History of Jasper, NY
From: Landmarks of Steuben County, New York
Edited by: Hon. Harlo Hakes
Assisted By: L. C. Aldrich and Others
D. Mason & Company, Publishers,
Syracuse, New York, 1896

JASPER - On the 24th of January, 1827, all that part of the towns of Canisteo and Troupsburg which were included in township 2, range 5, of the Phelps and Gorham purchase, were erected into a separate town, and named Jasper, in honorable allusion to Sergeant Jasper, whose courageous conduct at the battle of Fort Moultrie, S. C., June 28, 1776, received public commendation. However, in 1848 a strip of land half a mile in width was taken from this town and annexed to Greenwood.

Geographically, Jasper is located in the southwest part of the county, and contains 31,300 acres of land. The surface is a hilly and broken upland, some of the elevations reaching more than 2,000 feet above tide water. The streams are small brooks, and the soil is slaty, gravelly and clayey loam. From the hills of Jasper, in years past, there has been taken a quality of stone specially adapted to the manufacture of grindstones, but remote from the railroads of the county, and from commercial centers, the natural resources of this town have never been fully developed. Its inhabitants are, and for all time during the period of its history have been farmers; earnest, honest, steady and hardworking husbandmen, who, notwithstanding the disadvantages of location and the difficulty attending successful cultivation of the land, have succeeded in establishing for themselves a satisfactory and even comfortable condition of affairs, and the town today ranks well among the best farming sections of the county.

The settlement of Jasper was begun in 1807, while the territory formed a part of the original town of Canisteo. The pioneer seems to have been Nicholas Brotzman, sr., or Prutzman, as once known, who came from Tioga county, Pa., and penetrated the dense forests that bordered on Canisteo River and Tuscarora Creek, until he reached the spot where he afterward lived. This pioneer was a German, and was perhaps was one of the most persevering of the early settlers in this whole region. His cabin was built near Marlatt's Corners of later years. Adam Brotzman settled at the Five Corners in 1809, where a man named Morley had made an original clearing. The surname Brotzman is still represented in the town.

Andrew Craig, sr., was a settler in this town as early as 181o, coming from Philadelphia. He was land agent for the proprietary and otherwise influential and prominent in early local history. From him descended a large family, some of whom attained positions of trust in the county. Mrs. Craig made the first butter which was marketed from Jasper, but in much later years this town has become noted for the excellence of its dairy product.

Ebenezer Spencer was another pioneer, coming from Cayuga county, though a Connecticut Yankee by birth. He bought 400 acres of timbered land in Jasper at fourteen shillings an acre, and eighty four acres of cleared land at twenty shillings per acre. Mr. Spencer was a man of means and also of prominence in the new community; was a great hunter and trapper, and with his memory are associated many interesting stories.

Uzal McMindes and John Marlatt came to the town in 181o, both from New Jersey, and Gideon Marlatt came one year later. All were prominent in early times, and their names are still preserved in the town. Other early settlers were Andrew Simpson, in 1812; Adam Wass in 1816; Henry Whitman in 1819; Rice Wentworth in 1820; Hial Wood in 1821; Elisha Peak, about 1821, also Ezra Banks, who is said to have chopped more than 500 acres of woods in the town, being assisted only by his sons.

In the same connection may be mentioned the family of A. Fuller Whittemore, also John Deck and Solomon Deck, John Moore, Israel S. Osgood, George I. Shawl, Alva June, Moses Dennis, a Revolutionary soldier, Enoch Ordway, John Hadley and his family, Dr. William Hunter, the first physician, Samuel Dennis, Earl Stone, Henry Prentice, Deacon Joshua Sargent, Ephraim Lyons, carpenter, David Woodward, Charles Lamson. William Purdy, Peter Drake, Abraham Freeland, Thomas Waight, Christopher Dennis, Harvey Andrews, Daniel Purdy, and some others, all of whom were settlers in the town previous to 1835, and are entitled to be named among those who laid the foundation for later successes by their descendants.

In 1830, and about that time, the settlers in Jasper were much disturbed over the events of the so called anti rent conflict, and as this town had come from the Pulteney or Hornby association, the inhabitants felt a direct interest in the result of the measures adopted at the time. The people held meetings and discussed the subject quite freely, and sent delegates to represent the town in the convention at Bath. These delegates were William Hunter, Benjamin Heliker, Ira Smith, Uzal McMynderse (or McMinders), and Hinckley Spencer. However, the events of this period, being general rather than local, are narrated in an earlier chapter.

Referring briefly to the first events of town history, we may note the fact that the first settler was Nicholas Brotzman; the first birth that of Sally Brotzman; the first marriage that of Samuel Gray and Polly Simpson; the first inn or tavern was kept by Nicholas Brotzman, and the first school was taught by Amanda Smith.

