Samuel W Durant.

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

. (page 147 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 147 of 192)
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foregoing account of the town, we are indebted to Amos
O. Osborn, Horace D. Tower, Chauncey Buell, Reuben
Tower, J. A. Berrill & Son, the Messrs. Cady, Terry &
Gridley, and other manufacturers, Hermon Clarke, George
Dearflinger, A. Young, the pastoi-s and members of
churches, and many others in Waterville and vicinity,
and E. H. Mott (town clerk) and others at Sangerfield


was born in Sangerfield, March 3, 1810 ; son of Joel Stet-
son, whose father, Benjamin Stetson, settled in Sangerfield
about 1794. He was a soldier in the Revolution ; served

Photo, by Williams.

seven years ; was at the battles of Bunker Hill and Ben-
nington ; died at a mature old age, leaving a large family.
Joel located at Stockwell Settlement, where he carried on
the lumber business; built mills for the manufacture of
lumber, carding-mill, etc. ; raised a family of ten children.
Francis M. being the oldest .son, he succeeded his father in
the business. Was married, 1845, to Sarah G-. Wells,
daughter of L. Nathan Wells, whose father, Joshua Wells,
settled in Bridgewater in the winter of 1800, coming from
Rhode Island.


was born in Sangerfield, June 19, 1801 ; son of Daniel
Livermore, who came to this town from Brimfield, Mass.,
in 1796.

The subject of this sketch lived at home until his father
died, in 1813, leaving a widow and seven children, of whom
Daniel was the oldest boy. This was during the war, and
as the family were poor, Daniel was induced, by bounties

J?ljoto, by Williams.

,^/^ a^-.^-^^ ^^-^^-''^^^'^^'^^^

offered, to enlist as waiter-boy. Men being scarce, he vol-
untered to go into the ranks as a soldier. He participated
in the battle at Lundy's Lane and the siege of Fort Erie,
where he received serious injury, and has received a pen-
sion for many years. In consequence of his injuries he
was led to study, and in the winter of 1819-20 taught
school at Sangerfield. The following spring he and three
other young men went West, performing the journey to
St. Louis, Mo., on foot, or by small boat down some of the
streams. He was gone eighteen months, and returned to
complete his studies as surveyor ; after which he received
the appointment of deputy surveyor of all public lands
south of the south line of Tennessee, and proceeded to fulfill
the duties of that office in 1826, his first work being done
in Louisiana, where he worked three seasons, returning tq
the old home in the summers, where he bought some land,
built a house, and was married, March, 1850, to Miss El-
mina Lampton. Since which time he has successfully fol-
lowed the vocations of a farmer and surveyor, has filled
several important town offices, and has held the office of
justice of the peace for nearly thirty years. After a long
and industrious life, which spans the whole period between
the primeval forest and the civilized community, the aged
pioneer and his wife now find themselves in the enjoyment
of an ample competency.




was born in Sangerfield, May 21, 1836, and while he is a
representative man of his town, is also a representative of
one of the important pioneer families of the town. His
grandfather. Dr. Stephen Preston, was a physician at Ash-
ford, Conn, (where the family date their settlement back to
1741). Dr. Stephen came to Sangerfield in 1795, where
he practiced his profession for many years. His son,
Madina Preston, was educated to follow the footsteps of
his father, and commenced the practice with him before he

was twenty years of age. He subsequently had a large
and successful practice for more than sixty-five years, and
died at the advanced age of eighty-three years, leaving his
son, Madina, occupying the old home and office at Sanger-
field Centre, and administering to the sick and afflicted as
his fathers had done before him.

James Q. Preston lived with his father. Dr. Madina
Preston, Sr., until he was twenty-three years of age, when
he married Miss M. L. Joslyn, daughter of Dr. L. Joslyn,
of Onondaga County, and settled on the farm where he
now resides; is one of the enterprising, thrifty farmers of
the county. Was elected supervisor of his town, and served
in that office for fourteen consecutive years.



