Atwell, Christine O., 1928, Cazenovia, Past & Present,
A Descriptive and Historical Record of the Village. Florida Press,
Inc., Orlando, FL
Christine Orange Atwell (1887-1939)
was born in Cazenovia and is descended from a Joseph Atwell who had taken
up land in the Pompey Hollow (Onondaga County Military Tract). Joseph
and some of his pioneering neighbors were camping at the outlet of Cazenovia
Lake when John Lincklaen and his crew first came to the site of the what
was soon to be the new community of Cazenovia. Later generations
of the family were prosperous merchants and active citizens of the village
Atwell's book is a wonderful unparalleled history of Cazenovia which contains many items that are not recorded elsewhere. The text is based on many years of research by Miss Atwell and several close friends and is compiled and drawn from numerous sources. The author spent many years pouring over the records of early Cazenovia, and talking with many of the older generations.
As with any history research project the work is never done. As new information and sources come to light and as older material is looked at from a different perspective, the interpretations of earlier authors will (hobpefully) be superceeded by new interpretations, and such it has been with Atwell's work. A few of the things that Miss Atwell wrote about so many years ago are in need of clarification or comment. In a few cases she was caught unknowingly passing on false legends that have so pernisiously become implanted in our local history, such as her discussion of the Native American past and dugout canoes in the lake, industries, cemeteries, and taverns. Since these topics have been of particular interest to me I have made a closer look at the infomation and context and found that things are not quite as previous historians have written. It thus becomes necessary to add in a few commentary notes regarding what I have found to be changed or in need of clarification. Not wishing to interrupt the flow of this text I have provided this seperate compilation discussing some of the material and information that has since come to light and which changes what Atwell wrote so many years ago.
Some spelling corrections have been made and a few notes to update or
clarify the text are added in square [ ] parentheses. Atwell's
Footnotes and my Comments and Notes follow at the
end of the text.
I Founding & Settlement
IV Industries and Institutions
Atwell, Christine O., 1928, Cazenovia, Past & Present,
A Descriptive and Historical Record of the Village. Florida Press,
Inc., Orlando, FL
pages 1 to 9
<:1> Cazenovia, New York,
the center town on the western border of Madison County, was founded in
Until after the close of the Revolutionary War, the territory embraced in the present Chenango and Madison Counties was included in the indefinite Indian domain. In 1788, Governor Clinton effected a treaty with the Indians whereby their title to the major portions of the two counties was extinguished. The next year the Legislature passed an act directing the Surveyor- General to lay out and survey twenty townships. After the completion of the survey, the Commissioners of the Land Office were to select five of the choicest of these twenty townships, which were to be sold only for gold or silver or to redeem certain bonds which the State had issued in the form of bills of credit. They were further required to affix to the lands such price as was best calculated to effect a ready sale, and at the same time ensure the greatest revenue to the State Treasury. The commissioners were required to give three months' public notice of the contemplated sale by advertising in the papers published in the cities of Albany and New York, in the latter of which the sales were to take place. The sales took place, but owing to the brief notice and the imperfect means of travel and communication, they were lightly attended, and the towns in many cases fell naturally, easily and unavoidably into the hands of jobbers and wealthy capitalists, who were in attendance upon legislative action, and always on the alert for lucrative investments, and who immediately advanced the price from three to twenty shillings per acre.
Due to a misapprehension in the survey, there was left between the west line of the Twenty Townships and the east line of the Military Tract a strip which was named the Gore. Two tracts, one of 15,000 acres and one of 41,000 acres were sold off. These two tracts were known as the Road Township. from the fact that the proceeds arising from its sale were to be applied to the construction of roads. This, together with the previous tract, soon after came into possession of the Holland Land Company.
John Lincklaen, Esq., of Amsterdam, Holland, under the patronage of Peter Stadniski, President of the Holland Land Company, was sent into the United States to explore the new countries, and to make a purchase of a tract of land if he should find a suitable situation. Accordingly <:2> in the year 1790, he came to America with letters of instruction to the Company's Agent, Theophilus Cazenove, then residing in the city of Philadelphia.
