The Abraham Middaugh House
Carried over from Home Page
Many of the earliest settlers to Chemung and surrounding areas built log cabins of which some of their remains can be found today. Some were primitive, others were two story imposing structures. Other settlers built post and beam structures with hand hewn logs reminiscent of the homes they left behind in the Connecticut Valley, while others chose the style of the New England Central Chimney. Some were primitive made from sawmill rough cut, stick built wood or pit sawn, either got the job done. Either way many of the architectural styles in the area were determined by the builders’ nationality or popular style of the time, Federal and a bit later Greek Revival were a few of the favorites. The Abraham Middaugh House, dates circa 1805. It has undergone many changes through the years. It was a non imposing frame structure of one and a half stories tall.
The Abraham Middaugh house and property is located on the opposite river bank from the Town of Chemung proper. Although many times a river or stream has defined property boundaries or municipalities, it was never the case with the town of Chemung. Business and general commerce was conducted as though the Chemung River never flowed through the town. Boats, rafts, ferries, bridges have connected the townspeople since it's inception. Even for school children, with accounts of the children crossing by the Westbrook Ferry in order to attend school. On the other hand, it was the ingenuity and resourcefulness of the people that used the river for their prosperity.
The property where the Abraham Middaugh House is located was deeded to Samuel Westbrook by the State of New York in 1788. He was assigned lot #27 of the original plot map, 370+acres. The land deeded had been set aside as military tract, used as an incentive for enlisted men and officers of the Revolutionary War.
Born in 1784, Abraham was only seven years old when he traveled to Chemung with his parents. Elias and Sara (Van Aken) Middaugh from Upper Smithfield Township, Northampton (Monroe) Co., PA. There were 12 children in all. Their names were James, Elizabeth, Catharine, Abraham VanAken, Urana, Cornelius, Anthony, Mary (Maria), Charity, John, Henry, Phebe. His grandparents were Cornelius and Elizabeth (VanBenschoten) Middaugh from the Dutch Colony in Ulster County, NY. His great grandparents resided in Sussex County, NJ.
As a private in the Revolutionary War, Elias may have served with the Sullivan Expedition of 1779. A history book makes this claim but we are lacking proof. Elias and family were listed in the 1790 U.S. Census in Upper Smithfield Twp. They moved to Chemung, Montgomery Co., (Chemung Co), NY soon after.
Compensation he received for time served during the war, he purchased land for his homestead from Samuel and Mary Westbrook. Elias built a 1 1/2 story frame house and out buildings for a large farm. The house was also used as an Inn. A local history book dates the Inn to the year 1791. It was located adjacent to a ferry run by Samuel Westbrook, a Revolutionary Patriot who settled on the west bank of the Tioga (Chemung) River, est. 1788.
An account of pioneer John Van Aken, relation to Sara, told of his family traversing the rivers and countryside with an oxen cart telling of privations they faced along the way. They stopped at Elias and Sara's home in Chemung where they spent several days before continuing on their journey, in the year 1796. The first deed recorded for Elias was April 17, 1802 but as stated on the deed; "the family previously resided there".
Several deeds were written and recorded. At one time the farm consisted of 355 acres. The deed in 1802 contained two lots; a total of 95 acres for $75.oo from Samuel and Mary Westbrook, in the Town of Chemung, Tioga County, NY "being #27 of the original plot map laid out by Commissioners of Albany for the Town of Chemung in the year 1788".
Numerous deeds were purchased by Elias after this date. One deed was purchased by Elias and Abraham dated April 9, 1813. They purchased 100 acres from William Buck of Newtown for the sum of $500 "in their actual possession now, in Chemung and on the River Chemung known by lot #26 granted to William Buck by patent dated Feb. 25, 1792".
It is not known when Abraham married his wife Julia. He was 18 years old the year his father recorded the first deed in 1802. A good guess would place his marriage between 1802 and 1809. Elias had a large farm operation with Abraham as a farm laborer with a vested interest. Elias and Sara gave Abraham a parcel of land in which to build a house. The parcel sat across the small dirt road from the main farm and was two acres of land bounded north by the Tioga River, south by the main road, westerly by the road leading to the ferry, part of lot #27. Chemung was a bustling new community with the majority of travel on the river and roads flanking the river on either side.
