Warren County Historical Society Presents …

The Digital Version “REWIND”

March 1, 2017

 

 

Glens Falls, Not Wings Falls – How Come?

 

       As the French and Indian War was drawing to a close, James DeLancey, His Brittanic Majesty’s lieutenant-governor of the Province of New York, issued a proclamation opening the area  between Fort Edward and Lake George as a new frontier.  A group of 23 petitioners headed by Daniel Prindle applied for 23,000 acres on the Hudson River west of the township of Kingsbury.  The application was granted on May 20, 1762 and named Queensbury in honor of King George III’s consort.

       According to Wing family tradition, Abraham Wing and his group of Quakers at the Oblong in Dutchess County were at that time seeking new land for their growing families.  They were able to purchase the Queensbury patent from the Prindle group, and in August of 1762, Abraham Wing and a surveyor, Zaccheus Towner arrived, completing a survey of the new land by November.

       In the summer of 1763, Wing and Ichabod Merritt moved from Dutchess County and originally established a settlement at the Halfway Brook, near the present site of the Price Chopper on Upper Glen Street.  Instead, the growth in the area sprang up along the banks of the Hudson River.  During the Revolutionary War, hardship and the military burning their dwellings, the Quakers moved back to Dutchess County.  It wasn’t until 1783 that they were able to return and establish and rebuild their community.

     Anyone interested in local history knows the name of Abraham Wing.  He is credited with the founding of Glens Falls.  A Quaker from Dutchess County, Abe Wing was one of the first men to come to the area to settle – so why don’t we call it Wings Falls?

Abraham Wing

     Abraham Wing was born August 4, 1721, the son of Edward and Sarah (Tucker) Wing in Dartmouth, Province of Massachusetts.  He married Anstis Wood circa 1740 and they moved to Oblong, Dutchess Co., New York about 1744.

     Mr. Wing purchased several of the Queensbury Patent lots in June of 1762.  He came to the area the following year.  He was granted a lot of 10 acres with valuable water privileges on the Hudson River with the understanding that he would erect a grist mill and saw mill at that point.

     Mr. Wing, his dependents and laborers built three log houses in the fall of 1765. In the spring of 1766, their families moved into the houses.  Mr. Wing’s first farm was on the site of the present Glens Falls Home on Warren Street.  In May 1766, their first town meeting was held.  Abraham Wing was elected supervisor of the town, a position he held for many years. He was well respected in the community.

     Very early in his life in Queensbury, Wing constructed a log dwelling of considerable dimensions was erected on the corner of what is now Ridge and Warren Streets, at what was called “The Four Corners,” for the purpose of a store and inn. Local lore says that Benjamin Franklin spent a night at Wing’s inn in 1776.  There was a well at this site used for the accommodation of early settlers.  It furnished very clear, pure, cold water.

     According to the Wing papers, “hundreds of pounds worth of liquor of various kinds were brought from Albany, Montreal, and on one occasion from Nova Scotia…” to Wing’s inn.  ”It was here that the Jessups, Hugh Munro, Capt. Bradshaw and the neighbors with but few exceptions, held ‘high revel’ and ran up bar bills of lusty proportions.”  From the location of this tavern, the little settlement soon became known, in addition to its proper name of Queensbury patent, and its foster name of Wing’s Falls, as Wing’s Comers and finally as The Corners.

     Here too, according to the tradition of the Wing family, was held the entertainment and revel, which resulted in the loss of the children’s birthright:  the name of the place.  Legend hs it that Colonel John Glen offered to pay the expenses of a wine supper for the entertainment of a party of mutual friends if Mr. Wing would consent to transfer his claim and title to the name of the falls.

Children of Abraham and Anstis Wing:

Phebe

 born 3-5-1742, married Nehemiah Merritt Jr. *

Sarah

 born 12-7-1745, married Ichabod Merritt *

Their son, Joseph was the first white child born in this town 12-17- 1766

Hannah

 born 12-28-1745, married Daniel Merritt *

Benjamin

born 9-18-1748, married Thankful Lockwood

Deborah

born 7-6-1750, married David Jones

Patience

born 9-6-1751, married Phineas Babcock

Content

born 4-11-1755, married Jacob Hicks

Abraham Jr.

born 6-29-1757, married Mary McKie

Mary

born 11-9-1760, married Andrew Lewis

* The three Merritts were brothers

 

     Abraham Wing died May 3, 1795.  Anstis Wing died May 29,1807.  Their remains, with those of many other of the first settlers here, repose in the little burial ground by the Halfway Brook, where the old Quaker church stood.  They were buried without tablet or monument, as is the Quaker tradition.

Colonel John Glen

     Johannes (John) Glen was born on July 2, 1735 in Albany, New York to Jacob and Elizabeth (Cuyler) Glen. He married Catherine Veeder about 1760, and they had seven children. (Jacob  their eldest, became a Loyalist and moved to Chambly, Canada in 1806).

     John Glen served in the French and Indian and Revolutionary Wars, as Quartermaster with the rank of Colonel, and was stationed in Schenectady, N.Y, where he maintained his family home.

     He bought land from Daniel Parks on the south side of the Hudson River where he rebuilt mills that were destroyed in the Revolution and manufactured lumber.  Mr. Glen stayed at the Parks family home when he was in this area attending to business and entertaining.

    “Tradition has it, that in 1788, Abraham Wing consented to give up the name of Wing’s Falls in payment for a wine supper for mutual friends.  The next day, Colonel Glen had handbills announcing the change from Wing’s Falls to Glen’s Falls distributed to taverns along the road from Queensbury to Albany.  In 1808, the hamlet was called Glen’s Falls by the Post Office.  The apostrophe was dropped in later years by the Glens Falls Insurance Company as too bothersome to use. Glen’s Falls was incorporated as a village on April 12, 1838.”

     Colonel John Glen, at the close of his life, became poor and was supported by kind friends. His financial embarrassments are thought to have resulted from his connection with public affairs and the consequent neglect of his private interests.

     John Glen died September 23, 1828.

 

Source:  History of Queensbury, N.Y. by A.W. Holden and a manuscript from The Chapman Museum.

 

 

 

©March 1, 2017, Warren County Historical Society.

 

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