March 8, 2004

The Dryden Lake area in the 19th century

The Dryden Lake area today has farms, parks, trails, and a golf course, but it used to be a lumbering and milling area before settling down to farming and (long since gone to refrigeration) and ice-making. George Goodrich explores the southeastern corner of Dryden in this excerpt from his Centennial History.

Dryden Lake (1897)
Dryden Lake (1897, Photo by Silcox)

Chapter XLI.

Further History of the South-East Section

This corner of the township includes Dryden Lake, of which a view has already been given at page 3 of this volume. It is located in a good farming locality near the summit which divides the streams which flow southerly into the Susquehanna from those which flow northerly into the St.Lawrence system of watercourses.

James Lacy, the youngest one of the five brothers who came to Dryden from New Jersey in 1801, was the first to settle near its shores, and he soon built a dam at the outlet, thereby enlarging its natural capacity and furnishing power for a saw-mill which he soon constructed for the purpose of manufacturing lumber from the abundance of pine which was there found. At one time five saw-mills were operated upon the outlet flowing from the Lake before Dryden village was reached and at least one saw-mill existed at the head of the Lake upon its inlet.

Some species of fish were found naturally existing in the waters of the Lake when first discovered, but others, including pickerel and perch, were afterward introduced and have multiplied, furnishing excellent fishing for an inland town, which is appreciated by the inhabitants for many miles around. A number of flat-bottom boats are kept and rented by the proprietors of the Lake for fishing purposes and are in great demand annually from the fifteenth of May, when the fishing season begins. For some years past the saw-mill at the outlet has been allowed to run down for the want of raw material and the only use made of the Lake except for fishing and pleasure parties has been the ice harvesting industry, which has developed within a few years into an extensive business in its season. A large storage ice-house has been erected on the bank near the railroad by the Philadelphia Milk Supply Company, and at the proper season large quantities of ice are harvested and stored or shipped at this point, which combines the advantages of a high altitude, pure lake water, principally derived from springs in the neighborhood, and convenient transportation.

In this connection we are obliged to chronicle an event which happened in this locality December 18, 1887, the murder of Paul Layton. He was a farmer who had formerly lived on Long Island, near New York, and had lived in Dryden quite a number of years, owning and occupying a large farm to the northeast of the lake. Of a somewhat miserly disposition, employing only cheap help with whom he lived, and having no family of his own, Mr. Layton had acquired considerable property and was frequently known to carry a good deal of money on his person. At the time of his death in the winter time he had no one living with him and he was chiefly employed in caring for his stock, which required his assistance about the barn, situated in a secluded location some little distance from the highway. Here, on the morning of December 18, 1887, he was found with his skull broken, evidently from the effect of blows upon the head, but with no evidence as to who had committed the crime. His pocketbook, in which he carried his money, was gone and it was concluded that money was the incentive which influenced the villain to commit the deed, but although great efforts were made to investigate the matter, no satisfactory proof as to who committed the act was ever obtained, and it seems likely ever to remain an unsolved mystery.

Of the pioneer families of this section we can only mention:

BAILEY, JESSE, who, with his son Morris, bought thirty acres of land on Lot 56, upon which they were living as early as 1804, being a part of the farm now owned and occupied by Cyrus Tyler. Morris Bailey is named among the original members of the Baptist church of Etna in 1804 and he was the father of the Bailey brothers for so long a time residents of Dryden village but only two of whom, Wm. and Amasa, now survive.

CARPENTER, ABNER, whose deed of about three hundred acres of land on Lot No. 70, near the head of Dryden Lake, bears date March 17, 1804, was among the very earliest settlers in that part of the town where some of his descendants still reside. There seems to have been a controversy between him and Jacob Hiles at the foot of the Lake as to some rights connected therewith and among his papers we find the bond of Jacob Hiles, executed December 3, 1814, according to which they agree to submit to John Ellis, Jesse Stout, and Joseph Hart all of the matters in controversy.

Of the children of Abner Carpenter, Laura marries Wm. Tillotson; John moved to Cortland; Harry moved to Illinois; Barney remained in Dryden, where he died in 1892; Daniel moved to Groton; Polly married Henry Saltsman and went West; and Candace married Jarvis Sweetland.

