TOWN OF GEORGETOWN

 

From “The History of Chenango and Madison Counties, New York”

by James H. Smith    (D. Mason & Co. - Syracuse, New York 1880)

 

 

GEORGETOWN was formed from DeRuyter, April 7, 1815. Its name is due to a suggestion of the Legislature in exchange for Washington, which was the choice of the inhabitants, but a name by which a town in Duchess county was then distinguished. It lies upon the south border of the county, west of the center, and is bounded on the north by Nelson, south by Otselic, east by Lebanon and west by DeRuyter. Its surface is a hilly upland, broken by the valley of Otselic creek into two north and south ridges, whose summits are 500 to 600 feet above the valley. Otselic creek, flowing in a southerly direction through the eastern part of the town, and its numerous branches spreading out into all parts of the town are the principal streams. A portion of the headwaters of the Tioughnioga lie in the north-west part of the town. The soil upon the hills is a yellow loam and in the valleys a gravelly alluvium.

 

The Syracuse and Chenango Valley Railroad crosses the north-east portion and the Auburn Branch of the Midland Railroad (now abandoned,) the south-west portion of the town.

 

The population of the town in 1875 was 1,422; of whom 1,357 were native, 65 foreign, 1,417 white, 5 colored, 713 males, and 709 females. Its area was 23,689 acres; of which 14,385 acres were improved, 6,839 woodland, 2,465 otherwise unimproved. The cash value of farms was $690,560; of farm buildings other than dwellings, $82,660; of stock $116,325; of tools and implements $31,915. The amount of gross sales from farms in 1874 was $109,439, being, next to DeRuyter, the least of any town in the county.

 

There are eleven common school districts in the town. During the year ending Sept. 30, 1879, there were twelve licensed teachers at one time during twenty-eight weeks or more. The number of children of school age residing in the districts at that date was 431. There was one private school with twenty-two pupils in attendance. During that year there were seven male and eighteen female teachers employed; the number of children residing in the district who attended school was 351, not residing in the district, 15, of whom only one was under five or over twenty-one years of age; the average daily attendance during the year was 184.075; the number of volumes in district libraries was 201, the value of which was $99; the number of school houses was eleven, all frame, which, with their sites, embracing two acres and sixty-three rods, valued at 440, were valued at $5,390; the assessed value of taxable property in the district was $434,460. The number of children between eight and fourteen years of age residing in the district at that date was 99, of whom 60 attended district school fourteen weeks of that year.

 

Receipts and disbursements for school purposes:  

 

   Amount on hand Oct. 1, 1878 $ 78.90 

   Amount apportioned to district 1,240.23 

  Proceeds of gospel and school lands 54.69 

  Raised by tax 416.78 

  From teachers' board 122.00 

  From other sources 19.63 

  

  Total receipts $1,932.23 

  

  Paid for teachers' wages $1,670.92 

  Paid school apparatus 6.00 

  Paid school houses, sites, outhouses, repairs, furniture, fences, &c 82.51 

  Paid incidental expenses 70.80 

  Amount remaining on hand Sept. 30, 1879. 102.00 

  

  Total disbursements $1,932.23 

 

 

SETTLEMENTS

 

The first settlement was made in 1804, by Ezra Sexton, from Litchfield, Conn., who came in the summer of that year and located near the Otselic, on lot 58, a little south of the depot on the Syracuse & Chenango Valley Railroad, where Barnett Wagoner now lives, and resided there till his death. He was a man of some local distinction, having been a justice of the peace and captain of a militia company. His children removed from the town a great many years ago. The cemetery near the railroad in the east part of the town is a portion of his land. It was appropriated by him to burial purposes on the death of a child of his, which is said to have been the first death in the town*. 

*French's State Gazetteer says the death of Sexton's wife, in 1807, was the first in the town. There is nothing to mark the locality of their resting place.

 

Settlements were made this same year (1804) by John C. Payne, Elijah Olmstead, Apollos Drake,  Joseph Bishop, Bethel Hurd, Eleazer Hunt and Olmstead Brown, and in this or the following year by Josiah Purdy.