Inspired with zeal for his mission Mr. Lincklaen in the month of September, 1792, having completed his preparation for a tour in the wilderness, employed two hardy woodsmen to accompany him and set out. He ascended the North [Hudson] River to Albany, thence by the Mohawk river to old Fort Schuyler. He then steered off in a westerly direction in the back parts of [what was then] Herkimer County. His object was to explore the tract of about one hundred thousand acres, being the strip lying between the Military Townships and the tract called the Governors' Purchase of 20 Townships, distinguished on the map of the State of New York as the Road Township, the Gore and No. One of the 20 townships.
In this wilderness the enterprising young Hollander continued with his little company eleven days, enduring all the hardships and privations which such hazardous expeditions are subject to, with only raw pork and bread to subsist upon, and many miles from any inhabitants. He kept a journal of his journey, which, having been translated from the French in which it was originally written, relates that on the afternoon of Thursday, October 11, 1792, he arrived at the foot of the beautiful lake in Cazenovia where his party encamped for the night. As the result of a reconnoiter he wrote: "The situation is superb and the lands are beautiful."
Pleased with the tract and situation, after his arduous undertaking, he returned to Philadelphia and reported to Mr. Cazenove in so favorable a manner the result of his expedition, that the tract was immediately bought and Mr. Lincklaen became the agent with an interest in the purchase (Footnote I-1).
The earliest authentic version of the founding of the village is contained in an address made by Mr. S.S. Forman, clerk of the Holland land Company, on the occasion of the forty-eighth anniversary of the settlement of this section of the Empire State, celebrated on the eighth day of May, 1841. At that time he said:
"Messrs. Cazenove and Lincklaen made me proposals to accompany Mr. Lincklaen to commence his settlement on this tract of land. The negotiation was soon confirmed. Mr. Lincklaen requested me to meet him in New York in April then next. When we met, he gave me his plans fully, and requested me to purchase a complete assortment of goods such <:3> as I deemed suitable for a new settlement in order to give every facility to the emigrants, observing, that the profits on the goods was of no consideration; but the grand object was to promote the settlement of the lands - that I must not be afraid of buying too much of useful article that the company had appropriated $20,000 for the purpose. He added, that if I knew of any mechanics or others who would like to go with us to engage them - I accordingly engaged one carpenter (John Wilson) one mason (Michael Day) one teamster (James Smith). When the North [Hudson} River opened, I shipped all the goods and farming utensils on board of an Albany sloop commanded by Capt. William Schenck, a most worthy Revolutionary officer. Also myself and four hired men I took along. From Albany I sent the men on to old Fort Schuyler (now the city of Utica); the goods I transported by land to Schenectady and then shipped them on board of bateaux and accompanied them myself to old Fort Schuyler. I took passage with them in order to learn how the boatmen managed, and try to discover whether any plan could be devised to prevent pilfering, but alas! there were too many temptations to become rogues if they were ever honest. This was a tedious and vexatious journey of several days - no stage had yet ever started on these roads. At old Fort Schuyler the goods were all stored with John Post, Esq., the only merchant and tavern-keeper at that place, and then only two framed houses. From that place we brought the goods to the Road Township (now Cazenovia) as occasion required and we had a place for them.
"At Ft. Schuyler we hired seven additional men as foresters, viz: James Greene, David Fay, Stephen F. Blackstone, Philemon Tuttle, David Freeborn, Gideon Freeborn and Asa C. Towns. I believe wages were $10 per month and board. I also bought a yoke of oxen, a cart and provisions. On the morning of leaving Utica I weighed out some raw pork and bread to all the men to carry in their knapsacks and an axe apiece to ten of them - and started them and the magazine team on their pilgrimage, on the Great Genesee Road, via the Dean Road to so called - Shortly after Mr. Lincklaen and myself started on horseback - I believe we all stayed the first night at Wemple's Tavern at the Indian Mills, near the Oneida Castle. Our journey this day was about twenty miles. The country new, roads bad, much of the way was what is called corduroy road. The next morning we started on our way, continuing on the Genesee road until we crossed Chittenango Creek, about twelve miles - here we turned south and continued about one mile up the creek when we came to a beautiful flat settled by German squatters from the Mohawk River and some Indians. Here we left all settlements and took a blind Indian path bearing westwardly up a steep hill. Now commenced the tug of encountering the dense forest - the axe men commenced opening a road so as to let the cart pass along. By the time that we had ascended the summit of the hill the sun was <:4> nearly down; of course time to prepare for the night. By the side of our path lay a trunk of a large tree which had blown down - under the lee of this, with a large fire in front a few paces off, we thought we could be made comfortable. Our cattle and horses being secured and taken care of, we all then repaired to our magazine cart; out with our jack-knives and commenced supper on raw pork and bread - each one helped himself in his own way, some cut long sticks and sharpened one end and put the pork on it and toasted the pork in the fire - After this operation was finished each one wrapped himself in his blanket and stretched himself on the ground by the side of the tree with his feet toward the fire.
