Samuel W Durant.

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

. (page 133 of 192)
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in honor of Gen. Wm. Floyd — being set off from Steuben in 1796.

" The town of Lee continued in the town of Steuben, or under its
authority, until 1798. An act dividing Western from Steuben was
passed by the Legislature in 1797, and in 1798 the town of Western
completed its organization by electing its first board of officers at the
house of Esek Sheldon. John Hall was elected (supervisor) and re-
elected in 1798-99 — two years. Henry Wager commenced in 1800,
and held the office twenty-four years in succession. Benjamin Uudd
succeeded Henry Wnger, and held the office for six succeeding years.
Arnon Comstock succeeded Col. Rudd, and he and Hervey Brayton
and others have held the office for difi"erent periods since.

" In 1811 and previous the people of Western had discussed the
question of dividing the town, and a committee consisting of James
Young and Joshua Northrup, both emigrants from Lee, Mass., acted
as a committee for getting an enabling act to divide the town.
The act was passed by the Legislature, attended to in the Senate
by Jonas Piatt, then a senator, and in the Assembly by George
Huntington, then a member from this district. The name 'Lee' for
the new town was inserted at the request of Messrs. Young and
Northrup. The question of division was determined at the next town-
meeting of Western (1811), at the house of Silas Morse. George
Brayton was chosen moderator, and after the election of officers for
the ensuing year, the crowd of voters, finding the house too small for
their accommodation, retired to the yard, where a division was agreed
on with great unanimity. Henry Wager, from Western, John Hall,
from Lee, and George Huntington, of Rome, were chosen commis-
sioners to fix the boundaries, with Benjamin Wright as surveyor.
The boundaries were harmoniously agreed on, and Lee remained
under Western till the 3d of March, 1812, when the first town-meet-
ing was held in the old West school-house, the only framed one in
the town, the first building north of Luther Miller's and about three-
fourths of a mile southeast of Lee Centre, at the road-crossing near
which the late John Calvin Capron resided.

"James Young was elected Supervisor and West Waterman Town
Clerk J Jesse Dutton, Earl Fillmore, and Joseph White, Assessors ;

® Canada Creek. West Canada Creek is a branch of the Mohawk,
f.irther east, and is the stream in which Trenton Falls are losated.

John Hall and Dan Taft, Overseers of the Poor; Jotham Worden,
Dan Tiift, and Thomas E. Lawrence, Commissioners of Highways;
George Hawkins, Samuel Hall, and Zebediel Wentworth, Constables;
Adonijah Barnard, Dan Taft, and Asahel Castle, Feoce-Viewers.
There were then 22 road districts in the town, and overseers were duly
chosen. Justices of the peace were at that time appointed by the State
executive for the county, and there were no inspectors of common
schools till 1816, when the Justices of the I'eace — Jesse Dutton, James
Eames, and Joseph White— appointed Dr. Jonah B. Burton, Eleazer
Bushnell, Simeon N. Eames, William B. Wright, George Hawkins,
and Samuel Hall such inspectors.

" In 181 3, James Young was re-elected Supervisor and West Water-
man Town Clerk. The town-meeting was held nt the school-house
before described, which answered in that day as a school-house and
for religious and political meetings. Nearly all the officers elected in
1812 were re-elected except the assessors and collector. Charles Uf-
ford, Luther Miller, and Charles Ladd were chosen Assessors, and
Simeon N. Ames, Collector.

"The political parties at this time were known as Republican and
Federal, though in the election of town officers party was little ob-
served, it being the aim of the voters to select the best men for local
affairs. At the general election of 1S13, Daniel D. Tompkins, Repub-
lican, for Governor, received 89 votes; Stephen Van Rensselaer, Fed-
eral, for Governor, received 26 votes — Republican majority, 03.
Henry Huntington, Republican, for Assembly, 123; Thcjdore Sill,
Federal, for Assembly, 36 — Republican majority, 87.

