The First Settler North of Fort Stanwix
Sincere thanks to Kathleen Last for submitting this information!
The First Settler of Delta
At his funeral it took 18 men to carry the
body - Remains recently exhumed - Facts Concerning
Early Times in Delta and This Section
Lake Delta, Sept 10 - In exhuming the remains
of Rozel Fellows the initials, ‘R.F." and the age 62 years, which were
made in the coffin with brass headed tacks, came out in good condition,
although having been in the ground 100 years. Mr Fellows became very corpulent
before his death, weighing, it is said, 555 pounds. He was buried about
40 rods from the house where he died, and a portion of the siding near
the door had to be removed to allow the coffin to be taken out.
By a person who attended the funeral I have been told that three strong poles were placed under the coffin and three men took hold of each end of each pole and carried him to his last resting place, 18 men for the service. Portions of the coffin exhumed showed it to have been made of red cedar, two inches in thickness. The house where he died has long ago vanished. It stood several rods to the west and a little
northerly of the present house occupied many years by John Dorr Sr, and now owned by Charles W. Heiley. His widow lived many years with her daughter, familiarly known as "Aunt Roxy" (who never married), in a small house, still farther north, and quite opposite the road now leading to Delta Dam. This house has also been demolished at least 40 years. Rozel Fellows was a noted man, for the fact that he was the first man to come north of Fort Stanwix and start a settlement after the Revolutionary War was over. It is not definitely known just what year he came here. Tradition tells us 1787, but it is recorded that he was living here in 1788. Henry Wager, David Hicks, Asa and Ruben Beckwith, the first four settlers of Western, came up here land-hunting in the fall of 1788. At that time he was living in a log house. This was soon
superseded by a larger and more pretentious building, which was used as an inn, and situated on the northeast corner of the road on lands now owned by Frank Hurlburt, and later occupied by Benjamin Smith, Nathan Peggs and Dr John Hartwell, whose last occupancy gave the name "Hartwell's Corner," by which this locality was long known.
The Fellows family staid for some time in the block-house at Fort Stanwix before venturing to live in the open plain. In after years the widow of Rozel, who lived to be nearly 100 years old, would amuse the children, who were always hovering around for stories, by telling them of their life in the block-house, the kindness shown them by Chief Powlis of the Oneida Indians and the brutality of his son-in-law, Nicholas Sharp.
Rozel Fellows enlisted in Canaan, Ct., in 1775, in Capt. Watson's company, Col. Burrall's regiment and marched to Ticonderoga where he remained through the season and returned home in the fall; in January 1776, he enlisted again for a year, remained until fall, hired a man to take his place and went home.
When he settled here this was Montgomery county. At the time of the revolution, all of this territory was called Tryon county, but April 2, 1784, the name was changed to Montgomery county. By act of the Legislature March 8, 1788, the state was divided into 16 counties, and Montgomery county was subdivided into nine towns. All that part of the county, and of the state, lying westerly of a north and south line running across the Mohawk River at Fort Schuyler, and near what is Genesee street, Utica, and bounded north and west by the north, and west boundaries of the state, and south by the state of Pennsylvania, was called Whitestown, in honor of Hugh White, the pioneer, and contained about one-half the state with 12,000,000 acres of land. Ontario county was taken off in 1789. General elections were held the last Tuesday in April and the four succeeding days.
The first day the board sat at Cayuga Ferry, the next at Manlius, the next at Fort Stanwix and the remaining time at Whitesboro. In 1792 this was Steuben, Herkimer county, and the second town meeting of the town was held at the "new house of Rozel Fellows" in 1794. The first town meeting was held at Seth Ranney's tavern at Fort Stanwix in 1793, when Rozel Fellows was chosen supervisor, which office he held until Rome was taken from Steuben in 1797. In 1790 he was chosen one of the assessors of Whitestown, which gave him the opportunity not given every assessor, to place a value on about one-half of the state. Soon after 1790 he was appointed by Gov. George Clinton, justice of the peace, an office he held as long as he would accept.
