HISTORY OF THE TOWN OF NORTHEAST
From
HISTORY OF DUTCHESS COUNTY, NEW YORK
By James H. Smith
1882
Chapter XXI.

Part Two

Among the earliest settlers was Samuel EGGLESTON, who located in the vicinity of what is now known as Spencer’s Corners, and who was the ancestor of all the families in North East who bear that name. The emigrant ancestor of that name was Bigot EGGLESTON, who was born in Exeter, England in 1585, and who in 1630 came to Dorchester, Mass., bringing his twin sons, James and Samuel, aged ten years. In 1635 he removed to Windsor, Conn. In 1661 Samuel married Sarah, daughter of Nicholas DISBRO, of Weathersfield, Conn., and settled in Middletown, in that State, where he died in February 1691, leaving his real estate to his eldest child, Samuel, born, March 6, 1662-’63, who on the 8th of July, 1703 married Patience PAYNE, and by her had eight children--Samuel, John, Joseph, Susannah, Abigail, Sarah, Patience and Mary. Samuel died in Middletown, Dec. 24, 1736. Some time prior to his death (Feb. 9, 1727-’28) he had executed a deed of certain premises situate in Middletown, to his said son, Samuel, with this proviso--that the premises should not be sold except on the recommendation of two judicious persons. This restriction so displeased young Samuel that he refused to have anything to do with the land thus conveyed, although he had in part paid for the same. Very soon thereafter he married Abigail RIBBINS and moved to Salisbury, (now North East, as the boundary line was changed,) and there reared John, Martha, Abigail, Joseph, Prudence, Nicholas, Benjamin, Amos, Ruth, and Samuel, born June 8, 1738, [O. S.,] who married Hester BUCK, daughter of Israel BUCK, of Amenia, March 18, 1761, and who is the ancestor of all the families of that name in this section of the country. He died January 24, 1822, and Hester, his wife, died January 10, 1828. They were buried in the cemetery near Spencer’s Corners.

The DAKIN family* (*The major portion of the facts relating to early settlers was taken from MS. Of Alanson COLVER written in 1874, and furnished through the kindness of James WINCHELL, whose influence had induced Mr. COLVER to put on paper his knowledge of the early history of North East. Alanson COLVER died Oct. 24, 1874, aged 84 years.) Came here from what is now known as Putnam County. Elder Simon DAKIN came to North East about 1776, and formed the first Baptist church at Spencer’s Corners. He had three sons, Joshua, Caleb and Simon; Joshua married and had two sons, Jacob and Benjamin, and three daughters. Caleb had one son, also named Caleb, and a number of daughters. Simon had six sons, Ebenezer, Harvey, James, Homer, David, Talma, and three daughters, Ruth, Hannah and Phebe.

Three brothers of the name of COLVER came from France and settled in this country. By some of them the name was spelled CULVER. It is supposed that all the families of that name in this section of country descended from these brothers. Some of them settled in the western part of Massachusetts, and the historical accounts of the early settlers of that State speak of a family who spelled the name COLVER. Elisha COLVER was a descendant of one of these three brothers. He lived at one time near the old Baptist Church near Spencer’s Corners, and at one time on a farm afterward owned by Noah GRIDLEY, called the EGGLESTON farm. He and his wife were members of the Episcopal Church. He was a Justice of the Peace under King George the Third, and used to do a great deal of the legal writing for the inhabitants of the town. In the family of Alanson COLVER is a deed drawn up by him 117 years ago. He had three sons, Elisha, Jr., Joseph and John, and four daughters, Hannah, Sarah, Martha and Polly. His son, Elisha, married Betsey KETCHAM, and had three sons, Henry, Elisha and Hiram. The first went south, the second went to Brooklyn, and Hiram became a sea captain and died on his passage from Batavia to Philadelphia. His son, Joseph, married Miss REED, a realative of James REED, of Salisbury, by whom he had two sons and one daughter. John COLVER became a Methodist minister. He was received into the Methodist Church July 8, 1788, and was licensed as an exhorter by the Rev. John BLOODGOOD, July 31, 1790. He was accepted as a local preacher by Rev. Freeborn GARRETSON, August 7, 1791. He was ordained Deacon by Bishop ASBURY, July 14, 1793, and as Elder, May 17, 1829. He was an ordained minister for 44 years, and was 72 years, 5 months and 20 days old when he died, July 23, 1835. When he began to preach there were but few Methodists in this part of the country. He used to hold his meetings in private houses, school houses and barns, as the Methodists had no church in the town. Besides preaching here he held services in the surrounding towns.

From his journal it is learned that he married over two hundred couples, and it is supposed he preached over eight hundred funeral sermons. He was a preacher at the time of the epidemic in Ancram when the death rate averaged three per week.

Thomas HAYWOOD came to this town about the year 1802. He had five sons and nine daughters, the most of whom, together with himself and wife, were members of the Methodist church. At his house were held once a fortnight the services of the itinerant Methodist preachers. About this time a man named WILLIAMS died and gave his property to the School District No. 3, for the erection of a school house. Toward this project Thomas HAYWOOD agreed to give $50.00, provided the district would build a house large enough for religious services. The offer was accepted and in 1807 the school house was built. Mr. HAYWOOD was a resident of this town twelve or fourteen years, when he moved to Pleasant Valley, where he died.

