Samuel W Durant.

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

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made upon myself, then a boy of seven or eight summers, as these
showy equipages drew up in front of my father's residence, may
readily be imagined. As also present on this occasion, I distinctly
recall Counselor Gold, Newton Mann, and Theodore Sill.

" Up to this time the power-loom for weaving cotton cloth, though
in existence, was not in succe-'sful operation. It is true experiments
were bein"" made with this machine by Slater and others, but as yet
not generally in use in the State of New York. A step bad been
made in this line, however, by the erection of a large building, in
which were placed a number of hand-looms. These were operated by
experts brought from England and Scotland, and the work of eon-
vertino" into cloth the yarn spun in the Oneida Factory, which had
hitherto been distributed throughout the country, was concentrated
in this establishment. Among these experts was a Scotchman named
Pye whose special occupation was that of weaving cotton counter-
panes, an article much prized by housekeepers as being both useful

f There was no Governor or Lieutenant- Governor of New York, by
this name. The Governor at that date was Daniel D. Tompkinf, and
the Lieutenant-Governor either John Taylor or De Witt Clinton.
(See New York Civil List for 1814.) Historian.



244



HISTORY OP ONEIDA COUNTY, NEW YORK.



and ornamental. The weaving of these with lions, Lombarcly pop-
lars, and other figures in high relief, was then considered a wonderful
achievement. On the occasion of tbc Governor's visit, as this work-
man was plying his trade, it 'became necessary for bira to replenish
his shuttle with a fresh bobbin, in doing which he had to suck the
thread through the eye of the shuttle; and well do I remember the
Governor's remark at the moment: 'Is that the way you do it,' said
hia excellency J to which the Scot replieJ, 'Yes, may it please your
honor, the poor weaver has many a dry sup,' which apt response
elicited from the distinguished visitor a silver dollar as a douceur to
the witty workman.

"Another incident, still fresh in ray memory, is that the Governor
and his party gave orders for complete outfits in the line of the fig-
ured counterpanes for their respective households, and I doubt not
that some of these articles are still in possession of some of the de-
scendants of the party in question,

"The erection of the woolen-factory at Oriskany must have been
contemporaneous, or nearly so, with the Oneiila factory, since, from
the best evidence I can command, work upon, the former was begun
in 1S09, two years before a charter for the incorporation of the enter-
prise could be obtained from the State Legislature. It is to this fact
that the period of the commencement of this work hiis been by some
erroneously credited to ISII, instead of 1S09, — the actual time of its
inauguration. In this I am sustained by Seth Newton Dexter and
Hon, Mr. Dudley. In a paper read before the Historical Society of
New York the latter says, with regard to the trade (manufactures) in
New York State, that tlie first woolen-factory was built by Dr. Soth
Capron, in Oneida County, about the year 1 SO0, and shortly afterwards
others sprang up in Hudson, Columbia, and other counties. This is
confirmed by Dexter, who, in a paper on the subject, gives dates and
many important facts in connection with cotton- and woolen-mills
erected by my father. Mr. Dexter ought certainly to be informed on
this subject, as he came to Whitcstown at a very early period in its
history, arriving from Boston in a gig and tandem, which brought
also his wife and all his earthly possessions, lie was subsequently
identified with the woolen manufacturing interests of that County.

" It is not generally known that the idea of flic Oriskany Factory
originated from a small mill, erected at a very early period, at Whct-
more's* Mills, for carding wool for the country. My father's idea,
suggested by this small beginning, was that the establi:?hment of
manufactures on a permanent basis was indispensable tfl the independ-
ence of the nation. Thitroughly convinced of the correctness of this
view, he at once entered into correspondence with Governor Bloodgood,f
Dc M''itt Clinton, Elisha Jenkins, Thaddeus B. Wakeman, Gerrit G.
Lansing, Stephen Van Rensselaer, and other prominent gentlemen of
that day, the result of which was the inauguration in the State of
New York of .a great woolen induetvy. Many difficulties were en-
countered at the outset of this cnterprihc. Everything was to be
created, and everything learned. Capital available for such work
was exceedingly limited, while machinery, and workmen experienced
in all its branch ca, could not be obtained on this side of the water. The
first spindles used in this mill were brought from Englauil, and with
them a Scotchman named William Goss, experienced in their working.
A practical hand-loom weaver of satinets and broadcloths, by the
name of William Graham, and an expert in the varied and difficult work
of finishing the goods woven, by the name of Sharp, were also imported,
together with various other workmen in the several branches of wooli n
manufactures. These men ond their descendants have been leaders
in the manufacture of woolens in the State of New York to the present
time. One of the number, Mr. James Graham, put into operation in
the mill in question the first power-loom for weaving woolen yarn
ever used in this country; while another, Mr. James Goss, performed
in that factory the first work by machinery in the inuuu/ftctnrc nf wool
ever done in the United States.

