Samuel W Durant.

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

. (page 177 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 177 of 192)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


625



this mill by B. E. Williams, still a resident of the village.
James A. Reynolds was agent for the Bleeckers at the
time, and his brother built the mill. It has since been
several times enlarged and repaired.

A Mr. John Green was among the early settlers of
Oriskany, and purchased about four hundred acres of land
on the southeast side of the creek. He was a farmer, and
the father of several sons, all well and favorably known in
the community.*

William M. Cheever, also one of the earlier comers,
owned a large farm just above the village.

A long- remembered event in the history of the village
was the visit to it, June 10, 1825, of the Marquis de La-
fayette, who on that day visited his companion in arms of
the Revolution, — Colonel Lansing. Many arc yet living
who recollect the occasion, and speak of the delight and
honor felt by all at seeing the noble Frenchman who
had aided the colonies in their struggle for independence.
The general was accompanied by a nuinerous escort, and
was himself much gratified at meeting, after a lapse of
nearly half a century, the comrades of camp and field whom
he had commanded.*

During this same year (1825) the Erie Canal was com-
pleted. On its enlargement at Oriskany, in 1849, a large
quantity of human bones and various ornaments were un-
earthed, of which the following, published in the Oneida
Morning Herald, is a description :

"Oriskaxy, October 27, 1S49.
"Messrs. Editors, — In excavating for the enlarged canal we have
discovered some ten or more skeletons of the aborigineSjf and with
them not a few ornaments and medals. The remains are very much
decayed, and exhibit evidence of having been interred a very long
time. The bodies appear to have been placed in troughs, prepared
in the Indian modes of forming canoes,- that is, by burning a log to
a flat surface, and then keeping the fire in the centre. Faint traces
of wood at the sides of the skeletons, and also coals, secin to warrant
the correctness of my suggestion. I have assisted in removing a
number of them, and found, in two instances, three or four bodies
placed together, and the limbs radiating from a centre. We found
three, — a man, woman, and child, — the head of the woman lying
between the man's arm and side, near the shoulder, and the child's
Lead apparently on her bosom ; the man with a portion of the con-
tents of his medicine-bag, consisting of the bones of a bird or animal,
uniformly of a bright-green color, well polished, and wound with
bark or skin to protect the Indian beauty and semi-transparency; the
woman's ornamcn's consisting of beads about the size of peas, and
variously colored, some of them stilf retaining the sinew on which
they were strung. Together with these I found a rosary of beads,
apparently of ebony, about half an inch in diameter, though so frail
as to fall into dust on the slightest pressure. These were strung on a
brass chain, some of the links still being in the beads. Among these,
and probably attached to the rosary, was a medal of the reign of George
the First, 1731 . Several medals have been found with dates 1 731 to '36,
and one with, 1 think, a Spanish inscription. I have one handsome
medallion head of George, the King of England, on one side; on the
other an Indian shooting a buck with a bow and arrow from behind
a tree. There is no date on it. It is about the size of a dollar. The
ear and nose ornament! are made of the celebrated red pipe-stone.
Some pipes have been found, — one splendid one, speaking Iiidiniiwite,



- See history of Utica.

-f Ab'iriyiiies, original inhabitants of a country. It is not at all
probable, therefore, that these were "aborigines." The finding of
the medal dated 1731, and the fact of the remains being so well pre-
served in the soil, to say nothing of the "medioinc-bag°" etc., would
show that they were reliant, and of a much later race than tho
people who nr'njinaVy occupied this reo-ion.

79



and no small potatoes anywise. I^think it equal to any in Mr. Cat-
lin's gallery. The remains of one Indian have been found in this
vicinity with portions of a blanket, which, together with the hair,
seemed quite sound, though the skeleton was a good deal decomposed,
yet not appearing as old as those I have been des3ribing. I have
spun the yarn long enough.

"Krogan Rex."

