Nelson Descriptions from Gazeteers
Descriptions of Town of Nelson, Madison County, NY, in 19th Century Gazetteers
Compiled by Daniel H. Weiskotten

Last Modified July 4, 1999

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1813 Horatio G. Spafford (Nelson text needs to be acquired)
1824 Horatio G. Spafford
1833 Darby & Dwight (Nelson)
1836 Thomas F. Gordon (Nelson)
1841 Barber & Howe (Nelson)
1842 / 1843 John Disternell (Nelson)
1860 J.H. French (Nelson)
1868 Hamilton Child (Nelson)
1872 / 1873 Franklin B. Hough (Nelson)
1899 John E. Smith (Nelson)

Spafford, Horatio Gates, 1813, A Gazetteer of the State of New-York: Carefully Written from Original & Authentic Materials, Arranged on a New Plan, In Three Parts. H.C. Southwick. Albany, NY

(Nelson text needs to be acquired)

END of Spafford 1813 (Nelson)

Spafford, Horatio Gates, 1824, A Gazetteer of the State of New-York: Embracing an Ample Survey and Description of its Counties, Towns, Cities, Villages, Canals, Mountains, Lakes, Rivers, Creeks, Natural Topography, Arranged Alphabetically: With an Appendix. B.D. Packard. Albany, NY

(Nelson, page 337)

NELSON, a Post-Township of Madison County, 6. miles W. of Morrisville, 109 WNW. of Albany, bounded N. by Smithfield, E. by Eaton, S. by Georgetown, W. by Cazenovia.  It is Township No.1, of the 20 townships, as designated on the Surveyor General's Maps.  The situation is elevated, and there are but few mill-streams; but the soil is good and fertile, and it is not hilly.  This is the head-land, between the waters of Oneida Lake, and those that run south into the Susquehanna; -- as some small waters form in this town, and discharge both ways.
Nelson Post Office is 9 miles from Morrisville, and Erieville P.O., 10; the latter 111 miles from Albany.  It has turnpikes across the N. and S. parts, leading E. and W., but the new roads all point to the Canal, 16 miles to the N. of its centre.  The land is better for grass than grain; and where is the head-land, between waters, that is not, and also frosty?  Population, 2329: 453 farmers, 43 mechanics 5 traders; 2 foreigners; 1 free black: taxable property, $210084: 15 schools, 7 months in 12; [public monies received in 1821] $489.08; [No. of children between 5 and 15 years of age] 781; [No. taught that year] 996: 442 electors, 11805 acres improved land, 2571 cattle, 413 horses, 5462 sheep: 23813 yards cloth: 2 grist mills, 3 saw mills, 1 fulling mill, 2 carding machines, 1 distillery, 2 asheries.
[Sources were] J.K [Jesse Kilborn], O.E.B. [Oran E. Baker], J,B. [?]

END of Spafford 1824 (Nelson)

Darby, William and Timothy Dwight, Jr., 1833, A New Gazetteer of the United States of America; Containing a Copious Description of the States, Territories, Counties, Parishes, Districts, Cities and Towns Mountains, Lakes, Rivers and Canals Commerce, Manufactures, Agriculture, and the Arts Generally, of the United States; Embracing Also the Extent, Boundaries, and Natural Productions of the Principal Subdivisions, the Latitude and Longitude of Cities and Towns, and Their Bearing and Distance from Important Places; Including Other Interesting and Valuable Geographical, Historical, Political, and Statistical Information; With the Population of 1830. Edward Hopkins. Hartford (CT)

(Nelson, page 333)

<:333>    NELSON, p-t.  Madison co. N.Y. 6 ms. W. Morrisville, 109 W.N.W Albany.  Situation elevated.  Soil good and fertile.  it is better for grass than grain.  15 schools, continued 7 months in 12.  Pop. 1830, 2,445.

