The History of Otsego, NY
Westford
 Settlement

CHAPTER LXXIV

TOWN OF WESTFORD

Organization - Geographical - Topographical - Early Settlers and Their Locations - Initial Events - First Town-meeting - Officers Elected - Supervisors and Town-Clerks from 1809 to 1878 - Present Town Officials - Agricultural and General Statistics - Area - Equalized and Assessed Valuations - Populations.

The territory embraced within the boundaries of this town originally comprised a portion of the old town of Cherry Valley. It became a part of Worcester when that town was taken off from cherry Valley, and remained as such until march 25, 18008, when from Worcester was set off the three present towns of Westford, Maryland, and Decatur. It lies southeast of the centre of the county. And is bounded as follows: on the north by Middlefield and Roseboom; on the east by Decatur; on the south by Worcester, Maryland, and Milford; and on the west by Middlefield. The surface is hilly, the summits in many places rises to a height of 250-to 400 feet above the valleys. The soil is fertile, particularly along the streams, and consists chiefly of a sandy loam of excellent quality.

Westford was not as early settled as many of the other towns in the county, the first settlement having been made in about the year 1790. It is stated by Mr. French in his "Gazetteer" that the first settlements were made in the southeast part of the town, viz.: "Thomas Sawyer, Benjamin chase, Oliver Salisbury, Alpheus Earl and father, Artemas, Moses, and David Howe, and Ephraim Smith, all from Vermont."

It is claimed, however, that the first settler in the town was Robert Roseboom, who came from New Jersey and located in the northeast part, in the locality now known as Maple Valley.

An honored pioneer in the southeast part of the town was Oliver Bidlake, who came from Massachusetts, in 1790, and settled on lands now owned by Moses Flint, about two miles southeast of the village. Three sons, Nathan, David, and Asa, reside in the town. The former is a merchant at Westford village, and has in all probability held the office of justice of the peace during a longer period than any person living in the county. "Squire" Bidlake, as he is familiarly called, has officiated in this capacity twenty-eight consecutive years.

Jesse Wright and Elias Brooks, also from Massachusetts, came into the town at about the same time with Mr. Bidlake, and located in this vicinity.

Joshua Draper was a pioneer in this locality. He chose a location on lands now owned by a grandson, john D. Wright. Fernando P. Draper, also a grandson. Resides in the village. Eliphalet Preston was a pioneer in this locality on the premises now owned by Lewis E. Preston. Lucy, a granddaughter of this old settler, is the wife of Fernando P. Draper, mentioned above.

The year 1793 witnessed the arrival of many settlers anxious to locate their homes in this fertile country. Prominent among this number was Benjamin Chase, of honored memory. His sons were Benjamin, Calvin, Timothy, Willard, John, Samuel, and William. Benjamin died in this town in about the year 1952. His children were Philando, who removed to California; George, now residing at Coxsackie; Wesley, Ira, Betsey, wife of Hiram Pierce, and Lucy, all of whom are residents of Albany. Calvin and his family removed to Ohio in about the year 1835. Timothy died in about 1850, leaving the following children, viz.: Sabina, Harriet, wife of Mr. Coats, residing in this town. Willard was a soldier in the War of 1812, and died in 1866. His children are as follows: John, Samuel G., Jary, Miles, Robert, and Polly, wife of Charles E. Tipple, all residents of Maryland; Henry resides in Otsego, Edward in Kansas, Almon in Davenport, and David in Schoharie county. Of this remarkable family Jary, Edward, Miles, Daniel, and Robert all served in the late Rebellion, and were honorably discharged at the expiration of their terms of enlistment. None of them were wounded. This family gave ten votes for Abraham Lincoln each time he was elected, and nine votes for General Grant, the father at that time being dead. Samuel was a soldier in the War of 1812 and a pensioner. He died in about 1868, leaving children as follows: Colonel W. H. Chase, of Washington, Ashley, Reuben and Alphonso D., now of Kansas. These three were also in the War of the Rebellion, and were honorably discharged. The daughters of this family were as follows: Mary, now a resident of Maryland, and Julia, wife of William Musson, of this town. John and William emigrated to the west.

Elijah Wilson was an early settler on lands now owned by Henry Conrad, and Eliphalet Seward on the premises now owned by Geo. Hanor. Plavil Wright early located where Waldo Griggs, Esq., now lives. Numerous descendants of his are among the residents of the town.

Not many years elapsed after the first settlements wre made ere the tide of immigration set in, and the territory now embraced within the boundaries of Westford was soon peopled with an intelligent class, which, in addition to those already there, formed a community of upright and intelligent pioneers who have left their imprint upon their posterity.

