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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he w'as so popular as to be the nominee of one of the po-
litical parties for representative in Congress, but was beaten
by Thomas R. Gold, whose name appears first on the list of
attorneys admitted to practice at the formation of Oneida
County. Mr. Skinner at first lived on Whitesboro' Street,
afterwards on Broadway, and later at No. 32 Broad Street.

The year 1798 witnessed the establishment of the first
newspaper in Utica. William McLean had begun the pub-
lication of a paper at New Hartford in 1794, which he
named the Whitestown Gazette. New Hartford was then
in the town of Whitestown, of which it continued a part
until 1827.

In 1798 he removed his press to Utica and issued the
paper under the name of Whitestown Gazette and Cato's
Patrol, the latter title having reference to the younger of
the Roman Catos, who was the defender of the ancient
Utica. Mr. McLean was a native of Hartford, Conn., born
Dee. 2, 1774, and was consequently quite a young man
when he commenced the publication of his paper. He
continued' the business in Utica until 1803, when he sold
to a couple of his apprentices, Messrs. Seward and Williams,
and returned to New Hartford, where he opened a tavern

and kept it for several years. He subsequently removed to
Cazenovia, and engaged in the same business. In 1818 he
journeyed to Cherry Valley, and issued a paper called the
Cherry Valley Gazette, which is still published there. He
died at the last-mentioned place on the 12th of March,
1848, in the enjoyment of the esteem and good-will of the

John C. Hoyt was another new-comer about this time,
and in November, 1798, advertised in the columns of the
Whitestown Gazette that he had commenced the business
of a " taylor," at the shop formerly kept by William S.
Warner, opposite Bagg's inn, Utica. His shop was on the
southwest corner of Genesee Street and Whitesboro' road.
Here he remained for more than twenty years.

He filled the offices of trustee of the village and of the
Presbyterian Church, and was greatly esteemed and re-
spected. He was a native of Danbury, Conn., and died at
the early age of forty-four years, in August, 1820.

Elisha Burohard came the same year. He engaged in
farming, and had a dwelling near what is now the corner of
Court and Schuyler Streets. He took an active part in the
fire company, of which he was for several years the foreman.
He died in March, 1811, leaving a large family.

The year 1798 is noteworthy also for a visit made to
Utica by the famous traveler and writer Dr. Timothy
Dwight, president of Yale College. The following descrip-
tion of the place we take from Dr. Bagg, who copied it
from a volume descriptive of his travels :

" Uticji, when we passed through it, was a pretty village contain-
ing fifty houses. It is built on the spot where Fort Schuyler "for-
merly stood. Its site is the declivity of the hill which bounds the
valley of the Mohawk, and here slopes easily and elegantly to the
river. The bouses stand almost all on a single street, parallel to the
river. Generally those which were built before our arrival were
small, not being intended for permanent habitations. The settlers
were almost wholly traders and mechanics, and it was said that their
business had already become considerable. Their expectations of
future prosperity were raised to the highest pitch, and not a doubt
was entertained that this village would, at no great distance of time,
become the emporium of all the commerce carried on between the
ocean and a vast interior. These apprehensions, though partially
well founded, appeared to me extravagant. Commerce is often capri-
cious, and demands of her votaries a degree of wisdom, moderation,
and integrity, to fix her residence and secure her favors, which is
more frequently seen in old, than in new establishments.

" We found the people of Utica laboring, and in a fair way to labor
a long time, under one very serious disadvantage. The lands on
which they live are chiefly owned by persons who reside at a dis-
tance, and who refuse to sell or rent them except on terms which are
exorbitant. The stories which we heard concerning this subject it
was difficult to believe, even when told by persons of the best reputa-
tion. ... A company of gentlemen from Holland, who have pur-
chased large tracts of land in this State and Pennsylvania, and who
are known by the name of the Holland Land Company, have built
here a large brick house to serve as an inn. The people of Utica are
united with those of Whitesboro' in their parochial concerns."

The " large brick house" mentioned by the reverend
doctor was the same which was known for many years as
the " York House,'* and was for a long period the most
noted hostelry between Albany and the lakes.

