Samuel W Durant.

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

. (page 114 of 192)
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 114 of 192)
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Proctor, Clark Widrig, George Kingsley (146th), Thomas
Murphy, James Ward, Edwin Kimball, Emery Sexton,
Wells Sexton, James Welch, James McCormick, Henry
R. Hardy, Van Buren Campbell (81st New York Infantry).

East Face. — Alonzo Rudd, John Douglas, George
Evans, Jay Kilburn, Daniel Wilson, Cornelius Dagia,
Hugh McLaughlin, John Waterman (81st New York In-
fantry), Eli Marvel, Hiram Marvel, Chancey Thome, Wil-
liam Morgan (97th New York Infantry), David Tanner
(68th New York Infantry).

North Face. — Adam Lindredge, Andrew J. Kimball,
Edward Butler (2d New York Artillery), Daniel Thome,
Benjamin Thome, Charles Converse, Obediah Collins (24th
Cavalry), Amos N. Brewster (50th Regiment, Engineers),
Eli Baker, Thomas Breen, George W. Morenus, Henry
Smith, Byron White, Gilbert Kimball (26th New York

Among those who have furnished information concerning
the hi.story of this town are Jonathan Stanford, Mrs. Lot
Sexton, Mrs. Nunan, pastors and members of churches,
proprietors of manufactories. Captain J. F. Abbott and his
brother Harvey, and many others, — to all of whom our
thanks are hereby tendered.



of Taberg, Oneida Co., N. Y., was born at Argyle, Wash-
ington County, in the year 1837, and is now, therefore,
forty-one years old. He removed to Annsville, Oneida

County, with his parents when he was four years old, and
has resided in that town ever since. His youth and early
manhood were devoted to farming. In 1860 he embarked
in the mercantile business at Taberg with the late David
B. Danforth, Sheriff of Oneida County. In 1867, Mr.
Lasher went into a general mercantile business at Taberg



on his own account, and has followed that business ever
since. To this he has added an extensive trade in watches,
jewelry, musical instruments, pianos, organs, etc.

Mr. Lasher is one of the most prompt and active bus-
ioess men of the county. He is a prominent member of
the Baptist Church, and was postmaster at Tabergfor many
years. By his industry and energy he has built up an ex-
tensive trade in the northern part of the county, and his
orders for first-class watches and musical instruments are
not limited to the county of Oneida or State of New York,
but come to him from distant States. A branch of his
business, for the manufacture of his best watches, is located
in Switzerland.

Success in business of any kind is sure to follow strict
integrity, industry, and energy, and Mr. Lasher's course is
ii complete illustration of this truth.



This is the southwest corner town of Oneida County,
and has an area of 16,763 acres. It includes portions of
Peter Smith's tract and New Stockbridge, — a reservation
belonging to the Stockbridge Indians. The town lies on
both sides of the Skanandoa Creek, the land on either side
rising to a height of several hundred feet above the stream.
These uplands are known as " East Hill" and " West Hill,"
and a commanding view may be had from their summits of
the valley of the creek, and a large area of surrounding
territory. The eastern ridge in this town lies between the
Skanandoa and Oriskany Creeks, and that in the west forms
the " divide" between the Skanandoa and Oneida Creeks.
The soil is excellent, and well adapted to the growth of
grain and fruit. Hops are extensively cultivated, and the
improvements are generally of the first class. Numerous
elegant homes attest the industry of the inhabitants and the
fertility of the soil, for this town has few manufacturing
establishments, and agriculture is the chief pursuit from
whence is derived the many comforts possessed by her citi-

On the 7th of September, 1847, a historical address was
delivered at Augusta, by Rev. Orlo Bartholomew, pastor of
the Congregational Church, and from that address we make
a few extracts. The names of persons mentioned as land-
holders will be understood as those who resided in places
described at that time, — viz., 1848 :

" The Oneidaa were the original possessors of the wilderness,
although tradition asserts that they were driven long since from the
country along the St. Lawrence and Grand Rivers. These Indians
were friendly to the Colonies, and had been very friendly to other
tribes. The Brothertown remnant bad a region ceded them on the
eastern borders of what ia now Augusta. The luacavorna, who were
driven from North Carolina and Virginia in 1712, were received into
the confederacy of the Five Nations, and those tribes were after this
called the Six Nations. Some of the Tuecararnn, wo believe, are set-
tled on land now held by this town, and owned by John Curry. It
has been believed that the Stockbridge tribe made the opening and
settlement after it wa* given them by the Oiieidae ; but the Stock-
bsilge tribe had a definite location on the tract called New Stock-

bridge. Wampey, a celebrated Indian, who resided on the place
now occupied by A Innson Miller, said that the apple-trees had been set
out 84 years when the whites settled on the lot, making it 132 years
from the present time (1847), and the appearance of the trees cor-
roborated the statement. The apple-trccs were, according to this
statement, transplanted about three years after the Titacaroraa camg
north, which is as soon as we should expect that they would have made
such improvements.

