Cooper's Inheritance: The Otsego Country and its Founders Lyman H. Butterfield* (Institute of Early American History and Culture, Williamsburg, VA) Published as New York History, Vol. 35, No. 4 (October, 1954), pp. 374-411. (Special Issue -- James Fenimore Cooper: A Re-Appraisal)
From Chamouilley, Department of the Upper Marne, to New York City in 1789 came a father, Charles Franchot, and his four sons. In France they had conducted an iron-forging business, and most of their trade was with the royal government. They were bound for the French colony on the Scioto River in Ohio, but were persuaded during their stay in the city to go to Otsego, where two or three of their compatriots had settled. The youngest son, Stanislas Pascal Franchot, in later years wrote a narrative of the family's trip to their forest home that epitomizes the unrecorded experiences of hundreds of early settlers.
In April 1790 the Franchots came up the Hudson and proceeded out the Mohawk to Canajoharie by batteau. Here they hired wagons to transport themselves and goods to Major Staats' place at the head of Lake Otsego, where they were disappointed in not finding boats to float them down the Lake.
Being the youngest [Franchot goes on], I came down to Cooperstown, made out to get Capt. Howard, Averill and others with all the boats, and brought our luggage and family to the outlet of the Lake on the banks of which a tavern was kept by a worthy Scotchman, Mr. Ellison, where we were well entertained and were introduced to Mr. Bowen from New York who was then on the opposite bank or side, clearing and burning brush where his house was afterward built. I found that I had committed a blunder, there was no road from Cooperstown to Butternuts. I ought to have turned off from Springfield to Schuyler's Lake and so on to Tunnicliffe and Burlington. I immediately set out through Hartwick to Major Butterfield's, thence was shown a path which went to Burlington but this path was so blind I got lost and bewildered, travelled almost all night and happened to sec just before daylight fires for which I steered, found a Mr. Palmer who had got up to punch his log heap and who met me with a hand spike in a threatening posture, but we were soon made friends. I was so much Frenchified he could not understand me. I must have been a great curiosity for he examined me very closely. My manchettes, my coat, my shoes, my double barrelled gun all appeared odd to him. He became very kind to me, took me into his house and comforted me the best way he could. After feeding me and showing me real good will he put me on the right road and I arrived safely at Butternuts, distant 17 miles.
After [returning to Cooperstown and] apprising my brothers of my mistake we immediately set out and with the advice of Judge Cooper hired Major Butterfield, an excellent good man and some of his neighbors who cut out a road from this place to Johnson's, a mile above Garratsville, and moved the family and all our baggage from Cooperstown with ox wagons exactly fitted for going through the woods.
The Franchots called their settlement Louisville (now the village of Morris); the father soon returned to France; and three of the brothers died before 1800. But Pascal, who was only sixteen when he made his cross-country trip through Otsego, formed a mercantile partnership with Volckert Van Rensselaer, became Le Ray de Chaumont's land agent, built a cotton mill, became affluent, married well, held numerous local offices, lived until 1855, and left a numerous and distinguished line of descendants, some of whom are still living in the Butternuts Valley.
On the Franchots see John Warner Bishop, Stanislas Pascal Franchot (1774-1855) (Privately printed, 1935). Pascal's own narrative, written in 1854, is at p. 18-22.
Hudson-Mohawk Genealogical and Family Memoirs, edited by Cuyler Reynolds (New York: Lewis Historical Publishing Company, 1911).
Judge Pascal Franchot, born March 30, 1774, in the department of de la Haule Marne, Canton de Sainte Dezier, Commune de Chamouelly, France, whose father emigrated from France to the United States at the beginning of the French revolution with his sons, who when he saw them safely settled in Otsego county returned to France.
Judge Franchot was an important factor in the development of that then wild region and was an influential man in many ways. He married (first) Catherine, (second) Deborah, both daughters of Derrick Hansen. He had ten children.
Richard, son of Judge Franchot, was born in Morris, Otsego county, New York, in 1816. He was for several years president of the Albany and Susquehanna railroad. In 1860 he was elected to congress. In 1862 he was made colonel of the One Hundred and Twenty-first regiment, New York Volunteers. He resigned his commission to Colonel Upton, and served out his term as congressman, after which he removed to Schenectady. He was instrumental in establishing the cotton and woolen mills at Morris, and did much to advance the general interests of that town. He died in Schenectady, November 23, 1875. He married Annie Van Vranken, and they were the parents of Jeannette (Franchot) Paige.
Judge Pascal Franchot was born March 30, 1877, in the Department de la Haute Marne, Canton de Sainte Dexier, Commune de Chamouilly, and married for his first wife Miss Catherine Hansen, of Greenbush, N. Y., and for his second wife Miss Deborah Hansen, both of whom were daughters of Derrick Hansen. His family consisted of ten children,--three sons and seven daughters, viz.: Miss Julia A. Franchot, resides in the village of Morris. Helen, married Volkert De Peyster Douw, of Albany. Joanna married henry R. Van Rensselaer, of Morris. Francis G., married a. c. Powell, of Syracuse. Meta married Robert Wells, of Riverton, N. J.. Miss Antoinette and Charles F., reside in Syracuse. Louis Franchot, deceased; his widow resides in the village of Morris. Marie Augustus, in Canandaigua. Richard Franchot deceased; his widow resides in Schenectady, N.Y.
Richard, son of Pascal Franchot, was born in Morris, in 1816; was a leading citizen of the century. He held the office of supervisor of the town, and was for several years president of the Albany and Susquehanna railroad. In 1860 he was elected to congress, and in 1862, he was made colonel of the 121st Regiment, N. Y. S. V. He afterwards resigned his commission to colonel Upton, of the regular army, and, after serving out his term of office, removed his residence to Schenectady. He was chiefly instrumental in establishing the cotton and woolen factories at Morris, and did much to advance the general interest of the town. He died in Schenectady, Nov. 23, 1875. Further particulars of the life of Judge Franchot will be found in reminiscences written by himself, and published elsewhere in this volume.
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