Amasa J. (Amasa Junius) Parker.

Landmarks of Albany County, New York online

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some fifteen dwellings, a Methodist church, school house, two stores,
a paint shop, and wheelwright and blacksmith shop run by W. S. Ward.
Van Leuven's Corners, named after Isaac Van Leuven, an early set-
tler, is a small hamlet on the Delaware turnpike in the northern part
of the town. It formerly had a tavern, mills, tannery and other enter-
prises, but these are all abandoned now. William Beardsley, John
Preston and James Sackett were tavern-keepers. Here John Preston
had a tannery and currying shop which was continued by Luther Pres-
ton until his death, but is now abandoned. Mr. Preston was also a school
teacher, and the author of " Every Man His Own Teacher." James
Sackett, a colonel in the war of i8i2, was a prominent business man
and a Mason. Van Leuven's Corners was first called Sackett's Cor-
ners, after him, and later Preston's Corners. William Beardsley at
one time kept a tavern here, and after moving to Albany was elected
sherift'. Gideon Wood made spinning wheels here many years ago in
the house where Peter Van Leuven now lives. Among other early set-
tlers were Josiah Jones, who came to this neighborhood from Claverack
at the age of fourteen years, when there was but little cleared land.

Lamb's Corners, a small neighborhood in the southern part of the
town, was settled by Jehial Lamb, Adam St. John, Jacob Ingalls, Hez-
ekiah Boardman and Thomas Jencks, who came from New England
about 1790. Descendants of the first three of these families are quite
numerous. Here are a Methodist church, school house and blacksmith

VV'esterlo Center, or Thayer's Corners, is a small hamlet containing a
blacksmith shop run by Charles Hempstead. A store and tavern were
formerly kept by a Mr. Thayer. The chief families of the neighbor-
hood are the Winegards, Atkins, Hanes, Wiltseys, Lockwoods, Stan-
tons and Reynolds.

The early settlers who came from New England and the adjoining
counties on the river were filled with religious zeal and ardor and were
not long in organizing religious societies. The first society was formed
as early as 1793 in the township of Rensselaerville, and in 1796 the
first church was built. In 1826 the Methodist Episcopal church at
Dormansville was organized, and in 1 840-41 the present church edifice
was dedicated by Rev. M. Hedstrom. The building was remodeled in


1895 at a cost of $1,700. Among its pastors have been the Rev.
Messrs. S. Wright and Turner. There is at Lamb's Corners a Metho-
dist church called " Olin Chapel " in honor of Dr. Stephen Olin. A
class was formed here eighty years ago, led by Thomas Smith and Al-
exander Lamb, at whose, now occupied by his son, Asbury
Lamb, meetings were held. Meetings were held in the school house
previous to the erection of the present frame church in 1853, when
Alexander Lamb, Amos Fish and Ludlow St. John were elected

The society of the First Baptist Church of Westerlo was formed at
the house of Isaac Winston, May 26, 1800, in what was then the town
of Rensselaerville. The original members were Roswell Reckwith,
Aaron Baker, Isaac Winston, Isaac Lobdell, Thomas Martin, Benjamin
Martin, James Slade, Sarah Winston, Miriam Lobdell, Cynthia Baker,
Lois Slade, Judith Stanton, Eleanor Martyn, Mary Spaulding and
Lydia Mollison. Four candidates were received and baptized into its
fellowship on the day after its organization.

The First Baptist society of the township of Westerlo met at the
school house neai Zina W. Lay's on January 11, 1820, for the purpose
of electing officers and to incorporate as " The First Baptist Society "
of the town of Westerlo. Deacon William Bentley and James Slade
were chosen presiding officers and Sylvester Ford, James Jaycox, Will-
iam Bentley, James Slade, Isaac Lobdell, jr., and Knight Bennett were
elected trustees. The site for their first church was obtained from
George Pinney, being part of lot 238 and covering thirty-five one-
hundredths of an acre, at an annual rental of fifty dollars to him and a
further payment to the Patroon, proprietor of the Manor of Rensselaer-
wyck. The society sold this piece of ground March 28, 1853. and pur-
chased the present site of Archibald S. Green. The church has had
altogether nineteen different pastors.

