HISTORY MYSTERY: Wellers of Dutch Settlement
Dutch Settlement was a community founded by the Young brothers who settled in the Caughdenoy area of Clay. Actually they were Germans from the Palatinate area who were kicked out by the French. Deutsch means German, but was interpreted to mean Dutch here in America. Five sons and three daughters of Jeremiah and Mary Strobeck Young settled in the Clay area beginning around 1812, moving from the Schoharie County after the Revolutionary War had obtained the Haudenosaunee Indian land.
The youngest was Mary Young born April 9, 1905 and baptized April 16 in the Lawyersville Reformed Church. Some children were baptized Lutheran and some reformed. She married Robert N. Weller, who had come to Onondaga County sometime before 1822. They settled a farm on Settlement Road (now VerPlank Road) between Caughdenoy and Van Hoesen Roads in Dutch Settlement. This area around the intersections of VerPlank, Caughdenoy and Mud Mill Roads was known as Dutch Settlement. The town’s first church was built here in 1833. They had fourteen children, the two elder being Jeremiah and Robert Alpheus (Lambert Weller’s father.) The younger generation referred to her as “Aunt Mary Weller” as she was a very “blunt, plainspoken woman.”
Jeremiah Weller, known as Jerry, married Lydia Ann Lynn of Lynnville, a settlement at the present intersection of Maple and Grange Roads. Also right there is the District 5 School paid for by John Lynn. Members of the Lynn family who settled there from 1805, were also good at populating an area. In the late 1850’s, Jerry built the homestead at what is now 8394 Maple Road to raise his 11 children. His small 10-acre farm was not suitable. By 1900, Matt and Effie Weller Showers lived there.
It was Robert A Weller (1828-1914) who married his first cousin, Elizabeth VanHoesen, daughter of Lambert VanHoesen. She was brought up just east of Dutch Settlement on what is now Mud Mill Road.
Robert and Elizabeth brought up their smaller family of nine children on VanHoesen Road at the homestead later occupied by their great-grandson, Ernest Hughson. Their children included: Lambert and Peter Weller, Mrs. Lester Dence, Mrs. John Carlisle, Mrs. Jacob Pink and four who died of childhood diseases in three different epidemics. They were buried with the gravestones on the back fence of Pine Plains Cemetery.
Lambert Weller (1852 – 1935) inherited property from his father-in-law, Thomas Sellens, who had inherited the old yellow brick homestead west of the railroad tracks in Cigarville. Now Clay. Weller’s Hall, built in the 1890’s, served as a general store, post office, and meeting place as well as a home for Lambert and Mary Weller and their five children. This space across the tracks from the railroad tracks in a rapidly growing cigar industry village proved to be a prosperous one. Because of such prosperity, the center of population shifted from Dutch Settlement to Cigarville (Clay).
The Immanuel Evangelical Lutheran Church relocated from VerPlank Road to a plot of land donated by Weller just west of Weller’s Hall. During the church’s reconstruction, using much of the building materials from the old church building, services were held upstairs at Weller’s Hall until the church was dedicated in June, 1916. Other groups which met at the Hall included the Patrons of Industry, the Patrons of Husbandry, Knights of the Maccabees and the Clay Social Club.
On the first floor, the general store was on the west side while the family lived on the east side. For many years, the structure was the home of Charles and Cora Weller Driscoll. Eventually it was donated to Immanuel Church by Cora with the stipulation that she would have life tenancy. After her passing, it was demolished in 1971 in order to enlarge the church parking lot. Looking through Clay’s history, one can find many examples of the contributions this sturdy pioneer family made to its history.
Dorothy Heller, Historian