 

John C. Payne married a daughter of Benjamin Pierce, of Hamilton, whence he removed to this town. He located on lot 115, about one and one-fourth miles south of Georgetown village, where Loren W. Brown now lives. He sold out to Elijah Brown soon after the close of the war of 1812 and returned to Hamilton, where he died. His wife kept the first boarding house for the University students at Hamilton, and after the death of her husband went to Rockford, Ill., to live with her oldest daughter, Electa, who married Elder Jacob Knapp, the noted Baptist revivalist preacher.

 

Elijah Olmstead was a son of Elder Olmstead of Schodack, Rensselaer county; but he did not long remain here. Owing to sickness in his family he sold to Josiah Purdy, a blacksmith from Sherburne, who located about a mile south of the village, on the farm now occupied by William F. Drake, and died there. He was twice married, both wives dying on the homestead. His first wife was Phebe Conkling, who died March 30, 1839, aged 75, and by whom he had seven children, all of whom are dead. After her death he married the widow Brown, by whom he had no children.

 

Apollos Drake was a native of Vermont and removed to Hamilton about the same time as the Paynes, with whom he was distantly connected, locating on the site of the boarding hall connected with Madison University, between Deacons Payne and Olmstead. After three years he removed to Westford, Otsego county, whence, in the fall of 1804, he removed to Georgetown. He took up fifty acres, which are now owned and occupied by his son Theron O. Drake, and that fall made a small clearing and built a log house, which stood just in the edge of the orchard on that place on the opposite side of the road from where Theron now lives. There were then only three log houses in the town, those of John C. Payne, Ezra Sexton and Elijah Olmstead. Mr. Drake and his wife died on the farm on which they settled, the former Sept. 20, 1839, aged 70, and the latter, Dec. 11, 1832, aged 57. Four children were born after their settlement here. Of the nine children only three are living, Theron O., who succeeded his father on the homestead, and Laura, who married William Brown, and Sophia, widow of Russell Niles, both of whom are living in Cazenovia. The others, with the exception of Nancy, who died in infancy, married and settled in this and adjacent towns, though the eldest four afterwards removed to Ohio.

 

Joseph Bishop and Eleazer Hunt, the latter from Stafford, Conn., located on the site of the village, and are supposed to have been the first to settle in that locality. They built in 1807 the first grist-mill in the town, on the site of the mill burned in the village in the winter of 1875. The stones used in it, as well as the one which succeeded it on the same site, which was built about fifty years ago by Nathan Smith, of New Woodstock, were supplied by the native rocks of the town. The mill was owned by Benjamin Kinney at the time it was burned and his widow still owns the privilege. Messrs. Bishop & Hunt also built on the same privilege in 1805 the first saw-mill in the town, and operated both for many years. Mr. Hunt who was a carpenter and cabinet maker, also had a chair factory, which was an extensive affair for that time, though it gave employment to only one or two others besides himself and boys. Bishop removed from the town with his family quite early, and Hunt went with his family to Hamiltor, where he resumed the cabinet business, and died. His son Sherebiah Hunt afterwards carried on an extensive cheese factory at East Hamilton.

 

Bethel Hurd settled on lot 69, about a mile and a half north of the village, where Benjamin Fletcher now lives, and died there May 19, 1817, aged 68, and Mary, his wife, Nov. 17, 1813, aged 58. He had five sons who married and settled on the same road between him and the village, and occupied their farms many years. Ezra and Benjamin died here, the latter June 7, 1866, aged 79. Daniel removed to Erie county. David and Stephen removed and died west, the former August 28, 1874, aged 84, and the latter Sept. 15, 1867, aged 72. In Mr. Hurd's house was kept the first store in the town, by a man named Truesdale; there also the first religious exercises were conducted by Ezra Sexton.

 

Olmstead Brown settled on fifty acres purchased of John C. Payne, on lot 115.

