Cherry Valley, Otsego, NY
GEORGE CLINTON CLYDE
Colonel Samuel Cylde, father of the subject of this memoir, was born in Windham, Rickingham, Co., N. H., April 11, 1732, of Scotch ancestry. His father was a farmer, and gave his son the education commonly bestowed upon their sons by New England farmers. At an early age he entered the military service of his country, and was appointed captain of a company by General Abercrombie (his commission bearing date 1758), which served during the war between Great Britain and France, terminating in 1762. He was at the taking of Fort Frontenac, and was with General Bradstreet, and shared with him that disastrous defeat before Ticonderoga. In this war he laid the foundation of that military knowledge and experience that was called into use in after-life in resisting the arbitrary acts of the British parliament. During that war he formed an intimacy with Dr. Matthew Thornton, afterwards one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, then, surgeon of the regiment in which Colonel Clyde was captain.
In 1761 he married Catharine Wasson, niece of Dr. Thornton, and in 1762 removed to Cherry Valley, then the extreme outpost of civilization in Tryon county, which included all territory west of Albany. Colonel Clyde purchased a tract of land in cherry Valley, and engaged in farming, which he afterwards pursued until the stirring scenes of the Revolution called him to other pursuits. He early espoused the cause of the colonies, and was among the leading spirits in preparing the minds of the inhabitants of the Mohawk valley for that stubborn resistance which they subsequently displayed in resisting the resisting the arbitrary power of the British crown. He was an active participant in all the military movements, from the beginning to he close of the war, for the defense of the country. He was present with his command at that terrible hand-to-hand fight at Oriskany, in which General Herkimer was killed. In this battle he was knocked down by a low from a British musket, but was rescued by a man named John flock, who shot the man who had given the blow.
This musket is now in the possession of his great-grandson, James D. Clyde, M. D., of Cherry Valley.
He was a member of the committee of safety, from the beginning of the war to the close, which had exclusive legislation for the county. After General Herkimer and Colonel Cox were killed, the command of the military devolved upon Colonel Clyde, who discharged his duties with such marked ability that he acquired the confidence of all who knew him, and a congratulatory latter of thanks was sent him at the close of the war by General Clinton. He was elected a member of the legislature from Tryon county, and served in that capacity in the first legislature which met under the constitution of 1777, and was appointed one of the committee by that legislature to wait upon congress to memorialize that honorable body for aid in protecting the frontiers from the incursions of the Indians. At the close of the war he returned to Cherry Valley, and was appointed by Governor Clinton sheriff or executive officer of Tryon county, a position which he in fact had held during most of the war. When Montgomery county was set off from Tryon county he was appointed by Governor Clinton sheriff of Montgomery county, the duties of which office, as well as every public trust reposed in him, he discharged with credit to himself and to the satisfaction of the public. He closed his active and eventful life on the 30th day of November, 1790, on the "Clyde Farm" in Cherry Valley, which he purchased in 1762. This farm is now in the possession of Dr. James D. Clyde. Colonel Clyde was commissioned captain in 1758, adjutant in 1775, major in 1776, and lieutenant-colonel and colonel in 1778.
Hon. George Clinton Clyde, the subject of this sketch, grandson of Colonel Clyde, was born on the old homestead farm April 25, 1802. He received his education at the academy of Cherry Valley, in the prosperous days of that institution, and when such men as Alvin Stewart and the father of postmaster General Randall wee at its head. While yet young, and, as he himself afterwards said, much too young, he entered as a student at law in the office of Hammond & Beardsley (Jabex D. Hammond and Levi Beardsley), historic names in the county of Otsego. He was admitted t o the bar of the supreme court in 1842, and in the following year he established himself in practice in Burlington in this county, having formed a copartnership with Hon.William G. angel, then representative in congress from the Otsego district. At Burlington he prosecuted a successful professional business, and remained there till the beginning of 1835, when he removed to Cooperstown, having in the previous fall been elected clerk of the county by a large majority. At the close of his official term, being in poor health, he returned to Cherry Valley, and spent the year 1838 at his father's, having determined a that time to close his professional business.
In 1829 he was married to Miss Catharine Dorr, a daughter of Dr. Russel Dorr, of Chatham, in the county of Columbia. That circumstance aused him to turn his attention to that town as a place of residence, and, on recovery of his health, he removed there in 1839. He was at once received in Columbia with marked favor. For four years he was one of the judges of the old court of common pleas, and in May, 1846, he was elected delegate from Columbia county to the constitutional congress of that year, called to frame a new constitution for the State of New York. His grandfather had been a member of the first assembly of New York. His uncle, the late Colonel Joseph Clyde, had been a member of the constitutional convention of 1821, and the judge felt a laudable pride in his return, in the third generation, to the convention of 1846. At the organization of that convention he received a handsome complimentary vote for the office of president, and in its proceeding he was an active and useful member. He spent twelve years in Columbia county, but he had a strong attachment for the beautiful valley where he was born, and in 1852, then fifty years of age, he returned to the home of his birth and youth, there, in his own expressive language, "to spend his days, and finally to sleep with his fathers."
Judge Clyde was a genial friend, a patriotic citizen, an excellent lawyer, an able counselor, a wise judge, and an honest man.
He died Dec. 21, 1868, leaving a wife and son who still reside in Cherry Valley.
*The History of Otsego, NY, Duane Hamilton Hurd, 1878
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Transcribed by Holice B. Young
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December 23, 1999