A. D. (Amos Delos) Gridley.

History of the town of Kirkland, New York (Volume 1) online

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OF '






Cambridge: ®l)e Biucvsite Press.

Entered, according to Act of Congress, in the year 1S74, by


in the Office of the Librarian of Congress, at Washington.








" Other men laboured, and ye are entered into their labours.''"


This book owes its origin to the desire often expressed
by some of the older inhabitants of Kirkland that the
writer would prepare a full and connected history of the
town. Some considerable progress had already been
made in the production of such a history by the lecture
of Hon. O. S. Williams, in the year 1848, and the
chapter relating to this town in the " Annals " of Hon.
Pomroy Jones, written some twenty-eight years ago.
But these gentlemen did not attempt complete histories,
and they were among the most earnest in soliciting the
writer to prosecute further the work which they had

It has been my pleasant labor during several years past
to collect the materials of the volume herewith presented.
Starting with the important papers above referred to,
I have endeavored to supplement them by every means
within my reach. The few survivors of our early times
and their immediate descendants have been frequently
consulted, and the information gleaned from them has
been carefully recorded. Whatever documents, old cor-
respondence, or historical papers could be found to throw


light upon this subject, have been sought for and freely

The book thus prepared consists of a preliminary sketch
of this region of country before it was settled by white
inhabitants ; some account of the several Indian tribes
of this neighborhood ; an outline of the history of the
town from its beginning until the present time ; sketches
of the several churches and literary institutions of the
place ; also of its natural history, its agriculture, horti-
culture, and rural embellishment ; of its manufactures and
mining operations, and of various other matters which
need not here be enumerated.

In writing the earlier portions of this history, I have
drawn freely from the pages of Judge Williams and
Judge Jones whatever seemed important in construct-
ing my narrative. Facts have also been gathered from
the lecture of Hon. William Tracy, of New York, on
" Men and Events in the Early History of Oneida
County ; " from the lectures of M. M. Bagg, M. D., of
Utica, on " The Men of Old Fort Schuyler ; " and from
" The League of the Iroquois," by Lewis H. Morgan.
Among those whom I have consulted personally, mention
should be made of the late Rev. Dr. Norton, the late
James D. Stebbins, the late Mrs. Orrin Gridley, Mrs.
Eli Lucas, Mr. George Bristol, and Mr. Gaius Butler.
The sketch of the Botany of this town, which appears
in the Appendix, was copied, so far as it was applicable,
ii\ m the "Catalogue of Plants found in Oneida County
and Vicinity," published a few years ago by Prof. John


A. Paine, of New York ; and its accuracy and fullness
are assured by the notes of Prof. Oren Root, LL. D., of
Hamilton College. To insure entire impartiality and
correctness in the histories of the several churches, pains
has been taken to have them drawn up, as far as prac-
ticable, by persons representing the respective denomi-

It seemed appropriate to commence this history with
some account of the Indians who inhabited this region
before the whites visited it. They built no monuments
to themselves, they left nothing upon the soil of Kirkland
except a few arrow-heads ; and they would soon cease to
be remembered did not we, their pale-faced successors,
gather up and preserve the fragments which remain of
their sad history. And surely the white men who cleared
up these forests, and laid the foundations of our churches
and schools and social order, and whatever else of good
we inherit, should not go uncommemorated. Especially
at a time like this, when nearly all the older towns of
the country are preparing histories of their several
localities, and when even a multitude of families are
zealously writing and publishing their genealogies, does
it not become us who are well-born, and who are fast
approaching our centennial anniversary, to see to it that
the record of what our fathers were and what they
accomplished, is not forgotten and left to perish ? If a
tithe of the noble spirit which animated those fathers
dwells in their sons, they will be held in abiding \onor.

With these prefatory words, I submit this litole book


to my fellow-townsmen with something of that confidence
which their kind and cheering words during its prepara-
tion were fitted to inspire.