 

Mitchell Atwood, Matthew Hollenbeck, Bailey Carter, William Payne, Joseph P. Harrison and Calvin Cross joined the settlements in 1805.

 

Mitchell Atwood came from Litchfield county, Conn., and settled two and a half miles north of the village, on the farm now owned and occupied by Mitchell Sanford, where he resided till his death, March 21, 1874, aged 97. He built in that locality in 1805 a saw-mill,*  which he replaced with a new one about 1820, and which he operated till it rotted down. The third mill on that site was built in 1847, by Hiram N. Atwood, son of Mitchell Atwood.

*  French says this was the first saw-mill built in the town; but Mr. Theron O. Drake assures us that the lumber used in its construction was sawed at the mill of Bishop & Hunt.

 

Matthew Hollenbeck was also from Litchfield, Conn. He settled in the north part of the town, on the farm now owned by Austin Hawks, and died there. Bailey Carter settled on a farm adjoining John C. Payne's farm, but removed from the town at an early day. His farm forms a part of Loren W. Brown's farm. William Payne, also from Connecticut, settled in the north part of the town on lot 45, where John Morris now lives, and died there June 8, 1854, aged 79, and Hannah, his wife, Dec. 18, 1849, aged 68. His sons, Bradford and Weston H., settled and died in the town. Most of the other sons removed from the town. Hannah, wife of Daniel Harrison, of Georgetown, is a daughter of his, and the only one of his children living in the county. Weston H. Payne, born in 1805, was the first child born in the town. He died Oct. 6, 1843, aged 38. Joseph P. Harrison settled in the north part of the town, on the farm now owned by his son Daniel Harrison, and occupied by the latter's son-in-law, L. E. Beach. He died there Dec. 13, 1814, aged 35, and Elanor, his wife, March 3, 1826, aged 47. Daniel is the only one of his children left in the town. Calvin Cross was a native of Bennington, Vt., and removed thence to Hamilton in 1795, and from thence to Georgetown in 1805. He settled in the north-west part of the town, where Delevan Way now lives.

 

Captain Samuel White came in about 1805 and settled in the north-west part of the town, where his grandson, Zelotes A. White, now lives, and where he and his wife died.

 

Those who settled in the north part of the town came generally from the same locality and about the same time. They mostly took up small farms, most of which afterwards passed into other hands, one individual often acquiring two or more of them.

 

Other early settlers, but of a somewhat later period, were Elijah Brown, Ebenezer Hall, Jesse Jerrold, Zadock Hawks, John Gibson, Charles Belden, David Parker, Philetus Stewart, Doctor Smith, Benjamin Bonney, Reuben Buckingham and James McElwain.

 

Elijah Brown was a son of the Elijah Brown who bought the improvements of John C. Payne, and came here about the time that purchase was consummated. His father never settled here. Elijah was joined a few years later by his brother Alfred and both they and their wives died on that farm. Elijah died Sept. 16, 1859, aged 74, and Margaret Williams, his wife, Jan. 4, 1851, aged 66. Alfred died May 3, 1863, aged 75, and Mary Adams, his wife, March 20, 1869, aged 79. Both were married when they came here. Elijah had seven children, all of whom were born here, and four of whom are living, Lavinia, widow of L. E. Swan, a Baptist minister in Cazenovia, and Harriet, widow of Lyman F. Bonney, Elijah Warren and Loren W., in Georgetown, the latter, the youngest son, on the homestead. Elijah Warren has been Supervisor of this town for many years. Alfred taught school nine winters in succession in District No. 6, when he first came in. He likewise had seven children, of whom four are living, Alfred Augustus, on the homestead, and Louisa, wife of Barnett Wagoner, in Georgetown, Eliza, wife of David M. Darrow, of West Eaton, and Laura, wife of Elder E. D. Reed, pastor of the Baptist Church in Erieville. Alfred Augustus was for several years Supervisor of this town, and a Member of Assembly in 1865.

