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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highly cultivated by an association with genteel society. As a politi-
cian he was wary, smooth, and apparently moderate in his action. . . .

" Notwithstanding the immense amounts of moneys which passed
through his hands, and the many and vastly important contracts made
by him on the pa.rt of the State, not the least suspicion was ever
breathed against the purity of his conduct. He was in all respects a
correct business man."

He was a great favorite of Martin Van Buren, and a good
story is told of the latter when he heard that Mr. Seymour
was made a member of the Council of Appointment. In a
letter to a friend he gave vent to his feelings in the follow-
ing laconic expression ; " Dear Sir, Seymour ! Seymour !
Seymour !"

Dr. Bagg leaves the following testimony of Mr. Seymour :

" In temper he was amiable and forgiving, just, considerate, and
tender; he was intolerant of evil-speaking in others, and suffered as
much from the very apprehension of defrauding as though he himself
were wronged. To a gentlemanly deportment there was joined a
gentlemanly physiognomy, for he had a tall figure, and features that
were strikingly handsome and refined."

Mrs. Henry Seymour was a daughter of Colonel Jona-
than Foreman, an ofiicer of the American army during
the Revolutionary war, and was a grand-niece of the famous
but unfortunate Colonel Ledyard, who commanded and lost
his life at Fort Griswold during Arnold's treacherous expe-
dition to his native State. Mrs. Seymour was born at
Monmouth, N. J., in February, 1785. She survived her
husband many years, her death occurring Sept. 16, 1859.

The great subject of absorbing interest in the year 1820
was the Erie Canal, which was now partially in operation,
and continued to be the attraction, par excellence, of all
classes of people.*

This year also witnessed the advent of a remarkable
character in Utica, — one who subsequently became famous
throughout America and Europe, — James Henry Hackett.
He settled in Utica when twenty years of age, and a short
time after his marriage to an accomplished English lady,
commenced the business of merchandising in the grocery
line, and subsequently added a stock of crockery. He
remained about five years, doing a prosperous business,
when, having accumulated a capital of about $18,000, he,

* See Chapter XVI.

like many another young man (foolishly thinking he could
enlarge his business and do better in a large city), re-
moved to New York, where misfortune soon overtook him,
and he became bankrupt. Broken up completely, his
capital entirely gone, he betook himself to the stage, for
which he seemed to have been peculiarly fitted by nature,
and subsequently won a world-wide fame.- In the role of
Shakspeare's wonderful character, " Falstaff," he was said
to have been unrivaled, even sui-passing the accomplished
Ben de Bar. His wife was before her marriage an actress
of some prominence, and an excellent musician.

About 1820 an enterprising young man, who had made
Utica his home since 1812, began to appear prominently
as a business man ; this was Theodore S. Faxton. He had
been a driver on one of Jason Parker's stage-coaches for
five years, from 1813 to 1817, inclusive, with the excep-
tion of six months which he spent in school at Clinton.
He was considered one of the most export reinsmen in the
business, and in after-years when he had left the driver's
seat, if any extraordinary occasion called for fancy or diffi-
cult driving, Mr. Faxton was chosen to lead off. On the
occasion of the visit of the Marquis de Lafayette, in 1825,
he handled the " six dashing grays" from the box of the
Van Rensselaer carriage, in which the distinguished guest
rode from the canal landing in Whitesboro' to the hotel.
Mr. Faxton still remembers this occasion as the proudest
of his life.

On the occasion of the famous excursion made by six
gentlemen from Utica to Albany, and return in eighteen
hours, in the winter of 1822-23, he occupied the post of
honor and acquitted himself to the complete satisfaction of
all concerned. It was certainly a remarkable performance,
for the distance accomplished, as the roads ran, was fully
two hundred miles.'j'

The year 1820 witnessed a grand celebration upon the
opening of a portion of the Erie Canal for traffic, of which
an account will be found in Chapter XVI., devoted to in-
ternal improvements.

In the year 1821 the sum of $1123.25 was raised for
village purposes, of which amount the large sum of $400
was for the support of the poor. The vexatious " market"
question was settled this year by the sale of the market-
building to Daniel Thomas for $50. Several streets and
alleys were opened and improved in the course of the

The first public celebration of St. Patrick's day by the
Irish citizens occurred on the 17th of March, and was the
occasion of a social and convivial gathering, at which about
seventy of the sons of Erin assembled, and enjoyed them
selves as only Irishmen can.

