Yates County, New York

Biographies & Family Trees

from History Books  pg 487-524

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Stephen PURDY

from History of Yates Co., by L. C. Aldrich,  Pub. 1892   Pg 499 - 501 

PURDY, Stephen, the subject of this sketch, was born in Fishkill, Dutchess County, NY, September 17, 1787.  Although a native of Dutchess County, yet through a residence of more than forty years in the town of Benton, he has endeared to himself his friends and neighbors, and all with whom he had intercourse, by his honest, upright and conscientious dealings.  Being scrupulously nice that every one with whom he dealt should have perfect justice done him, he was soon regarded as one of the safest and best of men to adjust difficulties and differences that arise between man and man in their strife after the things of the world.  Hence, his counsels were sought and listened to, and appreciated for their justice, impartiality, and conciliatory bearings.  Peace and good neighborhood he always regarded of far more value than pecuniary considerations, whenever his own interests were concerned.   

Susan HAIGHT, his wife was born in Putnam County, NY, December 12, 1791; they were married December 20, 1810.  In 1812 he came to what is now Yates County, and purchased the farm of Martin KENDIG, about a mile southeast of Bellona, in this State.  It was a spot �beautiful for situation,� overlooking Seneca Lake, where in 1813, he came with his wife and commenced farming on the farm now owned and occupied by his grad daughter, Helen J. B., wife of Cornelius S. VAN WYCK, of Dutchess County, and where he was a successful farmer, and died on the farm he originally purchased, at he age of sixty-five years, leaving to his children about 300 acres of land.  Stephen PURDY died on January 4, 1853, leaving Susan, his wife and five children him surviving.  Susan, his wife died at the �old homestead�, March 30, 1882 in the ninety-first year of her age.   

Maria, the eldest, married Anson C. LOOMIS, of Phelps, NY, who died in 1856, leaving Maria, his wife, who died in 1883.  Their children were Van Wyck, William H., and Lafayette. 

James H. PURDY, his son, married first, Harriet PEMBROKE; she died leaving one child, a daughter, Jane A., now the wife of George H. BANKS; his second wife was Mary A. LEWIS, who died, leaving one child, a son, Stewart L. PURDY; he married Josephine B., the daughter of H. Spencer BARNES, who now resides whit his father, James H. PURDY, on a part of the original homestead of Stephen PURDY. 

Caroline married Henry BARDEN, M.D.  They settled in Penn Yan, Yates county, where he became greatly respected as a man, and in his profession, and died in 1871, leaving his wife, Caroline, and two children, a daughter, Helen J., and one son,  W.W. BARDEN, M.D., now occupying his father�s place and profession in Penn Yan; the wife now residing with her daughter at the original homestead of Stephen PURDY. 

Jane A., married Charles VAN VOORHEES, of Dutchess County, and remained on the homestead until her death in 1866, leaving no children. 

Mary F., the youngest child, married Justus B. JOHNSON, of Seneca Falls, where he was a successful business man, and during his later years was a successful banker, accumulating a fine property.  His death occurred in 1885.


from History of Yates Co., by L. C. Aldrich,  Pub. 1892   Pg 59 - 61

In the month of October 1784, the treaty at Fort Stanwix was held.  On the part of the United States there were present Commissioners Oliver Wolcott, Richard Butler, and Arthur Lee, while the celebrated Frenchman, Marquis de Lafayettte, was with them in the capacity of interested spectator.  The Indians were also present, being represented by chiefs and sachems.  The proceedings of this first grand council had no special relation to the lands of this locality, but at the meeting there was brought into prominent notice one who is claimed to have been, and beyond question was, a native of the territory afterward erected into Yates County.  The personage was the famous Red Jacket, who, though a youth at the time of the council, afterward became a conspicuous figure in the frequent treaty meetings.  Upon the occasion above referred to, Red Jacket was bitterly opposed to making any concessions whatever to the whites and openly advocated a renewal of the war.  But in this effort Red Jacket was opposed by the noted war chief, 'Cornplanter', and the council of the latter prevailed, with the result of a treating fixing the western boundary of the territory to be considered as belonging to the Six Nations.   

Sagoyewatha, the Seneca name of the chief, was born near Branchport on the western arm of Ogoyago Lake, but as to the date of his birth, there appears to be no record, nor is it know who of the Senecas were his parents.  At the time of the treaty at Fort Stanwix the chief was a young man and had just been elevate to the position he held.  He was the recognized orator of his tribe, not even second to the eloquent Cornplanter, but the latter held pre-eminence, was a warrior of mature years and one who had carved his way to fame among his people through the cruel and merciless slaughter of white men, women and children.  As a speaker for his tribe and nation Saygoyewatha stood without a peer.  Indeed so powerful was his speech at the treaty ground that Levasseur, the French writer who derived his information from Lafayette, said of him: � His speech was a masterpiece, and every warrior who heard him was carried away with his eloquence. �.

Red Jacket had, when a youth, heard a number of prominent speakers among the Indians, and he determined to and did instruct himself in the art of oratory; and his first or maiden effort was made on the occasion referred to, and that brought to him the name of Sagoyewatha, �The Keeper Awake,� or literally, �he keeps them awake,� as more descriptive of his oratorical powers.  But among the whites he was generally called by the ridiculous appellation of Red Jacket, a name which he transmitted to his descendants. 

He too, had been an actor in the boarder wars, but had won no laurels in them.  Brant and Cornplanter both hated him, declaring that he was both coward and traitor; but theirs was the hatred of envy and jealousy.   They were accustomed to tell of the time when he made a glowing speech urging the Senecas to battle, but while the conflict was going on was discovered cutting up the cow of another Indian, which he had killed.  After that he was frequently called �The Cow Killer�, a name which was inserted in two or three public documents, but afterward crossed out and �Red Jacket� substituted.   

The treason with which he was charged seems to have consisted in making several efforts for peace during Sullivan�s campaign without the sanction of the war chiefs.  At one time he is said to have secretly sent a runner to the American camp inviting a flag of truce.  Brant heard of this and had the unlucky messenger intercepted and killed.  Probably some of the stories  of his timidity and treachery are false, but there were many of them and all pointed the same way.  Notwithstanding all this was the charm of his eloquence, and such the clearness of his intellect, that he rapidly gained in influence and was made a chief, that is a civil chief, or counselor of the sachems.  

At the beginning of the Revolution he was a youth of about twenty.  The British officers had been attracted by his intelligence and frequently employed him as messenger, for which he was well qualified by his fleetness of foot and shrewdness of mind.  They compensated him by a succession of red jackets, in which he took great pride and from which he derived his name.  In later years, Red Jacket had risen to a high position, being mentioned by Proctor as �the great speaker and a prince of the Turtle tribe."  As a matter of fact, however, he belonged to the Wolf clan. 

In 1792,  Red Jacket and Farmer�s Brother were two of fifty chiefs who visited the seat of government, then at Philadelphia.    The former then claimed to be in favor of civilization, and it was at this time that Washington gave him the famous medal for which he afterward wore on all great occasions.  It was of silver, oval in form, about seven inches long by five wide, and represented a white man in a general�s uniform, presenting a pipe of peace to the Indians.  The latter had flung down his tomahawk.  Behind them is shown a house, a field and a man plowing. 


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