Josiah HALSTEAD lived on what is now known as the WILCOX Place. He was a blacksmith and worked at his trade. Before the year 1800 he moved to the town of Ancram, near the line, where he engaged in farming. He had six sons, Benjamin, John, Samuel, Joel, Joseph and James, and three daughters, Nancy, Betsey and Lavina. John was a man of considerable ability. He studied medicine under Dr. DODGE, and died of consumption when young.

Elisha DRIGGS came from Middletown, Conn. He was a tanner and currier, and lived on the James HALSTEAD place. He married Charity DAKIN, a daughter of Joshua DAKIN, and moved to near Cooperstown about the year 1800.

Among the prominent families of North East was that of the WINCHELL’s descendants of Robert WINCHELL, who came to Dorchester, Mass., as early as 1634, and removed to Windsor, Conn., about 1635. He died January 21, 1669, and his wife died July 10, 1655. The first to settle in this town was James WINCHELL who located on what is known as WINCHELL Mountain, in 1760. He came from Turkey Hills to North East a little before attaining his majority. His father, Martin, is said to have aided him in effecting a location. Whether from a love of mountain slopes and mountain summits, imbibed from a residence upon the flanks of the “Turkey Hill Mountain,” or “Copper Mountain,” or from shrewd intuition of the extraordinary attraction of the soil and the situation, James and his father seem to have alighted upon a mountain farm which certainly must have appeared in their day infinitely less inviting than the industry of three generations has made it. “WINCHELL Mountain,” so called from the family which has continued to possess and cultivate its surface, is one of the ridges of the Taconic range. The summit is a fertile plateau, about half a mile in width. In the middle of this, on the highway from Salisbury to Rhinebeck, James errected his dwelling, the traces of which are now extinct. He took an active part in the measures which resulted in the independency of the States, and was one of the principal supporters of the cause of Liberty in the town and county of his residence. His death was caused at the early age of thirty-nine, by camp fever taken from a suffering soldier whom he quartered one night in his house. He was buried in the public cemetery “on the mountain,” within a few rods of his home. He was born at Turkey Hill, Conn., in 1741, and died February 13, 1778.

From him descended Martin Ezer, Philo Mills, John, Aaron Ely. Martin Ezer had five sons, James Manning, Abraham, Horace, Lewis, Renssalaer, George R., and six daughters, Mary, Sylvia, Thirza, Elmira, Louisa, and Sally Emeline.

Of these children James Manning was a Baptist minister in Boston. He was graduated from Brown University in 1812, and was licensed to preach by the Baptist church in North East, October 4th of that year. In June, 1813, he was ordained at Bristol, R. I. On the 14th of March, 1814, he was installed pastor over the First Baptist Church in Boston, “where he accepted the difficult position of successor to the great Dr. SKELLMAN.” He died Feb. 22, 1820.

Abraham was a lawyer of some prominence. He was educated at Yale, studying there in 1815-’17, and at Harvard College. He studied law for three years under General James TALMADGE, of Poughkeepsie, and settled in his native town, but seems not to have made any great efforts to secure a large practice. He was remarkably well read in law, and would have made an excellent judge. He possessed a calm judicial mind, regulated at all times by the keenest sense of justice and the purest principals of morality. He died in Dryden, N. Y., April 4, 1843.

Horace WINCHELL, father to Alexander WINCHELL, the celebrated geologist and scientist, was born in North East August 12, 1796. He inherited a competency from his father, but manifested throughout his life a contempt of secular possessions, and devoted himself to labor in the cause of humanity and ecclesiastical reform. Destined by his father for a collegiate education, he completed the preparatory course at a somewhat famous classical school, conducted by Rev. Daniel PARKER, at Ellsworth, in Sharon, Conn., but becoming dissatisfied with certain tenets and practices of the Baptist church, of which he had been a member from the age of twelve, he became absorbed in the effort to correct reforms within his church, and finding this impracticable, he set himself to his life-long endeavor to reform the ecclesiastical world at large. He labored by personal appeals, by public addresses, and by printed works. He died June 26, 1873.

James WINCHELL was born March 5, 1763. He settled, originally as a carpenter, in the valley east of WINCHELL Mountain. On Ten Mile River which flowed past his residence--at first a simple-framed dwelling, afterward enlarged to an elegant mansion--he built a large flouring mill, which he continued to run for many years in connection with his farming operations. (Subsequently, for 18 years, he rented the mill to Alexander McALLISTER.) By industry and good management, he accumulated a large estate which he expended liberally in the cause of education and of the church. His parents and all his ancestry had belonged to the Presbyterian or Congregational church. In 1773, however, the influence of the revival spirit inaugurated by WHITEFIELD, resulted in the establishment of a Baptist society in North East, and in 1775 a chapel had been opened on a site which is now embraced in the south part of the burial ground, half a mile west of Spencer’s Corners. In the enlargement of his residence in 1826-’7, he fitted up a large room in the second story, where the society were in the habit of holding their meetings, during the winter months. In 1829 a new brick meeting house was built at Spencer’s Corners, costing $4,700. “Toward this sum there was recived from the society about $750.00, and from Deacon James WINCHELL $1,700.” During the same year through his influence and liberality a scholarship was raised, and a room furnished for the Theological Seminary at Hamilton, N. Y. He lived a pure and useful life, and died in North East, April 8, 1834, and was buried near Spencer’s Corners. His real estate was bequeathed to the church for the support of her ministry.

