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Chestertown pioneers remembered

CHESTERTOWN - The town of Chester, Hyde Township, was set off from Thurman, owned by John Warren Thurman, on March 25, 1799, 14 years before neighboring Warrensburgh became a town. Before 1772, when Township 24 of Totten and Crossfield's purchase was recorded on a map, what is now the town of Chester was just a great unexplored wilderness. Later, land speculators who purchased land there never saw the place.

In the beginning this unique little village was originally called South Gore and then Chester Four Corners or simply Four Corners. In later years some called it Chester and the post office, established there about 1808 on the site of the Rising House, called it Chestertown so as to not confuse it with Chester in Orange County. Thurman Historian Robin Croissant said that in 1799, forty men and their families made up almost the entire population of Chester which spans 89 square miles.

The earliest buildings were two log taverns, owned by B. Eaton. Most of the details of the early history of the town are probably in obscurity, as almost all the records were destroyed in two fires, in 1876 or 1877.

Logging widespread, wildlife plentiful

In 1800, Chester had 508 inhabitants and by 1805 crude roads were opened through the virgin forest, but most travel was done on the Schroon River. Brothers Norman and Alanson Fox were involved in the lumber trade, the area's money crop, as early as 1809 and they used the river to transport their branded logs to market. Small game and deer, bear, wolves, panthers, mountain lions (cougars), lynx (bobcats) and catamount were plentiful. Rabbit, partridge and venison were a main part of the diet of these early settlers. Animal pelts brought 15 cents each and money was scarce. Pelts were often used for barter.

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