A. D. G.
Clinton, N. Y., 1873.



Geographical and Topographical. — Natural History. — Indian Tribes,
namely: The Oneidas, Stockbridges, Tuscaroras, and Brothertowns. —
Relations of this Region to the French and English Wars and to the Rev-
olution. — The old "Line of Property." — Efforts to instruct and chris-
tianize the Indians. — Their manifest Destiny 1


Early Settlement, when and by whom. — Settlement of the neighboring
Towns. — Incidents of the first three Years. — The first public Religious
Service. — The first Grist-Mill; first Saw-Mill. — The Village of Clinton
named. — The first Death, and the first Wedding. — Horses introduced,
and a fast Horse. — Great scarcity of Food. — The Town receives its
Name. — The first frame House. — The first Birth .... 18


A Chapter of Miscellanies: Habits and Customs of the Indians. — A few
Notables. — Story of "the fine fat Steer." — Case of Heinrich Staring. —
The Oneida Chief and Major Pond. — Elijah Wampe. — Skenandoa. —
Plattcoff. — Visit and Report of President Dwight. — Samson Occum . —
Good Peter. — Naming of the Streets. — The first Burglary. — Moses
Foot's Flower-Garden 36


Sketch of the Life and Character of the Rev. Samuel Kirkland . . 62


Religious Denominations: The Congregational Church, and the Presbyte-
rian Church. — Sketch of the Life and Character of the Rev. Asahel S.
Norton, D. D. — The Methodist Church.— The Universalist Church. —
The College Church. —The Baptist Church. —The Manchester Church.
— Saint Mary's Roman Catholic Church. — Saint James' Episcopal
Church 90



Educational Institutions : Hamilton Oneida Academy. — Hamilton College.

— Clinton Grammar School. — Miss Royce's Seminary. — The Liberal
Institute, in its two Departments. — Mr. Kellopg's Domestic Seminary.

— The Home Cottage Seminary. — Dwigkt's Rural High School, and
the Clinton Rural High School. — The Cottage Seminary. — Houghton
Seminary. — Mrs. Marr's Select School. — The Common Schools . 120


Agriculture. — Horticulture. — Ornamental Gardening. — Kirkland Agri-
cultural Society. — The Clinton Rural Art Society. — The Clinton Ceme-
tery. — The College Grounds ■ 151


Manufactures and Mining: The Clinton Woolen Factory. — Kellogg's and
Wood's Fulling Mill. — Nail Factory. — Marvin's Hat Factory. — Scythe
Factory. — Clock Making. — Pottery. — Brick Making. — Manufacture
of Potash. — Tanneries. — Grist-Mills. — Saw-Mills. — Chair Factory. —
Distillery. — Manchester Cotton Factory. — Clarks' Mills. — Iron Ore: its
Discovery; the Situation and Extent of the Mines; the Quality and Value
of the Ore. — The Franklin Iron Works. — The Clinton Iron Works. —
Cheese Factories 162


Of Many Things: Prominent Physicians, Lawyers, and Farmers. — The
Laying out of Streets. — The Chenango Canal. — The Plank Road. —
The Telegraph. — The Express Business. — Banks and Banking Houses.

— Incorporation of the Village of Clinton. — Village Newspapers and
Printing Office. — Agricultural Papers. — Population of Town and Vil-
lage. — The Utica, Clinton, and Binghamton Railroad. — The Rome and
Clinton Railroad. — Patriotism of the Inhabitants of Kirkland. — Gen-
eral Review 178


1. Catalogue of Trees and Plants in the Town of Kirkland . 201

2. Extracts from Address of Hon. Anson S. Miller .... 216

3. Exercises at the Dedication of the Kirkland Monument . . 221

4. Subscriptions for building Hamilton Oneida Academy . . 226

Index 229


— ♦—

Map of the Town of Kirkland .... Frontispiece.

Portrait of Samuel Kirkland 62

Old White Meeting-House . . . . . . . 95

Hamilton Oneida Academy 122

Clinton Grammar School 132





Before the settlement of central New York by per-
manent inhabitants, this region of country had been vis-
ited by white men at different times, and in pursuit
of widely different objects. Among the first were the
Jesuit missionary Isaac Jogues and his associates, Rend
Goupil and Guillaume Couture, who, in the year 1641,
were brought here from Canada by the Mohawks as pris-
oners of war, but who spent a portion of the time of their
captivity in exploring the Mohawk Valley. These pio-
neers were followed by others in succession for many
years, until the year 1700, when all Jesuit priests were
expelled by law from the State of New York. Between
1712 and 1764, several Protestant missionaries also vis-
ited the Indian tribes of central New York, and labored
among them with greater or less success.

