But one of the sweeping changes characteristic of many localities through which passed the Erie Canal and the early railroads, was approaching, and the course of travel from east and west was soon to seek another avenue, drawing away from the old turnpike the merchants and shopkeepers who had found their profits largely dependent upon it and upon the farmers settling along its course.
While the pioneers were locating in .the western and southern parts of the town, as before described, progress was being made in the eastern part at Oneida Castle, where the old chief, Skenandoah, kept a public house before the period of white settlement. There also the Indian church and school house were built under missionary influence. Governor Clinton in 1810 passed through the town and stopped at Skenandoah's house. The old chieftain was then 101 years old and was pathetically described in Clinton's journal. The governor also noted the residence there of Abram Hatfield and his wife, who had been sent on by the Quaker sect, mainly to educate the Indians in agriculture, for which they were to receive $200 a year. Clinton saw a few white settlers at the Oneida Reservation. A mission was established at the Castle in 1816 by Bishop Hobart and placed in charge of Rev. Eleazer Williams. With the influx of white settlers a village of considerable importance was built up.
In the mean time the dry and fertile lands along the southern border of Oneida Lake were quite rapidly filled with settlers after about 1808, though Colonel Cadwell was a pioneer in that section in 1807. He cleared a piece of land in the forest and laid out and improved some of the early roads, inducing other settlers to come in. A little hamlet gathered at Oneida Valley, a Presbyterian church was organized, a store opened and shops established.
One of the early important industries of the town, which drew around it a number of early settlers, was the Lenox Furnace, which was established by the Lenox Iron Company, organized in 1815 with a capital of $20,000. The furnace was erected about a mile and a half south of Wampsville and the manufacture of hollow ware of all kinds, and later stoves, plow castings, etc., was made from ore brought from the vicinity of Clinton. Among the early stockholders from Madison county were Conradt Moot and James S. Sennet, Col. Stephen Chapman, and William Cobb, all of the town of Lenox. Most or ail of the others were from Oneida county. Lewis J. Dauby, of Whitestown, was the first agent, but was soon succeeded by William Cobb, of Lenox, who continued until 1827, when he was succeeded by J. N. Avery. The first iron was made in 1816 and the business was closed up in 1847, mainly on account of the scarcity of timber in the vicinity for fuel. A boarding house, a number of dwellings, a blacksmith shop, carpenter shop, and a store were opened there and Lenox Furnace Village became a well known business point. George B. Cady established a woolen factory here in 1860, and fine cloths were manufactured. He put in new and improved machinery in 1867 and from that time to the close of 1879 employed about twenty hands.
In the south part of the town in the vicinity of the present Merrillsville and Bennett's Corners (formerly called Pine Bush) small hamlets came into existence in the first quarter of the century. The latter place took its name from John Bennett, who was an early settler. The first store was kept by P. McDowel who began business in 1833; he was also postmaster about half a century and built one of the two taverns that were kept there, John Bennett having built the other. W. & H. Eddy are present merchants and Winfield Eddy is postmaster. At Merrillsville a woolen factory was established, among the first in the county, and an old saw mill is still in existence. A Methodist church was organized in 1851, and one of the Indian missions was in this charge.
The Erie Canal through Madison county was opened for traffic in 1820, when in July George Perry, a resident of the town of Sullivan, began running the boat Oneida Chief three times a week between Utica and Montezuma, The great impetus given to business, the important changes in location of trade centers, and the rapid purchase and settlement of lands along the line of the new waterway have been described in earlier chapters of this volume. Previous to that time the villages of Canastota and Oneida, as well as many others, were unknown; but shrewd men of foresight were able even thus early to determine where to purchase land, erect buildings and otherwise expend their money and energies.
The site of Canastota1 was not an ideal region in which to build up a village. It was mainly a low, swampy forest during the first decade of the century, with a small clearing at the west side and along the Cowasselon Creek, and was a part of the Canastota Tract, from which it was reserved when the sale of the tract was made by the Oneidas to the State. It was also included in the Canastota Reservation, which was a part of the Canastota Tract. The sale just mentioned included land extending from Oneida Lake to within half a mile of the Seneca Turnpike and contained ninety-one lots. The Reservation contained 339 J^ acres. Capt. Reuben Perkins, who had settled in the west part of the town, obtained from the Indians the land on which the village was built, for which he obtained a State patent in 1810. At this time a few Indian families were living there in log houses; a blockhouse also had been built, which was repaired and an addition erected and Captain Perkins there made his temporary home. He afterwards built a frame house on the same site, which later years was moved across the street by its owner, Dr. Jarvis.
At the time of Captain Perkins's purchase there was no road leading northward from the turnpike through his land; an Indian trail crossed the swamp towards Oneida Valley. In 1814 Captain Perkins sold 100 acres of his purchase, including the eastern part of the village site, to Ephraim Sherman. This tract was subsequently owned successively by Jason W. Powers, Samuel Halliday Barnard Nellis, and Joshua A. Spencer, after which it was subdivided into village lots and sold. In 1831 Thomas Hitchcock and Thomas N. Jarvis came from Dutchess county and bargained with Captain Perkins for the remaining two-thirds of the Canastota reservation, for $8,000. In 1834 the Jarvis farm, which was part of this tract, was conveyed to Milton Barlow (a brother of Mrs. Lydia Jarvis), who subsequently conveyed it to Lancelot Jarvis, father of Thomas N. Jarvis. On the death of the father it passed to his heirs and was ultimately divided into village lots.
When the canal was opened there were only three or four houses at this point, one of which was occupied by Thomas Menzie, son-in-law of Captain Perkins. Another was occupied by James Graham, who turned it into a tavern for the accommodation of the workmen attracted hither by the canal. He also opened a small grocery on the canal bank in 1817. At about the time' of opening the canal, about 1817, Reuben Hawley opened a store on the west side of Peterboro street, south of the canal, at what was then called the canal basin, and was for many years a leading business man and citizen of the place. He was succeeded by J. & D. Crouse, who carried on business in the Hawley store about three years, removing to another location where they continued until 1834. At that time they went back into the Hawley store where they remained until they built the brick Crouse block. The firm was dissolved in 1853, John Crouse removing to Syracuse to become a millionaire wholesale grocer, and Daniel, after continuing at Canastota until 1863, removing to Utica, where he was a wholesale grocer.
Other early buildings in the village were a hotel erected by Captain Perkins on the northeast corner of Main street and the canal, and a brick store built by him on the site of the later malt house. The brick were made in a yard a little south of the site of the building. Samuel Halliday built a tavern near the corner of Peterboro and Center streets, and about 1821 Capt. Daniel Lewis built a dwelling on the west side of South Main street. Thomas Menzie's house, on the corner of Center and Main streets, stood until comparatively recent years.
A saw mill was built at an early day on the site of the later Reeder's grist mill; another saw mill of a later date was erected, but both long ago ceased operations. In 1831 the village had a population of 406 and contained a number of fine buildings, prominent among them being the residence of Dr. Thomas Spencer on Peterboro street. In the year just named Samuel Hitchcock built a brick structure on Main street for use as an academy, in the upper story of which the Methodists held meetings. A large part of the village site was difficult of improvement for building, on account of its swampy character. Center street was a number of feet lower than at present, and deep with mud in spring and fall. Some of the early buildings were elevated on posts, before the land was filled in. In 1831 there were three public houses, the Graham House, by J. C. Spencer, the Canastota House, kept by John B. Youngs, and the one kept by Eliab Joslin at the west end of the canal basin. Besides the stores of the Crouse brothers, and Mr. Hawley, there was one kept by Samuel Hitchcock, and groceries were sold by Nahum Fay, Elias Palmer, Capt. Robert Bishop, and a Mrs. Tuttle. J. C. Spencer had previously been in trade, but had closed his store. A. D. Van Hooser had a hat shop. Reuben Hawley was a merchant whose reputation for integrity and enterprise extended throughout central New York. He ultimately removed to Chittenango and entered into business, but died soon afterward. He was father of Gen. J. Dean Hawley, now employed in the Syracuse post-office.
It was early known in the century that salt water existed in the neighborhood of Canastota, and much time and money has been spent in past years in efforts to develop a profitable salt making industry. Between 1820 and 1830 salt was made in small quantities from the water of a deep spring excavated in the marsh on land owned by Capt. Oliver Clark, about three-quarters of a mile west of the village. A company was ultimately formed and a well sunk in this marsh to a depth of about 400 feet, but the drilling apparatus was broken and the work was abandoned. The strength of the brine increased considerably with increased depth of boring. In 1863 another company was formed, in which Daniel Grouse, D. H. Rasbach, and James H. Woodford were prominent, and work was again begun. The company was reorganized in May, 1867, with a capital stock of $100,000, and a contract was made with Daniel Lewis for fifty acres of land along the canal west of the village. Operations were begun on a quite extensive scale, but without the hoped-for success, and after the expenditure of a large sum of money, the work was abandoned.
The post-office at Canastota was established in 1839, with Ichabod S. Spencer, postmaster. The successors in the office have been as follows: Israel S. Spencer, who succeeded the first incumbent six years after the office was opened and held the place until 1840. There were several incumbents before his administration and 1860, whose names cannot be defininitely given. Noyes P. Chapman was appointed in 1860 and held the office until the administration of Andrew Johnson began, when Albert R. Barlow was appointed; but he failed of confirmation and Mr. Chapman was reappointed. He was succeeded in 1882 by Judson Field for four years. Eugene M. Barlow was then appointed, to be succeeded by Mr. Field in 1890. In 1894 Mr. Barlow was again appointed, and was succeeded by Mr. Field in January, 1899.
While mercantile business at Canastota increased in ratio with the population and to meet the demands of the multiplying settlements along the canal, there was little manufacturing of importance until comparatively recent years. If there were legal matters that needed attention, there was Ichabod S. Spencer, the postmaster, and George Ager, both of whom were in the town very early. Curtis C. Baldwin, Thomas Barlow, whose death took place in September, 1896, Israel S. Spencer, Hiram Bennett, William H. Kinney, and I. Newton Messinger, were other early and prominent attorneys, who with many others, are elsewhere noticed in these pages.
Dr. Thomas Spencer the youngest of four Spencer brothers, was the first physician in the village and was a very prominent and successful practitioner. A little later came Drs. Joel Corson, Jarvis, George Loomis, Almon Lull, V. W. Mason, and others.
With the growth and encouraging prospects of the village, the inhabitants took steps in early years to obtain an act of incorporation, which was accomplished as a special charter under date of April 38,1835. There was a subsequent reincorporation under the general act of April 12, 1870.
The first village election was held at the house of Joseph C. Spencer on the first Tuesday in May, 1835. The utter destruction of the old village records, the files of newspapers and other important papers in the great fire of 1873 renders it impossible to give any details of early proceedings of the village government, and the names of those who held the local offices.
The officers for 1899 are: Norman Stafford, president; John W. W. Souter, E. J. Clark, W. W. Barott, J. T. Sherwood, trustees; Frank G. Bennett, clerk; F. F. Hubbard, president board of water commissioners, E. M. Harrison, jr., and Herman Casler, members; William H. Patterson, (president), D. C. Twogood, S. K. Bemiss, Cleon Tondeur, police and fire commissioners; William R. Groat (president), George Turnbull, C. N. Rose, E. A. Cooper, board of health; Dr. H. G. Germer, health officer.
Not long after the village incorporation a new and powerful impetus was given to its growth by the coming of the railroad, that herculean agent in the upbuilding of many communities. Utica had been connected with eastern markets by rail since 1835; Syracuse with Auburn since 1836. These lines were connected by the Syracuse and Utica road which was opened in 1839, ushering in a new era of prosperity and leading to the development of important industries. The population of the village in 1840, the year after the opening of the railroad, was 800. It contained four taverns, eight stores, three churches, a machine shop, and about 130 dwellings. Some of the merchants who succeeded those already mentioned were James M. Parker, Hiram Brown, Charles O. Chesley, Irving B. Roberts, dry goods and groceries; W. T. Northrup, groceries and stationery; John and Charles Cronk, Groat & Avery, John W. Wilson, Wallace Suits, and others yet to be mentioned. Charles Spencer had been manufacturing optical instruments in a small way, his skillful work eliciting high praise from scientific men. In 1846 he built a shop and formed a partnership with Hamilton Spencer. Subsequently the firm became Spencer & Eaton and in 1876 the business was moved to Geneva, N. Y.
