Samuel W Durant.

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

. (page 128 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 128 of 192)
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concluded before noon, and this resolute conduct of the settlers en-
tirely prevented the recurrence of similar aggressions.

" Saucy Nick was alone sullen and revengeful. The theft was
more especially charged to and proved upon him ; and on the march
from New Hartford to Clinton he had had a bitter wrangle with one
Lemuel Cook, who, if all accounts are true, was as much entitled to
the appellation of ' saucy' as Nick himself. His abusive speech had
sunk deep into the Indian's memory, and his ardent longing was for
revenge and blood. Soon after ho unsuccessfully attempted to kill
Cook at Fort Schuyler, and the next season, as Cook was plowing on
his farm (now owned by Mrs. Luther Comstook), an Indian arrow
whistled swiftly past his ear. The hand that sent it, though unseen,
could not be mistaken, and Cook, warned of his danger, soon sold
his farm, and returned to Connecticut."*

Mr. Cook finally died at the house of his son, in Claren-
don, N. Y., May 21, 18C9, aged one hundred and four

* This account varies somewhat from Mr. Jones'. Sec Chapter lit.



years. Five generations of his descendantis wore present at
his funeral. He was always fond of tellitig stories, one of his
favorites being that of " the fine, fat steer and Saucy Niek."
Heinrieh Staring, afterwards first judge of Uerkinier
County, was captured by a strolling party of Oaeidd Indians
late in the month of November, 1778. He was carried past
the site of Clinton, and kept for the night where the village
of Deansville now stands, in a deserted log wigwam on the
east bank of the Oriskany.. He managed to loosen one of
the withes from hid arm, and free himself by climbing from
a small window six feet from the floor. He had taken off
his shoes, and in his hurry to escape forgot to put them on.
He followed the Oriskany several miles, running in the
channel of the stream for some distance to throw the Indian
dogs off the scent, and crossing to the other shore. On
reaching the trail from Oneida to Fort Schuyler, he crossed
the creek about half a mile northwest of the present village
of Clinton, and pursued the trail to the fort, at which place
he found a canoe which had floated down the Mohawk and
lodged in some willow bushes near the landing. He took
possession of it, and by a vigorous use of the paddles, aided
by the current, soon reached home.

Barnabas Pond kept a tavern in Clinton. A young Oneida
chief called with his wife one day and drank between them
a dram of rum. They returned in the afternoon with five
others, and wanted more rum. Mr. Pond, who made a
practice of never giving an Indian drink if he appeared
intoxicated, refused the demand for half a pint of liquor.
The Indian showed a piece of coin, and said he wanted to
treat his friends, promising not to drink a drop himself
Major Pond then gave him the rum, and he, true to his
word, handed it over to his friends. They then turned to
leave, when the major reminded the chief that he had not
paid for his liquor. " Haven't got no money, and can't pay
for it." " Not so," said Pond ; " you showed me the money
before you had the rum, and now you have lied about it."
" What you say ? — I lie !" shouted the savage, at the same
instant springing forward with his drawn knife. The major,
a strong and courageous man, " struck the uplifted arm of
the Indian between the elbow and shoulder, causing the
knife to fly out of his hand, then gave him a blow across
the throat, and at the same time tripped up his feet and
brought him to the floor." The major, in relating it, said
the Indian " fell like an ox knocked down in a slaughter-
house." Shortly he recovered his breath, and arose to his
feet, when he threw his handkerchief to the major, who
took out his pay, and returned the balance and the knife.
The chief and his wife both refused to take them, and the
whole party went away. The chief came afterwards and
apologized, and Major Pond forgave him, provided he be-
haved well in the future, and then went and brought the
handkerchief and knife to their owner. He again refused
them, however, and here the matter ended.*

Among the Brothertown Indians were several noted char-
acters, including David Fowler, Elijah Wampe, John Tuhi,
and Dolphus Fowler, who came with others to the region
of Deansville before the Revolutionary war. Most of
them, through fear of the Iroquois, returned to New Eng-

* This account difTcrs somcwbat from Mr. Jones', given in Cbapter III.

land during the war, although a few, among whom was
Elijah Wampe, remained. The latter was one day return-
ing from Fort Stanwix to Brothertown, when he was met
in the path by a hostile Indian, who pointed a rifle at him.
Wampe sprang forward, struck up the muzzle of the gun,
so that the bullet passed over his head, then quickly dis-
patched his adversary with his knife. Wampe then bore
the Indian's gun in triumph to the fort, and afterwards
returned to his land in Brothertown. He finally, however,
for protection, took up his abode under the guns of Fort