Eli Tyler came from Connecticut in about the year 1799, and settled on the premises now owned by Menzo Tyler, a grandson. His family consisted of eight children, as follows: Harvey, Horace, James, Clarissa, Maria, Amanda, Mary A., and Jane. Harvey resides in Albany at the advanced age of seventy-six years; a son, James E. Tyler, resides in Schenevus; Amanda, wife of Nathaniel Groff, lives in this town; Mary, wife of the late Hon. George W. chase, resides in Maryland; Jane is the wife of Elder Lyman Wright, of Binghamton; Horace, James, Clarissa, and Maria are deceased.

Andrew Snyder, now living in the village of Westford, was an early settler on lands now owned by S. E. Tipple. Martin Wright was an early settler on premises now owned by a grandson, Waldo Griggs. John Darling was a pioneer on lands a portion of which is owned by his son, J. M. Darling. W. Darling, also a son, lives in the vicinity.

A large land-holder in the town was Aaron Baldwin, who early settled on lands now owned by Hiram and Henry Baldwin, heirs.

Among those who early located at Westville, was the father of the late B. Coats. A grandson now occupies the place.

R. Saxton was a pioneer below Westville, on the premises now occupied by the widow and two sons. On the hill east of Westville, B. Salisbury was an early settler. Two sons, Gardner and John R., live in the vicinity. H. Bice, father of Henry Bice, who resides in Schenevus, was also an early settler in this locality. In the south part of the town Anizi Badeau was a pioneer.

In the western part of the town Deacon Cassart early located on premises now owned by W. H. Cassart, a son, and David Vandever, a son-in-law. In this vicinity the father of Geo. Knapp was also a pioneer. James Badeau, brother of Amzi, mentioned above, emigrated to this town at the same time, and located on an adjoining farm. A son, William Badeau, lives on the Creek road.

This locality was known as "Badeau Hill," and numbered among its denizens many of the substantial pioneers of the town. On the lands, now owned by William Manning, Blackwood Hammond was a pioneer, father of Robert Hammond, who resides in the town of Maryland. Still another in the rolls of pioneers in this locality was the father of B. Patrick. A grandson, Thomas Patrick, son of B. Patrick, is one of the influential men of the town. He manifests much interest in agricultural matters, and is classed among the progressive agriculturists of the county.

In the locality known as the "Dutch settlement," Stephen and Joel Norton were early settlers. Eleazer Peasley also early located in this vicinity. He was known the country - round as a hunter and fisher. A son, Thomas, is an inhabitant of the town.

The locality known as Sperry Hollow was early settled by five brothers,-- Daniel, Nathan, Ansel, Elisha, and Peter Sperry, from whom it derived its name. The Sperrys reared large families, and some of their descendants are residing there still.

An early settler in this vicinity was one Keech. A basket-maker, and an associate of Peasley mentioned above.

In the locality known as the Hubbard settlement, Jared and David Hubbard were pioneers. Mr. Birge early located on the road leading from Westford to Clarksville.

Horace, formerly known as "Squire Roberts," was a pioneer on the old homestead now owned by his son, Nelson Roberts. John Tipple was also a pioneer in this locality.

Warner Fellows was a post-rider. He lived in this town, and carried the mail from Westford to Cherry Valley. Sylvanus Harris and a Mr. Black were pioneers.

Calvin Holmes was among the early settler, locating on lands now in the possession of S. Thompson. Two sons - Horace and John---reside in the town.

"Bentley Hollow" derived its name from a worthy pioneer, William Bentley. The old homestead is now occupied by a son, Wm. P. Bentley. A brother of William, familiarly known as Deacon Bentley, also early located in this vicinity, and was instrumental in founding the Protestant Methodist Church at Bentley Hollow. William H. Bentley, a prominent representative of the Bentley family, resides at Bentley Hollow (Maple Valley P. O.), is postmaster, and for many years has been a successful general agent for moving machines, traveling extensively throughout the United States. B. Burlingame owns the premises upon which Allan Darling was a pioneer. Jonathon Davis was also an early settler in this locality. A son and daughter reside in Albany.

