A. D. (Amos Delos) Gridley.

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

. (page 2 of 17)
Online LibraryA. D. (Amos Delos) GridleyHistory of the town of Kirkland, New York (Volume 1) → online text (page 2 of 17)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

stipulations with the tribes in reference to the sale of
their lands, and the boundaries within which they should
be permitted to reside and be protected in their rights.
Those tribes which had been hostile to us were treated
with a mild and humane policy, yet with less considera-
tion than those which had befriended our cause. At a
convention of commissioners appointed by Congress in
October, 1783, for determining the relations of the gov-
ernment to the several tribes, a series of resolutions was
passed, among which was the following : —

" Sixthly : And whereas the Oneidas and Tuscaroras

10 BI8T0BY OF 'JUL 1 :SD.

... and joined her
( _ has frequent]

f favor and friendship, the

. and
claim as

je to

crancil of th ; -

•r 15,

them and the



. and the boi . ! be-

3 the old Line of

of 176£ .


a definite line should be



.. ran up (he


. Wood



I Kirkland i


In the war of 1812, the Oneidas, as well as the Onon-
dagas, Cayugas. and Senecas, took sides with the Ameri-
can forces, and rendered valuable service. Their bravery
at Chippewa and at Lundy's Lane has become matter of
history, and the bold daring of Doxtator, an Oneida chief
who fell on the latter field, deserves an imperishable

Our sketch of this important Indian tribe would be in-
complete without some notice of the efforts made by the
whites to instruct and christianize them. As we have
already mentioned, this part of the Stale was visited at
an early day by Jesuit missionaries from Canada. In the
year 16G7, a Romish mission was established at Oneida
by Father Jacques Bruyas. Between the years 1G74 and
1696, Father Millet labored among this people, .but both
of these men report the tribe as wild and intractable, and
indisposed to heed their instructions. About four years
later,, the English government ordered all French mis-
sionaries and traders out of the State.

Soon after the year 1700, several Protestant ministers
from the adjoining colonies made occasional visits to the
Oneidas, and gave them religious instruction.

In 1712, Rev. William Andrews, sent out by the Brit-
ish " Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in For-
eign Parts," came among the Mohawks, where he re-
mained six years, with frequent visits to the Oneidas ;
but the fruits of his ministry were so small that he soon
afterwards withdrew from the field.

be traced by a person standing on the Astronomical Observatory at Hamilton
College. Starting at a point several rods east of the Observatory, it descends
the hill near the residence of Prof. Edward North, crosses the road just above
the school-house at the foot of College Hill, passes through Mr. Harrington's
saw-mil] on the Oriskany, and thence runs up the southeastern slope to the
south of Tans Hill, and so on to its termination iu Bridgewater. See Map of
the Town of Kirkland.


In the year 1750, while the philosophers and theolo-
gians of both hemispheres were beginning to admire the
profound treatises of Jonathan Edwards, the Indians of
central New York were also beginning to hear of him ;
not so much of his genius and learning, as of his piety
and benevolence. Around their firesides, the Oneidas
and Mohawks and Tuscaroras talked of him and of his
mission school at Stockbridge, in Massachusetts, and sev-
eral families with their children resolved to go forthwith
to New England, that they might sit at his feet and en-
joy his instructions. At this juncture, also, several be-
nevolent persons in New England were moved to carry
the gospel to these tribes, and to set up the institutions
of religion and education in their very midst. Accord-
ingly, we learn of the Rev. Elihu Spencer dwelling for a
season at the village of Oquago (a colony of the Onei-
das), then of a new missionary company sent out from
Stockbridge, in May, 1753, to follow up the beginnings
made by Mr. Spencer. This party consisted of Rev. Mr.
Hawley, Dea. Timothy Woodbridge, and Rev. Mr. Ash-
ley and wife. Of this company, all except Mr. Hawley
returned to New England after a short and discouraging
trial of missionary life. Mr. Hawley held the ground
until the commotions of the French War rendered his
longer stay hazardous and almost useless. In the year
1766, Rev. Samuel Kirkland established a mission among
the Oneidas which he occupied during his whole life, in-
terrupted only by the disturbances of the Revolution. He
was supported at first by the Connecticut Board of a
Scotch Missionary Society, and afterwards by the Boston
Board of a London society. His labors for the moral
elevation of this people were in some degree successful,
though the fruits were not so abundant as he had de-


sired. In the year 1816, a mission was established at
Oneida by the Episcopalians, and in 1829, by the

