Joseph Cook.

Home sketches of Essex county. First number online

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road bad been out out and worked some, to be sure, but such a road ! —
old logs to tumble over, long limbs to rake you off the horse, dripping
leaves, rocks, slough-holes, mire and mud, mud, mud, and my old lame
horse scarce able to carry my pillow bier, half staggering with my weight.
There was not much of anything at the Lower Village. At the Upper
Village there was a little more, and out through Trout Brook valley,
George Cook, Handy, and Rich had made .claims. Much heavy timber
we rode under, beech and maple mostly, some pine on flats and hills ;
no underbrush ; and a great many wind-falls. Went on by the School
House to Rowley place, all woods there, and then on to Wilson Spen-
cer's log-house and orchard, and there rested for the night, some people
from Vermont, and boarded there that summer. We used to take a
big red dog to protect the children going to school through the woods in
the morning. My education was not very extensive ; I knew a little of
grammar and geography, but taught them very little, nor did I have
any scholar even in the winter school in arithmetic. To read, spell,
and write was all they thought necessary. My wages were $1,25 a
week, a great price in those days : no one hardly could get more than
six or eight shillings. Parents come in often at my school, and once
we had a party for the scholars with tea. Scholars always took their
places in spelling. We always gave presents or some trifle on the last
day of school. I had pieces learned and spoken by boys and girls, too,
and now and then we had a regular exhibition. I remember borrowing
sheets to hang up to trim a petty stage, and reading myself an address
to the people at the close of the exhibition. It was only about four
minutes long, giving them good advice of course ! and I read it for I
had not confidence to gpeak it."

Those who had the iier.ns and children who manifested talent, se-
cured for them a better education. Sam. Deall, Jr., was sent from Ti-
conderoga to England to study from his ninth to his sixteenth year, and
his daughters wero aftcfward? sent to New York to school, and his feons
to Middlebury and Bchcnectaily.

SecL. XVI -Religious Eeminiscenees.
Old men, with couuteuances showing age from the marks of time
and of life-wisdom, but uiade youthful nevertheless by inward upright-
ness and steady pietj, w'so we;;- in our town early, and whose lives
have proved that upon tlo z^acal faith and works of a community de-


■ponds its progress, bear important witness to the neglected but all-im-
portant facts of our early religious history. "When we came here in
.1800-9," they say, "there was no man to care for our souls. We
came, most of us, from New England. We had been trained to love
the Bible and to uphold the church and ministry which expound the
Word of God as the law of life. Pious men were here, but they were
few, separated, and without organization, leader, or instructor. Some
of us used to cross the lake to IShoreham and other towns in Vermont
to receive the instruction and consolation of religious esercises. Now
and then a minister from Vermont preached for us at some neighbor's
dwelling or in a school house. We bad traveling missionaries, too, at
times, who come on horse-back or more often on foot, to explain the
Book of Truth to the people. The absence of regular religious in-
struction and worship was felt in the community by the greater preva-
lence of a covetous spirit, Avant of refinement, unkindness between
neighbors, litigation, drunkenness, and private immorality. Not that
we were worse than other towns deprived of religious priviliges, for
these evils arise everywhere where the Bible is not studied and obeyed.
We had what were called "reading meetings," in which a deacon or
some active member of the church led the exercises and read a printed
sermon. Usually these were respectably attended and we remember
seasons when much good was done to wavering brethren within, and to
immortal souls without yet unresolved in duty. Some of the good
men and women with whom we sung and prayed have gone down to the
grave — and we are going after them — but we remember the precious
times of old when we sat together, and the voice of praise, thanksgiv-
ing or supplication, went up from the same seats out of all our hearts,
even to those seats in Heaven where we hope to sit with them again,
in the church triumphant ! Many without pastors lived holy lives and
died in peace. It was between 1815 and 1S20 that we began to think
of regular ministrations of God's Wotd and of building houses of wor-
ship. Large meetings had been held before in large private houses,
in barns, or in the open air." "I was converted," says one, "in yon-
der barn on that rising hill at the foot of the mountain." "The first
sermon I ever heard which caused me to resolve to do my duty," says
another, "was heard as I stood in a stable and the minister preached
from the barn-floor to people seated on slab-benches, blanketed and
stayed up in the bay, stable, granary and lofts. I was baptized in n
barn ; /in such a neighbor's house ; I where the willows bend over
such a flowing stream ; and /through a square hole cut in the ice of
Lake IToricon. We remember few families in this period who main-
tained family worship ; few who thoroughly understood their Bibles or
the practical duties of life ; for all were sheep without a shepherd. —
And if we had preaching it was not always so instructive, so enlighten-
ed, or so arousing, as homely, practical, and adapted to common minds.
It led onward, perhaps, but not much wpirnrd. Our exhorters came,
not from the seminary and the study, but from the plow, the axe, and
from practical life ; whereas they ought to have come, not from one of
"these means of preparation, but from all of them harmonized and com-
b'tne^. Brief, energetic, unstudied, but powerful words were uttered
then us now by practical men, illiterate, yet esruest and full of piety.