"The first importation into Oneida County of merino sheep must
have been at a very early period, and soon after the Oriskany Factory
was projected, since the factory was mainly dependent upon the Mount
Merino Association for its supply of wool. This association originated
with my fiither, with whom were associated Thomas R. Gold (or
Counselor Gold, as he was called), Newton Mann, Thaddeus B. Wake-
man, Colonel Jenkins, of Albany, and others. The capital stock of

^-' Probably Wetmorc.

f This gentleman must have been Governor of some adjacent
State. Possibly it should be written Gouvcrncur, a proper name.



the association was $40,000. Some of the sheep were imported from
Spain at fabulous prices, $1000 being paid for a single buck, ' Don
Pedro;' and a like price for another, 'Don Carlos;' while $600 was
the price each of several other sheep on board at place of shipment.
Taking into consideration the large jsrice paid for a single sheep, cost
of attendance, risk by sea and land, and time required to pbicc the
stock in Oneida County, under the then existing eircumstanccp, it
will be readily seen that the importation of wool-producing animals
was no trifling undertaking. During the war and tbc embargo, how-
ever, the enterprise was exceedingly remunerative.

"The sheep were bred and cared for on farms belonging to Dr.
Capron, in Deerfield, directly across the Mohawk River IVouj Oriskany,
and after the most approved methods. They were separated into
flocks of a hundred each. In winter shelter was provided for them,
and every convenience for feeding, while the arrangements for the
care of the ewes and young Iambs in the early spring were perfect.
In summer the pastures were subdivided to allow frequent changes,
which was conceded to be very important for the health of the stock.
" The sjiring washing of the sheep before shearing took place in
the Mohawk River, and well do I remember this opei-ation. At the
shearing every regard was had to exactness of detail. The fleeces
were graded according to fineness, the qualities being rated as half,
three-quarters, seven-eighths, and full-blooded; it was then rolled,
tagged, and sent to the factory to be manufactured into broadcloths,
eassimeres, and satinets. The value of the wool was from nine to ten
shillings per pound; satinets brought S3. 50 to $7.00, and broadcloths
from $10.00 to i?15. 00 per yard. These prices, of course, made the
investment of the Mount Merino Association and factory a paying
institution, and particularly so during the war and the continu-
ance of the embargo; but on the establishment of peace, and the
opening of our ports, the introduction of foreign woolens soon so
materially reduced the demand for domestic productions that the wool
produced by the association could find no market. As a natural re-
sult the factory discontinued its operations. Too well do I remember
this melancholy period, and especially the sad sequel, which was the
killing of some two thousand costly sheep for their pelts, their fleece
not paying the expense of their keeping.

" The following incident in connection with the firpt importation of
the merino sheep may not be out of place. Counselor Gold, Colonel
Jenkins (I think), and Dr. Capron had each imported from Spain a
full-blooded merino ram. On arrival at Whitesboro', Counselor
Go!d had his fine buck placed temporarily in his front yard, which
was beautifully laid out, and of which he was quite proud. At the
time, Mr. Newton Mann, a near neighbor, had a cosset sheep.
Though very tame, the pet was exceedingly troublesome, frequently
trespassing upon the counselor's grounds. Complaints had often
been made to Mr. Mann of the depredations of his sheep, when
finally he was informed that the counselor intended to kill the
favorite should it again be found trespassing on his premises. Mr.
Mann sent back word for the counselor to carry out his intentions
without htsitation. Mr. Gold's coachman, Toney, was very near-
sighted, as was also his employer. One day Toney espied a sheep
in tbc yard, when, without waiting to investigate, he informed
the counselor of the fact. 'Shoot him down, Toney,' said Mr.
Gold, whereupon the coachman seized his gun, and, taking de-
lil)crnte aim, according to the emphatic directions of his employer,
blazed away. The explosion over, Mr. Mann was summoned to re-
move the dead body of his pet, when, lo ! the troublesome animal
was found uninjured, and followed Its master to view the victim of
the too zealous Toney, who had killed the counselor's thousand
dollar ram.

" In conclusion, I moy be pardoned for indulging in a few filial
sentiments in regard to my father, of whom the fact is well estab-
lished that while he devoted much of his time and energy to the in-
troduction, and establishment on a permanent basis, of at least two
of the great industries to which New York State owes no inconsider-
able portion of its wealth, his devotion to these enterprises was
prompted by patriotic motives rather than by those which usually
stimulate to industrial pursuits.