"The next morning, 8th of May, 1793, at daylight we arose, brushed the cobwebs from our faces, ate our breakfast on the same sumptuous fare as our supper. It was thought advisable to have another pair of oxen; accordingly one man with my horse was dispatched to Whitestown (upward of 30 miles) to buy and bring on as soon as possible another pair. Mr. Lincklaen now proposed to me that he and I would take his horse and ride and tie (as the new country phrase is) (Footnote I-2) and go on to the outlet of the lake, by following the Indian path, distant about seven miles, supposing by night that all the company would fetch up with us. When we arrived at the destined spot, we had the pleasure to meet with three men who came there for the purpose of fishing. Their names were Charles Rowe, Joseph Atwell (Footnote I-3) and Phineas Barnes, all then living in Pompey Hollow, a few miles to the west of this place. The outlet of the lake was so small that a man could step across it. The Indians had constructed a wear to catch fish as they run out of the lake; they had also erected a bark hut near by. On our arrival at this place, we took off the saddle and bridle and portmanteau from the horse and turned him out to feed on the oak plains. It is the practice with the Indians to fire the woods in the Spring of the year, which hastens vegetation and brings early and tender herbage and induces wild beasts to come upon their hunting ground - here the horse found good pasture. In the evening we five collected in the bark hut. Our people and team did not make their appearance, we two travelers consequently were not provided for with provisions, the three Pompenians discovering our destitute situation, kindly shared their excellent bread and raw pork with us. By this time a friendly introduction took place and they were made acquainted with the object of our business, so a mutual exchange of expression of kind feelings passed. We then set about to arrange affairs <:5> for the night lodging in the little hut. Our saddle and portmanteau served for our pillows. By the dawn of the morning our three friends disappeared. About seven o'clock Mr. Lincklaen observed to me, that he had best go back; perhaps some misfortune had befallen our people - that he would leave the horse and dog (old Lion) with me. About ten o'clock my stomach admonished me I had best make back tracks too - for the $500 in specie in the portmanteau would not buy me a breakfast, nor was there a human being within several miles of me to my knowledge and alone in the wilderness rendered my situation rather unpleasant. I saddled my horse and had not lead him far before I gladly met Messrs. Jedediah Jackson and Joseph Yaw, although they were entire strangers to me. They were sent out from the State of Vermont as an exploring committee of a company to try to find a tract of land to settle. These gentlemen had met Mr. Lincklaen on his returning to the people, and he directed them to me. They inquired the way to Township No. 1 (now the Town of Nelson) I directed them the way and proceeded slowly and solitary on my way. The cause of our people's delay was the axle-tree of the cart broke which was a great damage to us. when the whole company arrived on the Patent, Mr. Lincklaen had his marquee pitched for his own family and a very large tent for his hired men - the spot was near the oaks at the south end of the lake.
"The first work was to build a large log dwelling house and store under one roof, and another large house for the work people; both were set in the white oak grove, a little distance apart. Soon after, a warehouse was built in front of the store. The lands were to have been surveyed and laid out in 150 acre farm lots before this time but was not begun. Mr. Lincklaen dispatched James Greene through the wilderness to Oxford, 50 miles off with only a pocket compass for his guide and bread and pork in his knapsack, to bring Mr. Lock, the surveyor, to do his work. By this time some land hunters had come, they were very fortunately employed by Mr. Lock as axemen, chain bearers, etc. This gave them a fine opportunity of sizing the land and selecting lots. The land sales commenced at $1.50 per acre, $10.00 to be paid down - balance in 10 years with interest yearly - the purchaser to clear and sow or plant 10 acres and build a comfortable log cabin on his lot the first year. Mr. Lincklaen gave out word that the first ten families should have one hundred acres each for $1.00 per acre. Two miles were reserved off the north end of the Road Township and laid out in ten acre lots for the benefit of the villagers. The village plot was not laid out until the next summer, 1794. The first job of clearing land, Mr. Lincklaen let 10 acres to James Greene and David Fay, over on the farm now owned by Mr. Tillotson on the west side of the lake (Footnote I-4).