 

Ebenezer hall came from the New England States and settled a little north of the depot, where Charles Wagoner now lives. He removed to the village when well advanced in years and kept for several years the present hotel, which he built. He died in the town Jan. 4, 1860, aged 87.

 

Zadock Hawks, who was born Sept. 15, 1770, came from Hawley, Mass., in 1815, and settled two miles north of the village, on the farm now owned and occupied by his grandson, Austin Hawks, where he resided till his death, Jan. 30, 1863. He married in Massachusetts Rhoda Parker, who also died on the homestead Jan. 9, 1824, aged 49. He was a tanner and shoemaker by trade, but did not follow the former business here, though he did the shoemaking. They had eight children, who mostly married and settled adjacent to the homestead, though Israel C. is the only one left here. Horace succeeded his father on the homestead and died there Dec. 6, 1876, aged 81. He was a Member of Assembly in 1846.

 

David Parker and Asa West came in company from Massachusetts about 1808, and took up a lot in the north part of the town. Parker afterwards removed to the village and kept tavern. He died while thus engaged, March 21, 1824, aged 77. Sarah, his wife, died June 5, 1823, aged 74. Philetus Stewart settled in the north part of the town, where his son, Sanford, now lives, and died there Aug. 16, 1872, aged 87, also his wife, Susannah, Jan. 14, 1868, aged 82. Doctor Smith settled on the east line of the town, on the farm now owned by Luman Fisk and occupied by his son, PerLee Fisk. He was a carpenter and joiner and mason, and found employment at his trade in addition to his occupation as a farmer. Benjamin Bonney, from Connecticut, also settled on the east line, opposite the Doctor Smith farm, where his grandson, Loren, now lives. He died Jan. 19, 1868, aged 86, also his wife, Rhoda, March 23, 1854, aged 63.

 

Reuben Buckingham, son of Gideon and Jemima (Pelton) Buckingham, was born in Connecticut, Aug. 29, 1745, and removed from Seabrook, in that State, to Georgetown, in 1806. He settled on the south line, on 160 acres, which are now occupied by George Amsbry, Orlando Dutton, the widow of Charles DeClercq and Richard Bliss, and died there Feb. 4, 1828.

 

A romantic interest attaches to the locality in this town known as Muller Hill, from the brief residence there of the distinguished French refugee, the Duke du Barry*, commonly known to this locality by his assumed name of Louis Anathe Muller. In 1808, having purchased in New York a large tract of wild land in the western part of Georgetown, he removed with his wife and a few Frenchmen from New York to Hamilton, where he took up his abode while the quaint mansion on Muller Hill, which has awakened so much interest and speculation as to the true character of its builder, was in process of erection. The seclusion afforded by the isolated and inaccessible situation selected for his future abode was evidently the deep-seated purpose of his residence here, and gave color to the prevalent supposition that he sought safety in retirement from the royal wrath of Napoleon Bonaparte, of whose hatred he made no secret. That he was a man of great wealth and culture and accustomed to the usages of refined society was evident, and that he had ranked high in the military of his native France--so high as to make him a dreaded obstacle in the way of the accomplishment of Napoleon's ambitious schemes--was made highly probable by the unguarded utterances which occasionally, though rarely, broke the reticence which characterized his life in this vicinity, and not less the air of authority which pervaded his presence, implying that he had been accustomed to command.

*  This is the title by which he was known to Rev. Matthias Cazier, a highly educated French gentleman who resided in Lebanon, with whom he became intimate, and who was the only one in whom he fully confided.