The town of Steuben occupies a position northeast of the
centre of the county, and has an area of 26,126 acres.
The greater portion is in Steuben's Patent of 16,000 acres,

while the southern part includes a fraction of the Holland
Patent, and the western portions are in Fonda's and other
tracts. The Cincinnati Creek forma part of the eastern
boundary, and the town is watered by various smaller tribu-
taries of that and the Mohawk River, and a few which
find their way into Black River. The soil is not well
adapted to the growth of grain, but as a grazing region it
is superior. Bowlders of all sizes and descriptions abound,
from a pebble's weight to many tons. The town is the
most elevated of any in the county north of the Mohawk,
and is broken by high and abrupt hills and deep and nar-
row valleys. The southern portion is comparatively level.
Among the points which reach the greatest altitude are
Penn Mount, Bowen's Hill, Dutch Hill, and Starr's Hill.
The latter was named for Captain David Starr, an early
settler upon it ; Bowen's Hill from a seaman named Bowen,
who located upon it early ; and Dutch Hill from the fact
that numerous Dutch families from the valley of the Mo-
hawk have settled upon and around it. Starr's Hill was
long considered to be the highest point of land in the
county, elevated as it is about 1300 feet above the Mohawk
River at Utica ; but the statements in reference to Tassel
Hill, in the southern portion of the county, prove the con-
trary. And it is a question whether the hill known as
Penn Mount, north of Starr's Hill, is not higher than the
latter. The use of a common level seems to demonstrate
the fact, but that is not a correct test always. From
observation, it would seem that Starr's Hill is from 50 to
100 feet lower than Penn Mount.

A journey on foot up the long eastern slope of Starr's
Hill is well repaid by the view from its summit. Imme-
diately to the south and southwest are the farms of the
level part of the town, and away beyond, in the southeast,
are the high Deerfield Hills, and southwest the level lands
around the city of Rome, with the waters of Oneida Lake
^ , ~~^ "^ shimmering in the distance. The southern horizon, beyond

y^^-^'<^!.yC—-^^2'^ the cloud of smoke arising from the factories of Utica and

its neighboring villages, is bounded by the rugged hills
which lift, in a long, blue outline, their proud heads into
the air, and their appearance is softened by distance into a
haze which blends them together as one unbroken and
solid wall. East from the summit of the hill the view is
obstructed by timber. To the northeast a partial glimpse
of the Black River Valley is obtained, and almost directly
north the huge form of Penn Mount obstructs the prospect
in that direction, and an immediate desire to climb it
possesses the beholder. It looks but a short distance away,
and the farm-houses on its side appear quite diminutive ;
but the task of reaching its top from where we stand seems
to be an easy one.

The summit of Starr's Hill is very damp, — so damp and
cold, in fact, and so elevated, that Indian-corn never ma-
tures upon it. Now we are on the descent. The chasm
between the two hills, which appeared but as a deep, narrow
ravine before, widens into quite a valley, along which foams
a rapid stream, tumbling over the bowlders in its bed, and
hurrying ever onward to the sea. Beyond this stream we
are confronted by a hill which we had not observed, so
much greater were its neighbors ; yet in a level region it
would pass for an important one. Wending our way up



and over it, and across the interval on its farther side, we
at last reach the slope of Penn Mount and begin to climb.
Onward and upward we go, and finally, tired and out of
breath, arrive at its summit, adjust our glass, perch on a
convenient rail-fence, and enjoy the glories around us.
We first look to the southward, and find that the vision
extends over the top of Starr's Hill and away to the hills
beyond. Westward is seen a still larger portion of Oneida
Lake, and away to the north stretches the long ridge known
as " Tug Hill." In the valley below, to the northeast, the
spires of Boonville appear cosily nestled, and the trains of
the Utica and Black River Railway, with their smoke and
rumble, roll swiftly along over the iron pathway which
seems almost at our feet. The valley of Black River lies
spread before us in all its beauty, and many miles of it are
in full view. We seem in an upper world ; yet, while look-
ing off over the vast forest to the east and northeast, and
noting with pleasurable emotions the ragged and broken
masses of the famous Adirondack Mountains which uplift
in solemn majesty before our vision, a longing steals over
us to go higher, higher, to the tops of the vast peaks
whose distant charms fill us with so much awe. We
could never tire of gazing out over the broad landscape
before us, with here and there in the forest wilderness a
small clearing and a log cabin shown by the glass; and
while " in sunshine and shadow" — for the day is partially
cloudy, and the best for the occa.sion — the hill-tops and
mountain peaks and forests and valleys appear in all their
changing beauties, — one vast kaleidoscope of Nature's
proudest handiwork, — we are filled with admiration, and
could almost stay always gazing and wondering at this
grand, glorious panorama. It is no wonder that Baron
Steuben was satisfied with his grant, and called it the "best
land in the world," for although deficient, as it undoubt^
edly is, for agricultural purposes, it possesses natural
beauties unsurpasiied at least in the county; and the baron
thought if Captain Simeon Woodruff, who had sailed
around the world with Captain Cook, should choose to
settle here it must be the best land iu the world. And
the many Welsh families who have located here undoubt-
edly chose it because it so nearly resembled their own loved
mountain land beyond the sea.

