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Herkimer and Montgomery County GenWeb page
Historical Collections State of New York; Containing
A general collection of the most interesting facts, traditions, biographical sketches, anecdotes, &c.
Relating to its History and Antiquities, with Geographic descriptions of every township in the state.
By John W. Barber, author of Connecticut, and Massachusetts historical collections
And Henry Howe, Author of “The Memoirs of Eminent American Mechanics,” etc.
New York: Published for the Authors, by S. Tuttle, 194 Chatham-Square. 1841
Oneida County was taken from Herkimer in 1789; since
much reduced by the formation of other counties. Oneida is a corruption
of the Indian word Oneiyuta, signifying upright or standing stone. Greatest
length N. and S. 47, greatest breadth E. and W. 40 miles. From New York
NW. 252, from Albany 107 miles. The surface has just diversity and unevenness
enough to form a pleasing variety, and to supply brisk streams of pure
water, and a salubrious atmosphere. Hardly a farm is without perpetual
streams and brooks. The northeast and southern parts approach a hilly character,
a waving surface with an easy swell; the northwest part is tolerably level,
and the central richly variegated with easy undulations. The soil is of
various qualities, but everywhere rich and productive. The cotton and woollen
manufactures are carried on here more extensively than in any other county
in the state. The Erie Canal crosses this county, following the south side
of the Mohawk river to Rome, and there turns south westward into Madison
County. This section of the canal is part of the long level 69 ½
miles in length, extending from Frankfort in Herkimer County to Syracuse
in Onondaga. The route of the Chenango canal, which unites the Susquehannah
river with the Erie canal, leaves the latter at Utica, passing thence into
the valley of the Oriskany, and thence follows the same into the county
of Madison. Another canal is also commenced, uniting the Black River
with the Erie canal; it leaves the latter at Rome, and follows thence up
the valley of the Mohawk, and crosses the dividing ridge between the waters
of the same and the Black river in the town of Boonville. Parts of the
Utica and Schenectady, and the Utica and Syracuse railroads, are in this
county. The county buildings are located at Whitesborough, Utica and Rome.
The county is divided into 25 towns and the city of Utica. Pop. 85,345.
Annsville, taken from Lee, Florence, Camden and Vienna, is 1823; from Albany 112, from Rome NW. 10 miles. Pop.1,765. Taberg is a small post village.
Augusta, organized in 1798, and settled in 1794; Oriskany Falls or Casety Hollow, 21 miles and Augusta 18 miles SW. from Utica, are small villages. The Oriskany Falls, a cascade of 50 or 60 feet, are at Casety Hollow. The Chenango canal passes through the village. Knox’s Corners is a small settlement. Pop. 2,175.
Boonville, taken from Leyden of Lewis county in 1805; NW. from Albany 110 miles. Boonville, in the northern part of the town on the Black River road, 26 miles N. from Utica, contains about 40 dwellings. Ava is a post-office. Pop. 5,519.
Bridgewater, organize in 1797 as part of Herkimer County; from Albany 81 miles. Bridgewater, an incorporated village upon the Unadilla River, 18 miles S. from Utica, has about 40 dwellings. Pop. 1,418.
Camden, taken from Mexico in Oswego County in 1799; from Albany 127 miles. This town was settled about 1808 by New England farmers. Camden, 17 miles NW of Rome, was incorporated in 1834, and contains about 50 dwellings. West Camden is post-office. Pop. 2,329.
Deerfield, organized in 1798; from Albany 100 miles. Deerfield village is connected with Utica by a causeway a mile in length and a bridge across the Mohawk. North Gage is a post-office. Pop. 3,120. The soil on the river flats in this town is of great fertility.
Florence, the NW town of the county, was taken from Camden in 1805; from Albany 121, from Rome 28, and from Utica 43 miles. Pop. 1,259.
Floyd, taken from Steuben as part of Herkimer County in 1796; from Albany 100 miles. Floyd’s Corners is a small settlement 12 miles NW from Utica. This town was named after William Floyd, one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence. Pop. 1,741.
