Previous to the erection of Chenango County, in 1798, the whole of Madison County and all that part of Chenango County lying north of the south line of Columbus, Sherburne, Smyrna, Otselic and Lincklaen was embraced in Herkimer County, and the remaining part of Chenango County, in Tioga County. The courts of Herkimer County were held at the meeting house in Herkimer Village till 1793, when one term was directed to be held at Whitestown. Colonel Henry Staring was appointed First Judge, February 17, 1791. He was a man of remarkable honesty and integrity, though of limited education; and many amusing anecdotes are told of his manner of administering justice. The first court as Whitestown, under the provisions of the act of 1793, was held in Jedediah Sanger's barn, Judge Staring, presiding, assisted by Judge White. The late Judge Jonas Platt was then clerk of Herkimer County, and Colonel William Colbraith, sheriff, both appointments being synchronical with that of Judge Staring's. Colbraith had seen service in the Revolution, but acquired his military title as a militia officer subsequent to that war. He was a jolly, good-humored man, and a great lover of fun.
Judge Staring held a term of court at the meetinghouse in New Hartford in January, 1794, where he was assisted by Justices Jedediah Sanger and Amos Wetmore. Colbraith and Platt were the officiating sheriff and clerk. We copy from Mrs. Hammond's History of Madison County the following anecdote of this court, as related by William Tracy, Esq., in a lecture before the Young Men's Association of Utica:---
"A gentleman who attended the court as spectator, informs me the day was one of those cold January days frequent in our climate, and that in the afternoon and when it was near night, in order to comfort themselves in their by no means well appointed court room, and to keep the blood at a temperature at which it would continue to circulate, some of the gentlemen of the bar had induced the sheriff to procure from a neighboring inn a jug of spirits. This, it must be remembered, was before the invention of temperance societies. Upon the jug's appearing in court it was passed around the bar table, and each of the learned counselors in his turn upraised the elegant vessel, and decanted into his mouth, by the simplest process imaginable, so much as he deemed a sufficient dose of the delicious fluid. While the operation was going on, the dignitaries of the bench, who were no doubt suffering quite as much with the cold as their brethren at the bar, had a little consultation, when the First Judge announced to the audience that the Court saw no reason why they should hold open court any longer, and freeze to death, and desired the crier forthwith to adjourn the court. Before, however, this functionary could commence with a single 'Hear ye," Col. Colbraith jumped up, catching, as he rose the jug from the lawyer who was contemplating its contents, and holding it up toward the bench, hastily ejaculated: "Oh! no, no, no, Judge, don't adjourn yet; take a little gin, Judge; that will keep you warm; 'taint time to adjourn yet;' and suiting the action to the word, he handed his honor the jug. It appeared there was force in the sheriff's advice, for the order to adjourn was revoked, and business went on."
The subsequent courts of Herkimer county up to 1798, were held at Whitestown; and the jail at Whitesboro in that town was used by this county to confine prisoners in until 1808 and by Madison county till 1812. On its erection, Tioga county had two shire towns, and courts were held alternately at Chenango Point, (Binghamton,) and Newtown, (Elmira.) The first county officers were: Abram Miller, First Judge; William Stuart, District Attorney;1 Thomas Nicholson, County Clerk; James McMaster, Sheriff; and John Mersereau, Surrogate; all of whom were appointed February 17, 1791, except William Stuart, who was appointed March 31, 1796.2
When Chenango County was erected, Hamilton and Oxford were each constituted half-shire towns, and continued such till the formation of Madison County, in 1806, when North Norwich and Oxford became the shire towns for Chenango County, and Hamilton and Sullivan, (now Lenox,) for Madison County. Norwich became the county seat of Chenango county in 1809, by the act of March 6, 1807.
The first county officers were: Isaac Foote, First Judge; Joab Enos and Joshua Leland, Judges; Oliver Norton and Elisha Payne, Assistant Justices; Uri Tracy, Sheriff, Sidney S. Breese, Clerk; and John I. Mersereau, Surrogate.
By the terms of the law forming the county, the first Court of Common Pleas and General Sessions of the Peace, was held at the log school-house, near the house of Elisha Payne, in the town of Hamilton, in June, 1798, and the first business transacted was the entry of an order that Thomas R. Gold, Joseph Kirkland, Nathan Williams, Stephen O. Runyon, Nathaniel King, Arthur Breese, Peter B. Garnsey and Medad Curtis be admitted to practice as attorneys and counselors of the court; the second was held at Oxford in October of the same year. Subsequently court was held alternately at these two places three times each year. The Judges were authorized to open the court on Tuesday, but not to continue it beyond Saturday of the same week. They could adjourn at any time before Saturday.
