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

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


HAMILTON was formed from Paris, March 5, 1795, and named in honor of Hon. Alexander Hamilton of New York. It originally embraced Nos. 2, 3, 4 and 5 of the Twenty Townships, and was reduced to its present limits Feb. 6, 1807, by the formation of Eaton, Lebanon and Madison, which correspond respectively with Nos. 2, 5 and 3 of the Twenty Townships. It is situated on the south border of the County, east of the center, and is bounded on the north by Madison, on the south by Sherburne, on the east by Brookfield and on the west by Lebanon. Its surface is a rolling upland, broken by the valleys of the Chenango and its eastern branch, the former of which skirts the west border, while the latter crosses the town diagonally from north-east to south-west, and unites with the main stream at Earlville, near the south-west corner. These with their numerous small tributaries water it abundantly.


It is wholly covered by the rocks of the group, which takes its name from this town, the best exposure of which is furnished by the quarries in the hill-side, back of the University in Hamilton village. These quarries are not now in use. The layers are regular and uniform in thickness, but small. A quarry is open also on the farm of Charles C. Payne, where the rock is seamless. In neither case, however, is the stone desirable for ornate building purposes, being adapted only to coarse work. Nearly all the stone buildings in Hamilton village are constructed of the native rock, including the University buildings, which are quite unattractive, except from their sightly location, and the Eagle Hotel, a massive, uncomely building.


The soil in the valleys is a rich and highly productive sandy and gravelly loam, while that upon the hills is a clayey loam, admirably adapted to the purposes of the dairy. In the eastern part of the town, which presents the most rugged contour, hops are extensively raised.


The abandoned Chenango canal crosses the north-west and south-west corners of the town, but its business has been monopolized by the contiguous railroads. The Utica, Chenango and Susquehanna Valley Railroad extend through the town along the valley of the east branch of the Chenango, and draws patronage from a broad and fertile region. The Utica, Clinton and Binghamton Railroad crosses the north-west corner of the town, its course through the town being almost entirely confined to the village of Hamilton. It connects at Smith's valley with the New York, Ontario and Western Railroad, (Midland,) which extends through the east border of Lebanon. Both these roads are operated by the Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad Company.


The population of the town in 1875 was 3,711; of who 3,371 were native, 340 foreign, 3,684 white, 27 colored, 1,771 males and 1,940 females. Its area was 23,516 acres; of which 19,026 were improved, 3,869 woodland, and 621 otherwise unimproved. The cash value of farms was $1,849,615; of farm buildings other than dwellings, $228,789; of stock, $225,308; of tools and implements, $49,261. The amount of gross sales from farms in 1874 was $178,102.


There are fifteen common and one union free school districts in the town. During the year ending Sept. 30, 1879, there were twenty-three 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 1,030. During that year there were nine male and twenty-three female teachers employed; the number of children residing in the districts who attended school was 782, and the number not residing in the districts, 102, of whom six were under five or over twenty-one years of age; the average daily attendance during the year was 548.615; the number of volumes in district libraries was 1,296, the value of which was $583; the number of school-houses was sixteen, all frame, which, with the sites, embracing three acres and twenty-three rods, valued at $3,385, were valued at $18,475; the assessed value of taxable property in the districts was $1,940,671. The number of children between eight and fourteen years of age residing in the districts at that date was 362, of whom 285 attended district school fourteen weeks of that year, and 29 attended private schools or were instructed at home during a like period.


Receipts and disbursements for school purposes:


   Amount on hand Oct. 1, 1878 $ 285.18 

  " apportioned to districts 2,677.19 

  Proceeds of Gospel and school lands 43.55 

  Raised by tax 4,908.93 

  From teachers' board 112.00 

  " other sources 571.67 


  Total receipts $8,598.52 


  Paid for teachers' wages $6,010.62 

  " libraries 16.45 

  " school apparatus 12.80 

  " school-houses, sites, fences, out-houses, repairs, furniture, etc 1,537.77 

  " other incidental expenses 657.46 

  Amount remaining on hand Sept. 30, 1879 363.42 


  Total disbursements $8,598.52 


Hamilton presents some features of interest connected with its aboriginal occupants, implements of war and the chase having been disclosed by the plow and other agencies in various parts of the town, but most richly on the flats in the locality of Earlville, which gave evidence at an early day of having been numerously occupied. Not many years since Mr. O. B. Lord found on his farm near Poolville two curiously wrought stones, resembling in form the head of a human being, one, and the larger of which, displayed three round holes on the back of the skull. Their significance can only be conjectured, but there is little doubt that they belong to that system of mnemonic signs, by means of which the aborigines are known to have communicated intelligence to one another. The town was annually visited to as late a period as the close of the war of 1812 by parties of the Oneida and Stockbridge Indians, whose southern trail extended through the western border. They camped for indefinite periods in the valleys of the Chenango and its eastern branch, and engaged in hunting, fishing and the manufacture of baskets, the latter of which they sold to the settlers. A place two miles below Hamilton village was a much frequented locality; and it was here that Mary Antoine, daughter of the notorious Abram Antoine, committed the murder of a female member of her own tribe for alienating the affections of her husband, for which she was hung at Peterboro in the fall of 1814, and which led to the execution of her father at Morrisville, Sept. 12, 1823, for the murder of John Jacobs, a half-breed, who was her principal accuser.