END of Darby & Dwight 1833 (Nelson)

Gordon, Thomas F., 1836, Gazetteer of the State of New York: Comprehending its Colonial History; General Geography, Geology, and Internal Improvements; Its Political State; A Minute Description of its Several Counties, Towns, and Villages; Statistical Tables, Exhibiting the Area, Improved Lands, Population, Stock, Taxes, Manufactures, Schools, and Cost of Public Instruction, in Each Town. With a Map of the State, and a Map of Each County, and Plans of the Cities and Principal Villages. T.K. and P.G. Collins, Printers. Philadelphia, PA

(Nelson, Book II pages 521 & 522)

<:521>        NELSON, taken from Cazenovia, 13th March, 1807; W. from Albany 109 miles; surface high, and gently undulating; soil clay and calcareous loam; drained by Chittenango creek N.W., and branches of the Chenango river on the S.E.  Nelson Flats and Erieville are post villages.  Nelson Flats, 7 miles W. from Morrisville, <:522> upon the Chittenango creek, contains 1 Universalist and 1 Methodist, churches, 2 stores, 1 tavern, and 6 dwellings.  Erieville, 9 miles S.W. from Morrisville, has 1 Baptist church, 1 grist mill, 3 saw mills, 2 carding and cloth dressing mills, 2 tanneries, 1 ashery, and 40 dwellings.  Improved lands int he town range from 12 to 25 dollars the acre.

Gordon's 1836 Table of Madison County Statistics (shown with the Madison County descriptions) on page 523 shows for Nelson [statistics from 1835 State Census?]:
population 1820 = 2329, 1825 = 2404, 1830 = 2445, 1835 = 2231; militia = 165; voters = 490; aliens = 1; unmarried females under age 16  years of age = 476, unmarried females between 16 and 45 of age = 213, married females under 45 years of age = 263; marriages = 8; male births = 41, female births = 39; male deaths = 17, female deaths = 14; area in acres = 27051, acres improved = 17681; assessed value of real estate = [$]264848, assessed value of personal estate = [$]13775; cattle = 3320, horses = 709, sheep = 20574, swine = 1846; fulled yards [of cloth] = 3417, unfulled woolens [yards of cloth?] = 5047, cottons, linens &c. [yards of cloth?] 5766; County tax = [$]610.93, Town tax = [$]552.23; grist mills = 2, saw mills = 10, fulling mills = 3, carding machines = 2, asheries = 1, tanneries = 3; school districts = 15, public money expended [on schools, per district?] = [$]370, teachers wages besides public money = [$]452, scholars = 858.

END of Gordon 1836 (Nelson)

Barber, John W. & Henry Howe, 1841, Historical Collections of the State of New York; Containing a General Collection of the Most Interesting Facts, Traditions, Biographical Sketches, Anecdotes, &c. Relating to its History and Antiquities With Geographical Descriptions of Every Township in the State. S. Tuttle. New York, NY

(Nelson, page 260)

<:260>        NELSON, taken from Cazenovia in 1807; from Albany 109 miles.  Erieville, 9 miles SW. from Morrisville, has about 45 dwellings.  Nelson Flats is 7 miles W. from Morrisville.  Pop. 2,100.

END of Barber & Howe 1841 (Nelson)

Disternell, John, 1842 / 1843, A Gazetteer of the State of New-York: Comprising its Topography, Geology, Mineralogical Resources, Civil Divisions, Canals, Railroads, and Public Institutions: Together with General Statistics: The Whole Alphabetically Arranged: Also, Statistical Tables, Including the Census of 1840: And Tables of Distances: With a New Township Map of the State Engraved on Steel. J. Disternell. Albany, NY (1842 and 1843 editions are the same)

(Nelson Town and Hamlet, page 260; Erieville Hamlet, page 158)

<:260>        NELSON, t. Madison Co. situated 5 miles west of the village of Morrisville, and distant 106 miles from Albany; contained in 1840, 2,100 inhabitants.  The surface is high and gently undulating; soil clay and calcareous loam; drained north by Chittenango Creek, and south by the head branches of the Chenango river.  Nelson and Erieville are names of post offices.

<:260>        NELSON, v. and p.o. Nelson, Madison co. contains abut 225 inhabitants, 35 dwellings, 2 churches, 1 tavern and 1 store.

<:158>        ERIEVILLE, v. and p.o. Nelson, Madison Co. contains about 250 inhabitants, 40 dwelling houses, 1 church, 2 taverns, and 1 store.

