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Settlers of the Town of Afton New York

The first settlement in Afton was made in July, 1786, by Elnathan Bush, who came in from Sheffield, Mass., with his family, then consisting of his wife and four children. They came as far as Cooperstown on horseback, and thence by canoe down the Susquehanna, leaving Cooperstown May 2, 1786. He settled on the west side of the river, opposite the forty acre island, known as Stowel’s Island, about two miles below Afton. This island and another near it, one of which contains ten and the other forty acres, had been cleared and cultivated by the Indians, and derive their name from Hezekiah Stowel, who subsequently owned them. Mr. Bush had visited this locality with a view to settlement before the Revolutionary war, in company with two others who were relatives. The Dominie Johnston (Col. Witter Johnston,) was then living at Sidney Plains, where he settled in 1772. He left his improvements during the war and returned to them at its close, having rendered service therein as Colonel. He (Johnston,) continued his residence there till his death October 4, 1839, aged 86. Lois, his wife, died there July 27, 1787, aged 22; and Jane, his second wife, Sept. 26, 1817, aged 47. January 30, 1790, Mr. Bush exchanged his property here with Hezekiah Stowel for a piece of land on lot 74 in Bainbridge, nominally containing 81, but actually 100 acres, which Stowel had taken up the previous year, the consideration being 80 œ, to which he removed. It is the farm on which his grandson, Joseph Bush, now resides, and there he resided till his death, May 15,...

Schools of Afton New York

Receipts And Disbursements For School Purposes Amount on hand Oct 1, 1876 $ 14.36 ” apportioned to districts 1,926.04 Proceeds of Gospel and School Lands 102.47 Raised by tax 2,251.58 From teachers’ board 384.00 From other sources 290.36 Total receipts $4,968.81 Paid for teachers’ wages $4,184.38 ” ” libraries .67 ” ” school apparatus 10.84 ” ” ” houses, sites, fences out-houses, repairs, furniture, etc. 278.05 Paid for other incidental expenses 453.11 Amount remaining on hand Oct. 1, 1877 $41.76 The Union Free School District No. 12, of the town of Afton, was formed a joint district August 8, 1874, by consolidating districts numbers 5 and 12, under authority of D. G. Barber, School Commissioner of the Second School District of Chenango county, given July 8, 1874. The number of persons in the district at the time of its formation qualified to vote was 184. The first school meeting in the new district was held at the Union school-house in district number 12, Sept. 25, 1874. R. M. Gallup was chosen Chairman, and Thomas Covert, Clerk. D. A. Carpenter, Thomas Covert and D. C. Church were elected trustees; G. M. Champlin, Clerk; and Deloss Lyon, Collector. At a special school meeting held in the new schoolhouse of District No. 12, Oct. 6, 1874, at which time there were 200 persons qualified to vote, it was decided to establish a Union Free School within the limits of that district, pursuant to the provisions of chapter 555, of the laws of 1864, and the amendments thereto, and the following named trustees were elected:–Edgar Garret to serve for three years; Thomas Covert...

Hotels of Afton New York

Cook’s Hotel was opened in December, 1878, by Nathaniel M. Cook, the present proprietor, who in that year converted it to its present use from a saloon which he had kept there since 1872. The Central House is owned by Richard Munson and kept by Miles Parsons, who became the proprietor in April, 1879. The Sullivan House was built about fifty-six years ago by Josiah and Alfred Wright, brothers, and is now owned by Erastus Sullivan, who has kept it since March 10, 1869. He came here from Oneonta, his native place, in 1845. A hotel which stood on the site of James Nickerson’s residence was previously kept by Madison...