Its proprietors were the celebrated Holland Land Com-
pany, who had, on the 21st of November, 1788, purchased of

'■■ So named in ISll by its then proprietor, Henry Bamman, a
Frenchman. Up to this time it had been known as the " Hotel."



the State of Massachusetts 2,600,000 acres of land in West-
ern New York, and subsequently opened offices for the sale
and settlement of the same.* For some p;ood and sufficient
reason the company, in November, 1795, had purchased
from Thomas and Augustus Corey, 200 acres of great lot
No. 95, which was for a long time thereafter known as the
" Hotel Lot." On this lot the " York House" was erected
during the years 1798-99. The reasons which induced
the company to erect such a structure here were, undoubt-
edly, the central location of Utica with reference to western
business, its prospective importance at that date which was
very promising, and the great amount of travel already de-
veloped in the Mohawk Valley, which necessarily made
Utica an important station, whether moving east or west.

The location of the building was not an inviting one,
being at that time very low and wet, and affording no good
foundation. Dr. Bagg repeats a current story that the
workmen lost a crowbar by leaving it standing in u, soft
place while taking their dinner; and, according to another
story, not only the bar but the corner-stone also sunk out
of sight in the boggy swamp. Samuel Hooker & Son
had the contract for the erection of the building. The
bricks were manufactured by Heli Foot, of Deerfield.
The foundations, like those of the Stadt House in Am-
sterdam, were artificial, and con.sisted of hemlock-logs,
laid lengthwise in the trench excavated for the walls.
The building is said to have continued to settle for many
yeare, but the movement was so uniform that no serious
damage resulted to the walls. When completed it was a
three-storied structure of quadrangular form, and sur-
mounted by a " hip" roof It contained a large number of
rooms, and in addition to the usual rooms for guests had a
large ball-room fitted up, and another which was occupied
by the Masons as a lodge-room. It was a grand and im-
posing building for those days, and stood conspicuous above
all other buildings in the place.f Its dimensions were
about 48 by 60 feet ; not a very wonderful size when com-
pared with the Baggs and Butterfield caravansaries of to-
day, but enormous for the time in which it was erected.
Upon its upper story were the letters " H T E L," which,
in spite of time's ravages and a free use of paint, are
still legible.

This fine hotel was opened on the 2d of December, 1799,
or twelve days preceding the death of Washington at Mount
Vernon. The first landlord was Philip J. Schwartze, de-
scribed as a " fat Dutchman," who had been in the employ
of the company as steward or cook, and had accompanied
Mr. Linklaen, one of their agents, on a trip to Cazenovia in
1793. Mr. Schwartze, upon taking possession, announced
to the public that " the hotel in the village of Utica was
open for the reception of such ladies and gentlemen as
chose to honor the proprietor with their patronage."

A few weeks after this announcement a grand ball was
given in honor of the event, to be followed by a series of
entertainments, as the following card announced :

* The company also owned lands nearer Utica on the north and on
the southwest.

I The map of Utica in 1825, given in Dr. Bagg's work, locatcR this
hotel directly opposite the foot of Seneca Street, whereas it is on the
corner of the alley opposite the foot of Hotel Street.


Whiteftowjt Dancing Affembly.

The Honor of s

company is requested at the
Hotel Assembly Room, in
Utica, for the season.

B. Walker, W. G. Tracy, |

J. S. Kip, C. Platt, \ Managers.

A. Breese, N. Williams, )


20, 1799.

About a year from the opening, a new street was opened
leading from opposite the hotel to Genesee Street, or road,
in the south part of the village, with the object of bringing
the travel from the west directly to the house. It was
named Hotel Street.

Mr. Schwartze did not long continue to be landlord, for
within a year he was succeeded by Hobart Ford, from Nor-
wich, Conn., who also only remained a short time, for he
died on the 1st day of December, 1801. Mr. Schwartze
became landlord of the House tavern, on the corner of
Genesee and Main Streets.

As an evidence of the necessity for hotel accommoda-
tions in Utica, we quote the following statement regarding
the travel through the Mohawk Valley, from " Annals of
Albany." In the winter of 1795 twelve hundred sleighs,
loaded with furniture, and with men, women, and children,
passed through Albany in three days ; and five hundred
were counted between sunrise and sunset of Feb. 28 of
that year. All of them were moving westward.

Among the landlords enumerated as keepers of this
hotel previous to 1825 are David Trowbridge, in 1803-6;
Thomas Sickles, in 1808; Henry Bamman, from 1814 to
1818 ; Seth Dwight, in 1818 ; Samuel Gay, in 1820, and
Henry E. Dwight, in 1823-24. The latter was a man of
immense proportions, weighing 365 pounds. He died in
1824. The " York House" is still in a remarkable state of
preservation, and a conspicuous landmark of the early
days. It is occupied as a dwelling.