" Dr. Seth Capron was born in Massachusetts. At the time of the
country's greatest peril he was too young to bo subject to draft, and too
short in stature to pass the inspection at muster ; nevertheless, and as
evidence of hii patriotism, it is known that he managed, by elevating
himself on his toes, to pass the mustering officer, and that he was
shortly afterwards at the siege of Newport, where he was attached



HISTORY OF ONEIDA COUNTY, NEW YORK.



245



to General Lafayette's corps of light infantry. Here it was that
he first heard tho music of artillery, and where a cannon-shot, in-
tended for Lafayette, jnst gr.ized his ho;id. Attached to Captain
llolbrook's company of Massachusetts troops, Colonel Price's regi-
ment, young Capron took part in the battle of White Plains, West-
chester Co., N. Y. He was soon afterwards ordered to the head-
quarters of the army, at West Point, where he was attached fo the
non-commissioned staff of General Washington, under whom he
served during the remainder of the war. Commanding the barge
which conveyed the Father of his Country to Elizabethtown Point,
after he had taken leave of the army at New York at the close of the
war, Ciipron was the last miin who received the general's benediction
when he landed.

" Immediately on returning home my father began the study of
medicine with Dr. Bezaleel Mann, an eminent physician of that pe-
riod, and in due time entered upon its practice. In 1S06 he settled
in Whitesboro', Oneida Co., N. Y., where, by diligent attention to his
profession, and judicious investment of savings from his income, he
had accumulated quite a competency. As already stated, in 1S07 he
commenced the work for the establishment of manufactures by laying
the foundation of the first cotton, and shortly afterwards that of tho
first (as I contend) woolen, factory ever erected in the United States.
In 1825 he removed to Orange County and established the beautiful
manufacturing town of Walden, on the Wallkill, where he died in
18.*^5, aged seventy-four years.

" The following is his obituary as taken from one of the periodicals
of that day.

" I am very truly yours,

" Horace Capuos."
" obituauv. '
" Died on Friday last, at Walden, Orange County, aged seventy-
four, Dr. Seth Capron, after an illness of about thirty hours. He was
a native of Massachusetts), and took part in the Revolutionary war,
ranking among the favorites of General Washington. He many years
since removed from Rhode Island, and settled in Whitesboro', Oneida
County, where he formed a company, and erected the first cotton-fac-
tory that was put in operation in this iState. He .afterwards organized
a company, and established the Oriskany Woolen-Factory.

"Dr. Capron was a man of great integi-ity and moral worth, and
uncommon ardor, enterprise, and industry. Few men have had more
active lives, and few have effected more.

"His name will be identified with the history of the manufactures
of the State of New York. To Dr. Seth Capron is Oneida County in-
debted for much of that abundance she is now reaping from her splen-
did factories.

" Their introduction into that county was effected by great perse-
verance, and against prejudices and obstacles that would have dis-
couraged most men. His open, manly, conciliating conduct enabled
him to triumph. The project was branded as visionary and ruinous
by a portion of that community; but soon the benefits began to be
realized : industry was promoted, wealth followed, and all were com-
pelled to approve.

"A few years since he visited Walden. The fine w.ater-power run-
ning to waste tempted him to establish himself in that village. There
he was the principal agent in establishing a large woolen manufac-
ture, and also, with his son, a cotton-factory.

" He was instrumental in giving life to this now flourishing village,
and, above all, he was indefatigable in propagating sound morals
among his newly-adopted fellow-citizens, and particularly in temper-
ance.

" His mild persuasive manners, and the honesty and goodness of
his purposes were manifest in all his conduct, and the uniform correct-
ness of his example gave hiui wonderful influence over the villagers.
Obedience followed his will as if he had been invested with absolute
power.

"His circle of friends was numeruns in other parts of the country,
among whom he was beloved and respected. His death will be de-
plored by a most estimable and affectionate family, and the village of
Walden will long mourn for him as a father."

INDUSTRY AND WEALTH.
Area, Acreiige, etc. — The total area of the county in
square miles and acres is given variously by different authori-
ties. For instance, the United States census of 1870 makes



it 653,542 acres, equivalent to 1021i square miles; the
State Gazetteer gives the square miles at 1215, which is
equivalent to 777,600 acres; the State census of 1875
makes the acreage 704,363, equal to 1100 J square miles;
while the number of acres as shown by the assessment of

1869 is 740,122, equal to 1156J square miles. The
estimate by the State Gazetteer probably includes all the
land and water surface of the county, while the other esti-
mates leave out the area occupied by cities and villages,
and the water surface.

