Pleasant Valley: a history of Elizabethtown, Essex County, New York

In a work of the kind here undertaken it would be idle to pretend to originality. When the writer was a boy he played at the feet of Mrs. Mary Matthews, widow of Jacob Matthews, one of Elizabethtown's pioneer shoemakers. Mrs. Matthews, locally and familiarly known as "Grandmother Matthews," lived in the home of the writer for over a year, being at that time nearly 90 years of age. She had often ridden on horseback, with a baby in her arms, following a line of blazed trees from Northwest Bay to Pleasant Valley, and her account of the hardships and privations of pioneer days fell upon my ears at the formative period of my life. During my boyhood there were eight men living within the present limits of the town of Elizabeth town who had served as soldiers in the War of 1812, sis who had fought for the United States and two for King George III, but deserted before the Battle of Plattsburgh, eventually coming here to settle, making good American citizens. It was my good fortune to know all of these warriors, and to be on terms of intimacy with some of them a case of growing up among "History Makers." Over twenty years ago I decided to write Pleasant Valley, A History of Elizabethtown. Gradually the material has been collected and arranged. The writing of the history of this town has been delayed too long, as all the earliest settlers are in their graves. A few of the children of the pioneers are yet living, at an advanced age, in town and its vicinity, who will please accept my grateful acknowledgments for facts which they have so kindly furnished. I have endeavored to relate facts, as I understood them, without prejudice or exaggeration, and have let no opportunity escape me of rescuing from oblivion those facts which makes up the history of my native town facts which must grow in interest and importance as time passes.

 

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Tradition asserts that Robert Rogers, the bold ranger, so famous for his exploits along Lake Champlain and at Lake George, including the act which is popularly supposed to have brought into historical existence "Rogers' Rock," once led his chosen baud as far into the interior of the Adiroudacks as the "Plains of Abraham," near where the Ray Brook House stands in the western part of the town of North Elba, and there attacked and destroyed an Indian village. Returning, he passed through the Valley now occupied by Elizabethtown village, where he was overtakan by the pursuing Indians and a battle ensued, in which many of the red men were slain. The chief corroboration of this tradition is that large numbers of Indian arrow-heads and utensils have been found on the east bank of the Boquet River, just below or north of the old "Camp Ground" where the battle is supposed to have taken place, and also the fact that many trees were found pierced with bullets by those who cleared that particular locality. However, if Robert Rogers did visit the region afterwards so appropriately known as Pleasant Valley, he must have come here previous to the American Revolution, probably during the French and Indian War, as he did not take kindly to the cause of the Colonists; in fact while his former companions in arms, such as Charles Lee, Israel Putnam, John Stark and Philip Schuyler, were doing their best to win independence for America, he, having turned his back on the country in the bosom of which he had won his great triumphs (the Cham plain Valley, be it remembered, was the scene of his boldest exploits, many of which had been witnessed by the distinguished soldiers mentioned above) was in England putting the finishing touches upon what is to-day known as "Kogers' Journal." Whether Robert Rogers or any other ranger of those early days did or did not visit this section, it is certain that the territory lying a few miles back from Lake Champlain the highway of water which Samuel Champlain, the distinguished French navigator and explorer, first sighted on the evening of July 3, 1609, three months before Hudson sailed up the stream which to-day bears his name escaped to a large extent the ravages of the Indians in their wars and the no less destructive campaigns of the French and English contest and the Revolutionary struggle.