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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and coroner, and at one time was, in addition, police officer
and deputy-sheriff. But his greatest honors came as an
officer of the Masonic fraternity. Beginning with 1817,
at which date ho became a member of Utica Lodge, he
rose rapidly, and filled many offices in the gift of his
brethren, and finally reached the highest position attainable
in this country. He also filled nearly every office in the
Grand Commandery of Knights Templar of the State, and
served for twenty-one years in the Grand Chapter of Royal
Arch Masons of the United States, of which body he was,
at the time of his death. Past General Grand Captain-
General.

He was a prominent member of the Universalist society
in Utica, having been connected with it since 1825. He
was one of the original subscribers to the fund for the
Clinton Liberal Institute, and held the office of trustee of
that institution for forty-five years. He was also a director
of the Oneida Bank. Mr. Barnum died within the past
year.

The year 1814 witnessed the first attempt to construct
regular sidewalks in Utica. On the 23d of May an ordi-
nance was passed " for the better improving the streets of
Utica. and making the sidewalks in said village." This
ordinance required the walks on both sides of certain por-
tions of Genesee, Whitosboro', and Main Streets to be
constructed within ninety days in the manner described,
subject to a fine of $20 for non-compliance, and an ad-
ditional one of $2.50 for every month thereafter. Those
on Genesee Street were required to be fifteen feet in width,
to be constructed of smooth or cobble stone from Whites-
boro' to Catherine Street, except between the stoops, where
the owner might use gravel at his option. On all other
streets the walks were to be ten feet in width, and con-
structed of smooth or cobble stone, or good, clean gravel,
at the owner's option. The outer border of the walks
was protected by timber and a line of posts, except where
passages were required to reach outbuildings.

In September additional walks were ordered on the
north side of Liberty Street, " from Joseph Kirkland's
office to the Presbyterian meeting-house, and on the south
side of Broad Street from James Van Rensselaer's store to
the pjpisoopal Church." In October cross-walks of flag-
ging, stone, and gravel were ordered laid down on all the
principal crossings.



HISTORY OF ONEIDA COUNTY, NEW YORK.



287



On account of the scarcity of currency caused by the
war, the board of trustees, having obtained a promise from
the officers of the Manliattan Branch Banic to redeem their
issues, passed the following resolution :

" Jieeolved, That corporation bills, not to exceed five thousand dol-
lars, be issued, signed by the president, and made payable at the Man-
hattan Branch Bank."

The issues were entirely of fractional currency, and of
six different denominations, ranging from three to seventy-
five cents. They were issued during 1814, 1815, and 1816.
Another important enterprise was put in operation dur-
ing 1814, — the Capron cotton-factory, at New Hartford.
About one-third of the stock was taken in Utica, the heaviest
subscribers being Jeremiah Van Rensselaer and Asahel
Seward.*

Prominent among those who made Utica their place of
residence in 1814 was Wm. H. Maynard, who bore a con-
spicuous part in the political field from that time until his
death, which took place from cholera in New York City,
Aug. 28, 1832.

Mr. Maynard came of an excellent and prominent New
England family, and graduated at Williams College, Massa-
chusetts, in 1810. Soon after he located in New Hartford,
Oneida Co., where he read law with Hon. Joseph Kirk-
land, and in 1814 he removed to Utica, where he rose rap-
idly to distinction as a brilliant advocate and politician.
He was appointed attorney for the corporation in January,
1815, and soon after law ofiicer of the Utica Insurance
Company. Ho was admitted to practice before the Su-
preme Court in 1818.

He was elected to the State Senate by the Anti-Masonic
party in 1829, and served until 1832, and was editor of
the Utica Patriot, and one of its principal contributors
from 1811 to 1824. His law practice was extensive, and
among his partners were Samuel A. Talcott, Ebcnezer
Griffin, and Joshua A. Spencer. In the State Senate he
was called the leading intellectual light, and this, too, with
such men around him as William H. Seward and John
Young, both subsequently elected to the gubernatorial
chair. Mr. Maynard was an officer of Hamilton College,
and a liberal contributor to its upbuilding.f

Another prominent citizen of the period of which we
write was John H. Ostrom, who filled many offices, both
civil and military, — village attorney, trustee and assessor,
and chief-engineer of the fire department. In the military
line he rose through the successive grades to that of major-
general, and was likewise clerk of the county from 1826 to
1832. General O.strom died in Poughkeepsie, Aug. 10,
1845, at the age of fifty-one years.