Kirkland was taken from Paris in 1827. It was settled by Moses Foote, Esq., in company with ten families in 1827. It has a fertile soil, and its surface is diversified with hills and valleys. Pop. 2,984. Clinton, the principal settlement in this town, is 9 miles from Utica, on the Chenango Canal. The village consists of about 50 dwellings, 1 Congregational, 1 Baptist, and 1 Universalist church, 2 academies, and 2 seminaries for females. (Picture will come later)
The annexed engraving shows the appearance of the Hamilton College buildings as seen from the canal in Clinton village, about one mile and a half distant, beautifully situated on a commanding eminence westward of the Oriskany valley, overlooking the village, having a delightful distant prospect. The college buildings consist of three stone buildings four stories high, for study, lodging-rooms, a chapel, President’s dwelling-house, boarding and servants’ house, 41 acres of land. This institution was established in 1812. The original cost of the college grounds and buildings was about $80,000. “The college in 1834 raised by subscription the sum of $50,000; forming a fund for the payment of the salaries of the officers. William H. Maynard, who died in Sept. 1832, bequeathed it to $20,000, to endow a professorship of law; and S. N. Dexter, Esq., of Whitestown, in 1836, gave $15,000 for endowing a professorship.”
The annexed is a view of the “Clinton Liberal Institute” in the village of Clinton. This building is built of gray stone 96 by 52 feet, four stories in height besides the basement. The building for the female department is of wood, 40 by 25 feet, 2 stories. This institution was incorporated in 1834, and placed under the visitation of the Regents of the University in 1836. (Picture will come later)
The Rev. Samuel Kirkland, from whom this town derives its name, was the son of Rev. Mr. Kirkland, of Norwich, Connecticut. This devoted missionary was for a time a member of Mr. Wheelock’s school, and afterward finished his education at the college in New Jersey, where he graduated in 1765. The next year, (1766,) he commenced his mission among the Oneidas, laboring and living with them and endearing himself to them by his attention and efforts to do them good. Upon the breaking out of the Revolutionary War, the Six Nations, with the exception of the Oneidas, who were mostly under the influence of Mr. Kirkland, joined the British cause. The intestine was which now took place forced Mr. Kirkland to remove his family from this region, but he himself continued his labors among the Oneidas as opportunities offered, and by his influence a firm friendship was maintained between them and the Americans. During a portion of the war he officiated as chaplain to the American forces in the vicinity; he also accompanied the expedition of Gen. Sullivan, in 1779, through the western part of the state.
After the conclusion of the war, the state of New York, in consideration of his valuable services during the revolution granted to him the lands lying in the town of Kirkland, known as Kirkland’s patent, upon a portion of which, Hamilton College stands. To these lands he removed his family in 1792, and fixed his residence near the village of Clinton, where he continued till his death, March 28th 1808, in the sixty-seventh year of his age. The labors of Mr. Kirkland among the Oneidas were in many instances attended with happy consequences; a large portion of the nation ultimately professed to believe the Christian religion and many of them appeared devoted Christians, among whom was the venerable chief Skenandoa. About the year 1791, Mr. Kirkland conceived the project of establishing a seminary which should be accessible to the Indian youth as well as whites. Through his exertions a charter of incorporation was obtained for the institution in 1793, under the name of “Hamilton Oneida Academy”. In 1794 a building was erected, which for many years afterward continued to be known as Oneida Hall, till the seminary was raised to the rank of a college, with the style of Hamilton College. Mr. Kirkland was a generous benefactor of this institution, and expended much of his time and means in promoting its interests.
The following account of the death of Skenandoa, the Oneida chief, and the “white man’s friend,” was published by the Utica Patriot, March 19th, 1816. In a few particulars it is abridged.
“Died at his residence, near Oneida Castle, on Monday, 11th inst., Skenandoa, the celebrated Oneida chief, aged 110 years; well known in the wars which occurred while we were British colonies, and in the contest which issued in our independence, as the undeviating friend of the people of the United States. He was very savage and addicted to drunkenness* in his youth, but by his own reflections and the benevolent instruction of the late Rev. Mr. Kirkland, missionary to his tribe, he lived a reformed man for more than sixty years and died in Christian hope. From attachment to Mr. Kirkland he had always expressed a strong desire to be buried near his minister and father, that he might (to use his own expression,) ‘Go up with him at the great resurrection.’ At the approach of death, after listening to the prayers which were read at his beside by his great-granddaughter, he again repeated the request. Accordingly, the family of Mr. Kirkland having received information by a runner that Skenandoa was dead, in compliance with a previous promise, sent assistance to the Indians that the corpse might be carried to the village of Clinton for burial. Divine services was attended at the meeting-house in Clinton on Wednesday at 2 o’clock, PM. An address was made to the Indians by the Rev. Dr. Backus, President of Hamilton College, which was interpreted by Judge Dean, of Westmoreland. Prayer was then offered and appropriate of psalms sung. After service, the concourse which had assembled from respect to the deceased chief, or from the singularity of the occasion, moved to the grave in the following order:---
Students of Hamilton College
Mrs. Kirkland and family,
Judge Deane,--Rev. Dr. Norton---Rev. Mr. Ayre,
Officers of Hamilton College
*In the year 1755 Skenandoa was present at a treaty made in Albany. At night he was excessively drunk, and in the morning found himself in the street, stripped of all his ornaments and every article of clothing. His pride revolted at his self-degradation, and he resolved that he would never again deliver himself over to the power of strong water.
