Samuel W Durant.

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

. (page 167 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 167 of 192)
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in charge of Rev. William Menifield. A large Sunday-
school is sustained, with William Cornwrrght as Superin-


at North Bay was admitted into the Oneida Baptist Asso-
ciation in September, 1841, and had probably been formed
but a short time. Its first pastor was Elder Samuel Bloss,
from 1843 to 1846. At present it is supplied once in two
weeks from Oneida, by Rev. Mr. Blandon. The society has
a membership of about 50, and is using the frame church
edifice erected some time previous to 1850.


In 1858 this place was in the West Vienna circuit, and
previous to that time there was a small organization. Rev.
J. H. Buck was the preacher in charge of the circuit iu
1858. The place is now a separate charge, having a resi-
dent minister. The following is a list of the pastors here,
viz. : 1858, J. H. Back ; 1859, George S. Watson ; 1860-
61, Amos N. Nickerson (at North Bay and West Vienna) ;
1862-64, Jrihn S. George ; 1865, S. P. Kenyon ; 1866-67,
J. W. SimpsonV 1868, Moses Wells; 1870, Wesley Cooper;
1871-72, A. M. Roe; 1873, G. D. Greenleaf; 1874-76,
Lucius Whitney; 1877-78, J. G. Benson. The present
frame house of worship has become nearly unfit for use,
and a new one is being erected. The niembersship of this
society is about 50, and the Sabbath-school has about the
same attendance, with the pastor as Superintendent. Mr.
Benson also holds services at Elpis, in the northwest part
of town, the church and society at that place having about
40 members, and a small Sabbath-school, with J. W. Mal-
lory as Superintendent. Its church is a frame building.

ST. John's boman catholic church,

west of North Bay, was organized by Rev. Father Beecham,
of Rome, in 1837, and the present frame church edifice
erected about the same time. About forty families belong
to this church, which has, since its organization, been con-
nected with one at Cleveland, Oswego Co. The present
pastor is the Rev. Patrick Birmingham, from the latter
place. Among the first Catholic families who located in
this neighborhood were Daniel Mulholland and John
Henry, the former from Whitesboro', and the' latter from
Utica. Mulholland emigrated from County Londonderry,
Ireland, about 1825. Simon Hallagan and a family named
Flanagan were also early Catholics in this vicinity.



at Vienna village was organized early, and now numbers
nearly 300 members. A frame house of worship is in
use, and Rev. William Merrifield has pastoral charge.
There are three Sabbath-schools on the charge, one each at
Vienna, Fish Creek Landing, and McConnellsville.


The pioneers of this town experienced all the dangers and
difficulties of their situation. Their greatest troubles were
caused by the prowling wild beasts, and those now living
in town who were children seventy years ago have a rich
fund of anecdotes with which to regale the younger genera-
tion. Henry N. Halstead and S. A. Covell are among-
those who well remember the days when bears, panthers,
and wolves were lurking in uncomfortably close proximity
to the cabins of the settlers, and Mr. Halstead says he made
the quickest trip of his life, for a short distance, and up-
hill besides, when, on a certain occasion, a little, hungry
panther appeared on the opposite bank of the creek from
him. Mr. Covell says " wolves were as thick as blackbirds
before the canal was finished," and unless the sheep were
securely "yarded" every night their number was sure to be
less before morning. The following anecdotes are related
by Judge Jones, in his " Annals of Oneida County" :

" Messrs. Halstead and Fisher, on a certain occasion, were hunting
bears. They started one in a swamp on the lake-shore, and after
following it a short distance, and in passing a place made hollow by
the roots of a tree partly turned over, Mr. Halstead broke through to
his armpits, when out sprang the bear. They succeeded in killing it
and left, but had not proceeded more than eighty rods when they
found where the she-bear and two small cubs resided, under the roots
of another fallen tree. They effected a dislodgment of the old one,
who shared the same fate as its mate, and secured the two little, now
orphan, cubs. It was a very cold day, and to preserve the lives of
the little fellows Halstead placed one in his bosom, and Fisher the
other in his pocket. They were, however, so little inured to the
cold, that before the hunters reached home they both were dead.
Our hunters, however, consoled themselves with the reflection that
they had four less of these troublesome neighbors than in the morning.