History of Afton New York

Afton is situated on the south-east corner of the county and lies wholly within the original township of Clinton. It was formed from Bainbridge November 18, 1857, and derives its name from Afton Water, a small river in Ayrshire, England, immortalized by the Scottish poet Burns. (A somewhat bitter feud was engendered by the division of the town of Bainbridge and the discussions preceding it, and to give Afton a precedence over its rival, a name with an initial preceding the letter B was selected. From Rev. E. T. Jacobs’ article on The Rise and Present of Afton. ) It is bounded on the north by Bainbridge and Coventry, on the east by Delaware county, on the west and south by Broome county. The surface is a rolling upland, separated into two nearly equal parts by the broad, beautiful and fertile valley of the Susquehanna, which crosses the town diagonally from north-east to south-west, and is one of the most productive in the State. The hills rise by long and gradual ascent to the height of 300 to 500 feet above the valleys. They are very productive and generally susceptible of cultivation to their summits. The principal streams other than the Susquehanna are Kelsey Creek and Harper Brook, which flow through the central part and empty into the Susquehanna on the north, and Bennett Brook, which flows through the north-east part and empties into the Susquehanna on the east, near the north line of the town. Pratt’s Pond, situated about a mile north-east of the village of Afton, is a beautiful sheet of water. It is about a mile...

Biography of Henry Pearsall

Henry Pearsall came from Long Island about 1787 and settled in the north-east part of Afton, one-half mile west of what was known as the Middle Bridge, which went off in a freshet a number of years ago and was not rebuilt. Having built a small house in the woods, he brought in his family, consisting of his wife, Anna Simmons, and one or two children. The house thus erected answered the double purpose of a dwelling and shop, for he followed his trade till his death. About 1809 he removed to the north line of the town of Bainbridge, about three miles north of Bainbridge village, and took up 88 acres, on which he resided till his death, about 1840. His children were: Amos, who married Clarissa, daughter of John Nichols, an early settler in the north part of Bainbridge, and settled in the locality of his father in Bainbridge, where he died February 18, 1864, aged 72, and his wife July 4, 1878, aged 83; Ann, who married Alson Searles, a resident of Bainbridge, and is now living at Unadilla, her husband having died June 26, 1871; Smith, who married Polly, sister of Alson Searles, and settled near his father, where he died in 1874; Samuel, who married Sally, daughter of Henry Thompson, of Bainbridge, and settled and died in the same locality; Abigail, who married Ansel Phinney, a blacksmith, with whom she removed to Bainbridge village, where she died; Henry, who married Samantha Norton, of Guilford, and succeeded his father on the homestead farm, where he died December 23, 1871, aged 70, and his wife August...

Biographical Sketch of John Johnston

John Johnston, brother of William, also a Revolutionary soldier, came in from Montgomery county two or three years later, and settled about half a mile south of Bettsburgh, on the place now occupied by Ira Woodruff, where he and his son Samuel started a tannery and carried on the shoe business, and where he died. His children were: John S., William, Nathaniel, Nancy, Persis, Henry and Betsey, all of whom came in with him, and all of whom are dead. Nancy married Joshua Crosby, and Betsey, Whittington Sayre. Enos M. Johnston, a banker and merchant in Afton, but a resident of Bettsburgh, is a grandson of John and son of Henry Johnston, the latter of whom was a lumber dealer, speculator and oil stock dealer, and acquired considerable wealth. Andrew Johnston, a farmer in Afton, is also a son of Henry’s, and these are the only two of his children living in the town. Several of William’s grandchildren are living in the town, among them Lydia, wife of Jonathan Farnsworth. Samuel Johnston, brother of William and John, also from Montgomery county, came in a few years later, and has numerous descendants living in the town. He died December 1, 1830, aged 68. Nathaniel, a bachelor brother, and Mary and Christiana, maiden sisters of William Johnston, came in with him and lived with him till their...

