In writing the history of the Town of Sullivan the writer has gathered interesting items as well as history from different books and people, that they might be retained after those who remembered them were gone. The books consulted were: "History of Chenango and Madison Counties," by Smith; "History of Madison County," by Hammond; "History of Madison County" by Smith; "Clark's Onondaga," newspaper files and church records. Great assistance was given by Charles French, R. O. Cook, Harold Hubbs, L. L. Prosser, Carl Adams, Frank Garlock, Mrs. Ella Harrison, Mrs. Leman Robinson and the ministers who furnished the histories of their respective churches. Also the many others who supplied items to help make the book interesting.
The section of the state of which the town of Sullivan is a part was Indian country until after the Revolution. In 1768, by a treaty made at Rome between the Indians and Sir William Johnson for the English, the country west of a line from a point on Wood Creek to the headwaters of the Unadilla, down that river to its mouth, then south to the Pennsylvania State line, was Indian country.
The state purchased tracts of land from the Indians at different times, but it was not until 1795 that the last of the land in what is now Chenango and Madison counties was bought from the Indians.
The State of New York was originally divided into ten counties. Montgomery was set off from Albany county in 1772, Herkimer and Tioga were created from Montgomery in 1791, their boundaries extending "way west." From there Chenango was formed in 1798 and Madison from Chenango in 1806.
The Town of Cazenovia was formed in 1795 and Sullivan was formed from Cazenovia in 1803. Both towns were formed while their territory was included in Chenango County. The old Town of Lenox, now Lenox, Lincoln and Oneida, was taken from Sullivan in 1809.
The Town of Sullivan was named after Gen. John Sullivan, who commanded an expedition against the Iroquois in this section in 1779. The southern part is hilly with a limestone soil. The center is sandy, while in the north are several thousand acres of valuable muck land. Between the muck and Oneida Lake is a higher ridge of land, mostly a clay loam.
This section had for centuries been the hunting ground of the Oneida Indians. In 1712 the Tuscaroras were adopted into the Iroquois Confederacy. Most of them settled at Canasaraga, now Sullivan hamlet, and some in the Stockbridge Valley.
The town is well watered. Chittenango Creek, meaning in Indian "Where the waters divide and run north," enters the south end and flows through it about half way, then forms its western boundary on to Oneida Lake. Canasaraga Creek enters the town at Perryville and flows in a northerly direction to Cowasselon Swamp. There it unites with Cowasselon and Canastota Creeks, forming the Black Creek, which enters Chittenango Creek about five miles from its mouth.
Douglas Ditch, which was dug to drain this swamp, was first opened about 1819, entering Oneida Lake about a half mile east of Lakeport. The state assisted in the digging under the Drainage Act of 1816. There were 7,400 acres in the Towns of Lenox and Sullivan assessed $2.00 an acre for improvement to the land. Douglass Ditch was enlarged in 1848; again in 1889, and again in 1936-37. The land it drains is now nearly all under cultivation and has become the most valuable cultivated land in the town. On the old maps the land is designated "Cowasselon Lake," and Oneida Lake is called "Teshiroque" Lake.
In 1780 occurred the only battles in which white men were engaged within the present limits of the town.
During the Revolution, in 1780, Sir John Johnson collected about 800 men, mostly Indians, at La Chien, an island in the St. Lawrence, for the purpose of attacking the settlers in the Mohawk Valley. They came thru Lake Ontario up the Oswego and Oneida Rivers into and across Oneida Lake to the mouth of Chittenango Creek. They then came up Chittenango Creek about six miles to a point where there is a bluff and landed on the east side of the creek in what is now the Town of Sullivan. Here they repaired an old palisade, erected in 1756. The larger boats were left at the junction of Black Creek and Chittenango Creek, about a mile from the fort. The lighter boats and surplus stores at the palisade with a suitable number of men for a guard.
The main body marched eastward to Schoharie under Johnson, Butler and Brant. They burned Schoharie on October 17, 1780, and the the next day burned Caghnewaga. They next went to Klocksfield. Near there they had a slight battle with the forces hastily collected by Gen. Van Rensalier. During the night they started a retreat toward their boats. Gen. Van Rensalier immediately dispatched a messenger to the Commandant at Ft. Stanwix, now Rome, informing him where the enemies' supplies were and directing Capt. Walter Vrooman with a strong force to hurry to Chittenango Creek and destroy the supplies and boats before Johnson and his men could get there. Capt. Vrooman reached the creek in time, destroyed the supplies and sunk all the boats but two, which he intended for his own use. By some means Sir John Johnson learned of Vrooman's intentions and sent a detachment to stop him. They were too late for that, but while Vrooman and his men were at dinner they captured them all without their getting a chance to fire a shot. Three were massacred and some were tortured. When Johnson came up with the main body this was stopped. He raised some of the boats and his army and captives reached Canada safely.
Some of the prisoners later became the first white settlers in the Town of Sullivan.
A stone monument in which is embedded a bronze tablet commemorating the battle was erected by Syracuse Chapter, S. A. R., in 1930 beside the Bridgeport-Kirkville highway, directing people to the site of the stockade.
The first white settlers within the limits of the present town were nine families from the Mohawk Valley, the heads of which were with the Vrooman Expedition. They were James and John Pickard; Jacob, David and Hom Yost Schuyler; Garrert and George Van Slyke; Jacob Seeber; John Poolsey and John Freemeyer. This was in 1790.
They settled on the level land around Canasaraga, which then belonged to the Indians. They had noted the fertility of the land and favorable location when passing through there with Capt. Vrooman and had resolved, when the right opportunity came, to leave the Mohawk Valley and settle there.
The Indians did not like the whites settling on their land and finally took their grievance to the Governor of the State, who ordered the whites to remove. They did not move, so the Indians again carried their case to the Governor, who, in 1791, ordered Col. Colbraith of Montgomery County, that county having jurisdiction over this section, to take an armed force and dislodge them. The Dutch settlers could not be induced to vacate by threats or entreaties. Finally Col. Colbraith ordered everything movable taken from their houses and burned them.
As the Indians watched the settlers' homes burn they relented a little and led them to a nearby tract, near where Chittenango now stands. This tract is supposed to have been on the west side of Chittenango Creek, where the Garlock and Shults farms are now located. The Indians granted the white men land for settlement with the privilege of pasturing their stock in the unfenced woods.
