Samuel W Durant.

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

. (page 168 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 168 of 192)
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The remainder of the town is very hilly, but the soil is
very good for grass and grain, though better for meadow
and pasturage. Very good quarries of limestone are found,
from which an excellent building-stone is taken.

The patentees of this town refused to convey a title to
settlers upon their lan^s, the most common method being
to give leases in perpetuity, or for three lives, and receive
annual rents, and the evil effects of this system were made
manifest here as well as in all other localities where the
practice was adopted. For many years the inhabitants
labored under its disadvantages. Roads were constructed
early in the settlement of the town, and late in the fall of
1789 the few inhabitants built a bridge across the Mohawk
River, — said to be the first to span that stream between its
source and its mouth."' Not a plank nor stick of hewn
timber was used in its construction, and yet it stood for a
great many years, buffeting wind and storm, and withstand-
ing the freshets so common in this stream.


The town of Western was formed from a part of Steuben,
March 10, 1797. Lee was taken off in 1811, leaving it
with its present boundaries. The first town-meeting was
held at the house of Erck| Sheldon, on the 4th of April,
1797, when the following officers were elected : Supervisor,
John Hall ; Town Clerk, George Brayton ; Assessors, Asa
Beckwith, Jr., Daniel Spinning, Charles Offord ; Collector,
William Satchell ; Poormasters, Joshua Wells, Nathan Bar-
low ; Commissioners of Highways, John West, Daniel
Reynolds, Daniel Eames ; Constables, William Satchell,
Richard Smith ; Fence- Viewers, Lemuel Beckwith, Ezekiel
Cleaveland, Martin Miller; Poundmaster, Jonathan Swan;
Commissioners of Schools, Isaac Aldin, Edward S. Salis-
bury, Jonathan Swan.

The Supervisors of this town since 1798 have been the
following persons, viz.: 1798-99, John Hall; 1800-24,
Henry Wager, Esq.; 1825-31, Benjamin Rudd; 1832-
33, Arnon Comstock ; 1834, Hervey Brayton; 1835-39,
David Utley; 1840, Henry Wager, Jr. : 1841-48, David
Utley; 1849-51, George Hawkins; 1852-54, Griffith W.
Jones; 1855-57, John Hawkins; 1858-60, Squire Utley;
1861-62, Squire W. Hill ; 1863-69, Nathaniel D. Bron-
son; 1870, Joseph French; 1871, Nathaniel D. Bronson ;
1872-73, Joseph French ; 1874-75, Bphraim Dillenbeck ;
1876-77, Joseph French ; 1878, J. V. Gue. The remain-
ing officers for 1878 are: Town Clerk, Robert H. Hews,
M.D. ; Justice of the Peace, George H. Mc Mullen ; As-
sessor, Samuel H. Austin; Commissioner of Highways,
John Beinhuber ; Overseer of the Poor, John Hawkins ;

^ It has been claimed that the first bridge over the Mohawk was
erected at Old Fort Schuyler (Utioa), in 1792 ; bat if this was erected
as stated, it takes precedence.

f Also given Ezekiel. The above is from the town records.



Collector, Charles Carmiohael ; Constables, John W.
Hughes, William Rowe, John Thornton, and Hiram G.
Bullock ; Inspectors of Election, David French (2d), Jacob
P. Mowers, and Israel White ; Town Auditors, Joseph
French, William Furguson, and Harvey Paddock ; Excise
Commissioner, Eliakim Hicks.


of the town of Western was begun in 1789, by Asa Beck-
with and his four sons, Asa, Jr., Reuben, Wolcott, and
Lemuel. Henry Wager soon followed them, the same
year. These were the earliest settlers in the county north
of Fort Stanwix, and located upon the Mohawk River in
this town, and at the fort were their nearest neighbors,
eight or ten miles away. They were soon followed by
others, and the settlement grew quite' rapidly. The fertile
lands along the Mohawk were first taken up, and when the
valley was filled the neighboring hills received attention.
Whatever grain or potatoes were necessary for seed had to
be procured at the German Flats, to which place Henry
Wager and Asa Beckwith went on foot, and returned with
each a bushel of seed-potatoes upon his back. These were
the first potatoes planted in town, and Mr. Wager's returns
from his were seventy bushels in the fall.

The Black River Canal passes across this town, follow-
ing the Lansing Kill and the Mohawk River, and entering
fi'om this the city of Rome.