Valuation. — According to the assessment of 1869, the
total value of all property assessed for taxation in that year
was §18,508,836. The true valuation, a.s fixed by a com-
mittee of the board of supervisors for 1877, was 173,853,-
631 ; the value according to the United States census of

1870 was $45,912,258 ; and according to the State cen.sus
of 1875 and other authorities it was, including church
property, as follows, specified by classes of property :

Dwellings $3S,52fi,0S2

Farms 40,211.660

Farm buildings, other than dwellings 4,571,453

Stock 6,167,913

Tools and implements l,2i).S,191

Manufactures (census of 1870) 11,503,438

Railw.ays (assessors' figures, 1869) 1,360,765

Church property (census of 1875) 2,533,600

Total $105,173,092

This estimate, as will be noticed, does not take into
account school nor personal property, which would probably
amount to about $3,000,000 additional. No estimate is
placed upon State, county, and other public property, such
as the Erie Canal, asylums, county buildings, etc.

The total number of farms in Oneida County, as returned
by the State census of 1875, was 8119, which, according
to the assessed acreage in farms for 1869, 736,305, would
give an average of about 91 acres to each.

The real value of the county by towns, as fixed by the
supervisors for 1877, is shown in the following table, copied
from the committee's report, as published in one of the
Utica daily papers ■.

Annsville $964,960

Augusta 1,360,600

Ava «3,267

Boonville 1,978.911

Bridgewatcr 1,0.64,262

Camden 1,896,866

Deerfield 1,907,413

Florence 1,019,686

Floyd 1,060,225

Forcstport 37:i,951

Kirklnnd 3,272,802

Lee 1,176,828

Marcy 1,330,871

Marshall 1,803,830

New Hartford 2,774,020

p,iri5 2,231,285

Rcmsen 721,297

Rome 7,117,411

Sangcrficld 2,146,664

Steuiien 9*7,992

Trenton 2,41a,36l

Utica 21,512,117

Vernon 2,065,074

Verona 3,807,080

Vienna 1,119,965

Western 1,381,831

Westmoreland 2,017,047

Whitestown 3,872,416

Total $73,853,631

Agricultural Productions, etc. — According to the State



246



HISTOEY OP ONEIDA COUNTY, NEW YORK.



census of 1875, there were 704j363 acres of land assessed
in the county, of which 501,099 were improved, 135,369
woodland, and 67,895 acres unimproved. There were
85,018 acres of plowed lands, 235,587 acres in pasture,
165,420 acres in mowing lands, 2851 acres in barley, 2541
acres in buckwheat, 16,142 acres in Indian corn, 34,560
acres in oats, 1785 acres in rye, 619 acres in spring wheat,
3127 acres in winter wheat, 2064 acres in corn for fodder,
331 acres of beans, 276 acres, of peas, 6600 acres in hops,
13,572 acres in potatoes, 5 acres in tobacco; The amount
of gross sales from farms was $4,569,684. Tons of hay
produced, 209,097 ; bushels of grass seed, 569 ; bushels of
barley, 61,435 ; bushels of buckwheat, 45,407 ; bushels of
Indian corn, 465,605; bushels of oats, 1,069,121 ; bushels
of rye, 32,410 ; bushels of spring wheat, 9129 ; bushels
of winter wheat, 60,850 ; bushels of beans, 5776 ; bu.shels
of peas, 5811 ; pounds of hops, 3,101,958 (being the largest
amount produced by any county in the State) ;. bushels of
potatoes, 1,345,704; pounds of tobacco, 3850. Number
of apple-trees, 439,758; bushels of fruit, 538,889 ; barrels
of cider, 17,775 ; pounds of grapes, 42,089 ; gallons of
wine, 658 ; pounds of maple-sugar, 82,252 ; gallons of
syrup, 7671; pounds of honey, 28,797. Farm stock:
horses, all ages, 16,293 ; mules, 227 ; neat cattle (all ani-
mals except milch cows), 31,754; milch cows, 59,947;
cattle slaughtered in 1874, 3507 ; number of sheep shorn,
18,176 ; lambs raised, 15,087 ; sheep slaughtered in 1874,
1895 ; sheep killed by dogs, 648 ; swine in county, 24,836 ;
swine slaughtered on farms, 14,979 ; pounds of pork,
3,763,404. Poultry (value owned), $82,427 ; value sold,
$44,496 ; value of eggs sold, $70,652. Dairy products :
butter made in families, 3,401,227 pounds; cheese, ditto,
439,638 pounds; milk sold in market, 621,726 gallons.
Pounds of wool, 78,532.