 

The Muller mansion is situated about three miles west of Georgetown village, and although it has suffered greatly from the ravages of time, and still more from the negligence and destructiveness of its tenant occupants, is still an object of interest, though not at all suggestive of the immense sum lavished upon it and its surroundings**.  The house is seventy by thirty feet. The timber (all of which is cherry) and bricks, together with other articles used in its construction, were brought from Hamilton, but not upon horseback, as a contemporary has remarked. The sills are massive and rest upon a foundation of solid masonry. The walls of the superstructure consist of cherry timbers eight inches thick and eleven feet high, standing upright, mortised into the sills and doweled together, making a fortress-like structure. These were covered outside with clapboards and lathed and plastered within. The interior was elegantly finished, the fire-places lined with black marble, and supplied with costly furniture. Some three hundred acres of land were cleared in its immediate vicinity and made ornate with fruit trees and shrubbery. The brook which passes through the grounds supplied an artificial pond which was well stocked with trout and other fish. A large park, in which deer, rabbits and other game abounded, was inclosed with a strong stockade, for hunting was a sport in which he greatly delighted. He was an expert marksman, but would not attack game while at rest. Some two to three years were occupied and about 150 persons employed in carrying out these improvements, so that a village of no mean dimensions sprang into existence in that locality before Georgetown had acquired distinction in that direction, and a grist mill, saw mill, a store house and two stores ministered to the wants of the laborers and others who congregated there.

**  It has been supposed that he brought with him to Georgetown $150,000, and that he took away with him scarcely the one-hundredth part of that sum.

 

Anticipating Bonaparte's disastrous retreat from Russia, Muller, on the opening of that fatal campaign, at once made preparations to return to France; and in 1814, on the abdication of Bonaparte and his imprisonment at Elba, he took his family to New York and leaving them there went to France. In 1816 he returned to this country. But during his absence the agent in whose care he left his Georgetown property had stripped the house of its furniture, disposed of the stock and other movable property, and decamped with the proceeds, leaving behind him a scene of desolation and ruin. Dismayed with the air of wanton destruction which pervaded his deserted village and the cherished objects with which he had surrounded the home of his exile, he sold the estate in 1816 to Abijah Weston, a merchant of New York city, for $10,500, and repaired to France, never more to return.

 

But little remains beside the house to indicate that Georgetown was ever the seat of a magnificent ducal residence, surrounded by the objects which are the associates of opulence and culture. The house is now owned and occupied by A. W. Tillotson, who came recently from Cazenovia, where he had been engaged in mercantile business. Mr. Tillotson has greatly improved its interior, which had suffered from the carelessness of its former occupants, but the exterior is denuded of paint, and otherwise unattractive from years of neglect.

 

 

TOWN OFFICERS

 

The first town meeting was held at the house of John Holmes, March 5, 1816, and the following named officers were elected: William Payne, Supervisor; Epaphroditus Whitmore, Clerk; Ebenezer Hall, Daniel Alvord and Pitt Lawrence, Assessors; Daniel Hitchcock, Collector; Elijah Brown and Hanford Nichols, Overseers of the Poor; Alfred Brown, Asa West and Alexander McElwain, Commissioners of Highways; Daniel Hitchcock and Royce Collister, Constables; Robert Benedict, Ira Allen and Samuel White, Commissioners of Common Schools; Robert Benedict, Epaphroditus Whitmore, Daniel Hitchcock, Amos Gere, Elijah Jackson, Menoris Williams, Aaron Shepard, Nathan Benedict, Gad Taylor, Bradley Ladd, John Gipson, (probably Gibson,) John Alderman and Apollos Drake, Overseers of Highways and Fence Viewers.

 

The following is a statement of the votes cast in Georgetown, April 30 and May 1 and 2, 1816:  

 

 

For Daniel D. Tompkins,

for Governor

15

 

For Rufus King,

for Governor

28

 

For John Taylor,

for Lieut. Governor  

15

 

For George Tibbitts,

for Lieut. Governor

28

 

For Ephraim Hart,

for Senator

15

 

For John Knox,

for Senator

15

 

For William Mallory,

for Senator

15

 

For Samuel M. Hopkins,

for Senator

28

 

For Valentine Brother,

for Senator

28

 

For Theodore Sill,

for Senator

28

 

For Moses Maynard,

for Assemblyman

36

 

For James B. Eldridge,

for Assemblyman

36

 

For Nehemiah Bachelor,

for Assemblyman

36

 

For Jonathan Olmstead,

for Assemblyman

46

 

For Nehemiah Huntington,

for Assemblyman

46

 

For Isaac Bumpus,

for Assemblyman

46

 

For Thomas H. Hubbard,

for Congress

36

 

For Simeon Ford,

for Congress

46


The following list of the officers of the town of Georgetown, for the year 1880-81, was kindly furnished us by A. C. Stanton:  

 

Supervisor:   Russell Whitmore.