General William Floyd, a signer of the Declaration of
Independence, and who was a large land-owner in this
town, settled here in 1803, having purchased in 1784.
The general was born at Mastic, on Long Island, Decem-
ber 17, 1734. He was early chosen an officer in the
militia of Suffolk County, and eventually rose to the rank
of major-general. He was soon after elected a member of
the Provincial As.sembly, and in 1774 was sent as a dele-
gate from this province to the first Continental Congress.
In 1777 he was elected a Senator, and September 9, of that
year, took his seat in the first constitutional Legislature of
this State. October 15, 1778, he was appointed a member
of Congress by the Legislature, and was re-appointed Octo-
ber 14, 1789, in conjunction with Ezra L'Hommedieu and
Sloss Hobart. When the British took possession of Long
Island his family fled for safety to Connecticut, and during
their absence the property was greatly damaged by the in-
vaders. The general remained an exile from his estates
for nearly seven years. He is buried in the old cemetery
at Westernville, where a stone to his memory bears the
following inscription :

"In memory of General William Floyd, who died August 4, 1821,
aged eighty-seven years. He was born at Mastic, on Long Island. He
was an ardent supporter of his country's rights. He was honored in
life for the sincerity of his patriotism, and the Declaration of Inde-
pendence will be to his memory an imperishable monument."

General Floyd labored faithfully for the welfare of the
colonists, and his efforts in their behalf caused them to
raise him to positions of distinction. He was a person
of great generosity, and many anecdotes are told of him
during his residence in this town. When he removed
here from Long Island he brought with him a considera-
ble number of slaves of both sexes. They became free

when the abolition-law went into effect in this State.
The stories of Long Tom and the measly pig, and several
others, have been so often told that it is not necessary to
repeat them here. Judge Jones has preserved them in
his interesting annals of the county, and various other
writers have incorporated them in their works.

William Floyd, a grandson of the general, now living at
Westernville, removed t« that village in 1816. He is a
native of New York City. After taking up his residence
here he attended to his grandfather's business until the
death of the latter, in 1821, and at one time was engaged
in the mercantile business at the village. He has become
aged and feeble, and cannot, as in his younger days, per-
sonally oversee the various portions of the estate, and in
consequence it is somewhat dilapidated in appearance,
while the tomb of the statesman is sadly neglected, and
the memorial tablets have fallen from their places. The
large frame house which the general began to build in
1802, and finished and moved into in 1804, is yet stand-
ing, apparently as sound and in as good condition as ever.
It is now owned by his great-granddaughters, — the daugh-
ters of William Floyd, above mentioned.

In the cemetery in the rear of the Presbyterian Church
at Westernville are buried many of the early settlers of the
town, and those who became prominent within it, as also
many, not among the pioneers of the locality, who lived to a
great age in this beautiful region in the sunny Mohawk vale.
Of those whose remains repose here a few may be men-
tioned :

William Martindale, of Petersham, Mass., came to Oneida County in
1817; died Feb. 12, 1870, aged 92.

Lydia, his wife, died Jan. 12, 1851, aged 74.

Henry Wager, died Aug. 9, 1840, aged 76.

"He was one of the iirst .settlers of this county, having lived on
the farm where he died. over fifty years." — Inacripiion.

Letetia, his wife, died March 29, 1839, aged 74.

John Hawkins, died 1810, aged 40.

Bridget, his wife, died March 19, 1853, aged 71.

Joseph Halleck, Esq., died June 2.3, 1857, aged 73.

"The above Joseph Halleck, son of Jabez Halleck, and grandson
of Major Peter Halleck, of Southold, Long Island, N. T., was born
at Southold, Oct. 16, 1784, and emigrated to Oneida County, with his
father, in the fourteenth year of his age." — Inscription.

Catharine Wager,, his wife, died Feb. 20, 1868, aged 73.

" This estimable Christian woman was the mother of Major-Gen-
eral Halleck, and the eldest daughter of Henry Wager. From a
child she lived in the beautiful Mohawk Valley, and within a mile of
her birthplace. She was one of those quiet, gentle, unobtrusive
women who gain their gentleness by their love for their Saviour."
— Inscrip tion.

Eev. John Arnold, died April 24, 1872, aged 91.
Deacon Jabez Halleck, died Sept. 17, 1863, aged 103.
Sarah, his wife, died Nov. 29, 1834, aged 72.
Rebecca, his wife, died April 10, 1861, aged 89,
Jabez Halleck, Jr., died Aug. 20, 1873, aged 74,
Aohsa, his wife, died Feb, 21, 1841, aged 42.
Joseph Parke, died Feb. 6, 1833, aged 87.
William Cleaveland, died July 24, 1833, aged 67.
Elizabeth, his wife, died Nov. 8, 1832, aged 61.
Ezra Clark, died Aug. 21, 1867, aged 84.
Lydia Parke, his wife, died Feb. 21, 1862, aged 73,
Jacob Wiggins, died Sept. 30, 1839, aged 79.
Freelove, his wife, died June 8, 1827, .iged 6l
John Smith, died Sept. 14, 1873, aged 91.
Mary, his wife, died Oct. 6, 1849, aged 62.
David Hill, died July 11, 1856, aged 77.


