The History of Otsego, NY 
Early Settlers

By Holice and Debbie

William Angell, who settled contemporaneously with Major Tunnicliff, came from Rhode Island, and located on what has subsequently been known as "Angell’s Hill," in school district No. 3. His family consisted of six sons and several daughters. The sons were Caleb, Joshua, Prentiss, Stephen, Robinson, and William G., all of whom were esteemed citizens. William G. was an influential man, and represented this district in congress; Joshua settled on the farm where H. Fay now resides, and Thomas Angell on premises owned by Milton Taylor. David R. and Joseph, sons of Caleb Angell, are residents of the town. The former resides on the old homestead, and the latter at Exeter Centre, on the farm formerly owned by Dr. Buckingham.

Among the many worthy pioneers who left the "land of steady habits" and sought homes in what was then considered the "western wilderness," was Jonathan Angell, who located in Burlington in 1806, and a few years later in this town. He settled on the farm now occupied by Marvin T. Matterson. His family consisted of nine children, only one of whom survives, viz., Jonathan Angell, at the advanced age of seventy-five, who resides at Exeter Centre.

Other early settlers in this vicinity were Seth Tubbs, Jacob Goble, and Caleb Clark. At West Exeter the pioneers were Seth Tubbs, Bethel martin, Amos and Hull Thomas.

On the Angell farm a little mound may now be seen which marks the remains of one of the first log houses built in the town this primitive domicile was erected by Jacob Goble. It seems that Mr. G. forestalled the march of internal improvements, locating this house before the highway was surveyed. The survey and laying out of the road left it back about fifty rods.

A few years occupancy of this building convinced him ht he was too far "back in the woods," and in 1806 he erected a frame house on the road, 26 by 30 feet. This building is now standing, and on the chimney may still be seen the figures indicating the date of erection, "1806."

The early settlement in the vicinity of Schuyler’s Lake was made by George, harry, and Abram Herkimer, and William Lickell. On the place subsequently known as the "Herkimer Farm" a small improvement had been made prior to the Revolution.

One of the prominent and early settlers of the town was Levi Beardsley, who came to the "Herkimer Farm" with his father in 1790. He remained here one or two years, and then removed to Richfield.

We give the reader a glimpse of those early days, subsequently pictured by Mr. Beardsley. Their advent into this region he happily describes:

"We left our eastern home with a cart, one or two wagons, one or two yoke of oxen, three or four horses, and a few cattle, sheep, and hogs. The roads were excessively bad, and we took but little household goods with us. My mother was left behind with a sick child. My sister, about two years older than myself, was, with me, stowed away in the cart or wagon, among the chairs and furniture, and put under the care of a girl brought up by my grandfather."

Some distance this side of Canajoharis they abandoned their vehicles, in consequence of the bad condition of the roads, and proceeded on their journey:

"Some of the party drove the live stock, and went on the best way they could. My father put a saddle on one of the horses, and on another packed a bed and bedding, on which the girl was to ride. I was placed on the horse behind him, on a pillow tied to he saddle, with a strap under my arms buckled around his waist to prevent me from falling off, and carrying my sister before him, we pursued our journey, the girl, Sukey, riding the other horse on the top of the bed and bedding, and a yearly colt tagging after. This constituted the cavalcade so far as my father and his family were concerned."

Their destination was finally reached, and soon after Mr. Beardsley’s father returned to he east and brought his wife and sick child to the new country. He says,--

"She rode the horse on a man’s saddle, and carried the child, my father in a patriarchal manner walking by her side; and thus the family were at length reunited in the woods, at the foot of the beautiful lake and by the side of the fine little stream known as ‘Herkimer Creek,’ then full of fish, particularly the speckled trout."