"The Stackbridge tribe of about 800^" removed from Massachusetts
in 1784, which rcndersitimprobablethatthcy should have transplanted
these trees. It was believed that this tribe had gone so far into the
wilderness that they would be left unmolested by their contiguity to
the settlement of the whites for many years. But war had ceased in
our country, commerce revived, and the tomahawk and scalping-
knife were wrested from butchery, und the white man pressed hard
upon their tribes in fifteen years. The remnant from Massachusetts
mingled more freely with the TuHcm-orHH than the other tribes; there-
fore It has been believed that they were the same, and some parts of
Stockbridge were called Tuscarora. There were Indian wigwams on
the opening of which we have spoken when some of the oldcr*t inhabi-
tants now livingf came info that neighborhood. Some of the chil-
dren of Mr. Francis O'Toole recollect that their father told them that
they were occupied by Indians when he came to the place, — on which
he died. This man, who had been pressed into the {■orvice of England
when going to Fiance to complete his education, bad been in some
desperate battles, and after three years was landed at Bostc-n, without
property or friends. He traveled the country some fuur or five years.
In his search for a place to make his home be came up the Indian
path to the spring near where he built his house, and was so fasci-
nated with the place that he said if he could cibtain it be would make
it his residence. He located on that spot in 17!)4, and did not remove
till he was carried to the grave, Feb. 24, 1842, agpd ninety. There
was an Indian road or trail that crossed fiom tbc Indian orchard
(which was west of Sergeant's Patent) to Brothertown. It passed
near where George Dodge now resides (18-17), thence across the flat in
a southeasterly direction. On this flat was a spring near their trail,
the water of which the Indians boiled for salt. Near whore Sylves-
ter and Abner Hinman now reside, the path to the opening and to
Erothertowu took a more easterly direction, while the other continued
its course, and passed not far from the j)lace nherc now Itiggs Hawley
resides, over the liseof land nearly sixty rods easterly of J. W. Stur-
tevant, where formerly Abram Davis resided. On that sightly spot
Wampey said the Indians tarried on their return from the massacre
of Cherry Valley and divided their spoil, washing their scalps at the
falls in the ravine near and drying them. The timber on that emi-
nence gave evidence of having been aflectcd by their fires, when it
was taken up by the white population. From this place the path
passed near the spring where Mr. O'Toole built, and thence across the
place where the house of Judge Nathan Kimball now stands, and
crossed the Oriskany Creek some 200 rods below Oriskany Falls. It is
believed that this was their path from Oneida to the Chenango Valley,
of which we read in history.

" This town being the high land from which, or from very near our
boundaries, the streams run to the ocean, through the Hudson, St,
Lawrence, and Susquchannah, we have no streams that ever furnished
a bountiful supply of fish; but salmon were once plenty in our Ska-
nandoah, as far up as Vernon Centre, an! doubtless they often found
their way near where we now stvn:! [Augusti Centre]. Tradition in-,
forms us that this creek derived its name from the fact that the Indians,
in their path from the Oneida Castle to Clinton, passed this stream on
a large hemlock-tree that had fallen across it. Skanandoah, in the
Indian tongue, means hemlock. The aged chief of this niirae, just
before his death, to a visitor, through an interpreter, said, * I am aa
aged hemlock. The winds of an hundred winters have whistled
through my branches; I am dead at the top.* As it would be very
natural to designate the stream by the means they bad for crossing it^
the stream was called Skanandoah, or hemlock. The tree on which
they crossed this creek was a little below the road that leads from
Vernon Centre to Sergeant's Patent.

'* It would not be inappropriate to pause and drop a tear over the sad

*i- These figures arc wrong. In 1785, the year after this tribe re-
moved fium Massachusetts, it numbered 420 individuals, and in 1813
had only increased to 438.