The Act left it discretionary with the Supreme Court Judges respecting the appointment of a Circuit. The first Circuit Court was held July 10, 1798, at the Academy in Oxford, Justice, afterwards Chancellor, James Kent, presiding; but no business was transacted at this, neither at the second term of that Court, which was held in Hamilton in July, 1799, Justice Jacob Radcliff presiding.3
March 6, 1807, the supervisors were authorized by the Legislature to select a site for a court house and jail in Norwich village, within one mile of the residence of Stephen Steere, which then occupied the site of Eagle Hotel; and empowered to levy on the freeholders of the county and collect, not to exceed five thousand dollars, to be paid one-half in one year and the residue in two years, for the purpose of defraying the expense connected with the purchase of the site and the erection of the buildings.4 By virtue of authority vested in them by the act, the Supervisors appointed Commissioners to carry out its provisions. The site for the buildings, consisting of about one and one-half acres, was generously donated by Peter B. Garnsey. It comprises the plot on which the present court house stands, and that part of the village green lying west of the main street. The Commissioners contracted with Josiah Dickinson and George Saxton for the erection of the court house and jail, the former of which was ready for occupancy early in the spring of 1809. It was a wooden structure, two stories high, and substantially built. It was square and well proportioned; but its interior dimensions proved inadequate to the accommodation of the large audiences which congregated when trials of interest took place. Its entire cost was sixty-five hundred dollars, exceeding the amount provided for by legislative action by fifteen hundred dollars, which was reimbursed to the contractors by an additional assessment, which was authorized by the Legislature at its session in 1809.
As the necessity for the erection of a new court house began to foreshadow with certainty the demand for it, a sharp rivalry grew up between the villages of Norwich and Oxford, which are about equi-distant from the geographical center of the county, for the coveted prize, and as the verbal contest increased in interest the northern towns of the county were arrayed in advocacy of the claims of Norwich, against the southern towns, allied with Oxford, in opposing them. Oxford became a formidable competitor, and, for the purpose of inducing a decision in its favor, its citizens freely offered to erect the necessary buildings at their private expense. The Legislature was besieged by lobby delegations from the several towns representing and urging the rival claims and interests of the two factions. But notwithstanding the strenuous exertions of the "Oxonians" and their allies the decision of the Legislature was adverse to their wishes, for March 24, 1837, an act was passed by that body authorizing the erection of a new court house at Norwich. When the protracted controversy was thus ended, elaborate preparations were made to appropriately celebrate the event, and the welcome extended to the successful lobbyists on their return home partook of the nature of an imposing ovation.
The act authorized the levying of a tax on the taxable property of the county for the building of the new court house, to the amount of seven thousand dollars, not more than four hundred dollars of which was to be levied in any one year. The County Treasurer, on presentation of his bond officially executed to the Comptroller, was authorized to draw the entire amount, at six per cent interest, from the school fund, if he should deem it expedient so to do. His bond was to become due in five years from its date. The bond was accordingly executed and the money drawn. The Legislature appointed William Randall, of Norwich, and William Knowlton, of Smithville, to superintend the construction of the new building; subsequently David Griffing and Alfred Purdy, both of Norwich, were substituted in their place. The law authorized the sale of the old courthouse, and the application of the proceeds to the erection of the new one. The plan of the new building was on an expensive scale, and its cost exceeded the amount originally allowed by nine thousand dollars. It is a plain, but slightly and imposing structure, built in the Grecian style of architecture, with a portico borne by four massive Corinthian columns. The material is stone, obtained from a quarry about four miles south-west of Oxford Village, which was purchased by the county while the courthouse was under construction. Clark says of it in 1850, "the edifice itself is elegant! Perhaps the most elegant of any structure of the kind in the State;" but, he says, the court room, which occupies the entire upper story, "is not constructed in harmony with the principles of acoustics." He adds elsewhere that perhaps, it "is not more objectionable on this account than large rooms generally." The lower floor is partitioned off into rooms, on either side of a central spacious hall, which are occupied for various county purposes.
The first court held in Norwich was the Court of Common Pleas, which met in the newly completed court house in June, 1809. The first Circuit court held in Norwich was opened in the courthouse in June, 1810, and was presided over by Smith Thompson, Esq.
In 1812 occurred the most remarkable trial which, perhaps, has ever taken place in Chenango County, remarkable alike for the character of the accused and the eminent ability of the counsel employed in the case. General David Thomas, of Salem, Washington County, then State Treasurer, was indicted for an alleged attempt to bribe a State Senator from this county. Thomas Addis Emmet, who was then Attorney General, appeared as prosecuting attorney. This trial, says his biographer,5 fully developed his great intellectual powers,6 which, coupled with his adventures and misfortunes, and the still greater calamity that befel his brother, sufficed to awaken a deep and general interest in him, and attract a large audience to witness the proceedings. The opposing counsel were Mr. Foote, of Albany, and the eminent Elisha Williams, of Hudson, of whom Major Noah says:---"In addition to a fine commanding figure, a pleasant face, and a clear-toned silver voice, he was distinguished by great forensic abilities, and was nearly omnipotent before a jury." The distinguished Wm. P. Van Ness presided as judge of the Oyer and Terminer. The jury were, Asa Sheldon, Benjamin Edmonds, Oliver Richmond, Jr., Marcena Allen, Nathan Phillips, John Simmons, Smith Bradley, Henry Manwarring, David Foultor, Roswell Darrow, Ezekiel Peck and Miles Curtis. The trial occupied about fifty hours and resulted favorable to the accused. It created great interest in this county and in the State generally.
