Samuel W Durant.

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

. (page 125 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 125 of 192)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


growing. The inhabitants have in recent years engaged to
some extent in the dairy business, which yields ample re-
turns for their trouble. The Utica shale underlies the
hilly portion of the town, and in a wet season the roads in
such localities are well nigh impassable. The northern part
of the town has been settled by a considerable number of
Welsh, who are in the main an industrious and thrifty
class of people.

The town was named in honor of General William
Floyd, one of the signers of the Declaration of Independ-
ence, and a large landholder in this town and Western, in
which latter he resided from 1803 until his death. He is
buried in the cemetery at Westernville. The town of
Floyd was formed from Steuben, March 4, 1796. The first
town-meeting was held the same spring at the house of
Samuel J. Curtiss, at which time Stephen Moulton, Sr., was
elected supervisor, and Moses Coffeen town clerk. The
records for 1797 are missing. Abel French held the office
of supervisor in 1798-99 ; Jarvis Pike from 1800 to 1811 ;
Nathan Townsend, Sr., in 1812 ; Ephrjim Bobbins from
1813 to 1819; Nathan Townsend again in 1820-21;
Ephraim Robbius again from 1822 to 1824; Salmon Pel-
ton from 1825 to 1832 ; David Moulton from 1833 to
1837; Samuel C. Brooker, 1838-39; David Moulton,
1840-42; Hosea Clark, 1843-44; David Moulton again
from 1845 to 1851.*

EARLY SETTLEJIENT.

The first settler in this town was probably Captain Ben-
jamin Pike, who, it is supposed, located in 1790. Very
soon after Stephen Moulton, Jr., settled, and following him
came William and Nathaniel Allen and James Chase. At

•'> Jonca' Annals. Two calls at the office of the town clerk, while
gathering notes in this town, failed to find him at home, consccjucntly
we are unable to give a full list of supervisors, etc.



450



HISTORY OF ONEIDA COUNTY, NEW YOIIK.



the time the Aliens came Benjamin Pike, Elisha Lake, and
a man named Howard were living below the place after-
wards occupied by Linus Moulton. Two brothers named
Howard resided at an early date half a mile east of the
corners, and Hope Smith settled shortly after. The latter
was the father of Stephen R. Smith, one of the earliest
and most popular Universalist preachers in the county.
David Byam, James Bartlett, and a Mr. Putney were the
earliest settlers in the north part of the lowu. Captain
Pike's son, Jarvis Pike, located in town very early, for the
lease of a lot north of Floyd Cornere was granted him by
General William Floyd, Oct. 26, 1793.

The following account of the Moulton family is taken
from Judge Jones' " Annals of Oneida County" :

" As early as February, 179^, the difierent mctnbers of the Moulton
family, from Stafford, Conn., had settled in this town. As before
mentioned, Stephen Moulton, the younger, was .among the earliest set-
tlers. Within five years after his arrival, his father, Stephen Moulton,
and four other sons, Salmon, Joseph, Benjamin, and Ebenezer, had
moved into the town. The Moulton family were among the staunch-
est Whigs of the Revolution in the land of * steady habits,' and sae-
rificed much in the cause of their country. Salmon was taken pris-
oner on Long Island, and suffered all the horrors of a confinement in
the ' Sugar House,* a place more noted for the suffering of its inmates
than the 'Black Hole' of Calcutta, because more protracted. Mr.
Moulton was kept so short of provisions that he and his compatriots
used to chew pieces of the oak staves of the sugar casks left in their
prison, for the little nutriment they contained. His father. Col. Ste-
phen Moulton, was afterward taken prisoner (as is understood) at
Fort Washington, and there confined. After a tedious confinement
in the 'Sugar House,' Salmon was paroled to leave for Fort Washing-
ton, and soon after, both father and son were paroled to go to their
homes."

Stephen Moulton, Jr., lived to the age of ninety-one
years, and died Feb. 1, 1851._ He was a member of the
celebrated band of musicians of the Revolutionary army,
under Timothy Olmstead. He was very active until his
last days, and always walked to Rome when wishing to
visit that place, notably on the occasions of executing his
pension papers, March and September 4. He was never
sick until the final attack which carried him away.

William Allen, who is mentioned as one of the early set-
tlers, died Aug. 4, 1843, aged seventy-three years, and his
wife, Dorcas, answered to the summons of the death angel
Feb. 11, 1855, having reached the age of nearly eighty-
three. Ezra Wilcox died April 4, 1823, aged seventy, and
his wife, July 27, 1830, aged seventy-two. These persons,
with several of their children, are buried in the small cem-
etery east of Floyd Corners.

