A. D. (Amos Delos) Gridley.

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

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the boys got better, but the red-hot stove-pipe set the
building on fire, and the boys were not in a condition to
put it out. The present school-house is only an apology
for one, and should give place to a better.

The house by the toll-gate, near Mr. Gruman's, has
a tolerably spacious play -ground, and is kept in uniformly
fair condition.

The district on Brimfield Hill does not seem to enjoy
a vigorous life, though it has given to the world some
very good men.

Manchester district was originally a large one, and had
its school-house at the junction of the Clinton road with
the Seneca turnpike. It was subsequently divided, the
Oriskany Creek being the line between the districts, and
new school-houses being built centrally in each of the new

The first school-house on Post Street was burnt some
years ago, but its place has been supplied by a new and
suitable structure.

The school-house on the Paris Hill road, near Curtis S.
Parmele's house, has been much improved within a few
years. The same may be said of the one at the foot of
College Hill.


Some three or four districts have been dissolved or
annexed to others within the past fifteen or twenty years.
Of a few others not herein reported, the history would
probably vary but little from those already referred to.

In one respect, at least, the school-house on Prospect
Hill, in the western part of the town, is worthy of its
high position. For more than fifty years a Sunday-
school has been sustained under its roof, with the help of
teachers from Hamilton College.

Within the last fifty years, important changes have
taken place in the superintendence of our common
schools. 1. A board of three inspectors and three com-
missioners was chosen at the annual town meeting. 2.
A town superintendent was substituted. 3. We have a
commissioner to supervise all the schools of each Assem-
bly district. It does not appear that all of these changes
have been improvements.




The husbandry of this town, for some time after the
first settlement of the place, was necessarily of a mixed
character. The land must needs be first cleared of a
heavy growth of timber, and a short period must elapse
before the plow could with much effect be introduced.
The implements used in clearing the forest and subduing
the soil were brought from New England, and were
heavy and rude as compared with those of the present
day. The work to be done required resolute minds and
sturdy arms ; and these the pioneer settlers possessed.
The soil was rich, and soon after it was opened to the
sun, waving fields of wheat and grass and corn sprang up
on all sides.

When the products of grain began to exceed the wants
of the population, the nearest and best market for the sur-
plus was found at Albany, to which place wheat and pork
were carried in sleighs every winter. And when the hills
and valleys became clothed with pastures, horned cattle and
sheep and horses were raised and driven to the same mar-
ket in large numbers. While these things were going on
out of doors, those who live mostty within were not idle.
Almost every farmer kept sheep enough to produce a
little wool, and raised a quantity of flax, and from these


products female industry carded and spun and wove the
common wearing apparel of the household. The buzz
of the spinning-wheel was heard as commonly in every
dwelling then, as the tinkle of the piano is now.

The town of Kirkland has always had a good reputa-
tion for its stock of horses and cattle. It is true that
some of the earlier specimens were sorry scrubs, of no
high extraction ; yet hardy they must have been, or they
could not have endured the exposures and rough usage
to which they were subjected. After a time, however,
marked improvements began to appear, especially in
horned cattle. Devons were introduced here about the
year 1814, from the herd of Chancellor Livingston, of
Dutchess County. Short Horns, or Durhams, appeared
in 1818, being brought from Springfield, Mass. The
famous Holderness breed -was introduced about the same
time, by Lewis Pond.

In general, it may be said that the principal agricul-
tural productions of the town have been from an early
date Indian corn, wheat, oats, barley, rye, grass, and
clover, buckwheat, peas, beans, potatoes, carrots, and
turnips. In later years, hops and tobacco have been
introduced. Hops, though sometimes very remunerative,
have proved quite an uncertain crop, owing chiefly to the
variable seasons, and the frequent prevalence of insects
and other forms of blight.