The ancestors of this gentleman belonged to one of the
old Irish families who, by their sterling worth and good
character, have made that country renowned. His father,
dissatisfied with the yoke of oppression that England
forced upon the inhabitants of that land, emigrated from
the county of Antrim to this country about the year 1795.
He came to Rome, Oneida County, where he resided a
few years ; he then removed to Amsterdam, Montgomery
County, where the subject of this sketch was boi-n, Nov. 18,
1801, being the eldest son of Hugh and Ann MoMullin.
The year following his birth his father removed to the town
of Western, where he ended his days. At the age of
twenty-one Thomas left his father's home to seek his live-
lihood, and went to work by the month at farm labor. In
1824 he purchased a farm of one hundred and fifty acres
in Western. Having a small capital, he was obliged to go
in debt for a part of it; but by industry, frugality, and
economy he prospered, and is living to-day upon the same
place, free of all incumbrances, and is also enjoying a com-

fortable competency. He was married, March 5, 1832, to
Electa M., daughter of Jonathan R. Kenyon, she being
born in 1813 in what is now the town of Ava, Oneida
County. By this union he had seven children, five of whom
are living at the present time, — Jonathan R., Hannah
C, Ann, Thomas, and Electa. His wife died March 24,
1846, mourned and respected by all who knew her. Politi-
cally, he is a member of the Republican party, and is held
in such high esteem by his fellow-citizens that he has held
many public offices, though the opposite party has a large
majority in the town. He has been for forty years a mem-
ber of the Methodist Episcopal Church of Westernville,
and has given liberally of his means for its support. He
has passed through life thus far without a syllable of re-
proach or calumny. Tn all his business transactions it has
been his aim to follow the golden rule, and " do to others
as he would have others do to him.'' Temperate, generous,
and conscientious, his last years are passing away in the
sweet consciousness of having led an upright life.



Laura, his wife, died Deo. 30, 1866, aged 78.

Orange Hayden, died July 31, 1872, aged 79.

Polly, his wife, died Aug. 31, 1849, aged 56.

Bphraim Potter, died Aug. 16, 1832, aged 72.

Elizabeth, his wife, died April 29, 1830, aged 66.

John Paddock, died Deo. 28, 1866, aged 82.

Polly, his wife, died April 21, 1840, aged 52.

David Fanning, died June 17, 1826, aged 49.

Elizabeth, his wife, died May 24, 1S30, aged 58.

James Boyd, died Sept. 2, 1870, aged 90.

Mahetable, his wife, died March 21, 1333, aged 50.

John Ely, native of New Jersey, died April 14, 1842, aged 66.

George Brayton, died March 5, 1837, aged 65.

Sarah, his wife, died May 8, 1841, aged 64.

John Swan, died June 12, 1849, aged 82.

Mary, his wife, died Jan. 26, 1859, aged 86.

John Harris, who was an elder in the Presbyterian Church from 1826,

died August 10, 1860, aged 75.
James Olney, died Feb. 22, 1862, aged 78.
Lucy, his wife, died June 4, 1876, aged 86.
William Olney, Esq., died Dec. 22, 1846, aged 90.
Mary, his wife, died Dec. 13, 1818, aged 57.
Aaron Ismond, died April 7, 1813, aged 51.
Nathaniel Turner, died June 8, 1830, aged 84.
Mary, his wife, died Sept. 23, 1826, aged 78.
Seth Church, died Deo. 20, 1862, aged 73.
Clarissa, his wife, died Dec. 28, 1850, aged 65.
Ruth Park, died May 6, 1873, aged 93.


of this town were among the hest for that day in the county.
Probably the first was taught at what is now the village of
Westernville. As early as 1805-6 school was kept by
Amy Williams in a frame building, which stood about on
the site of David Hall's present residence. The district
was subsequently changed, and a school taught near Esquire
Henry Wager's. All the early schools in this town were
large and popular. Before these mentioned in the village
a log school-house had been built in what is now the town
of Lee, then belonging to Western, and this school was
attended by pupils from both towns. It was the first in
either. Those now in existence have a large attendance,
and are in good condition.