He married in Connecticut Molly Partridge, and at the time of his coming here was in the prime of a vigorous manhood, remarkable for size, strength and activity, over six feet high, exceedingly muscular, and weighing ordinarily over 200 pounds before he became corpulent. We are told that nature endowed him with corresponding intellectual powers. His education - good for those days - was unequal to his ability. His handwriting shows strong personality rather than class training. His family consisted of one son, Cyrus, and three daughters, Lorinda, Thankful and Roxy. Cyrus took up land north of his father, later owned by Capt. Gates Peck, now a part of the Smith farm. He died soon after his father, and was buried by his side, his remains being also now exhumed. His early demise was a great shock to his neighbors, with whom he was a general favorite, having inherited many of the sterling qualities of his father. He left three daughters: Fanny, who married Benjamin W. Williams, and died Jan 12, 1852 aged 52 years. Her husband died Sept 29, 1824, aged 25 years. They were the parents of the late B. Whitman Williams, for several years postmaster of Rome.
Polly, the second daughter of Cyrus, married Samuel Hill Davis. Hon. Charles J. White, state senator from Monroe county, is a grandson.
The third daughter, Caroline, married Deacon Isaac Buell Stark, son of Israel Stark, one of the pioneers of Delta, and a soldier of the Revolution.
The only son of Cyrus was Hiram Fellows, who married the daughter of David Hicks, and had a son George P. Fellows, residing at Athens, Ga. in 1837. The widow of Cyrus, Nancy, married Samuel Cone, and went to Athens, Ga. to live. In another article I will tell of the establishing of the first grist mill on the Mohawk River north of Whitesboro by Rozel Fellows, and also of Military life.
Clarence D. Smith
Rome Sentinel, September 10, 1913
MORE ABOUT ROZEL FELLOWS
- THE FIRST SETTLER NORTH OF FORT STANWIX
The First Bridge Over the Mohawk River - The First Grist Mill West of Whitesboro on the Mohawk River - General Training Day Described
Lake Delta, Oct. 25. - Continuing our reminiscences of Rozel Fellows, the first settler north of Fort Stanwix, when Henry Wager, David Hicks, Asa and Reuben Beckwith, the first four settlers of the town of Western, came here in the spring of 1789, it is related that Esq. Fellows opened the way down across his rye lot for the new settlers to pursue their journey towards their new home in the woods on the opposite side of the river. Evidently it was a pleasing prospect to have some neighbors, even though not very close by.
The new settlers forded the Mohawk River near the location of the home occupied by Henry Fuller and later by his son, Jay H. Fuller. It was soon thought best to build a bridge, and consequently they made a bee in which the following were the participants: Asa Beckwith and his four sons, Asa Jr, Reuben, Wolcott and Lemuel, Henry Wager, David Hicks and son, Alpheus, Rozel Fellows and son Cyrus, and three ox teams. The stringers reached clear across the river, and the driveway was made of logs "spotted" on both ends and laid across the stringers. After these logs were in place a heavier log was put across each end to hold them in place. These last logs were cut on the steep
side-hill adjacent, but when ready to be put in position they found that they had no chains strong enough to withstand the drawing power of the three yoke of oxen, which was found ecessary to draw them in place. Finally Esq. Fellows bethought himself of a chain at home, made
of bell metal by Hugh White of Whitestown, and he sent for it. This chain stood the strain and the logs were brought in place. Thus was built the first bridge across the Mohawk river, from its source to its mouth.
The many thousands of people who have visited Delta Dam in the last few years, and have casually noticed a wedge shaped ‘cut' in the slate stone bank of the palisades, just a little north of the dam, have not known that in this natural cut, was built the first grist mill this side of
Whitesboro on the Mohawk river. It was rather a simple affair, being a tub-wheel with a straight shaft running directly up through the stone. A wing dam across the river furnished the necessary water. It was built in this notch so that spring freshets would not carry it away. Rozel Fellows was instrumental in getting this mill here and had a share in the profits if there were any. The wheel, shaft and stone were brought here by ox team from Granville, Hampshire Co, Mass, in 1792, by Eliakim, Dan and Luther Miller, three brothers of Smith Miller, who had also come with Deacon Nathan Barlow and made the first settlement in what is now Lee. Luther Miller, father of late Judge Anson S. Miller did the grinding, and grists were brought from as far as Redfield and Mexico to this mill, often on the backs of bulls.