•^

In the year 1811, the aspect of affairs with Great
Britain having become serious, a number of prominent
and philanthropic gentlemen, urged by patriotic motives,
were induced to start the enterprise of manufacturing
woolen goods, and thereby "render their country inde-
pendent of England for a supply of clothing.'' Among
the gentlemen who embarked in this enterprise were
Seth Capron, Jonas Piatt, Thomas R. Gold, Newton
Mann, Theodore Sill, Nathan Williams, William G. Tracy,
De Witt Clinton, Ambrose Spencer, John Taylor, and
Stephen Van Rensselaer. The "Oriskany Manufacturing
Company" was incorporated in 1811. Buildings were
erected, at the village of Oriskany, near the subsequent
location of the Erie Canal. Gerrit G. Lansing was long
the president of this company. " The satinetts made by
this company sold readily at |-t per yard, and their broad-
cloths from 110 to $12 per yard; but, to counterbalance
these prices, for the first four years after they commenced
operations they paid an average of $1.12 per pound for
their wool. "J The machinery used consisted of eight sets
of carjj, with a proportionate number of spindles and
looms. Over 100 hands were employed, and the manu-
factures amounted to more than 100,000 yards annually
of 0—4 goods, — broadcloths and tweeds. After various re-
verses and successes, the company finally closed business
about 1856-57, after which the buildings were purchased
by A. B. Buell, of Utica, and transformed into a furnace.
He afterwards inserted machinery for manufacturing cotton
goods. The cotton-factory became the property of Thomas
Wood, and now belong.^ to his son-in-law. Dr. Clark.
Woolen machinery has been replaced in it, but the factory
is only occasionally in operation.

A tobacco-factory was built by the Oneida Manufacturing
Company about 1833, but has long been out of use. It
occupies a portion of the same ground with the main build-
ings of the company.

The furnace established by Sir. Buell is still in operation,
manufacturing malleable iron, and composition and brass
castings. It does a considerable business.

A frame school-house was built in the settlement as early
as 1812 to 1815, having an old-fashioned four-sided roof.
A man named Sumner was an early teacher, and David
Wood taught in this building in 1816.

A post-office was established previous to 1821, with
Colonel G. G. Lansing as first postmaster. The present
postmaster is Luther G. Williams.

The village contained in February, 1878, three stores,
a grist-mill, two blacksmith-shops, a foundry, a wagon-shop,
three hotels, three churches, a district school building, a
post-office, two tin-shops, a broom-factory, and a population
estimated at from 500 to 600.

J Jones.



G2C



HISTORY OF ONEIDA COUNTY, NEW YOKK.



PLEASANT VALLEY.
This name was given to a former small manufacturing
settlement, a mile above Oriskany, on the Oriskany Creek.
It was the site of the large factory of the " Dexter Manu-
facturing Company," which commenced operations in 1832.
The main buildings were of brick and stone, and the fac-
tory was 200 feet in length, containing seven sets of cards,
with the requisite number of spindles and looms. Very
fine long shawls, broadcloths, and tweeds were manufac-
tured, and over one hundred hands employed. The factory
was burned within the past year or two, and the once busy
settlement now wears much the aspect of Goldsmith's " De-
serted Village.'' The location in the beautiful valley of the
Oriskany gave rise to the most appropriate title, " Pleasant
Valley," Nature here, seemingly, having outdone herself
in arranging combinations of her rarest beauties.

COLEMAN'S MILLS
is the name of a hamlet on Oriskany Creek, near the centre
of the town, where are located n grist-mill, a small shoddy-
mill, and a number of dwellings.

WALESVILLB
is a village in the southwest part of the town, also on Oris-
kany Creek, and is the seat of several manufacturing estab-
lishments, none of which are at present (April, 1878) in
operation. They consist of a cotton-mill, belonging to the
Clark Mills Cotton Company, and a paper-mill, owned by
Halsey Brothers. The cotton-mill is stripped of its ma-
chinery, and the paper-mill has been idle since the summer
of 1877 ; at the latter wrapping-paper was the principal
manufacture. The village contains a post-office (postmaster,
Hawley Peck), a store (located in a building formerly used
as a tavern), a blacksmith-shop, a cheese-factory, and a
Baptist Church. A wadding-mill which stood in the lower
part of the village was destroyed by fire at a recent date.

We are under obligations to a large number of people in
this township for courtesies extended and information fur-
nished.



BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES.



BENJAMIN S. WALCOTT

was born in Cumberland, E. I., in the year 1775. He died
at his late residence in the village of New York Mills, Oneida
County, N. Y., at the age of seventy-six.