■|- Ncne now living (1&7S) ttho rccorect them.



and mournful departure of the once powerful and noble red men who
roamed these hills smd valleys. They were luxuriantly furnished from
the streams and the game that wandered in the forests, where are now
our fields and dwellings. They had their village just at our west, on
lands pnce under our jurisdiction."^- There was their Council Rock,
Oneida, — the upright or standing stone from which perhaps their
name arose. It is s^lll to be scen.| One century since, they were
greatly distinguished and beloved by their brethren of the wilderness.
They gave a home to their brethren, who were wasting away in conse-
quence of devastating wars and contact with civilized men. On our
east, they gave place to the remnant of a few tribes on the'Brother-
town tract. On our west and northwest were the eight hundred [438]
Stockbridges, and tbe TuscaroroB had a much wider range and larger
extent. But where are these proud and high-minded men of the
forest, who possessed the extensive resources of this beautiful and
excellent country? They have fled before the pale-face, and wasted
under the power of rum, — that most mighty foe of the red man.

"In 1794, Peter Smith, who was of Dutch parents, and born in
ITfiS, le:ised of the Oneida Indians about 60,000 acres, which, in
honor of his firi^t name, he called New Petersburgh ; Gerrit Smith
believed this was for 999 years. Some of our oldest inhabitants sup-
pose that it was for 21 j'ears, as this was the time for which he leased
it to the first seftlers. Tlie southeast corner of Peter Smith's tract
was the southwest cornei- of this town, and it was bounded south by
the twenty townships called the Governor's Purchase. His tract
crossed Madison County and this town. There was a tract some fi^ve or
six miles square that was called JNew Stoekbridge, which the Oneidas
had ceded to the Stockliridge tribe. South of this tract there was a
strip of lane leased to Smith, whence the name 'Strip' is derived.
There was t-till another tract, of 1000 acres, which lay east of Stock-
bridge and west of the four-mile square {which was a tract comprised
in Smith's 60,000 acres, which was granted to John Gregg, Sr., John
Gregg, Jr., and James Alexanler), called the school lot, the rent of
which wa^ appropriated to the education of Indian children. Peter
Smith divided his tract into four allotments, the first of which all lay
in Augusta.

" As soon as Peter Smith had obtained his lease, which was opposed
by the Pagan party among the Indians, who once drove the surveyor
from the tract, he commenced leasing to those who wished to obtain
twenty-one years' leases. Before 1797 most of the lands in Augusta
were leased. In 1795 and 1797 there were acts passed by the Legis-
lature so that all those wi.o had obtained leases of Smith could have
patents from the State. Smith had six lots of land in this town in
part or entire pay for this lease. The lands were encumbered with
mortgages given to the State for the original purchaee-money, — $3.53
per acre.:}:

" In 1795 the Oneidas ceded to the State the land north of the east
part of this first allotment, which was soon surveyed, and was sold at
auction Aug. 28, 1797. There was retained from this rescr^'ation a
tract u. mile square, which came eventually into the bands of the
Northern Missionary Society, for which they were to maintain a mis-
sionary and teacher among the Indians. Their method of determin-
ing where the tract should lie was to stick a stake by the spring,.about
60 rods southwest from where now resides John Curry [184:7], which
was the centre of the lot. The B,ev. Mr. Kirkland,§ who came to
Oneida Castle in 17G6, was this missionary more than 4tf years, and
enjoyed part of the avails of this lot. lie died at Clinton, March 28,
18,08. In 1809 the Northern Missionary Society employed a Mr.
Jenkins as missionary among the Oneidas. We think there was
nothing against his moral character, and still the Indians did not wish
him to remain among them, or but very few of them ; and being dis-
couraged, he left. The Indians have since sought more compensation
for the land they had disposed of to the society ; but the acting
members of the society maintained that they had been ready to fulfill
on their part, and as the land was disposed of in good faith they saw
no violation of Christian principles in their course. Two hundred
and forty acres of this tract were patented to Israel Chapin, and the
remainder was patented to the society."

® A portion of the town of Augusta was, after its organization,
annexed to Madison County.

I Now in Forest IliU Cemetery at Utica.

