1868 - 69 Gazetteer - Brookfield

Gazetteer of Towns

    BROOKFIELD was formed from Paris, March 5, 1795; and Columbus, Chenango Co., was taken off in 1805. It lies in the south-east corner of the County. Its surface is hilly, broken by the valley of the Unadilla River, which forms the east boundary, and that of Beaver Creek, which flows through, near the center. The east branch of the Chenango flows through the north-west part. Several small streams take their rise in the town. The soil is a gravelly loam, well adapted to grazing.

    Clarkville, (Brookfield p. o.) named for the Hon. Joseph Clark, formerly State Senator, was incorporated April 5, 1834, and contains two churches, a tannery and about 600 inhabitants.

    Leonardsville, (p. v.) contains a church, a bank, a large wagon shop, and about 400 inhabitants.

    North Brookfield, (p. v.) contains about 300 inhabitants, a gristmill, sawmill and furnace.

    South Brookfield (p. o.) is a hamlet, and De Lancy, named from John De Lancey, is a post office. Babcock's Mills contains a sawmill, grist-mill, and a manufactory of horse-rakes.

    "The Brookfield Agricultural Society," and "The Brookfield Union Agricultural Society," are both flourishing, and hold Fairs every year.

    The first settlement was made by Capt. Daniel Brown, from Connecticut, in 1791. Capt. Brown had heard the wonderful accounts of the "far West," which was then central New York, and determined to settle with his family in that promised land, though he was at the advanced age of sixty-six. For some reason unknown, he took a southern route, with the intention of settling in the Genesee Valley. In June, Mr. B., with a few friends whom he had induced to accompany him, reached the house of John Carr, on the east bank of the Unadilla River. Here he rested, and was so pleased with the beauty of the scenery, the fertility of the soil, and the delightful climate, that he determined to abandon the Genesee and settle on the west bank of the Unadilla, some distance above Carr's residence. Lot number 82, in the 19th township, was selected as the place for their first labors. The birthday of our nation was selected as the one on which the germ of the new settlement should be planted; and as the first rays of the sun gilded the tree tops on that morning, Mr. Brown's axe raised the first echoes of the woodman's song. Other members of his party settled near, and several clearings were made before autumn. The necessary arrangements of a settlement having been made, all the members of the party except Mr. B. and his family returned to their eastern homes for winter. The winter was very severe, and taxed the ingenuity of Brown to its utmost to secure the wild deer for food, and gather fodder for the few cattle he possessed. His cattle were mainly supported by browsing the woods, with some coarse hay cut on the beaver meadow, and drawn home on hurdles "attached to the tails of the oxen."

    In 1792, a company of Seventh Day Baptists, from Rhode Island and Connecticut purchased 13 lots in the 19th township, at a cost of about fifty cents an acre. Mr. B. paid the same for his land. Larger tracts were soon placed under the control of individuals, and we find that the entire townships of No. 18 and No. 20, with the unsold portions of No. 19, were sold to M. Myers, J. Sanger, and John I. Morgan, for 3s. 1d. and 3s. 3d. an acre. The custom of granting leases for the one, two or three lives, the rent payable in Albany, in products of the soil, was entailed upon portions of these larger tracts. John and Elias Button, Lawton Palmer, Samuel H. Burdick, Samuel Billings, David Maine, Stephen Collins, Thomas and James Rogers, and Paul and Perry Maxon, settled in the town in 1792.

    John Button built the first grist-mill in 1792, and Reuben Leonard opened the first store in 1801. The first school was taught by Asa Carrier, in the winter of 1796. The first town meeting was held in the house of Capt. Daniel Brown, April 7, 1795, at which Elisha Burdick was chosen Town Clerk; Stephen Hoxie, Esq., Supervisor; Clark Maxon, Joshua Whitford and John Stanton, Assessors. The records show a specimen of legislation, which would be a novelty now, though it was common in that day. The "natural rights" of the porkers have been greatly abridged in three-fourths of a century. Witness the following:

    "Voted, That the hogs shall run at large."

    In 1797 the porcine race enjoyed still greater privileges.

    " Voted, That hogs shall run at large without either rings or yoaks.

    The records of a "called Town Meeting," in 1802, show that they were not unmindful of the sanitary condition of the embryo town, as the following votes attest:

    "Voted, That no person shall set up enoculation, or have the small pox, within eighty rods of any public highway or road."

    "Voted, That no person enoculated, shall come within twenty-five rods of any highway or road, until he shall be thoroughly cleansed by a Doctor, or some safe person."

    A violation of these laws subjected the offender to a fine.

    The census of 1865 gives the town a population of 3593, and an area of 45,092 acres. There are thirty-three school districts, employing twenty-eight teachers, and having 1162 pupils, with an average attendance of 400. The whole amount expended for school purposes in 1867 was $2,960.00.

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