The Warren County Historical Society Logo newly adopted January 2015. Design by www.orangeolive.com. Copyright 2015 Warren County Historical Society, Queensbury, NY.

The Warren County Historical Society Logo newly adopted January 2015. Copyright 2015 Warren County Historical Society, Queensbury, NY.  Design by www.orangeolive.com

Warren County Historical Society Presents …

The Digital Version “REWIND”

February 1, 2015

The Jessups, Adirondack Land Barons

The following manuscript was found in the Warren County Historical Society’s files.  It was originally written by G. William Glidden, Vice President, Regional Development and Historian, NYS Military Heritage Institute.  Because of the importance of the Jessup brothers on the development of Warren County, it is reprinted here with some updated notes.

 

            Around 1764, brothers Edward and Ebenezer Jessup moved to Albany from Dutchess County and engaged in land speculation in the upper Hudson River area.  In 1767 they applied for and received a land grant which eventually included about 4,100 acres on which the Town of Lake Luzerne is now located.  Besides Lake Luzerne, it also included parts of the Towns of Corinth and Hadley.

An historic marker found in the Town of Lake Luzerne recognizing the Jessup brothers.

An historic marker found in the Town of Lake Luzerne recognizing the Jessup brothers.

            The Jessups built sawmills on the Hudson River and rafted logs downstream to their mills.  They started a community on the river and named it Jessup’s Landing.  Today it is the village of Corinth.  They maintained a ferry there and a road that followed the river upstream to Jessup’s Falls, now known as Rockwell Falls between Hadley and Lake Luzerne.

Sir William Johnson, the British Indian Agent who helped develop good relations with the Native Americans following the French and Indian War. He was headquartered in Johnstown, NY, where today his home is a national treasure, but he traveled extensively throughout upstate New York.

Sir William Johnson, the British Indian Agent who helped develop good relations with the Native Americans following the French and Indian War. He was headquartered in Johnstown, NY, where today his home is a national treasure, but he traveled extensively throughout upstate New York.

            Ebenezer Jessup was a client and business associate of Sir William Johnson, the regional Indian agent, whom they entertained in their spacious log homes.  They also entertained Governor William Tryon[1] and John Butler[2] Their speculation was no doubt aided by their close relationship with Sir William Johnson and other important people of the day.  They also secured additional land patents for about 15,000 acres that included what is now the central and northern part of the Town of Lake Luzerne.  The Jessups were, no doubt, were among the most colorful and shrewdest land speculators ever to live in Warren County.

This historic marker is in Corinth, Saratoga County, ‘on the beach’ next to the library. It states, “JESSUP’S LANDING c. 1770 named for Jessup brothers. First lumbermen on the Hudson. It was area name until 1886 when Corinth village was named”This historic marker is in Corinth, Saratoga County, ‘on the beach’ next to the library. It states, “JESSUP’S LANDING c. 1770 named for Jessup brothers. First lumbermen on the Hudson. It was area name until 1886 when Corinth village was named."

This historic marker is in Corinth, Saratoga County, ‘on the beach’ next to the library. It states, “JESSUP’S LANDING c. 1770 named for Jessup brothers. First lumbermen on the Hudson. It was area name until 1886 when Corinth village was named.”

            They resided on the upper Hudson in a sort of backwoods feudal magnificence until the American Revolution.  They built spacious log homes there and a small hamlet built up around their business interests.  They were noted for the entertaining they did in the wilderness.

            In 1771, the Jessup’s secured additional large patents for about 15,000 acres in what is now the central and northern sections of the Town of Luzerne.  The following year, not content with their extensive land holdings, the brothers engineered the famous Totten and Crossfield Purchase[3] of 800,000 acres, lying mostly north and west of Warren County, but embracing all the present Town of Johnsburg and part of the Town of Chester.  The Mohawks and Caughnawagas ceded this tract of land during a grand council at the home of Sir William Johnson.

            In 1774 the Brothers obtained another grant of 40,000 acres which are now the towns of Warrensburg and Thurman.  Until their lands were confiscated, the Jessup brothers held title to practically all of what is now western and northern Warren County.  The Jessups also held grants as far west as the West Canada Lakes.  They prospered and became the first of the great lumber barons of the Adirondacks.

            By the early 1770s the groundswell of the American Revolution had begun to make itself felt.  The chief base of operations and gathering place for Loyalists had become that of the colony of the politically-favored Jessups.   While the Jessups took note of the increasing unrest among the colonists, they and other Loyalists formulated plans as they quickly lost favor among the American rebels.

            During the winter of 1775, although the war had not officially been declared, the colonists began to burn the mills at the landing and to destroy the ferry.  The mills were closed down, workmen laid off, and provisions packed.  At the threat of death at the hands of the Americans, the Jessups fled up the Sacandaga River on snowshoes where they joined with John Johnson[4] and other Loyalists at Fish House[5].  From here the party continued up the West Branch and over the Long Lake Military Road and on to Canada.

            In the summer of 1776, when Sir Guy Carleton succeeded in driving American forces out of the province of Quebec, the Jessups led a party of some 80 Loyalists to join Carleton at Crown Point.  The Jessup party became attached to Sir John Johnson’s King’s Royal Regiment of New York.

            On May 6, 1777, Colonel Gordon in command of the Continental Militia in the Ballston Spa district, pursued and captured 31 Loyalists on or near the Jessup Patent.  All admitted they were on their way to join Burgoyne and thus escape taking the oath of allegiance to Congress.  Local tradition has it that at this time, Edward Jessup, hotly pursued, made good his escape by leaping across a gorge in the Hudson where the stream then measured but twelve feet in width.

Note on this early map of Queensbury the, “Trail to Jessups.”

Note on this early map of Queensbury the, “Trail to Jessups.”