The act of the Legislature creating this town was passed
April 10, 1792, and it was stipulated that Steuben should
be " all that part of Whitestown beginning at the mouth
of the Nine-Mile Creek ; running thence northeasterly to the
northeast corner of Holland Patent ; thence northerly along
the east bounds of Steuben's Patent to the northeast corner
thereof; thence due north to the north bounds of the State ;
and also from the place of beginning due west to the line
of Oneida Reservation ; thence northwest along said line to
Fish Creek ; thence due north to the north bounds of the
State." In March, 1796, the towns of Rome and Floyd
were taken from Steuben, and in 1797 Western and Ley-
den were formed from parts of its territory. A part of
Steuben's Patent east of the Cincinnati Creek was afterwards
annexed to Remsen, leaving the town with its present
boundaries. Fort Stanwix, now Rome, was in the centre
of the original town as pertaining to what is now Oneida
County, and the first town-meeting was held at that place,

'' at the house lately occupied by Seth Ranney, on the first
Tuesday of April, 1793."* The following officers were
elected at this meeting, viz. :

Supervisor, Roswell Fellows ; Town Clerk, Jedediah
Phelps ; A.ssessors, Abijah Putnam, Henry Wager, David
I. Andrus, Samuel Sizer, Abel French ; Commissioners of
Roads, Hezekiah Welles, Daniel W. Knight, Ebenezer
Weeks ; Overseers of the Poor. Thomas Wright, Reuben
Beckwith ; Constables, Samuel Dickinson, Edward S. Salis-
bury, Jasper French ; Collector for the west side of Mo-
hawk River, Samuel Dickinson ; Collector for east side of
same, Edward S. Salisbury ; Pathmasters, Clark Putnam,
Benjamin Gifford, Alphous Wheelock, Abiel Kinyon, Lem-
uel Beckwith, Stephen Sheldon, Frederick Sprague, Wil-
liam Walsworth, James Ranney, William West, Joseph
Biam, Thomas Parker, Ebenezer Bacon, Samuel J. Curtis,
Charles McLen, Simeon Woodruff, David Starr, Isaac La-
throp ; Fence- Viewers, Jonathan Waldo, Bill Smith, Asa
Beckwith, Abraham Brooks, Ephraim Potter ; Poundmas-
ter, Thomas Wright.

At this meeting it was " Voted, That hogs be not per-
mitted to run at large without a good and sufficient yolce."
Also, " Voted, That the next town-meeting shall be holden
at the new dwelling-house of Roswell Fellows." It will be
seen by reference to the list of pioneers of Fort Stanwix and
vicinity that many of the first officers of Steuben were
chosen from their number, probably from the fact that the
advantage of location gave them precedence over other por-
tions of the town, and possibly because of their desire to
become " office-holders." And the lion's share of the offices
fell to the Romans as long as that town was included in
Steuben. After the division in 1796, the next meeting —
that for 1797 — was held, according to the old records of
the town, at the " house of Silas Fowler, that of the late
Baron Steuben, Disceased !"

The Supervisors of the town of Steuben, since 1794,
have been the following persons, viz. : 1794-95, Roswell
Fellows; 1796, William OIney ; 1797, Samuel Sizer; 1798,
Noadiah Hubbard; 1799-1803, Samuel Sizer; 1804, Sam-
uel Potter; 1805, Samuel Sizer; 1806-12, Thomas H.
Hamilton ; 1813, Jabez Burchard ; 1814-30, Thomas H.
Hamilton ; 1831-32, Russell Fuller; 1833, Henry Slocum;
1834-35, Russell Fuller ; 1836, Henry Slocum ; 1837-38,
Alfred Gillett; 1839, Russell Fuller; 1840, William N.
Steuben ; 1841, Russell Fuller; 1842, Henry H. Hamilton;
1843, Lester B. Miller; 1844-47, Russell Fuller; 1848-
51, William Lewis; 1852-53, Saul U. Miller; 1854, Wil-
liam Lewis; 1855, Joseph I. Francis; 1856, William Lewis;
1857, Alfred H. Gillett; 1858, Lewis Everett; 1859, Saul
U. Miller; 1860-61, David H. Williams; 1862, Thomas
H. Jones; 1863-66, William Lewis; 1867-68, Lewis
Everett; 1869-70, Morris W. Morris; 1871-73, William
Lewis ; 1874-75, Lewis J. Lewis ; 1876, Leonard B. Adsit;
1877-78, John E. Owen. The remaining officers for
1878 are:

Town Clerk, Elias Lewis ; Justices of the Peace, William
Lewis, William E. Jones, William Weldon, Lewis Richards ;
Assessor, John T. Evans ; Commissioner of Highways, Henry

-^ Town records.