Dutch traders from Fort Orange (now Albany) like-
wise penetrated the country at an early day, intent on
opening traffic with the Iroquois, and securing the monop-
oly of trade to themselves. These pioneers and explorers
from the East followed, for the most part, the old Indian
trail which for centuries had run from the Hudson River,
near Albany, to Lake Erie, at Buffalo, and which, on the


opening of the country to civilization, was found to be the
natural and best route for travel and commerce.

On the breaking out of the old French War, in 1755,
the Mohawk Valley was entered by the military forces of
the English under Lord Amherst, who fortified different
points between Herkimer and the Great Lakes, some of
which became the theatres of bloody battles. Among
these were Fort Dayton, now Herkimer, Fort Schuyler,
now Utica, and Tort Stanwix, now Rome. Nor should
we omit to mention the village of Oriskany, the encounter
at which place, at a later day, forms an important page
in the history of the American Revolution.

In the year 1683, the territory lying mostly within the
present limits of the State of New York was divided into
twelve counties, namely : New York, Albany, Dutchess,
Kings, Queens, Orange, Ulster, Richmond, Suffolk, West-
chester, Dukes, and Cornwall. In 1772, the county of
Try on was formed out of Albany, and in 1784, its name
was changed to Montgomery, in honor of the great gen-
eral who fell at Quebec. By an Act of the same Legis-
lature, Montgomery was divided into four districts, named
Mohawk, Canajoharie, Palatine, German Flats, and Kings-
land. The district of German Flats lay along the Mohawk
River, and extended westward to the boundary of the
State, its whole territory being an unbroken forest.

In March, 1788, by an Act of the Legislature, German
Flats was divided, and, among others, the town of Whites-
town was formed out of it, and its boundaries fixed and
described as follows : on the north by Canada ; on the
east by a line crossing the Mohawk River at the ford near
the house of William Cunningham, and running north
and south to the State lines ; on the south by the State
of Pennsylvania ; and on the west by the bounds of the


State. The house of William Cunningham stood near
the foot of the present Genesee Street, in Utica.

Whitestown was again divided in April, 1792, and the
following towns constructed out of its territory, namely :
Westmoreland, Steuben, Paris, Mexico, Peru, and Whites-

The county of Herkimer was divided in 1798, and the
additional counties of Oneida and Chenango formed out
of it. By several subsequent Acts of the Legislature, be-
tween the years 1802 and 1816, Oneida County was
divided and reduced in territorial extent until it was
brought to its present limits.

By a law passed April 13, 1827, the town of Kirkland
was formed from a part of Paris, — and so named in honor
of the missionary, Kirkland, — and in February, 1829, the
town of Marshall was formed from a part of the town of

This town is situated in the middle portion of the
county of Oneida. Its latitude, — assuming the Litch-
field Observatory at Hamilton College to be its geo-
graphical centre, — is 43° 3' 16" 5 north, and its longi-
tude 5h. lm. 37s. 12 west from Greenwich. It is about
six hundred and seven feet above the level of the sea.
The surface of the country is diversified by hills and val-
leys. On the west is a range running north to south,
near the summit of which Hamilton College is situated,
and on the east and south is the lower part of Paris Hill
and Chuckery. The valley between is watered by the
Oriskany Creek, which, formed from two branches rising
in the towns of Madison and Sangerfield, and uniting at
Deansville, flows northward a distance of twelve miles, and
empties into the Mohawk River near the village of Oris-
kany. This creek is fed by numerous smaller streams


known to the older inhabitants as Sherman Brook, Mar-
vin Brook, and White Brook. Its water-power is con-
siderable, the descent between the southern and northern
limits of the town being about one hundred and seventy
feet. Oriskany is an Indian name, formed from the word
Ockrisk or Orisca, signifying nettles ; and it was applied
to this creek by the natives on account of the abundance
of these weeds growing along its banks.


The Geology and Mineralogy of Kirkland are briefly
described by Dr. Oren Root, of Hamilton College, as fol-
lows : —

" The rocks belong to what our geologists call the Silu-
rian Age. The lowest in place is the Oneida conglomer-
ate, a hard, gritty rock, of grayish color, and composed
of quartz pebbles finely cemented. This rock is seen by
the roadside, a short distance from Clinton, toward Utica.

