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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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 76 of 192)
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son-in-law, Mr. Granger, resided. In that place he was
for some time secretary for a fire insurance company, and
his wife was in charge of the Ontario Female Seminary.
They both died in 1828.



Mr. Van Renselaer occupied many responsible and hon-
orable positions during his residence in Utica. He was a
member of the first board of village trustees under the
charter of 1805, and two years president. He was a mem-
ber of the board of directors of the Ontario Branch Bank ;
president of the Capron Woolen Factory ; one of the board
of trustees of the Presbyterian Church, and president of
the first board of trustees of the Utica Academy. He was
also at one time one of the trustees of Hamilton College.
He left a numerous family.

Another settler of the year 1800 was Jesse Newell, from
Coleraine, Mass. In company with George Macomber he
established the business of painting and glazing, which was
among the very first of its kind in the place, and which,
according to Dr. Bagg, is still carried on by descendants of
the original firm.* The firm of Macomber & Newell con-
tinued business for twenty-eight years. Mr. Macomber
settled on a farm at Sauquoit, in 1828, where he died in
1861, at the age of eighty. His wife was a daughter of
Jason Parker. Mr. Newell continued the business until
his death in 1843.

We have not space to notice all the early settlers of Utica.
The foregoing list embraces most of the more prominent
ones. Subsequent notices will necessarily be confined to a
few of the more conspicuous. (See Dr. Bagg's ' ' Pioneers
of Utica.")

Among the more prominent arrivals of 1801, or about
that date, were Captain Aylmer Johnson, who had been
an officer in the British army, and who was for some time
private secretary to Colonel Walker; Martin Dakin, a
brother-in-law of Francis H. Bloodgood, who was deputy
county clerk, 1802 to 1808, a soldier in the war of 1812,
and in his later years editor of the Charleston Courier (S.C),
in which city he died; James Ure, a brewer ; Bela Hubbard,
a tanner, who afterwards (in 1809) removed to Adams,
Jeiferson Co. Francis Dana, a boatman on the Mohawk ;
Dr. Francis Guiteau, -Jr., a descendant of the Huguenots,
and a skillful and eminent physician ; Dr. Edward Bain-
bridge, a brother of the celebrated Commodore William
Bainbvidge, of the United States navy ; Captain James
Hopper, an officer of the English merchant service, who
was captured by the French and afterwards exchanged for
Marshal Junot ; a new mercantile firm, Belin & Thomas ;
Ehenezer B. Shearman, a successful merchant and manu-
facturer, and a civil officer of prominence ; Miss Mary
Flagg, of Tower Hill, R. I., a celebrated nurse ; Elisha
Capron, a brother of the celebrated Dr. Capron ; James
Brown, — the two last-montioned blacksmiths by trade ; John
Clitz, a hair-dresser, and said to have been one of Bur-
goyne's Hessian soldiers ; Levi Thomas, who kept a tavern
on the New Hartford road ; David Slayton ; Gott Witt, a
mechanic ; and several Welsh immigrants, who formed the
first Welsh Church the same year with twenty-two members.

The most prominent arrival of 1802 was that of John
C. Devereux, who was born at Enniscorthy, County Wex-
ford, Ireland, Aug. 5, 1774, the son of Thomas and Catha-
rine Corish Devereux. Mr. Devereux's family sympathized
with the Irish Rebellion of 1798, and James, a son, was

* N. C. Newell & Son, 111 Genesee Street.

killed at the battle of Vinegar Hill. The overthrow of the
rebellion broke up the family. Thomas, the father, was
thrown into prison ; Walter, after a close pursuit, escaped
to the East Indies ; and their parish priest was shot down
at the altar. John C. appears to have left his early home
before the breaking out of the difficulties, and came to
America about 1796 or 1797. He had been brought up as
a gentleman, and was without a trade or profession ; but
being skilled in the art of dancing, he earned a livelihood
for a time by giving instructions at Middletown and Nor-
wich, in Connecticut, Pittsfield, in Massachusetts, and at
Troy, in New York.

Having accumulated sufficient means to give him a start
in business, he made a journey up the Mohawk Valley as
far as Rome, — then called Lynchville, — where Mr. Domi-
nick Lynch, the proprietor, desired him to settle, and offered
to lease him land, but refused to give him a deed of any.
This offer did not suit Mr. Devereux, and he returned to
Utica, where, in November, 1802, he commenced business as
a merchant in " the store lately occupied by John Smith."

