Sunday, July 24, 2016

Alderbrook- Eatonbrrok History......West Eaton Mills, and the Heat Continues.....

The heat continues....Humorously I ran into one of the cashiers in the local grocery store who saw how hot and tired I was and commented that I was just as miserable when it was freezing cold...TRUE!  I did get to sit near the Alderbrook again and so this weeks blog came to mind...How many know the history of the West Eaton Millarea? Then this history blog is for you!


(Eatonbrook) -Alderbrook Mill History

 This mill is one of the old landmarks which our citizens will regret to see pass away.  Some 35 years ago, an old saw mill stood upon the site, which was purchased by Alpheus Morse and John Brown.  They also obtained land of Simeon Chubbuck , …land upon which to erect and build bogs and to flow water into the pond.  In 1849, they built and put into operation the well-known Alderbrook Woolen Mills. 

It was a wooden structure four stories high.  They built a fine boarding house, a cottage or two and the Long Block, a long building.  The factory was in the shadow of the northern mill, a very pretty location.  The Mill employed some 75 employees and manufactured some of the best quality cashmere and doeskin. 

In 1856, the firm failed, after which Alpheus Morse effected an arrangement and continued the business.  During the war, he made the army and navy blues, his goods being in such demand in the early years of the war that much of the time the works were run night and day.  Mr. Morse ran the mill with the cooperation of different individuals with varied success until 1874 or ‘75, during which time he built three cottages on the terrace overlooking the sheet of water. 

In 1876, the premises were purchased at a mortgage sale by Messrs. Lakey & Co., who sold to D.E. Darrow and Philo Walden in 1879.  Darrow and Walden soon after removed two stories of the upright part of the mill, putting in a new roof and otherwise repaired it.  The Long Block had become a ruin nearly ready to fall when they removed it. 
 
In 1883, they leased the mill to John Klock from St. Johnsville, N.Y., for paperboard manufacture.  Later, James Healey from the same place became associated with him.  Last year, Klock and Healey sold their interest to Messrs. Howe and Son. 

The cottages on the terrace have all been sold to different individuals, and now all of the buildings belonging to the mill property, all that is left, are the wool house and the boarding house. 

Fifty years ago, before there was ever sound of factory bell, hum of wheels or clash of looms in Alderbrook dell, it was the delightful home of Emily Chubbuck, the gifted “Fanny Forester.”  Here with her father and mother, her brothers and sisters, she lived her free joyous childhood – amid the wild picturesque beauty of nature, inhaled the breath of poetry…and wrote some of her most charming stories.  

The stories of busy enterprises silenced the Muse and for more than a third of a century held away.  The actors in the drama and their works are low in the dust; and should the pristine romantic beauty and poetic atmosphere of Alderbrook return to it, then this third of a century is simply bridged over by the force that evolves destiny; a period, a scene, fallen into oblivion…dead and buried.

**And so it is today...back to the wild pristine slumber of the ages…



Saturday, July 16, 2016

The Eatonbrook, the Warm Summer... and Eaton's MIssionaries!


The hot steamy weather continued in old Eaton this week and for a few nights Barbra Keough and I spent a pleasant evening or two at Michele Kelly’s house.  Michele is lucky enough to have a lawn that butts up to the Eatonbrook or as it was called 200 years ago the “Alderbrook”’.  The title was given to it because of the many peg alders (as they are called locally) that grace its winding banks. 
The heat has cut the flow of it this year …but not the plush green that lines its banks,  and sitting next to it of course, brought thoughts to me of Emily Chubbuck and the many tales she recounted in her early book “The Alderbrook Tales.”  Though Emily did marry Andoniram Judson the famous Baptist Missionary to Burma (todays Siam-Thailand) many other young people ventured out from our area to help in the missions… so I thought you would enjoy a bit of that history for this weeks blog. Of interest is the fact that this brook also runs behind our museum that houses much of this early history.
Eaton and its Missionaries
Everyone remembers stories of Eaton’s Emily Chubbuck, the writer who wrote under the pen name “Fanny Forrester,” who married Adoniram Judson and went off to Burma, but what about Andrew Bigelow Morse???
The Reverend Andrew Bigelow Morse was the son of Ellis Morse and grandson of Joseph Morse. In 1849, at the early age of nineteen, Mr. Morse was graduated from Hamilton College in Clinton, where his ranking as student admitted him into the scholarship roll of Phi Beta Kappa. 

