Samuel W Durant.

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

. (page 132 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 132 of 192)
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deeply felt not only by the members of his family, but by
the public generally. His sister, Lucy Ann, died June 30,
1878, and both she and her brother Andrew lie side by side
in the Valley Cemetery, where their parents also are buried.
The only member of this family who has been married
is the sister, Eliza Jane. She married John Bamber, by
whom three children were born, namely, Alexander, Mary
Jane, and Lucy Ann. This biography, together with the
views and portrait of his brother Andrew, is inserted by
Alexander in memory of them.

-^V-3 ^%k^.

• as*




18G3-G5, Andrew Davidson ; 1866-68, Isaac McDougall ;
1869, Andrew Golly; 1870, Julius H. Sly; 1871, Jay
Capron; 1872-75, Curtis B. Hitchcock ; 1876, Thomas J.
Brown, — Mr. Brown resigned, and Elisha A. Walsworth was
elected to fill the vacancy; 1877-78, James Eames (2d).

The remaining officers for 1878 are : Town Clerk, Willis
Austin ; Justices of the Peace, Levi K. Brown, Burlington
Button, E. A. Walsworth, John Brown; Assessor, Henry
Laufer ; Commissioner of Highways, Piatt B. Capron ;
Collector, Norman Potter ; Overseer of the Poor, John L.
Field ; Constables, Henry C. Conradt, Joseph W. Hubbard,
Norman Potter, Francis H. Wait ; Town Auditors, Albert
A. Cornish, Julius Sly, Eli J. Dewey ; Inspectors of Elec-
tion, District No. 1, John Champlin, Charles Brooks, Piatt
E. Capron ; District No. 2, Willett Stedman, Willis Austin,
James M. Eames ; District No. 3, James Reynolds, Patrick
Nolan, William A. Sinclair ; Game Constable, Samuel P.
Clark ; Excise Commissioners, Evan W. Evans, Curtis

On the 8th of March, 1872, interesting exercises were
held at Lee Centre, on the occasion of the 60th anniversary
of the first town-meeting. At this celebration, held in the
Ecclesiastical Church, there were present many of the de-
scendants of the early settlers in the town and county,
among them being the following natives of Lee, viz., Sam-
uel Nisbet, Henry Hall, John Shaver, Asa Starr,* Asahel
Castle,* Albert J. Wilkinson, Nathaniel Kenyon,* Orrin
Kenyon, Lewis Eames,* Walton Worden, D. G. Drum-
mond, A. W. Cornish, Captain Asa Fillmore,* Lyraan
Sexton. Albert J. Wentworth, and John Uflford.f There
were also present the following throe per.ions, original
voters of the town : William Parke, Nathaniel Kenyon,*
and Stephen Allen.* Four others of those voters were
living, but unable to be present ; they were Nathaniel
Wood, A. B. Pease, Joseph Kenyon,* and Tillot.son Ross.*
The following natives of town had come from other locali-
ties to be present upon the occasion, viz. : George Hovey,*
of Herkimer County ; Colonel E. B. Armstrong, of Rome ;
Henry Twitchell, of Pulaski; Dr. H. N. Porter, of New
York Mills; Smith Miller and Pliiletus Laney, of Anns-
ville ; Dwight Waterman, of Wliitcsboro' ; Hon. Calvert
Comstock,* of Rome ; Hon. Anson S. Miiler,| of Rockford,
III., and po.ssibly others. The following extemporaneous
historical address was delivered by Judge Miller, who
spoke entirely without notes :

"Mr. President, Ladies and Gentlemen, — Confined to my room
in Rome by a severe cold nearly all ihe week till last night, I appear
before you quite unGt to discbargc the responsible dutiei of this oc-
casion. We may well rejoice in this first pleasant day after the
raging storm. Honored by the ipvitatiun to address you on this im-
portant anniversary in the history of my native town, it becomes mc,
in the first place, to tender you my grateful acknowledgments. My
old friends and neighbors will permit mc to think aloud, to speak
familiarly, and free from the rules of labored coinposilion. Your
cordi.ll and affectionate welcome t^ this family reunion of the sons
and daughters of Lee, this thanksgiving gathering of the aged and
the young at the ]iarintal liomeslead, awakens the mo.«t grateful
emotions. We come from far and near; some of us from distant
Slates, after an absence ab oad through the average lifetime of a

-■' Since deceased.