Peter Schuyler settled and died on the now Isaac Garlock farm. He was a Revolutionary soldier. He built and kept the first tavern in the town. A monument, erected by the D. A. B., marks his grave. Peggy Schuyler was the first white child born in the town. This was in 1791. John Seeber, then a captain, later a general of militia, soon moved to Clockville. Judge Seeber, his son, was ten years old when his father's house was burned at Canasaraga.
The Van Slykes settled near Poolsbrook, over the line in Onondaga County. The Pickards settled in the east part of the town. The Cristmans, Chawgos and Herrings soon followed and settled on the Kinderhook, so called on account of the number of children that used to play on the green at the corners.
As well as can be learned not one of the descendents bearing the name of these first nine families now live in the town. If there are any the writer would be glad to know.
The earliest maps of this region show an Indian trail, dividing west of the creek. One branch went by the "Deep Spring" to the home of the Onondagas. The other turned to the north to what is now Brewerton.
The first road improvement was in 1790 when James Wadsworth and party passed over it on the way to his vast tract of land in Genesee County. They cut the trail wide enough for a wagon. This wagon trail followed its present route through Canasaraga, passed over the hill by the Lillie farm, forded the creek a little above where the bridge in the village is now. There was a large sycamore lying across the creek for a foot bridge. The trail then continued west by the "Deep Spring" farm now owned by John W. Gates. In 1793 Mr. Linchlean came over this route to Chittenango, then turned south along the west side of the creek where there was a good track for about a mile to where some whites and Indians lived. From there he had only an Indian path to Cazenovia.
In 1793 the Legislature appropriated $2,700 for improvement of the road in Madison and Onondaga counties. Israel Chapin, Michael Myers and Othneit Taylor were appointed Commissioners to lay out a road six rods wide from Sehuyler, now Utica, to the Cayuga Ferry. In 1798 the state authorized three lotteries to raise $45,000 for further improvement of roads. Of this amount $13,900 was appropriated for road between Utica and Geneva. The people along the road subscribed four thousand days' work. It was now called the Great Genesee Road. The road was started in June, 1797 and in September the same year stage coaches were making the trip from Fort Schuyler to Geneva in three days.
The first U. S. mail was carried through the county over this route in 1797, on horseback by Mr. Langdon of Whitestown. By 1800 it became necessary to use a wagon.
In 1800 the Seneca Turnpike Company was chartered to build a road from Utica to Canandaigua. It was to be six rods wide, with twenty-five feet in the center covered with fifteen inches of gravel. Toll gates were to be ten miles apart and the toll to be 12-1/2 cents for a team of horses. The Commissioners were Jebediah Sanger, Benjamin Walker, Charles Williamson and Israel Chapin. It was found out that they intended to avoid Canasaraga and Onondaga Hills. However, settlers west on the route met them at Chittenango and led them over different, impracticable routes north of one then used. Tired and disgusted, they returned to Chittenango and allowed the route to remain as it was.
With the making of the State Road passable for wagons, even under difficulties, settlers began to come in. Zebulon Douglas, John Owen French, Timothy Brown, John G. Moyer, John Rector, John Matthews, Robert Carter, Philip Deyharsh, Rev. Austin Briggs, Peter Dygert, Joe and Ben Hosley, Timothy Freeman, Martin Vrooman, Capt. Barnes, Jacob Patrick, John Knowles, John Adams, Robert Riddle, John Smith, John Walrath, the Beebe's, John Lower, Peter Ehle, David Burton, Milton Niles, John Keller, Ovid Weldon, Nicholas Pickard, Jeremiah Gates and a McBride were among the first.
Col. Zebulon Douglas came here in 1796 from Columbia County and settled about two and one-half miles east of Chittenango. The next year he brought his family. For several years he kept a tavern for the benefit of travelers. He became a large land owner and was very prominent in the affairs of Central New York. He was the prime mover in getting the state to assist in digging Douglas Ditch, before mentioned, which was named in his honor. At the time of his death he was a Colonel in the New York State Militia.
John Owen French came here in 1805 from Williamsburg, Mass. He settled just east of Canasaraga and died three years later. His sons, Jarius, Samuel and Thomas, continued farming in the same locality. Samuel was elected Sheriff in 1843. The family have always taken an important part in public affairs.
Capt. Timothy Brown came to Canasaraga in 1805, while quite young. In 1818 he purchased the then Quenall farm, which is still owned and occupied by his descendents. He became a large land owner and stockholder in the Seneca Turnpike Co., and was a large contractor in the building of the Erie Canal.
The first enterprise in the town besides farming was a tannery built by Mr. McBride in 1808 on the ground where the Chittenango Baptist Church now stands. He operated it but a short time.
John G. Moyer built a saw and grist mill about a mile above Chittenango on land now owned by J. Conley. These were the first mills in the town. The grist mill was made into a plaster mill in 1814. Later it was made over for cloth works. It burned in 1826.
Capt. Rector settled at Bridgeport and engaged in building boats and barrels. Boats of a hundred tons then came to within a few rods of where the creek was forded a short distance below the present bridge.
Robert Carter and the Hosleys also settled near Bridgeport. John Mathews came from Massachusetts and settled near Bolivar. About 1810 he purchased the saw and grist mill on Chittenango Creek, on the west side of the town that was long called Matthews Mills. The place is now North Manlius.
Peter Deyharsh and Peter Dygert settled in Boliver. Capt. Rosel Barnes was the first white settler at Bridgeport and kept tavern there. He also built the first frame house in that section.
Rev. Austin Briggs settled near Oneida Lake but two miles east of Bridgeport. He was a member of the Methodist Episcopal Conference and his territory was northern Madison and Onondaga counties. His mode of travel was horseback, by canoe and on foot. He had to fight with panthers, bears and wolves as well as the devil.
North Manlius was settled about 1790. The sawmill was built in 1803 by Pierce and Foster. The grist mill was built later.
Jacob Patrick settled on what is now the Lillie farm about 1800. It was on this farm gypsum was first discovered in this county. He made large shipments, especially during the war of 1812, and was the first Supervisor of the Town of Sullivan.