Among the arrivals of 1821 were the somewhat noto-
rious Dr. Samuel Tuttle, who afterwards removed to the
West ; George Dutton, who at first essayed the practice of
medicine, but soon gave it up and pursued the avocation of
a teacher in boarding-schools in Philadelphia for four years,
and subsequently opened the first regular music-store in
Utica, and sold the first piano to A. B. Johnson, in 1821,
that was sold in the villase, and continued the business of

t See biography in this work.



music dealer for twenty yeara ; Major S. Clark, paymaster
of United States Army ; the four brothers Thurber, mer-
chants and business men ; Robert Jones, also a merchant ;
Edward Bright, a brewer and maltster ; Robert R. Rhodes,
Henry W. Osburn, James T. Lund, William Conklin,
Chester Hyde, Silas Coburn, Henry Vanderlyn, Benjamin
Carpenter, A. B. Skinner, and Henry R. Hoisiugton, the
latter afterwards a missionary to India.

In 1822 the board of trustees raised, for all purposes,
the sum of $1494. An extensive job of paving was done
during this season on Genesee Street, from Whitesboro'
Street to the canal. The material used was large cobble
or bowlder stone, and the work was said to have been well
done. Franklin Street was opened, and Bleecker Street
continued westward, and in the course of the season of
1823 opened to its junction with the Whitesboro' road.
The portion west of Genesee Street is now known as
Fayette Street.

It was also in this year that the eccentric Lorenzo Dow
visited Utica, remaining for some time, and creating the
usual y«ro7'e by his uncouth appearance, and bis somewhat
peculiar doctrines and style of delivery.

Among the prominent residents or new-comers of this
date were Edmund A. Wetmore, a distinguished attorney,
and partner with Judge Morris S. Miller, and afterwards
with Judge Hiram Denio, for many years ; Thomas Hunt
Flandrau, another distinguished member of the bar, and
for some years a partner in its practice with Colonel Aaron
Burr, in New York ; Dr. I. N. Meaoham, Augustine G.
Dauby, a noted newspaper editor, politician, and writer ;
Captain Charles Stuart, the eccentric principal of the Utica
Academy ; and Hiram Greenman, a noted packet captain on
the canal, real estate dealer, and prominently interested in
steam navigation on Lake Ontario.

In 182:^ a large additional amount of paving was done
on Liberty, Catherine, Broad, and Genesee Streets, includ-
ing the triangular space known as Bagg Square.

The village seems, at this period, to have arrived at that
stage where its future had become assured, and hence-
forth its growth in business and importance was rapid and
substantial for many years. The population in 1823 is given
as 4017.

It was during this year that the struggle between the
Greeks and Turks elicited the sympathies of so many in
behalf of the former, who were looked upon as a heroic
people struggling with their oppressors for their liberties.
This sympathy was genuine and wide-spread in the United
States, and the people of Utica were not behind their breth-
. ren of other portions of the country in their expressions of
sympathy and substantial contributions for the relief of the
descendants of the ancient people. The sum of 8163.57
was raised and forwarded to the proper authorities.

A lyceum was organized in November of this year for the
purpose of encouraging the study and dissemination of a
knowledge of the useful sciences. Among those actively
engaged in its behalf were Wm. H. Maynard, who drafted
its constitution ; Jones Piatt, its first president ; Nathan
Williams, Morris S. Miller, Thomas Goodsell, A. B. John-
son, Suml. Beardsley, and General Joseph Kirkland.

The year 1823 witnessed the arrival in Utica of a large

number of prominent men, or those who afterwards became
so. Among them were Samuel Beardsley and Jonas Hatt,
both of whom occupied high and responsible positions.
Mr. Beardsley filled the various offices of District Attorney
of Oneida County, State Senator for the Fifth District,
United States Attorney for the Northern District of New
York, Representative in Congress, Attorney-General of New
York, and Justice and Chief-Justice of the Supreme Court
of the State. He died May 6, 1860.

Mr. Piatt was clerk of Herkimer County from 1791 to
1798, clerk of Oneida County, clerk of Herkimer Common
Pleas Court in 1794, a member of the Assembly in 1790,
member of Congress in 1799-1801, and in 1810, '11, '12,
and '13 was State Senator from the Western District. In
1814 he was appointed judge of the Supreme Court. He
died at Peru, Clinton Co., N. Y., Feb. 22, 1834.*

The same year another prominent attorney became a
resident of Utica ; this was Thomas H. Hubbard, who was
the first clerk of the Court of Chancery for this district.
He was soon after made clerk of the Supreme Court, which
office he held until 1835. In 1816 he had represented the
district composed of Madison and Herkimer Counties in
Congress. He was a trustee of the Utica Academy and
presidential elector in 1812, and was subsequently chosen
to the same position in 1844 and 1852. He died in Utica,
May 21, 1857.

