Samuel W Durant.

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

. (page 126 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 126 of 192)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

tion of dwelling and shop.

Alison Hayden opened the first hotel in the village about
1851. It is not now used for a public-house. Before that
time whisky had been sold here, it being one of the arti-
cles in the catalogue of a lumberman's necessaries in those
days. The building now standing and known as the

^^^^^-^^^^'K^Xa/v \lX, )AaJJ^




" Forest Hotel" is a fine structure, and was erected by
M. M. Mabach. It is the only one in the place.

A store was opened at an early date on the west side of
the river, in what is now Boonville, by Loren Miller, and
was the first one in the neighborhood. The first one on
the east side was established by Enos S. Howard, when the
canal feeder was being constructed.

George Hovey settled in Forestport in 1847, though he
had visited the locality years before. Edwin Benedict, now
a resident of the village, is the son of Daniel Benedict, who
settled about four miles from Forestport, in the town of
Boonville, about 1805. He came from Saratoga Co., N. Y.,
with his father, John Benedict.

Schools were taught in this vicinity previous to the year
1840, and among the early teachers was Miss Mary Bene-
dict, sister of Edwin Benedict, above mentioned. The
early schools here were taught in a frame building, which
is now used as a dwelling. A large, two-story, frame
school-house has been erected in the village, and the school,
at present under the management of Stephen Manchester,
as principal, has two departments, and an attendance of
more than one hundred scholars.

The post-office was originally established at Woodhull,
and called Woodhull post-office. It was at that place but
a short time before being removed to this village, when its
name was changed to Forestport, and Alfred Hough, Esq.,
appointed postmaster. The town is named after the office,
the name having been suggested by Robert Crandall. The
present postmaster is Alonzo Denton.

The village contained in April, 1878, six stores of va-
rious descriptions, three wagon- and blacksmith-shops com-
bined, one independent blacksmith-shop, one harness-shop,
three shoe-shops, a grist-mill, built by Philip McGuire (the
old one built by Hough & Hurlburt not being at present
in existence), two steam saw-miils (of which only one is
now running), employing eight or ten men, a jeweler's es-
tablishment, two churches (Methodist Episcopal and Epis-
copal, both having small membership, the latter in charge
of Rev. Mr. Quennell, who also preaches at Boonville,
and the former of Rev. J. G. Brooks ; the Presbyterians
also hold meetings in " Temperance Hall," in connection
with a society at Alder Creek), a society of Good Templars,
with a membership of 160, organized in 1877, and a popu-
lation of several hundred.


are suburbs of Forestport village, situated a short distance
up Black River. The former was originally called Port
Woodhull, and took its name from Woodhull Creek. It
contains a store and a large tannery, owned by Proctor &
Hill. Meekersville consists of a small cluster of dwellings,
and contains no places of business. The town of Forest-
port lies partly in the Remsenburgh Patent and partly in
the large grant known as the " Woodhull Tract."


in Forestport was held March 1, 1870, at which time the
following officers were elected, namely ; Supervisor, Harry
Weed ; Town Clerk, Charles E. Barber ; Justices of the
Peace, Daniel Nugent, Judson W. Rockwell; A.sscssors,

Stephen Millard, Thomas Ryan ; Commissioners of High-
ways, Christopher Herrig, John Bellinger ; Collector,
Thomas J. Alliger ; Poormasters, Philip Studer, John
Lindsey ; Constables, James H. Jackson, Henry Herrig,
Asaph Learned, Wm. Elthorp, George Thurston ; Inspectors
of Election, Giles C. Hovey, Edward Coughlin, Cephas
Weeks ; Sealer of Weights and Measures, James McKenzie.
Harry Weed held the office of Supervisor until 1875,
and Timothy Coughlin has held it from 1876 till the
present. The balance of the officers for 1878 are: Town
Clerk, N. G. Watcrbury ; Justices of the Peace, Theodore
H. Weed, Martin Smith ; Commissioner of Highways,
Edmund A. Klock ; Assessor, C. F. Weeks ; Collector,
Charles Getman ; Overseers of the Poor, Peter Myers,
Conrad Ringwold ; Town Auditors, Philip Studer, F. A.
Weed, J. A. Hill ; Constables, Lawrence Vaughn, Charles
Getman, Arthur Bellinger, Jacob Isley, James Donovan ;
Game Constable, James Kilkenny ; Inspectors of Election,
District No. 1, Francis Raymond, Charles Stannard, P. G.
Kilmer; District No. 2, Daniel Nugent, Levi Cropsy,
August Beil ; Sealer of Weights and Measures, Solomon
Nestle ; Excise Commissioner, James Donovan.