Hamilton, as we have previously seen, was one of the six townships patented to Col. William S. Smith April 16, 1794. Townships 2, 3, 4 and 5, those which formed the original town of Hamilton, were soon after transferred to Sir William Pultney, from whom Dominick Lynch, a merchant in New York city, purchased the great part of the 4th township, the present town of Hamilton, which was surveyed by Nathaniel Lock.




The first settlement was made on the East Branch of the Chenango, near Earlville, in the spring of 1792, by John Wells, Abner Nash, Patrick W. Shields and John Muir, who came in company from Paris, Oneida County, bringing with them their effects, which were drawn upon a sled by a yoke of oxen, and driving before them two cows and two hogs. Wells and Nash, who were originally from Amherst, Mass., had been in earlier the same year on snow-shoes and selected a location and built a log cabin. Shields and Muir were originally from Scotland. Mr. Wells brought in his wife and infant son William, then little more than a year old. Mrs. Wells brought with her a pet dog, and in making the passage of the East Branch of the Chenango, then much swelled by recent rains, that animal, which was carried in the saddle bag attached to the horse on which she rode, was thoroughly drenched and almost suffocated. The other saddle bag contained provisions. She crossed the stream, which was too deep to ford, with her infant son in her arms. Their route from Paris was designated only by marked trees. The passage of the stream was made at Hubbardsville. Mr. Wells settled where Horatio Sholes now lives, on the east side of the river, about midway between Earlville and Poolville. He immediately commenced keeping tavern, to accommodate the many who were then penetrating the wilderness in search of homes; and on his land was kept the first store in the town, by Israel Church. Mr. Wells died on that farm Dec. 26, 1831, aged 68, and Betsey, his wife, March 21, 1844, aged 74. Their children, besides William, who died in the town Sept. 7, 1830, aged 39, were Henry, who was the first white child born in the town--in 1793--and also died in the town Feb. 26, 1837, aged 42; Jerry, who went west and died there; Daniel and Alonzo, who died in the town, the former April 14, 1864, aged 61, and the latter April 19, 1862, aged 57; Horatio, who died a year or two ago in the west part of the State; Betsey, who married a Barnes, first settled in this town and afterwards went west; and Caroline, who married J. K. Ackley, both of whom are living near Hubbardsville.


Though his name is incidentally mentioned in connection with the history of the town and village of Hamilton, this book would fail to meet the expectations of the public without a more extended memoir of Elisha Payne. For nearly fifty years of active business life, he held a place second to none in the advancement of the social and business interests of the village he named and helped to create; and for these reasons he and his family occupy a large place in the memory and affections of the people. He left behind him abundant proof of his ability and wisdom, and a family trained to lives of usefulness and honor, a fortune accumulated slowly and honestly, and in many enterprises that tended to insure the prosperity of Hamilton. His memory will grow brighter as years roll round, and the asperities of life's conflicts are forgotten.


He was a lineal descendant of one of three brothers by the name of Payne, who settled at Plymouth as early as 1621, and who were forced to leave England for the same cause that drove the Pilgrims to find a home in the New World. He was born at North East, Dutchess County, New York, Dec. 3, 1762. His parents, Abram and Rebecca Payne, were natives of Connecticut. The former was born in 1722, and died in Hamilton, April 21, 1801, in his 80th year. The latter died in the same place Dec. 25, 1810, aged 86 years. They settled in Dutchess County about 1760. They had four sons and four daughters. Elisha was the youngest of the children and the only one that left issue.  In consequence of the misfortune that befell their parents in the loss of their property, Elisha and Samuel cared for and supported them until they died.


Elisha had but few advantages for an education, such only as were afforded by the common schools of his town, but his habits were of a studious character and he was fond of reading. Every good book that he was able to get he read carefully, and so stored his mind with valuable information that enabled him to competently discharge the duties of the various offices of trust and responsibility that were confided to him by his townsmen and those in authority in after years.


On the 17th of September, 1787, he was married to Polly Brooks, a native of Essex, Connecticut. She was born January 12, 1766, and died May 4, 1796. By her he had four children, three sons and one daughter, viz: Abram, John, Samuel and Mary.


August 17, 1797, he married Esther Douglass, daughter of Rev. Caleb Douglass, of Whitestown, one of the pioneers of that section, and a descendant of the Douglass family of Scotland. Esther was born July 25, 1778, and died at Hamilton, Sept. 12, 1853. By her he had fourteen children, twelve sons and two daughters, two of whom died in infancy. The names of those that grew to maturity are here given in the order of their birth: Elijah (dead), Elisha, living near Clinton, New York, Mansfield, (dead) Joseph, living in Seneca Falls, New York, Nelson, living near Auburn, New York, Charles C., living in Hamilton, New York, Thomas, living in Illinois, near Chicago, Maria, (dead) Henry B., residing in Cleveland, William, (dead) Esther, (dead) and Edwin, living in Dayton, Ohio. Of the seven who are yet living six are over seventy years of age.