After two years’ experience as principal of a Young Men’s Classical Institute in Albany, N.Y., he entered the Princeton Theological seminary, where he was graduated in 1864.  After another two years, part of which was spent in post-graduate work in New York and a part in the service of the church, he and his young wife, commissioned by the Presbyterian board of foreign missions, started for Siam.  This was the goal of their ardent ambitions and consecrations. 

Once in the field, he threw himself whole-heartedly into the work, but within two years Andrew’s health was shattered and he was ordered home. He continued working for several years on a literary work of permanent value.

 Because of his poor health during the Civil War, he was exempt from military service and debarred from the Christian commission.  So instead, he spent three years at Washington in the Treasury Department, ministering often in hospital and barracks.  In Washington he served in the somewhat famous “Treasury Guard” of which he frequently spoke with a smile. 

It is here he also became acquainted with many men who afterward became famous.  Among these was the one whom he always mentioned with a great admiration and reverence – the distinguished martyr President Lincoln.

Andrew takes his place of honor with the other young men of Eaton who also went to Siam (Burma) and China, Jonathan Wade and William Dean. **Newspaper stories sent back to Eaton still exist in the Old Town of Eaton Museum.


Judson's Story in video!


Saturday, July 9, 2016

Summer, Col. Leland, the Dunbar House and the Leland Pond History!

The week has been hot again and summer is in full swing down here in Eaton... with summer people and boating, kayaking, fishing and reopening summer camps....I had a request to do a piece on Eaton's Leland Ponds and someone is restoring the old Dunbar house which in actuality was the original site of Col. Leland's first home...so as lazy as I am lately about writing, I pulled this from my past writing and put it up for your enjoyment.  If you can please share and help our small rural Southern Madison County area attract new people and in the process help restore awareness to those who have forgotten what a wonderful place they live in.

The heat of this summer has drawn people to small bodies of water to cool off, swim and fish. Since history lurks everywhere some those that have enjoyed fishing at the beautiful Leland Ponds in the Town of Eaton may actually not realize what a special part of history the “ponds” have.


Located equidistant from both Eaton Village and Hamilton, the ponds today are a vibrant part of NYS Fishing areas and are also a very early and important part of the Town of Eaton’s history. A NYS Historic Marker denoting its famous founding family, the family of Joshua Leland, today marks the site but of course, a marker cannot tell the full story.

Born in Massachusetts in 1741, “the Colonel” as he was always referred to, moved to the town of Eaton, then a part of Chenango County and a large tract of land called Hamilton. Leland settled first on English Avenue near today’s Eaton Village, but then moved to the current site of today’s Leland’s Ponds, then called Leland’s Lakes.
The Col. was a Revolutionary War Militia soldier and ventured out with family to find a new home and a fortune. Their removal to Eaton was not without troubles as when the Colonel after clearing land, went back home to get his wife and five children and their wagon got stuck in the mud at the very location they would eventually move to. The Leland’s also arrived so late in the year that they are recorded as spending their first winter in a three side hut with their animals.

An avid astronomer, hotel owner and miller, Leland was a favorite of the many Native Americans who fished the ponds and who regarded the Col. and his wife Waitstil with great esteem. The Leland Family also ran an ashery that made potash and in fact it is how the Col. died. When on a trip to Albany with this much needed commodity, Leland was killed when the barrel of potash they were carry on a wagon rolled off and fell on him as he was ascending a steep hill on the Cherry Valley Turnpike.

Leland is mentioned as Hamilton’s first Supervisor but at that time Eaton was part of Hamilton breaking off in 1795. At that time Leland became and important part of Eaton’s history and he actually owned one seventh of the landmass of Town of Eaton at one time. His heirs continued in their father’s footsteps’ becoming businessmen and the Leland family name is well remembered.

Leland’s Ponds was also the early fisheries of the Oneida Nation, and later was the site of the largest port on the Chenango Canal, Peck’s Port. Today its waters are a vacationers paradise and allow fisherman to revisit the quiet haunts of native fishermen.

For those who like cemeteries, the family cemetery lays 
on Route 12B a short distance from the site of his home. Crow’s Hill, his property that he once gazed at the stars from, is today dotted with wind turbines, proving that Eaton is still a place where “history meets progress!”.








Friday, July 1, 2016

Summer, Lebanon Reservoir History & the Old Town of Eaton Museum

Well the Goddess of Summer has graced us with another wonderful summer week.  My own week has been busy trying to catch up with all the work I have neglected, however, I thought I would take the time to send a little more history your way.  