We are indebted to Edwin Benedict, Mr. Hovey, and
others at Forestport village and in the town for information



was born in the town of Milo, Maine, Jan. 15, 1831,
being the eldest son of a family of six children of Heze-
kiah and Emily Hill. He was educated at the common
schools, and also entered the Corinna Academy, at Corinna,
Maine, in 1847, where he graduated two years later. He
then served an apprenticeship as a tanner with William
Plaisted, of Stetson, in whose employ he remained for
eleven years. When foul treason tried to trample our
national flag in the dust and separate our Government, and
the President called upon the brave and noble sons of the
North to protect it. General Hill relinquished his mercan-
tile business and gallantly sprang to its support. He raised
a company of men, which was attached to the 11th Regi-
ment of Jlaine Volunteers, as Co. K, and were enlisted for
three years' service. He received the appointment as cap-
tain of that company from Israel Washburn, Jr., — then
Governor of Maine, — Nov. 2, 1861. Soon after the regi-
ment left for the seat of war, and in March, 1862, joined
the Army of the Peninsula, being connected with the
Fourth Army Corps. They were first placed in actual
service at the battle before Yorktown, which was soon
followed by Fair Oaks and the battle of Malvern Hill. In
these engagements General Hill took an active part, not
only casting honor upon himself, but also on the regiment to
which he belonged. The regiment was afterwards brigaded
with General Negley, and moved South and joined General
Terry's command at Charleston, S. C, and was engaged
in the bombardment of Forts Wagner and Gregg. They



remained with this department till the formation of the
Army of the James, under General Butler, in the spring
of 1864. They took part in the battles of Bermuda Hun-
dreds and Fort Darling while connected with this array.
General Hill, for brave and meritorious conduct on the field
of battle, was promoted on June 7, 1864, to major, and on
the 25th of the same month to lieutenant-colonel of his
regiment, both eommi.=sions being signed by Governor Sam-
uel Cony, of Maine. Aug. 16, 1864, while in command
of the brigade picket line in the battle of Deep Run or
Strawberry Plain, he received a bullet in his right arm,
which had to be amputated just below the elbow, for which
he now draws a pension. He was granted a furlough, and
returned home to recruit his health ; but this being at the
most exciting time of the war, and receiving daily accounts
of his brethren soldiers' bravery in the field, he hastened
his return, and, though hardly recovered from the effects
of his wound, reported for duty November, 1864. This
was at the time of Grant's assault upon Richmond, and
General Hill was actively engaged in the battles that ended
the war, and, on the last day of the fight at Appomattox
Court-House, April 9, 1865, received a bullet-wound in his
knee while in oommand of his regiment. Soon after his
return to his regiment, after his furlough, he was promoted
to colonel, receiving his commission from Governor Cony,
dated April 5, 1864. After receiving his second wound.
General Hill was detached and placed on special duty by
General Terry, and served as president of a military com-
mission at Richmond. In November, 1865, he was placed
in command of the Northwestern Department of Virginia,
with headquarters at Lynchburg, Va. The 11th Maine,
which General Hill commanded so long, was the last vol-
unteer regiment that was mustered out of service in the
State of Virginia, which occurred in February, 1866. He
returned home with them, and was the only original com-
missioned ofiicer of the regiment. In 1865 he received a
commission as brevet brigadier-general from Andrew John-
son, President of the United States, for gallant and dis-
tinguished services in the campaign ending with the sur-
render of the insurgents' army under General Robert E.
Lee, and dated April 9, 1865. Upon his retirement to
civil life he received the appointment as postmaster of the
city of Auburn, Maine; but, having always been used to
out-door employment, the confinement necessary to the diis-
charge of his duties did not agree with his health, and he
was forced to resign. In April, 1867, he removed to Forest-
port, Oneida Co., returned to his old business, and bought
a tannery of Robertson & Robertson, forming a copart-
nership with Thomas E. Proctor, of Boston, under the
firm-name of Proctor & Hill, and with which he is now
connected. The tannery is one of the lai'gest in the State,
contains two hundred and one vats, and the yearly produc-
tion is about twenty-five thousand hides.

