The passages below are from the classic "The History of Montgomery County and Fulton Counties, N.Y." by F.W. Beers & Co., 1878. Included are two articles touching upon the small villages, some noted early citizens whose surnames turn up on our queries board, and an excerpt about farmers and farm ownership. Both articles, describing the passage of businesses and family farms over the generations, are useful to trace location and ownership of farms and residences of early ancestors.
Four post offices supply the mail facilities of the town. PORT JACKSON, the largest of the villages, lies upon the canal and river opposite Amsterdam, and affords pleasant homes for many persons doing business at that place, besides other inhabitants, numbering in all about 500.
It has one church, Reformed, built in 1850, in good repair, and well attended. A commodious public school-house, coal yards, grocery stores, and mechanics' shops, supply well the wants of its people and vicinity. A spacious dry dock affords good facilities for repairs of canal boats, and the freighting interests of the canal form no inconsiderable item in the business of the place, large quantities of coal, iron, flax-seed, linseed oil cake, machinery, grains, and heavy merchandise, being received here in transit.
Prominent among the enterprising residents of the business portion of the town of Florida, are the members of the firm of Van Buren & Putman, who located in Port Jackson, in 1861, succeeding Van Antwerp and Van Buren in the flour, feed and grain business. They now do an annual business of $125,000.
J.A. Eldrett has an extensive manufactory of carriages and sleighs at the same place, and J.W. Perkins a superior foundry and machine shop. Lewis Phillips is engaged in the grocery business, as well as attending to his farm on the river.
W.H. Moore, through his well kept hostelry, attends to the wants of the traveling public.
Chauncey Munsell is an educator of the tastes of the people, in the erection of model dwelling houses for their comfort and convenience.
Port Jackson stands on land which, at the time of the construction of the Eire Canal along here, was owned by Ephraim Brockway and Lewis Phillips. There were then only three houses at this point, which was spoken of by the people of the neighborhood as "down to the ferry", the ferry being then in operation. Soon after the canal was opened, John Stilwell erected a brick store building (now occupied by Van Buren & Putman as a feed store.) in which he for several years carried on a large trade. He also did an extensive business in lumber. A few years later George Warwick started an opposition store. The only stores in this region in the first years of this century, were one carried on by a man named De Forest, just below the Blood farm; another on Yankee Hill, kept by one Hall, on the place now owned by John Dean, and a third on the property now owned by N.J. Becker. Ephraim Brockway, above-mentioned, kept a tavern on the place belonging to J.J. Gray, at Port Jackson. There were others on Lewis Phillips' farm and at Yankee Hill, the last kept by Hallet Greenman, and standing on the farm now owned by J. Walrath.
SCOTCHBUSH POST-OFFICE, perhaps better known as Powder Spring, is a small hamlet of private dwellings, with a school-house and some shops, on the eastern border of the town, near a powder spring of considerable local notoriety and resort. Its waters have been analyzed, and are deemed efficacious in rheumatism and cutaneous diseases. The spring is nicely curbed and pavilioned. The flow, though not copious, is constant, and cattle seek the milky stream with avidity. A hotel and bath-houses have been projected here, but not constructed.
MINAVILLE, nearest the geographical centre of the town, received its name in 1818, replacing the not very distinctive title "The Street", or its less elegant form of "Yankee Street", by which it was long known. It was early and for many years quite a centre of country trade. It is prettily situated in a wide, verdant bowl, whose southern rim is the Shellstone and Bean Hill ranges, and its northern horizon a lower line of ridges, forming a woody fringe. Through it flows the winding Chuctenunda. The quiet air of thrift and comfort that rests upon the place is not unattractive, and one could here find a pleasant home if seeking seclusion, "the world forgetting, by the world forgot". Two churches, stores, a hotel, school-house, a cheese-factory and several shops are comprised in the village. The Reformed church was built in 1808. The residence now occupied by Gen. E. A. Brown was erected in 1811, and was then famous as the finest private residence in the county of Montgomery.
Dr. Z. H. Barney, of Minaville, is a native of Vermont. He graduated at Castleton College in that State, and began the practice of medicine in Saratoga county, N.Y., whence he removed to Port Jackson in 1826, and two years later to Minaville, where he has since followed his profession. He is seventy-eight years of age, and probably the oldest practicing physician in the county.
The Methodist Episcopal church of Minaville was organized about 1835, and the present building was erected. The men chiefly instrumental in founding this church were Rev. Nicholas Hill, Samuel R. Griffith, Henry Pettingill, Benjamin Herrick, William Thayer, and Marcus P. Rowland. Among the preachers here have been Revs. Henry Stead, Henry L. Starks, Stebbins, Joseph Connor, Ripley, Warner, J.W. Devendorf, Clark, Joseph Cope, Witherell, Jarvis, Duvall, Townsend and J. Hull, the latter now in charge.