But ere long this tribe began to show signs of disin-
tegration. Between the years 1822 and 1833, the main
body of the Oneidas sold their lands and removed to
Green Bay, Brown County, Wisconsin. 1 A portion also
migrated to a reservation on the river Thames, in Canada,
where about four hundred of them now reside. Smaller
parties have since gone westward, so that now only a few
families reside in this region. According to the census
of 1865, there were one hundred and fifty-five then liv-
ing near Oneida Castle, whose occupations were hunting,
fishing, weaving baskets, and the practice of a rude agri-
culture. At present (1873), there are, of men, women
and children, two hundred and twenty-seven.

It would seem that the Oneidas, savages though they
were, knew how to exercise the grace of hospitality. For,
in the year 1715, the Tuscarora Indians, having been
expelled from North Carolina, came to the north, and,
on the ground of their common origin, were invited to
occupy a portion of the Oneida territory, lying between
the Chenango and Unadilla rivers. They were also con-
stituted the sixth member of the Irocmois confederacy.
On the sale of the Oneida lands to the government, the
Tuscaroras removed to western New York, near Lewis-
ton, where about three hundred and seventy of them now

It appears also that quite friendly relations had existed
for many years between the Oneidas and the Stockbridge

1 In the year 1842, the Oneidas at Green Bay numbered 722; in 1849, the}-
numbered 830. In the census of 1805, they numbered " nearly 800." In 1873,
hey numbered 1259.


Indians of Massachusetts. This latter tribe had lived,
since 1735, in the township of Stockbridge, where a
territory six miles square had been assigned them by the
Legislature. Here they were favored for many years
with schools and Christian teachers, among the latter of
whom were Rev. John Sergeant, Timothy Woodbridge,
Jonathan Edwards, and Dr. Stephen West. During the
last French War, they sided with the English, and in
the Revolution they declared for the American colonies.
At the close of the war, General Washington directed a
grand feast to be prepared for them, in consideration of
their valuable services, and an ox was roasted whole, of
which men and women partook with great rejoicing.
Rev. John Sergeant Jr. and Judge Dean presided at
the table.

Previous to this time, the Oneidas had offered them a
tract of land six miles square within their borders, but
the disturbances of the Revolution prevented their im-
mediate removal. After peace was declared, they
accepted the proffer of the Oneidas, and migrated to their
new home, which they called New Stockbridge. A por-
tion came in the year 1783, another in 1785, and the
remainder in 1788. Rev. John Sergeant Jr. was ap-
pointed to be their minister, and organized a church
among them of sixteen members. He continued here
until his death, at seventy-seven years of age. This
tribe remained within the borders of Oneida and Madison
counties, until the year 1821, when, feeling themselves
sore pressed on all sides by the whites, they disposed of
their lands and removed to Green Bay, on to a large
tract of land which they bought of the Menominee and
Winnebago Indians. In their new home they have
made considerable progress in agriculture, and, for


Indians, are sober, prosperous, and happy. 1 In the year
1873, they were reported as numbering two hundred and

Another tribe of Indians occupying this region for
many years was the Brothertown. It was composed of
the remnants of several disorganized and half-decayed
tribes in New England, New Jersey, and Long Island,
namely, the Narragansetts, Mohegans, Montauks, Pe-
quots, Naticks, and others ; and derived its name from the
composition of its body. It is not known precisely when
this organization was effected ; only it is well ascertained
that the Oneidas opened the door of the " Long House "
to their eastern cousins at quite an early day, and that
several of the eastern State governments assisted in
collecting these scattered clans together, and in effecting
their removal. They came here at different times, their
central village being near the Oriskany Creek, and
mostly within the bounds of the present town of Mar-
shall. A portion of their reservation extended into the
township of Kirkland. As early as 1763, Sir William
Johnson reports them as numbering two hundred war-
riors, and in all one thousand souls.