<:6> "Emigration from the neighboring towns was not contemplated, but supposed they would come from ‘Down East' but terms were too favorable for the keen Yankee eye to let slip, and before the lots were surveyed and even before the workmen had time to finish their log house for themselves, several respectable families from the towns through which we passed coming from Utica came on as settlers without having previously provided any shelter for their families - our men kindly gave up their tent to their families and sheltered themselves as well as they could in their unfinished house.
"We were informed that some of these families were young married people, who had abbreviated their courtship in order to avail themselves of this favorable opportunity to commence the world. This was Yankee prudence and foresight, without any trick about it. For several weeks our baking and washing was done at old Mrs. Schuyler's at Chittenango Flats. One day Mr. Lincklaen returning from there, brought home with him in his surtout pocket, a kitten, which was the first and only one for a long time. There were no other domestic animals in the settlement except horses, oxen, and two or three dogs.
"The horses and oxen had bells put on them and were turned on the oak plains; toward evening they would all run in from the woods to shelter themselves in the smoke of the settlement to get away from the large horse flies, they were so plentiful that it seemed sometimes they would devour the creatures. This circumstance is well impressed upon the memory, because their stamping and shaking their bells all night under our windows kept sleep away from us. The Holland Company sent to Mr. Lincklaen eight head of Dutch cattle, six of which were cows the size of our oxen; their colors were clear black and white - not spotted but large patches of the two color - very handsome bodies and straight limbs, horns middling size, but gracefully set. Their necks were seemingly too slender to carry their head - their disposition mild and docile. For some reason or other, they did not do well and entirely run out. Some supposed that the country was too new, the pasturage different from what they had been accustomed to. The company went to an enormous expense with these cattle, a groom was sent along for the express purpose of taking care of them.
"For several days flights of pigeons (not quail) came over our camp a little before sunset, their flights were so low that we shot them with guns and pistols, and knocked them down with poles and club - they were fine ingredients with our pork and made a dish fit for epicures.
"When the surveyor commenced his work, the emigrants followed him so closely that as soon as two sides of a lot could be ascertained and the number known, they would run to the office to have it entered and perhaps <:7> a person would have to name several before he could get one. We were obliged to suspend the sales at one time for fear of making mistakes by reason of the competition. The land sales closed the first season I think at $2.00 per acre, on the Road Township, now Cazenovia.
"It was some time after our first arrival before we could be prepared to receive the merchandise which was stored at Utica, and owing to the badness of the roads there was great risk in carting liquors - one time in particular Mr. Lincklaen was in Utica and engaged a respectable trusty farmer to bring out a Hogshead of spirits, the transportation of which cost $10.00. At that time this article was considered as almost indispensable in a new country - we had no faucets, but I tapped the hogshead and put a quill in it, and drew the contents out through the quill as occasion required.
"The first winter I had business in Whitestown and Utica and went in a lumber sleigh, our Jersey teamster, James Smith, drove. On our return we traveled all night being in a hurry to get back. When we arrived at the head of the lake, at the first dawn of the morning, we stopped to examine the ice - it was perfectly transparent - we took our axe (a necessary tool to take along in those days) we cut through the ice and concluded that we should be safe. After we drove on the lake the ice cracked and radiated from the horses' feet in every direction, the horses became frightened - we almost repented our temerity, the driver kept the horses on a good steady trot, we arrived safe at the settlement where we found all the people on the bank of the lake watching with much anxiety for our safety, after they could ascertain what we were. Our first appearance astonished the spectator - some supposed us to be a large bear, some one thing and some another. This probably was the first time that a sleigh and pair of horses was ever driven on this lake.
