Township Sections of Mini-Biographies

The History of Otsego County, New York


D. Hamilton Hurd

Published by Everts & Fariss, Philadelphia



GILBERT - Among the honored pioneers who sought a 
home in the western wilds was Abijah GILBERT, of honored 
memory. He emigrated from Warwickshire, England, to this 
country in about the year 1787, and soon after joined an expedition 
to this locality under General Morris, who had accepted the agency 
of the Morris patent, and was to receive for his compensation the 
first choice of 1000 acres of land, leaving the second choice to Mr. 
Gilbert, who, in consequence of his superior knowledge of soils, 
notwithstanding his disadvantage of choice, secured much the 
better tract of land, purchasing 1000 acres for $1000.....
Having secured a home in the western wilderness, in the year 1796 
Mr. Gilbert returned to England, and emigrated with his family to 
this country. They came by way of Springfield in a large wagon, 
stopping the first night at the spring on Deacon JACKSON's farm, 
near Morris. The men stood around, keeping at bay the wolves, 
which treated the party to a most vociferous and discordant concert, 
at intervals, all the night long. ....
Mr. Gilbert raised the first field of grain, which was watched with 
the greatest interest by the pioneers, as they were dependent on 
it for seed in the coming year. After passing an active life he died 
in 1811, leaving a family of six children, viz., Elizabeth married 
Lewis Lee MORRIS; Lucy married Samuel COTTON; Mary 
became the second wife of Samuel COTTON; Harriet Catherine 
married John BRYANT; John T. married Lydia SMITH; Joseph T. 
married for his first wife Hannah THORP, and reared a family of 
fifteen children, ten of whom are living, and his second wife was 
Caroline CHAPMAN, by whom he had three children, two of 
whom are living. Samuel C., Catherine W., Chester, George Y., 
John H., James L., and Edward reside in or near the village. Abijah 
is as resident of St. Augustine, Fla., and has represented that 
commonwealth in the United States senate. He married Anna W. 
GILBERT, of New York, and has two children, - Maria L. and 
Joshua W. Charles T. resides in New York city. Joseph T., Jr., 
married Lucy ALLIS, of Oxford, N.Y., and resides in Milwaukee; 
they have two children, - Joseph T., and Samuel C., - both of whom 
are at Harvard college. Elizabeth married Nathan C. CHAPMAN, 
and died in St. Louis in 1876; they had three children, viz., Florence 
married Henry ALCOCK, of Staffordshire, England, and Joseph G. 
and Charles reside in St. Louis. Hannah married Dr. James W. 
COX, and resides in Albany; they have four children, - Caroline, 
James W., Frederick, and Edward. Samuel C. married Elizabeth 
A., daughter of Benajah DAVIS, of the village of Morris, and their 
family consists of three daughters, viz., Elizabeth A. became the 
wife of Judge J. D. COLT, of Pittsfield, Mass. Catherine W. 
married Francis M. ROTCH, of Morris, and a son, Francis, lives 
in Boston; she subsequently married Thos. RIGGS, of Baltimore, 
Md. Martha D. married Chas. A. BUTLER, of Utica, N.Y. 
Catherine W. married for her first husband Jabez S. FITCH, and 
for her second, Elisha W. CHESTER, of New York; two grand-
daughters reside here. Geo. Y. married Mary S. FITCH, of 
Marshall, Mich.; their family consists of two children, viz., Fitch 
Gilbert lives in Eau Claire, Wis.; Marion became the wife of James 
MURRAY, of London, England. John H. married Elizabeth 
LATHROP, and has five children, viz., Helen L. married Rev. 
James ECOB, of Augusta, Me., and Frances, Caroline, Catherine, 
and J. Henry reside with their parents. James L. Gilbert married 
Jane BLACKMAN ,and has two sons, viz., J. B. Gilbert, M.D., 
and Robert W., both resident of New York city. Edward resides 
on the homestead. Chas. T. married Charlotte DISOOSWAY, 
and reside in New York; they have two children, - Anita and 
Frances. Benjamin C. married Anna TAYLOR, of Albany, and 
resides there.
[Note: some info in this book is in error. For complete info
on Abijah Gilbert and family, contact Leigh Eckmair, Gilbertsville @]

Joseph COX, mentioned above, a worthy pioneer, purchased lands
of Mr. Gilbert above the village, and his marriage with Elizabeth 
NICHOLS was the first in the new settlement. This family consisted 
of six sons and one daughter. Two sons, Richard and Isaac, reside 
in the town, the former above the village, and the latter at Mt. Upton.
Levi and Thomas HALBERT were pioneers who came from 
Chesterfield, Mass., in about the year 1790, and settled in lands
about two miles west of what is now the village of Gilbertsville. 
After clearing and improving the land the brothers separated, Levi 
purchasing a farm nearer the village. Levi married Deborah SMITH 
and had a family of ten children, only one of whom, E. S. Halbert, 
resides in the town. Mr. Halbert is a leading citizen, and has been 
supervisor of the town six terms; has held the office of justice of 
the peace over twenty years; was a member of assembly from 
Cortland county in 1832 and 1833, and was sheriff of Chenango 
Asa, Asel, and Emmett, sons of Thomas Halbert, are residents of 
the town, and the former occupies the old homestead.