The Brothertowns, having no common language, used
the English. This of itself did them no harm ; but, hav-
ing lost all national pride, their several histories being
histories only of defeat, decline, and disgrace, they gave

1 Tradition among the Stockbridges maintains that their forefathers came
from the distant northwest; that, driven by famine, they crossed over great
waters, and at length reached the Hudson River, east of which they settled.
Their ancestors lived ill villages and towns, and were civilized and very
numerous. Their dispersion "demoralized" them. On reaching the Hudson
River, they saw ebbing and flowing waters which they said was like what they
had been familiar with in their native country. President Dwight, in referring
to these traditions, thinks that this tribe came from Asia, and that the " ebbing
»nd flowing waters " were what they had seen at Behring's Straits.


up all ambition and public spirit, and became exceedingly
corrupt and degraded.

A better day dawned upon them when they migrated
to the West, which they did in company with the Stock-
bridges in the years 1822 and 1825. In their new home
they seemed to imbibe a new spirit. They adopted many
of the customs of the whites, becoming farmers, me-
chanics, the patrons of schools, and in a good degree the
friends and promoters of morals and religion. 1

Within the memory of our present older inhabitants,
the scattered members of these several tribes lingered
around Clinton. The Brothertowns, especially, on mili-
tary training days, and on the Fourth of July, were in
the habit of coming to the village to spend the day in
shooting with bow and arrow, wrestling, leaping and
running, often ending it in drunkenness and fighting.

These brief sketches of the Indian tribes formerly in-
habiting this region suggest the old inquiry as to the
equity of the treatment which the red men have received
from the whites, and as to their ultimate destiny as a
race. Probably none will maintain that our dealings
with them have in all respects been just and generous.
Yet if there ever was a people whose manifest destiny it
was to decline and give room to a better race, it was the
Indian. Mr. Lewis Morgan, in his book entitled " The
League of the Iroquois," thus describes the great central
trail of the Indians through the State of New York :
" It was from twelve to eighteen inches wide, and deeply
worn in the ground ; varying in this respect from three
to six inches, depending upon the firmness of the soil.

1 For many years prior to their removal West, Mr. Thomas Dean (after whom
Deansville was named) was the Commissioner of the State to manage their
affairs. Mr. Dean was the father of Mrs. Professor Catlin.


The large trees on each side of the trail were frequently
marked with the hatchet. This well-beaten foot-path,
which no runner nor band of warriors could mistake, had
doubtless been trod by successive generations from cen-
tury to century. It was the natural line of travel, geo-
graphically considered, between the Hudson and Lake

And this was all that aboriginal civilization could do !
Its great central highway across this State was a mere
foot-path, twelve or eighteen inches wide, and this it had
been for centuries, with no prospect of improvement.
Its petty commerce was transacted upon the backs of
men and women, and in little bark canoes. It subdued
no forests, built no cities, turnpikes, canals, railways, or
telegraphs ; it established no schools and churches ; it
formed no written language, printed no books, cultivated
no arts ; it did nothing to advance the race in intelligence
and virtue. And even when the lights of learning and
religion were offered to this people, they seemed incapable
of appreciating the gift and turning it to good account.
Surely, we as the stronger race cannot assume to be clean
of all injustice toward them, nor can we withhold tears
of sympathy over their melancholy fate, yet .we must
believe that they were unfit to be the lords of this broad
land, and were righteously doomed to pass away.


In the foregoing pages, we have endeavored to present
the physical aspects and surroundings of this region of
country, with its inhabitants, and some of the leading
events which had transpired here before the town became
the permanent abode of a civilized community. To a
traveller passing through the Oriskany Valley in the year
1785, the country presented all the indications of an un-
broken wilderness. His path was an Indian trail. If he
ascended the hill on the west, he looked down upon a sea
of forests undulating over the knolls and slopes which
diversify the valley, and up the amphitheatre of hills
which rise on the east and south. Here and there he
saw little wreaths of smoke curling up from Indian wig-
wams, and perhaps through openings 'in the trees he
caught an occasional glimmer of the Oriskany. Beyond
all were the Trenton hills, as blue and serene as now.