The first religious organization in this town was formed
by the Baptists, in 1798, with about 60 members. It
never had a regular pastor, but services were held by Elders
Stephen Parsons, Jonathan Waldo, and others for many
years. It finally was allowed to decline.

Subsequent to the decline of the Baptists a Methodist
Society was formed, and have since maintained the prece-
dent they then established, having at present a larger
membership than any other denomination in town. They
have several churches. One north and one south of Big
Brook Post-Office are in charge of Rev. Lemuel Clark, of
Steuben Corners, and each has a small membership. The
Methodist Episcopal Church at North Western was built
about 1839, the society having been organized about the
same time. David Brill, now of the village, aided in its
construction. Its membership is fair, and its pastor, Rev.
J. W. Roberts, holds services also at North Steuben and
on Webster's Hill. At Westernville a Methodist Episco-
pal Church was built about 1854-56, and is still in use by
a society numbering about 65 members, also in charge of

Rev. J. W. Roberts. A large Sunday-school is sustained,
with John French as Superintendent.

A new frame house of worship was built in the north-
west corner of town in 1877, by a Welsh Methodist Epis-
copal Society. The organization of this society was ef-
fected some years before the church was built. Its mem-
bership is small, and no regular pastor is employed.

A small society of Friends was formed in this town soon
after the beginning of the present century, and the locality
where they settled has received the name of Quaker Hill.
Meetings are not at present kept up by them.


The Presbyterian Society at this place was incorporated
in 1818, having been organized Jan. 15 of that year. The
present frame church was built as a " union church" in
1817, before the Presbyterians organized. A large debt
cumbered it, and it was purchased by George Brayton, who
deeded it to the Presbyterian Society, together with the old
cemetery immediately in the rear of the church, and form-
ing a part of the present village cemetery. The council
by whom this church was organized consisted of Rev.
John Dunlap, a missionary ; Rev. Moses Gilfttt, of Rome ;
Rev. Henry Smith, of Camden ; and Phineas Tuttle,
from the church in. Camden. Fifteen persons constituted
the original society. The following persons have preached
here at difierent times, for greater or less periods : Revs.
John Dunlap, Chester Long, George W. Gale, S. W. Bar-
rett, D. B. Butte, Jason Allen, George S. Boardman,
Charles G. Finney, Robert Everett, C. Lewis, Isaac Bray-
ton, J. Donald, George I. King, I. P. Stryker, A. Corliss,
E. C. Pritohett, C. Jones, A. Mandell, W. B. Parmelee.
Those who have been installed over the church as regular
pastors are Revs. D. B. Butts, George I. King, A. H.
Corliss, E. 0. Pritchett, A. Mandell, W. B. Parmelee, Wil-
liam M. Robinson, William A. Rice, and the present pas- -
tor. Rev. George Craig, in charge since July, 1877. The
membership in April, 1878, was 106. The Sabbath-school
is managed by Edward Rees as Superintendent, and has
about 75 members, and a library of 71 volumes, procured in


About 1794, George Brayton and Jonathan Swan —
brothers-in-law — settled at this place, and engaged in the
mercantile business. Mr. Swan afterwards removed to
Aurora, Cayuga Co., N. Y., and the Braytons conducted
the business at the old stand for more than sixty years.
The property yet belongs to them, although the store is
managed by other parties. Messrs. Brayton & Swan were
the first merchants in the town of Western, and their first
store was but a small shanty. Mr. Brayton afterwards
built three others in the place. His son, Milton Brayton,
is a resident of the village, and one of a family of nine
children, who all became prominent in the history of the
town and county. The Braytons were stanch members
of the Presbyterian Church at Westernville, and aided
largely in its support ; and a great influence for good has
always been exerted by the different members of the family
in this part of the town. Milton Brayton lives opposite
his father's old place, in the western part of the village



Mr. Swan, the partner of George Bray ton, was the father
of Judge Joseph Swan, an eminent member of the legal
profession at Columbus, Ohio. George Brayton was three
times elected to the Assembly and twice to the Senate.

Westernville was also the home of Major-General Hal-
leck, of the United States Army, aa commander-in-chief of
which he succeeded General Winfield Scott. About the
time of his birth his parents were living away from the
village, but he was brought here, at any rate, by the time
he was a year old. A farm on the north side of the Mo-
hawk, northwest of the village, belongs to his heirs. His
grandfather was Deacon Jabez Halleck, who died at the
age of one hundred and three years.

The Westernville post-office was established in the
neighborhood of 1812, and George Brayton appointed the
first postmaster. He continued in office for a long period ;
his sons, Hervey and Milton Brayton, were also among the
postmasters at this place. The present incumbent is Daniel
R. Howe, an old resident of the village.

