Samuel W Durant.

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

. (page 140 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 140 of 192)
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(with some ndditiona) by Rev. William R. Weeks as a residence and
school building. Afterwards Chester Cook bought' it and occupied a

® Utica was settled in 17S8.— Histobiak.


PHoras 8T t P Wuu*MS, UricA N Y.



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residence: of GEORGE W. chapman , PARIS , ONEIDA C0..N.Y.


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Residence of Wm. RICHARDS, Parjs,OnddaCo.,N.Y.


William Richards was born in Oneida County in 1798,
his father having removed into this (then) wilderness from
Connecticut in 1764. About 1768 he settled on a farm,
where he remained until his death, which occurred October
8, 1835. William was born in the town of Paris, of
which he was one of the earliest inhabitants, and assisted
in its organization. At the time of his birth the country
was almost an unbroken forest ; but he has lived to see it
superseded by fruitful fields, which abound on every hand
with evidences of cultivation and plenty; the forest has
given place to the farm, the log cabin to the smiling and
artistic villa; the rude shop of the pioneer artisan to the
substantial and capacious establishments of numerous thrifty
manufacturers. With this marvelous development, reach-
ing through more than three-fourths of a century, William
Bichards has been intimately identified, and may be said to
have been a part of it in its various stages. Like most
of the pioneers among whom his early life was spent, he
struggled with the hardships and privations incident to the
settlement of a new country, and like most who, through
persevering toil and unfaltering energy, have enjoyed the
satisfaction of seeing the wilderness blossom around them,
and of reaping at last the substantial fruits of their labors.

Mr. Bichards has achieved success and secured a comfort-
able competence for himself and his family. Through all
this he has maintained a character for unsullied integrity

in his intercourse with his fellow-men. He enjoys the
highest confidence of his neighbors, and for many years,
by the suffrages of his townsmen, has been called to fill
offices of responsibility and trust. He has ever labored
to promote the highest temporal and moral welfare of
his neighborhood and the section of country in which he

Himself a model farmer, he has sought, by example and
precept, to induce thrift, good taste, and the highest success
in that htinorable and important department of human labor.
A reformer both by instinct and practice, he has ever been
a friend of the drunkard, a hater of intemperance, of
oppression, and of political corruption, and has longed to
see his country free from those two gigantic evils — intem-
perance and slavery.

Mr. Bichards is a strict observer of the Sabbath, and a
constant and regular attendant upon Christian worship ; a
liberal supporter of the institutions of the Gospel, and
a lover of the great benevolent operations of the American
church. He has attested his liberality towards the latter
by bequeathing a handsome sum to their support.

Mr. Bichards has been twice married. His first wife
was Martha, daughter of Jacob and Betsey Knight. This
union was blessed with one daughter, who is now residing
in Waterloo, Black Hawk County, Iowa. Mrs. Bichards
died December 15, 1860.

^^^ (^jlce/^oy^



part OS a dwelling and tho rest as a saddle- and harness-shop. It sub-
sequently took fire and was burned.

*' The Methodist Church stood on the road going towards Clinton,
east of the present burial-ground. It had a good congregation when
I first knew it; had its regular services by a circuit -preiicber, and had
a number of zealous members. The society afterwards became extinct,
and the church was token down about 1S50.

"" I have stated that Paris was originally included in the town of
■\VbitcBtown, then n, part of Herkimer County. In 1792 the town of
Paris was organized as a separate town, and included not only Kirk-
land and Marshall, but also the jiresent towns uf Sangorficld, Brook-
fiL'ld, Hamilton, Cazenovio, nnd Sherburne. These five latter towns
were taken off in 1795, nnd Kirkland, including Marshall, in 1827,
leaving the town of Paris with nearly its present boundaries, the only
change being the addition of a narrow strip from Kirkland, in 1839, to
accommodate a few individuals.

" Paris Hill, as y/b have seen, was the third or fourth settlement in
order of time in the original town of Whitestown, and being the far-
thest south was generally known as the 'South Settlement.' AVhcn
the present village began to manifest itself it was known as 'Shax's
Borough,* but a ter the new town had been organized, and named
Paris, it gradually assumed its present name of Paris Hill.

