CAPTAIN THOMAS JEFFERSON RANDALL, deceased, one of the earliest settlers of Oneida and one of the most enterprising of its citizens during his lifetime, was born in New Hampshire, March 1, 1811. His paternal grandfather, who was of sturdy New England stock, followed the sea for many years, as captain of a sailing-vessel. His grandmother, who was of the robust Whitcomb family, lived to be one hundred and five years old.
Captain Thomas Jefferson Randall was the fourth son in a family of six sons and three daughters. Beginning his active life on the farm with his father, he remained thus engaged until he was nine years old; and from that time until he was fourteen years old he attended school at Keene, N.H. Leaving school when about fourteen years of age, he then engaged in general merchandising. Somewhat later, his father having sold the home farm, which was known as the Sterling place, he began to work for Horace Saxton, contractor, who at the time was constructing a dam across the Susquehanna River at Nantucot Falls. This kind of labor was congenial to young Randall, and the splendid ability which he afterward displayed then first manifested itself to a noticeable degree. Completing his engagement with Mr. Saxton, he next became interested in the stage business at Elmira, and for four years conducted a mail line between that place and Canning. Then, returning to his parents, who had removed to Oneida Valley, he was married April 28, 1833, to Amanda Lampman, daughter of Abram and Susan (Hoffman) Lampman, early settlers at Oneida Lake. Mrs. Randall was born January 25, 1816. At the time of the marriage of Mr. Randall and Miss Lampman there was no village, or even settlement, where now stands the pleasant and prosperous village of Oneida, nothing being there but a low, long stretch of wet land. In 1834 Mr. Randall settled where that village now stands, and in connection with Sands Higinbotham built the first saw-mill in
Madison County. This mill was located at the foot of Madison Street. Mr. Randall and Mr. Higinbotham were the first permanent settlers there, and both of these gentlemen are appropriately represented in this volume.
Having thus become interested in the building of saw-mills and grist-mills, Mr. Randall started out from the little hamlet of Oneida with a team for Milwaukee, Wis., the trip requiring thirty-one days. Reaching Wisconsin, he engaged in building mills at Waukesha and several other places in Wisconsin, and after his return to Oneida built the Gordon Block, and later the Eagle Hotel and other buildings, which were destroyed in 1844. Superintendent Phelps, of the Syracuse and Utica division of the New York Central Railroad, learning of Mr. Randall's special ability as a contractor and builder, sought and obtained his services as Deputy Superintendent of that division; and in this capacity Mr. Randall continued to labor until the consolidation of the road in 1855, when he accepted a similar position on the Great Western Railroad between Quebec and Windsor. Subsequently he was actively engaged in the construction of the Chicago & Northwestern Railroad from Dixon, Ill., to the Mississippi River, and thence to Cedar Rapids, Ia. By too close application to his work he injured his sight, and was troubled with an affection of the eyes for two years. Returning again to Oneida, he built several private houses, and took charge of the Oneida Creek bridge for the Syracuse and Utica division of the New York Central Railroad.
Subsequently Mr. Randall became Inspector and Roadmaster of the Midland Railroad between Oswego and New Berlin, in which capacity he had charge of that road for some time, giving excellent satisfaction.
Mr. Randall's first experience as a public official was as Deputy Sheriff of Madison County, holding this position until the death of Sheriff Stone; and then he was appointed by the Governor of the State to fill the vacancy. Mr. Randall was President of the Village Board of Trustees, was Road Commissioner and President of the village of Oneida in 1880. His military services during the War of the Rebellion were of much more than ordinary value to his country. In 1862 he was commissioned Captain, and raised Company B for the One Hundred and Fifty-seventh New York Volunteer Infantry, the company containing one hundred and three men. This company left camp on September 2, 1862, for the seat of war. Captain Randall was a brave soldier, and participated in the battle of Fredericksburg. In consequence of active service in the war his health failed, and he was compelled to resign.
Shortly before entering the army, Mr. Randall was married the second time to Caroline Saultsman, daughter of Peter W. and Mary (Fox) Saultsman. Mrs. Randall still survives, and is pleasantly situated in her Oneida home. Mr. Randall's life was full of honorable labor and achievements, his toil being more than ordinarily fruitful in its results. Weighed in the balance, his life, in human judgment, was not found wanting, either as to his work or his character. On one occasion he met with a severe wound from the accidental discharge of his gun, the result being the loss of his left arm. He was always interested in the progress and development of the village of Oneida; and it was largely through his active labor and generosity that land sufficient was given to the leaders of different industrial enterprises to induce them to establish themselves in this place, the Oneida Casket Factory being one of the notable instances of this kind. Mr. Randall was also interested in Sylvan Beach, where he built the first cottages, and gave cottage lots to many others, with the view of making that place a summer resort, which it has since become. Mr. Randall died at his cottage at Sylvan Beach on Sunday morning, September 18, 1892, leaving no children of his own, and but one adopted child, Maude Randall, who was born July 25, 1875, and who now lives with Mrs. Randall at her home on Main Street, Oneida.
Many of the citizens of Oneida have always taken a deep and active interest in the growth and prosperity of their village. They have always been enterprising and public-spirited men; but it is doubtful if any of them ever have taken a more active and influential part in securing this growth and prosperity than did Mr. Randall, who contributed very largely to the upbuilding of what is now the largest village in Madison County. It is altogether within the limits of truth to say that but for this interest on his part the village would have been far less prosperous than at present. It is a pleasant task to publish in this work even a brief and imperfect narrative of the life and deeds of such a man.
The portrait of Captain Randall which appears in connection with this sketch shows a man with a good record both as a soldier and a civilian,--a patriotic and useful citizen, whose services entitle him to be held in honored remembrance.
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