Charleston's Pioneers and Their Businesses
From The History of Montgomery County and Fulton Counties, N.Y., by F.W. Beers & Co., 1878.
Among the early settlers prior to the war of the Revolution, were: Thomas Machin, Capt. John Stanton, Robert Winchell, Adin Brownley, Henry Mapes, David Kimball, Nathan Kimball, Ezekiel Tracy, Nathan Tracy, Abner Throop, John Eddy and Abiah Beaman; and these were followed later by Judah Burton, Abram Davis, John Butler, Charles Earing, Benjamin Baird, John Reimer, John Brand, John Hamilton, Isaac Conover, Peter Fero, Edward Montanye, Henry Shibly, John Schuyler, Garret I. Lansing, Alexander Hubbs, George Teeple, John Cochley, John Hoag, Elijah Herrick, Abram Guile, Ephraim Burtch, William Jamison, Joshua Tubbs, Christian Overbaugh, Sylvanus Willoughby, James Sutphen, Benjamin K. Kneeland, Elias Cady, Francis Hoag, Nathaniel Bowdish, Ira H. Corbin, James Jermain, Henry G. Staley, David Hamilton, James Petteys, Peleg Petteys, Cornelius Wiser, Sergeant Heath, Daniel Bryant, Clark Randall, Thomas Leak, Michael Winter, Jacob Weed, Jacob Smith, Ethan Eaton, Stephen Borden, Ezra Gordon, Richard Davis, Moses Pierson, Richard Clute, William Fero and John Onderkirk.
This town witnessed much of the distress suffered by the dwellers on the frontier during the Revolution, from the fact that the raiding parties of British, Indians and tories usually chose the Schoharie valley as their route from the valley of the Susquehanna to that of the Mohawk. The road leading directly north from Oak Ridge was the old Indian road, and on one occasion, during one of the hurried marches from the Susquehanna to the Mohawk, the British and Indians were pursued by a party of Americans, and, a short distance north of the house of late occupied by Noah Davis, built a barricade of their baggage-wagons, and for some time resisted the advance of the Americans, but were finally forced to retreat, burning the barricade as they left.
It was also on this road that the famous "stone-heap" was situated. There is a tradition that, long prior to the Revolutionary war, a white man was murdered at this spot, and the edict was issued that every Indian, in passing this spot, should throw a stone upon it. Who issued the command, and when it was issued, are questions whose answers are lost in the dim distance of time. The fact remains that every Indian who passed the spot did cast a stone upon it. One authority says: "Somewhere between Schoharie creek and Caughnawaga commenced an Indian road or foot-path which lead to Schoharie. Near this road *** has been seen, from time immemorial, a large pile of stones, which has given the name 'Stone-heap Patent' to the tract on which it occurs, as may be seen from ancient deeds." Rev. Gideon Hawley, in the narrative of his tour through the Mohawk country, by Schoharie creek, in 1753, makes the following allusion to the stone-heap: "We came to a resting-place and breathed our horses, and slaked our thirst at the stream, when we perceived our Indian looking for a stone, which, having found, he cast to a heap which for ages has been accumulating by passengers like him who was our guide. We inquired why he observed that rite. He answered that his father practiced it and enjoined it on him. But he did not like to talk on the subject. *** The custom or rite is an acknowledgment of an invisible being. We may style him the unknown god whom this people worship. This heap is his alter. The stone that is collected is the oblation of the traveler, which, if offered with a good mind, may be as acceptable as a consecrated animal. But perhaps these heaps of stones may be erected to a local deity, which most probably is the case." On this, Ruttenber remarks: "The custom referred to had nothing of worship in it. *** The stone-heaps were always by the side of a trail or regularly traveled path, and usually at or near a stream of water. The Indians paused to refresh themselves, and by throwing a stone or a stick to a certain place, indicated to other travelers that a friend had passed."
It was the custom of many of the early settlers, especially those who came from adjoining counties, to come to their new possessions in the spring and fell the trees, and in the fall burn them, and return to their homes to spend the winter months. After two or three years they would have sufficient space cleared to cultivate, and would then bring their families' and build their log-houses.
The first woman in the vicinity of Charleston Four Corners was Elizabeth Caw. She occupied a log-house, with blankets hung in the doorways and windows to keep out the night air.
CENTERS OF BUSINESS AND POPULATION
BURTONVILLE - Shortly after the close of the Revolutionary war, a tract of land in the south-east end corner of the town, one mile square, was granted to Judah Burton and others. The date of the first settlement at this point is not definitely known, but it was probably very shortly after the close of the war, if not a year or two previous to that date, from the fact that Judah Burton in the year of 1785, erected the first saw and grist-mill in the town. This building stood about half a mile below the location of the present mill at Burtonville, and was built by Felix Holt. A brisk business was carried on here, as it was for many years the only mill in town. The building remained until the year 1814, when a heavy freshet carried away the dam, and the business was abandoned at that point. In the same year however, a mill was erected at the site of Burtonville, by Jonathan, Ebenezer and Abram Mudge, which remained until the year 1850. In that year, Judah Burton, the son of the original settler, built the fine structure at present occupied by J. W. & N. H. Meriness. Burton, after building the mill, carried on the business until 1854, when he sold out to Smith Colyer, who continued it for two years, and was then succeeded by Charles M. Sitterley, who sold out in the year 1876 to the present firm. J. W. Meriness came to the town in 1854, and was employed in the mill when it was in the hands of Colyer. He has been here in the business since that time, with the exception of four or five years.
