Settlement of Hartford, NY
From: The Story of Hartford, A History
Compiled by: Mrs. Isabella Brayton, Town Historian
in collaboratin with John B. Norton.
Hartford, NY 1929

Settlement

At the period of settlement, the Provincial Patent was included in the town of Westfield, comprising the present towns of Putnam, Fort Ann and Dresden and a portion of Kingsbury, besides Hartford. Westfield lay within the bounds of the old Charlotte County, which was renamed Washington at the close of the Revolution. This change was made because the county had been named in honor of Queen Charlotte, the wife of the hated George III. Washington County, the first of forty in different States to be so styled, then contained within its limits Warren County and a large eastern area that was subsequently ceded to Vermont. The conflicting claims of these two States were for some time a source of much annoyance and ill feeling in the section. The name Westfield itself indicates the early claims of New England colonies over the territory so named. The first settlement within the Fort Ann portion of Westfield was made in 1778 by Dutch from Albany. Some of them were Jacob VanWormer, Ephraim Washburn, Thadeus Dewey and Colonel George Wray, who became the third Supervisor of Westfield, and who held the office during most of the years that the Provincial Patent lay within it.

Although the Provincial Patent lay close to the earlier settled portions of Westfield and of the county, the settlers of Hartford did not come to any extent from these sources or from the Hudson Valley, but overland from Connecticut and Massachusetts. The pioneers followed mere blazed trails over long stretches of rough wilderness, over paths left by the Indian hunters. Some of these men, like Stephen Bump, had come to this section previously as huntsmen, guided by the Redmen.

There is an unverified tradition that a Thomas Thompson, from New London, Connecticut, came to Hartford during the Revolution, in 1776 or 1777, and built a cabin where later the Beebe house was erected in South Hartford. His stay was short, as he joined the American forces during the Burgoyne campaign and did not return here, although daughters of his married Hartford residents, and the Thompson family were prominent in the history of the neighboring town of Granville. His house was probably a mere hunting lodge such as the hunters were accustomed to build for shelter on their occasional visits to the section.

After the Revolution there is a record of rapid settlement within the bounds of the town. Colonel John Buck, from Wethersfield, Connecticut, was probably the first to settle. His house, built at first out of split logs, was on Lot 47, and his farm, still known as the Buck place, now a part of the Adelbert Maynard property, joins that now owned by Samuel Armstrong. His daughter Abigail, who married Jabez Norton, was the first female white child to be born in the town. At the same time, Manning Bull, a brother of Nathaniel, located on Lot 43, selecting that in preference to any other. There were two Sons of Nathaniel, Guerdon and William, who also settled in Hartford, besides Nathaniel himself. The Bump brothers, Stephen, Laban and Wanton, settled on Lot 89, and were the first in that part of the town, now East Hartford. An Asa Bump is also spoken of. About the same time Edward and John Ingalls came to the same part of the town, also Nathan, Samuel and Joseph Taylor, from Massachusetts. This was about 1785 or a little after. In 1782 Aaron and Eber Ingalsbe, two unmarried men, came from Massachusetts. They made their first clearing in East Hartford, the small triangular field back of the school house, and then built a shanty on what is Ernest Montgomery's farm, the Archibald Gilchrist place. They went back to Massachusetts in the fall, but returned the next spring with their father Ebenezer. Ithamer Clough settled and began clearing the land, about 1790, on what is now Albert Kennedy's farm. Timothy Stockton, Ebenezer Smith and John Paine came in 1784, but left before many years. In the north part of the town, Lot 6 became the home of Nathaniel Bull, mentioned above, one of the town's most promising citizens of his day. He is generally styled Lieutenant Bull. It is probable that this Bull was an heir to the claims of the patentee Joseph Bull. If this is the case, Lieutenant Bull and a Jonathan Ogden may have been two of the settlers who obtained lands in town by inheritance instead of by purchase, as was the case in nearly every other instance, except in the case of the squatters. On the lot adjoining lived John Henderson. Eastward and southward of these and coming from 1790 to 1796, were Daniel Pierce, John Utter, Obed Hitchcock, Levi Gates, Isaac Boomer, George Davis, Timothy Atwood, Phineas Spring, Achilles Walling, Silas Cotton, Ezekiel Whitford, William and Isaac Warren. John and William Congdon also settled in this locality, as also Samuel Downs, who became one of the leading pioneers. In 1790, Henry Brayton and his two brothers settled on Lot 15.

In the western part of the town Asahel Hodge, the first clerk of the town, found a home. His farmstead was later known as the Lot Lee farm and is on the road to Hudson Falls. Not far away Jonathan Wood, Joseph Morrison, Phineas Pelton, the Hawleys and the Pattersons were among the pioneers, in that part of the town toward Kingsbury. The farm now owned by Charles Hathaway was originally the Wood homestead. John Kincaid settled on Lot 17, in 1790. On Lot 19 lived Ezekiel Goodell, a man of considerable prominence among the pioneers.

Among the first settlers on the site of the north village was David Austin, who came from Connecticut after the close of the Revolution. He cleared much land in and about the village, which is built mostly on Lot 48. His dwelling house, more spacious and pretentious than others around, stood opposite the present residence of Charles Norton. A short distance from the village lived Abraham Downs, who died in 1792. A Richard Norton settled on Lot 46.

Daniel Mason settled at South Hartford in 1789 on Lot 67. In 1785 Daniel Brown had come to the same place and purchased the water power site owned by one Foster. A son, Caleb Brown, located further south and operated a public house. Other relatives of Daniel also settled in town. Jonathan Cabel was also one of the first to settle at that place, as well as Pasqua Austin. Calvin Townsend came before 1800 to South Hartford. Zachariah Sill settled in the southern part of the town near the Argyle line.

The two Harris families, one at East Hartford, the other at South Hartford, and Aaron Norton at the north village came a little later than the decade we have been considering. In the south section of the town also lived Daniel Baker, George Jilson and the Maynards, Elisha and Gardner, his brother. William Maynard, a descendant of Gardner, lives on the original Maynard property.

In this early settlement, Governor DeWitt Clinton was an important factor, as he had become possessed of some of the property rights of the original patentees. The land on which the village of North Hartford is built was formerly owned by him, as well as tracts of land on which the Brayton family settled and which therefore became later known as Brayton Street. David Austin, whom we have seen lived in the confines of the present village, was for some years resident agent in the town for the Governor, who seems to have had a personal interest in the town, for he visited his properties on several occasions and gave a plot of land to the town for church and burial purposes. He also seems to have conveyed a gift of about 176 acres of land east of the village, on Lots 52 and 53, to Rev. Amasa Brown, when the latter became pastor of the church here. DeWitt Clinton seems to have been loath to part with his properties, for when the three Brayton brothers, David, Thomas and Henry, offered to buy, he told them to work the farms and that he would pay for all the "betterments." Among the "betterments" was the setting out of large apple orchards, for which, when the brothers next appeared in Albany, they presented such a large bill that he consented to sell. This he did in 1790, selling the land for six dollars an acre. David Austin and the Governor were close friends, also Hannah Lee Austin and the Governor's wife, Maria Franklin, were first cousins. Governor Clinton usually spent part of the summer in Hartford at the Austin home.

Most of the original patentees who claimed their properties seem to have at once sold to the settlers. The Bumps and Elisha Burrows made annual trips to owners in Connecticut to make payments for the lands on which they had settled. Several tracts of land, one in the east section of the patent, continued in the possession of the heirs of the original holders for many years. The settlers held this land subject to long leases, and it became known as the Lease Land. Much of the land remained unclaimed and passed in time to the families who had settled upon it.


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