Samuel W Durant.

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

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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 152 of 192)
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from South Trenton. The house still stands, occupied by his son

"John Curry emigrated from Scotland about 1765. He married,
in Schenectady, Cornelia Post, sister of John Post; settled in Balls-
ton, Saratoga Co., where seven children were born. In 1795, Isaac,
then sixteen years of age, came to Utica, and was employed by his
uncle, John Post, as clerk in his store ; here he remained three or four
years. Being delighted with this section, he induced his father to
move here. They settled in South Trenton about 1800 ; purchased
100 acres of the Holland Land Company, at five dollars per acre, situ-
ated south of and adjoining the Nine-Mile Creek ; here he built a log
house. About 1 807, Is.iac built a hotel about one mile south of South
Trenton, on what was afterwards known as the Joy place. He re-
mained here but a short time, when he returned to his father's farm.
My grandfather was deeply interested in religious matters; he was
active in building, and was a liberal contributor to the Presbyterian
Church at Trenton ; was also one of the foremost in building the union
church at South Trenton, and during his whole life the cause of re-
ligion found in Major Curry (as he was familiarly called) a valuable

"As regards Perkins, Thomas, Morris, Barrows, and Brownell, I
cannot learn much. I hear, however, on good authority, that Per-
kins bought a large tract of land about one mile northwest from South
Trenton. This was then regarded as the largest farm in this locality.
A good portion of it now belongs to Henry Rhodes.

'' Sec previous statement.

"Lucas Younglove, of English descent, was born in 1765, in New
Jersey. Settled at Cambridge, Washington Co., N. Y. He received
from Governor George Clinton the commission of paymaster in the
' regiment of militia of the county of Albany,' of which regiment his
father, John Younglove, was lieutenant-colonel commanding. John
was also colonel of a regiment during the Revolution. While on a
furlough at his home in Cambridge his house was attacked by Tories,
who demanded of him to open the door and surrender. On his refusal
they fired at him through the door, and severely wounded him, then
clubbed him with their muskets, and left him, a-* they supposed, dead.
He recovered, however, and in due time returned to his regiment.
Lucas was a strong Presliyterian of the old school ; he was one of the
first settlers of the church nt Cambridge, of which Mr. Prime {father
of the editor of the New York Obxerver) was then minister. He re-
moved to South Trenton about 1808 ; settled in what is known as the
Miller neighborhood. Ho was many years elder in the church at
Trenton, and later years, deacon. Previous to the Trenton church
having been built, he was in the habit of going with his wife on
horseback to Holland Patent (six miles), and scarcely ever missed a
service. He was an enthusiast on the subject of temperance, and on
this point Rev. Mr. Brace te\U me that it was frequently the case that
Mr. Younglove and himself met at the book-store of Hastings &
Tracy, in Utica. On one occasion, about the year 1825, Mr. Young-
love suggested that they three make an agreement to abstain from
all intoxicating drinks, to which the others agreed. Mr. Brace said,
* Deacon, draw up the agreement and sign it, and Hastings and I will
add our names.* Hastings accordingly furnished the book (a little
pass-book), the deacon wrote the pledge, and the three signed their
names. Subsequently manj' other names from all parts of the county
were added to it. Mr. Brace says he verily believes this to have been
the first temperance pledge ever drawn up. Mr. Brace also credits
the deacon with having originated (or at least introduced in these
parts) the idea of setting apart a small patch of ground to be planted
for missionary purposes, which he called the * Lord's land.' This was
a very common thing with farmers, and many appropriated from their
stock a cow or a pig, which were fattened and slaughtered, the pro-
ceeds to be devoted to the same purpose.

"James Francis emigrated from South Wales; settled in South
Trenton about 1800; bought a small farm about one-half mile north-
east of the present village, on which he built a log house. Edward
Hughes, born in Denbighshire, North Wales, came to America about
the year 1802; thrc^ months on passage; landed in Baltimore; lived
in Philadelphia about three years; moved thence to Whitestown, and
lived one year ; thence to South Trenton, where he bought of Holland
Land Company fifty acres, at $8 per acre ; this land was situated about
one-fourth of a mile south of the present village.