Before the war of the Revolution, Dutch settlers came
up the Mohawk Valley from Albany and New York, and
established themselves along that river, their western-
most towns being Herkimer and German Flats. The
fertile banks of the Mohawk contented them ; they saw
no star of empire beckoning to the West. But after the
Revolution, a new emigration set in, chiefly from New
England. During the war, many persons who pene-
trated the country as soldiers took pains to observe the
character and resources of the land, and its fitness for
permanent occupancy on the return of peace. It is


mentioned by Judge Williams in his Historical Address,
that " as early as 1776, seven pairs of brothers, from as
many different families in the town of Plymouth, Conn.,
enlisted under the command of Captain David Smith,
were marched westward, and during the summer of that
year were stationed by turns at Fort Herkimer, Fort
Schuyler, and Fort Stanwix. They visited the sur-
rounding country, and at the close of the war were ready
at once to go up and possess the land."

It would seem, however, that the earliest actual settlers
in this region were two enterprising Germans, named
Roof and Brodock, who with their families came from
German Flats, in the year 1760, and took up their abode
at the landing-place on the Mohawk near Fort Stanwix,
where they gained a livelihood by transporting produce
and goods across the carrying-place from the river to
Wood Creek. 1 Roof was also an inn-keeper and a trader
with the Indians. These men held no title to their lands,
but occupied them under a contract for their purchase
from Oliver Delancey, one of the proprietors of the Oris-
kany patent. They were driven from this post during
the war, but on the declaration of peace they returned
and took up their abode in their old quarters. This was
in reality the first settlement of whites in central New
York, yet the regular and systematic work of colonizing
the country and filling it with landholders and permanent
citizens did not commence until the year 1784. This was
undertaken by Mr. Hugh White, who, with his four sons

1 The Mohawk River was navigable from Schenectady to Fort Schuyler for
boats carrying twenty tons, and to Fort Stanwix for small batteaux. At the
latter place, a portage of a mile and a half was required to carry goods and
produce to Wood Creek, which empties into Oneida Lake. Fish Creek connects
this lake with Lake Ontario. Thus was formed a thoroughfare between tide-
water and the Great Lakes of the West.


and a daughter and daughter-in-law, came that year
from Middletown, Conn., into the region since known
as Whitestown. Immediately after the declaration of
peace, he had purchased a portion of the Sadaqueda
patent, and now, in May, 1784, he came on with a part
of his family to take possession. They ascended the
Hudson River to Albany, then crossed over to Schenec-
tady, and from thence came up the Mohawk in a batteau
to the mouth of the Sauquoit Creek. His purchase con-
sisted of fifteen hundred acres of land lying on the right
of the Indian path between Fort Schuyler and Fort
Stanwix, and covered a portion of the present village of
Whitesboro. Having erected a log-house and cleared a
part of his land, he returned to Connecticut in January
following, and brought on the remainder of his family.
Next year, his little colony was increased by the addition
of several families, and the name 'of Whitestown, which
stood for an indefinite region in central New York, was
soon known throughout New England.

Two years after this, namely, in the spring of 1787, the
settlement of the town of Kirkland was begun. In the
autumn of the previous year, Moses Foot, in company
with a few other explorers, had visited this neighborhood,
inquiring into its suitableness for a settlement ; and in
February following, James Bronson also came to look into
this valley, and spent a night (February 27, 1787) on
Clinton Green, sheltered by the upturned roots of an an-
cient hemlock. There is a tradition, also, that Ludim
Blodgett was here quite early in the fall of 1786, and
showed his faith in the future town by commencing a log-
house on what is now the corner of the village Park and
Kellogg Street. These visits, however, were only pre-
liminary surveys of Kirkland's capabilities.


The settlement was actually begun in the spring of the
year 1787, by seven or eight families, five of them from
the town of Plymouth already mentioned. They had
started from New England a few years before, and for some
now unknown reason halted at German Flats, which was
then the most western settlement of permanent inhabitants.
All needful inquiries and preparations having been made
at that point, these several families moved onward to this
region. At the time of their coming, there were three
log-houses at Fort Schuyler (now Utica), seven at
Whitestown, three at Oriskany, five at Fort Stanwix
(Rome), and three at Westmoreland. These twenty-one
rude shelters covered all the population then in Oneida
County. Our pioneers followed what was known as
" the old. Moyer road," which brought them to what is
now Paris Hill, and thence turning north, they halted
near the site of the present village of Clinton. This was
on the 4th of March, 1787. The " Moyer road " just
mentioned was a part of the Indian trail leading from
Buffalo to the Mohawk Valley, and terminating at a
place some distance east of Utica, where a Dutchman
named Moyer kept a tavern.

