Harry U. Swinnerton
Historical Account of the
Presb. Church at Cherry Valley
Cherry Valley, NY, Gazette News, 1876
CHERRY VALLEY, N. Y.
Given in compliance with the recommendation of the General Assembly
for Preservation in the Archives of the Presbyterian
Historical Society at Philadelphia.
BY REV. H. U. SWINNERTON, A. M. PRINC.
THE PRESENT PASTOR
CHERRY VALLEY, N. Y.,
2 LOCATION OF LINDESAY'S BUSH
IN compliance with the recommendation of the General Assembly, I propose to give in the following pages, an Historical Account of the Presbyterian Church at Cherry Valley, N. Y. for preservation in the Archives of the Presbyterian Historical Society at Philadelphia.
The history of a Church is much more than a mere account of the church buildings it may have occupied. It is a record of spiritual progress or decline, embracing the narrative of the efforts and sacrifices of piety, with the vicissitudes of reward and trial which at times have encouraged and retarded the cause of religion, virtue, and culture. And yet the story of the consecrated edufice, the spot sanctified by worship, and the local habitation of the most sacred associations of the people, is invested with an interest scarcely second to that of the inward history. And then, such is the nature of moral advances that they cannot be made matter of adequate record. They consist of the manifold individual improvements which are wrought in a multitude of minds and hearts, an aggregate of which can never be gathered up, nor their causes exactly ascertained. We can only infer something of the extent and character of those advances, by marking the changes which take place in things closely associated, but which are outward in their character.
It can probably be said of few churches in this country, that there have been erected for their use, so many as five successive houses of worship. The edifice we now occupy is the fifth building that has been raised and dedicated to the use of this congregation in the worship of God. And as it happens that the history of each of these church buildings
ORIGIN OF THE SETTLERS 3
comprises in some sense, a distinct stage in the existence of the church, I shall seize upon that circumstance as affording a convenient system of division, and, separating the story into five chapters, shall group the events of each period around that one of the successive churches, which formed the centre at the time. We shall then have the series as follows:
I. THE LOG CHURCH, or Founding of the Settlement and early beginnings of Presbyterianism in this Region.
II. THE CHURCH IN THE FORT, or the story of the Massacre and Desolation, at the time of the Revolution.
III. THE POST REVOLUTIONARY CHURCH, or the Resuscitation, and early Efforts in behalf of Education.
IV. THE WHITE FRAME CHURCH, or the Progress of 60 years, down to present days, under a long succession of Pastors.
V. THE STONE CHURCH, or a Review of the Present Condition and Future Prospects.
CHAPTER THE FIRST.
Mr. Lindesay purchased the shares of his partners in 1739, and resolved to settle on the Patent, surveyed it, chose a site for his own homestead on a gentle knool a little south of where the village now stands, and in the summer of 1740, took up his residence, giving it the name of Lindesay's Bush. He was from New York City, and while there to fetch his family, being himself a Scotchman, he formed a strong attachment for a young clergyman of the Presbyteruan Church, Rev. Samuel Dunlop, who seems to have been traveling through the provinces with a view of finding a residence and field of ministerial labor; and whom he persuaded to accompany him and use his influence
* Parker's Hist. of Londonderry, N. H., Boston 1861, pp. 98, 194.
4 REV SAMUEL DUNLOP
LOCATION OF LINDESAY'S BUSH 11
The principal sources from which the following portions of this recital are drawn is an exceedingly interesting M. S. volume, inscribed, in a beautiful hand resembling copperplate, "The Records of the Presbyterian Church and Congregation in Cherry Valley, Anno Domini, 1785." Besides this which is chiefly a chronicle of the temporalities, the Records of the Session are extant in four volumes, commencing in 1804.
The thread of the history is abruptly resumed with the following quaint and touching entry upon the first page of the Old Record Book.
"We the Ancient Inhabitants of Cherry Valley, in the County of Montgomery, and State of New York having Returned from Exile finding ourselves destitute of our Church officers viz., Deacons and Elders. In consequence of our difficulties, and other congregations, in Similar Circumstances, our legislature thought proper to pass a Law for the Relief of those (viz., An act to encoporate all Religious Societies passed April the Sixth, One Thousand Seven Hundred and Eighty-four). In compliance of Said act we proceeded as follows: --
ADVERTISEMENT.At a meeting of a respectable number of the old Inhabitants of Cherry Valley, it was agreed upon that an Advertisement be set up to give notice to all the former Inhabitants that are Returned to their Respective Habitations to meet in the Meeting House yard on Tuesday the Fifth Day of April Next at Ten o'clock before Noon, then and there to choose Trustees who shall be a Body corporate for the purpose of taking care of the Temporalities of their Respective Presbyterian Congregation agreeable to an act, (etc.)
Cherry Valley March 19, 1785. Samuel Clyde, Justice of the Peace."
Thus with neither minister, nor missionary, nor any of those specially qualified persons at hand who are generally the prime movers in religious undertakings, not even a deacon or elder, the forlorn remnant of the people of Cherry Valley who had escaped the ravages of war and the massacre, true to their pious training, out of their desire to worship God, and under the leadership of the civil magistrate, assume that right to form themselves into a church, which is inherent in Christians in such circumstances, without regard to precedent or ecclesiastical succession. The war which so severely tried the colonies, received its finishing stroke in the surrender of Cornwallis at Yorktown in October 1781; but it was not till late in 1783 that the armies were disbanded, a treaty with Great Britain having been signed in September that year. For a space the energies of the young nation seem paralyzed with its efforts, and with the vision of its success. It was not till the second year after this that the survivors of Cherry Valley came to search amid the thicket of young vegetation for the boundaries of their farms and the relics of their homes. They met informally, as we have seen, to take measures for the rehabilitation of their church, and the advertisement was set up in March 1795.
There is something extremely impressive in the thought of that assemblage of returned "exiles" in the
12 A PICTURE VISIT OF WASHINGTON.
meeting house yard, deliberating in the cold March air, amid the blackened ruins of their sanctuary, and the graves of their dead, upon the prospects of rebuilding the house of God. The artist seeking to perpetuate upon canvas the spirit of that earnest period, could scarcely find a more fitting subject for his pencil. -- Great drifts of snow there frequently still cover the ground at that season; but if otherwise, we may imagine the unpromising features of the landscape which formed the ground of the picture; the arching stems of the raspberry making a tangle over the low gravestones, through which it was difficult to walk; the trees bare of leaves; the nearer hills lonely and grey, save where patches of the hemlock varied the tone with touches of blackness; and the distant summits far down the valley fading to shades of cold, steel blue under the cloudy and threatening sky. The costumes of the figures, the brown doublet or heavily-caped greatcoat of gray; the blue Continental uniform, and rough hunter's legging of leather; would give diversity to the group; but what a master hand must not it be, that could render the firm and rugged lines in the faces of the men!
The names of 21 electors are recorded, who elected three Trustees, Samuel Clyde, John Campbell, Jr., and James Willson. The last accompanied Lindesay in 1739 when he came to locate his patent, and seems to have been the surveyor. He purchased a farm in 1745, and the old parchment deed describes him as the High Sheriff of Albany County, which at that earliest period extended over this district. The returning officers were Col. Campbell and Wm. Dickson, the latter the ancestor of Rev. Cyrus Dickson of New York.
In the summer of 1784 the place was honored by the advent of a party of highly distinguished visitors. A few families had already begun to rebuild, when Gen. Washington, who was on a tour of observation through the frontier districts in company with Gen. Geo. Clinton, (who had some connections here) and several others, stopped at the place, to view the scene of the massacre, and call upon those who had served as officers in the war.
The corporate body was kept up from this time onward, but in the first years the church was left to care for itself without assistance of a regular minister: worship being maintained with such temporary help as could from time to time be procured in a region so isolated. By 1790 a Meeting House had been erected, but from subsequent records the post revolutionary church seems for many years to have been without regular furniture, and in the barest possible condition. In 1796 the names of 54 others are entered as "members of the first Presbyterian Congregation." Among these is that of the Rev. Solomon Spaulding, a man whose literary labors subsequently became an instrument in supporting the most scandalous imposture our country has produced. We read in the Scripture of an old prophet at Bethel, who preferred dwelling among the 10 tribes to ministering to the faithful people, and whose preference therein ultimately led to deplorable mischief. -- Mr. Spaulding doubtless anticipated no such results, but having abandoned the ministry, he devoted his leisure to some unprofitable speculations about those same lost Tribes of Israel. On this subject he wrote a romance, detailing an imaginary
MORMON BIBLE THE ACADEMY. 13
history, and identifying them with the Aborigines of this Continent, whom he describes as coming to this country by a long journey through various lands from Jerusalem, under two leaders, Nephi and Lehi, and giving rise to the traces of art and civilization which exist in the mounds and other relics which still are so perplexing a problem to scholars. The MS. of this work being sent to a printing office, where its absurdity caused it to be refused, it was copied by one Rigdon and thence into the hands of Joseph Smith, the pretended prophet of the "Latter Day Saint[s]," became the source of the pretended revelations of the "Golden Leaves," and now survives, with a few additions from Scripture, as the Book of Mormon.
Sometime before this time an energetic effort was made in behalf of education, and a handsome building was erected for an Academy, which long exerted the happiest influence on the culture of the neighborhood, and sent out numbers of men who became pominent throughout the country. Mr. Spaulding appears to have taught in this institution, and, doubtless, he occasionally preached in the church, and baptized the children. But in this year, both church and school were to secure the services of a man whose labors in the latter soon raised it to great efficiency, and who himself rapidly rose to eminence as an eloquent divine, and efficient supporter of education. An entry in the record, August 15, 1796, states that the question "whether this Society will give the Rev. Eliphalet Nott a call to settle as our minister," was carried in the affirmative, and a subscription opened to raise money for his support.
