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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bateaux were pursued into Sandy Creek, in the present
town of Ellisburg, Jefl'erson Co., and followed by the Brit-
ish in force ; but the bateaux were taken up the creek
about two miles, the men landed and a few guns placed to
cover the approach, and a strong force formed to intercept
the enemy, who came on confident of an victory.
They were, however, received with so lieavy a fire, and so
completely taken by surprise, that upwards of two hundred,
including nearly the whole force, exclusive of killed and
wounded, surrendered prisoners of war.

It was at this spot that the story originated concerning
the celebrated bayonet charge. After the first destructive
fire, and while the British troops were in confusion. Com-
modore Woolsey commanded his riflemen, in thunder-tones,
to " charge bayonets I" when, seeing only destruction await-
ing him, the British commander at once laid down his arms.
It would seem that he and the commodore had been ac-
quainted before the war, and when the British officer ap-
peared before Woolsey a mutual recognition took place, and
the former, taking Woolsey by the hand, exclaimed, " Com-
modore, I am happy to be permitted to renew our former
acquaintance, although under unfavorable circumstances ;"
and then, noticing for the first time the body of riflemen,
he added, good-humoredly, " But who ever heard of rifle-
men charging bayonets before ?"

He was buried with military honors, the Uiica Citizens'
Corps, then recently organized, forming the escort. General
Comstook and staiF, and Captain Mervine, of the United
States navy, were also present at the funeral obsequies.

In 1843 there was a grand military encampment in
Utica, on the 17th of July, at which a numerous body of
State militia were present, and during which John Quinoy
Adams visited the city. The famous Norwegian violinist,
Ole Bull, gave a concert in the place in June, 1844, which



was a noted event, and excited much interest among the
music-loving portion of the ccnimuiiity.

The State fair was held in Utica in September, 1845,
commencing with the 16th. This is believed to have been
the first occasion of its location here.

The year 1846 witnessed the inauguration of a new and
most important enterprise in Utica. This was the organi-
zation of the Utica Steam Woolen-Mills Company, with a
capital of $100,000. In 1847 two other extensive insti-
tutions were organized, the Globe Mills Woolen Company,
and the Utica Steam Cotton-Mills Company, each with a
heavy amount of capital. These great manufacturing in-
terests have been of immense benefit to the city, and given
it a prominence which probably no other enterprise has ever

A curious and serious accident occurred on the 9th of
May, 1847, at the bridge over the Mohawk. The ordinance
of baptism was being administered by the Rev. Mr. Corey,
in the river near by, and the shore and bridge were covered
with spectators, when suddenly a portion of the bridge gave
way, precipitating some twenty persons into the river, and
resulting in the death of W. 0. Smith and the injuring of
several others. A parallel case occurred at Dixon, 111., in
1873, when the iron bridge over Rock River broke upon
a similar occasion, and precipitated several hundred people
into the stream, where many were killed and drowned.

On the 4th of July, 1847, Professor Wise, the celebrated
aeronaut, made a grand balloon ascension in Utica.

Several destructive fires visited the city during the years
1850 and 1851, many of which were no doubt incendiary.
On the 5th of June, 1851, James J. Orcutt was convicted
of arson in the first degree, for firing and destroying the
barns and other outbuildings of Butterfield & Co., in the
rear of the National Hotel, in the preceding spring. The
Common Council offered rewards amounting to seven hun-
dred dollars for the apprehension of the offenders.

The part which Utica took in the great war of the Re-
bellion is best told in the history of the various organiza-
tions which went into the field from Oneida County, which
will be found in Chapter XLIX., devoted to the military
history of the county during that memorable epoch. Promi-
nent among those who won distinction on the battle-fields
of the South are the names of Butterfield, McQuade, Davies,
Christian, and Peattie. The record of the gallant men who
went out from Utica will stand to the latest generations, a
proud inheritance to those who shall come after them, while
the names of a legion of the fathers, mothers, brothers, and
sisters of those who fought and fell, and who ministered to
the sick and wounded returning to their homes from field
and hospital, if less conspicuous, are no less precious.

