Samuel W Durant.

History of Oneida County, New York : with illustrations and biographical sketches of some of its prominent men and pioneers online

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Online LibrarySamuel W DurantHistory of Oneida County, New York : with illustrations and biographical sketches of some of its prominent men and pioneers → online text (page 103 of 192)
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about 1800.

Of the above-mentioned persons, Jesse Childs, who came
probably in the winter of 1792-93, lived at the fort a short
time, and then removed to a farm north of Ridge Mills,
and east of the Mohawk, in the Seldcn neighborhood.
About the same time the families of Solomon, John, and
David Williams, from Connecticut, and Daniel Ashby,
Deacon Lamb, and William Brewster arrived from Groton,
Mass., and settled north of the " Ridge."'

David I. Andrus lived at the Wright Settlement previous
to 1800, his lease in 1790 for 138 acres of land east of
the Mohawk, near the Ridge, being from George Clinton.
He carried on a distillery at the Ridge late in the last cen-
tury, and about 1804 removed to Jefferson County, where
he became prominent as a contractor and builder.

David, John, and Solomon Williams, mentioned above,
were brothers, and located on land on the Mohawk, a short
distance above Ridge Mills. David Williams served at
one time in the garrison at Fort Stanwix, and the acquaint-
ance he at that time formed with the region around the
fort undoubtedly led him to remove there, and induce his
brothers to come also. The youngest son of David Wil-
liams was Jesse Williams, so well known through this
region as the inventor of the famous cheese-factory system,
and the pioneer in that business. Solomon Williams, who
lived to be over ninety-eight years of age, was the great-
grandfather of B. W. Williams, the present postmaster of

West of David Williams' farm was that of Roswell Fel-
lows, who settled early in 1790. Mr. Fellows was a very
large man, weighing over five hundred pounds, and at his
funeral, in 1813, it required the united services of eight
strong men to bear his coffined remains to the grave, and
the outer door and posts of his dwelling had to be removed
in order to get his body out of the house. After his set^
tlement Mr. Fellows sold half of the 200 acres he had
located to Nathaniel Tracy, who settled about 1800.

Nathan Peggs settled in the same neighborhood about
1800. He was from Vermont, and kept a tavern on his
place. This tavern was continued for many years. Mr.
Peggs was succeeded as " mine host" by Timothy W. Wood,
and he by Josiah Talmadge. It was the place, on the 4th
of July, for " general training"' headquarters, and the scene
of various other sports, such as the citizens of the town in
those days knew how to enjoy.

Next north of Roswell Fellows lived his son, Cyrus Fel-
lows, father-in-law of B. W. Williams, Esq., of Rome, and
north of him lived Gates Peck, who settled in 1803, and
served as a soldier during the war of 1812.

Hope Smith settled in the same locality about 1813.
He was a native of Rhode Island, and a veteran of the

Joseph Otis, mentioned in the foregoing list, came from
Fort Ann, Washington Co., N. Y., in March, 1793, and
settled in that part of Rome (then Steuben, Herkimer
County) known as the "Selden Neighborhood." With
him came Lot and Simeon Fuller, who settled in what ia
now Steuben. The then owners of Fonda's Patent were
at that time surveying it into lots, placing them in market,
and offering extra inducements to settlers with limited
means. Mr. Olis was among those who responded, and
eame on almost entirely without means, a young man, with
his second wife, a lady but nineteen years of age, and a year-
old daughter by his first wife. About two years before a
road had been surveyed, worked, and traveled from the
Ridge, via what is now " Penny Street," northerly towards
the covered bridge, ending near the present residence of
Amos M. Potter. In July of the same year (1793) a
road was surveyed by Moses Wright, intended as a contin-
uation of the above highway, to the present covered bridge
over the Mohawk, running around the hill and nearer
to the river than it does at present. A mill, owned by
Roswell Fellows at that time, stood on the opposite side of
the river at the bridge, and is now better known as " Bar-
nard's Mills." Asa Knapp's house then stood on the site of
the later residence of Roswell Edgerton, since known as the
Philander and Philemon Selden place. The road as then
laid was chunged to its present location within a few years.
At the time Mr. Otis settled, Willott Ranney was living
upon the place in after-years occupied by Henry F. Ely.
Mr. Otis moved his family into the house with Mr. Ranney,
and lived there until he could erect a suitable log house for
himself. In addition to his farm labors Mr. Otis assisted
the late Judge Benjamin Wright in the survey of thousands
of acres of land, and in establishing the lines of the coun-
ties of Oneida, Oswego, Jefferson, and Lewis. His oldest
daughter, Abigail, was married very early in the history of
the settlement, to Latimer Bailey, who, about 1814, worked
in the fulling-mill or factory at the Ridge, then operated by
Samuel Wardwell.