One of the early settlers of this town was Samuel Dyer,
who after a number of years' residence sold his farm,
and removed to what is now the town of Marcy. Mr. Dyer
was a man much respected for his sterling good sense and
pleasing manners, yet in one thing he was lacking. To his
car the strains of delicious music, which might be brought
forth by skillful fingers from the keys of the piano or the
strings of the haip, were as naught. By his own statement,
there was as much melody in the sound of " half a dozen
men whetting their scythes in his meadow before breakfast"
as in the rich notes of a grand piano.

Captain Nathan Townsend settled in the southeast part
of town, in 1801, on a farm situated in Sumner's Patent,
which had been purchased by Governor George Clinton.



A man named Turner Ellis had previously occupied this
farm as a " squatter." Thomas Bacon and Samuel Cum-
mings were early settlers upon Floyd Hill, the locality going
for some time by the name of " Bacon's Hill," after the
family which located upon it.

Samuel Denison located in the town of Floyd in the
year 1800, and among those who came at nearly the same
time were James Chase, Latham Denison, and others. Mr.
Chase died not many years afterwards, Latham Denison
about 1844-45, and Samuel Denison in 1849.

The first death in the town was that of a Mr. Foster,
who died of disease, and the second that of Nathan Thump-
son, who was killed by a falling tree. In the latter part
of the summer of 1796 several persons died of dysentery ;
among them were the wife of Colonel Stephen Moulton, and
three children of his son James, all within the same week.
Asa Clark, from the State of Massachusetts, settled in
Floyd Hill about 1805. During the war of 1812 he served
as a teamster in the American army. He and his wife
both lived to the age of eighty-seven years. His son, A.
S. Clark, now resides a short distance south of Floyd Cor-
ners, and is postmaster at that place.

David Nutt came to this town from Massachusetts or
Connecticut some years previous to 1800, and settled on
the farm now owned by George Clark. Plis father, Robert
Nutt, was ii Revolutionary soldier, and located about the
same time. Both died in the town. David Nutt's son,
Austin A. Nutt, is living southwest of Floyd Corners, and
was born in this town in 1800. He has vivid recollections
of this region when its appearance was little changed from
that of an unpeopled wilderness.

Benjamin H. Gardner, from Rhode Island, moved to
this town about 1804, with his father, Amos Gardner, and
settled on the place now occupied by the widow of the
former. This estimable lady has reached the age of eighty-
eight years, yet her memory is still bright, and her facul-
ties are remarkably preserved. Her husband served in the
war of 1812 ; his father, Amos Gardner, returned to
Rhode Island, and died there.

Mrs. Gardner's father, Eli Kent, came to the county
when the daughter was but five years old, or in 1795, when
the small cluster of buildings which stood on the site of
Utica were known as " Old Fort Schuyler." He settled in
the edge of Rome, and lies buried near his old farm. He
volunteered and served for some time during the war of
1812.

In this same neighborhood, but in the town of Floyd,
there settled three families named Kilborn, that of Israel
Denio, and others. At that period the surrounding forests
were filled with many varieties of wild game, and the
larger animals, as wolves, wild-cats, bears, deer, panthers,
etc., were by no means scarce. The pig-pen and sheep-
fold of the settler must be made strong and secure, in order
that the inmates thereof might be safe from pi-owlers.
Occasionally the use of a fire-brand was necessary to drive
away some midnight robber, who scrambled away through
the forest with a disappointed grunt, or disappeared in the
tree-tops with a blood-curdling scream. The life of the



pioneer was one



of almost constant adventure, and the tales



that are preserved in nearly every locality of the grandsires




riiutu. liy Williams.



HON. INGHAM TOWNSEND.



Hon. Ingham Townsend was born March 6, 1799, in
Hancock, Berkshire Co., Mass., the eighth child of Nathan
and Dorcas Townsend. Their first cliild died in infancy.
Those who reached adult age in the order of their birth were
Gardner, William, Hannah, Halsey, Palmer, Ehoda, Ingham,
Betsey, and Nathaniel, all deceased except Palmer and Ing-
ham. In 1801 the family moved from Massachusetts, and
settled in the town of Floyd, on the place now owned and
occupied by a grandchild, Mrs. Sarah A. Laird. A small
clearing had been made and a log house erected by a Mr.
Ellis, of whom it was purchased, together with two hundred
and six acres of land, mostly woods. A few years afterwards
a tract of four hundred and fifteen acres was purchased of
George Clinton, the first Governor of New York.

Nathan Townsend lived to the extreme age of nearly
ninety yeara. He died March 30, 1854. He served one
term in the Assembly, was a Unitarian in his refigious
belief, and was one of the most successful farmers in the
town of Floyd.