*' Wben I first saw the place, nearly sixty-two years ago, and for
a few years after, it was a more important point than at present, and
a place of much more business. It had three churches, two taverns
(as they were then called), two stores, two blacksmith-shops, two
saddle- and harness-shops, several carpenters' and shoemakers' shops,
one wagon shop, one spinning-wheel maker's shop, two tailors' shops,
two asheries or potash establishments, and two cooper-sbups for I he
making of barrels, to be used for pork, ciddr, potash, and for whisky,
the latter being manufactured un the premises now occupied by J.
Van Valkonburg. The whisky was mainly sold to the f.irmers in the
vicinity, at from twenty-five to thirty ceuts per gallon. No doubt
there wore other manufacturers' shops not recollected, but Chester
Cook's silver-plating shop must not be overlooked. A turnpike, run-
ning through the village for some years, connected the place, and all
south and southwest of it, as far as Oxford, with Utica, by means of
intersecting the Seneca Turnpike at New Hartford. A toll-gate stood
a little north of the Episcopal Church. The turnpike, not proving a
profitable investment, soon shared a fate similar to that of the plank-
road, which succeeded it at a more modern date, and was abandoned,
to the stockholders' loss.

" A griat-iin'll was standing when I first knew the place, on the cast
side of the road, opposite a portion of the present Episcopal cemetery.
It was originally intended to be operated by horse-power, the horses
to travel on the inner circumference of a large wheel, nearly or quite
thirty feet in diameter. This wheel revolved with an axle, or shaft,
which furnished the motive-power to the machinery. The builder of
this novel grist-mill was a Mr. Simister. The working of it proved
too destructive to horseflesh to be profitable, and it was therefore
abandoned. Subsequently an attempt was made to utilize the building
by putting in a steam apparatus, but as the construction of stat ionavy
steam-engines was then but little understood, that plan Wits also
abandoned, and the building was demolished about 1S20.

" At the lower end of the green, within the line of the road leailing
to Bridgewater, was a public well, furnishing at all seasons a good
supply of pure water to all who chose to use it. About the year
ISJO the bottom seemed to drop out, and it contained no water after-
wards. Probably the water had found a fissure in the limestone rock
in which the well was dug, and escaped in that way. It then became
useful as a sink-hole or drain to carry off in a wet time all the surplus
water from the lower part of the green. Finally, it became clogged
and useless for that purpose, and was closed up.

"Sixty years ago the green was very convenient as a parade-
ground, two, and sometimes three, military companies mustering
on it for parade and inspection at the same time, — usually the first
Monday in June, the 4th of July, and the firt-t Monday in September.
The two or three companies strove to out-do each other in the precision
and skill of their evolutions. In some cases a battalion consisting of
six or seven companies assembled there. In one instance, at least, the
whole regiment met there in September for 'general training,' as it was
called, Samuel Comstock, afterwards General Comstock, of Clinton,
was then adjutant, and his orders in giving commands were heard very
distinctly at a distance of two miles ! Such occasions were these, — so
soonafter the war of 1812-15,— occasions of much interest, and called

out crowds of people. This gave peddlers of gingerbread, crackerf,
maple-sugar, cookies, small-beer, and cider a good opportunity to
ply their vocations, and the old church on tho green gave a very
acceptable shade to them and to their customers if the day were
sunny; and also to the old Revolutionary soldiers, who would there
assemble to together to recount to each other, and to a circle of inter-
ested listeners, their several perilous adventures and hair-breadth
escapes in the times that ' tried men's souls.'

"Among the prominent individuals residing in the village at that
time may be mentioned General Henry McNiel, ex-judge and tho
member of Assembly ; Elnathan Judd, M.D., the leading physician
of the place; Thcophilus Steele, Esq., the town clerk; Samuel H.
Addington, merchant and justice of the peace; and Martin Hawley,
landlord and land-owner. Esquire Addington's store was then the
building on the west side of tho green, with ui brick front, now con-
verted into a blacksmith-shop. It was previously occupied as a store
by Stanton & Hawley. The house north of it, on tlie corner, was
owned by Major Hawley, and was used as a hotel or tavern. A
curbed well was directly in front of it, in what is now used as a trav-
eled roadway.

" Other prominent citizens living in the vicinity of the village, but
not in it, were Captain John Wicks, John Strong, Ephraim Walker,
Timothy Hopkins, Deacon Bailey, Adam and Abel Simmons, Captain
Ebenezer and Esquire Charles Smith, Esquire Uri Doolittle, David
Stiles, Fobes Head, Jonathan Head, Abiel Saxton, Luther Richards,
and several others.