General Hill was married Jan. 16, 1850, to Lucy M.,
daughter of Rev. Robert Richards, of Maine, and has a
family of five children, — viz. : Ilattie M., Katie E., Lula
M., George R., and John. Politically, he belongs to the
Republican party, and, though he has been solicited at
various times to represent his fellow-citizens in the Legis-
lative halls of this State, has always steadily refused. Gen-

eral Hill is one out of many who returned from the busy
and active scenes of war and turned his attention to mer-
cantile business, in which he has been successful. And,
knowing well what our soldiers and country suffered in the
late war, he still has sympathy for our Southern brethren,
whose ill-judgment forced upon our people a sad and devas-
tating warfare. A good soldier, whose military duties oblige
him to respect order and law, always makes a law-abiding
and substantial citizen. General Hill stands as a living
monument of the late American volunteer soldier, who can
be relied upon in time of war; when that is finished, and
peace reigns once more over the land, can turn his atten-
tion either to improving the manufacturing or agricultural
interests of our country, — being useful in war, useful in
peace, and useful in the welfare of their countrymen.



The town of Kirkland occupies a position in the southern
central portion of the county. It covei's an area of 19,716
acres, and includes Kirkland's Patent and parts of the
Brothertown Tract and the Coxeborough Patent. Nearly
through its centre flows Oriskany Creek, on either side of
which rises a range of hills. Those on the west are the more
prominent, and present a bold outline. Upon one of their
summits, west of the beautiful village of Clinton, is located
Hamilton College, that institution of learning which has
a wide reputation, and takes high rank among those
of the State and nation. Here the missionary Kirkland
labored faithfully and earnestly to found an institution
which should flourish for years as a power in the land,
long after his deeds and his fame were known only to the
pages of history. Here, too, were wont to roam the dusky
Oneulas, and, in later years the remnants of the scattered
eastern tribes, which, upon their association, and settlement
in this county, became known as the Brothertown Indians,
who had no common language in a native tongue, and there-
fore spoke only the English. Here the venerable Skenan-
doah and the sage warriors of the Oneida nation saw the
advance of the white settler, the increase of his numbers,
and the decline of their own power, the sure forewarning
that their race should pass away.

So numerous and so excellent are the educational institu-
tions of this town that it has received the appellation of the
" literary emporium of Oneida County."

Rev. A. D. Gridley, of Kirkland, prepared an excellent
history of the town, which was published in 1874, and
we have made liberal extracts from his work, with necessary
additions and occasional corrections.

Dr. Oren Root, of Hamilton College, thus briefly de-
scribes the geology and mineralogy of this town :

"The rocks belong to wha,t our geologists call the Silurian Age.
The lowest in place is the Oneida conglomerate, a hard, gritty rook
of grayish color, and composed of quartz, pebbles fiuoly oeraentod.
This rook is seen by the roadside, a short distance from Clinton,
toward Utica.

"Above the conglomerate we Bnd the rocks of the Clinton Group,



well developed on both sides of tho valley of tho Oriskany Creek.
These rocks consist of nlternate layers of shnle and hard sandstone,
with very impure limestone. They contain beds of lenticular iron ore,
and abundant remains of Fuouids, Corals, Mollusks, and Trilobitcs.

"In the ravines on College IliU we find directly above the Clinton
rocks a thin deposit of the shales of the Niagara Group, containing
imbedded masses of limestone, with lead and zinc ores.

"Next above these dark shales we find the red shale of the Onon-
daga Group, u, rock of great thickness, and well developed in this
town, but, as elsewhere, entirely destitute of fossils.

" On the hills both east and west of the Oriskany, and south of tho
red shale, we find the drab-colored rocks of the Water-lime Group.

"The valleys and most of the hillsides of this town are covered
with the material of the drift period, consisting of sand, gravel, and
pebbles cemented with clay.

" The rocks of Kirkland contain numerous fossils. Of the follow-
ing genera of Mollusks there are many species, to wit : Orthis, Lin-
gula, Leptsena, Atrypa, Pentamerus, Spirifer.

" Of chambered shells : Oncocerus, Orthocerus, Corals, and Cri-
noids are abundant, and Fucoids in certain localities, but Trilobitcs
are more rarely found.

" The minerals of Kirkland are as follows: 0.\ide of iron, sulpiiuret
of iron, carbonate of iron, sulpburet of lead, sulphuret of zinc, stron-
tianite, celestme, calcite, gypt^um, quartz crystals."

The soil of this town is a clayey loam, with occasional
beds of sand and gravel, except along the shores of the Oris-
kany Creek, where there are rich alluvial deposits.