The present hotel was converted to such uses about
1837-38 by John 0. Dale ; it had previously been occu-
pied as a private residence. The large frame building with
columns in front, in the western part of the village, was
erected for a hotel by George Hawkins, but at present is not
licensed for hotel purposes, and is not regularly kept as such.
The Westernville Brass Band was organized April 1,
1877, with eleven members. It at present owns twelve
instruments, and is under the leadership of William
Floyd, Jr.'

The village contained in the spring of 1878 two stores,
two tin-shops, a wagon-shop, a millinery establishment, a
post-office, two churches, a two-story frame school-house,
three blacksmith-shops, two shoe-shops, a tannery, and a
Lodge of Good Templars.


This village is located about three miles above Western-
ville, on the Mohawk, and contains three stores, two hotels,
three blacksmith-shops, a meat-market, a wagon-shop, a
shop for repairing wagons, a harness-shop, three shoe-
shops, a cheese-box factory, a saw- and planing-mill, built
by Jerome V. Gue, a tannery, built eai'ly and now owned
by Seymour Jones, a cheese-factory, owned by Albert
Meyers, a neat frame school-house, and one physician. Dr.
Robert H. Hews.

The first permanent settler on the site of the village was
David Utley, from Columbia Co., N. Y., who located here
about 1794-95, and purchased two hundred acres of land.
On the portion of this place now occupied by his son,
'Squire Utley, a man named John Clear had " squatted,"
buUt a small log house, and made a clearing. He had
been here about a year when Mr. Utley arrived. The latter
allowed him to keep fifty acres, but afterwards purchased
it of him. Clear had no title in the first place, and Mr.
Utley consented to his remaining in order that he might
get a start in the world, and not have the work he had
already done go for naught.

David Brill, now living in the village, purchased a farm
in this town in 1830, and moved upon it in 1831. He
kept the second cheese-dairy in town, the first having been

owned by Robert Nesbit. After buying most of the farm
formerly owned by David Utley, which included the pres-
ent village site, he moved upon it in March, 1844, laid
out the first "side road" from the main highway, and
platted the village, or that portion which lies west of the
canal and north of the aqueduct.

When the Black River Canal was being constructed, a
Mr. Bissell, of Rome, established a small store, in a cheap
shanty, for the benefit of the Irish laborers. A blacksmith-
shop was also erected, and the Methodist Episcopal Church
was standing. The first store of importance in the village
was built and opened by Mr. Brill, and carried on for
many years by himself and his family. He also built the
first hotel in the place, the present " Half- Way House,"
about 1850. The "Northern Hotel," still standing, was
built later in the same year by Ira Waldo.

A grist-mill was erected on the Mohawk at this place
about 1800, by Jonathan Waldo, who also built a saw-mill.
The present grist-mill, which occupies the site of the old
one, was constructed by Paul Macomber, about 1840. It
contains two runs of stone, and does a good custom business.
School was taught here about 1824-25, the old building
having stood on the ground at present occupied by the store
of Ephraim Dillenbeck. The name of the teacher could
not be ascertained.

The post-office at North Western was established in
1845, and David Brill, who was the first postmaster, held
the office fifteen years. The route had previously passed
south of the village, from Rome to Floyd Corners, Stitt-
ville, Holland Patent, Steuben, etc., but through the efforts
of Mr. Brill it was changed, and an office established at
North Western. The present postmaster is Reuben E.

In the locality known as " Frenchville," between North
Western and Westernville, — so called from families of that
name residing there, — the first settlers were Joshua and
Hezekiah Wells (father and son), who were here when
David Utley moved to the town, and Captain Don-
nelly, who settled later, and afterwards commanded a
company of militia. A man named Brown was also an
early arrival in the same neighborhood, and owned a farm
of 200 acres lying between Frenchville and the Utley place.
In the neighborhood of 1852-53 a man named French —
not related to the families of that name who now reside here
— ^built a saw-mill and shoe-peg factory on Big Brook, near
the crossing of the Western and Rome Road. It was
operated but a short time, and has long been abandoned.

in the eastern part of town, was established early and kept
by the father of Lysander Hayden. It has been several
times moved ; is now in charge of Silas Ball, as postmaster,
whose deputy is George N. Reese. It was named from the
stream near which it is located.

is a small place on the Mohawk, above North Western, at
its junction with the Lansing Kill. It contains a store, two
hotels, a school-house, a blacksmith-shop, and a grist-mill.
Among the early settlers in this locality was a man named

Residence or /SRAEL WH/TE, Western, Oweida C^ H.Y








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 168 of 192)