Paper Read at March Meeting of Athenia Club, by Mrs. W. H. LaRue.
About the first settlement made in the Warwick, Sugar Loaf, Chester, Goshen precinct was in 1712. This was sent out by Christopher Denne, Daniel Cromeline and Benj. Aske, who had been made Justices of the Peace in Orange county.
Of the original settlers of Sugar Loaf whose descendants still live in the vicinity the Knapps, Howells Holberts, LaRues, Woods, and Vances are representatives. At the time of their coming their neighbors, the Indians, were none too friendly as the early Dutch had antagonized them by capturing and by taking their land without adequate payment.
Stone Houses Still Exist.
In selecting a place for their home a spring of water was the first consideration. Even the old sweep well which we find so picturesque, and of which Sugar Loaf still boasts one, came later. They built their homes from logs from the forest. Following this as the settler prospered, a house of stone was occasionally built.
The stone houses were of longer duration, some of them are in existence today in excellent states of repair. For the building of these, two things were mainly responsible, first, protection from Indian attack, and lack of mills to saw the wood.
Within was generally two rooms and a loft, reached by means of cleats nailed to the wall or a ladder. Always at one end was a huge open fireplace which served for heating and cooking. From the, depths of the black mouthed chimney hung a crane from which swung the brass kettle out of which the daily meals were served.
In the evening for greater light, the primitive tallow candles were burned. The fire was never allowed to go out, as their only means of rebuilding was the "Tinder Box" or a journey to their neighbors to borrow fire.
With every passing year, more people came to the county. Sons grew up and took to themselves wives· The fathers in setting them up were wont to divide, the homestead, and with the assistance of his neighbors to build for them homes. Through this means neighbors came nearer to each other, until at the beginning of the French and Indian War Sugar Loaf had become quite a thriving village, boasting two inns. In this war I find that Caleb Knapp, Jr. and Sr. served, and that the war horses were pastured on the Sugar Loaf Hills.
Indian Cemeteries. At this time the Indian burying ground on the other side of the mountain in the vicinity of Bull's Mills was in use. In this were about, 30 graves. Around this graveyard were split posts set in the ground so close as to almost touch each other and over six feet high. This was doubtless a burying place for chiefs only, as they were not buried in the common ground with the other Indians. This accounts for the number of graves being so small. All trace of these graves is now obliterated.
At this time also the colonists were loyal subjects of Great Britain. The Sugar Loaf people were no exception, paying their heavy war tax and sending their quota of men, to assist in conquering the French.
After this war changes rapidly came over the people. As their number increased their need of a home government grew. Taxes were exorbitant and their representation nil. Finally as a culmination of a series of events, the colonies declared them selves free from the rule of King George and decided to enforce their declaration by means of arms.
Men in Revolution. Sugar Loaf sent, to that war the following men who have known descendants living in it today: John Holbert, Cato Dean, John Sutton, Samuel Vance, Benjamin Jennings, Geo. Dean, George Howell, David Howell, Jr., John Howell, Henry Dobbins, Jacobus LaRue, Jacobus Bertholf, Hugh Dobbins, Hugh McWhorter, Timothy Clark, William Helms, Nathaniel Knapp, Jr. and Sr.
While all of these men may not have borne arms, they served the cause by means of monies, food, clothing and, in the Home Guard. The men who enlisted bore many hardships in the long war. One man who was reported dead, astonished his friends by returning after the close of the war. He had been imprisoned which accounted for the report.
Of the Tory families in the neighhood only the Raynors are· known. The notorious Claudius Smith was an occasional visitor in the village having a hiding place in the mountain. Parties of men frequently searched for him until after the war, when he was hanged at Goshen without his boots.
Victorious at the close of the war, the soldiers drifted back to their homes and again took up ,their interrupted work. Some of them were: given commissions in the standing army as they were trained soldiers. One such commission I have in my possession.
The inhabttants of Sugar Loaf of 100 years ago according to the school lists are names familiar today, such as Wheadon, Wood, Teed, Howell, Knapp Feagles, LaRue, Helms, Raynor, Sayer, Drake, Vail and Millen. The original school was about 500 yards from the site of the present one. It was afterwards torn down and the present one built in the place where it now stands.
In those days the teacher was always a man, women were not considered sufficiently strong either mentally or physically to teach the nearly grown youths and maidens who attended the winter term.
People Very Religious.
These early people were very religious, very strict in their views many of them were members of the Old School Baptist Church at Warwick, other were Blue Presbyterians, land when one of the villagers heard an itinerant Methodist preacher he was so much impressed that he invited him to come to Sugar Loaf to preach. After returning home and telling what he had done, some of the people were so horrified, as in those days Methodists were regarded as unorthodox, that when the day appointed came he closed his house and went away. Some people had gathered, and finally a neighbor offered his house for the service. The people were so interested that they formed a class. This was in 1804. In 1809 a lot was purchased from Capt. David Howell and upon this a church was built.
This was the second Methodist Church in the county. The first being built at New Windsor. It is now the oldest in the county, the other being destroyed. From that time until 1835, when the parsonage was built, Sugar Loaf was one of the churches on a circuit. Since that time we have always had a resident minister. Two years later the pastor in charge of the Sugar Loaf Church held services at Chester. This was the beginning of the Chester Methodist Church. Seven teen years later in 1854 Chester was granted a pastor by the general conference. Until that time it continued as a part of the Sugar Loaf charge.
(To be continued)
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