snyder, John Sheffer, Samuel S. Snyder, and John Finkle.

   No. 11.--"Road beginning at Peter Sharp's landing, past Sharp's house, past Josiah Nash's, so on to John and Andrew Hover's, so on to the small brook at Peter Hyser's, and also from Herman Rockefeller's, where it joins the aforesaid road."  Henry Ashley, Andrew Hover, Rufus Lathrop, Henry Heermans, Josiah Nash, Jr., Josiah Nash, Roger Bissell, Allen Nash, John Heermans, and Joseph F. Ludwick.

     All of the warrants require the "roadmasters" to repair the roads according to law, and make a true return to the commissioners of highways "two Tuesdays" before the next town-meeting.

     Some of the points mentioned in the descriptions of road districts seventy years ago may be noted:  Philip Rockefeller's store was on the site of or near the Mountain View House; Philip Rockefeller's landing must naturally be at the present railroad station, taking its name from the merchant; Sharp's old store-house and Peter Sharp's landing relate to the place of the old churches, where was then a landing-place on the river; the store of John Kortz must have been in or near the same place; Jacobie's landing was probably the place of East Camp.

     A few notices of early pioneers are added:

     John Fingar was one of the Palatine colony of 1710.  He settled, however, in what is now the town of Livingston, the old homestead being the present place of David Miller.  He had five sons--Conrad, Jacob, David, Michael, and Peter--and one daughter.  Peter died unmarried; Jacob settled in Livingston, Michael in Gallatin, and Conrad in Germantown; David's place is uncertain.  The daughter became Mrs. Peter M. Blass.  A grandson of Conrad, now living, is Mr. Thomas Fingar, near Germantown village.  To his clear memory and definite statements we are indebted for these and other important items.

      Among the early settlers was Tiel Rockefeller, from whom a portion of the present families have descended.  He had four sons--Frederick, Philip, Peter D., Tiel--and one daughter.  Philip settled in Clermont, the others in Germantown.  The daughter became Mrs. John Harder.  The children of Frederick were Frederick, Peter F.,  Henry, William, and two daughters,--Mrs. Myers and Mrs. George Richards.

     George H. Rockefeller, now of Germantown village, is a son of Peter F., and a great-grandson of the pioneer.  He relates this story of John Harder:  in the old days, when men drank liquor (they don't do it now), George says, Harder was in a bar-room full of thirsty men at Hudson.  A stranger stepped out in a bluff sort of way and wagered drinks for the crowd that he had the hardest name in the room.  Our Germantown representative, with a twinkle in his eye, accepted the bet, and demanded the stranger's name.  The latter, with a triumphant air, shouted out, "Steele,--now give us yours."

     "My name is Harder,"  said John, quietly.  The crows saw the point, laughed, and then, in modern language, "smiled" at the stranger's expense.

      Peter F. Rockefeller, now seventy-seven years old, resides near the Mountain View House.  His father's name was Frederick and his grandfather's Tiel.  Tiel Rockefeller was a Revolutionary soldier, and had the rank of captain.  He used his money and his credit freely for the cause of the people, besides giving his personal service in the army.  After the war he was paid off with Continental money that became worthless, thus losing all is property.

     Philip W. Rockefeller, of the Mountain View House, is the grandson of William Rockefeller.  The latter had five sons,--Philip W., Jonas, John, Jerry, and Walter; two daughters,--Mrs. Jacob Turk and Mrs. Noah Hanford.  Jerry and Walter settled in New York, the latter moving back to Germantown late in life.  The rest settled in Germantown.

     Simon Rockefeller, mentioned in the town records, kept a tavern in the east part of the town, where his son Simon still lives at an advanced age.

     From the address of Dr. Porter at the Centennial celebration of the Claverack church, we learn that the ancestor of the Phillips family in this county was an early settler of Germantown.  He had six sons.  Four of them--George, William, Henry, and David--removed to Claverack.  Two sons remained in Germantown.

     It is understood that there were four brothers.  Kniskern came to Germantown with the Palatine colony.  The one named in history as the master of the village of Hunterstown was John, who remained a few years, but finally removed to Schoharie.  Another of the brothers went to Albany county, not far from the city; another to Central Bridge, Schoharie Flats; another to the Mohawk valley, near Palatine bridge.  The children of John were Henry, John, Abram.  They all settled in Schoharie, owning together nearly one thousand acres of land.  A son of Henry was Peter, and his son, Joseph Kniskern, is now a merchant at Germantown village, having settled there about 1838.  Peter died at the age of ninety.  His widow is still living in Schoharie county, at the age of ninety-two.

     At the present place of Philip Rockefeller, above the railroad station, there was in old times a store, kept by Henry Rockefeller, probably as early as 1800, or before that date.

     The first school-house at Germantown village stood a little southwest of the present post-office and Potts' store; though the map of 1798 shows a school-house on the site of Kniskern's store.

      There is a tradition that there was once a saw-mill on the rivulet that empties into the Hudson near the station.

     The old tavern of Philip Rockefeller, at which town-meetings were held, was on the site of the present wagon-house of the Mountain View Hotel.  It was no doubt a tavern many years before 1800.  After Philip it was kept by George Rockefeller who lost his life, by a sad accident which occurred upon the river March 27, 1845.  The following account is from the Columbian Repository of April 12:  "On Thursday, March 27, a boat-load of persons from East Camp, who had been to Hudson to make purchases, were run over first by a scow, and then by the steamboat South America.   The boat contained nine individuals, viz.:  Mr. George Rockefeller, his wife and daughter, Mrs. Rifenburgh, her son-in-law, Rufus Lasher, Philip Salspaugh and daughter, Mrs. Trombour, Conrad Salspaugh, Andrew Hover, and Albert Rockefeller; all of whom were suddenly sent into eternity.  After the scow had struck the boat two of the party succeeded in reaching the boat again, but they were not to be saved, as the South America, coming suddenly along, passed over them, crushing the boat to atoms.  Boats were immediately lowered, but owing to the darkness nothing could be discovered."  The bodies were all recovered except that of Mrs. George Rockefeller.

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