Susquehanna River flows south-west through the south-east corner, receiving as tributaries Unadilla River and numerous other smaller streams. The Unadilla forms the principal part of the eastern boundary of the County; its tributaries are Beaver Creek, Shawler, Great and Kent Brooks. Chenango River flows in a southerly direction, from the north border to near the center, and thence south-westerly to the south-west corner. From the east its tributaries are Handsome Eddy, Padgets and Pages Brooks, and from the west, Canasawacta, Fly Meadow, Ludlow and Genegantslet Creeks, and Pleasant, Fly, Cold and Mill Brooks. Otselic River flows through the north-west corner in a south-west direction, receiving from the east, Middletown Brook and Brackel Creek, and from the west, Manus, Buck and Ashbel Brooks and Mud Creek. Numerous ponds are interspersed among the hills, in basins, far above the valleys of the streams. The valleys of the Susquehanna and Chenango Rivers are among the finest in the State. They consist of fine intervales, about a mile in width, highly cultivated and bordered for the most part with finely wooded hillsides. The valleys of the County appear to have been formed by the action of large currents of water, which have plowed deep furrows in the gently rolling region which probably once formed the general face of the County.
The following description of the County is taken from the Oxford Gazette of 1823, furnished by H. R. Mygatt, Esq.:
"The principal part of the County lies in the region of what is called the Grand Alleghany Ridge of Mountains; its surface is therefore elevated and hilly; the hills run generally in a north-easterly and south- westerly direction, and are separated by valleys of moderate width. The Susquehanna River runs across the south-east corner of the County and opens a wide and beautiful valley of intervale land of superior quality, extending from the south-east line of the County to the mouth of the Unadilla River, winding a distance of about fourteen miles. The hills on the sides of the river are precipitous and lofty, approaching almost the character of mountains, and formerly were thickly covered with the towering and majestic white-pine, so justly styled the pride of the American forest. This valley, with a slight interruption, continues up the Unadilla River to the north line of the County, presenting a tract of uncommonly fine and fertile land, particularly adapted to the cultivation of grain. It is of various width, expanding towards the west as you proceed up the river.
"At the distance of a few miles west of this valley, lie the elevated towns of Coventry, Guilford, the eastern section of Greene, Oxford, Norwich, Sherburne, the western parts of New Berlin and Columbus. The soil of this range of highlands is loam, intermixed with gravel, stony and hard to till, but is exceedingly fertile in grain and grass, and richly rewards the plowman and grazier. The forest trees are beach, maple, birch, ash, elm, linden, chestnut, oak, poplar, tulip, hemlock, with less pines than are found on the hills near the river. West of this range of hills opens the charming valley of the Chenango, formed by the river and its numerous branches. This river, having at its source an east and west branch uniting at Sherburne, rises in Madison County, near the head waters of the Oriskany and Oneida Creeks, and flowing in a south-westerly direction, winds through the whole extent of Madison and Chenango Counties, part of the County of Broome, and falls into the Susquehanna at Binghamton or Chenango Point. This delightful valley, for the beauty of its winding stream, its richly fringed margin of highly cultivated fields, its gentle and graceful slopes, its easy and varied acclivity, its picturesque landscapes, mellowed with all the variegated hues of verdure, is scarcely surpassed by any section of the United States. In this far reaching valley are situated the pleasant and flourishing villages of Binghamton, in Broome County; Greene, Oxford, Norwich and Sherburne, in Chenango County, and Hamilton, in Madison County. Beyond this valley, to the westward, commences another and yet higher range of most excellent farming lands. No better grazing lands can be found in any region in the same latitude than are found in the towns of Smithville, Preston, Plymouth, Smyrna, McDonough and Pharsalia. This is abundantly proved by the numerous herds of fine cattle and the flocks of sheep that are every year driven from these towns to our different markets. The degrees of comfort, independence and wealth which are hence derived to the farmers of these towns, are facts that speak for themselves, and are the best evidences of industry and the excellence of the soil. The forest trees of this range are similar to those east of the valley of the Chenango, on the Guilford range. The towns of Pharsalia, Otselic and German, are principally watered by the Otselic and its numerous branches. This stream runs through the north-west corner of the County and falls into the Tioughnioga, in the town of Lisle, Broome County. The lands on the Otselic and its branches are of a superior quality, better adapted to the cultivation of grain than the Preston range. The whole surface of the Chenango is beautified and enriched with innumerable springs, brooks and rivulets of the purest water, affording desirable sites for mills of almost any power or description; and the saw mills have heretofore produced immense quantities of lumber for Baltimore, Philadelphia and other Southern markets."
