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 83 of 192)
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Horatio Seymour was born in the town of Pompey,
Onondaga Co., N. Y., May 31, 1810. His ancestors were
among the first settlers of Hartford, Conn., and the family
has been prominent for several generations in the States of
Connecticut, Vermont, and New York.

The father of Governor Seymour, Hon. Henry Seymour,
removed, when a young man, to Onondaga County, which
was then mostly an unsettled wilderness.

When Horatio was nine years of age his parents removed
to Utica. He received his education at the academies of
Oxford and Geneva, N. Y., and Captain Alden Partridge's
military school, in Middletown, Conn. He read law in
Utica with Greene C. Bronson and Samuel Beardsley, and
was admitted to practice in 1831. He served on the mili-
tary staff of Governor Marcy from 1833 to 1839.' The
dsath of his father, in 1837, devolved upon him the settle-

^■- Chiefly from Appleton's American Encyclopsedia.



ment of a large estate, and virtually withdrew him from the
practice of his profession.

In 1841 he was elected to the State Assembly and re-
elected for three successiye terms upon the Democratic
ticket, and in 1845 was chosen speaker of that body. In
1842, while a member of the Assembly, he was elected
Mayor of the city of Utica, which office he filled for one
term. In 1848 he supported Hon. Lewis Cass for the

In 1850 he was nominated by the Democrats for Gov-
ernor, and was defeated by the remarkably small majority
of 262 votes, in a poll of about 430,000, by Hon. Wash-
ington Hunt, his opponent ; but in 1852 he was chosen
Governor by a plurality of 22,596 votes over the same com-
petitor. A prohibitory liquor bill, passed in March, 1854,
was vetoed by Governor Seymour, on the ground of its
unconstitutionality. He was re-nominated in 1854, and in
a close canvass, with four candidates in the field, and the
Prohibition, Know-Nothing, and Anti-Slavery issues in the
contest, was defeated by Hon. Myron H. Clark, the Whig
and Prohibition candidate, by a plurality of 309 votes in a
total poll of 470,000.

In 1862, Mr. Seymour was again elected Governor over
General James S. Wadsworth, by a majority of 10,752
votes. In his inaugural address, Jan. 1, 1863, he said,
" Under no circumstances can the division of the Union
be conceded. We will put forth every exertion in our
power ; we will use every policy of conciliation ; we will
guarantee them every right, every consideration, demanded
by the constitution, and by that fraternal regard which
must prevail in a common country ; but we can never
voluntarily consent to the breaking up of the union of these
States or the destruction of the constitution."

On the 15th of June, Secretaiy Stanton, by direction
of President Lincoln, telegraphed to Governor Seymour,
asking if he could raise and forward twenty thousand
militia to aid in repelling the threatened invasion of Mary-
land and Pennsylvania by Lee's army ; and within three
days twelve thousand soldiers were on their way from New
York to Harrisburg.

While these troops were absent from the State the draft
was ordered to be enforced in the city of New York on the
11th of July. On the 9th, General John E. Wool, com-
manding the Department of the East, addressed a letter to
Governor Seymour, setting forth that the city of New York
was in a defenseless condition, and asked that he might be
furnished with four companies of infantry. These compa-
nies were on their way thither from the interior of the
State when General Wool telegraphed, July 13, " Please
countermand any militia that is ordered to this place." On
the same day the draft riots began.

The Governor immediately went to New York, where on
the 14th he issued two proclamations, one calling on the
rioters to disperse, and the other declaring the city in a
state of insurrection. He divided it into districts, which
were placed under the control of military men, who were di-
rected to organize the citizens, and three thousand stand of
arms were issued to these and other organizations. Boats
were chartered to convey policemen and soldiers to any
point on the shores of the island whore disturbances were

threatened. The Governor visited all the riotous districts
in person, and, by persuasion as well as by the use of the
force at bis command, greatly aided in quelling the disturb-
ance. During his term of office Governor Seymour com-
missioned upwards of thirteen thousand officers in the vol-
unteer service of the United States.

In 1864 he addressed a message to the Legislature ad-
vocating the payment of the interest on the State bonds in
gold ; and the refusal of that body to adopt this policy
greatly depreciated their value. In August he presided
over the Democratic National Convention at Chicago which
put in nomination General McClellan for the presidency.
He also presided over the convention of 1868, held in New
York. The leading candidates for the nomination were
George H. Pendleton, Andrew Johnson, Thomas A. Hen-
dricks, and General W. S. Hancock.

