Warren County Historical Society Presents …
The Digital Version “REWIND”
January 15, 2016
Some Chestertown History
What follows is an edited version of a column that appeared in ‘The Warrensburg News’ on February 26, 1959. The column, ‘Pages from the History of Chestertown’ was written by local Chester historians, Mark H. and Caroline H. Fish. The column was based on material from their book on the history of Chestertown and periodically appeared in the local newspaper. Mrs. Fish served as the Warren County Historian for a number of years.
FIRSTS IN THE TOWN OF CHESTER
At the time the town was first formed, the village of Chestertown had a population of 246. A ‘Chester Academy’ had already been established.
The first church organized was the Baptist in 1796, although there had been some preaching since 1791. Reverend Jehiel Fox was their first pastor.
In 1800 the Grist Mill at the foot of Loon Lake was built by Titus and Jabez Mead. Besides Titus and Jabez, the first settlers in what would become the Town of Chester were Levi, Gideon, Enos Jonathan, Daniel and Caleb Mead, Benson and Isaac Bennett, John Haskin, Obadiah and Benjamin Knapp, Noel Wrightman, James Starbuck, Steward and Dal J. Punderson.
The first birth in the newly formed township was that of a son to Caleb Mead.
The first death was Martin Wrightman.
In the first national census of 1790 when Washington County included the entire region of what is now Warren County, with Queensbury being the only name, the total population numbered 183 families, 1081 persons and one slave belonging to John Thurman. (It is sad to note that the slave was not considered a ‘person’ in the census).
As this first settlement was called the Four Corners and was a part of the Town of Queensbury in Charlotte, later Washington County, the first county seat was at New Perth (now Salem), so designated on February 17, 1779.
The first judge was Alexander Webster of Hebron and John McCrae, brother of the ill-fated Jane, was the clerk of the court. New Perth also had the first court house and jail.
For Charlotte County, the first judge was Philip Schuyler with William Duer as his associate. This appointment was made September 8, 1772.
This same year, a court of common pleas was set up, and a year later on October 19, 1773, the first grand jury was drawn.
The first surrogate was Daniel McCrae in 1777.
In Washington County, the people’s court convened at Fort Edward for the first recorded time on August 11, 1780. Prior to that date, all papers were lost.
The first County Clerk of Warren County was David Smith.
The first Road Commissioners of Charlotte County were authorized on March 24, 1772.
Micajah Pettit was the first Assemblyman from Washington County in 1800.
1n 1790, a Mrs. David Irish, who was twenty-four, gave birth to the first quintuplets born in the county.
On the 25th of March 1799, the towns of Bolton and Chester were formed from the Town of Thurman, which had been divided from Queensbury, April 10, 1792.
By 1813 when Warren County was carved out of Washington County, it embraced a population of 8,000. The economic bulwark of these pioneering days was lumbering, tanning, potash burning and lime making.
The first to settle in the area of what is now Pottersville was Abram Van Benthuysen who removed from Dutchess County to a tract of land at the foot of Schroon Lake.
Log driving and marketing may have originated in the Adirondacks. The idea of sending detached logs down narrow rock-riven streams was first tried in 1813 on the Schroon River branch of the upper Hudson. It originated with Norman and Alanson Fox, who were lumbering the Brant Lake Tract, still a part of the Town of Chester, for the Town of Horicon was first carved out (of Chester) in 1838.
The first high school in Chestertown still stands on Main Street. It is the Main Street Ice Cream Parlor.
The first post office in the town was in the village of Chestertown. It was not established until 1808, with Gabriel Fox serving as the first postmaster. At that time, the name was officially changed to Chestertown to distinguish it from the already established Chester in Orange County.
The first post office in Pottersville, the second largest village in the town was established December 5, 1839. The first postmaster there was Joel F. Potter, for whom the village was named.
William Hotchkiss, who would later become our first state Senator, served as postmaster for about ten years.
The first tavern in town was established as early as 1810.
E.N. Scofield established the first drug store in the town in 1872.
Alexander Robertson built the original tannery in 1849, although it is more commonly referred to as C.H. Faxon & Son. Mr. Fason was actually in the business from the beginning, the firm being Roberson, Faxon & Company. The ‘company’ was James Crandall. About fifty hands were still employed by C.H. Faxon & Son as late as 1886.
The marble works of J.M. Stone & Son was established in 1872 by an H. Hanchet.
William B. White began harness making here in 1874. Charles May from Pottersville had made harnesses prior to joining White in 1884.
In 1964, Chestertown sent the first tree from Warren County to Washington, D.C. to become the national Christmas tree. Five years later, another tree was sent that was cut down in Crandall Park.
In 1964, Chestertown donated a tree to use as the National Christmas Tree in Washington, D.C.. In 1969, a second tree from Warren County was the National Christmas Tree. This time it came from Crandall Park in Glens Falls.
Enjoy some old photographs from the Town of Chester:
Black Bear Tavern
The Wells House, Pottersville
Vetter Hardware, 1898 The Rising House
The Chester House
The Fowler House
Pictures and additional ‘firsts’ material were provided by Warren County Historical Society and Town of Chester Historian, Donna Lagoy.
©January 15, 2016, Warren County Historical Society.