The lowest rocks of the County belong to the Hamilton group, which appear along the north border. Above these, the Tully limestone, Genesee slate, the Portage, Chemung and Catskill groups appear successively towards the south part of the County. The sandstone of the Portage group furnishes a good material for building and for flagging purposes. Several quarries have been opened along the valley of Chenango, between Greene and Oxford. A little below Oxford is a quarry from which grindstones and whetstones are obtained. The summits of the hills in the south part are crowned with the red sandstone of the Chemung group. The soil of the various parts of the County is composed almost wholly of the disintegrated rocks in the vicinity. In a few localities drift is found to a limited extent. Upon the hills the soil is chiefly a shaly loam, and in the valleys a fine quality of alluvium, very productive.
The County is engaged chiefly in agriculture. Dairying is the leading department, and is gradually increasing and gaining upon all other branches. Stock and wool are raised to some extent, and grain is also produced, but is subordinate to the dairy, and the quantity raised is not sufficient to supply the wants of the people. Hops are cultivated along the river valleys.
The County Seat is located at Norwich. The Court House is a fine stone building, located near the center of the village and fronting on the Public Square. It is built in the Grecian style of architecture, with a colonade in front. The Jail is a stone building contiguous to the Court House, and the Clerk's Office is a fire-proof brick building on the same lot. The courts were at first held at Hamilton (now Madison Co.) and at Oxford. From the formation of Madison County in 1806 until 1809, the courts were held alternately at Oxford and North Norwich. March 6, 1807, an act was passed locating the County Seat at Norwich. This act authorized the Supervisors of the County to select a permanent site for a Court House and Jail within one mile of the residence of Stephen Steere, Esq., in the village of Norwich. Mr. Steere then resided where the Hughson House now stands. To defray the expense of buildings and site the Supervisors were authorized to levy a tax, not to exceed five thousand dollars, upon the free holders of the County, one-half of which was to be collected the first year and the remainder the second year. While the subject was under consideration, Peter B. Garnsey, Esq., gave to the Commissioners about one and a half acres of land upon which to erect the County buildings. This land was the same as that upon which the present Court House stands, and includes the spacious green in front, upon the west side of Main street. About the time Mr. Garnsey made the donation of land just mentioned, Stephen Steere, Esq., made a similar donation to the village, of the spacious green east of Main street. Those who contracted to build the Court House claimed to have lost money in the operation, and the Legislature to relieve them, authorized a further tax of $1,500 to be raised in the County and paid to them as an indemity for their loss, making the whole cost of the building $6,500. The Court House was built and first occupied in 1809. The present Court House was built in 1837, under the direction of William Randall, William Knowlton and Erastus Lathrop, Commissioners. The present Jail was erected in 1830, at a cost of $2,000. It is a two story building, containing cells for the prisoners and a house for the Jailor. The first county officers were Isaac Foot, First Judge; Joab Enos and Joshua Leland, Judges; Oliver Norton and Elisha Payne, Assistant Justices; Uri Tracy, Sheriff; Sidney S. Breese, Clerk; and John L. Mercereau, Surrogate.
The County Poor House is situated upon a farm in the town of Preston, about six miles west of Norwich. The whole number of paupers relieved or supported at the Poor House for the year ending November 2d, 1868, was 128, of whom 83 were town paupers and 45 County paupers. The whole amount of expenditures for the support of the poor for the year was $5,138.77. The cost per week of supporting each county pauper, exclusive of clothing and transportation, was $1.13. The cost of supporting each town pauper per week was $.653.
The first Court of Common Pleas held in Chenango County was convened at the school house in Hamilton, in June, 1798. The first business transacted was the admission of Thomas R. Gold, Joseph Kirkland, Nathan Williams, Stephen O. Runyon, Nathaniel King, Arthur Breese, Peter B. Garnsey and Medad Curtis, to practice as attorneys and counselors in this Court. The second term was held in Oxford, in October, 1798; and after this the Courts were held alternately at Oxford and Hamilton, until the formation of Madison County. The Court met three times a year to transact county business. The Judges were authorized to open the Court on Tuesday, but not to held beyond Saturday of the same week.
The first Circuit Court was held July 10, 1798, at which Justice Kent, afterwards Chancellor, presided.
One of the most remarkable trials that has ever taken place in this County was in 1812. General David Thomas was indicted for an attempt to bribe a member of the State Senate from this County. Great interest was manifest in the trial and a very large number of citizens assembled to witness the proceedings. Judge William P. Van Ness, presided. Thomas Addis Emmet, the Attorney General, conducted the prosecution in behalf of the State. Some of the most eminent counsel in the State were arrayed in this trial. Many witnesses were examined and numerous documents read in evidence. The trial occupied about fifty hours and resulted in the acquittal of the accused.