Governor Seymour had positively declined to permit the
use of his name, but on the twenty-second ballot the Ohio
delegation, to forestall a threatened movement in favor of
Salmon P. Chase, cast their united vote for Horatio Sey-
mour. When Wisconsin was reached in the call of States
its delegation seconded his nomination, and every State
changed its vote to Mr. Seymour, who was declared the
unanimous choice of the convention. General Francis P.
Blair, Jr., was nominated for Vice-President. At the elec-
tion Seymour and Blair received 2,703,600 votes, against
3,013,188 cast for Grant and Colfax. Governor Seymour
lives on an extensive and well-cultivated farm in Deerfield,
three miles from the city of Utica. He is president of the
American Dairymen's Association, and has delivered many
addresses before agricultural societies, colleges, centennial
assemblages, etc. He is also president of the Prison Asso-
ciation of the United States.


The first citizen who had the honor of being postmaster
in Utica (then Old Fort Schuyler) was undoubtedly John
Post, who was also the first general merchant in the village,
though Peter Smith had preceded him as an Indian-trader.
A post-office was established here, as near as can be ascer-
tained, in 1793, during the administration of President
Washington, and Mr. Post was appointed postmaster, prob-
ably on account of his business ability, and perhaps also
because he could best accommodate the villagers and ad-
jacent inhabitants. He appears to have held the position
until 1799, when Dr. Samuel Carrington succeeded him,
and continued until about 1803, when he mysteriously dis-
appeared, and Dr. Marcus Hitchcock was appointed, and
continued to fill the position for about twenty-four years,
being the longest term in the history of the office.

On the 21st of January, 1828, James Piatt was ap-
pointed, and held it until the 22d of May, 1829, when he
was removed, under President Jackson's administration,
and Augustine G. Dauby appointed to succeed him. Mr.
Dauby held the office until the 17th of May, 1849, a period
of twenty years lacking a few days.

Succeeding Mr. Dauby, in May, 1849, came Mr. Joseph
H. Shearman, who probably continued until the spring of
1853, when he was followed by Isaiah Tiffiiny, who filled
the position until the spring of 1857, when Mr. Joseph


Ellis H. Roberts was born in Utica, N. Y.,
Sept. 30, 1827. He comes of respectable Welsh
parentage, and is a ready scholar in the tongue of
his ancestors, speaking and writing it with the
fluency and aptitude of "a native to the manor

At the early age of nine years young Roberts
learned to depend upon his own labors for a liveli-
hood. He served an apprenticeship to the printer's
trade in the office of his older brother, R. W.
Roberts, and, by dint of persevering industry and
excellent judgment, succeeded in acquiring a sound
academic and collegiate education ; graduating at

taining to agricultural interests it is recognized as

Mr. Roberts was originally a Whig, and when that
party gave place to the Republican organization he
naturally gravitated to its ranks. During the dark
years of the rebellion he nobly proved his loyalty in
standing by the imperiled government with tongue
and pen. He is a close student, a ready writer, and
a sound reasoner, and has made himself a power in
Central New York. Fearless and aggressive, he gives
his powerful pen to the cause of what he deems the
right, regardless of popular clamor, and intent only
on the triumph of the eternal principles of justice.

Yale College, in 1850, with the second highest
honors of his class. Shortly following this event
he became one of the editors of the Utica Morning
Herald, and continued in that capacity until the
autumn of 1854, when he retired for a brief inter-
val, but soon after became its proprietor and chief
editor, in which capacity he has continued to the
present time. His abilities are best illustrated by
the steady progress which his journal has made in
literary excellence and general influence under his
careful and efficient management. Its regular corres-
pondence is of a high order, and in all matters per-

Mr. Roberts was a member of the National Re-
publican Conventions of 1864 and 1868, and a mem-
ber of the Legislature in 1867. He was elected to
the Forty-second Congress, and re-elected to the
Forty-third by a handsome majority over his Demo-
cratic competitor. He was also a candidate for the
Forty-fourth Congress, and was candidate for mayor
of his native city in 1862.

He married, in 1851, the eldest daughter of David
E. Morris, of Utica, a well-known and polished
Christian gentleman. Rev. Edward D. Morris, D.D.,
is a brother of Mrs. Roberts.