The first store in Westford was opened by Ezra Williams, and stood on premises now occupied by John Bell. Mr. Williams was an active man in the vicinity, and served as town clerk from 1817 to 1824. Henry W. Babcock and George Skinner opened a store in about 1827, in the building now occupied by Waldo H. Tyler. Griggs and Wright opened a store on the site now occupied by Nathan Bidlake. The first grist-mill was erected by Silas Howe, in about the year 1794. French - s "Gazetteer" states the this mill was build by Captain Artemus Howe, but undoubtedly the best authority is Squire Nathan Bidlake, from whom our information is obtained. The second mill was built for a Mr. Washburn in about the year 1818, and occupied the site of the preent mill of Robert S. Hall. A carding mill was operated in about the year 1825 by Hamilton Babcock, which stood upon the site mow occupied by the flax-mill owned by George Wing, Esq. About this time one Gilbert owned and occupied a "still" in the upper part of the village. The first hotel was kept by David Smith, and stood opposite the present hotel, and is now occupied by William Kingsley as a dwelling. The pioneers were some time without a physician. It was not until about 1815 that a resident doctor came and settled in their midst. This was Dr. John Jackson, who practiced here until his death, which occurred in about the year 1830.

Intimately identified with the interests of Westford was r. John Drake, who was born here in 1799. He commenced the study of medicine in 1824, with Dr. Burbank, of Albany, and took a course of lectures given by Professors march and Armsby. On account of sickness he returned to Westford, and studied with Dr. Hanna until 1826, when he went to Castleton, Vt., attended lectures, and took the degree of M. D. He commenced the practice of medicine in Fulton County in 1827, but returned to his native town in December, 1829, where, for nearly half a century, he performed the responsible and arduous duties if a physician. He was married to Miss Portia Judson in 1831. She, and five of eight children, survive him. He was a member of assembly in 1837; had been supervisor if his town, postmaster, coroner, and president of the Otsego medical society several times. In all of the various positions to which he was chosen by his fellow-citizens, he discharged the duties with great credit to himself, and to the satisfaction of his constituency. He died Oct. 23, 1877.

Captain Artemus and Jonah Howe, brothers, were early settlers near the village. They located in about 1793.

On the lands now occupied by Garrett Roseboom, Dyer Adams was a pioneer, and where Horace Chase owns, Alfred Farrels was an early settler. William Campbell and Flavil Wright early located in this vicinity.

One Manning was an early settler on the place now owned by Jonathan Wilsey. He was a clothier, and contributed to the interest of the town. Two sons, Mason and Judson, are deceased. Three grandsons, John, William, and Joseph, are residents of Maryland. John Chase located where E. B. Milks lives, and Brom Wilsey settled on the farm now owned by Jonathon Wilsey, a grandson. Smith Southerland came into the town at as early day, and located on the premises now occupied by Wesley Southard. His widow is also living on the old homestead. Elijah Huson is remembered as a pioneer, on lands now owned by Edward Kelley, and Moses Gove early settled on the premises now owned by Horace Milks. A son, George Gove, is a resident of the town.

Caleb Thurbur, from Vermont, was among the early settlers. He had a numerous family, only three of whom are now livings, viz.: Nathan, who resides in Virginia, and two daughters, living in Elmira, N. Y. Caleb was accompanied into the wilderness by a son named Samuel, who remained in the town until 1840, when he removed to East Worcester, and died there in about the year 1859. His widow, wife of David Hall, resides in East Worcester, at the advanced age of eighty-six years. Their children are as follows: E. R. Thurber, resides at East Worcester, where he has been a merchant about thirty years; he was succeeded by his son, S. M. Thurbur, in 1872, who continues the mercantile business. D. W. and Nelson Thurbur also reside at East Worcester, engaged in mercantile business. George lives in Brockport, Jane in Decatur, and Louis in Richmondville.

Harvey W. and Jonas Babcock were active pioneers who settled in this vicinity. The former was prominent in the affairs of the county and the community wherein he resided. He was supervisor of the town several terms, and also sheriff of the county. Another early settler in this vicinity was George Snyder. A son, Lyman, occupies the old homestead. Samuel Hewitt came into the town in an early day, and located where Henry Prindle now lives. A grandson, A. C. De Long, Esq., resides in Schenevus. On the hill on the premises now occupied by Edward Bentley, his father was a pioneer.

Timothy Chase was an early settler on lands now owned by a son-in-law, Thomas Webster.

Robert Roseboom was a prominent pioneer and the first supervisor of the town. He officiated in that capacity until 1814.

Other early settlers in Westford were Henry Dumont, Charles Mason, William W. Gallup, Garritt Roseboom, David Smith, E. Wetmore, Joseph Wetmore, Charles Webster, Elijah Nelson, Samuel Waterman, J. C. Fowler, George Robbins, Dennis Kelley, David Gano, Marcus Gilbert. Josiah Hubbard, Abel Jones, William Horton, John Campbell, Elias Chester, James Newton, David Adams.

Transcribed by Holice B. Young

Original website created by Debbie Axtman

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