" After Mr. Bliakim Stoddard had removed to Camden, he and one
of his neighbors started to go to the widow Jackson's for salt, each with
a yoke of oxen and a sled, as it required this amount of team to draw
through the woods, where there was no road or track, their supply of
this necessary article, — a barrel each. They struck the lake-shore,
and while making their way on the beach saw, directly in their path,
as they supposed, a fine greyhound. As they neared the animal they
discovered that, instead of a hound, it was h. wolf, which, from its
famished appearance and the disposition it showed to stand its ground,
they concluded intended to satisfy its craving appetite at their expense.
All the weapons they had, offensive or defensive, were those necessary
accompaniments of all woodsmen — their axes. After a consultation
it was decided to proceed, and try titles to the right of way with the
wolf, and further, that upon no consideration was either to throw his
nxe, but to retain his hold on it at all events. As they came nearer
the wolf it commenced an angry growl, and was evidently on the
point of springing at them when the neighbor let fly his axe, without
at all disabling the animal, and the only perceptible effect was to
render it more savage. Mr. Stoddard, now seeing that he must rely
solely on his own resources, stood on the defensive until the wolf had
got within striking distance, when, with a well-aimed blow, he laid
his adversary at his feet, and by a quick repetition deprived him of

"In 1800 a Frenchman from New York came to this town on a
hunting expedition. He was possessed of the two most necessary
articles to the hunter, a valuable dog and a good gun. He stopped
at Barnard's Bay, and his first essay was in hunting deer. He went
into the woods, and had not proceeded far before his dog discovered

what Mons. Crapeau supposed to be a fine deer in .i tree-top. He
shot at the animal, wounding but not disabling it. It leaped from
the tree, and on reaching the ground was grappled by the dog. A
furious fight ensued, but the dog was, however, soon put hora du com-
bat, when our hunter thought it time to interfere to save the life of
his favorite. He had nothing but his unloaded gun, and valuable aa
it was it did not come in competition with the life of the hound. The
first blow broke it in two at the breech, without in the least stunning
the doubly infuriated animal, now disposed to make fight with both
master and dog. Our hero, naught intimidated, and having a good
club in the breeohless gun-barrel, gave a lucky blow which broke the
'critter's' back. This rendered the contest far less doubtful, and the
rfeer'fl life was soon taken by repeated blows. The Frenchman now
started for his boarding-house to tell his wonderful feat in deer-killing,
while poor Tray, too badly wounded to accompany him, was left with,
his fallen foe. Arriving at his home, the hunter soon spread the news
of his good fortune, when all hands repaired to the woods to assist in
bringing home the venison. At the place of the exploit, instead of a
deer, a monstrous panther, measuring nine feet from 'tip to tip,' lay
stretched before them, while the leaves and bushes gave indubitable
proof of the fierceness of the death-struggle."

Owing to the great depredations committed by the wolves
in 1820, a " ring hunt,'' as it is called, was determined
upon by the citizens of the town and the adjoining part of
Camden. A swamp on the lake-shore, which the animals
had made their home, was surrounded, and between 300
and 400 persons participated in the hunt. Only three
wolves were secured, but about fifty rabbits suffered death,
and it is said the fur shot from their backs resembled
thistle-down in a breeze.

The first bridge across Fish Creek was built on the
direct road to Rome, in 1802, the work being engineered
by Mr. Hammill, of saw-mill fame. It was built upon
trestles, the posts of which were twenty-two feet long and
eighteen inches square ; the cap-pieces were eighteen feet
long, in size the same as the posts, and all were of solid
oak. The force that could be collected was inadequate to
the task of raising it, and machinery and teams were pressed
into service, and the work accomplished. The town of
Vienna has some of the best bridges in the county, aside
from those in the cities and on the railway lines.

Elijah Graves, son of Jonathan Graves, came to this
town in 1800, when in his eighteenth year, and resided in
it until subsequent to 1 869, being during his life the oldest
settler in town ; since his death that honor falls upon Henry
N. Halstead.

In this town, opposite Taberg Station, is quite an ex-
tensive mill for manufacturing paper, owned and operated
by John Halstead.


