Our County and It's People

Chapter 44

Town of Sangerfield


      This is one of the two southernmost towns in Oneida county, and is bounded on the west and south by Madison county. It was formed from Paris March 5, 1795, and originally included what is now Bridgewater, which was set off March 24, 1797. Sangerfield remained a part of Chenango county until April 4, 1804. It includes a greater part of what was township No. 20 of the Chenango "Twenty Towns". The surface is mainly a hilly upland rising from 700 to 800 feet above the Mohawk. It is watered by the east branch of the Oriskany and west branch of the Chenango Creeks. Along the latter stream is what is known as the Great Swamp, extending from near Waterville to the southern border of the town, and averaging a mile or more in width. Much of this has been cleared of its forest, drained, and converted into meadow. The soil of the valleys is a rich alluvium and on the hills is a gravelly loam. For many years this town has been noted for its large acreage of hops. While this brought comparative wealth to many of the inhabitants, it was in the main disastrous; producers thereafter based their calculations to a large


      extent upon a continuance of such prices, and when they were forced to sell in later years for a fraction of that sum, much financial distress was caused. It is stated that at one time there was only one farm I the town that was not to a greater or lesser extent devoted to hop growing. Under the depression and low prices of the past three years the acreage has been considerably reduced. The town has been noted for the proportionately large number of noted men in political, educational and business life that have left its borders.

      This town was surveyed under a law of February, 1789, and within the next two years it was purchased of the State upon speculation, chiefly by Jedediah Sanger (from whom it takes its name), Michael Myers, and John J. Morgan; large parts of it were subsequently leased in perpetuity. The price paid for the purchase was a little over three shillings per acre.

      The first town meeting was held April 7, 1795, and the following officers elected:

      Supervisor, David Morton; town clerk, Thomas Brown' assessors, Joseph Farwell, Daniel Brown, and Ezra Parker; constables and collectors, Jonathan Porter and David Chapin; overseers of the poor, Oliver Norton and Thomas Converses; commissioners of highways, Timothy White, Saul Smith, and Oliver Norton; path master, Jonathan Palmer, Eldad Corbet, John W. Brown, James Kenny, Eri Brooks, Philip King, Asahel Hunt, Jesse Ives, Roger W. Steele, John Phillips, Thomas Stephens, Oliver Eagur, Zerah Phelps, Joel Blair, Solomon Williams, Benjamin White, John Stone, Joseph Putney, Moses Bush, Elias Montgomery, and Thomas Hale; fence viewers, Ezra Parker, Joel Blair, Nathan Gurney, Uri Brooks, and David Norton, esq.

      The first settlement in this town was begun by Zerah Phelps, who in the fall of 1791 sent a hired man to build a log house on lot 42, of which he had previously become the owner. This house stood about a mile northeast of Sangerfield Center. Mr. Phelps was from Greenwoods, Mass. About the 1st of March, 1792, Minivera Hale and his wife, and Nathan Gurney and his wife and babe moved into the town from New Hartford. They brought in oxen and the snow being very deep, their journey in some parts was a very difficult one. They were a whole day making the last four miles, diving the oxen tandem. Mr. Hale had bought land adjoining Mr. Phelps, and Mr. Gurney bought lot 40, on the site of Waterville village; a part of this lot was later owned by Aaron Stafford. They passed a few weeks in the house of Mr. Phelps,


      until their own log dwellings could be erected. In the month of April following Benjamin White settled on a part of lots 30 and 40, the farm that was later occupied by Amos Osborn. A number of other pioneers came in that year. Phineas Owen and Nathan Gurney's father settled on lot 40; other arrivals were Sylvanus Dyer, Asahel Bellows, Nathaniel Ford, Henry Knowlton, Jonathan Stratton, and a Mr. Clark. Mr. Clark had aided in surveying the town in 1789. These settlers met with disaster the first year through a heavy frost which destroyed their corn crop, and also served to keep away other settlers. According to the Jones Annals, Mr. Clark had his leg crushed by a falling tree in May, 1792, and Mr. Hale started in quest of a physician. He found Dr. Guiteau at Old Fort Schuyler, and returned with him over the long journey; but the doctor would not treat the injury without other medical aid, and Dr. Petrie, at Herkimer, was sent for. These two, with Dr. Elmer of Paris, amputated the injured limb. It was an example of the privation and danger under which many pioneers lived on account of their distance from medical aid and the absence of roads. In July, 1792, a daughter was born to Mr. and Mrs. Phelps, which was the first birth of a white child in town. The Phelps family soon removed to Batavia. The first male child born was a son of Mr. and Mrs. Hale, named Seneca, born January 20, 1793.

