The Crossetts of Central New York

  Jacob Crossett Jr. and his Sons

Further West

 

 

 

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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.  

Jacob 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.

The first 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 both "Mart".

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.

Mohawk View

This 1807 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.

Just a 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 chapters.

Here in western New York State Sarah Crossett died in 1833. Jacob follwed in 1843.

Boston Daily Advertiser Oct. 14, 1843
"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."

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