The Reformed church located at Westerlo was organized in 1793.

A Baptist society was organized at South Westerlo and a church
edifice erected between 1808 and i8iO, and among the early elders
were Josiah Baker and William Stuart. Rev. Reed Burritt came to
this church about 1820 and ministered for more than ten years. In
the mean time the Old and New School societies had a controversy


over the control of the affairs of the church whicli resulted in the suc-
cess of the New School, which had the society incorporated. Messrs.
Crocker, Mudge and Stanton are among those who have served this
church as ministers. The membership gradually decreased until the
society finally disbanded and sold its church building in 1847, at whicli
time the old church was moved out of the village.

The Christian church of South Westerlo was organized in 1820 by
the Christian churches of Rensselaerville, Coeymans, Berne, Baltimore
and F"reehold. In the year 1824 the society erected a church building
which was used as a house of worship until sold to O. L. Hannay,
when it was converted into a public hall where the society of Good
Templars used to meet. In 1833 Anthony Hanes, Nathaniel Holmes
and Cyrus VVheaton were trustees ; Joshua Nelson, moderator, and
Thomas Saxton, clerk ; Abraham Hagen, Robert P. Derbool and
Anthony Hanes, deacons. In 1872 the society purchased the old
tavern property of William Showers and erected the present house of
worship and parsonage at a cost of $13,000.

There is also an Episcopal church in the northern part of the town
which was organized in 1 875. This is something of a union church,
however, as all Protestant denominations are at liberty to hold services
there at their pleasure.

There are three corporate cemeteries in the town. The Westerlo
Rural Cemetery Association was organized in October, 1871, with
William V. L Lapaugh, president, George E. Disbrow, vice-president,
Charles Lapaugh, secretary and treasurer, Lewis C. Lockwood, John
Sherwood and Joseph Babcock, trustees. The cemetery is located one
mile north of the village and contains two and three-fourths acres of
land. The Hannakrois Rural Cemetery was organized in 1879 with the
following officers : Edward Gibbons, president; William Applebee, vice-
president ; Minor Gibbons, secretary and treasurer ; Henry Simpkins,
John G. Ward and Allen Kniffen, trustees. The cemetery contains
two acres of land and is located one mile east of Dormansville. The
Westerlo Central Cemetery Association was incorporated January 12,
1S82, with these officers: Robert L. Simpkins, president: L. L. Lock-
wood, secretary; Darius Rundell, treasurer. There are other burial
grounds in the town, notably the one at Van Leuven's Corners, where
Col. James Sackett is buried.


Westerlo and Rensselaerville of Albany county and Greenville and
Durham of Greene county constitute the " Farmers' Fire Insurance
Associatior>, " which was incorporated under a special act of the Legis-
lature, April, 1857, and of which Darius Rundell is director and agent.

Schools were established in the town at an early date, and one passing
through the town cannot but notice the fine school buildings of the pres-
ent day. Apollos Moore and Robert O. K. Bemet were teachers before
the township was organized, and John Mott, a Quaker, taught a select
school many years ago on the farm of R. Cartwright, for the education
of the Quaker sect, which was then quite numerous, though he did not
exclude other sects. After Mott died Henry Lawson taught the
school, and after him John Preston for a time. Gideon St. John taught
school for twenty-seven years, and Truman Ingalls for many years,
holding also an evening grammar school. Heman Crocker, Solomon
Trowbridge, C. Stewart, Moses Scott, Levi Holmes, Miss Bush and
Miss Ann Lawson were among the teachers of years gone by.

