The History of Otsego, NY
By Holice and Debbie
|Among those brave
spirits who led the pioneer van was Paschal Franchot, a native of
France, who left his sunny home for an abode in the wilds of the New
World. His advent into the wilderness, and the incidents of the journey,
together with much other valuable information, is thus pleasantly
related by himself: "You ask an old settler to give you the
historical association pertaining to the old town of Butternuts. This
town derives its name from three butternut-trees growing from one stump,
were noted as being the corner of three patents, to wit: the Otego,
Wells, and Hillington, which latter contains 18,000 acres, being chiefly
in said town, and being able also at this day the corner of three towns,
Pittsfield, New Lisbon, and Butternuts, now called Morris, being the
southwest corner thereof. This tract was purchased by Henry Hill before
the Revolutionary War of Gov. Franklin, and was part of a tract of
47,000 acres patented to Geo. Butler and others, who conveyed the said
18,00 acres to William Franklin and others, owned by Mr. Holker, at that
time French consul-general, and partly by Le Ray de Chaumont, who also
owned the Middleton patent, part of which, with the above, is now called
the town of Morris, leaving the old name of Butternuts to that part
consisting mainly of the Morris and Upton Patents, with 4,000 acres of
the Otego patent, being about five miles distant from the three
butternut-trees from which the name was derived.
"Benjamin Lull and five of his sons, Benjamin, Lull, Jr., Joseph, Caleb, Nathan, and William, with their families, Ebenezer Knapp, Increase and Moses Thurston and Family, came from New-Town-Martin, of Tryon, late county of Albany, together with Hugh M. Irish, Benjamin Stone, William Pierce, Esquire Brooks, jack Johnson, and Robert Garrett, all English, and settled with their families in and about Hillington and Wells’ patent in 1773, or before, in Butternuts. All these people were harassed and driven off by the Indians under Colonel Brant during the Revolutionary War.
"Mr. Jonathan Moore and sons were the next settlers.
"Le Ray de Chaumont, in company with Mons. Le Choutteau explored Hillington and Middleton patent, and under the auspices of the said Holker and Chaumont, Louis de Villiers, Esq., a French gentleman, settled and cleared a large farm now called Elm Grove. The widow Rosseau and three sons, from the city of Paris, and Francois Cockrell first settled Louisville.
"Mons. Renourd, Mons. Perry and M. de Lay, all French, settled in what was then called Chaumont Valley, now New Lisbon, on lands of le Ray.
"Among the first settlers of the Upton patent should be mentioned De Burgers and his father, remarkable as the largest and most corpulent man I ever saw, and withal, possessing gentlemanly manners. General Jacob Morris told me when he came to his place, New Morrisania, as he then called it, he first embarked at the head of Otsego Lake, and followed the Susquehanna River to the Unadilla River, and up that river to the mouth of the Butternut creek, thence to the tract on which he settled and cleared his farm in Morris’ patent. About the same time Abijah Gilbert, Esq., settled Gilbertsville, and owned 1,000 acres in that neighborhood. Mr. Upton also settled Mr. chamberlain on his farm, now owned by Mrs. Fenno and sons.
Meesrs. Liekans & Boone, at that time agents of the Scotland land company, made, previously tot heir settlement of Casenovia and Brownsville, experiments in Otsego on a considerable scale in making maple sugar, and satisfied themselves in what could be done in that line of business. All these gentlemen, together with some from Cooperstown, at times congregated together, mostly at Louis de Villiers’, Esq., and at our dwelling, and passed the time very pleasantly.
"At the beginning of the French Revolution my father emigrated from France to this country with the intention to settle his sons on the Ohio, where a considerable French settlement was begun. When we arrived at New York, Count De la Forest, consul-general of France, advised us to settle on lands of Le Ray de Chaumont, in Hillington, especially since a bloody Indian war then existed in Ohio. Accordingly, with la Forest’s advice, after wintering at New York, which contained 50,000 inhabitants, we embarked in April 1790, with our luggage and one year’s provisions, for this place; arrived at Albany in a passage of eight days; thence to Schenectady in wagons; thence in bateaux up the Mohawk river to Canajoharis; thence hired six wagons to the head of Otsego Lake, as major Staat’s who then lived at the carrying-place, where we were disappointed in finding boats to carry us to Cooperstown. Being the youngest, I came down to Cooperstown and made out to get Captain Stewart Averill and others, with all the boats, and brought our luggage and family to the outlet of the lake, on the banks of which a tavern was kept by a worthy Scotchman, Mr. Ellison, where we were well entertained, and were introduced to Mr. Bowers from New York, who was then on the opposite bank clearing and burning brush, where his house was afterwards built.