Bill Smith lived on the road to Floyd as early as 1800,
and later, on the farm now owned by Peter W^illiams.
About 1810 he kept store in a small frame building which
stood on Dominick Street, in Rome, as will be mentioned

Rufus Barnes, mentioned in the foregoing list, came to
Rome as early as July, 1795, and possibly some months
earlier. He had learned the trade of boot and shoe making,
and acquired a knowledge of the currying and tanning pro-
cess. In January, 1796, he purchased an interest in a
lease from Henry Wilson, on " Penny Street,'' and built a
log house. In 1797 he was married. About 1800 or
1801 he built a shoe-shop and a tannery on his place.
The red frame house, still standing, was built in 1801.
Mr. Barnes' son, Albert, afterward eminent in the ministry,
and for many years pastor of one of the leading churches
in Philadelphia, Pa., was born in the old log house, Dec. 1,

Near the Barnes place lived Israel Denio, the " country
blacksmith," who located probably early in 1795. His
father-in-law, John Bobbins, settled as early as 1791,
and came from Bennington, Vt. His removal to thi.s



locality was very probably the cause which induced Mr.
Denio to settle here. The latter at first located in what is
now the town of Floyd, near the Rome town line, and
about 1797 removed to the Wright Settlement, where he
built a blacksmith-shop; about 1812 he changed his loca-
tion to "Penny Street," and about 1815 removed to what
is now known as the " Crosby Corner,'' where he built
another shop and carried on his business for many years.
His son, Hon. Hiram Denio, was born in May, 1799. He
was five months younger than Rev. Albert Barnes, and the
two were schoolmates together in their boyhood, and fast
friends through life. Mr. Denio began the study of law
at Rome, in the office of Jay Hatheway, afterwards read
with Wlieeler Barnes, and was admitted to practice. He
became in time one of the most eminent jurists in the

Dr. Elijah Clarke settled as early as 1794, and lived
north of William West, in the Wright Settlemeut neigh-
borhood. In 1811 he was the practicing physician for all
that section of country. He left Rome at an early day.
In the same neighborhood, and on what is known as " Can-
terbury Hill," were living in 1811, Joshua Kirkland, who
settled in 1811 ; John Butts, settled about 1803; Colonel
D. W. Knight, about 1790 ; Zaecheus Abel, Samuel Wil-
liams, Asa Colburn (whose parents came with him) ; Gideon
Butts, settled about 1802 ; Daniel Kirkland, son of Joshua
Kirkland, about 1807 ; Grant Wheat, about 1802 ; Abiather
Seekill, early in present century ; Daniel Butts, Samuel and
Asa Smith ; Hazel Lathrop, settled about 1807, was cap-
tain of a company of militia in 1812, and went to Sacket's
Harbor during the war. These people were nearly all from
Canterbury, Conn., and from that place " Canterbury Hill"
took its name. Gideon Butts and family were the first
settlers on the " hill," and Grant Wheat came next. The
latter walked through from Connecticut to Rome in 1801,
carrying his gun and a pack weighing 50 pounds. He re-
turned to Connecticut in the fall of the same year, and
came back in 1802 to make a permanent settlement. He
also went to Sacket's Harbor in 1812. John Butts came
with him from Connecticut, or very shortly after, as he
settled about the same time.

The first highway laid out in the town of Rome was on
the 29th of March, 1791, being the one which now runs
north and south through the Wright Settlement. It was
only IGO rods in length originally, beginning near the late
residence of A. Vredeuburgh and running northerly past
Captain Wright's.


On the 15th of June, 1790, John Lansing, Jr., of Al-
bany, leased to Elisha Walsworth, " for the term of three
lives and not less than 31 years," the southern part of lot
59, in Fonda's Patent, containing 159 acres of land, and
including the present site of Ridge Mills and the settlement
surrounding, and about 100 acres to the north, now ^ part
of the Deacon D. M. Crowell farm. The eastern boundary
of the lot was east of the Mohawk River, and nearly par-
allel with it. By the terms of the lease Mr. Walsworth
and his assigns were to pay on the first day of each Febi'u-

* See obituary notice following the history of TJtica.

ary, in Albany, during said term, 23 bushels and' 3 pecks
of "good merchantable winter wheat; also all taxes and
assessments on the premises, and at the end of the term to
surrender up the premises with all buildings and fences
erected thereon." The lease also required that Mr. Wals-
worth should plant, within ten years from its date, an apple-
tree for each two acres of land in the lot, the trees to be in
rows at right angles to each other, and not less than 30 feet
apart each way, and new ones were to be set out in case any
died. It was also provided that 30 acres should be set
apart as " woodland," from which the timber was not to be
cut except for fencing and building on the premises, and
fuel for a dwelling-house thereon.