The present large manufacturing element in Canastota is mainly the growth of years since 1873, when a large part of the village, was swept away by fire from an incendiary's torch. Not a building was left standing on the west side of the principal business street, causing a money loss of about $500,000, and paralyzing the energy of the people. But with renewed courage the village was rebuilt in more substantial manner and better style than before and many new industries were established. Among these was the Canastota Knife Company, which was incorporated October 12, 1874, with an authorized capital of $11,000, which was held by fifty-two stockholders. The first directors were Fred C. Fiske, William Hurlbut, T. N. Jarvis, E. R. White, J. H. Allen, Garret A. Forbes, J. B. Miller. Mr. Hurlbut was elected president; G. A. Forbes, vice president; E. R. White, secretary; F. C. Fiske, treasurer. A building was erected and work was begun in June, 1875, under the superintendence of Silas Moore, a practical knife maker. The small number of hands employed at first was soon increased to seventy and the reputation of the goods rapidly extended. The capital stock was subsequently increased and a large and remunerative business was carried on, which continued until 1895, when the factory was closed, owing to the unfavorable tariff.
The Canastota Glass Company was organized in 1881, with capital stock of $40,000, which was twice increased, first to $70,000 and later to $130,000. A large factory was built west of the village and a heavy output of window glass continued several years, the sand being brought mainly from Oneida Lake. The business finally became part of the United Glass Company and the factory was closed, remaining idle until 1898. It was purchased in 1896 by six persons, who sold it in 1898 to the present organization, which is a co-operative company, the stock being all held by workmen in the business. The six purchasers turned the property over to the company, with the sum of $3,000 donated by the citizens, with the understanding that after operating the works five years, the company should have a deed. The stock is $10,000 and about fifty hands are employed. The officers of the company are H. C. Hoffman, president; Robert L. Bruen, vice-president; Paul Greiner, treasurer; William Rechtenwald, secretary.
One of the largest and most prosperous industries in this town is the wheel rake manufactory of Patten & Stafford. This business was begun in Clockville in 1866, by William H. Patten. In 1873 Norman Stafford was admitted to the business and in 1882 it was removed to Canastota, where a large plant was built. About the same time the firm was changed to Patten, Stafford & Myer; the latter went out in 1892. The wheel rake made by this firm is called the Champion and finds a large sale throughout the country.
The Smith & Ellis Company are large manufacturers of hall racks, china closets, book cases, ladies' desks, etc., and employ about eighty hands. They occupy the large brick building erected by the Canastota Casket Company, a stock organization, the books of which were opened in September, 1888. This undertaking was destined to early failure and the building became the property of Patten & Stafford, who sold it to the Smith & Ellis company in January, 1894. About eighty hands are employed by the company, and it has its own electric plant. The proprietors are Samuel C. Smith and Arthur N. Ellis.
A. M. Barrett has a large lumber yard and in connection with that business operates a steam saw mill and a planing mill. His business was established in 1876.
C. N. Cady, son of one of the pioneers of Clockville, began operating a machine shop in 1886, and now employs five hands, making a specialty of the manufacture of tool grinders and sensitive drills. Another machine shop is conducted by James Mahan, who began about ten years ago; he manufactures steam engines and does general work.
The Watson Wagon Company was organized June l, 1899, with Charles E. Crouse, president; D. S. Watson, vice-president and manager; A. A. Keesler, secretary; J. C. Rasbach, treasurer. Previous to the organization Mr. Watson manufactured the Watson patent dumping wagon, beginning about ten years ago. This wagon has a wide sale at the present time. About twenty-five hands are employed.
A furniture manufacturing business was started some five years ago by Felix Tondeur. The business was removed to Oneida where it failed and was bought by C. H. Tondeur. It was returned to Canastota and Mr. Tondeur manufactures roller top desks. He occupies a building formerly used for a time by William Hurlbut in furniture manufacture.
A prosperous industry of the village is the cider and vinegar works of Harrison & Co., located a short distance west of the corporation. This business was started in 1857 by E. M. & D. V. Harrison, four miles west of Canastota, on the canal. In 1886 it was removed to its present location, where about 200,000 bushels of apples are used annually. In 1878 the firm name changed to its present form, the members being D. V. and E. M. Harrison, jr.
A feed mill was built and started about 1880 by Judson Field; this burned and the present mill was built in 1886, which passed to possession of the State Bank in 1896.
The former large cheese factory interest of this part of the county has mainly passed away and the milk product is mainly shipped to New York or made into butter in a domestic way. There is a milk station in Canastota, which was opened in March, 1899, by Samuel Levy, which now takes about 1,900 quarts daily. There is a station also at Chittenango, which is elsewhere noticed.
The canning business, which is now such an important factor in the industrial life of the county, is represented by an establishment here, which dates from 1880, when J. W. Mix began canning corn and built the present factory. Two years later he was succeeded by Jarvis & Hubbard (Thomas M. Jarvis and Fred F. Hubbard), under whose management the business and plant was greatly increased and corn, succotash and tomatoes were marketed. Since the death of Mr. Jarvis in 1888 Mr. Hubbard was associated three years with Alonzo W. Wheeler, since which time he has continued alone. About 1,000,000 cans of vegetables are put up annually.
The Lee Chair Company began business in Herkimer in the manufacture of a patent chair; the business was brought to Canastota in 1892 and in 1895 C. A. Lee became the sole owner. About 100 hands are employed in making the chair mentioned and a Morris chair.
Besides these various prosperous industries the village has the usual blacksmith, wagon, tin and other shops, with a large number of enterprising merchants. Among the latter is the furniture, carpet and wall paper store of John H. McMahon, who began business in his present location in 1886. The store was built for the purpose by him and Judson Field.
Farr Brothers (Edwin and Levi) have a large hardware business which was started by Edwin Farr in 1879; his brother joining him in 1892. The old building is a landmark and was erected by the late John H. Wilson. Another large hardware business is conducted by Bemiss & Co. (S. K. Bemiss and R. R. Bemiss). The business was begun across the street in 1882, where it was burned out and removed to its present location in 1884. Plumbing and steam heating is a part of the business.
J. E. Warrick is one of the old-time business men of the place. He began wagon making in 1845, and in 1879 opened a furniture and carpet store in his present location. L. F. Phillips was with him until 1892.
One of the older and prominent firms in general merchandise was Brown & Parker, who carried on a successful trade many years. The successors of that firm are H. C. Brown's Sons, who carry a stock of groceries, boots and shoes and furnishing goods. Their present store was occupied in 1884. The firm of J. J. Ingraham & Co. was constituted of Mr. Ingraham and J. M. Parker, the latter having employed Mr. Ingraham as clerk; he had also served as clerk for Brown, Green & Co. at an earlier date. Mr. Ingraham has been alone since 1890 and carries a general stock. The firm of Groat & Avery (William R. Groat, Stephen Avery) carried on grocery business and sold boots and shoes and coal from previous to 1880. They were succeeded in 1898 by E. J. Clark, whose stock consists of dry goods and ladies' and gentlemen's furnishing goods.
P. T. Weaver has carried a stock of crockery and glass since 1890. The firm of Boon & Vreeland began business as merchant tailors and clothing in 1895. In the spring of 1899 the firm became Boon & Son. John and Charles Cronk were former merchants of prominence. Mrs. Etta Cronk now conducts the dry goods business founded by C. W. Cronk, who died six years ago. J. H. Fancher has sold boots and shoes at his present site since 1870. He was burned out in 1876, in the Beecher block, which was built by the late Hamilton Beecher. A boot and shoe business was started before 1890 by H. O. Pratt, who sold to G. D. Wallace. In 1893 A. H. Anderson bought the store and still continues.
The oldest drug store in the village is that of J. W. Wilson, who began business in 1877 and moved into his present store in 1881.
C. F. McConnell began selling drugs in 1891 and moved to his present location in 1897. C. A. Jones came from McGrawville, where he had long been in trade and started in the drug business.
The increasing business interests that followed the opening of the railroad demanded local banking facilities, and on January 13, 1856, the Canastota Bank was organized with forty-six stockholders and capital stock of $110,000. The board of directors were George Crouse, William E. Fiske, John Montross, Jacob Crouse, Franklin' M. Whitman, Robert G. Stewart, Daniel Crouse, De Witt C. Roberts, Daniel Lewis, Charles Stroud, Daniel Van Vleck, John Grouse, and Daniel B. Moot. The election of officers, March 5, 1856, resulted in the choice of Daniel Grouse, president; William E. Fiske, vice-president; George Grouse, cashier. Daniel Grouse was succeeded as president in 1858 by William E. Fiske, and at the annual election a few months later George Grouse was chosen president; Charles Stroud, vice-president; William E. Fiske, cashier. D. H. Rasbach succeeded as cashier in 1859, and H. K. W. Bruce to the presidency soon after the death of Mr. Grouse. At a meeting held May 9, 1865, it was resolved to change the name of the institution to the Canastota National Bank, it becoming a part of the national system. In the great fire of 1873 the bank building was burned and the stockholders immediately erected the building used by the bank until it went into voluntary liquidation in September, 1890. In closing its affairs the stockholders were paid $1.35^ per cent., besides having paid large dividends throughout its whole life.
On the 19th of September, 1890, the present First National Bank of Canastota was organized, with a capital of $50,000, which remains the same. Le Grand Colton was chosen president; Edom N. Bruce, vice-president; J. Clarence Rasbach, cashier; F. W. Dew, teller. These officers still hold their positions.
The existing State Bank of Canastota is successor of the private banking house of Milton De Lano, which was opened August 7, 1876. It was made a State bank in 1887, with capital stock of $40,003, which remains the same. William H. Patten was at that time chosen president and still holds the office. The vice-president was E. N. Bruce, who was succeeded by Norman Stafford. Milton De Lano has remained cashier from the first.
The Canastota Savings and Loan Association was incorporated February 9, 1889, and has ever since had a prosperous career, giving efficient and permanent aid to many worthy persons. Its affairs have been prudently managed, so that it has never foreclosed a mortgage nor come into possession of a piece of real estate. The assets are now about $33,000. The officers of the association are S. K. Bemiss, president; William H. Patten, vice-president; J. E. Roantree, secretary; E. L. Mason, treasurer; M. E. Barlow, attorney.
Canastota has had the experience with newspapers that fall to almost all villages. The stirring young community wanted a paper long before it was incorporated as a village, or thought it did, and accordingly Silas Judd started the Bulletin in 1829. He soon sold out, of course, and Thomas G. Sutherland continued the publication about a year, calling the paper The Vidette. This brief and modest effort closed Canastota journalism until 1856 when George H. Merriam established the Canastota Times; this continued two years under his direction and a few months under Frederick A. Williams, when it was discontinued in June, 1838. In the fall of that year James E. N. Backus started the Canastota Eagle, which soared until the winter of 1859-60. The Weekly Gazette was established in the summer of 1860 by Smith Van Allen, and soon passed to Francis A. Darling, who continued it until he enlisted in 1861, when it was suspended. The next paper was the Canastota Herald, which was started in 1864, or 1865, by Arthur White. John Greenhow soon became a partner and a year later was sole owner. Still later he took his son in with him and in 1870 sold to a Mr. Schaffer, who kept the paper only a few months and sold to Walter C. Stone. He published the Herald until February, 1873, when he sold out to Albert R. Barlow. In October, 1875, he sold to M. B. Robbins and he sold in 1889 to Samuel C. Salisbury. In June, 1889, the Bee was started by Charles Skelton and on March 1, 1890, was consolidated with the Herald. The Bee Publishing Company, which succeeded Mr. Skelton, still publishes the paper.
