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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member of the American Medical Association. While a
member of the Wayne County Medical Society he pre-
pared and read before that body an able and practical article
on " Hypodermic Injection," which was piiblished in the
Cincinnati Lancet. Dr. West has been for a long time a
member of the board of directors of the National Bank at
Rome, and is connected with other local corporations.
Active and untiring in the performance of his duties, and
recognized as a leading member of his profession, he is
also gifted with excellent general abilities. Wise in coun-
cil and of much practical knowledge, his fellow-citizens rely
on his judgment in matters other than those purely pro-
fessional. He was married in 1861 to Miss Felicia H.
Williams, daughter of Jesse Williams. Mr. Williams built
and managed the first cheese-factory in the county, and for
several years stood alone in that branch of industry. He
died in 1864, aged sixty-seven.


About the year 1770, three brothers by the name of
Patrick emigrated from the old country and settled in Still-
water, Saratoga Co. One of these was the great-grand-
father of the subject of this sketch. The fi\mily continued
to be residents of that town for a number of years, and
Henry was born there, Aug. 9, 1810, being the son of Isaac
and Anna Patrick. He remained on his father's farm till
the age of twenty-four, when he purchased a farm in North-
umberland, Saratoga Co., on which he resided three years.
He subsequently removed to Saratoga Springs, in the same
county. In 1842 he came to Rome, Oneida Co., for the
purpose of engaging in lumbering and farming, with very

small means. He located in what was then called the Pine


Plains, and commenced to fell, saw, and ship timber to the
Eastern markets ; he continued in this business till 1865,
having amassed a comfortable fortune. He belongs to the
Republican party, and has been solicited at various times by
his fellow-citizens to hold offices of trust and confidence,
but has always declined to serve them in any public position.

was born in Windom, Conn., March 3, 1811, being the
eldest son of Charles and Nancy Abbe. In 1814 his father
removed to Solon, Cortland Co., N. Y. At the age of ten
Mr. Abbe went to work for himself on a farm, and pursued
the same calling in life till 1835, when he bought a farm
of 63 acres in the town of Rome, being the same farm
on which he now resides. He was married, March 8,
1835, to Mary, widow of Elisha House, she being born in
Westmoreland, Oneida Co., June 24, 1799, being the
daughter of Chester and Mary Stillman. By her first
marriage she was the mother of two daughters, and by her
second marriage three sons : George Henry, born Dec. 13,
1838 ; Elisha Stillman, Feb. 17, 1840 ; William Edward,
Feb. 17, 1842. Mr. Abbe belongs to the Republican
parly. He is a member of no particular church, but his
wife is an active worker in the First Presbyterian Church
of Rome. They enjoy a comfortable fortune, which has
been obtained by their joint eiforts in industry, frugality,
and economy.


A man who, from an humble position and by his own
efforts, has risen to affluence and social position, and
through all the events of a checkered life has preserved
his integrity unimpeached, well deserves the pen of the
historian, and tQ be held up as a model to posterity.
E. B. Armstrong was born in the town of Lee, Oneida
Co., Jan. 10, 1809. His father, Oliver Armstrong,
moved to that locality previous to 1800. The subject of
this sketch attended the school of his native town till
eighteen years of age, after which he attended the private
school of Oliver E. Grosvener for nearly one year. His
education finished, he entered the store of his brother.
General J. Armstrong, as clerk, and after two or three years
of strict business training, during which time he proved
himself to be the possessor of excellent business qualities,
. he became a partner in the business, the firm continuing
until his brother's death, which occurred in August, 1852.
His brother's place was filled by young members of thd
family for some time ; finally he became sole proprietor,
remaining so till 1870, when he virtually retired from
active business duties. Since that time he has found his
time well employed looking after his own private affairs,
and in the management of his estate, which is very exten-
sive, and includes large interests in the manufacture of
iron. He has been engaged in the manufacture of pig-
iron, more or less, for over thirty-five years, and at one
time was manager of the Talberg furnace. During the
past twelve years he has been » director in the Franklin
Iron-works. He is also vice-pi'esident and director of the
Rome Iron-works, with a capital of ?400,000 ; and presi-
dent of the Rome Merchants' Iron-mill, capital $150,000.
Mr. Armstrong is also a director of the Fort Stanwix
and Central National Banks. He was joined in wedlock,
in 1837, to a daughter of Henry Tibbits, Esq., an old
resident of Rome, by whom he had four children ; none of
them, however, are living. Mr. Armstrong has always
been thoroughly identified with the interests of Rome and
Oneida County, being a large real estate holder, and the