" Mrs. Loyd, daughter of Hughes, is still living, aged about eighty.
She relates with great interest her early experience in this new country.
She says, ' We all went to Trenton behind a yoke of oxen. When my
father bought the farm there was not sufficient cleared ground on which
to erect a log house ; .but the neighbors turned out, and in twenty-four
hours they bad the trees down and the house up.' She says there was
no store, no mill, no physicism nearer than Trenton village. ' We usu-
ally traded in Utica, going three or four times a year, at which times
we laid in a stock of ne essaries. During the winter season our roads
were so bad that we were completely hemmed in. Our mails were de-
livered very irregularly by the postman, who came through from Utica
on horseback. Each farmer usually kept one or two horses, with which
to go to church, to mill, etc., but heavy work was done with oxen. I
have frequently seen my father draw in hay on a sled, nnd with two
yoke of oxen, and have seen hay drawn in on tree-tops. We were
frequently annoyed with soldiers, who were marching to the northern
frontier; especially so with those who were said to be regulars, from
camp at Greenbush. They usually camped for the night on the banks
of the Nine-Mile Creek, but annoyed the settlers greatly by insulting
the ladies, shooting dogs, stealing chickens, etc. My father had a
peculiar faculty of gaining their good-will by allowing them to sleep
in his barn, and extending other little civilities. He therefore did
not suffer quite as much as some of his neighbors.'

"In regard to Indians, I learn that there were none settled in this
section at this date. Large companies, however, of the Oneida tribe
frequently encamped on the banks of Nine-Mile Creek, on my grand-
father's land; where they would remain for several weeks, industriously
ent^a^ed in making baskets, brooms, and fancy articles. Finally, when
they had succeeded in making sale of their goods, they would expend



a large amount of their earnings for whisky, iivitli which they would
get drunk, and finally break up camp io a general row and fight, often
inflicting fearful wounds upon each other with their knives, clubs, etc.
My uncle (Orrin Curry) says that in the year 1830 Colonel Daniel
Schermerhorn erected a hotel, soon after which he received a commis-
sion OS postmaster, and he (0. C.) had the honor of being his first
deputy. Previous to this date we were obliged to go to Trenton for

"The first merchant of South Trenton was my father, Warren D.
Rowley, a native of Litchfield Co., Conn. He erected a building and
engaged in the mercantile business in the year 1833. About the year
1800 a log house was erected on the hill on Cheney Garrett's land, in
which place religious services were held on the Sabbath, and during
the week it was used as a school-house. The pulpit was usually sup-
plied by missionaries, although at times they had resident ministers.
During the times of great religious excitement, for want of more room
than the house afforded, meetings were held in Cheney Garrett's log
barn. Several of the older surviving inhabitants allude with great
interest to ihe time when they sat on the hay-mow or the 'big beam'
and listened to the service. In due course of time a frame house was
substituted for the log one, and still later the capacity of this was
gre:itly insreaseil. After the union church was built, the old school
meeting-house was devoted exclusively to school purposes, and still
stands.* Jon-s, in his ' Annals of Oneida County,' refers to the ex-
cellent dif=trict suhool at South Trenton, and says that it was frequently
termed * the model school.' I think there is little doubt that it was the
best district school in the country. I could give the names of many
men and women, now holding prominent positions in our institutions
of learning, who received their education, and others who have taught,
nt this school. Prof. James S. Gardner, of Whitestown Seminary, left
an unfinished term here about twenty-five years since, to accept the
position whicli he still holds. Miss White, the present preceptress at
AVhitestown Seminary, also taught here twenty years ago.

" In this connection I feel that a few words should be said for my
father, for although all the inhabitants were interested to a great de-
gree in school matters, still I think that to him, more than to any
other one, were they indebted for the high standard to which this as a
district school attained; and I know that hundreds of teachers, par-
ents, and children will bear me witness to this fact. With an excel-
lent education, a long experience in teaching, and now with a young
family growing up, he readily realized the necessity of bringing this
home-school to such a degree of perfection as to obviate the necessity
of parents sending their sons and daughters from home to be educated.
With this idea in view, he devotud his best energies to the work.