It may not be uninteresting to the dwellers of to-day, who are favored by mills and railroads, and live in costly homes, surrounded by the comforts and improvements of the nineteenth century, to glance at an

Exeter dwelling of 1790. Mr. Beardsley says,--

"The house that we moved into was a small log cabin, the body laid up, and part, though no the whole, of the root was covered with black ash and elm-bark, which had been peeled from the trees at the season when bark is taken off easily. When opened out and put on the roof, and pressed down with poles or small timbers, the rough side exposed to the weather, it makes a good roof, that will last several years and shed the rain quite well. One house was partially covered, and when it rained we had to put our effects and get ourselves under that part which was sheltered. The floor was made of basswood logs, split and hewed partially on one side, and then spiked down, making a good substantial floor, but only about half of ours was laid. We had no fireplace or chimney, and till this was built the cooking must all be done out of doors. A place for the door was cut out so that we could go in, but no door had been made, nor had we any way of fastening the doorway except by barricading. There was, of course, no chamber floor, though this was supplied by loose boards subsequently obtained. A mud-and-stick chimney and fireplace were afterwards added as the weather became cool, and to gt earth or clay to make mortar to daub the house and make the chimney a hole was dug under the floor, which was our early cellar, in winter, we put a few bushels of potatoes and turnips, and took up one of the flattened logs from the floor whenever we wanted anything from below. I have said there was no door when we moved in. My father, on reaching the house with my mother and family suspended a blanket at the doorway to keep out part of the night air."

At this time there wre no stores in the vicinity; and the settlers wre obliged to journey long distances to a grist-mill, the nearest being located at Toddsville, about three miles from Cooperstown.

The first grist-mill in the town was erected on Herkimer creek by John Hartshorn, on premises now owned by Seth L. Bliss. He also built the first saw-mill, on lands now owned by John Sutherland.

The pioneers were compelled to travel many miles for the necessities of life, and it was no small acquisition to this new settlement when C. Jones, in 1810, opened a store at Schuyler’s Lake.

The first hotel at Schuyler’s lake was kept by Eliphalet Brockway, on the site now occupied by Veber’s Hotel.

The pioneer merchant at Exeter Centre was Bailey Plumb.

The first tannery was erected neat Exeter Centre by Ransom Comstock.

The first survey of roads in Exeter was made by Judge Peck, of Burlington, and the first frame bridge was built over what is known as the "gulf."

John Phillips was an early settler and pioneer carpenter and joiner. He erected one of the first frame houses in town, now occupied by Deacon Phillips.

Many years after the first settlements were made, each settler attended to his own horseshoeing, but as the population increased this was abandoned, and the demand for blacksmiths became a pressing necessity. Among the first at Exeter Centre is mentioned the name of Ira Perry, and at Schuyler’s Lake, Samuel and Joseph Hartshorn.

One of the first schools in the town was kept by Azubah White, in a log building in 1806.

Major Tunnicliff built the first distillery, on the Fern farm, soon after his settlement, and Ebin Hartshorn erected the first tannery, on the premises now occupied by H. J. Baker.

One of the earliest settlers at Schuyler’s Lake was Hendrick Herkimer, a member of the celebrated Herkimer family, which occupied such a prominent position during the border wars. In 1774 a rude cabin was erected on Herkimer creek by a family named Schuyler, who occupied it during the Revolution. This family succeeded in maintaining a strict neutrality during that struggle, and was not molested by the savages, who carried war throughout every other portion of the county where a white settler had secured a foothold.

This locality was often visited by scouts from Fort Herkimer during the Revolution, and it is related that when Brant and his dusky legion were prowling in the vicinity of Schuyler’s Lake, an intrepid scout, named Abram Herkimer, penetrated the forest as far as Deerlick creek. Here she found a band of savages engaged in a triumphant war-dance, the woods resounding with their demonic yells. He immediately returned to the fort, but too late to apprise the garrison of the movements of the Indians, and on the following day the dusky warriors attacked the settlement at Cherry Valley, where occurred the most inhuman massacre recorded in the annals of our country. Schuyler’s Lake was a favorite of the savages, and many scouts were sent from time to time to watch their movements. Soon after the adventure of Herkimer, one Smith, a scout of considerable notoriety, undertook the perilous task of visiting this post. He reached the cabins of the Schuyler family mentioned above, where he remained one night, and continued his perilous wanderings. The day following he came upon two savages, one of whom he killed, and upon returning to the cabin of the Schuylers he was told that a party of warriors wre in the vicinity, and if he held his life a a farthing’s value he would immediately fly to the fort. He ran nearly the entire distance to Fort Herkimer, and died two weeks afterwards from exhaustion.

Transcribed by Holice B. Young

HTML by Debbie

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