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JOSEPH ELDER.—This individual was of Irish origin, but at what time the family came into the country or town we are not informed. During the Revolution he was a young man, and some militia troops to which he belonged were ordered to the north. At a fixed time they were to be at Newburgh or New Windsor, and transported up the river on board a sloop provided for the purpose. Mr. Elder, for some cause, did not arrive at the place of rendezvous till too late to take his passage; the sloop had left with a fair wind and out of sight above the Danskammer. Go he must or be called a Tory, and there was no recourse left him but to try the distance on foot. Elder, young, patriotic, and of an iron frame of body, buckled on his knapsack, shouldered his musket, and started. Though the sloop made a good passage for those times and had the best of the start, Elder beat her to Albany by several hours.
The farm on which he lived was quite stony, though when cleared the land was productive, and Elder, like the rest of his neighbors, converted his useless stones into wall to fence his farm. In building these he scarcely ever used a team to gather and convey the stones to their destination. With a large leather apron girt about his loins, holding the end gathered up in one hand, and tumbling the stones into it with the other, when full he would raise himself erect, and, without apparent effort, carry them off to the wall and put them in place. This course he would pursue from time to time till the walls were finished. He was industrious and eminently robust and powerful. Looking on his muscular and giant frame he reminded one of ancient Milo, who could lift a grown bullock over an ordinarily high fence. His children, of whom several were sons, partook of the magnitude and physical character of the father, with great family similitude in other respects.
Mr. Elder had received but a very limited education, yet possessing strong natural good sense, he was fitted to discharge the duties of the various town offices to public satisfaction. He was many years a magistrate of the town, and if he erred at any time, the fault was of the head and not of the heart, for he was proverbially an upright and honest man.