Alfred Munson was another valuable acquisition to the
place in 1823. For fifteen years succeeding his arrival in
Utica he carried on the business of manufacturing buhr
mill-stones, during which he built up a very extensive busi-
ness. He was prominently connected with the passenger
traffic of the Erie Canal and the steam-navigation of Lake
Ontario and the St. Lawrence River, and also with the
early railway enterprises from 1834 to 1844.

With the manufacturing interests of Utica he was also
prominently connected, and with the water-works, the Acad-
emy, the banking institutions, the State Lunatic Asylum,
the Pennsylvania coal trade, etc. Mr. Munson was a
member of Grace Episcopal Church, and by his will left it
the munificent legacy of $15,000. He also left funds of
various kinds, amounting in the aggregate to $34,000, to
the Utica Orphan Asylum. The sum left by him to Grace
Church has been increased by his heirs to $31,500 since
his death, which took place May 6, 1854.

Another remarkable man of this date was John Butter-
field, who came to Utica in 1822, and entered into the em-
ploy of Mr. Jason Parker, who was then engaged in run-
ning lines of post-coaches. Mr. Butterfield was born at
Berne, in Albany County, among the Helderberg Moun-
tains, Nov. 18, 1801, and when found by Mr, Faxton he
was driving a city team in Albany.

He began business as a runner for Parker, and proved
competent and very successful. Subsequently he purchased
of a traveler a horse and carriage, and opened a small
livery-stable, to which he added from time to time as his
means permitted. He also, after his marriage, kept a
boarding-house. His livery business prospered until it
became the leading one in the place, and later he entered

^^ Notice of both these gentlemen in Chapter XVIII.



into the staging business, and eventually became the most
prominent owner in the State. He was interested in
paultet-lines on the canal after its completion, and in steam
navigation on Lake Ontario. Upon the advent of railways
he immediately became interested, and was instrumental in
the completion of the Utica and Black River and the two
southern roads. At an early day he engaged in the ex-
press business, and was a prominent director. In connection
with Messi-s. Faxton, Wells, Livingston, and others, he was in-
strumental in establishing the first lines of telegraph in the
State, and in later years was foremost in putting in operation
the Oveiland Mail to the Pacific coast. He was an officer
of the State Agricultural Society, and for many years was
prominently connected with various business enterprises and
institutions in the city where he made his home. Among
the commanding monuments of his labors in Utica are the
great Buttei-field Hotel and the Gardner Block.

Mr. Butterfield was no politician, but such was his prom-
inence as a citizen and his extensive interests as a property-
holder, that the Republican party placed his name at the
head of the city ticket in 1865, and he was elected Mayor
of Utica. In the same year he was a candidate on the
Democratic ticket for State Senator. He died from the
effects of a paralytic stroke Nov. 14, 1869. Mr. Butter-
field loft a widow and six surviving children, — three sons
and three daughters: Theodore P., John, Daniel, Mrs.
James B. Van Vorst, Mrs. Alexander Holland, and Mrs.
AVilliam M. Storrs. Daniel was a distinguished officer
during the war of the Rebellion, rising to the rank of
major-general, and subsequently filled the office of Assist-
tant Treasurer of the United States at New York.

Hugh White, the first settler of Whitestown, in 1784,
became a citizen of Utica in 1 823. He was appointed, by
Judge Ezekiel Bacon, agent of the new packet company
which was organized in that year, and from that time con-
tinued to reside in the place until his death, in I860.*

Another new-comer of 1823 was Michael McQuade, long
known in Utica as an extensive brewer and as alderman for
many years of the First Ward. He is the father of General
James McQuade, Thomas R., Patrick, Mrs. Egan, and Mrs.

The board of trustees for the year 1824 appropriated the
sum of $1837.25 for general expenses, and recommended
an additional levy of $400 for the support of the poor;
and the principal of the public schools, Roswell Holcomb,
was paid a salary of $350.

