The Vought Family, and reminiscences of Early Times
Sept. 4th 1902 The Vought Family, and reminiscences of Early Times. From Address Delivered by C.F. Heverly, at Vought Re- union, Lake Wesauking, August 26st. 1902, and Published by Request. -------------------------------------------------------------------- While the persecuted of England were establishing homes on the shores of New England and in Virginia, another liberty-loving people from Holland were founding settlements at Manhattan and along the Hudson. New York became distinctively a colony of the Dutch, and the sturdy people who settled that section have given character and left an impression in our country's history. Even to day the first families of New York, and, in- deed, we might say, the President of the United States is proud to claim the blood of the "Knickerbockers." Among those who found their way to the shores of the Hudson, was JOSEPH CHRISTIAN VOUGHT, whom arrived from Holland about the year 1745 and settled at Peekskill. He married a Miss Rhinehart and was the father of six sons; Peter, Joseph, Henry, Godfrey, Achatias and John: and three daughters; Hester, Margaret and Catherine. He was living at Peekskill with his family, when, at last, the insolence of King George became in- tolerable and it was resolved to strike the blow for liberty. He en- couraged the patriot cause and sent four of his sons, Peter, Joseph, Henry and Godrey, to fight for the Independence of the colonies. Of such a patriotic ancestor, the father of heroes, all assembled here to day must be proud. You are more especially interested in the history of Godfrey and Achatius, for it is their blood that courses through your veins Godfrey, the fourth son of Joseph Vought, was born at Peekskill in 1761 In April 1780, at the age of 18 years, he enlisted in the regiment of Colonel Dabous and served an additional period of nine months. He was in many skirmishes, and was personally acquainted with General Washington, "Mad Anthony" and other distinguished soldiers of the Revo- lution. During that long struggle he suffered with his compatriots, and Mrs Stevens, a granddaughter says; "I have many times heard him recite his experiences, and as he told of the hardships of the soldiers a momentary sadness came over his face." After the war he married Polly Croft. No story is quite complete without a romance and our subject is coupled with rather pretty one. The mother of Polly Croft was Mary Bowman, daughter of the Duke of Baden. The proud and austere parent had betrothed his daughter to a rich old duke. This announcement was decidedly distasteful to Mary, for she loved her father's steward, John Croft. Shortly before the time fixed by her father for her marriage with the duke Mary took a small bundle of clothing and escaped with John to the coast. Selling her jewelry, means were procured to pay the passage to America. Arriving at New Amsterdam they were married, then joined the settlements by the Hud- son. Children blessed their home and they were living in happiness until disturbed by the storm of the Revolution. The father is said to have been killed by the Tories. The widow and her children were [living?] at Still- water at the time of the battle; they fell into the [hands? of?] the British and were driven so near the battlefield that [the? bullets?] whist- led around them. During these trying experiences, Mrs [Croft?] wishing to save her stock, sent Polly, then a girl of 15 and [her? brother?] James, ten years younger, through an almost unbroken wilderness beset with many dangers, with five cows and three horses to a place of [safety] The distance was fifteen miles. The children bravely [performed?] their mis- sion, then returned to their mother. (2) Thus inured to dangers and hardships, this brave girl, a few years later was the proper person to become the wife of Godfrey Vought, the pioneer. Barbara Croft a younger sister of Polly, married John Lent, a soldier of the Revolution. They spent a happy and industrious life in the wil- derness on the opposite side of this lake, and in yonder cemetery over- looking these peaceful waters they repose side by side in their eternal rest. Catherine Croft, sister of Polly and Barbara, married Hendrick (Henry) Lent, one of the Rome pioneers, who met a tragic death, Feb. 15, 1801 When returning from Sheshequin through the wilderness, he encountered a blinding snow storm, lost his way and was frozen to death. He left chil- dren, who married as follows: James, to Chloe Parks; Polly, to John Bull; Eleanor, to Joshua Lamareaux; Abraham, to "Gittie" Elliott; Barbara, to Joseph Elliot; Katie, to Simeon Rockwell; Joseph to Mary Ann Johnson; Richard, to first Miss moore, second Lucinda Elliott; Margaret to Silas Allis. Mrs Lent reached the golden age of 94 years, when she was called to her final rest. At the close of the Revolutionary war, the only settled part of the United States was along the Atlantic Coast, with a few scattered