"I found that I had committed a blunder; there was no road from Cooperstown to Butternuts. I ought to have turned off from Springfield to Schuyler’s Lake, and so on to Tunnicliff’s and Burlington, but this path was so blind I got bewildered; raveled most all night, and happened to see, just before daylight, fires, for which I started, and found a Mr. Palmer, who had got up to punch his log heaps, and who met me with a hand-spike, in a threatening posture, but were soon made friends. I was so much Frenchified he could not understand me. I must have been a curiosity, for he examined me very closely; my manchettes, my coat, my shoes, my double-barreled gun, all appeared odd to him. He became very kind to me; took me to his house and comforted me the best way he could, and after feeding me and showing me real good-will he put me in the right road and I arrived safely at butternuts, distant seventeen miles.
"After apprising my brother of my mistake he immediately set out, with the advice of Judge Cooper, hired Major Butterfield, as excellent, good man, and some of his neighbors, who cut out a road from this place to Johnson’s, a mile above Garrettsville, and moved the family and all our luggage from Cooperstown with ox-wagons exactly fitted for going through the woods. My father, as soon as he saw us snugly settled, returned to France.
"Soon after, I lost two brothers, Francois and Augusta. My eldest brother, Louis, died in 1800, after being in partnership eight years. I pursued the mercantile business with Mr. Voikert Peter Van Rensselaer, from Claverack, who was introduced by Mr. John De Peyster Douw, a hardware merchant of Albany, until 1814, when I retired from mercantile business, and was agent for Le Ray de Chaumont and others in settling lands, and clearing and extending my farm, and bringing up a large family. I have, I believe, done my humble part in improving our country, and I feel I shall not long remain here, having attained fourscore of years and about worn out."
Mr. Pascal Franchot, born March 30, 1774, in the Department de la Haute Marne, Canton de Sainte Dezier, Commune de Chamonilly, married for his first wife Miss Catharine Hansen, of Greenbush, N. Y., and for his second wife, Miss Deborah Hansen, both of whom were daughters of Derrick Hansen. His family consisted of ten children,--three sons and seven daughters,--viz.: Miss Julia A. Franchot, resides in the village of Morris; Helen married Volkert de Peyster Douw, of Albany; Joanna married henry R. Van Rensselaer, of Morris; Francis G. married A. C. Powell, of Syracuse; Meta married Robert Wells, of Riverton, N. J.; Miss Antoinette and Chas. F. reside in Syracuse; Louis Franchot, deceased; his widow resides in the village of Morris, Marie Augusta in Canandaigua. Richard Franchot, deceased; his widow resides in Schenectady.
Richard, son of Rascal Franchot, born in Morris in 1816, was a leading citizen of the county. He held the office of supervisor of the town, and was for several years president of the Albany and Susquehanna Railroad. In 1860 he was elected to congress from this district, and in 1862 was made colonel of the 121st. Regiment, N. Y. S. V. he afterwards resigned his commission to Colonel Upton, of the regular army, and after serving out his term of office removed his residence to Schenectady. He was chiefly instrumental in establishing the cotton and woolen fabric factories at Morris, and did much to advance the general interests of the town. He died in Schenectady on Nov. 23, 1875.
Benjamin Lull and five sons,--Benjamin, Jr., Joseph, Caleb, Nathan, and William Lull,--Jonathan Moore, Andrew Cathcart, Jacob Morris, Ebenezer Knapp, and André Renourd, were also among the pioneers.
In those early days it was not an uncommon occurrence for the female portion of the household to leave their domestic duties and assist in the sever toils of the field and forest. It is related of Martha, the daughter of Ebenezer Knapp, that, in 1775, she employed herself in the "sugar-bush," "good run’ sometime obliging her to feed the fires under four kettles until midnight. One night, while thus engaged, hearing a fierce growl which betokened the near approach of wolves, she immediately returned it, at the same time swinging fire-brands in defiance of their attack. During that season she made 215 pounds of sugar, with which her father was enabled to purchase at a distant village sufficient quantity of grain to supply them with bread the ensuing summer.