Skenandoa, the famous Oneida chieftain, who died May
11, 1816, was brought to Clinton and interred by the side
of Rev. Samuel Kirkland, with imposing ceremony. Platt-
kopf, another chief of the Oneidas, was noted for his elo-
quence. In September, 1799, Dr. Timothy Dwight,
President of Yale College, accompanied by Tutor Jeremiah
Day, started on a tour of observation through the State of
New York, intending to visit Niagara Falls and BuflFalo.
At Lairdsville, in the town of Westmoreland, he turned
aside to visit Rev. Samuel Kirkland, at Clinton, and from
the latter place he wrote as follows :

" In the morning of September 26 we made an excursion to Brother-
town, an Indian settlement in the town of Paris. I bad a strong in-
clination to see Indian life in the most advanced state of civilization
found in this country, and was informed that it might probably be
found here.

" Brothertown is a tract of land about si.x miles s(^uare, which was
given to those Indians by the Oneidas. , . . Hero forty families
of these people have fixed themselves in the business of agriculture.
They have cleared the land on both sides of the road, about a quarter
of a mile in breadth and about four miles in length. Three of them
have framed houses ; the rest are of logs. Their husbandry is gener-
ally much inferior to that of the white people.

" They are universally civil in their deportment. The men and
boys took off their hats, and the girls courtesied as we passed by
them. . . . These people receive annually $2160 from the State,
out of which their schoolmaster and their superintendent receive pay
for their services.

" At this season of the year they unite with the Oiicidns in gather-
ing ginseng, and collect a thousand bushels annually. It brings them
two dollars a bushel. Most of it goes to Philadelphia, and thence to
China. It is, however, an unprofitable business for the Indians.
They are paid for it in cash, which many of them employ as the means
of intoxication. This is commonly followed by quarreling, and some-
times by murder ; but much less commonly than among the Oiwidas."

Another Indian who became famous was Samson Occum.
He was born at Mohegan, near Norwich, Conn., in 1723.
He early embraced the religion of the whites, and finally
became quite a noted minister and teacher. In 1786 he
formed a colony in this town and Marshall, on the Oriskany
Creek, of 192 Montauhs and ShinecocJcs from Long Island,
several Mohe.gans from Connecticut, and a number of Nar-
ragansetts from Rhode Island, with a few representatives
of other tribes who had become wasted, and ministered to
them and the neighboring Stockbridges. He was the com-
poser of the hymn beginning,

"Awaked by Sinai's awful sound."

He died at New Stookbridge, N. Y., in July, 1792, aged
sixty-nine years. The name of '' Priest Occum" is yet
revered by the descendants of all who were acquainted with

Good Peter, a convert of Rev. Samuel Kirkland, and an



Oneida chief, was another character among the Indians
noted for his persuasive eloquence.

When the first settlers on Dean's Patent, in Westmore-
land, heard of the arrival of the emigrants at Clinton they
started to find them, knowing only that they were several
miles south upon the Oriskany, above an Indian clearing,
on the site of the present village of Manchester. They
followed the Indian trail, crossed the creek at the clearing,
and took a southerly course up the valley. Soon they dis-
covered a number of cows feeding in the woods, and Joseph
Blackmer, a leading man in the party, full of sport, " raised
his coat tails above his head, shook his hat, and made such
a succession of hideous noises that the frightened cows
started fur home on a run, and thus showed the company
the way to the settlement at Clinton. Many and hearty
were the greetings between the new neighbors, and the
good-will which then sprang up continued to grow and
flourish ever afterwards."

Judge Williams mentions that in the fall of 1790, " as
Mr. Jesse Curtiss and three or four others were returning
from meeting one Sunday afternoon, — their path lying
through a field near the liouse now occupied by Mr. Gunn,
— they heard an unusual rustling in the corn, and on
searching for the cause soon discovered two bear cubs
busily engaged in breaking down and destroying the ripen-
ing corn. Forthwitli they set upon them, and, despite
their grunts and cries, by dint of kicks and blows soon dis-
patched them. The same afternoon, Mr. Bronson (who
lived in the house now occupied by Samuel Brownell) on
returning from meeting found the old mother bear sitting
quietly on the steps of his door, little dreaming of the sad
calamity which had even then overtaken her children."
Mention is not made of the fate of the mother.

