Township Sections of Mini-Biographies

The History of Otsego County, New York


D. Hamilton Hurd

Published by Everts & Fariss, Philadelphia



BRIGGS- Among those who followed the paths through the 
interminable wilderness and sought a home in this vicinity was Joseph 
BRIGGS, who came from the "Green Mountain State," and was 
among the first of the early settlers.
In that early day hardships and privations were the common lot of 
the few courageous settlers who occupied this territory. When we 
state that the nearest grist-mill was eleven miles distant, and was 
only reached after a weary travel through the forest by way of marked 
trees, some idea is had of Pittsfield eighty years ago. Many dreaded 
the long and weary "going to mill," and instead used the spring-pole, 
pestle, and mortar,- a common method in the early day of making 
meal and samp.
At the date of Mr. Briggs' settlement the forest abounded in wild 
beasts, and it was not an uncommon occurrence upon the return 
from a neighbor's in the evening to be followed by a bear. These 
animals were very troublesome, and made sad havoc among the 
pigs and other domestic animals.
Mr. Briggs was a captain in the war of the Revolution. Silas Briggs, 
a son, was nine years of age when he came here with his father, 
and remained on the old homestead until his death, which occurred 
at the advanced age of seventy-eight years. His son, Frank H. 
Briggs, now occupies the old homestead, which has remained in 
the possession of the family nearly a century.
Stephen HAWKINS settled in Pittsfield in about 1824, on the premises 
now occupied by his son, Reuben H. Hawkins, the present proprietor 
of the Pittsfield grist- and saw-mills.
Among the pioneers was Capt. Abel De FOREST. In a letter from 
the captain's nephew, Lee De Forest, of Evanston, Ill., he says, "My 
father came from Connecticut and settled in what is now the southwest 
corner of Edmeston, in 1795. The floor and roof of the house were 
made by splitting out slabs. The floor was raised up two and a half 
feet or so, and the fire on the ground, with a stick chimney, so that 
the floor was used as a table. Some years previous, his uncle, Captain 
Abel De Forest, who was present at the execution of Major Andre, 
settled on a lot adjoining, that is now in the town of Pittsfield. In
July, 1875, Mr. William De Forest, of Binghamton, son of Captain Abel 
De Forest, celebrated his eighty-first birthday where he was born. 
The place is now, and has long been known as Meker Hill, which, 
together with the Gideon De Forest farm just above, has for years 
been without a single resident, being owned and occupied by those 
living on the creek and river."
The following letter published in the New Berlin Gazette in 1875, by 
request of C. G. Hall, may not be uninteresting: "Mr. William De Forest, 
of Binghamton, celebrated his eighty-first birthday by visiting the
where he was born, on Meker Hill, in Pittsfield, on Monday last, 
July 31. The land is now owned and occupied by William G. HALL, 
who chanced to be upon the premises, and pointed out to Mr. 
De Forest the exact place where his father's house stood. He also 
stated to Mr. Hall that he celebrated his birthday at this place
forty-one years ago, and took a chestnut chinking that his father had
put between the logs of the house home with him, and had a cane turned
of it and handsomely ornamented and which he keeps in his bureau
He also informed Mr. Hall that when a young man he carried his 
sweetheart, Olive HALL, to a ball on horseback, and, as was the 
custom in those days, she rode behind him on the same horse. He 
made an agreement to visit her the next Sunday evening, but before 
the time arrived he was drafted, and on his way to Sacket's Harbor. 
He said that when he was a boy his father sent him to mill on horseback, 
and in returning, it being dark, he got lost in the woods, and, hitching 
his horse to a tree, slept all night on the ground. He also said that
and his brother Gideon, who lived half a mile above, went to help 
Mr. MEKER butcher, and on his return home after dark, having a 
piece of meat in his hand, the wolves scented the meat, and chased 
him home. When asked if he should have thrown away the meat 
if the wolves had taken hold of him, he said, "No, not as long as I 
had a butcher-knife in my hand." He was born in 1794, and his 
father, Captain Abel De Forest, if not the first, was among the first,