Morse's Geography, as quoted in Dobson's Encyclopedia, gives a short account of Cherry Valley which affords an idea of the size and consequence of the place at that time. -- "It contains about 31 houses and a Presbyterian Church. There is an Academy here which contained in 1796, 50 or 60 scholars. It is a spacious building 60 feet by 40. The township is very large, and lies along the east side of Otsego Lake and its outlet to Adiquatauqis Creek. By the state census of 1796 it appears that 629 of its inhabitants are electors. This settlement suffered severely from the Indians in the late war." The whole population was perhaps near 3000, but the limits then seem to have extended over what were called "the four Worcester towns."
Dr. Nott came from Connecticut, in the summer of 1795, as a licentiate missionary to these parts; being then at the age of 21 and recently married; reaching the place by the great turnpike from Albany, by which this country was soon to be opened up to rapid development, but which was then only recently cut through, and passable only on horseback. He himself describes the pleasing emotions with which he gazed down upon the smiling valley with its nestling village and waving cultivated fields, after the rough, uninhabited country which intervened for long distances between it and the more easterly settlements. * Filled with melancholy thoughts at his lonely situation in a region so distant and where he supposed all would be entire strangers, he stopped at a home to ask for some refreshment, when to his surprise he was greeted by name. It was an old Connecticut acquaintance, Mr. Ozias Waldo, who received him most cordially,
* Memoirs of Dr. Nott. [C. Van Santvoord's Memoirs of Eliphalet Nott..., NYC, 1876]
14 DR. NOTT'S MINISTRY.
and at once urgently besought that he would tarry and take charge of the church, of which himself long after continued an active and useful member. Engagements further on required Mr. Nott's attention; but the call was made out, and after some hesitation he returned and took up his labors as both preacher in the church, and teacher in the Academy, which was soon thronged with pupils. In his letter of acceptance, a characteristic document recorded in his own hand, he dwells on the "distance from ministerial assistance and advice" as making him hesitate, but speaks of the prevalence of infidelity and the "destitute and broken state" of the society, which he calls a "solitary zion," not as deterring, but as the reasons for not "deserting" it.
A proposal that the call should require Mr. Nott to "put himself under the direction and inspection of the presbytery of this State," seems to have led to the appointment of Mr. Spaulding to present the call to presbytery; but apparently nothing was done, for the young preacher was not ordained till he became pastor in Albany. He himself, however, in one of his letters, relates the circumstances under which he was led to become a Presbyterian. On his way to the west he stopped at Schenectady, and going into a prayer-meeting was asked to preach by Dr. John Blair Smith, the president of Union college. In a long conversation afterwards he explained the object of his journey, which was as a missionary of the Congregational church. But he was deeply impressed with the views of his host, that as the New England people and the Presbyterians in the new region were so much in accord on points and doctrines, it seemed unwise and unchristian to encourage them in maintaining a profitless division of their strength, that they ought to be induced to unite, and join efforts in the Master's cause. These arguments gave a new direction to the young man's life; he abandoned Congregationalism, and lent his influence to form that "plan of Union" which led to the building up of so many large and prosperous churches. -- There is no record of the results of his labors as the supply of the little congregation, and his stay extended to but two years. But he here first established his household, made ties of friendship which lasted as long as his extended life, and formed that attachment for the place which caused it ever to dwell in his memory among his most pleasing associations. He loved to revisit the beautiful valley which had been the scene of his early endeavors, and in his old age he resolved plans for giving it lasting benefit by aiding in the establishment of its ancient academy on the basis of a substantial endowment.
In 1798 his young wife was conveyed for her health to Ballston Springs, whose waters were already becoming famous. There is some obscurity in the accounts, but it appears to have been at this time that he tarried at Schenectady, being on his way to see his wife, and to attend a meeting of the presbytery of Albany at Salem, when Dr. Smith, after hearing him preach, urged him to return by way of Albany, and occupy the pulpit of the Presbyterian church there which was then vacant. Whether he was then already a member of the Presbytery, as his Memoirs state (in which case we could expect that he would have been ordained and installed, on being received by it, over his Cherry
A PRIMITIVE MEETING HOUSE. 15
Valley charge), or whether he made his journey for the purpose of connecting himself with the Presbytery, with installation then in view, is not clear. At all events the journey lost him to Cherry Valley; he preached at Albany, was immediately called to that important charge, and a few years later had become famous among the clergymen of the country. In 1804 he became President of Union College, where for an extended period he filled that sphere of eminence and usefulness, whose events are a part of the history of our progress during the past century.
By loss of its minister the little church was again left to its own meagre resources in its difficult struggle, and several years elapsed before it secured the services of a regular pastor. Trustees were regularly elected each year, but no minister is mentioned, except Mr. Spaulding, till 1802, when Rev. Thos. Kirby Kirkham was employed for at least one year, one-quarter of his time to be devoted to Middlefield. In Dr. Nott's time efforts had been made to furnish the church, and the proposal started to erect a better one. It seems to have been greatly needed, for so unattractive was its appearance that is is related that a traveler on passing it exclaimed, that he had many times seen the house of God, but never before had he beheld the Lord's Barn! It stood on the site of the previous one in the grave-yard, a plain building, fifty feet square, without steeple or ornament. Within was a gallery on three sides, and on the fourth was a round, barrel pulpit mounted on a post, the pews being of the high-backed, square, uncomfortable pattern usual at the period, neither padded nor cushioned. For many years there was neither chimney nor stove, any more than the old Covenanters had when they met in conventicle on the Scotch hillsides. The feeble warmth of the foot-stoves carried by the women barely sufficed to keep the congregation from freezing as they listened to Dr. Nott's young and fervid oratory in the keen air of winter. The writer has more than once preached in Cherry Valley when the thermometer outside was at 18 or 20 degrees below zero; and when it was at that stage inside, what must not have been the devotion that could keep a congregation together! We do not wonder at finding a record that there should be but one service at that season of the year. Mr. Kirkham's labors seem to have led to little fruit, and he appears not to have been re-engaged.
We have seen that the church was organized hitherto in that somewhat informal manner which circumstances permitted. A body of Christians desiring to worship God, they had builded a church and employed ministers to maintain the ordinances so far as they could be obtained. They evidently endeavored to regain that presbyterial recognition which they had before the war; but this their remoteness prevented, or their insignificance failed to evoke. Mr. Nott being without ordination prevented the institution of new elders, though one or two who had been such in the old church are believed to have been on the ground. Old "deacon" John Moore had been a chaplain in the first provincial Congress of New York, in 1775, of which he was a member. With such facts, it would seem an absurd piece of punctiliousness to assert, on account of some unavoidable defects, that they were not a church. An army does not cease to be an army because its
(the remainder of the text is under construction)
Ency. of Presb. Church in the
United States of America
Philadelphia: Presb. Ency. Pub. Co., 1884
(Title-page is under construction)
[ 137 ]
Cherry Valley Presbyterian Church, in central New York, is among the oldest of the churches of the Denomination in the country. It came into existence in 1741. In 1738, George Clark, Lieutenant Governor of the province of New York, granted a patent of 8000 acres of land, covering the site of the town, to four proprietors, one of whom, John Lindesay, a Scotch gentleman, bought out his associates and went to settle upon it. While in New York, preparing for the removal of his family, he formed a friendship with Rev. Samuel Dunlap, a young Presbyterian minister of Irish birth, but educated at Edinburgh, who had traveled over the South, and was arranging for a tour through the North. He persuaded him to join in colonizing the land, and while he went with his family to make their home upon it, Mr. Dunlap went to Londonderry, New Hampshire, to persuade some of the Scotch-Irish, who in 1718 had immigrated there, to accompany him to it. Meanwhile, Mr. Lindesay and his family narrowly escaped starvation. No white inhabitants lived nearer to them than the Schoharie Creek, where some Germans made an abode in 1713. Ignorant of the winters of that region, Mr. Lindesay brought on scanty supplies, and at the point of their exhaustion he found himself and his family in impassable snow. Just then a friendly Indian came along, and by repeated visits, on snow shoes, to the Mohawk, he kept them in stores until the opening Spring raised their blockade. In due time Mr. Dunlap and his party arrived, and distributing themselves about on the farms they selected, they became the fathers of the place, Mr. Lindsay retreating from the rigors of the climate and the roughness of pioneer life. A house of worship was a necessity with such people, and one of logs, used also as a school room, was immediately put up, the first, it may be remarked, of a series of five, the second being used likewise as a fort, and the third an erection of the returned fugitives from the world-wide known "massacre," and like themselves, stripped of furniture and totally bare, and the fourth, a frame building, sufficiently pretty for a model, and actually performing the graceful and valuable part of spreading a tasteful ecclesiastical architecture. The fifth, now standing [as of 1884], and solid enough for all coming generations, has three varieties of stone in the composition of its walls, an interior finish of solid walnut, and, while plain and substantial, is of both cheerful and dignified air. Its distinction, however is the fact that it is a gift to the congregation by a female communicant, in recognition of "the connection of her family with the town from its early settlement, and with the church for four generations, and as a memorial to her beloved parents and dear sister."
Composed of eight families, in 1752, by 1765 the colony consisted of forty. The French and Indian wars kept them perpetually exposed to inroads and slaughter, and at the same time trained them to arms. Then followed the Revolutionary struggle. No prophetic pen was needed to foreknow the side the Scotch-Irish of Cherry Valley would take. The Presbyterian tenacity of principles and devotion to liberty, combined with ancestral memories, committed and held them to the cause of the people. They were the sons of those Scotchmen who, at the earnest entreaty of the Stuarts, and with the most solemn promises of religious and civil prerogatives and privileges, went over to the north of Ireland to bring into bearing that then fertile waste, and who, when the tillage was done and rich harvests waved, were so restrained and robbed that many of them fled to this country, preferring the wilds of America, with freedom of conscience and civil liberty, to the culture of the beautiful Green Isle. The tyranny of the British king, so graphically described in our Declaration of Independence, awakened in Cherry Valley the spirit of beseiged Londonderry and of the battle of the Boyne, and the signal from Lexington and Concord called every inhabitant to arms. Its church was the place of meeting of a county committee of the patriots, May, 1775, which declared "our fixed attachment and entire approbation of the proceedings of the grand Continental Congress, held at Philadelphia, last fall; and that we will support the same to the extent of our power, and that we will, religiously and inviolably observe the regulations of that august body." They obeyed the call of General Herkimer to fly to the relief of Fort Stanwix, but being at the eastern extremity of the country, their company could not
[ 138 ]
reach Oriskany in time for the battle. Two of their number, however, a Major and Lieutenant Colonel participated in it, the latter of whom led off the field the regiment of Colonel Cox, who was killed. The leading men of the place were engaged in various parts of the land. "No less than thirty-three have turned out for immediate service and the good of their country," the whole population being less than three hundred, was the statement in a petition to the Provincial Congress, asking needful protection. One of the Indian paths, from Windsor, Broome county, to the Mohawk, passed through Cherry Valley, and so kept the inhabitants in apprehension of incursions from them. Early in the Summer of 1776 signs appeared of their coming , and a company of rangers was ordered to the place. Those of the people who had held military commissions, or had passed the age for military service, formed themselves into military corps, and as scalping parties were prowling about, the farmers went to the fields in squads, some standing guard while others engaged in work. The house of Colonel Samuel Campbell, the largest in the place, and situated on elevated ground, was turned into a fortification, and the people gathered in it, bringing with them the most valuable of their goods, and there they remained during the most of the Summer, and then returned to their homes.