      On February 9, 1793, Col. David Norton and his family arrived in town from Arlington, Vt., and he became a leading citizen. He was the first supervisor, the first justice of the peace, the first captain of militia in the town and later a colonel, and the first post master after the office was removed to the Center. He was foremost in all good works. His daughter Hannah married Sylvanus Dyer, which was the first wedding in the tow; the date was October 30, 1793.

      With better crops and prospects in 1793, the following year (1794) saw a considerable influx of settlers. Daniel Brown, Saul Smith, Thomas King, Daniel King, Solomon Williams, Samuel Williams, Justus and Ebenezer Hale, and Benjamin Dewey were among the new comers. In the same year the two Hales opened the first store in the town in their dwelling house, and were also the first to furnish accommodations to travelers. Ebenezer Hale built the second frame house in the town, Zera Phelps having erected the first one. In the summer of 1794 Polly


      Dyer taught the first school in Colonel Norton's house. In the following year the sum of the school money appropriated to this town by the Board of Supervisors of Herkimer county was forty five pounds. Schools afterwards multiplied rapidly as their need was felt.

      The town was named in honor of Col. Jedediah Sanger, as before stated, in return for which it is said that he agreed to present a cask of rum at the first town meeting and fifty acres of land to the first church denomination which should first build a house of worship. Many of the first settlers desired that the town should be called New Lisbon, and when Sangerfield was chosen they manifested their displeasures by applying the name of New Lisbon to the C congregational society which was organized soon afterward, thus securing Colonel Sanger's bounty for a church being the rejected title. The rum was duly presented and twenty five acres of land each given to the Baptist and Congregational societies; these tracts were part of lot 45.

      In September, 1796, Dr. Stephen Preston came in the town as the first resident physician. He practiced here more than thirty years and was also justice of the peace many years. Daniel Eels, sr., settled in that part of Sangerfield now included in Bridgewater in 1796, but in the following year removed to New Hartford.

      In 1793 Judge Sanger built the first saw mill in town on the site of Waterville, and in the following year Benjamin White, the second settler at that place, built the second mill. In 1796 Mr. White built the first grist mill, long known as White's Mills. Other early settlers at Waterville are notice a little further on.

      Among the prominent farmers of past years were John Monroe, Delos Terry, Orin Kellogg, Philander Havens, Lyman Jewett, William C. Conger, Horace Locke, Jedediah Sanger, and others. Other leading farmers are G.W. Allen, John C. Mason, C.B. Mason, Charles H. Jewett, S.A. Clark, W. Cary Sanger, Walter J. Bennett, C.L. Terry, and Charles G. Havens.

      Waterville village is situated on the northern line of the town about one fourth of its territory extending into the town of Marshall. It early gave indications of becoming an active business center. The mills which have been mentioned as in operation there before the beginning of the present century drew around them other manufactures, stores were opened and progress was rapid. The


      settlement of Sylvanus Dyer was made in 1799, when he came from the Center and opened the first store in a house at the west end of the village and also kept a tavern. Two men named Brown and Hewett, who had kept a store on the road to Oriskany Falls, opened a store here in 1801, and Robert Benedict established the third one soon after.

      Amos Osborn came from Fairfield county, Conn., to Waterville in 1802 and built the first distillery in the place near White's Mills. He purchased Mr. White's farm in 1810, for which he paid $30 an acre; he afterwards bought a second farm near by, paying nine gallons of gin per acre. Both of these farms were within the present limits of the village corporation, and Mr. White's house was the first frame dwelling erected in the village. Mr. Osborn operated his distillery thirteen years.

      Justus Towner settled in Waterville in 1802 and built a house and a grist mill. In 1803 he built the White Mills and operated both. A freshet in April, 1804, carried away all the dams of the place, and Mr. Tower and John J. Williams, jr., were drowned.