I Since removed to Oswego County.

t Now of Patchin, Santa Cruz Co., Cal.


whole generation. Go where we may, either where curiosity in
travel may lead us, or the currents of business may bear us round
the earth, even though the distance be returnless, and absence from
our earthly homo be perpetual, its endearments will be imaged un-
fadiogly in our heart of hearts forever.

" Rejoicing in this return to the scenes of our childhood, we cannot
repress feelings of sadness as we miss in this aspcmbhigo so many
associated with the happy memories of life's morning. They are
indeed missed, but not forgotten, and we deeply realize the pathos of
the plaintive melody described by Ossian: ' The music of Caryl wus
like the memory of joys that are past, — pleasant though mournful to
the soul.'

"Great changes have passed over our native town in the course of
thirty to forty years. Forty years ago I knew every man and
woman and nearly every child in town. Now I find myself compar-
atively a stranger among you. There are few who were men wben I
was a boy hut what I recognize. It is easier to remember men than
for men to remember growing boys. I met one the other day, who
had been my father's nearest neighbor, who used to carry me on his
back, and I shook hands with him, and said, 'How do you do, Mr.

?' He looked at me closely, and said, 'Stranger, you've got the

advantage of me.* I said, 'Don't you remember the boy Anson
Miller?' He looked me in the face with astonishmtnt, and said,
' Why, how you have grown !'

"Primitive dwellings have disappeared, and scattered shrubbery
and trees mark the spots of former homes. Most of our youthful com-
panions are gone, — some to western regions and foreign climes, over
oceans and continents, and others (the majority) have crossed the in-
visible bounds which separate time from eternity. The lights of many
happy homes have been extin^uislied. Cheering voices have been
hushed in death, helping hands have turned to dust, loving hearts
have ceased to beat, and fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, and many
beloved friends and neighbors no longer gladden our eyes in these
circles of the living, — circles sadly broken here, but, as we trust, to bo
forever rejoined in the spheres of immortal being. We read the names
of our departed friends on the marble memorials in your cemeteries,
where entire families have boon laid in the silent graves. Some of the
well-Uu'iwn families are represculed here to-day by single survivors
only. Such is our earthly life. * One generation passeth away and
.Tnother generation cometh.' Early friends, though few, but doubly
dear, now greet us with wclcDUie home, and with hearts full of grati-
tude we rcf^pond to all of the manifestations of social and domestic
love, of which home, the most inspiring word in» our language, is at
once the centre and the soul. Your greeting touches our hearts with
electric force, and wc feel in imr own bosoms the pulsations of thi.i
asseuiblage. Years are the milestones of individuals in the journey
of life, while scores an 1 centuries raaik the eras of communities. Like
travelers pausing on an elevation in their course, surveying the land-
scape behind, before, ami all around, we stiuil to-day on the eminence
of sixty years from the separate organization of our town, and over
ei'^hty years from its first settlement, to rear a memorial monument
to its worthy founders. Stun ling, then, on this mount, let us build
three t;iberniicles, — one for the past, one for the present, and one for
the future.