Mr. Walsworth sub-leased his 159 acres in smaller par-
cels, and the place gave promise at one time of becoming
the most important village of the town. Among the lessees
of lots were Samuel Dill, in 1799, and Reuben Arnold,
Moses, Ebenezer, and John Wright, Daniel Hawes, and
others, previous to 1810. A blacksmith-shop stood west
of the highway before this latter year.

Either shortly previous to or soon after 1800 a dam was
built across the river at the Ridge, and a small grist-mill
erected on or near the site of the present stone structure,
built in 1860, by Adams & Frazee for a grist-mill, and now
used as the machine-room of the Rome City Water- Works.
A short distance down-stream was a saw-mill, and still far-
ther down, at a later day, a carding-maohine, a fulling-mill,
and a woolen- or satinet-factory. As far as can now be as-
certained it is possible that the dam and grist- and saw-mills
were erected by Moses and John Wright.

About 1812, Colonel Samuel Wardwell, father of the
late Hon. Daniel Wardwell, of Rome, purchased all the
rights and titles of the various persons in these outstanding
leases, and on the 3d of July of that year John Lansing,
Jr., released the reserved rents, and conveyed the 159 acres
by warranty deed to Colonel Wardwell. The latter about
the same time purchased 126 acres in the Oriskany Patent,
making 285 acres in one body. He had, as early as 1798,
purchased a tract of 4000 acres in what is now the town
of Eilisburg, Jefferson County, including the site of the
village of Mannsville. He was a merchant of Bristol,
Rhode Island, and was also extensively engaged in the
foreign export trade. He came to Rome to reside about
1812, and lived for two years at the Ridge, on the west side
of the highway. His dwelling occupied the site of the
building now occupied by the superintendent of the Water-

Colonel Wardwell demolished the old grist-mill at the
Ridge, and in its place erected a new one, which was burned
about 1858. He sold to David Driggs on the 15th of Oc-
tober, 1815, and in a deed for a part of the property it is
provided that Mr. Driggs is to " finish the dye-house, and
erect a fulling-mill on the premises at his own expense, and
to put the same in complete operation ;" therefore it seems
that the idea of erecting these buildings was original with
the colonel, although he never carried it into effect.

The property sold by Colonel Wardwell to Mr. Driggs
was a lot of forty acres, including all of the present Ridge
Settlement, all the mills, machinery, and buildings on
the river, and some five acres on the east side of the



stream, which Colonel W. had purchased from other parties.
The price paid by Mr. Driggs for these forty acres, with
the improvements thereon, was S13,000, or $9700 more
than Colonel Wardwell had paid for the entire tract of 159
acres. Mr. Driggs' brother, John Driggs, became the
owner of the forty acres about 1816, and a " lively
business" was carried on at the Ridge for years by him and
his successors.

Colonel Wardwell sold by contract, about 1813-14, all
of his purchase at the Ridge except the above forty acres,
including about 225 acres, to John West,* the price paid
being some S6000. The terms wero originally that it
should be paid in cash, but as Albany was then the nearest
market for grain, and it was almost impossible to realize
any money upon his farm products, it was afterwards agreed
that he should pay for it in grain at a certain price per
bushel. During the war of 1812-15, then raging, the
price of grain rose to a high figure, and it found so ready
sale that the contract was probably changed back to a cash
basis. At the close of tlie war prices fell, and a few years
later — 1823 — Mr. West had several thousand bushels on
hand, which he had failed to dispose of At that date
there were three distilleries in Rome south of the poor-
house, and Mr. West sold to them his accumulation of
grain, receiving for corn two shillings and ninepence per
bushel, and for rye three shillings and sixpence, and all the
teams which could be secured were " pressed into service"
to haul the grain to the distilleries.

Colonel Samuel Wardwell had been an officer in the
American army during the Revolution. In 1815 he moved
from Rome back to Bristol, R. I., and died at that place.
He was the father of fourteen children, of whom the late
Hon. Daniel Wardwell was the ninth.