It was an unlucky day for Rome when her proprietor
drove Mr. Devereux from her borders, for had he located
there his fine business capacity and energy might have
built up a great business centre, and probably made Rome
the principal town in the upper Mohawk Valley.

The location of Mr. Devereux's store was upon a part
of the site of the present Bagg's Hotel. He afterwards
changed to a lot nearly opposite and midway between
Whitesboro' and Water Streets. When the line of Genesee
Street was straightened to its present location, he built a
new brick store a little in the rear of the other.

Mr. Devereux was a pleasant, persuasive, and polished
gentleman, and made a most capital salesman, though it
was an entirely new business to him. His trade grew
apace, and he became well known fi\r and near, and his
sales in a short time are said to have run up to 8100,000
a year, which was certainly an enormous sum for those
days, and would be a very respectable business for a whole-
sale house at the present time.

One after another his brothers, Luke, Nicholas, and
Thomas, became clerks and eventually partners in his busi-
ness, and under one name or another the firm was a con-
spicuous one in the mercantile circles of Utica for years.
In 1821, upon the partial completion of the canal and the
change of business localities incident thereto, two of the
brothers purchased the property where the Devereux block
now stands, where they erected a large warehouse and
store ; and here Nicholas continued, with various partners,
an extensive business, John C. lending his name and credit
as required. John C. also had an interest in the brewery
conducted by his brother Thomas, and with John O'Connor
in the tobacco business. Some years later, when a branch
of the United States Bank was established in Utica, Mr.
Devereux was made its first president, a position he con-
tinued to hold as long as the institution continued in exist-
ence. He was also interested in many other matters which
contributed to the growth and prosperity of his adopted
home ; among others the Utica Savings Bank and the
various churches and charitable institutions. Towards the
construction of St. John's Catholic Church he contributed,

rhotograpUcd by L, B. Williams, Utictu


Photograpbed by L. B. Williams, Uticii.




according to Judge Jones, upwards of $12,000. He was
elected mayor of the city in 1840, under the first direct
election by the people, and held it several years previously
by appointment of the Council. He died December 11,
1848, at the age of seventy-four years, and was buried in
the grounds of the Sisters of Charity in the rear of St.
John's Church. Mr. Devereux was a strict and consci-
entious Catholic, and a pillar of strength to his chosen

James Delvin was another son of the " Emerald Isle"
■who came in 1802. He was a mechanic and engaged in
the manufacture of wrought nails by hand, and subse-
quently, in company with others, in the tin and copper-
smith business. He acquired considerable property by the
lucky location of land adjacent to the canal. Mr. Delvin
died in 1825, at the age of sixty years.

Benajah Merrell, who had been living for several years
in New Hartford, also came to Utica in the same year. He
was perhaps the firet regular auctioneer in the place. He
became deputy sheriff, and in 1807 was appointed sheriff
of the county, and in 1810 held the office a second time.
He removed to Sacket's Harbor in 1819, and died there
in 1831.

Other new-comers of this year were Solomon P. Grood-
rich, a dealer in books, and also teacher of a select school
for young ladies; Flavel Bingham, a jeweler; Frederick
White, who opened an extensive general store, including a
vci'y large stock of hats and caps ; Benjamin Hicks, a hat-
ter, and a noted military man ; and Edward Baldwin and
William Reea, two noted Welshmen.

A somewhat noted individual visited Utica during the
year 1802,— the Rev. John Taylor, of Westfield, Mass.
He was on a missionary tour to the Mohawk and Black
River countries, and kept a journal of his travels, which
may be found in the " Documentary History of New York."
In the course of his journeyings he stopped in Utica at
several different times, and had opportunities of observing
the people, their habits, business, etc. Like many of his
New England congeners, he seems to have been somewhat
bigoted, and consequently illiberal, and therefore scarcely
competent to do justice to the people of the new settlement,
who, like all pioneers, were probably somewhat lacking in
that crystallized form of society which men call polished
and highly cultivated ; and quite probably their outward
observance of religious forms and ceremonies was not quite
up to the straight-jacket standard which then governed the
people of the Connecticut Valley. We quote from his
journal :

"This is a, very pleascint and beautiful village, but it is filled with
a great quantity of people of all nations nnd religions. There is but
a handful of people in this pbicc who have much i-egnrd for preach-
ing, or for anything in tins world. Eight years last spring there
were but two houses in the present town-plat. There are now above
ninety. Utica seems to be a mixed mass of discordant materials.
Here may be found people of ten or twelve dieferent nations, .and of
almost all religions and sects, but the greater part are of no religion.
The world is the great object with the body of the people."

