Samuel W Durant.

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

. (page 176 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 176 of 192)
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he took up his permanent residence here, the case was laid
before him. As it was evident that his grandfather's in-
tention had been that the donation of the ground to the
public should be irrevocable, Mr. White took Ihe necessary
steps to secure the property, and afterwards§ donated it to
the town and village for their use as a town hall and council-
chamber. The conditions of this conveyance included that
the portion of the '' Public Green" in front of the edifice
should be improved and taken care of, and afterwards Mr.
White donated the balance of this " Green,'' on condition
that the municipal authorities should improve it by laying
out walks, etc., and make it a park for the free admission
of promenaders, "and the exclusion of all cattle, and the
like." He afterwards erected a neat fence around the open
portion of the lot, and reserved the right to keep the plat
free from weeds and rubbish. The corporate authorities
inclosed the " Green'' with a neat and substantial fence, ||
and the present park, with its sliade-trees and grass-plats,
adds much to the natural betiuty of the village. The early
settlers planted shade-trees along both sides of the main
street of the village, and these, grown tall and large, their
branches almost interlocking, are stately sentinels along the
broad way, which is lined with elegant dwellings and beauti-
ful lawns. The " Old Court-House" has been repaired to a
considerable extent, and, aside from its uses as a town and
village hall, it is the place of many public meetings and social
gatherings. Every brick in its walls is dear to the hearts
of the citizens of the village, as reminding them of its noble
founder and the days of past glory. Whitesboro' was a
place of much business when the settlement at Old Fort
Schuyler (now Utioa) was scarcely worthy of notice ; but
by subsequent enterprises being established at the latter
place, and from various causes which helped to build it up,
Whitestown became finally a beautiful suburb of the flour-
ishing city of Utica.

Among the early settlers in the neighborhood of Whites-
boro' was Reuben Wilcox, a veteran of the Revolution,
who came here with his family from Middletown, Conn.,
about 1790-91. He purchased a farm, a mile west of the
village, of Jephtha Brainard, for which he paid two shil-
lings per acre, and cut a road through to his place from
the main street of the village. He was accompanied by
his wife and two daughters, and drove through from Mid-
dletown with an ox-team, bringing what household goods
they could conveniently carry. Mr. Wilcox was by trade
a builder (master mason), and was also a farmer. He and
his wife, Hannah (Johnson) Wilcox, were both natives of
Connecticut. They were the parents of six children, — three
sons and three daughters, — all but the two elder daugh-
ters being born in Whitestown. The only members of the

I In 1800.

Since removed.



family now living are Reuben and Morris Wilcox, both
residents of Whitesboro'. The former was born in 1794,
and the latter in 1796. Morris Wilcox has been married
sixty years, and his partner through so long a period is
still living.

A post-office, named Whitestown, was established here
as early as 1796. Dr. Elizur Moseley was appointed first
postmaster. He held the office so long that when he left
it he was probably the oldest postmaster in the United
States. He was among the earliest physicians who located
here, and possibly the first. In 1798 he wag appointed
sheriiF of Oneida County, which office he held until No-
vember 5, 1800. He was an assistant justice of the
county court in 1798.* The following is believed to be
a nearly correct list of the postmasters here since Dr.
Moseley, viz. : W. A. Hobby, Whiting 'Smith, M.D., Wil-
liam C. Champlin, Alvin Bradley, William 0. Merrill,
Whiting Smith, M.D., John G. Grain, Charles E. Smith,
M.D., Ellis Ellis, L. A. Sawyer, and the present incum-
bent, Charles E. Smith, M.D.

A fire company was organized November 26, 1831, with
Uriah Hobby, Captain ; John Watkins, First Lieutenant ;
Alvin Bradley, Second Lieutenant,"}" Secretary and Treas-
urer. The members were William Hobby, C. W. Wright,
Uriah Hobby, Thomas R. Gold, H. BloJget, Thaddeus
Smith, Harvey Bradley, N. P. Barnard, Allied Looniis,
Chester Buck, Edwin Watson, Robert Roberts, H. Warner,
I. P. Frost, J. Wheeler, Jesse C. Wetmore, Samuel Pierce,
Alvin Bradley, Daniel Estes, Samuel G. Flagg, John Wat-
kins, Amaziah Palmer, Nathaniel F. Edgerton, Tlieophilus
Smith, N. Ten Broeck, Samuel Hubbell, Smith B. Hatch,
Abner Loomis, Zarah Cole, William Williams, John Wicks,
Truman E. Lewis, Nelson Cliurch, William Beobe, Henry

