Otsego Town, Otsego, NY
Early Settlers, Part I
By Holice and Debbie

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Early Settlers of Otsego Town, Part I

Asel Jarvis did much towards the advancement of the town, and in 1813 erected the first foundry and machine-shop at Fly Creek village. William Cooper Jarvis was the first child born on the Cooper patent, and received a farm from Judge Cooper. Numerous descendants of the Jarvis family are residents of the county.

George Scott, a native of Yorkshire, England, emigrated to America in the year 1788, and coming to this county located about one mile north of Fly Creek. One son, Samuel Scott, who was born in 1809, now resides in the town, a short distance north of the old homestead.

Among those who left the "banks an’ braes" of old Scotia, and sought a home in the new county, was John Patten, a native of Perthshire, who came to this county, and, upon his arrival, entered the employ of Judge Cooper. In 1810 he purchased land in Fly Creek valley. His family consisted of nine children. A daughter, Mrs. Janette Williams, now occupies the old homestead. David, a brother of John Patten, settled in the town at the same time, and purchased lands at Pierstown, where he erected the first brewery in the county.

The close of the Revolutionary war witnessed the arrival in this town of many brave soldiers who had participated in that sanguinary struggle, and who, during eight long and dreary years, had endured its hardships and sufferings. Prominent among this number was Abner Pier. In an encounter with the Indians during the war he was scalped and left in the woods to die. The savage, as he dashed into the forest, with the scalp of his supposed victim dangling at his side, little thought him otherwise than dead, and had he visited the spot soon after, and witnessed the signs of returning consciousness, he doubtless would have considered it an intervention of the Great Spirit in behalf of the pale-face. Pier recovered from the shock, and subsequently settled in the locality known as Pierstown. From him the place derived its name. Major George Pier, also a pioneer in this vicinity, was a soldier in the War of 1812. He was celebrated as a musician.

A prominent resident at Pierstown was Hon. Isaac Williams, of honored memory, who settled in 1793. He occupied a prominent position among the citizens of the county, and served in various official capacities. He was sheriff in 1810, and subsequently re-elected to that office. He was a member of congress in 1813, 1817, and 1823. A son, Isaac K. Williams, resides in Cooperstown, and is foreman in the office of The Freeman’s Journal.

Darius Warren emigrated from the land of "steady habits." And in 1788 located in this town, and was the first person who received a deed of land from Judge William Cooper. He had a family of three sons and four daughters. The sons were Julius, Russell and Cyrenus.

Julius died at the age of eighty years. Russell, now at the advanced age of eighty years, and Cyrenus at seventy-seven, are still residing on the original purchase. Russell has two sons and one daughter, and Cyrenus one daughter living in the vicinity. The Stephens were also early settlers in this neighborhood.

Jonah Sprague, a native of Rhode Island, came in 1791, and located on "Whipple Hill," where he remained a few years, subsequently removed to a farm which he purchased of Ira Tanner in 1797. He married Esther, a daughter of Oliver Bates. He was a member of the 12th Regiment Artillery, New York State militia, in 1812, and served with the Army near Sacket’s Harbor. The regiment was commanded by Colonel Elijah H. Metcalf. Mr. Sprague remained on this farm until his death, which occurred in 1820. Mrs. Sprague died in 1850. Two sons are now living, viz., Jenks Sprague, M. D. , a resident of Hastings, Minnesota, and Colonel Hezekiah B. Sprague, of Upper Fly Creek valley, who now owns and occupies the farm where he was born in 1802.

Oliver Bates was also an early settler in Upper Fly Creek valley; he located in 1793 on lands north of the Sprague farm. Rudolphus Elderkin is also mentioned as a pioneer in the vicinity; he located in 1790. Sheldon Elderkin, a great grandson, resides in the vicinity.

In company with Rudolphus Elderkin came William Lathrop, from Connecticut; he owned a store, ashery, and a distillery. A granddaughter now occupies a portion of the farm upon which he located. In those early days wild animals were in abundance, and the settlements were much annoyed by the depredation of wolves and bears. Wolves were great cowards during the day, but in the night season made havoc upon the sheepfolds. Bruin was not considered dangerous to human life, but had a propensity for visiting the pig-pens; and woe to the unfortunate "porker" that came within his grasp. It is related of Mrs. Lathrop that she once made a charge with a broomstick on a bear that was making it unpleasant for the pigs, and succeeded in driving him from his prey.

Nehemiah Fitch was also an early settler in this vicinity. On a portion of the farm now owned by Buckingham Fitch his grandfather, Stephen Fitch, was a pioneer.

The following are also mentioned as pioneers in this locality, viz.: William Hawkins, Aaron Bigelow, George Roberts, Sylvanus Lord, Othniel Strong, and Ira Tanner.

One of the first school-houses in the town, out of Cooperstown, was built on the Sprague farm some time prior to 1720. The first teacher was Ephraim skinner.

Jesse Teft and Samuel Westcott are remembered as early carpenters. Dr. Bennett was a pioneer physician and school teacher. A Revolutionary soldier named Silas Wells and one Sutherland were early settlers.

Among the honored representatives of "ye olden time" was Erastus Taylor, who emigrated to this town from Bennington, Vt., when there was only three log houses on the site of the present flourishing village of Cooperstown. He purchased a tract of land, embracing 500 acres, lying in Fly Creek valley, three and a half miles above the village. His family consisted of four sons and two daughters. The longevity of the Taylor family is remarkable: Eleazer died aged eighty-seven years, and Daphne at the age of seventy-three. The following are still living in the vicinity; Joanna, aged eighty-one; Alexander, aged seventy-six; Amon, aged seventy-three; and Lester, aged seventy.

The healthful climate and fertile soil attracted others, and four years after the location of Erastus Taylor, his father, Thomas Taylor, came to the town, accompanied by his sons Thomas and Chester, and three daughters, Cynthia, Lucy, and Arena, and settled on the same tract purchased by Erastus. Thomas’ family consisted of two sons and two daughters, whose descendents reside in the vicinity. Numerous descendents of Chester, Alexander T., Amon, Daphne (Mrs. Jarvis), and Eleazer are numbered among the prominent citizens of the town.

Norman and Bingham Babcock, with their sister, Eliza, reside on the farm formerly occupied by their father and grandfather. Martin Coates, an early settler, occupied the premises where his father located in an early day. On the old homestead of Reuben Hinds lives a daughter of that pioneer, Mrs. Pickens. (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

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