"In 1SI4, John Hall was elected Supervisor ami James Young
Town Clerk. General Election: Nathan Williams, Republican, for
Member of Congress, 89 votes ; Thomas R. Gold, Federalist, for Member
of Congress, 43 — Republican majority, 46. election returns are
certified by James Young, John Hall, Luther Miller, Charles Ladd,
and Charles UfTord, Inspectors of Election.

"In 1815-16, Messrs. Hall and Young were respectively re-elected
Supervisor and Town Clerk. After 'Squire Hall's re-election was
announced by the moderator at the town-meeting, in 1816, — his third
term, — ho arose and said, * Fellow-citizens and neighbors, look around
you and select a young man for supervisor in whom you can confide,
and give him your suffrage and hearty support. Make up your minds
after a trial of two years, and if you find him honest and capable, and
deserving of your votes for his fidelity to your interests, keep him in
the office year after year. I advise you to do this at the next annual
town-meeting.' The next year, 1817, the voters of Lee took 'Squire
Hall's advice, and, with great unanimity, elected Williara Park as
their Supervisor, who is now with us, the Presidt'ot at this anniver-
sary ; and they re-elected him 'year after year' till 1833, — fifteen
years in succession, — the longest term of any of the supervisors in
this town. And I think it but a just tribute to his official fidelity
and usefulness, to which the public sentiment would heartily respond,
to say that his successful efforts in that position have not been sur-

William Park is now a resident of Lee Centre, and was
ei"-hty-nine years old on the 27th of April, 1878. His
mother came to the town from Berkshire Co., Mass., with
six of her nine children, — two of them grown men, — in
1795. They first located a mile west of what is now Lee
Centre, then the " end of the settlement" in that direction.
When William Park became of age (1810) he came with
his next older brother, Abijah, and purchased the place at
the Centre, upon which he has ever since resided. He is
the only one of the nine children now living. In 1812 he
volunteered and went to Sacket's Harbor, where he stayed
three months, and in 1814 went a second time, remaining
forty days.

In the days of the early settlements in Lee it was some-
times almost impossible to procure a bushel of grain m the
town. It was occasionally purchased in the town of West-
moreland, where the farmers managed to spare a little, those
fortunate enough to secure it bringing it home on their




"At it meeting of the citizens of Lee to cvcct and incorponitc a
public lil)rary in the town of Lee, agreeably to u, prcvioua public
notice, according to the Laws of this State, — the meeting assembled
at the North Mooting-I-Iouse,* in Lee, on Tuesday, the 7th day
of Maruh, 1S20. Proceeded to the linsiness in hand by electing
Dr. Elijah Ward moderator and president of this association, and
James Young clerk. Itcsohcd, That Dr. Elijah Ward, Charles Ufford,
William Lany, Thomas E. Lawrence, and James Young servo as trus-
tees of Harmony Library the ensuing year.

" Reaahcd, That the following be a standing rule for said library,
viz. : That the Harmony Library shall be kept within one mile of the
North Meeting-House, in the town of Lee.

" Reaohedj That the annual meeting of this library shall be held on
the first Tuesday in October next, at the North Meeting-House, at two
o'clock P.M.

"Attest: J. YoD.XG, Ckrk.f

"Lee, March 7, 1820."

This library was the successor of one which had pre-
viously existed at Delta, known as the " Union Library of
Lee and Western." The Rudds, Wagers, and others were
connected with it. Of tlie library at Lee Centre James
Young was librarian until his death in 1836. Many of
the prominent citizens of the town were interested in it,
among them Thomas Lawrence, of West Bi-anoh, and the
Williams' and Powells of the same locality ; the Wilsons,
Uifords, Wordens, and Websters, of Fish Creek settlement;
William Lany, West Waterman, C. Brooks, David Byam,
Zerah Preston, and others at Leo, in the south part of the
town ; and John W. Dopp, Samuel Nisbet and sons, and
others in the eastern portion. The Millers, Washburns,
Spinnings, Wentworths, and others were also prominent
members of the association. The library was kept at the
farm-house of James Young, and during the life of the
latter was very popular ; after his death, however, it was
allowed to run down, and finally became extinct.