The prominent arrivals of 1799 were Nathaniel Butler, a
watchmaker and jeweler, who continued in that business
until 1815, and went into general merchandising and specu-
lating in real estate. He afterwards removed to Madison
County, and later to Oswego County.' John Smith, a
Scotch merchant, who remained until the troubles with
Great Britain appeared about to culminate in war, when he
removed to Canada ; and John Bissell, who opened a trad-
ing establishment on the corner of Genesee and Whites-
boro' Streets. In 1802, Bissell removed to Bridgewater,
subsequently to New Hartford, and afterwards returned and
re-established himself in Utica. In 1812 he removed to

New York.


This year is said to have furnished the earliest tax-list

of which there is at present any knowledge. It probably

shows about the total names of resident property-owners at



tliat time. The total tax levied is so ridiculously small as
to lead to the belief tliat it was some special assessment for
repairing the town-pump, building a culvert, or for some
other unimportant purpose; but as it is entitled the "Utica
Village Tax-List for 180(t," we are forced to the conclusion
that it was the regular annual tax on the assessed property.
It is as follows :


Silas Clark $0 60

J. D. Petrie

Matthew Hubbell

Benjamin Walker, Esq...

.T. Booking

Peter Smith, Esq

Eenjjimin Ballou

James S. Kip, E.«q

Wiiiow Dawson (Murphy)

Nathan Williams

Barnabas Brooks

J. Biesell

John Bellinger fi2i

.Tohn C. Hoyt 50

Samuel Eugg 25

Bavnaba* Coon 12*

John Cooper ]2i

JcphthaBuell 25

Famuol Carriugton ].12i

Pylvanus P. Dygert 37i

ijaniuol Foreman 37^

Clark 37i

John Curtiss S7J

John Hobby 1.12i

Benjamin Ballou, Jr M7i

.Tere. Cowden 25

Richard Smith :.12i

Joseph Ballou 75

0.& J. Ballou S7i

John House ].(I0

John Post 2.00

Daniel Bmllong 1.26

William Pritchard 12^

Nichols, Bagg's

House $0.75

James Bagg 12^

Moses Bagg l.oo

Worden Hammond 50

John Smith 87J

Bryan Johnson 1.00

Adm'r of Daniel Banks.. .62i

Clark & Fellows S7i

Remsen 60

Proprietors of Hotel 1.00

Stephen Potter 25

Ramsey & Co 1.25

Gurdon Burchard 75

Francis Bloodgood 1.00

William Halscy 1.00

Nathaniel Butler 1.12J

William Williams 75

Peter Cavender 50

Jan. Garrett 25

Jonathan Foot 25

Simon Jones 12^

Josc}ih Peirce 25

G. Boon's House 25

Apollos Cooper 25

Gurdon Burchard 25

William McLean 75

James P. Dorches'er 50

Samuel Hooker 87^

Watts Sherman 60

Erastus Clark 50

Erastus Easton 37i

Van Sykos 12J

Total $40.00

John Post must have been considered a millionaire, and
such fellows as Colonel Walker, Dr. Carrington, John
Hobby, Daniel Budlong, Moses li.-yg, Lawyer Bloodgood,
and Bryan Johnson as among the " rich men" of Utica ;
while the Van Sykes' and Jones' were only in moderate
circumstances. It is more than probable that such a list,
exhibited among the real-estate owners of the present day,
would create the impression that the assessor was " clean
daft."' The average property-owner of to-day pays more
than the total footings of the above list. Think of running
a village corporation upon forty dollars ! And yet, there
was no doubt grum bling in these days about heavy taxation.

An English traveler, John Maude, made a visit to the
Falls of Niagara in 1800, passing through and stoppinc
overnight at the York House on his way. We make a
few extracts from his journal published in London in 1826 :

"Utica (Fort Schuyler), ninety-six miles. Schwartz's Hotel; ex-
cellent house and miserably kept; built by Boon & Linklaon (agents
for the Holland Land Company), the proprietors of a considerable
number of Ihe adjoining building lots. Those east of these are the
property of the Blceeker family, on which the principal part of the
present town is built,— built, too, on short leases of fourteen years,
after which the houses become the property of the owners of the soil,
to the certain loss and probable ruin of the present residents. Utica
is in the township of Whitestown, and contains about sixty houses.
No (jeiiieel fauiilj-, save Colonel Walker's, and he resides at a small
distance east of the village. The great Genesee road turns off at this
place. An act has lately passed for making it a turnpike road to
Genesee and Canandaigua, a distance of one hundred miles and up-
wards ; the expense is estimated at $1000 per mile, the road to be
four rods in width. The inhabitants of Utica subscribed to finish
the first mile. They formed twenty shares of ?50 each. These shares
they afterwards sold to Colonel Walker and Mr. Post for forty-four

cents the dollar, who have finished the tirst mile. Thirty miles, it is
expected, will be finished before the winter sets in.* Bridge here
over the Mohawk; the river narrow, clear, and shallow; no fish;
seven boats at the wharf; heard a bullfrog; groves of sugar-maple,
a tree very common here.''