The Canastota Journal was started as the Canastota News in 1881, by Clarence A. White. The name was subsequently changed and about 1884 the establishment was sold to H. L. & F. M. Spooner. It soon went back into White's hands. He left about two years later and the Spooners took the plant on a mortgage. In April, 1887, they sold to the present proprietor, P. F. Milmoe. Mr. Milmoe is an experienced newspaper man and gives the people of the community a well edited paper.
The best known hotels that succeeded the old taverns before mentioned are the Twogood House and the Lewis House. The former is a successor of a hotel of former years that stood on the same site and burned in 1873. It was built and kept by D. C. Twogood, as also was the present commodious house, which he erected in 1877 and kept nine years. It afterwards had several proprietors and finally came into the hands of the present popular landlord, J. B. Weaver, who took it in May, 1898.
What was formerly the Pratt House stood on the site of the Lewis House and was burned. Another building was erected on the site which was bought by J. G. Lewis and enlarged and opened as a hotel in 1877. It is now kept by his widow.
The Delaney House was built by Michael Hitchman about 1876 and he kept it two years. It passed through numerous proprietors' hands until 1890, when James E. Delaney took it. The Doolittle House stands on an old hotel site and has borne its present name many years and has been kept by various landlords. In October, 1898, the present proprietor, F. H. Gullerat, succeeded C. W. Lower. The Cornell House was built by the late J. D. Cornell. It is kept by E. C. Lower who has owned it since 1895, succeeding George Cross.
Canastota has suffered in the past from destructive fires beyond the fate of most places. The primitive fire department was very inefficient and when the incendiary applied his torch in 1873, the flames were soon beyond control and a large part of the village was swept away. The lesson was a costly as well as a salutary one. The fire extinguishing apparatus then in the village was a hand engine and hose cart. Within a few years a steamer was purchased, two hose companies were formed and other apparatus purchased, which gave the inhabitants a sense of better security. Through the installation of a splendid system of water works Canastota is at the present time not only as thoroughly protected from fire as any village in the State, but also has an unequaled supply of pure water for all other purposes. Steps were taken in 1883 for the purpose of supplying the village with water, and the system was finished in 1886. Pure spring water was found near Clockville at a high elevation. This is stored in a large reservoir from which it reaches the village by gravity and with a pressure of 101 pounds to the square inch under 350 feet head. Pipes have been laid in most of the streets, fifty-eight hydrants are set in the village, and the corporation is supplied with water free. The works are owned by the corporation and cost in all about $70,010. The water commissioners are F. F. Hubbard, president; E. M. Harrison, and Herman Casler. With the introduction of this system, fire apparatus became almost useless, aside from hose and hook and ladder carts and fixtures. There are now excellent hose companies, bearing the names of Forbes Hose Company and De Lano Hose Company. A modern hook and ladder truck and apparatus is owned by members of the Todman Hook and Ladder Company, and was purchased since the water works were installed. Perley Buck is chief engineer and has two assistants. The firemen are all volunteers, but the companies are voted about $200 each by the corporation.
Under chapter 479, laws of 1895, the existing Board of Police and Fire Commissioners, consisting of four members, was created, whose duties will be understood from their title. The term of service is four years. The members of the board are William H. Patten, president; S. K. Bemiss, D., C. Twogood, and C. H. Tondeur. The police force consists of three members.
Canastota is well lighted by electricity, for which condition William H. Patten is chiefly responsible. The Canastota Electric Light and Power Company was organized in 1887, with a capital stock of $30,000, a large share of which has always been owned by Mr. Patten. An excellent system was installed, forty-two arc lights are now maintained in the streets, and private consumers are supplied at fair prices. The officers of the company are Milton De Lano, president; William H. Patten, secretary and treasurer; G. Tibbits, superintendent.
The schools of Canastota, especially in late years, have been kept abreast of modern methods. A meeting was held at the house of James Graham on November 27, 1830, at which district No. 9 was organized and the following trustees chosen: Samuel Halliday, Barnhardt Nellis, and Eleazer Lewis. A school house was built and accepted by the trustees in February, 1821. It was occupied until 1831, when it was burned, and in the following summer a new building was erected. This was occupied until 1846, when a new, larger and more modern school house was built. The building now occupied for the high school was erected in 1877. In 1883 the old district No. 9 was consolidated with No. 30, forming a Union district. In the recent division of the town of Lenox, this district took the old number 9 again. The school building on the south side was erected in 1893 largely to avoid the necessity of having small children cross the railroad tracks. The building on Spencer street was erected in 1886. The high school building, on Chapel street, was built in 1877. Most of the property on the south side of the railroad was in old No. 30, now a part of No. 9, as before stated.
The schools are in charge of a Board of Education consisting of Milton De Lano, president, who has served on the board seventeen consecutive years; S. K. Bemiss, secretary, and Dr. William Taylor, S. Mead Wing and Norman Stafford. Clarence L. Hobart is clerk of the board. The principal of the high school is George Henry Ottaway, A. M.; Estella M. Vedder, preceptress, and Francis Davenport, assistant in academic department. Teachers in the grammar department-Nellie Van Ingen, Jessa Burkhardt; intermediate department-Laura B. Wager, Kate Dew (who has taught in the village twenty-six consecutive years). Emily Van Alsyne, Marie Cooper; primary department-Nina L. Perkins, Florence Phoenix, May Chapman and Catherine Phoenix. In the south side school the teachers are Florence J. Williams (who has taught in the village about ten years), Miss Brister and Florence Avery.
Mention has been made a few pages back of the old Congregational church at Quality Hill. This society was organized probably in 1809, with Nathaniel Hall and John Hall the first deacons. Zebulon Douglass, Sylvester Beecher, Asa Cady, and a Mr. Sessions were the first trustees. The church edifice, a large wooden structure, was begun in 1814 and completed in 1819. The building is still standing.
The first religious society at Canastota was the Baptist, which was organized about 1819 with only a very few members. Without a regular pastor and with no resources outside of their own little circle, the organization soon passed out of existence. A little later the Methodists in the vicinity began holding meetings in the school house, and in 1830 the first class was organized. A meeting house was projected in 1833, but was not completed until several years later; it was, however, used for meetings in 1835. The building was enlarged and improved in 1859, and in 1866 was practically rebuilt into its present form. The society is a prosperous one and the long succession of pastors closed with the appointment of Rev. J. E. Rhodes. An addition was built in 1884 and the church remodeled.
An Episcopal society was organized here in 1820, but services were not held regularly for many years. Rev. Joseph B. Young held services a few years, and other pastors ministered occasionally to the congregation until 1883, when the present Trinity church was formed. In 1885 the present house of worship was erected. Rev. Frederick P. Winnie was succeeded by lay readers and among later pastors were Rev. Abram W. Ebersole, Rev. F. P. Tompkins, Rev. George H. Ottaway, who was assigned here as a lay reader and ordained while here; he served until 1897 and was followed by Rev. Charles H. Tindell. The present pastor. Rev. Joseph P. Foster, came in 1897. This is a mission of the church in Chittenango where the pastors reside.
The Reformed Protestant Church was organized in 1833, with Charles Spencer and Samuel Halliday deacons. The church edifice was erected in the same year, at the corner of Peterboro street and the railroad. Rev. Thomas Gregory was the first pastor. The church building was abandoned in 1878 on account of the disturbing noise of railroad trains.
What became known as the Independent Church was organized as
matter was renewed with more determination than ever. The principal difficulty arose regarding the railroads running through the territory; it seemed impossible to so equalize taxation on railroad property as to satisfy the conflicting interests. Mr. Hathaway, and others entertaining his views, proposed a division into four towns, the boundary lines of which are clearly shown on the accompanying map and do not need further description. This plan gave to the Canastota district about two-thirds of the railroad property, and naturally met with opposition from other sections. At a meeting held in January, 1895, a proposition was made by residents of Oneida village and the east part of the town in favor of carrying the proposed west line of the new town of Oneida to the west of Wampsville. This was opposed by many in Canastota and the northern part of the old town, on account of the extent of territory given to the lake district. These two plans became known as the Canastota and the Oneida plans, and they were embodied in resolutions numbered one and two. The result of the vote upon these resolutions was as follows: For resolution No. 1, (Canastota), 1,400; against, 533; majority for, 868. Resolution No. 3, (Oneida), For 463; against, 1,498; majority against, 1,035. Thus the matter was defeated.
The subject was not allowed to rest and in January, 1896, it was proposed to obtain a special act of the Legislature which would compel the division, even against the desires of a numerical majority of the inhabitants. Several meetings were held and an executive committee appointed. The committee selected to draw a bill for presentation to the Legislature reported at a meeting held February 19, with a bill dividing the territory into two towns. With this plan Canastota was wholly dissatisfied and a meeting was held there the same night, where a three-town division was proposed, on a basis that would give the new town of Lenox 3,850 population; Lincoln, 1,100, and Oneida, 7,850, with an assessed valuation of fair ratio. A bill embodying this proposition was -drawn and pushed through the Legislature as soon as possible. The act provided for the holding of a special town meeting at which each of the new towns should be represented, on May 18, 189 5; the meetings were held in Oneida in the village hall; in Lenox in the Canastota village hall, and in Lincoln in the old Methodist church in Clockville. The bill also provided that the old officers of the town of Lenox should serve out their terms. During the summer of 1896 the accounts of the three towns with the old town were equitably settled, the total claims against the old town amounting to $15,136, which were allowed at about $3,000 less than that sum. The assessed valuation of the new town of Oneida was $2,552,500, real estate, and $234,900 personal. The red lines on the accompanying map show the approximate boundaries of the three new towns. In the settlement of the town accounts a joint meeting of the town boards was held on June 1, with Francis W. Doolittle in the chair. It was ordered that the three boards be a committee to audit claims. This committee reported in favor of apportioning the debts of the old town and dividing its property on the basis of the assessment roll of 1895. A committee of two from each new town was appointed to carry out this purpose. This committee consisted of Stephen C. Waterman and Menzo Root, for Oneida; F. W. Doolittle and Seward H. Stroud for Lenox; and H. H. Hathaway and George W. Chapman for Lincoln.
At a meeting of the Town Board held April 27, 1896, appointed to supervise and conduct the first town meeting of the town of Oneida there were present Andrew J. French, Allen S. Whitman, Barney Ratnour and Hiram L. Rockwell. A. J. French was chosen chairman and A. S. Whitman, secretary. The boundaries of election districts, local option, etc., were discussed. A second meeting was held the next day at which a description of the proposed eight election districts of the town was submitted. A third meeting was held the 29th of April, and the election districts before described were adopted. At a meeting held May 2 a survey and maps of the dividing lines of the three towns were ordered. The three town committees met at Canastota on June 20, and the survey was reported finished and proper monuments set.
The first town meeting for Oneida was held, as provided by the act, on May 19, when Stephen C. Waterman was elected supervisor; Menzo D. Root, James Leggett, Myron H. Mason, justices of the peace; Giles Harrington and Cyrus T. McDuffee, assessors; Frank Boyer, constable, and two inspectors of election for each of the eight districts. On November 28 of that year the Town Board ordered 1,000 yards of crushed stone for the Lake road in the north part of the town. On December 16, of that year, among other minor matters, the clerk was directed to obtain from the trustees the boundaries of the school districts of the new town.
