The centerpiece of the Delaware County Historical Association museum is the 1797 Gideon Frisbee House. The following is an overview of the house and certain of its inhabitants: Gideon Frisbee (b. 1758 - d. 1828) settled in what was to become Delaware County around the year 1788. Typical of early pioneers to the region, he came to the Delaware River valley from Connecticut (Branford), via New Canaan, (Columbia County) NY. Gideon was the first son of Philip Frisbie, a fifth generation descendant of Congregationalist Puritans who settled in the New World during the early seventeenth century. Gideon, his parents and siblings, moved from Connecticut to New Canaan in the mid-1760’s. Philip Frisbie had been a Captain of Company 3, 17th Regiment of NY State Militia during the Revolutionary War, fought at Saratoga in 1777, was promoted to Major, and after the war served in the NYS Assembly. In 1787 he was appointed Lieutenant Colonel of a militia unit in Columbia County.
Delaware County’s history has been shaped to a large degree by its geography and the perseverance of the people who have settled and stewarded the county’s upland terrain. Many early settlers farmed the rocky hillsides and narrow valley bottoms, others sought the raw materials in the forests. Before the mid-eighteenth century Mohawk tribes of the Iroquois Confederation called the region around the two branches of the Delaware River home. Beginning in the 1740’s, however, Europeans began to move into the area from the east and northeast, traveling overland through the Catskill Mountains, or utilizing the region’s many waterways. For the most part, these new arrivals constructed rude log cabins in clearings hewn into the forests and occupied themselves with hunting and trapping. By the time of the American Revolution most of the region had been apportioned out in tracts to wealthy speculators from the cities along the eastern seaboard and even among some who lived in Europe. Patent holders sold some of this land to pioneering settlers, such as Gideon Frisbee, while large tracts, sometimes consisting of thousands of acres, continued to be owned by the likes of Dutchman Johannes Hardenburgh.