City of Utica

Submitted by Barbara Andresen

From ROMAN CITIZEN newspaper, Rome, Oneida County, New York, Wednesday, July 31, 1850


                                                             As it was in Appearance in 1812

Well does the writer remember in the Winter of 1812, of coming into Utica from the land of steady habits, and not supposing whem he left the home of his childhood and youth, that the Whitestown country, as then called, was new, and wild to find, as flourising a village as Utica then was; no wonder his bump of curiosity if not enlarged, was highly gratified in finding a village as flourishing on the banks of the Mohawk as they were on the banks of his own beautiful Connecticut.

But now after the lapse of over one quarter of a century, when it has become what it now is, the Central City of the Empire State, beautiful for situation as any other --filled up with an enterprising, intelligent, virtuous, and go-a-head class of men, who will not be turned aside for any ordinary obstacles, in beautifying and enlarging the bounds and usefulness of their city.

Let us see how it appeared to the eye of the stranger; then as you crossed the Dyke, (as then called) from Deerfield Corners, you passed over the Mohawk on a covered bridge; and as you entered the village, on the right and left of the bridge were two small store-houses, built to receive the freight of the batteauxs that were poled up the Mohawk by hand, with from 10 to 12 tons of merchandize.  Immediately on the left your eyes were greeted with the plain sign of M. Baggs' Tavern, kept in a gamble-roofed youse, one story and a half high, 20 or 25 Stores, neat in their appearance, with Mechanic Shops built up Genesee street as far as what is now called Bond street, and a few scattering buildings further up.  Opposite Broad street, where the Ontario Branch Bank stands, was Watts Sherman's Ashery and Hodges' Tavern; where Doolittle & Norris' are, near that was a building erected by Watts Sherman for a School House, in which he supported a charity school for the poor; but few buildings above this on the road to New Hartford.

Below Baggs' Tavern, on Water street, at its lower end, was the pleasant cottage of Judge Miller, the finest spot in Utica.  Just below this house was a bridge over the Mohawk; over it passed the Genesee and Mohawk Turnpike, as the road left the Genesee street on the hill, and passed below the village, and came into Deerfield one-fourth of a mile below the Corners, and on this Turnpike were to be seen, every day, the four, six, and eight horse wagons, that carried the wheat and flour from the West to Albany, and returned loaded with merchandize.  Up Whitesboro street you passed the Manhattan Branch Bank, located in the frostroom of a small brick house corner of Seneca and Whitesboro streets, above it Smith's Tavern.  Above this Hoyt's Tannery, and still further on Judge Cooper's ten acre lot and neat dwelling; above him Potter's farm and farm buildings, considered worth 30 to 40 dollars per acre, as being near the village; beyond this a corderoy road to Whitestown and Rome.

Genesee street was then, as it is now, a wide beautiful thoroughfare, leading out West to New Hartford and Clinton, well mecadamized over the logs of which it was originally made, (as many of the Uticans can testify, who witnessed the digging of the Erie Canal when the logs were thrown out of their bed.)  The road South, by their splendid "Mount of Vision" for the burial of their dead, was not known.

The village contained about three thousand inhabitants who were noted for their industry and perserverance in every good work.  There were two Churches; their Schools well supported, giving promise of their future thrift and greatness.  There was a daily stage to Albany, and also one West, run by Parker, the Pioneer Mail Carrier, who carried the first mail from Albany to Utica, once a week, on horseback.

Now reader, what is Utica?  It is truly what it is called, the Central City in the midst of surrounding villages, teeming with their thousands of intelligent and virtuous inhabitants, numbering as independent a population as any place in this mighty Republic of the Western Hemisphere can boast of or show.