In agricultural productions Oneida County ranks as fol-
lows in the State : in hay, second ; in barley, nineteenth ;
in buckwheat, thirty-first ; in Indian corn, eighteenth ; in
oats, eighth ; in rye, nineteenth ; in spring wheat, twenty-
fifth ; in winter wheat, twenty-fifih ; in hops, first ; in pota-
toes, fifth ; in products of apple orchards, sixteenth ; in
production of maple-sugar, twenty-second. In stock, Oneida
County ranks as foUow.s : horses on farms, sixth ; in value
of poultry, about ninth ; in number of milch cows, third ;
in other neat cattle, fourth ; in production of butter,*
ninth ; in production of cheese, sixth ; in amount of milk
sold, twelfch ; in number of sheep, thirty-second ; in num-
ber of hogs, tenth.

Statistics of Btilter and Cheese Factories for 1874,
from State Census. — Total number of establishments, 81 ;
amount of capital invested, $179,566 ; amount of wages
paid, $41,606; average number of cows, 24,274; number
of days in the season, about 220 ; average number of pat-
rons, 1735 ; total number of pounds of milk used during
the season, 74,880,082 ; pounds of milk used in making
cheese, 71,242,650 ; pounds of cheese made, 7,176,337 ;
pounds of milk used in making butter, 3,637,432 ; pounds
of butter made, 54.000 ; pounds of skimmed cheese made,
270,000.



~ Butter and checso made in families, — not including faotoi'ics.



These products are exclusive of butter and cheese manu-
factured in families. It will be seen that the great bulk
of the business is confined to the manufacture of cheese, in
which product Oneida County ranks third in the State ;
Herkimer county standing first, with 9,212,428 pounds,
and Jefferson second, with 7,610,499 pounds.

Oneida County stands second in the cash value of farms
and improvements, second in the total value of its stock,
fourth in the acreage of improved farms, and fourth in
the value of its farm-buildings other than dwellings. It
stands first in the gross sales of farm products, third in
acreage of pasture lands, third in acreage of mowing
lands, and second in number of tons of hay produced.

ONEIDA COUNTY BIBLE SOCIETY.

The original of this society was the " Oneida Bible So-
ciety," which was organizad in the Presbyterian church in
Utica, on the 15th of November, 1810, — being six years
older than the American Bible Society. Rev. Amos G-.
Baldwin presided at the meeting. Rev. James Carnahan,
George Huntington, and Erastus Clark were appointed a
committee to draft a constitution, which was pi-esented and
adopted unanimously, and which, with a few minor amend-
ments, is still its organic law. Its first article, which was
made a fundamental law that could not be repealed, defines
the object of the society to be " the distribution of the Holy
Scriptures in the common version, witliout note or com-
ment." The earliest olBcers were Jonas Piatt, of Whites-
boro', president; Rev. Asahel S. Norton, of Clinton, vice-
president ; Rev. James Carnahan, secretary ; Rev. Amos
G. Baldwin, treasurer. There were also sixteen directors,
as follows, divided equally between the clergy and the
laymen: George Huntington and Rev. Moses Qillet, of
Rome; Rev. Abraham Williams, Artlmr Breese, Morris S.
Miller, Erastus Clark, Jeremiah Van Rensselaer, of Utica ;
Rev. Oliver Wetmore, of Hulland Patent ; Dr. Elnathan
Judd and Henry McNeil, of Paris; Rev. James Eells, of
Westmoreland; John Linklaen, of Cazenovia; Rev. Israel
Brainard, of Verona ; Rev. Samuel F. Snowden, of New
Hartford ; Rev. Caleb Douglas, of Whitesboro', and Rev.
James Southworth, of Bridgewater.

In its early years the operations of the society extended
over a large area from Montgomery County, on the east, to
Steuben on the west, and from St. Lawrence to Chenango
on the north and south. In 1849 its constitution was re-
vised and its name changed to " Oneida County Bible So-
ciety," and its field of operations practically restricted to
Oneida County.

A thorough examination of the county has been four
times made with a view to discover and supply every desti-
tute fiimily with a copy of the Scriptures. The fourth
report of these surveys, made in 1861, shows that during
the preceding year its agents visited 18,597 families, and
sold about 1600 copies, and donated over 2100 copies.

The first annual meeting of the society was held in
January, 1811, since which date regular annual meetings
have been held, with the exception of the years 1833 to
1836 inclusive. The proceedings of the society have been
published annually in the form of a report. Many of the
earlier ones were prepared by Erastus Clark. The semi-



HISTORY OF ONEIDA COUNTY, NEW YORK.



247




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 67 of 192)