The public works of the County are the Chenango Canal, extending along the valley of Chenango River, through Sherburne, North Norwich, Norwich, Oxford and Greene, connecting Utica and Binghamton; the Albany and Susquehanna Railroad extending through Bainbridge and Afton, in the south-east corner, and connecting Albany and Binghamton; and the Utica, Chenango & Susquehanna Valley Railroad extending through Sherburne and North Norwich to Norwich, and connecting the last named place with Utica. The New York, Oswego and Midland Railroad, now in process of construction, is located through Sherburne, Norwich and Guilford, and is designed to open a direct communication between Oswego and New York. A railroad has also been surveyed from Norwich to DeRuyter, and thence to Auburn, and another is in prospect from Cortlandville to Norwich. The Chenango Canal crosses the river below Earlville, below Sherburne and below Greene, on wood aqueducts, supported by stone piers.
The Chenango Canal is so important a work, and so large a part of it is in this County, a sketch of its history will not be out of place in a work like this. As early as 1824 the inhabitants of the Chenango Valley petitioned the Legislature for a survey of a canal connecting this valley with the Erie Canal. The Canal Committee reported favorably, but the report was not acted upon, as the session was drawing to a close. In 1825 a law was passed authorizing a survey; and in 1826 a petition was presented for its construction, and the Canal Committee of the Assembly made a favorable report, but the House, thinking the survey had not been sufficiently minute and accurate, rejected the bill. During the summer of 1826 the inhabitants procured another survey of the summit level, and at the session of 1827 a bill for the construction of a canal passed the Assembly but was rejected in the Senate. In 1827 the citizens procured another survey of the whole line. Mr. Roberts, an able engineer, was employed, and he came to the conclusion that a sufficient supply of water could be procured, and that the work could be constructed for less than one million of dollars. This opinion was concurred in by several other eminent engineers. In 1828 a bill for its construction again passed the Assembly and was again rejected by the Senate. The application was renewed in 1829, but the objection was made that the State could not safely proceed under a survey that was not authorized by the Legislature, and a bill was passed authorizing its construction if it could be done for one million dollars, if there was sufficient water and if it would yield, when constructed, a revenue for ten years, including the increase of tolls on the Erie Canal, equal to the cost of repairs and the interest of the cost of construction. The Commissioners reported that the canal would cost more than a million of dollars, and the enterprise was again supposed to be killed. In the meantime the population was increasing, villages were springing up and the products of the soil were becoming more abundant. Another effort was made, and on the 23d of February, 1833, an act was passed to construct a canal from Utica to Binghamton, ninety-seven miles. The work was commenced in 1833 and completed in 1837, at a cost of one million, seven hundred and thirty-seven thousand, seven hundred and three dollars. It was constructed with one hundred and fourteen lift locks, two of which were of stone, the others were of wood and stone, called composite. From Utica to the summit it rises 706 feet, by 76 locks, and from this to Binghamton it descends 303 feet, by 38 locks. The canal is supplied by the Chenango River and six reservoirs, all of which are in the south part of Madison County. There was great rejoicing along the valley when the bill authorizing the canal became a law. Among the early and efficient friends of this measure were John F. Hubbard, William H. Maynard and Henry A. Foster, for many years State Senators; John Tracy, of this County, and Reuben Tower, Moses Maynard and many others. Mr. E. B. McCall, of Oxford, a surveyor and civil engineer, was an early and active participant in the construction of the canal. It is said that he once made a survey of the whole line of the present canal and that the levels were proved to be correct when the canal was completed.
There are seven weekly papers published in this County.
The first paper published in the County was
The Western Oracle, by Abraham Romeyn, at the Four Corners, in Sherburne, in 1803. It was a single octavo sheet, containing very few advertisements and but little news. Its pages were chiefly occupied by public documents relating to our affairs with France. It was discontinued in 1808 or 1809.
The Olive Branch was started at Sherburne in May, 1806, by Phinney & Fairchild. In 1808 John F. Fairchild became sole proprietor. ____ Miller, Lot Clark and John B. Johnson were successively interested in its publication until 1812 or 1813, when Mr. Johnson changed its name to
The Volunteer. In 1816 John F. Hubbard purchased the press and commenced the publication of
The Norwich Journal. In 1844 it passed into the hands of LaFayette Leal and J. H. Sinclair, who merged it into the Oxford Republican in October, 1847, and changed the name to
THE CHENANGO UNION. January 1st, 1854, Leal sold his interest to Harvey Hubbard, and the paper was published by Hubbard & Sinclair until September, 1859, when Sinclair sold to Hubbard, who continued its publication until his death in 1862. June 1, 1863, John F. Hubbard, Jr., became proprietor, and continued its publication until July 1, 1868, when he sold to G. H. Manning, the present publisher.
The Chenango Patriot was commenced at Oxford, in 1807, by John B. Johnson, and its publication continued three or four years.
The President was published in 1808, by Theophilus Eaton.
The Republican Messenger was started at Sherburne in 1810, by Pettit & Percival.
The Oxford Gazette was started in 1814, by Chauncey Morgan, who published it several years, when it was sold to George Hunt and subsequently to Hunt & Noyes. In 1826 Mr. Noyes again became proprietor, and after a few years the paper was discontinued.
