Township Sections of Mini-Biographies

The History of Otsego County, New York


D. Hamilton Hurd

Published by Everts & Fariss, Philadelphia



In the year 1755, John TUNNICLIFF resided in Derby, England, where 
he owned a large and valuable estate, with extensive forests in which 
were preserved a variety of game for the diversion of himself and 
numerous friends. Like nearly all his descendants, he was extremely 
fond of the sports of the chase; and on one occasion he pursued and 
shot a deer in the forest of an English nobleman, who prosecuted him 
for the offense. This circumstance, it is said, together with the
onerous tax imposed by King George II on all gamesters, so incensed him
that he at once resolved to emigrate to the American colonies, where he 
could be at liberty to enjoy the pleasures of the forest unrestrained 
by stringent laws or the caprice of titled nobility.
Accordingly, the following year he arrived in Philadelphia. Extensive 
tracts of public land had already been granted to individuals and
companies by the English colonial government in the eastern part of the
colony of New York, and Mr. Tunnicliff visited this portion of the State
in search of land, with a view of making it a future home for his
Proceeding westward from Albany, he at length reached Cherry 
Valley where he learned of the existence of a region of beautiful 
lakes and numerous mill-streams a few miles farther to the west. 
He was desirous of securing a location that would resemble, so far 
as possible in its topography, his estate in England, and amid the 
unlimited diversity before him, finally selected a tract of twelve 
thousand acres,* about two miles southwest of Canadarago lake, 
in the patent just granted the same year to David SCHUYLER and 
others. Here he erected a cabin and commenced the work of 
clearing away the forest. Other adventurers had already occupied 
claims in the vicinity, and it doubtless required no small degree of 
fortitude and courage to endure the privations and dangers incident 
to frontier life; and especially when we take into consideration the 
peculiar exigencies of the times. The French and English nations 
were at this time contending for the mastery of the continent. The 
latter occupied the Atlantic slope, while Canada was in the possession 
of the former, who were making vigorous efforts to control the 
western lakes and rivers south to the mouth of the Mississippi, and 
thus confine the English to the Atlantic coast. The French had vast 
hordes of Indian allies, who were constantly on the alert to perpetrate 
acts of hostility on their forest. Frontier settlements were frequently 
destroyed, and isolated cabins and unprotected families fell into the 
hands of the savages who burned their homes to the ground.
Mr. Tunnicliff had frequently been apprised of the danger that 
surrounded him, and resolved to leave until the close of the French war. 
His farming utensils were buried in the forest, and he returned to his 
family in England. Soon after his departure his buildings were burned 
by the Indians, and in consequence of this circumstance he remained 
in England several years, during which time he sold his estate there, 
bestowing, according to the English custom of primogeniture, a large 
portion of his property upon his eldest son, John, Jr., who had arrived 
at the years of manhood, and preferred to remain in the land of his 
birth. Mr. Tunnicliff had three sons and two daughters. The two 
younger sons were at this time lads of twelve and fourteen years, 
and the eldest daughter sixteen.
[*the lands of this purchase extended easterly to the stream known as 
"Fly creek," and the region of the headwaters of this stream are 
designated as the "Twelve Thousand" to the present day.]
Mr. Tunnicliff was possessed of a large property, and occupied a high 
social position.
At Liverpool he purchased a vessel fully manned, and with a considerable 
number of passengers on board (several families of which we shall 
have occasion to notice in this work), he sailed for Philadelphia, where 
he arrived in the summer of 1758.
A farm, previously purchased, on the banks of the Schuylkill, was now 
occupied by the family, where they remained until the year 1764,
when they removed to Dutchess county, in the colony of New York.
Although peace had been restored the year previous, Mrs. Tunnicliff 
refused to accompany her husband to his lands in Schuyler's patent. 
Accordingly, a farm was leased for five years at Schenesborough, 
near Lake Champlain, where the family were located with the two 
sons, Joseph and William. Mr. Tunnicliff returned to his frontier 
estate, and found the ruins of his cabin that had been burned by the 
Indians. He at once caused new buildings to be erected, also a 
saw-mill on the stream near by, that was kept incessantly at work to 
answer the requirements of the now growing settlement. His eldest 
daughter remained with her father at The Oaks [the "orchard" on this 
estate was the first in Otsego County.] as it was called, from the 
circumstance that a large portion of the lands in the purchase were 
thickly covered with gigantic oak-trees. This name was subsequently 
given to the stream that forms the outlet of Canadarago lake, which 
it still retains. At this early day there were few or no roads in this 
section of the country, and traveling was done mostly on horseback 
or on foot. 
[This beautiful daughter of Mr. Tunnicliff afterwards married Dr. 
JONES, of Brockville, Canada, on the north bank of the St. Lawrence 