During the year 1800 an attempt was made to inaugurate
a system of water-supply, and Samuel Bardwell, Oliver
Bull, Colonel Benjamin Walker, aYid Silas Clark constituted
the " Aqueduct" Company. They brought water from two
springs — one on the Asylum Hill, and one near where now
stands the Oneida Brewery — in pump logs, and distributed
it to the citizens, the latter paying a small quarterly tax

A notable arrival in Utica during the year 1800 was
that of Charles C. Brodhead. The following items are con-
densed from Dr. Bagg's " Pioneers." The Brodheads were
originally from Holland, whence they emigrated to York-
shire, England, and from whence one of the family came to
America in 1664, along with Colonel Richard Nicolls, the
first Governor of the colony under the Duke of York. The
grandfather of C. C. Brodhead removed from Marbletown, in
Ulster Co., to Northampton, Pa., in 1737. His son, Charles,
was an ofiicer in Braddock's army, and was engaged in the
terrible conflict on the Monongahela, in July, 1755. He
afterwards was in command at Fort Pitt (on the site of
Fort Duquesne) and defended it against a desperate attack
of the Indians. He espoused the side of the colonies upon
the breaking out of the Revolution, though his conscientious
scruples led him to decline the offer of a colonelcy made
by the government. He removed to New Paltz, Ulster Co.,
N. Y., just before the war, and here, on the 10th of Novem-
ber, 1772, his son, Charles C, was born, the fourth son of
eight children. One of his brothers was afterwards a mem-
ber of Congress fiom Ulster County. Charles learned the
business of surveying with one W. Cockburn, an eminent
surveyor, of Kingston, in his native county.

In 1793, Messrs. Desjardincs and Pharoux, the agents of
the French Castorland Company, who had purchased an ex-
tensive tract of land (210,000 acres) in the Black River
region, employed him to survey and lay out the tract. This
appointment was highly complimentary to a young man in
his twenty-first year; but the fidelity and good judgment
displayed by him in the prosecution of the woik abundantly
justified the confidence reposed in him, and so well pleased
were the company, that, in addition to the fixed remunera-
tion agreed upon, they presented him with a valuable lot.

His experience was varied and sometimes exciting, and
even dangerous, while engaged in this work. He was one
of the unfortunate party who attempted to cross the Black
River, near the falls, in what is now the city of Watertown,
through a mistake, thinking they were farther up the stream,
when the raft upon which they had embarked was carried
over the falls, and Mr. Pharoux and others were drowned.
Mr. Brodhead, being a good swimmer, escaped, though ho
was taken senseless from the eddy below by an Indian be-
longing to the surveying party.-(-

* See Chapter XVI., " Internal Improvements."

t Dr. Bagg erroneously locates this accident at the High Falls, in
Lewis County, but the company's land did not cover that locality. It
was at Watertown. See Castorland Journal, "History of Jefferson



Subsequently, Mr. Brodhead was employed as a deputy
by Hon. Simeon De Witt, surveyor-general of the State,
who confided to him many important surveys and negotia-
tions. He was also prominently connected in several treaties
with the Indians, in which he conducted himself with great
ability, winning the respect and esteem of all parties. The
St. Regis Indians adopted him as a member and honorary
chief of their tribe, and' bestowed upon him one of the
characteristic names for which the Indians were so noted.
It was significant, both of his remarkable qualities and of
the lienors conferred by the savages.

Mr. Brodhead appears to have made his residence at this
period in Whitesboro'. In the year 180O he was appointed
by the council of appointment to the ofiBce of sherifi' of
Oneida County, and soon after removed to Utica. It is
said that Governor John Jay objected to his appointment
because of his being a bachelor, remarking that he " dis-
liked a man that did not boil his own pot." In August,
1801, he officiated in person at the execution of a Moiitauk
(Brothertown) Indian, who was hung for the murder of his
wife. On this occasion Rev. Saml. Kirkland, the famous
missionary, was the officiating clergyman, and spoke in the
Oneida language.