"In 1794 the village of Cazenovia was laid out by Judge Wright of Rome and Calvin Guiteau of Utica. It was Mr. Lincklaen's wish to have the village laid out on the bank of the lake, and to have a street running on the bank. This it was thought would give a better appearance to the village; but the Company did not own far enough north to adopt that plan. The first sales of village lots were at $5.00, upon certain conditions to build and improve the lots; but they shortly rose higher. Mr. Lincklaen wished to call the village Hamilton - he was a great admirer of General Hamilton, who was at that time Secretary of the Treasury, under George Washington, but the settlers in one of the adjoining townships had named their settlement Hamilton, so the name of Cazenovia was established in honor of Theophilus Cazenove, the Holland Land Company's Agent (Footnote I-5).
<:8> "In 1795 I believe it was, Mr. Lincklaen built his first house, about 50 feet square and handsome. The roof of this house was at one time all covered with sheet lead, but it had not the desired effect of keeping it from leaking so it was taken off. The house took fire twice; the second time it was destroyed together with many books and papers containing the early records of the company and a great deal of elegant furniture (Footnote I-6). (The site of Mr. Lincklaen's dwelling on the bank of the lake was a picturesque spot and its selection evinced the good taste of its owner. When the house burned in 1806, he chose another site at the foot of the lake, where he erected in 1807 a substantial brick house, commanding a beautiful view of the entire length of the lake. It is still standing, occupied by Mrs. Charles S. Fairchild, who calls the place ‘Lorenzo.' Mrs. Fairchild is a descendant of the adopted son of Col. John Lincklaen. Mr. Fairchild, who was Secretary of the United States Treasury under the Cleveland administration, died in 1924. Mr. and Mrs. Fairchild entertained President and Mrs. Cleveland at Lorenzo, where the flower gardens have long been noted for their beauty.)
"A person who never commenced to settle in the wilderness can have but a faint idea of the difficulties, privations and hardships attending such a life. No doubt but the children of Israel had bard times. This settlement commenced under the most auspicious circumstance - the land cheap, credit long, a fatherly patronage almost; no one of these settlers was ever reduced to the necessity of going from home for the necessaries of life. This was no ordinary beginning, it has been providentially a felicitous one; happiness has generally reigned throughout. In all our meetings, whether of a public nature or for innocent amusement and recreation, the utmost harmony and decorum ever prevailed. Coming together as we did from all points of the compass, the intelligence of the American character was at all times conspicuous. In our little gatherings a dignity and propriety of conduct was observed that would have been creditable to a more polished society.
"Where can we find a better country in all respects than this which we now inhabit - scarcely a 150 acre lot but what is well watered with delightful streams - the soil good, country healthy, turnpikes and town roads in every direction and kept in good order, rendering travel safe and pleasant. The village is so happily situated from the great thoroughfares of the railroads as to be free from the demoralizing effects of corrupt populations which are to be found in such places. This place is so situated that it has no rival to contend with - in short, this section of country seems to be a little world by itself and each one seems to be contented with his own business.
The Village of Cazenovia lies only partially in the tract originally purchased by Mr. Lincklaen, the center of Seminary Street being the north line of that purchase. Afterwards, when it became desirable to use land to the north of this for the village plot, some 10,000 acres of the New Petersburg Tract were purchased. The southern part of the purchase, however, was not as favorable for cultivation as the northern; it was more liable to frost, and the soil different. It lay, too, out of the direction of the tide of emigration that was then lust beginning to roll with great strength and velocity toward the western part of the state.
"Riding and tying;" i.e. one rides ahead, and gets off, and ties the horse to a bush and walks onward; the one left behind walks until he comes up to the horse, then mounts and rides ahead; and so on alternately.
The writer is a descendant of this Joseph Atwell, who had brought his family the year before from Connecticut where they had lived some time. One of Joseph's grandsons, George H. Atwell, moved his family from Pompey Hollow to Cazenovia, purchasing a home on Sullivan Street, where he lived nearly forty years.
This farm was purchased in 1810 by Ephraim Tillotson and in later years known as the Burr Wendell farm. The writer's grandmother, Orange Tillotson Atwell, was born on and married from this farm.