The jail limits of Chenango County were established at Sherburne Four Corners, by the Court of Common Pleas, in July, 1796. In 1802, they were transferred to Oxford, and in October, 1805, to Norwich, where they have since remained. The early jail limits were restricted by law to three acres, and those in Norwich were surveyed by Judge Caspar M. Rouse. They were enlarged in 1819 to the size of the corporation of Norwich village. The old jail was built within the Court-House, as was also the jailor's residence, and like it was built of wood; but it was very insecure and "desperate felons often effected a general jail delivery," says Clark, without awaiting the vicissitudes of a regular trial agreeably to the tedious forms of criminal procedure." "Fire," he says, "artfully applied, generally secured an escape. Sometimes the flames would rage beyond control; endangering the lives of the incendiaries and jeopardizing the edifice itself." To afford greater security, the Legislature, in 1830, authorized the Supervisors to levy and collect by tax two thousand dollars for the construction of a stone building for the custody of prisoners. The present stone jail which is contiguous to and to the north of the Court-House is the fruit of this action and was erected soon after the passage of the act. Charles York, Henry Snow and Thompson Mead were appointed commissioners to plan, contract for and superintend its construction.
In April, 1814, the Legislature authorized a tax of eight hundred dollars, one-half payable in one year and the other half in two, for the erection of a new fire-proof building for the County Clerk's office, which was built in 1815, on a plot of ground donated for the purpose by Peter B. Garnsey. This plot forms a part of the site of the Congregational church in Norwich village, and when the Clerk's office was removed, reverted back to the Garnsey family. The building then erected was constructed of brick. The doors and windows were protected with sheet iron, and a composition of ashes and salt was spread upon the upper ceiling, but the roof was covered with shingles. After a few years it proved too small to accommodate the business transacted in it, and in 1850 its removal was authorized, but was not effected until 1852, when it gave place to the present fire-proof brick building, which stands nearly opposite the former one, on the north side of the west village green, on which it fronts. It is contiguous to the Court-House and Jail, which also front on the west village green, on the west margin of which they stand, facing the east, while the Clerk's office faces the south.
The county poor-house is situated on a farm of about seventy-five acres in the town of Preston, six miles west of Norwich and six miles north of Oxford. The buildings, which are of wood, are three stories high above the basement, and are pleasantly situated on a fine eminence, facing the west. They consist of a central part, forty by eighty feet, and two wings extending to the north and south, each thirty by forty feet. They were erected in 1862, afford accommodations for one hundred and twenty-five inmates, and admit of a partial classification of the aged, infirm, idiotic, feeble-minded and children. It is abundantly supplied with water, and has good arrangements for bathing. The buildings are maintained in good repair. The old building which gave place to the present one was formerly used, a part of it for a barn, to which use a portion of it is now applied. The remaining portion forms a part of the insane asylum, which is contiguous to the poor-house, and has been thrice enlarged. The last and principal enlargement of several feet to the south end, was made in 1878, at which time also it was raised one-story, so that it is now three stories high. The sexes are kept separate, except in the necessity of labor. A portion of the dependent children of the county have been for the last nine years sent to the Susquehanna Valley Home in Binghamton. Since the recent establishment of St. Mary's Home, a Catholic institution in that city, the Catholic children have been sent there.
The farm, which is devoted to dairying, is under good cultivation, and is tilled by the paupers and insane. The stock upon it consists of twenty-three cows, nine calves, five horses, a yoke of oxen and five yearlings, besides hogs, pigs and fowl. All the milk is consumed in the support of the paupers, who are allowed a meal of milk once a day. What is not thus consumed is manufactured into butter and used in the house.
The present (August, 1879,) number of members is eighty, a little more than half of whom are males. Only four of the males are under forty, while one is in his hundreth year. Most of the inmates are old and decrepit, and generally unable to perform manual labor. The majority possess less than the average intellect, and lack the power of self-support. Mental, moral and physical weakness are the chief causes of pauperism, and this, indeed is true as a general hypothesis. A few have become paupers from intemperance, but that is not the chief cause; indeed it is nearly certain that the conditions which induce pauperism are also fruitful causes of intemperance. The younger paupers are mostly very deficient in intellect, and nearly all belong to the lower classes of society.7
The keepers of the poor-house have been Rufus Graves, eight or nine years: William W. Brown, formerly sheriff of this county, nine years; George Buell, fifteen months; and Nehemiah Leach, who has had charge of the institution since April 1, 1875.