E. Griffith ; Overseers of the Poor, R. L. Prichard, R. R.
Roberts ; Collector, John R. Watkins ; Constables, J. R.
Watkins, Albert Williams, William E. Lewis, John R.
Jones; Town Auditors, James W. Owen, Pierce G. Wil-
liams; Inspectors of Election, District No. 1, John C.
Thomas, Frank Owens, James Clark ; District No. 2,
David R. Jones, Robert W. Thomas, Owen M. Williams ;
Excise Commissioner, Alfred 0. Smith.


The first person who settled in the present limits of Steu-
ben was Samuel Sizer, who came about the jear 1789 to
superintend the farming operations of Baron Steuben, al-
though he bad previously been a ship carpenter.

Captain Simeon Fuller, a sturdy veteran of the Revolu-
tion, located upon a lot in Steuben's Patent in the spring
of 1792, and brought his family early in 1793. His son,
Major Russell Fuller, was several times elected to the office
of supervisor of the town.

Captain David Starr, another Revolutionary patriot,
settled upon the hill which bears his name, holding his
place on a durable lease from the Baron Steuben. The
captain was not very successful as a farmer, and after the
death of the baron, the latter's executor and former aid.
Colonel Walker, pressed the captain for his rent. This
aroused his ire, and he forthwith challenged the colonel to
meet him at the baron's grave and there settle the matter
with sword and pistol. Further lenity was shown him and
the suit was abandoned.

Many of the eaf.y inhabitants of this town had borne arms
under the gallant baron, and when he removed to his land
and built a log house and made himself a home in the then
wild region, with only a few male servants around him, his
old followers took up their residence near him, and some
even became members of his household. The old house
occupied by the baron stood on the farm now owned by
John Davies, and the well dug during the life of the general
is still in use.*

Baron Steuben was, on one occasion on his way to Salt
Point, in company with General Stephen Van Rensselaer
and General William North, to select a site for a block-house,
and stopped over night at the house of John A. Shaeifer,
Esq., at Manlius. On their return they also stopped there.
During the night a great commotion was going on ; the
baron's companion slept soundly, while he lay wakeful and
nervous. In the morning his anger had reached such a
pitch that he could not control it, and he proceeded to give
the landlord a sound rating because of the great racket of
the preceding night. Just then a woman approached, bear-
ing in her arms a newly-born babe, and saying, " Here, Sir
Baron, is the cause of the noise and trouble last night."
The baron made profuse apologies, tendered his congratu-
lations, and oflFered to bestow his name to the new arrival ;
the offer was accepted, and he forthwith drew a deed of
gift for 250 acres of land in Oneida County, ate his break-
fast, and went on his way rejoicing.

The baron's remains have been laid to their final rest
beneath a substantial monument to his memory, which was

* See Steuben's biography for anecdote of Jonathan Arnold.

erected mainly through the efforts of Hon. Horatio Sey-
mour, who procured the original appropriation from the
State. The Germans in New York City aided largely in
its construction, by furnishing means therefor. The work
was done by Alexander Pirnie, of Trenton. The monu-
ment is of Black River limestone, and a description of it
is here unnecessary, as a fine view of it will be found in
another part of this volume. The ceremony of laying the
corner-stone occurred June 1, 1870, and that duty was per-
formed by ex-Governor Seymour, in the presence of a large
crowd of people, among whom were many Germans. The
procession was two miles in length. The address of welcome
was delivered by Deacon D. M. Crowell, of Rome, in behalf
of the people of Steuben and Remsen. Governor Seymour
also spoke eloquently on the occasion. After the corner-
stone was laid, Major-General Franz Sigel, who was present,
addressed his German friends in their native tongue. It
was estimated that 4000 people were in attendance. The
remains of the baron were moved to the new tomb April
24, 1871, by Didymus Thomas, of Remsen, and others.
The skull was measured, and found to be 22 inches in cir-
cumference. The monument was completed Sept. 30, 1872.

Captain Joseph Ingham, from the Bermuda Islands, set-
tled in the town about 1800. His wife, who died Jan. 17,
1804, was buried on the top of StaiT's Hill, where also lie
the remains of William Davies and wife, the former eighty-
two and the latter sixty-two years of age.