Rozel Fellows was quite a military man, and though exempt from duty, he consented to take command of a military company, the first we find any record of in this part of the country. Asa Beckwith Jr, was chosen Lieutenant; Henry Donnelly, ensign; James Young Jr, the first supervisor
of the town of Lee, orderly sergeant; Luther Miller, leader of music. "General Training" was the greatest time of the year in the early colonial period. The first rendezvous of this new company was near the residence of Capt Fellows, on the road leading from Fort Stanwix to Elmer Hill. The highway was considerably wider than now, with woods on west side, now the Flanagan farm. A graphic description of this gala day is here given by one of the officers; "Men, women and children started early for the place of training, some with wagons and horses,
others with ox-teams, some on horseback and a large portion on foot, both sexes performing walks of many miles from their little homes in the backwoods. The members of the military company came with such equipments as they had. A few had muskets and cartridge boxes, as required by law while many came with every variety of fire arms, the old relics of the Revolution, and for cartridge boxes and powder horns, shot bags and bullet pouches, the crowd looked more like a wolf hunt than a regular militia company armed and equipped as the law directs.
"The orderly arranged the company with care and promptness, and passed it over to the captain and commissioned officers. Capt Fellows then briefly addressed the men on the necessity of order and strict observance of duty in making proficiency in arms. He reminded them of the importance of a patriotic, intelligent, well-disciplined citizen soldiery in maintaining the liberties of the country, as established in the war of independence, the defense of the government in war and its security in peace. This gem of a speech was received with profound attention, and at its close was cheered to the echo.
"Then commenced the drill. Dignity was personified in the lofty bearing of Fellows, whose commanding military grace was complete. During the first hour or two the training proceeded with the utmost decorum. Many of the men, indeed, were not armed as required by law, but the
officers, knowing the condition of the new country and the destitution of the people, wisely gave the law a liberal construction, and accepted rifles, carbines, fowling pieces, pistols and old firelocks as within the scope and spirit of the militia provisions.
"Soon, however, the training exercises lost their novelty, and it was evident that the great object of the assemblage was a frolic. Guns were primed so as to flash in the faces of the inspecting officers, and some were discharged from the ranks. Disorder was contagious and merriment ruled the hour. Laughable speeches were made and cheered, and all for fun; and while the discipline was thus confused and demoralized, a fight occurred in the rear of the company lines. A general stampede from the ranks ensued. The soldiers ran to see the fight, and the officers ran to bring them back. All, however, waited until the fight was over and then returned to duty. One soldier alone held the position deserted by his comrades.
"There towered the stately figure of George Huntington (of Fort Stanwix, father of the late Edward Huntington), a model man, with his musket to his shoulder and his back to the fight, as when the last order was given. After the men had resumed their places in the ranks, there was very little more drill, though the day was far from being spent. All wished a change, the soldiers that they might be free and enjoy their sports, and the officers that they might be relieved from further efforts to keep order amid jollity and confusion.
"Capt Fellows in particular, though a lover of mirth and humor, was sadly chafed and vexed by the frolic - some doings of those under his command. His pride as an officer was wounded, and he availed himself of the first opportunity to close the drill. He drew up his company in line, and, eyeing his men sternly, exclaimed in thundering tones: ‘Attention, company! Soldiers you are now dismissed for all eternity!' Three hearty cheers were given, and the trainers joined in the amusement already inaugurated among them - wrestling, foot races, jumping, quoit pitching and the like. Some of the youngsters played and danced with their sweethearts on the green.
"Thus passed the merry holiday, the first training day in that newly settled country, a day of unbounded enjoyment.
"Upon the return home of one of the rosy cheeked maidens, who had mingled in the sports, her sister, who had remained at home, asked her how she had enjoyed the day. She replied ‘Oh, we have had a real gay old time! The dancing was only just tolerable, but the hugging and
kissing were heavenly!"
It is hoped that the necessary arrangements may be concluded so a marker, with suitable exercises, may be placed at the grave of this early
pioneer and patriot, the coming season, the preliminary steps having already been taken. Several years since it was suggested that a tablet be erected to commemorate the birthplace of Jesse Williams and his invention of the co-operative cheese factory system whose farm adjoined the Fellows place.
It would be a worthy remembrance to mark this place where settled the first known white man, in this locality, north of Fort Stanwix, where now, when the weather is not too inclement, there is passing by a steady stream of tourists on their way to and from Delta Dam.
Clarence D. Smith
Rome Sentinel, October 25, 1913