The principles for which the soldier contended, and the
great objects accomplished by the lavish expenditure of
blood and treasure, shall surely be cherished and perpetu-
ated by the purified Republic, and the memory of her
martyrs remain forever unsullied and imperishable.

Succeeding the war Utica steadily increased in business,
and its growth in every branch of industry was marked.
In 1868 the value of improvements exceeded $2,000,000.

® See farther on, article " Manufactures."


Utica in 1878, according to the ratio of its growth up to
the year 1875, should contain a population approximating
35,000 souls. Within its borders are found 221 diff'erent
streets and lanes, four railway lines, two canals, two express
and two telegraph companies, a street railway, forty-one
public and private schools, including two seminaries or
academies, upwards of thirty church organizations, a great
State lunatic asylum, a county court-house and jail, a county
clerk's office, a fine city-hall building and police head-
quarters, an elegant and costly opera-house, a new and
beautiful public library building, a city hospital and twenty
other charitable institutions, two medical societies, nine
Masonic, eleven I. 0. 0. F., and four Knights of Pythias
organizations, nine military bodies, six temperance societies,
three trades unions, six musical societies, sixteen miscel-
laneous organizations, eleven incorporated associations, in-
cluding the heavy manufactures, extensive gas- and water-
works, an efficient fire department, a fine trotting-park, two
prominent hotels and a score of others, a great rural ceme.
tery, a dozen fine parks and squares, nine banking institu-
tions, and eighteen diff'erent publications, including three
daily, one tri-weekly, seven weekly, one semi-monthly, five
monthly, and one quarterly.

The number of names engaged in the various business
occupations of the city, as given in the directory for 1878,
is about 1400. There is a very large number of fine
business blocks, constructed of marble, brick, and stone, in
various parts of the city, conspicuously upon Genesee,
John, Fayette, Columbia, Elizabeth, Bleecker, and Broad
Streets, and an exceedingly fine array of private dwellings
in almost all parts of the city. The place is very irregu-
larly laid out, and presents almost as much variety in the
forms and angles of its streets and business buildings as
Boston or Washington. Very few avenues in America
surpass the upper portion of Genesee Street in breadth of
roadway, in stately shade-trees, or in elegant and tastefully-
constructed dwellings and ample and finely-ornamented
grounds. Many other streets nearly equal Genesee in
splendid dwellings, fine shade-trees and surroundings,
though none approach it in stir and constantly-changing
variety of pa.ssers by, and in volume of travel. It is the
Broadway, the Pennsylvania Avenue, the Chestnut Street,
the Euclid Avenue, the Washington Street, of Utica, and
its people have a right to point it to strangers with pride
as an avenue worthy even of a great capital.

Among the more prominent breathing-places are Chan-
cellor Square and Steuben Park, each of which is beauti-
fully laid out and ornamented with shade-trees, fountains,
etc. The number of fine shade-trees in the older portions
of the city is very great.

Its principal streets are well paved with stone. Genesee
Street, for a large portion of its extent, is handsomely laid
with what may be termed the Belgian pavement, being
very similar to that in Broadway, New York, and Broad
Street, Philadelphia. In its construction it also closely re-
sembles the celebrated Nicholson wooden-block pavement,
so extensively adopted in Chicago and other Western cities,
thou"-h much more substantial and durable. The other
variety of pavement most in use is the common cobble, or




bowlder style. The side- and cross-walks are largely com-
posed of thin sandstone layers, found abundantly in many
portions of the State. In the suburbs the walks are mostly
of plank. The city is divided into three topographical por-
tions by the "Gulf" and Nail Creek, which form ravines
or valleys, the ground rising on either hand into an elevated
plateau, so that the city may be said to be founded on three
distinct and separate hills. The northern portions of the
town slope towards the main Mohawk Valley, while the
southeastern portions slope very gently towards a broad,
shallow valley on the south, lying between the city and the
high ridge which rises in New Hartford, and which un-
doubtedly gave the locality its Indian name " Nun-da-dii-sis,
— around the hill." The broad valley of the Mohawk is
bounded on either hand by majestic ranges of hills, which
rise quite gradually from the lowlands, and from whose
summits enchanting and picturesque views are obtained,
covering the city and a vast surrounding region.