The school-house in which the first town-meeting was
held has already been mentioned as the first framed school-
building in the town.

This first school- house was located southeast of Lee Cen-
tre, and built for the joint of schools and meetings.
School was first taught in it about 1798, by an English-
man named Elijah Blake. The children of Mrs. Park
attended this .school in 1798.

The first school in the neighborhood of Delta was taught
by ci daughter of Esquire Prosper Rudd, afterward the
wife of Gates Peck. The latter kept the first winter
school in that locality, on " Elmer Hill," in 1804, and had
over 80 pupils. This district includes at present portions
of Western, Lee, and Rome, the school-house being in
Western. Mr. Peck taught here several seasons, and his
daughter, Miss E. A. Peck, now of Delta, was also a suc-
cessful teacher.

Rev. Thomas Brainerd, for thirty years pastor of the
Old Pine Street Church, Philadelphia, was an early and
popular teacher in Lee. Hon. Anson S. Miller writes of
him :

* Ecclesiastical Church at Lee Centre.

f From old records of library in possession of D. S. Young.

" RocKFonn, Ii.i.., March 26, 1868.

. . . "The late Rev. Dr. Thomas Brainerd kept school in my
native town, Lee, N. Y., more than forty years ago. My first recol-
lection of Dr. Brainerd, when a youthful teiicher in Lee, reaches back
to the winter of 1823-24, when he taught the school in the Dutton
district, in Tjce, where Albert Barnes had previously taught. My
father resided in an adjoining district. In this school Mr. Brainerd,
though a more youth, achieved perfect success. He kept a iiioflel
school, and his pupils both feared and loved him. Though familiar
with his pupils in their plays out of doors, he preserved his dignity
as wfister in the school-house. So good was his reputation as a
teacher that the trustees of an adjoining disti-ict (Lee Centre), with a
larger school, secured his services at an early d.ay for the next winter,
1824-25. In this district he made his home with my uncle, the late
James Young, Esq., a prominent citizen and public man of Lee. My
uncle Young and his brother Alvan were great readers. The town
library was kept at their house j and Mr. Brainerd, when at uncle's,
enjoyed himself with congenial spirits. They all wondered how he
could read so rapidly and remember so well. Occasionally, when
visiting my cousins, the sons of uncle Young, I attended Mr. Brain-
erd's school with them. It was a large school, and not the easiest to
govern j but he gave it the regularity of a clock. He kept a lire
school, because he was a live teacher. He had a wonderful gift for
animating his pupils, and inspiring them to emulate excellence j and
of their social circle out of school he was the centre and soul.

" Subsequently Mr. Brainerd taught school near Mr. Talcott's, in
Rome, and was there, as in the schools in Lee, exceedingly popular."

The following is a list of those who have served in the
capacity of school-teachers in the town of Lee, compiled by
Hon. Anson S. Miller and David S. Young :

Males. — Joshua Northrup, Richard Smith, Benoni Bar-
low, Elijah Blake, Samuel Hall, Elijah Denny, William B.
Wright, Grates Peck, Chester Hayden, Asahel Fenner,
Stephen Miers, Arunah Wright, Israel Spencer, Alvan
Young, Wheeler Armstrong, Freeman Perry, Jesse Arm-
strong, Henry Peck, Dr. Elijah Ward, Albert Barnes,
Hiram Denio, Gideon B. Perry, Jonathan Whaley, Isaac
P. Barritt, John W. Dopp, Gideon Allen, John P. Hart-
well, Stephen R. Smith, John UfFord, Jesse Rising, Nathan
Yoomans, Daniel Porter, Theophilus Williams, Merrit
Brooks, Alpheus I. Story, George White, Chester Martin,
Charles M. Dennison, Lewis Eames, Harold H. Pope,
Israel S. Parker, Charles Starr, Thomas Brainerd, Noah
Ashley, Frederick Tracy, Lemuel Barnard, Jared C.
Brooks, Israel Smith, A. J. Coburn, Ichabod C. Baker,
Orville W. Story, Hiram Riggs, Daniel Eames, Israel
White, Alfred Stevens, Samuel Knight, C. B. Hyde,
Timothy Tallman, Jonathan Badgley, Franklin Peck,
Lorenzo D. Baker, Anson S. Sliller, Calvert Comstock,
James Morgan, Charles Tuttle, E. Babcock, Adalbert
Douglass, Thomas Wright, Ezra Butler, Levi Williams,
David S. Young, Henry Hovey, Cyrus F. Miller, John
M. Muscott, Thomas B. Allison (Allanson ?), Edward
Young, Jerome Cheesebrough, Stephen R. S. UflFord, E.
S. Bearss, Asher Miller, William Richmond, Jay Capron,
Aaron Cornish, George E. Young, William Waid, J. B.