The People's Advocate was started at Norwich, in 1824, by H. P. W. Brainard. It subsequently passed into the hands of William G. Hyer, and was discontinued after a short time.
The Republican Agriculturalist was started December 10, 1818, by Thurlow Weed. It soon after passed into the hands of ---____ Curtis, who continued it for a short time, when it was discontinued.
The Chenango Republican was started at Oxford, in 1826, by Benjamin Corey. In 1828 it was purchased by Mack & Chapman, and March 3, 1831, William E. Chapman & T. T. Flagler commenced a new series and soon after changed its name to
The Oxford Republican. In 1838 Mr. Chapman became sole proprietor. During the next few years it was successively published by J. Taylor Bradt, Benjamin Welch, Jr., R. A. Leal, C. E. Chamberlin and LaFayette Leal. In 1847 it was merged with the Norwich Journal and published as the Chenango Union.
The Anti-Masonic Telegraph was commenced at Norwich, in November, 1829, by E. P. Pellet. In 1831 B. T. Cook became associated in its publication, and its name was subsequently changed to
The Chenango Telegraph. In 1840, on the death of E. P. Pellet, it passed into the hands of his brother, Nelson Pellet; and upon his death, in 1851, it was conducted for the estate by E. Max Leal and F. P. Fisher. In September, 1855, it was purchased by Rice & Martin, by whom it was continued until November 10, 1865, when it was united with
The Chenango Chronicle, started August 19, 1864, by Rice & Prindle, and the united papers were published as the
TELEGRAPH AND CHRONICLE. Berry & Kingsley are the present proprietors.
The Chenango Patriot was commenced at Greene, in 1830, by Nathan Randall. It subsequently passed into the hands of Joseph M. Farr, who changed its name to
The Chenango Democrat, and in a short time it was discontinued.
The New Berlin Herald was commenced in 1831, by Samuel L. Hatch. In 1834 it was published by Randall & Hatch. Soon after it passed into the hands of Isaac C. Sheldon, and afterwards into the hands of Hiram Ostrander, who changed its name to
The New Berlin Sentinel. It was discontinued about 1840.
The Chenango Whig was published at Oxford a short time, in 1835.
The Miniature, a small monthly, was issued from the same office.
The Sherburne Palladium was commenced in 1836, by J. Worden Marble. In 1839 it was removed to Binghamton.
THE OXFORD TIMES was commenced in 1836, by a joint stock company. It was for some time conducted by H. H. Cook. In 1841 it passed into the hands of E. H. Purdy & C. D. Brigham. In 1844 it was published by Waldo M. Potter; in 1845 by Potter & Galpin; and in 1848 J. B. Galpin became sole proprietor and has continued its publication to the present time.
The Bainbridge Eagle was started in 1843, by J. Hunt, Jr. In 1846 its name was changed to
The Bainbridge Freeman; and in 1849 it was merged in
The Chenango Free Democrat, which was commenced at Norwich, January 1, 1849 by Alfred G. Lawyer. J. D. Lawyer soon after became associated in its publication, and it was in a short time removed to Cobleskill, Schoharie County.
The New Berlin Gazette was commenced in 1849, by Joseph H. Fox and M. E. Dunham, and was published about one year.
The Chenango News was commenced at Greene in 1850, by A. T. Boynton. J. M. Haight soon after became associated in its publication, and subsequently became sole proprietor. He removed the press to Norwich and, in connection with A. P. Nixon, commenced the publication of
The Temperance Advocate, in 1855, and published it one year, when it was discontinued.
The Saturday Visitor was commenced in 1852, by Joseph K. Fox, and its name was soon after changed to
The Social Visitor, after which it was published about five years.
The Spirit of the Age was commenced at New Berlin in 1852, by J. K. Fox; J. D. Lawyer, editor. It was published only a short time.
The Oxford Transcript was commenced in 1853, by G. N. Carhart, and was published about six months.
The Sherburne Transcript was commenced in 1855, by James M. Scarritt, and was published about two years.
THE CHENANGO AMERICAN was commenced at Greene, September 20, 1855, by Denison & Fisher. Denison & Roberts are the present publishers.
The Daily Reporter was commenced at Norwich in 1857, by G. H. Smith. In 1858 it was purchased by Rice & Martin, and was soon after discontinued.
The Literary Independent was commenced at Norwich in 1858, by a company of gentlemen connected with the Academy, and was published about four months.
THE NEW BERLIN PIONEER was commenced February 19, 1859, by Squires & Fox.
THE BAINBRIDGE LEDGER was started in 1866. The present publisher is G. A. Dodge.
THE CHENANGO DEMOCRAT is published at Oxford, by E. J. Watson.