" Threescore years ago, the present month, the incorporation of the
town of Lee was completed by the election of its fir.=t board of officers.
Previous tj this perfected organization it had beeu embraced within
the limits of different towns, — in the town of German Flatts till 17S8,
in While^town from then to 17'J2, in Steuben from this to 1798, when
the town of Western held its first town-meeting for the election of
officers, an act for the division having been passed in 1797, — from this
to 1312, the first tjwn-mceting, of which this is the sixtieth anniver-
sary. An enabling act for the division of AVestcrn was passed by the
Legislature in 1811. Most of the inhabitanti of two entire genera-
tions and many of a third, have passed away since the first settlement
in our present limits in 1790. Already the names of the pioneer men
and women are known to a few only, and the early history of the town,
excepting some general data of the count}', will be forgotten unless
preserve I in a permanent memorial. Earthly remembrance, at the
bef-t is of brief continuance, and tradition will not long preserve the
memory of our early scttlerij from oblivion. Assembled, as wc are,
to commemorate the organization of Lee, and to pay a just tribute to
oar pioneer settlers, we cannot but feel our lasting obligations to those
who amid the labors and privations of an Indian frontier, built their
loo- cabins, felled the forests, opened fruitful fields, established schools



and churches, and laid the fonndatioDS broadly and deeply for the
prosperity of coming generations. They who left comfortable homes
in New England and elsewhere for this then wilderness region sought
neither gold nor fame, but a living for themselves and their families.
They strove to raise their children to a better condition than their
own, and in their struggles with adversity they exhibited a lofty self-
reliance and courage seldom surpassed by military heroes. Thoy only
who have removed far from their homes and friends, and settled in the
unbroken solitudes of the forests and prairies, can truly estimate the
force in man and faith in God necessary to secure succes^ and happi-
ness. Lee takes the lead, as far as I am informed, in celebrating the
period of her organization^ and, happily, at a time when a few of the
men present at the first town-meeting are still with us. Venerable
men, we are glad to see you here ! May your last days be your best
days ! Sixty years ago seems but as yesterday. Your threescore
years have shrivelled like a scroll touched by consuming fires. The
example of Lee will doubtless be followed by other towns. The first
settlement in what is now Lee was made on the west side of the Mo-
hawk River, near the present site of Delta, by Epek Sheldon and his
sons, Stephen, Reuben, and Amasa, in 1790. Stephen built the first
house, a little log cabin, between Potash Brook and the house after-
wards built by Israel Stark. The father and the other brothers took
up land on the flat west of the Mohawk, nest above the land known
as the Bugby place, just north of the road leading from Delta to Lee
Centre. At this angle in the roads under the hill was erected the first
school-house in the town of Western, now Lee. It was a small, log
house, with a Dutch fireplace, stick chimney, and slab-roof and seats.
Joshua Northrup, a young surveyor, scarcely eighteen years old, was
the first teacher. He settled in what is now AVestern, and was a
magistrate there for many years. About the time of the Sheldon
settlement, or soon after, David Smith and his sons, David and Rus-
sell, came to the Mohawk country, near Delta, described by a writer
of that time as ' away up the Mohawk country beyond Fort Stanwix,
inhabited only by bears, wolves, and Indians.* David Smith, Jr.,
built a saw-mill there soon after, which he subsequently sold to Judge
Prosper Rudd, who came into the country from Franklin, Mass., with
Eliza, his wife, and his sons, Jabez F., Benjamin, and Wyllis, and his
daughter, wife of the late Captain Gates Peck. Judge Rudd soon
after added a flouring-mill, with one run of stone, and a cardiog-
machine, which were a great convenience to the country. The flour-
ing-mill has been greatly enlarged and improved by Eliakim Elder,
Anson Dart, and Elisha Walsworth. Soon after 1790 came Deacon
Nathan Barlow, and Lydia, his wife, late the widow of Joseph Miller,
of Granville, Mass., and mother of Smith, Eliakim, Dan, and Luther
Miller, pioneer settlers. They cut the first wagon-path from the resi-
dence of Roswell Fellows, on the road running from Fort Stanwix to
Elmer Hill, a mile and a half, to their residence in Lee Centre.