. This Society was formed in the winter of 18G1-62, and
has held ten autumn exhibitions. It has accomplished a
good work by promoting social freedom, and by bringing
about a friendly interchange of ideas and experiences,
and a healthy competition between the productive indus-


tries of the town. At its annual fairs the Society has
been favored with agricultural addresses by Hon. Henry
P. Norton, Dr. Thomas J. Sawyer, Dr. Samuel W.
Fisher, Prof. Charles Avery, Prof. Edward North, Dr.
John C. Gallup, Hon. Horatio Seymour, President Sam-
uel G. Brown, Prof. A. P. Kelsey, and Rev. Dwight
Williams. The list of presidents, annually elected,
runs thus : Thomas J. Sawyer, John E. Elliott, Edward
North, Levi Blakeslee, Edwin Gruman, George K. Eells,
Lyman S. Harding, T. A. Gruman, George Griffin, C. W.
Eells, Elias Stanton, and Charles L. Kellogg.


The orchard and garden have always been held here
in high consideration. Orchards were planted at the first
from seedlings raised on the spot, and then grafted with
scions of the "best apples and pears that could be found in
New England. Some of these seedlings, however, were
perpetuated, and a few of them have proved worthy of
reproduction till the present day. Others were useful
only for making cider. The peach, plum, cherry, and
quince flourished here for a period in perfection, and
yielded abundantly ; but within the past twenty years
they have all gradually declined in vigor, or become the
helpless victims of insects or blight, so that now they yield
uncertain crops. From recent indications, it is feared that
the pear will also soon disappear from the list of our re-
liable fruits. 1

Among the pioneer orchardists of Kirkland may be
mentioned Naaman Goodsell, Roswell Bronson, Dr. Seth

1 When Dr. Timothy Dwight visited this town, in September, 1799, he wrote
in his Diary as follows: " All the vegetable productions of the climate flourish
here. A farmer this year had two hundred bushels of peaches, which he sold
for a dollar a bushel."


Hastings, Rev. Dr. Norton, Ephraini Hart, Ozias Marvin,
and George Bristol. The native Indian Orchard, in
Stockbridge, Madison County, furnished several excellent
varities of fruit, one of the best being the summer apple,
known as O'Toole's Indian Rareripe. While the young
orchards of Kirkland were growing, large supplies of
apples and cider were annually brought to this market
by the Indians at Stockbridge. Mr. Goodsell claimed
that he first introduced the Early Harvest apple, the
Rhode Island Greening, Esopus Spitzenberg, Cornish
Gilliflower, Seeknofurther, and Swaar. Rev. Dr. Norton
also was quite assiduous in procuring scions from Mr.
Prince, of Flushing, and from other friends in New
England. Among the varieties of apples introduced by
him may be mentioned the Fall Pippin and English
Pearmain ; and of pears, the Virgalieu and Gansell's
Bergamot. Grafting fruit was then quite an occult art,
and the good parson went about among his parishioners,
inserting scions for them, and teaching them how to do
it for themselves. Among the pears introduced by
George Bristol, may be named the Madeleine, Bartlett,
Seckel, Bleeker, Glout Morceaux, Beurre Diel, and Easter

Among the smaller fruits, this town now produces
blackberries, currants, grapes, gooseberries, raspberries,
and strawberries, and each in numerous varieties. Among
the vegetables which have for many years enriched our
gardens, we may name the asparagus, beet, cabbage,
cauliflower, cucumber, egg-plant, melon, onion, parsnip,
pumpkin, rhubarb, salsify, squash, and tomato.




The town of Kirkland lias never fallen behind its
neighboring communities in the culture of shade trees,
shrubbery, and flowers. At first, our native trees were
seldom planted for the beautifying of streets and pri-
vate grounds. Of forest trees it was felt that there were
already too many ; they cumbered the earth ; it was the
farmer's daily task to hew them down and burn them to
make room for his crops. If trees were at all planted,
it was some pretentious foreigner, like the Lombardy
poplar, whose aspiring column was thought to mark the
progress of civilization. Quite early, however, shrubs
and blossoming vines were introduced. The flower-gar-
den, as a general rule, was simply a cultivated border by
the door-step, or by the side of the path leading from
the house to the street. Here flourished such old-time
friends as pinks, marigolds, poppies, sweet-pea, the red
peony, columbine, fleur-de-luce, morning-glory, and sweet-
william. Sometimes here, but oftener in some chosen
corner of the kitchen-garden, were planted such whole-
some herbs as sage, balm, thorough wort, and summer
savory, and such refreshing plants as caraway, fennel,
and dill. How often the spicy and odoriferous seeds of
the latter have beguiled the tedium of long sermons,
many a child and mother, and many a clergyman, could
thankfully relate !