There are two physicians in the town — John N. Bradley, a graduate
of the Albany Medical College, 1875, and Arthur A. Vibbard, who
was graduated from the New York Homeopathic Hospital in 1894.

Many men from this section did gallant service in the war of the
Revolution, but inasmuch as the township was not formed until after
the war, it is not possible to obtain a record of their names. Some
who fought in the war of 18 12 were Joseph Babcock, T. Witbeck, James
Sackett, Col. Elliot St. John, William and Alexander Mackey, Walter
Huyck, John W. Prosser, Nathan Clark, Abram Hageman, James and
Abram Hawley, Benjamin Stanton, Caleb Tompkins, Carpenter Bishop,
and Martin Lambert.

There is no record of the soldiers of the Rebellion.


This town is situated in the northwestern corner of Albany county,
is the smallest in area in the county, containing a little more than
26,000 acres, and with one exception (New Scotland) was the latest one
formed. It was erected from Berne on February 28, 1822, and re-
ceived its name from the celebrated Colonel Knox, of Revolutionary
fame. The eastern part of the town constitutes a part of the Helder-
berg region, while the town as a whole consists of a high plateau,
broken by a few hills, and with a northern and western inclination.
The Bozen Kill forms the northeast boundary of the town, and this,
together with Beaver Dam Creek in the southern part, with their trib-
utaries, are the principal streams. A part of Thompson's Lake ex-
tends into the town in the southeastern part. (See history of Berne.)
The soil is principally gravel and clay, over "hardpan," and in many
parts is fertile and well adapted to mixed farming. Hay is produced
in large quantities and marketed at Altamont. The surface of the
town was originally covered with a heavy growth of timber, principally
pine, hemlock, birch, maple, ash, oak, and basswood, but this has, for
most part, been cut off.

The town records of Knox were burned in 1850, rendering it im-
possible to give the proceedings of the first town meeting or the names
of officers previous to that year. The names of the supervisors from
that time to the present are given on a later page. The first of these
was Malachi Whipple, an early settler and prominent citizen. At the
annual town meeting of 1850 Michael Lee, Daniel Gallup, Abraham
Hatcher and Stephen Merselis, jr., were present as justices of the peace,
and Ephraim N. Bogardus acted as clerk. For that year the following
oflicers were elected :

Lyman Witter, supervisor; Juliu G. Crary, lowii clerk; Samuel O. Sehnoninaker,


justice of the peace; John H. Tand, superintendent of schools; Anson Tols, collec-
tor; Gurdon Gallup and Conrad Batcher, overseers of the poor; John Posson, asses-
sor; Jacob P. Hane, commissioner of highways; Peter Schoonmaker, Alexander
Crounse and John Allen, jr., inspectors of election, district No. 1; John Finch,
Bemsby Williamson and Jacob Aucherapaugh, inspectors of election, district No. 2;
Gilbert Gage, Joel Gage, John C. Cannady and Elisha White, constables.

At that time the house of Henry Barclay was called the Town
House, and the place for holding the next town meeting. Knox was
then divided into fifty-six road districts, with the following overseers of
highways :

John Posson, Jacob Crounse, Hiram Thousand, Evert M. Barckley, David W.
Sturges, Archibald Scott, Peter Swan, 2d, James Finch, Rodney Wilder, Philip
Gifford, Jacob Truax, Henry Dutcher, William Davenport, Benjamin Lee, Matthias
Barckley, Jehiel White, John F. Sternburgh, Conrad Batcher, John Bassler, Fred-
erick Clyckman, John Oliver, Orange Beeman, Henry W. Williams, Thomas Staf-
ford, John V. Schoonmaker, Robert Hurst, S. Flansburgh, Stephen Hungerford,
Ebenezer Gallup, Alexander Crounse, Amos Crary, William Williamson, Eldridge
Chesbro, George W. Stephens, John G. Gallup, Isaac N. Crary, Frederick Zeh, John
T. Beebe, James Armstrong, Henry Tarpenny, David Van Auken, Cornelius Wool-
ford, Adam Snyder, Henry F. Orelup, Joseph A. Haswell, Azor Gallup, Abraham
H. Onderdonk, Edward Settle, Jacob Bronk, Jacob Kipp, Elias R. Williams,. Sylves-
ter Allen, Israel Walker, John H. Sand, and Frederick Orelup.