The territory embraced in this County includes eleven of the "Chenango Twenty Towns," or "Governor's Purchase," the "Gore," lying between these and the Military Tract, a part of the "Chenango Triangle Tract" and several smaller tracts which will be described hereafter. The "Twenty Towns" were ceded by the Oneida Indians to the State in a treaty made by Governor George Clinton, at Fort Schuyler, September 22, 1788. At the organization of the County it included all of the Twenty Towns, but in 1806, on the organization of Madison County, two tiers of townships upon the north were included in that County. These townships were originally numbered from one to twenty, and were laid out about six miles square, or more accurately, five hundred chains, or as near to that as circumstances would admit. Those numbered from seven to seventeen are now in this County. Otselic comprises the seventh township, Smyrna the eighth, Sherburne the ninth, North Norwich part of the tenth, Plymouth the eleventh, Pharsalia the twelfth, McDonough the thirteenth, Preston the fourteenth, Norwich parts of the fourteenth and fifteenth, New Berlin the sixteenth and parts of the tenth and fifteenth, and Columbus the seventeenth. Owing to the sinuosities of the Unadilla River, several gores were left along its banks. Between these townships and the Military Tract on the west, was a Gore, purchased by the Holland Land Company, and including the towns of Lincklaen, Pitcher and German in this County. The Surveyor General was instructed to erect a monument at the termination of the outlines of each township, and also at the termination of every fifty chains between them. Each township was divided into four equal parts, as near square as possible, and afterwards into lots of 250 acres each, the lines dividing the lots passing through the monuments already mentioned. A copy of the map and the field book, containing a description of the soil, timber, creeks, &c., in the respective towns were ordered to be placed on file in the Secretary of State's office for public inspection. On the map of every township one lot was to be designated "Gospel" and another "School," these two lots to be located as near the center of the township as convenient and to be reserved for religious and educational purposes respectively. The act authorizing the survey of this territory required the Commissioners, assisted by the Surveyor General, to select five townships of choice lands to be sold only for gold or silver, or to redeem a certain stock which the State had issued in the form of bills of credit. The price at which the land was to be sold was to be such as to insure a ready sale and secure the greatest revenue to the State, but no portion of this tract was to be sold for less than three shillings per acre. The land was advertised for sale in the public prints of the cities of New York and Albany, three months previous to the sale. Owing to the tardy circulation of the notice and the great distance that people of the frontier must travel, over bad roads, to reach the place of sale, New York City, the land fell into the hands of speculators who compelled the actual settlers, in many instances, to pay twenty shillings per acre instead of three or four, which they themselves had paid. In addition to the advance in the price of the land sold, the original purchasers could select for themselves the most valuable portions, and in a few years become very wealthy. The terms upon which purchases were made of the State were one-fourth of the price down and the remainder in six months, but by reference to the bids sent in and accepted by the Commissioners we learn that these terms were not invariable. When an application for a town was accepted the applicant received from the Surveyor General a certificate of purchase, which entitled him to a patent under the great seal of the State, when all payments were adjusted. In addition to the price paid for the land purchased of the State, the purchaser was required by law to pay the State officers certain fees, in conformity to the following scale: To the Commissioners of the Land Office, for patenting a township, the purchaser paid three pounds; for patenting half a township or any number of acres exceeding a half and less than the whole, two pounds; for a tract less than half a township, one pound was paid the Commissioners. The Secretary of State was allowed the same fees as the Commissioners. The first patent granted was dated December 2d, 1792, and was made to Leonard M. Cutting, and covered the fifteenth township, or parts of Norwich and New Berlin. The certificate of purchase was dated the 2d of November of the same year. The second certificate was dated November 3d of the same year, and covered the fourteenth township and was granted to Melancthon Smith and Marinus Willett, and included 7,049 acres. Mr. Cutting also purchased the eleventh township, and Robert C. Livingston the seventh, in 1793. William S. Smith purchased the eighth and ninth townships, April 6th, 1793, and received his patent April 16th, 1794. The tenth was purchased by James Talmadge and Ezra Thompson, and the thirteenth by Thomas Ludlow and Josiah Shippey, in 1793. The sixteenth and the seventeenth townships were purchased by John Taylor, Feb. 2d, 1793, and patent issued February 14, 1797.
That part of the town of Oxford lying west of the Chenango River was called the Gore, and was originally purchased by Melancthon Smith and Marinus Willett, and subsequently divided into sixty-nine lots of about one hundred acres each. Guilford, that part of Oxford lying east of the river, and a small part of the north-eastern portion of Coventry, was included in "Fayette Township," a part of the purchase made of the Indians in 1785. This township was originally divided into 100 lots of 640 acres each, and patented to various individuals. South of the tract last mentioned was "Clinton Township," originally divided into 100 lots of 640 acres each. A tract of 16,000 acres was granted to Robert Harper, Jan. 4, 1787, and by him sold to various persons, and is known as the Harper Patent, and now constitutes the east part of the town of Coventry. The remainder is included in the towns of Bainbridge and Afton, a part of which was included in the Vermont Sufferers' Tract. This was granted to relieve those persons who had purchased lands of the State of New York, within the present limits of Vermont. This territory was claimed by New York and New Hampshire, and after a long and angry discussion, New York surrendered her claim and Vermont became an independent State.