X It was many years before this indebtedness was cleared up.

g Rev. Samuel Kirkland.


was begun in 1793, the first habitation for white people
bein"- built that year by a man named Gunn, not far from
the place afterwards occupied by Peter Stebbins. The
second one was built by Benjamin Warren, on the spot
where he resided for many years. David Morton and John
Alden began clearings this year on the south lot, on the
road that passes from north to south thi'ough the centre of
the town. August 17, of the same year, Ichabod Stafford,
and Joseph and Abraham Forbes settled in town with their
families," — in all 23 persons. Some of them slept in their
carts on the first night after they reached the town. The
first merchant in Augusta, one Mr. Adams, sold goods in
Ichabod Stafford's house in 1798. He afterwards built a
store on lot seventeen, but failed before he could complete

The year 1794 witnessed the arrival of several additional
pioneers; among them were Isaac and Benjamin Allen,
Amos Parker, James Cassety (or Casety), Francis O'Toole,
Ozias Hart, Abel Prior, Thomas Spafford, Ezra Saxton,
Abiel Linsley, and perhaps others. Amos Parker, who
had lived two years on the Brothertown tract, had served
faithfully and well during the Revolutionary struggle, and
the following anecdote is related of him, it having occurred
probably at the siege of Yorktown : General Lafayette se-
lected 25 men to go with him and reduce a certain trouble-
some intrenchment, giving orders not to fire until word was
given, under pain of death. They were armed with guns
and the necessary implements to remove abatis and palisade
work. Mr. Parker was selected to walk next to Lafayette.
The way was cleared to the palisades, and the axe was ap-
plied to the timbers composing them, but one, two, and even
three stout blows failed to cut them away, and Parker
placed his broad shoulder against one of them and drew it
forth, when he removed two more the same way. The
small force dashed through the opening towards the intrench-
ment, and was met by bristling weapons, threatening instant
death to Lafayette and the utter annihilation of his com-
panions, llegardless of orders, Parker threw his gun to his
shoulder and shot down one of the enemy, and, rushing
upon them with his clubbed gun, soon cleared a way for his
comrades, and in a few moments they had won the fray.
Parker was afterwards arraigned before a court-martial for
disobedience of orders, but it was shown so clearly that his
action had saved the life of the commander that he was ac-
quitted. Upon the visit of Lafayette to Utica, nearly fifty
years later, Mr. Parker called upon him, and, after making
himself known and mentioning the incident above related,
the two old soldiers embraced with all the fervor of youth.
Mr. Parker, who was the tallest man in the American army,
stood upon the right of the troops at the surrender of Corn-


The following sketch of Colonel Cassety, mentioned as
having settled in this town in 1794, is copied from Judge
Jones°" Annals of Oneida County." The date of his birth
cannot be satisfactorily ascertained :

" He was the son of James Cassety, who was a captain in the British
army and on service in this country in the French war of 1756. After
the peace of 1760 the captain went to Detroit and established himself as
an Indian trader. Here he continued until the commencement of the



war of tho Revolution, when he was ordered to take up arms against the
colonies. This he refused to do. In the menn time Thomas was horn,
had j)ur5ued the usual preparatory course, and was now far advanced in
his collegiate education. During a vacation ho visited his father at De-
troit, and while there an officer of the Crown was sent to arrest his father
for treason, in refusing to iight the hattles of George III. against the
colonies. The arrest was made in the presence of the son, which so
exasperated him that he seized a loaded musket and fired at the offi-
cer. Whether he killed him or not is not known, as the colonel, in
after-life, would never throw any light on tho subject further than to
say that the ball passed through the officer's hat-crown. The captain
was taken to Quebec, and for three long years confined so closely that
in the whole period the sun never for once shone upon him. At
length, with two others, he made his escape. Thomas, after firing at
the officer, made good his retreat from Detroit, and took refuge with
one of the Western tribes of Indians, Here he was received and
treated with kindness; was formally adopted into their tribe, one of
the chiefs of which gave him his daughter for a wife. By her he had
issue, and tradition has said — whether truly or falsely — that ' the cele-
brated Tecumsoh was a son of Thomas Cassety.'

" After a residence of several years with the Indians, and after our
independence had been acknowledged by Britain, as he could return
in safety, he left the Indians and again took up his abode in civilized
life, and was again married. By this marriage he had seven children,
two sons and five daughters. The next that is learned of him is that
he WEbS residing at Canajoharie.