We copy from the Report of the Superintendents of the Poor, for the year ending November 1, 1878, the following statistics regarding this institution:---
County Poor House Farm......$13,000 00 Wood lot in Plymouth........ 500 00--$13,500 00
Live Stock on Farm.......... 1,609 50 Farm Products............... 1,223 25-- 2,832 75 Farming Tools............... 504 00 Household Furniture......... 630 80 Household Furniture, Insane Department... 321 50-- 1,456 30 Whole Number of Paupers Supported..............196 " " " " County................. 38 " " " " Transient.............. 59 " " " " Town................... 99
Poor House Supplies.........$5,488 97 Fixtures.................... 1,195 11 Keeper's salary and help not paid in Supply Bills, to April 1, 1879............... 1,564 00 Transportation of town paupers..................... 51 55 Transportation of County paupers..................... 12 30 Burial Expenses, Town....... 54 00 " " County..... 45 00 Physicians' Bills, " ..... 74 85 " " Town....... 65 75-- 8,551 53 Temporary Relief Outside of Poor House........... 3,842 65 --------- Total...........................$12.394 18
The following statement shows the number of paupers from each town, the length of time they were supported, and the cost of their support:---
No. Weeks. Days. Amount. Afton....................... 4 93 3 $ 98.20 Afton and Bainbridge........ 2 114 0 77.72 Bainbridge.................. 4 186 0 151.94 Columbus.................... 2 104 0 81.66 Coventry.................... 1 52 0 38.24 Greene...................... 10 365 6 312.34 Guilford.................... 7 245 5 228.55 German...................... 2 104 0 81.01 Lincklaen................... 2 79 0 76.11 McDonough................... 5 234 2 180.56 Norwich..................... 11 430 0 352.96 North Norwich............... 3 81 1 73.35 New Berlin.................. 5 129 5 113.64 Oxford...................... 15 677 6 569.42 Otselic..................... 2 63 0 49.43 Pharsalia................... 5 208 4 177.05 Pitcher..................... 1 50 4 52.25 Preston..................... 1 52 0 44.36 Plymouth.................... 7 336 5 269.17 Sherburne................... 3 151 0 118.38 Smyrna...................... 6 294 6 266.21 Smithville.................. 6 52 0 38.12
We extract the following additional statistics from the Twelfth Annual Report of the State Board of Charities for the year ending November 30, 1878: --
The number in the house Dec. 1, 1877, was..............110 " " received during the year was................ 52 " " born in the poor house was.................. 1 --- 163 " " discharged was.............................. 26 " " died was.................................... 18 --- 44 " " remaining Nov. 30, 1878, was................119 " " of males was................................ 58 " " of females was.............................. 61 --- 119 " " supported was...............................163 " " temporarily relieved was.................... 59 --- 222 " " of insane was............................... 35 " " of idiots................................... 5 " " of epileptics was........................... 5 " " of blind was................................ 2 " " of children was............................. 4 " " of native born was..........................132 " " of foreign born was......................... 31 --- 163 The value of labor of paupers was.........................$500
Chenango county holds an important position in the civil list, having furnished a member of the Council of Appointment, John Noyes, of Norwich, who was appointed for the Middle District, February 2, 1817; a Lieutenant-Governor, John Tracy, of Oxford, who was elected November 5, 1832;8 two Inspectors of State Prisons, Thomas Miller, appointed March 15, 1824, and again March 11, 1826, and William Newton, appointed April 8, 1840; a member of the Commission for the revision of the Constitution of New York in 1872, John F. Hubbard, Jr.; a State Treasurer, Alvah Hunt, of Greene, elected November 2, 1847; a Canal Commissioner, Samuel H. Barnes, elected November 6, 1860;9 a Justice of the Supreme Court, David L. Follett, of Norwich, elected November 8, 1874, an office he still holds; and a Diplomatic Officer, Anson Burlingame, who, though little of his life was spent here, was a native of New Berlin, and after serving in the Massachusetts Senate and representing that State in Congress, was appointed by President Lincoln in 1861, Minister to Austria, and subsequently to China, which latter position he resigned in 1867, to accept a diplomatic appointment from China to the European Powers and the United States.
Circuit courts were provided for by the Constitution of 1821, and on the 17th of April, 1823, the State was divided into eight circuits, corresponding with the eight Senate districts. The County Clerks were clerks of this court. The court was abolished by the constitution of 1846. Robert Monell, of Greene, was the only resident of Chenango county who held that office. He was appointed February 1, 1831, succeeding Samuel Nelson, of Cooperstown, who was the first appointed to that office. Mr. Monell was succeeded January 13, 1846, by Hiram Gray, of Elmira, who held it until the office was abolished.10
Previous to 1821, Surrogates were designated by the Council of Appointment; from 1821 to 1846, by the Governor and Senate; and since the latter date the office has been elective. Chenango county furnished the first Surrogate of Tioga county, in the person of John L. Mersereau, of Guilford, who was appointed February 17, 1791, and held the office till the formation of Chenango county, when (March 22, 1798,) he was appointed to the same office for that county. His successors have been, James Birdsall, appointed March 25, 1811; David Buttolph, March 16, 1813; John Tracy, March 6, 1815; Nathan Chamberlin, July 8, 1819; John Randall, June 7, 1820; John Tracy, March 7, 1821; Smith M. Purdy, January 11, 1833; Samuel McKoon. December 1, 1837; Roswell Judson, January 20, 1843, holding the office till it was abolished by the constitution of 1846, which devolved its duties on County Judges, except in counties having a population exceeding 40,000.
The Court of Common Pleas was continued from the Colonial Period. For most of the time under the First Constitution the number of Judges and Assistant Justices in the various counties differed, reaching, in some counties, as many as twelve of each. March 27, 1818, the office of Assistant Justice was abolished, and the number of Judges limited to five, including the First Judge. The Judges were appointed by the Governor and Senate for a period of five years. The Constitution of 1846 provided for the election of a County Judge for each county, except the city and county of New York, and the new Judiciary article extended the tenure of office from four to six years, upon the election of the successors of the present incumbents.