But with all this " ungodliness," the reverend gentleman
relates that he persuaded three hundred of the people to
come out and hear him preach. He made a curious dia-
gram of the place,— half map and half picture,— showing

the location of every building in the town, or at least all
except out-buildings.

There were many important additions to Utica during
the year 1803. David Ostrom, a soldier of the Revolu-
tion, had removed from Dutchess County about 1790, and
settled in New Hartford, subsequently removing to Paris,
and finally, about 1803, locating in Utica. He held the office
of county judge from the organization of Oneida County
in 1798 to 1815, with the exception of three years. Al-
though not educated for the bar, he was admitted to prac-
tice as an attorney in 1812, and opened an office in Utica
in the same year. He represented his district in the As-
sembly for many years, and was a judge of the Court of
Common Pleas. In 1804 he was landlord of the " Coffee-
House," which stood on the ground occupied by the
Devereux Block, and was for some time village magistrate.
He died from an attack of paralysis, March 17, 1821, at
the age of sixty-five, very generally regretted.

This year witnessed the arrival of Dr. Marcus Hitch-
cook, a native of Connecticut. He had studied medicine
with Dr. Amos Gr. Hull in New Hartford, and opened an
office in Utica ; but becoming dissatisfied with the profes-
sion, he engaged in the drug business in company with Dr.
John Carrington, a brother of Dr. Samuel Carrington, the
second postmaster of the village. Dr. Hitchcock bought
out liis partner, and was about the same time appointed
postmaster, which office he hold continuously from 1803
to 1828. He continued the drug business for twenty-five
years, when he was forced to suspend. In 1836 he re-
moved to Terre Haute, Ind., where he died about 1853.

Dr. Solomon Wolcott, Jr., was also an arrival of the year
1803. He entered into a partnership with Dr. Francis
Guiteau, Jr., and together they practiced their profession
and carried on the drug business, until 1807, when they
dissolved, and Dr. Wolcott continued business by himself
for about two years, when he took in his brother, Waitstill
H. Wolcott. In 1813 he gave up the mercantile branch
to his brother, and devoted himself wholly to the practice
of medicine. He was in partnership for a short time in
1814 with Dr. Daniel Barker, and in April, 1815, was ap-
pointed surgeon's mate in the temporary government hos-
pital established for the benefit of the sick and wounded
soldiers from the frontier. About the latter date he was
also made a judge of the Common Pleas Court. Subse-
quently he became involved, and lost most of the handsome
property which he had accumulated. He borrowed money
from the banks to a large extent, and erected several build-
ings, among others the large wood building afterwards used
for the Utica High School. He declined rapidly from the
day of his failure, and died of a sudden illness in October,
1818, aged forty-nine years.

Thomas Walker, another prominent citizen, was born in
Rehoboth, Mass., Nov. 18, 1777. He was of good colo-
nial stock, and learned the printer's trade with that emi-
nent luember of the craft, Isaiah Thomas, of Worcester.

Mr. Walker came to Oneida County, and on the 17th of
August, 1799, in company with his brother-in-law, Ebene-
zer Eaton, commenced, at Rome, the publication of a news-
paper, called the Culmnbiun Ftilriotic Gazette. This was
the third newspaper published in Oneida County, the two



preceding ones having been the Western Ceniinel, at
Whitesboro', in 1794, and the Wlutestown Gazette, at
New Hartford, in 1796.

In March, 1803, Mr. Walker removed his office to Utica,
and changed or curtailed the name or the paper to the
Columbian Gazette, which he continued to publish for a
period of twenty-two years, with eminent success. At first
it was a small dingy sheet, ton and a half by twelve inches
in dimensions, and located at 44 Genesee Street. The
sign was a large square one, containing a portrait of Ben-
jamin Eranklin.

Mr. Walker was instrumental, in connection with Silas
Stowe, a resident of what is now Lewis County, in estab-
lishing new post-routes and offices in the region now con-
stituting the counties of Lowis and Jefferson.

During the war of 1812-15, Mr. Walker was collector
of the United States internal revenue for this district. In
1825 he sold the Gazette to Samuel D. Dakin and Wm. J.
Bacon, who also became owners by purchase of the Patriot,
and the throe earliest publications of the county were united
in one, called the Sentinel and Gazette.