" Above the conglomerate, w r e find the rocks of the Clin-
ton Group, well developed on both sides of the valley of
the Oriskany Creek. These rocks consist of alternate
layers of shale and hard sandstone, with very impure
limestone. They contain beds of lenticular iron ore,
and abundant remains of Fucoids, Corals, Mollusks, and

" In the ravines on College Hill, w r e find directly above
the Clinton rocks, a thin deposit of the shales of the
Niagara Group, containing imbedded masses of limestone
with lead and zinc ores.

" Next above these dark shales, we find the red shale
of the Onondaga Group, a rock of great thickness, and
well developed in this town, but as elsewhere entirely
destitute of fossils.


" On the hills both east and west of the Oriskany, and
south of the red shale, we find the drab-colored rocks of
the Water-lime Group.

" The valleys and most of the hillsides of this town are
covered with the material of the Drift Period, consisting
of sand, gravel, and pebbles cemented with clay.

" The rocks of Kirkland contain numerous Fossils. Of
the following genera of Mollusks there are many species,
to wit : Orthis, Lingula, Leptasna, Atrypa, Pentamerus,

" Of chambered shells : Oncocerus, Orthocerus, Corals,
and Crinoids are abundant, and Fucoids in certain locali-
ties ; but Trilobites are more rarely found.

" The minerals of Kirkland are as follows : Oxide of
Iron, Sulphuret of Iron, Carbonate of Iron, Sulphuret of
Lead, Sulphuret of Zinc, Strontianite, Celestine, Calcite,
Gypsum, Quartz Crystals."

Of Birds, the catalogue is, for substance, this : The
common black-bird, crow black-bird, bob-o-link, blue-
bird, crane, cat-bird, cherry or cedar bird, chip-bird,
chickadee, the crow, cow-bird, cuckoo, eagle, ground-bird,
fish-hawk, hen-hawk, yellow-hammer, humming-bird, in-
digo-bird, blue-jay, king-fisher, meadow-lark, sky-lark,
sand-martin, house-martin, several varieties of the owl,
i?he oriole, partridge, wild-pigeon, Phoebe-bird, plover,
robin, song- sparrow, wood-sparrow, several sorts of swal-
low and of the snow-bird, the common snipe, tip-up or tit-
lark, song-thrush, brown thrush, wood-wren, yellow wren,
brown wren, two or three kinds of wood-pecker, and the
yellow-bird. A few of the above list we suspect are birds
of civilization.

The Soil of this town may be described in general
terms as a clayey loam, with here and there beds of sand


and gravel. The alluvial deposits along the shores of
the Oriskany are rich in the elements of fertility.

The principal Forest-trees are the maple, in its varieties
of the rock, the scarlet, the black, the striped bark, and
the mountain maple ; the white, the red, and the cork-
bark elm ; the white and black ash ; the white and red
beech ; the black and yellow birch ; the basswood, but-
tonwood, ironwood or hornbeam, butternut, bitternut,
wild poplar, wild cherry, the hemlock, white pine, and,
more rarely, the tulip-tree, white oak, the larch, black
spruce, and white cedar or arbor-vitse. 1

The Animals originally inhabiting these forests were
the black bear, the lynx or wild cat, the red fox, the
wolf, weasel, rabbit, skunk, raccoon, musk-rat ; red,
gray, and black squirrels; the chip- muck, and wood-


Of the Indian tribes inhabiting this part of the State,
the Oneidas were the chief. As to their origin the tra-
ditions are various, but the one most credible represents
them as coining at a very early period from the northern
shores of the St. Lawrence, near Montreal, and settling
on the shores of the lake which bears their name. For
an indefinite period they lived separate from the tribes
around them ; but about one hundred years before the
landing of the Dutch at 'New York, they combined with
several other tribes and formed the famous League of the

Their domain extended from the lands of the Mohawks
on the east to those of the Onondagas on the west ; on

1 For a more adequate view of the Trees and Plants of this town, see
Appendix I.


the north to the St. Lawrence, and on the south to an
indefinite point in Pennsylvania. Not so warlike and
bloodthirsty as the Mohawks, they were yet more cool
and determined in the heat of battle, and more sagacious
and influential in the councils of the great confederacy.
The best informed travellers who visited them at an early
day speak in admiration of their noble physiques, their
polished manners and their very musical language.