Mr. Walcott commenced the business of manufacturing
cotton in this State, at the " Oneida Factory," in the year
1809, at which time the manufacturing interests of this
country were in their infancy ; and the energy and ability
which were requisite to conduct successfully an experiment
of this kind (for such it really wa.s) Mr. Walcott was found
to possess in an eminent degree. He became connected in
business relations with Mr. Benjamin Marshall, of Troy, in
the erection of manufacturing establishments in the village
of New York Mills, and from that period till the year 1856
he continued his active and responsible duties as its head
and representative.



His early education was in New England, where he was
reared under the strictest rules of morality ; and these
sterling principles, justice, truth, and integrity, never for-
sook him. He never labored under the unavailing regret
of having wasted in indolence, folly, and dissipation his
earlier years. He was manly, ingenuous, and upright from
the beginning. He scorned all double-dealing, looked with
deep indignation on every fraud, on all that o'afty duplicity
which so often takes shelter under legal sanction.

These principles, of course, soon inspired with confidence
all persons with whom he transacted business, and all in
his employ believed not only that he would do justly, but
also that they would be remembered kindly in the day of
adversity. And when the dark days of life came, they
found in him a friend indeed.

He ever freely encouraged those who were honestly
endeavoring to rise, and many are the individuals, in dif-
ferent parts of our land, who, in early life, came under his
influence, that have risen to position and wealth, who have
thanked him most cordially for his friendly counsels, and
aflSrmed that they owed their success largely to his foster-
ing care. And to-day, though dead, he is speaking in the
lives and examples of hundreds and thousands of true men
and true women.

Mr. Walcott rightly appreciated the value of the Sab-
bath in its influence on the cleanliness, the manners and
morals, and religion of every people ; and the village in
which his influence and example were most directly felt
stands forth as a beautiful illustration of what might be
done more generally if men of influence would lay aside
the cup and throw in their hearts to roll forward this
heaven-born reformation. Mr Walcott has made his mark.
No one, I am sure, will deny, who knows this place and its
forming influences, that he was its father. He originated
that system of things under which these villages have
grown up from nothing to their present beauty, usefulness,
and prosperity. His hand drew the plan and laid the
foundation-stones ; his was the moulding, guiding mind ;
the churches, the schools, the libraries, the peace, the
purity, the integrity, the temperance, the industry, the
regularity, — all, in fine, which make these manufactories
compare so favorably with others are due mainly to that
truthful example and those worthy principles which were
ever the ornaments of his character.

Mr. Walcott was constitutionally diffident; a man of few
words, but those full of meaning, his looks and words were
unmistakable. He was never impulsive, always carefully
canvassing the subject under consideration, and when his
conclusions were formed he stood firm. He ever main-
tained the beariug of an accomplished American gentle-
man, — never haughty, rude, nor overbearing. His tastes
were refined, his manners gentle, courteous, and winning.
He adorned every social circle in which he moved, for he
was a careful observer of the proprieties of intelligent,
refined, social life. His words were fitly chosen, and fell in
at the proper place and time. No one ever more assidu-
ously consulted the convenience and happiness of others.

Although not favored in early life with the advantages
of a liberal education, he could appreciate the value and
influence of educated minds, as his late munificent dona-




''■^lySa„,ul Sari's^'



*^C^^






HISTORY OF ONEIDA COUNTY, NEW YORK.



627



tion to one of our best colleges will abundantly testify.
Other schools of learning shared in his charity. He lived
not unto himself; he not only gave freely into the great
channels of public benevolence, but as long as his hands
could move or his feet walk he went about to cheer every
neighbor he could reach with little kindnesses. His aim
was to pour as many rills of happiness as possible through
a suffering world.

He was eminently successful in business, possessing tal-
ents equaled by few ; his talents were not of an inventive
order, but ability to judge of men, intimate knowledge of
human nature, comprehensive foresight, and close observa-
tion. He could judge with great accuracy of those qualities
in men which fitted them to fill any particular post of trust
or to discharge any duty in the business with which he was
connected, and to such he always gave the warmest and
most cordial encouragement. He accumulated large wealth,
but he escaped by his uniform liberality that contracting,
covetous spirit which increasing prosperity so often engen-
ders. He gave from principle, and giving became with
him an ennobling habit. Says a friend, " He realized as
much as any man I ever knew the luxury of doing good."
He was a true friend as well as a philanthropist. He
loved his country, and in his extreme weakness he kept
himself informed as to all her trials and dangers iii the late
civil war. He gave his thousands to preserve her. constitu-
tion, her liberty, and her life. His example as a citizen, a
man, and a Christian is worthy of all imitationj and the
excellences of his private and domestic character will long
be remembered and cherished by those who knew him most
intimately.