This place is named from Joseph McConnell, an early set-
tler here, and is located in the north part of town, on Fish
Creek. It contains a store, a church, a saw-mill, a winter-
green distillery, a blacksmith-shop, a hotel, a post-office,
and a school-house. The post-office was established about
1812, with William Smith (probably) as first postmaster.
He was followed, previous to 1814, by Friend Morse.
Joseph McConnell, who came to town in October, 1814,
was also an early postmaster, and Dean Wood held the
position for some time. The present incumbent of the
office is Alanson Tuttle, who owns the only store in the

The first hotel in the place was kept by Isaac Cook, who



afterwards sold out to Ambrose Jones. Mr. Cook has
been mentioned as the second settler in Vienna. He and
some others had, in a small way, " kept store," but the first
mercantile establishment at the village of any importance
was opened by Harvey Smith and a man named Brookins.
Cook's old hotel was a double log house, and has long been
removed. Within it was a bar, over which whisky was
dealt out to customers in gill and pint cups, and the use of
that liquor as a beverage was then freely indulged in, while
its effects were not nearly as serious as those produced by
the distilled poisons which misguided humanity pours down
its throat at the present day.

A saw-mill was built at McConnellsville in 1801, owned
by a company composed of William Smith, Timothy Hal-
stead, and others, the work being done by a man named
Hammill ; the same who the next year built the bridge
over Fish Creek on the Rome road. Mr. Smith built a
grist-mill near the same place about 1804.

is a small hamlet in the northeast part of town, east of Mc-
Connellsville, where was formerly a post-office, now discon-
tinued. It received its name from the former abundance
of that variety of timber in the vicinity.


is a small village in the northwestern part of town, con-
taining a church, a blacksmith-shop, etc., and a dozen or
fifteen dwellings. About half a mile from here, on the
farm of Samuel Holmes, is an old beaver dam, and the
tract known as " Beaver Meadows," containing a large
amount of peat.


known also as the '' South Corners," and formerly as " Par-
ker's Comers," is in the eastern part of town, and contains
a large cheese-factory, a saw-mill, a grist-mill, a store, a
shoe-shop, a wagon- and sleigh-shop, two blacksmith-shops,
a Methodist Church, a school-house, a post-office, a hotel,
and a tanneiy. The latter is owned by Walter K. Cook,
who manufactures upper-leather in the rough for the Bos-
ton market, and conducts a very good business. A tannery
was established early at this place by Rufus Kinne, who
operated it for many years, and finally sold to Rufus Sawyer,
who in turn disposed of it to the present proprietor.

Elisha Humiston built a carding-mill here about 1816-17 ;
after operating it a number of yeara, he sold to some young
men named Klock. John Harrington and a man named
Wright afterwards owned it, and it was finally allowed to
run down for lack of custom.

A short dbtance from the Corners is a still for manufac-
turing oil of winter-green, owned by a man named Fox.

A post-office was established here probably previous to
1813, and a man named Parker for a long time carried
the mail through here on horseback from Utica, afterwards
using a team and wagon. Among the early postmasters
here were Rufus Kinne, a Mr. Matthews, and a Mr. Smith ;
one of them probably first held the office, but who it was
is not now recollected. The present incumbent is Myron

A small grist-mill was built here at an early day by Elisha

Humiston ; the present one is doing a good business, and is
owned by Messrs. Roundtree & Son. Saw-mills have also
been erected in the village ; the first probably by James
Cook, who subsequently sold it to his brother, Walter Cook.
The present saw-mill is owned by Frederick Keiner, and is
the second built in the place.


is the largest and most thrifty village in the town, and is lo-
cated on the shore of a bay of Oneida Lake bearing the same
name. It has a commanding view of the lake, and has
become a noted summer resort. Its hotels are filled during
the season, and plenty of sport awaits the fisherman who
shall launch his boat upon the silvery waters of the noble
lake, for it has won golden fame as the home of the " finny
tribe," which abound in vast numbers. A large number
of boats are kept here for hire, and the business of canal-
boat building has in former years been extensively carried
on, the product of a single season having reached as high
as 35 boats. During the winter of 1877-78 five canal-
boats were manufactured here, the material used being
hemlock lumber. Picnic-parties in great numbers resort
here for pleasure during the summer. A neat boarding-
house has been fitted up near the railway station, having a
livery-stable attached, and a large, new hotel in the same
part of the village has been opened the present season
(1878) by Henry J. Myer. The place now contains three
hotels, five stores, two churches, a school-house, two saw-
mills, a planing-mill, a shingle-mill, two small potteries, a
blacksmith-shop, a harness-shop, a wagon-shop, and two
physicians, Drs. Nicholas and Broga.