However much delayed may have been the early settlement in this part of the county by the hilly and uninviting character of the region, we nevertheless find a population of 500 in township two of the fifth range as early as the year 1825. We may also note the establishment of one small village and at least two minor settlements, for the people of this locality have ever been noted for their independence and self reliance. Herein lies the great secret of their success in life, in the face of obstacles that would have completely discouraged the pioneers who settled on the rich plain lands of the Genesee country.

As we have stated the town was set off from Canisteo and Troupsburg in 1827, the local population then being nearly 600. The first town meeting was held at the dwelling of Andrew Simpson, on the first Tuesday in March, at which time these persons were elected to fill the several town offices, viz.: Andrew Craig, supervisor; William Hunter, town clerk; Uzal McMindes, Oliver Pease, sr., and Samuel Dennis, assessors; Jonathan Schenck, collector; John G. Marlatt, Elijah Peake, and Benjamin Helliker, highway commissioners; Ira Smith and Stephen Towsley, overseers of the poor; Henry Phenix, Enoch Ordway, and Joseph Dutton, commissioners of schools; Ira Simpson, Jonathan R. Prentice and William Hunter, inspectors of schools. At a general election held in November of the same year, Oliver Pease, Stephen Towsley and Ira Smith were chosen the first justices of the peace in the town.

The succession of supervisors in Jasper has been as follows: Andrew Craig, 1827-32: Stephen Towsley, 1833-36; William Hunter, 1837-39; J. R. Prentice, 1840; John G. Marlatt, 1841; J. R. Prentice, 1842; William Hunter, 1843; Andrew Craig, 1844-45; William Hunter, 1846; Alvah June, 1847-51; Darius Simpson, 1852; J. R. Prentice, 1853; Jesse L. Bartow, 1854; J. R. Prentice, 1855; Jonathan Schenck, 1856-57; Ira D. Hotchkiss, 1858-59; Henry C. Prentice, 1860-62; Amos T. Woodbury, 1863-65; Willis E. Craig, 1866; Samuel F. Dennis, 1867-69; George D. Woodward, 1870-71; Samuel Dennis, jr., 1872; Willis E. Craig, 1873; James S. Outman, 1874; W. E. Craig, 1875-76; Asa Spencer, 1877-78; A. A. Van Arsdale, 1879-81; J. Sumner Sargent, 1882-87; S. B. Hardy, 1888-92; Nathaniel P. Hunter, 1893; Ezra Chatfield, 1894-95.

The present town officers (1895) are Ezra Chatfield, supervisor; C. E. Brown, town clerk; A. A. Van Arsdale, Byron Crosby, J. M. Simpson, Arthur Lamson, justices; C. G. Hutchinson, Collins Talbot and John T. Dunnigan, assessors; Dennis Williams, highway commissioner; John Murphy, overseer of the poor; John E. Schenck, collector; James Turner, J. B. Sargent and Adelbert Curtiss, excise commissioners.

When first separated from the mother town Jasper had about 600 inhabitants, and in 183o the number was 657. In 1840 it increased to 1,187, and in 1850 to 1,749. In 1860 the maximum number was reached, 1,850, but in 1870 had decreased to 1,683. In 1880 the population was 1,806, but the next ten years showed a decrease, the census of 1890 giving the number of inhabitants as 1,690.

Notwithstanding these several and somewhat noticeable fluctuations in population, the town of Jasper is as stable and substantial and reliable in its productions and institutions as any similarly situated civil division of the county. There is but little of the speculative in the characteristics of the people; everything has been built "from the stump," and there are but few evidences of premature decay.

During the years of early history the pioneers of Jasper were not unmindful of the spiritual welfare of their families, and even before the town itself was set off we find three full and complete church societies in existence. They were the Baptist, organized in 1817; the Presbyterian, in 1818, and the Methodist Episcopal, the earliest meetings of which run to about the same time. In later years other societies have been formed and there are now five organizations, the Wesleyan Methodist and North Jasper Methodist in addition to those already noted. Also during these years there have been built up several hamlets in the town, though none has attained the corporate character. Jasper village is the chief center of business in the town, and will be found particularly mentioned in the municipal history in this work. The other hamlets are hardly more than cross road settlements. Half a century ago the named hamlets were Jasper Four Corners, Jasper Five Corners, West Jasper and South Hill. The more recent names of post offices have been Jasper, North Jasper, West Jasper and Hampshire, the latter so called from the fact that many of the early settlers in the locality of roads 18 and 18 were from New Hampshire; and the average New Englander naturally delights in preserving memories of his native State.

As an agricultural town Jasper has for many years ranked well among the divisions of the county, but in point of manufactures it has gained no special prominence, the disadvantages of location operating adversely. Still, we may recall the once important steam flour mill built away back in 1848 by Nelson Johnson; the Knapp tannery, afterward Augustus Van Asrdale's; the Savage tannery, run by Andrew Savage. The Craig mill was built and run by A. B. and W. A. Craig, in 1866. We may also mention the Walrath mills, built in 1881.

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