Finding Ancestors wherever their trails led

Saratoga County
New York
Genealogy and History


The First Permanent Settlers

Among the earliest permanent settlers in this locality were the De Ridders. They settled on the east side of the river, just across from Schuylerville. We include them here because that was part of Old Saratoga, and because they figured largely in the early history of this place.

The first of this family, whose name appears, is that of Garett De Ridder. His name is found in connection with Philip Schuyler (uncle of the General) and Cornelius Van Beuren, as a road commissioner for the district between Saratoga and Half Moon, in 1729. Again, in 1750, Garett De Ridder, Killian De Ridder and Waldron Clute are appointed to the same office.

Tradition says that five brothers De Ridder came over from Holland . Their names were Walter, Simon, Hendrick, Killian and Evert. Though there is no direct authority for it, still it would-be fair to presume that they were the sons of Garett De Ridder, who appears in history 21 years before the others. Killian was a bachelor, and appears to have been the largest land—holder among the brothers, at least in this locality. Walter De Ridder’s house stood on the east bank of the Hudson , just north of the road as it turns east from the river going to Greenwich . This house was ruined by the ice in a freshet. Some of the timbers in this old house are in the one now called the Elder Rogers’ house. This latter house was built by General Simon De Ridder, for his son, Walter. Walter was the father of Mrs. C. W. Mayhew and Miss Katherine De Ridder. General Simon's house stood on the site of the house now owned by Robert and William Funson. The original house was of brick, burned on the farm, and was twice as large as the present structure. The present kitchen is a relic of the original mansion, which was burned in 1837.

The De Ridders are now the oldest family that have lived continuously in this locality.

Abraham Marshall came from Yorkshire , England , leased a farm of Philip Schuyler about 1763, and situated perhaps a mile south of Victory village. This farm is still owned by his grandson, William H. Marshall. He and his family suffered all the hardships incident to the Revolution. Many of his descendants are still residents in this vicinity. Besides the above, we recall Mr. John Marshall, a prominent citizen on Bacon Hill; Mrs. William B. Marshall, still the owner of the house made historic by the experiences and writings of the Baroness Riedesel, and also Mr. Frank Marshall, of Victory, a great—grandson.

Thomas Jordan came here before the Revolution. He was then a young man. He served in that war as a bateauman. After the war he married a daughter of Abraham Marshall, settled upon and cleared the farm now occupied by Mr. Frank Marshall.

Conrad Cramer (Kremer), a German, came about 1763, and settled on the farm now owned by John Hicks Smith. He married Margaret Brisbin, by whom he had five children. His descendants are numerous, but are now scattered far and wide. A grandson, Hiram, and great-grandson, Charles, still cling to the old haunts.

John Woeman was living near Coveville in 1765. William Green also settled here about the same time. His sons were Samuel, John and Henry.

Thomas Smith moved from Dutchess county about 1770, and settled on the place still owned by his great-grandson, Stephen Smith, on the hill about four miles west of Schuylerville.

About 1770, John Strover bought the farm now owned by the Cornings. He was an active patriot during the Revolution, and did valuable service as a scout. He held the rank of orderly sergeant. His son, George, bought the Old Schuyler mansion about 1838, which is still owned by two of his daughters.

Hezekiah Dunham was also one of those sturdy pioneers who was not only strong to clear the forests, but was equally efficient in clearing his country of tyrants. He was a captain of a militia company, and was one of the most prominent patriots in these parts. He was leader of the captors of the notorious Tory, Lovelass. He settled on the farm now owned and occupied by Hiram Cramer.

James I. Brisbin made his clearing on the farm now owned by Michael Varley, previously owned by Oliver Brisbin.

George Davis settled the farm still called the Davis farm. The stone quarry known as the Ruckatuc is on that place. The following story is told as an illustration of pioneer honesty, which measures up pretty close to the ideal: On one occasion James I. Brisbin and George Davis swapped horses. But on reaching home and looking his horse over very carefully, Brisbin concluded that he had the best of the bargain, and that he ought to pay over about five dollars to even the thing up. Strangely enough, Davis had also been going through the same judicial process with his conscience and had arrived at Brisbin’s conclusion, precisely. Both concluded to go over at once and straighten the thing up while in the mood. They met each other about half way, but just how they settled it the tradition saith not. It would perhaps be hazardous to assert that Saratoga horse fanciers have ever since invariably followed this model in similar transactions.

James Brisbin settled, before the Revolution, on the farm until recently owned by his great—grandson, James Caruth Brisbin, but now by Hiram Cramer.