In 1794 Samuel Payne settled in the dense forest near where now is the south line of the village of Hamilton. Elisha came in the next year and bought lot No. 2, on which more than half of the village of Hamilton is situated. The name of Payne Settlement was given this locality, and a few years thereafter Elisha changed it to Hamilton, in honor of one he greatly admired, Alex. Hamilton.


Elisha built a rude log cabin near the corner now occupied by the Smith Block, in which he lived a short time, but the influx of New England people who came as actual settlers, or with a view to settlement, demanded a larger and more commodious building in which they could find a temporary home. Accordingly Mr. Payne built a large frame house on the corner above referred to, which he kept as a tavern for several years, and until another building was put up for that purpose in 1812.


Mr. Payne was anxious that a village of importance should be built up here, and as an inducement to mechanics and others whose presence would help to bring about that result, he gave them land and helped them build their homes on the same. He gave the land for the Park that now greatly beautifies the village, and the same was used many years by the Militia of the adjoining towns as a parade ground.


Mr. Payne also gave land for burial purposes, and which is now known as the "Old Burying Ground." The interment of Mr. Payne's first wife, (Polly) was the first made in these grounds.


Mr. Payne thoroughly identified himself with every enterprise that seemed to him would be of permanent benefit to Hamilton. He invested largely of his means in the construction of a turnpike from Cherry Valley through Hamilton to Skaneateles, the successful completion of which was mainly due to his influence. He was the friend of education, and was one of the few who were instrumental in establishing an Academy, which flourished here many years. According to a report of the second annual meeting of "The Baptist Education Society of the State of New York", he'd at Whitesborough, New York, June 2, 1810, we find that he was elected Trustee of the Society for the ensuing year; and that at a meeting of the Board of Trustees then and there elected, the following resolution was adopted: "That Elisha Payne, of Hamilton, Charles Babcock, of New Hartford and Squire Munro, of Camillus, be appointed a committee to ascertain the most eligible situation within the counties of Oneida, Madison. Onondaga and Cayuga for the location of a Seminary, and report to this Board at their next meeting." It was owing to his influence and his great success in securing subscriptions to the Society that the Seminary was finally located at Hamilton.


In politics Mr. Payne was a Federalist, and afterwards a Whig, and always took a great interest in his party's success. He was emphatically the leader of his party in his County for years, and was chosen chairman of the meetings held by the party on all important occasions. He was one of the first Judges of the Court of Common Pleas, appointed by Morgan Lewis, Governor, March 31, 1806, and held that office about nine years.


In the early years of his residence here the people bestowed on him several offices of trust and honor, but in the closing years of his life he declined all offices of a public nature. Mr. Payne was devoted to the cause of Christianity. He was one of the founders of the Baptist church in Hamilton, and one of its earnest supporters, and assisted in building three churches in Hamilton, always giving liberally of his means when the cause of religion made a demand upon him.


In his domestic life Mr. Payne was a kind husband and loving father, teaching his children by his upright life the value and importance of virtue, and inspiring them with the worthy ambition to be men and women in the loftiest sense of the word. His teachings were not forgotten, but are fully exemplified in the lives of his children.


Elisha Payne died February 4, 1843.


Abner Nash, who together with Shields and Muir, settled on farms contiguous to that of Well's, died in Earlville, August 22, 1837, aged 81. He survived his wife (Hannah) many years. She died Nov. 17, 1812, aged 49. His family afterwards moved west. His son Horace, who was born in Hamilton in 1794, was the second child born in the town. He died July 16, 1853, aged 59, and Phylinda, his wife, Oct. 16, 1835, at age 40. Shields was a British soldier during the Revolutionary war, and was wounded and taken prisoner at the battle of Bunker Hill. His wife (Nancy) died here Oct. 26, 1828, aged 68. Muir died here April 24, 1823, aged 70, and Mary, his wife, Dec. 6, 1829, aged 66. Harriet, wife of Lyman H. Dunham, of Hamilton, and John Muir, of Earlville, children of James Muir, (who died Jan. 30, 1867, aged 67, and Beulah, his wife, July 24, 1830, aged 29;) Mrs. Albert Plumb, of Hamilton, daughter of David Muir, (who died May 29, 1854, aged 71;) and Hinman Hinman, of Earlville, son of Hinman Hinman, who married a daughter of John Muir's, are grandchildren of the latter.


In 1793, Reuben Ransom settled on the Adon Smith farm. He died April 12, 1818, aged 55, and "Rebekah," his wife, May 12, 1821, aged 62.