A regular fort was subsequently built by the order of General La Fayette, and manned by a Continental regiment, made up of Eastern soldiers, but little trained in Indian warfare. After the Indian massacre at Wyoming, in July, 1778, warning was given of a contemplated descent on Cherry Valley, but the inexperienced yet brave commander failed to give suitable heed to it, and refused the request of the people to be permitted to take shelter in the fort, or to deposit their valuables there, and he himself quartered outside, at the house of Mr. Robert Wells. On the morning of November 11th the savages swooped down from a hill top, in the evergreens of which they had lain concealed, and struck their talons into the ill-fated community. They consisted largely of the Senecas, then the most ferocious of the Iroquois, and were attended by still more brutal tories. One party rushed into the house of Mr. Wells and murdered every inmate -- Mr. Wells, his mother, wife, four children, brother, sister, and three servants -- and but one of the family escaped -- John Wells, a youth at the time, who had been left the previous Summer with an aunt at Schenectady, to attend a Grammar school there, and who subsequently became on of the most eminent lawyers of the land. A tory boasted that he had killed Mr. Wells while at prayer. Pursuing his sister Jane to a wood-pile, where she fled for safety, and in spite of her supplications, in his language, which she understood, and in spite of the entreaties of an interceding tory, a savage, with a single blow of his tomahawk, smote her to death. The commander started for the fort, and refusing to surrender, and snapping a wet pistol at his pursuer, a tomahawk aimed at his head fatally struck it, and the scalping knife followed.
Similar scenes were enacted at other houses, and individual barbarities perpetrated, the thought of which horrifies and sickens the soul. Thirty-two, principally women and children, were slain, with all the horrors that demons could enact, and the terribleness of the scene was intensified by the fierce flames that burnt up every house and outhouse. A few escaped to the Mohawk, but between thirty and forty of the others who survived were carried away prisoners. Divided into small companies, they were placed in charge of different parties, and so commenced their journey for what parts they knew not and could not surmise. The first day Mrs. Cannon, an aged and infirm matron, gave out, and was killed at the side of her daughter, who was driven along with the bloody hatchet bathed in her mother's blood, and to whom three children clung, and in whose arms a fourth eighteen months old, lay. On the second day the rest of the women and children were sent back, but Mrs. Campbell and Mrs. Moore and their children were taken, between two and three hundred miles, to near the site of the present town of Geneva, and here their children were torn from them and given to different Indians, and scattered through Canada. When recovered, years after, they had forgotten their mothers' tongue, and learned the language, habits and tastes of their savage keepers.
The venerable pastor of the church, with one of his daughters, was permitted to live, through the interposition of a Mohawk, but his wife was murdered, and her mangled arm, torn from her body, was tossed into an apple tree, which stood long after as the monument of the fiendish deed. His house was razed to the ground, and his library scattered, and himself carried away as a prisoner. Released in a few days, he made his way to New York, and about a year after sank under his sufferings, and laid down in the grave.
One of his parishioners, having gone into the fields, saw a party of Indians and tories approaching his house, but did not dare to go back. Secreting himself in the woods until they left, he returned to his house, which had been plundered and set on fire, and there he beheld the corpses of his wife and four children. One of his children, a little girl of ten or twelve years of age, showed signs of life, and while lifting her up he saw another party approach, and had barely time to hide himself beside a log fence, when they entered in, and he saw an infamous tory lift his hatchet and butcher the child.
A reinforcement came the day after the massacre, but, instead of defending the living, it only remained to them to bury the dead. The inhabitants were exterminated, and their homes were burned up. The little church in the fort survived the otherwise universal
[ 139 ]
ruin for two or three years, and then a party of marauders gave it, too, to the flames.
For seven years the place remained a desolation, and without a human denizen. In 1784-5, the old inhabitants began to return, and soon after a meeting was called to reorganize the society. But no Mr. Dunlap came back. It took till 1790 to erect another house of worship, and that stood in the barest plight, and only now and then, as some passing preacher stopped, did it echo a minister's voice. Mr. Solomon Spaulding, who amused himself by the writing of a fiction which with no thought of the kind on his part was adopted as the Mormon Bible, occasionally filled the pulpit, but no regular services were held until Rev. Eliphalet Nott, afterwards the distinguished President of Union College, established them in 1795. In 1798 he was called to Albany, and the church was again left to casual supplies until 1802, when they were statedly enjoyed for a year, and also again in 1806, and still again in 1810, when the Rev. Eli F. Cooley entered on the charge and remained in it for ten years; and, up to 1883, twenty-two pastors and stated supplies have served the church. The Rev. H.U. Swinnerton, Ph.D. who is the present pastor, has prepared an "Historical Account" of the church which is full of interest. It must be added that frequent showers of the Spirit have fallen upon Cherry Valley, some of them of great copiousness, and that made it a "well watered garden."
(the remainder of the text is under construction)
Royden W. Vosburgh
Records... 1st Presbyterian
Church of Cherry Valley
NYC: Genealogical & Biographical Soc., 1920
RECORDS OF THE FIRST PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH OF CHERRY VALLEY, in Otsego County, N.Y. Transcribed by The New York Genealogical and Biographical Society, Edited by Royden Woodward Vosburgh. New York City, May, 1920.
[ 1 ]
History of Cherry Valley
Cherry Valley: Gazette Print, 1898
From 1740 to 1898.
CHERRY VALLEY, N. Y.
[ 1 ]
History of Cherry Valley.
The interest we all take in the memories, traditions and histories, of our ancestors, presents one of the rare cases where our desires impel us in the same direction as our duty. For, as it is a pleasure to (dwell on the deeds and lives of our ancestors, so too, is it a duty we owe them to treasure up their memory and to do them honor for the noble heritance they have passed down to us.
The inhabitants of Cherry Valley have especial cause for treasuring the memories of those who first, through many trials and almost incredible hardships, worked out a home for their descendants; for the early settlers who laid the foundation of this historic little village were not alone, like most of the frontiers- men of that day, sturdy toilers and men of strictest integrity, but they were also, to an unusual degree, men of honorable birth and superior education.
2 HISTORY OF CHERRY VALLEY.
56 HISTORY OF CHERRY VALLEY.
The decade ending with 1795 was a prosperous one for the now flourishing village. The tide of emigration was sweeping westward and the country for fifty miles beyond the borders of the county of Otsego was dotted with rude farm houses. while here and there settlements were springing nix Cherry Valley, as yet the largest village, profited by the increased emigration, not only from the trade that flowed to it from all the country to the west, but also because of the benefits derived from its being on the main thoroughfares to the regions beyond.
During this time the Academy was re-established and a commodious building, forty by sixty feet, was erected. In 1795 the Academy had about sixty students, a remarkably large number for those times and a proof of the extended reputation which it must already have acquired. It was during this time that the Rev. Solomon Spaulding, the principal of the Academy, wrote the Biblical romance, which afterwards fell into the hands of Joseph Smith, and was adopted by him as the basis of the Mormon
HISTORY OF CHERRY VALLEY. 57
Bible. Soon after this the Trustees of the Academy called for Mr. Spaulding's resignation.
In 1795 the population of Cherry Valley, which then included the present Worcester towns, Springfield and Roseboom, was little short of 3000, yet the population of the village itself, although it was still the most important village west of Schenectady, was less than 350, and contained only 36 houses. From this time on, the growth of the village was proportionately more rapid than that of the surrounding country. Business men and storekeepers rushed in to supply the growing trade of the country, while lawyers, doctors, and other professional men, sought this as a central location in which to follow their professions. More hotels were needed to accommodate the ever increasing stream of travel and black- smiths could hardly be found in sufficient numbers to supply the demand. Shoemakers, wheel-wrights, carpenters, and artisans of various kinds, made their way here and added to the growth and prosperity of the place. The Academy, too, increased greatly in members, from 1796 to 1798, under the direction of the renowned Dr. Nott, who in later years, as President of Union College, left the stamp of his individuality on so many generations of "Old Union's" sons.
An additional impetus was given to the growth of the village by the building of the Great Albany Turnpike, the first of those great arteries which carried the stream of travel to the west, until the building of the
58 HISTORY OF CHERRY VALLEY.
Erie Canal diverted it, to the valley of the Mohawk. The charter for this road was granted in 1799 and authorized the building of a Turnpike, beginning at the city of Albany and running through various towns to a terminus at the hotel of John Walton, in the village of Cherry Valley. In 1800 a charter was granted for the building of a Turnpike from Cherry Valley to the foot of Skaneatles Lake. James Fenimore Cooper, in his Chronicles of Cooperstown, speaks of a charter being granted in 1794 for a state road running from Albany, through Cherry Valley, to Cooperstown, but we find no evidence of such a road having been built. Cooper says that it took the entire day to drive from Cooperstown to Cherry Valley in 1795, a distance of thirteen miles. At this time the journey from Cherry Valley to Albany took about five days. Twenty-five bushels of wheat was considered a load. Wheat, delivered in Albany, was worth from $1.50 to $1.75 a bushel.