The first marriage in the little settlement was that of Joseph Lull and Martha Knapp, mentioned above. They settled on a farm about one mile distant from their parents, and here, in the midst of a dense forest, with strong hearts and willing hands, began the battle of life.
The peace and quiet of their home was, however, not destined to remain. The Revolutionary War, which began the previous year at Lexington, had now penetrated the wilderness and broken the quiet of the valley homes o the settlers.
A company of British soldiers passing through without molesting their rude dwelling excited the suspicion of those who called themselves "Whig," and Mrs. Lull soon saw her father and husband arrested on the charge of being "Tories," and conveyed to Albany for trial. Thus left a lonely occupant of her new home, she was in a few days called on to defend herself, and property from the frequent attacks of enemies.
It was now fall, and her husband’s brothers, three of whom were fortunately left, appointed a husking-bee at her house.
In the afternoon of that day, while sitting in her desolate home, a tap was heard at the door. She arose, and upon opening t in stalked fourteen Oneida Indians. She welcomed them as brothers, extending to them her hand in taken of her friendship. Pleased with such a friendly reception, they seated themselves, manifesting their good-will and peace. At their request she began to prepare supper. In the mean time, her brother entered, and, in the same manner as she had done, gave the red men a friendly welcome to their home. After supper, which was heartily discussed by the Indians, the invited quests began to make their appearance. As may be supposed, their number was small, and the assistance of the Indians was acceptable. The "sons of the forest’ seemed disposed to assist, and soon set themselves to work, and chatted and made merry till midnight, when, weary of labor, all reclined upon the husks of corn.
Scarcely, however, were their eyes closed in sleep when a man and woman appeared and informed them that the Continentals were in the northern part of the settlement, at the same time advising them to secure their goods. These tidings quickly excited the war spirit of the savages. With a shrill whistle calling to their aid two of their numbers who had been stationed as sentinels they seized the half-sleeping men and quickly disappeared over the hill. The remainder of the night was passed by the women in fear and weeping. At dawn of morning it was agreed to go to the house of Mr. Knapp, and on opening the door they met two of the same Indians, who had but an hour or two before disappeared so suddenly, dressed in the most frightful form. The Indians demanded of them where they were going. "To my father’s house," replied Mrs. Lull. "You must prepare to go to Cherry Valley," was the answer, and, seizing one of them by the shoulder, who was sobbing bitterly for the loss of her husband and for the dread of her own fate, he stamped fiercely on the ground, and commanded her to "whist." Feigning to draw a knife upon another, he terrified her into the surrender of her silk handkerchief. Then proceeding to the barn, they set it on fire, and thus destroyed the fruits of a year’s patient industry. They returned to the house, gathered up some clothing and household utensils, and were about to depart, leaving the women surrounded by the smoke of the burning buildings, when Mrs. Lull inquired if she must go with them; they answered, "No; go long to your father’s home, where you said you were going." She questioned them closely as to what they intended to do with the prisoners, and learned that nothing serious need be apprehended. This intelligence, though communicated in the unfeeling manner of an Indian, somewhat relieved her heart. The whole company of women and children then set out and arrived in safety at her father’s house, where they found the people ignorant of what had happened.
Restless and discontent while separated from her husband, and fearing a repetition of the same alarming scenes through which she had just passed, she desired to go to Cherry Valley, from which place the communications with Albany was more direct, and where friends of a more thickly-settled region offered greater protection. Filled with the resolve of proceeding thither, she returned to her own home in search of a horse which they had pasturing in the field. The search was in vain. The Indians had returned, killed a hog, and taken the horse to carry off the pork. Almost despairing of being able to accomplish her object, she was cheered by the return of her brother from Albany with three horses, one of which she obtained, and, with her sister, set out for cherry Valley, thirty miles distant, the path leading through an unbroken forest, marked trees being their only guide. They rode alternately, carrying three children,—one two years, one sixteen months, and one six months old,--two of whom were the children of a deceased sister.
After enduring many hardships they at length reached their place of destination. But here another difficulty arose; they were without provisions. On applying to the colonel commanding they received an order on the commissary, with which they got half rations for three weeks, when Joseph Lull returned, having been found innocent of the charge alleged and was released. Hearing that the Indians designed an attack upon the place, he immediately obtained a horse, and, with hi family, started for Dutchess county, which them seemed to be a place of refuge. They had gone four miles when the report of fire-arms told that the attack had begun. Congratulating themselves upon their timely escape from this scene of devastation and bloodshed, they hastened onward and reached in safety their destination, a distance of one hundred and sixty miles. There the family remained until the close of the war, during which time three more were added to their number.