Cook, John Rass, Curtis Spinning, TuUoh, Wilbur

A. Markham, A. G. Markham.

Females.— lUnnah Felton, Avis Taft, Alice Goudy,
Hettic Stark, Harriet Fillmore, Abbie Salisbury, Luoinda
AVright, Polly Stark, Amy Williams, Nancy Parmiter,
Rhoda Miller, Harriet H. Whipple, Polly King, Chloe
Miller, Eliza L. Rudd, Mary Wiggins, Lydia Miller, Maria
Elmer, Eunice N. Wiggins, Anna Allen, Mary Miller,
Alice Wiggins, Diana Willard, Eliza A. Peck, Phebe



Photos, by J. Hovey



Among the early settlers of this county was the
Eames family ; they are of English origin ; the first
family settled in Massachusetts, about 1618. Lewis
Eames, son of James Eames, was born in Lee,
March 6, 1799. His father, James, came from
Hopkinton, Mass., and settled in Lee, in 1794.
He had nine children who lived to be more than
seventy years of age, namely: Simeon N., Jerusha,
James, Mary, George, Lewis, Daniel, Lavina, and

Lewis was reared on a farm, and attended school
winters and worked summers. At an early age he
commenced teaching school, and it is said of him
that he was a very efficient teacher, and was always
able to control his pupils in such a way as to com-
mand their respect. Many prominent men of to-
day point back to the time when Mr. Eames led
them forth to investigate those principles which lie
at the foundation of a good education. Mr. Eames
followed teaching several terms, and was always
successful. He married Miss Betsey Legar, March
5, 1826; she was born April 25, 1803, in Annsville,
Oneida Co., N. Y. By this union seven children
were born, namely : James J., Joseph, Jerusha E.,

Elizabeth, James, Sarah, and Lucy ; ot whom Eliz-
abeth and James are still living. Elizabeth married
Wm. G. Cornwell, now of Rome, and has two
children. James married Helen M. Spencer, and
now resides at Lee Centre ; he has two children.
Mr. Lewis Eames settled on the farm now owned
and occupied by his present wife and family in
March, 1828 ; here he continued to reside till his
death. His wife died April 17, 1847, and he
married his second wife. Miss Pamelia Brainard,
daughter of Jephtha and Catherine, June 14, 1848.
Mrs. P. Eames was born in Western, Oneida Co.,
N. Y., June 19, 1814. By this alliance two children
were born, — Evelyn B., born Jan. 14, 1850, and
Edwin L., Nov. 2, 1854. Mr. Eames was a zealous
supporter of the Universalist Church, and gave
liberally to its support. In politics he affiliated with
the Democratic party until the formation of the Re-
publican party. He was a strong supporter of the
temperance cause, and by word and action ever main-
tained its principles. He made all the improvements
on the farm now in possession of the family, and they
are among the best in the town. He died Feb. 5,



Miller, Elizabeth Porter, Emily Eames, Cliloe Mitchell,
Cornelia Putnam, Lucina Butler, Eliza H. Parle, Amanda
Spencer, Abbie Pease, Emeline Sheldon, Vienna Miller,
Minerva Comstock, C. M. Park, Sarah Tracy, Polly Miller,
Mary A. Loveland, Caroline S. Eames, Julia Potter, Eloise
C. Peck, Eliza L. Rudd (2d), Rhoda M. Eames, Lucina J.
Miller, Hannah Nisbet, Charlotte Cornish, Mary Eames,
Susan M. Miller, Eliza N. Eames, Hannah Corniah, Char-
lotte S. Young, Amelia Briggs, Ceraldine Felshaw, Elstine
Felshaw, Loretta Eames, Clare Somers, Josephine Mayhew,
Alma Holmes, Rhoda Ward, Eliza Ward.

