Samuel W Durant.

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

. (page 127 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 127 of 192)
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colony of twenty families who would take it up and occupy it as a
permanent settlement. At once our settlers hoped that they might
enjoy the benefit of this generous offer j but the patentees, learning
that their lands had already been occupied in ignorance of their pro-
posal, refused to make the gift, and required the squatters to buy the
land at the rate of ten shillings an acre. Accordingly, in the summer
of 1788, Captain Foot was sent to Philadelphia to purchase the whole
tract on the best possible terms; and eventually the several lots were
parceled out at cost among the different settlers. The triangular
piece of land which afterwards became the site of the village was
called the 'handkerchief lot,' from its resemblance on the map to a
half handkerchief, and this was bought by Captain Foot."t

In the spring of 1788 the settlers were overwhelmed
with grief at an accident which happened, and which is
thus described by Judge Jones :

" Miss Merab Tuttle, aged seventeen, daughter of Colonel Timothy
Tuttle, who owned and resided upon the Royce farm, was drowned in
the Oriskany Creek. The circumstances are briefly these : Miss
Tuttle and Miss Anna Foot, daughter of Cant.ain Moses Foot, started
late in the afternoon to make a call at Mr. William Cook's, who re-
sided on the west bank of the creek, in a log house which stood near
the site of the house formerly owned by Mr. J. Herriek. . . .

" For lack of perfumed French hair powder for ihoir toilet, they
called on their way at Cassety's mill, and with the mill-dust whitened
their locks as for some gala day. Though now obsolete, such was
then the fashion. At that time no bridge spanned the stream from
its source to its mouth. The settlers had felled two trees across, a
little below the site of the bridge, on the road to the College. When
the girls arrived at the crossing-place they found the stream swollen
from the spring freshet and recent rains, and its turbid waters were
rushing and foaming madly down its channel. At first they quailed,
but Miss Foot, the more courageous of the two, soon led the way, fol-
lowed by her compauion. When near the middle of the stream Miss
Foot heard from her friend the exclamation, ' Oh, dear, my head
swims !' which was instantly followed by a splash in the water, and
turning saw her struggling in the current. Miss Foot gave such loud
and prolonged cries for help that she was distinctly heard through
the woods at Miss Tuttle's residence. Mr. Cook, who happened to
be at his house, either witnessing the accident or attracted by the
cries, sprang into the stream to rescue the drowning girl, and nearly
succeeded in grasping her by her clothes, when the current drew her
from his sight under a pile of drift-wood. Instant and continued
search was made for the body. The blacksmith made hooks which
were fastened in the end of long poles, with which to drag the stream.
These were unsuccessfully plied through the whole night. In the
morning the remains of the unfortunate young lady were found
drawn under a pile of drift-wood, near the site of the Clinton factory.
Few eyes slept in Clinton that night. Intelligence was sent to their
neighbors at Dean's settlement, in Westmoreland, as also the time
appointed for the funeral. At the time named many of the few set-
tlers on Dean's Patent attended. Nchemiah Jones (father of Hon-
Pomroy Jones), when about to start, and knowing there could be no
clergyman expected (as probably there was none west of Albany)
took with him a volume of sermons, in which was one preached on

t Gridloy, pages 27 and 23.

In the year 1795, John Dean, a Quaker, then living near New-
burg, Orange Co., N. Y., was commiesioned by the Society of Friends
in New Tork City to labor as a missionary among the Brothertown
Indians, on the southern line of the township of Kirkland, Oneida
County. The Brothertown Indians were so named because their
number included the remains of several disorganized tribes in New
England and Long Island, representing the Mohegans, Montauks, Nar-
rayanactts, Pequots, NahaniicBj and others.

It cannot be here stated when this composite tribe was first organ-
ized. It is known that the Oneida Indians sent an early and earnest
invitation to their Eastern cousins, and that the State Governments
of New England aided in the removal of the scattered clans to their
new home in Brothertown. As early as 1763, Sir William Johnson re-
ports them as numbering two hundred warriors, and in all one thousand
souls. They all spoke the English language with more or less facility.

John Dean returned to Newburg in 1797, after living and laboring
among the Brothertown Indians for two years. This absence was so
deejily regretted that, in a few months, he was visited by a deputation
of Indians who urged him to return to Brothertown and live with them
five years longer as their religious teacher and friend. This pressing
invitation was accepted. In 1798, John Dean returned to Brother-
town with his wife and his son, Thomas Dean, then a youth of nine-
teen years. For the first year they lived in a log house.

