The Conklin Family’s Sad Departure from Copake

Jacob Conklin, born in 1771 and his wife Catharine Brazie, born 1781, were raised near Copake Lake under the often onerous life lease system of the Livingston Manor. Jake, a broad shouldered man who was over 6 feet tall is said to have frequently gifted the Livingston lords with game and fish which he trapped, shot or caught. It is believed to that he often accompanied the younger members of the Livingston family as a guide on their hunting and fishing excursions. Thus for all outward purposes he appeared to be quite content with his life in Copake. In fact, however, he longed to be free of the Livingston’s claim for rent of the land that he farmed.

In the Conklin’s later years the title to their Copake home was fast running to its end and the couple and their eight children, Cornelius, Mary, Peter, John, Hannah, Elias, James, and Helen made the difficult decision reached by scores of other Copake folks in that era, to leave both the land they had known all of their lives and their friends. In their case the destination would be the Finger Lakes region of western New York. Thus in 1828, in part influenced by positive reports from their oldest son, Cornelius, who had accompanied some people to the Finger Lakes region, they decided to leave with their eight children.

After making their way by the Erie Canal and by wagon, some weeks later, the Conklin’s reached their destination, the town of Penn Yan. There, for $1000 they purchased the 114 acre lot number 50 the “Father TOWNSEND farm,” on the Lake road, which was fairly well cleared and had a double log house, an orchard, and lakefront.

Catherine died in 1843 after which Jacob remarried. He died in 1853 at age 78. Three of the Conklin children retained some of their Copake ties through marriage. Cornelius married Ann Bevins, Mary married John Benjamin and Helen married John Whitbeck all of whom also came from Copake.