owner of many valuable farms in the county. He is to-
day, with one or two exceptions, the oldest " Roman of
them all," and has gained his position and influence by
personal exertion, provinjj; himself to be an indefatigable
worker. A history of Mr. Armstrong's life is useful for
its practical instruction. He has amassed a fortune that
would content the extravagant requirements of royalty.
Yet he has never risked a dollar in the precarious invest-
ment of wild speculation, but day by day added to his little
commencement. Attending wholly to his own business, he
has become honored for his integrity, and known as one of
the most influential citizens of Oneida County.



This town is located in the northwest part of the county,
and includes portions of towns 1, 2, 3, and 8 of Scriba's
Patent. Fish Creek forms more than one-half its present
boundary, while the west branch of the same stream forms
most of its southern boundary. The town extends to the
county line on the north, is bounded by Florence and
Camden on the west, and includes an area of 36,316 acres.
It was named from the wife of J. W. Bloomfield, its
first settler.

Aside from the two branches of Fish Creek, the town is
watered by numerous smaller streams, among them Miller's
Creek, — named from the first settler on its banks, — Fall
Brook, Glenmore Brook, and a small stream emptying into
Fish Creek at Taberg, with several of lesser note. Fall
Brook is so named from the falls at its outlet into Fish
Creek. The upper fall is fourteen, the middle twenty, and
the lower sixty feet. The stream is small, except in time
of high water, when a rushing flood thunders over the
rocky walls into the abyss below, aflbrding delight to the
beholder. All the streams in this town are very rapid,
falling from thirty to one hundred feet per mile, and were
originally filled with fish. The scenery along the largest
of them is inexpressibly grand and imposing, and a seeker
after the beauties of nature will find a visit to this locality
well repaid by a study of the many phenomena it contains.

A branch of the Oiieida tribe of Indians formerly resided
at the. meadows in this town, and about the time of the
French war of 1755-60 a party of Canadian Indians, about
twenty in number, settled at the forks of Fish Creek, for
the purpose of enjoying the facilities for fishing afforded
by this stream. The Oiieidas objected to this proceeding,
and finally succeeded in driving away the intruders.

The town of Annsville was formed from Lee, Florence,
Camden, and Vienna, April 12, 1823, and the first toWn-
meeting was held March 2, 1824, the following-named
officers being elected: Supervisor, Benjamin Hyde; Town
Clerk, John Segar ; Assessors, John Bloss, James Hart,
Dan Taft ; Collector, Edminster Harrison, Jr. ; Overseers
of the Poor, Increase Bartlett, Peter Abbott, Jr. ; Commis-
sioners of Highways, Daniel Griswold, Zachariah Tompkins,
John Paddock; Constables, E. Haramon, Jr., Ebeu S.

Bartholomew, R. R. Jones ; Commissioners of Common
Schools, Eliakim Simons, Gilbert H. Hull, William Clover ;
Inspectors of Common Schools, Joseph C. Bloomfield, Ben-
jamin Hyde, Jr., Marshal F. Fairservice; Poundmasters,
Barker Cobb, Asher Miller.

The Supervisors of this town since 1825 have been as
follows, viz. : 1825-27, Joel Northrop; 1828, no record;
1829-31, Israel S. Parker (record missing from 1832 to
1853 inclusive); 1854, Thomas B. Allansou ; 1855-56,
Alfred Bienis; 1857-62, Thomas B. Allanson ; 1863,
David Beekman ; 1864, Benjamin F. Sccor ; 1865, Thoma.s
B. Allanson ; 1806, George W. Brown ; 1867-68, Benja-
min F. Sccor ; 1869-70, David B. Danforth; 1871,William
G. Cornwell ; 1872, A. J. Brewster ; 1873, Ambrose
Bloss; 1874, William H. Nelson; 1875, William C.
Armstrong; 1876, George H. Wilson; 1877, William H.
Nelson ; 1878, Supervisor, Thomas B. Allanson ; Town
Clerk, Matthias Hanley ; Justice of the Peace, George
Gibbons ; Assessor, Dennis L. Daley ; Commissioner of
Hiiihways, Jonathan Stanford ; Collector, John H. Lackey ;
Overseers of the Poor, District No. 1, William W. Barber;
District No. 2, Jacob Sauer ; Constables, George W. Brown,
Byron Blorse, Clark Kilborn, Warren Kingsley ; Game
Constable, George Kenyon ; Town Auditors, H. T. B.
Hannay, Henry S. Wetherbee ; Inspectors of Election,
District No. 1, Chauncey Tompkins, Isaac W. Ethridge ;
District No. 2, Morris O'Connor, George Sherman; Com-
missioners of Excise, Harrison Lillybridge, Edmund C.