Another individual, for many years connected with
various enterprises in Utica, — mercantile, religious, and
charitable, — was Nicholas Devereux. He came to the
United States in 1806, and in May, 1814, became a partner
with his brother John. In May, 1816, this relation was
dissolved, and another formed with Geo. L. Tisdale, a for-
mer clerk, under the name of N. Devereux & Co. Among
his other partners were Horace Butler, James McDonough,

'"' See article by Hon. Horace Capron on Early Manufactures, Chapter
XIX. He gives this date as 1812.
t Sec Early Bar of Oneida, Chapter XVIII.



and Van Vechten Livingston. He was for some time
agent of the New York Life and Trust Company, and in
this capacity traveled extensively in the newer portions of
the State, and this led him into an extensive land specu-
lation. In company with several New York parties he
purchased of the Holland Land Company, in Allegheny
and Cattaraugus Counties, 400,000 acres of wild lands,
which he turned to good account in after-years. He took
an active part in the organization of the Utica and Schenec-
tady Railroad, the first that reached Utica. He was largely
interested in early banking operations, in manufacturing,
and as a manager in the New York State Asylum for the
Insane.

He was the leading spirit among the Catholics of Utica,
and contributed largely to the upbuilding of that organi-
zation as founder of the Orphan Asylum and the Brothers'
School, and also in introducing the first edition of the Douay
Bible into Central New York. About two years previous
to his death he visited Rome, in Italy, where he had a
flattering interview with the Sovereign Pontiff. Mr. De-
vereux died Dec. 29, 1855, leaving a name and a memory
which will long be cherished.

At the annual election for village officers, in the spring
of 1815, Jason Parker was elected one of the trustees. He
failed to qualify in season, and was promptly fined twenty-
five dollars for neglect.

It would appear from correspondence between Judge
Morris S. Miller, and John R. Bleecker, of Albany, that
the bridge at the foot of what is now Park Avenue, over
the Mohawk, had quite recently been carried away by a flood.
The judge urges the rebuilding of the bridge, the opening
of new streets, and extension of old ones, and the improve-
ment of the public square, now Chancellor Square. These
improvements. Dr. Bagg says, were probably entered upon
the following year, 1816.

There was great rejoicing in Utica over the proclamation
of peace between the United States and Great Britain in the
spring of 1815. Their support of the war had perhaps not
been altogether enthusiastic, especially among the New
England element, and the cessation of hostilities was hailed
as the harbinger of better times, for the war had pressed
heavily upon all classes, save a few contractors and a portion
of the manufacturing community.

The news was brought from Albany by an individual
who came on horseback, and arrived four hours in advance
of the mail coach. The town was illuminated -that same
evening, and again in the course of a few days, when it was
made universal, and there was a grand display of fire-works.
An enterprise which has had a marked influence for good
on the history of Utica was inaugurated about this time.
This was the Utica Academy. The initial steps were taken
in 1813, but the building was not completed and ready for
occupation until the summer of 1818. It was a subsl;antial,
two-story building, of brick, and cost $8000. Its dimen-
sions were about fifty by sixty feet, and it was located on the
site occupied by the present elegant and costly academy
buildin"-, fronting on Chancellor Square, erected in 1867-
OS.J

J See farther on, history of Schools.



288



HISTORY OF ONEIDA COUNTY, NEW YORK.



Among the new-comers of 1815 were Judge Ezekiel
Bacon, prominent in political circles, who filled various
offices, — ^judge of the Court of Common Pleas, member of
the Constitutional Convention of 1821, etc., — and was a
prolific and able writer, who died Oct. 18, 1870 ; William
Green, a prominent business man and polished scholar j
Captain William Clarke, a banker, president of the village
board, and prominently connected with the insane asylum
and the Reformed Dutch Church ; Ephraiin Hart, John H.
Handy, Robert Shearman, merchants; Joseph Bunce and
Horace Wadsworth, gold-beaters and looking-glass makers ;
William Blackwood, brass-founder ; William Bell, a plater;
and Abraham H. Stephens, a gunsmith.

The year 1816 witnessed the organization of an institu-
tion which has since grown to important proportions, and
exerted a marked influence in society ; this was the Utica
Sunday-school. The prominent parties interested were five
young ladies, viz. , Alida M. Van Rens.selaer, Mary E. Walker,
Sarah M. Malcom, Elizabeth and Catharine W. Breese. The
Welsh Bible Society was also organized in December of this
year.