The names of the officers of the village from 1798, under
the first act of incorporation, to 1805, are not known, ex-
cept that Francis A. Bloodgood was treasurer in 1800 and
1801, and Talcott Camp in 1802. Under the revised charter
of 1805 the presidents of the village board were chosen by
the trustees. The following is a list of the names of those
who served in this capacity from 1805 to 1816, inclusive:

1805-6, Jeremiah Van Rensselaer, Jr.

1807, Erastus Clark.

1808, Morris S. Miller.
1809-14, Talcott Camp.

1815, Abraham Van Santvoort.

1816, Rudolph Snyder.

Of those who served as clerks during these years only
one name is preserved, — that of D. W. Childs, who was the
first clerk of the board in 1805.

Under the new charter of 1817, the president of the
board was appointed by the Governor and council. The
presidents from 1817 to 1831, inclusive, were as follows:

1817-19, Nathan Williams.

1820, Rudolph Snyder.

1821-23, Ezra S. Cozier.

1824-25, William Clarke.

1826-27, Ezra S. Cozier.

1828-30, William Clarke.

1831, Ezra S. Cozier.

The clerks were appointed by the board, and wore the
following :

1817-25, John H. Ostrom.

1826-27, William Jones.

1828, John Fish.

1829-31, John G. Floyd.


Under the city charter, from 1832 to 1840, the mayors
were appointed by the Common Council. Since the last-
mentioned date they have been elected by the people. The
following are the names of those who have filled the office
from 1832 to 1878, inclusive:

4p230Hi/erf.— 1832, Joseph Kirkland ; 1833, Henry

Seymour; 1834-35, Joseph Kirkland; 1836, John H.
Ostrom ; 1837, Theodore S. Gold; 1838, Charles P. Kirk-
land; 1839, John C. Devereux.

Elected. — 1840, John C. Devereux; 1841, Spencer
Kellogg; 1842, Horatio Seymour; 1843, Frederick Hol-
lister; 1844, Ward Hunt; 1845-46, Edmund A. Wetmore;
1847, James Watson Williams ; 1848, Joshua A. Spencer;
1849-50, Thomas R. Walker; 1851-52, John E. Hin-
man; 1853, Charles H. Doolittle; 1854, John E. Hinman;
1855, Henry H. Fish; 1856-57, Alrick Hubbell; 1858,
Roscoe Conkling ; 1859, Charles S. Wilson (appointed
Dec. 2, by council) ; 1860, Calvin Hall (resigned May 20,
1860) ; 1860, De Witt C. Grove (appointed May 25, 1860) ;
1861-62, De Witt C. Grove; 1863, Charles S. Wilson;
1864, Theodore S. Faxton ; 1865, John Butterfield ; 1866,
James McQuade ; 1867, Charles S. Wilson ; 1868, J.
Thomas Spriggs ; 1869, Ephraim Chamberlain; 1870,
James McQuade; 1871, Miles C. Comstook ; 1872, Theo.
F. Butterfield; 1873, Charles K. Grannis ; 1874, Theo-
dore S. Sayre ; 1875, Charles W. Hutchinson ; 1876,
Charles E. Barnard ; 1877, David H. Gaffin ; 1878, James

The clerks for the same period have been : 1832-33,
Thomas Colling; 1834-36, Jacob D. Edwards; 1837-39,
John S. Ray; 1840, Sylvanus Holmes; 1841, Dexter
Gillmore; 1842, Huet R. Root; 1843, Richard U. Sher-
man ; 1844, Joseph B. Cushman ; 1845, Alexander Coburn ;
1846, George Murphy; 1847-50, James Mclver; 1851-
52, James W. Bond ; 1853, Andrew H. Green ; 1854-56,
James G. French; 1857-58, David Perkins; 1859, James
McDonough; 1860-61, Peter Cunningham; 1862-63,
Thomas S. Mclncrow; 1864, David Perkins; 1865-78,
Thomas S. Mclncrow.