"Thoroughly competent teachers were always employed in each
department. An excellent library of several hundred volumes was
provided; all the modera appliances requisite for teaching were at
the disposal of teachers; sjldom less than one hundred pupils were in
attendance. At this time District No. 4 covered an area of about six
square miles, and was three miles from north to south. A few years
after the death of my father (which occurred in the year 1854) the
district was divided, and to-day there are two schools where before
there was but one."

The followiii^L^ is a copy of the narrative of Judge Van
der Kemp, as it appears in letters written by him to Colonel
Mappa, in 1792; descriptive of his journey on horseback
from Kingston to Albany, thence up the Mohawk Valley
to Fort Stanwix, and by canal and bateau through Oneida
Lake to Lake Ontario. The first of these letters was re-
ferred to by De Witt Clinton, who wrote as follows to
Judge Van der Kemp : " Your letter to Colonel Mappa,
on the canal, written in 1792, is really a curiosity. It
gives you the original invention of the Erie route, and I
shall lay it by as a subject of momentous reference on some
future occasion." The following are the judge's letters:

" Kingston, loth July, 1792.
"My DRA.n Sin,— You desire, then, with such ardor, to be informed
of my opinion in regard to the pettlcrafnts on the northwestern jjart

'^- A fine two story frame school-house was built in 1877. The upper
room is used as a public hall.

of our State, that I will not delay one moment longer to gratify you
with all the information I possess on this momfentous subject, although
I deem it superficial. I shall join to it a concise diary of my excur-
sion to that district. In this I have consulted your wishes with those
of other friends here and on the other side of the Atlantic. Could I
now adorn this journal with the embellishment of our new adopted
language, and make it as interesting as ' Moore's Travels,' my labors
should be well rewarded; but ti'usting on your indulgence, and know-
ing that even a faint glimmering is desirable when we arc surrounded
with darkness, I waive to make any further apology.

"The period, perhaps, in which you may judge that you shall pro-
mote the interests of your family, by transplanting it from your de-
lightful residence on the Second River to the western wilderness, is
not far distant. Perhaps the vivid SL-n-^e of duty, and the prospect of
future advantages, may spur you to follow tlie footsteps of a friend,
who, tossed by various care?, disgusted with the bustle of public life,
and longing to enjoy retirement, and securing to his children a per-
manent, tranquil abode, searched for an asylum in that part of our
State to whiuhjie should have been lured by the delightful scenery of
that country, — by its fertility and the exuberant treasures of its lakes
and rivers, could he have induced two or three congenial families to
share in this enterprise. Every interesting point which I communi-
cated to you two years past, when I made a trip to the western branch
of the Delaware, shall now appear to you in a new light, and my
fiinciful description, as thou wast pleised to caricature it, naked
truth ; while it shall contribute, in its turn, to place beyond doubt the
continually increasing grandeur and incalculable power at which this
State, within a few years, must arrive with gigantic strides, if wisilom
directs the steps of its children, and convince you that its western and
northwestern parts are to be regarded as the mainsprings of its opu-
lence and grandeur.

" Do not expect, my dear sir, that I can spread glowing colors on
the scenery, although I was often fascinatel by it. Do not look for a
picturesque description; do not seariih for artful exertions to cover
the nakedness of the land. No, this country does not want such
auxiliaries. A simple diary, a dry account of the soil and trees, an
incorrect list of the finned tribe in the western waters, viz., the few
we could catch, comprehends the extent to which I can engage my-
self. I wish to convince you ; I spurn to take you by surprise. Did
I even write in behalf of the public, then yet I should only exert my-
self to express that with energy which I so lively felt, and my uncouth
language would be persuading; would extort the wish from an Eu-
ropean bosom, Ah, could I secure a residence in that happy country !
Would compel the opulent miser to collect his musty dollars and ex-
change these for some thousand acres of that wild land. Yes, my dear
sir, I am convinced that half a dozen Dutch families, with a dozen
substantial, industrious farmers, and expert fishing men, seconded by
one hundred Yankees, might render in n few years this country the
envied spot to the oldest and best cultivated parts of the thirteen

" The increasing prosperity of our State strikes the eye of short-
sighted indokmee. The foreigner admires our aflluence, and our
neighbor, the frugal, industrious Pennsylvaninn, should ardently
wish that he could transplant the advantiges of New York State to
his own soil. Now, he often reluctantly leaves it, and becomes here
indebted for a great part to Nature which he owed before to his pru-
dent State administration.