In 1799 the wing of what came to be known as the Dean home-
stead was built; and in 1804 the main part of the dwelling was com-
pleted. There was no release for John Dean at the end of five years.
He faithfully served the Brothertown Indians as their spiritual guide,
protector, and friend until he was laid aside by the infirmities of age.
By wholesome precept and godly example, "he lured to brighter
worlds and led the way." He died and was buried in Deansvillc, in
1820, aged 88 years. Some years before his death, his son, Thomas
Dean, had been chosen by the Indians as their agent and adviser, — so
strong had grown the bond of friendship and mutual confidence be-
tween the Dean family and the Brothertown tribe.

In 1809, Thomas Dean married Mary Flandrau, of New Rochelle,
Westchester Co., N. T., an excellent young lady of Huguenot descent,
and a sister of Thomas H. Flandrau, well remembered as an eloquent
member of the bar of Oneida County, who died in 1854.

In his peaceful, unselfish method of dealing with Indians, Thomas
Dean closely followed the copy set by his Quaker sire. He sup-
ported a school, in which Indian boys and girls were instructed in ele-
mentary knowledge ; he settled quarrels among the Indians, directed
and encouraged their plans for household industries, and for gardening
and farming; he transacted their business with the whites and with
each other; he neglected no opportunity to improve their religious
sentiments and habits.

Previous to the year 1820 the Brothertown Indians found themselves
closely hemmed in by white settlers, who trespassed on their lands,
and caused discontent. They determined to seek a new home towards
the setting sun, and besought Mr. Dean to aid them. His influence
secured for them from the United States Government a tract of land
at Green Bay, Wis., covering sixty-four thousand acres, between the
Fox Kiver and Lake Michigan. Upwards of twenty-four hundred
Indians wore to be transferred to those distant lands. Difficulties were
encountered at both ends of the line of emigration. Speculators made
much trouble at the West, and the breaking up of long-established
homes caused reluctance and delay at the East. Mr. Dean spent ten
winters in Washington and ten summers in Green Bay, winters and
summers of ceaseless labor, travel, anxiety, and weariness, before the

arrangements for removal could be completed. While at Green Bay
Mr. Dean was busy fighting speculative land-sharks, surveying
farms and roads, building bridges, saw-mills, grist-mills. In New
Tork he procured the enactment of a law which enabled the Indians
to sell their lands at their full value, under the direction of three

Between 1830 and 1840, Mr. Dean was occupied in transferring
Indian colonists to Green Bay. They went out by installments, and
each installment required his personal supervision and guidance. In
1841 there came a season of rest. As the tired laborer when his day's
work is ended falls asleep beside the evening fire, so Thomas Dean,
after he had settled the Brothertown Indians in their new home, came
to a peaceful end in June, 1842, at the age of sixty-three, and was
laid beside his father, mother, and wife, in the Deansville Cemetery.
During his forty years of service for the Indians, Mr. Dean received
a salary of only S300 a year, including the support of an Indian school,
and exclusive of traveling expenses.

He kept his personal accounts with that scrupulous exactness of
detail which characterized Judge William L. Marcy when traveling
at the expense of the State. His sturdy conscientious honesty and
passion for square dealing were fitly symbolized to the eye by a com-
manding presence. His work was done in no half-hearted perfunc-
tory way. Every inch of his great herculean frame was full of
sympathy. There was no regular physician in Brothertown, and
often Mr. Dean and members of his family ministered with well-tried
household remedies at the bedside of the sick and suffering. His hands
and house were always open to charity and hospitality. His doors
were locked neither day nor night. Indian guests were frequent at the
table and the fireside. Often they came unbidden when the family had
retired for the night, and slept by the kitchen fire. Such a long and
spotless career of disinterested public duty has few parallels in our
country's history.

Traditions of Thomas Dean's kindness, generosity, and unbribable
integrity are familiar to the older Brothertown households, and they
give something of the charm of a pastoral poem to the early name
and the pleasant streets of that historic village, with its large heart
still throbbing in the Dean homestead.