Edward Jessup then made his way across Queensbury by an old road that paralleled the present route from French Mountain to Fort Ann.  He would have crossed the trail over West Mountain.  The route would be to the north of what today is known as the Halfway Brook, and crossed the military trail leading from Fort George on Lake George to Fort Edward in the vicinity of the Outlet Malls on Route 9, just to the north of the Great Escape.  On the military trail, Fort Amherst had a location to the south where it crosses the Halfway Brook in the vicinity of Route 9.  Today, just to the north on Route 9, as you start to travel on a lengthy grade uphill, there exists an historical marker depicting the location as the old boundary of New France.

From the location of the Outlet Malls east – through the Town of Queensbury – to Fort Ann, Edward Jessup would have stayed to the north on high ground above the wetlands on what is today known as the Farm to Market Road or Route 149.  In the area known as Fort Ann, the Halfway Brook joins Wood Creek leading to Skenesborough (today known as Whitehall).  Edward would then continue to travel northward through Skenesborough to Burgoyne’s camp at Willsborough Falls.  Here he joined his brother, Ebenezer, who had fled rebel fury some months earlier and had already received a commission in Burgoyne’s army.

In the summer of 1777, General Gates dispatched militia under a Lieutenant Ellis, to raid the Jessup colony.  The Loyalist leaders had long since fled, but the militiamen destroyed their homes, burned the grain fields, and left nothing standing but the mills.  The Jessup dwelling had previously been pillaged and their elegant and expensive fittings carried away.  Soon the site of the once bustling settlement grew up to weeds and bushes, the abandoned clearings becoming again a part of the wilderness from which they had been wrested by the toil of the pioneer followers of the Jessup brothers.

On June 7, 1777, with Ebenezer as lieutenant-colonel and Edward as captain in command of the bateaux service on the Hudson, the King’s Loyal American corps took part in John Burgoyne’s campaign.  By October, the Jessups surrendered with the remainder of the army at Saratoga, and then marched across country to reach refuge in Canada.

On the first day of October 1778, Major Christopher Carleton of the 29th British Regiment with a detachment of 800 Regulars, a company of German levies, 299 Loyalists and 175 Native Americans embarked in 34 vessels at St. John’s, New Brunswick, Canada.  His Loyalist battalion, commanded by Colonel Ebenezer Jessup, contained Loyalists who would act as guides and make certain that not even the most isolated farmhouse would escape the wave of destruction. 

In 1779, the Jessups were included among those who attained the charge of treason by the State of New York.  This act condemned the brothers to death if they appeared anywhere in New York state and the State confiscated their properties.  Ebenezer[6] moved with his family to live in the safety of the province of Ontario, Canada.

By 1789, heaps of ashes and stump-blackened clearings were almost the only evidence of attempted civilization in a land abandoned.  In October of that year, and again the following fall, Edward Jessup would participate in raids into New York.  With these services and his administrative capacities, British Governor Haldimand chose Edward as major commandant of the new corps of Loyal Rangers, created November 12, 1781 from a number of smaller military formations, including the Loyal Americans.

The new corps became known as Jessup’s Rangers.  Exiled from Albany and his lands up river, Edward Jessup sent his family to safety in Canada while he led Loyalist rangers in two incarnations.  In April of 1783, hostilities ceased and the corps was ordered to disband in December of that year.

After the war, living in the new province of Ontario, Ebenezer Jessup petitioned for compensation for the properties he lost as a result of his support of the King.  Some sources say that he received an appointment to serve in Calcutta, India, where his wife died in 1813.  Ebenezer died in 1818.

Exiled from Albany and his lands upriver, Edward Jessup[7] sent his family to safety in Canada while he led Loyalist rangers in two incarnations until they were disbanded in December 1783.  Following the war, Jessup and some of his soldiers settled in Canada along the St. Lawrence River where, with his son, he founded the town of Prescott about 1810.  In the years that followed, he was ill and bedridden.  He was nearly eighty when he died in February, 1816 in Prescott, Upper Canada. 

 

 

 

References:

-Brown, William H.  History of Warren County, New York.  Glens Falls Post Company,

 Glens Falls, NY.  1963.

-Warren County Board of Supervisors. Warren County Guide.  Glens Falls Post

            Company, Glens Falls, NY.  1942.

www.firstwilderness.com/hadley/moneyrock

www.nysm.nysed.gov/Albany

 

 

The original manuscript by G. William Glidden, Vice President Regional Development and Historian, NYS Military Heritage Institute.  Editing and new material provided by Stan Cianfarano for Warren County Historical Society.

 


[1] Governor William Tryon (1729-1788) was an English colonial official who was appointed governor of both North Carolina and New York Colonies.

[2] John Butler was also an Indian agent, working with Sir William Johnson in
western New York and Pennsylvania.

[3] In 1772, this was the largest land deal in upstate New York, and would eventually become a large section of Adirondack Park.  The land was eventually subdivided into 50 townships.

[4] John Johnson was the son of Sir William Johnson who became a noted Loyalist leader.

[5] Fish House was the first settlement along the Sacandaga River (1762).  Officially names Northampton, the settlement got its name from a fishing camp built there by Sir William Johnson.  Johnson, in addition to being a Major General in the British service, was the Brittanic Majesty’s Superintendent General of Indian Affairs in North America and Colonel of the Six Indian Nations.

[6] By 1761, Ebenezer was married to Elizabeth Dibble, who also appears to be his cousin.  The marriage produced at least six children.  He was known as a colonel of Loyalist troops and saw considerable action against the “rebels” in the upper Hudson and Champlain valleys.

 

[7] In 1760, Edward married Abigail Dibble of Dutchess County.  His wife was the sister of Ebenezer’s wife, brothers marrying sisters.

 

© February 1 2015, Warren County Historical Society.

 

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