In 1797, the towns of Middlefield, Springfield and Worcester, were formed from Cherry Valley, reducing its population from 3000 to 1600. This reduction in the size of the town was not, however, felt by the village since it still remained the trading centre of the new towns.
On the 8th of February, 1796, the Cherry Valley Academy was regularly incorporated under the Regents of the State of New York. The Charter, which is signed by John Jay, Chancellor of the University, and DeWitt Clinton, Secretary, names Eli Parsons,
HISTORY OF CHERRY VALLEY. 59
Luther Rich, Benjamin Rathbone, Lester Holt, Samuel Campbell, Ephraim Hudson, Ozias Waldo, C. P. Yates, William White, jr., Robert Dickson, Thomas Whitaker, Simeon Rich, Joseph White, Elijah Holt and Richard Edwards, as Trustees. An eminently respectable Board, and one that, it is to be feared, the place could not now, over a hundred years later, duplicate, either in prominence, ability, wealth or social standing.
At the close of the last Century, Cherry Valley had already become celebrated, throughout the country, as the home of many noted men, among whom were the Rev. Eliphalet Nott, afterwards the most famous College President of his day; Dr. Joseph White, then a leading member of the State Senate and later the leading physician of the State; Dr. William Campbell, afterwards State Engineer and Surveyor and a member of the Board of Regents; Judge Ephraim Hudson, a man of extended reputation for ability and worth; Gen. Elijah Holt, for many years prominent in Military circles; Isaac Seeley, one of the leading lawyers of the State; Senator Luther Rich, a prominent factor in the politics of this section of the State; Senator Robert Roseboom, a member of the Council of Appointment; Cob Samuel Campbell, of Revolutionary fame; Col. Libbeus Loomis, a prominent member of the "Cincinnatti Society;" James Cannon, the first Surrogate and first member of Assembly of the county; Benjamin Gilbert who enjoyed the unusual distinction of
60 HISTORY OF CHERRY VALLEY.
being four times Sheriff of the county; Eli Parsons, Major Lester Holt, Capt. Jerome Clark, C. P. Yates, Simeon Rich, Ephraim Hudson, Jr., Ozias Waldo, John Walton, Peter Magher, Robert Dickson, Horace Ripley, John Bull, Robert Dunlap and Thomas Whitaker all men of consideration, either because of their ability, wealth, influence, or social position. One of the "characters" of that day was an old seaman, named William Cook, who was the "Ben Pump" of Cooper's "Pioneers." All of the men mentioned were residents of Cherry Valley between 1795 and 1800.
It is worthy of note that Cherry Valley was even at this early date, a place of considerable wealth. The early tax books show that there was more personal property here than in any town west of Schenectady.
In this connection it is to be remembered that wealth is always relative. As nearly as we can judge the purchasing power of money was from four to five times greater than it now is. Thus, as has been mentioned, meals at a hotel were six pence and whiskey three pence a glass; men were paid two shillings a day, for ordinary labor, and boys a shilling. Some things were, of course, worth proportionately more, and some less, but the average shows the purchasing power of money to have been about as stated. Luxuries were generally high but the necessaries of life cost practically nothing. Wood could be had for the cutting, clothes were mainly home made, while butter, milk and meat, were worth comparatively
HISTORY OF CHERRY VALLEY. 61
nothing. Little money passed hands in ordinary transactions, especially in the farming districts. A man working for a farmer was expected to take his pay in farm produce, or in orders on store-keepers, -- which would be paid in produce. Old contracts show that the rent of a good farm, of from one to two hundred acres, was from fifteen to twenty-five dollars a year. Farms were usually rented for a term of from ten to twenty-five years. Between the amount of money in circulation, then and now, the disproportion was much greater. Although the place was noted for its wealth it is doubtful if a man in it was worth ten thousand dollars in 1800. Elisha Flint, who died in 1806, was considered a very well-to-do business man and yet his estate inventoried only $3742.88.
(the remainder of the text is under construction)
D. Hamilton Hurd
History of Otsego Co. 1740-78
Philadelphia: Everts & Fariss, 1878
-- 1740. --
-- OF --
N E W Y O R K.
-- WITH --
Illustrations and Biographical Sketches
-- OF --
SOME OF ITS PROMINENT MEN AND PIONEERS.
PUBLISHED BY EVERTS & FARISS.
794-16 Filbert Street, Philadelphia.
-- 1878. --
(view enlargment of map)
HISTORY OF OTSEGO COUNTY, NEW YORK. 119
TOWN OF CHERRY VALLEY.
Organization -- Geographical -- Topographical -- Revolutionary Annals -- Incidents of the Massacre -- Early Settlers -- Initial Events -- The First Town-Meeting -- Officers Elected -- Supervisors and Town Clerks from 1791 to 1878 -- Present Town Officials -- Agricultural and General Statistics of 1865 and 1875 -- Area -- Assessed and Equalized Valuation of Property -- Population.
THIS town was organized from the town of Canajoharie, Montgomery county, on Feb. 15, 1791, more than half a century after the first settlement was made within its borders. It retained its original dimensions until 1797, when the towns of Middlefield, Springfield, and Worcester were set off, and it was still further reduced in area by the erection of Roseboom, in 1854.
Its surface is generally hilly; Mount Independence attains an elevation of about 2000 feet above tide, and is the higihest summit in the county. The waters of the centre and south part flow into the Susquehanna, while the northern part is drained by tributaries of the Mohawk. The soil is fertile, particularly in the valleys, where are found many of the finest farms in the county.
The pioneer history of Cherry Valley is related in detail in the general history of this work, which is traced from the planting of civilization by John Lindsley in 1740, down through the years of privation and hardship to the breaking out of the Revolution. The record of that era is a history of pioneer life, with its attendant privations and inconveniences. The courageous spirits who penetrated the forest and were carving for themselves homes and rearing families had thus far been unmolested by the roaming savages. It was a season of comparative repose. The grand old hills were picturesque in their primeval garb, the soil which had been laid bare by the husbandman was found to yield an abundance, the inhabitants were those of sterling character. Christianity was a ruling guide, and the little settlement of Cherry Valley was rapidly advancing in importance, with every indication of an exceedingly prosperous future.
The breaking out of the Revolution and the unfortunate alliancc of the Six Nations to the English crown, brought this dream of peace to a close, and from that time to the fatal hour of the massacre was a period of apprehension and alarm. The savages, who had heretofore treated the settlers with every act of kindness, now began to show signs of distrust, which were soon developed into intense enmity by the Johnsons and their coterie of counselors.
In the general history will also be found a description of the massacre, the mere mention of which sends a thrill of horror through one's frame, when is called to mind the butcheriee of that November night.
A more pathetic scene can scarcely be pictured to one's mind than the survivors of Cherry Valley at the close of the Revolution returning to their old homes, from which they had been so relentlessly driven by the Toriea and their savage allies. But, alas, the scene that met their throbbing hearts! The rude church wherein they had offered their devotions to Him who had watched over them, the fort, the dwellings, and every vestige of civilization had been swept away; gardens were overgrown by briers and underbrueh, and the small clearings, which their industrious bands had assisted in reclaiming from the forest, were assuming their natural etate. But theirs were stout hearts. They were in all respects well qualified to endure the hardships incident to pioneer life, and not much time elapsed era the clearings were reclaimed, cabins were built, and fhe frontier settlement again began to exhibit evidences of a civilized and progressive state.
In 1784, when a few log huts comprised the embryo village, it was visited by General Washington, General Geo. Clinton, and numerous other celebrated men, who came to pay their respects to those who had served under them in the recently-closed struggle, and to view the scene of the barbarous butchery. The following description of this visit is given by Judge Campbell in the annals of Tryon county: "Covernor Clinton immediately inquired for Robert Shankland,
120 HISTORY OF OTSEGO COUNTY, NEW YORK.
land, who had married a distant connection of his, and with whom he was acquainted. Before introducing him, it may be well to give some account of this brave and hardy borderer. From the first he had espoused the colonial cause, and, being an Irishman by birth, maintained it with the characteristic warmth of his countrymen. He lived in a remote part of the town, but while the garrison was kept he came almost daily to inquire as to the state of affairs at home and abroad. He was accustomed to pass by the farm of Mr. Conrad, a townsman, whom he found always engaged in his usual fanning business. Believing that a man could not be a good Whig who appeared so indifferent to what was doing in the country, he one day accosted him; Armed, as was his custom, with a musket and a large basket-hilted sword, he drew up before him, when the following dialogue was held:
"Mr. Conrad, are you a Whig?"
"Yes, Mr. Shankland, I am as good a Whig as you are," he replied.
"And why don't you arm yourself in defense of your country as I do, then?" Throwing up his musket and striking his hand upon his sword, he marched toward the fort, leaving Mr. Conrad somewhat surprised at this, though not unusual, yet scorching, question. Mr. Conrad was afterwards an active partisan soldier.
When Cherry Valley was destroyed, the home of Mr. Shankland, by reason of its remoteness, was not burned. He fled, however, with his family to the Mohawk river. The following summer he returned with his son Thomas, a lad about fourteen gears of age. They were awakened one morning, a little before daylight by a violent pounding at the door, with a demand of admittance made in broken English.
Mr. Shankland arose, and taking down his guns directed his son to load them as fast as they should be discharged bg him. Upon listening, he ascertained that the demand was made by Indians, who were endeavoring to hew down the door with their tomahawks. With a, spear in his hand he now carefully unbarred his door and charged upon them. Surprised by this unexpected attack they fell back. One of the Indians, whom he pursued in his retreat, fell over a log which lay near the door, and into which he stuck his spear. He drew it back suddenly, when the blade parted from the handle and remained in the wood. He seized the blade in his hand and wrested it out, and then retreated into the house. Not a gun was fired nor a tomahawk thrown at him in this sortie. The Indians now commenced firing througb the door and in the windows, which was returned by Mr. Shankland, though with no effect on the part of the Indiane, and with little on his. One or two of the Indians were slightly wounded. His son, who was frightened, made his escape through the window and ran toward the woods. He was discovered, pursued, and taken. When Mr. Shankland learned from their shouts that this was the case, he determined to sally out again and sell his life as dearly as possible. But, upon reflection, fearing it might endanger the life of his son, whom they might otherwise save alive, he concluded to remain and defend his house to the last.