The first white settler in this town was John W. Bloom-
field, who came here in April, 1793, from Burlington,
New Jersey. He made his first improvement on the place
afterwards occupied by Dr. Beach. The night before he
arrived within the present limits of Oneida County he stayed
eight miles below Old Fort Schuyler, now Utica. He pur-
chased a large tract of land in Annsville, and soon built a
grist-mill and a saw-mill. It is related that in the morning
of the day he arrived in Oneida County, he came from his
stopping-place of the night previous to Old Fort Schuyler
for his breakfast, but on reaching that place he could not
find sufficient to make a meal upon or to feed his horse,
and was consequently obliged to mount the animal and ride
four miles farther to Judge White's, at Whitesboro'.
He arrived at the latter place just in time for dinner, and
took the two meals in one. He stayed with the judge about
two weeks, and from thenee proceeded to Fort Stanwix,
arriving there the same day with George Huntington, who
brought in a small stock of goods for sale to the settlers.
After stopping a short time at the fort he went on to his
purchase at Taberg.

"The next year after Esquire Bloomfield arrived at Taberg he
employed a man by the name of Gere to dig a well. Gere resided in
the present town of Lee. After he had progressed to a considerable
depth the sand caved in, and caught his feet and legs, and Mr.
Bloomfield went down to extricate him. When he had landed at the
bottom he looked up, and saw that the sides of the well were crack-
ing and heaving, ready to fall in upon them. He sprang and caught
hold of the rope used for drawing up the earth, and, by powerful
exertion, succeeded in extricating himself, while poor Gere was
covered to a great depth, and with him all the shovels on or near
the premises, A messenger was immediately dispatched to Lee, and



another to Rome, to get help and shovels. This was about the
middle of the afternoon. Gere could talk with those on the surface,*
said that the tub which was suspended by the rope over him had
prevented the sand from falling upon his head, and that he was not
hurt, and only suffered for the w:int of fresh air. How intense were
the feelings of the few bystanders ! Minutes seemed ages before
help arrived; but very soon, in proportion to the distance, men came
scattering in with shovels. Each went to work as if the preserva-
tion of the life of a human being depended on his individual exer-
tions. Such, however, was the vast amount of earth which had
caved in, and the constant runaing in, like water, of the sand from
the sides, that the work proceeded very slowly. All night they
toiled on, without succeeding in reaching the sufferer. Each suc-
ceeding hour his voice grew more feeble, until some time in the night
it ceased forever. In the morning the force was increased, but it
was nearly noon before all that remained of the poor well-digger was
exhumed. The body was taken to Lee to be buried. He left a wife
and children, and two of his sons afterward lived with Mr. Bloom-
field. "«

A couple of incideots regarding Mr. Blooinfield^s experi-
ence with the Indians are thus related by Hon. Pomeroy
Jones, in his interesting '■ Annals of Oneida County" ;

" Previous to the breaking up of the settlement of the Oneida
Indians at the Forks they useJ to bring salmon to Mr. Bloomfield,
at Taberg, for which he paid them a certain price per pound. The
Indians were not slow in learning that the heavier the fish the more
money they received. One day an Indian brought him a back-load
of fish, and they were as usual weighed and paid for. On dressing
them it was found that each fish had been heavily charged with
gravel stones j but before the discovery was made the poor Indian
was far on his way to the Forks with hia ill-gotten gains. A few
days afterwards Mr. Bloomfield saw Powlis, their chief, and com-
plained of the fraud practiced upon him, Powlis was very indignant,
and said that Mr. Bloomfield had ever paid a fair price for every
article he had purchased of them, and that he should not again be so
illy treated; and in all his purchases afterwards Mr. B. never found
a fish with so indigestible a dressing,