At the town meeting of February 9, 1897, Stephen C. Waterman was elected supervisor; Giles Harrington, assessor; Lewis J. Stisser, collector; Frederick McGraith, overseer of the poor; John C. Myer, Daniel Kilroy, John Wimmet, constables, and the inspectors of election. A vote was also taken on the question whether liquor should be sold in the town under a certain section of the existing liquor law; the result showed 618 in favor and 397 against such action. Also voted on selling liquor on physicians' prescriptions, on which the majority in favor was still greater. Also voted on selling liquor by hotel keepers, resulting 710 in favor and 344 against. During the year 1897 considerable improvement of important roads was made. At a meeting of June 34 election districts 6 and 8 were consolidated into No. 6. In July a resolution was adopted to build a stone arch bridge over the Cowasselon on the Seneca Turnpike. The contract was let at $1,279.
The officers elected at the town meeting of 1898 were as follows: Supervisor, Stephen C. Waterman; clerk, Homer L. Bonney; justices, J. Emery Brown, Edward M. Doran; commissioner of highways, Edward G. Hubbard; assessor, Joseph Veling; collector, Calvin McGuinness; overseer of the poor, Frederick McGraith; constables, John C. Myer, John Kearns, and John Wimmet. In 1899 Stephen C. Waterman was appointed supervisor; H. L. Bonney, clerk, to serve until January, 1900, the date of the 1899 election having been changed to November.
In tracing the history of the village of Oneida we must interest ourselves in more modern conditions than in that of any other municipality in Madison county. The village itself is distinctly a result of canal and railroad construction, although in recent years it has shown remarkable thrift in directions not wholly dependent upon facilities for travel and transportation. The canal deviating to the north near Canastota and passing out of this town at Durhamville, had little influence upon Oneida, the site of which remained an agricultural district, with scattered farms until the opening of the railroad in 1839.
The land including the site of the village to the amount of several hundred acres formerly and before there was any settlement here belonged to Sands Higinbotham, a sketch of whose life will be found in another part of this work. His first purchase was made in 1839 from individual owners, and a second in 1830 from the State. He became a resident here in 1834 and from that time until his death he was prominent in public affairs and active and zealous for the welfare of the village that found its site upon his property. When Mr. Higinbotham settled here that part of the village site south of the railroad was partly cleared, as well as the valley lands. The railroad was opened on the 4th of July, 1839, with a grand celebration. The track ran through the woods which covered its course and in the spring of 1839 a clearing was made for the erection of the Railroad House. The station was established and from its proximity to Oneida Castle, took the name of Oneida Depot. Mr. Higinbotham built the Railroad House and shrewdly bargained with the railroad company that they could have free right of way across his land, if they would stop every train at the depot ten minutes for refreshments. This was readily agreed to by the company.
Previous to this and preparatory to the settlement of Mr. Higinbotham on his property, he sent Henry Dygert in 1832 to make a clearing. He erected the second frame house in the place. Peter Dygert and Abram Phillips had already built log houses and were here in 1828 when Isaac Morris arrived and also built a log house. Although the village site and adjacent territory was a flat and unattractive region with much of it swampy, settlers came in rapidly through the liberal offers made by Mr. Higinbotham. The canal feeder from Oneida Creek, which extends through the village, was constructed in 1835 and brought many men and families here, most of whom remained and purchased lots or houses on the liberal terms made by Mr. Higinbotham. Mr. Higinbotham was father of Niles Higinbotham who died March 17, 1890; a sketch of whose life is given in another part of this work.
The settlement grew slowly at first, for Oneida Castle, with its stores and shops was near at hand. The first store in the place was built by John B. Cole, who was one of the conductors on the railroad; it was opened by Amos Story, from Fayetteville, about 1842, and was known for some years as the "red store." The next store was kept by George Hamilton, of Verona, on the site of the present Kenyon block; the building was erected by him and Dr, J. H. Hamilton, of Oneida Castle. Newman Scofield subsequently purchased the store and conducted it some years
In 1847 a small store was opened by the firm of Stoddard & Lype. At about the same time Lyman Morse opened a small general store. The second house was built on the site of what became the Coe house by Charles B. Stewart. The first store of real importance was established in 1844 by S. H. Goodwin & Co., in a building erected by themselves, which was burned in 1862 and rebuilt. The elder Goodwin, and later his sons, were in trade many years. An early grocery was established in 1850 by Ambrose Hill, who came here from Lenox Basin, where he had been in trade on the canal bank since 1830. He continued in business alone and later with his son, until comparatively recent years. The father of the first Ambrose kept an early tavern at Wampsville, locating therein 1819.
The post-office was established in 1841 with Erasmus Stone postmaster. He was then proprietor of the Railroad House, succeeding the first proprietor, Henry Y. Steward. Mr. Stone was a native of Homer, Cortland county, and came here from Salina in 1840, and father of John E. Stone, of Oneida. The post-office was kept in the bar room of the hotel. He held the office until 1845 and died in Oneida November 14, 1878. He was succeeded by Asa Smith, an enterprising citizen, who was followed by I. N. Messenger, and he by Ephraim Beck. John Crawford was appointed in 1864 and held the office a long term, being followed in 1881 by Watson A. Stone, who held the office until his death in 1888. His successors have been Walter E. Northrup, to May, 1890; John J. Hodge, to October, 1894; Richard M. Baker to March, 1899; John J. Hodge, incumbent.
The first attorney to settle in Oneida was Isaac Newton Messinger, who died here March 11, 1895. He was a son of Gen. John M. Messinger, a prominent early settler of this county, and located in Oneida in 1848. A sketch of his life appears elsewhere in this volume. For a time Mr. Messinger was a partner with Ithamar C. Sloan, and also with James B. Jenkins, both of whom were successful and honored members of the Madison bar.
The first physician in Oneida was Dr. Earl Loomis, a graduate of Yale, who settled here in 1842 and remained in practice many years and until his death. Lewis Joslyn also began practice here in 1843, and in the following year Dr. Benjamin Palmer came in. Among other early physicians were Drs. George Beardsley, Willard R. Fitch, J. W. Fitch, A. G. Purdy, Edward Loomis, Ogden Randall, Stillman Spooner, Edwin Perkins, and a few others.
The first manufacturing in the village, aside from the few small shops found in all similar places, was a foundry and a machine shop, of which little is now known. It was established as early as 1846 by Gen. John M. Messinger, Heman Phelps, O. T. Burt (the latter of Syracuse) and others; the building is now standing north of the Central tracks and used as a malt house. It was operated under the firm name of H. H. Phelps & Co. This was the only industry of importance in the village until the establishment of the tannery of George Berry, which was built in 1857 on the site of the gas works; this was burned in 1871 and rebuilt by the same owner, A second foundry was built a little later on the feeder at the junction of Elizabeth and Main streets. I. N. Messinger was interested in this enterprise. It finally closed and later the building was burned.
Meanwhile the village was growing, buildings of brick, and of considerable dimensions, were erected and a number of prosperous merchants began business. Asa Smith, the tanner and currier of early years, built the Empire block which for a number of years was the most pretentious structure in the place. James A. Bennett, in connection with Charles and Joseph Walrath, built the block next to the Empire, where Charles I. Walrath carried on a mercantile business. Albert E. Coe, long a promient citizen, built the block adjoining the one just mentioned on the south, and next was the Devereaux block, built by Horace Devereaux. The Merchants' Exchange was next on the south, which was built by Timothy G. Seeley. Still going south, the next building was the Walrath block, built by C. A. & D. H. Walrath; then came the Oneida Valley Bank and other buildings. On the east side of the street were the buildings erected by C. A. & D. H. Walrath, afterwards owned by William Lyle, and adjoining that the building erected by Patrick Devereaux. Other blocks were that built by Samuel Chapin, where Chapin & Sons were in the jewelry business many years, and that of E. H. Curtis. Farther north was the block built by Ephraim Beck and afterwards owned by Dr. J. W. Fitch; the building erected by Hollis Mannering, in which was Cleveland's drug store; the corner block erected by Newcomb and Charles Field; the Messinger block on the north corner of Phelps street, built by General Messinger, who owned all of the buildings between Phelps and Madison streets on the east side of Main, excepting what was the alNation Hotel, which was built by Frank Gleason. This brief survey gives the situation on Main street in the village center some twenty-five or thirty years ago.
On the north side of Madison street S. H. Goodwin had his store previous to 1863; also the drug store of R. I. Stewart, the cabinet ware rooms of Jones & Hulburt, and the large building owned by L. N. Van Evra, in which were various shops. These were all burned in the fire of 1863. Mr. Goodwin rebuilt the same year and since that time the street has been built up nearly as at present. On the south side of this street Grove Stoddard built a structure which was used for an early clothing store. Where the Kenyon block was erected was formerly a wooden building in which Theodore C. Thompson and Sidney Rivenburg carried on mercantile business. The old Bacon Hotel was formerly the residence of Heman H. Phelps, once superintendent of the Utica and Syracuse Railroad.
In 1870-71 the population of the village had reached about 4,000, indicating a healthy growth. There were at that time in the place the following nine dry goods stores, some of which were, however, of a general character: Randall & Barker, C. A. & D. H. Walrath, W. H. Dimmick, A. E. Coe & Son, S. & E. Kenyon, John E. Stone, T. C. Thompson, P. C. Lawrence, and S. H. Goodwin & Son. In the grocery trade were Carter Brothers, Douglass & Downing (still in wholesale business), David Walter, Harry Walter & Co., Stone & Schuyler, A. Hill & Son, William C. Lawrence, and Matthewson & Rivenburg. Farnam & Son were in the hardware business; also A. R. Turner There were also a few jewelry, clothing and boot and shoe stores, with the usual complement of shops of various kinds.
With these increasing business interests, the establishment of a newspaper, a bank, churches, and manufactures presently to be described, and a population that was to reach almost 7,000 in 1890, the need of extensive public improvements began to be felt.
It may surprise the younger business men of the village to-day to learn that from about 1850 to the breaking out of the Civil war, the gross volume of business in Oneida was vastly larger than it is at the present time, although the population and number of separate stores, etc., was less. As a shipping point the village was then of great importance; it was the center of a large territory from which produce of all kinds came in for transportation to markets. The New York Central was then the only railroad, and it was no uncommon occurrence to see a hundred freight cars standing on a siding for loading or unloading. A great deal of this shipping has been attracted to other points by the various railroads since opened. But all of this does not necessarily indicate that the village is enjoying a less degree of prosperity now than it did forty or fifty years ago, through the development of manufacturing, larger retail trade, etc.
Oneida was without a public water supply until the year 1883, when the public spirit of a well known citizen (a sketch of whose life is found in these pages), Judson W. Warner, established a system of water works. The privilege was obtained of taking water from a brook flowing from pure springs about two and a half miles south of the village; the stream was dammed and a large reservoir thus created, in which an effective filter was constructed. A sixteen inch main was laid from the reservoir to a point where the pressure reaches 100 pounds to the square inch, from which point it is twelve inches diameter. Most of the prominent streets of the village are piped and about seventy- five hydrants are set for protection from fire. By efficient management Mr. Warner and his associates soon had the water works on a paying basis, and a stock company was formed, of which John M. Kennedy was president. The subject of the purchase of the water works by the village was publicly discussed in 1895 and at the charter election of that year the question of purchase at a stipulated price was voted on; the result was 704 in favor of purchase, and 346 against. The stockholders of the company met on the 30th of April, 1895, and fixed a price on the works. There was then $146,000 in stock, over $100,000 of which was held in Oneida. A contract for the supply of the village was then in existence with four years to run. The price demanded by the company was par value of the stock and $15,000 in consideration of the existing contract with the village. On June 11 the Supreme Court was asked for the appointment of commissioners to appraise the value of the works. A Board of Water Commissioners was chosen and in July they voted to purchase the works at $148,000. Since the corporation acquired the ownership the system has been substantially self-sustaining and the people have a water supply that is not excelled in the State. The water commissioners are identical with the village president and trustees. Albert E. Loomis is the efficient superintendent of the water works.