Some of these names, as well as other lists which will appear, indi-
cate the Dutch element in the populatian, through descendants of some
of the earliest families of the towns. Details of the Dutch settlement,
prior to the Revolution are almost entirely wanting. It is known that
many of the pioneers espoused the royal cause during the Revolution
and removed to Canada after the success of the American colonists, but
Capt. Jacob Van Aernden's name has come down as one of the loyal
Whigs of that time. The improvements made in this section prior to
the Revolution consisted almost wholly of clearing part of the land for
tillage and the establishment of a few mills, churches and schools. A
Lutheran church was organized about 1750, and settlement had pro-
gressed considerably by that time, but the names of most of the Dutch
pioneers are lost in the past.

After the Revolutionary war settlers began to come in from New
England, among the very first of these being Samuel Abbott and An-
drew Brown, from Connecticut, who were soon followed by from twenty
to thirty others from the same State. The more prominent of the fani-


ilies that came prior to the town organization in 1822 were the Brown,
Todd, WiUiams, Denison, Crary, Chesebrough, Gallup, Frink, Taber,
Coates, Gage, Weitzel, Pinckney, Williamson, Bassler, Saddlemire,
Haverly, Zimmer, Engle, Schoonmaker, Swart, Sand, Clickman, Keen-
holtz, and Batcher families. All through the early history of the town,
as far as it is accessible, many of these names appear and some of them
have been represented by descendants down to recent times. These
New England settlers brought with them the habits of industry and the
religious tenets of their forefathers and early established a Presbyterian
cliurch, as described further on. Amos Crary, Hiram Gage, Egbert
Schoonmaker and Nathaniel Swan were operating saw mills prior to
1825, and a little later Malachi Whipple, Daniel Crary, and a Mr. Van-
decar had mills, but most of these long ago passed out of existence. A
small grist mill was early in operation on a little stream in the northern
part of the town, but that also has disappeared, and the inhabitants now
take their grain to Berne and Altamont, In quite recent years Swart
& Saddlemire, Frederick Bassler, and Bemsley Williamson were operat-
ing saw mills, the mill of the latter being now in possession of his son,
George J. Williamson. In 1831 Alexander Crounse moved into Knox
from an adjoining town and erected a tannery on the main road through
the town west of Knoxville, and for many years did a large business in
manufacturing harness and upper leather. The great changes in the
leather trade and the centralization of the industry elsewhere finally re-
duced the income of this tannery, and Mr. Crounse transferred it to his
son, Eugene G. Crounse, who erected an addition for a feed mill in 1884.
Still later he abandoned tanning and built a steam saw mill which went
into operation in 1893.

Gideon Taber was a pioneer and one of the first shoemakers in the
town. He was a native of New London, Conn., and a son of Quaker
parents. On account of his non-combatant belief he went to Canada
during the Revolution and for a time had command of a vessel on Lake
Cliamplain. Upon the return of peace he came back to Knox and went
about among the families as an itinerant shoemaker, according to the
custom in early times. He was thrifty and subsequently established a
small tannery, where he made leather for his own trade and for harness
making. He was elected justice of the peace and in 18 18-20 served his


constituents in the Assembly. The old Taber homestead ultimately
passed into the possession of his grandson, Charles Chite.

Nathan Crary began the manufacture of wooden pill boxes in Knox
early in the century, supplying some of the largest pill makers in the
country. The business finally passed to his son, John G. Crary, and
was also taken up by others. At the present time John M. Quay and
Sanford Quay are conducting the business.