Many of these teachers have achieved distinction in
theology, law, medicine and sjjrgery, agriculture, manufac-
tures and commerce, surVeyliig and engineering, and as
journalists, education^ professors, authors, and artists.
Three of them, Rev. I)rs. Albert Barnes, Gideon B. Perry,
and Thomas Braineni, were at the same time distinguished
pastors of churches in the city of Philadelphia. In the
law, the names of Hiram Denio, Anson S. Miller, and
others stand conspicuous, while others became famous in
the various professions and trades.

The Union Free School building at Lee Centre was
erected in 1872. The school has three departments. Miss
Loretta Eames has been the sole assistant in this school
since its organization, with the exception of one summer,
when Miss Ceraldine Felshaw was engaged as second as-
sistant. The first principal was Professor William P. Rob-
inson, in 1872-73. Those since in charge have been Pro-
fessors E. R. Adams, 1873-74 ; Piatt E. Capron, 1874-75 ;
E. S. Bearss, 1875-76; A. H. Loucks, 1870-78; and E.
B. Adams, the present principal a second time. The average
attendance is large, and the school enjoys a good reputation.
The town of Lee has seventeen school districts, and 785
children of school age. The average attendance for the
year ending 3Iarch 22, 1878, was about 350. The appor-
tionment of school funds paid to the districts in this town
for 1878, is the sum of $2115.45.


The following early settlers of Lee were veterans of the
Revolution, viz. : John Hall, Samuel Wright, Smith Miller,
Luther Washburn, Sr., James Young, Sr., William Taft,
Josiah Rising, Reuben Marsh, Eliakim Miller, Benjamin
Crittenden, William Purdy, Isaac Buell, Jared Olcott, Sr.,
William Remington, Jared Dingman, Nathan Yeomans,
Stephen Cleveland, James Eames, Sr., Captain John Ford,
Stephen Sutphen, Captain David Starr (died in Lee ; was
an early settler of Steuben), Samuel Wyman, and Martin
Winchell. The settlers took active part in the war of
1812-15, and during the greaf Rebellion of 1861-G5 the
town sent about 200 men to the field. The 97th, 117th,
and 146th Infantry, 15th Engineers, and Battery H, of
the 3d Artillery, were largely represented from Lee.


born in this town was Fenner Sheldon, u, son of Reuben
Sheldon, one of the two brothers who first settled at Delta.
His birth occurred in 1791. The first death waa that of
a young man named Job Kaird, about twenty years of age,
who died in 1798 of the bilious putrid fever. The first

marriage was that of Dan Miller and Amy Taft, daughter
of William Taft. The next weddings were those of two
daughters of James Young, who were married to young
men in the neighorhood.

Judge Jones, in his " Annals of Oneida County," says,
" The first saw-mill erected in Lee was built in 1791 or
1792 by David Smith, Esq., on the Mohawk River, on the
site of the present mills in the village of Delta. The sec-
ond saw-mill was erected in 1796, by John Hall and Smith
Miller, on the Canada Creek, at Lee Centre." The first
grist-mill in town was built by General William Floyd, in
1796, and stood on Canada Creek, a mile and a half south of
Lee Centre, near the Rome town line. Another was built at
Lee Centre, on Canada' Creek, in 1798, by Thomas and
William Forfar, emigrants from Scotland. A third grist-mill
was built on the Moljawk, between 1790 and 1800, by Lu-
ther and Smith Miller and Roswell Fellows, a few miles
above Fort Stanwix. The present grist-mill at Lee Centre
was built by Ezra Hovey, and stands ten or twelve rods
down the creek from the site of the old Forfar mill, which
latter was a heSvy frame building, with one run of stone.
The present mill is the property of Phineas Scothon. Near
the old Lee post-ofiice a grist-mill was built previous to
1812, which had considerable custom. It was erected by
David Bryan, and called the " pepper mill." The ridge
between the central and southern parts of town divided the
business to some extent, and this mill became necessary.