Samuel Payne, who was born in Lebanon, Conn., in 1760, was a descendant of Elisha Payne, who, with his brother Thomas, emigrated from England and landed in Plymouth in 1621,and from whom the Paynes in this country are supposed to have descended. Elisha settled in Connecticut and Thomas in the South. In 1794,* Samuel Payne removed in company with his father Abram to Hamilton, and settled on lot 19, a westerly lot in the second tier of lots in this town, (his farm including the site of the University). He located a half mile south of the village, and resided there till his death, August 19, 1843, aged 83. He married in Connecticut, Betsey Stower, daughter of a physician in that State. She was for fifty years the best educated lady in the Chenango Valley. She survived her husband several years, and died in the village of Hamilton Jan. 1, 1850, aged 86. They had no children. Mr. Payne was the founder of the First Baptist Church of Hamilton, and was its first deacon, an office he held until his death. The first meeting was held at his house, and he traveled over the whole of the old town of Hamilton to invite the Baptists to meet there. He, his brother Elisha, and Jonathan Olmstead, the latter of whom was a deacon from an early day until his death, were a noted trio in the Baptist Church, and were regarded the most talented laymen in the State. He represented Chenango County in the Assembly in 1806; a Presidential Elector in 1832; and was appointed an Associated Judge of the County Courts. Previous to his death, in 1827, he willed his farm to the Baptist Education Society, as a site for their Seminary (now their University) buildings. His father never took up land, but lived alternately with his sons Samuel and Elisha. He died April 21, 1801, aged 79, and Rebecca his wife, Dec. 25, 1810, at age 86.

* Statement of Dea. Alvah Pierce, of Hamilton, who thinks he is quite sure that Samuel Payne did not come here before 1794, though Dea. Charles C. Payne, of Hamilton, thinks he came in 1792. The fact that they bought their land strengthens the belief that he did not come before 1794.


Charles Clark Payne, who married Mary E. Swan, of Stonington, Conn., (who died May 19, 1875, at age 62,) settled and has since resided on a part of the homestead farm, has been a member for fifty years and deacon for forty years of the First Baptist Church of Hamilton, is the only one of Elisha Payne's children living in this locality.


Theophilus and Benjamin Pierce, brothers, and natives of Cornwall, Conn., came from Canaan, Columbia County, in 1794, and purchased of Dominick Lynch, lots numbers 19 and 20, the two most westerly lots in the second tier of lots in the 4th township, each containing 250 acres, "more or less". The deed is dated Oct. 28, 1794, and is now in possession of Dea. Alvah Pierce, of Hamilton, son of Theophilus Pierce, and now living on the land his father took up. The consideration was "œ500 current money of the State of New York."


In that year they built the body of a log house, which stood about twenty-two rods north-east of the present residence of Alvah Pierce. Both had families, which they brought here in the winter of 1795, at which time they were accompanied by Jonathan Olmstead, Daniel Smith, Joseph Foster, James Cady and Elisha Payne, all from the same locality. Cady was the only one not married. They came with sleighs drawn by horses and oxen, and all found accommodations temporarily in the log-cabin of Samuel Payne. They soon rolled up log shanties of their own and moved into them. The Pierces divided their lands after coming in, making the river the general boundary; Theophilus taking that part lying west of the river and Benjamin that lying east. Benjamin located his house near the residence of Prof. A. M. Beebe, on Broad street, in the southerly part of Hamilton village.


Theophilus Pierce married in Cornwall, Conn., Sally Beach, by whom he had five children, three of whom--William, Lucinda and Alanson--were born before they came here. The other two were born in Hamilton, Sally, May 8, 1795, and Alvah. William married Asenath Cady, sister of James Cady, and settled on a part of his father's farm, where Emilus J. Enos now lives, and died there May 31, 1836, aged 54. After his death his wife went to live in Rose, Wayne County, with her only daughter Harriet, (who married Artemas Osgood,) and died there Sept. 5, 1867, aged 85. Lucinda married in 1807, Nehemiah Pierce, who came from Cornwall, Conn., in 1805 or '6, a single young man, and worked out in this locality by the month. They settled about three miles south-east of Hamilton village, where they raised their family of three children, and in advanced life went to live with their son Juline, between Hamilton and East Hamilton, where he died June 5, 1853, aged 72. Lucinda removed with her son to Hamilton, where she died Sept 4, 1865, aged 80. Juline died in Hamilton May 3, 1879. The other two children were John Smith Pierce, who is living near Hamilton Center, and Mary Jane, who married Albert Evarts of Eaton, and died in Oriskany. Alanson settled and died in Westmoreland. Sally married Harvey Miles, of Lebanon, where they lived till his death, Nov. 14, 1840. She soon after removed to Hamilton, where she died July 15, 1864. They had no children. Alvah married Caroline, daughter of Francis Whitmore, of Lebanon, where he has since lived, with the exception of three years, where he was engaged in milling and mercantile business in Fabius. He was also engaged in mercantile business in Hamilton from 1839 to 1844, at first, for one year, in company with Artemas Osgood and William Cobb, and afterwards with Erastus Pearl and William Cobb. He is the only one of the family living. He was vice-president of the Hamilton Bank from its organization until he became the president, on the death of Adon Smith, who was president from the organization. Theophilus Pierce and his wife died where they settled, the former June 14, 1841, aged 81, and the latter, Dec. 1, 1838, aged 77.