For the year commencing March, 1878.
Mai/or. — James Benton.

Board of Aldermen. — 1st Ward, H. Ray Barnes ; 2d
Ward, Wm. N. Weaver ; 3d Ward, Thomas A, Lowery ;
4th Ward, Wm. H. Price; 5th Ward, John Johnson ; 6th
Ward, Edmund J. Callahan ; 7th Ward, Eli Cone ; 8th
Ward, Gottlieb Zitzner; 9th Ward, John Carney; 10th
Ward, George Shotthafer.


Cleric. — Thomas S. Mclncrow.

Treasurer. — Martin S. Gottry.

Recorder. — Patrick F. Bulger.

Counsel. — J. Thomas Spriggs.

Street Commissioner. — Aikens A. Tallman.

Surveyor. — Egbert Bagg.

Messenger and Janitor Nicholas Rossiter.

Sealer of Weights and Measures. — James Mulligan.

Superintendent of Public Parks. — Thomas J. Smith.

Poundmasler. — Michael O'Donnell.

City Sexton. — AVm. Austermiller.

Board of Health.— James Benton, Mayor and ex-officio
President; Thomas S. Mclncrow, Secretary, and Regis-
trar of Vital Statistics; James G. Hunt, M.D., Health
Officer ; John H. Douglass, Thomas Jay Griffiths, Abel B.

-^^^ ^O^M^J^

Photo, by Mundy

James Benton was born at Leamington Priors (now I-.eam-
ington Spa), Warwickshire, England, on the 18th of October,
1805, of poor but honest parents. The place of his birth is
about ten miles from the birthplace of the immortal Shaks-
peare, two miles from "Warwiclc Castle, and five miles from
the famous ruins of Kenilworth Castle, in a region of the
" Merry Isle" among the most interesting to tourists of any
in the kingdom. Mr. Benton grew up with few advantages in
the way of schooling, the most of his education having been
obtained at the Sunday-schools of the parish.

In his younger days he engaged in any kind of work where
he could "turn an honest penny," and from his twelfth year
was entirely dependent upon his own labor. But, under cir-
cumstances which would have discouraged many, he labored
on and saved his money until he had accumulated sufficient to
purchase a situation with a master mechanic, where he could
learn a profitable trade, and apprenticed himself to a plasterer
and worker in stucco, with whom he remained until he was
an accomplished workman.

He left England for America about the 1st of April, 1829,
and landed in New York City in the beginning of June,
literally "a stranger in a strange land." Here he remained
a few weeks, during which he worked as a journeyman on
Holt's buildings, corner of Pearl Street and Maiden Lane,
and on the Dutch Keformed Church. In the latter part of
June he came to Utica, where he has made his home contin-
uously since, with the exception of about nine months spent in
Canada, at Toronto (then Little York) and Brockville, in
1830-32. It was while in the former place that his attention
to business and the superior excellence of his work attracted
the notice of his employers, who had a contract on the govern-
ment buildings, and led to an increase of his wages and his
subsequent advancement to the direct superintendence of the
workmen, without any solicitation on his part. He was at
the date of his experience in Canada a part of the time in the

employ of Mr. Samuel Stocking, of Utica, a well-known and
prominent business man.