Among the prominent arrivals of this year was Samuel
Austin Talcott, who was born in Hartford, Conn., in 1789.
He received his education at Colchester Academy and Wil-
liams College, graduating from the latter in 1809, at the
age of nineteen years. He soon after married Miss Rachel
Skinner, and removed to Whitesboro', Oneida Co., where
he began the study of the law with Thomas R. Gold. He
practiced at first in Lowville, Lewis Co., as a partner of
Isaac W. Bostwick, but in 1816 removed to Utica and en-
tered into partnership with William H. Maynard. In Feb-
ruary, 1821, he was appointed attorney-general of the
State, when he removed to Albany, and from thence he
went to New York, where he died, in March, 1836.*

The following description of Utica, in 1816, is from Dr.
Bagg's work :

"In order to form some conception of it and its surroundings, let us
approacll it from the north.

" Standing on the Deerfield hill, four or five miles away, the country
helow you seems lilie a level swamp covered with forest, the clearings
being scarcely discernible.

" Beyond the river you perceive the houses on the hill at Utica, and
an extensive opening in the vicinity, one strip ascending southerly to
the height of land in Freemason's Patent. Directly south and west
nearly one-third of the country is denuded of wood. To the southeast
there are only small patches of clearing.

" Coming down towards the plain, you discern the more conspicuous
features of the village.

"Two church steeples enliven the scene, the Presbyterian and Epis-
copal, which stand like sentinels guarding the approaches on the west
and the east, the latter rejoicing in a pointed spire, the former
equally happy in its rounded cupola. As you cross the dyke you see
plainly before you, and towering above their fellows, the imposing
York House on the right, and its closely-contesting rival, Bagg's
Hotel, directly in front. Having passed over the bridge, you are at
once within the heart of the settlement, the very focus of the town.
For the limits of Utica, at the time I trea.t of, were mostly confined
between the river and the Liberty Street road to Whitesboro' ; from
the square as a centre, they spread westward along Whitesboro' Street
to Potter's Bridge, and eastward along Main and Broad to Third
Street.

"The course of Genesee Street was pretty thickly lined with
stores, — a few residences only being here and there interspersed, — as

* See Early Bar of Oneida, in Chapter XVIII.



far upwards as Catherine Street, beyond which private houses pre-
dominated over places of business, and these were scattered in a
straggling way even to Cottage Street. The roadway was guiltless
of pavement, and the mud at times profound. The sidewalks were
paved, if such it might be called, but the pavement— of flagging, of
cobble, of gravel, or of tan-bark, as suited the convenience or the taste
of the householder— bore little resemblance to the modern conven-
tional sandstone. Stately, but graceless poplars, the common badge
and sole ornament of all new villages in the North, stood in unbroken
row from Bleecker Street to the hill-top. On the west, Genesee had
no outlet higher than Liberty Street, and on the east none above
Catherine; for though Bleecker was known by authority, it was
neither fenced nor housed, and was only a path to pastures beyond.
The buildings on its business part were mostly wooden, and of mod-
erate size and pretensions. A few were of brick, and of these an idea
may be formed from the block that adjoins Taylor's on the north.
On the hill were the spacious grounds and beautiful houses, already
described, of Jeremiah Van Rensselaer, Arthur Breese, and Alex-
ander B. Johnson. In Whitesboro' Street were the Bank of Utica,
the Manhattan Branch Bank, and the York House, as well as the
inns of Burchard and Bellinger. This was the Wall Street of the
village; it harbored several stores, and was more populous than any
other, except Main, containing, probably, nearly as many inhabitants
as it now does. Hotel, in proportion to its length, was quite as
thickly peopled. Seneca, Washington, and Broadway reached only
to the Liberty Street road; Broadway bringing up at the elegant
stone mansion of James S. Kip, while Washington conducted passen-
gers no farther than the Presbyterian meeting-house. The public
square contained the town-pump and the market-house. Main
Street bad apparently more buildings than it now has. It was lined
with the comely residences of prosperous citizens, and was terminated
by the Methodist chapel, and the pleasaut home and grounds of
Judge Miller. Broad Street was occupied as far as the line of Third
Street, but it did not contain the half of its present number of build-
ings. Between it, Whitesboro', and upper Genesee, the best dwell-
ing-houses of the village were unequally distributed. John Street
had here and there a residence, which in all reached a little higher
than Jay ; while beyond were the rising walls of the academy, and in
the rear of this two tenements on Chancellor Square.