The First Judges of Chenango county were Isaac Foote, appointed October 30, 1800; Joel Thompson, June 8, 1807; Obadiah German, March 16, 1814; James Clapp, March 27, 1819; Uri Tracy, July 8, 1819; John Tracy, February 6, 1823; Smith M. Purdy, January 11, 1833; Levi Bigelow, February 13, 1838; Roswell Judson, February 13, 1843. The County Judges have been, Smith M. Purdy, elected in June 1847; Roswell Judson, in 1851; Dwight H. Clark, in 1855; Horace G. Prindle, in 1863;11 and William F. Jenks, in 1877, the latter four in November.
The original appellation of this office, which was created February 12, 1796, was that of Assistant Attorney-General, who was appointed by the Governor and Council. The office of District Attorney was created April 4, 1801. At first the State was divided into seven districts, Chenango county belonging to the sixth,12 until March 29, 1809, when it was transferred to the ninth.13 In April, 1818, each county was constituted a separate district. The office was made elective by the Constitution of 1846.
Thomas R. Gold, of Oneida, was the first and only Assistant Attorney-General for Chenango county. He was appointed February 26, 1797, while it was yet a part of Herkimer county. He represented the seventh district, which then embraced Herkimer and Otsego counties. He was succeeded by Nathan Williams of Oneida county, August 20, 1801; Nathaniel King, Daniel Kellogg and Joseph L. Richardson, up to the time the act of 1818 took effect; but Nathaniel King was the only one who was from Chenango county, and the first after it was united with the ninth district. The District-Attorneys subsequent to 1818 were: -- Simon G. Throop, appointed June 11, 1818; Lot Clark, April 11, 1822; John C. Clark, in October, 1823; Robert Monell, 1827?;14 Lot Clark, 1828?; John Clapp, 1836?; George M. Smith, 1841?; Robert O. Reynolds, 1843?; George M. Smith, ----; James M. Banks, elected in June, 1847; Dwight H. Clarke,15 in 1850; Isaac S. Newton, 1853; Elizur H. Prindle, 1859; Solomon Bundy, 1862; Calvin L. Tefft, 1865; Robert A. Stanton, 1868; Calvin L. Tefft, 1871; David H. Knapp, 1874: John W. Church, 1877.
County Clerks, in addition to keeping the county records, were required by the act of February 12, 1796, to act as clerk of the Inferior Court of Common Pleas, and of the Oyer and Terminer. At present they are clerks of the Supreme Court in their respective counties, and their seals are declared to be the seals of the court. Their term of office, like that under the Second Constitution, is three years.
When Chenango County was first formed the records were kept at Cazenovia, and Samuel Sidney Breese, of that village, was appointed the Clerk of Chenango County March 19, 1798. He has been succeeded in that office by Uri Tracy; appointed August 13, 1801; David G. Bright, February 13, 1815; Perez Randall, March 6, 1819; Nathan Chamberlin, June 7, 1820; William Mason, November 10, 1820: Perez Randall, February 13, 1821; Jarvis K. Pike, November 1831; Perez Randall, November, 1834; Cyrus Wheeler,16 March 29, 1839; Albert Purdy, November, 1839; John Latham, November, 1842; Burr B. Andrews, November, 1845; Nelson Pellet,17 elected in 1848; Horace S. Reed, 1851; Thomas Milner, 1854; James G. Thompson, 1857; Andrew Shepardson,18 1872.
Under the First Constitution (1777-1821) Sheriffs were appointed annually by the Council of Appointment, and no person could hold the office for more than four successive years. The Sheriff could not hold any other office, and must be a freeholder in the county to which he was appointed. Under the Second Constitution (1821 to 1846) Sheriffs were elected for a term of three years, but were ineligible to election the next succeeding term. These provisions are operative at the present time.
"The Sheriff," says Mr. Clark, "was once an officer held in great respect by the citizens of this county. He arranged all the ceremonials of the court. He formally announced to the Judges the particular hour the courtroom was in order for their reception. He was also equipped with side arms, and kept his sword of office unsheathed on the desk in front of his seat. He, with his deputies in charge, formally inducted the Judges from their lodgings to the courtroom; the jurors closing the procession. He opened the court by solemn proclamation. In every respect the office of Sheriff was once of more import in the public estimation than now."19
The first Sheriff of Chenango County was Uri Tracy, of Oxford, who was appointed March 22, 1798. His successors have been as follows: --Nathaniel Locke, appointed August 12, 1801; Anson Cary, March 1, 1805; William Monroe, March 23, 1809; Isaac Foote, Jr., April 5, 1810; William Monroe, February 8, 1811; Isaac Foote, Jr., February 26, 1813; Samuel Campbell, March 6, 1815; William Monroe, March 6, 1819; Thomas Mead, February 12, 1819; Thomas Mead, February 12, 1821; Thomas Mead, elected in 1822;20 Samuel A. Smith 1825; Augustus C. Welch, 1828; Amos A. Franklin, 1831; Jabez Robinson, 1834; William Hatch, 1837; Enos S. Halbert, 1840; Joseph P. Chamberlain, 1843; William Church, 1846; Levi H. Case, 1849; Romeo Warren, 1852; William H. Amsbry, 1855; Peter B. Rathbone, 1858; Edward Childs, 1861; Daniel A. Carpenter, 1864; John E. Matthewson, 1867; Uriah Rorapaugh, 1870; William M. Brown, 1873; Silas R. Hill, 1876.