From the village records it seems that an engine was
purchased in 1833, at a cost of $150. (This may possibly
have been a single payment, instead of the full price.) The
village of Yorkville also possessed an engine, which was
kept in repair by the authorities of Whitesboro', and used
by them in case of necessity. It was finally purchased by
them in 1844, for |300. The village was visited by sev-
eral fires in 1861, and 507 feet of new hose were purchased
in 1862 of the citizens, who had secured it on private
account. At various times new hose, ladders, buckets,
and other necessary implements were purchased, and in
1876 a Silsbee rotary steam fire-engine was procured, at an
expense of about $1200. It had been in use for a short
time at Ilion, Herkimer Co., but was as good as new.
The present fire organization is called the " Niagara Fire
and Monitor Hose Company, No. 2, of the village of
Whitesboro'," and has 38 members. Its officers ai-e :
Foreman, P. C. Rider ; Secretary, J. F. Beid ; Treasurer,
Robert A. Jones ; Chief Engineer, John C. Eberly ; En-
gineer of Steamer, William G. Stone.

* We do not find his name among the assistant justices of 1798.
There was then no County Court proper; the court answering to it
was that of Common Pleas. The County Courts were created by the
Constitution of 1846.

f These military titles are certainly very unusual in a Fire Depart-
ment, but, as there is no accounting for tastes, they may have been

The village has three police constables, viz. : Benjamin
A. Hartman, Robert P. Casler, James Stevenson, and con-
tains a "lockup," or "calaboose," for prisoners. The
principal hotel is the " Park House," located at the north-
east corner of the village park.


organized at Whitesboro' about 1815-20, was long a
flourishing institution, but it has been disbanded, and the
numerous members of the Masonic fraternity residing in
the village attend Lodges in the city of Utica. Among the
prominent Masters of " Wyandotte Lodge'' was Hon. For-
tune C. White. Many of the influential citizens of the
place were members. The only secret order now in the
village is a small Lodge of Good Templars.


was for many years one of the main institutions of the vil-
lage and county, and possessed a capital of 8150,000. Its
first president was S. Newton Dexter, and the second Judge
Bruce, of Canastota. The failure of the bank occurred
about 1862—63, at which time Israel J. Gray was cashier.
The old bank building is now used as a " grocery."


This celebrated temple of education is located in the
lower part of the village, in the midst of beautiful grounds,
and is pointed to with just pride by citizens both of the
village and county. A full history and description of it
will be found in the educational chapter of this work.


The waters of Sauquoit Creek have from an early period
in the settlement of Oneida County been made to drive the
machinery of various manufacturing establishments, and the
Brie Canal has also been utilized for like purposes. Promi-
nent among the industrial establishments of the village is

B. T. Babbitt's Whitesboro' Iion-WorJcs, yihich were es-
tablished by B. T. Babbitt in October, 1871. The build-
ings now in use were erected immediately, with the excep-
tion of the large brick structure used as a maohine-room and
foundry. The articles manufactured are various kinds of
machinery, steam-generators, pumps, tanks, castings, etc.
One hundred men is the average number employed. The
works are under the superintendence of Mr. Babbitt, who
spends a portion of his time here.

Saw and Planing Mill. — This establishment was put in
operation by Messrs. Williams & Co., the present proprie-
tors, in 1869. From one to two million feet of hemlock
lumber are manufactured annually, besides a large quan-
tity of sash, doors, blinds, awnings, and general building
material. An average of about fifty men is employed. The
" Wagner Spring Bed" and the " Centennial Mattress" are
also manufactured.

Furniture- Manufactory. — Messrs. Sutton & Quigley es-
tablished this business within a recent period. The present
firm is W. B. Quigley & Co. Ash and black walnut are
principally used. Twenty to twenty-five men are employed,

X Incorporated in 1839, with a capital of $100,000.



and the shop has a capacity for manufacturing from $30,000
to 8-10,000 worth of furniture annually.

The ice business is quite extensively engaged in, and
Messrs. Minot & Davis have in the past winter (1877-V8)
built a large ice-house on the bank of the canal, opposite
the furniture-manufactory. The ice is cut from the canal,
which is here much cleaner than in other sections.