The Indians, who were few in number, finding themselvea unable to effect an entrance into the house, hit upon another method of attack, They gathered combustible materials, and placing them at a side of the house where there were no windows, and where they could not be annoyed by Mr. Shankland, set fire to them. In a few minutes the wholeside of the house was enveloped in flames. There was but one way of escape. He had sown a field of hemp, which came up to his house on one side, and luckily the side in which was the cellar-door.
The prospect of a successful defense being now over, he went into the cellar, and having gained the rocks through the hemp, made his way to the Mohawk in safety. The Indians waited until the house was burned down, supposing him to have been burned in it, and then raising their shout of victory, departed, taking their prisoner along with them into the western part of the State.
The party of distinguished visitors was received by Mr. Campbell, at his house, While here, Governor Clinton, seeing several boys, inquired of Mrs. Campbell how many children she had; having told him, he added, "They wili make fine soldiers in time." She replied, "She hoped her country would never need their services." "I hope so too, madam," said General Washington, "for I have seen enough of war."
The following year, 1785, was rendered memorable by the reorganization of the Presbyterian church, which had been founded by the Rev. Samuel Dunlop forty-five years before. The village itself was prosperous as a pioneer settlement could be, and the people not only manifested an interest in religious matters, but early agitated the founding of a school, and in 1796 was established the Cherry Valley Academy. This institution was the first of the kind west of Schenectady, and the Rev. Solomon Spaulding, the reputed author of the Book of Mormon was the first principal.
The village is thus described by H. Gates Spafford as it appeared in 1812:
"Cherry Valley village, where is the post-office, is beautifully situated in the principal vale of Cherry Valley town, and is most romantically environed by high hills. Here are 80 houses and stores, a handsome meeting-house, and an academy, and standing at the meeting of five roads of great travel, has a very considerable amount of trade. The first, second, and third Great Western turnpikes meet here with other roads that traverse the cbuntry in every direction. It is 13 miles southwest of the Mohawk at Palatine bridge, 53 miles north of west from Albany, and 14 northeast from Otsego or Cooperstown village. It has some elegant gentlemen's seats and private mansions."
The village had so far increased in importance that, on the 8th of June, 1812, it was incorporated, and from this period rapidly increased in importance.
The following interesting sketch of its early inhabitants is taken from a work written by a resident of the town, the late Levi Beardsley, entitled "Beardsley's Reminiscences."
James Campbell died in 1776, aged eighty years. Sarah Simpson, his wife, died in 1773, aged seventy-nine years, James Campbell was the firat of the Campbell family who came here among the early settlers, not far from 1740, and was the father of Colonel Samuel Campbell, who died in 1824, aged eighty-six years; and great-grandfather of Hon. William W. CampbelI, author of the "Annals of Tryon
HISTORY OF OTSEGO COUNTY, NEW YORK. 121
(this page is under construction)
122 HISTORY OF OTSEGO COUNTY, NEW YORK.
(this page is under construction)
HISTORY OF OTSEGO COUNTY, NEW YORK. 123
(this page is under construction)
124 HISTORY OF OTSEGO COUNTY, NEW YORK.
C H A P T E R X X X V.
The church was organized immediately upon the settlement of the locality, by Rev. Samuel Dunlop, a graduate of Trinity college, Dublin. Tradition informs us that on the northern slope of the hill where was located the house of Mr. Lindesay, now the residence of Mr. Phelon, was erected in the first days of the embryo village, a log church and school-house.
Mr. Dunlop was not only a minister, but a scholar, and an earnest friend of that thorough education which has been so inseparable a part in the history of Presbyterians in Scotland, as well as all over the world. He became the first apostle of liberal learning beyond the towns on the coast and the Hudson. He at once began the teaching of the classics to the boys of the settlement, and to others who came from the scattering villages of the Germans on the Mohawk; and it is related of him that as he guided the ox-team at the plow, the lads followed in the fresh earth of the farrow, scanning the daily "stent" of Homer or of Virgil. He was the educator of a number of men who became eminent and useful in the great struggle which, some years later, evoked the energies of the youthful nation.
Mr. Dunlop was an energetic man, and the statement has come down that, in his desire to meet his brethren in
HISTORY OF OTSEGO COUNTY, NEW YORK. 125
the ministry, made the long journey to New Hampshire, and attended presbytery. Though the records of that day, both of the presbytery and of this church, are lost, there can be little doubt that the distant charge of Cherry Valley was one of the twelve churches which are said to have formed the early presbytery of Boston. At a later time a nearer point of support was found. The ancestors of De Witt Clinton had settled at Little Britain, in Ulster county, near the Hudson in 1731. There grew up before the Revolution what was called the presbytery of Ulster; and that as their nearest neighbors, the church and its pastor seem to have been connected.
But his long trip to the presbytery was not the most distant journey this active man performed. He seems to have been capable of undertaking anything when he had a reason. He was the first person in Cherry Valley to make the voyage to Europe across the ocean. He was still unmarried, and it was now nearly seven years since he had left his friends in Ireland. When he started for America it was to seek a home to which he might take the young girl who had promised to be his wife. But that engagement had prudently been made conditional; for, like those who seek their fortune on the Pacific coast in these days, it was not uncommon for the adventurer who started for the new world to be lost by shipwreck, by pirates, or by the Indians, and never be heard of after. It was too much to ask that the happiness of her whole life should hang on such chances, and it was stipulated that if the young minister did not return within seven years the lady would be free. The time was almost out, and others had sued for her hand. To one of them she had at last yielded, and while poor DUNLOP was beating off the stormy northern coast, panting to make a harbor, the preparations for the wedding were in progress. He arrived the day before the marriage, and the last day of the appointed term, claimed his bride, was joyfully accepted as one returned from the dead, and lead her away to his wilderness home. Poor lady! could she have known the scene of bloody violence in which she was to yield up her life, she might well have hesitated to embark.
The frontier settlement of Cherry Valley prospered and increased in population.
As years went by death claimed his share from the number of the people, and a spot was selected on a rise of ground, near the southern edge of the village, where they were laid away to rest, and many a rude slab, split from the limestone-ridge hard by, still marks the spot where a pioneer lies wrapt in his long slumber, but whose name no hand skilled with chisel was there to engrave. With their growing numbers better accommodations for their worship than the old log house could afford became necessary, and a frame church, the second edifice, was erected within the limits of the little quiet grave-yard.
Like all the communities of our country, the constant struggles with the Indians or with the French gave occasion to develop those war-like qualities which were soon to be useful in the grandest effort ever made by any nation in the sacred cause of freedom. Frequent rumors of dangers required that the rifle should be shouldered by the head of the family, as he led his wife and children to the house of God, and that the sentry should pace watchfully to and fro before the door, while the psalm was lifted up from pious hearts within.
Every man became in some sense a soldier, and even the efforts of the children in the village street were those of marching and maneuvering,-- the keen eye of the savage, peering from the brushwood of the overlooking hill, being at least once deceived at the sight of their parades into believing that real soldiers had arrived to garrison the place. Service in the old French war promoted several members of the church to military offices of some rank, whose regular commissions are still preserved, and scare a man was there but had seen something of war.
The stern occasion for the use of all their bravery and all their endurance had now come. The Presbyterians of Ireland never yet wasted too much love on the oppressive government of Great Britain. The fathers of some of them had been in the siege of Londonderry and the battle of the Boyne, and we may be sure that they were Whigs. The stamp-act affair reached them, and likewise did the proceedings in Boston harbor. When the news came of what had been done at Concord and Lexington (brought by a courier hastening west and leaving the country all on fire with his patriotic fury as he passed), there was hardly a man who did not resolve to take up the fight. Before this, Cherry Valley had been included in a territorial division called Palatine district of the county of Tryon. A standing committee of safety was formed for the district, with sub-committees in every hamlet. They were under the rule of the family of Johnstons, zealous royalists, who formed the centre of a nest of Tories at Johnstown. Little formidable in themselves, they were made so by reason of their entire control of the great Indian league of the Six Nations, who infested the forests of the whole region. The little church was the scene of the first meeting of the committee, which convened the people to denounce the attempts of the Tories by a bold stroke to carry that part of the country over to the side of the oppressors. By subverting the grand jury and judges assembled in the spring of 1775 the actions of congress had been denounced, and it was hoped thereby to array these settlements against the cause of independence. The patriots in the church subscribed the following article of association in opposition to that attempt. (listed page 14)
Thus our church, consecrated already as a set of piety, became a cradle of liberty and a theatre of heroic action. Surely, not more adventurous was it to sign the Declaration of Independence in that old State House at Philadelphia than to write one's name on that paper in the rude frame church in the grave-yard at Cherry Valley.
These Presbyterians were the more exasperated in that a large body of Roman Catholic Highlanders, their own apostate countrymen, as they regarded them, formed part of the array at Johnstown with which they were threatened. In a letter to the committee at Albany, imploring help to save the frontier for freedom, they concluded as follows:
"In a word, gentlemen, it is our fixed resolution to support
126 HISTORY OF OTSEGO COUNTY, NEW YORK.
and carry into execution everything recommended by the Continental Congress, and to be free or die."
A document, still extant, shows in what regard the Christian Sabbath was held by them in the grand Centennial of a hundred years ago. The question was not then whether Sunday is a day of holy rest or a day of worldly pleasure. The following is a letter written from Cherry Valley in reply to a citation to convene with the committee at a meeting appointed for a certain Sunday. It reminds one of the reply of the apostles when they were forbidden to preach. "Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye: For we cannot:"
Cherry Valley, June 9th, 1775.