"I acknowledge, my dear sir, that our State constitution is upon
the whole well organized, and the eagle-eyed friend of liberty dis-
covers only here and there a flaw, which might be altered — might be
amended — but which, nevertheless, cannot obstruct, cannot disem-
bogue our prosperity through another channel.

''Pennsylvania's industry, Pennsylvania's progress in agriculture,
in arts and sciences, Pennsylvania's encouragements to cultivate their
wild lands, have roused the New Yorkers from their profound sleep,
and, perhaps, were a spur to our public councils to press their steps.
Already a beginning is made of opening roads to the West; the
streams are covered with bridges, and rewards are off"ered to encour-
age agriculture aud elevate the natural productions of the soil to the
highest possible perfection. The bee-hive of New England is opened,
and although flowery fields may allure many drones in the beginning,
who even are beneficial in many respects, myriads of that enlightened,
active race shall ere long be amalgam with the old settlers. It may
retard awhile the forming of our national character; it must enhance
it in other respects. It shall blend the virtues, soften the harsh and



too miioh protuberant features of the one and the other, and bring for-
ward, under God's blessing, a virtuous, independent, lofty nation.

" Unincumbered with debts, what is more, a creditor of the United
States, that of New York can advance to its industrious citizens thou-
sands of pounds, and acquit itself actually of this parental charge in a
generous manner. It posscsFes, nevertheless, an immense surplus to
bestow on its daily expenditures, in the digging of canal?, clearing the
creeks, and erecting slnicep, without burthcning its inhabitants with
taxes, trifling ones excepted, for the benefit of the individual coun-

" Our commerce is increasing daily ; our merchantmen cross every
sea; our flag is treated with respect in the Indies;, while those of the
Pacific Ocean have beconie acquainted with its thirteen stripe?; so
that you may assert with full truth what Caisar did of Pompey's ar-
mies, and the navy by which hia succors were cut off, that no wind
can blow or it favors some of our vessels. The balance of trade
inclines more and more; the exchange shall ere long be generally in
our advantage; the credit of our paper money, which in 178S could
not be exchanged for cash under 7 per cent., is restored and placed
on a par with hard dollars ere lung, if prudenec continues to direct
the helm ; if the nation becomes not too soon intoxicated by its pros-
perity j if certain advantages are not sacrificed to visionary possi-
bilities, we shall be the envy of the world, — at least come in for a full
share with the British and the Dutch. The manufactures are en-
couraged more and more, and increase in number and perfection, and
roust do so, at least for home consumption. The only thing yet
wanting is a more copious population than that which is already an
object of surprise, while in this peouliar branch of a nation's wealth
the wise politician will not grasp at a shadow to lose a reality in jios-

"You know me too well to suppose that I should underrate the
value of m;Lnufj.ctures. No, sir ! I am too deeply penetrated of the
immense prize which this boon is worth as soon it is ubtuinable; but
I do not look out for that period as long as we possess thousands of
millions of acres good for tillage, as long as our population is not pro-
portioned to this immense territory, as long as the wages are high, as
long as every industrious man can become the lord of the soil, can
become independent, as long the foreign market can afford to send us
supplies, even in our own vessels, at a lower rate, and of a superior
quality, than that we can manufacture.