Daniel Barnes, from Middletown, Conn., came to this town
in 1794, built a house and made other improvements on the
farm now owned by John Griffiths, on Starr's Hill, and went
back after his family, with whom he returned in the spring
of 1795. He at first took up 50 acres. His daughter,
Mrs. Porter, is now living east of the old farm on which
she was born, in 1795. Mr. Barnes belonged to the Con-
necticut militia during the Revolution, and was called out
at the time of Burgoyne's surrender, but the command he
was with arrived after that general had capitulated.

Among other early settlers of Steuben were Noadiah
Fairchild, Joel and Samuel Hubbard, from Middletown,
Conn., who located in the neighborhood of Starr's Hill. In
1793, Noadiah Hubbard took the contract for constructing
the canal-locks for the Western Inland Lock Navigation
Company, at Little Falls, in Herkimer County, and finished
the work during the summer of that year. He had located
first at Whitestown, about 1791, where he burned the first
brick-kiln, and made the first lime at that place. He sub-
sequently removed, about 1792, to Steuben. In 1798 he
became the first white settler in what is now Jefierson
County, locating in the town of Champion, and in after-
years became prominent in the history of that county.

Elisha Crowel, also from Connecticut, was an early set-
tler here. The first person to establish his residence in the
neighborhood of what is now Steuben Corners was Stephen
Brooks, who came from Connecticut about 1790-91, and
located on the place now partly owned by his grandson,
John W. Brooks. The first white male child born in town
was Stephen Brooks, Jr., whose birth occurred in 1791 or
1792. It is related of Stephen Brooks, Sr., that aftar he
had become comfortably situated in his new home he was
greatly alarmed at a report that some hostile Indians in

iDENCE or ..RICHARD D.DAVIS, Steuben Oneida C° H Y

i TH flv L H EvtSTS Ph la Pa

John C.Owens.

>fR5 John C. Owens.

I TH By I H EviRJS Th w ft

Residence of JOHN C.OWENS, Steuben, Oneida C° N.Y.




ffEs;D£NC£ or ff.P, ROBERTS, Steuben, Onbdx C? W. V.

Uth Br LH.L'juirs.rHiu.

f^lCHARD /^. f^OBERTS.


P;j[no^ «i ffffvEv BOME.H.y





Canada were about to make a raid through this region, and
lest he and his family should become their victims, he re-
moved with them to New Haven, Conn., where his son
Charles was born. He subsequently returned to Steuben,
where he died.

Moses Adams, from New Marlborough, Mass., settled in
this town in 1793, on the farm now owned by Allen Clark,
where he stayed one year, and then moved to the farm now
the property of Rowland Evans, east of Steuben Corners.
He also lived in various other localities. His son Aaron
was the third or fourth white child born in town, his birth
occurring in June, 1796. The latter served as drum-major
during the war of 1812, and his father was also in the ser-
vice. Aaron Adams has been a minister of the Methodist
Church for nearly fifty years.

In the town of Steuben there are but two or three Yan-
kee families, the balance being mostly Welsh. The follow-
ing article, from the pen of Griflfith 0. Griffiths, of Remsen,
the first-born Welshman in the State west of the Hudson
River, is copied from the Utica Herald, in which it ap-
peared after the death of Mr. Griffiths, which occurred
April 17, 1878. This gentleman was born in the town of
Steuben in 1796.

"In the month of March, 1795, about twelve families took their
leave of their native country and embarked on board of the noble
ship that bore them safely across the Atlantic, and they arrived in
New York after a passage of fourteen weeks. After a short stay in
New York, five of the said families, namely, Griffith Rowland, William
Williams, Evan Owens, Hugh Roberts, and Owen Griffiths, making in
all about eighteen persons, left the city of New York, and started for
some more favorable portion of the country, for the purpose of form-
ing a settlement. They embarked on board of a sloop, and came up
the Hudson River to Albany, from there by land to Schenectady,
where they chartered a bateau, and wended their way up the crooked
Mohawk, making very slow headway, until at length they arrived at
the present city of Utica, which then contained one frame building,
and eight or ten log cabins. The only hotel was kept in a log house
located where Bagg's Hotel is now situated. During their stay at
TTtica, they concluded to go to the town of Steuben, in Oneida County,
which is situated about twenty miles from Utica. In a few days they
prepared for their journey by chartering a wagon drawn by four
oxen and a horse to lead. Into this wagon they packed all their ma-
terials, children, etc., and were soon on their way to their new home.
Such was the situation of the roads in those days that from five to
seven miles was all they could make in a day. Leaving Utica early
in the morning, they reached the foot of Deerfield hill the first day,
where they were obliged to stay over night without any accommoda-
tion but the great wilderness, and the canopy of heaven to cover

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 147 of 192)