Among the tanneries which have at d iflFerent times been
carried on here is the present one owned by William Bene-
dict, in the upper part of the village, near the canal. It
was established by Mr. Benedict in 1850, and the value of
manufactures has reached, including currying, $25,000 an-
nually. At present business is light. Four hands are

Reed- Mami factory. — Established by James Brierley in
the spring of 1858. "Weavers' reeds' ' are manufactured
for use in cloth-factories. Messrs. Brierley & Son at
present carry on the business, occasionally employing an
additional hand.

Tub, Pail, and Churn Factory. — Established in 1824
by Messrs. Watkins & Griswold, and a building erected in
the upper part of the village. In 1840, Ellis & Co. be-
came proprietors, and in 1844 the factory was burned. The
present building, in the lower part of the village, was after-
wards erected, and the business carried on by Messrs. Wat-
son, Ellis & Co. until 1873, since which time it has been
managed by Ellis & Co., the present proprietors. The
pails, said to be the best made in the State, are manu-
factured from pine, as are also the tubs, while the churns
are made of white oak. From twelve to fifteen hands are
usually employed, and $15,000 to $20,000 worth of goods
are produced annually.

Whitesboro' contained in January, 1878, beside what
have already been described, two hotels, a wagon-shop, four
blacksmith-shops, a harness-shop, seven stores, a frame dis-
trict school-house, four churches, with perhaps a few other
shops, etc., not enumerated.


East of the Sauqnoit Creek, and adjoining the village of
Whitesboro', is Yorkville, containing two hotels, a store,
a blacksmith-shop, a shoe-shop, a carriage-shop, and a pork-
packing establishment. The village extends south to the
canal, and, although really only a continuation of the vil-
lages of Whitesboro' and New York Mills, is honored by
a. title of its own. The grist-mill previously mentioned,
known as " Wetmore's Mill," stood in the western part of
the village, a few rods south of the main road leading to

Oliver and Sylvanus Gardner engaged in the pork-pack-
ing business at this place in 1865, and the work is still
continued by the former. From 1700 to 2500 hogs are
packed annually, the meat being mostly di.sposed of in the
central and northern portions of the State. From eight to
fifteen hands are employed.

S. Hoxie, agent for the celebrated " Unadilla Valley
Stock Farm," located in Oswego County, resides here. The
improved Dutch and Holstein cattle are raised, and have
' gained an excellent reputation in this country.*

* See County Societies, Chapter XIX.


The settlement of the strip of land on the east side of
Sauquoit Creek, including the sites of Yorkville and New
York Mills, is previously mentioned. The village of New
York Mills is in three settlements, or divisions, of which
the " upper village" is in the town of New Hartford, and
the middle and lower in Whitestown. The post-ofiice is
located at the middle village, and was established subse-
quent to 1831, with Seth Maltbie as first postmaster. The
mail was for a long time, previous to the establishment of
the office, brought by stage from Whitesboro'. The present
incumbent of the office is E. M. Stiles.

The village of New York Mills is widely known from its
being the place where are located the extensive mills of the
New York Mills Cotton Manufacturing Company. A short
historical sketch of this institution has been kindly fur-
nished by Leander S. Wood, of the lower village, and is
here subjoined :

"OsBiDA Ma.vufacturing SOCIETY. — In the winter of ]807-8 a
joint-stock company was formed in WhitestoWh, of which Hon. Thos.
R. Gold, Hon. Theodore Sill, General George Doolittle, and Jesse W.
Doolittle were prominent members. This company was incorporated
by the Legislature, under the name of the ' Oneida Manufacturing
Society,* with a nominal capital of ^200,000, and chartered with bank-
ing privileges. Mr. Watcutt, of Rhode Island, as their representative,
in 1808 erected a three-and-one-half-etory brick buildin;r, known as
the ' Oneida Factory.* It was built on the Sadaqueda Creek, now
most commonly culled Sauquoit, about one mile from its confluence
with the Mohawk River. In 1809, Mr. Benjamin S. Walcott, as
agent of the company, procured the requisite machinery and began to
card and spin cotton, making mostly coarse yarn, which was put out
to families to weave. Two or three years* experience convinced Mr.
Walcott that to secure an even and uniformly good quality of cloth
he must secure the services of a skilled weaver, who would open a
shop and personally superintend the preparing of the yarn .nnd the
weaving. Mr. J. W. Doolittle, of Utica, agent for getting the weaving
done, secured the services of Ezra Wood, then recently from Rhode
Island, to come to Utica nnd open such a shop. This was done in
1812, nnd there he continued to run si.x looms till March, ISIS, when
Mr. Walcott, having had some power-looms built at the factory, en-
gaged Mr. Wood to remove to the factory and run them. In a very
short lime they were successfully running, these being the first
power-looms in the United States west of the Hudson River. The
number of looms was increased till the mill was filled.