      The Towers were from the town of Hingham, Plymouth county, Mass., and the first located in the town of Paris. There were four brothers - Jeduthan (grandfather of Reuben and Charlemagne), Justus (father of Horace D. Tower), John and Jotham. John Tower was the father of John Tower, at one time the proprietor of the Clinton House at Clinton. Jotham was the youngest of twelve children. Justus Tower was but thirty seven years of age at the time of his death. He built a store in Waterville, and after his death Jotham Tower stocked it with goods, repaired the grist mill, which had been badly damaged by the freshet, and carried on both in company with Justus Tower's widow. Horace D. Tower, son of Justus, lived a long life in Waterville. His younger brother, Henry Tower, was for some years in the distilling business with J. and R. Bacon, merchants of the place, who purchased the stock of goods left by Justus Tower at his decease, and carried on the store for thirty years or more. (See biography of Reuben Tower in this volume.)

      The post office at Waterville was established in 1806, with Amos Muzzy, post master; he was succeeded by Col. John Williams, under whose administration it


      was removed to the Center, a little over a mile southward; this was done in 1808 and the name changed to Sangerfield. It was brought back and opened under its present name in 1823. Previous to that time the place had been locally known as "The Huddle". In 1802 the settlement had thirty two dwellings and about 200 inhabitants. From that time forward the village grew rapidly. A tannery was established very early by Col. John Williams, who was also an early tavern keeper. Chauncey Buell afterwards became his partner in the tannery and finally purchased it and began boot and shoemaking in connection with it. The business increased in later years and a firm was formed under the name of C. Buell, Son & Co., which employed at one period nearly 100 hands and sold goods at wholesale over a wide extent of territory. Colonel Williams, who started this tannery, also established an earlier one in the southwest part of the town.

      Amos Osborn established a distillery in 1802, and several others were operated for a time in different parts of the town, but generally on a small scale. The one just mentioned was used in later years as the Cold Spring Brewery. The latter was operated until 1894 when it was abandoned.

      The grist mill operated in recent years, was built by Jothan Tower about 1815 on the site of the White Mills. Justus Tower built another grist mill in 1802 which was transformed into a paint factory in 1869 by Terry & Gridley.

      The Sangerfield cotton factory was built in 1816 by the Sangerfield Manufacturing Company. Henry B. Clarke afterwards obtained a controlling interest and operated it until 1830, when Goodwin & Bacon purchased it and changed it to a woolen factory. In 1837 J.A. Berrill took the building and established a foundry and machine shop, afterwards taking his son into partnership. They carried on the business many years. The Plant was taken in 18895 by McLean & Co., who succeeded Brace Beardsley. Paint mills are made, in connection with the other business.

      The Waterville Wooden Novely Works were established in 1895, for the manufacture of various household articles.

      Waterville has had several newspapers, the first one being the Civil and


      Religious Intelligencer, started in 1815 by Joseph Tenney; the name was changed in 1825 to the Sangerfield Intelligencer, and ten years later it was moved to Fabius, N.Y. The publication of the Oneida Standard was commenced in Waterville in 1833, but it was soon afterward removed to Utica. The Waterville Advertiser was begun in 1851 by R.W. Hathaway. In 1855 the Waterville Journal was started by A.P. Fuller & Co., C.B. Wilkinson, editor. It was discontinued in March, 1856. In 1857 the publication of the Waterville times was commenced by McKibbin & Wilkinson, who continued it until 1860, and sold out to J.H. Yale. On November 8, 1866, the paper passed into the hands of R.S. Ballard. James J. Guernsey bought the establishment in 1870, and continued to July, 1881, when he was succeeded by Histed & Cutter (William L. Histed, Frank J. Cutter) who continued to June, 1882. Mr. Histed then retired and Mr. Cutter continued to April, 1887, when W.S. Hawkins & Co., (Dr. Claude Wilson) purchased the plant. This firm continued one year when Mr. Hawkins bought his partner's interest. In 1884 Patrick Loftus and Milton Barnum started a four page weekly called the Reflex. A little later W.S. Hawkins purchased the paper and in 1887 he consolidated the two papers, the name Waterville Times being continued. The paper is an excellent representative of progressive country journalism. The Waterville Y.M.C.A. is a thriving institution and publishes a small weekly called "Waterville's Young Men".

