John Thurman, pioneer, businessman, politician, concerned citizen, and the namesake of the Town of Thurman was indeed “a man for all seasons.” He was born in New York City, the son of John Thurman Senior and Elizabeth Wessels. By the year 1760, Thurman was established in business on Wall Street. He became a member of the Committee of Inspectors, who worked to enforce the observation of the Non-import Agreement. He also took a very active part in the affairs of the Sons of Liberty and wanted to oppose the Stamp Act. John Thurman was a charter member of the New York City Chamber of Commerce, which was organized in 1768. In 1770 Thurman suggested a plan of fire insurance to the New York City Chamber of Commerce. The idea was brought up repeatedly before and during the Revolutionary War, but without results. He was ahead of his time – for almost the entire city was destroyed by fire in 1776 and again in 1778.
It would seem that John Thurman walked a narrow line between Patriot and Tory. When the Continental Congress was founded in 1775, he did not favor open acts of rebellion against the king and was forced to remove to the area occupied by the British where he remained during the Revolution.
Since it was apparent that he had committed no acts against the rebellion, his property and citizenship privileges were restored in 1784.
Thurman built a sawmill, gristmill, distillery, and a calico printing plant. The calico plant is believed to have been the first of its kind in America.
John Thurman met a tragic death on September, 1807. He was gored by a bull on a farm in Bolton Landing, New York. History records his burial on his own premises on ground now included in the Methodist Cemetery at Johnsburg Corners.
Unlike many of the first settlers of this area whose names still remain today, the Thurman name is no longer found, but history will never let us forget this pioneer name and his many accomplishments.