Timothy Freeman settled on the Turnpike about two miles west of Chittenango and Walter Vrooman about three miles east. Judge John Knowles and John Adams both came from Troy, N. Y., about 1808 and settled about two miles south of Bridgeport. Judge Knowles held many important offices. He was Associate Judge of Madison County, delegate to the Constitutional Convention of 1821, and Member of Assembly in 1828. John Adams was a surveyor. He died on his estate at Mathews Mills.
Jeramiah Gates settled on what is now the Gates Homestead Farm in 1798. The original farm has been added to until it comprises an estate of about 600 acres of valuable farm land. It is now occupied by his descendents.
Robert Riddle came here from Sherbourne, Mass., in 1805. He settled on a farm north of Bolivar but only lived three years, dying in 1808. He left three sons, Robert, David and Thomson; also several daughters. Robert and David stayed here and started the tanning of hides and the making of boots and shoes, taking over the old McBride tannery.
James Smith came to Chittenango in 1805 and bought 200 acres of land where the village of Chittenango now stands, including the waterpower where the grist mill and cotton factory were afterward built.
Judges Sanger and Young advanced him money to pay for the land and later built a grist mill where the present mill now stands. Mr. Smith kept the first hotel within the corporate limits of Chittenango. It was back of where the house of John Newman now stands, and was quite close to the creek.
The Beebes settled in Canasaraga. John Lower located on the Salt Springs Road west of the village. David Burton settled in Canasaraga in 1806, and built the first frame house there.
Peter Ehle settled on what is now Route 5, about a mile west of Chittenango on a large farm now occupied by his descendents. Mr. Ehle was a Revolutionary soldier, coming here from Montgomery County.
Richard Lower was the first blacksmith in town. The first physician was a Dr. Wood. William K. Fuller and John B. Yates were the first lawyers.
Other early settlers were J. Wells, Peter Van Valkenberg, A. V. Boardman, Robert Harrison, William F. Lansing, Daniel F. Kellog, Daniel B. Cady and T. Clark. Ironius Bender settled on the farm now occupied by William Call.
John H. Walrath came to Chittenango in 1808. He spent the first winter where Walter Kenyon now lives. He had a contract to build a section of the Seneca Turnpike. Mr. Walrath and his family came here from Rome, N. Y., his old home being Minden, Montgomery County. In 1809 he purchased 100 acres on the west side on Chittenango Creek. For over 100 years it was known as the Walrath farm. It is now owned by Dr. J. D. Boyd. Mr. Walrath died in 1814, aged 48.
John Owens settled on the shore of Oneida Lake about one and a half miles east of Bridgeport. The Whites, Crownharts and Dunhams were early settlers in that vicinity. This section became known as Shackelton's Point. It is now owned by Charles Brown of Syracuse.
Among the physicians whose services will be long remembered are Drs. Samuel D. Hanchett, Merchant Billington, John R. Eaton and W. E. Deuel, who practised here the latter part of the nineteenth and first part of the twentieth centuries. They took an active interest in the public affairs of the community.
The northern part of the town was not settled quite as soon as the southern part. The first settler in Bridgeport was Capt. Barnes, who kept a hotel and built the first frame house there. John and Isaac Delamater settled east of Bridgeport in 1802. Other early settlers were the Rectors, Adams, Briggs, Whites, Owens and Crownharts. On account of the water power caused by the riffs there, and it being the only place for miles the creek could be easily forded, it early became the most important village in that section. In the early days it was known as Chittenango Riffs. There was a saw mill there before 1818. It is not known when the first mill was built. In the early days there was a large carding mill a little below where the grist mill stands and a tannery across the creek from it.
About 1811 a man named Fogger settled on a point about a mile west of Lakeport, but did not stay long. Soon after Reuben Spencer came from Connecticut and settled about a mile west of Lakeport, near what was later Spencer Brook, then quite a stream of water. Later he built a saw mill there. Zina Bushnell, William Williams, Mr. Caldwell, Richard Chapman were early settlers. In 1818 Zina Bushnell built a large brick house near the shore of Oneida Lake. It was the first brick house in northern Sullivan.
Perryville lies in this town and in Fenner and Lenox. Perryville Falls, with a drop of about 150 feet; are in the Town of Sullivan on Canasaraga Creek. They are one of the few high falls not taken over by the state. The first business place in Perryville was the grist mill, erected in 1810 by Richard Card. The first physician was Dr. Didama who settled there in 1809. David Baldwin settled on a farm two miles east early in the eighteen hundreds. The first saw mill was built by Abram Wendell in 1811.
Tyre and Coe started the first store and Ernest Dykeman the first tavern. Alpheus Britt built a clothing factory and Mr. Glass a tannery. In 1817 Orin Avery bought and enlarged the tannery and added to it a boot and shoe factory. John Hill came with his parents in 1807 and settled over the town line in Fenner. The family for generations took an important part in public affairs and held many public offices. The present John Hill was elected Sheriff of the county in 1908 and began his three-year term January 1, 1909.
East Boston lies about two miles north of Canasaraga. In the early days it had two stores, a tavern, a blacksmith shop and the cider and vinegar factory of Harrison & Co. At one time the factory employed 40 persons. The capacity of the mill was 400 barrels in twelve hours. The factory was moved away and East Boston is entirely a farming community.
Bolivar is on the Erie Canal, about a mile west of Chittenango. Abner P. Downer owned land there, through Fyler and north. He started a canal grocery there. Joseph Harbottle and the Dewey's were early engaged in business there. Now not even the canal is in use.
Fyler is a farming community about three miles northwest of Chittenango. Silas T. Fyler settled on the "pine plains," which now bear his name, early in the eighteen hundreds. Among the tools he brought with him was a wooden plow, long a curiosity in the neighborhood. He died in 1811 at his home, and his home burned in 1812. It was located where Clarence Moth now lives. Calvin Prosser settled in 1859 on the farm where Donald Prosser now lives. Other early settlers were William Hyde, Charles Baker, Valentine Godelle, Samuel J. Harnes, John Smith, the Brownells, Andrew Babcock and John Cain.