END of Disternell 1842 / 1843 (Nelson)

French, J.H., 1860, Gazetteer of the State of New York: Embracing a Comprehensive View of the Geography, Geology, and General History of the State, and a Complete History and Description of Every County, City, Town, Village, and Locality. With Full Tables of Statistics. R. Pearsall Smith. Syracuse, NY

(Nelson, page 393)

<:393>    NELSON was formed from Cazenovia, March 13, 1807.  It is an interior town, lying S.W. of the center of the co.  Its surface consists of a rolling upland.  The principal stream is Chittenango Creek.  The Erieville and Eaton reservoirs are in this town.  The soil is generally a gravelly loam.  Erieville (p.v.) contains 8 churches and 191 inhabitants, and Nelson Flats (Nelson p.o.) 2 churches and 146 inhabitants.  The first settlement was made in 1794, by Asa and Jedediah Jackson. (note 393-2)  The census reports 5 churches in town. (note 393-3)

Note 393-2
Joseph Yaw, Ebenezer Lyon, Sam'l and Chas. Swift, Jonathan Buel, Samuel Kinney, and _____ Mitchell settled the town in 1794; Oliver Stone and James Hinman, in 1795; Joshua Wells, David Wellington, Israel Patterson, Rich. Karley, Dan'l Adams, Horatio Simms, Abner Camp, and Lemuel and Eldad Richardson, in 1796.  The first birth was that of Palmer Wells, in 1796; and the first death, that of Mrs. Bishop, about 1800.  Jedediah Jackson kept the first inn, in 1794; Jeremiah Clark built the first saw mill, about 1800, and Oliver Pool built the first grist mill.  Daniel Russell was the first store keeper.  Dea. Dunham was one of the earliest school teachers.

Note 393-3
2 M.E., Bap., Cong., and Univ.

END of French 1860 (Nelson)

Child, Hamilton, 1868, Gazetteer and Business Directory of Madison County, N.Y., for 1868-9. Printed at the Journal Office. Syracuse, NY

(Nelson, page 50)

<:50>        NELSON was formed from Cazenovia, March 13, 1807.  It is an interior town, lying south west of the center of the County. Its surface is a rolling upland.  The principal stream is Chittenango Creek.  The Erieville and Eaton Reservoirs are in this town; the former constructed in 1857, has an area of 340 acres, and cost about $11,000.  The soil is generally a gravelly loam.
        Erieville (p.v.) contains three churches and about 200 inhabitants.
        Nelson Flats, (Nelson p.o.) in the northern part, contains two, churches, and about 150 inhabitants.
        In the north eastern part of the town are a large number of Welsh, who have a church and services conducted in their own language.
        The first settlement was made in 1794, by Asa and Jedediah Jackson.  Joseph Yaw, Ebenezer Lyon, Samuel and Charles Swift, Jonathan Buell and Samuel Kinney, also settled in the town the same year.  Oliver Stone and James Hinman settled in 1795;.and Joshua Wells, David Wellington, Israel Patterson, Richard Korley, Daniel Adams, Horatio Simms, Abner Camp and Lemuel and Eldad Richardson, in 1796.
        The first birth was that of Palmer Wells in 1796, and the first death that of Mrs. Bishop in 1800.  Jedediah Jackson kept the first inn, in 1794.  Jeremiah Clark built the first saw mill, and Oliver Pool the first grist mill, about 1800.  Daniel Russell was the first store keeper, and Dea. Dunham was one of the earliest school teachers.
        The population in 1865 was 1,717; its area 26,741 acres.  There are fourteen school districts in the town, employing fourteen teachers.  The whole number of pupils is 462, and the average attendance 184.  The amount expended for school purposes in 1867 was $1,366.26.

