New Horizons Genealogy

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Claverack New York Biographical Sketches

Transcribed by Lynn Tooley

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Claverack New York Biographical Sketches extracted from the History of Columbia County, New York. With illustrations and biographical sketches of some of its prominent men and pioneers.

George W. Philip Biography

The reader will notice, on another page of this work, a very fine landscape-view, with the Philmont reservoir, bridge, and hosiery-mills and residence of George W. Philip in the foreground, and the Catskills and intervening landscape in the distance. The residence of Mr. George W. Philip stands on an elevation overlooking the villages of Philmont and Mellenville, with an extended field of view embracing the whole range of the Catskills.

Our subject comes of a long line of ancestors, whose origin is almost lost in the impenetrable obscurity of the past.

The paternal grandflither of Mr. George W. Philip, George Philip, was born at Claverack, Columbia county, in 1752, and his wife, whose maiden name was Jane Ostrander, was born at Mumbackus, in the same county, in 1755. They were the parents of eight children, viz., John, William, Peter, James, Henry, Margaret, Eva, and Catharine. George Philip died in 1806, aged fifty-three years, and his wife died in 1828, at the age of seventy-three years. George Philip was a man of marked ability. He was by occupation a blacksmith and farmer, and he participated throughout the war that gave independence to this great republic as a captain, and in the commis.sary department.

His father's family were among the first settlers at Hard Scrabble, now known as Mellenville, and here he lived until his death as stated above.

William G., the second son of Captain Philip, was born at the old homestead in Hard Scrabble in 1781. He in the early part of his life followed surveying and selling goods, and afterwards fiirming and manufacturing woolen goods, in connection with his brothers, James and Henry, at the place now known as Philmont. He also became a man of of great influence among a large circle of acquaintances, and very useful in the various duties of a conveyancer.

He was married in early life to Miss Christina Storm, of the same county. She was born in 1788. They were the parents of George W. and Catharine (who were twins), and Peter S. and Jane E. Mrs. Christina Philip died in 1819, aged thirty years. In 1820, William G. was married to Miss Catlina Funda, of Claveraok. By this marriage there were two children, — Abram and P]mma. This lady is still living, an aged lady, she having been born in 1797, in the city of Albany. William G. died in 1833, at the age of fifty-one years.

George W. was born at Hard Scrabble, on the 30th day of IMarch, 1809. In his boyhood he attended the common schools of the day and assisted on the farm. In 1820, at twenty years of age, he was united in marriage to Miss Anna M. Miller, of Claverack. He continued on his father's farm for the next year, and then for the next two years he carried on the farm for his father-in-law. He then purchased a small farm in Claverack, whei-e he remained four years. He then sold out and purchased of the heirs the old homestead in Mellenville, which he kept two years, and then disposed of it. His next move was to buy a grist-mill in Philmont, which he ran two years, and then changed it to a paper-mill. At the end of four years he exchanged his paper-mill for a fiirm of six hundred and forty acres in Greene county, four miles from Catskill village. He retained this property four years, and then exchanged it for a carpet-mill in the village of Philmont. He manufactured carpets in this mill for two years, and then changed it into a knitting-factory. In 1872, Mr. Philip met with a severe loss financially in the burning of his mills. His losses by this fire were over forty-seven thousand dollars, and in addition to this he lost the same year over twenty-five thousand dollars in other directions; but with the energy of his more youthful years he is trying to recover his losses, having erected a new and substantial brick mill on the site of the old one. In July, 1872, just previous to the fire, he met with the loss of his wife, who died at the age of sixty-four years. She was the mother of nine children, named as follows: Andrew, Christina, William, Jane, Margaret, John, Catharine, Gertrude, and Emma. Of these all are living except William and Jane, and all are married and have families. On the 28th day of December, 1875, Mr. Philip filled the vacancy in his home by a second marriage. He was united in marriage to Miss Cynthia R. Cowperthwait, of Peniberton, N. J. Mr. Philip is a man now advanced in life, but very active and enterprising, and in the full enjoyment of good health, — the fruit of a long life of frugal and temperate habits. Of a nature naturally sociable, kind, and sympathetic, with consistent Christian views — a long time member of the Reformed'Thurch — in politics a Republican, and among men always a gentleman.