The pleasure-grounds of our fathers were generally
of small extent. They were embraced in the narrow
piece of land which lay directly in front of the house,
and was inclosed by fences running in parallel lines from


the front corners of the house to the street. The grass
•within these bounds was seldom mowed oftener than
once in a summer.

Between the years 1840-45, a spirit of rural im-
provement began to spread over the country. These
were the days in which the lamented Downing began
to write and to make himself felt in every part of the
land. These were the days in which a new zeal sprang
up for the culture of fruits and flowers, for landscape-
gardening, and for the building of tasteful dwellings.
This spirit of improvement reached the town of Kirkland,
and soon showed itself in many practical ways. It was
felt in the orchard and garden ; it was seen in the
construction of a better class of houses, and in the reno-
vation of old ones ; it laid out ampler pleasure-grounds,
and remodeled old places which had been formed on the
rectangular method, and it planted the roadsides and the
village park with shade-trees.


The formation of the Society of Rural Art and Taste
in Clinton was one of the natural outgrowths of the
spirit to which I have just referred. It is but just,
however, to record that this association owes its origin
immediately to the suggestion of Mr. William E. Can-
ning, of Stockbridge, Mass. This gentleman, while on
a visit to Clinton in the summer of 1854, remarked to
Rev. Benjamin W. D wight that Clinton needed only
one thing more to develop its rural capabilities, and that
was a tree-planting society such as existed in Stockbridge,
and the particular features of which he proceeded to set
forth. This hint was seized upon by Dr. Dwight, and
communicated to a few other gentlemen, by whose united


consultations the original plan was much enlarged and
improved, and finally wrought into the present Rural
Art Society, whose beneficent influence has long been
felt in every part of this town.

This association holds stated monthly meetings at the
houses of its members in alphabetical order, taking
supper with the family of each member, at which meet-
ings discussions are had upon subjects of practical interest
to all dwellers in the country. The topic of each meet-
ing is assigned a month beforehand to some designated
member, who makes a careful preparation to introduce
the subject of discussion. This is followed by free
remarks and inquiries on the same topic by the other
gentlemen present. This society taxes itself annually a
specified sum for the planting of trees by the roadside.
It aims, likewise, to interest itself in all public improve-
ments, and seeks to promote, directly and indirectly, a
spirit of rural taste in all parts of the town.


Not lonoj after the formation of the above-named
Society, and partly as one of its natural offshoots, the
present Rural Cemetery of Clinton was established. The
organization was made at a public meeting of citizens,
held June 30, 1854. The land, twenty-five acres in ex-
tent, was purchased of Rev. Thomas J. Sawyer, D. D.,
at a cost of $115 per acre. A large part of the pur-
chase-money was obtained by voluntary subscription, and
the rest by taxation. The grounds were laid out accord-
ing to a plan furnished by Mr. John C. Hastings, of
Clinton. The Cemetery was formally dedicated, Sep-
tember 9, 1856, with the following public ceremonies :
1. The Singing of the Ninetieth Psalm, which was read


by the Rev. S. P. Landers. 2. An Introductory Address,
by Hon. O. S. Williams, o. Reading of Scripture and
a Dedicatory Prayer, by Rev. Robert G. Vermilye, D. D.
4. The reading of an Ode by Rev. Prof. A. C. Kendrick,
of Rochester. 5. A Dedicatory Address, by Prof.
Edward North, of Hamilton College. 6. The reading of
a Hymn, by Rev. John H. Hall, and the Benediction by
Rev. E. D. Maltbie.

The first Board of Trustees consisted of the following
persons : James D. Stebbins, William H. Hubbard,
Rufus Mills, Marshal W. Barker, John H. Tower, Peter
Fake, Cyrus Nichols, Geri'it I. Bronson, Othniel S.
Williams, Curtiss S. Parmelee, Edward North, and A.
Delos Gridley. And this Board appointed the following
officers: James D. Stebbins, President; William H.
Hubbard, Vice-President ; Curtiss S. Parmelee, Secretary ;
A. D. Gridley, Treasurer ; John C. Hastings, Superin-

In May, 1862, the trustees of "The Society of
Clinton " transferred the care of the old Burying Ground
to the trustees of the new Cemetery.