Genesee Street was paved during the season from the
canal to the office of the clerk of the Supreme Court ; Rome
Street was widened and its name changed, in compliment to
the nation's distinguished guest, to Fayette Street ; and
various other streets, lanes, and alleys were opened and im-
proved. Sewers were also constructed on Genesee, Main,
Burnet, Charlotte, and Bleecker Streets, and sidewalks were
constructed on Jay, First, and Elizabeth Streets ; a lot for
a new engine-house was leased on Franklin Street, and steps
were taken towards establishing a cemetery. Eight watch-
men were also appointed for night service.

A new village surveyor, in the person of Holmes Hut-

* Sec history of Whitestown.

chinson, was appointed this year to lake the place of Charles
C. Brodhead. Mr. Hutcliinson had been appointed an
engineer on the Erie Canal as early as 1819, and in 1835
was made chief engineer, which position he occupied until
1841. Among his multitudinous labors were surveys and
maps of the Erie and Champlain, the Oswego', the Black
River, the Chenango, the Crooked Lake, and the Chemung
Canals. He also had charge of the Cumberland and Ox-
ford Canal, in Maine, and the Blackstone Canal, in Massa-
chusetts and Rhode Island. He did a large amount of
surveying in various counties, and was a prominent stock-
holder and manager in various railway and banking enter-
prises, navigation companies, etc. Dr. Bagg states that
" in his office, on Bleecker Street, were drawn up all the
plans and specifications for the whole line of the enlarged
(Erie) Canal."

It is, perhaps, not generally known that the Mohawk
River has been utilized for hydraulic purposes at Utica ;
hut such is the fact. After the construction of the Erie
Canal, the use of the river for transportation purposes was
abandoned, and the question of constructing dams and mills
began to be discussed. The people of Utica were divided
upon the subject; but in the year 1823 an act was passed
by the Legislature authorizing the construction of a dam at
Utica, and in September of that year one was built a few
rods below the bridge, and a grist-mill put in operation by
Parker & Alverson. It was not long before complaints
began to be made by parties owning land above, and a suit
was brought against the mill-owners, which resulted in their
favor; but the feeling against the enterprise increased, and
when a second suit was commenced the proprietors aban-
doned the business, and the mill and dain were removed.

Among the distinguished men of this period were Judge
Greene C. Bronson,^ the celebrated advocate and jurist;
Benjamin F. Cooper ; Samuel D. Dakin, a noted journahst
and mechanic; Henry K. Sanger; Elisha Harrington, a
teacher, but better known' as the compiler of several of the
early directories of Utica ; Isaiah Tiffany, a bookseller ;
Alrick Hubbell, a prominent merchant and civil and mili-
tary officer, who died in January, 1877 ; George S. and
James Wilson, printers, and noted for the interest they mani-
fested in the Sunday-school cause; Ira Merrell, another
printer; Henry Ivison, a book-binder; and Harry Bushnell,
a remarkable singer, exhorter, and class-leader in the Metho-
dist Church.

The year 1825 was marked by two great events in the
history of Utica, — the visit of General Lafayette and the
celebration of the opening of the Erie Canal ; the first in
June, and the last in October. The village trustees called
a meeting in May, at which a committee of arrangements,
consisting of the President, William Clark, Esq., and
Messrs. Maynard and Ballou, was appointed to confer with
others in arranging an appropriate programme for the re-
ception of the distinguished guest of the nation. A com.
mittee of citizens was likewise appointed, and every prepara-
tion made for a general jubilee. The following account
was published in one of the papers of the place, and repub-
lished in Dr. Bagg's work, from which we transcribe it :

t See Chajitcr XVIII.



"Juno 9, 1S25, the deputations from the general committee of nr-
ningements at Utica, of which His Honor, Judge Williams, was chair-
man, accompanied by Colonel Lansing and His Honor Judge Storra,
proceeded to Rome to meet General Lafayette. At Rome they Avere
joined by General Weaver and his suite, on the part of the military
deputation, A deputation from the committee at Rome, witt Colonel
Lansing, Judge Williams, and Judge Storra, proceeded in a boat
some miles up the canal and met the boat of the general. At ten
o'clock in the evening, the general, his son. Colonel Lafayette, M. Le
Vasseur, his secretary, and another friend, were received into car-
riages and conducted to the arsenal, where they were received by
Lieutenant Simonson, the commandant of that post, with a national
salute, and the other honorij usually paid to a majur-genernl. Ladies
and gentlemen were intr<iduced, and he was then conducted to Starr's
Hotel, and an address delivered him by Wheeler Barnep, president of
the village. The village was illuminated. At six o'clock on the 10th
inst. be visited Colonel Lansing at Oriskany, who was uudcr bis
command at Yorktown. A committee from the village of Whites-
boro' conducted him in a barouche, attended by a military escort, to
the yard of the late residence of Judge Piatt, where be was intro-
duced, and thence to the house of Mr. Berry, where he was received
by the general committee of arrangements, and an address delivered
him by Judge Williams. Next he visited the widow of Judge While,
at whose house he was entertained in 17S4, when he assisted at the
treaty with the Indians held at Rome.