Hon. Daniel Wardwell, who became so prominently con-
nected with the history of this region, and lived to such a
good old age, came with his father to Rome in 1812, when
twenty-one years of age. He had graduated the previous
year at Brown University, Rhode Island. Soon after com-
ing here he began the study of law in the office of Joshua
Hatheway, — then the postmaster at Rome, — and was a
fellow-student with Samuel Beardsley. Mr. Beardsley was
appointed quartermaster-general in the army, and was sent
by Governor Tompkins to Sacket's Harbor. He was pre-
viously adjutant of the 157th Regiment, known as the
" Rome Regiment," commanded by Colonel Westcott.

In 1813, Daniel Wardwell entered the law-office of Gold
& Sill, at Whitesboro', and in 1814-15 was at Adams and
Ellisburg, Jefferson County, looking after his father's
large landed estate. He was admitted to practice in the
Jefferson County Court of Common Pleas in July, 1814,
and in January, 1815, to practice as an attorney before
the Supreme Court of the Slate, at Albany. He became a
resident of the village of Rome in 1816, and in 1817 re-
moved to Jefferson County, where he resided till 1821. In
January, 1821, he was admitted at Albany to the Supreme
Court bench as coun.selor-at-law of that court, and in
August of the same year as counselor in the United States

^ Grandfather of one of Rome's most prominent physicians of to-
day, M. C. West, M.D.

District Court for the Northern District of New York.
He opened an office in Utica in that year, and remained
there one year. In 1822 he removed to Mannsville, Jeffer-
son County, and became a permanent resident of that vil-
lage. In 1824 he was appointed one of the judges of the
Jefferson County Common Pleas Court. In March, 1827,
he was admitted at- Albany to practice in the Court of
Chancery. He was elected to the Assembly from Jefferson
County in 1825, re-elected in 1826, and again in 1827.
In 1828 he was defeated for State Senator by Hon. William
H. Maynard, of Utica. In 1830 he was elected on the
Democratic ticket to Congress, and twice returned, — 1832
and 1834. In 1837 he was elected again to the Assembly
from Jefferson County. In 1839 he removed to Pulaski,
Oswego County, where he resided about ten years and re-
turned to Mannsville. In 1860 he located at Rome, where
he continued to reside until his death, early in 1878, at the
age of eighty-seven.

Ridge Mills Post-Offiee was established in 1867, and
Harvey E. Wilcox appainted postmaster on the 15th of
July of that year. He has continued in office to the pres-
ent time. His deputy is A. Farr, who has charge of the
office, and carries on merchandising in the building owned
by Mr. Wilcox.

There are also at Ridge Mills, besides the post-office and
store, the Rome City Water- Works, a hotel, a blacksmith-
shop, a small number of dwellings, and near by a large
cheese-factory. The place is so named from its position on
a long ridge of land overlooking the valley of the Mohawk
and the more level country surrounding. The location is
one of great beauty, and before the days of canals and rail-
ways the settlement at " the Ridge" bade fair to become a
flourishing village, and a large business was done by its
early manufacturers and merchants.


is a small settlement on the Erie Canal, east of Rome, which
has sprung into existence since the completion of the canal.
Its post-office is the only one in the territory included in
the city and county which commemorates by name the
fortification that once stood upon the site of the now flour-
ishing city, and the events which transpired in its vicinity,
as well as the name of the honored chieftain who built it.

green's corners

is a station on the New Yotk Central and Hudson River
Railway, west of Rome Post-Office.

Among the prominent settlers of Rome who came in
the early part of the present century were the Talcotts.'j-
The family is traced back in English history to 1558.

The first of the name who emigrated from Essex County
to America was John Talcott, who came with his family in
the ship " Lion," with many others, composing the Rev.
Mr. Hooker's company, in 1632.

The company first settled at New Town, now Cambridge,
near Boston, but becoming dissatisfied with their location
they obtained leave from the General Court to remove to the
valley of the Connecticut River. John Talcott and about

f Prepared from minutes furnished hy Jonathan Talcott.



one hundred others left New Town in June, 1636, and
under the leadership of Rev. Mr. Hooker proceeded through
the wilderness to the present site of the city of Hartford,
Conn., where they began a settlement. Mr. Talcott's
dwelling stood on the ground where the North Church
(late Rev. Dr. Bushn ell's) now stands. He became a
prominent man in the new settlement, and was a member
of the General Court when the question of declaring war
against the Pequod Indians was under discussion, and was
one of a special committee appointed to take the subject
under advisement. The result of the deliberations was a
declaration of war, and the destruction of this troublesome
tribe. He was one of the chief magistrates of the colony
at the time of his death, which occurred in his mansion, at
the head of Main Street, March, 1660.