The North Bay post-office was established about 1840-
45, previous to which time the mail was procured at the
Vienna post-office, — " South Corners." The first postmaster
here was Hiram Higby, who opened a store in the building
now occupied for the same purpose by Mr. Louden. The
present postmaster is Peter Flanigan.

The first building erected in this village was a hotel,
which stood on the ground now occupied by the " Phalen
House." Henry J. Myer built it, as he also did the present
" Tremont House" and many other of the first buildings in
the place. Myer's Hotel was last called the " Frisbie House,"
and was finally destroyed by fire. P. J. Phalen is the pro-
prietor of the " Phalen House," which was erected by
James A. Wooden in 1873 ; it is the largest hotel in the

Alexander Rae, formerly clerk of Oneida County, and
now deceased, was also one of the founders of the village of
North Bay, where his brother, James Rae, still resides.

The first store at this place was built and opened by
Charles Louden, brother of Joseph Louden, who now has
a store here. The former has been dead about twenty
years ; the old store is occupied by K. D. Broga, and
stands opposite the " Phalen House."

Henry J. Myer is yet living in the village, and durin"
his entire residence here has engaged more or less in build-

is located in the southwest part of the town, on the shore
of Oneida Lake. It has a station on the New York and



Oswego Midland Railway, which follows the shore of the
lake across the entire town.

One of the first settlers in this neighborhood was Silas
Jewell, who came in 1822-23 and built the hotel now
standing. The latter is now the property of F. W. Jewell.

John Bedell, from Greene Co., N. Y., settled here early
on the farm he now occupies, his first residence being on
the corner of the village diagonally opposite that of his son,
J. J. Bedell. The elder Bedell, who is now eighty-four
years of age, opened the first store in the village in 1838,
on the corner opposite the grist-mill, in the building now
occupied as a dwelling by Jacob King. There is now but
one store in the place, owned by Z. J. White, — a second
one, which occupied the site of Mr. Bedell's first dwelling,
having been burned down early in 1878.

Probably the first settler here was Eliphalet Jewell, —
not related to Silas Jewell. He built the present grist-mill
previous to 1817, and an Englishman named Merrill after-
wards built the saw-mill, which is still standing. . The grist-
mill is now the property of Ira Page.

West Vienna post-office was established about 1838-39,
and first kept by Silas Jewell, at his hotel. Previous to
that time the mail for this neighborhood was sent to Mr.
Jewell for distribution by the postmaster at Vienna, or
" South Corners.'' The present incumbent of the office at
this place is Zenas J. White.


is a small village on Fish Creek, south of Vienna village,
and contains one store, a blacksmith-shop a short distance
up the creek, and a two-story building erected for a school-
house, church, and public hall combined. Before the con-
struction of the Rome, Watertown and Ogdensburg Railway
this place was the depot from which most of the lumber
manufactured in this region was shipped. It was trans-
ported from as far as Williamstown, Oswego Co., and as
high as 2,000,000 feet have been boated away from here
in a single year. Pine lumber was manufactured princi-
pally, the mills at the " South Corners" turning out a large
amount. S. A. Covell, Sr., at one time owned a lumber-
yard at the Landing.

George Covell, from the town of Lanesboro', Berkshire
Co., Mass., came to this place in 1807, and settled on Wood
Creek, about half a mile below the Landing, just off the
Fish Creek Reservation. When the State purchased that
Reservation of the Onetdas and placed the land in market,
Mr. Covell purchased a lot farther up and moved upon it.
He and his brother William came here in February, 1807,
and purchased a place together, which they divided between
them. Mrs. George Covell's father, John Babbitt, a vet-
eran of the Revolution, during which he served seven years,
followed them the succeeding June. Indians were here
then in large numbers, and Stephen A. Covell, Sr., now
living at the Landing, says he has seen a thousand of them
together, " following along, squaws and all, one after the
other.'* Two others of Mr. Covell's children are living
here, — George W. Covell (born in the place) and Mrs. L.
S. Haskins. When the Covells settled there were then
three families living in the vicinity, who had located a short
time previous. They were Elisha Freeman, a Mr. Buell,

and a Mr. Graves. The latter sold his " betterments" to
William Covell, and Buell disposed of his to John Babbitt.
They each had a log house built and about two acres
cleared. Freeman afterwards sold out and removed to
Cattaraugus County.