He was the first manufacturer in this county who re-
duced the working hours of the day from fifteen to twelve.
He was the first who introduced the custom of cash pay-
ment, thus allowing those he employed to purchase their
supplies where they could do it cheapest and best. In
these and .other ways he consulted the best interests of
those he had gathered around him, and won their sym-
pathy.

About five years prior to his decease he retired from
active business, his son, Wm. D. Walcott, and Samuel
Campbell, who had for some years been associated with
him, assuming the entire proprietorship of this immense
establishment; and it is but justice to add that these gen-
tlemen, possessed of large views and admirable qualifica-
tions for their position, have carried it on in the "same noble
spirit of its founder.

As significant of the estimate in which Mr. B. S. Wal-
cott was held by those in his employ, the following pream-
ble and resolutions are copied from those passed by a gath-
ering of employees after his decease :

" Wliereai, It has pleased the great Disposer of all events to remove
from our midst the late Ijenjamin S. Walcott, a gentleman widely
known and respected, and especially endeared to us by his many private
virtues, whose charities were manifold, unostentatious, and wide-spread,
who ever had at heart the best interests of those whom he employed,
and who, as a gentleman adorning life in every sphere in which ho
moved, had few equals and no superiors.

" Reinlned, That in the death of Mr. Walcott we lose a pattern of
an honorable, noble-minded, energetic business man, one who held
justice, honesty, integrity, anl morality to l)e of more consequence
than the mere aecumuLition of property, and whose governing- prin-



ciple has ever been to pursue a liberal, upright course in all his deal-
ings with his fellow-men.

" Res-ilved, That in the character Of the deceased were combined in
an eminent degree the qualities of the true Christian and the prac-
tical philanthropist.

" Haaolved, That the prosperous villages, of which he may be pro-
nounced the parent, will remain enduring monuments of his worth,
and his life and example will ever be remembered and cherished
by us.'*

SAMUEL CAMPBELL.

The village of New York Mills lies in the lovely valley
of the Mohawk and Sauquoit. For two miles skirting each
side of the fine hard road are the mills, the grounds, and
residences of the proprietors, the homes of the working-
men, and the school-houses and churches of the village.

New York Mills is very attractive in summer ; it is one
of the places in Oneida County which strangers go to see.
The houses of the operatives are neat, convenient, and
healthy ; most of them standing back from the road, with
yard in front, garden in rear, and half-hidden by foliage.
The good standing of New York Mills is due to the char-
acter of the employees, which has always been high, and
to the regulations and example of the employers.

Samuel Campbell was born at Tarbolton, Ayi'shire, Scot-
land, in 1809. He is of that land which, " considering the
fewness of the folk," has scored the deepest mark, and of
that fanaily which has for centuries so largely influenced
Scotland.'? In his boyhood he had the advantages of the
schools for which Scotland is renowned, and which have
been so useful to her sons wherever their wandering genius
has carried them.

Mr. Campbell cafme to America in 1831, and pitched his
tent at New York Mills. He began his new life in the
employment of Marshall & Walcott, and his rise was rapid
and steady. His hands and brain were ceaselessly at work,
and with large results in many directions. When he began
there was but one comparatively small mill. Its growth
and extensioii, the addition of others, the development of
the business, and the reputation of its products are largely
due to his industry, skill, and forethought.

He had an iron frame, mechanical skill, great working-
powers, ready adaptation of means to ends, quick perception
of defects and remedies. He made many and valuable im-
provements in machinery. His employers saw his worth,,
sought his advice, and followed it. In 1847 he became a
partner in the company, and from that time his business,
career has been known to the county and the State.