The "Township of Greene" embraced the east part of the present town of Greene and the west part of the town of Coventry, and was divided into lots of 640 acres each, 16,138 acres of which were granted to Walter Livingston in 1788. The remainder, embracing 15,835 acres, was granted to Malachi Treat and William W. Morris, in 1787 or 1788, and was called the "French Tract." The remaining part of the County was included in what was called the "Chenango Triangle," which included the town of Smithville and a part of the town of Greene. This tract was granted to William Hornby, of England, and was managed by his agents.
The settlements of this County commenced about the year 1786, by immigrants from the New England States, but the settlements were few and small for a number of years. The want of roads was a source of great embarrassment to the pioneers of this as well as of other portions of the newly settled territory. Those who came from the borders of Pennsylvania often followed up the Susquehanna and the Chenango in canoes, while those who came from New England and the eastern part of this State, came by land, often following the Indian trails through the almost impenetrable forests. The scarcity of food was sometimes a source of great distress to the settlers before they had sufficient land under cultivation to supply their ever increasing demands. In 1792 a colony of French, from France and St. Domingo, seeking a refuge from the horrors of the French Revolution, settled in the town of Greene. They purchased a tract of 15,000 acres of land, on the east side of Chenango River, of William W. Morris and Malachi Treat, but their leader having been drowned and the colonists failing to pay for their land, it reverted to the original owners, and the colony dispersed, all except Captain Juliand leaving for other parts.
The Chenango County Agricultural Society was organized in 1846 and its first Fair was held at Norwich in October of the same year. The fairs of the next two years were also held at Norwich, and the following ones at Oxford and Sherburne respectively. In the summer of 1851 the Society resolved to have a permanent place for holding their fairs, and for this purpose leased for a term of years a lot of five acres in the village of Norwich, upon which they erected a Floral Hall, and around which a track, about one-third of a mile in extent, was laid. From this time until 1864, inclusive, the fairs were held on these grounds. In 1865 the managers changed the site to another part of the village and secured a lot of fourteen acres, upon which is an excellent trotting course of half a mile in extent. Old Floral Hall was taken down and reconstructed and enlarged, making it one hundred and six feet in length. The first fair upon the new grounds was held in the fall of 1865 and was a decided success. After paying all expenses of removing Floral Hall and erecting new pens, the balance in the treasury of the Society amounted to $550.00. In June, 1866, a fair was held for the purpose of exhibiting horses. This was an experiment but a successful one. The farmers exhibited some very fine horses and the receipts of the Society were over $1,000. The fair of 1866 continued five days, on account of the rain, which came down almost unceasingly from Monday noon until Friday night. The receipts were much less than usual, but considering the weather the result was as good as could well be expected.
In several localities in this County artificial mounds of great antiquity have been discovered, indicating that at some remote period this region was inhabited by a race of beings who were subsequently dispossessed of their territory by the Oneidas and Tuscaroras. One of the most remarkable of these ancient remains of a departed race was found in Oxford. The following account is condensed from a paper written by DeWitt Clinton in 1817: On the east side of the Chenango River, in the center of the village of Oxford, there is a piece of land containing two or three acres which is about thirty feet higher than the adjoining flat land around it. This rise of land lies along the river banks, and upon the south-west portion there appeared an ancient fort, containing about three-fourths of an acre. The fort was semi-circular in form, nearly straight along the river. The curve was a ditch regularly dug, excepting two spaces of about ten feet each at each extremity, which were probably left for ingress and egress. Although the ground upon which this fort was situated was as heavily timbered as any in the vicinity, the line of the ditch could be distinctly traced when the town was first settled by the whites. The distance from the bottom of the ditch to the top of the embankment was about four feet. The antiquity of this fort is further indicated by the fact that the dead trunk of a pine tree, fifty or sixty feet in height, stood upon the embankment, and on being cut, one hundred and ninety-six concentric circles or grains could be distinctly counted, though the sap wood was too far gone to admit of the grains being counted. This tree stood upon the top of the embankment and its roots conformed to its outline and that of the ditch, showing conclusively that it must have grown up after the ditch was dug. The tree must have been two hundred years in growing, and it might have stood another hundred after its growth ceased. The situation was a very eligible one for a fortress, being on high ground and commanding a view of the river for a considerable distance north and south. Bones and some implements of rude pottery have been found in the vicinity of the fort. Oxford was a favorite resting place for the Indians, and there was another some miles south.