The formation of religious societies quickly followed the first settlements. The Presbyterians held services at Canasaraga about the year 1800. On August 21, 1802, Phineas Cadwell issued a call to meet at Conrad Lower's in Canasaraga, where the following officers were elected: Ebenezer Caulkin and Oliver Clark, returning officers; Walter Brasher, Oliver Clark, Phineas Caldwell, Hermanus Van Antwerp, Ebenezer Caulkin and William Sternberg, trustees. The first pastor the records show was Ira M. Olds, who was pastor here and Quality Hill. The Canasaraga Church was dissolved in 1818. Part of the congregation coming to the Bethel at Chittenango and part to Quality Hill. Mr. Olds continued at Quality Hill until 1832.
The Bethel was built in 1816 in the Upper Park at Chittenango for both church and school purposes. Early pastors were Revs. Adams, Johnson, Huntington and Gazelee. All denominations held services in the Bethel in the early days. The Presbyterians gradually merged with the Dutch Reform and, as the Bethel became too small, met in the Polytechnic Chapel, then on the second floor of the woolen factory, until their church was built in 1828. Before the Methodists were fully organized their early pastors were: Elders Dewey, Puffer, Torrey and Paddock. When the church was organized in 1833 the Rev. Benjamin Paddock was the minister.
The Baptist Church was first organized in 1841. Rev. T. Houston was their pastor. They bought the church the Presbyterians had used and in 1844 reported it paid for.
Rev. Dr. Smith held services for the Episcopalians in the Bethel, in the Baptist Church and in Union Hall, until they built a church in 1855.
The first Roman Catholic services were held by Rev. Father Hayes of Syracuse at the home of James Stewart in 1852. Services were held there for a time, then in Union Hall until they purchased the church building of the Baptists in 1859.
The Methodists and Universalists built a Church at Sullivan in 1830. One-half the land for a Church was deeded to the Universalists in 1827, but the Methodists did not get their deed until 1832. The Methodists held the last services there in 1901. Later the building was sold at auction, Mrs. Marrow and Mrs. Scoville buying the building, and Charles Brown the land.
Each church organization will be written up separately later.
"Oct. 7, 1806, Met in school house near James Shethers in the Town of Sullivan.
Present--Erastus Cleveland, Hamilton; Stephen Hoxie, Brookfield; Lemuel Kingsbury, Cazenovia; Jacob Patrick, Sullivan; Jeremiah Gage, DeRuyter, Esqs.
The Bord Chose Erastus Cleveland, Esqr., President for the present Year and Thomas W. Phelps, Clerk.
Resolved. That this Bord alloe Five Dollars for grown Wolves and Panthers. Whelps, half price.
Resolved. That each Collector retain his Collection fee for the money he pays the Supervisors out of the same.
Resolved. That Lemual Kingsbury be the Treasurer of said County during the pleasure of the Board of Supervisors.
Resolved. That the Treasurer procure Sufficient Bail to the amount of Five Thousand Dollars for the faithful performance of his duty.
Resolved. that the Bord Appoint Jacob Patrick to Determine as to Bail to be obtained of Samuel Kingsbury, County Treasurer."
This was the first meeting after Madison County was formed from Chenango; measures were taken to dividing the money in Chenango Co. treasury. The Town Contingencies for the first were $1;435.75; County contingencies, $671.38.
The two parties at that time were Democrats and Federalists, and at the first county election Sylvanus Smalley, Democrat of Sullivan, and Erastus Cleveland, Federalist, Madison, were elected Members of Assembly. The first county officers were appointed by a Council of Appointment. Sullivan had two Common Pleas Judges, Sylvanus Smalley and David Cook. The following were appointed justices of this town: Gilbert Caswell, Samuel Foster, Walter Beecher, Joseph Frost, Sylvanus Smalley, Peter Smith, David Cook, William Hallock, James Campbell and Joseph Yeaw. Sylvanus Smalley was reelected the next year and in 1808 went to the State Senate.
When Madison County was created, Hamilton was already a "halfshire" town and Sullivan was made one. So Courts of Records and Supervisors' meetings were held alternately in each town until a county seat was decided upon. The first Court of Record in this county was held in the school house near David Barnard farm in Sullivan, now the Frerd Conley farm. It was a Court of General Session and was held June 3, 1806. The judge was Sylvanus Smalley; associates, Peter Smith, Edward Green, Elisha Payne and David Cook. The Grand Jurors were from all over the county. They found no "presentments" and were discharged and Court adjourned.
The first murder trial in the county was held at the same place July 3, 1807. It was a Court of Oyer and Terminer, presided over by Supreme Court Judge William W. Van Ness; assistant justices, Peter Smith, Elisha Payne and David Cook. The Hitchcock murder case was to be tried, so Court adjourned to the barn of Sylvanus Smalley, where there was more room and immediately convened. Griffin Watkins and John Leer, Constables, and Eli F. Hill juror, were each fined $2 for nonattendance.
An assault case against Daniel Baxter was quickly disposed of, and the prisoner discharged. The charge against Hitchcock was he had murdered his wife by poisoning her. He plead "Not Guilty" and Court adjourned to July 4th. Hitchcock was a singing teacher and had fallen in love with one of his pupils.
The jurors were Jeremiah Gage, Ebenezer Caulkins, John Anguish, Jabez Crocker, Thomas Marvin, David Barrett, James Tucker, James Gault, Caleb Allen, Amos Hill, John Barber, Joseph Smith.
The people's witnesses were: Prudence Stacy, Elijah Putman, Samuel Barber and Betsey Barber, Levi Love, Asa Sizer, Jonathan Pratt, Elsa Woodworth, Susannah Woodworth, Francis Guitteau, Moses Maynard, William P. Simmons, Abraham W. Sedgwick and Lucy Bailey. For the prisoner witnesses were: Isaac Goodsell, Ephriam Clough and Jacob Phelps.
The jury returned a verdict of "guilty" and he was sentenced to be hanged the 11th of September, at Cazenovia. This was the first execution in Madison County and it was a public affair.
Canaseraga, while not the largest village, was the first by all of 200 years.
Old maps of 1631 show it an important Indian village. In 1713 it became, by agreement with the Iroquois Confederacy, the home village of the Tuscaroras. Previously, it had been one of the villages of the Oneidas and some of that tribe continued to live there. When the first whites settled there, there were Indian homes on the flats and some on the hill where Albert Jackson now lives. As previously stated, nine families from the Mohawk Valley squatted here. However, the Indians petitioned the Governor, and he made them move.