Closely connected with the water supply is the fire department. In early history of the village the apparatus for extinguishing fire was insignificant and poorly managed. In 1849 there was only one ordinary hand engine in use, and it was ten years later before another was purchased. In 1860 the first hook and ladder truck was put in use and in 1873 the steamer was purchased and one hand engine was dispensed with. For a period prior to his death about 1875, E. W. Jones acted as engineer, without official appointment, and by his energy and enthusiasm greatly improved the effectiveness of the department. He was finally elected chief and was succeeded in 1875 by C. G. W. Stoddard, under whose efficient management the department, as it existed until the installation of the water works, was organized and maintained. In 1883, upon the completion of the water works, the department was reorganized, with Warner Hose Company No. 1, Chappell Hose Company No. 3, Mechanics Hose Company No. 4, and the German Hose Company, with the Maxwell Hook and Ladder Company. In 1889 the department was incorporated under the State laws. This condition continued until 1895, when the old volunteer system was displaced by a paid department.
With the installation of the water works, the fire engines became practically useless. Under the new charter of 1894 the department is governed by the Board of Police and Fire Commissioners consisting of four members. Under them is the chief; this position was held by Laurel E. Header, succeeded by Wm. H. Plato, who has two assistants. The apparatus now in use consists of the hook and ladder truck, three hose carts, the requisite quantity of hose and other minor equipment. The pressure on the hydrants is sufficient to more than reach the highest buildings in the village. Present officers of the department are Wm. H. Plato, chief; Wm. Hamill, first assistant; Wm. H. Purdy, second assistant.
The new charter provided for a police force consisting of a chief, a police justice, and four patrolmen, who are under the government of the Board of Police and Fire Commissioners. This board for 1899 is as follows: Dr. Martin Cavana, Charles F. Policy (president), Dr. George W. Miles, Allen S. Whitman. The office of chief of police has been held by Daniel P. Sanford since the charter became operative, and Daniel C. Burke was police justice until he was succeeded by James E. Brewer.
A second important improvement for which the village of Oneida is indebted to J. W. Warner is the introduction of electric lighting. Previous to 1888 the village was lighted by gas supplied by the Oneida Gas Light Company, incorporated in 1868, which is still in active existence, with Walter E. Northup, president. In 1888, when electric lighting in this section was in its infancy, Mr. Warner established a lighting plant in a small building on Vanderbilt avenue, where stands his present four-story industrial building. At a large expenditure he put in a fully equipped Thomson-Houston system, capable at that time of supplying all the wants of the village, both in the streets and for private consumers. About seventy arc lights were soon in use by the corporation, and more than 1,000 incandescent lights by individuals and families. Mr. Warner still owns and operates this plant in an efficient and satisfactory manner, mainly to supply private consumers.
In addition to the above described lighting facilities is the Oneida Electric Light and Power Company's plant. This company was incorporated in 1897 and in that year made a five year contract with the corporation to light the village streets for $6,000 per annum, for seventy-two arc lamps, twenty-five of which were burned all night and the remainder until 1 a. m. The officers of the company are: W. Judson Smith, president; Henry S. Newton, chief engineer; C. W. Koiner, general manager; Howard N. Babcock, secretary and treasurer; C. H. Coley, counsel.
The first brick paving laid in Oneida was that on Madison Square, which was followed by the paving of Main street in 1887 with brick and of Madison and Phelps streets in 1888. Previous to that date some of the main streets were roughly paved with cobble stones. But an improvement destined to be of far greater benefit to the community was the establishment of the sewer system, the construction of which is now well advanced. After considerable agitation the question of sewers in the village was apparently settled in 1891, when a sewer commission was appointed consisting of Manford J. Dewey, Lawrence Kenna, Hiram L. Rockwell, Jason T. Wallace and Alfred L. Goodrich. This commission met on June 1 and elected Mr. Dewey president, and E. L. Hunt, clerk. Walter F. Randall was employed as engineer and B. A. Ransom as legal counsel. The engineer was sent to several other places to inspect systems and gain desired information. Specifications were submitted to the board on June 22, after which a Rochester consulting engineer was called in and the plans perfected. In October, 1891, Engineer Randall was directed to proceed with the necessary survey. The work progressed through that summer and on September 13 at a board meeting it was moved that " we submit a proposition to build a general system of sewerage covering the thickly settled portion of the village of Oneida, to be paid for by general assessment for the necessary amount." When this proposition was brought before the people for a vote it was lost by a majority of nearly four to one, and for a time nothing further was accomplished.
The matter was again taken up in 1896 with renewed zeal. William W. Baker was then president of the village and was heartily in favor of the construction of sewers. The Board of Sewer Commissioners was somewhat changed and consisted of M. J. Dewey, president, C. Herman Philipp, Burt Van Horn, Charles House, and Charles H. Parsons. Dr. E. R. Boden was elected clerk. Without attempting to follow the details of the work thus far accomplished on the system, it may be stated that trunk sewers have been completed on both sides of the junction of Main street and Lenox avenue, while the one on the north side extends through Almond street to James across the feeder. These trunk sewers, having an approximate length of two miles, were constructed by the village corporation, after proper action had been taken, and cost about $16,000, which was paid in annual installments of $5,000 each, the last being paid in 1898. The remainder of the system consists of lateral sewers, a number of which have been completed. These are constructed upon properly presented petitions, and the cost paid by the property owners benefited thereby. Between four and five miles of these lateral sewers were constructed in 1896 and about the same length since The system contemplates from fourteen to sixteen miles in all The present Board of Commissioners consists of Jason T. Wallace, president, Deliver E. House, Albert E. Loomis, Thomas 'O'Brien, and Hiram L. Rockwell.
The Oneida Railway Company was organized in 1885, for the purpose of constructing street railways in and through the village. W. J. Hickox was the first president of the company, which had a capital of $15,000, the same as at the present time. The road from the Central railroad station to the station of the West Shore road near Oneida Castle, was built in three months and cars began running in April, 1885. In 1888 W. E. Northrup was chosen president of the company and still holds the office; H. C. Stone, secretary and treasurer.
There are no records of the village of Oneida in existence previous to 1865. The presidents and clerks from that date have been as follows:
Presidents---1865, Horace Devereaux; 1866, G. P. Soper; 1867-68, D. W. C. Stephens; 1869, George Berry; 1870, James A. Bennett;2 1871, D. W. C. Stephens; 1873, I. N. Messinger; 1873, Francis C. Miller; 1874, C. A. Walrath; 1875, Thomas I. Randall; 1876-78, B. E. Chase; 1879, P. D. Cheney; 1880, D. W. C. Stephens; 1881, Charles F. Policy; 1882, H. W. Carpenter; 1883-84, Charles F. Polley; 1885, Elisha G. Gay; 1886, Charles F. Polley; 1887, James N. Bates; 1888, E. C. Stark: 1889, C. E. Remick; 1890, E. G. Coon; 1891-92, F. B. Cheney; 1893, Frank C. Duke; 1894-96, William M. Baker; 1897, Charles House; 1898-99, Barney Ratnour.
Clerks---1865-69, Ervin Saltsman; 1870-71, A. J. Luce; 1872, S. C. Waterman; 1873-, John Ackerman;3 1874-76, Ben D. French;4 1877-79, John Kelly; 1880, E J. Girvin; 1881, W. Hector Gale; 1883, Joseph McLaughlin; 1883-84, John A. Ferguson; 1885-86,5 Edward B. French; 1887, J. A. Ferguson; 1888, J. C. Ayers; 1889, E. L. Hunt; 1890-93, W. F. Leete; 1894, E. L. Hunt; 1895, J. E. Brewer; 1896, E. R. Boden; 1897-99, H. L. Bonney.
Down to the date of its incorporation Oneida was popularly known by the title, Oneida Depot. The population in 1840 was only 800 and probably was not more than 1,000 in 1848, in which year the incorporation was effected. The first village election took place on July 15 of that year and resulted as follows: Erasmus Stone, president; I. C. Sloan, clerk; James Williams, Joseph Fish, James McFarland, and Simon Cobb, trustees. A code of ordinances was prepared in form similar to those governing all small villages and adopted in August of that year. These were changed in some respects as the growth of the place seemed to demand.
The charter adopted in 1894 provides for the election of a president, a board of six trustees, clerk, treasurer, collector, three assessors, a street commissioner, a police justice, four police and fire commissioners, a chief of police and chief engineer. The term of office of the president was made one year; of the trustees, two years; of the assessors, three years, and of the police and fire commissioners, four years. Besides the Boards of Education and of Health, a Board of Audit was provided for, to audit all claims against the corporation, and more direct responsibility fixed upon all officials. A special election was held in June, 1894, to elect a police justice to serve until the April charter election of 1895. A police court room was fitted up on the second floor of the village public building, and apartments for the police force on the ground floor.
The first school house in Oneida village was built in 1841. That was only two years after the opening of the railroad when there were very few children on what now constitutes the village site. Previous to that date the school at Oneida Castle had sufficed for the families in the vicinity. The old school house remained until recent years and was degraded to the purposes of an ice house in rear of the Allen House. The trustees in 1841 were Thomas Barlow, Colon Brooks, and John A. Seeber. Peter J. Shalcraft was made clerk, and Henry Marshall, collector.
The village was originally comprised in one district, No. 35, but prior to 1850 it was divided into two, with numbers 35 and 26, No. 35 being south of the railroad and the other district north of the railroad. In the district first named a school house was built in 1850 on the site of the present old Cherry street building. By frequent enlargements and improvements the structure was adapted to the increasing needs of the district.
The school building long in use on Elm street in district No 36 (now district No. 5) was erected in its original form in 1851. The old structure is almost lost sight of in the many enlargements and improvements that have since been made.
A second school building was erected on Cherry street in 1898 with modern improvements and adapted to the requirements of the district. This was in use only a short time, when on February 9, 1899, it was burned and is now in progress of rebuilding.
The district division before mentioned remained in force, with a few minor changes in boundaries, until the division of the town of Lenox in 1896, when the two districts of the village received the numbers 4 and 5, and they so remain.
The question of establishing a Union school district was discussed by the inhabitants of district No. 35 on May 31, 1883. W. E. Northrup was president of the meeting and Ambrose W. Hill, secretary. A resolution providing for a Union school was offered by Hiram L. Rockwell. After considerable discussion the meeting adjourned until June 7, when it was determined to vote upon the question on the 9th of that month. This purpose was carried out, the result showing 404 votes, of which 324 were in favor. A Board of Education consisting of nine members was chosen as follows: Sidney B. Breese, Samuel A. Maxon, Watson A. Stone, for one year; John F. Tuttle, R. B. Downing, Eugene E. Coon, for two years; T. F. Hand, jr., Hiram L. Rockwell, and A. J. French, for three years.
In the following year (1883,) after much opposition, a site was purchased on the corner of Elizabeth and Cemetery streets at a cost of $1,700 for a site for a new school building. A building was there erected costing about $12,000.
An academic department, which subsequently became the high school, was instituted in 1884, and has since been efficiently maintained, under a corps of excellent teachers, at the head of which has been for seventeen years past Prof. F. W. Jennings. He resigned in 1899 and is succeeded by Prof. Avery W. Skinner. At the present time the principal is assisted by four teachers in the academic department; the grammar school has three teachers; the junior department four and the primary, seven. The first standing committee of the academic department consisted of Hiram L. Rockwell, S. A. Maxon, and John F. Tuttle.
The new village charter provides for a Board of Education consisting of nine members. The board for 1899 is as follows: Joseph Beal, H. D. Fearon, Charles House, William E. Douglass, Julius M. Goldstein, George F. Paine, Clark A. Frost, George W. Miles, W. E. Northrup. Trustees of district No. 5-President, James Taber; Joseph Veling, Conrad Lochner. Clerk, Robert Calway. The present principal is Daniel C. Keating.
