THE TOWN OF FREMONT
By: Charles S. Hick, Historian
The Town of Fremont came into existence on November 1, 1851 by a resolution of the Board of Supervisors of Sullivan County. It was created by dividing the town of Callicoon – the west half becoming Fremont.
Previous to the creation of the town of Callicoon in 1842 it had been a part of the town of Liberty. Records show that John Hankins, a resident of Fremont, had been active in the town affairs of Liberty. When Callicoon had its first town meeting at the home of George G. DeWitt, Hankins was present and took a leading part in the organization meeting and was elected to the office of Justice of the Peace. He became its second supervisor.
There was no road from Hankins to Liberty. Quinlan relates that he reached Liberty by following a route marked by blazed trees or crossed the Delaware, passed over a road on the Pennsylvania side to Cochecton and then to Liberty by way of Bethel. This gives an indication of this man’s interest in public affairs.
The story of the Smith family that lived on a farm now owned by Anthony Schick of Obernburg fixes the background of the town of Fremont. These Smiths were forbears of Frank S. Bury and Grandmother Smith often related that within a period of ten years they had lived in three different towns though they hadn’t moved away from their home. Before 1842 they lived in the town of Liberty. When the town of Callicoon was organized in 1842 they were then in Callicoon. In 1851 when Fremont was established they became a part of that town. To her this seemed an unusual feat – and it was.
General John C. Fremont had several admirers among the men who organized the new town and it was named in his honor. It became the eleventh town.
The lands of Fremont were the last in the county to be opened up for settlement. There were no roads to it in any direction. It was accessible by the Delaware River and its first settlers same to it up the river. Travel on the river past it must have reached a considerable volume before there was any extensive settlement in the town.
There existed a trading post at Equinunk as early as 1750 and rafts of timber starting as far up stream as Rockland came past its shores before 1800. The land was owned by absentee landlords – one of the chief owners was Lucas Elmendorf. He eventually moved into the Long Eddy section.
Isaac Simmons is credited by Quinlan of being the first settler. He settled at Hankins in 1780. He sold to Brown, who sold to Pierce. Jonas Lakin came in 1800 who sold to Elizabeth Pierce. John Hankins and Luther Appley in 1834 bought the Elizabeth Pierce property and moved there in 1835. They found an abandoned frame house, a saw mill and land that had been tilled many years. From this it may be assumed that the earlier settlers had left the lands for other parts.
In addition to the settlement at Hankins two other parts of the town were independently settled. One at Long Pond (now Tennanah) and the other [at] Basket. That these settlements had reached some size it is well to call attention to the old cemeteries at both these places.
I had assumed that Benjamin Misner was the earliest settler to come into the Long Pond section where he built a saw mill at the outlet of the pond in 1831. Quinlan states, however, that Zachariah Ferdon located at Round Pond in 1824. If Ferdon preceded Misner, it was Misner and his brother Jacobus Misner who first bought land. The two bought a tract in 1811 of Herman M. Hardenburg, a son of Gerard Hardenbnurg, who had been murdered in the town of Fallsburg, where the Misners live. Ben Misner is credited with stocking Long Pond with brook trout – some of which were later caught weighing five pounds.
The settlers at Long Pond came to the lands of Fremont through Rockland township. All contact with the outside world was over that route. The road built in 1833 from Liberty to the Delaware River opened up that portion near North Branch. A road known as the Cannon road was built over the hill to reach the Hankins settlement. This was followed by another road to Fremont Center. This I assume passed through Obernburg past the Smith home mentioned early in this article.
In 1849 the tannery business started in Fremont when Charles W. Miles and Carlos P. Holcomb built a tannery on the Hankins creek where Mileses now stands. The place was known as Milesville for some years, but finally became Mileses. The date of 1849 was two years before the Erie railroad began. If the Miles tannery produced any leather before 1851, the hides must have come across country from Liberty and the D. & H. canal at Ellenville.
The tannery in Fremont Center built by D. P. Buckley & Son of Liberty where they were tanners was a bigger establishment than the one at Milses. Benjamin P. Buckley of this firm was supervisor of Liberty when the settlers in Fremont wanted to become a new town and opposed its creation. Later the Buckley family became one of the most prominent families in Fremont and the family provided four supervisors for the town.
Quinlan lists the following names as persons prominent in the affairs of the town in 1849 and who eventually brought about the establishment of the town. Judge Samuel McKoon, Levy Harding, Roderick LaValley, Thomas S. Ward, William C. Ward, Joseph F. Yendes, Burrow Phillips, G. L. M. Hardenbergh, James Borwn, John Beck, Aaron VanBenschoten and a family of Cannons. Not many of these families are represented in the residents of Fremont today.