The most prominent Indian families at Canaseraga were the Dennies and Doxmtors. Lewis Dennie was supposed to be of French parentage. He came to Central New York with a party of French and Indians to fight the Iroquois and was taken prisoner by them. He adopted their customs and married a Mohawk maiden. His son, John Dennie, kept the first tavern in Canaseraga. John Dennie's daughter Sally married a Dutchman named John Garlock.
Mr. Holibert kept the first store in Canaseraga and was followed by Samuel Chapman. It is not known who built the first mill there. Later the mill was operated by Simon Paddock, Daniel Hull. and Alvin Scoville.
In 1823 the settlement was incorporated as Sullivan Village, but its size remained stationary while that of Chittenango increased rapidly. Soon no attention was paid to Sullivan village charter.
A church was built there very early and was called the "Free Church." It has since burned. It was built by the Methodists and Universalists, and was also used for a time by the Episcopalians.
A postoffice was established there at a very early date, under the name of Sullivan, but was abandoned over fifty years ago.
The first gristmill between Utica and Rochester was built at Canasaraga, but it has been impossible to learn who built it.
Besides having the first gristmill Sullivan also had the first church organization and school, and was the scene of the first murder trial, as has been noted. The first meeting of the Board of Supervisors of Madison County was held here.
At the present time it is a typical Route 5 village with its store, gas stations and eating places, surrounded by a rich farming community. Canasaraga creek, flowing through the center of the village, is noted for its natural beauty from there south to Perryville Falls. In former times the creek furnished power for mills, as the remains of numerous dikes and dams still show.
Chittenango started as a village about 1810. It had two hotels, a saw and gristmill south of Chittenango, across the creek from the Edward Walrath farm.
There was a plaster mill on what is now the Lillie farm before 1805. There was no store in the village until 1812.
In 1813 Judges Sander and Young from Whitestown built another saw and gristmill where Cook's mill now stands. In 1816 Robert and David Riddle rebuilt the tannery formerly operated by Mr. McBride and added a boot and shoe factory. Elisha Carey built a hotel, which later became the Yates Polytechnic School.
About the same time Dr. Samuel Fuller; the Kennedys, Thomas Livingston and John B. Yates settled here and added much to the prosperity of the village. In 1812 Joseph Sanger opened a store east of where John Murray now lives. He also operated a large ashery back of where the village fire barn now stands. Moses Parmelee came here from Cazenovia and operated a store where John Murray now lives. So Chittenango folks did not have to go to Canaseraga to trade. In 1816 John B. Yates settled in Chittenango. He was a man of education, means and influence, besides untiring energy. He became the foremost citizen in this part of the state. He opened a large mercantile establishment near the residence of the late E. E. Cook. Mr. Yates acquired the unsold portion of the 200 acres bought about 1803 by Mr. Smith, where Chittenango village now stands; also the mill property and water rights which he secured from Mr. Smith. Part of this was the Garlock Farm which was the first Chittenango land Judge Yates sold. Later he received a grant of land from the state. It was south of the turnpike, extending from Chittenango to Canaseraga creek. He had large kilns for burning lime back of where Warren Bender now lives, on the Chittenango Branch of the Erie Canal. The canal was started in 1818 and completed about 1825. The Chittenango Branch extended from the old canal along the west side of Oneida street crossing the turnpike in front of the Ten Pin Restaurant, near the intersection of Route 5 and Arch street. It passed along Rouse street to the garage lately owned by Charles Putman. Where the Episcopal Church now stands was a basin for boats to turn in. Ninety-four miles of the canal, between Rome and Salina, were completed in 1820. The packet boat on the canal, the "Oneida Chief," started running in July, 1820, and was commanded by George Perry of the Town of Sullivan. It made three trips a week. The fare was $4.00.
Messrs. Harris and Livingston also had a contract for furnishing lime for the canal. In experimenting Mr. Livingston discovered a cement which set under water. He patented his discovery but had some litigation about it. The matter was finally settled by the state paying him $10,000. Mr. Yates built a woolen factory of stone, which was afterwards merged with the Broadhead factory. In 1822 Mr. Yates and John Williams opened a store. They later built an oil mill where afterwards a paper mill stood, west of Jay Button's. At that time there were several distilleries, sawmills and barrel factories along the creek. There was the Walrath foundry and machine shop on land now owned by Roy Case. Part of the building still remains. Daniel F. Kellogg operated a foundry where the Penneck residence now stands. The first newspaper in Chittenango was the Chittenango Herald, established in 1832 by Isaac Lyon. It was published under different names until 1856, when it was discontinued. The postoffice was established in 1816. The first postmaster was William E. Fuller. He was succeeded by Henry W. Cobb, George Ehle, Dr. Samuel Kennedy, Benjamin Jenkins, Benjamin French, Benjamin Jenkins, P. D. Harrington, A. E. Gorton, Charles Kellog, Robert French, J. J. L. Baker, Robert French, W. Scott Siver, John R. Costello, Lee W. McHenry, Claude A. Nichols, Daniel T. Evans and Philip Dwyer, the present incumbent.
With the opening of the Erie Canal and the branch to Chittenango in 1828, Chittenango became the leading business place in this section. All the produce shipped from Cazenovia, DeRuyter and other points south was hauled to Chittenango and there transferred to boats; also a large part of these places came by way of Chittenango.
This started much agitation for a railroad from Chittenango to DeRuyter and other points south. The talk quieted down with the building of the Chenango Canal, but about 1838 was revived again with John B. Yates, Perry G. Childs, Robert Riddle, J. D. Ledyard and others pushing the project. Meetings advocating the building the railroad were held, subscriptions were solicited and received. Mr. Yates had agreed to build the first mile of road when his sudden sickness and death caused the plan to be abandoned. On the side hill east of the village can still be seen some of the grading done there, a century ago.
Henry Cobb, who worked for John B. Yates as a clerk and later became his partner, continued the business after his death. They also operated a large fleet of boats between here and Albany. Henry Cobb failed in 1937. He was succeeded by the Crouses, who were later joined by John Lamphere and Fay Hutchings. The Crouses later went to Syracuse and Lamphere to New York. Jacob Colyer came here in 1818 and farmed for several years. He then served an apprenticeship in the tanning business with David Riddle. In 1833 he engaged in the making of boots and shoes in a building then standing on the north side of the residence of the late C. C. Grimshaw.