"The surveyors employed by Peter Smith having been driven off,
as before stated, their compass and chain broken to pieces by the Pa-
gan party of the OtiehUift, Mr. Smith had recourse to Mr. Cassety, who
was residing at that place, to induce him to come to Oneida and make
peace with the Indians. From his thorough acquaintance with In-
dian character he was peculiarly fitted for this mission, in which ho
was entirely successful. Mr. Smith, by means of these services, was
enabled to realize a considerable fortune.

" In 1794, Mr. Cassety removed to the town of Augusta, and settled
at Oriskany Falls, — a location which for many years was known only
by the name of Cassety'Hollow. Here he built the mills,* as before
stated, and in erecting the grist-mill he and Peter Smith were in com-
pany. Soon after its completion, Cassety, who was now a colonel in
the militia, and justice of the peace, purchased of Smith his share,
and mortgaged his property to Smith to secure the payment of the
purchase-money. Eventually, the foreclosing of this mortgage re-
duced the colonel from competency to poverty. The earnings of years
of toil and privation were all swept away.

" His death was most melancholy. A clothier in removing from
his shop had left, among other things, a bottle of sulphuric acid.
This the colonel supposed to be whisky (a poison, in most cases, just
as sure if not as rapid),_and the fatal draught closed his existence in
a few hours. He died August 14, 1831. His father, Captain James
Cassety, died in Augusta, May 2.3, 1822, aged eighty-four."

Francis O'Toole, who also settled in 1794, lived an ad-
venturous life before coming to this town. After his three
years of service in behalf of the Crown he landed at Boston,
and went from there to Hartford, Conn., where he hired to
Colonel Thomas Seymour, with whom he lived two years.
He was supposed by the family to be a " wild, unlettered
Irishman," and Mrs. Seymour on one occasion kindly oiFered
to teach him to read, but he told her he was afraid he was
too old to learn. The colonel's son Richard, who was at-
tending Yale College, was at home on his vacation, and un
dertook to make himself appear to great advantage among
the servants in the kitchen by uttering a Latin sentence.
This seemed so ridiculous to O'Toole that he made a sharp
reply in the same language, being thrown off his guard,
and the news soon spread that Colonel Seymour's supposed
" wild Irishman" had a good education, and instead of being
called " Pat" and " Paddy," as usual, he was addressed as

» Saw-mill in 1794-95, and grist-mill in 1796.

Mr. O'Toole. His family was much respected by the in-
habitants of the town.

In 1796, Abraham and Alexander Holmes settled upon
tho east hill, and Oliver Bartholomew, Deacon Philip Pond,
William Martin, Stephen Crosby, Archibald and John Man-
chester, Robert Worden, and John Goodhue located in town
the same year. J. Reynolds came in 1795 and began clear-
ing, and one evening, while looking for his cow, treed a bear
about sixty rods southwest of Ozias Hart's. He called to
Mr. Hart, who was in hailing distance, telling him to come
with his gun and shoot the bear. Mr. Hart misunderstood,
and thought the bear had treed Reynolds. He had a gun
well loaded, and one or two dogs, yet he started in pursuit
of his brother, who had gone to Utioa that day, to help res-
cue his neighbor from his perilous position ! Reynolds be-
came impatient, and, leaving the dog to guard the tree, he
went to Hart's house ; the dog vacated his post, however,
and the bear escaped before Reynolds or the Harts returned,
probably laughing, bear fashion, at the courage of Hart and
the dog.

Another bear story is told which is worth preserving,
the hero of the adventure being Thomas Spafford. While
on his way to church one Sunday he noticed a large bear
following him. For a time he pursued his way quietly,
hoping the animal would leave the path; but in this he was
disappointed, as he came much nearer. He then attempted
to frighten him, but failed in that also ; and as a final resort
he left the path and climbed a small hemlock-tree, the bear
following to its foot. In his haste to escape he caught a
dry limb, which broke beneath his weight, and he fell. As
he was falling, he said he thought " Old Spafford was gone
for it I" He succeeded in effectually frightening the bear,
however, and the animal ran off as fast as his legs could
caiTy him as Spafford struck the ground. The latter then
pursued his way to church without further molestation.

In the spring of 1797 five families came in company
from Washington, Litchfield Co., Conn,, and settled on what
is known as Washington Street, running south from the
centre; four of these families were those of Robert Durkec,
Newton Smith, Joseph Hurd, and Sheldon Parmalee.
Later in the same year Bjnjaiiiin and Joseph Durkee and
David Curtis came from the same town and settled in the
same locality. The road from Michael Hinman's (later, Gr.

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 114 of 192)