“Skenandoa’s person was tall, well made, and
robust. His countenance was intelligent, and displayed all the peculiar
dignity of an Indian chief. In his youth he was a brave and intrepid warrior,
and in his riper years on of the noblest counsellors among the North American
tribes; he possessed a vigorous mind, and was alike sagacious, active,
and persevering. As an enemy, he was terrible. As a friend and ally,
he was mild and gentle in his disposition, and faithful to his engagements.
His vigilance once preserved from massacre the inhabitants of the little
settlement at German Flats. In the Revolutionary War his influence induced
the Oneidas to take up arms in favor of the Americans. Among the Indians
he was distinguished by the appellation of the ‘white man’s friend.’
“Although he could speak but little English, and in his extreme old age was blind, yet his company was sought. In conversation he was highly decorous; evincing that he had profited by seeing civilized and polished society, and by mingling with good company in his better days.
“To a friend who called on him a short time since, he thus expressed himself by an interpreter: ‘I am an aged hemlock. The winds of an hundred winters have whistled through my branches; I am dead at the top. The generation to which I belonged have run away and left me; why I live, the Great Good Spirit only knows. Pray to my Jesus that I may have patience to wait for my appointed time to die.’
“Honored Chief! His prayer was answered; he was cheerful and resigned to the last. For several years he kept his dress for the grave prepared. Once and again, and again, he came to Clinton to die; longing for his soul might be with Christ, and his body in the narrow house near his beloved Christian teacher. While the ambitious but vulgar great, look principally to sculptured monuments and to riches in the temple of earthly fame; Skenandoa, in the spirit of the only real nobility, stood with his loins girded, waiting the coming of the Lord”
The following inscriptions are copied from monuments in the Hamilton College graveyard:
“SKENANDOA. This monument is erected by the Northern Missionary Society, in testimony of their respect for the memory of Skenandoa, who died in the peace and hope of the gospel, on the 11th of March, 1816. Wise, eloquent, and brave, he long swayed the councils of his tribe, whose confidence and affection be eminently enjoyed. In the was which placed the Canadas under the crown of Great Britain he actively engaged against the French in that of the Revolution, he espoused that of the colonies, and ever afterward remained a firm friend to the United States. Under the ministry of the Rev. Mr. Kirkland be embraced the doctrines of the gospel, and having exhibited their power in a long life adorned by every Christian virtue, he fell asleep in Jesus at the advanced age of one hundred years.”
“Here lies buried, Azel Backus, DD., a man of remarkable piety and learning, a zealous minister of the gospel, a distinguished President of Hamilton College; a man of extraordinary diligence, and great endeared to the members of the institution. In him were conspicuous the highest benevolence towards his fellow man, uncorruptible integrity, and uncompromising truth. His wife survives to lament his loss; and all who knew him mourn also. The corporation of Hamilton College have erected this monument to the memory of their beloved and venerated President. He was pastor of the church in Bethlem, Conn., 22 years, President of Hamilton College, 4. He departed this life December 28th, AD. 1816, aged 52 years.”
“He is buried all that was mortal of Seth Norton, M.A., Professor of Languages in Hamilton College. Devoted to learning, he ran his brief career with great zeal as an instructor, skillful and endeared to all. In the midst of his labors, he was overtaken by sudden death, to the great lamentation of those who knew him. He died December 7, 1818, in the 40th year of his age. He was Professor of Languages during six years. The corporation of Hamilton College have erected this monument.”
Lee, taken from Western in 1811; from Albany 115,
from Rome N. 8 miles. Stokes or Nisbet’s Corners and Portage are villages,
Lee and Delta post-offices. Pop. 2,936.