settlements in the interior along the principal streams. With peace dawned a new era and bright prospects for all. A rich and unexplored country awaited the coming of the settlers. Soon a spirit of enterprise and adventure possessed the people, and "going west" became a popular notion. These hills and valleys were then a part of the "Great West", and like a magnet attracted scored of the "patriot fathers," who came to establish homes and pave the way for civilization. Among the dauntless spirits who found their way into the country in 1798 were Godfrey Vought, Hendrick Lent and Frederick Eiklor, who removed with their families from Peekskill, N.Y. They settled in the wilderness of Rome, cutting their own road a part of the way from Sheshequin. But one person, Nathaniel P. Moody, had preceded them in all that territory now embraced in Rome township. Vought took up lands and erected his log house on the northern border of the present village of Rome. Here sur- rounded by savage beasts, he began the battle with the wild woods. He suffered many privations, being far removed from stores, mills, churches, schools and physicians. These things were yet to follow. A mail route had not yet been established in the county, and it was rare that news was re- ceived from the outside world. But his courage never faltered, and the ring of his ax could have been heard early and late as he felled the monarchs of the forest. One night they heard their pig squeal. Mr Vought ran out with his gun and found a large bear trying to carry the porker from its long pen. Mrs Vought followed with a torch, when a well aimed bullet save the pig and supplied their larder with an abundance of bear's meat. Although laboring under great disadvantages, Mr Vought was a man of much enterprise. In 1804 he built the first framed house in Rome and soon after the first framed barn. He also, in company with Andrus Eiklor and a Mr. Wells, put up the first saw mill in Rome. In 1814 he opened his doors to the public, keeping Rome's first house of public entertainment. Here the weary traveller found rest and refreshment on his long journey. Upon coming to Rome, Mr Vought brought with him seeds of different kinds, which he planted and in a few years bore an abundance of fruit. Thus was started the first orchards in Rome. Achatias Vought, who married Jane Oakley, a German girl, followed his brother into Rome in 1805. He settled in the wilderness on Parks Creek, about two miles north of Rome village. He was a man of industry and performed his part faithfully and with the true courage of a pioneer. How these brothers lived reared their families, was a task I doubt that would be envied by the younger generations here. Let me present a picture of pioneer life: (3) Money, the pioneers had none; and they were required to dress in the plainest and least expensive manner. Their common habiliments were panta- loons and dresses, made from flax for summer wear, and from wool for winter. "Buckskin trousers" were in fashion, and were not unfrequently worn by the men and boys. Roundabouts, or sailors' jackets, took the place of coats. Calico was less common than silk is now, and cost seventy-five cents per yard. She that could afford a dress made from seven yards of this material, wore "an extravagant garment". "The fashion was petticoats and short gowns". Shawls were made from pressed woolen closth, and the finest home-made linen was bleached, and constructed into fine shirts for men and boys. A lady's common dress was "copperas and white", as it was called; and "copperas and blue, two and two", for nice. The women wore handkerchiefs, as a covering for the head, or bonnets of their own manufacture. It was not a strange occurence to see a young lady, with her shoes and stockings in her hand, and a handkerchief about her head, while on her way to "meet- ing," in the log school house, or at some neighbor's cabin. When upon nearing the place of worship, she would sit down by the roadside and dress her feet. Garments were make to wear the longest possible, as it was very uncertain when the next could be had. The boys had hats and caps made by their mothers, from woolen cloth or straw, and sometimes, perhaps, from racoon skins. Some wore knit caps, also, until "seal-skin caps," as they were called, came in fashion. Garments were fastened together with buttons constructed out of thread. Nearly every wife had her spinning-wheel and loom, and manufactured her own cloth. Each did her own coloring, and the bark from a soft maple tree, hemlock, butternut or "witch hazil" was used for dyeing purposes, also log-wood and smaet week. Copperas, alum, and sorrell were used to set the colors. During the summer season the boys, girls and women, generally went bare- footed, as did some of the men. Rattlesnakes were without number, and were a great dread to the boys, when in search of the cows. In the winter shoes with leggins were worn. Frequently it happened that some of the poorer