" The streets and cross-roads of the town were early designated by
names. The street leading past the homestead of the late James D.
Stcbbine was called Brirafield Street, because it was wholly settled by
inhabitants from Brimfield, Mass. The present borough of Franklin
was long styled Sodom, though we never kuew that it was noted for
its depravity. Post Street, running southeast from Franklin, was so
called from Darius Post and his three sons, — Titus, Ethan, and Darius,
Jr., — -who came from Vermont at an early day and settled on adjoining
farms in that district. The street leading to Uticaonce rejoiced in the
name of Toggletown, because the roadside fences were once * toggled'
together at the end of each section. That porlion of the town which
lies between one and two miles east of Clinton has long been christ-
ened Chuckcry. Judge Williams says, ' The story goes that in Massa-
chusetts, according to established custom, the Governor's proclamation
for Thanksgiving was read in all the churches. Then, as now, he
called upon the people to render a tribute of gratitude for tlic bless-
ings of Providence upon their farms, their fisheries, and their mer-
chandise. In Egrcmont, some mischievous wag, possessing himself
of the copy of the proclamation which the clergyman had prepared
to read to his congregation the next Sabbath, changed the word fish-
cries to cliiickcricH, and so the unsuspecting pastor read it, to tiie no
small edifieation of his audience! Soon after this a company of col-
onists from Egrcmont came westward, find settling on the hills cast of
this village, gave this odd name to their resting-place.' "

The joke did not even end here, for a colony of Kirk-
land people who removed many years ago to the town of
Fenner, Madison county, dubbed their little settlement
" New Chuckery.'' It has since been corrupted into Perry-
ville, and the memory of its former name, and the incident
which originally caused it to be given, remains but a dream
of the past.

With the story of the first burglary in the town we will
close this " chapter of incidents." It is told by Judge
Jones and Rev. Mr. Gridley substantially as follows :

Ephraim Hart, who had succeeded his father, Thomas
Hart, in the mercantile business, had collected about ^1800
in silver coin, and expected soon to start with it for New
York to purchase goods. It was in the year 1801. One
Samuel MaoBride, an Irishman, who had learned of the
treasure, broke into the store one uight and stole the entire
amount and carried it off. The business was undoubtedly
new to him, and his plans could not have been well laid ;
for before morning he was captured atid brought back to
Clinton, with all except about two dollars of the money.
While in confinement awaiting trial he succeeded in es-
caping, and, like the darkey who was told by his minister
that there were two roads through life which led, one to
perdition and the other to eternal punishment, concluded to
take to the woods. He took the polar star for a guide and
steered towards it. Near what is now Middle Settlement
he found a hollow stump, about ten feet high, which he
climbed and slid down into, intending to remain there until
the next night, and then resume his travels. On the ar-
rival of darkness he attempted to clinib out, but found that
the inner surface of the stump was so smooth that the task
was exceedingly difficult. At last, just at daybreak, he
made a final and despairing effort, and — blessed be St. Pat-
rick ! — reached the top. But alas for his hopes ! Fortune
smiled on his pursuers, and he was discovered while on the
run for the forest, and an officer of the law recaptured
him. He was tried and sentenced to State's prison for
fourteen years.


In a preceding chapter will be found sketches of Hamilton
College, Clinton Grammar School, Miss Royce's Seminary,
Clinton Liberal Institute, The Young Ladies' Domestic
Seminary, Home Cottage Seminary, and Houghton Semi-
nary, all located in this town.

dwight's rural high school.*

This school was opened in May, 1858, by Rev. Benja-
min W. Dwight, its principal and proprietor, with Rev.
David A. Holbrook and Henry P. Bristol as associates.
It occupied the ground — eighteen acres and more — on the
corner of Elm and Factory Streets, and faced with two im-
posing fronts these two avenues. It stood 150 feet back
from the former, and 225 feet from the latter, on a pleasing
artificial slope. The grounds were laid out in ample style,
with walks and carriage-drives, and were planted with orna-
mental trees. A large gymnasium, 70 feet by 32, stood
at the southeast, at a distance of some 350 feet.

