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Abial Brown

The following is quoted from an article by Emma C. Nason on the Early Settlers of Blodgett Mills, N.Y., appearing about 1887 in the Cortland (N.Y.) Standard. While quaint in tone, the hardships and isolation are all too obvious in her article.

"About the year 1800 Captain Abial Brown with his wife, Sally Hutchings Brown, came from Wilkes-Barre, Penn., up the Tioughnioga River in a bark canoe, this small ark containing all their household effects.  They landed at State Bridge (Messengerville) and took their way by the forest path into the almost forest wilds of Virgil, where only a few settlers were scattered about in the scarcely broken woods.  The town was still included in the Township of Homer, and Cortland Co. was still part of Onondaga.  It was a section for only brave hearts to invade, but Abial brown was ready to encounter dangers and hardships.  He took part in the early councils and deliberations of the settlers and was elected the captain of the military company that was early formed in Virgil.  The wife of Captain Brown was in the truest sense one of the early heroines of our country.  Their log house was located where Abijah Haight afterwards lived, in the 'Gee District.'  There, for about eleven years, their life was intimately connected with the early history of Virgil, and several of their children were born at that place."

"In November of 1811 they moved to Blodgett Mills, going back over the forest road to State Bridge, where they embarked in a big canoe and went up the Tioughnioga again.  This 'moving time' was a little more of a task than that first time when captain brown and his resolute wife sailed up the river, there being now seven little Browns, namely, Henry, Hannah, Abial, Pamelia, Sally, Dolly, and Daniel, the last named being then an infant in his mother's arms.  Those small Browns were about the whole sum of the household treasures contained in that well loaded canoe.  The boat landed on the east side of the river at a point in the dense forest about a mile and a half below Blodgett Mills.  There, a few rods from the river, was an opening just large enough for a little log house among the trees. And this was the 'home-coming'!  Can we picture that November scene, with the brave mother clasping her babe in her arms and surrounded by six other helpless little ones?  If there was a little tug of homesickness at her heart for a moment, who could wonder, for there had been an unfortunate delay and the log house was unfinished, without a fireplace, with no windows in, no door hung, without a floor, and minus even a roof!  What could be done?  This was what was done.  Swiftly, with a a speed of execution possible only to the settlers in such times of emergency, a roof was rushed on, composed of pole rafters covered with hemlock boughs. Blankets did duty for doors and windows--they could do without a floor--and a temporary fireplace was arranged without danger of the house taking fire, for everything was too green to burn.  Thus the night gathered about the mother with her brood of seven, over whom Captain Abial Brown kept guard."

"Such was the picture of one of Blodgett Mills' first heroines, Mrs. Sally Brown.  Her log house was her palace, and although upholstered sofas and chairs and mahogany bed sets were unattainable, happiness was, and she accepted thankfully a pole bedstead and tables and chairs from the forest factory, as she sweetly rocked her babies in cradles made from hollow logs, while the dismal forest echoes mingled with her evening lullaby."

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The foregoing are excerpts from Notes on Ancestry of Roxanna (Brown) Davis, a limited edition of 75 published in 1929.