Dr. Japheth Hunt, First Marathon Settler
Dr. Japeth Hunt was a retired Army surgeon at the time he became the first Marathon settler. He arrived with his wife, two sons and three daughters in 1794. They traveled by canoes, up the Tioughnioga River. Hunt was 83 years old at the time of his trek up the river.
Backstory and Context
The first settlers of this town came in 1794. The very first settlers were Dr. Japheth Hunt and his wife, two sons (ames and William), as well as his three daughters. They entered the Tioughnioga Valley from the south, in canoes, about a mile south of the present village of Marathon by way of the Tioughnioga River.
Dr. Japeth Hunt came from an area in New England, and had proudly served his country in the French and Indian war as well as the Revolutionary war as surgeon for many years before his retirement. He was undoubtedly too far advanced in life, as he was an astonishing in his mid to late nineties when he took this trip up the river, to commence a new settlement by himself. But, his children were of a fitting age and possessed a capable vitality which was ideal for them due to the laborious duties that fell upon their shoulders.
Two years later in 1796, John Hunt, the eldest son of the Doctor came and settled permanently at an adjacent plot of land of his fathers. He built a log hut in 1796 south of the present village between the river and highway. Samuel M. Hunt, John’s son, was born October 30, 1798, and became the first white child born in the newly formed town. John Hunt was later appointed as the justice of the peace and held the office until his death in 1815. His widow had survived him a little more the fifty more years until her death in the middle of 1866. She died at the age of ninety-five years old. Dr. Hunt survived only a few years in his new settlement before becoming the first death in the new town, in 1798, at the ripe age of 97.
He was not the first person to settle these lands, but he was the first white settler to do so. Most areas in central New York were inhabited by various Native American Tribes.
Since his death the town has grown to be a modest rural village with a population size eclipsing nine hundred people. The current size of the village is a 1.1 square mile radius.
By: Jacob Anweiler, Brian Baloga, & Sean Kelly
History of Marathon, New York, history.rays-place.com/ny/marathon-ny.htm.
Quarterly Journal of the New York State Historical Association; Cooperstown, N.Y., etc. Vol. 7, Iss. 3, (Jul 1, 1926): 169.
Grip’s Historical Souvenir of Marathon Historical series no. IX - Grip’s souvenir Gazette - Bulletin Pub. Co. Fayetteville, NY