"March 13, 1828, the factory was burned, and in two months the
same company began building a new one of stone, of larger dimen-
sions, on the same site. The next year it was in successful operation.

" Some three years after the weaving was commenced, Mr. B. S. Wal-
cott relinquished the agency of the Oneida Company to his brother,
Mr. William Walcott, and in 1825 he, in company with Messrs. Ben-
jamin and Joseph Mart-hall, built the ' New York Mills,' about a half-
mile above, on the same stream.

** The ' Oneida Manufacturing Society* continued business, under
the management of Mr. William Walcott, enlarging from time to time,
till 1851, when they sold out to the 'New York Mills Company,* then
as now under the control of Walcott &. Campbell. Since that time the
' Oneida Factory' has been known as * New York Mills No. 1.* '*

The building erected in 1825 is a stone structure, and is
generally known as the " old mill." The stone wing in the
rear was built in 1828, and the north portion of the build-
ing (brick) was erected in 1852, under the direction of
Samuel Campbell. Soon after this Mr. Marshall retired
from the firm, and Mr. Walcott's son, W. D. Walcott, and
Mr. Campbell became partners with Mr. Walcott, Sr.,
whose death, in 1862, left the firm as at' present, consisting
of Messrs. W. D. Walcott and Samuel Campbell.

In 1842 the stone mill at New Hartford (now the



" Upper Mill" of the company) was built by the same par-
ties who erected the Middle Mill in 1825. A new mill
was built at New Hartford about 1868. The bleachery at
the Lower Mill (or No. 1) was built between 1855 and
1859, and began work in 1860. The use of steam has
become a necessity at all the mills except during high
water. The average volume of water has greatly dimin-
ished in the creek from what it was formerly, owing prin-
cipally to the destruction of the timber in the country
which it drains.

The total number of operatives employed in all the Mills
is about one thousand ; the cloths manufactured by this
company are among the best in the United States, and as
such have become justly celebrated. Hon. Samuel Camp-
bell, one of the firm, became noted some years since as the
owner of the best selling herd of short-horn cattle ever dis-
posed of in this country, ten head bringing the enormous
price of $280,000.

The middle and lower settlements at New York Mills
together contained in January, 1878, seven stores of various
kinds, one blacksmith-shop, a tailor-shop, two district school
buildings, three churches, two physicians. A stage-line
plies between here and Utica, which also carries a mail.


From Judge Jones' " Annals of Oneida County" the
following extract is taken regarding the Indians who form-
erly resided on the site of the present village of Oriskany :

"It has been incidentally mentioned that a branch of the Oneida
tribe uf Indians resided at Oriskaay. When Judge White settled in
Whitestown they occupied six lodges or wigwams. Colonel Han
Yerry resided in a log cabin, which stood just back of the house
formerly occupied by Mr. Charles Green, on the easterly side of the
Oriskany Creek. The other five cabins stood on the westerly side of
the creek. Colonel Hjtn Yerry had two sons, Cornelius and Jacob,
and one daughter, Dolly, who married one of the Denny family at
Oneida. Hendrick Smith, who afterwards lived in the south part of
Vernon, at the Indian orchard, was the head of one of the families
on the west side of the creek. . . . Colond Han Yerry, ... in the
Uevolution espoused the cause of the king, A few months after the
arrival of Judge White at Whitesboro', his son, Philo, called at the
colonel's house at Oriskany, but found that the family were all absent
except the colonel's wife. After talking awhile upon various subjects,
the woman proceeded to remove the bunk and bedding from one corner
of the room, and then taking up a portion of the floor brought to
light a ten-gallon keg, which she soon unheaded. This keg was filled
with silver plate, which she carefully took out, piece by piece, and
exhibited to her guest. Some of the articles were very valuable, and
among them was a heavy and highly ornamented silver tankard.
After thus showing the ware it was carefully returned to its hiding-
place. In looking about the room Philo counted eight brass and copper
kettles, of various sizes, and about the premises were many kinds of
farming utensils. As Mr. White was subsequently passing down the
Mohawk, he called at the public-house kept by the widow of General
Herkimer, and in conversation with the widow be mentioned the keg
of silver plate, and particularly the massive tankard, describing many
of its ornaments. From this description the widow at once recognized
it as one which had been pillaged from her house during the war. It
is probable that the plate, kettles, and agricultural implements were
plundered from the suffering inhabitants of the valley of the Mohawk.