Almost simultaneously with the rural improvements
made in the town elsewhere, and indeed as a part of
them, measures were taken to embellish the grounds of
Hamilton College. Before this time, the campus was
simply a rectangular plot of four acres immediately sur-
rounding the dormitories. It was inclosed with a wooden
fence, and crossed at needful places by straight walks
four or five feet wide. Trees had been set out upon it
somewhat sparsely, and for the most part in rows. Out-
side of this central park were some twenty-eight acres of


land, used chiefly for pasture and hay-fields. One promi-
nent feature in the original adornings of the premises
was a row of Lombardy poplars in the rear of the build-
ings, another by the roadside in front, and a double row
on the borders of the avenue leading down the hill
towards the village of Clinton. These trees were planted
partly in the year 1805, by the missionary Kirkland,
and partly by President Backus.

In the year 1853, the Faculty and certain other friends
of the College in this vicinity felt moved to undertake
an improvement of the campus and the other lands
immediately surrounding the institution. They were
moved to this not only by the prevailing spirit of the
times, but because it seemed due to the memory of Mr.
Kirkland, who, in his original deed of lands to the Oneida
Academy, specified that this portion should be devoted
to an ornamental garden. As the result of several con-
ferences on this subject, a plan for remodeling the
grounds, prepared by Mr. John C. Hastings, was
adopted, and a committee was appointed to carry out
the provisions of that plan. This committee consisted
of Prof. Oren Root, Mr. J. C. Hastings, and Rev. A. D.
Gridley. Subscriptions were soon raised in this town
amounting to about $1000, to enable the committee to
make a beginning of the work which had been projected.
At the next meeting of the trustees of the College, the
sum of $5000 was also appropriated by them for the use
of this committee, who were at the same time requested to
serve as the permanent curators of the College grounds.

The first step in the improvements was the incorpora-
tion of fifteen acres into one large park. Next came
the removal of needless fences and various incumbrances.
Unseemly roughnesses were smoothed down, and wet por-


tions of the land were drained, and the whole surface
put in a good condition for planting. The old rectilinear
walks being sodded over, the entire park was laid out in
the modern English method, with roads and footpaths
winding in easy curves through its different parts. The
carriage-ways and walks were covered with the red shale
found in a ravine within the college lands. The premises
were surrounded in part with hedges of buckthorn, and
in part with wire fences. The latter, after a few years'
use, proved nearly worthless, while the former are to-day
their own best recommendation.

In planting the grounds, it was a leading object of the
committee to introduce as great a variety of trees as
practicable. They resolved to obtain a specimen of
every desirable tree and shrub, deciduous and evergreen,
which might be expected to prove hardy in the climate
of central New York. These trees and plants they
arranged with a special view to landscape effect, though
with some remote reference to a botanical classification.
The Pinetum, which they have commenced in one portion
of the grounds, contains seven varieties of Pines, nine va-
rieties of Spruce, five of Cypress, six of Juniper, and two
of Larch.

The larger portion of the grounds is devoted to trees
and grass ; but in appropriate places — especially those
sections daily traversed by the students — shrubs and
vines have been planted, and plots have been laid out in
flower-beds, which are cultivated by the undergraduates.
Quite recently, the curators have affixed labels to a large
number of the rarer trees and shrubs, showing the botan-
ical name of each, and its popular name and habitat.

In addition to those portions of the grounds devoted
to arboricultural purposes, and aside from them, sections


have been arranged for base-ball, croquet, and other
games. Adjoining the park, also, is the college ceme-
tery, which has recently been laid out in an appropriate
manner, and which attracts many a visitor by its rural
beauty and by its memorials of the honored and beloved
dead. 1

1 A fund of $1000 has recently been given to the college by Mr. Samuel A.
Munson, of Utica, the annual interest of which is to be applied to the care and
improvement of the cemetery.



Before the establishment of factories driven by
water-power, not a little handicraft was practiced in
every household of the town of Kirkland. For instance :
flax raised in the field, and wool grown on the backs of
sheep, were carded and spun and woven into cloth by
hand in our dwellings. On the introduction of machin-
ery for these purposes, some sagacious people shook their
heads, declaring that the fibre of the wool would be
injured by the new processes, but they were soon obliged
to give up this conservative notion.