The favorite resort of the Indians of this region was the Indian fields, about a mile below the creek bridge in Norwich. The plain occupied by the village of Norwich was also a favorite resort. It was dry and interspersed with numerous springs. In this vicinity the natives had cleared the land and had also cut clearings on the Unadilla River. The Indians have a tradition that a powerful chief once took possession of the fort at Oxford and for many years held possession in spite of the Oneidas. At length the Oneidas managed to get between him and the fort, when he ran down the river about six miles, to Warner's Pond, where he concealed himself but was at length killed. This chief was called Thick Neck, and the notorious Abram Antone is said to have descended from him. Flint arrow heads of very large size have been found in the vicinity of Norwich, and hatchets carved out of stone have been discovered upon the banks of the Unadilla. In the town of New Berlin, adjacent to the Indian fields of Otsego County, gun barrels, stone tomahawks, arrow heads and human skeletons have been plowed up, indicating that a severe battle had been fought there. At Padgets Brook, about four miles below Oxford, were breastworks which appeared to be Indian fortifications. They are circular and consist of about twenty-five different embankments running into each other. A few years ago many Indian graves were broken in upon in the village of Oxford, while laying pump logs. The beds of the graves were lined with cobble stone, resembling in many respects the pavements in our city streets. About two miles south of the village of Greene there was a remarkable mound at the time of the first settlement of this region. Before the mound was dug down or plowed over, it was about six feet above the surface of the ground and forty feet in diameter, being nearly circular. There was also a large pine tree standing in the center, which although dead when cut down, showed 180 years growth. In 1829 an excavation was made into the mound and a large number of human bones were found, and lower down, bones that appeared to have been burned. There were also found about 200 arrow heads lying in a heap, cut after the usual form, and all either of yellow or black flint. As there is no rock of this kind in this part of the State, these arrow heads must have been brought from a distance. In another part of the mound there were found about sixty, made of the same form as those just mentioned. A silver band or ring was also found, about two inches in diameter, very thin and wide, the remains of what appeared to be a reed pipe lying within it, leading some to suppose that it was the remains of some kind of a musical instrument. Stone chisels of various shapes were also found, apparently fitted for different kinds of work.
During the later years of the residence of the Oneidas in this County, a tragical scene was enacted a short distance below Norwich. A young Oneida had paid his addresses to a beautiful squaw of the same tribe, and had gained the consent of the parents, who were accustomed to decide such things, though the fair one's affections were bestowed upon another. He succeeded in carrying the maiden to his wigwam, but she soon escaped with her more cherished lover. The husband pursued them, and while they were locked in the embrace of sleep, entered their apartment, took the life of his rival and inflicted severe wounds upon his fugitive wife. For this he was tried by a council of his tribe and acquitted without even entering the plea of insanity, as would have been done in our more enlightened and christian age.
We are indebted to H. H. Beecher, M. D., for the following sketch of
THE CHENANGO COUNTY MEDICAL SOCIETY: In the year 1806 the Legislature of New York passed an "Act to incorporate Medical Societies for the purpose of regulating the practice of Physic and Surgery in this State." Accordingly, in August of that year, six physicians of the County, viz: Tracy Robinson, Jonathan Johnson, George Mowry, Isaac F. Thomas, Ebenezer Ross and Cyrus French, met in the village of Oxford, agreeable to previous notice, and proceeded, agreeable to law, to the organization of "The Chenango Medical Society," for the purposes specified in the act of the Legislature, and "for the diffusion of friendship and medical science." Tracy Robinson was elected first President of the Society; Jonathan Johnson, Vice President, and George Mowry, Secretary. The second meeting was held at the house of Benjamin Edmonds, in the village of Norwich, October 6, 1806, and was attended by the same physicians as the one previous. Tracy Robinson was chosen a delegate to the State Medical Society, the first ever elected, and a Board of Censors, consisting of all the other members appointed, "for the purpose of examining all students who might present themselves for a license to practice." The officers first chosen were re-elected in 1807. Israel Feuell was elected next President, in October, 1808; Henry Mitchell, who became a member in 1807, Vice President, and George Mowry re-elected Secretary, which office he continued to fill with much ability and credit to himself and to the satisfaction and honor of the Society, for about twenty consecutive years.
From the organization till 1816, four meetings were held each year, viz., on the first Monday of October, January, May and July. From 1816 to 1820, three meetings were held yearly, viz., on the second Tuesday of February, June and October. In 1822 there was another revision of the Constitution and By-Laws, then again in 1830, when the Code of Ethics of the State Medical Society was adopted, and lastly in 1849, when the Code of Ethics of the American Medical Association, adopted at its meeting in Philadelphia in 1847, were incorporated into the Articles of the Society. The By-Laws of 1820 and 1830 fixed the time for holding the annual meeting on the second Tuesday of October, the semi-annual on the second Tuesday of May. In 1841 the time for holding the annual meetings was changed to the second Tuesday of January; the semi-annual to the second Tuesday of June. According to the 2d Article of the Constitution, the annual meeting is required to be held in the village of Norwich; the semi-annual at such place as a majority of the Society may direct.