"The precise year in which the Indian settlempnt at Oriskany was
broken up, or whether they all left at the same time, has not been
ascertained, but it ia certain that they all left previously to 1793."

Among the celebrities who for a short period resided at
Oriskany was Ephraim Webster, for many years distin-
guished as a member of the Onondaga Indian nation, and
Indian agent and interpreter.

" He was born in 1752, at Hampstead, N. H. In 1773, with Ws raft,
he removed to the banks of the Hudson, in this State, and in 1778 he
enlisted in the army of the United States, and served to the close of the
Revolutionary contest. Returning to his home, he found that the
quiet pursuits of agriculture were incompatible with his roving dis-
position and love of adventure. Furnished with a small stock of
goods, he left home for the purpose of trading with the Oncidns, with
whom he had had some acquaintance during the war. This was
probably in 1784, as he' was present at the treaty of Fort Stanwix of
this year. After surmounting many difficaltiea in ascending the
Mohawk, his partner having become discouraged and returned home,
Webster located himself at Oriskany, where he established a trading-
house. Here he remained two years, doing a successful business and
mastering the Indian language. In the spring of 1786 he accepted
an invitation from the Onondaijas to remove his goods and business
to Onondaga, . . . He Wf^s adopted into the Onondaga tribe, married
an Indian woman, by whom he had several children, and received R40
acres of land, the title to which was confirmed to him by the State.
During the Indian war of 1788-94 he was employed, on account of
his knowledge of Indian language and customs, to gain intelligence
in the country of the Miamia. In 1812, with the commission of
captain in the militia, he proceeded to the Niagara frontier with about
300 Onondaija warriors under their chief, La Fort, who was elected
also head war-chief of the Six Nations, and who fell at Chippewa.
Webster acted as interpreter between General Brown and the Indians,
and La Fort died in his arms.

"Webster died at Tuscarora in 1825, and was buried at Onondaga.
For many years he conformed to the habits and dress of the Indians
to such a degree that it was difficult to distinguish him from a native.-
Upon one occasion, before the British had surrendered Oswego under
Jay's treaty, he was suspected by an officer at that place of being a
white man and spy j but such self-possession and self-command had
he acquired, that although plied with liquor and many devices re-
sorted to to throw him off his guard, he was discharged as a real
Indian. After the death of his Indian wife he married a white
woman of a very respectable family. "^^

The village of Oriskany owes its origin to the enterpris-
ing pioneer and manufacturer. Colonel Gerrit'|' G. Lansing,
who came here from Albany in 1802. He served with
distinction in the American army during the Revolution,
The following notice of him is in Dr. Bagg's " Pioneers of
Utica," published in 1877 :

" Born nt Albany, Dec. 11, 1760, Colonel Lansing entered the army,
at the beginning of the war, and served until its close; was present at
teveral important battles, and iit Yorktowu, under Colonel Hamilton,
ho led the forlorn hope as lieutenant. In 1802 this gallant soldier
and true gentleman of the old school settled at Oriskany, and lived
there on his pension and his patrimony until his death, on the 27th
of May, 1831. 1 Both in the army and after his removal to Oneida
County, Coloniil Lansing was distinguished for his high integrity
and his patriotism, as well as for his ability and his enterprise. Hia
wife was a daughter of Colonel Edward Antill, a,n Englishman by birth,
but an officer of the Revolutionary army high in the confidence of
G-en^ral Washington. After her husband's death, she lived in Utica
until her own death, on the 24:th of August, 1834. She possessed iu an
eminent degree the qualities that adorn true womanhood."

Colonel Lansing purchased four hundred acres of land
at Oriskany, extending back (southwest) from the Mohawk
Eiver, and on the northwest side of Oriskany Creek.
About 1810 he erected a grist-mill on the site of the pres-
ent one, and also a saw-mill. The property afterwards
passed into the hands of John E,. and Garrett Bleecker, of
Albany, who removed the old mill and built the present
stone structure about 1832. The iron-work was put in

* See Jones' Annals.

f This orthography is from county records j spelled also Gerrett
and Garrett.

X The notice of Colonel Lansing's death, published at the time,
gives the date as the 29th, instead of the 27th.


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 176 of 192)