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ONEIDA COUNTY in 1847

This write-up is taken from Geography of the State of New York By J.H. Mather Hartford: J.J. Mather & Co. 1847

Pages 277-285 (includes township map showing dates of formation)

Whitestown, 1788                 15.  Vernon, 1802
Steuben, 1789                     16.  Verona,  1802
Paris, 1792                          17.  Boonville, 1805
Westmoreland, 1792            18.  Florence,  1805
Sangerfield, 1795                 19.  Vienna,  1807
Floyd, 1796                         20.  Lee,  1811
Rome, 1796                         21.  Utica,  1817
Bridgewater, 1797                22.  Marshall,  1819
Western, 1797                      23.  Annsville,  1823
Trenton, 1797                       24.  Kirkland,  1827
Augusta, 1798                      25.  New Hartford,  1827
Deerfield, 1798                     26.  Marcy,  1832
Remsen, 1798                      27.  Ava,  1846
Camden, 1799

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          letters correspond to areas on map.
Mountains.  P. Highlands of Black river.  I. Hassencleaver mountains.

Rivers and Creeks.  F. Mohawk river,   a. Black.  C. Saghdaquida, or Sauquoit creek.
d. Lansing's.  e. Wood.   F. West Canada.    j. Oneida.   k. Oriskany.   S. Fish.   T. West branch of Fish.

Falls.  G. Trenton falls.

Lakes. Z. Oneida

Colleges. Hamilton College, in Kirkland.

Cities and Villages. Utica. Rome, Whitesboro'.  Clinton. Trenton Falls.  Oriskany.  Waterville.

BOUNDARIES. North by Lewis and Oswego counties; East by Herkimer; south by Madison and Otsego; and West by Madison and Oswego counties.

SURFACE. Oneida county has a diversified surface.  The valley of Oneida Lake extends eastward nearly forty miles, through the centre of the county, and the streams which water the county so abundantly, flow for the most part, through broad and beautiful valleys.  The Highlands of Black river rise to an elevation of about 800 feet, in the northeastern part of the county, and in the eastern section the Hassencleaver has an elevation of 1200 feet.  In the southern part, a ridge of no great height divides the waters of the Mohawk from those of the Susquehanna.

RIVERS, &c.  The Mohawk and Black rivers, Lansing's, Fish, Oriskany, Oneida, Saghdaquida, Wood and West Canada creeks, are the principal streams.  Several of these furnish, by their rapid descent, valuable hydraulic power.

FALLS.  Trenton Falls, on West Canada creek, are much celebrated for their picturesque beauty, and the wild and romantic scenery which surrounds them.  The whole descent is 312 feet, and this is accomplished by six distinct falls, all within a distance of two miles.

LAKES.  The Oneida Lake forms part of the western boundary of the county.  Its shores are low and swampy.  Its waters abound with excellent fish.

CANALS and RAILROADS.  The Erie canal  passes through the central portion of the county.  In its whole course through this and the adjacent county of Madison, there are no locks.  The Oneida Lake canal connects the Erie canal with Oneida Lake; the Chenango canal extends from the Erie canal at Utica, to Binghamton, in Broome county; the Black river canal is designed to connect the Erie canal with Black river.
The Utica and Schenectady, and Syracuse  and Utica railroads pass through this county.

CLIMATE.  The climate is generally mild and quite uniform.  The temperature is about an average of that of the state.

GEOLOGY and MINERALS.  From its extent and situation this county embraces a greater variety of geological formations than almost any other in the state. The primary system occupies that portion of the county east of Black river. It consists principally of granite, and Black river and Trenton limestone.  Bordering upon these we find the Utica slate and the Hudson river group of shales and sandstone.  To these succeed the Oneida slate, which indeed is found in almost every part of the county; the Clinton and Lockport groups of limestone, rich in fossils, the Onondaga salt group, consisting here mainly of red and green shales; in Helderberg limestones; in Oriskany sandstone, forming the surface rock of the valleys of the Saghdaquida, Oriskany Skenandoa and Oneida creeks; the Marcellus shales appearing at a few ponts in the extreme southern part of the county; and the Hamilton group of limestones.

    Argillaceous iron ore; gypsum, water limestone, peat, marl, calcareous spar, coccolite, blende, or sulphuret of zinc, and tabular spar, are the principal  minerals.  There are numerous mineral springs, mostly sulphurous, in the country.