END of Child 1868 (Nelson)

Hough, Franklin B., 1872 / 1873, Gazetteer of the State of New York, Embracing a Comprehensive Account of the History and Statistics of the State, With Geological and Topological Descriptions, and Recent Statistical Tables, Representing the Present Condition of Each County, City, Town, and Village in the State. Andrew Boyd. Albany, NY (1872 and 1873 editions are the same)

(Nelson, page 387)

<:387>        NELSON -- was formed from Cazenovia, March 13, 1807,  It is an interior town, lying S.W. of the centre of the co., on the line of the Syr. & Chenango Valley R.R.  Its surface consists of rolling upland.  The principal stream is Chittenango Creek.  The Erieville and Eaton reservoirs are in this town.  Erieville, (p.o.,) contains 3 churches and 250 inhabitants, and Nelson Flats, (Nelson p.o.,) 2 churches and 200 inhabitants.  The first settlement was made in 1794, by Asa and Jedediah Jackson. (note 387-4)

Note 387-4
Joseph Yaw, Ebenezer Lyon, Samuel and Charles Swift, Jonathan Buel, Samuel Kinney, and _____ Mitchell settled in the town in 1794; Oliver Stone and James Hinman, in 1795; Joshua Wells, David Wellington, Israel Patterson, Rich. Karley, Dan'l Adams, Horatio Simms, Abner Camp, and Lemuel and Eldad Richardson, in 1796.  The first birth was that of Palmer Wells, in 1796; and the first death, that of Mrs. Bishop, about 1800.  Jedediah Jackson kept the first inn, in 1794; Jeremiah Clark built the first sawmill, about 1800, and Oliver Pool the first gristmill.  Dan'l Russell was the first store keeper.  Dea. Dunham was one of the earliest school teachers.

END of Hough 1872 / 1873 (Nelson)

Smith, John E., 1899, Our County and Its People: A Descriptive and Biographical Record of Madison County, New York. The Boston History Co.. Boston, MA

(Nelson, pages 601 to 605)
(This book is a large "County History" and extensive historical and bibliographic information for the Town of Nelson is to be found in other parts of this source - please consult the original book for further information)


The Town of Nelson.