An effort was made many years ago to improve the educational facilities of Oneida by the establishment of a seminary A few progressive persons took the matter in hand and in July, 1857, the Oneida Seminary was incorporated. A school was opened in September of the same year and soon a commodious building was erected. For many years the institution enjoyed high repute and accomplished much good in the advance of education under such principals as Rev. G. H. Whitney, Rev. E. Rollo, Charles E. Swett, and Rev. J. D. Houghton, who resigned in 1872. With the improvement of union and high schools, academies and seminaries declined and this one was no exception. Financial difficulties arose and the institution was closed. A proposition was made to sell the building to the village in 1895, but it was not entertained. Finally it was purchased by J. Will Chappell, who demolished it and devoted the grounds to the uses of a private park.
The old town of Lenox formerly contained thirty school districts. The new town of Oneida contains seven, with school houses, the value of buildings and sites being about $34,000. With Lincoln, Lenox, Fenner, Cazenovia, Smithfield, Stockbridge, and Sullivan it comprises the Second School Commissioner district of the county.
In the Oneida Castle and Sherrill school district Alexander S. Galbraith is president; George Johnston, clerk; Theodore Nye, collector.
The first banking facilities in Oneida were supplied by the Oneida Valley Bank, which was incorporated in 1851, with a capital of $105,000 and the following officers: Niles Higinbotham, president; Samuel Breese, vice-president; T. F. Hand, cashier. The institution passed into the national system in 1865, the title becoming the Oneida Valley National Bank of Oneida. Mr. Higinbotham was succeeded in the presidency by D. G. Dorrance, who was followed by T. F. Hand and he by the present official, Herbert H. Douglass. The present directors are W. S. Leete (vice-president), T. F. Hand, jr. (cashier), S. H. Goodwin, S. B. Breese, C. Carskaddan, John M. Kennedy, Robert Stewart, R. M. Baker, R. B. Downing. The capital of the bank has always remained the same. The bank building was erected in 1851 and in 1864 was added to in its present form.
The First National Bank of Oneida was organized and incorporated October 1, 1865, with a capital of $126,000. The first board of directors were Horace Devereaux, James J. Stewart, Samuel J. Fox, Franklin M. Whitman, James A. Barnett, Ambrose Hill, Simeon B. Armour, Stillman Spooner, Alvin Strong, Zadoc T. Bentley, and C. A. Walrath. Horace Devereaux was made president; James J. Stewart, vice-president; Virgil Bull, cashier. The bank was very successful and went into voluntary liquidation in January 1, 1874, paying the stockholders $1.20 per cent. At the same time it took the name of the State Bank of Oneida, which was changed to the National State Bank of Oneida in November, 1878. The capital has always been $60,000. The first president of the present institution was the late Samuel H. Fox, who was succeeded by the late S. H. Farnam, and he by Andrew J. French, the incumbent. Austin B. French was the first cashier and still holds the office. William W. Warr is vice-president; William G. Hill, teller; G. E. Kirkpatrick, bookkeeper, and Fred B. French collection clerk.
The Farmers and Merchants State Bank was organized June 3, 1892, with a capital of $50, 000 and the following officers: Loring Munroe, president; C.W. Dexter, vice-president; E. Emmons Coe, cashier; T. H. Jurden, teller. The directors were E. E. Coon, Francis Stafford, S. C. Waterman, Coman Rich (who was succeeded by George L. Menzie), C. W. Dexter, A. S. Whitman, H. W. Coley, George Potter, Loring Munroe, Ira L. Snell, W. E. Witter, A. B. Munroe, and E. E. Coe. Several of these men are residents of other towns in the county.
The Oneida Savings Bank, a staunch and successful institution, was incorporated February 19, 1866, and began business on April 1, of that year. The officers were as follows: Daniel G. Dorrance, president; George H. Sanford and Goodwin P. Soper, vice-presidents; Edward Loomis, secretary and treasurer; I. N. Messinger, attorney. The Board of Trustees was composed of the following gentlemen: John Barnett, Peterboro; Ralph H. Avery, Canastota; John J. Foote, Hamilton; Jonathan M. Wilson, Stockbridge; T. E. Barnes, Durhamville; Daniel G. Dorrance, Oneida Castle; George H. Sanford, Verona; Samuel Breese, I. N, Messinger, James A. Bennett, Theodore F. Hand, E. C. Sanders, George Berry, Goodwin P. Soper, T. G. Seeley, Ambrose Hill, Milton Barnett. Its handsome building was erected in 1889 at a cost of $29,000. The number of depositors is 4,364. The present officers and directors are as follows: C. Will Chappell, president; Roswell B. Downing, 1st vice-president; Eugene E. Coon, 3d vice-president; Ambrose W. Hill, treasurer; Howard L. Baldwin, secretary; C. Will Chappell, Roswell B. Downing, Eugene E. Coon, Theodore F. Hand, jr., E. Emmons Coe, Henry S. Klock, Charles E. Stevens, Allen S. Whitman, Hazelius Loucks, Francis Stafford, William E. Douglass, Ira L. Snell, directors.
The Central Bank of Oneida is a private financial institution which was established in 1870, with a capital of $15,000. William E. Northrup has been president since the organization, and R. A. Hill is cashier.
A powerful factor in the development of Oneida in quite recent years, and one which has brought its population up to about 10,000, is the number and extent of its manufactures. With favorable shipping facilities, low-priced land for sites, enterprising men have found here a field for their best endeavors. In this connection a brief description of the leading industries of the place will prove of interest.
The works of the National Casket Company in Oneida are the outgrowth of a business founded in 1873 in Rochester by John Maxwell. In 1881 he effected a consolidation with a similar industry then in operation in Oneida by Chappell, Tuttle & Co., forming the firm of Chappell, Chase & Maxwell. The plants in Rochester and Oneida were kept in operation until 1890, when they were united with others to form the National Casket Company, which includes several of the largest concerns in the country in the manufacture of burial caskets. Mr. Maxwell has the management of the Oneida factory, and with him is associated C. Will Chappell, who is vice-president of the company and manager of the New York store. The Oneida factory comprises three principal buildings and the industry is one of the most important in central New York. (See biography of C. W. Chappell).
The Oneida Iron Works, another very successful industry, was founded in 1875 by W. S. Leete, C. F. Polley, A. E. Loomis, T. E. Mayne and D. Carpenter, who were former employees of the engine manufacturing firm of Wood, Taber & Morse, of Eaton, this county. They began building steam engines and doing general machine work,
meeting with flattering success. Gradually the plant has been extended to meet the requirements of their increasing product. Engines, boilers, bridge work, etc., are turned out by a large force of skilled workmen. The works are now owned by W. S. Leete and A. E. Loomis, both of whom are enterprising citizens and active in public affairs.
The Oneida Carriage Works is an incorporated stock company of which W. E. Northrup is president; M. J. Dewey, vice-president; John Maxwell, secretary and treasurer. This industry was projected in 1883 with the same title as at present, but the incorporation did not take place until 1888. It was one of the most complete carriage manufacturing plants in central New York and turned out fine work. The business was wound up in 1898 and a committee appointed to sell the property.
The firm of Upton & Holden is quite extensively engaged in the manufacture of carriages. The business was established more than thirty years ago by Miles Upson, the present head of the firm, and three years later the firm was formed by the admission of Henry T. Holden. Both were practical workmen and the business prospered from the first.
The firm of Dapson & Wolf (Thomas Dapson, John W. Wolf), established October, 1898, also manufactures wagons extensively, occupying the buildings formerly used for a knitting mill. F. J. Aubeuf has built up a large trade in the Monitor hand cart which he manufactures under his own patents.
J. Barrett's Sons (Theodore A. and F. Eugene) are engaged in carriage making, in which business they succeeded their father who started here in a small way nearly fifty years ago. They make only high grade work and the reputation of their vehicles is high.
Wilson, Eells & Mott began business as dealers in carriage supplies in 1885; Mr. Wilson withdrew in 1888 and the business is still continued by Eells & Mott.
Oneida has become quite widely known in the line of manufactures through the extended reputation of the Westcott lathe chuck, made by the Westcott Chuck Company. This business was begun in 1872 by the Oneida Steam Engine and Foundry Company, which for several years were extensive builders of engines in addition to the making of chucks. The Westcott chuck is the invention of the late John H. Westcott, formerly foreman for the Steam Engine and Foundry Company. In 1885 the Westcott Chuck Company was incorporated with a capital stock of $50,000, which was subsequently increased to $150,000. James H. Westcott, son of John H., is now superintendent of the works. A large variety of chucks is made by this company and all have the reputation among machinists of excellence and efficiency. The present officers of the company are S. H. Goodwin, president and manager; T. F. Hand, jr., secretary and treasurer; James H. Westcott, superintendent.
The Oneida National Chuck Company, organized in 1897, succeeded the National Chuck Company of New York, and the chuck business of the Oneida Manufacturing Chuck Company. About twenty-five hands are employed in the making of a general line of lathe and drill chucks. The present officers of the company are: L. J. Myers, president; R. B. Ruby, vice-president; H. M. Reynolds, secretary, treasurer and manager.
The before-mentioned Oneida Manufacturing Chuck Company made chucks during seven years prior to 1897 in connection with wagon gears. The gear business passed to Schubert Brothers Gear Company in 1897, and the chuck business to the National Company, as above stated.
One of the oldest manufactures of Oneida is the business which is the legitimate successor of the saw mill built in 1840 by Samuel Breese. About 1868 the property passed to Thompson & Bennett, and in 1886 the firm became Bennett & Klock (Willard H. Bennett and Henry S. Klock). The business now includes a saw mill, an immense lumber yard and large ice houses; the power is derived from Skenandoah Creek. In this connection should be mentioned the sash, door and blind factory of the O. W. Sage Manufacturing Company, which was founded by the late O. W. Sage in 1887. In 1890 the company was incorporated and a very large business was carried on a few years. The buildings and site are now used for canning business by Olney Brothers, noticed further on.
The manufacture of woven wire mattresses by the Hard Brothers Manufacturing Company was for a number of years an important industry. The business was established in 1876 by Hard Brothers & Company and after the change about 1890 a large part of J. W. Warner's industrial building was occupied. The firm removed to Buffalo a few years since, and the business was purchased by the Comstock Manufacturing Co. and removed to Utica.
The original Oneida Mill was a grist mill built in 1840 by Sands Higinbotham. The property passed through several proprietorships, and the mill was operated a number of years by G. C. Parker. The mills were burned prior to 1887 and the site was covered with ruins for some time when it was purchased by J. W. Warner, who rebuilt the mill and equipped it with modern machinery for flouring. He operated it about a year, when he sold it to L. V. Rathbun of Rochester, and A. E. Sawyer, who formed the present Rathbun & Sawyer Company. They refitted and improved the mill, which now has eighteen pairs of rolls and other adequate machinery for the daily production of nearly 100 barrels of flour, bearing several well known brands. Mr. Rathbun is president of the company; Mr. Sawyer, vice-president and treasurer, and A. S. Rathbun, secretary. This is the only flouring establishment in the village.
In 1886 Farrell & Lewis established a knitting mill in Oneida for the manufacture of men's woolen underwear and hosiery. The firm was later changed to Farrell & Son, and in 1891 was incorporated as the Central Mills Manufacturing Company. A large plant was put in operation, with Michael Farrell, president; James P. Malloy, treasurer, and R. J. Fish, secretary. A few years later the business was closed and removed to Utica.
The canning industry, which has in recent years become so important in this country, is represented in Oneida by the large establishment of Olney Brothers (James D. and Burt), which was started up in 1898, the property having been leased from Bennett & Klock, who had carried on the same business a few years. Extensive additions have recently been made to the large brick structure which was formerly the O. W. Sage sash and blind factory. There is also a large canning factory at Kenwood and another at Lenox.
One of the most successful industries of Oneida is the Oneida Silver Ware Manufacturing Company, organized in 1894 through the efforts of Sidney W. Moore. The original capital was $20,000, which has since been increased to $50,000. The first officers were Sidney W. Moore, president; T. D. Wilkin, vice-president; C. A. Stringer, secretary and treasurer. The president remains the same, with W. M. Swayze, vice-president, and S. A. Campbell, secretary and treasurer. A large building was erected for the works and about seventy five hands are employed in the production of a complete line of hollow ware.