Peter Lansing, of Albany , built what is now known as the Marshall house in 1773, for a farm house, but who occupied it is not known.

Sherman Patterson was the first settler on the place now bounded by Spring street and Broadway, and owned by Patrick McNamara. That was before the Revolution.

A Mr. Webster, one Daniel Guiles, and a Mr. Cross, lived here before the Revolution. Mr. Cross’ place was near the present one of Mr. Orville C. Shearer. Mr. Guiles lived where Victory village now is.

Three brothers by the name of Denny came to this town as early as 1770, and built three log houses on what is now the John McBride place, near Dean’s Corners.

Col. Cornelius Van Veghten was among the first settlers at Coveville. He had three boys, Herman, Cornelius and Walter, and was a very prominent Whig in the Revolution. He was a friend of General Schuyler, and was most cordially hated by the Tories. The story of his narrow escape from assassination at the hands of one of them is told elsewhere. The old Van Veghten homestead is now owned and occupied by Mr. Charles Searles.

The historic Dovegat house is supposed to have been built by Jacobus Swart; at least, according to an old field book in possession of Mrs. Charles Searlcs, he owned it soon after the Revolution. At the time of Burgoyne’s excursion down through here, another man, by the name of Swart, lived just south of Coveville, near Searles ferry. Burgoyne’s trip down through here also devel— ops the fact that a man by the name of Sword lived two or more miles below Coveville, where the Britons camped the 18th of September, 1777. It is now owned by Robert Searles. A short distance below Sword’s, lived Ezekiel Ensign, on a place still owned by a descendant, George Ensign.

A little further south was the house of John Taylor in which General Fraser died. The first settler on Taylor ’s place was John McCarty, who ran away from home, in Limerick , Ireland , to avoid marrying a red-headed girl whom his parents had selected for him. In I 765 he leased from Philip Schuyler the land just north of the Wilbur’s Basin ravine, and on which are the three hills fortified by Burgoyne, and on one of which General Fraser was buried. The lease called for one—tenth of the produce as rental. The original parchment, signed by the contracting parties is now in the possession of Edwin R. Wilbur, at Wilbur’s Basin, a great grandson of John McCarty. Evidently John found a -wife better suited to his tastes in America . F. Patterson’s little barn west of the canal stands on the site of McCarty’s house. Near him Thomas and Fones Wilbur had settled before the war. Frederick Patterson now owns the homestead of Fones Wilbur. Wilbur’s Basin received its name from these brothers. Below Wilbur’s Basin, on the flats near the river, were two homes owned by J. Vernor and H. Van Denburg. Joseph Holmes now occupies the ' Vernor place, and Ephraim Ford the Van Denburg homestead. It was here that the fugitive inhabitants stopped over night in 1777, as told by the Sexagenary. The buildings were burned by the British on the 19th of September, 1777.

Next below Van Denburg's was Bemis’ tavern, occupied by Gates as headquarters for a short time. Fothem Bemis was the first settler at Bemis Heights . (Bemus is the spelling in the original document in the county clerk’s office, Albany .) On the heights back from the river Ephraim Woodworth purchased a farm and built a house afterward occupied by General Gates as headquarters. We are already familiar with the historic home of John Neilson, also with Isaac Freeman’s cottage and farm,_ the site of the great battle. A number of other clearings had been made and log cottages put up in that immediate vicinity. According to Neilson one Asa Chatfield owned the one just south of the middle ravine, from the top of whose house Colonel Wilkinson reconnoitered the British as they deployed into line of battle just before the second day’s fight. Simeon Barbour and George Coulter owned the clearings and cottages where the second day’s battle opened, and one S. McBride had his homestead to the north of them, apparently where the farm buildings of the late Mrs. Ebenezer Leggett stand.

Gabriel Leggett and Isaac Leggett were settled near the borders of Stillwater and Saratoga when Burgoyne came down to make good Englishmen Of them. They were prominent Friends, and we presume therefore that neither they nor their co-religionists shouldered a musket to stop his progress.

David Shepherd’s pioneer home has also become hereditary in his family; it now being owned by his grandson, David Shepherd. John Walker also settled in the southern part of the town of Saratoga . His descendants now own part of the battlefield. It is interesting to note, in this connection, that E. R. Wilbur, a grandson of Fones Wilbur, married Phoebe Freeman, a granddaughter of Isaac Freeman, and that they now own that part of the camp ground of the British army whereon Burgoyne had his headquarters.

Besides the above there were doubtless many others settled in this town whose names have thus far escaped the searching eye of the historian.

--The Story of Old Saratoga and History of Schuylerville, John Henry Brandow, 1901


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