James Aken Biography

James Aken was born in the year 1816 in the northern part of Ireland, near Coleraine, in the county of Antrim, being of the class known as Scotch-Irish. He came with his father's family to the United States in the year 1824, and in the year 1828 they settled in what is now known as Philmont. The place was then a mere hamlet of half a dozen dwellinghouses, a small woolen-mill, and a grist-mill. The family were employed in the woolen-mill of James Philip & Co. Mr. James Aken remained here until 1833, when he entered the service of A. & W. Van Hoesen, woolen-manufacturers, at Stuyvesant Falls, Columbia county. In 1835 he took charge of Huntington's factory for the manufacture of carpet-yarns, located near Claverack village, Columbia county, in which business he continued ior five years. In 1840 he entered the Tivoli woolen-mill at Albany, owned by the patroon, Van Rensselaer, where he remained until 1845, when he removed to Cohoes, where he took charge of the carding and spinning department in the knittingmill of Egberts & Bailey, which was then the only establishment in the country for the manufacture of shirts and drawers of regular stitch by power machinery. In 1847 he removed to Philmont, and entered into partnership with Geo. P. Philip in the manufacture of woolen goods, in a mill just erected on the newly-developed water-power at that place. Here he remained about seven years, devoting himself entirely and energetically to the success of the business in which he had embarked; but a great depression in the woolen trade in the years 1853-54 occasioned very serious loss to the firm, and Mr. Aken withdrew and returned to Cohoes, where, in connection with Root & Parsons, of Albany, they purchased a knitting-mill, and commenced the manufacture of shirts and drawers. The business proved very lucrative, paying in about eight nmnths nearly the entire cost of the mill. Indeed, it was too lucrative for Mr. Aken to continue in it, and he was "persuacfed'' by the pressure of superior capital to sell out and relinquish his interest to his partners, whose importunity would not bo denied. In December of the same year he purchased a set of knitting machinery, and operated it at Albia and subsequently at Ida Hill, near Troy. In 1857 he sold out and purchased a small mill at Land Lake, Rensselaer county, where he carried on the same business, and which he subsequently enlarged to over four sets. In 1862 he purchased an additional water-power, and erected a new mill, which he ran in connection with the old one. Here Mr. Aken conducted business very successfully and profitably, and accumulated a handsome property. He has experienced many of the ups and downs of life, and has tasted of enough adversity to entitle him to the calm enjoyment of his present prosperity.

In 1839 Mr. Aken married Amanda Delia Britt, of Greene Co., N. Y. Six children were born to them, of whom five are still living.

Nelson P. Aken Biography

Nelson P. Aken, a son of James and Amanda Aken, was born in the town of Claverack, Columbia Co., N. Y., in the year 1839. After leaving the district school he was placed, at an early age, at Spencertown Academy, where he remained several terms, and was subsequently entered at Fort Plain Seminary, where he completed all the education he ever acquired at any institution of learning. The design of his parents was to give him a liberal education, but unexpected losses arising from a great depression in the woolen business, in which his father was then embarked, rendered it inexpedient, if not impossible, to do so. He had, however, made good use of the opportunities already afforded him, and became profioient in several branches of study, especially that of chemistry, which he turned to excellent use in his subsequent business enterprises. After leaving Fort Plain Seminary he entered a knitting-mill, in which his father was then a partner, and subsequently was "jmployed in and had charge of the knitting department in various mills at Cohoes, Troy, Sand Lake, and elsewhere, to which branch of the business he devoted himself until the winter of 1862. During these eight years he had become master of his business, and his aptitude for mechanics, which seems to have been almost intuitive, had displayed itself in many ingenious devices. In 1862 he located at Philmont, where he commenced manufacturing knit under-clothing, and from a very humble beginning, with a small mill and one set of machinery, has gradually arisen a business of very large proportions. His present mills are very fine and imposing structures, built of briek, and of four and five stories respectively; the one recently erected being in size one hundred and ten by two hundred and twenty-four feet, and in every department, in all its appointments, appliances, and equipments, being beyond all question the model mill of the State. Both mills are operated by steam and water-power conjointly or separately, as occasion requires; the former being furnished by powerful " Corliss" engines, and the latter by the latest improved turbine wheels. There are in operation at the present time twenty-seven complete sets of knitting-machinery, giving employment to three hundred operatives, about one-half of whom are females. Six additional sets are now being placed in position, and when in operation the whole number of operatives will be about four hundred, and the product of the mills will be five hundred dozen shirts and drawers per day.