John Williams started in trade here in 1822 and soon went in to partnership with William Bates. They sold out in 1822 to David Mitchell and Edward Sims. In 1832 John Bates, who came here from Cazenovia, bought out Mitchell's interest. Damon Wells was a partner for a short time. Sims later sold out to Benjamin French and the business was later closed out. William Briggs started a store here in 1827, but in a few years went to Chicago.
Abner Dunham and Moses Parmelee had a store here in the early thirties. Hezekiah Beecher and Peter Groesbeck both had stores here a few years, about this time.
The first physician was Dr. Wood who came from Manlius. Dr. Amsden located at Canaseraga in 1808 and practiced in both places. Drs. Tilden and Kennedy came a few years later. Dr. Kennedy left here in 1825 for Dryden. About the same time his brothers, Samuel, Isaac and James, all doctors, located here. Dr. Samuel Fuller came here in 1822, and his brother Edward in 1827. They were both from Schenectady.
William K. Fuller was the first lawyer in Chittenango. He read law with John B. Yates and his brother. He formed a partnership with the former in Utica. In 1816 he moved to Chittenango and opened an office on the property now owned by Lambert Hitchcock. He was a close associate of Mr. Yates and one of the administrators of his estate after his death. Daniel B. Cady was practicing law here in 1828, and later removed to Columbia County.
A second tannery was built in 1817 by John Bouck, south of the gristmill, Riddle's being the other.
In 1805 there were two hotels in the village, one kept by a Mr. Smith back of the present residence of John Newman, the other by a Mr. Wilson, being the original Yates House, and this old hotel is included in the present building. A stock company put up the building which later became the Yates Polytechnic in 1815, for a tavern. It was managed by Elisha Carey. In 1824 it was purchased by Mr. Yates for a school. It became a tavern again in 1832, managed by Samuel Rowell until 1837. By the death of John B. Yates the building became the property of Henry Yates, who deeded it to the, trustees of the school district for school purposes. A history of Polytechnic as a school will be given later.
The Syracuse and Utica Railroad, running through the town of Sullivan, was incorporated May 11, 1836. In 1853 it became part of the New York Central which was formed by the merging of ten railroads, viz.: Albany and Schenectady, Schenectady and Troy, Utica and Schenectady, Mohawk Valley, Syracuse and Utica, Syracuse and Utica Direct, Rochester and Syracuse, Rochester, Lockport and Niagara, Buffalo and Rochester, Buffalo and Lockport. The Syracuse and Utica Direct and the Mohawk were not built then and never have been.
With the building of the Chenango Canal in 1835 and the abandoning of the branch of the Erie to Chittenango, the village as a center of business began to decline. Railroad towns, on account of better shipping facilities, becoming the natural centers of trade.
Chittenango was incorporated as a village March 15, 1842. The following were the first village trustees: Robert Riddle, Alfred Ballamy, Daniel Walrath, George K. Fuller and Jacob Crouse. Assessors were Abner P. Downer, Edward Sims and Hiram Curtis; treasurer, George Grant; clerk, Henry H. Cobb. Oran B. Thompson; first named clerk did not accept and Chauncey Hatch was appointed; fire wardens, Daniel Kellog, Joseph B. Plank and Alonzo Bishop. At a meeting of the trustees Robert Riddle was elected president. Later, the offices of street commissioner, police constable, sexton of cemeteries and special policeman, fire warden, pound master, lamp lighter and a Board of Health of three members were created.
The following is a list of presidents and clerks of the village from its incorporation until the present time, except from 1858 to 1870; when the records were not preserved:
John B. Yates, about the fall of 1825, began an enterprise in pursuance of a design he had entertained for a long time before, that of founding an institution of learning in connection with practical instruction and employment of many of the pursuits of active life. It was one of the earliest of the "Manual Labor Schools" about which much was written and quite a number of experiments begun at a somewhat later period. He arranged with Prof. Andrew Yates of Union College that the latter should leave his position there and unite with him in a plan for the establishment of an institution of which Prof. Yates was to have charge, and which he was to sustain with funds.
A large building, which had been built for a tavern, was purchased and several new ones were erected. At the beginning the whole property in and about the present village of Chittenango was placed under the care of Dr. Yates, and Mr. Ely, a young man, a scientific and practical farmer, was procured and appointed professor of agriculture.
The school was organized as follows: Rev. Andrew Yates, D.D., principal; Rev. David A. Sherman, A.M., professor of philology and ancient languages; Benjamin F. Joslin, M.D., professor of natural science; Jonathan Ely, A.M., professor of practical agriculture and natural science; Stephen Alexander, A.M., professor of natural philosophy and mathematics.
Very soon Mr. Joslin was appointed a professor at Union College and William M. Herbert, M.D., was appointed, but soon died. Financial losses in other business compelled Mr. Yates to limit his efforts to the maintenance of a literary department in which Mr. Ely was employed in teaching the natural science alone. The agriculture operations gave employment to a few students who were desirous of supporting themselves by labor.
The institution was run for a time as an academy by Dr. Yates and his assistants, but did not pay expenses.
At the beginning of 1830, John B. Yates memorialized the Legislature for a loan, pledging the property as security. There were at the time upon the premises a woolen cloth factory, a flouring mill, hydraulic cement and gypsum mill, tannery, smith's shop with tilt hammer, machinery and carriage shop, an oil mill, two sawmills and other machinery. A mile north, at the termination of a branch canal, and adjoining the Erie Canal, were dry docks and a basin for the repairing of boats. "In all which persuits young persons attached to the institution may be employed."
A plat of 300 acres had been laid out for a village on the canal and the remainder of the tract,about 1,100 acres, he proposed to lay out into small farms of 50 acres each, with a house and a barn upon each, to be rented for the benefit of the institution at will, so as not to he annoyed by undesirable tenants. Each tenant was to receive and employ a laboring student, or more if required, and to have the privilege of educating his own children. The same provision was to be made with respect to the letting of the buildings for manufacturing and mechanical pursuits. Other stipulations were made, ending with a pledge that the lots, 50 by 200 feet, should not be sold for less than $500 apiece, nor rented for less than $25 a year.