SOIL and VEGETABLE PRODUCTIONS.  The soil is everywhere productive, and in the valleys possesses extraordinary fertility.  The crops, both of grass and grain, are abundant, and the county ranks among the first in the state, in its agricultural products. Hops are very successfully and extensively cultivated.  The timber of the county is principally maple, beech, birch, elm, black walnut, and basswood, with some oak, hemlock, and pine.  Large quantities of sugar are manufactured form the maple.

PURSUITS.  Agriculture is the pursuit of a majority of the inhabitants.  Nearly equal attention is paid to the culture of grain and to the rearing of cattle, horses and sheep.  Wheat is not produced in so large quantities as in some of the more western counties, but oats, corn, barley, hops and potatoes are largely cultivated.  In 1845, nearly four millions of pound so butter, and more than three mills of pounds of cheese were made in the county.  The clip of wood was also very large.

Manufacturers are also a prominent pursuit, being prosecuted to a greater extent than in any other county in the state, except Kings and New York.  Cotton and woollen goods are largely manufactured.  Flour, lumber, distilled liquors, leather and iron ware, are produced in very considerable quantities.  In 1845, the manufactures of the county amounted to nearly $4,000,000.

Commerce.  The commercial relations of Oneida county are quite extensive.  The Erie canal afford s the means of transportation for its abundant produce; the Oneida lake canal opens a route to Lake Ontario; the Chenango canal brings the agricultural productions of the southern counties hither, on their way to tide water; and the completion of the Black river canal will also add largely to the commerce of the county.

STAPLE PRODUCTIONS. Butter, cheese, oats, barley, corn, hops, potatoes, wool and sugar.

SCHOOLS. There were in the county in 1846, 399 district school-houses, in which schools were taught an average period of eight months each.  23,775 children received instruction at an expense for tuition of $29,063.  The district libraries contained 23,983 volumes.  There were also eighty-seven, unincorporated select schools, with 912 scholars, ten academies and four female seminaries, with 624 pupils, and one college with nine professors and 126 students.

RELIGIOUS DENOMINATIONS.  Methodists, Baptists, Congregationalists, Presbyterians, Episcopalians, Roman Catholics, Friends, Universalists, Dutch Reformed and Unitarians.  The total number of churches in 1845, was 160; of clergymen, 202.

HISTORY.  This county was the home of the Oneida Indians, one of the bravest tribes of the Iroquois, and the only one which, during the revolution, maintained friendly relations with the United States.
  During the French war (1n 1758) forts were erected at Rome and at Utica; the former was called Fort Stanwix, the latter Fort Schuyler.  Fort Stanwix, on the present site of Rome, was, from its situation at the portage between Wood creek and the Mohawk river, a post of considerable importance, and was fortified at an expense of more than $250,000.  At the commencement of the revolution, however, it was very much dilapidated.
  In 1766, Rev. Samuel Kirkland , a native of Connecticut, and a graduate of Princeton college, New Jersey, settled among the Oneidas, as a missionary.  Through his influence they were restrained from engaging on the side of the British during the war of the revolution.
  Mr. Kirkland remained among the Indians during the war, was an interpreter to  the American officers who visited them, and officiated as chaplain to the army during Sullivan's campaign.  After the revolution he settled again in Oneida county, and the legislature of the state granted him the township of Kirkland, as an acknowledgement of his valuable services to the state of his adoption.
  Judge Dean, the efficient Indian agent during the revolution, was also an early settler.  E was a native of New England, but spent several years of his boyhood among the Oneida Indians, by whom he was adopted. He subsequently graduated at Dartmouth college, intending to become a missionary to that tribe.

  The demand for his services during the revolution prevented his fulfilling that intention, and he accepted the office of Indian agent and interpreter, and in that capacity rendered efficient aid to the American cause.  The Oneidas granted him, at the close of the war, a tract of land on wood creek about two miles square, which he subsequently exchanged for a similar tract in Westmoreland.  On the extinction of the Indian title, in 1788, the latter was confirmed to him by the state, and he resided upon it during the remainder of his life.

  Some years previous to the revolution two men named Roof and Brodock established themselves in the vicinity of Rome, and were engaged in the carrying trade.  They were compelled to leave during the revolution, but afterward returned and resumed their farms.