Town Clerk:   Albert C. Stanton.

Justices:   Zelotus A. White, Albert C. Stanton, Alanson J. Brown, Otis H. Whitmore.

Assessors:   Austin A. Hawks, Philo Parker, John A. Wilson.

Commissioner of Highways:   Milton D. Allen.

Overseer of the Poor:   Hannibal C. Priest, Chas. M. White.

Constables:   Newel H. Brown, Hiram R. Briggs, Milton D. Allen, Arthur Perry.

Collector:   Newel H. Brown.

Inspectors of Election:   George W. Fletcher, James A. Thorp, J. Floyd Stoddard.

Sealer of Weights and Measures:   A. C. Stanton.

Game Constable:   Jerome W. Brown.

Excise Commissioners:   Frank E. Whitmore, Lucius E. Beach, Albert E. Laselle.

 

The following have been the Supervisors and Clerks of the town from its organization to the present time:  

 

1816-23

William Payne

Epaphroditus Whitmore

 

 

 

1824-5

E  Whitmore

John Brown

 

 

 

1826

Daniel Alvord

Alexander McElwain

 

 

 

1827

S  B  Hoffman

E  Whitmore

 

 

 

1828

Hanford Nichols

do

 

 

 

1829

William Payne

do

 

 

 

1830

do

Ira B  Howard

 

 

 

1831-4

Peter Nichols

do

 

 

 

1835

W  F  Bostwick

E  Whitmore

 

 

 

1836-7

do

Rossetter Gleason

 

 

 

1838-40

Horace Hawks

do

 

 

 

1841

Elijah Brown

do

 

 

 

1843

Truman Amsbry

Rossetter Gleason

 

 

 

1844

Samuel Wickwire

Zinah J  Moseley

 

 

 

1845

Elijah Brown

William P  Bonney

 

 

 

1846-7

Samuel Wickwire

do

 

 

 

1848-9

Zinah J  Moseley

do

 

 

 

1850

Truman Amsbry

do

 

 

 

1851-2

Enoch L  Savage

do

 

 

 

1853-4

Zinah J  Moseley

do

 

 

 

1855

W  P  Bonney

Robert Ray

 

 

 

1856

do

William Way

 

 

 

1857

Robert Utter

do

 

 

 

1858

do

William P  Bonney

 

 

 

1859-60

Elijah W  Brown

James M  Hare

 

 

 

1861-2

C  M  Amsbry  *

do

 

 

 

1863-5

Alfred A  Brown

do

 

 

 

1866

John W  Northrop

Amasa Jackson

 

 

 

1867

do

William P  Bonney

 

 

 

1868-9

Elijah W  Brown

do

 

 

 

1870-1

John W  Dryer

do

 

 

 

1872

Elijah W  Brown

Edgar C  Salisbury

 

 

 

1873, 6

do

William P  Bonney

 

 

 

1874-5

Andrew McCoy

do

 

 

 

1877

Asa Prichard

do **

 

 

 

1878

Alfred A  Brown

Edgar C  Salisbury  **

 

 

 

1879

Elijah W  Brown

Albert C  Stanton

 

 

 

 

* E. W. Brown was elected Supervisor Nov. 1, 1862, to fill vacancy occasioned by the absence of Mr. Amsbry.

** Albert C. Stanton was appointed clerk, July 27, 1877, to fill vacancy occasioned by the death of William P. Bonney; and again June 1, 1878, to fill vacancy caused by the removal of Edgar C. Salisbury.

 

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