SIR: We received yours of yesterday relating to the meeting of the committee on Sunday, which surprised us not a little, inasmuch as it seemed not to be in any alarming circumstance; which, if it was, we should readily attend. But as that does not appear to us to be the case, we think it is very improper; for unless the necessity of the committee sitting superexceed the duties to be performed in attending the public worship of God, we think it ought to be put off till another day. And therefore we conclude not to give our attendance at this time unless you adjourn the sitting of the committee till Monday morning. And in that case we will give our attendance as early as you please. But otherwise we do not allow ourselves to be cut short of attending on the public worship except the case be so necessitous as to exceed sacrifice. We conclude with wishing success to the common cause, and subscribe ourselves the free born sons of liberty.
P. S. If you proceed to sit on the Sabbath, please to read this letter to the committee, which we think will sufficiently assign our reasons for not attending.
These were men who could fight as well as pray. Of the three, the first was disabled, but the second, then a major, and the third, then a lieutenant-colonel (with a brother of the latter, who was killed), were the only men from Cherry Valley in the battle of Oriskany, and at the close of that stubborn and bloody action led off the remnant of the regiment of Colonel Cox, who was killed.
In 1778 a fort was erected on the hill where was located the church and school-house, the entire establishment being surrounded by a stockage. The second edifice thus became the church within the fort. We have now traced the history of the church to the massacre.
THE POST REVOLUTIONARY CHURCH.The principle source from which the following portions of this recital are drawn is an exceedingly interesting MS. volume, inscribed in a beautiful hand resembling copperplate, "The Records of the Presbyterian Church and Congregation in Cherry Valley, Anno Domini 1785." Besides this, which is chiefly a chronicle of the temporalities, the Records of the Session are extant in four volumes, commencing in 1804.
The thread of the history is abruptly resumed with the following and quaint and touching entry upon the first page of the old record-book.
"We, the Ancient Inhabitants of Cherry Valley, in the County of Montgomery, and the State of New York, having Returned from Exile finding ourselves destitute of our Church officers, viz., Deacons and Elders. In consequence of our difficulties, and other congregations, in similar circumstances, our legislature thought proper to pass a Law for the Relief of those (viz., An act to encorporate all Religous Societies passed April the Sixth, One Thousand Seven Hundred and Eighty-four). In compliance of said act we proceeded as follows:
ADVERTISEMENT."At a meeting of a Respectful Number of the Old Inhabitants of Cherry Valley, it was agreed upon that an Advertisement be set up to give notice to all the former Inhabitants that are Returned to their Respective Habitations to meet in the Meeting House yard on Tuesday the Fifth Day of April Next at Ten O'clock before Noon, then and there to choose Trustees who shall be a Body corporate for the purpose of taking care of the Temporalities of their Respective Presbyterian Congregation agreeable to an act (etc.) "Cherry Valley, March 10, 1785.
"SAMUEL CLYDE, Justice of the Peace."
Thus, with neither minister nor missionary nor any of those specially qualified persons at hand who are generally the prime movers in religious undertakings, not even a deacon or elder, the forlorn remnant of the people of Cherry Valley who had escaped the ravages of war and of the massacre, true to their pious training, out of their desire to worship God, and under the leadership of the civil magistrate, assume that right to form themselves into a church, which is inherent in Christians in such circumstances, without regard or precedent or ecclesiastical succession. The war, which so severely tried the colonies, received its finishing stroke in the surrender of Cornwallis at Yorktown in October, 1781; but it was not until late in 1783 that the armies were disbanded, a treaty with Great Britain having been signed in September that year. For a space the energies of the young nation seemed paralyzed with its efforts, and with the vision of success. It was not till the second year after this that the survivors of Cherry Valley came to search among the thicket of young vegetation for the boundaries of their farms and the relics of their home. They met informally, as we have seen, to take measures for the rehabilitation of their church, and the advertisement was set up in March, 1795.
There is something extremely impressive in the thought of that assemblage of returned "exiles" in the meeting-house yard, deliberating in the cold March air, amid the blackened ruins of their sanctuary and the graves of their dead, upon the prospects of rebuilding the house of God. The artist, seeking to perpetuate upon the canvas the spirit of that earnest period, could scarcely find a more fitting subject for his pencil. Great drifts of snow there frequently still cover the ground at that season; but, if otherwise, we may imagine the unpromising features of the landscape which formed the ground of the picture; the arching stems of the raspberry making a tangle over the low gravestones, through which it was difficult to walk, the trees bare of leaves; the nearer hills lonely and gray, save where patches of hemlock varied the tone with touches of blackness; and the distant summits far down the valley fading to shades of cold steel-blue under the cloudy and threatening sky. The costumes of the figures, the brown doublet or heavily caped greatment of gray; the blue Continental uniform, and rough hunter's legging of leather, would give diversity to the group; but what a master-hand must not it be that could render the firm and rugged lines in the faces of the men!
The names of twenty-one electors are recorded who elected three trustees, Samuel Clyde, John Campbell, Jr.,
HISTORY OF OTSEGO COUNTY, NEW YORK. 127
and James Willson. The last accompanied Lindsey in 1739 when he came to locate his patent, and seems to have been the surveyor. He purchased a farm in 1745, and the old parchment deed describes him as the high sheriff of Albany county, which at that earliest period extended over this district. The returning officers were Colonel Campbell and Wm. Dickson, the latter the ancestor of Rev. Cyrus Dickson, of New York.
The orporate body was kept up from this time onward; but in the first years the church was left to care for itself without the assistance of a regular minister, worship being maintained with such temporary help as could from time to time be procured in a region so isolated. By 1790 a meeting-house had been erected but from subsequent records of the post-revolutionary church, seems for many years to have been without regular furniture, and in the barest possible condition. In 1796 the names of fifty-four others are entered as "members of the first Presbyterian congregation." Among these is that of Rev. Solomon Spaulding, a man whose literary labors subsequently became an instrument in supporting the most scandalous imposture our country has produced. We read in Scripture of an old prophet at Bethel who preferred dwelling among the ten tribes to ministering to the faithful people, and whose preference therein ultimately led to deplorable mischief. Mr. Spaulding doubtless anticipated no such results, but having abandoned the ministry, he devoted his leisure to some unprofitable speculations about those same lost Tribes of Israel. On this he wrote a romance, detailing an imaginary history, and identifying them with the aborigines of this continent, whom he describes as coming to this country by a long journey through various lands from Jerusalem, under two leaders, Nephi and Lehi, and giving rise to the traces of art and civilization which exist in the mounds and other relics which still are so perplexing a problem to scholars. The MS of this work being sent to a printing office, where its absurdity caused it to be refused, it was copied by one Rigdon and thence came into the hands of Joseph Smith, the pretended prophet of the "Latter-Day Saints," became the source of the pretended revelations of the "Golden Leaves," and now survives, with a few additions from Scripture as the Book of Mormon.
Somewhere before this time an energetic effort was made in behalf of education and a handsome building was erected for an academy, which long exerted the happiest influence on the culture of the neighborhood, and sent out numbers of men who became prominent throughout the country. Mr. Spaulding appears to have taught in this institution, and doubtless he occasionally preached in the church, and baptized the children. But in this year both church and school were to secure the services of a man whose labors in the latter soon raised it to great efficiency, and who himself rapidly rose to eminence as an eloquent divine and efficient supporter of education. An entry in the Record, Aug. 15, 1796, states that the question: "whether this society will give the Rev. Eliphalet Nott a call to serve as our minister," was carried in the affirmative, and a subscription opened to raise money for his support.
Dr. Nott came from Connecticut in the summer of 1795 as a licentiate missionary to these parts, being then at the age of twenty-one and recently married; reaching the place by the great turnpike from Albany, by which this country was soon to be opened up to rapid development, but which was then only recently cut through and passable only on horseback. He himself describes the pleasing emotions with which he gazed down upon the smiling valley with its nestling village and waving cultivated fields after the rough uninhabited country which intervened for long distances between it and the more easterly settlements. * Filled with melancholy thoughts at his lonely situation in a region so distant, and where he supposed all would be entire strangers, he stopped at a house to ask for some refreshment, when to his surprise, he was greeted by name. It was an old Connecticut acquaintance, Mr. Ozias Waldo, who received him most cordially, and at once urgently besought that he would tarry and take charge of the church, of which [he] himself long after continued an active and useful member. Engagements further on required Mr. Nott's attention; but the call was made out, and after some hesitation he returned and took up his labors as both preacher in the church and teacher in the academy, which was soon thronged with pupils. In his letter of acceptance, a characteristic document recorded in his own hand, he dwells on the "distance from ministerial assistance and advice" as making him hesitate, but speaks of the prevalence of infidelity and the "destitute and broken state" of the society, which he calls a "solitary Zion," not as deterring but as the reason for not "deserting" it.
A proposal that the call should require Mr. Nott to "put himself under the direction and inspection of the presbytery of this State," seems to have led to the appointment of Mr. Spaulding to present the call to presbytery; but apparently nothing was done, for the young preacher was not ordained till he became pastor at Albany. He himself, however, in one of his letters, relates the circumstances under which he was led to become a Presbyterian. On his way to the west he stopped at Schenectady, and going into a prayer-meeting was asked to preach by Dr. John Blair Smith, the president of Union college. In a long conversation afterwards he explained the object of his journey, which was as a missionary of the Congregational church. But he was deeply impressed with the views of his host, that as the New England people and the Presbyterians in the new region were so much in accord on points and doctrines, it seemed unwise and unchristian to encourage them in sustaining a profitless division of their strength, that they sought to be induced to unite and join efforts in the Master's cause. These arguments gave a new direction to the young man's life; he abandoned Congregationalism, and lent his influence to form that "plan of union" which led to the building up of so many large and prosperous churches. There is no record of the results of his labors as the supply of the little congregation and his stay extended to but two years. But he here first established his household, made toes of friendship which lasted as long as his extended life and formed that attachment for the place which caused it ever to dwell in his memory among his most pleasing associates. He loved to revisit the beautiful
* Memoirs of Dr. Nott.
128 HISTORY OF OTSEGO COUNTY, NEW YORK.
valley which had been the scene of his early endeavors, and in his old age he resolved plans for giving it lasting benefit by aiding in the establishment of its ancient academy on the basis of a substantial endowment.
