History of the town of Saratoga, NY
From: Reminiscences of Sratoga
Compiled by Cornelius E. Durkee
Reprinted from The Saratogian 1927-28

The Town of Saratoga

To write something original of a town like Saratoga Springs upon which so much has already been published is difficult as nearly all of the books and reminiscences about Saratoga have treated mostly of the village tracing the developing of the springs and the growth of the village around them, the
brilliant array of distinguished men, poets, historians, jurists, and statesman who have resided here in past years.

Amos Stafford was the pioneer in the neighborhood of the bridge over Fish Creek at the outlet of Saratoga Lake, that bears his name. His children were Mary. who became Mrs. Green of Saratoga and after the death of her husband was married to John Hicks; Henry who settled in Penn Yan, Samuel who removed to Victor: Amos who succeeded to the old homestead; Rensselaer who settled in Saratoga adjoining his father’s place, Rachel who married Anthony Maxwell of old Saratoga and Phebe who became Mrs. G. I. Lansing of Crescent.

The children of Amos, Jr. were Mary who became Mrs. George Rouse of Bacon Hill; Caroline and Elize., both of whom died young; a daughter, who became Mrs. James Milligan, and settled in Ohio; and after the death of her husband married Samuel Bryan; Amos P. of Saratoga Springs; and Samuel Harvey who died at the age of 21.

The old gun with which Amos Stafford, the pioneer is said to have killed wolves enough to pay for his farm with the bounty earned was recently in the hands of one of his descendants, living in the old homesteod. With this pioneer family may also he appropriately mentioned the three brothers Wagman, John, Henry and Nicholas, who were half brothers of Mrs. Stafford and who followed the Stafford family few years later to this section, Their old homestead is still in the hands of their descendants, later the residence of Lewis and Nicholas Wagman.

Amos Peck, whose wife was a sister of the Wagman brothers came nearly as early. Moses French was the earliest pioneer in the southeast part of the town. He came in 1780, His house was built at the top of what is known as Carroll Hill overlooking the Kayaderosseras flats. He owned twelve hundred acres of land. Before coming to the Carroll place he lived at first in a cabin at the north end of Owl Pond, now known as Lake Lonely or the little lake.

His sons were: John Benjamin. and Richard. John owned a large portion of the old farm and passed his life in this town, Richard and Benjamin went west. Stepsons of Benjamin French were Jonathan Ramsdill, William Ramsdill, and Silas Ramsdill; Silas moved west; William settled and died in this town. Jonathan Ramsdill about 1802 settled on what was known as the Ramsdill property at the Lake, Half a mile south of the old Moon’s hotel (at the present time included in the Kayaderosseras Park). his house was on the same site of the house occupied by Jefferson Ransdill, before it was sold to the Saratoga Lake Railway and included in the Kayaderosseras Park.

Jonathan left two daughters. Mrs. Calvin Avery and Mrs. Benjamin Leggett, four sons, Jefferson, Morgan, Nelson, and Aaron: Nelson Ramsdfll living today in this city is a son of Morgan.

Mr. Abel was a pioneer as early as 1790. A brother of Mr. Abel purchased the farm of the White Sulphur Spring at the south end of the lake. The site of the former lake house conducted by C. B. Moon was owned for many years by James Green. He purchased it from one Upton, who was probably the pioneer. Later it was owned by George and Horace Loomis and by Mr. Ikelseimer. Two houses of entertainment were opened many years ago, one by Dr. Green and the other on the Moon place. Large parties gathered there in the old times. C. B. Moon opened his place in 1853 and conducted it successfully for many years.

First White Inhabitant

In the spring of 1771 Direk Schouten, who lived on the banks of the Hudson a short distance above Waterford hearing about High Rock Spring abandoned his home on the Hudson and started through the wilderness to the north. On the Bluff a short distance west of the spring, he cleared a small tract of land and constructed a rude log cabin, He was annoyed by his Indian neighbors and in the summer of 1773, he quarreled with them and they finally drove him from his home and he never returned. He was the first white inhabitant of the town of Saratoga Springs.