This history is on another of the many ponds and lakes that dot our beautiful Southern Madison County area, Lebanon Reservoir.  I am still a bit under the weather so will get back to you local blog readers with a date for our evening speaking event to benefit the Old Town of Eaton Museum.  I have decided to come out of retirement and speak for a meeting of the Friends of the Old Town of Eaton Museum to raise local awareness of its rich history and its very historic past. Date to follow.

Though located in today’s Town of Lebanon, the water that flowed from this reservoir made its way via feeders to Eaton’s Leland Pond and Woodman Pond areas, where it was distributed to the canal.

This Reservoir has had two names, an old one that is very historic and a new one that is known by everyone. Kingsleybrook Reservoir is one such place. Today, we know this body of water surrounded by camps and homes as a sparkling gem, where fishing, swimming, boating and camping is enjoyed, as Lebanon Reservoir. Its original name and one still used on some maps however, is Kingsleybrook Reservoir.
Kingsley Brook, a fast-flowing stream, provides the water to this reservoir, a reservoir that once fed the Chenango Canal. The reservoir was added after the initial start of the proposed canal to insure that there would be enough water to run the canal during dry times. The dam was contracted in the fall of 1835, and scheduled to be completed by November of the following year.
During the process, it was decided to raise the proposed height by 15 feet, it was noted that this would only take a small additional part of land, but would increase the capacity of the reservoir by 80 percent. The addition of the height was never accomplished.
After a horrible freshet occurred in April of 1843, the dam was breached and was severely damaged, estimates for the repair came to over $8,000 ( a pittance in our time). The canal engineers and commissioners felt that this dam and reservoir could be dispensed with, and consequently did not repair it.

By 1864, more water was needed to insure navigation on the canal because of leaking canal walls and decapitated locks, plus the addition of a proposed extension, so work was begun to rebuild the Kingsleybrook Reservoir. This time, the dam was raised the additional number of feet (15) and the dam was completed in 1867. The additional number of feet increased the capacity of the reservoir by over 100 percent. When the Chenango Canal no longer needed its water it became labels Lebanon Reservoir!
Heres a video.. 

Friday, June 24, 2016

Summer, Camps Pond and the history of today's Hatch Lake..

This first week of summer has brought some wonderful weather to our area.  The summer folks who gather around our many lakes and reservoirs have arrived and camp cleaning and summer dinning are evident in the area near the ponds, lakes and reservoirs. From Leland's Ponds in the east to Hatch Lake in the west the Town of Eaton still sparkles in the summer sun!

The history of these bodies of water are an interesting reminder of what was accomplished by men who did not have earth moving equipment... only rudimentary tools and horses.  Some of these are a marvel when you think about the years they were engineered and the success of the idea of a canal feeder and its feeders materialized.  One such pond, which was just that a pond, was expanded to be one of the most beautiful summer get-a-ways for people....in the old days it was called Camp's Pond and today we call it Hatch's Lake.  Have been a bit under the weather this week but figured you might enjoy a trip into history!

Camps’ Pond

Today’s Hatch’s Lake, in the corner of the Town of Eaton, once fed the historic Chenango Canal but dates its original name, Camp’s Pond, back to the late 1790s.

Dr. Abner Camp was an early resident of what he named Camp’s Hill, a man of great humor and interest in the local community.  Tales of his adventures hunting and with his efforts to stop the local Native Americans from peering into his cabin at all hours still exist in the area.  He once set about to scare the local intruders by threatening to raise a company of men to run them off after they threatened a war party to get even with him.  He won when he and two other men shouted about like a troop of men and put a bullet over the head of a sleeping old Indian, scaring him almost to death.  The man ran away back to his village thinking a whole troop of men was after him.

Camp’s Pond gave way to Hatch’s Pond when Peter Hatch took the property over in the early 1800s.  By 1833, and the opening of the Chenango Canal, the pond was enlarged as part of the feeder system of canal reservoirs and is today named Hatch Lake.

At one point, the lake’s outlet at the southwestern end was dammed so that the water would no longer flow to the south over the Tioughnioga River and instead would flow to another man-made reservoir, Bradley Brook Reservoir.

Today, the level of the lake and its outlet are controlled and summer camps dot the shores, a great fisherman’s paradise.  This part of the Chenango Canal’s feeder system still feeds the Erie Canal far to the north, at its end starts a man-made reservoir called Bradley Brook. Bradley Brook Reservoir, constructed also in 1835 and '36, covers an area of 134 acres.