Ingham Townsend lived at home until he was twenty-
three years of age, receiving, after his majority, from his
father one hundred dollars per year for his services. He
received his education at the district school of his neighbor-
hood, and at the Lowville Academy. Nathan Townsend
gave to each of his sons land to the value of one thousand
dollars, and to each of his daughter.? five hundred dollars in
money. To his sons Ingham, Palmer, and Nathaniel he
gave one hundred and sixty-five acres of the four hundred
and fifteen acre tract, and by purchase from his brothers of
their interest, Ingham became the sole owner. Upon this
farm he built subsequently one of the finest residences in
Oneida County, where he still resides.

He married, February 7, 1826, Caroline H. Pox, daughter
of Ansel and Lydia Fox. Her father was a native of
Connecticut, an early settler in the town of Trenton, and
a prominent man in his day. Mrs. Townsend was born



June 2, 1807. She finished her education with John
Sherman, at Trenton Falls.

Mr. and IMrs. Townsend have had no children of their
own. They have adopted and brought up three. The first
was Frances C. Fox, daughter of Reuben and Frances Fox,
and a niece of Mrs. Townsend. She was born April 1,
1841. Married, October 26, 1864, to Wm, Anderson.
They live at the homestead. They have two children, —
George Townsend, born April 15, 1866, and Caroline
Frances, born December 16, 1869. The second was a child
left in a basket, by whom was never known. The little
waif found a father and mother indeed in Mr. and Mrs.
Townsend. They named him Ingham Fox Townsend. A
card left in the basket gave the date of his birth, viz.,
November 18, 1846. He married Agnes Moulton, daugh-
ter of William F. and Elizabeth Moulton, of Floyd. He
is now a farmer in Lenox, Madison Co., N. Y. They have
no children. The third child was Anna Hazen, adopted
when two years of age ; born May 1, 1852 ; living at home.

Mr. Townsend has been an extensive and successful
operator in real estate and in cattle. Accumulated a hand-
some property, which was subsequently greatly reduced by
undersigning. He built the fine stone residence in which
he lives in 1837, as said before one of the best in the
county. He voted twice for Andrew Jackson ; was a strong
anti-slavery man, and has been identified with the Repub-
lican party since its organization. Served a term in the
Assembly in 1857 ; was on committee of agriculture.

For thirty-nine years has been a member of the Presby-
terian Church of Holland Patent, — an active and promi-
nent man in it. His wife has also been a member for forty
years.

Mr. Townsend has been a liberal contributor to all benevo-
lent enterprises, colleges, churches, etc. He took an active
interest in military matters of the State, and was a colonel
of one of the State militia regiments.



HISTORY OF ONEIDA COUNTY, NEW YORK.



451



and granddames of the present inhabitants would fill a
volume.

John Robbins, from Bennington, Vt., and grandfather
of Alfred Robbins, now a resident of this town, removed
to Oneida County in 1790, and at first settled on the farm
in Rome, afterwards owned by Peter Colt, near what is
now known as Newville. The miasma and fever and ague
of that locality caused him to remove into what is now
Floyd, near the Rome town-line, where he settled on the
farm now owned by his grandson, Alfred Robbins. The
father of the latter was Henry Robbins. A daughter of
John Robbins married Willett Ranney, Jr., of Rome.

" Israel Denio, Sr., father of the late Judge Denio and of Israel
Dcnio, of Rome, had a number of years before married, in Benning-
ton, Esther, another daughter of John Kobhins. Ephraim Bobbins
(father of Olive Robbins, of Liberty Street, Rome), and a brother of
Esther and Betsey Bobbins, above named, married a daughter of
Bill Smith, the latter having twenty-five years before married a sister
of "Willett Ranney, Jr."*

John and Henry Robbins both died in the town of
Floyd.

Israel Denio, a son of Aaron Denio (a stanch veteran of
the Revolution), was born in Deerfield, Miss., in 1763.
His father for years kept a tavern in Greenfield, in the
north part of Massachusetts, near the Vermont State
line (previous to the Revolution). Israel Denio was a
blacksmith by trade, and married Esther, a daughter of
John Robbins (as before mentioned), in 1791. Early in
1795 he came to Oneida County, and settled in what is
now Floyd, about a mile south of the present residence of
Alfred Robbins. There his daughter, now the widow of
Joseph Kirkland and a resident of Rome, was born in
1790. Mr. Denio removed to Wright Settlement (town
of Rome) about 1797, put up a shop, and worked for
many years at his trade. He afterward — about 1815 —
removed to " Crosby Corner," built a house and shop, and
continued his work. In 1837 he moved upon tlie place
where Mrs. W. B. Smith now resides, and lived there with
his son Israel until his death, which occurred in 1846, when
he had reached the age of eighty-three years. Previous
to removing to this county he had lived a few years at
Bennington, Vt., and came west because his father-in-law,
Mr. Robbins, had removed here. His son, Hiram Denio,
born in May, 1799, became prominent as Judge Denio, of
Rome, and died in 1871.f

