Jefferson County, NY

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by the Watertown-Reunion newspaper correspondent in Chaumont, Jefferson Co., NY, with

JOHN DINGMAN, of Chaumont

(Watertown-Reunion Newspaper, April 17, 1879, p. 2)

Your correspondent having seen a short item in some of the county papers a few days since, saying that Uncle JOHN DINGMAN, of Chaumont, would be 100 years old on Easter Sunday, and thinking that a portion of the old gentleman's early history would be of interest to the Despatch readers, proceeded to interview him at his residence about one mile from the village. We found Uncle John enjoying a snooze as he termed it, and excusing himself with the remark that he had just returned from Lewis County where he had been fish peddling and was out late the night before. We at once informed him that we desired to publish a portion of his early history, and had come to him for facts, when the following dialogue took place:

Reporter-Uncle John, have you any record of the year in which you were born?

Uncle D-Yes; I found the old family Bible only last week at the house of my brother-in-law, JOHN BURKE, in Lewis County, and I took a copy of the record of my birth. Here it is (he produced a paper which read as follows) JOHN DINGMAN was born the 13th day of April in the year of our Lord, one thousand seven hundred and seventy-nine at Amsterdam, NY.

Reporter-How long have you lived in Chaumont?

Uncle D- Over seventy years. When I came here this whole region was a howling wilderness, with the ague so thick that you could almost see it in the air. Wolves were plenty, and no end to the deer.

Reporter--Were there many inhabitants in the village when you came?

Uncle D-No; there were only three houses here, one on the village side of the stone bridge, and two on the other. The old "Chaumont House" was being built by Quakers, and was up as high as the windows.

Reporter--I suppose ciscoes were very plentiful in those days?

Uncle D-Yes, but they were considered worthless then. We only cared for whitefish and trout. I recollect well of building a five rod sein after work would haul sein nights, catching in nine consecutive nights one hundred and ten barrels of whitefish with my little sein.

Reporter-Was there any bridge across Chaumont Bay then?

Uncle D.- No. People ferried across in a scow large enough to transport a team and wagon.

Reporter-Was the turnpike open in those days?

Uncle D-Yes, but as a toll road. The turnpike was open from Brownville to Cape Vincent with a toll gate every ten miles.

Reporter-How long since you kept the stone tavern?

Uncle D.-About 30 years. Since then I have lived on this farm.

Reporter-Is your health good yet?

Uncle D-Yes, just as good as it was 15 years ago for all I can see. Oh, I am good for twenty years yet.

Reporter-Are you going down to the village and sign Burdick's temperance pledge?

Uncle D-No, sir, I won't sign away my rights for no man. I like to take a whirl myself nows and thens with the boys.

Reporter-Good day, Uncle John.

Uncle D-Good day, and send me a paper when you print my interview.

We promised him a paper and took our departure.

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