In the summer of 1774 John Arnold from Rhode Island with his wife and young children came to the springs, and took possession of Schouten’s deserted cabin and opened a rude tavern for visitors to the springs. Arnold remained at the springs for two summers and was succeeded by Samuel Norton who remained throughout the whole year, thus becoming the first permanent settler of Saratoga Springs. Upon the death of Samuel Norton, one of his sons, occupIed his father’s possessions.

In the Fall of 1787, the Norton place was purchased by Gideon Morgan, who sold it a few weeks later to Alexander Bryan, The latter located there at once his new home being situated near the corner of Rock street and Maple avenue. He soon built another log house for the accommodation of summrr guests. No other public houses existed at the springs during the last of that century, excepting the tavern built by Benjamin Risley during 1790 or 1791. In 1794, John and Ziba Taylor, brothers, located here and became the pioneer merchants of Saratoga.

John Taylor conducted his business in the Schouten house then owned and occupied by Benjamin Risley. Later he built a small log house about seven hundred feet north of High Rock spring, in which he and his brother had a store for many years. They also bought a great deal of land in the vicinity of the springs which they cleared, built sawmills and grist mills. Ten Springs, now Excelsior Springs, were first owned and developed by John Taylor, who resided there for many years, Ziba continuing in business in the so-called upper village.

The two daughters of Richard Searing, a pionaer of Greenfield, became the wives of these two brothers. John married Polly Searing and Ziba married Sally Searing. Ziba’s daughter, Mary, became the wife of Dr. John H. Steel.

The earliest inhabitant in the southeastern part of the town was Benjamin French, whose home was near Saratoga Lake, not far from the road house known as “Arrowhead” of today. He also resided for a short time previous to this, in a cabin at the north end of Owl Pond, a small body of water, half or three quarters of a mile north of Lake Lionely.

Robert Ellis was the pioneer of what is now known as the Geysers. He located there as early as 1777. His sons were Robert, Jr., Myron, Charles, and one other, and his daughters became Mrs. George Peck, Mrs. Pitkin, Mrs. James R. Westcott, and Mrs. Joseph Westcott. Among those who settled nearby about 1780 were John and Jeremiah Cady, brothers, one of whom built a home on Cady Hill,

One of the earliest mills in town was built before 1810 near the Geysers by Robert Ellis.

Saratoga was plentifully supplied in the early days with here and there a small manufactory or mill. In 1812 John and Ziba Taylor had a well stocked store, which had been in existence several years and one Gleason had a blacksmith shop. A little later Palmer and Waterbury started a bakery, about that time Beach and Farlin opened another grocery store, Hendrick and Knowlton began business as merchants in 1815, Nathan Lewis in 1816; Ashbel and Ferdinand Andrews in 1818; Robert McDonald in 1819; and Joseph Westeot in 1820; MacDonald soon afterward abandoned the grocery business to start a hardware store.

Mr. Langworthy also had a hardware store. Asa Wright and Mr. Reynolds were also early merchants. John Swain had a lime kiln, on the east side of Front street, Dow Maple avenue, in the upper village.

The following advertisement appeared in the Ballston Spa Gazette of January 7, 1823.

“Waterford Ladies School—Miss Haight respectfully informs the public that she has opened a school for the instruction of young ladies in which are taught the following branches: spelling, reading, writing, definitions, English, grammar, arithmetic, geography, and composition; $5 per quarters; mappery history, rhetoric, elements of chemistry, and natural philosphy use of globes, geometry, astronomy, logic, moral, and intellectual philosophy, separate or in conjunction with the above branches, $6 per quarter. Drawing and painting, $5 painting on velvet $5; Both branches taught together $8 per quarter. The French language and music will be taught provided a sufficient number should apply to compose a class Waterford, Oct. 3, 1822.

“The undersigned cheerfully permits himself to be referred to, both for the character and accomplishments of MIss Haight and he has no doubt the public will soon perceive the advantage of encouraging the seminary of which this lady has the charge. Samuel Blatchford D. D. Lansingburgh, Oct. 12, 1822.


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