Biography of Hezekiah Stowel

Hezekiah Stowel, to whom reference has been made, was a Vermont sufferer, and came in from Guilford in that State in 1786, and settled at Bettsburgh, on 220 acres on lot 63, on the east side of the river, and was the pioneer settler on the site of that village. He subsequently removed to the west side of the river, where he is buried, probably at the time he made the exchange with Elnathan Bush. He lived and died in the locality. It is not known that he lived on the place exchanged with Bush in Bainbridge. His children were:–Asa, who settled at Bettsburgh, on the place now owned and occupied by Enos M. Johnston, where, in 1788, he kept the first inn, in a log building(+) which stood on the river bank, opposite the residence of Mr. Johnston and who married Hannah, daughter of Samuel Bixby, of Guilford, Vt. and died there November 3, 1826, aged 66, and his wife September 18, 1850, aged 88; Elijah, who settled on the west side of the river, on the farm now occupied by (???) Chamberlain, and who died childless, in advanced years, while on a visit to a relative in Pennsylvania, and whose wife, Rebecca, died here February 25, 1837, aged 70; Betsey, who married Daniel Dickinson, who settled in Guilford and afterwards at Seneca Falls; Isabel, who married Elisha Stowel, who settled at the ferry about two miles below Bettsburgh; Polly, who married Calvin Stowel, who settled on a farm adjoining Asa Stowel’s on the south; Levi, who settled on the homestead on the west side of the river,...

Biographical Sketch of Daniel Hyde

Daniel Hyde came in from Claverack, Columbia county, in 1801, and settled two and one-half miles north of Afton, at what is known as Ayrshire or North Afton, on the farm now occupied by Edward Wilkinson, where he died. His children were: Edward, who married Lydia, daughter of Nathan Bateman, and settled in the same locality, and who afterwards removed to Masonville and died there; Daniel, who married a woman named Graham, and settled in Ashtabula county, Ohio, where he died; Chauncey G., who married Lucretia, daughter of Amasa Newton, and settled and died near the old homestead; Elijah, who married Jemima, daughter of Amasa Newton, and also settled and died near the homestead; Sophia, who married a man named Martin, and removed with him to Paris, Canada, and died there; Polly, who married Leighton Joyce, and settled in Greene county, and died in Brooklyn; Cynthia, who married Dr. Archibald Welch, and settled and died in New Haven, Conn.; and Olive, who married Wells Newton, and settled in Bainbridge and died there. The grandchildren living in the county are: A. C. Hyde, only child of Chauncey G., a druggist in Afton; and Daniel A., Rosanna, wife of Jas. M. Olendorf, William E., Lodosca, wife of George Knight, Chauncey G., and Harriet, wife of Justus Carr, children of Elijah, also in...

Biography of Atherton, Cornelius

Cornelius Atherton came in from Pennsylvania in 1803 or ‘4. He was born in Cambridge, Mass., in 1736, and was the fourth in descent from Gen. Humphrey Atherton of Boston, from whom all the Athertons in America are descended. He married Mary Delano and with her removed to Amenia, Dutchess Co., N. Y., in 1763. He was a blacksmith by trade, and having discovered the process of converting iron into American steel, in 1772 he entered into a contract with the Messrs. Reed, merchants of that place, to superintend the erection of steel works, to be constructed by them, and to instruct their workmen in the art. The works were erected and were in successful operation during the war of the Revolution. From Amenia he returned to Cambridge, where he superintended an armory belonging to John and Samuel Adams and John Hancock, which was burned by the British soldiers during the Revolutionary war. Thence, in 1775 or ‘6, he removed to Plymouth, Luzerne Co., Pa., where he worked at his trade. He was drafted at the time of the Wyoming massacre, but his place was filled by his eldest son, Jabez, who volunteered to become his substitute, and was accepted and mustered in. The youthful patriot fell in that sanguinary engagement and his name heads the list on the Wyoming monument. Atherton’s wife, by whom he had seven children, died soon after the Wyoming massacre. He afterwards re-married and had seven children by his second wife. After his removal to Afton he continued to work at his trade till his death, December 4, 1809. Humphrey, his oldest son by...

Biographical Sketch of William Johnston

William Johnston, a Revolutionary soldier, came in from Hartwick, Otsego county, in 1807, and settled a half mile south of Bettsburgh, on the farm now occupied by Devillo Dutton. He took up 50 acres in Broome county, on the line of Afton, and bought about one and one-half acres in Afton, the title to which proved defective. He subsequently purchased it of Asa Stowel. He afterwards removed to the town of Sanford, in Broome county, where he died February 10, 1843, aged 91, and Deborah, his wife, April 14, 1843, aged 81. He had six children, only one of whom is now living, Levi, in Afton, aged...
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