" The building was erected in the years 1S57-58. Dr. Dwight,
who had been for several years conducting a large and flourishing
high school in Brooklyn, came to Clinton for the purpose of com-
bining the influence of fine rural surroundings with educational labor.
He believed that he could achieve much higher physical, intellectual,
•and moral results in such a school than in any other.

" The school opened with nine boarders and eighteen day-scholars,
and rose, when at its greatest height, to over 80 pupils, some 53 of

^^ Prepared by Rev. B. W. Dwight, LL.D., and published in Grid-
ley's Kirkland.



them being boardors. The school was a place of abouDding physical
healthfulness, of earnest intelloctual work, and of warm religious
life. Students cixmc from far and near all over the land, and went
from the school to a dozen different colleges. Besides giving earnest
attention to classical and mathematical drill, full courses of daily
study were appointed in history, physiology, and the modern lan-
guages. During the last three years of the school a number of
young ladies were ndtnitted to it, and with good effect in every way.
"The school building, which was expensive for those days, having
cost nearly $20,01)0, was large and showy. Four distinct buildings
were in fact barmunized in it into one. The combined structure was
on every side of it picturesque in appearance, and pronounced by all
who saw it one of the largest and finest buildings in the county. Its
entire front was 56 feet, and its greatest length 106 feet.

" In the year 1864, Mr. llcnry P. liristol died, after a short illness.
lie was a man of thorough principle and of exact scholarship, and
was always respected and ost'ieujcd by the pupils whom he sought to
improve and bless. Dr. Dwight, in the hope of benefiting the de-
clining health of his wife, went to Now York in the spring of 1863,
and opened there a school, at No. 1144 Broadway, leaving the school
here in the hands of Rev. Mr. Holbrook, who, after two years, re-
signed the charge into the hands of Mr. Ambrose P. Kelsey. In
April, 1S65, after having been only a few months under the care of
the latter, the building caught fire in the roof, near one of the chim-
neys, and burned slowly down, in the absence of an efficient fire-
engine in the place, before the eyes of a great crowd of .=i>ectator3.''

Afrs. Miiit's School was opened as a select school in
May, 1861, by Mrs. Elizabeth D. Marr. It was cotii-
nienced in the building formerly occupied by Mr. Kellon;i;'s
seminary, and was transferred the following year to rooms
in the Clinton Grammar School. A buildinj; was erected
for its occupancy on Meadow Street, to which it was soon
removed, and where it has since remained. At this school
instruction is given in all the English branches, in the
Latin, French, and G-erman languages, and in drawing and


'■'The first building erected in Kirkland for the purposes of a com-
mon school stood on the east side of the village green, upon the
spot now occupied for a similar purpose. It was u frame building,
one story and a half high. This was afterward removed, and now
(1873) stands on the north side of Kellogg Street, and is occupied by
Mr. Jaines Hughes. This original school-house was succeeded by a
brick building. The bricks used in this structure were made on the
farm of Gideon Cole, now owned by James Elphick and Dr. U. I.
Bronson. In the spring of 1840 this house, having become some-
what dilapidated, was sold at public auction fur some $300, and soon
afterwards the present frame building was erected on or near the
same spot. It is worthy of note that a Mr. Fillmore, brother of
President Fillmore, was one of the-early teachers in tliis school-house.

" It was originally a very general practice to measure the lot by
the size of the school-house, as if a sufficient margin for a play-
ground was land thrown away. The school-house on Utica Street
was built on a- steep bluff, at an angle on two sides of some 46 de-
grees, with not one spare foot of ground. A school was sustained on
this spot for many years, but a bright light one evening many years
ago showed that the old building was being reduced to ashes.

"The first school-house in the eastern part of Kirkland, near Mr.
Pickett's, was built by a Mr. WiUard, at the contract price of $150.
Low price and poor work. It was attempted to warm the building
in winter by a Russian stove, of which Dr. Backus said, ' One might
about as well warm his feet by a tombstone.' Another and better
building was afterwards put up on the same site, but ere long it went
by fire, and the district itself was dissolved.

"The Franklin district is y, large and populous one. The first
school-house was destroyed under circumstances bordering on the
ludicrous. It may suffice here to state that for a certain cutaneous

* Gridley, page 147.

f From an article prepared by Gains Butler, and inserted in Grid-
ley's history.

disease sulphur was regarded as the best remedy, and that, in order
to its being well rubbed in, a large fire was considered necessary.
Well, the boys got better, but the red-hot stove-pipe set the building
on fire, and the boys were not in a condition to put it out."