Another of the early settlers of Floyd was Paul Perry,
one of whose sons married Eunice, a daughter of John
Robbins. The stone placed at the head of Paul Perry's
grave was the first one set up in the cemetery at " Wright
Settlement."

Richard M. Williams, the present postmaster at Camro-
den, who was eighty-nine years old on the 15th of July,
1878, came to this county from Wales in 1832, and lived
two years in Steuben, removing to Floyd in 1834. In the
former year there were but few Welsh families living in the
town. Mr. Williams has been quite a noted bard among
his people, and has preserved many of his efforts in the
poetical line.

» Article in Borne Seiiliiicl, by D. E. Wngor, Esq.
f See history of Utica.



Ebenezer Hemenway, now of the town of Floyd, was
born in the town of New Hartford in 1797. His father,
Nathan Hemenway, who had belonged to the Massachu-
setts militia during the Revolution, came from that State
to New Hartford in the neighborhood of 1790, and settled
west of the village, at the "Middle Settlement." His
daughter, Aurclia Hemenway, now resides at the village
of New Hartford.

THE EARLY SCHOOLS

of Floyd were not numerous. One was taught quite early
in the Nutt neighborhood, in a log building. About 1810-
17, some years after it was started, a man named Simmons
was the teacher.

For the children in the western part of town the first
and nearest school was kept in the Kent neighborhood, in
the town of Rome, in the winter of 1795-96. A small
log school-house was used, and the teacher was " Rune"
Kilborn, one of the early settlers of Floyd. Probably a
few other schools were taught at an early day, but as the
southern and western portions were first settled, while the
remainder was long afterwards a wilderness, the facilities
for requiring an education afforded the children of the
pioneer families were quite limited. The schools of this
town at present are in excellent condition.

THE FIRST CHEESE-FACTORY

in Floyd was built and conducted, in 1862, by T. D. Rob-
erts, who owns one of the three now in operation. The
other two are the property of Griffith Thomas and Mr.
Crill. Each does a fair amount of business, although not
as heavy as those which are nearer to a railway station.
Since dairying was established, the class of stock owned by
the farmers has greatly improved.

The first mill erected in this town was on the Nine-Mile
Creek, at a place known as the " Punch Bowl." The first
tavern was kept at Floyd Corners by Captain Benjamin
Pike, who was succeeded by Moses Coffeen.

BELIGIOUS SOCIETIES.

Rev. John Taylor, a missionary sent out by the Hamp-
shire County, Massachusetts, Missionary Society in 1802,
made a tour from Albany to the Black River country. His
journal has been preserved in the Documentary History of
New York, and from it wo make the following extract,
which concerns the town of Floyd :

" Aitgnut 2. — Started for Floyd; rode 11 miles to a Captain Rice's.
Preached in the evening. I know not what remarks to make upon
the inhabitants of this town; a half a dozen excepted, they seem to
be the fag-end of man in disorder and confusion of all kinds. The
Baptists have some regularity, but the Methodists are producing the
scenes which are transpiring in Kentucky. Women here, Methodists,
pray in their families instead of ye men, and with such strength of
lun^s as to be distinctly heard by their neighbors. I had almost as
many nations, sects, and religions present to hear me projich as Peter
had on the day of Pentecost. In this town there is an excellent char-
acter, — Esq. Dier; he tells nic that Clinton has given commissions to
five men for justices in this place, one of whom is a renegade Irish-
man, without character and without prayer, and another has no Bible
in bis house. In fact, this is a most miserable place as to inhabitants.
The land is good, too good for such inhabitants.''



452



HISTORY OP ONEIDA COUNTY, NEW YORK.



A UNION CHURCH

was built in an early day at the corners, and has been occu-
pied by different denominations. At present (1878) the
Methodists occupy the church alone, and are the only ones
who have held meetings in it for several years, except occa-
sional services by the Free Methodists or Episcopalians.
The Methodist society is in charge of Rev. W. Williams,
who preaches also at Stittvillo and on Floyd El ill.

A BAPTIST SOCIETY

was organized on the hill in 1807, and flourished for many
years. Among its pastors were Elders Simeon Jacobs (its
founder), R. Z. Williams, Isaiah Matteson, V. D. Waters,
Josiah Hatt, Thomas Applegate, and others.