Jonathan Talcott, the grandfather of Mr. Jonathan
Talcott, now of Rome, was born in Glastonbury, Conn.,
and emigrated to Rome, N. Y., in 1802, traveling all the
way on foot. He selected and purchased for a homestead
the land now constituting the farm of Mr. Jonathan Tal-
cott, three miles southwest of Rome. It was then a wil-
derness. In the spring of 1803, afl;er working for some
two months clearing land and erecting a log house, he re-
turned to Connecticut for his family, which he brought
back by land, making the journey by means of one large
vehicle, constructed of two pair of cart-wheels, connected
by a strong frame, in which the household goods were
hauled by three stout pairs of oxen, and a two-horse covered
wagon, in which came the family and some of the lighter
and more valuable goods. The drivers of the ox-teams were
a Mr. Josiah Keeney, one of his neighbors, and a son of
Mr. Talcott, the father of the present owner of the home-

The emigrants arrived in due season and in good health,
and set about the work necessary in a new country, clearing
land, and sowing and planting grain and vegetables. The
first breakfast was prepared and eaten in the open air, in
the old wagon trail leading west from Fort Stanwix ; and
the labor of unloading and setting up the household furni-
ture kept every one busy for the first day.

Gradually, year by year, the forest disappeared, the land
was subdued, and soon bountiful harvests of wheat, corn,
oats, and vegetables repaid the labor of the pioneer. After
a few years, in 1818, Mr. Talcott became possessed of suffi-
cient means to enable him to build a new frame dwelling,
which was looked upon as an important epoch in the history
of the family. The primitive log house passed away, and
the landscape teeming with its wealth of grain and fruit
was in striking contrast with the wilderness which greeted
them on their first arrival.

Siah Talcott, the father of the present Jonathan Talcott,
followed the business of teaming through the whole course
,of his life, beginning about 1810, and driving one of the
heavy five-horse teams then used for the transportation of
produce and merchandise. He was known far and near as
a capital teamster, and did an extensive business for many
years. During the war of 1812-15 he was in the govern-
ment service, hauling supplies for the army on the frontier.
He died at Rome, Doc. 16, 1822.

Jonathan Talcott, the present owner of the farm, was

born in the original log building in 181-t, and remembers
well its appearance.

The elder Jonathan Talcott resided in the new frame
dwelling until his death, which took place on the 28th of
July, 1847, in the ninety-fourth year of his age. In 1859
the present fine brick dwelling was erected on the site of
the frame dwelling, which was removed. The present owner
of the farm has expended a large sum in money and labor
upon new and improved buildings, tile drainage, etc. He
believes he was the first in this section to lay down drain-
tile, which has done and is doing much to improve the farms
of the Mohawk Valley.

The farm is now in a splendid state of cultivation, and
great attention is being given to the raising of improved
stock, including the celebrated short-born cattle, the Suffolk
and Berkshire breeds of swine, and a breed of sheep pro-
duced by a cross between the merino and various long-
wooled breeds. The proprietor is also giving considerable
time and attention to the breeding of a superior grade of
farm and stock horses.

The family of Jonathan Talcott consists of two sons and
five daughters. The oldest son, Selden Haines, graduated
at the Rome Academy, and entered Hamilton College in
1864, but left to serve out a term of enlistment in the
army, after which he returned, and graduated with honor
in 1869. He studied medicine with Dr. Munger, of Water-
ville, and subsequently graduated at the New York Homoe-
opathic College ; practiced with Dr. Munger two or three
years, and in 1875 was appointed chief of staff of Ward's
Island Homoeopathic Ho.spital. At the present time he is
superintendent of the New York State Homceopathic In-
sane Asylum, at Middletown, Orange County.

Muncel Talcott, a brother of Siah Talcott, who also came
to Rome in 1803, followed the business of teaming until
the canal was opened, in 1825, when he engaged in boating,
and continued until 1833, when he removed to Illinois. He
died while on a visit to his son at Hannibal, Mo., in 1857.
Edward Benton Talcott, son of Muncel, went to Illinois in
1835, where he became distinguished as an engineer of
public works. He is at present residing in the city of


In the year 1789, when Ebenezer Wright came to Rome,
there were standing in the vicinity of Fort Stanwix the
following dwellings, viz.: " Two log houses on the road to
Newville, near what is known as the McCutcheon place, in

Online LibrarySamuel W DurantHistory of Oneida County, New York : with illustrations and biographical sketches of some of its prominent men and pioneers → online text (page 103 of 192)