"In 1792, Colonel Alpheus Wheelock and Rachel, his wife, u- fa-
mous female physician, settled at Elmer Hill, and about the same time
Edward Salisbury and his seven sons, Nicholas, Edward S., Enon,
Alexander, Lodowick, De Estaing, and Smith, settled near Delta.
Nicholas, the father of Mrs. Abigail Rudd, wife of Colonel Benjamin
Rudd, was the first resident on the Bugby place, next south of Esek
Sheldon'-i. Edward S. took land farther up the Mohawk River, on
the west side, near what became the residence of Silas Morse. An-
other early settler, Otis Wh.ite, father of Moses T., Willard, Otis, Jr.,
and Israel, took up land in the same neighborhood. Edward Salis-
bury, Sr., settled with his other sons on the land sineo the farms
owned by Adin and Rensselaer Sly, on the road from Delta to Lee
Centre. The Sholdons, Smith, Wheelocks, and Salisburys emigrated
from the State of Rhode Island. Ilezekiah Elmer and Elizabeth, his
wife, and his sons Andrew, Eliakim, Ilezekiah, and his daughters,
subsequently the wives respectively of Dr. Enoch Alden and James
Benedict, came from Connecticut at that early day, and settled near
what is known as Elmer Hill. Colonel AVheelock opened the first
tavern west of Fort Stanwix, at the Hill. In 1792 the inhabitants
near Delta were joined by John Spinning and his sons, John, Jr.,
Daniel, and their brother-in-law, Luther Washburn, and sons, Mar-
tin, RufuB, Freeman, Luther, Jr., and Calvin j also their relative,
Benjamin Crittenden. These were from the State of Vermont.
Crittenden was the first settler on the land afterwards the home of
James Baker, father of Miles and Lorenzo D., where Daniel Twitchcll
subsequently resided. Near this time Deacon Andrew Clark, father
of Joseph Clark, and grandfather of Mrs. Stokes, built a houEc near
Nit^bet's Comers. Ephraim Ballard was the first Fc'tler on the Nis-

bet farm, and Abiel Kenyon lived near. Matthew Clark and Jona-
than Bettis took up the land afterwards occupied by Hazzard Stead-
man. Joseph Hale and his brother wore the first residents on the
land sold by Simeon Gunn to Alban Com stock, and Frederick
Sprague took up the land adjoining, on which Colonel-Wheelock sub-
sequently built u large frame house, afterwards occupied by John
Dye, Peter Husted, John Shaver, and others.

"Smith Miller built the Mallory House, in which the Rev. Lorenzo
Dow was married with Margaret (Peggy) Holcomb, the younger sister
of Mrs. Miller. Early in the settlement of what is now Lee, James
Young and Hannah, his wife, and his sons, James, Jr., Benjamin,
David, and Alvan, and a number of daughters, emigrated from Lee,
Mass., and settled half a mile south of Lee Centre. Deacon John
Hall had previously located on land near Mr. Young, which John
Smith purchased of Hall, now owned by William Graves. There
was a neighborhood wett from Lee Centre, known as Brookfield Set-
tlement, where West Waterman, William Lany, Tillotson Ross, and
Messrs. Fiah, Walker, Hitchcock, and others, from Brookfield, Mass.,
settled. Dan Taft lived on the State road, towards Taberg, and Tom
Lawrence settled on the west branch of the Mohawk at an early day.
The land in Lee was mainly embraced in four patents, which cornered
on the south side of Canada Creek, where Ezra Hovey afterwards
had his garden. Fonda's and Oothoudt's Patents were lease-land.
Jellis Fonda sold much of his extensive patent to Stephen Lush, of
Albany, and other land dealers, for ten cents per acre. The other
patents were Scriba's and Banyar's. There were other lands in what
is now Lee, known as Matchin's, Boon's, and Mappa'a tracts. A part
of Scriba's Patent, known as the 6000-acre tract, in township No.
1, afterwards known as Fish Creek Settlement, and a part of the
dOOO-acre tract, in township No. 2, were sold to Daniel C. White,
John W. Bloomfield, John Hall, George Huntington, and others,

