This is a transcription of the Cambridge, NY section from Gazetteer of the State of New York: Embracing a Comphrehensive View of the Geography, Geoloy and General History of the State and a Complete History and Description of Every County, City, Town, Village and Locality, with Full Tables of Statistics by J. H. French, Syracuse, N.Y: R. Pearsall Smith, 1860.
CAMBRIDGE–was incorp. by patent,1 July 21, 1761. It was formed as a town2 in Albany co. March 7, 1788, and annexed to Washington co. Feb. 7, 1791. White Creek and Jackson were taken off in 1815. The surface of the town is hilly in the N. and rolling in the S. The summits of the hills are 200 to 300 ft. above the valleys. The E. part embraces a portion of the valley of Owl Kil, which is celebrated for the beauty of its scenery. Upon the w. of this alley are high undulating hills, the broad sweeps of which show alternate patches of green woodland and cultivated farms; and upon the E. rise the Taghkanick Mts., rough and broken, while the valley itself is very smooth and level. The other streams are Wampecack Creek, Whiteside Brook, and several other small brooks. The soil is generally a gravelly and sandy loam. Flax is extensively cultivated. Cambridge (p. v.) contains 100 houses and the Cambridge Washington Academy; Center Cambridge (p. v.) 13 houses; North Cambridge (p. o.) 10; and Buskirks Bridge3 (p.v.) 15. The first settlers consisted of 30 families, who located in 1761, ’62, and ’63 and who each received 100 acres of land as a gift from the proprietors.4 Phineas Whiteside,5from Penn., settled 8 mi. w. of the Colerain Colony, in 1766. The expedition against Bennington, under Baum, passed through the town Aug. 13, 1777; and the remnant of the fugitives returned on the night of the 16th. The first church (Asso. Presb.) was organized in 1789; Rev. Thos. Beverly was the first pastor.6
1 This patent embraced 31,500 acres, and was nominally conveyed to 60 persons, most of whom resided in Hebron, Conn. The real owners were but 6 in number, and of these 3 only were mentioned inthe charter, viz.: Isaac Sawyer and Edward Wells, of Conn., and Jacob Lansing, founder of Lansingburgh. The other three owners–Alex. Colden, Wm. Smith and Geo. Banyar–were connected with the Colonial Government.
2 The town included a portion of the Hoosick Patent.
3 Named from Martin Van Buskirk, who built the first bridge.
4 The patent was conditional to the settlement of 30 families within 3 years; and to meet this requirement the most inviting portion was surveyed, and 100 acres offered as a gift to each family that would remove thither. These lots lay in a double row, on both sides of Owl Kil, from below the “Checkered House” into the present town of Jackson. They embrace several village precincts from Davis Corners to near Stephensons Corners. Among the settlers were Jas. and Robt., sons of Ephraim Cowan, Jas. and John Cowden, John McClung, Samuel Bell, Col. Blair, Geo. Gilmore, Geo. Duncan, David Harrow, Wm. Clark, John Scott, and Thos. Morrison. A son of the last was the first child born of civilized parents in town. Hugh Kelso, a son of Col. Blair, was the first person who died in town. It is recorded that of these 30 families (who were for a time the most thrifty in town) all but two lost their property and died in poverty, mainly from intemperance. They were mostly from Colerain, Conn.
5 William Whiteside acquired the title to 3 lots, of 400 acres each, of the finest land, and settled his sons (John, Peter, Thomas, William, and James) upon large farms near him. These estates are all owned by his descendants at the present day. The remaining lands were mostly leased by the six proprietors at an annual rent of one shilling per acre; but, they being generally willing to sell at a sum equal to the present worth of the perpetual rent, most of the settlers have gradually acquired the fee simple of their farms. The first inn was of logs, on the site of the “Checkered House,” and kept by Jas. Cowden. Philip Van Ness built the first sawmill and gristmill on Gordons Brook, near Buskirks Bridge. This neighborhood was called by the Indians “Ty-o-shoke,” and by them a field of 12 acres had been cleared there for corn. Other early settlers on the Hoosick Petent were Col. Lewis Van Wort and John Quackenbush.
6 The census reports 4 churches; 3 M. E., 1 Asso. Presb.