In 1810, Joseph Blanchard erected a carding machine and fulling mill, where he carried on business for a number of years. In 1844, A. G. Randall commenced the business of manufacturing woolen goods at Burtonville, and four years thereafter built the mill now occupied by himself and his son, who are now doing a first class trade. In connection with the business of manufacturing woolens, they make grape, honey, and packing boxes, and also have a patent right for manufacturing spring beds.
In 1812, a nail factory was erected here, but the business was carried on only for a short time.
In 1817, a tannery was erected at this point by Benjamin Davis. He was succeeded in 1826 by Benjamin Palmer, who continued the business until 1863, when the tannery was abandoned.
The first blacksmith shop in the village of Burtonville was put up in 1812, by John Walker, although one had been built previous thereto, about a quarter of a mile outside of the village limits.
The first hotel at this point was established shortly after the commencement of the present century, by Captain Abram Mudge, and in connection with this business he kept a general store for the accommodation of the resident farmers. From him the settlement took it's first name, Mudge Hollow, but when the post-office was established here, the more attractive name of Burtonville was conferred upon it.
In addition to these business enterprises, there are at Burtonville at the present time, a hotel, two stores, a saw-mill, a wagon shop, a harness shop, and two blacksmith shops. A sash and blind factory was formerly among the industries of the place, but was abandonded in 1862.
The first hotel at CHARLESTON FOUR CORNERS was kept by Philip Young, who began the business about the year 1810. Young also kept a blacksmith shop in connection with the hotel, and in this shop Isaac S. Frost, now of Canajoharie, established a store. Shortly after this Young built a hotel on the site of the one occupied by John H. Smith, but soon sold out to Captain Carl. The hotel thereafter frequently changed hands, among those who succeeded Carl being David Gordon, John and Andrew Frank, Edward Potter, Philip Rockafellow, Conrad Felters, William Hazard, and John H. Smith, the house at present being under the efficient management of the latter. Mr. Smith, although he has not the facilities for accomodating a large number of guests at one time, has the happy faculty of making every one who visits him feel very much at home.
Isaac S. Frost, who established the first store at Charleston Four Corners, was succeeded by Jesse Eaton, Eaton then took in a partner named Lovell, the firm name being Lovell & Eaton. Jas. Frost was the next occupant of the store, and he was succeeded by Charles McInstrey. The establishment was carried on as a union store, and afterward James Ford kept it for a year. After Ford, Wm. Maxwell carried on the business for eight or nine years, and was succeeded by Judson McDuffee. McDuffee built up a large trade, and did a thriving business until the year 1876, when the store was burned down. A store was afterwards opened by H. S. Simmonds in the lower part of an old wagon shop.
There have been a host of blacksmiths at the Four Corners since Philip Young first swung the sledge. Alonzo M. Scott, "the village blacksmith" at the present time, is a native of the town of Root, and was born in the year 1842. He came to Charleston in 1857, and went to farming at the Four Corners, but two years ago abandoned the plow for the forge. Mr. Scott was a member of the 13th Heavy Artillery during the rebellion, and served until the close of the war.
The other branches of business carried on at the Four Corners, are a cheese factory, a wagon shop, and an undertaking establishment. Although it does not show on the surface, there is quite an active business prosecuted at this point.
The first hotel at CHARLESTON, or, as it is more commonly known, RIDER'S CORNERS, was open shortly after the close of the last century. It is not known definitely who was the first proprietor, but among the first was Wm. Shaw, who was followed by a man named Wolverton. The hotel then passed successively into the hands of Elisha Wilcox, Richard Carley, Rowland Rider, Joseph Steel, Priest Rider, John A. Perkins, Daniel Schuyler, Geo. Fero, John A. Perkins, Wm. J. Rider, and the present owner and occupant, C. D. Hall. Formerly quite an extensive trade was carried on at this point. At one time about 25 years ago, there were two stores, a hotel, a millinery establishment, a blacksmith shop, two shoe shops, and a tannery. The tannery was established before the commencement of the present century by a man named Pierson, who was succeeded by his son, and the latter by Jacob Van Duysen. Jacob died and left the business to his son Joseph, who carried it on until about two years ago, when he closed it up. The store at this place was given up about eight years ago. Jacob Montanye was the last store keeper, and the business was formerly conducted in the building now owned by Mrs. Rebecca Rider.
At OAK RIDGE a store has been established for a number of years. The present merchant, Wasson C. Barlow, has by strict attention to business, and his courteous bearing toward his customers, established a large trade. Mr. Barlow is a native of the town, and is well known for many miles around. He served his country in the civil war, having enlisted in the 13th Heavy Artillery in December, 1863.
Formerly the farmers of Charleston devoted their lands to dairying purposes, but the high prices obtainable for hay for several years past induced many of them to sell off their cows and devote their attention to the raising of hay. Two years ago, after his store had been burned, Judson McDuffee went into the hay business. He purchases the hay from the farmers and ships it to buyers in New York and other large cities. Mr. McDuffee handles from four to five thousand tons of hay annually. He was born in the town in 1846, and has always lived in it. His father, William, owns three farms in the town at the present time, comprising, in all, 290 acres.
The above short articles were typed by Sandi Burns in honor of her Charleston ancestors, the Lott family, who were in Charleston through the 1810, 1820 and 1830 census. Some of the Lotts moved to Orleans County by 1830, while a John stayed behind and a Peter moved to Jefferson Co. Sandi is interested in any info on Abraham Lott (d. Oct. 4, 1827 in Orleans Co. NY) of the 1810 Charleston census, who appears to be the grandfather of her ancestor Abraham. [NOTE: after 15 years since this article went on line, the site coordinators have no way of contacting contributor Sandi.]
Last Updated: 11/2/97
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