"Some of the early settlers on the 6000-acre tract were Charles
Ufi"ord and John, his son ; Epraim Pease, and Arvin B., his son j Elara
Pease; Jotham Worden ; Jesse Sexton and his sons, William and
Amasa; David Webster ; Gideon Perry and his sons, Freeman and
Gideon B. ; James Eames and his sons, Simeon N., Lewis, George, and
Daniel; George Cornish with his sons, Hosea and George; Asahel
Castle and his sons, John J., and others; Roswell Spinning, the son
of Benjamin Spinning; Joseph Park and his son, Joseph, Jr.; Daniel
Park and the sons of Jacob Park, Elisha, Abijah, and William ; Oliver
Armstrong, father of Wheeler, Jesse, Enoch, and Earl; Deacon Sam-
uel Wright and bis wife Vienna, and his sonp, William B., Arunah,
Eben, and Samuel, Jr., and his nine daughters, originally from Con-
necticut, settled on this tract; James Wood and his sons, Amasa and
Nathaniel; Ephraim J. H. Curtis; Apollos King; William Taft with
his sons, Paul and Shays, who first settled near Luther Miller, on land
afterwards owned by Adonijah Barnard, where George Sheldon after-
wards resided; and many others settled on the 6000-acre tract.

" The lease-land proved to be a great curse to the town. What is
the town of Western, once embracing Lee, dates back one year before
the settlement of the Sheldons. Henry Wager, Asa Beckwith and
his sons, Asa, Jr., Lemuel, Reuben, and Wolcott, came to the Mohawk
country in 17S9; and soon after Josiah Church and his sons, George,
Brayton, Jonathan, Ivan, Allan, Frazier; Joshua Northrop; Jabez
Halleek and his sons, Josephand Jabez, Jr. ; William Cleveland; Daniel
Paddock and sons; Otis White and sons; William Olney; Daniel and
Robert Felton; and other well-known citizens settled on the Mohawk,
above Fort Stanwix. In this early settlement the jieople built the
first bridge across that river. It was back of the residence of Dr.
Zenas Hutchinson, near Elmer Hill, where John Treadway, Anson
Dart, and George Williams afterwards lived. The river here was
narrow, with a high bank on the south. The bridge had only one set
of stringers, and there was not a stick of hewn or sawed lumber in it.
At this time all this region was in the town of Whitestown, which had
been cut off from the town of German Flatts, in 17S8. Whitestown
was bounded east by a certain point on the Mohawk River; north by
the St. Lawrence; south by Pennsylvania and a part of New York ;*
and west by the lakes, the State line. First supervisor of Whites-
town, Jcdcdiah Sanger. All this vast extent of country, more exten-
sive than some of the European kingdoms, contained at the organiza-
tion of Whitestown but a few hundred inhabitants; and in ISIO the
same territory had a population of over 280,000; and now I suppose
exceeds 1,000,000.

•^^ See history of Whitestown.

\ '■


Photos, by Hovey & Brainerd.




Curtis Spinning, the son of Roswell F. Spinning
and Lucinda Dewey, was born in the town of West
Huron, Lewis Co., N. Y., July 8, 1822. He set-
tled with his parents in Lee, Oneida Co., in 1830.
He had but limited advantages for an education,
still by close observation he has acquired that
practical knowledge which places him far ahead of
many more favored with knowledge gleaned from
books. That such is tlie case is patent from the
fact of his having been district clerk every year
save one since 1845, and his holding other positions
of trust in his town. He also holds the office of
steward and class-leader in the Methodist Episcopal
Church, of which he is a zealous member.

It is a pleasure to turn away from the selfish

world and contemplate one whose life has been
spent in acts of charity and mercy. Such a one is
Mr. Spinning in every sense of the word. Were it
not for him and his mother, Lee Centre, in all proba-
bility, would not have its beautiful Methodist Epis-
copal Church, the unfortunate would receive much
less attention, and public enterprises generally
would suflFer.

He was married, Jan. 27, 1858, to Euphemia
Washburn, daughter of Martin Washburn, whose
biography appears in this volume; she was born
Feb. 25, 1820. Both joined the Methodist Epis-
copal Church in 1870, she Iiaving previously been a
Baptist. For genealogy, see the biography of Ros-
well F. Spinning and Martin Washburn.

