includes the Town of Stratford and
Bliss Corners, Emmonsburg, Knappville and Stewart Landing

  

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The History of Stratford

Lucille Hart volunteered to send in information about the history of Stratford.  Although during her time in Stratford, Lucille grew up on Salisbury side of the creek, it has always been the village of Stratford.  "I was born there, went to school there and moved away in 1945."  As you get to know her town by her writing and introduction below, you will come to realize that Salisbury and Stratford are forever intertwined.  Below you can learn some wonderful things about the area and the people.  Grateful appreciation and thanks to Lucille Hart, for writing this information up and sending it in along with the postcards. Lucille Hart is researching these family lines and would like to hear from you:  Avery, Wood, Seeley, Hayes and Hart.

    First, Stratford as a village, is divided into two parts:  Town of Stratford, Fulton County and Town of Salisbury, Herkimer County.  The East Canada Creek, weaving back and forth, creates the division.  There are two churches on the Salisbury side, there were several stores on both sides, only one now remaining on the Stratford side of the town.  There is a post office on the Stratford side that serves all of the area.   The cemetery that was and is most used is located in Salisbury but goes by the of the Stratford Cemetery Association.  There is a local volunteer fire department located outside the village on the Pleasant Lake Road that serves the entire area.

  

Deveraux

This village is situated on East Canada Creek, on the east town line and lies partly in Fulton County.  It contains two churches, two stores, one hotel, one grist (mill), out of use, two saw mills, a butter tub factory, two blacksmith shops and about two hundred fifty inhabitants.

The village was originally called Nicholsville, after Elder Martin Nichols, one of the first settlers.  He located there previous to 1800 and erected a frame dwelling, which was afterwards converted into a tavern and kept by other parties.  Mr. Nichols erected the first grist mill here about 1800.  A saw mill was built here about the same time either by Nichols or Alexander Boyd.   Elder Nichols also erected a church edifice soon after locating here, in which he held divine services regularly for many years.  It was eventually occupied thru the week for other purposes and while thus used was destroyed by fire.  The present Baptist Church was built soon after upon the same site. 

Jesse Potter, a carpenter and joiner by trade, built himself the first house put up in Deveraux.   Dr. Elliot Jacobs was the first physician, moving there about 1835.  Asa Wilcox was among the first merchants.  Aaron Barlett erected a tannery about 1826 on the east of the creek.  The Post Office was established here about 1820 under the name of Nicholsville.  About 1832, the name was changed to East Creek and three or four years later, the name changed once again to Deveraux, after Henry Deveraux who settled there about 1834 and was engaged in mercantile business.

 

The Old Johnstown Highway

From St. Johnsville, Enterprise dated December 20, 1939:

    It seems that five years previous to Mr. Wood's visit here the state had cut a rough wagon road thru' the woods from Johnstown to Salisbury crossing the East Canada Creek by ford at what is now the present site of Emmonsburg.   (Emmonsburg, formerly known as Whiteburg, is situated on East Canada Creek about two miles below Deveraux and is almost entirely in Fulton County.  The Emmonsburg tannery, owned by Isaac M. Holcomb is in Salisbury.)

    The crude log cabins of the Blisses, Kibbes and Bennetts stood along this road in a small clearing.  Besides those mentioned were also John Wells, Abial Kibbe, Eli Winchel, Vatban Gurney and others who made extensive clearings along this old State Highway.

 

The First Tavern

So many people passed along this road from the former home of Sir William Johnson that Samuel Bennett built a tavern for their accommodation.  This was the first tavern in the present town of Stratford (originally Nicholsville).

Nicholsville (Stratford)

Settlers began to arrive in increasing numbers so a primitive saw mill was constructed which cut rough lumber of which cabins were built.  This little settlement which is now called Stratford.  It was not until sixteen years after Mr. Wood entered the primeval forest that a post office was established.

All travelers of that date were obliged to ford the East Canada Creek and it was not until  five years later that a log bridge was built across that stream to connect this village of Nicholsville with the Town of Salisbury (Deveraux).