After working as a journeyman for several years, Mr. Ben-
ton began business for himself as a contractor and builder, and
the many monuments of his handiwork in Utica are not only
an honor to their builder but a source of pride to the citizens.
Among these may be mentioned a fine residence for Hon.
Ward Hunt, many dwellings on Genesee Street, the new Opera
House, Grove & Bailey's printing-house, Eaxton Hall, Faxton
Hospital, Old Ladies' Home, the Gardner, Empire, and
Hackett blocks, the Mather and Buchanan Banks, in Utica, and
many fine buildings erected in the suburban towns. In his
advancing years he still carries on an extensive business, and
is known of all men as emphatically a working man.

Mr. Benton has never been an office-seeker or taken any
special interest in political affiiirs ; but in the spring of 1878 the
Workingmen's party, in looking about for a fitting candidate
to represent their interests as mayor of the city, solicited the
privilege of using his name, and he was elected by a very
complimentary majority over his competitors.

He bri ngs to the helm of administrative affairs in his adopted
city an unswerving integrity and honesty of purpose which
are a guaranty that during his administration the public ex-
penditures shall be conducted according to the strictest econ-
omy, and with due regard to the wishes and necessities of his
constituents. His life is an excellent exemplification of what
may be accomplished by honest industry when directed by the
sound principles of common sense. He has been for many years
prominently connected with the Proteslant Episcopal Church
as a communicant of St. Stephen's Church, of New Hartford.

Mr. Benton married Miss Susan Bradley, a native of Gid-
dington, Northamptonshire, England, about 1833. They have
had five children, — three sons and two daughters, — all living,
and four of them respectably married and comfortably located
on excellent farms in the vicinity of Utica.

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HO-PVP-IQ egYJ^^Q-yjj^



Buell, P. J. MeQaade, John Quinn, Lawrence Bailey, Ezra
P. Hodges.

Commissioners of Schools. — David P. White, John N.
Eurll, Charles K. Grannis, Charles S. Symonds, William
Kernan, J. C. P. Kincaid.

Superintendent of Schools. — Andrew McMillan.

Commissioners of Excise — George Ralph, Henry Ehres-
man, A. H.^Sheldon ; Paul Reiser, Clerk.

Commissioners of Charities. — Homer Townsend, Joseph
Eaas, William L. Baldwin, David Donaldson, James Mer-
riman,^Wm. Blakie ; Clerk, Martin Neejer.

Justices of the Peace. — Wm. H. Phillips, Morven M.
Jones, James E. Hurley, Dexter Gilmore.


Commissioners. — L. W. Rogers, Thomas M. Davies,
Henry Lux, Miles C. Comstock.

Chief of Police. — James Dwyer.

Assistant. — Robert McBlwaine.

Chief Engineer. — Wesley Dimbleby.

Cte7c.— Thomas F. Clarke.

The active police force comprises two roundsmen and
sixteen patrolmen.

The official papers of the city are the Utica Daily Ob-
server, Utica Daily Republican, and Oneida Demokrat.


The population of Utica at different periods is shown by

the following figures, taken from official sources :

In 1835 10,183 inhabitants.

" IBM 12,782 "

" 1830 17,556 "

" 1860 22,524 "

" 1870 28,804 "

" 187-5 32,406 "

" 1878 estima-
ted 35,000 "

In 1800 about 300 inhabitants.

" 1813 1700

" 1816 2861 "

" 1820 2972 "

" 1823 4017 "

" 1826 5040

" 1828 7466 "

" 1830 8335 "


The following obituary notice of Judge Denio was pre-
pared for the Utica Morning Herald by Hon. Ellis H.
Roberts, and published Nov. 6, 1871. It should have
appeared in the article on the " Early Bar of Oneida," but
was accidentally omitted :

