ew York was becoming a popular
destination in the early nineteenth century. While the country
was British the government had imposed a barrier to the west
beyond which there was to be no settlement. The Proclamation of 1763
made all the land west of the Appalachin Mountains a temporary Indian
preserve. This made most of New York off limits to land speculation,
all of which was controlled by imperial land agents. The land east of
the line quickly became settled. As recounted in the chapter about
Jacob Sr., the Crossetts took advantage to settle on the Turner Patent
in eastern New York, now the country between the Hudson River and
Massachusetts, Connecticut and Vermont. No sooner had this land been
granted, however, than war intervened; the French and Indian War and
later the Revolution. The land was fought over and became impossible
to farm as a result. During the Revolution, it was confiscated from
the "rebels" and given to loyalists. After England's defeat, this same
land was given back to its original colonists. I purposely do not say
"its original owners" since, of course it was all taken from the
Native Americans in the first place.
moved west seeking a place to settle. He first went in to
Castleton, Vermont, arriving there in the early
1800s possibly to work with the large quarrying operations
developing there. He appears in the census of 1810 at that
location. It was there that he met and married Sarah Dunning. The
couple started a family that would grow to eight; all boys. The
census shows also two girls but they disappear from view in the
record. An older woman is also present, possibly Sarah's mother,
Jacob's having died in 1780. The following list indicates the order of
birth of the boys. By clicking on the blue links a more complete look
at each of these uncles can be gained.
five boys were born in Castleton. Three are listed only as having died
before 1843 which was the date of their father's will in which they
are mentioned as deceased. The year 1810 must have been a moving year.
Martin Powell always claimed birth in 1810 in Vermont, but Jacob
and his family are listed as among the first settlers of Mooers, N.Y.
in 1810. The couple are also mentioned as founders of the church
in Mooers. Gene Crossett, who was webmaster of the now discontinued Crossett Genealogy
page, and I had a running discussion as to whether our great, great
grandfather was Martin Powell or Powell Martin Crossett. The family
and he used it both ways. The man himself used Powell. I believe I won when I discovered a
letter from Jacob's minister in Mooers referring him to a new church.
The minister's name; Rev. Martin Powell! This leads me to conclude
that Martin was either born in Mooers or wasn't named yet when he
arrived. Martin probably used Powell as his name because he wanted to
avoid confusion with Martial, his brother. They would've called them
In any case, Jacob and
Sarah left Mooers, which by the way is very close to his
father Jacob Sr's 1810 home in Peru, N.Y. and traveled to
Orangeville in Wyoming County, N.Y. between the Finger Lakes and
Ohio.( it is interesting to see all the locations that these
Scots-Irish settled in that contained the word "orange". No
doubt a reminder of their prtoestant Northern Irish heritage, and
also probably a flag of warning to any Catholic settlers who
might pass by to keep on passing.) The journey must have
been daunting. This area west of the Finger Lakes in New York was
pretty much a wilderness in 1810. The best way west was via the Mohawk
River at least as far as it went.
print from the New York State Education Department research collection
shows how difficult it was, especially from east to west when the wind
seldom helped and the current was against you. Putting all your
possessions and your family on one boat or raft and setting out
required both courage and determination. However, the Mohawk does
not flow all the way through New York. It runs from Oneida
County north of the direct route west. The Erie Canal would
continue what the Mohawk started but was not completed until
1825. It followed a natural valley which ran fairly flat and
straight across New York. This valley, trails used by military
expeditions, smaller rivers like the Genessee, and Indian
trails were used and expanded by traders and trappers. This
was how Jacob's family had to make its way. Again, a large
family of boys is handy for self protection. Under the best
circumstances this was a journey that had to be made mostly on foot
while driving livestock and battling the elements every day.
few miles east of Orangeville, where Jacob and his family were
to settle lay what was later to become Livingston
County. There, in 1794 came another Crossett, direct from
Ireland via Philadelphia. He was William Crossett and it is hard to
imagine that the two families were not related at a closer level than
the original Anthony du Crozat. Yet, there is no documentation to
prove it. That Jacob selected Orangeville to settle may indicate
knowledge of another Crossett family in the area. That family will be
covered in a subsequent chapter but is mentioned here to indicate the
nature of the country in the early nineteenth century. This from an
1881 history of Livingston County:
"For many years he
(William) kept a store on his farm and supplied the Indians and
white settlers with necessaries. From the Indians in exchange for
goods he obtained large quantities of valuable furs, upon which he
realized large profits. When he came here and commenced his labors
in clearing his land of the giant growth of timber that covered it
there was no communication with Canandaigua except by Indian trail,
but in a few years the roads were much improved, and he used to run
a seven horse team to Albany, carrying such articles as he had taken
in payment for his supplies, and bringing back large loads of goods
for his store."
More work needs to be done on the contacts between these
two families but William's experience probably closely parallels that
of Jacob and his family.
For all the
settlers on what was then the frontier, work was constant.
Clearing land, planting and harvesting crops, and caring for
livestock was a job for which a man was lucky to have many sons.
Jacob was lucky.
It is with
these sons that we begin to get a more complete picture of our
immediate Crossett family. For one thing, photography made its
appearance and we have several pictures from the era. These boys took
up the migration that the family had started in leaving Ireland in
1716 and pushed it further west. Four of those boys will get their own
Here in western New York State
Sarah Crossett died in 1833. Jacob follwed in 1843.
Boston Daily Advertiser Oct. 14,
"In Orangeville, Wyoming Co., NY, 1st ultimo Deacon Jacob
Crossett 66, a native of Pelham, Mass. and one of the first settlers
in the town of Moores, NY. He had been a resident of Orangeville about
50 years (sic). He was extensively known and respected by all
who knew him."