Hon. 0. S. Williams, of Clinton, in a lecture delivered
in the year 1848, mentions the fact that " as early as 1776
seven pairs of brothers, from as many different families in
the town of Plymouth, Conn., enlisted under the command
of Captain David Smith, were marched westward, and dur-
ing the summer of that year were stationed by turns at
Fort Herkimer, Fort Schuyler, and Fort Stanwix. They
visited the surrounding country, and at the close of the war
were ready at once to go up and possess the land." Tliese
wore not the earliest settlers in town, however, as will be
seen by reference to the history of the city of Rome and
the town of AVhitestown.

On the south face of a limestone slab, wliich has been
set in the park in the village of Clinton, is the following
inscription :

"Moses Foote, Esq., in company with seven other families, com-
menced the settlement of this village March 3, 1787."

The north face has the following :

" Nine miles to Utica. Moses Foote, James Bronson, Luther Foote,
Eronson Foote, Ira Foote, Barnabas Pond, Ludim Blodgett, Levi

Moses Foote,* in company with a few other explorers,
had visited this neighborhood in the fall of the previous
year (1780), with a view to commencing settlement. In
February, 1787, James Bronson came also to look at the
valley, and spent the night of the 27th of that month
on what is now Clinton Green, sheltered by the upturned
roots of an ancient hemlock. There is also a tradition
that Ludim Blodgett was here early in the fall of 1786,
when he commenced building a log house on what is now
the corner of the park and Kellogg Streets. The settlement
of the town was actually begun, however, by the families
and at the time mentioned on the slab referred to. Five

* Also written Foot.

of these fomilies were from the town of Plymouth, Conn. ;
they had left New England a few years before and halted
at German Flatts, in what is now Herkimer, during the
interim between their emigration from Connecticut and
their settlement in Kirkland. When they arrived there
were three log houses at " Old Fort Schuyler," now Utica,
seven at Whitestown, three at Oriskany, five at Fort Stan-
wix (Rome), and three at Westmoreland.f These pioneer
families followed what was known as the " old Moyer road,"
which brought them to Paris Hill, from whence they turned
to the northward. The " Moyer road" was a part of the
Indian trail leading from Buifalo to the Mohawk Valley,
and terminating some distance below Utica, where a Dutch-
man named Moyer kept a tavern.

The exploring-party which came here in the fall of 1786
wei'e not agreed at first upon the site for a settlement, some
wishing to locate on the elevated plateau a mile and a half
east of Clinton, and the others on the present site of the
village. After some discussion the eastern party was in-
duced to join the western, owing principally to the per-
suasive powers of Moses Foote. The family of Solomon
Hovey is included by some in the number who began the
settlement here; Mrs. Hovey was at all events the first
white woman who pressed the soil of the town of Kirkland
beneath her feet.

Early in the summer of the year 1787 the little settle-
ment on the Oriskany had increased to thirteen families,
and before winter it numbered twenty. Among those who
came this first year, according to Mr. Gridley's history,
were John Bullen, Salmon Butler, James Cassety (after-
ward of Oriskany Falls ; see Augusta history), William
Cook, Samuel and Noah Hubbard, Amos Kellogg, Aaron
Kellogg, Oliver Porter, Randall Lewis, Cordial Storrs, Caleb
Merrill, Levi Sherman, and Judah Stebbins.

"And in what sort of habitations did these first families live? The
building of groat pretension was the log house of Ludim Blodgett,
which, having begun the fall' previous, be now finished. It was
roofed over with elm-bark, but was destitute of floor, windows, and
doors. The houses of the other settlers were at first mere huts made
of crotched stakes driven into the ground, with poles laid from crotch
to crotch, and then sided and roofed over with strips of bark. These
certainly were rude accommod.ations, but the settlers cheerfully sub-
mitted to them. "J

Amos Kellogg, on the day of his arrival with his family,
in the winter of 1788, was obliged to shovel the snow out
of his log house before he could take possession. This
house stood on Fountain Street, in the village, on the site
of the present dwelling of J. N. Percival, and had been
erected by Mr. Kellogg several months before he brought
his family to it.

Solomon Hovey, according to Judge Jones' " Annals,"
made extra provision for stowing the table-furniture and
wardrobe of his wife. The judge says, —

" He felled a large, hollow bass-wood tree, which grew a few feet
west of the present banking-house in Clinton, and cutting off a piece
of the proper length, split and hewed off one of its sides ; this, raised
upon end, with a number of shelves fitted into it, was found admira-
bly contrived for a pantry, cupboard, and clothes-press."