" The succeeding merchants at Paris Hill were Haywood & Blair,
Steele & Wicks, Tompkins & Doolittle, Mott & lieynolds, Andrew
Mills, and Jesse E. Thompson.

" General McNiel was postmaster from time immemorial, but
always had the business done by a deputy, — usually a merchant or
innkeeper. He was removed about 1830, under Jackson's administra-
tion, and Germond Mott was appointed in his place.* In the earlier
days the people were content with one mail per week, and that was
carriid by the 'post-rider' on horseback, he delivering the Utica
newspapers to subscribers on his route at their doors, carrying them
in his ' saddle-bags,' and the letter-mail in his pockets. Letter post-
age was not prepaid, and the rates were graduated according to the
di.-tance, — for instance, to Utica, 6 cents; to Albany, I2i cent's; to
New York, 185 cents; and to Philadelphia, Boston, or Detroit, 25
cents. There was but little money in those days, most of the ordi-
nary business being done by barter or exchange; and often when a
poor man had a letter in the post-offiee, coming from a distance, ho
had to wait some days or borrow the 25 cents to get it out. This
method of carrying the mail continued till about 1820, when the post-
rider changed his conveyance to a one-horse wagon, thus securing
higher pay, and occasionally a passenger. Soon after a, mail-stage
was started, with one pair of horses, making two trips each way
per week; afterwards three, and finally daily trips each way, with
four horses.

"The habits, usages, and implements of the early days were quite
primitive. Such things as mowing-machines, reapers, horse-rakes,
thresbing-machines, cultivators, plows with iron mold-boards, bob-
sleighs, sewing-machines, knitting-machines, washing-machines, or
clothes- wringers were entirely unknown, and even unheard of.
Pitchforks, scythes, and axes were made by the blacksmiths. Wo
had in those days no railroads, no canals, no telegraphs, no telephones,
no photograiihs. Cook-stoves and carpets were not dreamed of;
buggies and cutters were unknown; families rode in lumber-wagons
and sleighs, or sleds. If these wore ^jatiircrf, even, the owners were
considered as being etuck-itp and proud. Much of the riding was on
horseback. Frequently, if a young man arranged to take his lady-
love out riding, ho would come on horseback. She would spread a
blanket on the horse behind his saddle, seat herself on that, put her
arm caressingly aronnd his waist, — for support, — and enjoy the ride
satisfactorily. As all the grain was threshed by hand, and all the
fuel cut with the axe in winter for the year, farmers and their sons
found sufficient employment in the winter season, so that when even-
in" came they were too much fatigued to desire to spend it loafing or
lounging, either at the post-office, store, or tavern. The women, in
addition to keeping the house in order and doing the necessary

* The post-office here is the oldest in town, and is called Paris.
The present iiostniastor is Wm. II. Ferris. The office was the first
one established in this section of the county.



cooking and washing, spent much of the summer in spinning wool,
and the winter in spinning flax and tow. All the clothing of the
family was made in the family,

" None of the churches had stoves until ahout 1820. He who
could not keep warm without a fire in church was considered as being
deficient in holy zeal. Thj women, if delicate, were allowed to have
a small tin foot-stove at their feet, with a dish of coals and hot embers
in it, while the men sat mufSed up, and shivered. I have often
known the clergyman to preach, in the winter, with warm woolen
mittens on. In the old church that stood on the green, it was always
customary for the congregation to stand during the prayers, and to
sit during the singing; and in warm weather it was quite the
custom of several to sleej) during the sermon. The old church was
used for a variety of purposes other than religious : all the town-
meetings were held in it till the town was divided, in 1827; political
meetings were held in it; also caucuses of the different political
parties, common-school exhibitions, amateur theatrical performances,
miscellaneous lectures, and many other things, too numerous to par-
ticularize. But the old church was long since demolished, and not a
stone is left to mark its former site. The old settlers who built it,
and who for many years occupied its square, uncomfortable pews, in
summer's heat and in winter's cold, with becoming devotion, have all
passed away. Even the very doctrines which for many years were
thundered forth from its high pulpit, earnestly and no doubt sincerely
promulgated by its occupants. Dr. Weeks and others, and as sincerely
accepted and believed in by the most of their hearers, — even many of
these doctrines have .also passed away and are forgotten. A new
generation has arisen. Its members are the present actors in life.
New ideas have been acquired, and newer, and we hope bettor, scntl-
menls are adopted. And still the end is not yet. Change, change,
is the order of the world! But if we can perceive that a majority of
these changes are for the better, that they indicate progress and im-
provement, then, indeed, may we feel content."