 

Nat Foster

Nat Foster was born in New Hampshire on June 30, 1766.  When Nat was nine years old, he and a brother were left in charge of his mother, four brothers and their sisters.   His father, Nat Sr., left to fight in the Revolutionary War.  After the war, Nat and his family settled neat Sir William Johnson's fish house for a period.  At the age of 24, Nat married Jemina Streeter of St. Lawrence County.  They settled in the town of Salisbury.  They had ten children and raised crops of wheat, buckwheat, rye and oats.

During the frontier years, a man's survival rested on his ability to be a good marksman and woodsman.  In those days, the average farmer earned thirty dollars a year.   Besides being a good farmer, Nat Foster's yearly income was twelve hundred and fifty dollars from trapping, hunting and bounties.  Nat Foster, Jr. and his friend,   Nicholas Stoner were Indian fighters and trappers who roamed the area.  Nat Foster ran a large farm in the summer time and in the winter, he and Nick Stoner would set traps all the way to the Canadian border.

"Uncle Nat", as he was affectionately called by children, was a kind, generous and intelligent man.  he made pets of wild animals, among them a moose and an eagle.  He often distributed sacks of his own grain to the needy.  His keen intellect made it possible for him to go through the trackless woods without a map or compass. After a full and adventurous life, Nat died in 1841 at the age of seventy four.   He is buried in Ava, new York where his daughter, Jemima lived.

 

Some tales and facts about the area and its people:

Stephen Seeley:
Was a Colonel in the War 1812. His father was in the Saratoga massacre during the Revolutionary War. Stephen was stolen by the Indians, escaped from them near Fonda, N.Y. and settled in the Stratford area.

Daniel Wood:
Responded to a call in Captain Daniel Brown's Company during the Revolutionary War and served when the alarm was given that the regulars were advancing on the New York frontier.   The Berkshire yeomaney by a forced march in a storm reached Bennington and aided in the defeat of Baum, who was mortally wounded at the battle.  He served as a minuteman and turned out at various alarms.

Isaac Wood:
One of Isaac's sons (name unknown) served in the Civil War, was captured and held prisoner in Libby prison.  When he finally came home, he was a living skeleton weighing a little more than fifty pounds.

The Sixby Boys:
The last full measure of devotion is exemplified by the Sixby family monument in the Stratford Cemetery.  Three sons of Colonel James Sixby enlisted in the Union army in the Civil War, and each made the supreme sacrifice.  First to enlist was Nicholas, who was killed in the battle of Fair Oaks.  John was the next to enlist and was killed one month after his brother's death.  Later in the war, another son, Jerome, 17 years of age at the time, enlisted and was killed in the storming of Petersburg.   Sometime before the close of the war, a funeral was held for the three soldier-brothers in a grove near the cemetery, and people came from far and near to pay tribute to these three sons of one family who gave their lives for their country.

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Because Stratford is located on both sides of the East Canada Creek, which has numerous smaller creeks running into it, it often is in flood stage.  Ice jams, heavy rains with runoff contribute to one of the tales of past history of Stratford:

"Elisha Wood was in his home by Ayers Creek in Stratford when, because of a cloud burst and the resultant swelling of the creeks and tannery dam breaking, his son, Lucien, burst in and tried to convince his father to leave the house.  Lucien had seen the cellar filling with water and the foundation giving away but the stubborn old man would not leave.  Lucien pleaded and in final desperation dragged the old man out.

Right after they got out, the house went floating down the creek until it smashed into the East Canada Creek Bridge."

 

Another tale, slightly more morbid but relatives swear it is true and is recorded in family history records:

Alvah Smith Avery

Alvah Smith Avery was stabbed and killed during a poker game.

"A great tragedy occurred today; Alvah Smith Aver was killed in the village of Deveraux by a knife in the hands of one "Cap Thompson" during a card game.   Alvah was 19 and the attack by Cap Thompson was unprovoked.  Although he was pursued, Thompson escaped into the woods.  This is the most cold-blooded murder in the annals of this county."

Copyright 1999, Lucille Hart

 


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Last updated Tuesday, 13-May-2008 13:09:29 PDT