Lyon was appointed, and continued until 1861 , when he
was succeeded by Charles H. Hopkins, who has continued
to the present time. It is somewhat remarkable that from
1793 to 1878, a period of eighty-five years, there have
been only nine occupants of the position, though it includes
the administrations of eighteen Presidents of the United
States, counting Tyler and Fillmore.

Locations. — The first location was undoubtedly in John
Post's store, on Genesee Street, near Whitesboro'. Dr.
Carrington removed it to the east side of Genesee, below
Broad, Street. Dr. Hitchcock removed it again to the
west side of Genesee Street, above Whitesboro', in 1805.
Mr. Piatt changed it to Catherine Street, near Genesee,
and Mr. Dauby removed it from thence to the northwest
corner of John and Broad Streets, in 1829, and a few years
later to its present location, on Hotel Street, in Mechanics'
Hall building.

Business of the Office. — It is recorded by Dr. Bagg, that
in one of the early years, when it was reported that the
Albany mail had brought the enormous quantity of six
letters for inhabitants of the village, there was a great
commotion among the gossips, and it was considered an
unheard-of thing. Eighty years have made a wonderful
change from the horseback mail, bringing a half-dozen
letters once per week, to the thundering railway trains,
dropping thirty-seven mails daily, counting their letters
and papere by the thousand.

By the courtesy of Mr. L. W. Hopkins, assistant post-
master, we are enabled to lay a few facts and statistics
before our readers, which may be of interest. We have
compiled a statement showing the amount of business
transacted for one quarter, or three months, which is prob-
ably a fair general average for the year :

No. of letters delivered 258,408

" " dispatched .' 200,601

" drop letters 3S,'J19

" pounds daily papers 10,998

" " weekly " 22,491

" postal cards delivered 69,012

" " " dispatched 69,201

" drop postal cards 13,035

" newspapers bandied 160,881

Value stamps sold $33,415.80

The business in Utica gives employment to thirteen
letter-carriers, and there are 173 street-boxes in the city.
The number of mails handled is 38, — 37 daily and 1 tri-

The following is a list of officers employed : Postmaster,
Charles H. Hopkins ; Assistant Postmaster, L. W. Hop-
kins ; Money-Order Clerk, W. C. Stevens ; Registry Clerk,
J. A. Jennison ; Delivery Clerk, A. B. Downer ; Head Dis-
tributing Clerk, L. A. Jones ; Mailing Clerks, G. W. Pear-
son and H. D. Thompson.

This building, which is in process of erection, will, upon
its completion, be one of the most commodious and well-
appointed public buildings in Central New York. The total
appropriations for its completion have at the present writing
been $300,000. Of this the following sums, amounting to
a total of 8266,759.96, have been expended ; For the site.

$161,192.25; for construction, 62,746.17; due on con-
tracts, $42,821.34; leaving a balance of $33,240.24 un-
used. It is estimated that $50,000 in addition will com-
plete the work. The building has now reached its first
story. The basement is of Trenton limestone, while the
superstructure is of pressed brick. It will be occupied by
the United States courts, the post-office, and internal revenue



The Utica Morning Herald and Daily Gazette is built
upon the broad foundations of nearly all the newspapers of
Federal, Whig, and Republican tendencies, together with
some others, twelve in all, that have been published in the
village and city of Utica since the first settlement of that
place. The various changes and transmutations it has
undergone from its infancy afibrd a striking commentary
on the trials, the vicissitudes, and the triumph of American

The Utica, Herald has a direct and unbroken lineal de-
scent from the Whitestown Gazette, a little weekly sheet
that was started in New Hartford, then a part of the town
of Whitestown, by William McLean, in the year 1796.
This was the second paper published in the county, then
Herkimer County, and west of Albany, the first having
been the Western Centiuel, first printed in Whitesboro'
two years earlier by Oliver P. Eaton, and only surviving
a few months. Tracing its origin to this Whitestown,
Gazette, the Utica Herald becomes one of the fourteen
oldest living newspapers in the United States. The list of
these papers, as given in Lanman's Biographical Annals,
page 568, contains but seven papers which have been pub-
lished one hundred years and over, and thirty-three which
have been published fifty years and over. The New York
Commercial Advertiser, founded in 1793, is the only news-
paper now in existence in the State which has an older
origin than the Utica Herald. It is now eighty-two years
since William McLean issued his first unambitious journal
from the crude hand-press which had been poled up the
Mohawk River in a bateau.