" One day, while Mr. Bloomfield was out upon his farm, an Indian
came to his house and requested Mrs. Bloomfield to lot him have
some liquor. This she resolutely refused, and he still as resolutely
demanded it, saying that he knew they had it in the house. Finding
that words did not terrify her he drew his knife, and by threatening
gestures drove her into a corner of the room, thinking thus to terrify
her, so that the liquor would be forthcoming. In this he was mis-
taken, for she then, in a determined voice, directed some member of
the family to go out and call Mr. Bloomfield, who was not far distant.
By this time ho had learned the spirit of the woman, and thought
he had better beat a hasty retreat while he could with a sound skin,
which he at once effected. The next day, to make peace with her,
and to convince her that he highly appreciated her firmness, he
brought a fine saddle of venison and presented it to her. She was
ever afterwards well treated by the Indians,"

Eiias Brewster, one of the early settlers of Annsvillc,
and a descendant of the Pilgrims of New England, cauie
to Oneida County frona Connecticut, in 1789 or 1790,
and located at first upon a farm in the town of Western,
near what is now the village of Delta. In 1806 he pur-
chased land in Annsville, began clearing it in March of
that year, and April 1, 1807, removed with his family to
the new location, the snow at the latter date being five feet
in depth. Mr. Brewster's cabin was of the primitive kind:
crotches set in the ground held the poles which supported
the roof, which latter and the siding were made of rough
boards and slabs ; these had to be hauled a distance of
three miles over a route where there was neither road nor
bridge. A huge fireplace was constructed in one end of
the building, and a hole left in the roof allowed the smoke
from the fire to escape ; the door was rough, and hung

^" Jones' Annals.

with strips of raw hide ; while the window-panes were
made of paper, rendered partly transparent with oil. This
was the style in which many of the first settlers lived.
Mr. Brewster's nearest neighbors were two miles distant,
in the town of Lee. Wild animals of various kinds were
plenty, and many were the eucountera — some of them
amusing — which the settlers had with them. The cattle
were allowed to graze in the forest during the summer,
and were brought home and penned every night.

"On one occasion it was near night before Mr. BrewFter started
for these useful animals, and assertaining their direction by the tink-
ling of the bell suspenled from the neck of the ' old cow,* he at once
dashed into the forest. He found them a full mile from his house,
and sunset warning him that darkness would soon be upon him, he
therefore started the cows rapidly for home. The road was circuit-
ous, to avoid a miry swamp. The more rapid striking of the bell
notiljed the fjimily that the cows were found, and in full motion for
home, as well as of the progress made. When about two-thirds of
the distance was accomplished the wild, unearthly scream of a pan-
ther on the track in the renr gave notice to all concerned of the ex-
treme danger of the father. These screams were continued at shoit
intervals, and distinctly showed that the panther was fast gaining
upon the boll. Soon the catlle reached home, and were Jet into the
little clearing, when such a shrill and prolonged scream rung out
from the darkness, apparently but a few rods from the house, as, if
once heard, will ever be remembered. As soon as the cattle were
yarded a fire was kindled in the inelosure, which, with the aid of
horns, tin pans, and brass kettles, successfully frightened away the
unwelcome visitor, — not, however, until it had given a full and fair
specimen of the hideousness of its notes, and its capabilities in pro-
longing them. On the following morning the bark of a recently-
fallen beech-tree showed the capacity of the animal to harm a subject
more congenial to its appetite.

" In the autumn of the second season of Brewster's residence in
town the bears committed great depredations in his coro-field. A
neighbor, who had recently moved to within about one mile of him,
was the owner of a large black sow. In her perambulations this ani-
mal had also learned the whereabouts of the corn-field, and seemed to
vie with Bruin in her snd havoc of the crop. The apology for a
fence was what was known in those days as a 'tiee fence,' which was
not a very good b;irrier against the grunting quadruped. She had
often been forcibly ejected, but as often made a forcible re-entrance.
One evening, and about dark, Mr. Brewster heard the work of destruc-
tion again going on in the corn-field, some thirty rods from the house,
and from the carliness of the hour he concluded it was the tame and
not the wild trespasser. He therefore directed his son, of about twelve
years of age, to go and again dispossess the animal. The little fellow
demurred, saying that it was of no use. A reiteration of the order,
however, caused him to stait, not, however, in the beet possible humor
with things in general or the black sow in particular. By the time
he had arrived at the point of the animal's depredations he had laid
in, as instruments of expulsion, a number of good-pized stones. The
beast was so busily engaged as not to discover the boy until he was
close upon it, and had saluted it with a full volley of stones. At first
the animal stood on the defensive, but another volley caused it to seek
safety in flight. Satisfied with the ease with which he had expelled
the sow, he returned to the house reflecting upon her expertncss in
climbing tho brush and logs of the fence. He told his father it was of
' no further use to try to keep out the sow, as she could climb as well
as a cat, as she went over the fence where it was fifteen feet high.' This
aroused the suspicions of the father, and he inquired how the beast
behaved when he commenced stoning it. The boy replied that 'she
raised herself upon her hind feet, as if to make fight, when he sent a
good big stone, that hit her in the side of the head, which caused her
to run and climb the fence,' as described. By this time the father was
satisfied with the nature of the beast the boy had driven from the
field. He said nothing, however, for fear of alarming the family.
Tho next morning, upon repairing to the scone of operations, he dis-
covered by the size and shape of the tracks that, instead of a sow,
his boy had been dealing with a huge bear. The next day two guns
were set in the field, and some time in the night following tho report
of the guns announced that something had crossed tho cord. The