Mr. Walker filled various positions in the Utica banks
and was a trustee of the academy and also of the Presby-
terian Church, and was prominently connected with the
Masonic fraternity. He died June 13, 1863, in his eighty-
sixth year. His wife was Mary Eaton, and a relative of
the somewhat noted G-eneral William Eaton, who, at the
head of a small mixed force, captured the city of Derne, in
Africa, in March, 1805, during the war with Tripoli.

John H. Lothrop, noted as a lawyer, farmer, editor, mer-
chant, and banker, was a settler in Oneida in 1795 or 1796.
He was born in New Haven, Conn., May 1, 1769, and
received his education at Yale College. He studied law
with Judge Hosmer, of Hartford, and subsequently visited
the Southern States, spending some time with General Na-
thaniel Greene, near Savannah, Ga. Influenced by Colonel
George W. Kirkland, a son of Rev. Samuel Kirkland,
whom he met in the South, he came to what is now Oneida
County. In February, 1797, he married Miss Jerusha Kirk-
land, and commenced the business of farming at Oriskany.
" Within less than a year he became insolvent by indorsing
for his brother-in law. Colonel Kirkland, and went upon
the limits."* His nest employment was as a copyist in
the office of the county clerk. In 1803 he became editor
of the Whitestown Gazette and Catu's Patrol, changing its
name to Utica Patriot, and located in Utica to conduct it.
He seems to have been in the mercantile business for a
short time in 1804, in company with Ralph W. Kirkland.
The editorship of his paper not requiring all his time, he
also served as deputy in the office of the clerk of the
Supreme Court.

In 1809 he erected a fine dwelling, since occupied by the
Johnsons. He sold his house, and also disposed of his paper
in 1811, and removed to New Hartford, where he remained
about five years, engaged in the practice of the law, when
he was appointed cashier of the Ontario Branch Bank, and
again returned to Utica, where he continued until his death,
June 15, 1829. Mr. Lothrop was au accomplished scholar,

« Dr. Bagg.

a fluent writer, and something of a poet. He was also pos-
sessed of fine social and conversational powers, and was an
inimitable wit and story-teller.. The late brilliant actor,
Hackett, was then a merchant of Utica, and in after-years
he often rehearsed the laughter-provoking stories of Mr.
Lothrop. Mr. Lothrop was for many years connected with
Hamilton College in the capacity of trustee and secretary
of the board. His wife, the daughter of Rev. Samuel
Kirkland, survived him many years, and died Feb. 20,
1862. His family was a numerous one, and his children
have risen to eminence in various walks of life. .

Ira Merrell, one of the publishers of Mr. Lothrop's
paper, was the son of Bildad Merrell, who came into the
county in 1798, settling first at New Hartford and remov-
ing subsequently to Holland Patent.

Ira learned the printer's art with William McLean, and
when the latter sold out his paper he associated himself
with Asahel Seward, a fellow-workman, and did the pub-
lishing for Mr. Lothrop, which business he continued for
some three years. He was afterwards foreman in the office
of Seward & Williams. At a later date he did the press-
work of the Western Recorder, published by Merrell &
Hastings (Andrew Merrell and Charles Hastings).

He carried on printing also on his own account, and
among his issues were a Welsh hymn-book, in 1808 ; a
Welsh catechism ; a reprint of " Divine Hymns and Spir-
itual Songs ;" an abridgment of " Milnor's Church History ;"
a volume of sermons, etc. He lived in Utica for a period
of thirty years, and was a ruling elder of the Presbyterian
Church. About 1833 he removed to Geneva, Ontario
County, where he took charge of the Geneva Courier.

Asahel Seward was the eldest son of Colonel Nathan
Seward, of New Hartford ; born in Watcrbury, Conn.,
August 19, 1781. He learned the printer's art of William
McLean, and afterwards worked as a journeyman in various
places in New York and New England. As has been
stated in the notice of Ira Merrell, he entered into a part-
nership with that gentleman in the publication of the Utica
Sentinel, and continued his connection with that paper,
with various partners, until 1 824, when he sold to Meissrs.
Dakin & Bacon. In 1806, Mr. Seward established the
business of book-printing and binding, and soon after, in
connection, opened a book-store. About 1814 he became
associated with Mr. William Williams in the book busi-
ness, and this firm continued for many years, its transac-
tions constantly increasing until it became the heaviest
house in the Mohawk Valley. A leading feature of their
business was the publication of Noah Webster's elementary
spelling-book, of which they had purchased the exclusive
right of publication for the western district of New York.
This was continued for a period of fourteen years, and
brought the firm an annual income of 82000. The works
they issued were chiefly school-books, though they engaged
in the publication of religious and secular works to a greater
or less extent. An unwise arrangement, entered into with
a Philadelphia publishing house, eventuated in the failure
and discontinuance of the firm.