It would seem that the exploring party who came here,
in the fall of 1786, were not agreed at first as to the best
site for the future settlement ; a part choosing the ele-
vated plateau one mile and a half east of Clinton, and
others preferring the present site of the village, and
neither party inclined to yield to the wishes of the other.
Committees were appointed on both sides, who met Re-
negotiation on the banks of a small stream midway
between the two localities, but separated without com-
ing to any satisfactory conclusion. Another set of dele-
gates was appointed, by whom at length the eastern


party was induced to join the western. This happy re-
sult was due in no small degree to the tact and persua-
sive powers of Moses Foot.

I have said that the settlement was begun by " seven
or eight families." There are two historic doubts
involved in this subject : the one as to whether those
original families were seven or eight in number, and the
other as to the names of those families. After much
inquiry, I feel confident that the number was eight, 1
and that their names were the following : Moses Foot,
his three sons, Bronson, Luther, and Ira, his son-in-
law Barnabas Pond, James Bronson, Ludim Blodgett,
and Levi Sherman. As to the five first named there is
no question, but some would substitute Solomon Hovey
in place of one of the last two. This at least is certain,
that the wife of Mr. Hovey was the first white woman
who stood upon this soil.

Moses Foot, as has already been intimated, was the
acknowledged leader of this enterprise. And he was
well fitted for his position. Endowed with an iron frame
and great nervous force, he had also a temperament which
adapted him to endure privation and to control and sus-
tain others amid the vicissitudes of pioneer life. His
companions, too, were charged with Yankee pluck, inge-
nuity and perseverance ; and so the little colony started
into being and form with good prospects of success.

If there is some reasonable doubt as to the names of
some of the settlers who came here the first week in
March, it is after all a matter of little consequence. For,
during this very month and in April, other men as good
and true followed in their steps, so that in early summer

1 See Records of the Congregational Church in Clinton, page 3, at top, dated
November 17, 1788. Also, Thanksgiving Sermon, by Rev. Dr. Norton, p. 12.


the settlement contained thirteen families, and before
winter it numbered about twenty households. During
this first year, we find the following names : John
Bullen, Salmon Butler, James Cassety (for whom
Cassety-Hollow was afterwards named), William Cook,
Samuel Hubbard, Noah Hubbard, Amos Kellogg, Aaron
Kellogg, Oliver Porter, Randall Lewis, Cordial Storrs,
Caleb Merrill, Levi Sherman, and Judah Stebbins.

And in what sort of habitations did these first families
live ? The building of greatest pretension was the log-
house of Ludim Blodgett, which, having begun the fall
previous, he now finished. It was roofed over with elm-
bark, but was destitute of floor, windows and doors.
The houses of the other settlers were at first mere huts
made of crotched stakes driven into the ground, with poles
laid from crotch to crotch, and then sided and roofed over
with strips of bark. These certainly were rude accom-
modations, but the settlers cheerfully submitted to them. 1
Judge Jones mentions that Solomon Hovey, who seems
to have been rather luxurious in his tastes, made some
special provision for bestowing the table-furniture and
wardrobe of his wife. " He felled a large, hollow bass-
wood tree, which grew a few feet west of the present
Banking-House in Clinton, and, cutting off a piece of the
proper length, split and hewed off one of its sides : this,
raised upon end, with a number of shelves fitted into
it, was found admirably contrived for a pantry, cupboard,
and clothes-press."

The nucleus of the settlement was formed on a street

i Mrs. Amos Kellogg relates that on the day of her arrival here, in the
winter of 1788, her husband was obliged to shovel the snow out of their log-
house before they could take possession for the night. This house had been
built by her husband several months before. It stood on the site now occu-
pied by the house of Mr. J. N. Percival, on Fountain Street.


laid out north and south, and which extended from the

2 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17

Online LibraryA. D. (Amos Delos) GridleyHistory of the town of Kirkland, New York (Volume 1) → online text (page 2 of 17)