Saturday, December 25, 2010

The History of Jefferson

The town of Jefferson was first inhabited in 1793, by people from New England. The spirit of then inhabited the town, still, when the text was written. This spirit put forth an interest in education, and the use of “advantages derived”.
In January of 1803, people petitioned the Legislature to officially declare Jefferson a town. On February 12, the Legislature did just that. On March 1st, the town elected it’s first officials, with Stephen Judd being included in five of them, them being, Assessor, Overseer of the Poor, Commissioner of the Highways, Fence Viewer, and Path Master.
Several years later, another village named Jefferson in New York, made an effort to change it’s name because of mailing problems. Afterwards, the town’s name was changed to Watkins.
The first school teacher in Jefferson was Herman Hickok. He founded the Jefferson Academy in 1812. Shares of the school were sold at $25 a piece, with Stephen Judd owning the most at 12. Those who owned shares had a vote in electing a board of directors. He also gave land for the academy to be built on. While construction continued, there was not enough revenue to complete the structure. To raise the money, Jefferson asked the town of Schoharie for the money. Schoharie obliged, and 44 people gave money, at a total of $216.50. People who donated were future Governor William Bouck, Peter Vroman, Adam Vroman and Heman Hickok, if I may assume to have some relation to Herman. Also, the list given spells Adam and Peter Vroman, “Vrooman”.
The building was finally erected in 1822, at forty-five square feet, with a height of three stories. It cost approximately four thousand dollars to build. Although started under firm footing, the building had troubles. Long times would elapse between school sessions, and it did not get needed repairs.
In the will of Stephen Judd, who died on June 8, 1821, it stated that the property was to be used as a school, so long as the academy was used for “school purposes”. Joshua H. Judd, Stephen’s great-nephew, demanded the property be returned to the Judds, on the grounds that the agreement of the continuation of “school purposes” was broken. He won the case. In it’s stead was a “Union School”, formed in 1878.
Two tanneries were in existence in Jefferson, both of which were founded in 1816, and both of which faded from existence in about 1846. There was a Presbyterian Church in Jefferson, which was founded in about 1809, but the book does not give an exact date.
The Judd family had a huge impact on Jefferson. As previously mentioned, the Judds helped raise, and, eventually, tear down the Jefferson Academy. Stephen Judd held huge lots of land, and had an inn, and his brother, Freeman, was a preacher. Also mentioned is a story that states that Daniel Judd was beheaded by Indians in the Revolution, and his was carried to Canada on a pole.
There were another three churches in Jefferson, all of which were Methodist. The Methodist Episcopal Church of West Jefferson was organized first, and services were held at private houses until 1816. The First Methodist Village Episcopal Church of Jefferson Village was organized in 1819, and was included in a circuit of 13 towns. The West Kill Methodist Church was organized in 1816, but became the First Methodist Village Episcopal Church of Jefferson Village, in 1819.
A skirmish was held upon Jefferson, and was a loss to patriots. As the book states, “This skirmish was the only one which occurred during the war that was disgraceful...within the borders of our County.” Jefferson also sent men to fight in the Civil War.
The book also lists justices of Jefferson, from 1803 to 1882. Mentioned are Stephen Judd, in 1804, and Heman Hickok, who served eight years in a row.
I don’t understand why Jefferson was founded in the very late 1700s, when Schoharie was founded so long before. I mean, can you imagine Jefferson was settled ten years after the Revolution.


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cflanmac said...

Actually, Heman Hickok is the correct spelling of my ancestor; there was no Herman, except among the misspelled.