DEUEL, REUBEN, was a Quaker and an early settler on Lot No. 76, in what is now known as the Dusenberry neighborhood. He was a shoemaker and came to Dryden from Orange county, N. Y., about 1806. We have already referred to him as one of the traveling shoemakers who in those days went about from house to house among the farmers making up their home-made leather into boots and shoes.

He was the ancestor of the Deuel families of Dryden and Caroline, which have intermarried with many other families, and T. S. Deuel, of Dryden village, is his grandson. His children included Morgan, Lyman and David Deuel, and Mrs. Thos. Freeman, of Etna.

HEMMINGWAY, DEACON SAMUEL, about the year 1810, bought and cleared up the farm now own by Cyrus Knapp on Lot 65. He has already been mentioned in connection with Etna as one of the founders of the Baptist church there in 1804.

HOLLISTER, KINNER, a few years later, about 1813 or 1814, settled on Lot No. 85, clearing up the farm now in possession of his grandson, Frank Hollister.

HILES, JACOB, with his sons John and George, came from New Jersey early in the century, purchasing the Lake mill property of James Lacy before 1814. John succeeded to this property, upon which he resided for many years and finally died, leaving a large family and considerable property. The widow of Jacob became the second wife of Judge Ellis. George Hiles married Percy West and was the father of Harrison and John W.

POWERS, ELIJAH, settled on Lot 86, where Chauncey L. Scott lived years ago. He was there as early as 1807 and in 1808 he built a saw-mill called the Bottom Mill, which passed into the possession of the Van Pelts many years later. This was the first saw-mill built on Upper Six Mile Creek and antedated others at Slaterville.

RUMMER, GABRIEL, came to Dryden and located in this section in the year of the total eclipse (1806) and left children which included Anne (Stevens), Levi, Polly (Purvis), Lydia (Ballard) and Phoebe F. (Joyner). Peter Rummer, who owned the farm now know as the Rummer farm in Dryden village, and his son Cyrus were of another family.

SIMONS, BENJAMIN, was born January 29, 1766, and came to Dryden from Orange county, settling upon South Hill in 1808 with five children and his wife, Isabelle McWilliams, who was a native of Scotland.

Of the children, John and James went later to Allegany county; Andrew to Pennsylvania; Jane married the Rev. Reuben Hurd, an early minister of the Presbyterian church in Dryden village, and they afterwards moved west; Sarah married Edwin Cole. Benjamin, Jr., the old gentleman who recently died here, had remained in Orange county until after his marriage, and Adam was born after his parents came to Dryden, the former being the father of our Andrew Simons and his sisters and the latter of Nancy, Luther, Henry, and William. Benjamin, Sr., was a devoted pioneer in the Presbyterian church of Dryden and went on foot to Orange county about 1820 to secure aid for the completion of its building.

SMITH, WM. R., came to Caroline in 1816 and cut a road from Norwood's Corner to the Pumpelly lot, No. 100. He cleared sixty-five acres, upon which he built a log house in 1820. His father had served in the War of 1812 from Massachusetts, and he was the oldest of a family of seven children, all of whom came to this section of country. He had married in 1818 Polly Vickery, and to them were born thirteen children, which include Cynthia O'Cain, who lives in Iowa; Betsey Amy and Hannah Eastman, who have died; Mary Ann Schutt; Adelia Whitman; Clara Quick; Sarah Huslander; Frances Oak; and Ellen Cinderella. Two boys, William R. Smith, Jr., who recently died, and Gilbert, who is living, have children who reside upon and near the old homestead in the extreme south-east corner of the township. The old gentleman died September 30, 1881, 83 years of age.

Goodrich, George B. The Centennial History of the Town of Dryden, 1797-1897. Dryden: Dryden Herald Steam Printing House, 1898. Reprinted 1993 by the Dryden Historical Society. Pages 180-4.

(The Dryden Historical Society, which sells this book, may be reached at 607-844-9209.)

Posted by simon at March 8, 2004 8:04 AM in , ,
Note on photos