families had no shoes, in which case the boys would heat large chips to stand upon to keep their feet warm while chopping wood. But few of the men had a "dress-up" suit. This consisted of knee breeches ornamented with buckles. A lady's "dress up" generally consisted of a linsey-woolsey suit, improved by pressing. The food of the pioneers was coarse, and consisted of corn and rye bread, sometimes wheat with potatoes. The last were generally baked in the fire- place by covering them with ashes and coals. Mush and milk was not an uncommon diet. Venison could be had in abundance for the killing, and brook trout for the catching. Deer and bear meat was made more appetiz- ing by smoking it. Jerked venison was also a favorite article on the bill of fare. Sometimes bread was made out of wheat and rye bran. Milk was the main dependence, and was make a most palatable dish in several ways. Stoves were not in use, and baking was done in fire places and stone bake ovens. The raw material for bread and cake was prepared and put in the bake kettle (a low kettle-shaped iron pot with a cover) which was then placed over coals on the hearthstone. Upon the cover of the kettle coals were also placed that the baking would be more evenly done. "Johnny cakes" were baked in the long handled frying pans, which were heated over the fire-places. The bake kettle remained in use for some years when it was supplanted by the tin oven. Maple sugar was used for sweetening purposes, and corncobs were burned in the bake kettle cover to get a substitute for saleratus. Maple syrup and honey took the place of butter, and bear's fat was used for shortening. Fried cakes were baked in pots of bear and racoon fat. Brown rye, peas, beechnuts, chestnuts and chickory were substituted for coffee, and sage, thyme, peppermint, spearmint, [evans?] root, spice bush, sweet fern, tanzy and himlock boughs (4) for tea. Imported tea and coffee were too costly and could only be afford- ed when the "good mothers" had company. Herbs of all kinds were gathered and used for teas in sickness, and each had its specific cure. For instance, [elderblow?], catnip, and worm wood were used for children, and bone set, pennyroyal, etc., for adults. Greased paper, hung over and opening in the wall, afforded light for the cabins in the daytime. At night they were illuminated by the light given out from huge fire-places, and pitchpine splinters stuck into the chimney joints. This furnished sufficient light for the mothers to sew, spin and weave by; for the fathers to mend and make shoes. and the boys and girls to get their lessons. A supply of pitch pine knots was generally put in before winter. Deer fat and lard was some times used for illuminating purposes. but not frequently. Tallow lamps were finally introduced, and were used when tallow could be had or lard spared. They were a cup like construction, to contain animal fats, and could be hung against the wall. One end of a piece of cloth, answering as a wick, was dropped into the cup and the other end, which hung out, was lighted. Tallow candles next followed, and subsequently lamps for burning coal oil. The time of day was determined by "sun marks" or noon marks, upon the door or window frame. Finally the old fashioned clocks without cases and with long cords were brought in and sold at fabulous prices. Matches had not yet been invented, and fire was made by causing a spark, which was caught in a piece of punk, and inflammable substance, formed from decayed wood, which was always kept in supply. "Borrowing fire," as it was called, was not an infrequent occurrence. Wooden pails were substituted for tin, and wooden plates (called "trenche rs,") bowls, etc., for earthenware. Wooden spoons and forks, also pewter plates, spoons and other table pieces were in use. Sap troughs were sub- stituted for cradles, and brooms were made out of young birch and hickories. Farming implements were very imperfect as compared with those of Modern invention. A plow was used with one handle, and a wooden mould board, a crotched sapling with holes bored through and supplied with wooden pins answered as a borrow. Grain was sometimes "brushed in" by dragging a hemlock bush over the ground; pitchforks and hoes were manufactured by blacksmiths and were very clumsy articles; grain was threshed with flails and cleaned by shaking it with a "hand fan", a very laborious task. Fanning mills were not introduced till about 1825. In lieu of a wagon, long sleds were generally used in hauling hay and grain andin making trips to mill. Sometimes, however, hay was hauled to the stack by placing a bunch or more upon a brush which formed a sort of sled; and not unfrequently carried by two men for some distance by running tow poles under a bunch with a men at each end. Logging and chopping bees were common, and the men and boys most cheerfully turned out with their own ox-teams or came with their axes to assist their neighbors in getting a start. "On such