" The faint attempts of Catherine to rival its fellow below were
effectually crushed when stakes were planted alongside of it to mark
the course of the future canal. This settled its fate, and consigned it
to the rank it has held ever since. Water Street, now robbed of its
former importance, was nearest of all to the then channel of com-
merce, and besides its bouses for storage and forwarding, was also
the home of a few well-to-do folks. Thus, as it appears from the
directory,"!" while the buildings of Genesee were in number 157 ; of
Whitesboro', 84; of Main, f)7; of Broad, 59; of Hotel, 34; of Cath-
erine, 20 ; and Water, as many ; Seneca bad 15; no other street more
than 10 ; and the rest but half or less than half that number. Of
those running eastward, not one is named above Catherine, save only
Rebecca; and this, wo arc puzzled to see, has already a name and two
houses upon it. Cornhill was a forest from South Street to the New
Hartford line. Another forest covered the sand-bank, and skirting
the gardens on the west side of Genesee, came down the slope to the
present Fayette, and extended west to the Asylum hill. When the
commissioners, in the following year, ran the line between Whitesboro'
and Utica from Jewett's farm to the county line on the east, and to
the river on the north, they were obliged to fell the trees so as to see
their flag.

"Such was the 'pent-up Utica' of 1816, with its four hundred and
twenty dwellings and stores, with its churches, banks, taverns, print-
ing oflices, and other appendages of a flourishing country town, and
which, according to the enumeration made by the compiler of its di-
rectory, contained two thousand eight hundred and sixty-one inhab-
itants."

THIRD CHARTER.

On the 7th of April, 1817, the Legislature granted a
new charter to the village of Utica, extending its bounda-
ries and increasing its legislative powers. The village was
divided into three wards, described as follows : all east of a
line beginning at the river in the centre of Genesee Street,

tOf 1817.



HISTORY OF ONEIDA COUNTY, NEW YORK.



289



thence up Genesee to John, thence up John to the centre of
Broad, thence down Broad to the centre of First, thence
southerly in the middle of Fiist Street to the south line of
the village, was the First Ward. All between the west line of
the FiiBt Ward and a line beginning at the south line of the
village in the centre of Greiiesee Street, and thence north in
the middle of Genesee to a point on a line with the centre of
Hotel, thence down the centre of Hotel Street to and across
Whitesboro', and along the east wall of the York House to
the river, was the Second Ward ; and all west of the last
described line was the Third Ward. This charter author-
ized a president, to be appointed annually by the Governor
and council, and six trustees, a supervisor, three assessor,
and two constables, all to be elected annually by the people.
The board appointed a clerk, a treasurer, a collector, an
overseer of the poor, and other subordinate officers. The
president was also, ex-afficio, a justice of the peace, and,
with the advice of the board of trustees, granted permits
to tavern-keepers, retail merchants, and butchers, receiving
fees therefor, or, in lieu thereof, a salary of two hundred and
fifty dollars.

By the same act of incorporation the district of country
included within the limits of the village of Utica was set
off from Whitestown, and created a separate town by the
name of Utica.

The first President appointed under the new charter was
Nathan Williams, and the first Trustees elected under it
were Ezra S. Cozier and William Williams, from the First
Ward ; Jeremiah Van Rensselaer and Abraham Van Sant-
voort, from the Second Ward ; and Erastus Clark and John
C. Hoyt, from the Third Ward. The Assessors were Moses
Bagg, David P. Hoyt, and Thomas Walker. Benjamin
Walker was chosen Supervisor, and Ezra S. Barnum and
Joshua Ostrom, Constables. The other officers, appointed
by the board, were as follows: John H. Ostrom, Clerk;
E. S. Barnum and Benjamin Ballou, Collectors; Jeremiah
Van Rensselaer, Overseer of the Poor ; Judah Williams,
Treasurer ; Frederick W. Potter, Poundmaster ; Benjamin
Hinman, Aaron Eggleston, and Jason Parker, Fence-
Viewers ; James Hooker, Ganger ; Benjamin Ballou, Super-
intendent of Highways.

One thousand dollars was voted by the board to be raised
fur the current expenses ot' l;lie year, besides fifty dollars
additional for the support of the free school.

Colonel Benjamin Wall.cv died in January, 1818, and
his place was filled in the lj(j,u-d by the election of Charles
C. Brodhead, and E. S. Cozier was appointed overseer of
the poor in place of Mr. Van Rensselaer, resigned.