AVe blessetl God that tbough unlearned and ignorant of many things,
we could yet know the path of duty, ol^ joy, and of eternal liCo. Wu
bad little money to pay for the Gospel, but it wa.s borne to us without
price upon the wings of human benevolence, and of providential eur-
roundinga. Yet without actual organization and effort we had difficul-
ty in maintaining our own strength and failed to exert much positive iu-
fluence for the purification and elevation of society."

Such is the account old men give us of the religious history of their
first years in the century. It is sad and humble, true-hearted and full
of simplicity. No upright heart can dwell upon it without interest.

Sect XVII— -Town Eecorcls.

Crownpoint and Willsboro', it will be remembered, in their original
limits, embraced the whole county of Essex. Ticonderog^j Moriah,
Westport, Elizabethtown, Schroon, Minerva, Newcomb, North Hud-
son, and a part of Keene, were all included iu Crownpoint previous to
JSOO, together with the present town of that name, making a territory
of about nine hundred square miles.

Ticonderoga was separated from Crownpoint in 1S02, and its first
recorded Town meeting was in 1804. The record of cattle and sheep
marks begins as early as 1794.

We extract from the Town Records a few curious items on wolves,
foxes, crows, black birds, school districts, roads and bridges, and sla-

WolveSf 1805. "Voted, that Forty Dollars be rai.sed for the pur-
pose of Destroying Wolves, and that five Dollars be paid to any Per-
son that does actually Ketch and Kill a full grown W^olf within the'
limits of this town, until the whole sum of 40 dollars be Expended."'
Thirty dollars was raised, and expended in the same way, the next year.
In 1808, twenty-five dollars was raised, of which two dollars and fifty
cents should be paid for "each whelp killed." In 1812 the same
bounty was offered for "each whelp that can walk alone." In 1814
the definition was made more specific still, embracing "each whelp
which is not able to take care of itself, provided they have their tn/et
open and can see.'''' This last foray against the innocent peepers must
have swept the race, for after this we find no more votes about wolves.

Foxes, 1811. "Voted, that eight dollars be raised for the purpose
of destroying Foxes, and that tweniy-fiye cents be paid for killing
each," &c.

Croivs and BladMnls, 1811. "Voted, that ten dollars be raised
for the purpose of destroying Crows and Blackbirds, three cents for
each crow, and one cent for each black bird."

School Districts. June 20, 1813, Samuel Biglow, Francis Arthur,
and Levi Wilcox, Commissioners of Schools divided the town into six-
school districts, "in conformity to the requisitions of the Act entitled
Ad Act for the establishment of Common Schools, passed the 19th day
of June, 1812." The Town Records are largely taken up, thereafter,
with accounts of changes in the boundaries of these districts. Every
year conferences were necessary, and diligent care required for the in-
terests of education. Ail honor to these early School Commissioners.

Roads and Bridges. From 1804 to 1820 the Records overflow with
reports of coramissione-rs appointed to lay out roads. Few who travel



thiak how much of care,

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Online LibraryJoseph CookHome sketches of Essex county. First number → online text (page 6 of 20)