an occassion, a sheep would be killed, the boiled mutton and pot-pie had in abundance, for dinner and supper" Spinning bees were also in fashion. The lady getting up the bee would distribute tow among her lady friends, and on a day set apart they would bring their skeins and enjoy a visit and supper with her. The affair generally wound up in the evening by a dance, or "snap and- wink-em" the other games. Sometimes, however, the ladies would take their spinning wheels under their arms and go to the house of a friend, do a day's work and enjoy a visit together at the same time. Quilting and sewing parties were common, and mothers alike came with their needles to assist their friend in need. Husking bees, apple cuts and spelling schools were more of modern date, and dancing was the chief entertainment of the young people. Every mother taught her daughter to spin, weave, make garments. make bread, etc. and the young lady who showed herself the best skilled in those branches (5) of housekeeping was the first to find a suitor. How great the change! Courting it is said to have been "short and sweet", and if a young swain afforded a horse he would take his lady love riding by placing her on his horse behind himself. The greatest economy had to be practiced, and the wife vied with her husband in trying to get along. She not only did the work pertaining to the house, but helped to gather the hay and grain, and not unfrequently assisted in the fallow, or the sugar bush. The people took great delight in visiting each other, and would generally go on foot or with ox-sleds. A meal was always had together, the hostess giving the best the house afforded, which was sometimes one thing and sometimes another The guest never forgot her knitting work or sewing, and would visit and work at the same time. The kitchen was the parlor, sitting room, and all. There were no castes then, and the old people say--"those were the happiest days we ever saw" One neighbor envied not another, but, on the contrary, did all in his power to encourage and help along. All dwelt together in "brotherly love", living as true men and women, without the bigotry of a selfish nature. Liquor was always had in abundance at bees, raisings, etc. and was a very common drink--even church members and preachers imbibing. The best could be had for twenty-five a gallon, and when a tippler got boozy, he was not a week in getting over it. Hay was scarce, and cattle fed largely upon browse--the tender shoots of trees, especially of the maple and basswood. Cows roamed in the woods, and were found by the tinkle of the bells, which they wore about their necks Pigs were fatted upon hickory nuts, or taken to the beechnut woods. From what has been said it is very easy to comprehend the following old time poem, which was very popular, several years ago: "How wondrous are the changes, Jim, Since fifty years ago When girls wore dresses made at home And boys wore pants of tow; When shoes were made of cow-hide, And socks of our own wool, And young folks did a half-days work Before and after school. The ladies sung and danced so gay, Beside the spinning wheel, And practiced late and early then, On spindle swift and reel; The boys would ride bare back to mill A dozen miles or so, And did't fear a sun-burnt brow Some fifety years ago. The people rode to meeting, Jim! On bob-sleds or in sleighs, And wagons rod as easy too, As buggies now-a-days; And oxen answered well to draw, Though now they'd be too slow, For people lived not half so fast, Say fifty years ago. And well do I remember yet The Wilson's patent stove, Which father bought and paid for with Some cloth our folks had wove; (6) Oh! how the neighbors wondered When we got the thing to go, They said 'twould bust and kill us all 'Bout fifty years ago. Yes, many things are different, Jim, From what we used to see Some ways are altered for the worse And some far better be; And what on earth we're coming to Does anybody know? For everything has changed so much Since fifty years ago. Such then was the life and habits of the times in which Godfrey and Ach- atias Vought lived and reared their families. Unto Godfrey and Polly Vought were born six children: David, Catherine, Daniel, Polly, Joshua, and John. David married Eden, daughter of Wm. Huyck, a Revo- lutionary soldier, and settled in Standing Stone. One member of this family. Mrs. Ellen Stephens, a dady of brilliant mind, who furnished us with many interesting facts, is still living at the age of 86 years. Catherine, who was the second bride in Rome, married Andrus Eklor and lived to a very ad- vanced age. Daniel married Mary Mattison and lived in Rome, Polly married Deacon Stephen Cranmer of Rome. Joshua married Polly E. Thatcher and lived in Rome. John married [M?]ervil Cannon and also resided in Rome. In these six fami- lies you have numerous representatives scattered throughout the United States, except in the case of John, who had no children. Godfrey, the