Thomas Dean was the father of five children, of whom only two are
now living. The oldest child, Mrs. Philena Hunt Dean Catlin, now
living in Clinton, Oneida Co., is the surviving widow of Professor
Marcus Catlin, who died in 1849, after filling the Chair of Mathe-
matics and Astronomy in Hamilton College for fifteen years with the
highest ability, devotedness, and success. Mrs. Phebe Dean Redfield,
wife of the late Colonel Alex. H. Redfield, of Detroit, Michigan, died
in 1877. John Dean, the oldest son, born Aug. 16, 1813; graduated
from Hamilton College in 1832; was a member of the State Legisla-
ture from Oneida County in 1846, and in 1862 was appointed Commis-
sioner of Customs in the Treasury Department at Washington. While
holding this office, he secured freedom for a large number of slaves,
whose masters, living outside the District of Columbia, had hired them
out to residents of Washington. Mr. John Dean also defended many
fugitive slaves whose masters sought to force them back to bondage.
Ho was under indictment for protecting a fugitive slave, and was pre-
paring his defense when he was seized with the illness of which he
died, Oct. 16, 1863. He was buried in the Congressional Cemetery
in Washington. His funeral sermon was preached by Rev. John Pier-
pont. Hannah Dean, the youngest daughter, died in 1S47. Dr. Elias
Flandrau Dean, the youngest son, is a practicing physician in Lenni,
near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.



the occasion of a young man being drowned. At the funeral he was
requested to read that sermon, and after a prayer by Ciiptiiin Foot,
he did so. The te.\t upon which the sermon was founded was 1
Samuel, xx. 3: 'There is but a step between me and death.* Her
grave was first dug on the green, but it being thought t'>o wet, she
was buried in the south part of the present burying-ground, which
was then a part of her father's farm."

Major Barnabas Pond dug lier grave, as well as every
one in that burying-ground, until they numbered more than
one hundred.

The above was the first death among the settlers. The
second was that of Thomas Faneher, Jr., who was killed
by a falling tree in 1791, and the third was that of Mrs.
Mercy Stebbins, wife of Judah Stebbins, Jr., aged twenty-
six years.

The young people of the settlement were not exempt
from the emotions which lead to the union of hearts, and,
as in the history of all neighborhoods, there was of course
a first wedding. In 1788, then, on the same day, Elias
Dewey wedded Anna Foot, and Andrew Blanohard was
made happy in the possession, as his wife, of Mary Cook.
Elias Dewey built his house on the land where now stand.s
the residence of Judge Williams. A public wedding was
also celebrated the same year, — that of Roger Leverett and
Miss Elizabeth Cheesebrough. The ceremony was per-
formed in a log house which stood upon a knoll on the
roijd to Utica, east of Slocum's bridge. Jason Parker,
of Utica, afterwards widely known as a stage proprietor
and mail contractor, was one of the invited guests. On
the 25th of November, 1790, William Stebbins and Lydia
Branch were marrieS-Jjy the Indian minister. Rev. Samson

The first white child born in the town of Kirkland was
Clinton Foot, who died before reaching manhood ; the sec-
ond was Fanny Kellogg, daughter of Captain Amos Kel-
logg, and afterwards the wife of Orrin Gridley ; the third,
Julius Pond, Esq., born July 26, 1789 ; and the fourth,
James D. Stebbins, born Sept. 11, 1789.

Among the settlers who arrived in 1789 was Jesse Cur-
tiss, who, it is said, " brought on hid back fiom the log huts
in Utica a sklpple (three pecks) of seed wheat." In the
fall of the same year he built the third frame house in
town, the first having been erected by Colonel Timothy
Tuttle, and the second by Ebenezer Butler, Jr. All were
put up in this year, 1789. The circumstances of the build-
ing of Mr. Curtiss' house are thus described by Judge Wil-
liams, and illustrate the remarkable perseverance of the
dwellers in the wilderness :

"About the 20th day of October, 17S9, the snow fell to the depth
of nearly two feet, upon a bed of mud not much less j the weather
became cold and inclement, and most forbidding to the wayfarer and
laborer. Precisely at this time, n, settler, zealous to- build a frame
house before the winter should set in with its full severity, went to
Captain Cassety's saw-mill, and for three days and two nights, alone,
and without rest or intermission, continued to saw the lumber neces-
sary for the building. 'When the task was ended his hands wore
glazed as if by fire, from using so constantly the cold iron bars of
the saw-mill; he felt himself well repaid, however, for all his toil
and fatigue, for in a few days he reared a frame dwelling sixteen
feet square. That dwelling is now (1S4S) the kitchen of Mr.
Horatio Curtiss, and that diligent settler was .Jesse Curlis?, already

This building at last descended to the uses of a shed in
the rear of the barn owned by Mr. Curtiss' youngest son,
and in 1874: was yet standing.