      Some of the early public houses have been mentioned. What became the American hotel was built about 1815 by Jonathan Hubbard and was afterwards extended and improved. There were three public houses in the village before that. The store occupied in 1802 by Robert and Hudson Benedict was afterwards converted into a hotel and became known as the Park House. M.B. Crossett built the Commercial House in 1875.


national bank until 1888, when he was succeeded by William B. Goodwin. The latter was cashier until the above change was made, when he was succeeded by
Samuel W. Goodwin. William B. Goodwin served as president until 18894, when Samuel W. Goodwin was chosen, and W.L. Race was made cashier.

      Charles Green & Son established a private bank in 1872, and in 1875 it was removed to Utica and continued until 1884. The firm was then changed to Charles Green, Son & Co., O.W. Kennedy and J.W. Hayes joining in the business. In 1891 the bank was removed back to Waterville, and the firm became Charles Green, So, Brainard & Co., through the purchase of the interest of Mr. Hayes by I.D. Brainard.

      Waterville was incorporated April 20, 1870, and at the first charter election Daniel B. Goodwin was elected president; E.H. Lamb, George Putnam, E.S. Peck, trustees; Horace P. Bigelow, treasurer. The successive presidents of the village have been: George Putnam, elected 1872, held the office until 1877; D. Smith Bennett, 1878; Reuben Tower, to 1883; E.C. Terry, 1884; Reuben Tower, to 1886; A.R. Eastman, 1886; I.D. Brainard, 1887-88; F.H. Coggeshall, 1889 to 90; W.W. Waldo to 1896, succeeded by F.H. Coggeshall. the village has an excellent fire department, owning a steam fire engine, ample hose and apparatus, with a company for both the engine and hose cart. The village is on what was the Utica, Chenango and Susquehanna Valley Railroad, the opening of which took place in November, 1869, giving a marked impetus to the business growth of the place. Among the leading business men of the village are the following: O.E. Wood, general store, who succeeded C.R. Nash in 1896; P.H. Landers, succeeded W.F. O'Connor in 1895; S.S. Bissell succeeding W.J. Bissell's Sons, drugs; William Jones, succeeded Jones & Marvin in 1893, drugs; D.B. Collins, clothing, and many minor business establishments. Many new business blocks of modern character have been erected in recent years, and aside from the general depression incident upon the low price of hops, the village is in thriving condition.

      One of the largest industries of the kind in the whole country is carried on here by the New York Hop Extract Company, organized in 1870. In April, 1873,


      W.A. Lawrence was elected superintendent. J.R. Whiting became sole licensee of the company for extracting from hops under patents, and soon afterward became president of the company. In 1875-76 the business was removed from New York city to Waterville, the center of the hop district. A large plant was erected with capacity of extracting 20,000 pounds of hops per day. Here an immense product of acknowledged purity is made and finds a market throughout the country.

      One of the oldest permanent industries in this county is the drain tile and brick manufactory of P.B. Haven & Son, which was founded in 1812 by John Haven, who came in from Connecticut. From primitive methods of early times this business has advanced until now it is conducted on the most modern and successful lines. In 1836 P.B. Haven, son of John, took possession of the works, made many improvements in methods and about 1855 added the drain tile industry. Two years later an iron tile machine was put in and in 1864 A.G. Haven, son of P.B., became a partner with his father. Horse power brick and tile machinery was used until 1880, when a modern outfit driven by a forty horse power boiler was introduced. Since then every valuable device has been added for the production of brick and tile. Twelve hands are employed.

      The schools of this town are in excellent circumstances, there being in 1895 twelve districts with school houses, and a prosperous Union school in Waterville. The building was erected in 1872 at a cost of $20,000. The whole number of children attending the schools of the town in 1895 was 790.

      There are now three post offices in this town; Waterville, Sangerfield and Stockwell, the latter having been established in the southern part of the town, at the place known as Stockwell Settlement, with C.D. Marsh, post master. The post office at Sangerfield has been in existence since early years, Col. David Norton holding the office of post master from 1809 to 1829, when he died. There has always been a small mercantile business there and a few shops.