river. Their son, Hon. Dunham Jones, now resides upon the original 
estate of his father, and has for any years held offices of distinction 
under the British government. Near the close of the last century, Mr. 
Tunnicliff built a church near his residence (Episcopalian), but it was 
destroyed by fire in 1840. He died in 1800.]
..... In the year 1774, John Tunnicliff purchased 600 acres of land 
in the norther portion of Schuyler's patent, commencing near the 
mouth of Fish Creek, and running northerly to the present line of 
Herkimer county. 
.... In the year 1783, John Tunnicliff, Jr., came to this country from 
England, and located at Albany as a goldsmith, his former employment. 
He remained there but a few months when he purchased a farm about 
one mile south of Little Lakes, in the town of Warren which he 
continued to occupy until his death in 1814. His family consisted of 
seven sons and five daughters. Joseph Tunnicliff, of Warren, is now 
the only surviving son. His son, William Tunnicliff, erected a store
near his father's residence, where he conducted a successful trade for
many years, and died in 1836, leaving an ample fortune to his six
children, some of whom are now residing in this village.
[Note: there is more in the Tunnicliff narrative regarding the times 
in which they lived.]
BEARDSLEY- About the time that William Tunnicliff settled at Richfield 
Springs, Obadiah BEARDSLEY emigrated from Rensselaer county, 
and located first on the western shore of the lake near Herkimer creek, 
thence to the western part of the town of Richfield, about one mile 
northwest from Monticello.
Mr. Beardsley was the first magistrate in this town. He was the 
father of the late Samuel Beardsley, a distinguished lawyer of Utica, 
and also of Hon. Levi Beardsley, of New York, author of "Beardsley's 
Their sister, widow of the late Judge HYDE, is at present the only 
survivor of her father's family, and now resides with her son-in-law, 
Hon. A R ELWOOD, of Richfield Springs. 
Obadiah Beardsley died in 1841, and was buried at Richfield Springs. 
MORGAN- The first post-office in town was established at this 
place in 1817, Jonathan MORGAN postmaster. It remained at Brighton 
sixteen years, when it was removed to Monticello, or Richfield, where 
it still remains. Jonathan Morgan emigrated from Colchester,
Connecticut, in 1816. He was a soldier of the Revolution. He received
the appointment of justice of the peace in 1818, and held the office ten
years. He had three sons and three daughters. His son, Nelson Morgan,
was elected justice of the peace in 1846, and still holds the office. 
Prominent pioneers near the lake were the DERTHICKS, consisting 
of the father, John Derthick, and mother, and five sons and three 
daughters, who emigrated from the town of Colchester, Connecticut, 
in the spring of 1793, arriving in Richfield in June. The entire
household goods of the family were transported in an ox-cart, drawn by a
pair of oxen and a single horse. The party arrived in the afternoon,
and encamped on a slight eminence, the site of the house now owned and
occupied by John Derthick, Jr., a grandson. On the following morning it
was determined to begin a clearing on this spot, and to erect a log
house, which was accordingly done, and the family moved in on the fourth
day from the time of arrival. This house was occupied until 1808, when
the present frame house was built, and the family resided in it until
1811, when the father died, and family dispersed, leaving John Derthick,
afterwards known to many of our first inhabitants as Colonel Derthick,
who resided on the farm until the spring of 1860, when he died at the
age of seventy-six, leaving one son and two daughters. The farm is
still in 
possession of the family. An incident showing the great depreciation in 
value of the Federal paper money of the Revolution, some three or 
four thousand dollars of which was brought form Connecticut by the 
family, is, that seven hundred dollars of it was given for a pair of 
common flat or smoothing irons.
Conrad HOUSE, with his family, resided during the Revolution about 
one and a half mile east of the springs, on the "great western trail"
from Albany. This trail did not pass over the ground now occupied by 
Richfield Springs, but kept straight through from the two little lakes
a place afterwards known as Federal Corners, near the Canadarago, 
thence deflecting from the southern trail across the lowlands at the 
head of the lake to Fish creek, which it crossed, leaving the present 
site of the village on the north. Mr. House's cabin stood at the 
junction of this trail with the turnpike afterwards built. During the 
Revolution, when the hostile bands of Indians were scouting the 
country south of the Mohawk, a party visited the cabin of House, who 
with his wife escaped to the woods, leaving in the hands of the savages 
a daughter of thirteen, who was carried off, and nothing was heard 
of her for several years, when she made her appearance, having 
escaped from the Indians, bringing with her a daughter, the fruit of a 
distasteful marriage with the Indian who had captured her. She had 
named the child Mary "MANTON." Mary had black hair, black 
eyes, and high cheek-bones. She was well known to the first settlers, 
and continued to make this section her home till 1812, when she
The first wedding in this town-that of Ebenezer RUSSELL and Miss 
MORE, in 1795... the first death was that of Mrs. Russell mentioned 
John WOODBURY lived to an advance age, occupying until his death 
the farm upon which he first settled, now owned by his son, Daniel H.