The Oneida Rubber Tire Works of Theodore Coles are doing a large business in the industry indicated by the name. All kinds of rubber tires for vehicles and bicycles are produced. The business was begun in 1896.
The manufacture of cigars in Oneida has long been an important industry. The firm of Powell & Goldstein (Julius M. Goldstein, J. E. Powell), established about 1879, now employs about 175 hands, and their product reaches more than 6,000,000 cigars annually. Since Mr. Powell's death Mr. Goldstein has carried on the business alone under the old firm name. Other cigar manufacturers are J. M. Bennett, Kenny Brothers, and Bennett & Hard.
Some of the hotels of Oneida have large historical interest to local readers. The fact of the building of the Railroad House by Sands Higinbotham and his securing the stoppage of every train here for refreshments has been noticed a few pages back; it was a shrewd move and brought the first hotel a good patronage, at the same time that it gave the railroad company a right of way which is now very valuable. The Railroad House was what is now the Allen House, although to a small extent enlarged. The actual building of this house was begun in 1838 by S. H. and Ira S. Hitchcock. It was finished and in April, 1839, was opened by Henry Y. Stewart. He kept it only a year when Erasmus Stone became proprietor and was landlord until 1845. Robert Wear came from Massachusetts and then kept the house about two years, when it passed to John W. Allen, who made it a popular public house for many years. E. B. Kenfield is present proprietor.
What is now the Madison House was formerly a dwelling and was rebuilt for a hotel by David Blodgett, who kept it a few years. After several changes it came under proprietorship of R. H. Northrup and was called the Northrup House. J. V. Richardson is the present proprietor.
What was formerly a residence begun by O. T. Burt of Syracuse was purchased and finished by Heman Phelps, then superintendent of the railroad, who occupied it from about 1840. In about the year 1860 it was purchased by the Messingers and moved forward and altered into a hotel. Chauncey Bacon kept it as the Bacon House a few years and finally bought it. It had other names and finally passed to the present owner, Barney Ratnour; Charles H. Moshier is proprietor.
The very numerous merchants of Oneida who have been in business during the past twenty-five years cannot, of course, find mention here in detail. Many of them will be found in Part III of this work and their business careers noticed in that connection. Among the older and more prominent ones, some of whom are still in trade, may properly be mentioned the following: William J. Farnam, successor of his father, S. H. Farnam, who began business here in 1863; Kimball & Dunbar, whose business was started nearly forty years ago by Turner & Farnam; Munroe & Parsons, whose business began in 1887; Waterman & Hodges, which is a lineal successor of the clothing business started by C. I. Walrath as far back as 1846; M. J. Dewey, who is known throughout central New York as a successful piano and music dealer of nearly thirty-five years past; Header & Lype, successors of Cole & Header, who began in 1869, the present firm in 1878; Dwight Chapin, one of the oldest established news stores in central New York; C. A. & D. H. Walrath, T. G. Seeley, S. H. Farnam, S. Chapin and S. Chapin, jr., Henry Rivenburgh, William Lyle, Doliver House, Thomas Angel, John H. Kennedy, William C. Lawrence, J. H. Goldstein, S. H. Waterman, William E. Hazeltine, William H. Baker, John E. Stone, Simeon and Elijah Kenyon, Allen S. Clark, Theodore Carter, J. W. Warner, Dwight Chapin, L. J. Myers, B. S. Teale, Rhody Toher, James F. Cody, Thomas Coniff, A. H. Niles, James H. Niles, C. W. Mott, William Mott, C. W. Chappell, John Maxwell, Sands H. Goodwin, Theodore Hand, Walter E. Northrup, A. B. French, M. J. Dewey, H. H. Reynolds, E. Emmons Coe, Ambrose E. Sawyer, William S. Leete, A. E. Loomis, J. V. Richardson. Ezra Clark, Seymour Harvey, C. F. Polley, T. E. Main, Loring Munroe, James N. Bates, E. E. Coon, Albert Marcellus, R. B. Ruby, R. W. Hill, Alonzo Randall, A. W. Barker, Sidney W. Moore, George and August Schubert, R. A. Stewart, Thomas O'Brien, G. A. Quackenbush, Charles House, William R. Williams, Prentice D. Cheney, George F. Avery, N. L. Cramer, Lawrence Kenna, Charles E. Remick, John Barrett, E. C. Saunders, W. I. Tillotson, R. B. Downing, Herbert Douglass, Norman Lype, W. Jerome Hickox.
In recent years the wholesale trade of the village has developed into importance, considering the size of the place. Such houses as that of Douglass & Downing, in wholesale groceries; Clark, Whitman & Warner, dry goods and clothing; Kimball & Dunbar, hardware, paints, etc.; H. Rivenburgh, crockery and glassware; J. H. Cool, drugs, etc.; Eells & Mott, carriages and wagon supplies; and others give the village a prominent business position among the thriving communities of the State.
The Oneida Chamber of Commerce was organized in 1889, for the promotion of general business interests in the town through inducements that might be offered to manufacturers and tradesmen to locate here, and the individual welfare of existing interests. Nearly all the leading business men of the village became members and the organization has been able to effect much benefit. The officers are R. B. Downing, president; W. E. Douglass, vice-president; James A. Babcock, secretary; G. L. Scheifele, treasurer. There is a board of fifteen directors, and committees are appointed on manufacturing, public improvements, finance, transportation, membership, insurance and license for sale of merchandise.
There have been less newspaper changes in Oneida than in most villages of its size. This is, however, partly due to the fact that the first one was not started until 1851, when the Oneida Telegraph made its appearance under the editorship of D. H. Frost. The paper was discontinued in 1854 on account of Mr. Frost's failing health. A few months later John Crawford became owner of the property and employed Ira D. Brown as editor, giving the paper the name of the Sachem. Mr. Brown was an excellent writer and the paper gained under his control. In 1863 the name of the paper was again changed to the Dispatch, and Edward H. Spooner became a partner in the business. In 1866 the establishment passed to Purdy & Jackson, and in 1870 Mr. Purdy retired and Myron M. Allen took his interest. In July, 1880, Albert P. Potter, then city editor of the Syracuse Standard, acquired, Mr. Allen's interest and the firm became Jackson & Potter. Mr. Potter retired and the firm became Jackson Brothers (D. A. & L. C. Jackson), which continued until the death of the senior member of the firm. The paper was then published by the Dispatch Printing Company until April, 1899, since which date it has been conducted by the Oneida Dispatch Company, the firm consisting of R. J. Fish and Charles E. Roberts; the latter is editor and manager.
In October, 1856, Levi S. Backus started the Democratic Union in the village of Hamilton, this county. He sold it the following year to W. H. Baker who in 1863 moved the plant to Oneida. Mr. Baker continued in the business with marked success, considering the size of the place until his death on June 15, 1872. On the 1st of August, 1873, the present firm took possession of the establishment and for more than twenty-five years have made the Union one of the best country newspapers in the State. Sketches of the lives of Mr. Baker and Mr. Maxon will be found in Part II.
The Oneida Post, now published every Saturday by Hugh Parker, was established in 1883 by the Post Publishing Company, the first number being issued December 15, 1883. It is now an eight page paper, Republican in politics. Mr. Parker succeeded Rathbone & Ryan. R. J. Fish, Charles Parks and others have at different times been connected with the paper.
The Oneida Free Press was started as an independent weekly in 1880 by W. Hector Gale, a practical printer and native of Oneida. It was discontinued in March, 1896, on account of the ill health of the proprietor.
The oldest religious organization in Oneida is St. John's Episcopal Church which was organized May 6, 1843, under charge of Rev. Stephen H. Batlin of Rome. The first wardens were William V. Winslow and Hulbert G. Wetmore. From that time until 1858 the little congregation was ministered to by six or eight different pastors. In the year named Niles Higinbotham with characteristic generosity gave the society a lot and a chapel was erected thereon. Services were kept up by different pastors from other places until March, 1860, when Rev. Edward Pidoley became the first rector. Pastors who have succeeded him have been Revs. W. H. Van Antwerp, H. V. Gardner, George G. Ferine, George T. Le Boutellier, George P. Hibbard and John Arthur. In 1873 the chapel was enlarged and on July 15, 1895, the corner stone was laid for the present beautiful church.
At a meeting held at the house of Sands Higinbotham early in 1844 it was resolved by the nine persons present, including Mr. Higinbotham and his son Niles, to organize a Presbyterian church. The services of Rev. James Nichols were soon afterwards secured and he preached in a school room on Madison street. The society was organized at a meeting held March 1, 1844, and the organization was perfected under the title of the Trustees of the Oneida Depot Presbyterian Society, with James Stewart, Jeremiah Cooper, and S. H. Goodwin, trustees. A building committe was appointed to join with the trustees in collecting money with which to build a meeting house. The society was incorporated March 35, 1844, and the formal organization took place on the 13th day of June, with thirty members, twenty of whom were from the Wampsville church. The name then taken was the Presbyterian Church of Oneida Valley (subsequently shortened by dropping the last word) and David Blackman, Heman Phelps, James Stewart, Jeremiah Cooper and Charles L. Gardner were chosen elders. The meeting house was dedicated in January, 1845. This church was superseded by the one now in use. Rev. James Nichols was called to the pastorate in February, 1845, and continued until 1851, when he was followed by Rev. C. R. Gregory, who remained until 1864. Later pastors have been Revs. Charles E. Robinson, D. D., George D. Baker, and Rev. Samuel Jessup, D. D.
The Baptist Church Society was organized in 1843 at Oneida Castle, with thirteen members. Rev. Seymour Adams was the first pastor, preaching one-third of the time, and Rev. D. D. Ransom the remainder until the church was removed to Oneida in 1848. On April 4, of that year the name was changed to the Oneida Baptist Society, and Henry Marshall, Ralph K. Ellinwood, and B. B. Stoddard were elected trustees. In 1848 Elder L. S. Huntley became pastor. A meeting house was built in 1849, which was occupied until 1888 when the present handsome edifice was erected. In March 1849, the Oneida Castle congregation was added to the church, which is now in a prosperous condition under the ministrations of Rev. Charles C. Maxfield.
The Methodist Episcopal Church of Oneida was organized November 25, 1850. Services in this faith had been held here some years previously, but not with regularity. Rev. W. E. York was the first pastor; he was settled in 1850 and served one year, preaching in the morning here and afternoons at Oneida Castle. A subscription was solicited and under the charge of David A. Parkhill, George Parkhurst, and Reuben Pomeroy, as building committee, a meeting house was erected. The first trustees were Sidney Rivenburgh, Ford Pilcher, George Parkhurst, Reuben Pomeroy, A. W. Stevens, James Bonner, and Aaron Yale. Rev. Isaac Foster succeeded Mr. York after one year and during his pastorate the present brick edifice was built; it has since undergone extensive changes and improvements. The usual long succession of pastors have served this congregation, ending with Rev. J. F. Beebe.
St. Joseph's Catholic Church was the outgrowth of an organization formed with the ultimate purpose of erecting a meeting house for the accommodation of those who had been attending at the German Catholic church in Durhamville. When they were ready to build the bishop insisted upon the formation of a society, which was done under the above title, and the church edifice was built in 1893. Its cost was about $5,000. A school building was erected in 1898. About sixty families attend the church, which is under the pastoral care of Rev. B. W. Goossens.