Among the more prominent families who came into the town or were
already settled here between about 1825 and 1850, were those of Mal-
achi Whipple, Dr. Erastus Williams, Egbert Schoonmaker, P'rederick
Bassler, Potter Gage, Alexander Crounse, Charles Chesebro, David Van
Auken, Perez Prink, Henry Denison, P. Witter, Isaac Barber, Daniel
Chesebro, John Gallup, Wright Skinner, Dow Van Derker, Henry
Williams, Cyrus Chapman, Henry Dane, Daniel Gallup, Joseph Gallup,
Samuel Russell, Gurdon Gallup, and the Seaburys. Descendants of
many of these are still prominent in the town.

Among the leading citizens of later days are Henry Barckley, Elisha
White, John C. Cannady, Joel and Gilbert Gage, Jacob Auchampaugh,
Bemsley Williamson, John Finch, John Allen, jr., Peter Schoonmaker,
Alexander Crounse, John G. Crary, Charles G. Frink, Denison Crary,
Jacob P. Hane, John Posson, Conrad Batcher, Gurdon Gallup,
Anson Tols, John H. Hand, Samuel O. Schoonmaker, Lyman Witter,
Frederick Orelup, John H. Sand, Israel Walker, Sylvester Allen,
Pllias K. Williams, Jacob Kip, Jacob Bronk, Edward Settle, Abram
H. Onderdonk, Azer Gallup, Joseph A. Haswell, Henry F. Orelup,
Adam Snyder, Cornelius Woolford, James Armstrong, Henry Tar-
panny, John T. Beebe, Frederick Zeh, Isaac N. Crary, John G.
Gallup, George W. Stephens, William Williamson, Eldridge Chesebro,
Amos Crary, Ebenezer Gallup, Stephen Hungerford, Robert Hurst,
S. Flansburgh, Thomas Stafford, John V. Schoonmaker, Henry W.
Williams, Orange Beeman, John Bassler, Frederick Clyckman, Matthias
Brackley, Jehial White. Conrad Batcher, John F. Sternburgh, John
Posson, Jacob Crounse, Evert M. Barckley, Hiram Thousand, James
Finch, Peter Swan, 2d, Archibald Scott, David W. Sturges, Rodney
Wilder, Philip Gififord, Benjamin Lee, Henry Dutcher, Jacob Truax
and William Davenport.


The com]-)aratively modern history of Knox contauis very little of
impoitance in incident or progress aside from the peaceful advance in
agricultural methods, improvement in schools, roads, bridges, etc. In
the war of the Rebellion, from her somewhat remote situation, the town
responded patriotically to the calls of the government for volunteers.
As early as September, 1862, the electors authorized their supervisor
to borrow $1,800 to be paid in a bounty of $100 to each volunteer of
the quota of the town under one of the early calls for troops. This
action was succeeded later by equally prompt and generous proceed-
ings. Seventy seven volunteers went from the town to fight in the
battles of tiie Union, many of them members of the most prominent
families, and of these man)- never came back to receive the honors that
awaited them.

It is a tradition thjit previous to the beginning of the present century
there were two primitive schools taught in log school houses in Knox.
One of these probably stood on the site of Knoxville, and the other
near West Township. It is possible that there were others of which all
traces are lost. The town was divided into districts long before it was
separated from Berne, the number of these being twelve in i860, thir-
teen in 18S0 and at the present time again twelve with a school house
in each. Knox, Guilderland, Colonic and Green Island form the third
school commissioner district of the county.