" Durham boats'' were run until the middle section
of the Erie Canal was completed, sometimes coming from
as far west as Canandaigua Lake, and making their way.
through Oneida Lake, Wood Creek, and the Mohawk to
Schenectady. They always sailed through the lake, and
when the wind was fair sails were used also on the Mohawk ;
otherwise sweeps were necessary going down and settingT
poles coming up.

For information in this town we are indebted to Henry
N. Halstead, Otis Wheelock, S. A. Covell, Sr., John
Bedell, F. W. Jewell, David Pike and wife, and many
others, including pastors and members of churches and
numerous persons not now recalled to mind.



John D. Yager was born Aug. 31, 1809, in the town of
Greenbush, Rensselaer Co., N. Y. He was the second child
in a family of nine children — seven sons and two daughters —

Photu. by Hovey & Brainerd.

of David and Polly Yager, and grandson of Solomon Yager,
David Yager was an extensive and prosperous farmer, and.
his son, the subject of this notice, was reared to that oecu-,
pation, living with his father till about the age of twenty^
two, when he purchased a farm and entered upon the life of
an agriculturist on his own account.





Residence or henry G refd m d Westernville onbida cony




In 1832 he married Cynthia Rowley, the youngest child
of Seth Rowley, a Revolutionary soldier, who was engaged
in the siege of Fort Stanwix (now Rome, N. Y.), and had
by this marriage the following-named children : Mellissa
S., born Oct. 20, 1832, died Deo. 12, 1847 ; Sarah M.,
born Dec. 14, 1833, died March 19, 1869 ; Phebe E., born
Dec. 24, 1837, died March 20, 1841 ; Emma A., born May
9, 1839, died March 26, 1841 ; Emma 0., born Oct. 25,
1845, married Jesse T. Fish, May 30, 1867, who died June
7, 1868 ; Oscar A. and Orrin J., twins, born May 17,
1850; both died the same year and month, — the former
October 3, and the latter October 9.

In October, 1849, Mr. Yager removed from Otsego
Cotfnty to the town of Vienna, Oneida Co., and settled
upon a farm, where he resided up to the year 1868, when
he disposed of his place, and has since resided in the village
of McConnellsville.

In 1856, he married for his second wife Maria Swart,
daughter of Peter and Lucy Swart, of Jefferson, Schoharie
Co., N. Y., who was the eldest child in a family of ten chil-
dren, all deceased except three, one of whom is living in
Delaware County, and one in Cherry Valley, Otsego Co.,
in this State. Mr. Yager has no children by this latter

He has been an active and enterprising business man, and
his integrity and solid traits of character have won for him
a large share of the esteem and confidence of his fellow-
citizens, who have intrusted him with various situations of
responsibility, the duties of which he has faithfully dis-
charged. A Democrat in politics, he has ever been an
earnest supporter of the principles of his party. He held
the office of assessor of his town three years, having been
elected in 1869, and in 1875 he was elected to the office of
excise commissioner. In his religious belief he has been a
Baptist, and always a liberal contributor to the cause of
religion. His life has been one of constant effiart and per-



Western lies north of the centre of the county, and
includes an area of 33,055 acres. The original patentees
of this town were Jellis Fonda, John Lansing, Jr., Ray &
Lansing, John Taylor, Judge Oothoudt, Goldsbrow Banyer,
Lush & Stringer, Stephen Lush, Thomas Machin, and Thomas
and William Burling. Fonda's Patent, containing 40,000
acres, was purchased of the original patentee, Jellis Fonda,
by John Lansing, Jr., George Clinton, William Floyd, and
Stephen Lush, and this patent now constitutes portions of
the towns of Western, Lee, Floyd, and Steuben, and the
city of Rome.

The streams which water this town are the Mohawk
River, Lansing Kill, Stringer's Creek, Big Brook, and
others of less importance. Those mentioned furnish fine
power, and numerous mills have at different periods been
erected upon them. The soil in the valley of the Mohawk
is deep and fertile in its alluvial nature, and spring evinces

its love for the locality by first unfolding the delicate petals
of the flowers and breathing warmth over the meadows
before any other part of the town is yet freed from the icy
bonds of winter. It is said to be a remarkable fact that
fogs are never known in the Mohawk Valley in this town,
while the dews are always heavy, so that with but little
rain-fall an abundant supply of grass and grain is produced.

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 167 of 192)