In 1798 his young wife was conveyed for her health to Ballston Springs, whose waters were already becoming famous. There is some obscurity in the accounts, but it appears to have been at this time that he tarried at Schenectady, being on his way to see his wife, and to attend a meeting of the presbytery of Albany at Salem, when Dr. Smith, after hearing him preach, urged him to return by way of Albany, and occupy the pulpit of the Presbyterian church there which was then vacant. Whether he was then already a member of the presbytery, as his Memoirs state (in which case we could expect that he would have been ordained and installed, on being received by it, over his Cherry Valley charge), or whether he made his journey for the purpose of connecting himself with the presbytery, with installation then in view, is not clear. At all events the journey lost him to Cherry Valley; he preached at Albany, was immediately called to that important charge, and a few years later had become famous among the clergymen of the country. In 1804 he became president of Union college, where for an extended period he filled that sphere of eminence and usefulness, whose events are a part of the history of our progress during the past century.
By loss of its minister the little church was again left to its own meagre resources in its difficult struggle, and several years elapsed before it secured the services of a regular pastor. Trustees were regularly elected each year, but no minister is mentioned, except Mr. Spaulding, till 1802, when Rev. Thos. Kirby Kirkham was employed for at least one year, one-quarter of his time to be devoted to Middlefield. In Dr. Nott's time efforts had been made to furnish the church, and the proposal started to erect a better one. It seems to have been greatly needed, for so unattractive was its appearance that is is related that a traveler on passing it exclaimed, "that he had many times seen the house of God, but never before had he beheld the Lord's barn!" It stood on the site of the previous one in the grave-yard, a plain building, fifty feet square, without steeple or ornament. Within was a gallery on three sides, and on the fourth was a round, barred pulpit mounted on a post, the pews being of the high-backed, square, uncomfortable pattern usual at the period, neither padded nor cushioned. For many years there was neither chimney nor stove, any more than the old Covenanters had when they met in conventicle on the Scotch hillsides. The feeble warmth of the foot-stoves carried by the women barely sufficed to keep the congregation from freezing as they listened to Dr. Nott's young and fervid oratory in the keen air of winter. The writer has more than once preached in Cherry Valley when the thermometer outside was at eighteen or twenty degrees below zero; and when it was at that stage inside, what must not have been the devotion that could keep a congregation together! We do not wonder at finding a record that there should be but one service at that season of the year. Mr. Kirkham's labors seem to have led to little fruit, and he appears not to have been re-engaged.
We have seen that the church was organized hitherto in that somewhat informal manner which circumstances permitted. A body of Christians desiring to worship God, they had builded a church and employed ministers to maintain the ordinances so far as they could be obtained. They evidently endeavored to regain the presbyterial recognition which they had before the war; but this their remoteness prevented, or their insignificance failed to evoke. Mr. Nott being without ordination prevented the institution of new elders, though one or two who had been such in the old church are believed to have been on the ground. Old "Deacon" John Moore had been a chaplain in the first provincial congress of New York, in 1775, of which he was a member. With such facts it would seem an absurd piece of punctiliousness to assert, on account of some unavoidable defects, that they were not a church. An army does not cease to be an army because its officers have fallen. They had the fact that they were a Christian body united for worship; they had set up the house of God sixty years before. Old Dominie Dunlop had gone hundreds of miles to presbytery; as soon as they returned from exile, before their own houses were rebuilt, they had solemnly met in the grave-yard to rehabilitate the sanctuary. The church members were there, and they called themselves a "Presbyterian church and congregation." They had one pastor, and had employed at least two other preachers of the gospel. No temporary neglects or flaws in the strict routine of ecclesiastical order could destroy the fact that they were a church of Christ and a Presbyterian church. But despite all this a precisian now appears who swept it all aside, and, seemingly on his own responsibility, took it in hand, forsooth, to give it existence, and at the same time to impress upon it a new character, and introduce usages entirely foreign to its wont. In January, 1804, Rev. Isaac Lewis came from Cooperstown, then a small place not long settled, and finding the church without a pastor or active officers (though the members still held together, and meetings for prayer were kept up weekly), not only lent his assistance to ordain elders in the church but treated it as if it were not in existence, as the record runs in the session-book, "organized into a church" a certain number, only fourteen in all, whose names are recorded. Mr. Lewis, the author of this doubtless well-meant, but rather sweeping and gratuitous measure, was a Presbyterian, but seems to have been reared under Congregational usages, and it was under his influence and at this time that the church was led to impose upon itself a long and domatical "confession of faith" and "covenant" after the Congregational fashion, apparently ignorant, or else forgetful, that the proper and only authorized standards of the Presbyterian church are those of the Westminster assembly, adopted by general assembly in 1788. Half a dozen years later, Mr. Cooley, better acquainted with the Presbyterian ways, brought this anomaly in the practice of the church to the notice of session, and appended a note to the record, stating that "the session thinks it not proper to require it of members, inasmuch as the printed confession of the Presbyterian church (i.e. the Westminster) clearly and fully express all articles of faith and practice derived from the Word of God." (1811.) Notwithstanding this repudiation
HISTORY OF OTSEGO COUNTY, NEW YORK. 129
some later pastors revised the use of them, and in 1854 they were printed in pamphlet form. In August, 1873, they were formally set aside by session, and the action, with the reasons for it, entered upon the minutes.
The effort secured little fruit beyond amending the organization and enrollment of the fourteen members. There are evident traces that the innovation was displeasing to the church on the simple terms of repentance towards God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, and under the old Westminster symbols, literally construed, and with the largest respect for the right of private judgment, as was usual in the Scotch church. Not till three years later did any of the old stock allow their names to be entered, when four only were received, not on their subscribing to the covenant, but on the ground that they had been members in Mr. Dunlop's time, while many others remained out altogether, as we infer from the absence of so many of the old names, especially of the men, from the roll.
A long narrative, under the date 1806, records the goodness and mercy of God in answering the prayers of the church for an "ambassador to watch over the flock of Christ and warn sinners to repentance," by the arrival of Rev. Geo. Hall, who was called in February on a salary of $500.
The old church was now so out of repair as to be dangerous to health in winter, and it was proposed that service be held in "the south room of the academy, excepting on every 5th Sabbath that the Episcopalians expect their pastor to preach there," which is the first notice of a worshipping body of Episcopalians among us. The pastor referred to was doubtless the widely useful Father Nash, the pioneer of Episcopacy in these parts. The old meeting-house told on Mr. Hall's health severely, and he resigned in 1807.
Luther Rich, a name often seen on the records, was in 1801 elected to the constitutional convention, of which Aaron Burr was president, as was Joseph Clyde in that [omitted] of 1821. Rev. Andrew Oliver was then pastor at Springfield, and appears to have lent his service to our church from time to time during the three years before a pastor was again settled. In Mr. Nott's day the Springfield church is spoken of as applying for his ministration for half the time, an overture which was refused, but which shows there was a church there as early as 1797. In 1800, Rev. Jedediah Bushnell, a missionary, visited the place, and a revival broke out, which extended to several other towns, and seventeen persons were added to the church. Mr. Oliver became their pastor in 1806. The Baptists had formed a church in Springfield in 1797, under Elder Wm. Furman, which flourished.
Rev. Jesse Townsend preached in the summer of 1810; but at the close of that season was to begin the first extended pastorate of this period of the old church. It was that of Rev. Eli F. Cooley, LL.D., a well-educated, prudent, and able man, who had graduated at Princeton in 1806, and having concluded the required three years of theological study, came as a licentiate of the presbytery of New Brunswick, and began to preach in October, having been called in August. An earnest effort was made to secure his services, and $600 having been raised on his salary, he determined upon a permanent settlement, and was installed by the presbytery of Oneida in February following.
The fourteen members had, in the six years till he came, risen to thirty-seven, but when he retired, in 1820, the list had swelled to two hundred and twenty-six, the best evidences both of the prosperity of the place, and the efficiency of his labors. But, notwithstanding this, he was compelled to resign in March, 1820, on account of the inadequate support. He died, at an advanced age, in 1860.
Among the more prominent men whose names are associated with the church at this period and the years succeeding were, as trustees, Lester Holt, Levi Beardsley, James Brackett, Isaac Seelye, Jabez D. Hammond, most of whom were lawyers of great ability. The last mentioned was an author of considerable merit. His "Political History of the State of New York," and "Life and Times of Silas Wright," are works of standard authority, and extremely valuable contributions to historical literature. He was a member of congress in 1815-18. Mr. Beardsley was a prominent citizen and a lawyer of wide reputation.