This office was authorized by the Constitution of 1846, and its incumbent is required to perform the duties of County Judge, in case of his inability to act, or of a vacancy, and to exercise such other powers in special cases as may be required by law. The office was created in Chenango County on application of the Board of Supervisors, by an act passed July 11, 1851; which makes the term four years. It has been filled by the following named persons:---William N. Mason, elected in 1855; Hamilton Phelps, in 1860; Alfred Nichols, 1863; Ransom McDonald,21 April 4, 1864; William H. Hyde, 1864; Oscar H. Curtis, 1868; Charles B. Sumner, 1872; Stephen Holden, 1876.22
County Treasurers are elected under the Constitution of 1846, for a term of three years. They were formerly appointed by the Boards of Supervisors in the several counties. Thomas Miller was the first person elected to the office in Chenango County, in 1848. He has been succeeded by Charles W. Olendorf, James G. Thompson, George C. Rice, Nathan P. Wheeler, Samuel R. Per Lee, Nathan P. Wheeler, John R. VanWagenen, Martin McLean, and at regular intervals of three years, except that Nathan P. Wheeler was elected twice in succession, in 1860 and 1863. All were elected in November.
April 17, 1843, the Boards of Supervisors were directed to appoint County Superintendents of Common Schools; and R. K. Bourne, David R. Randall and Isaac B. Collins were accordingly so appointed in Chenango County. The office was abolished March 13, 1847.
Prior to 1857, School Commissioners were appointed by the Boards of Supervisors. In 1856 the office was made elective; and the first election under that act was held in November, 1859. The office has been held in Chenango County by the following names persons: --Delos Luther, Calvin L. King, Orville Benedict, Boliver Bisbee, Matthew B. Luddington and Andrew G. Freeman in the first district; and R. McDonald, John R. Wheeler, Edgar Garrett, Henry G. Green, Samuel S. Stafford and David G. Barber in the second district. Andrew Y. Freeman, of Sherburne, and David G. Barber, of Oxford, are the present incumbents.
Under the First Constitution, and while a part of Herkimer and Tioga counties, Chenango county was in the Western Senatorial District, which originally embraced Albany and Tryon Counties, and subsequently other western counties, as they were formed from these; but Chenango furnished no State Senators previous to its organization as a separate county, at which time it belonged to the Middle District, which then, (under the act of March 4, 1796,) included the Counties of Columbia, Dutchess, Orange, Ulster and Delaware, and subsequently, on their erection, Greene and Sullivan. The latter district was entitled to twelve Senators until 1808, and to seven from 1808 to 1815. April 17, 1815, Albany, Chenango, Columbia, Delaware, Green, Orange, Otsego, Schoharie, Sullivan and Ulster were entitled to nine Senators.
Under the Second Constitution Chenango county was in the Sixth Senatorial District, which also included Broome, Cortland, Delaware, Otsego, Tioga and Tompkins till April 18, 1826, when Steuben was annexed and Delaware transferred; March 29, 1836, Chemung was added and May 23d of the same year, Allegany, Cattaraugus, Livingston and Steuben were annexed and Otsego and Cortland transferred. Chenango and Otsego counties formed the Eighteenth Senatorial District, under the Third Constitution; Chenango, Cortland and Madison, the Twenty-third, under the act of April 13, 1857; and Chenango, Delaware and Schoharie the Twenty-third, under the act of April 25, 1866, which is still in force. There are thirty-two districts and as many Senators, who are elected each odd year.
Isaac Foote, of Sherburne, (now Smyrna,) was the first State Senator from this county. He served in 1802, '3, '4, '5. He has been succeeded by Nathaniel Locke, of Oxford, who served in 1806, '7, '8, '9; Caspar M. Rouse, 1812, '13, '14, '15; John Noyes, of Norwich, 1817, '18, '19,'20; Tilly Lynde, of Sherburne, 1821, '2, '3, '4, '5; John F. Hubbard, of Norwich, 1829 to 1836; Alvah Hunt, of Greene, 1839 to 1842; Clark Burnham, of Sherburne, 1844, '5, '6, '7; Henry A. Clark, of Bainbridge, 1862, "3; Frederick Juliand, of Greene, 1864, '5; John F. Hubbard, Jr., of Norwich, 1868, '9, '70; James G. Thompson, of Norwich, 1874, '5.
The variation of Chenango's representation in the Assembly has corresponded with that of the ratio of her population to that of the State, the extremes being one and four. When formed she had two members; under the apportionment of March 31, 1802, four; after the erection of Madison County, in 1806, two; under the apportionments of April 1, 1808, April 1, 1815, April 12, 1822, April 18, 1826, and May 23, 1836, three; under those of March 8, 1846, and April 13, 1857, two; and under that of April 16, 1866, one, the present number, who is elected annually.
The first Assemblyman from the territory originally embraced in Chenango county was Jedediah Sanger, of Sangersfield, (now in Oneida county,) who represented Herkimer county in 1794, and Herkimer and Onondaga in 1795. He was the only one from the county pervious to its organization, except Isaac Foote, who represented Herkimer county in 1798, and Benjamin Hovey, who represented Tioga county the same year.