        This is one of the five towns in Madison county that were formed in the year following its organization.  It was set off from Cazenovia on the 13th of March, 1807, and received its name in honor of Lord Nelson, the great English admiral.  It is number one of the Chenango Twenty Townships, is situated southwest of the center of the county, and is bounded on the north by Fenner and Smithfield, on the east by Eaton, on the south by Georgetown, and on the west by Cazenovia.  The town has a population of 1,350 according to the United States census of 1890, and 1,339 by the State census 1892.  This is a considerable decrease from the number in 1880, which was 1,649.  Nelson is divided into fourteen school districts that have a school house in each, in which were employed in 1897 fifteen teachers.  The value of the school buildings is about $5,000.
        The surface of this town consists chiefly of a hilly upland, broken by ridges having a general north and south direction.  It occupies part of the elevated watershed between streams flowing north into Oneida Lake and south into the Susquehanna.  The principal stream is the <:602> Chittenango Creek, two branches of which join near the west line of the town.  The northern and larger branch rises in the town of Fenner, enters Nelson near the center of the north boundary and flows across the northwest part in a southwesterly direction.  The smaller branch rises in the south central part and flows in a northwesterly direction to its union with the main stream; this, with a more northerly tributary, flowing from the east forms the Erieville reservoir, constructed in 1850, to feed the Erie Canal; it covers 340 acres, and cost $36.837.03.  The Eaton reservoir constructed for a feeder for the abandoned Chenango Canal, is partly in this town.  The old canal touched the south west part of the town.
        Nearly the whole area of Nelson is underlaid with the Tully limestone, the Genesee slate, and the Ithaca group.  The Hamilton group shows at the surface in a small part of the northeast and southwest corners of the town.  Quarries have been opened, but no stone suitable for building purposes is obtainable.  The soil is a gravelly loam, well adapted to grazing, and dairying is extensively carried on.
        The territory of the town of Nelson was patented to Alexander Webster on June 4, 1793, and was purchased in the same year by Col. John Lincklaen.  In that year Jedediah Jackson and Joseph Yaw bought land in the north part of the town in the interest of a Vermont company and during the succeeding two years twenty-six families, coming mostly from Pownal, Vt., settled on that purchase and in other parts of the town.  The names of the heads of those families were as follows: Jedediah and Asahel Jackson, Joseph Yaw, Ebenezer Lyon, Daniel Adams, Sylvanus Sayles, Oliver Alger, Daniel and Isaac Coolidge, Levi Neil, Thomas Swift, Roger Brooks, Ethan Howard, Robert and Solomon Brown, Thomas and Jesse Tuttle, Luther Doolittle, Joseph Cary, Jesse Clark, James Green, Eliphalet Jackson, John Everton, Amos Rathbone, David Nichols, and Rufus Weaver.  Other early settlers were James Annas, Levi Brown, Richard Karley, John Hamilton, sr., Moses Smith, Enos Chapin, Erastus Grover, Richard Wilber, Ezra and Isaac Lovejoy, Asa Carey, Haven White, and the Richardson and Wells families; these came about 1796 and were mostly from Massachusetts.  David Wellington, Simeon Haskell, Jesse, Abner and Seth Bumpus, Aaron Lindsley, Moses and Solomon Clark, Paul Griffiths, Isaiah and Ezra Booth, Joseph, Chauncey and David Case, William Knox, David Hamilton, Jeremiah Clark (who built the first saw mill in the town), William and Jeremiah Whipple, Thomas Ackley, Benjamin Hatch, <:603> Dyer Matteson, Jesse Carpenter, Robert Hazard, all of whom settled prior to he town organization in 1807.  These and many others are mentioned more in detail in earlier chapters and in Part III of this volume.  The first town meeting in Nelson was held at the house of Rufus Weaver, April 7, 1807.  The first town officers elected were as follows; Ebenezer Lyon, supervisor; John Rice, clerk; Jeremiah Clark, Simeon Marshall, and Thaddeus Hazleton, assessors; Thomas Holdridge, Moses Boardman and John Knox commissioners of highways; Day Fay and Moses Boardman, overseers of the poor; Eri Richardson, Asahel Wood, Alvan Henry, and Benjamin Bumpus, constables; Alvan Henry, collector; James Bacon and John Jackson, poundkeepers; Elijah Daniels, Daniel Butler, Silas Reeves, Joseph Sims, Rufus Weaver, James Annas, Benjamin Turner, Uriah Annas, Robert Hazard, George Tibbits, Eldad Richardson, Jonathan Wellington, David Smith, Abraham Parker, Ephraim Cone, David Nichols, Daniel Coolidge, Richard Green, John Rice, Stephen Kingsley, Dyer Matteson, Francis Wood, John Knox and Warham Chapman, overseers of highways and fenceviewers.
        Following is a list of the supervisors of the town from its organization to the present time: Ebenezer Lyon, 1807-10; John Rice, 1811-12; Ebenezer Lyon, 1813-1l; Jabez Wright, 1818; Jeremiah Whipple, 1819; Ebenezer Lyon, 1820; Edward Hudson, 1821-22 Eri Richardson, 1823- 26; Oliver Pool, 1821-32; Daniel Lobdell, 1833-35; Benjamin Turner, 1836-38; George Rich, 1839-41; Asa Richardson, 1842; Oliver Pool, 1843; Jeremiah Blair; 1844; John Donaldson, 1845; Oliver Pool, 1846-48; Alfred Medbury, 1849; G.D. Richardson, 1850-51; Palmer Baldwin, 1852; Jonathan Wells, 1853-54; George Irish, 1855; David A. Hamilton, 1856; G.D. Richardson, 1857; Artemas L. Sims, 1858-60; Nelson Richardson, 1861; S. Perry Smith, 1862-66; Charles K. Knox, 1861; Levi P. Greenwood, 1870; Isaac A. Blair, 1871-73; Merritt L. Lyon, 1874; Isaac A. Blair, 1875; George E. Gaige, 1816-78; Peter R. Duffy, 1879-86; Jeremiah Blair, 1887; Peter R. Duffy, 1888; Horace K. Smith, 1889-97.