The history of St. Patrick's Church in Oneida begins with the proceedings of a meeting held in the spring of 1843, at which it was resolved to build a meeting house. Previous to that time there had been no regular Catholic services held in the little village, where there were only ten or twelve families of this faith. A small wooden structure was accordingly built and the congregation began to prosper, paying for the church and largely increasing in numbers by 1851. In that year the mission at Oneida was separated from the Rome parish, and Rev. Patrick Kenna was sent here. In the spring of 1851 was begun the erection of the now old St. Patrick's church on the corner of Main and Walnut streets. The building was of wood and cost about $3,800. Father Kenna died in 1856 and was succeeded by Rev. John McDermott, who died in the following year. He was succeeded by the Rev. James A. O'Hara, who continued until 1857, when he went to Syracuse to begin his long period of ministration to the congregation of St. Mary's church in that city. Rev. James Maurice Sheehan came to St. Patrick's church in 1859, remaining until 1862, when he was followed by Rev. William F. Sheehan, He remained five years and was followed by Rev. William Fennelly, whose pastorate continued twenty years, until 1886, when he died. He was succeeded by Rev. James A. Kelley, who is still in charge of the parish. The present beautiful and costly edifice was erected in 1888-89. The tenth anniversary is to be held in 1899, for which purpose the edifice will be redecorated, three marble altars built and a large organ installed. The church owns a fine rectory on Main street and a cemetery of thirty-five acres.
St. Paul's German Evangelical Church was organized during the pastorate of Rev. Jacob Vosseler, who was sent here by the Conference in 1890. Previous to that year services had been held by Revs. Jacob Burkhardt, who divided his time between this place and New London from 1878 to 1880; Phillip Spaeth, to 1883; Samuel Bean to 1883, from which time the Conference made no appointment until 1887. Rev. H. P. Merle was then appointed, and was succeeded by Rev. Henry Horn, who was followed by Rev. Vosseler, as stated. Services had thus far been held in the session room of the old Presbyterian church and in the G. A. R. hall. The church edifice was dedicated in 1891. The present pastor is Rev. A. Luescher.
The Free Methodist Church was organized about 1875, by Rev. B. T. Roberts. The membership increased and about ten years later a small meeting house was built. The pulpit is now supplied by two women evangelists. A Methodist society of colored people has been in existence here many years and is now in charge of Rev. M. H. B. Ross.
The remaining village of most importance in the old town of Lenox (now Lincoln), is Clockville, which is now only a small hamlet about two miles south of Canastota. In early years there was an active business interest here, before trade was drawn northward by the construction of the railroads. As stated on a previous page, the place took its name from the Klock family, of whom Conrad was the father and settled, here with his sons, Joseph, John and Conrad, in 1792. Descendants of this family have been prominent in this vicinity many years. The little settlement that gathered about the mill and stores at this point was known for a period as Shippeville, from an old tavern-keeper named Shippe. The place took its present name when the post office was established. Peleg Card was the first postmaster, and was succeeded by Col. Stephen Chapman, progenitor of a very prominent family in the history of the town and father of B. Frank Chapman, who succeeded in the office. Among later postmasters, the list of whom cannot be made wholly complete, were Frank Blye, Lyman Hicks, Harry Simons, Robert B. Beal, Charles Miller, J. Otis Tuttle, S. K. Pettitt, Robert B. Beal again, and George Way, the present official.
Thomas Lawrence was a settler here in 1806 and built the stone house near the village, which is still standing; he was a progressive citizen and did much for the improvement of roads, built an early plaster mill, etc. He died May 9, 1866. Harry Simon was an early blacksmith, settled here in 1827 and died at an advanced age. Marvin Keeney was a settler here of 1834 and held the office of justice of the peace. In 1836 there was a grist mill in operation, two stores, two taverns, a saw mill, two churches and about seventy dwellings in the place. In 1840 the population was 250 and the business interests had not much advanced.
The trip hammer shop was established at Clockville prior to 1820 and excellent scythes and other implements were made many years. It was long ago closed up. There was another similar shop, called the upper shop to distinguish it from the first one, but did not long remain in operation. A third trip-hammer shop was put in operation in 1827 by Peter Parsalian. This was afterwards occupied for a wagon' shop and was finally converted into a cheese factory by Nathaniel Kaiser. All of these buildings have disappeared.
The Clockville grist mill was built in 1827 by Brooks & Nye, who sold it to Gerrit S. Sayles. It was burned in 1856 and rebuilt by Giles Cranson. Austin A. Watson owned it later and in 1875 sold it to William Clow. It was burned down in 1896. The iron work for this mill was made by Harry Simons, before mentioned.
It is not now known just when the saw mill was built nor who by, but it was probably in operation as soon as the grist mill. The old mill is still in existence, with a cider mill and cheese box factory in connection.
There was an early grist mill built in 1820 by J. D. Nellis, on the road to Lenox Furnace. Other later owners of it were S. Bennett, H. H. Hathaway, Wright & Baker, and S. Pettitt. The building is still in existence. In 1866 Joseph L. Mansfield founded a factory here for the manufacture of horse hay forks, which developed into a very successful business. It was carried on in a building that was formerly a woolen factory which was established by Colon Brooks about 1840. Other implements were made at this factory, which ultimately passed to Patten & Stafford, who manufactured wheel rakes, as noticed a few pages back.
In olden times the taverns at these turnpike villages did a thriving business and several were in prosperous existence in this vicinity. The tavern of old Shippe has been mentioned, and in early years another was kept about a half a mile from the village, at the Corners, by a man named Fort. In 1827 Charles Lints opened a public house which was subsequently conducted by Peleg Card and by his widow after his death. Solomon Wilcox was the owner of the house at his death in 1866, and his widow sold it to William Skinner. He improved it and sold to Daniel Betsinger, who sold it to Charles Suits. It then took the name of the Suits House, or the upper house, to distinguish it from the lower house. It has ever since been kept as a hotel.
The lower house was opened in 1827 by a Mr. Bowman. Daniel H. King was later a proprietor until 1866 when it was sold to Frederick Hubbard. After that time the house had numerous proprietors. It was burned about five years ago.
Clockville had its early lawyer in the person of Stephen Chapman who settled there in 1820 and was for many years a prominent and respected citizen. He was followed by his son, B. F. Chapman, who was in practice until 1880, when he moved his office to Oneida. George W. Chapman practiced here some years; but the place is now without a resident practicing lawyer.
Physicians of past years were Drs. Avery, Mitchell, Charles McConnell, who settled here in 1876, and Messinger. There is no physician there now.
Of the earliest mercantile operations at this place little is now known. As before stated there were two stores in 1836, and ever since there has been one or two containing stocks sufficient for the local needs. Benjamin Bort opened a shoe shop in 1850 and was soon succeeded by J. D. Walrath, who about 1852 put in a general stock. In 1853 the store was closed but reopened by H. H. Hathaway, with a stock of drugs. He sold a year later to Giles S. Cranson, who subsequently sold his stock at auction and closed the store. J. D. Walrath reopened it and was succeeded by J. Otis Tuttle, and later S. K. Pettitt, J. L. Lawrence, Dudley Johnson, and Frank Clow, the present proprietor.
The so-called upper store also has had numerous proprietors alternated with periods of idleness, among them being S. K. Pettitt, H. H. Hathaway, Levi Miller, Charles Miller, and others. It is now conducted by John Ritter.
Rufus Fancher established a boot and shoe shop in 1857, in which business he was succeeded by his son, F. M. Fancher, who subsequently closed it out.
This place was formerly in school district No. 4 of the town of Lenox. The first school meeting here was held at the house of Stephen Chapman in June, 1814. The trustees were then Stephen Chapman, John I. D. Nellis, and David Fowler. Measures were taken to build a school house resulting in the erection of a building twenty-four feet square which cost $100. The first teacher was Peleg Card. In 1820 the number of the district was changed to 6, and in the next year Samuel Glidden taught; he was succeeded the next winter by Julius A. Spencer. A new school house was finished in the fall of 1824, 24 by 30 feet dimensions and costing $350. This was occupied until 1853 when the present building was erected.
A church site on Oak Hill was deeded in 1832 to the trustees of The First Methodist Protestant Episcopal Society of Lenox, consisting of Sylvester Beecher; Silas Sayles, Isaac I. Forbes, Christian Kilts, and John Seeber; the deed was from Christian and Catherine Kilts. A meeting house was at once erected on the lot and the church continued in existence some years. It was subsequently disbanded and the land passed to the possession of Stephen Chapman.
The Methodist Episcopal Church of Clockville was organized June 28, 1848. Rev. Calvin Flint and Adam Klock presided at the meeting, and Mr. Flint, Adam Klock, John T. Parkell, Thomas Lawrence, George Best, and B. F. Chapman were elected trustees. This society purchased from Mr. Capman the old Methodist church and moved it to its later site. It is in use for a town hall. The usual long succession of pastors has ministered to the congregation. 'The present church edifice was built in 1894.
The Baptist Church of Lenox was organized in 1847 and the meeting house was built in the next year. Most of the original members were residents of the Mile Strip, where it was at first determined to build a church. It passed out of existence many years ago.
Clockville is the largest business center in the new town of Lincoln created by the division of old Lenox, as before described. The boundaries of the new town are shown approximately on the map herein. The town contains 14,889 acres and has an assessed valuation of $453,875. In 1897, the year after the division, H. H. Hathaway was elected supervisor. In 1898, Levi J. Carver was elected to the office.
There is still a small business interest and post-office at Wampsville, the settlement of which has been described. Irene Cobb is postmistress. The post-office was opened about 1824 with William Spencer, postmaster; he kept a public house on the turnpike, and an early store, where Thomas T. Loomis was the first merchant. Franklin Johnson, Ward & Case, and Ward & Smith were later merchants. A. A. Loucks began trade in 1879, succeeding Rush Parkhurst and still continues. The Wampsville Presbyterian Society was organized in April, 1828, at the school house and James Stewart, Jared N. Avery, and Elisha Cranson were the first trustees. A meeting house was built in 1832, and was extensively repaired in 1872.
Oneida Valley is a hamlet in the extreme northeastern part of the new town of Lenox, where there is a post-office, with Fred C. Parker, postmaster. A hotel has been kept here many years, the building having been burned in 1876 and rebuilt, after which it was kept by J. O. Goff, and others. August and Andrew Anderson formerly kept a store, as also did Daniel Farnham. A hotel and a store are now in existence here.
The Oneida Valley Presbyterian Church was organized May 24, 1847, with James Williamson, Ezra McEwen, G. T. Kirkland, Charles Smith, William Williamson members. Rev. James Nichols had preached there some time previous to the organization and was succeeded in 1848 by Rev. Jehiel Talmage. The church records are fragmentary. The frame of the meeting house was built in 1848, with the intention of making it a union edifice; but funds ran out and it was not until 1854 that sufficient money could be collected to finish it.
Oneida Lake is another post hamlet near the lake shore in the northwest corner of the new town of Lenox. The place has also been called " Messenger's," from O. C. Messenger, who long kept the hotel there. Homer W. Sherwood has kept a store and been postmaster more than twenty years.
Very little of the hamlet of Durhamville in the northeast part of the new town of Oneida is on the Madison county side of the line. The place took its name from Eber Durham, who settled there 1836. At that date there were only four log houses on the site of the village. Through Mr. Durham's enterprise and the opening of the canal, the place assumed considerable business importance At one period there there were a tannery, a glass factory (still in existence), two or three stores, nine groceries, a steam grist mill (still running), an iron foundry, and three or four hotels. These and the present business interests of the village have little bearing upon the history of Madison county. The dry dock of Michael Doran, at which considerable business is done, and the hotel of John Wimmett, are on the Madison county side.
A part of the large business interests of Kenwood are situated in the east part of the new town of Oneida, under management of the Oneida Community Limited. The railroad station is named Kenwood, and the canning factory, the silk spooling establishment and dye house are in this county. The thread, trap works, etc., are in Oneida county. The Community was organized in 1848, prospered greatly in business and wealth, but gained unenviable notoriety through its peculiar views on the marriage relation as expounded by John H. Noyes, who was the founder. It is not felt that any extended account of this Community is needed in these pages. When its underlying doctrine as to marriage was abolished in response to pressure of public opinion, it became a purely business institution and as such continues with a high degree of success.