father, lived to the ripe age of 88 years. He is described by his granddaughter, Mrs. Stephens, who lived with her grandparents several years, as a "tall, fine looking old gentleman, with blue eyes, light hair and fair complexion; figure erect, even in his old age." His wife was a "small woman of dark hair, eyes and complexion," or in other words, as a young woman was a handsome brunette. "Her manner was dignified and aristo- cratic. When attending church she was always clad in a silk dress, never changing the fashion of her peculiar notion." She outlived her husband several years, reaching the remarkable age of 94 years. Both are buried in the Rome cemetery, which land was cleared and donated for burial purposes by Mr. Vought. The children of Achatias and Jane Vought were Joseph, Peter, Thomas Isaac, Nehemiah, Anna, Phoebe and Esther. Joseph married Hannah Ditrich and lived in Rome. Peter was twice married. His first wife was Lydia, sister of Hannah Ditrich; second wife Betsey Morris. He died in Rome at an advanced age. Thomas married first Lucy Gardner, second Mary Allen, lived and died in Rome. Isaac married Sally Russell, lived and died in Vought Hollow. Nehemiah married, Beckie Morris and died on the homestead in Rome. Anna married first James Holley of Standing Stone and for her second husband [Shepaed?] Patrick of Wysox. Phoebe married Asa Stevens of Standing Stone. Esther married Abraham Towner of Towner Hill. Achatias, the father, died in 1845 at the age of 72 years. His wife survived him twenty years, when she passed away at the age of 94 years. the same age attained by the wife of Godfrey Vought. Their remains repose in the Rome cemetery. It would be impossible for me to follow the Voughts through the succeeding generations. However, from the large number assembled here to day, it is evident they have faithfully kept the scriptural injunction and the name has come to stay. In going over your family history I can see but one danger to which you are liable to be subjected. If the life insurance man shou'd find out that the members of this numerous family make a practice of living (7) from 75 to 100 years, there will be no more peace on earth. Not only longevity, but good citizenship has ever been a distinguishing characteris- tic of the family; and we are proud to join with your oldest living repre- sentative in saying: "We never knew of one of the Vought name, committing an act against the laws of his country." Born of patriotic ancestry, when a rebellious South threatened to destroy the Union, the same blood and courage that had helped to create the republic was ready and willing, in the younger Vought generations, to offer their lives in defense of the republic. Though scattered almost from the Atlantic to the Pacific, the following descendants of Godfrey and Achatias Vought followed the Stars and Stripes to victory. The descendants of Godfrey, enlisting from Pennsylvania, were: Runyan Coolbaugh, a member of Co. 141, P.V., killed at Gettysburg, William , Charles M. and Henry C. Stephens; Charles, Miles and Stephen Russell, John Eiklor, Albert and Henry Wilmot, Frank and Lawrence Vought. From Indiana- Daniel, Elisha and John Eiklor 2d. From Illinois--Arthur, Daniel William and Hiram Galpin; the last of whom was killed in battle, and William dying from wounds, and Daniel Vought, who died in the service. From California-- John M. Cranmer and Lemuel T. Vought. From Iowa--Lewis Vought. The descendants of Achatias, enlisting from Pennsylvania, were: John, Jewel O. Isaac and Nehemiah Vought. From Wisconsin--James and Gardner Vought. From Illinois--James, Leonard and Lester Holly. From California-- Two sons of Hester Towner (nee Vought) served in the division with John M. Cranmer and Lemuel T. Vought. Fred Vought, son of James Vought, residing at Eagle River, Ia., was a sol- dier in the United States army in the War with Spain, and was killed in Porto Rico by the last shot fired from the Spanish batteries. In furnishing this information, Lawrence Vought, himself a soldier, says "we are glad to state, so far as we know, all these descendants were honorable discharged." It should be stated that John M. Cranmer was also a soldier in the Mexican and Indian wars. Thus in peace or war you represent the best characteristics of true Ameri- canship. If in your ancestral line I have pointed to some things of which you may justly feel proud, remember that good mothers are responsible for [you?] your being, and their example, suffering and sacrifices have been the potent factor in forming character and the instrumentality of grand results. Revere and keep in grateful remembrance the deeds and virtues of your hero- ic ancestors. Emulate their example. Continue to be as good men and women, and when the end shall come, a grander reunion, even than this, awaits you.
Godfrey Vought was my 5 x great grandfather. If you are descended from him as well, please check out my link to "Godfrey Vought (1760-1849)" below.