"Oneida County has produced few jurists who in broad views, in
sound judgment, in legal learning, stand above Hiram Benio. With
a cast of mind eminently judicial, with studious habits that never
wearied, with conversance with the principles as well as the letter of
the law seldom surpassed, and with integrity never questioned, he
deserves to rank with the magnates of the bar, of the county, and
the State, and as a judge of the Court of Appeals his decisions are
accepted as standards and as models. He was not a man to startle
observers by brilliance and eccentricity. His prudence, his common
sense, his thorough conscientiousness, were his marked characteris-
tics. He was trained in the best school of the law, for he studied
with Henry R. Storrs, whom Henry Clay pronounced the most elo-
quent man he ever listened to. Young Denio learned early the need
of thorough preparation of his cases, and this was always a rule with
him. He was a student throughout his life, and his culture was
broad and varied, reaching beyond his profession into the rich fields
of literature and of history. Conspicuous for his discretion and his
integrity, he was burdened with trusts as executor and trustee, and
at bis death was president of the Savings Bank of Utica. As a citi-
zen, he was above reproach. His religious connection had been for
years with Grace Church. In politics he was a Democrat, but he was
still more a patriot. He gave all his sympathies to the llepublio
during the war, and voted for Lincoln for President, and sustained

the measures necessary for the nation's life. His fame will rest upon
the services which he rendered as judge of the Court of Appeals.
Hia decision on the metropolitan police law offended extreme Demo-
crats at the time, but it illustrated his independent and non-partisan
character, and the party was compelled to recognize bis fairness and
his integrity by a renomination. The ermine was honored by him.
As he was without dogmatism, he could admit and correct errors. In
every sense he was a good judge, and in some respects his associates
have pronounced him among the best and foremost that ever sat
upon the bench of our highest tribunal.

" Judge Denio died at his residence on Broad Street, Sunday,
Nov. 5, 1871, jiged seventy-two 3'ears. Ho was born at Rome, on the
21st of May, 1799. He was two years a student in the academy at
Fairfield, Herkimer County, with Albert Barnes for his classmate.
He came to the bar in the light of some of the greatest names which
have adorned our local history, and he did no discredit to their tutel-
age. After commencing the study of the l.iw with Judge Hathaway,
at Rome, in 1816, he came to Whitesboro' and entered the office of
Storrs & White, where he remained until 1821. In that year he be-
came a partner of Wheeler Barnes, a lawyer in established practice at
Rome. Oct. 30, 1825. he was appointed by the Court of General Ses-
sions district attorney, to succeed Samuel Beardsley, and he served
worthily in that capacity for nine years. In the mean time, in July,
1826, he became a resident of Utica, and a partner with his life-long
friend, E. A. Wetmore, Esq., in the law firm of Wetmore & Denio.
May 7, 1834, Mr. Denio was appointed a circuit judge for the fifth
circuit, and then began the judicial career in which he wo a emi-
nence, serving about four years. About 1836, Judge Denio formed a
partnership with Hon. Ward Hunt, and for some time the firm of
Denio & Hunt stood in the fore-front of the profession bore. On the
23d of June, 1853, he was appointed to fill a vacancy on the bench of
the Court of Appeals, and twice afterwards elected to the same posi-
tion, closing his career in 1866.- Other honorable positions he also
held, such as bank commissioner, and clerk of the Supreme Court,
and he was from 1835 a useful and efficient trustee of Hamilton

" Judge Denio married, in May, 1829, Miss Ann H. Pitkin, of
Farmington, Conn., who survives him. Three children were born to
them: one died an infant; the eldest daughter died in Madeira,
where she had gone in search of health; the third is the wife of Dr.
L. A. TourtcUot, of this city.

" A paralytic stroke befell Judge Dcuio on the 17th of October,
1S68. He partially recovered from the effects of it, but was never
again fully himself. For some time he had been failing. For a fort-
night his friends knew that death was nigh. He has passed away, a
high type of the Christian jurist, of whose memory eulogy may speak
without reservation. His life proves that eminence involves no
sacrifice of worth, that purity of personal character is consonant
with personal, professional, and political success."

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 82 of 192)