In 1819, Elias Middaugh died. Sara died after 1821. The will and testament of Elias Middaugh dated November 14, 1819 divided the property up in 12 equal lots. It is in this will where Elias legally gives Abraham the land where he was already living.
Without a farm to produce income, Abraham became delinquent on taxes. There was very little leniency given for unpaid taxes at that time. On April 3, 1823, Thomas Maxwell, Esq. County Clerk of Tioga, NY commanded to make of the goods and chattles of Abraham Middaugh $83.50, "the said damages to be made off the lands and tenements where of the said Abraham Middaugh was seized". Isaac Beidleman, brother in law to Abraham, paid $25.00 on June 26, 1823 and became rightful owner of the house and two acres of land. Another sheriffs' sale took place in 1831, disposing of the lands of Elias Middaugh that remained. Elias is buried in the Dutchtown Cemetery located 1/2 mile north of the old farmstead. It is not known where Sarah's grave is.
Abraham and his family moved to Rotary Road, Chemung where they lived out the remainder of their lives. From census reports we know they had at least six children. Five girls, two of their names were Sally and Emily and one boy; Elias who was born the same year his namesake and grandfather died. Abraham died in 1865. The family is buried in the Chemung Village Cemetery.
Isaac owned the property until his death at which time his estate sold the property to John Warren on April 2, 1857. In 1850, a listing of Productions of Agriculture in the Town of Chemung, 1850, Isaac Beidleman owned 150 acres and maintained a large farm. No mention is made of the 2 acre property in his Last Will & Testament, May 27, 1856, which was witnessed by Asahel Buck and Vincent Middaugh.
There were many deeds to the house that followed, 17 to be exact. Every deed contained this statement, "it being the same lot where Isaac Beidleman use to reside and where one Abraham Middaugh formerly resided, owned and occupied - a small lot, be the same more or less".
That statement was the key to following the correct deed. In 1926 the property was again split. However in early times no mention was made to a house or buildings, so I felt this statement was a major key to knowing who the first resident was. One spring day, only a couple of years ago, my husband and I were having a garage sale, when an older woman stopped and announced "This is the Abraham Middaugh House"! I stood for a moment in disbelief for surely we were the only ones that could have known this. She was a descendant of Abraham, and promised me she would stop back so we could talk, and I never saw her again. I am hopefull she will return some day.
Architectural detail and style is a passion of mine and I used my (non professional) skills to determine a somewhat accurate date of the house. The house has been remodeled and at times, remuddled through the years. For a restorer that isn't always good, however, if it weren't for the upkeep through the years, the house wouldn't be here today. So I guess we learn to take the good with the bad. As a result the original integrity has been greatly altered. However there are many clues in an old building and the resources of the community can lead to more answers. My husband and I believe our home was built as early as 1802.
There are accounts of a saw mill that was built down stream on the river bank in the early 1820's and the first dam was built up stream about half a mile, in 1826. There was money to be made by entrepreneur's and along the river there were many opportunities. The neighboring property belonged to Samuel Westbrook. I found a mention of the "Westbrook Ferry" in other writings. Our property as written in the deed mentions the boundary, "westerly by the road leading to the ferry". The road is now private property, and is but a pathway leading to the river, known as Ford Road.
There were suggestions in the past, the house may have been a ferry house and tavern for wary travelers. Two small bedrooms on the second floor, one for the women and one for the men. But there was never any mention of such in old history records. Across the road and to the north was the home and farm of Abraham's father, Elias, later known as the old Kilpatrick place. Elias had a tavern and inn in the late 1790's. But I have no idea how long it served that purpose, perhaps until the time of his death in 1819, perhaps it continued on under a new proprietor.
And so it goes, 211+ years of continuous occupation for our home. If only walls could talk!