The settlement was formed on a street laid out north and

I See history of Dccrfield.

X Gridley.



south, which extended from the house now owned by Mar-
shall W. Barker to the house of Seth K. Blair :

" Two acres of land were assigned to each family on this street for
a huildJDg site. In the course of a year eight additional acres were
set apart to each fainily adjoining the two-acre lots first named.
Having built their first rude huts, suitable for temporary use, the set-
tlers commenced clearing a portion of their lands, and providing for
raising their first crops of vegetables and Indian corn. While these
crops were growing they took time to select a name for their infant
village, and finally fixed upon that of Clistox, in honor of George
Clinton, then Governor of the State."*

Governor Clinton was at the time joint owner with Gen-
eral George Washington of several tracts of land in the
county, some of which were within the limits of this town.
Judge Jones states, —

." Lot No. 14, in the fifth grand division of Coxe's borough of 316
acres, and composing the farm of the late Nathaniel Griffin (now John
Barker), of this town, was held by a deed directly from President
Washington and Governor Clinton. This deed was witnessed by To-
bias Lear and De Witt Clinton."

The facilities for grinding corn, raised during the first
years of the settlement, were exceedingly limited. The
Wetmore mill had been built at Whitestown in 1788, and
to that the grain from Kirkland's pioneer settlement was
carried, either on foot or horseback, over a narrow Indian
trail, through woods and swamps. Finally, however, the
enterprising settlers joined their forces and opened a road-
way to Whitestown ; as soon as it was finished Samuel
Hubbard drove an ox-team to the mill and brought back
six bushels of Indian meal. The distance to Whites-
town, six miles, was considered too great, however, and
Captain (afterward Colonel) Cassety built a small grist-mill
on the east bank of the Oriskany Creek, near the site of
the present bridge on College Street. Samuel Hubbard,
Ludim Blodgett, and Salmon Butler, each shelled a peck of
new corn, and cast lots to see who should carry the joint
grist to the mill. The lot fell upon Mr. Hubbard, who
placed the corn on his shoulder, and marched away with
his burden. As this was the first grist ground in the new
mill, it was sent out without taking toll, as was the custom.
A saw-mill was built the same year or the uext, a few rods

To such an extent had the settlement grown in the fall
after the arrival of its avant couriers that it began to seem
much like the villages in the land the people had left, — the
rock-ribbed New England. Judge Williams says of it at
that period, —

" What in March was a wilderness, gloomy, sad. and cheerless, in
October began to seem like home; and even with the child and the
delicate woman the longing for New England's rocky hills and happy
villages had grown faint, and almost vanished before the attractions
of this fertile land, and the mutual kindness .and hospitality of these
dwellers in the wilderness. I hazard nothing in saying that this
place has known no days more delightful than its earliest."

About 20 new families were added to the original settle-
ment during the summer of 1788, among whom were Rev.
Samuel Kirkland, the noted missionary, George Langford,
Timothy Tuttle, Benjamin Pollard, Zadock Loomis, Theo-
dore Maiiross, Andrew Blanchard, Silas Austen, Joshua
Morse, Eiias Dewey, and Joseph Gleason.

» Gridley's History of Kirkland, page 24.

"When the lands now covered by this town were first selected by
Captain Foot and his party, it was supposed that they had never
been surveyed, and were not embraced within the limits of any
patent. They considered themselves 'squatters,' presuming that
when the land came into market they could claim it by pre-emption
right. What, then, was their surprise, on exploring and clearing
up the forests, to find lines of marked trees, and on further inquiry
to learn that they had settled upon Coxe's Patent, ' a tract of land
granted by the colony of Now York, May 30, 1/70, to Daniel Co.^o,
William Co.xe, Rebecca Coxe, and John Tabor Kempe and Grace,
his wife.' Their settlement was found to be located on 'the two
thousand and sixteen acres tr.act,' by which descriptive name it was
long known to the older inhabitants and surveyors. This plot was
bounded on the north by the farm now owned by Henry Gleason, on
the east by David Pickett's, on the south by Suth K. Blair's, and on
the west by the Oriskany Creek. On further search it was found
that this tract had already been divided into twenty lots of nearly-
equal size, and that the proprietors had offered it as a gift to .any

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 126 of 192)