Benjamin Pierce married Anna, sister of Jonathan Olmstead, by whom he had eight children, four of whom; Samuel, Benjamin, Dolly and Polly, were born before they came here. Mercy, Jonathan O., Anna S. and Sally, were the four born here. Both Benjamin and his wife died on the farm on which they settled, the former June 7, 1817, aged 56, and the latter, Oct. 9, 1814, aged 52. He was for several years a Justice of the Peace. Of his children, Samuel married a daughter of Johnson's, from the east, and settled in Hamilton village, where for several years he kept the Park House. He had no children. Benjamin married and settled in Oneida County. He afterwards removed to Watertown, where he died in 1877. Polly married Aaron Cady and settled in Hamilton, where she died Jan. 18, 1832, aged 46, and her husband Jan. 18, 1822, aged 40. Mercy married Solomon Johnson, who was for many years a merchant in Watertown. She is still living in Jefferson County. Jonathan O. married Martha, daughter of Deacon Samuel Osgood, of Eaton, and settled on the homestead farm. He afterwards removed to the village, where he died Aug. 11, 1848, aged 51, and his wife May 24, 1845, aged 45.


William Pierce, son of Theophilus, in company with Josiah and Medad Rogers, built about 1810, the first grist and saw-mill in Hamilton village, on the site of Furman's mill. The saw-mill was built first and the grist-mill soon after. The present mill was built by the same parties in 1832. The stone used in its construction was obtained from the side hill about a half mile west of the mill. On the west side of the stream, about twenty rods above these mills, was a distillery owned by Haight & Chappell, and later by Lyman Osgood, the latter of whom did an extensive business at an early day. It was established soon after the mills and was in operation a number of years, but did not do much after the death of Osgood.


Jonathan Olmstead settled on a farm adjoining that of Samuel Payne's, where ? Rowlands now lives, the second house on Broad street south of the University boarding house, where he resided till within some fifteen years of his death, when he removed to the village and died there. He married the widows of three doctors, the first before his settlement here, though he had no children of his own. His second wife was the widow of Dr. Bartholomew, of Waterville, who had three or four children by her first husband. Olmstead's third wife was a sister to the second, the widow of Dr. Hull, of Eaton, who had one son and three daughters.


Daniel Smith married Mercy, sister of Jonathan Olmstead, and settled a quarter of a mile below him, where Alonzo Holmes now lives. He continued to reside there till his death, June 3, 1826, aged 64. His wife also died there July 31, 1820, aged 55.


Joseph Foster was from Wethersfield, Conn. He settled about a mile east of Hamilton, on the farm now occupied by J. Spencer Foster, his grandson, on which he and his wife (Desire,) died, the former Oct. 17, 1810, aged 75, and the latter Nov. 20, 1821, at age 76. He had five children: Nathan, Deborah, Desire, Joseph and Theresa, the latter two of whom came in with him. Nathan, who was a native of Wethersfield, Conn., came in the previous year, (1794,) and settled on a farm adjoining his father's on the west, which is now owned and occupied by Harley J. Foster, a son of his brother Joseph. He took up fifty acres, on which he resided till his removal to Ohio in 1839, when he sold his farm to his brother Joseph.


William Pierce, brother to Theophilus and Benjamin Pierce, came in at an early day, but later than his brothers, and settled a little east of Hamilton village, where Charles W. Underhill now lives. He died there.  He married Abigail Howard, who died in Hamilton village. They had nine children, two of whom are living, William, in Otselic, and Leonard, in Earlville.


David Dunbar, who was born in Charlton, Mass., of Scotch ancestry, in February, 1774, removed to Hamilton at the age of twenty-one years. He came on foot, with an ax and surveyors' instruments, and en route called on Dominick Lynch at Albany and bargained with him to re-survey the town into lots of 250 acres, which he did in the eastern part of the town. He first located on lot 36, and afterwards on lot 28, at Hubbardsville, where he built a grist and saw-mill, from which the locality was known as Dunbar's Mills, until Calvin Hubbard settled at the corners, a little west of these mills, when the settlement took his name. Mr. Dunbar operated these mills till about 1850, carrying on at the same time an extensive farm, which he brought to an excellent state of cultivation. About 1850, he sold the mill property and farm to his son James H. David Dunbar, after selling the mill property, retired to a small place in Hubbardsville, where he spent the rest of his days. He died in November, 1856, aged 82.


Dan Throop, who was born at Lebanon, Conn., Dec. 10, 1777, and his wife, Sarah Stanton Mason, July 6, 1782, their union dating from April 6, 1802, settled in this town at an early day.


As early as 1795 the first settlement was made at Earlville, by Col. Bigelow Waters and Charles Otis, the former locating in the southern and the latter the central part of the village. Otis' house occupied the site of Brown's Hotel.