Frame barns were also erected in 1789, — one by Judah
Stebbins, on the farm now owned by John Elliott, and a
second on the Kellogg property east of the village.

The first horse brought into town is said to have been
owned by Captain Moses Foot, and was soon stolen by the
Indians. William Carpenter and Nathan Marsh, who came
in 1789, each owned a " noble steed," whose speed and
bottom were so remarkable that the fame of these animals lias
been preserved through the succeeding generations. Their
ners set out on horseback at a certain time for the city of
Albany ; " Jesse Curtiss and Bartholomew Pond started on
foot at the same time, and arrived at Albany some hows
he/ore them .'" Nearly all the labor requiring animal power
was performed by oxen in the early days of the settlement.

Besides Jesse Curtiss, the following persons settled in
1789 : Timothy Pond, Eli Bristol, Joel Bristol, Jonah San-
ford, Samuel Curtiss, John Curtiss, Ebenezer Butler, Theo-
dore Gridley, Bartholomew Pond, Rufus Millard, William
Marsh, and William Carpenter.

The crops of the year 1788 became insufficient in 1789
to supply the wants of the settlers and those of the new-
comers constantly arriving, and in the latter year famine,
with all its horrors, stared them in their faces. The stock
of wheat-flour and the old crop of potatoes were exhausted,
and to such straits were they reduced that when planting-
time came the eyes of the potatoes were cut out and put in
the ground, while the remainder was carefully preserved for
the table. Those who were fortunate enough to secure a
portion of wild game, or a supply of ground-nuts or leeks,
considered themselves lucky. Finally a company of men
started for Fort Plain, Montgomery County, to obtain sup-
plies, if possible, on some terms. There they found a
farmer and miller named Isaac Paris, who listened favorably
to their appeal. He loaded a small flat-boat with flour and
meal and sent it up the Mohawk to the mouth of the Oris-
kany, where its cargo was transferred to a log canoe made
by the settlers, a party of whom were there to meet it, and
by means of paddles, ropes, and setting-poles it was worked
up the creek as far as the present Clinton factory. From
thence it was transported in carts to the village, where
great joy was occasioned by its arrival. Mr. Paris was
paid in ginseng, which abounded in the forest, and whieli
he was willing to accept in lieu of silver and gold, which
the settlers did not possess. The roots of this plant were
dried in bundles and shipped from the American seaports
to China, where they were supposed to be an antidote to
the plague.

It was perfectly natural that the name of Mr. Paris was
held in high regard; and in 1792, when a new town was
erected, including Clinton, it was called Paris by the inhab-
itants as a tribute to their generous benefactor. Scarce as
food temporarily became, the settlement on the stream of
nettles continued to grow.

Thomas Hart removed to Clinton in 1792, and in com-
pany with Seth Roberts opened a store in the building
erected by Ebenezer Butler, and in which he had pre-
viously traded. Mr. Hart was appointed one of the judges



of Oneida County some years previous to his death, which
occurred Feb. 11, 1811.

In 1793, Judah Stebbins erected the first two-story house
in town. With his own hands he " rived' or split the clap-
boards upon this house from pine-trees.

The following chapter of


is from Rev. Mr. Gridley's "History of Kirkland," and
was compiled from various authorities, — among them being
Judge Williams' Address, Jones' " Annals," Mr. Tracy's
Lectures, " Memoir of Rev. Samuel Kirkland," and others.
The Indians who occupied this region were wont to come
in from the chase or other expeditions with all the noise
attendant upon the orgies of Tam O'Shanter's witches or
the inhabitants of the infernal regions, and tramping and
whooping and demoniacal howling often kept the settlers
awake in fear and trembling. Mrs. Amos Kellogg used to
relate that " often, when alone in her house, engaged in
domestic duties, perhaps with a child in the cradle, In-
dians would open the door without knocking, and steal in
softly, witli moccasincd feet, unpcrceived, and, tapping her
on the shoulder, say, with deep, guttural voice, ' Indian want
tater ; Indian hungry ; me want tater.' Trembling with
fear, yet feigning unconcern, she uniformly gave them what
they desired, and they soon left her without molestation.
Sometimes it would be a squaw, with sad face and mourn-
ful voice, drawing her blanket about her shoulders, and
whining, ' Me hungry ; senape (her husband) gone, pap-
poose dead ; me hungry !' "

Mrs. Eli Lucas told of bands of Indians coming to her
father's house at evening, and requesting to stay over night ;
when, leave being granted, if none were intoxicated, they
would stretch themselves on the floor of the kitchen, with
their feet towards the fire, croon a while at each other, and
fall asleep. They rose at daybreak, and silently left the
house, seldom purloining anything from it.