The summer of 1816 is still known among our older
inhabitants as the " cold summer," there having been frost
in every month, and the crops were, consequently, exceed-
ingly poor, and general distress in business circles was the
natural result, — a distress from which the country did not
recover for several years.

The year 1817 is marked in the history of Utica as mem-
orable for the first capital execution in the place, and the
second in the county. The criminal was an Indian of the
Brothertun tribe, by the name of John Tuhi, who was con-
victed of killing his' cousin, Joseph Tuhi, in a drunken
quarrel. The execution took place, according to Dr. Bagg,
37



" a little east of the present intersection of John and Rutger
Streets, then a lone and desolate suburb." There was an
immense concourse of people, drawn together by an inexpli-
cable and morbid curiosity, from all parts of the county and
surrounding country, and among them were a large num-
ber of Indians. A strong guard, consisting of a troop of
light horse and a company of infantry, preserved order dur-
ing the proceedings. There was the usual farce of religious
services performed by two Baptist clergymen, and the stolid
prisoner died very much as a white man would under simi-
lar circumstances.

ApoUos Cooper was then sheriff, and attended to the
business personally, assisted by John B. Pease, of Whites-
boro', under sheriff. Sheriff Cooper was conspicuous for his
military chapeau, and the short sword with which he cut
the drop. He was on horseback, and as the drop fell he
turned and rode rapidly from the ground. There was the
usual hilarity, profanity, and drunkenness on the ground,
and it is said the Indians in particular made a day of it.
It was an event long remembered by the people of Oneida
County.

The prominent settlers of the year 1817 in Utica were
James and Walter L. Cochrane, brothers, the former of
whom represented the western district of the State in the
fifth Congress (1797-98), and of whom the story was told
that he " fiddled himself into Congress," from the fact that
at a vessel-launch on Seneca Lake, when the crowd assein,-
bled were looking for music, he produced a fiddle and sup-
plied their wants ; Thomas and Charles Hastings, the
former noted as a teacher of religious music and as a pub-
lisher, and the latter as a bookseller and publisher ; Jared
E. Warner, William Soulden, Samuel M. Blatchford, Cap-
tain O'Connor, E. W. Tryon, and others, merchants and
business men ; John G. Mills, an attorney ; Calvin Guiteau,
a surveyor ; John A. Ross, a carpenter ; Owen Owens, a
baker ; William Richards, a shoemaker, letter-carrier, and
musician ; Major J. W. Albright, United States paymaster ;
William H. Tisdale, a lawyer ; William Spencer, a tavern-
keeper, etc.

In 1818* the Western Education Society, a religious or-
ganization, was inaugurated with the view of aiding " indi-
gent young men of talents and piety in acquiring a com-
petent education for the gospel ministry."

At its first annual meeting, held in December, 1818, Hon.
Jonas Piatt, of Whitesboro', was elected president, and
twenty vice-presidents, consisting of an equal number of
each, — clergymen and laymen, — were associated with him.
The directors were Rev. Henry Davis, A. S. Norton, P. V.
Bo"-ue, Israel Brainerd, Moses Gillet, Noah Coe, John
Frost, Samuel C. Aiken. Rev. John Frost, corresponding
secretary ; Walter King, recording clerk ; Arthur Breese,
treasurer ; Erastus Clark, auditor. This society continued
its operations until about 1830.

The year 1819 witnessed the introduction of the Lan-
casterian system into the schools of Utica, under the direc-
tion and management of Mr. L'Amoreux, and also the firs
Catholic religious services, which were held in the court-
house on the lOth of January ; and on the 22d of October

* The preliminary meeting was held Doc. 19, 1817.



290



HISTORY OF ONEIDA COUNTY, NEW YORK.



following the people beheld the first boat traversing the
Erie Canal *

It was in this year also that Henry Seymour, the father
of ex-Governor Horatio Seymour, came to reside in Utica,
where he remained until his death, Aug. 26, 1837. Mr.
Seymour was a native of Connecticut, born at Litchfield,
May 30, 1780. The Seymour family have been prominent
for more than two centuries in Connecticut, and for many
years also in Vermont and New York.

Mr. Seymour was living at Pompey Hill (where his son,
Horatio, was born, in 1810) in the beginning of 1819, but
having been appointed one of the Canal Commissioners on
the 24th of March in that year, he soon after removed to
Utica as a more favorable location for the performance of
the labors of his office.

The following sketch of his character is from Ham-
mond's '' Political History of New York" :

" He was a well-bred man and very gentlemanly in deportment.
His great native shrewdness and Sagacity had been improved 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 79 of 192)