The Knoxville Academy was organized under the State laws about
1830, by Gurdon, Gardiner, and John Gallup, Dr. Elisha Williams,
Jesse Tyler, and perhaps others. A suitable building was erected and
in common with many other similar institutions that were founded in
early years in small villages, enjoyed for many years a large patronage.
Its teachers were as good as could be obtained and many of its students
went out to occupy distinguished positions in life. While this academy
lias kept up its corporate existente down to the present time, it has not
been in active operation since soon after 1880. The opinion has been
entertained that the success of this old institution for a long period acted
to the disadvantage of the district schools, retarding their advance-


Several professional men of considerable prominence have had their
residence in Knox. Dr. Erastns Williams, long a leading citizen, was
the first resident physician and had a large practice during the first
third of the century. Dr. Moses Brownell was his contemporary and
successor, and Drs. John Van Allen, Zeh, Sigsby, Johnson, and others
came in later years. Azor Tabor, born in 1799, and who died in 1858,
was the only lawyer who ever practiced in this town.

Kno.xville, with post-office named Knox, is a hamlet in the central
part of the town, where in past years a small mercantile business has
been conducted, and the few shops necessary for the convenience of the
inhabitants are kept. I. W. Chesebrough was a former merchant here,
who sold out some eight years ago to Elam Williams, who is still in
business and is now also postmaster. Henry Barckley was a merchant
from about 1848, and was succeeded by his son, E. L. Barckley, now
county treasurer. There is no hotel in the place or in the town.

West Township is a post-office and small hamlet in the eastern part
of the town, where a grocery is kept by Willis W. Witter. James
Finch is postmaster, but besides this there is no other business of any
account. There is a station with the name of the town in the extreme
north part on the Albany and Susquehanna Railroad.

The first church organization in this town was of the Lutheran faith and
was organized before 1750, in which year the first church and school
house «-as built. Rev. Nicholas Sommer, the enthusiastic pioneer in
this region, had already preached to congregations for about five years,
after having taken up under the church patent law a farm of forty-two
acres. The first building was about twenty feet square and served its
purpose many years. In August, 18 10, another lot was purchased,
and in the succeeding fall the old building was moved upon it and re-
modeled. In the spring of 1828 the old church was demolished and a
new frame structure erected and partly enclosed, but the church officers,
some of whom were Lutheran and some Reformed in belief becoming
involved in a dispute, resigned and the society was broken up. In
December, 1829, a number of the former members, with others, met
and reorganized and chartered the Zion's Lutheran and Reformed church
of the Helderberg and the church building was soon completed. In
1839 dissentions again arose and the Reformed members withdrew and


built the church at Secor's. On October 13, 1839, Rev. Adam Crounse,
more fully organized Zion's Lutheran church at Knox, with fifty-one
members. In 1850 the present church was erected, while the parson-
age was built about 1868. Rev. Henry Moeller preached to the old
congregation from 1790 to 1800, and Rev. Adam Crounse, who per-
formed so much successful and unselfish pastoral work in this section,
was preacher from 1 830 to 1844, in connection with Berne and Guilder-

The Reformed church of Knox had its origin in the Presbyterian
church which was formed in 1825. Services had been irregularly held
for some years previous, under the auspices of the settlers from New
England. In 1825 Rev. J. Judson Buck was called and was soon in-
stalled over the congregation here and also Hamilton Union congrega-
tion. At that time there were fifty-five members in this congregation.
The elders were Erastus Williams, Isaac Barber, P. Witter, and Henry
Denison. Mr. Buck remained steadily with the church about three
years and for two years after that probably acted with the congregation
in church affairs. No regular pastor was employed as his successor,
but several preached occasionally, and the society languished. The
Dutch Reformed settlement was increasing in the town and the subject
of reorganizing under that faith was freely discussed. This was finally
done and the church was received into the Classis of Albany September
20, 1842, with the name of the First Reformed Dutch church of Knox,
Thirty-one members of the former congregation were dismissed to form
the new one, and the following consistory were chosen : Daniel Chese-
bro, Joseph Gallup, Gurdon Gallup, Henry Williams, jr., John Van
Allen, Michael P. Cavart, Charles Clute and John Possom. Henry

Online LibraryAmasa J. (Amasa Junius) ParkerLandmarks of Albany County, New York → online text (page 54 of 138)