Captain Royco moved upon Paris Hill about the 1st of
March, 1789, and Benjamin Barnes, Sr., Benjamin Barnes,
Jr., and John Humaston settled in the neighborhood on the
20th of the same month. Hon. Henry McNiel settled on
the farm now partly owned by J. V. H. Soovill, his house
having been located on the east side of the road, opposite
Mr. Scovill's present residence. He was several times in
the Legislature from this county, first in 1798, and was one
of the largest land-holders in this vicinity. He came to the
town in the capacity of a school-teacher, and taught very
early at Paris Hill. He was a man much respected by
those who knew him.

The village now has a store, a post-office, a hotel, and two
churches, with a few mechanic shops. It is located on the
top of the hill from which it takes its name, in the north-
western portion of the town.

Of the early settlers here it is said that Aaron Simmons
brought daisy-seed and sowed it, in order to have plenty of
fodder. He and his brothers, Adams and Abel, were from
the State of Rhode Island. Mr. Simmons supposed there
would be a scarcity of fodder here, and that as it was neces-
sary to raise daisies for that purpose on his native sand-
plains, it must be so wherever he went. It is also said he
brought burdock-seed and sowed it around his log house, in
order to malce it look like home. The Simmons farms were
west of the village, and that of Captain Royce half a mile
north. The Barnes' did not remain long in the locality.

Luther Richards, father of William Richards (now living
in town), came to Paris about 1791-92, and settled near
the present residence of J. V. H. Soovill. There were then
no roads, and the only paths were lines of blazed trees
through the woods, which guided the children to and from
school. William Richards was born almost within sight of

where he now lives, and is past eighty years of age, being
probably the oldest resident in the neighborhood.

Darius Scovill and his sons, Isaac, Seabury, and Edward,
located in this town in 1804, coming from Watertown,
Litchfield Co., Conn. The deed of the old place was from
the executors of General George Washington's estate.
Isaac Scovill was the father of J. V. H. Scovill, now re-
siding at Paris Hill.

Fobos and Jonathan Head, brothers, the latter at the
time fourteen years of age, came to Oneida County about
1789, and the former settled in what is now Marshall. He
was a carpenter by trade, and to him his brother was ap-
prenticed. When Jonathan Head married he settled in
what is now Paris, on the farm at present owned by his
son, Lysander Head. Another son, Harvey Head, is the
present supervisor of the town, and has been prominent in
its political history. An older brother of Fobes and Jonathan
Head, named Joseph, was one of the colony which settled
the town of Madison, in Madison County. This colony was
from Rhode Island, from which State the Heads emigrated.
The territory settled by the colony was for fifty years or
more held by the families of the original settlers, but has
since largely changed hands.

Between 1835 and 1840 members of some of the most
respectable families of this town were, in an evil hour, led
astray, and engaged in shop-lifting and circulating counter-
feit money ; several were apprehended, tried, and convicted
and sent to the penitentiary. Members of the same families
are now among the most respected citizens of the town,
and it has always been a matter of great regret that the
temptation to do wrong should have been strong enough to
influence any within the confines of this so generally moral
town. Since then its reputation has been good.

John Chapman, of Rhode Island, removed from that State
to Vermont and remained one year, and about 1803 settled
in Bridgewater, Oneida Co., N. Y. About 1809 he came
to this town, and located on the farm now owned by Wake-
man Rider. His son, Willard Chapman, is still a resident
of Paris, and is seventy-seven years of age. John Chap-
man's brother, Charles, lived in this town some time, and
subsequently removed to Tioga County, where he died.
He was a soldier of 1812. Nathaniel Chapman, the father
of these men, settled in Paris five or six years after his
sons came, and died in the town. Willard Chapman was
probably born in Vermont during the residence of his
father in that State.