The By-Laws make it the duty of the President to deliver an address or dissertation upon some medical subject at the close of his official year, and the duty of the Vice President to deliver a like address or dissertation at each semi-annual meeting. Till within a recent period it has been incumbent upon the President to appoint five members at each session of the Society to read dissertations at a subsequent meeting; but in January, 1868, an amendment was made to one of the By-Laws, making it the duty of each member, as called upon, to report orally or in writing the sanitary condition of their respective localities, and present for consideration and discussion such cases of interest as may have occurred in their practice. From the Records it appears that the Society has enrolled some two hundred and twenty members, a considerable number of whom have become scattered throughout our widely extended country. The Society now numbers about fifty members, and has granted, since its organization, diplomas to nearly fifty students to practice physic and surgery. Upwards of twenty have died within the limits of the County on the field of their labors, of whom honorable mention is made in the archives of the Society.
Extending over a period of sixty-three years, while other organizations of one kind or another have had a brief duration and passed away, the paramount importance and interest of this Association have not been overlooked. It has not only maintained a healthy existence-never omitting a single regular meeting in which there was not a quorum to transact business-it has seldom failed to be well represented, both in State and National organizations, ever aiming to enlarge the sphere of its usefulness, fostering medicine and science, scrupulously vindicating the honor and dignity of the healing art.
The following are the officers elected for the present year: President, Dr. S. M. Hand, Norwich; Vice President, M. M. Wood, Greene; Secretary, D. M. Lee, Oxford; Treasurer, G. W. Avery, Norwich; Censors, Doctors S. F. McFarland, Oxford; M. D. Spencer, Guilford; H. K. Bellows, G. W. Avery, H. Mitchell, Norwich; Delegate to State Medical Society, S. F. McFarland; Delegates to American Medical Association, H. H. Beecher, Norwich; W. H. Stewart, Earlville; George Douglas, Oxford.
The semi-annual meeting of the Society will be held in McDonough, on the second Tuesday of June, 1869.
Little has occurred in this County since its settlement, beyond the natural results of the labor of an industrious and enterprising people. The Chenango Canal, as has already been stated, added greatly to the wealth of the County by affording a cheap and easy transportation of produce and thus bringing the markets of the country to the immediate vicinity of all who were located in the beautiful Chenango Valley. Canals were a great advance upon the old style of transportation by teams, even upon good roads. But a brighter era dawned upon the nation when people and produce could be transported by steam over the land at the rate of from twenty to forty miles per hour. It must be acknowledged that Chenango was not as highly favored in this respect as some of the adjoining counties. The first tread of the Iron Horse was first heard upon her soil during the summer of 1868; until that time the low rumbling of this mighty engine was only heard in the distance, no iron track for his ponderous body having been laid in this County. The Utica, Chenango and Susquehanna Valley Railroad, in June last, was completed to Sherburne. The event was celebrated in a manner worth of the occasion; thousands along the line of the road and in Chenango turned out to give eclat to the occasion. The people are awake to their interests, and railroads are the chief, if not the all-absorbing topic. It is expected that this road will be in running order to Norwich during the summer. The New York, Oswego and Midland Railroad is being rapidly pushed forward, and when completed will open a direct route from Lake Ontario to the city of New York.
At the outbreak of the Great Rebellion the people of Chenango were engaged in the peaceable pursuits of agriculture and mechanic arts, the furthest possible from a life of war and bloodshed. But when the alarm sounded that traitor hands were raised against the flag of our country, and a little band of patriots had been compelled to abandon a fort placed in their keeping, the loyal sons of Chenango County left their homes and the peaceful pursuits in which they had been engaged, for the camp and the battle field, showing that they were not unworthy sons of sires who had cemented with their blood the foundation of the glorious structure which we now possess. We have no means of ascertaining definitely the number engaged in the service who went from this County, but we hazard nothing in saying that in men and means Chenango County was not behind her sisters. Enthusiastic meetings were held in Norwich and addressed by prominent citizens, among whom were Hon. H. G. Prindle, Hon. Lewis Kingsley, B. F. Rexford and J. F. Hubbard, Jr. Over six thousand dollars were subscribed to aid families of volunteers. Fifty-four men were very soon enrolled, and a beautiful silk flag inscribed "Chenango Volunteers," was presented them by the ladies of Norwich. A testament was also presented to each volunteer by the Sabbath schools of the village. The company was finally organized, with James Tyrell, Captain, and Joel O. Martin, First Lieutenant. It was incorporated into the Seventeenth Regiment and designated as Co. H. Six companies of the 114th Regiment were from this County; two companies from Norwich and two from Oxford. Dr. Beecher, of Norwich, the historian of this regiment, has given a graphic description of its marches, battles and bivouacs during three years of soldier life. It is to be hoped that some competent pen will yet be employed to record the deeds of all our brave boys in blue, and that their names may be preserved to posterity, when monuments of granite and marble shall have crumbled into dust.