      The first church society in Sangerfield as the "Society of Lisbon, Sangerfield", formed about the beginning of 1796, as the outgrowth of efforts made in 1794 to found a Congregational society and secure regular preaching. Services


      were regularly held from January, 1795, to march, 1797, with occasional preaching. The Society of Lisbon was formally organized March 15, 1797, with eighteen members; the first settled pastor was Rev. James Thompson. A house of worship was erected in 1804, on the village green at the Center, the land constituting the green having been conveyed to the society in October, 1796, by David Norton., Ebenezer Hale, Justus Hale, and Oliver Norton. In 1823 the society divided and about one half organized the First Presbyterian church. The church was removed in 1824 a little to the north, and in 1846 it was demolished and the present one erected. In after years the Congregationalists at the Center attended the church at Waterville and the old church was occupied by an Episcopal mission, services being held in connection with Stockwell Settlement, Oriskany Falls and Augusta Center.

      The Baptist church at Waterville was organized in December, 1798, and the first preaching was by Elder Peter P. Roots; the first settled pastor was Elder Joel Butler, who began in 1799. In 1800 a church was built on the green, the land having been granted by Benjamin White. In 1877 the church was extensively improved and its career has been one of prosperity.

      The First Presbyterian church at Waterville was organized May 19, 1823, with twenty persons from the first Sangerfield church, as before stated. Rev. Evans Beardsley was the first stated supply, and in 1824 Rev. Daniel C. Hopkins was installed the first pastor. The first church building was erected on the green in 1823; it was sold to the Methodists in 1844, and a frame church built on the site now occupied by a handsome brick edifice which was erected in 1872, at a cost with the lot of $37,000. The church is active and progressive.

      Grace church (Episcopal) Waterville, was organized in 1840, and Rev. Fortune C. Brown was the first rector. In 1842 the church was erected which was afterwards transferred to the Welsh Congregational society, and in 1854 the present church was built.

      The Methodist Episcopal society at Stockwell was formed in 1843, and the old Presbyterian church building was purchased. This was sold in 1848. In April, 1847, the second Methodist society was organized and the present church built at the


      Settlement. In 1857 Waterville was organized as a separate Methodist society, it having previously been in a circuit with other places; it was made one of three appointments under charge of Rev. F.W. Tooke - Waterville, Sangerfield, and Stockwell. The frame church in Waterville was built in 1860.

      The Welsh Congregational church at Waterville was organized in 1852, and occupied the church sold to them by the Episcopal society.

      St. Bernard's Catholic church in Waterville was organized about 1850 and had grown to a large congregation, and has a substantial church.

      The town records are incomplete from 1797 to 1800 inclusive; after that year the list of supervisors and their years of service are as follows:

1801      Amos Muzzy         1841-42     Julius Tower
1802      Oliver Norton        1843         Horace Bigelow
1803-04 Justus Tower         1844         Otis Webster
1805      Benjamin White     1845         Amos O. Osborn
1806-09 Oliver C. Seabury 1846         Erastus A. Walter
1810      John Williams         1847-48   De Witt C. Tower
1811     O.C. Seabury         1849         John W. Stafford
1812      Josiah Bacon         1850-51   George W. Cleveland
1813     O.C. Seabury         1852-54   James M. Tower
1814-20 Josiah Bacon         1855         Edwin H. Lamb
1821-23 Reuben Bacon       1856         Hull Page
1824-27 Samuel M. Mott     1857-62 Platt Camp
1828      Josiah Bacon          1863-76 James G. Preston
1829-31 Samuel M. Mott     1877-80 Marion B. Crossett
1832      Reuben Bacon         1881      Horace P. Bigelow
1833      John Mott, jr.          1882-84 George W. Cleveland*
1834     Erastus Jeffers Dec. 1884 - 85 George Beach *
1835     Levi D. Carpenter    1886-90 Reuben Tower
1836     Erastus Jeffers         1891       Lewis D. Edwards
1837-40 Horace Bigelow     1892-96 Charles M. Felton

      * A special election was held in December, 1884, and G. Beach was elected to succeed Mr. Cleveland, deceased.

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