• David Cusick, the Tuscarora historian, says that " the
earliest recollected residence " of the Oneidas was upon
the southern shore of Oneida Lake, near the mouth of
Oneida Creek. Remains of their rude fortifications were
found here by the first white settlers. From this place
they removed to the lands covered by the present town
of Stockbridge, Madison County, where their Sacred
Stone was deposited. 1 It is believed that this removal

1 In respect to this Stone, antiquarians are not wholly agreed. Some hold
that it was not a material rock, but a purely symbolical stone, designed to
represent the spirit and qualities of the nation. Others maintain that it was a
veritable stone. And there is a respectable legend concerning it which we are
bound reverently to hand over to posterity. It runs thus : —

At the first settlement of the tribe near Oneida Lake, they found an oblong,
roundish stone, unlike any of the rocks in the vicinity, which became their
sacrificial altar, and gave the name to their tribe. Onia is the word in their
dialect for a scone (Morgan says: "The stone known as granite"), and a s
they increased in numbers, they became known as the Onia-tang, or People of
the Stone. Around this stone they assembled for council and for festive and
religious games. Here they slit the ears of their sons when they went on the
war-path. When they removed from the region of the lake, to the town of
Stockbridge, this stone removed without the help of human hands to their new
home, and deposited itself in the centre of a butternut grove overlooking a wide
and fertile valley. Here it remained until the tribe had become widely dis-
persed and its unity destroyed.

In the year 1849, when the Forest Hill Cemetery, near Utica, was laid out,
the trustees learned that Mr. James Gregg, of Stockbridge, on whose farm the
reputed Oneida Stone rested, was desirous that it should be removed to some
public inclosure, where it would be protected from injury, and its history and
associations preserved in memory. The trustees thereupon procured its
removal to Utica, and it now stands upon a grass-plot just within the gates of


was made prior to the formation of the Iroquois con-'
federacy, about 1530. At some unknown period before
the year 1600, they again changed their headquarters to
a place called Ca-no-wa-loa, the present site of Oneida
Castle. They resided here in 1609, when the Dutch
settled upon Hudson River. Tradition says that in
the year 1650, they numbered three thousand souls. In
1677, they were represented as having one village of one
hundred houses, and about two hundred fighting men.
In 1763, Sir William Johnson, Indian Agent, reports :
" Oneidas, two hundred and fifty men, two villages, one
of them twenty-five miles from Fort Stanwix, the other
twelve miles west of Oneida Lake, with emigrants in
several places towards the Susquehanna River." In
1768, he reports, " fifteen hundred souls, all told."

In the long controversies between the rival colonies
of the French in Canada and the English in New York,
the Oneidas bore an important part. As a general fact,
they sided with the English ; though the showy presents,
plausible speeches and imposing religious ceremonies of
the French often blinded their eyes, and made them
waver from their steadfastness.

Prior to the French War of 1755, Sir William John-
son exerted a powerful sway over the whole confederacy ;
and it was chiefly through his influence that a large por-
tion of the Iroquois were brought into alliance with the
English during that war. At the beginning of the
American Revolution, the colonists felt the importance
of keeping the Indian tribes in a state of neutrality ; or

the cemetery. At the dedication of the cemetery, the remnants of the
Oneidas in this region and a few Onondagas were present. Ono-neo-gon, the
head chief of the Oneidas, made an address, which was interpreted to the
assembly. The natives then sang their national songs around the stone, and
surrendered it to the care of their white brethren to preserve for future times.


if they insisted on fighting, of securing their adhesion to
the colonial interest. As one means of effecting this,
they applied to the Rev. Samuel Kirkland, a missionary
among the Oneidas, Judge James Dean, and Ske-
nandoa the Oneida chief, and besought them to use
their endeavors to hold the Iroquois at peace with both
parties. The Mohawks and the western tribes could not
be controlled, but the main body of the Oneidas, with
portions of the Tuscaroras and the St. Regis tribe, were
held firm for the colonists. And yet, knowing what we
do of the Indian character, it is no matter of surprise to
find that as the great war waxed hot around them, the
Oneidas were sometimes drawn into it. To give them
some show of employment, the colonial government often
used them as scouts and skirmishers, and in procuring
and conveying intelligence of the movements of the enemy.
They were also required to maintain a strong out-post at
Oneida Castle, so as to interrupt the movements of the
British forces up and down the Mohawk Valley.

At the close of the war, so great and so rapid was the
influx of white settlers into the Indian territory, it de-
volved upon our government to form new treaties and

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Online LibraryA. D. (Amos Delos) GridleyHistory of the town of Kirkland, New York (Volume 1) → online text (page 1 of 17)