Settlements were made as early as 1796, by Reuben Foote; as early as 1797, by Ezra Fuller, George Bigsby, James Williams and Samuel Stower; and as early as 1799, by William Hatch, Calvin Ackley and the Nashes. Foote settled in the locality of East Hamilton, early known as Colchester, from the fact that the first settlers in that vicinity were from Colchester, Mass., among whom were Calvin Ackley, Ezra Fuller, Geo. Bigsby and Stephen and Daniel Brainard, the latter cousins. Ackley had a numerous family, four of whom are living in this town, Cyrus, on the homestead, Hiram and Edwin adjacent to it, and Beulah, widow of Samuel Hauson. Eli and Rodney Ackley, brothers of Calvin, were also early and prominent settlers there. Ezra Fuller settled a mile below Calvin Ackley, where Joseph McCabe now lives, and Bigsby adjacent to him. James Williams, from Connecticut, located at Poolville and died there, Feb. 29, 1840, aged 84. Samuel Stower came from Lebanon, Conn., and settled on eighty acres on Broad Street, a little below the park in Hamilton village. He died Sept. 23, 1820, aged 49. William Hatch settled in the south edge of Hamilton village, where Alvah Hopkins now lives, and kept tavern. He also kept tavern at a later day in Cazenovia, where he died. The Nashes--Elijah, Zenas and Thomas--were from Plainfield, Otsego County, and settled in the south part of the town, near Poolville. They are numerously represented by their descendants. A daughter of Zenas Nash, Mrs. Millen Stone, is living in Lebanon.


The Brainards, Calvin Ackley, Ezra Fuller and Geo. Bigsby came in company from Colchester, and erected on the Stephen Brainard farm, now occupied by William O. Clark, a log cabin which stood near the barn on the Clark farm, and was occupied by the first four until they built houses of their own. They brought fire in a kettle from the Payne settlement, and went to that settlement and to John Wells', generally the latter, to get their baking done. Stephen Brainard, who was then the only one married, brought in his wife with an ox sled the following winter.


Daniel A. Brainard settled where Sebra Allen now lives, in the same locality (Colchester settlement) and he and his wife, Irene Brainard, resided there till their death.


Other early settlers at Poolville were Ebenezer Colson, from Plainfield, Mass., who settled soon after 1800, on the farm now occupied by the widow of Porter Swift, where he died March 19, 1856, aged 92, and whose son Rollin, now living there, is the only one of his children left; Roswell, Lucas and ? Craine, three brothers, and William Lord, from East Haddam, Conn., about 1810, about a mile east of the village. William Lord had four children, all of whom are living, O. B., in Hamilton, George, in Michigan, L. Maria, widow of James H. Dunbar, of Hubbardsville, in Brookfield, and Louisa, wife of Lyman O. Preston, in Avon.


Andrew Beach came from Canaan, Columbia County, a young, single man, soon after 1800, and settled on the farm next south of the Alvah Pierce farm, where F. H. Ingalls now lives. In 1806, he built a tannery, which is still occupied in part as a private creamery, to which use it was converted about 1875.


From the town records we gather the following additional names of early settlers not mentioned in connection with the town officers in 1795. They appear in the record as officers of the town in the year under which their names are given. Many of them doubtless settled a few years earlier than is there indicated, and some of them belong to others of the towns which originally composed the town of Hamilton. Their lives were generally uneventful in a historic point of view and do not seem to warrant the space necessary to trace their history, were that at our disposal; but their connection with the town was an important one, from the fact of their pioneer labors in it, and they are not less worthy of recognition than some noticed at greater length. We have been obliged in many cases to follow the orthography of the record, which often only vaguely indicates the probable correct one.


1796   Samuel Felt, Asahel Fitch, Noah Tyler, Samuel Brigham, John Stanclift, Richard Williams, Thomas Hart, Lucius Scott, Elihu Cross, Elijah Thompson, Samuel Curtis, Jonathan Brigham, John McCartney, Wm. Brown.


1797   Daniel Hubbard, Amos Muzzey, James White, Ephraim Clough, George Brown, Simeon Stewart, Zopher Moore, Roswell Tyler, Sylvanus Parmelee, Darren Hull, Isaac Douglass, Hezekiah Andrus, John B. Berry, Elijah Bond, Samuel Lillie, Daniel Smith, Lyman Cook, Rawson Hammond, Jason Fergo, Israel Inman, Amos Graves.


1798   Jonathan Stevens, Jonathan Pratt, Oliver Gillet, Daniel Russell, John Marble, Jr., Abijah Markham, Jr., John Pattison, Reuben "Slaiton," Samuel Watson, Enoch Hitchcock, Freman Williams, John Brown, Seth Johnson, Josiah Rice, Samuel Woods, Augustus Corey, John T. Burton, Prince Spooner, Uriah Cross, Benjamin I. Haight, Borden Willcox, John St. Clair, Samuel Brownell, John W. Bulkley, Isaac Skinner, Warren Hull, John White.


1799   John Gray, Joseph Manchester, Nehemiah Thompson, Thomas Woodward, Zephaniah White, Ebenezer Ransom, Cyrus Finney, Robert Avery, Archibald Salsberry, William Ward, Elijah Brainard, Jeremiah "Weeden," Job Manchester, Sprague Perkins, Daniel Holbrook, James Jones, William Henry, Rufus Shepherd, Joseph French, Constant Avery, John Benedict, Joseph Head, Thomas Dibble, Abraham Hemingway, "Abizar" Richmond, John "Keneda."


