This photo was taken in the spring of 2003 at the Apple Orchard in Peru, NY
Photo by Joanne Kennedy, and forwarded by Jean and John Ryan
This narrative continues on Page 2 of The History of Peru, NY.
in the year 1795, with all his worldly goods
done up in a pocket-handkerchief, and located on the banks of the Arnold
Brook. He subsequently owned a large farm of nearly 1000 acres, situated
two miles north of the Union meeting-house. He was a man of prominence,
wealth, and influence, and of uncommon intellectual attainments. He was
a member of the Legislature in 1808, State Senator in 1812-15, and was
the first judge of the county from July, 1819, to January, 1823. In the
Senate he represented the original eastern district which embraced nearly
one-half of the geographical area of the State. Silas Wright subsequently
represented the same constituency.
At Button Brook, Elisha Button bought out the first settler, and for many years was one of the principal public characters of the town. He kept a large hotel, had a store with considerable trade, built a large ashery, manufactured potash extensively, and besides engaging in farming, operated to a large extent in the purchase and sale of real estate. He was elected high sheriff of the county, and for twelve consecutive years was a justice of the peace. His success in the hitter position was more than ordinary, and many interesting and amusing anecdotes are related of his original, )'et effective, way of administering justice. He reared a large filmily of children, nearly all of whom have passed with him beyond the reach of praise or blame.
About half a mile front Peru village, towards the Union, stands an antique house on the left, some poplar-trees on the right, and, as thc road bends to the west, a substantial stone structure, spanning a streak of mud, kept nmist by a slight flow of water from some unknown source. At this point, Jobn Haff~ °-Lr Huff, as he was gT!qrally ctjll?d, settled in 1793. He purchased nearly one mile square of densely wooded land, lylng between the Rogers road and the State road, running south from Peru village. Nearly half of the original purchase is now in the possession of }lis grandson, Schuyler Haft. Uncle John seems to have chosen this spot for his log cabin, on account of the beautifhl stream of water which at that time flowed through the place. It was no inconsiderable brook then. Trout, fi'om one to two pounds weight, sported in its cool and sparkling waters, moose and deer drank froaz the ever-flowing stream, the proud oak and sweet maple intertwined their branches upon its banks, while towards the north lofty pines lifted their heads up against the sky, and every description of small game abounded on every side.
The log cabin was just south of the present dwelling. The place was reached by a lane from the highway near the present residence of S. K. Smith. The original road from the Union to Hackstaff's Mills came up the bank tiear the residence of Mr. Holland, the old road-bed being still visible. John Haft moved to this place fi'om Dutchess County with his wife and five children, the oldest under ten years of age, and settled in the midst of the dense forest that covered his whole purchase. He lived long enough to clear up and bring under cultivation one of the best farms in the town. He had, before coming to Peru, kept a hotel in Dutchess County, and was noted for his good cheer and his love for roast pigs and turkeys. Being of Dutch descent, his wow understood the mysteries of Dutch cheese and buttermilk pop. Slapjacks and maple
honey were a great, favorite also in the log cabin. These were made in a long-handled frying-pan, from a batter well seasoned with e~,,~s An adept at the game of frying would, by a peculiar motion of the fi'ying-pan, up and down, slap the jack over when half done. Indeed, a son of Haft once related that the acme in the art of slapjack fi'ying was only reached when the operator could toss the half-cooked jack up and over the top of the huge chimney, and could catch it right side up at the out,side door of the cabin [
Across the brook, on the opposite side fi'om his house, Haft built a barn, which was the most noticeable feature on the estate, and known far and near as the "Dutch barn." It was tbur-square on t}m ground,, and towered up to a double story at one corner over the barn floor. The highest part was like a barrack top, froal which the roof sloped off at right angles to the north and east. About fifty years ago the old barn was torn down, and no trace of it now remains, where for many years Uncle John stored the rich products of his farm and stabled his noble steeds. He took an honest Dutch pride in his model barn, the like of which may never be seen again.
John Cochran has the honor of being thc founder of the village of Peru~ about the year 1795. He built a fi'amc house on the site now occupied by the Heyworth mansion. He was attracted to the place by the fine water-power on the river opposite his dwelling at that period~ forming a strange contrast to the slow, murky stream that can nov be seen there. One peculiarity of the region was the large number of' black bears and other wild animals that infested the woods near. "Bear Swamp," lying east by south of the village, embraced at that time a low, swampy, dense forest extending from the i'ver east of the village to that part of the town settled and occupied by Nicholas Barker.
The bluff on which Coehran built his house was bounded on the west by a stream with high banks, that came fi'om the south, down which in time came the road leading from the Union to the settlement on the river. As soon as time and means would allow, Coehran built a grist-mill on the river opposite his dwelling. He also built a log house across the river, very near the store subsequently occupied by Robert M. Day. In this log house lived Thomas Morse, the miller, who for many years was the faithful miller of the place. Two houses and a grist-mill made quite a settlement in those days, and the place soon became known through all the country as Coehran's Mill. ][t was in reality the greatest public bene~aetion the town had ever experienced. Previous to this the settlers were compelled to go to Plattsburgh fbr milling purposes.
The first pioneers following the Indian trail from the Indian Pass found themselves upon the brow of Halleck Hill. Among them was Edward Halleck. He settled just under the brow of the hill, and gave his name to it. From his house, and also from the Indian lodge to the north of it, could be seen the vast hunting grounds of the Indian, where, mider the high branches of the forest of pine, oak, elm, beech, and maple, reposed thc moose, deer, bear, and catamount, and through the best. part of which flowed the Little Ausable, at that tinlc a river of quiet beauty ,,r .f noiW merriment, as its course happened t,, li~.