organized in 1797, was the first in town. Its original
members were Deacon Nathan Barlow, and Lydia his wife ;
James Young, and Hannah his wife ; John Hall, Eliakim,
and Dan Miller ; Deacon Ebenezer Seymour and wife ;
Hezekiah Elmer and wife ; Joshua Wells and wife ; and
Joseph Simmons. The first pastor was Rev. James South-
worth, who was succeeded by Rev. M'r. Norton. Among
the missionaries who ministered to this congregation were
Revs. Mr. Cook, Jlr. Leavenworth, John Alexander, Mr.
Long, Mr. Hall, Simeon Snow, Clement Lewis, Mr. Ed-
wards, and others. The church owned by this society
stood a mile south of Lee Centre. The society, for some
twenty years after its organization, used the frame school-
house previously mentioned. It finally changed its form
of government to Presbyterian, and eventually lost its visi-
bility. The old church has been moved to the west part
of town, and is now used as a saloon.


In 1819 the plan of rearing a church at Lee Centre for
the convenience of religious meetings and town purposes
was discussed, and a society known as the Union Ecclesi-
astical Society formed. Conspicuous among those favoring
this measure were James Young and William Park. The
result was the building of the present edifice, known as
the Ecclesiastical Church, on land furnished for the pur-
pose by William Park. The members of the Congrega-
tional Church and society wished a house which that de-
nomination could use exclusively, and about the same time
erected their church on the old Hall farm, near John Smith's.



The latter building fell into disuse and has long been re-
moved. The members of the Union Society were some-
what liberal in their views. They were mainly instru-
mental in founding the Harmony Library, the Presbyterians
aiding to some extent. The old records of the society were
recently destroyed by fire. The church as originally built
was without many conveniences, and had only occasional
meetings. It has been extensively repaired and remodeled
by the Universalists, who use it now exclusively, although
by virtue of the original conditions the name remains the
same. The Universalists have at present no regular pas-
tor. Their membership is about 80. The town hall is
in the basement of the church, by permission of Mr. Park
at the date of its erection.


The present organization was formed in 1876, and a fine
house of worship erected at a cost of about $R000. The
sum of $4200 was raised on the day of dedication, to pay
its debts. Mrs. R. Spinning and her son, Curtis Spinning,
contributed largely, and individual subscriptions were given
from $100 to $1000. Rev. James Stanton was the first
pastor, and stayed two years. He is now of Copenhagen,
Lewis County. The present pastor is Rev. Joseph Baird,
and the membership about 130. A flourishing Sabbath-
school is sustained, with C. B. Felshaw as Superintendent.

The Methodist Episcopal Society Ladies' Aid Associa-
tion has 40 to 50 members, some of the principal ones bein"
Mrs. Markham, Mrs. Felshaw, Mrs. Stedman, Mrs. Pres-
ton, Mrs. Park, Mrs. Scothon, and others. The object of
this society is to raise funds to keep the furniture of the
church and parsonage in good repair. The parsonage has
cost about $3000. There is a small Methodist Episcopal
Church at Lee Post-office, in charge of Rev. Mr. McCienthen,
of Taberg. There is also a store at the place.

The Methodist Episcopal Church, south of Lee Centre,
is supplied every alternate Sabbath from the latter place, as
is also the one at Point Rock, in the northwest part of the
town. At Lee Line is an old Methodist Church long since
gone into disuse.


This society was holding meetings in 1838, and may
possibly have been organized earlier. Its present house of
worship was erected in 1813. John Slee was the first

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 133 of 192)