Dr. Joseph White and Alvan Stewart were widely known and universally respected, the former (who, though an Episcopalian, co-operated with the church for some time) as a physician of remarkable capacity, whose practice embraced an area of very great extent, the latter as a radical reformer and man of original genius and great wit, who became one of the earliest apostles of the temperance cause and in the abolition of slavery. As elders, besides Joshua Tucker, Elijah Belcher, and Jason Wright, who begin the list, the most efficient were Ozias Waldo, Samuel Huntington, James O. Morse, and David H. Little. Mr. Little, an elder from 1832 to 1870, when he removed to Rochester, was identified with the religious concerns of this region till his death, in 1873. James Otis Morse, an elder from 1821, was eminent in the law, and exerted a wide influence in public affairs. His portrait and that of his wife, two remarkable pictures, the work of the great inventor of the telegraph, in his early artist days, adorn the walls of the family mansion. Portraits of Dr. and Mrs. White, by the same hand, are in the possession of their descendant, Mrs. A. B. Cox. Perhaps the most zealous and certainly the most successful among the long list of ministers this church has had was Rev. John Truair, who was called in July , 1820, he having, with Mr. Cooley, Mr. Oliver, and others, formed the presbytery of Otsego in 1819, when the old Oneida presbytery was divided. He was of English birth, a man educated, talented, and full of vim; of excessive activity, of great and persuasive powers as a speaker, and so successful in bringing souls to Christ as to merit comparison with preachers of the type of Mr. Moody. His pastorate, though of less than two years, was a time of extraordinary growth. Forty-six persons were at once added to the church in the fall of the year he came, and one hundred and twenty the next. Traces of his activity are seen in the frequency with which he assembled his efficient session, thirty-eight sittings being held in the year and three-quarters while he was pastor, and sometimes as many as six in a single month. He was seized with great zeal to save the godless seamen of New York; and his vehemence is exhibited in the fervid
130 HISTORY OF OTSEGO COUNTY, NEW YORK.
(the remainder of the text is under construction)
Soon after marrying Matilda Sabin in 1795, Solomon Spalding reported moved from New England to a new residence in Cherry Valley, Otsego Co., New York where his brother Josiah Spalding had recently set up a general store. Josiah says: "In 1795 he [Solomon] married. I went to Cherry Valley and commenced merchandising. I had no wife. He followed soon after with his wife and joined me in partnership. He left the store to my care. He took the charge of an academy and preached occasionally for a while. We continued in Cherry Valley about four years, and then we moved our store sixteen miles, to Richfield." George T. Chapman, on page 39 of in his 1867 Sketches of the Alumni of Dartmouth College, says practically the same thing: "[After graduating from Dartmouth College in 1785] he studied divinity and became a licentiate of the Windham, Ct., Cong. Association, Oct. 9, 1787; preached 8 or 10 years and, being in this time ordained an evangelist, received several offers to settle that were declined, owing to ill health. In 1795, he was married, and soon after went, into business with his brother, Josiah, at Cherry Valley, N.Y. but both removed the store to Richfield, N.Y., in 1799."
Dates gleaned from these two reports help correct an error copied into the typed abstracts in the Cherry Valley Museum, entitled, "Records of the Presbyterian Church and Congregation in Cherry Valley, A. D. 1785." Those abstracts show the "Reverend Solomon Spaulding" as being among the 15 male members of the church in 1786. Since Solomon Spalding is known to have still been in Connecticut as late as Dec. 6, 1785, and since he was first licensed as an Evangelist by the Windham, Connecticut Congregational Association on Oct. 9, 1787, it appears very doubtful that Solomon could have been a "Reverend" living in Cherry Valley in 1786. More than likely the date in the church records should read "1796."
Spalding and The Cherry Valley Academy
In his 1902 Otsego County..., historian Edwin F. Bacon mentions that "Rev. Solomon Spalding was the first principal of the Cherry Valley Academy," which in later years became the Cherry Valley High School. This account is not strictly correct, since the Academy was first established in 1742. However, like all the other social institutions in that area, the school's services were totally disrupted by the Tory and Indian massacre of 1788. Solomon Spalding moved with his new bride to Cherry Valley shortly before the Academy re-opened its doors, and thus was on hand to be chosen to be the first headmaster of the revitalized school when it began to resume its suspended operations at the end of 1796. The newly incorporated Academy received its charter from the Regents of the State of New York on Feb. 8, 1796, but by the end of that same year Solomon had been dismissed from his principalship.
Spalding and the Rev. Eliphalet Nott
Eliphalet Nott was born in the home town of Solomon Spalding (Ashford, Connecticut) on June 25, 1773. At the age of seventeen Nott secured a teaching position at Plainfield Academy (Spalding's old high school) and from 1793-95 Nott was the Principal Instructor at that school in Connecticut. In 1795 Mr. Nott passed his coursework at Rhode Island College (now Brown University), by examination and received his M. A. from that same school late in the summer of that same year.
Following his receipt of this degree Mr. Nott was licensed as a missionary by the New London Congregational Society and immediately sent on a mission to upstate New York. During the fall of 1795 he passed through Cherry Valley, New York and was offered a pastor's position in that village's Presbyterian church. Nott declined the offer at the time but indicated his interest in returning to Cherry Valley to take up those duties at a later time. Returning to New London, Eliphalet Nott had his missionary status was apparently either renewed or expanded by a formal licensing in May 1796, by the same Society.
A month after receiving his license, the Rev. Nott married Sarah Maria Benedict of Plainfield, at New London, on July 4, 1796. On Aug. 15, 1796, the member of the Presbyterian church at Cherry Valley voted to extend a call to Rev. Nott to settle in that town as their minister. A donation was taken up their to raise money for the Notts' travel and support. Probably the young couple arrived in Cherry Valley during the fall of that same year. Once settled in the town, Rev. Nott took over Solomon Spalding's position as headmaster of the Cherry Valley Academy.
Rev. Eliphalet Nott only remained in Cherry Valley for two years. In August of 1798 he declined to stay on at the church there; on Oct. 3, 1798 Nott ordained a Presbyterian minister in Albany, where be became the Pastor of the First Presbyterian Church.
From the late fall of 1795 to the fall of 1796 Solomon Spalding served as the first principal of the re-established Cherry Valley Academy. He helped get the school up and running again and he must have been influential in the establishment of its curriculum and general discipline. Since the school had a student body of 60 to 80 students, Spalding must have been very busy directly supervising the instruction of the students. This effort involved considerably more than managing a "little red school house," since the academy offered college preparatory instruction in the classics and sciences.
This kind of position in higher education was the fulfillment of the desire Solomon had expressed as early as 1785: "I intended to have kept a school...." Just why the Academy Trustees dismissed him after his initial year is uncertain. It is possible that he was not let go until Rev. Nott had arrived from Connecticut and that Nott himself played some role in Spalding's dismissal.
In a letter written from Amity, Pennsylvania on Mar. 2, 1857, Spalding's old physician, Dr. Cephas Dodd informed Col. Thomas Ringland of Munson, Geauga Co. Ohio, that Solomon Spalding had disclosed to him one or two details about his residence in Cherry Valley. Dr. Dodd says: "I understood from him that he had formerly lived at Cherry Valley in the State of New York, where he had met with some losses and had then removed to Western Reserve... With me he always seemed shy and reserved about his former history. Understanding that he had lived [at Cherry Valley] I endeavoured to draw him out by enquiring about Rev. Dr. Nott. He only said that Dr. Nott had used him very ill."
Spalding's views on religion and politics may have been part of the problem, but the availability of Eliphalet Nott to take over both the school and the ruling elder's position in the local church may have been the deciding factor. It appears that Spalding surrendered both the principalship and the congregation pastorate up to Nott in 1796 to become a merchant along with Josiah. The academy continued on to gain a good reputation, eventually becoming the Cherry Valley High School.
Spalding's dismissal from the academy doesn't appear to have been for reasons of immorality or infidelity, for he continued to play an important role in the Cherry Valley Presbyterian Church and as late as Nov. 14, 1796 he penned a request to the Albany Presbytery for Nott's full ordination as a minister of the gospel. In the following year Spalding was still prominent within the church, heading up meetings and perhaps still preaching on special occasions. By the turn of the new century the Spalding brothers had moved their store to nearby Richfield, where Solomon's name, along with five household members, was recorded in the 1800 federal census
Miscellaneous Otsego County Sources
The records of the Cherry Valley Presbyterian Church show no marriages conducted in that congregation between 1775 and 1799, so it appears that the "licensed" ministers, Spalding and Nott, were not entrusted with performing that holy ordinance. The first marriage recorded in the congregation was that of Jerome Clark and Anna "Nancy" Ripley (widow of Ozias Waldo), on Dec. 24, 1809, long after Spalding and Nott had left the area. The christening of Jerome and Anna's daughter Nancy was conducted at the church on Nov. 14, 1813. If the manuscript record book for the early years of the congregation could be located and examined, it seems likely that more light could be shed upon the activities of Revs. Spalding and Nott -- the extracts compiled by Royden W. Vosburgh in 1820 provide few details concerning the activities of these two men.
Jerome Clark's death notice appeared in the Freeman's Journal on May 25, 1850. He was buried in Cherry Valley. The death of his second (?) wife, Zeviah "Sophia" Lyon Clark, was noticed by the same paper on Feb. 2, 1850. The divorced (?) Anna "Nancy" Clark apparently lived until 1862.
A "Chart of Land Purchases in Cherry Valley" for the early days of the settlement is on file at the Cherry Valley Museum. It shows that Solomon Spalding conveyed to Luke May and Josiah Crusy one and a half acres of land, located in Lot 40, for $750, in Aug. 1801. This was probably the land upon which Josiah and Solomon's retail store was previously located. In a description of an 1801 Cherry Valley land survey, published in the Otsego Herald on Jan. 16, 1813, John Rudd, Jr. makes mention of "J. & S. Spalding's land" in "lot No. 37, in Scuyler's Patent, in the town of Richfield and county of Otsego." This was likely the new property the Spalding brothers purchased when the moved from Cherry Valley to Richfield in 1799.
Another notice, published in the same newspaper on Nov. 22, 1798, identifies "one hundred and one half acre of land" in Cherry Valley, that the Spalding brothers sold to Joshua Tucker on Jan. 6, 1798.
The typescript of a land indenture between Solomon Spalding and John Rudd, Sr., dated May 13, 1805 is on-line at http://home1.gte.net/dbroadhu/RESTOR/Lib/Otsego1.htm#Rudd1. This document was transcribed from Otsego Co., NY Records: "Land Conveyances, 1814-1815, Book S (Grantees)" p. 26 -- scan of original entry on-line at http://home1.gte.net/dbroadhu/RESTOR/Rudd02b.jpg.
Other mentions of Solomon Spalding in Otsego Co. newspapers include a notice of his appointment as Justice of the Peace for Cherry Valley, which appeared in the Otsego Herald on Apr. 5, 1798 and his appointment as an elector in Richfield, which appeared in the same paper on Apr. 2, 1802 Various issues of the Otsego Herald published letter lists in which Solomon and Josiah Spalding were shown as having letters waiting for them in the Cooperstown post office. Also, Dr. William Campbell, who sold goods to the Spaldings from his Cherry Valley store, ran numerous ads in the same paper. Campbell's account book is on file at the Cherry Valley Museum; pages 49 and 100 contain account records for Josiah and Solomon (see on-line graphic from this ledger, in the comments section attached to Campbell's ad in the Oct. 30, 1812 Otsego Republican Press).