1800   Ebenezer Rauson, Rufus Eldred, Josiah Hubbard, Stephen Woodhull, Elisha Pratt, Cyrus Howard, Nathaniel Rider, Benjamin Wentworth, Asa Finney, Eli Hull, Robert Avery, Levi Bonney, John Sanford, Charles Smith, William Sanford, Freeman Billings, Samuel Ackley, William P. Cleveland, Stuart Campbell, Russell Barker, Augustus I. Corey, Reuben Brigham, Apollos Drake, Thomas Buell, Noadiah Hasting, Edward Hull, Windsor Coman, Joseph Waters, Job Peckham, Abijah Harrington, Joseph B. Peck, David Williams, Samuel Roe, Joseph Fairbanks, "Jeirah" Finney, Judah "Stovel" Aaron Willcox, Chauncey Isham, Daniel Hatch, Samuel Watson.


1801   Joseph Adams, James Hitchcock, Abijah Parker, Josiah Brown, Asa Pease, Jr., Dunham Chapley, Joseph Usher, Josiah Jewet, Thomas Galloway, Eleazar Snow, Gardner Wyman, Ezra "Chaise," "Micojah Chaise," Jacob Thompson, Enos Gifford, John Douglass, Jeirah Phinney, Jeremiah "Merk," Israel Church, Ebenezer Hill, Elisha Fuller, Rawson Hermon, Joel Gray, Levi Morton, William Henderson, Joseph Bennet, Jeheil Felt, Jehiel Wattles, Allen Campbell, Martin Roberts, Daniel Allen, Ziba Coomer, William Randal, John "Packhard," John Blancher, Jr., David Sexton, Bethiel Willoughby, Thomas West, Jr., Thomas Anderson, John Chambers, Richard Butler, Sylvester Fuller, Moses Maynard.


1802   Obed Edson, Dan Ladd, Dan Ballard, George Peckham, Isaac Chauncey, Amos Burton, Timothy "Rodgers," Josiah Brown, Abraham Webster, Philan Wilcox, Israel Rice, John Burotn, Robinson Shepherd, Joseph Crandal, John "Fairlee," Jeremiah Babcock, Theo. Hardin, Elijah Utter, Thomas Morris, Josiah Wilcox, Samuel White, Daniel Nichols, Charles Peckham, Asahel Sexton, Green Bixby, Jonas Wood, Eleazar Isbell, William Hopkins, "Alford" Cornell, Martin Roberts, David "Stall," John "Waggoner," Luther "Harrick," Samuel Coomer, Leonard Pemberton, Samuel Coe, Silas Walker, Joseph Putney, Abijah Morgan, George Bixby, Jeremiah Mack, Thomas Anderson, Jonathan Dunham, Philip "Mathewson," Jonathan Crouch, "Loring" Pierce.


1803   Ithamer Smith, Lucas Peet, Joseph Partridge, Thomas Morton, Silas "Soddy,"* "Gailed" Stephens, "Micazor Claus," Philip Woodman, William Raxford, Jr., Levi Bonney, 1st, Samuel Perry, Job Peckham, William "Hustins," William Torrey, Angel "Mathuson," "Patriet Pebbles," Samuel Howard, John Staples, Joseph Curtis, George McKeene, Thomas Leach, Ichabod Wheeler, Levi Bonney, 2d, Elisha Herrick, Jonathan Stephens, John Webster, Richard "Homes," John Degroat, Samuel Brigham, John Graham, Aruna Moseley, Walter Parmore, Dane Ballard, "Alford" Cornwell.




The first town meeting was held in the house of Elisha Payne, the first Tuesday in April, 1795, and the following named officers were elected: Joshua Leland, Supervisor, Elijah Blodgett, Clerk; Samuel Clemons, Samuel Berry, Simeon Gillet, Jr., Luther Waterman and Elisha Payne, Assessors; James Collister, David Hartshorn, John Barber and Elijah Hayden, Constables and Collectors; Joshua Smith and William McCrellis, Poormasters; Josiah Brown, Samuel Payne and Ephraim Blodgett, Commissioners of Highways; Stephen F. Blackstone, William McClanathan, John H. Morris, Isaac "Amedown," Samuel Brownell, Augustus W. Bingham, Bigelow Waters, Abner Nash, Nathaniel Collins and Theophilus Pierce, Pathmasters; Nicanor Brown, Samuel "Sincler," (St. Clair,) Benjamin Pierce and David Felt, Fence Viewers; Henry W. Bond, Pound-Keeper. The first School Commissioners elected, in in 1796, were Samuel Payne, Elijah Blodgett, and Luther Waterman. Pursuant to the Act of June 19, 1812, for the establishment of common schools, John Kennedy, Daniel A. Brainard and Reuben Ransom were chosen Commissioners, and Roswell Craine, Abraham Payne, Erastus Daniels and Nathaniel Stacy, Inspectors of Schools in this town.

* Probably Sawdey, as there were families by that name.