  Early in the summer of 1777, news having reached the county that the expedition was intended against the settlements in the Mohawk valley, under the command of General St. Leger, Fort Stanwix at Rome, was repaired, garrisoned, supplied with provisions, and its name changed to Fort Schuyler.

  On the 2d of August, 1777, the garrison consisted of 750 men, under the command of Colonel Gansevoort, and they had sufficient ammunition and provisions for a sex weeks' seige.  At that the fort was invested by General St. Leger, who demanded its surrender.  The demand was indignantly spurned by the garrison. Hearing of the investment of the fort, General Herkimer assembled about 800 militia, and hastened to relieve the besieged garrison.  On the evening of 5th of August, he arrived at Oriskany creek, and despatched two  expresses to Col. Gansevort, notifying him of his approach, and requesting him to make a sally from the fort at the time of his intended attack.

  These expresses arrived safely on the forenoon of the 6th, and a signal cannon having been fired, Colonel Marinus Willet, the second in command, sallied from the fort with 250 men, and succeeded in carrying the camps of Sir  John Johnson and the Indians, capturing their stores, baggage, ammunition &c., without the loss of a single man.

  The attack of General Herkimer was less fortunate.  St. Leger having heard of his approach, stationed a force in ambuscade on his route.  The militia, heedless and self confident, rushed on till their vanguard were surrounded by the enemy.  Those in the rear then fled, but the remainder fought with the utmost desparation.  Their assailants were mostly Indians and loyalists, and in many cases the two parties were personally known to each other, and private hate was added to national hostility.  Rage supplied the place of arms; no quarter was asked or given on either side.  Early in the battle General Herkimer was wounded; but setting himself on his saddle, and leaning against the trunk of a tree, he continued to order the battle with the utmost composure.  The conflict continued for six hours; at the end of that time the tories and Indians retreated, leaving the militia master of the field.  The loss in killed and wounded on both sides was very great.  That of the Ame4ricans was nearly 200 killed, and about the same number wounded.

  After this battle, St. Leger again summoned the fort, but was again defied.  Finding, however, that they must be reinforced or eventually surrender, Col. Willet and Lieut. Stockwell, of the garrison volunteered to go to the head  quarters of General Schuyler, at Stillwater, and obtain aid.
 

  They left the garrison on the night of the 10th of August, creeping on their hands and knees through the enemy's camp, and after numerous hair breadth escapes, succeeded in reaching Gen. Schuyler's camp and procuring the necessary assistance.

  General Learned and General Arnold were despatched on this service.  The latter, hastening on in advance with 900 troops, captured a troy refuge named Han Yost Schuyler, whom by promises and threats he induced to go to the camp of St. Leger, and alarm the Indians by exaggerating the number of his troops.  A friendly Oneida Indian was also sent on the same errand.  The stratagem was successful.  The Indians, already dissatisfied, abandoned St. Leger at once, on receiving the intelligence of Arnold's approach, and thus deserted, he raised the siege and retreated with the utmost haste, the Indians plundering his troops whenever they found opportunity.

  One of the most prominent of the early settlers of this county was Judge White, the founder of Whitestown.  He was a native of Middletown, Connecticut, and one of the proprietors of the Saghadaquida patent.  He removed here in 1784, with his family.

  In 1788 the town of Whitestown was laid out, and comprised all that part of the state lying west of a line drawn north and south through the city of Utica, a trace of country now containing more than 1,100,000 inhabitants.  The same year a treaty was made with the Oneidas, by which they ceded to the state the whole of their lands, except fa few trifling reservations.

  Judge White lived to see the wilderness where he had first located himself, densely populated, and the privations of the settlers exchanged for plenty.*  Judge Sanger was another of the early settlers who located in New Hartford.

  The town  of Steuben was granted by the state ot Baron Steuben, for his services during the revolution.  He resided here during the latter part of his life, and was buried here.

A little incident which occurred soon after the war, illustrates the Indian character very forcibly.  An old Oneida chief named Han Yerry, who during the revolution, had acted with the British, but who was quite friendly to Judge White, came one day with his wife and a mulatto woman to his house, an asked permission to take the little grand-daughter of the judge home to his cabin for the night, making it a test of the strength of his friendship.  Judge White consented, considering it best to manifest confidence in the Indian, although he felt many misgivings, and the mother of the child could hardly be prevailed on to part with it.  The succeeding day was one of deep anxiety to the family of the judge--but just at sunset the Indian and his squaw reappeared with the child, clad in a complete Indian dress.  The confidence which the judge manifested in them, secured their warm and permanent friendship.