Marshal, taken from Kirkland in 1819; from Albany 110, from Rome S. 16 miles. Marshall, Canning and Deansville are post villages. The Waterville branch of the Oriskany falls here within half a mile 50 feet. There is in the valley a remnant of the Brothertown Indians, some of whom are comparatively civilized and wealthy. Pop. 2,251
New Hartford, taken from Whitestown in 1827; from Albany 100 miles. New Hartford, a substantial village near the line of the Chenango canal, 4 miles SW. from Utica, contains about 100 dwellings, a number of mills and manufacturing establishments. Middle Settlement, 6 ½ miles from Utica, is a small settlement. Pop. 3,819.
Jedediah Sanger, Esq., was one of the first settlers of the village of New Hartford. “He possessed an active, vigorous, and enterprising mind, governed and controlled by unimpeachable integrity, and a high sense of moral obligations, placed him at once in a conspicuous station among the inhabitants of the vicinity. Immediately after his establishment, he erected a grist-mill on the site of the present paper-mill in the village of New Hartford, then the second mill established in the vicinity. By a judicious and liberal encouragement to emigrants, and particularly mechanics, he succeeded in building up a village which, for many years, contested the palm of superiority and importance with any of her neighbors. The office of first judge of Oneida County he continued to hold from its organization until the year 1810. He several times occupied a seat in the legislature, and in the various offices in which he was called to act, served with equal credit to himself and usefulness to the community. To his beneficence the Episcopal church in New Hartford is indebted for a valuable permanent fund to aid in the support of its minister.”
The Rev. Dan Bradley was settled as pastor in this place in 1791, and continued his care of the church for several years. He was succeeded by the Rev. Mr. Johnson; and in honor of the occasion of his induction to the pastoral office, according to a custom which sounds singular in our ears, but which was introduced from New England, the exercises were concluded by an ordination ball.
The following anecdote, having a connection with the first court held in this county, is taken from a publication in a pamphlet form by William Tracy, Esq., entitled “Notices of Men and Events, connected with the early history of Oneida county;”—
“On the 19th of January, 1793, an act was passed authorizing every alternate term of the court of common please of Herkimer County to be held at such place in Whitestown, as should by the courts be directed by orders to be entered in the minutes. The first court held in this county under this provision was held in a barn, in New Hartford, belonging to the late Judge Sanger, (New Hartford then forming a part of the town of Whitestown,) in the month of October, in the year 1793, Judge Staring presiding, and the late Judge Platt, then clerk for the county of Oneida, officiating as clerk. The sheriff of Herkimer County at that day was a Colonel Colbraith-an Irishman, who, in the was, had done some service to his adopted country, and had acquired his title as a militia officer since the peace. His education had not been conducted with especial reference to the usage of what is technically called good society; and indeed, his manner bore unequivocal evidence that they originated from a native mind of genuine good humor and most capacious soul, rather than from the arbitrary rules of a professor of polite breeding. A gentleman who attended the court as a spectator informed me that the day was one of the damp, chilly days we frequently have in October, and that in the afternoon and when it was nearly night, in order to comfort themselves in their by no means very well appointed court-room, and to keep their vital blood at a temperature at which it would continue to circulate, some of the gentlemen of the bar had induced the sheriff to procure from a neighboring inn a jug of spirits. This, it must be remembered, was before the invention of temperance societies, and we may not, therefore, pass to hasty an opinion upon the propriety of the measure. Upon the jug appearing in court, it was passed around the bar table, and each of the learned counselors in his turn upraised the elegant vessel and decanted into his mouth, by the simplest process imaginable, so much as he deemed a sufficient dose of the delicious fluid. While the operation was going on, the dignitaries on the bench, who were in no doubt suffering quite as much from the chilliness of the weather as their brethren of the bar, had a little consultation, when the first Judge announce to the audience that the court saw no reason why they should continue to hold open there any longer and freeze to death, and desired the crier forthwith to adjourn the court. Before, however, this functionary could commence with a single, ‘Hear ye,’ Colonel Colbraith jumped up, catching, as he rose, the jug from the lawyer who was complimenting its contents, and holding it up towards the bench, hastily ejaculated-‘Oh no, no, no, Judge-don’t adjourn yet-take a little gin, Judge-that will keep you warm-‘tant time to adjourn yet;’ and suiting the action to the word, he handed his Honor the jug. It appeared that there was force in the Sheriff’s advice; for the order to adjourn was revoked, and the business went on.”