        Following is a statement of the population of Nelson as shown by the census of various decades and semi-decades:
        1835 = 2,231; 1840 = 2,100; 1845 = 1,976, 1850 = 1,965; 1855 = 1,876; 1860 = 1,797; 1865 = 1,717; 1870 = 1,730; 1875 = 1,649; 1880 = 1,350; 1890 = 1,350; 1892 = 1,339
        These figures indicate a slow but gradual decrease in population in the town.  This is not due to its being in any sense an unattractive or unprofitable locality for the prudent, industrious and economical farmer <:604> mechanic or tradesman. It is, rather, in keeping with the conditions in many other towns in the State and county, in which in the passing years, there has developed among the young men a desire to leave the homesteads of their ancestry for the alluring attractions and occupations of cities and large villages.
        As before indicated this town is a profitable dairying region.  There are four cheese factories within its limits, one on the Richards estate farm, one in Nelson village, one at Erieville, and one four miles north-east of Nelson.  The factory at Nelson was established in 1868 by A.T. Gaines and was later conducted during a period of more than fifteen years by William Richards, who at that time operated four other factories in this vicinity.  The factory northeast of Nelson is conducted by J.P. Davis.  A large part of the farmers of the town at the present time are engaged in the production of milk, which goes to these factories or to distant market.  The fattening of veal has also in recent years become quite an important feature of the agricultural interest.  Among the leading farmers of the town are Ward Smith, Orson Graves, W.L. Richards, D.M. Jones, Morey Brothers, W.D. Brown, M.D. Lyon, H.K. Smith, S.L. Jones, Abelbert Howard, Charles B. Richards, John H. Richards and Evan D. Davis.
        There is a grist mill a half mile east of Nelson village, with which is connected a saw mill and cider mill, operated by L.H. Hutchinson; it was formerly for many years owned by H.P. Hutchinson, an old and respected citizen who died in 1897.  There is also an old grist mill on the road from Erieville to Nelson, formerly operated by S.E. Bump, but now idle.
        Erieville.--There are only two post-offices in Nelson, one of which is in the village of Erieville, the largest settlement in the town.  It is situated in the south part of the town, with a station on the railroad.  It contains a hotel on the site of the one built in 1820.  The present four- story frame building was erected in 1883, soon after the burning of the first structure; the house is now occupied by Mrs. H.T. Griffin, who succeeded her husband.  There are three general stores in the village, kept by C.E. Maynard, E.S. Jillson and G.C. Moore; two blacksmiths, two steam saw mills, a cooper shop where James Stevenson worked for many years, a cheese factory and a milk station.  The village is an important milk shipping point, being situated in the midst of an extensive and productive dairying region.  The village has two churches; the Baptist, which is supplied from Hamilton College, and a <:605> Methodist Episcopal, over which Rev. A.W. Battey is pastor; he also has charge of a church in Nelson village.
        An extensive milk business is carried on here by C.B. Maynard, who in 1897 handled 3,946,065 pounds of milk, making 324,435 pounds of cheese, 22,592 pounds of butter, and shipping to the New York market 4,622 forty-quart cans of milk.  Mr. Maynard is one of the leading business men of this section and served the district in the Assembly two terms.
        An undertaking business is conducted by D.P. Maynard, and E.S. Jillson has a flour and feed business in addition to his general store.  G.C. Moore, successor to G.C. Moore & Co., in a general store, is postmaster.  The village has a Grange Hall, a post of the G.A.R., and the lines of the Central New York Telephone and Telegraph Company pass through the village, having a local office in the store of G.C. Moore.
        Nelson (Nelson Flats).--This is a small hamlet in the north part of the town, containing a small collection of houses, a Methodist church of which Rev. A.W. Battey is pastor, a school house, two general stores, one conducted by W.R. Richards, succeeding Gage & Whitney, and the other by W.H. James, a blacksmith shop, and a post-office, which is located in the store of Mr. James, with George W. Holmes postmaster.  This store formerly contained a stock of hardware and tin, and before that was a hotel in which Myron Hutchinson was the last landlord.  Several years ago a large evaporator was established by C.E. Gaines, and the building is still standing in the main street of the village.  In the fall of 1885 a large building was erected for a saw mill, grist mill and cider mill, a wagon shop and blacksmith shop, by the Nelson Manufacturing Company, in which L.C. Barnes, Arthur Bailey, Frank Taylor, S.N. Judd and Charles Judd were interested.  Unfortunately for the place this building was burned in 1887 and not rebuilt.

END of Smith 1899 (Nelson)