In the school-house on Prospect Hill a Sunday-school
has been sustained for more than fifty years, with the help
of teachers from Hamilton College. Other schools began
early in the history of the town, and the names "Chuckery
District," " Brimfield Hill District," " Manchester District,"
" Post Street," and others, have been preserved to the pres-
ent day.


The first religious meeting held by the settlers of Kirk-
land was convened on Sutiday, April 8, 1787, in an un-
finished house belonging to Captaiti Moses Foot, which
stood upon the corner in Clinton now occupied by the
hardware-store of A. N. Owston. Mr. Foot opened the
meeting with prayer ; Barnabas Pond, Bronson Foot, and
Ludim Blodgett led the singing, and Caleb Merrill, who
lived near Middle Settlement, read a printed sermon.
Meetings of this kind continued to be held until the for-
mation of a church and the installation of a minister.


Rev. Samuel Bells, of Branford, Conn., visited this place
in November, 1788, held religious services, and performed
a number of baptisms. During his stay he prepared a
covenant, or declaration of belief, which did not entirely
suit those wishing to form a society, who subsequently sent
for Rev. Dr. Edwards, then pastor of the North Church,
in New Haven. He visited Clinton in August, 1791, and
organized a Congregational Church, consisting of 30 mem-
bers. " The society of Clinton" was formed a. few weeks
later, having eighty-three members. Rev. Asahel Strong
Norton, of Chatham, Conn., was called, and became the
first pastor, being ordained and installed September 18,
1793, with a salary of " one hundred pounds, lawful money."
This continued as his pay for twenty years, when it was
raised to $600. A log building of moderate size had been
erected on the village common in 1792, and in this meetings
were held. Mr. Norton also preached in various parts of
town, holding services in school-houses and barns, and even
in the open woods The log building was torn down in
1796, and the school-house was used as a place of worship
until a new church could be erected, which work was con-
summated the same year. The new edifice was built of
wood, faced the south, and stood in the park, the front
middle door being nearly two rods north of the south
entrance to the park. This house was about 65 by 48 feet
in dimensions, with a square tower projecting half its depth
in front, and surmounted by an open belfry and a turret.
The church was not completed until the summer of 1801,
and the first bell was hung in its belfry in August, 1804.
This boll was cast by Captain Timothy Barnes, of the
village, and weighed 800 pounds. Through some defect
in the easting it was soon broken, and was sent to Troy to
be repaired. When it came back its weight was increased
about 100 pounds. This church was considered unfit for
use in 1833, and it was resolved to build a new edifice.
It is familiarly remembered as the " old white meeting-



house." A new building, of stone, was erected, in 1835-36,
on the south side of the parit, at a cost of about $8000,
and on its completion the old church was torn down. This
second church became known in recent years as the " old
stone church." It was destroyed by fire July 10, 1876,
and the present elegant and costly edifice has been erected
since upon its site. Work was begun on the new building,
also of stone, in October, 1876, and it was dedicated, with
imposing ceremonies, Feb. 14, 1878. Its cost, including
furniture, organ, etc., has been about 140,000.

Dr. Norton's pastorate continued until 1833. Those in
charge since have been Revs. Moses Chase, from July,
1835, to January, 1839 ; Wayne Gridley, February, 1840,
to February, 1845; Robert G. Verniilye, D.D., June,
1846, to October, 1857; E. Y. Swift, January, 1858, to
May, 1862; Albert Erdman, March, 1864, to February,
1869 ; Thomas B. Hudson, D.D., October, 1869, to the

This church was originally constituted with the Congre-
gational form of government, but after an existence of over
seventy years was changed to Presbyterian, and belongs
to the Utica Presbytery. The parsonage on College Street
was built in 1850. The present membership is about 425,
and a Sabbath-school is sustained with a membership of
325, and an average attendance of 175 or more. The
pastor is the Superintendent, and is assisted by Rev. Isaac
0. Best, principal of the Clinton Grammar School. The
school has 23 classes and teachers. The value of the par-
sonage is about $4000.


Early in 1818 a class was organized, consisting of Mr.
and Mrs. John Gregory, Mr. and Mrs. Walter Gillespie,
and Mrs. Triphona Butler, of the village, and others of the

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 128 of 192)