Paris was taken from Whitestown in 1792; from Albany
85 miles. This town was named by the inhabitants in grateful acknowledgment
of the kindness of Mr. Isaac Paris, a merchant from Fort Plain, who in
the year of scarcity, 1789, supplied them with Virginia corn on a liberal
credit, and finally accepted payment in such produce as they were enabled
to supply. Famine is now the least dreaded here of all evils. Paris Hill
has about 30 dwellings. Paris Furnace and Paris Hollow are small villages.
Sauquoit, on the creek 9 miles south from Utica, is a manufacturing village,
containing about 100 dwellings. Near this village is a burning spring.
Large quantities of limestone are obtained here, and used for building
materials at Utica and elsewhere. Pop. 2,844.
Rome, one of the shiretowns of Oneida County, was incorporated in 1796. The surface of the township is level and gently undulating, and watered by the Mohawk River, and by Wood and Fish creeks. The village of Rome, occupying the site of old Fort Stanwix, was incorporated in 1819. The two first families located themselves at this spot, were those of two men from German Flats, named Roof and Brodock, who settled at the landing place on the Mohawk in the vicinity of Fort Stanwix, to gain a livelihood by assisting in the transportation of goods destined for the Indian trade, across the carrying place from the river to Wood creek. They held no title to their lands, but occupied them under a contract for their purchase from Oliver Delancy, one of the proprietors of the Oriskany patent, who was afterward attainted of treason. This little outpost, regular settlement of Rome was by emigrants from the New England states.
(Picture will come later)
The above is a southern view of part of the village as viewed from the railroad track. The building seen on the right having four chimneys is but a few yards distant from the central part of the fortifications of the old fort, the cellar of which is still to be seen. The Black River canal passes a few rods this side of the buildings seen in the engraving; the Erie Canal is about half a mile westward of the village. Mohawk River and Wood creek, at this place, approach within a mile of each other; in 1797, a canal was completed between the two streams, thus connecting the waters of the Mohawk with those of Lake Ontario. The village consists of upwards of 300 dwellings, 2 Presbyterian, 2 Baptist, 1 Episcopal, and 1 Methodist church, an academy incorporated in 1835, a bank, printing office and a number of select schools. The United States arsenal and barracks, sufficient for a regiment, were erected here in 1813, under the direction of Maj. James Dalliba. Rome is situated on the summit level between the ocean and Lake Ontario, for hundred and thirty-five feet above the tide at Albany; lat. 43° 12’ long. 1° 27; W. from New York. Distant from Albany 112, from Utica 12 miles. Pop. 5,680
Fort Stanwix, named from Gen. Stanwix, was originally erected in the year 1758, during the French War. It occupied a position commanding the carrying place between the navigable waters of the Mohawk and Wood creek, and was regarded as the key to the communication between Canada and the settlements of the Mohawk. “It was originally a square fort, having four bastions surmounted by a broad and deep ditch, with a covert was and glacis. In the centre of the ditch a row of perpendicular pickets was planted, and another row fixed around the ramparts. But although the principal fortress had been erected at the enormous expense for those times of $266,400, yet at the commencement of the Revolutionary War the whole was in ruins. One the incursion of Burgoyne from Montreal towards Albany, a detachment of the invading forces, under the command of Col. St. Leger, consisting of 200 British troops, a regiment of loyalists, and a large body of Indians under Brant, the great captain of the Six Nations, went up the St. Lawrence, then to Oswego, and from thence to Fort Stanwix. From this point, it was intended to pass down the Mohawk and join the forces with Burgoyne at Albany. Gen. Schuyler, who had the command of the northwestern frontier, sent Col. Dayton to repair the works at Fort Stanwix. He seems to have done little towards effecting this object; he however though proper to change its name to Fort Schuyler, which name it retained during the war. Gen. Peter Gansevoort was afterward sent to supply his place. On the 3rd of August, Col. St. Leger arrived before the fort with his whole force, consisting of a motley collection of British regulars, Hessians, Tories, and about one thousand Indians. The garrison, under Col. Gansevoort, consisted of about 750 men. Soon after his arrival, St. Leger sent a flag into the fort with a manifesto, advising submission to the mercy of the king, and denouncing severe vengeance against those who should continue in their ‘unnatural rebellion.’ This manifesto produced no effect on the brave garrison, who had determined to defend the fortress to the last extremity. At the time of the battle of Oriskany, [see Whitestown] when Gen. Herkimer was advancing to the relief of the fort, a diversion was made in his favor, by a sortie of 250 men, under the command of Col. Willet. Such was the impetuosity of Willet’s movements, that Sir John Johnson and his regiment, who lay near the fort with his Indian allies, sought safety in flight. The amount of spoil found in the enemy’s camp was so great that Willet sent hastily for wagons to convey it away. The spoil thus captured, twenty wagon loads, consisted of camp equipage, clothing, blankets, stores &c, five British standards, and the baggage and papers of most of the officers. For this brilliant exploit, congress directed that Col. Willet should be presented with an elegant sword in the name of the United States.