In the early part of the present century, Merino sheep
began to be introduced into this country from Spain,
and ere long a few found their way to this town. The
first specimen brought here was reputed to have cost
$1000. For all farmers of a speculating turn of mind
the raising of fine-wooled sheep became the prevailing
hobby. The Messrs. Sherrill, of New Hartford, had at
one time a flock of nine hundred ; and on our own hill-
sides they became so numerous as to be reckoned by
thousands. Associations were formed in many places
for the manufacture of woolen cloths, and one was
organized here under the title of the " Clinton Woolen
Manufacturing Company." Their building was erected
in the year 1810, and is the same which, much enlarged,
is now known as the Clinton Factory, and is owned by


the proprietors of Clarks' Mills. The enterprise was
successful for a few years, and then ceased to be profita-
ble. During the War of 1812, its broadcloths sold for
twelve dollars a yard, and its satinets at a corresponding
figure. 1 But on the return of peace, England flooded
this country with her cloths so abundantly that the prod-
ucts of Clinton looms had to be sold at two dollars a
yard. Of course, the little factory here could not com-
pete with foreign capital and cheap labor, and it ceased
to yield returns to its stockholders. The property was
first sold to the firm of Sharp and Hutton ; then it passed
into several different hands, and the factory was for
many years suspended. Under its present control and
management as a cotton mill, it thrives vigorously.

Some time before 1810, Mr. Amos Kellogg built a
fulling-mill on the east side of Oriskany Creek, on Col-
lege Street. He took the cloths made in the farm-houses
of this vicinity and put them through the processes of
dyeing, fulling, and shearing, thus fitting them for mar-
ket and for use. He afterwards sold out to Mr. Clark
Wood. The latter moved his machinery to the north side
of the road to make room for a carding-machine which was
soon put up on the same site by Messrs. Owen and Ben-

About sixty years ago, a nail factory was established
on or near the mill-site now covered by William
Healey's grist-mill on College Street. Mr. Silas But-

1 The first valedictorian of Hamilton College was married in Clinton, during
the reign of these high prices, and his wedding-suit was bought from this
factory at the rate above mentioned. He was not so hard-pressed, however,
as was a distinguished clergyman whose marriage-day came one winter, at a
period of the Revolutionary War when no proper wedding-suit could be pur-
chased; whereupon his fond mother had some of her sheep sheared and sewed
up in blankets to keep them warm, so that the much-desired felicity might be


trick was one of the proprietors. The process of nail-
making was then slow and laborious, the head of each
nail being formed singly and by hand. This factory did
not enrich its owners, and was soon closed.

About forty years ago a hat factory was set up by
Asa Marvin on the west corner of College Street and
Franklin Street. The name of the proprietor, printed
in large letters on the front of the building, may still
be dimly seen through several coats of paint and abun-
dant weather stains. How many years these works con-
tinued in operation the writer cannot ascertain, but it is
known that the introduction of steam and of improved
machinery in the large establishments of our cities grad-
ually rendered this primitive factory unprofitable.

Quite early in the history of Kirkland, ' scythes were
made by Woodruff & Kinney, at their factory near the
present Farmers' Mill. Many persons now living can
remember the steady rip-rap of their trip-hammer,
which could be heard for several miles. Mowing-ma-
chines, worked by horse-power, were then hardly dreamed
of ; and the farmer's muscle was content with those of
the " arm-strong pattern."

Timothy Barnes used to manufacture clocks in Clinton,
and the bells to strike within them. His casting of the
first church bell in this town was only an enlargement
of his regular business. Sylvester Munger repaired and
regulated the earlier watches and clocks of Kirkland,
and dealt somewhat in silver ware. It has often been
reported that he manufactured the Communion service
of the Congregational church in Clinton, but better
testimony proves that it was made in New York.

Erastus Barnes established the first pottery in this
town, his works being nearly in the rear of the late Rev.


Charles Jerome's residence on College Street. He found
clay of an excellent quality on the Gleason farm, near
Manchester, and his business was, for those times, large
and lucrative. Mr. John B. Gregory succeeded him, and

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Online LibraryA. D. (Amos Delos) GridleyHistory of the town of Kirkland, New York (Volume 1) → online text (page 12 of 17)