The manufacture of knit goods by machinery is of comparatively recent date. Mr. James Aken, the fiither of the subject of this sketch, was among the earliest of those who engaged in the business; and a person who to-day witnesses the operation of the manufacture of knit goods, the perfection of the machinery, and the wonderful precision of its work, can form but little idea of the obstacles encountered, the difficulties overcome or avoided in the manufacture of the same goods in the crude state of the art. One of the greatest difficulties, and one which appeared to be almost insurmountable, was the breakage of needles and thread, and conse(|uent loss of time, occasioned mainly by yarn which could not be spun with sufficient uniformity of size and texture to insure a free and continuous working of the knitting-frames without serious imperfection to the goods. This difficulty was happily overcome by the subject of this sketch, who, at the early age of seventeen years, invented, patented, and applied to machines then in use the first stopmotion, so far as is known, that ever was applied to circular knitting-frames. By means of this simple and ingenious device the machine becomes almost automatic. The least obstacle presented to the needle, even the casual breaking of a thread, instantly stops the machine. Although this device has since been greatly elaborated, to Mr. N. P. Aken is due the credit of first conceiving and applying it to these machines. To Mr. Aken is also due the credit of inventing and using, for the purposes of drying, the steam copper cylinder, which imparts to the cloth a more perfect finish, and obviates the necessity for large steam-heated rooms formerly used for the same purpose, and imperfectly accomplishing the same object. But perhaps of all the devices and improvements made by him in the manufacture of these goods, none are so profitable to the discoverer as Mr. Aken's method of bleaching, and this we trace directly to his knowledge and love of chemistry. This process is a secret held by him alone, and one which he jcalou.sly guards against all intruders. In this connection it is pleasant to remark that these inventions have been, and continue to be, a source of considerable profit to the inventor.

Mr. Aken is an open-handed, free-hearted man, ever ready to respond to the call of the needy, and foremost in all that is likely to benefit the place of his residence. The growth and prosperity of the village of Philmont has been in a very great measure consequent upon the growth and prosperity of Mr. Aken's business enterprises, and from a comparatively insignificant village it has risen to fair proportions, and can justly claim a place among its sister villages of the State.

The life of Mr. Aken has been one of unceasing activity, and the work he has performed and the objects he has accomplished would be regarded with admiration, even as the result of the efforts of a man of rugged health and iron constitution; but when viewed as the work of a man of delicate physical organization, battling with disease, and at times suffering from pulmonary affections which would render most persons utterly unfit for any of the active pursuits of life, can be regarded as little less than marvelous.

In 1859, Mr. Aken was united in marriage to Miss Eliza Laing, of Ballston Spa, and is the father of two children; one, a daughter, is still living.

We call attention to sketches by our artist of Mr. Aken's mills and residence on other pages of this work.

Thomas Carroll Biography

On another page of this work may be found a view of the residence and grounds of Thomas Carroll, in the beautiful and picturesque village of Philmont. The owner of this beautiful and cosy home is a hale, fine-looking gentleman in the prime and vigor of manhood, who, by his unaided exertions, has acquired a very comfortable fortune. He is the son of John Carroll (now deceased), and one of a family of six brothers and three halfsisters. He was born at Stockport, in Columbia Co., N. Y., May 20, 1840. At four years of age his father removed his family to Haverstraw, and afterwards to New York, Brooklyn, and various other places, following his occupation of calico-printer and woolen-manufacturer.

The mother of our subject died when he was thirteen years old, leaving his father with a fiimily of seven small children. Up to this time Thomas had few advantages for acquiring even the rudiments of an education, he having been put to work in the mills at a still earlier age. After liis mother's death he was legally adopted by Mr. George Golden, of Greene Co., N. Y., with whom he made his home until his majority. At seventeen years of age he became desirous of learning the paper-manufacturing business, and, after obtaining the consent of Mr. Golden, he hired out to Mr. William R. Dingman, of Leeds, Greene Co., where he remained three yeare, during which time he became a practical paper-maker. At the age of twenty-one, in 1862, he was united in marriage to Miss Frances Jones, a daughter of Jeremiah Jones, of Philmont. He was at that time at work for Horton Harder, in his paper-mill in Philmont. He was engaged as a workman, superintendent, and lessee of the Excelsior paper-mills of Philmont for a period of eighteen years, during which time he also leased and ran the Philmont paper-mill for one year. In 1875, his lease having expired, he retired from active business, with the exception of buying out the Port Byron Paper Company, which mill he ran for about one year, and then sold out, and engaged in dealing in stocks, bonds, and mortgages. Mr. Carroll presents in his career as a business man, a useful lesson to the poor, struggling, but ambitious boy, starting as he did with nothing but willing hands and untiring energy, and by prudence and economy accumulating the nucleus of a fortune and an independent position among mne.

Stephen K. Barton Biography

Some time before the Revolutionary war three brothers of this name came from England; one settled in Rhode Island, one in Vermont, and one in Dutchess Co., N. Y. Captain Barton, of Rhode Island, during the war assisted in the capture of a British general on Long Island; he was taken from his bed at night and carried over to the main land, and delivered over to the rebel authorities.