Rev. Samuel Kirkland often fed from 70 to 100 Indians
at his house during a week's time. When they came drunk
he locked them up in his corn-house till they were sober.

Among those of the Stockbridge tribe who were promi-
nent in this region, were John Quinney and his brother
Joseph, John Metoxin, Captain Hendricks and his strong-
minded but excellent wife Lydia, and Mary Doxtater and
John Kunkerpot. The latter had in his boyhood spent
some time at Dartmouth College, and on his return bade
fair to become a prominent and useful man ; but " blood
will tell," — and it proved true in his case, — for he became
eventually indolent and vicious. " He was oftcner drunk
than sober,'' says Gains Batler, "yet he was witty and
keen in rep;irtee. When one of our citizens bantered him
about the black mark put upon Cain, he replied, ' Perhaps
it was a while mark !' "

In the history of Hamilton College, in another part of
this volume, it is mentioned that Rev. Mr. Kirkland
brought some Indian boys to his house at Clinton to pre-
pare them for entering the academy when it should open.
They were taught in a log sohool-houso on the knoll in
front of the Lucas place. One was named David Cusick,
and afterwards becanie somewhat distinguished. Mr. Kirk-

land, while teaching him the catechism, propounded one
day the usual question, " Who made man ?" " God," was
the reply. " And who made woman ?" " God." " And
lioxo did he make woman ?" " Out of old husks, I guess !"
The following story of the " fine, fat steer'' is told by
Hon. Pomroy Jones in his " Annals," and also by Judge
Williams, as follows :

"In 1787, Theodore Manross, who had commenced a clearing on
the farm for many years occupied by Jesse Wood, about a mile south
of Clinton, missed from his herd a fine, fat steer. Suspicion soon
felt upon a party of Oneidna, who, led by a chief called Beechtree,
had for some days encamped on the hill south of him, and were dig-
ging ginseng in the vicinity. Search was made; their encampment
was deserted, and the fresh offals of the animal were found near by,
secreted. A party of ten or twelve active and resolute young men
was soon formed. Moses Foot was their captain, and among the com-
pany were Jesse Curtiss, Levi Barker, and several other familiar
names. The Indian trail was fresh, and their path through the net-
tles and undergrowth was as plain to the sharp eyes of the eager
pursuers as a beaten track to the traveler. They followed them to
Paris Hill, then to the Sauquoit Creek, a little north of the present
village, and thence down the stream. As they came near New Hart-
ford, the track was so fresh that it was manifest they were close upon
the Indians. Soon they spied them marching single file; and taking
u, little circuit they came into the path before them, and turning
towards them met them face to face. ' Stop !' said Captain Foot to
Beechtree, their leader; 'you have stolen and killed the white man's
steer.' * Indian has not killed the white man's steer,' replied Beechtree,
leaping forward and drawing from his belt his long hunting-knife.
Quick as thought Captain Foot raised a heavy cane, and brought it
down with convincing force upon the naked head of Beechtree. 'Ho
winced, and settled down beneath the powerful blow. It was enough ;
the party surrendered, and on search being made the hide and bell
of the missing animal was found in the pack of one of the Indians,
who boro the expressive cognomen of Saucy Nick. This was pretty
good proof. As the modern and fashionable defenses of sleep-
walking, insanity, and the like were not known to these untutored
wild ones, they frankly confessed the deed. The prisoners were
marched back in a body, and forthwith were confined and guarded
in the house of Colonel Timothy Tuttle, standing on the site of the
present Royce mansion. Mr. Kirkland was immediately sent for,
and by permission of the guard they sent a swift messenger to Oneida
to summon their friends and chiefs to their assistance, sending a
message to them, at the same time, to drive over a certain cow as a
means of settlement for the wrong committed.

" Before the morning sun had risen high their friends appeared,
led by the wise and venerable Skenandoa. The negotiation was car-
ried on in the house of Mr. Tuttle, mainly between Captain Foot and
Skenandoa, Mr. Kirkland acting as interpreter, and finally it was
agreed that the Indians should give the cow, which had lieon driven
from Oneida, to Mr. Manross to make him good, and the ginseng
which they had dug to the party of young men who had pursued
them to pay Ihcm for their time and trouble. The whole matter 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 127 of 192)