The early town records show that the dense forests were not the only obstacles in the way of a peaceable and successful cultivation of the soil, the harvesting of crops and the raising of stock. The wild beasts were both troublesome and dangerous, and the early town legislation is burdened with provisions for their destruction. In 1799, it was "Voted to give in addition to the present bounty on Wolves [what that was the records do not show] 10 Dollars for a full Grown Wolf, 5 for a whelp;" also "to give 1 Dollar as bounty for killing a full grown Bear." The bounty on wolves and bears was continued in 1800 and 1801, and in 1802, it was "Voted that 25 Dollars shall be given as a bounty to any person in this town who shall kill within the limits of the town a full grown wolf and 15 Dollars for every wolf under one year of age." This was repealed in 1803. As late as 1829, the troublesome crow was made the subject of vindictive legislation. In that year 12 1/2 cents were voted for every crow killed in the town. This was renewed in 1831.


Like the good husbandmen, which they subsequently proved themselves to be, the early settlers took early action to rid their farms of obnoxious weeds. May 7, 1809, it was voted to destroy the weed called the Canada Thistle and Tory Weed and if any man refuse to destroy them on his own land any other person destroying them shall be entitled to pay from the owner of the land.


The following statement of the votes cast at a general election in Hamilton in 1799, is of interest, as showing the voting population of the town at that early day:


   For Moses Kent, for Senator 295 

  " Joseph White, " 291 

  " Nathaniel King, " 10 

  " Peter B. Garnsey, " 9 

  " Joshua Leland, " 1 

  " Nathaniel King, for Assemblyman 302 

  " Peter B. Garnsey, " 257 

  " Joshua Leland, " 32 

  " Jonathan Forman, " 8 

  " James Glover, " 4 

  " Moses Kent, " 8 

  " Joseph White, " 8 


The following list of the officers of the town of Hamilton, for the year 1880-'81, was kindly furnished by D. W. Preston:


Supervisor   Melvin Tripp

Town Clerk   D. W. Preston

Justices   A. C. Brooks, W. T. Squires, E. M. Wilber, B. J. Stimson

Assessors   E. D. Cushman, Levi S. Howe, I. W. Rhoades

Commissioners of Highways   C. W. Brainard and Charles E. Wickwire

Overseers of the Poor   E. Douglass, L. Robinson

Constables   L. C. Sawdey, N. Brown, J. J. Crandall and Charles H. Smith

Collector   L. C. Sawdey

Inspectors of Election   District No. 1: Edward E. Welton, J. Crisman Waldron. District No. 2: H. V. N. Demmick, D. W. Usher

Sealer of Weights and Measures   E. L. Starkweather

Game Constable   W. M. Kelloway

Excise Commissioners   L. B. Green, H. B. Cushman and Lyman Wells


The following is a list of the Supervisors and Clerks since the organization of the town:


                          SUPERVISORS                       CLERKS

  1795                Joshua Leland                            Elijah Blodgett

  1796                Joshua Leland                            Samuel Berry

  1797-1798      Luther Waterman                             -do-

  1799-1800      Reuben Ransom                               -do-

  1801                        -do-                                   John Williams

  1802-1806      Erastus Cleveland                       Theophilus Pierce

  1807-1809      Reuben Ransom                          Jonathan Dunham

  1810                        -do-                                   Roswell Craine

  1811                        -do-                                   Jonathan Dunham, Jr. 

  1812-1816               -do-                                  Roswell Craine

  1817                Jonathan Olmstead*                   John Kennedy

  1818                Thomas Dibble                           Roswell Craine

  1819-1826              -do-                                   William Lord

  1826-1829      Lucas Craine                                      -do-

  1830                Benjamin Bonney                                -do-

  1831                Lucas Craine                                      -do-

  1832-1834      William Lord                               Arah Leonard

  1835-1837              -do-                                    John Muzzy

  1838                Amos Crocker                                    -do-

  1839-1840      Charles G. Otis                                  - do-

  1841                Thomas Dibble                           Charles Welton

  1842-1843      John Muzzy                                George Lord

  1844.**                        -                                             -

  1845                John Muzzy                                Willard Wickwire

  1846-1847      Thos J. Hubbard                         Asaph P. Richardson

  1848                Wm. G. Brainard                                 -do-

  1849                Calvin Loomis                            Chauncey Stevens

  1850-1853      Charles Green                             Asaph P. Richardson 

  1854                John J. Foote                             Nathan Brownell, Jr.

  1855                Omri Willey                                Asaph P. Richardson

  1856                John J. Foote                              Sireno B. Colson

  1857-1858      Abner W. Nash                                  -do-

  1859                James H. Dunbar                        Asaph P. Richardson

  1860-1861      Linus H. Miller                                    -do- 

  1862-1865      Nathan Brownell, Jr.                            -do-

  1866-1867           -do- ??                                  George E. Nash

  1868-1969      Zenas L. Fay                              Cyrus L. Colton

  1870                       -do-                                    John M. Banning

  1871                Clark R. Nash                                    -do-

  1872-1873              -do-                                   George King

  1874-1875              -do-                                   Melvin Tripp

  1876                Melvin Tripp                              E. Watts Cushman

  1877-1879               -do-                                  Frank O. Berry

* Thomas Dibble was elected Supervisor at a special meeting held April 8, 1817.

** The records do not show who were the officers this year.

?? Clark R. Nash was elected Supervisor Jan. 14, 1868, vice Brownell resigned.


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