Mr. Enos SMITH, a pioneer from Massachusetts, came
with his wife and family in 1790, and located immediately south 
of the Halbert brothers, and died a few years afterwards. Captain 
Daniel Smith, a son, settled about one mile west of the village, and 
married Roxa, daughter of Timothy DONALDSON, and in about 
1810 changed his location to what is now the town of Morris, one 
mile below the village, and opened a public-house, which he kept 
for a number of years. Of his descendants, the only one living in 
the county is a daughter, Mrs. PECK, of Noblesville, New Lisbon.

Soldiers of the Revolution were Timothy and Calvin DONALDSON, 
who located here in about the year 1790. Chester, a son of Calvin, 
resides on a portion of the old homestead. Timothy Donaldson was 
secretary of the meeting in 1797, at which the Presbyterian church 
at Gilbertsville was organized. He was in the battle of Bunker Hill, 
and during the conflict his gun was disabled by the enemy's 
bullets, and a part of it shot away. They both served gallantly 
during the arduous struggle for independence, and Calvin crossed 
the Delaware with Washington, and participated in the capture of 
the Hessian troops at Trenton. Lothario, a brother of Calvin and 
Timothy, a surgeon in the Revolutionary war, came into this town 
in about 1796, but soon returned to Roxbury, Mass. Still another 
brother, Atlamont, was a pioneer in Butternuts, who subsequently 
removed to Michigan, where he died.

Nathaniel DONALDSON was a pioneer who also came from 
Massachusetts, in about the year 1792, and settled about one mile 
east of the village, across Butternut creek. He married Miss 
Candace SYKES, of Springfield, and their family consisted of ten 
children. Lewis, now aged seventy-six, lives on a portion of the 
old homestead with his son, Nathaniel S. Dwight resides in 
Cleveland, and another son, Nathaniel S., in Milwaukee.

Mr. THORP, father of Edward, John, and Charles, was a pioneer 
north of the village. Edward died on the homestead, aged 
ninety. The same premises are now occupied by Hon. Henry 
Thorp, a prominent citizen, who was a member of assembly in 
1873. Charles Thorp was town clerk in 1806-8, and 
subsequently became a Presbyterian minister.

Nathaniel HESLOYS, also a native of England, located in about
1790 on the farm now occupied by a nephew, John Hesloys. 
He married a sister of Richard and William MUSSON, who 
was a prominent woman in the Presbyterian church.

A prominent pioneer was Deacon Samuel SHAW, who moved
with his wife and family from Massachusetts in about 1796, 
and settled about two miles east of the present village. He 
died in 1799, this being the first death in town. William and 
Colonel David Shaw, brothers of Samuel, came into the town at 
the same time. The former settled about one mile from the 
village, and was accidentally killed while logging. The latter 
settled about three miles east of the village, and was a farmer. 
He died here in 1837, aged eighty-seven. He served with 
distinguished ability in the war of the Revolution, and refused 
to receive a pension, saying that he entered the service through 
the promptings of patriotism alone. He was one of the first to 
espouse the colonial cause, and served through the entire eight 
years of that unequal contest. He was supervisor of the town 
in 1810 and 1811. His family consisted of three sons and 
three daughters. Colonel David, Jr., married Miss CHAPIN, 
of Winfield. He was active in the affairs of the town, and was 
supervisor in 1826-7-8-39. He was also prominent in the 
military, and for several years was colonel in the militia. 
Colonel David, Jr., and his wife both died within a week of each 
other, in the year 1843. "The black camel death halts once at 
each door, A mortal must mount to return nevermore."
John Shaw moved to Iowa, where he died, and Clark lived and 
died on the farm; Elizabeth married A. S. ROCKWELL, and of 
their family of eight children, only three survive. Catherine 
married A. R. ROCKWELL, and a son, Dr. George A. Rockwell, 
is a dentist in the village of Gilbertsville; Mrs. STEBBINS lives 
in Norwich, and Mrs. Dr. A. L. COMSTOCK near New York. 
Sarah married Jared COMSTOCK, and died in 1864, at the age 
of sixty-eight years. Mr. Comstock resides on a farm near the 
village, which he has occupied since 1828. He conducted the 
woolen manufacturing business for twenty-seven years, in the 
factory that was erected by Nathaniel B. BENNETT in 1808, 
which was the first in the town. Ferdinand Shaw, a son of 
Colonel David, Jr., is a merchant in the village of Gilbertsville, 
of the firm of Hurd & Shaw.
William Shaw, cousin of Colonel David and Deacon Samuel, 
came from the same town in Massachusetts, and early located in 
the vicinity. He was celebrated as a wolf-hunter, catching them 
in traps. It was not an uncommon occurrence for him upon 
finding a wolf in the traps to tie its nose with a piece of bark to 
prevent biting, and, placing it on the horse with him, jog along to 
the house with it alive. Two daughters of Mr. Shaw are residents 
of the town, - Mrs. Sally GUMBLE and Mrs. Phebe SHAW.

BLACKMAN - A prominent pioneer in that vicinity now known 
as "Dimock Hollow," in the present town of Morris, was James 
BLACKMAN. James, Jr., a son, lived there many years, on the 
old homestead, which originally embraced 600 acres, a portion 
of which is now owned by A. T. Blackman. J. Russell Blackman 
now owns the farm lying above the grist-mill, where his father 
lived and died, and on this farm was erected the first Presbyterian 
meeting-house. A. J. and J. Russell Blackman reside in the 
village, and the latter has held the office of supervisor six terms. 
A daughter of James Blackman, Jr., is the wife of Dr. H. H. 
WICKES, and they reside on a large farm at Maple Grove, in