Mr.. Campbell not only enjoys a wide reputation as a.
successful manufacturer, but also as a practical agriculturist,,
having for many years devoted much attention to that,
business. Perhaps nothing in his career has brought him
more prominently before the public than the great sale of
his herd of blooded stock, which took place at New York
Mills, on Sept. 10, 1873. Mr. Campbell had by purchase
in this country, importation from England, and skillful,
breeding become possessed of a large and valuable herd of
cattle, including many animals of the best strains of short-
horn blood ; and while the breeding and raising of fine
stock was begun by him as a pleasurable diversion from his
more onerous business cares, and by him has been regarded
simply as an episode in his long and busy life, yet on ac-



628



HISTORY OF ONEIDA COUNTY, NEW YOKK.



count of the number and great value of the animals, and
the eonsefiuent care and anxiety devolving upon him, it
naturally passed from the domain of recreation to that of
an exacting, burdensome business, — a severe tax upon his
time and strength. Mr. Campbell met with many discour-
agements : some of his finest cattle died ; no one of his
friends believed in his success ; but his faith did not lessen,
and the result proved the correctness of his judgment. At
the sale, which was the largest, the most extraordinary of
which there is any record, were men who came from far
and near, from many parts of this country and from En," -
land, agents of English noblemen, and even noblemen them-
selves. The prices paid for animals were unprecedented, —
four of them netting the sum of |133,200, and the ao-"Te-
gate sales amounting to nearly 8400,000, a fitting and
magnificent tribute to the judgment and courage of Samuel
Campbell.

Mr. Campbell was a Whig, and then a Republican, al-
ways a loving son of his adopted home. As supervisor of
Whitestown and member of the wnr committee of Oneida
County, as a man and a citizen, he worked with all his
might during the war and for the war.

Nowhere did the proclamation of Piesident Lincoln
meet with a heartier response than at New York Mills.
The men who carried the musket did not wait for bounties,
but met the first shook of the conflict, governed by the de-
sire to save from ruin the land which had given to some of
them birth, to all a home, and this was in no small degree
owing to the spirit of Samiiel Campbell. We have no
room for the long list of his good works. He did all that
in him lay to strengthen the government in its straits, to
brace the soldier in the field, to soothe his anguish in the
hospitals, to comfort his dying hours. The soldiers from
New York Mills were hi.s especial charge ; he cared for
them while living, oared for their bodies when dead, and
erected to their memory an expensive and beautiful monu-
ment. The monument was placed by Mr. Campbell in
charge of Post Ross, of the Grand Army of the Republic.
There is no village where a monument could more appro-
priately be raided to commemorate the services of its chil-
dren. It was fitting that the first monument to the soldiers
of Oneida County should be planted there. It was equally
fitting that it should owe its existence to the patriotism and
generosity of Samuel Campbell.

The Union party showed its sense of Mr. Campbell's
fitness by sending him as a delegate to the convention
which nominated Mr. Lincoln for his second term, appoint-
ing him a presidential elector for General Grant, and by two
elections to the New York Senate. His strong sense soon
mastered all the details of his duties. He had many hard
tasks to do, especially as chairman of the railroad com-
mittee, but he did them in an effective, if in a quiet, unob-
trusive way. There was no man in the Senate who did
not like to do him a kindness, — not one who did not honor
him. Since his retirement from the Senate he has uni-
formly refused to become again the recipient of public
honors.

Mr. Campbell married in 1833 Agnes Sinclair, whose
virtues and pleasant ways cheered him in his years of toil,
and who remains the bright companion of his advancing



years, — the mother whom his children worship, the woman
who gets without an effort the respect and the love of all
who come within her sphere. Around them have grown
up a large family of sons and daughters.

Physically, Mr. Campbell is of commanding presence.
He has a fine head, white hair, flowing beard, keen eyes,
bright cheery face, broad shoulders, and a stalwart frame.

His residence is on an eminence some distance from the
road, in the midst of fine variegated grounds, and overlook-
ing a wide and lovely landscape.

There are very many pleasant things in Mr. Campbell's
life, but there is nothing more pleasant than that his ample
fortune has been won by honest labor of head and hand,
without a stain on his character or reputation, and with a
full discharge of all his duties.



CHAPTER XLVIIL

BIOGEAPHICAL.

SKETCH OF BARON STEUBEN.

As this distinguished individual occupies a prominent
niche in the temple devoted to the American Revolution, —
contributing as he did in the highest degree, by his exten-
sive and profound knowledge of military organization and



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 177 of 192)