In 1798, two years after the publication of the Whites-
town Gazette began, and the same year in which the county
of Oneida was erected from Herkimer County, William
McLean moved his establishment to Utica, finding New
Hartford not a lucrative location even for his modest pub-
lication. He continued its publication under the sounding
title of the Whitestown Gazette and Cato's Patrol, in an
office " near the post-office.'' This was the first paper of
any description published in the village of Utica, and the
designation of Cato's Patrol was evidently adopted because
of the imaginary relation of the name of the village in the
wilderness to the ancient city which found its defender in
the younger Cato.

Five years later, in 1803, Mr. McLean, being in poor
health, sold out his paper to John H. Lothrnp, a graduate
of Yale College, who had come to Oneida County in 1795
or 1796. Mr. Lothrop's publishers were Merrill & Seward,

* Prepared by S. N. Dexter North.



and his office was at 60 Genesee Street, where the Utica
Herald is still published, and within fifty feet of the iden-
tical spot. Mr. Lothrop dropped the long and pretentious
title, and called his paper at first The Patriot, and after-
wards T7ie Utica Patriot. Dr. Bagg records that the ed-
itorship filling neither his time nor his pockets, Mr. Lothrop
sewed also as deputy in the office of the Supreme Court
clerk. He continued to be connected with The Patriot and
its successor, much of the time merely as u, contributor,
nearly to the time of his death, which occurred in 1829.

In 1811, William H. Maynard purchased of Mr. Lothrop
his propinetary interest in The Patriot, and at once assumed
its editorship, with Ira Merrill as his publisher. Mr. May-
nard, like Mr. Lothrop, was a lawyer, and continued to
practice his profession wliile he edited his newspaper. He
subsequently became one of the most distinguished members
of the early bar of Oneida County, his journal in the moan
time giving every evidence of his legal acumen and his
intense political convictions. In 1816, Tlie Patriot was
united with The Patrol, a paper which had been established
in January of the previous year by the printing house of
Seward & Williams. The consolidated newspaper was pub-
lished as the Patriot and Patrol, with William H. Maynard
as editor, and Seward & Williams as publishers.

In 1819, when De Witt Clinton was nominated for Gov-
ernor against Daniel D. Tompkins, Mr. Maynard left the
Federal party, then nearly moribund in the nation, and
joined the fifty-one "high-minded gentlemen" who sup-
ported Tompkins. This change of opinion made itself
visible in the columns of the Patriot, and in the loss of
its patronage; and Messrs. Seward & Williams, its publish-
ers, took a summary method of self-defense. They at once
literally abolished the Patriot and Patrol, and issued in its
place, and to its subscribers, a new journal, bearing the name
of The Utica Sentinel. There is no record of who served
as their editor.

The same firm continued the publication of the Utica
Sentinel until 1835, when the paper was sold to Samuel D.
Dakin and William J. Bacon, the present member of Con-
gress from the Oneida district. The Sentinel was consoli-
dated at the time of this transfer with Tlie Colamhian Ga-
zette, a paper started at Rome in August, 1799, by Thomas
Walker and Ebenezer Eaton, and removed to Utica in 1803.
The consolidated paper, with Dakin & Bacon as editors and
proprietors, was issued under the name of The Sentinel and
Gazette, at 122 Genesee Street, " opposite the Canal Coffee-

In 1829, Dakin & Bacon sold their paper to Rufus
Northway and D. S. Porter, who secured Theodore S. Gold
for editor. Mr. Porter withdrew from the publication in
1831, and in 1834, Mr. Northway united the Sentinel and
Gazette with a paper called The Elucidator, which had been
started in 1829 by B. B. Hotchkin and' William Williams.
The new consolidation took the name of The Oneida Whig,
Mr. Gold continuing as editor. The paper continued to be
published under this name — as the weekly issue of the
Utica Daily Gazette — until 1857, when it was merged in
the Oneida Weekly Herald, at the same time that the Daily
Gazette disappeared in the Utica Mornvig Herald.
In 1842 the rapid growth of the city and the contagious