The siege of the fort still continued, and the situation of the garrison, though not desperate, began to be somewhat critical. Col. Willet and Maj. Stockwell readily undertook the hazardous mission of the passing through the enemy’s lines to arouse their countrymen to their relief. After creeping on their hands and knees through the enemy’s encampment, and adopting various arts of concealment, they pursued their way through swamps and pathless woods, until they arrived safely at German Flats, and from thence to the head quarters of Gen. Schuyler, then commanding the American army at Stillwater Gen. Arnold was immediately dispatched with a body of troops to the relief of Col. Gansevoort.* As he was advancing up the Mohawk, he captured a Tory by the name of Hon-yost Schuyler, who being a spy, was condemned to death. Hon-yost “was one of the coarsest and most ignorant men in the valley, appearing scarce half removed from idiocy.” He was promised his life if he would go to the enemy, particularly the Indians, and alarm them by announcing that a large army of the Americans was in full march to destroy them, &c. Hon-yost being acquainted with many of the Indians, gladly accepted the offer; one of his brothers was detained as a hostage for his fidelity, and was to be hung if he proved treacherous. A friendly Oneida Indian was let into the secret, and cheerfully embarked in the design. Upon Hon-yost’s arrival, he told a lamentable story of being taken by Arnold, and of his escape from being hanged. He showed them also several shot-holes in his coat, which he said were made by bullets fired at him when making his escape. Knowing the character of the Indians, he communicate his intelligence to them in a mysterious and pointed upward to the leaves of the trees. These reports spread rapidly through the camps. Meantime, the friendly Oneida arrived with a belt and confirmed what Hon-yost had said, hinting that a bird had brought him intelligence of great moment. On his way to the camp of the besiegers he had fallen in with two or three Indians of his acquaintance, who readily engaged in furthering his design. These sagacious fellows dropped into the camp as if by accident; they spoke of warriors in great numbers rapidly advancing against them. The Americans, it was stated, did not wish to injure the Indians, but if they continued with the (continued below the lines)
“To the memory of Capt. Samuel Perkins, who departed this life at the United States arsenal, Rome, Dec. 30, 1837, in the 75th year of his age. He entered the service of his country during the war of the revolution, when he was but 14 years old, and served until its independence was gained. He was actively engaged in the Indian campaign of 1795, under Gen. Wayne. He also participated in, and rendered valuable services during the late war with Great Britain. After which, retiring from active duties, he held for 18 years the station of ordnance storekeeper, and died in the public service. In every situation of his life was remarkably exemplified that just sentiments, ‘an honest man is the noblest work of God.’”
Sangerfield, taken from Paris in 1795; from Albany
94, SW. from Utica 18 miles. It was settled in 1793, and named after Judge
Jedediah Sanger, one of the primitive settlers in this part of the country.
In 1804, it was annexed to Oneida County. Waterville, in the north part
of town, contains about 70 dwellings, and is adorned by a handsome public
square. Sangerfield is a small settlement. Pop. 2,251.
Steuben, principally settled by Welsh emigrants, and taken from Whitestown, when part of Herkimer county; NW. from Albany 110, from Utica N. 20 and from Rome NE 15 miles. Pop. 1,993.
The principal part of this town was granted by the state to Baron Steuben, for his services during the Revolutionary War. He resided here on his farm until his death. He was buried beneath an evergreen he had selected to overshadow his grave. Afterward a new road was laid over the spot, and his remains were removed to a neighboring grove in this town, situated about 7 miles NW. of the Trenton falls.