Among the early settlers of this town was the Gray
fiimily. They were originally from the north of Ireland,
the first who emigrated to America having been Samuel
Gray, who was born in 1715, and came to this country in
1736. He settled in Worcester, Mass., where he married
Mary Wiley, who was also born in the north of Ireland,
about 1718, and came to America in the same ship that
brought Mr. Gray. The latter died in Worcester, about
the year 1800. Religiously he was a Protestant, and by
trade a weaver. He left seven children, among whom was
Moses Gray, grandfather of the present Moses M. Gray, of
Sauquoit. He married, about 1769, Sally Fuller, lived in
Templeton, Mass., and afterwards removed to Giafton,
Windham Co., Vt., where his wife died in 1793.



Shortly after this event Mr. Gray, accompanied hy his
son Moses, removed to the State of New York and settled
in the Sauquoit '\^alley, making the long journey on horse-
back. IMr. Gray built a log house on the east side of the
Sauquoit, a little south of where the Methodist Church now
stands. In 1797 he married Anna Buckingham, by whom
he had four children. By his first wife he had ten chil-
dren. Moses Gray died May 8, 1805, from injuries re-
ceived while felling a tree. His wife died in 1842.

Moses Gray, the eighth child of the preceding, was born
in Templeton, Mass., Feb. 2G, 1786. He learned the tan-
ner's trade, and carried on the business until 1823, when
he removed from Paris Furnace (now Clayville) to Sau-
quoit, where he resided until his death, in 1845. His wife
was Roxanna Howard, a native of Long Meadow, Conn.,
where she was born in 1789, and who died June 15, 1809.
They had eight children born to them, viz. . Asa, Roxanna,
Elsada, Almira, Moses Miller, Hiram, George, and Joseph
Howard Gray.

Of these, A-sa, the oldest, is the world-renowned botanist,
who was educated for a physician, but having a greater love
for natural science than for the practice of medicine, he
abandoned the latter and applied himself to the study of
botany. In 1834 he was elected professor of natural his-
tory in Harvard University, which position he still nomi-
nally retains, though he retired from active college duties
in 1874. Dr. Gray married Jane Lathrop Loring, of
Boston, Mass., in 1848. His present residence is at the
Botanic Garden of Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass.
George died in Boston, Mai5s., Jan. 9, 1848. The others
are still living. Moses Miller Gray, born June 9, 1820,
married Emily Townsend in 1845. He owns and resides
upon the farm occupied by his father, in Sauquoit. Joseph
H. Gray is in the practice of law in New York City.

The first known member of the Howard family in America
was John Howard, who died in Ipswich, Mass., in 1G86.
John Howard, the grandfather of Mrs. Moses M. Gray, emi-
grated from Pomfret, Conn., to Sauquoit, N. Y., in 1793,
where he died in 1816. He was one of the founders of the
Presbyterian Church in that village. His son, Joseph
Howard, was born in Pomfret, Conn., in 1766. He married
Submit Luce, of Somers, Conn., April 3, 1788. and removed
to Sauquoit in 1793. He was a leading citizen of his
adopted town, and one of the twenty-six persons who formed
themselves into a church in Sauquoit, iu January, 1810, of
which body he was chosen the first deacon, and continued
to hold the ofiice for a period of forty years. He died June
4, 1846. He married, in 1833, Margaret Carson, by whom
he had seven children : Roxanna, who married the present
Moses M. Gray, Jillany, Walter, Ephraim, Joseph, Polly,
and Anna.

This village (or more properly two villages) is located
on the stream bearing the same name, in the north part of
town, and from its early settlement has been a place of
large manufacturing interests.

Phineas Kellogg has been named as the earliest settler at
this place, locating in 1789, and building a log house. He
then returned to New England, and " in March, 1790, Mr.
Kellogg, John Butler, Sylvester Butler, Asa Sliepard, and

Mrs. Plumb and two children (wife and children of Joseph
Plumb) removed from New England, and arrived at the
house built by Kellogg the preceding fall. When they
arrived they found the roof broken in by the snow, a
heavy bank of which yet remained in the house ; this was
shoveled out, and the room made as comfortable as circum-
Ptanoes would permit, for the accommodation of the new-
comers. Mr. Plumb followed the same spring. In the
course of the season probably there were some arrivals, for
in the fall William Swan, a lad of about fourteen years of
age, died, which was the first death within the present
limits of Paris, of which there is at this time any knowl-
edge. The winter after Swan died there were two or three
deaths in the vicinity, from the smallpox. In the year
1791, Kirkland Grifiin, Captain Abner Bacon, Deacon

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 140 of 192)