"It is quite another thing, my dear sir, that the wealthy patriot
generously devotes a small share of his patrimony to their encourage-
ment and improvement, so that in time of need we may supply our
wants, even if all the ports of the world were shut before us, and an-
other thing to risk imprudently his all to press a chimerical theory.
It is quite another thing to use and encourage these means to support
the widow, the orphan, the indigent in the neighborhood and suburbs
of the large cities, than to lure the rugged child of the field to the
loom, to the forge and glass-house, and persuade the robust youth
that he is no more free behind his plow or harrow, or when he shoul-
ders his axe for the woods, than under the eye and control of the tax-
masters of the voluntary work-house. Agriculture is, under God's
blessing, our tutelar genius ; and as long as she goes hand in hand with
commerce, as long as both are encouraged and flourish and prosper,
as long as the gifts of a bountiful God are showered upon us with such
a rich profusion, I cannot — no, let me say more truly, I do not — envy
that other nations share in His blessings which are not yet adapted
to our present situation. As soon as our treaty of commerce with
Great Britain shall be concluded, then the bond of union between the
brethren shall be consolidated, and the prayers and praises of both
countries shall ascend to heaven. The western forts so long with-
held shall then be surrendered, and the commerce of our State re-
ceive nourishment from hitherto forbidden springs. The State of
New York, indeed, though not aiming at dominion over the sister
States, posgesses so many high prerogatives that she may claim to be
at par with the proudest, and if she does not imperiously pretend to
her precedence, would humble herself too low could she stoop to carry
the train of her fair sister. Our situation alone, if the products of
the country were less valuable, would secure to this State an eminent
share in our national commerce. With the Atlantic Ocean to the south,
the Lakes Champlain, St. George, Ontario, Erie, with the river St.
Lawrence, to the north, with Canada in our rear. New England and
the Jerseys to cover our sides, the State seems rather to have been
fashioned according to the modern system of 'irnnniiisemeiit than
well by nature; and yet the conqueror's sword did not give us one

inch. It is our paternal inheritance. The produce of a part of the
Jerseys, of a vast part of New Hampshire, Connecticut, the back
parts of Massachusetts, with the State of Vermont, do find our em-
porium of New York the most desirable, advantageous market.

"Our inland navigation, superior to that of many, equal already to
the best watered States in the Union, eontributea greatly to the in-
crease of our commerce. The North, or the beautiful Hudson River,
which the British, during our last unnatural war, considered as the
line of health, in proportion that they approached to or retreated from
its borders, navigable to large vessels to Hudson, 120 miles above
New York, with sloops from eighty ton and more to Albany, 165 and
many miles more high with bateaux and small rafts. This majestic
river receives, besides numerous rivulets, more or less navigable,
above Albany, at the Cohoes, — a cascade of sixty-seven feet, — the
Mohawk River, meandering through fertile fields from where be
originates, to the north of Fort Stanwix. It was here that in former
days, before our late happy Revolution, the Mohawk Indians resided,
from whom it mutuated his name.

" Although the Mohawk becomes navigable for bateaux at no great
distance from the Cohoes, all merchandise, nevertheless, is thus far
carried by wagons from Albany to Schenectadi, from whence these
are conveyed in bateaux about 100 miles, including one mile portage
at the Little Falls, via Fort Stanwix. Here is a carrying-place of
half a mile to the Wood Creek, which empties its waters, after it is
joined by the Fish Creek, in the Oneida Lake, — as handsome, as rich in
fish, as any lake in the western world. Above Fort Brewerton its
waters disembogue through the Onondaga and Oswego Rivers in
Lake Ontario, paying all their homage through the St. Lawrence to
the Atlantic Ocean.

"Our government, I am informed, has passed, a law to clear the
navigation from the Mohawk to the Hudson, If this is not cor-
rect, tben'it is a prognostication what it shall, what it ought to do
at a future time. So much is certain that it is resolved to open the
carrying-place between the Hudson and Wood Creek, and to clear
the laitcr from many obstructions. Several thousand £ have
already been consecrated by the Legislature to this salutary un-
dertaking, while subscriptions fur the deficit have been opened in
Albany and New York with such a success that they were filled in a
few days.

"See here, then, my dear sir, an easy communication by water-
carriage opened between the most distant parts of this extensive
commonwealth ; see the markets of New York, Albany, and Schenec-
tadi glutted with the produce of the West, and the comforts of the
South distributed with a liberal hand among the agricultures of this
new country. The fur trade begins already to revive, shall ere long
recover her former vigor, when the Western forts are surrendered;
and if remains, shared, as it naturally must, by the Northwestern
Company, this seeming loss shall be fully compensated from other
branches, grafted in the wants and interests of the Canadians, But
this not all, sir. It is rather the breaking out of the sunshine thro'
a morning fog in a charming summer day. Fort Stanwix must be-
come a staple place of the commodities of the West, stored there
from the fertile lands bordering the lakes and rivers, and Old Fort
Schuyler nearly the central part of intercourse between the North
and West, transformed in an opulent mercantile city, where future

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 152 of 192)