Now peace once more invited them to their long-deserted home. Having prepared such things as necessity might demand, they commenced their long wished for return. At Middlefield they wee detained until spring by the great depth o snow. From thence, leaving their sleighs, and binding their children flat upon their horses lest they might be town off by the overhanging branches of the trees, they traveled on foot, sometimes crossing the rapid streams on a string-piece, which chanced to be spared by the floor, while they guided the horses by the halter as they swam with their loads. Arriving at New Lisbon, they rested upon the ground until morning, and then with difficulty reached that home from which they had been five years exiles.
Joseph Lull died in March, 1840, aged eighty years, leaving eleven children and ninety nine grandchildren. His wife died in June, 1851, at the advanced age of eighty-nine years. They reared a numerous family, only three of whom survive, viz., Jacob K. Lull, now at the advanced age of eighty-three years, resides in the village of Morris. He has been an active man in his town and county, and besides holding the office of supervisor several terms was member of assembly in 1838.Cyrus resides in Jordan, Onondaga Co., N. Y., and Nathaniel W. in Jefferson Co., N. Y. Mrs. Turner Davis, a granddaughter, lives in Morris village. Ezra Lull, a son of Caleb, resides in this town, aged eighty years.
Jonathan Moore, wife, and four sons came from Salisbury, Conn., in about the year 1792, and located on adjoining farms. Two sons with their families subsequently moved to the west. Alanson, the eldest, married Asenath Skinner, and had a family of our children. Two sons reside in town. Ansel C. Moore, a banker in Morris village, married Esther Freeman, and had a family of four daughters and one son; Mrs. Mary F. A. Pearsall resides with her father; Josephine married Everett E. Yates, and lives in New jersey; Albert G. married Elizabeth Beardsley, and died Feb. 10, 1870; Victorine is the wife of Hon. James E. Cooke, of Morris; Amelia married Rev. Romaine S. Mansfield, and resides in Spring Valley, N. Y. Mr. Ansel C. Moore was first vice-president and a member of the first board of directors of the bank of Cooperstown, subsequently merged into the Second national Bank of Cooperstown, and was also the supervisor of Butternuts for eight years.
A daughter of Jonathan Moore, named Ruth, married Nathan Lull; Charity married Uri Jackson; Charlotte married William Lull; and Cynthia married Amos Perry.
An honored pioneer of Morris was Benjamin David, who settled contemporaneously with Pascal Franchot in "Louisville," now the village of Morris. He built a tannery on the corner of the street opposite the Louisville Hotel, which he continued until his death. His family consisted of three sons and one daughter, viz.: Elizabeth married Samuel C. Gilbert, and resides in Gilbertsville; John, deceased, married Sarah Morris; Jonah, deceased, married Tamar Palmer, who lives in Morris village; and James W. lived and died in Kingston, on the Hudson.
Ichabod B. Palmer, wife, and family moved from Connecticut soon after the beginning of the War of the Revolution, and settled two miles above the village on the east side of the creek, on a farm which he carried on as long as he lived. A son, Amos, then occupied the farm, which remained in his possession until his death, which occurred in 1862. Ichabod B. Palmer’s family consisted of nine children,--three sons and six daughters. Ammi Palmer, a son, died in Cleveland, Ohio, at the advanced age of one hundred and four years. Other children are a follows, viz.: Amos Palmer married Theresa Lull, and had a family of eleven children; Mrs. Tamar Davis is the only one living in the town; Rev. Noble Palmer is the rector of the Episcopal Church in Havana, N. Y.; Amos P. Palmer resides in Albany, and is a banker; Jacob K. is a resident of Warren, Pa., and carries on the tanning business; Ichabod B. is a farmer, and resides near Ithaca; a daughter married Cornelius Jones, and resides with a son, Wm. Jones, a merchant, In Exeter; one, now deceased, married Dr. Wm. Yates, and the old homestead is now occupied by a son, George Yates; on , now deceased, was the wife of Wolcott Dunning; and lived in New Lisbon; and another daughter, also deceased, became the wife of Richard Pratt, and resided in Burlington.
Transcribed by Holice B. Young
HTML by Debbie
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