Those who have represented Chenango county proper are: -- Obadiah German and Nathaniel King in 1798-9; Peter B. Garnsey and Nathaniel King, 1800; Jonathan Forman and James Glover, 1800-15; Nathaniel King and Joshua Mersereau Jr., 1802; James Green, Stephen Hoxie, Joel Thompson and Uri Tracy, 1803; Obadiah German, Stephen Hoxie, James Moore and Joel Thompson, 1804; Peter Betts, Obadiah German, Samuel Payne and Luther Waterman 1804-5; Benjamin Jones, Jonathan Morgan, Samuel Payne and Sylvanus Smalley, 1806; Obadiah German and Joseph Simonds, 1807; Peter Betts and Obadiah German, 1808; Samuel Campbell, Obadiah German and Ebenezer Wakeley, 1808-9; Nathaniel Locke, John Noyes and Ebenezer Wakeley, 1810; Peter Betts, Thompson Mead and Joseph Simons, 1811; Samuel Campbell, Silas Holmes and Denison Randall, 1812, Nathaniel Medbury,23 Ebenezer Wakeley and Thornton Wasson, 1812-13; Jas. Houghtaling, John Noyes and Hascall Ransford, 1814; John Guthrie, Thompson Mead and Robert Monell, 1814-15; Thomas Brown, William Monroe and Russel Waters, 1816; James Houghtaling, Samuel A. Smith and Ebenezer Wakeley, 1816-17; Tilly Lynde, Perez Randall and Simon G. Throop, 1818; Obadiah German, Thomas Humphrey and Ebenezer Wakeley, 1819; Samuel Campbell, Thomas Humphrey and Samuel A. Smith, 1820; William Mason, Edmund G. PerLee and John Tracy, 1820-1 and 1822; Silas Holmes, Austin Hyde and Stephen Stilwell, 1823; John F. Hubbard, John Latham and Daniel Root, 1824; Russel Case, Chas. Medberry and Robert Monell, 1825; John C. Clark,24 Tilly Lynde, Robert Monell and John Tracy, 1826; James Birdsall, Joseph Juliand and Augustus C. Welch, 1827; Tilly Lynde, Henry Mitchell and Robert Monell, 1828; Russel Case, Abel Chandler and Amos A. Franklin, 1829; John Latham, Jarvis K. Pike and Charles Squires, 1830; Joseph Juliand, Jarvis K. Pike and Ira Wilcox, 1831; Noah Ely, Joseph Juliand and Edmund G. PerLee, 1832; Abel Chandler, Austin Hyde and William M. Patterson, 1833; Joseph P. Chamberlain, Milo Hunt and Wells Wait, 1834; Hendrick Crain, Henry Crary and Woodward Warren, 1835; William Knowlton, Nicholas B. Mead and Squire Smith, 1836; John F. Hill, Squire Smith and Isaac Stokes, 1837; Henry Balcom, Demas Hubbard, Jr., and Justus Parce, 1838; Samuel Drew, Demas Hubbard, Jr., and Josiah G. Olney, 1839; William Church, Demas Hubbard and Samuel Plumb, 1840; Calvin Cole, Eber Dimmick and Benson H. Wheeler, 1841; Clark Burnham, Richard W. Juliand and Adam Storing, 1842; Edward Cornell, Samuel Medbury and Danforth Wales, 1843; Rensselaer W. Clark, Erastus Dickinson and Daniel Noyes, 1844; Joel Burdick, Solomon S. Hall and Charles B. Miller, 1845; Solomon Ensign, Jr., William G. Sands and Hiram E. Storrs, 1846; Ransom Balcom and David McWhorter, 1847; Levi H. Case and Ezra P. Church, 1848; James Clark and Alonzo Johnson, 1849; Isaac L. F. Cushman and Rufus Chandler, 1850; Levi Harris and Laman Ingersoll, 1851; Thompson White and Joseph P. Chamberlain, 1852; William H. Amsbry and Luther Osgood, Jr., 1853; Levi Harris and Rufus J. Baldwin, 1854; Daniel Palmer and Lewis Fairchild, 1855; Tompkins H. Matteson and Frederick Juliand, 1856; Ansel Berry and Wm. H. Hyde, 1857; Truxton G. Lamb and Wm. Kales, 1858; Grant B. Palmer and Judson L. Grant 1859; Sam'l L. Beebe and Jos. Bush, 1860; Thos. Carter and Sam'l E. Lewis, 1861; David B. Parce and Francis B. Fisher, 1862; Elizur H. Prindle and Francis B. Fisher, 1863; George W. Sumner and Dyer D. Bullock, 1864; George W. Sumner and Samuel S. Stafford, 1865; George C. Rice and Romeo Warren, 1866; Frederick Juliand, 1867 and '68; Charles Pearsall, 1869; Samuel L. Brown, 1870; Andrew Shepardson, 1871 and '72; Russell A. Young, 1873; Harris H. Beecher, 1874; Daniel M. Holmes, 1875; Isaac Plumb, 1876; J. Hudson Skillman, 1877; B. Gage Berry, 1878.