" The procession was formed at Whitesboro'. The general was
seated in the barouche, accompanied by Judge Williams, and preceded
by an escort of cavalry commanded by General John J. Knox. The
general was followed by a carriage conveying his son, Colonel Lafay-
ette, Colonel Lansing, Colonel Mappa, and Richard R. Lansing. Next
succeeded coaches with his secretary, M. Le Vasseur, the other gentle-
men of his suite, iind the Utica committee, Judge Storrs, Lieutenant
Simonson, and Captain Wright, of Rome. A large cavalcade of citi-
zens on horseback, riding three abreast, followed, and were succeeded by
a squadron of cavalry under Lieutenant Cone. The procession moved
rapidly, and increased as it passed, from the accession of citizens. All
the way the fences were lined and the houses thronged with people,
manifesting the utmost eagerness to see the favonte and guest of the
Nation. When the general arrived at the boundary of the village a
^alute of twenty-four guns was fired. The procefsion entered La-
fnytitte Street, where the troops, under the command of Lieutenant-
Colonel Ostrom, were drawn up on both sides of the way, and sainted
the general as he pasded. The procession entered Genesee Street, the
crowd of eager spectators accumulating at every step, and passed the
bridge over the camil, where a triumphal arch was erected, with a flag
prepared by Mr. Vanderlip, labeled 'Lafayette, tue Apostle of
LiBEUTV, WE HAIL THEE WELCOSiE !' The procession moved down
Genesee Street, the sidewalks, doora, and windows being thronged, and
stopped at Shepard's Hotel, where ihe general was received on the
steps nt ibe front door by William Clarke, Esq., president of the vil-
lage of Utica, and the corporation, and a speech was delivered by Mr.
Clarke, followed by a reply from Lafayette.

" The general brcakfsvstcd and dined at Shepard's, and in the inter-
val the ceremonies of introduction and the review of the troops were
performed. An immense number of gentlemen of the county of
Oneida and the vicinity were introduced to the genera', and at twelve
o'clock the ladies were introduced, which ceremony occupied nearly an
hour, 80 groat was the number whom patriotism, respect, and affection
called to the interesting scene. The troops passed in review before
the general, who received their salute standing uncovered on the steps
of Mr. Shepard's front door. At the particular request of General
Lafayette, the chiefs of the Oneidas were invited to meet him ; and
among them he recognized two whom he knew during the Revolu-
tionary war. But one of the most solemn and aflFecting incidents was
the interview between the general and the old soldiers of the Revolu-
tionary army. A large number were assembled, some of whom were
with him at the attack on the redoubts at Yorktown. The deep and
keen feelings manifested by these venerable men on once more behold-
ing their beloved general, and his frequent exclamations, ' Oh, my
friend, I know you !' with the impassioned salutations, excited the
liveliest sympathies of every heart.

"Over the front door of Mr. Shepard's hotel was placed a splendid
tranaparent painting, by Mr. Vanderlip, on which was inscribed in
large letters, * Welcome, Lafayette.' After the general had partaken
of a cold collation (the only dinner which circumstances would permit),

at which Rev. Mr. Willey craved the b'cpsing of Providence, the
general, by particular request of the President of the United States,
visited the family of Alexander B. Johnson, Esq. (Mrs. Johnson being
niece of the President), who, with a few ladies of the village, received
him with the cordiality and respect which all feel. On his return he
called for a moment at the house of Arthur Breese, Esq., where the
Rev. Mr. Galusha delivered him a neat poetical address. The general
then paid his respects to the family of President Clarke, and was con-
ducted to the packet-boat 'Governor Clinton,' named for the occasion
' Lafayette,' commanded by Major Swartwout, and which had been
fitted in tasteful and elegant style for his accommodation to Schenec-
tady. It w*s drawn by three white horses, which, with their rider,
had appropriate decorations. At the qioment of embarkation a salute
of twenty-four guns was fired, and when the boat began to move the
citizens congregated on the bridges and banks of the canal rent the
air with loud and long-continued cheering, which was repeated at

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 80 of 192)