Pliot08. by Hovey & Brainerd.



son of Job and Lovicia Dawley, was born in Peters-
burg, Rensselaer Co., N. Y., Sept. 9, 1803. At the
age of two, on March 7, 1805, he settled in Florence,
Oneida Co., N. Y., in company with his parents.
His father was a farmer by occupation, hence Nelson
was reared to industry and economy. On the 22d of
August, 1827, he was married to Miss Ann Eliza
Seger, daughter of Joseph Seger, of Annsville,
Oneida Co., N. Y. Mrs. A. E. Dawley was born
Dec. 8, 1805. By this union nine children have
been born, four of whom are now living. In March,
1829, Mr. Dawley removed into Annsville, and
settled on the farm he now owns, situated about a
mile west of Taberg. He owns some 225 acres of
good land, on which are some good buildings. He
is a progressive farmer, and is alive to all the im-
provements of the day. In politics he was a Dem-
ocrat until 1856, when he joined the Republican
party, and since has been one of its active supporters.

He has always been one of the leading men of his
town, and his fellow-townsmen have honored him
with many official positions. In the fall of 1839 he
was elected to the State Legislature, and served one
term to the general satisfaction of his constituents.
Since 1833 he has been a strong advocate of temper-
ance, and by word and action is doing all he can to
suppress that great curse — intemperance.

Mr. and Mrs. Dawley have been members of the
Presbyterian Church at Taberg for more than thirty-
five years.

Farming has been Mr. Dawley's principal business,
but in addition to this he has been extensively en-
gaged in the manufacture of lumber.

On the 22d of August, 1877, Mr. and Mrs. Daw-
ley celebrated the fiftieth anniversary of their mar-
riage, and now (July, 1878) they seem to be in the
full enjoyment of health, surrounded by the comforts
of a happy home.



foUowi^ng morBing u bear waa found dead but a few rods from the
scene of operations. It wns of the largest size, weighing about 400

One of Mr. Brewster's neighbors, a man named William
Lord, went to Taberg, Aug. 16, 1816, after some neces-
saries for his family, and some rum for the use of his harvest
hands. The distance was about two miles through the for-
est, and there was no road to guide him. He crossed Fish
Creek, where the Coalhill bridge is now located, reached
Taberg, transacted his business, and just at night started to
return home, in a partial state of intoxication. His con-
dition, together with the darkness, caused bim to lose hia
way, and instead of reaching the creek at the usual crossing-
place he struck it about forty rods farther up stream, walked
off the bank where it was forty feet high,, fell upon the
rocks below, and rolled into the water. H^ caught the
bushes as he fell, but they were not strong enough to sup-
port his weight, and gave way. Two days afterwards, when
he was found, the handle of his jug was in his left hand,
the bushes in his right, and his neck was broken. The
place from which he fell was on the west side of the creek,
and opposite the centre of the island above Coalhill bridge.
The still water in which the body was found has since been
known as the " Rum Hole."

The following anecdote, illustrating some of the hardships
of attending school in the early days of the settlements, is
also told by Judge Jones :

"Two little sons of the early settlers were attending the summer
term of their district school in 1816. The eldest was nine, the young-
est six years of nge. Kain or sunshine, cold or hot, they had to
walk three miles in the morning to reach the school-house, nnd the
same distance at night. Two little girls of about the same age re-
sided on their road, one mile nearer the school. The eldest girl was

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 112 of 192)