Oneida, (p. v.) situated on Oneida Creek, was incorporated June 20, 1848. It is a flourishing village, and one of the principal stations of the N. Y.C. R. R., between Syracuse and Rome. It contains five churches, the Oneida Seminary, two newspaper offices, two banks and about 300 inhabitants. A fine large schoolhouse has recently been erected, in which is taught grade school. The New York, Oswego and Midland Railroad is located through this village. The village is about to be lighted with gas.
Canastota, (p. v.) incorporated April 28, 1835, is situated on the canal, and is a station on the N. Y. C. R. R. It contains three churches, a newspaper office, a bank, a brick yard, two large carriage shops, a steam saw-mill and planing mill, two tanneries and several smaller manufacturing establishments. The manufactory of astronomical and optic instruments, established by Charles A. Spencer, deserves a more extended notice than our space will allow. Some of the most important improvements of these instruments have been made by Mr. Spencer, by which the knowledge of the Naturalist has been greatly increased, the hidden mysteries of nature brought to light, and science in many forms greatly enriched. The great equatorial telescope of Hamilton College was made here. The savans of the old world have been compelled to acknowledge the superiority of his instruments. The Cazenovia and Canastota Railroad terminated here. The population is about 2,000.
Wampsville, (p. v.) is a station on the N. Y. C. R. R., and contains a church and 25 or 30 houses.
Pine Bush, Merrelsville, and Lenox Furnace are hamlets. At Lenox Furnace is a custom woolen factory, where various kinds of cassimeres, flannels, &c., are manufactured. The proprietor, Mr. George B. Cady, receives wool and returns the kinds of goods desired. Customers can have goods made with their own wool if they wish.
Clockville, (p. v.) named from Conrad Klok, contains two churches, two grist-mills, and a manufactory of horse-power hay forks, and other farming implements. Population about 300.
Quality Hill (Lenox p. o.) is a thickly settled country street, with one church.
Oneida Lake (p. o.) and South Bay are hamlets.
Oneida Valley (p. v.) contains one church and about 30 houses.
Durhamville (p. v.) contains about 1000 inhabitants, most of whom, with the post office, are in Oneida County.
The "Oneida Community" is an association, located on Oneida Creek, four miles south of Oneida. It is organized on a peculiar social and religious basis, and was established in 1847, by John H. Noyes, from whom most of their religious and social tenets were received. They form a general community, holding common interest in all things. They call their peculiar social system "complex marriage." They number about two hundred; are located on a farm of over 500 acres, and engaged in horticulture and manufacturing. Their farm and dwellings are in Lenox, but some of their shops are in Oneida County. Their principal manufactures are steel-traps, sewing machine twist, and preserved fruits. They make eight sizes and descriptions of traps, suitable for catching everything, from a house rat to a grizzly bear. Their sales of traps last year amounted to over $100,000. Their sales of machine twist and sewing silk amount to about $75,000 per year, and of preserved fruits of various kinds to about $25,000. They have a saw-mill, a foundry, a carpenter shop and packing box manufactory, and a machine shop, where they make their own silk machinery. In some departments they employ hired help, superintended by their own people. "The Circular," published weekly, is "free to all," but "those who choose to pay, may send one dollar a year."
The first settlement was made by Conrad Klok and his sons Joseph, John and Conrad. The Forbeses, Byers and Snyders, were early settlers. The great thoroughfare between Utica and Canandaigua lay through this town, a short distance south of the canal and Central Railroad. In 1804, an act was passed granting Jason Parker and Levi Stephens the exclusive right for seven years, to run stages twice a week in Utica and Canandaigua, to furnish four good substantial covered wagons or sleighs, and a sufficient number of horses to run them. The fare was not to exceed five cents a mile, with fourteen pounds of baggage; and the distance, accidents excepted, must be made in 48 hours. In 1808 a daily line was established, and continued till the construction of the Utica and Syracuse Railroad. The first annual town meeting of Lenox was held in 1810, at which there was some legislation, of which the following is a specimen: A bounty of $25 to any inhabitant of the town who should kill a wolf in the town.
"Voted, that the town give the Indians $5 each, for every wolf they shall kill, on making satisfactory proof before two or more Justices of the Peace."
"Voted, that the hogs be considered free commoners, with a suitable yoke around their neck."
The next year we find the following:
"Voted, that no horses, cattle or hogs shall have free run from the 15th of December to the 15th of March, and further, if found within twenty yards of a tavern, store or mill, they are liable to be pounded, and the owner or owners to pay one shilling per head for every such offense."
The records of 1826 show the following:
"Whereas, the inhabitants of the northern part of Madison County have liberally given their lands for the construction of the canal, and
"Whereas, they possess naturally the advantage of several streams of water, which are taken into the canal, and the mill owners and inhabitants of this part of the County never have had the offer of purchasing the surplus water in this part of the County, and as these waters are continually drained off from this County for the benefit of other parts of the country, therefore,
"Resolved, as the sense of this meeting, that the privilege of the use of there waters naturally belongs to the inhabitants of this County, and they are fully determined not to relinquish their natural right to and claim to the same."
In 1830, "Voted, that the compensation of fence viewers be fifty cents a day."
"Voted, that cattle over three years old be not free commoners."
The population of the town in 1865 was 8,456, and its area 49,568 acres. The number of school districts in the town is 27, employing 31 teachers. The whole number of pupils is 1849, and the average daily attendance is 828. The amount expended for school purposes in 1867 was $15,848.05.
"The Farmers' and Mechanics' Association" is in a flourishing condition. Their Fair Grounds embrace fourteen acres of land near Canastota, fitted it up in good style, with a half mile track.
The following incident in the early history of Lenox, has caused a good deal of amusement, and being related "with variations" from the time of its occurrence: During the war of 1812, the patriotic citizens of Lenox raised a company of horse artillery, that volunteered for the war. The officers, Capt. Jennings; 1st Lieut. Joseph Bruce; 2d Lieut. Argalus Cady; Cornet, David Beecher; Orderly Sergeant, J. Austin Spencer; had met at the store of Lieutenant Bruce, to prepare a requisition letter to Governor Daniel D. Tompkins for two field pieces. While discussing the proper form in which to address so distinguished a man as the Governor, the village lawyer, a waggish fellow, by the name of Hopkins, came into the store, and walking up to the desk, seized the pen saying, "I will write a requisition," and forthwith produced the following:
"Great Daniel D., We sent to thee For two great guns and trimmings, Send them to hand, Or you'll be d--d, By order of Captain Jennings."
This, of course, created a great deal of amusement, and though not sent to the Governor, it was too good to be kept, and in some way, unbeknown to the officers of the company, he heard of the incident, as the sequel will show. Some of the officers mentioned were rewarded for gallant services in war, by promotion, and they, with others, sent to Albany by Mr. Hopkins, for their commissions. On calling for them, Mr. Hopkins learned that they were all made out, and lacked only the signature of the Governor. To facilitate the business, he offered to take them to the Governor, who placed his autograph to the documents one after another, till coming to one belonging to an officer of Capt. Jennings' Company, he stopped, and gravely asked, "Is this by order of Capt. Jennings?"
Another incident, of an earlier date, when this town shared with Hamilton the honors of the County Seat, and the courts were held in the school house, on Quality Hill, was the trial of Mr. Hitchcock, of Madison, for the murder of his wife. As there was no jail in this County, the prisoner was confined at Whitestown, and so great was the interest excited at this trial, that the Court was held in the barn of Sylvanus Smalley, that being more commodious that a school house. The prisoner was afterwards executed in Cazenovia.