Photos, by Hovey & Brainerd.




is a lineal descendant of the third generation of
Levy Spinning, who emigrated from Scotland in
the year 1745, and settled in Guilford, Conn.

Levy Spinning and his wife, Thankful Benton,
had six children, viz., John, Polly, Sarah, Betsey,
Daniel, and Benjamin, all of whom lived to maturity
and had families.

Benjamin, the father of Roswell F., was raatried
five times, but from only one of his wives, Sarah
Moulton, did he have children. Their union re-
sulted in the birth of seven children, viz., Eoswell
F., Hannah and Anna (twins), Betsey, Aimer and
Almira (twins), and Malinda, all of whom lived to
raise families, and were residents of the town of Lee.

Roswell F. was born in Lee, Oneida Co., N. Y.,
Sept. 17, 1794. He was married Nov. 19, 1819, to
Lucinda Dewey, who was born in Windham Co.,

Conn., Aug. 17, 1801. By this union three children
were born, viz., Curtis, July 8, 1822; Jay, Oct.
20, 1827, and died April 22, 1832 ; and a son who
died in infancy, July 10, 1834.

Mr. Spinning was a successful farmer. He pur-
chased the farm now owned by his son Curtis in
1830, where he resided until his death, which oc-
curred Sept. 14, 1870. His father died at Lee,
N. Y., Nov. 8, 1848.

His wife, Lucinda, is still living on the old home-
stead with her son Curtis. She is a prominent mem-
ber of the Methodist Episcopal Church, and noted
for kindness of heart where help is needed. She
assisted largely with her means in the erection of
the beautiful church at Lee Centre. These like-
nesses and this personal sketch were given by her in
memory of her husband.



"One of the first mills built on the Mnhawk Kiver was erected by
Roswell Fellows, Smith and Luther Miller. It stood in the notch or
little gulf nearly opposite where John Barnard afterwards built a
mill. The water was m-ised by a wing-dam. Subsequently, General
William Floyd, who bought ii> larg» tract of land at an early day on
the upper Mohawk, built u. mill on that stream near what is now
Westernville, and erected u saw-mill and grist-mill on AVest Canada
Creek,* a few miles belov/ Lee Centre. At the first settlements in
what are now Western and Lee, and before the erection of these mills,
the early settlers got their grain ground at Wetmore's on the Sauquoit,
and other distant places. The gigantic William Remington is said to
have carried on his shoulders the flour of two bushels of wheat from
Wetmore's mill, near Whitestown, to his residence in what is now Lee,
without resting. Very few of the roads at this time could be used for
wagons, and journeys were therefore made on horseback or on foot.
Henry Wager and Asa Beckwith, Jr., walked to German Flatts, and
there procured one bushel each of seed-potatoes, which they brought
home on their shoulders.

" Great changes have been made in the limits of counties and towns
once embracing what is now Lee. In 1683 there were only twelve
counties in the State of New York. Tryon County was cut off from
the north part of Albany County in 1772, and the name of Tryon was
changed to Montgomery in 1784. Herkimer and other counties were
formed from Montgomery in 1791, and Oneida from Herkimer in
1798. ... In 1792 the town of Steuben, embracing Western and Lee,
was formed from Whitestown. The centre of Steuben was Fort Stan-
wix, near which, at the house of Seth Ranncy, the first town-meeting
was held in 1793. Roswell Fellows, one of the earliest pioneers and
ablest magistrates of this county, was elected supervisor, and Jede-
diah Phelps, another early settler, town clerk. Both of these ofiicera
were citizens of Fort Stanwix. Rome had not then been named.

" Esquire Fellows is worthily represented here to-day in the person
of his great-grandson, Benjamin Whitman Williams,of Rome, a grand-
son of the late Cyrus Fellows, who came to Fort Stanwix at the first
settlement of this county. Roswell Fellows was re-elected supervisor
of Steuben in 1794-95, holding the office the three years that Steuben
embraced what was afterwards Romej that town and Floyd — named

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 132 of 192)