CITIES and VILLAGES.  Utica, situated on the south side of the Mohawk, on the site of old Fort Schuyler, is a thriving and business city, in the midst of one of the most fertile and wealthy sections of the state, having a central location.  Its locality being on a gentle declivity to the north, commands a beautiful prospect of the Mohawk valley.  The streets are spacious, and the buildings neat and commodious.  Being connected with Albany and Troy, and with Syracuse, Rochester and buffalo by railroad and canal; with Binghamton by the Chenango canal, and by stages, with the northern and southern counties of the state it is the centre of an extensive business.  It is also engaged in manufactures.  Several large steam mills have recently been erected for the manufacture of cotton and woollen goods.

  The New York State Lunatic Asylum, located here, is a noble institution, and when completed will surpass in extent and convenience any other in the United States.  A farm of 160 acres is attached to it.  The Utica Academy, and Utica Female Seminary, are both excellent institutions, and have a high reputation.  The Young Men's Association possess a good library and have maintained a course of lectures for some years.  The museum contains a fine collection of curiosities and antiquities.

  The early growth of Utica was slow; in 1794 it contained but three or four houses.  It was incorporated as a village in 1798, and received its present name.  It was chartered as a city in 1832,  Population 12,190.

  Rome, on the site of Fort Stanwix (the new Fort Schuyler) is situated at the junction of the Black river and Erie canals.  The Utica and Syracuse railroad also passes through it.  The village has some manufactories, and is largely engaged in the forwarding trade.  The United States government have an arsenal, magazine, and a number of workshops here.  The Rome Female Seminary is well sustained.  Population,  2800.

  Whitesboro', in the town of Whitestown, also a county seat, was incorporated in 1813.  It is a pleasant village, finely decorated with shade trees, and is engaged in the manufacture of cotton goods.  It has also a very large flouring mill ad an extensive pail and tub manufactory.
  The Whitesboro' Academy is a large and flourishing institution.  The Oneida Institute, a manual labor school of a high order, intended for a boarding school, is also located here; connected with it is a farm of 114 acres.  The students are required to labor three hours per day.  Population,  2000.

  Oriskany is a large manufacturing village in the same town.  Broadcloths and cassimeres are the principal articles of manufacture.  Population, 1200.

  New York Mills, in the same town is an important village largely engaged in the manufacture of cotton goods.  Population, 1000.

  Waterville, in the town of Sangerfield, is a thriving village, engaged in the manufacture of woolen goods, carriage springs, starch, and musical instruments.  Population, 1000.

  Trenton Falls is a small village, worthy of notice for the picturesque and beautiful falls on the West Canada creek, from which it derives its name.  Trenton, in the town of the same name, is a somewhat larger village, incorporated in 1819.

  Clinton, in the town of Kirkland, is pleasantly situated on the Oriskany creek, nine miles from Utica.   The literary institutions of this village and its vicinity, have given it a wide celebrity.  Hamilton College, situated a mile west of the village, was founded by the exertions of the venerable Kirkland, and is now in a prosperous condition.  It has four fine stone edifices.
  The Clinton Liberal Institute is a chartered institution.  The edifice is of stone, ninety-six by fifty-two, and four stories high above the basement, for the male department.  It is conducted by six teachers.  There is a farm attached to this institution, for the benefit of such students as may desire to defray the expense of their education by manual labor.
  The Clinton Grammar School, and the Clinton Domestic seminary, a female institution of some note, are also located here.  In the vicinity are several manufactories.  Population, 800.

  New Hartford, in the town of the same name, and Oriskany Falls, in the town of Augusta, are fourishing manufacturing villages.

  Vernon, in the town of Vernon,  Sauquoit, in the town of Paris, and Hampton, in the town of Westmoreland, are thriving villages

  Oneida Castleton, a post village in the town of Vernon, occupies the place where the councils of the Six Nations were formerly held, -- the large white walnut trees under which they assembled are still standing in full vigor, and often, by the autumnal blasts, sing the requiem of that almost annihilated race of the aborigines.