John W. Buckley25 and Stephen Hoxie represented Chenango county in the first Constitutional Convention, in 1801; Thomas Humphrey,26 Jarvis K. Pike and Nathan Taylor in the second, in 1821; Elisha B. Smith26 27 and John Tracy, in the third, in 1846, of which John Tracy was President; and Elizur H. Prindle, in the fourth, in 1867. John F. Hubbard Jr., was a member of the Constitutional Commission of 1872.
Chenango County has been represented in the Electoral College as follows: Joseph Simonds, 1808; Daniel Root, 1816; Thomas Blakeslee, 1828; Thomas Humphrey, 1832; Augustus C. Welch, 1836; Samuel Balcolm, 1840; William Mason, 1844; William S. Sayre, 1856.
Chenango County has furnished only one United States Senator, (except Daniel S. Dickinson,) Obadiah German, who was appointed February 7, 1809.
Chenango County has undergone various changes in its Congressional associations. At present it forms, in conjunction with Delaware and Otsego counties, the twenty-first Congressional District, under the apportionment of 1872.
The following have been the Representatives in Congress from Chenango county; Uri Tracy, 1805-7, 1809-13; Joel Thompson, 1813-1815; James Birdsall, 1815-1817; Robert Monell, 1819-21; Samuel Campbell, 1821-23; John C. Cook, 1827-29; Robert Monell, 1829-30; William Mason, 1835-37; John C. Clark, 1837-43; Smith M. Purdy, 1843-45; Henry Bennett, 1849-59; Demas Hubbard, Jr., 1865-67; Elizur H. Prindle, 1871-73; Solomon Bundy, 1877-79.
"Gentlemen, I cannot conclude without cautioning you against the powerful reasoning and eloquence of my learned friend. I know that he will make a powerful appeal to you against my clients. He will attack your passions and steal your hearts; he will knock at the door of your understanding and gain an entrance. How many men have suffered by his powers, how many his eloquence has sent to your prisons, God only knows. I hope they were guilty. I have met him on trials, and know his talents. He destroys my arguments, he carries away my juries, and he convicts my clients. Let me caution you against the irresistible force of his eloquence." Extract from the New York Sunday Times in Clark's History of Chenango County.
7 - We quote from the Twelfth Annual Report of the State Board of Charities for 1878: --
"The investigations of this Board show that in all the poor-houses and alms-houses throughout the State, are congregated large numbers of persons of both sexes, not endowed with sufficient mental power to protect themselves against the rapacity and vice they must encounter in the outside world."
Again from the Report of M. B. Anderson, Commissioner of the Seventh Judicial District, dated Rochester, December 11, 1878, and published in the work just quoted. He says: --
"The inmates of our alms-houses are generally weak in body and mind. The general average of vitality is, in the majority of cases, congenitally low, and this naturally low average has been reduced almost universally below its normal condition by crowded dwellings, insufficient clothing, bad air, want of cleanliness, and food deficient in quantity and bad in quality.
"This depressed condition of mind a body is quite generally accompanied by a morbid desire for stimulants, and a tendency toward the more degrading forms of licentiousness. When these causes reach a certain degree of activity, the feeble capacity for self-support which such persons naturally possess is neutralized, and they are thrown on their relatives or the State for maintenance. All investigation goes to show that the number of intelligent, moral and respectable persons who, by wounds, sickness or old age, are obliged to resort to the alms-house, is exceedingly small. They are, in fact, so few in number that we shall throw them out of consideration in the discussion before us."
8 - Daniel S. Dickinson, though not a native of Chenango county, nor acquiring public distinction here, spent his youth and early manhood in the town of Guilford, and there laid the foundation for his future greatness. He was elected Lieutenant Governor, while residing at Binghamton, November 6, 1842; was appointed United States Senator by the Governor, November 30, 1844, and re-appointed by the Legislature, February 4, 1845; and was appointed United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, April 10, 1865.
9 - Died at Norwich, November 13, 1860.
10 - Chenango county was in the Sixth District, which also included Broome, Cort-land, Delaware, Otsego, Tioga and Tompkins counties, until April 18, 1826, when Steuben was annexed and Delaware transferred. March 29, 1836, Chemung was added, and May 23, of that year, Allegany, Cattaraugus, Livingston and Steuben were annexed and Otsego and Cortland transferred.
11 - Re-elected.
12 - The sixth district embraced also Herkimer, Lewis, Oneida, Otsego, Madison from 1806, and Jefferson from 1805 to 1808.
13 - The ninth district embraces also Cayuga, Madison, Onondaga, and Cortland till 1817.
14 - The dates followed by? are obtained from unofficial data and may be incorrect.
15 - Dwight H. Clarke and those who succeed him were elected in November.
16 - Appointed on the death of Perez Randall, March 29, 1838. Randall's tombstone states that he was for twenty years Clerk of Chenango County.
17 - Nelson Pellet and those who succeeded him were elected in November.
18 - Re-elected each subsequent term.
19 - Clark's History of Chenango County.
20 - Thomas Mead and those who succeeded him were elected in November.
21 - Appointed vice Nichols deceased.
22 - All, except McDonald, were elected in November.
23 - Died February 3, 1813.
24 - Contested by Tilly Lynde, who succeeded him January 6, 1826.
25 - Contested by Anson Cary.
26 - Did not sign the Constitution.
27 - Vote not recorded.