In 1816, upon the commencement of work upon the
Eiie Canal, Mr. Brodhead was put in charge of the portion
extending from Albany to Rome. He made a preliminary
survey and a report, after which he retired from the work.
His survey was deviated from in some particulars, but it is
worthy of remark that, when the canal was subsequently
straightened and enlarged, it was mostly located upon his
original line. He was one of the commissioners who estab-
ished the town lines of Utica when it was set ofi" from
Whitestown in 1817. The other commissioners were
Judge Morris S. Miller, E. S. Cozier, William Jones, and
E. S. Barnum.

For about thirty years of the latter part of his life ho
lived quietly by himself, engaging in none of the busy oc-
cupations of life. Previous to the war of 1812-15, he
was in the mercantile business with William B. Savage in
Utica, and at Ellisburg, in JeiFerson County. The closing
of the war caused such a decline in prices that the firm
dissolved and went out of business, losing quite heavily ;
but subsequent operations, judiciously managed, in real
estate made Mr. Brodhead comparatively independent. He
was also an extensive stockholder in a line of boats on the
canal. He united with the church in his later years, and was
an ardent supporter of the cause of religion. He died at
the National Hotel, in Utica, Sept. 10, 1852, aged eighty

In this year was established the mercantile house of
Kane & Van Rensselaer, which for years took a leading
place in that branch of business, and was known far and
wide. The members of the firm were Archibald Kane and
Jeremiah Van Rensselaer, Jr. Mr. Kane never lived in
Utica, the business being managed by Mr. Van Rensselaer.

Both the Kanes and Van Rensselaers were among the
most respectable and wealthy families of the colonial days,
and well connected. The Kanes and the Kents, who were
closely connected by marriage, were located, previous to the
breaking out of the war of the Revolution, in what is now

Putnam County. The Cullens, also connected with the
Van Rensselaer?, were living in the same neighborhood,
and all were prosperous, some in trade and some upon farms,
and others occupying prominent positions in the profe.ssions.

The Revolution scattered them in all directions, and
swept away their business and property. Some of them
espoused the cause of the colonies, and some supported
the king. John Kane adhered to the fortunes of the
crown and thereby forfeited his possessions, for which lie
was in part remunerated by the British government. After
the war he removed to New Brunswick, but subsequently
returned and settled in New York City. His sons engaged
in commerce — John in New York, James in Albany,
Charles in Schenectady, and Archibald, in company with
Jeremiah Van Rensselaer, established a branch house in
Canajoharie, in 1795.

Mr. Van Rensselaer was descended from the Greenbush
branch of this noted family. His father was General
Robert Van Rensselaer, an ofiicer of the Revolution, who
resided at Claverack. When a boy, Jeremiah lived with
his uncle, the celebrated General Philip Schuyler, who
undertook to make the young man an engineer ; but his
tastes did not incline to mathematics, and he left his uncle
and returned to his father's house, and in process of time
turned his attention to the mercantile business.

At Canajoharie their business, under judicious manage-
ment, soon grew to large proportions, and became in time
the most extensive in the central part of the State. But
within a few years they found their trade largely diverted
to the new and growing settlement at Old Fort Schuyler,
and finding it impossible to keep it at their present location,
they, in 1800, as before stated, established themselves in

Among the numerous employees of tliis firm were James
Van Rensselaer, John CuUen (both relatives), and Fortune
C. White, of Whitestown. Their establishment was
located on the east side of Genesee Street, a few doors north
from Broad Street, and sported an eagle for a sign.

The firm carried on an extensive wholesale and retail
business, selling to country merchants, and purchased and
shipped the products of the country. Bryan Johnson, as
before mentioned, kept up a brisk competition, and the two
enterprising firms probably did more than all others com-
bined to bring in and concentrate business in Utica.

Mr. Van Rensselaer erected an elegant mansion, in the
midst of extensive grounds, on the block bounded by
Genesee, Devereux, Charlotte, and Carnahan (Bladinana)
Streets. Here for many years he lived in almost princely
state, and only rivaled by Colonel Walker in his style and
hospitality. But the great change in values, brought
about by the reaction succeeding the war with England,
carried down all the great houses with which this was con-
nected, and as a consequence the once conspicuous firm of
Kane & Van Rensselaer, and the grand family establish-
ment, succumbed before the storm. About 1825 Mr. Van
Rensselaer removed from Utica to Canandaigua, where a

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 75 of 192)