spread of journalism throughout the country led Mr. North-
way to venture upon the publication of the Utica Daily
Gazette. This was the first daily paper published in Utica,
and west of Albany, with the single exception of a little
sheet, known as the Daily News, started a few months pre-
vious by Lyon & Arthur, with J. M. Hatch and C. Edwards
Lester as editors, and ceasing to exist almost immediately
upon the appearance of the Gazette. A most precarious
existence awaited this ambitious venture. The Gazette sank
money for several years, and was often on the point of sus-
pending. In the first year of its existence Richard TJ.
Sherman, William Allen, Erastus Clark, and Ezekiel Bacon
successively edited it. In May, 1843, Alexander Seward —
son of Asahel Seward, who established Tlie Patrol, in 1815,
in company with William Williams — became the editor and
one-half owner of the Gazette, the firm-name being R.
Nortliway & Co. Dr. Henry C. Potter was associated with
Mr. Seward as editor and proprietor in 1849, and in this
same year Mr. Seward withdrew from the paper as editor,
retaining his proprietary interest, to become the editor of
the State Register at Albany. During the year of his ab-
sence from Utica, Erastus Clark made a reputation as the
editor of the Gazette. In 1853, Joseph M. Lyon and
John Arthur purchased and published the Gazette, making
it an organ of the Hard-Shell Democrats. In 1856 they
sold the establishment to N. D. Jewell & Co., who con-
verted it into a Know-Nothing organ, with a Mr. Radford
as editor.

In the meanwhile the Oneida Morning Herald had been
commenced in November, 1847, by Robert W. Roberts,
Richard U. Sherman, and Edwin R. Colston. Mr. Colston
withdrew from this firm in 1848, and Mr. Sherman in
1851. In January, 1857, the Gazette was merged in the
Herald, under the name of the Utica Morning Herald and
Daily Gazette. At the same time the Oneida Whig dis-
appeared in its weekly, — the same paper which had come
down through the Sentinel and Gazette, the Sentinel, the
Patriot and Patrol, and the Utica Patriot, from the
original Whitestown Gazette of 1796.

Ellis H. Roberts became the editor and proprietor of
the Utica Morning Herald in 1851, and he continued to
conduct the Herald and Gazette until 1872, when he asso-
ciated with him George L. Roberts and S. N. Dexter North,
under the firm-name of Ellis H. Roberts & Co. This firm,
which is incorporated under the general law of the State of
New York, continues to publish the Herald at 60 Genesee

The Utica Morning Herald is nearly three times larger
than was the Daily Gazette when established in 1842, and
each issue contains about eight times as much reading matter.
Ellis H. Roberts acts as editor-in-chief, and S. N. Dexter
North as managing editor. Six additional men constitute
the corps of editors and reporters now employed. The
Herald maintains a regular correspondent at Washington,
at Albany, and in New York City. It was one of the
charter members of the New York State Associated Press.
Some idea of the manner in which the Herald has grown
and extended may be gained from the fact that it now
circulates regularly in the twelve counties of Northern and
Central New York, and maintains fifty paid correspondents


De Witt Clinton Grove was born in Utica, on the 16th of
December, 1825. His father's ancestors, who were of English
origin, were among the earliest settlers of New Jersey, and
his grandfather was a patriot soldier in the American Bevo-
lution. On his mother's side he is of German descent, the
family settling in this country in 1777.

His early advantages for acquiring learning were very
limited. He never attended school after the age of ten, and
in his thirteenth year he was apprenticed to the printer's trade.
Subsequently, however, by his own efforts, he gained a sound
English and a fair classical education. He is proficient in
most branches of science, and in the Hebrew, Latin, and Greek
languages, for which, comparatively late in life, he developed
a decided taste. In recognition of his acquirements, the hon-
orary degree of Master of Arts was conferred upon him by
Madison IJnivereity, in the year 1861.

Prom the age of thirteen Mr. Grove has followed his trade
without intermission, except a few months in 1844 spent in
the study of the law. In February, 1846, he became one of
the proprietors and editors of the Utica Democrat, the Oneida
County organ of the " Barnburners," or radical faction of the
Democratic party. He was then only twenty years old. Silas
"Wright was the Democratic candidate for Governor that year,
and was recognized as the foremost representative of the
cause which the young printer espoused. Be was sorely dis-
appointed in the defeat of the statesman in whose behalf ha
rendered good and effective service. On election day he stood
at the polls, distributing tickets, when a venerable leader of
the opposition approached him and said, " I am an old man,
and you are young ; I am a Whig, and you are a Democrat.
Your ballot offsets mine ; let us go up and vote together."
Mr. Grove, a recognized power in politics, was half ashamed
to confess that be had not reached the voting age.

The canvass of 1852, which resulted in the election of

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 83 of 192)