Philo Mills WINCHELL, born in North East, October 14, 1767, was another prominent citizen of the town. He united with the Baptist church in North East in 1786, and soon took rank among the most promising members. In 1829 he was elected to the Legislature of the State, and proved himself a competent and useful member. He died April 11, 1833.

John WINCHELL, born in North East July 31, 1794, was a farmer of some impotance. His children were Harriet, James Marcus, Philo Mills, Caroline, Homer. He died March 4, 1876.

James Marcus, one of the sons, now living in Millerton, was born in this town June 11, 1818, and has passed his life mainly in farming persuits. The farm of his family at one time embraced part of the present site of Millerton. He was a contractor in the construction of the Harlem and other railroads through this vicinity.

A prominent member of this family, and one of the most eminent natives of North East, is Alexander WINCHELL, ( To whose MSS, and printed publications kindly placed to our use, we are indebited for the facts relating to himself and the WINCHELL family.) The celebrated geologist, whose writings are widely known both in this country and in Europe.

Alexander WINCHELL, son of Horace, was born December 31, 1824. He was at first destined for the profession of medicine, and after acquiring a primary education, went in November, 1838, to South Lee, Mass., where he remained two years, attending the Stockbridge Academy in the summer, and the village school during the winter. In 1840 he returned to North East and began teaching in the common schools of the town. In 1842 he entered Amenia Seminary, graduated in the teachers’ course, and received the diploma in July, 1844. In September of that year he entered the Sophmore class, Wesleyan University, from whence he was graduated in August, 1847, and accepted a position as teacher of Natural Sciences in Pennington Male Seminary, N. J. In 1848 the chair of Natural Sciences at Amenia Seminary was proffered him, which he accepted in August of that year. (To this Seminary he presented 1,000 botanical specimens.) December 5, 1849, he was married to Miss Julia Frances LINES, of Utica, N. Y. From Amenia he went to Newbern, Hale county, Ala., in October, 1850, to take charge of an Academy at that place. In 1851 he assumed charge of the “mesopotamia Female Seminary, at Eutaw, Ala., where he entered at once upon that course of scientific investigation which had always been the unrealized vision floating before his mind. Here he remained until 1853, when, having been elected President of the “masonic University” at Se;ma, Ala., he sold out his affairs at Eutaw, and in July entered a new field, which proved to be an important step forward. The institution suddenly suspended operations on account of the ravages of the yellow fever in the vicinity, and he then accepted the position of Professor of Physics and Civil Engineering in the University of Michigan, November 16, 1853, and entered upon his duties January 24, 1854. In 1855, the University created the chair of Geology, Zoology and Botany, to which Prof. WINCHELL was transferred in July of that year. In 1859 he was state Geologist of Michigan, and editor and publisher of the Michigan Journal of Education. In August, 1872, he was elected to the Chancellorship of Syracuse University, and entered upon his duties January 17, 1873.

Professor WINCHELL was, perhaps, the very first scientist in America who descended before popular audiences from that high-caste and stately, but dry and unpopular, style in which the older scientists had thought it fit to cloak the dignity of science. Prof. WINCHELL has been also a popular and voluminous author. Among the numerous works which have emanated from his able pen are “Leaves from the Book of Nature,” (1858), “Voices from Nature” (1863), “Geological Surveys” (1867), “ The Geology of the Stars” (1873), “Sketches of Creation” (1870) and “Sparks from a Geological Hammer,” published in 1881. The Sketches of Creation” had, perhaps the largest sale of any scientific work ever published in America. His work on “Preadamites,” published in April, 1880, was received with universal favor, both as a literary production and for its scientific importance.

At the meeting of the Board of Regents of the University of Michigan, on the 25th day of June 1879, he was called to the chair of Geology and Palentology in the University, which position he still retains.

His grandfather, Martin E. WINCHELL, was Colonel of militia, and represented his district in the Legislature of New York in 1826 and 1827. His surviving brothers, all graduates of the University of Michigan, are Newton H., who is professor of Geology in the University of Minnesota, and State Geologist; Samuel R., founder, editor and proprietor of the Educational Weekly, Chicago; and Charles M., for some years connected as civil engineer, with the United States Survey of the Lakes. His surviving sister, Antoinette C., is the wife of Prof. Edward JOHNSON, of Lynn, Mass.

Josiah WILCOX lived on the farm afterwards owned by Alanson COLVER. He had one son, Elisha, and six daughters. It is said that Ethan ALLEN assisted at the “raising” of the house in which he lived, and John ARMSTRONG had the wound dressed in it which he received in a duel at Boston Corners in August, 1811.

Continued in Part Three

Typed and submitted by Janice Sanford

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