The 25th day of this month, 126 years ago, is, historically speaking, the most important date in Caroline's existence as a township.
On that date in April 1811, was held at the "Old Bush Tavern," on the famous "Catskill Turnpike," leading from Ithaca easterly to the Hudson River, the first "Town Meeting" in which the citizens of this then newly constituted township were priveleged to participate.
The public gathering was called pursuant to the provisions of the Legislative Act creating Caroline as a town. Caroline, together with the present towns of Danby, Newfield, Candor and Spencer, was originally part of the old township of Spencer, in Tioga County, the name Spencer being retained for the part of the original town remaining after the other four had been subtracted therefrom, and Spencer and Candor remained in Tioga County. At time of the division, Feb. 22, 1811, what is now Newfield was designated in the allotment as "Cayuta," the name being later changed to its present form.
Tavern Long Gone
The "Old Bush Stand," or, as sometimes called, the "Old Bush Tavern," has long since disappeared, but its memories will survive the centuries. On this particular 25th day of April, the sun rose in gorgeous plendor (sic), as though to herald the advent of this new addition to the free soil of America. The day of the week was Tuesday, and that is why this day is revered in Caroline. The proprietor of the "Bush Tavern" was Richard Bush, a pioneer settler from Ulster County, and furthermore a firm member of the church of his Dutch ancestors, and a "Deacon" of that church, and, as such, was always referred to as "Deacon Richard Bush." His principal occupation was to receive the guests, attend to their wants, and preside over the tavern "tap room."
It would be difficult to enumerate the names of all who attended at the tavern on this occasion, but we assume that most able-bodied men were present and listening to the program. When the meeting was over, the following town officers had been chosen, namely: Supervisor, William Rounsvell; town clerk, Levi Slater; assessors, Ephriam Chambers, Nathaniel Tobey, and Laban Jenks; commissioners of highways, John Robinson, Nathaniel Tobey and Moses Reed; overseers of the poor, John Robinson and Joseph Chambers; constables, Richard Chambers, Robert Hyde; fence viewers, Dr. Joseph Speed, Charles Mulks, Robert Freeland; poundmaster, Richard Bush. (Justices of the Peace were chosen later by the Board of Supervisors and judges of common pleas court jointly). Charles Mulks, collector.
After a century and a quarter, the site of the "Old Bush Tavern" has developed into a most attractive country estate, where its proprietors, Mr. and Mrs. Henry Schultheis, live in modern comfort, among the Caroline hills. The scene is what one would wish; and, if the good "Deacon" were with us today, is what he would rejoice to see; the horse; the cow; the fowls; and, the choice garden spot; and, happiness where he once enjoyed life, among the eternal hills.
In that distant day, there was some talk of another war with the British Crown; and, we think we hear Captain Slater and Benoni Mulks discussing the affair. Benoni said he had fought at Saratoga and was willing to go again; and, Captain Slater said if there was trouble, he would lead a company (and he did). Nathaniel Tobey and John Robinson had some considerable talk about the three different groups of settlers; the Southerners; the New Englanders; and the Dutch.
Indians Crowded Out
Joseph Chambers cut in to remark that the Dutch had got so thick around Boiceville that they had crowded the Indians out. General Cantine said there was one good Indian, Chief Wheelock, who hunted in the Six Mile Valley with his band; and, he heard it said Chief Wheelock would fight with the Americans, if a second war with the British came. (Chief Wheelock was killed in action.)
Robert Hyde allowed that this community should not be too much set against Indians; since about a dozen families here were descended from the original land owners. And everyone agreed; and, the fortunate descendants beamed with delight. As he passed the rum over the counter, Deacon Bush started a church discussion; and, he said a stage passenger from Ithaca had told him a Dutch dominie, the Rev. Garrett Mandeville, was coming to Boiceville to build a church; and, he invited every one present, including the unbelievers, to attend.
Price of Rum Up
He wound up by regretting that rum would have to be advanced to two pennies a glass. "Speaking of drinking," said the Deacon, "how is that spring you discovered on Sunday, while fishing, getting along Benoni, is it running yet?" "Yes," replied Benoni Mulks, "and it will be running a hundred years from now." (And it is.) "And," said Benoni, "Captain Rich told me of a man who found a large chunk of iron ore on the hill in the Six Mile gorge; and, it seemed to change the direction of his compass. Did you ever hear of magnetic iron ore? May be Captain Slater knows, he is a surveyor?"
"Yes," said Captain Slater, "I have surveyed lands around here, and something deflects the needle. Some day it may be found that the water from these hills flows over these iron beds." "And," said the Deacon, "my business will be better, and Boiceville will grow if we can find the iron springs."
Stage Has Flourish
Just then the daily stage drew up to the tavern with a grand flourish, and many loud orders to the team. Walt Pine was on the driver's seat, the best stage driver in the business. The horses were swiftly exchanged from the pasture across the road, where some 200 were kept in reserve; and, the journey was soon continued.
It was getting late; and, the assemblage dispersed, after turning to say farewell to the genial host, as he stood there in the doorway of the hewn log tavern that made history for Caroline; and, whose impressive form greets us even to this day, in our visions, as we reverently pass its ancient foundation site. And, we seem to hear the final notes of the trumpet, as the "stage-and-four" fade away in the closing hours of the day. We render thanks for the heritage vouchsafed by that memorable Tuesday in Caroline's fame; and we devoutedly acknowledge the lasting debt of gratitude we owe to the patriots and founders who gathered that day in Deacon Richard Bush's wayside tavern, a hundred-odd years ago.
LYMAN H. GALLAGHER
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