Caleb Barton, the paternal grandfather of our subject, was a resident of Dutchess county, and was a miller and manufacturer of paper. He reared a family of six children, viz.: Solomon, Hull, Stephen, Caleb, Phebe, and Sarah. Solomon, the eldest son, grew up to manhood, and married Miss Amy Green. Soon after, he settled at Valatie, in Columbia county. At this time (1817) there were three old grist and saw-mills in what is now Valatie. Solomon here became engaged in milling on the Valatie creek, near its outlet into Kinderhook creek; the old mill has long since disappeared. Of the other mills, one was owned by Charles H. Coleman, and the other by a Van Buren family; and on the present site of the old Wilde cotton-mill, at that time stood the carding-mill of the Mallorys. About the year 1832, Mr. Solomon Barton removed to Claverack, and purchased the Cookingham mill and property, and this became his permanent residence until his death, in 1862, at the age of seventy-one years. His widow survived his death two years, dying in 1864, at the age of seventy-three years. They were the parents of Edwin, Phebe, Elizabeth, Ann, Stephen K., Owen, Thomas J., Frances W., and Solomon. Of these all are living except Owen, and all are married except Thomas J. Mr. Solomon Barton was a man of very marked characteristics, an unflinching friend of the down trodden and oppressed, and a fearless advocate of right against might. Many anecdotes and stories are related of his sacrifice and trials in the cause of temperance and the abolition of slavery. He at one time, for his outspoken efforts in behalf of temperance, was burnt in effigy by an excited mob of citizens; but it must be remembered this was before the days of Washingtonians, Good Templars, and Red Ribbon societies. In the old day? of slavery many a poor runaway from the south found a refuge and protector in Mr. Solomon Barton, who would spare no sacrifice or risk to assist the fleeing, panting fugitive on to liberty.

Stephen K. Barton was born at Kinderhook, on the 6th day of May, 1826; he was reared a miller, attending the common schools, and assisting in the mill and on the farm all through his younger years. He never left the old home, and aft^r his father's death he came into possession of the farm and mills by purchase from the other heirs.

In 1864, Mr. Stephen Barton was united in marriage with Miss Mary E. Neally, of Bath, Steuben Co., N. Y. The fruits of this marriage are two children, — Annie A. and Stephen W. The farm consists of about one hundred acres of fine fertile lands, and the mill and residence are situated in a romantic spot on the main road from Philmont to Martindale. Mr. Barton has by his business integrity and honorable character won the esteem and confidence of all his acquaintances, and nobly sustains tlie reputation his father enjoyed before him, and which is a characteristic trait of the Friends or Quakers, under whose teachings he grew up to manhood. We present our readers this brief sketch of the family record of an esteemed citizen of Claverack, and elsewhere in these pages a fine view of the home and mills of the Bartons.

David Crego Biography

Along with the history of the Van Burens, Hogebooms, Vanderpoels, and hosts of other statesmen, judges, and professional celebrities of Columbia county, it is fitting that some of the real representatives of the people should be noticed, — that the men upon whose shoulders the burdens and responsibilities of this great republic chiefly rest should be assigned their proper place in these annals. And of these we may mention David Crego, of Claverack. He was the son of David Crego, who was born in Columbia county, and was married to Miss Susannah Poultney. They reared a family of nine children, named as follows: Polly, William, Fanny, Betsey, Thankful, Zubah, Clarissa, Emeline, and David.

David Crego, Sr., lived to the advanced age of ninetyfive years. Mrs. Susannah Crego died in 1848, at the age of seventy-one. After her death, Mr. Crego, Sr., was married to Mrs. Landrus; there were no children by this marriage. She also died several years before his decease.

David Crego, Jr., was born in tlie town of Lebanon, on the 19th day of January, 1813; soon after his birth the family removed to Hillsdale, where they remained seventeen years; they then sold out, and removed to Chatham Four Corners. David attended the common schools, and assisted in the labors of the farm until several years after he became of age. At the age of twenty-two, in 1834, he was united in marriage to Miss Sarah Briggs, of Dutchess county. In 1834 he sold out in Chatham, and purchased a farm of two hundred and twenty-five acres in the town of Claverack, — beautifully situated about one mile south of Claverack village, which has ever since been his home.

Mrs. Crego died in 1851, at the age of thirty-six years, and two years later Mr. Crego filled the vacancy in his household by choosing another companion, — Miss Anna H. Sackett, of Dutchess county.

By his first wife he has two sons, Walton 0. and George W., who are both married; and by his second wife he has two children, Charles S. and Sarah B., both at home with the parents.

Mr. Crego is a good farmer, and his farm is widely known as one of the most fertile and productive in the Claverack valley. He pays much attention to the breeding of fine cows, principally of the Alderney blood. Mr. Crego is a man of solid character, temperate in his habits, affable and courteous in his demeanor, honorable in his dealings, and enjoys and deserves the confidence and esteem of all. We call the particular attention of the reader to the fine view of his farm-home in another part of this work.