Soon after the organization of the society a great revival occurred, under the labors of the Rev. Mr. Starks, which added largely to the originally small membership of the church. It was again reduced, however, by the formation of the Methodist societies at Fort Hunter and elsewhere, and there are now only about fifty members. Jacob Earnest, one of the stewards, has held the position some forty years. A parsonage was built about the year 1840, and the total value of the church property is estimated at from $3,500 to $4,000.
At a place formerly called MUDOK HOLLOW, on Chuctenunda creek, about a mile and a half from its mouth, there were, about the beginning of this century, two grist-mills and a tannery, the mills owned by one Rowland and Mudge & McDonald, and the tannery by Bethuel Dean. These buildings, together with a saw-mill at the same place, have passed away. On the site of the latter, which was owned by Andrew Frank, now stands the Serviss saw-mill. Haslett & Curtis were hatters in the Hollow in the time of its prosperity.
WILLIAM McCLUMPHA in 1857 located on, and has since owned, one hundred and ten acres of land, known as the Belding farm.
L. PHILLIPS owns a farm of some three hundred acres, which Lewis Phillips settled on about 1770. It was afterward owned by Philip, John and David Phillips.
The farm of A. C. PHILLIPS was in the possession of three generations of the family before him. It was originally settled and owned by Cornelius Phillips, who was killed at Oriskany. His son, William, was the next proprietor, and handed down the estate to his son, Cornelius, on whose death, in 1865, it fell to his son, the present owner.
The farm now owned by HIRAM HUBBS was first occupied by Jacob Vanderveer after the Revolution, and next by his son, Asher. Cornelius and John Hubbs then owned the place until the present proprietor came into possession. A family burial ground on the farm contains the remains of the former generations of the family.
R. M. HARTLEY's farm was something of a business centre about a century ago, there being a grist mill, potash works, a small store, etc., at this point, no traces of which remain.
L. CONOVER is the third of the name who have owned the farm on which he now lives. The first was Ruloff Conover, from New Jersey, who purchased it, about 1790, from one Phillips, and occupied it until his death in 1823. It then passed into the hands of his son, Cornelius, who died in 1865, leaving the property to the present owner.
RICHARD DAVIS is the proprietor of a farm owned by one Kline during the Revolution, afterward by Benjamin Pettingill, and then by C. Bent, until it came into the possession of Clark Davis about 1835. From him it passed, in 1865, to his son, who has since owned and occupied it.
J. Q. JOHNSON owns a farm, part of which was the old Johnson homestead, the buildings on which stood south of the present ones, and on the opposite side of the creek. Andrew Johnson located here about 1790, and remained until his death in 1806. William and Daniel Schuyler bought out his heirs and kept the place until 1828, when Jacob, a son of Andrew Johnson, purchased it. He lived in the old house until 1832, when he bought the adjoining property, on which he lived until his death in 1874. The estate then fell to the present owner. His house was built by Dr. Stephen Reynolds in 1804, and is thus one of the oldest in the town. The ground for the Chuctenunda Cemetery was bought off this farm in 1860.
DANIEL SCHUYLER's farm was owned by William Schuyler about the time of the Revolution. It fell to Jacob Schuyler in 1789, and on his death in 1806, to his son, Daniel, from whom it descended to the present owner in 1862.
A. SERVISS is the great-grandson of the original owner of his farm, which was also the property of his grandfather, Christopher, and his father, Lawrence Serviss. The present owner inherited the property in 1848, and has since occupied it.
J. H. STALEY's farm was taken up by one Bunn. It was afterward owned by John Staley until 1862, when it came into the hands of the present proprietor.
The place owned by JAMES CASEY was settled soon after the Revolution by Robert Casey, and remained in his hands until his death in 1841, when it fell to the present owner, who has made it his home from that time.
The farm of W.A. MILMINE was bought from Anne Willmot's patent by Gerrit Van Sente, jr., of Albany. He deeded it to John Strate, who first settled on the place, which he occupied until 1802. He then sold it to John Milmine, whose descendants have since held the property. John Milmine's son Alexander inherited the farm in 1828, and owned it until 1834, when the present owner came into possession.
An instance of long tenure of an estate in the same family, not very rare in this old county, is seen in the case of the farm now owned by J. H. VAN VECHTEN. It was cleared by his great grandfather, Hubartas Van Vechten, who took possession of the land about 1770. His son Derrick was his successor in the ownership of the place, and handed it down to his son David. From him the present owner bought part of the estate about 1846, and inherited the remainder in 1872. In the family cemetery on the farm the remains of the original owner and his wife have lain about a hundred years.
A similar case is that of the KEACHIE farm, which was first occupied by Andrew Keachie, before the Revolution, and on his death in 1825 fell to his son John, who, after cultivating it for thirty-eight years, left it to his three sons, two of whom, F. and A. Keachie, still occupy it.
J. KELLEY's place is another that has been cultivated from before the Revolution, when it was owned by William Stewart. After the war it was the property successively of Wm. Bigham, his son John, and John Kelly, before it came into the hands of the present owner in 1840.
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