On the l0th of February, 1830, the Senate committee reported in detail, reviewing the plan of the "Polytechny" (as the institution was to be called) in terms of approbation, and presenting in detail an inventory of the property offered as security. In this report the plans proposed were stated with more detail.
There were to be five general departments:
1. A president to have general supervision over the whole.
2. A principal in the scientific department, with the requisite professors and tutors.
3. An agricultural superintendent, to direct and control the system of farming for each farm, and to keep an accurate account of the mode of culture, expenditure and product.
4. A superintendent of the manufacturing operations, who is also to keep a particular account of labor and stock, and who is also to keep an account of and report the result of such new experiment in the operation; and
5. A superintendent of mechanical operations, and under his directions to have made whatever might be required.
The commercial transactions in buying, selling and accounting were to give employment to a number of persons, who would thus become familiar with business accounts.
As to the probable utility of the experiment the committee were united, and there could be but one opinion, that of unqualified praise.
As to the complete pecuniary indemnity offered they were unwilling to express an opinion. The amount required would be $200,000, of which $100,000 was to pay debts and $40,000 to erect new buildings. But they would count up $15,000 a year from incomes, and after using $2,000 for insurance and repairs, this would leave $5,000 per annum more than would pay the interest on the loan.
The committee left the subject for the consideration of the Senate, with the draft of a bill, but without particular recommendation. There the matter ended.
We have given somewhat in detail the outlines of this plan, because it represents a theory that has plausibility in it, although but a feeble conception of what has since been attained in other countries, and to some extent in our own, in the way of industrial education; not in more general instruction of an academic school, in connection with elementary teaching, but in the thorough and special application of principles first acquired in the school room, and afterwards illustrated in the practical shop, the laboratory or the field.
Mr. Yates continued the school under the presidency of his brother, Rev. Andrew Yates, at a great loss, with a staff of six teachers, until 1837. It was again used for a short time as a hotel. John B. Yates died about that time and it became the property of his brother, Henry Yates.
Henry Yates deeded it to a board of trustees to be used for educational purposes, and it was opened as Yates Polytechnic Institute. An academic school was opened with Rev. George W. Thompson as principal. He served five years and was followed by William Velasko, who continued until 1861. After that different ones tried it with diminishing success until 1871, when it was merged with the Union Free School of Chittenango.
On August 14, 1871, districts 2 and 17 voted to unite and on the 18th of August the following nine trustees were elected members of a Board of Education: Robert Kennedy, P. J. Flaherty, C. V. Harbottle, James A. Atwell, J. Hobart, H. French, Charles Kellogg, Lyman Gay, J. J. L. Baker and Albert H. Downer. Charles Kellogg was elected president and J. J. L. Baker, clerk. The Institute was formally turned over to the board September 2, 1871. On the 12th of the month district No. 6 and part of 15 were annexed and the Polytechnic building was adopted for the union school purposes. They voted $6,000 to put the building in shape and later voted $3,000 to complete the job.
The school was incorporated by the Board of Regents, April 11, 1853, as Yates Polytechnic Institute. In 1867 it was reorganized under the General Act of 1864 under the name of Yates Union School and admitted by the Regents as such January 9, 1868.
The land where these springs are was first settled upon by a Mr. Deifendorf, who sold it to Peter Collier in 1825. To have a more perfect title Mr. Collier obtained a deed direct from the State. At that time the only way to reach the springs was by a foot-path over the ridge. Mr. Collier built a wagon road from the Springs to the road on the west side of the creek.
In 1826 Milton Leach kept a small grocery there, built a shower bath house and business began at the Springs. Mr. Collier in 1831 built a substantial building and improved the bath house. An early analysis of a pint of the water showed:
Mr. Collier, having the business established, soon sold at a nice profit to Judge Horatio G. Warner. He in turn sold to Holmes and Richardson. Richardson bought out his partner and began improving the property. Drives and promenades were laid out, arbors built, cottages were built and a large hotel erected. About 1840 Richardson began to advertise extensively and soon had guests from all over the country. Until the Civil War the place was patronized extensively by people from the south.
The following is an extract from Harper's Monthly of June, 1856:
"Ascending from the Hotel by a winding pathway through the Park to the summit of the Mountain, 200 ft. above the 'Healing Fountain,' we have one of the most pleasing views in all that region, including Cazenovia and Oneida Lakes; while a bridge spans the rapid current of the Chittenango Creek in front of the Hotel below, connecting with the pleasure grounds and family cottages, in a noble grove beyond. The valley terminates two and one-half miles above the springs where the Chittenango Creek falls perpendicularly 150 feet and forms, in harmony with gorge and other assessories, a scene of surpassing beauty."
The Springs, being on an improved toll road only four miles from the N.Y.C.R.R, was easier to reach than most resorts and did an immense business.
The property changed hands again in 1868, when it was purchased by Dr. H. P. Backus, who refitted it and opened it as a health institution and watering place June 1, 1868. Rates were as follows: Board, $14 to $16 a week. Horses, per week, $6.00.
Under the management of C. W. Reicks, in 1870, the place continued to prosper, and also under the management of Samuel Tooker, who operated it from 1875 to 1880.
Crouse, Sherwood & Johnson purchased it in 1880 and repaired and remodeled it throughout. They installed Joseph Tasker, an experienced restaurant man from Syracuse, as manager. They had a Grand Opening July 4, 1880, and did very well for a few years. Then business fell away and Mr. Tasker returned to Syracuse. The property was run with indifferent success until about 1896, when W. Young became manager. He had the owners buy the Bower farm south of the Spring property and laid out a race track. He also secured a right of way for a trolley from the Springs to the West Shore Railroad and did some grading north of Chittenango, but nothing came of it and Chittenango lost another railroad. Youngs went to New York city and afterward operated the Lincklaen House in Cazenovia.
The Springs Hotel building was later bought several years ago by Cheney & Co. of Manlius and Ed. Lynch had the contract for taking it down. In the contract was a clause that every piece of material should have the nails taken out and saved, even to the lath. The late Merrit DeWitt had the contract for drawing the timber to Manlius. There are still numerous visitors at the White Sulphur Springs who drink the waters and patronize James Conley's stand, which now is the only sign of business there.