From the date of his withdrawal, in 1824, Mr. Seward
was not subsequently engaged in active business, but lived
a retired life in the place once occupied by Colonel Walker.



He died January 30, 1835. His wife survived him thirty
years, and died in Janu.nry, 1865. Their children were
three sons and three daughters. The latter died young, but
the three sons are still living in Utica.

William Williams was the son of Deacon Thomas Wil-
liams, of Roxbury, Mass., and born in Framingham, Octo-
ber 12, 1787. He came with his father's family to New
Hartfotd, and to Utica in 1803, in company with Asahel
Seward, of whom he learned tlie printer's trade. About
1808 he became a partner with Mr. Seward, and continued
until 1824, when the firm dissolved. Mr. Williams con-
tinued the business for several years, and issued a large
number and variety of books. About 1828 he formed a
partnership with Messre. Baluh & Stiles, engravers. About
1829-30 he became editor of the Elucidator, an Anti-
Ma.sonic paper. Shortly afterwards he became financially
involved in the downfall of a Philadelphia publishing house,
and closed up his business. He subsequently removed to
Tonawanda, Eric Co. He died on the 10th of June,
1850, in Utica, to which city he had returned a short time

Mr. Williams was ever conspicuous in all the various
projects and movements inaugurated for the benefit of his
town, and the general welfare. Though a man of peace,
he was exceedingly patriotic, and when in 1813 Sackot's
Harbor was threatened and help was needed, he raised a
company and was on the road within thirty hours. After
the war he became a conspicuous member of the fire de-
partment, and eventually its executive officer.

When the dreaded Asiatic cholera visited Utica, in 1832,
he nobly stayed by and gave his whole time, day and night,
to the necessities of the sick and dying until stricken him-
self, from which attack he narrowly escaped with his life.
He was an active member of various religious organizations,
elder of the Presbyterian Church, superintendent of the
Sunday-scliool, and president of the Western Sunday-
School Union.

Another bookseller was George Richards, Jr., a son of
George Richards, a printer of Portsmouth, N. H. In
November, 1803, he opened the " Oneida Book-store."
Ill December of the same year he was advocating the
establishment of a circulating library, and made a generous
offer of his own books.

In February, 1804, he came very near being burned out,
presumably in the fire which destroyed Post & Hamlin's
store, and near which he was located. He sold out in
1809, and left the place. During two and a half years of
his stay in Utica he was clerk for the village trustees, and
was an efficient officer, if we may judge by the correspond-
ence which took place between him and Talcott Camp,
the president, on the occasion of his resigning.

Samuel Stocking was a new-comer of the year 1803.
He was born in Ashfield, Mass., June 10, 1777, and came
to Utica in June, 1803. He had learned the trade of a
hatter, and worked at it in Westfield, Mass. On his arrival
in Utica, having no considerable amount of means, he pur-
chased a stock of furs on credit and began business, and
was eminently successful from the start.

In the course of a. few years he became acquainted with
the noted John Jacob Astor, with whom he subsequently

had extensive dealings. His business grew to large pro-
portions, and by this means and a judicious investment in
lands he amassed a handsome property. He was a village
trustee, a director of the Bank of Utica, and of the Sav-
ings' Bank, and also of the Utica Academy ; and was a
liberal donor to the Female Academy, the Oneida Institute,
and various other institutions, and identified with all char-
itable objects of the place and neighborhood. His death
occurred on the 1st of March, 1858.

Among other arrivals in 1803 was that of James Dana,
a son of George Dana, who belonged to a Huguenot family.
He was born in Ashburnham, Mass., May 29, 1780. He
left his home soon after arriving at the age of manhood,
and started west. Arriving at Schenectady he tarried a
year, and then pushed on as far as Utica, where he hired
to Gurdon Burchard, who was engaged in the saddlery and
hardware business. About 1806 he began business on his
own account, and a few years later gave up the saddlery
portion, but continued the hardware branch a portion of
the time in company with his son, Geo. S. Dana, until

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 76 of 192)