His grave (Picture will come later) is protected by a neat monument erected in 1826 by private subscription, and shown in the above engraving. (Picture will come later). On it is a brief inscription, MAJOR GENERAL FREDERICK WILLIAM AUGUSTUS BARON DE STEUBEN. Baron Steuben resided in a log house about a quarter of a mile south of his burial place. He lived there during the summers and cultivated his farm, but in the winters resided in New York. The following sketch is from Allen’s Biographical Dictionary.
“Frederick William Baron De Steuben, a major-general in the American army, was a Prussian officer, who served many years in the armies of Frederick the Great, was one of his aids, and had held the rank of lieutenant-general. He arrived in New Hampshire from Marseilles in November, 1777, with strong recommendations to congress. He claimed no rank, and only requested permission to render as a volunteer what services he could to the American Army. He was soon appointed to the office of inspector-general, with the rank of major-general. He established an uniform system of maneuvers, and by his skill and persevering industry effected, during the continuance of the troops at Valley Forge, a most important improvement in all ranks of the army. He was a volunteer in the action at Monmouth, and commanded in the trenches of Yorktown on the day which concluded the struggle with Great Britain. He died at Steuben, New York, November 28, 1795. He was an accomplished gentleman and a virtuous citizen, of extensive knowledge and sound judgement. An abstract of his system of discipline was published in 1779, and in 1784 he published a letter on the subject of an established militia and military arrangements.”
The annexed inscription to the memory of Baron Steuben, adorns an elegant tablet on the wall of the German Lutheran church in the city of New York.
“Sacred to the memory of FREDERICK WILLIAM AUGUSTUS BARON STEUBEN, a German; knight of the order of Fidelity; aid-de-camp to Frederick the Great, King of Prussia; major-general and inspector-general in the Revolutionary War; esteemed, respected, and supported by Washington. He gave military skill and discipline to the citizen solders, who, fulfilling the decrees of heaven, achieved the independence of the United States. The highly polished manners of the baron were graced by the most noble feelings of the heart. His hand, open as day for melting charity, closed only in the strong grasp of death. This memorial is inscribed by an American, who had the honor to be his aid-de-camp, the happiness to be his friend.” Ob. 1795
The baron was a man of strong feelings, subject to sudden bursts of passion, but ever ready to atone for an injury. The following anecdotes are illustrative of the generosity of his dispostion. At a review, he directed an officer to be arrested for the fault which he thought he had been guilty of. On being informed of his innocence, he directed him to be brought forward, and in the presence of all the troops, and with the rain pouring upon his uncovered head, asked for his forgiveness in the following word. “Sir, the mistake which was made, might, by throwing the line into confusion, have been fatal in the presence of the enemy. I arrested you as its author, but I have reason to believe I was mistaken; and that in this instance you were blameless. I ask your pardon. Return to your command; I would not deal unjustly by any; much less by one whose character as an officer is so respectable.” – “After the capture at Yorktown, the superior officers of the American army, together with their allies, vied with each other in acts of civility and attention to the captive Britons. Entertainments were given by all the major-generals, except Baron Steuben. He was above prejudice or meaness, but poverty prevented his from displaying that liberality towards them which had been shown by others. Such was his situation, when, calling on Col. Stewart, and informing him of his intention to entertain Lord Cornwallis, he requested that he would advance a sum of money, as the price of his favorite charger. ‘’Tis a good beast’, said the baron, ‘and has proved a faithful servant through all the dangers of the war; but, though painful to my heart, we must part.’ Col. Stewart immediately tendered his purse, recommending the sale or pledge of his watch, should the sum it contained prove insufficient. ‘My dear friend’, replied the baron, ‘’tis already sold. Poor North was sick, and wanted necessaries. He is a brave fellow, and possesses the best of hearts. The trifle it brought is set apart for his use. My horse my go-so no more. I beseech you not to turn me from my purpose. I am a major-general in the service of the United States; and my private convenience must not be put in a scale with the duty which my rank imperiously calls upon me to perform.’”
Trenton was organized in 1797, as part of Herkimer county; NW. from New York 238, from Albany 93, from Utica N. 13, from Rome 20 miles. The inhabitants are principally of New England descent, though there are some of the ancient Dutch from Holland, the original puchasers from the state. Trenton, an incorporated village on the road to Martinsburg, and 2 miles SW. from the falls, South Trenton, 9 miles from Utica, Holland Patent and Prospect, 16 miles from Utica are all small villages. Pop. 3, 178.