The first Glorious Fourth celebrated in Chittenango was in 1828. For the best possible account we give the following, taken from the "Madison Observer and Recorder" of that time:
"The fifty-second anniversary of our national independence was this day celebrated for the first in the village of Chittenango. A large number of the neighboring inhabitants, together with the villagers; assembled upon the occasion to pay due respect to the day which gave as birth as a nation and express our gratitude for the happiness and prosperity which we enjoy under our republican institutions.
"The day was ushered in as is usual on such occasions. At ten o'clock in the morning the line of procession was formed in front of the Polytechny, under the direction of Col. Sage as Marshal, and Adj't Dunham as Assistant Marshal. The procession passed through the village to the green in front of the Church, where a spacious Arbor had been prepared by the committee of arrangements for the exercises of the day. After an appropriate and impressive prayer by the Rev. Mr. Sherman and martial music by the Cazenovia Band, the Declaration of Independence was read by Daniel B. Cady, Esq., and an oration, written in elegant and classic style; happily portraying the situation of the country, was delivered by Andrew J. Yates, Esq., of the Polytechny; after which, a set piece of sacred music was sung by a number of students of the Polytechny and a benediction pronounced by the Rev. Dr. Yates. The procession then returned to the village and at 2 P. M. about 200 sat down to a dinner prepared by Col. George Ehle in a style befitting the occasion. His table was filled with the choicest productions of the country and his dinner was served up in a manner satisfactory to his guests. After the removal of the cloth, a set of patriotic toasts were drank, accompanied with music and firing of guns. At 5 o'clock P. M. the company dispersed and thus closed the first celebration of our National Independence in the Village of Chittenango."
The first person to be convicted of murder in the Town of Sullivan was Lewis Wilbur, who was a native of Saratoga, about 21 years of age. While journeying west along the canal he joined company with Robert Barber from Colraine, Mass. Barber was a widower on his way to be married to a lady in Onondaga County. He met Wilbur east of Utica and the two became quite friendly. The particulars of the trip and murder were learned from the confession Wilbur made shortly before his execution.
Wilbur learned that Barber had quite a sum of money with him and determined to possess it. Soon after the idea entered his head he purchased an ordinary shoe knife and carried it wrapped in paper in his pocket. The idea that he could rob Barber without killing him did not seem to be part of Wilbur's plan.
When near Chittenango, as they traveled along the canal bank, he suggested to Barber they take a walk. Barber agreed. On various excuses Wilbur enticed him quite aways into the woods that bordered the canal. Then, suddenly, Wilbur drew his knife and demanded Barber's money. Barber replied, "I did not think this of you, I thought you was my friend." But he took his pocketbook and threw it on the ground as Wilbur had ordered him. Wilbur then told him to lie down, face downward, and not to look up for half an hour. Barber obeyed and lay down as directed. Wilbur then picked up the pocketbook and started off, but thinking how easy it would be to prove him to be the robber, returned, raised the old man's coat and plunged the knife into his side. Still fearing Barber was not dead, he took a large stone and threw it upon his victim's head, crushing his skull. He then returned to his boat and continued his journey.
The finding of the body caused great excitement in Chittenango and vicinity. The fact that the two had been seen traveling together caused suspicion to be directed at Wilbur, but it was not until the following April he was arrested at Cleveland, Ohio. He was tried at the county seat at Morrisville and executed October 3, 1839.
The counsel for the prosecution were: J. Dwinnell (District Attorney); B. D. Noxon and T. Jenkins, Esq. Wilbur's lawyers were: J. A. Spencer and A. L. Foster, Esq.
The case was tried before Hon. Robert Monell, Circuit judge of the 6th Circuit, and E. Rogers, B. Beckwth, E. Holmes, H. G. Warner, Esqs., Judges of the County Courts.
As the town of Sullivan became more thickly settled, the opening and maintaining of roads was the most important matter. Most of the roads followed roughly the old Indian trails. The Seneca Turnpike had been the main east-and-west trail, dividing west of the Chittenango Creek. One branch went toward Manlius and was known to the Indians as the "Deep Spring Trail"; the other to Brewerton by way of the salt wells of Salina and known as the "Salt Springs Trail." The name appears on the road turning from Route 5 west of Chittenango and going direct to Fayetteville and as the Salt Springs Road in the eastern part of Syracuse.
The first road to Cazenovia was entirely on the west side of Chittenango Creek. In the northern part of the town the first trail ran closer to the lake than the present road. It followed the higher land and crossed the creek about one-half a mile from its mouth by a ferry that was operated as late as 1880 by J. O. Shetler, who owned the farm on this side of the creek. As early as 1802 there was a trail following about the course of the present highway to Bridgeport, fording the creek below the present bridge.
Perhaps the most difficult road the town ever put through was the *"Fly Road" connecting the north part oŁ the town with Chittenango. When the building of the road was first agitated it met with strong opposition, especially in the northern part of the town. There was a merchant in Bridgeport who was a leader against it. He said the appropriation would be thrown away, literally sunk in the worthless marsh. He denounced the scheme and its leaders frequently, and declared, "he did not want to live longer than the time that should see the first wagon cross the 'Fly.'" Prominent men in Chittenango and vicinity in favor of the road were Robert Riddle, John I. Walrath, Edward Sims, David Riddle, Jarius French, Thomas French and others. They took hold of the work. In winter, when the Fly was passable they explored it and selected their route. The following summer a party consisting of these men and wives crossed it in a procession of wagons. They had many mishaps: the upsetting of wagons, the slough holes they had to bridge while the ladies walked, jumped or rode as best suited the occasion. They finally crossed the Fly, ladies, men, horses and wagons, all safe, and reached the Lake Road and in due time arrived at Bridgeport. After a sumptuous dinner at the hotel, the whole party called on the merchant and advised him to prepare for his funeral, as the time had arrived which he had often named as desirable to close his earthly existence. The joke upon the merchant was appreciated by all and had much to do with getting the necessary appropriation of $2,500, to be repaid $500 anually. To this were added private subscriptions of $3,000 more. The road was built and in 1848 improved by planking.
*By correct usage this is properly "Vlie" and maps show this spelling, rather than the colloquial expression.
©1999- MadisonCountyNewYork.com All rights reserved.