THE METHODIST EPISCOPAL SOCIETY,

at Camroden, was organized about 1840-42, and the build-
ing first used as a house of worship was the one now occu-
pied as the post-office and residence of R. M. Williams.
The present frame church was built about 18l)6, and is a
neat and commodious edifice.

WELSH CONGREGATIONAL CHURCH, CAMRODEN.

This society was originally Presbyterian, and was or-
ganized about 1834. The old church stood north of the
present one, on the opposite side of the road. The present
frame church was built in 1854. The membership in April,
1878, was about 45, and the pastor Rev. J. R. Griffiths,
who has had charge for eleven years. A Sabbath-school is
sustained, with Owen Owens as Superintendent.

FLOYD CORNERS
is a small village in the southern oenti-al part of town, con-
taining two stores, a cooper-shop, a wagon-shop, a black-
smith-shop, a hotel, a school-house, a union church, and a
post-office. The first postmaster here was probably Captain
Benjamin Pike, and another early one was Linus L. Moul-
ton. The present incumbent is A. S. Clark.

CAMRODEN POST-OFFICE.
This village is located northeast from Floyd Corners,
and contains two churches, a school-house, a post-office, and
a blacksmith-shop. The post-office was established in 1872
or 1873, and is on the mail-route from Stittville to Camro-
den via Floyd Corners. Richard M. Williams is the pres-
ent postmaster, and has held the position since the office was
established. The origin of the name Camroden is Welsh,
and was probably derived from some AVelsh hill, "cwm" in
Welsh meaning "a hill." The place is located on Floyd Hill.

We are indebted for information furnished in this town,
to A. S. Clark, A. A. Nutt, Mrs. Benjamin H. Gardner,
Mrs. Alfred Robbins, T. D. Roberts, R. i\I. Williams, and
others.



CHAPTER XXXI.

FOHESTPORT.

This is the youngest in the sisterhood of towns which
form the county of Oneida, and occupies its northeast cor-



ner. It was formed from the north part of the town of
Remsen, Nov. 24, 1869, and includes all that portion on
the north side of Black River. This town reaches into the
great wilderness which stretches over northern New York,
and until very recently was covered with a dense growth of
the varieties of timber common to that region, — pine, hem-
lock, spruce, etc. Except in a strip through the central
part of the town, where hops are raised to advantage, the
principal industry of the inhabitants is the manufacture of
lumber. It is watered by Black River and its tributaries,
all of which are filled with brook-trout and other fine speci-
mens of the finny tribe, and the disciples of Isaak Walton
may here find abundant sport. In the north part of the
town are several very fine lakes, among which may be men-
tioned White, Long, and Otter Lakes, and Deer and Round
Ponds. Long Lake is the most considerable in area. Quite
a settlement has sprung up in their vicinity, and parties on
their way over this route to the " North Woods" find ample
accommodations at the hotel owned by Philip Studer.

Game was formerly very abundant, and a few stray deer
and other animals are still occasionally killed. The soil is
in most places sandy. Black River, at Forestport village,
is a rapid stream, ru.shing over rough masses of gneiss
which here outcrop, forming several small islands. In ad-
dition to the natural obstructions, artificial dams have been
constructed, which make the picture still more attractive.
Here, too, is the strong, high dam built by the State to
furnish water to the feeder of the Black River Canal,
which extends hence to Boonville. Big and Little Wood-
hull Creeks, Pine Creek, and others flow through the town,
all discharging their waters into Black River.

Among the principal saw-mill owners and lumber dealers
are Denton & Waterbury, Joseph Aoo, Henry Nichols,
Gideon Killmer, Weed Brothers, Martin Smith, and others.
Circular saws are exclusively used. Some of these are at
White Lake, which is in the fine hop region opened by
the clearing away of the forest. There have been no
permanent settlements made until recent years, the first
being at

FORESTPORT VILLAGE

and vicinity. This village was at first called " Punkcy-
ville," from the prevalence of those annoying insects vul-
garly known as " Punkies," and several other euphonious
titles fell to its lot. It was at one time known as Williams-
ville, but the name was changed finally to Forestport.

The first settler in this neighborhood was a man named
Smith, who erected a saw-mill on the west side of the river.
Truman Yale, who was the first to establish himself in
business, built and operated a chair-factory about 1838-40.
The first house erected on the east side of the river is yet
standing, and was erected by Alfred Hough. The next
one was built by a man named McNeil ; these were both
frame buildings, as was also Yale's, which was a combina-



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 125 of 192)