Until after the close of the Revolutionary war, in 1783, the territory embraced in the present Counties of Chenango and Madison was included in the indefinite Indian domain, the east line of which, knows as the Line of Property, was established by a treaty held at Fort Stanwix November 5, 1768 and extended from a point on Wood Creek, near the mouth of Canada Creek, thence to the head waters of the Unadilla, down that stream to its mouth, and thence south to the line of Pennsylvania. By a treaty held at Fort Stanwix (Rome) October 22, 1784, the Iroquois ceded to the Federal Government a large portion of the land west of that line, then known as Western New York.1 By treaties made by the State in 1758 and 1788, the Indian title to the major portions of the two counties was extinguished; and in 1795 further portions of the Oneida Reservation in Madison County were ceded to the State.
June 28, 1785, Gov. George Clinton, in behalf of the State, negotiated a treaty with the Oneidas and Tuscaroras at Fort Herkimer, by which the latter, in consideration of the receipt of eleven thousand, five hundred dollars in goods and money, ceded the territory bounded as follows:---
"Beginning at the mouth of the Unadilla or Tianaderha river, where the same empties into the Susquehanna; thence up the said Unadilla or Tianaderha river ten miles, measured on a straight line; thence due west to the Chenango river; thence southerly down the Chenango river to where it empties into the Susquehanna river, and to the line, commonly called the line of property, established at a treaty held at Fort Stanwix in the year 1768; thence along the said line to the place of beginning."
By this treaty the State acquired al that part of Chenango county lying south of the south line of the town of Norwich and east of the Chenango River, in addition to much other territory without the bounds of this country. This tract was soon after disposed of by the State to patentees.
September 22, 1788, Governor Clinton effected a second treaty at Fort Schuyler (Utica,) by which all the lands owned by the various nations then treating, except certain reservations, were ceded to the State.
Some of the Indians had the prescience to understand what would be the inevitable result of these large cessions of their dominion. An Oneida sachem, with apparent forecast of the destiny of his race gave a happy and forcible illustration of this when the cession of 1788 was made. At the conclusion of the treaty, the sachem in question seated himself on a log close beside Governor Clinton, who, with becoming courtesy, moved to make room. His example was followed by the sachem, who again seated himself in close proximity to the Governor, whereupon the latter again moved, but only to be followed as before by the sachem. This was repeated till at last the Governor found himself off the log, when he inquired the meaning of this singular conduct. The Oneida significantly replied:---"Just so white man crowd poor Indian; keep crowding; keep crowding; by and by crowd him clear off! Where poor Indian then?"
February 25, 1789, the legislature passed an act directing the Surveyor-General, Simeon Dewitt, to lay out and survey in the lands acquired by the latter treaty, and immediately north of those acquired by the former one of 1785, twenty townships, each to be as nearly five hundred chains square as the circumstances would admit, and subdivided into four equal sections, and lots of two hundred and fifty acres each. The townships were to be numbered from one to twenty, and the lots from one to one hundred. Two lots in each township, as near the center as might be, were to be designated one gospel and the other school lot, and reserved for religious and educational purposes. After the completion of the survey, which was finished in 1789 and 1790, the Commissioners of the Land Office, by and with the advice of the Surveyor-General, 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 farther 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; but were restricted in the exercise of this discretion to a minimum of three shillings per acre. The commissioners were required to give not to exceed 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 "town in many cases fell naturally, easily and unavoidable into the hands of jobbers and wealthy capitalists, who were in attendance upon legislative action, and always on the alert for lucrative investments," 2 and who immediately advanced the price of small purchases to twenty shillings per acre.
This tract is now variously known as the Governor's Purchase and the Chenango Twenty Townships. It extends in general terms from the Unadilla to the Gore, and from the north lines of Smithville, Oxford and Guilford to the south lines of Fenner, Smithfield and Stockbridge, in Madison County, and Augusta and Marshall, in Oneida County. In the effort to make the township lines straight, small angular pieces were left bordering the Unadilla. It was at first supposed that it filled the interval between the Unadilla and the Military Tract;3 but owing to a misapprehension in fixing upon the point of departure and a variation of the compass, there was left between the west line of the Twenty Townships and the east line of the Military Tract a strip which was denominated the Gore, which extended from north to south the entire length of the Twenty Townships, being slightly wider at the north end than the south.4 The Twenty Townships were for many years designated by the numbers assigned to them by the Commissioners of the Land Office, but this practice has lapsed into disuse, so that it would now be as difficult for the majority of the present inhabitants of the county to designate a township by its number as it would have been for the early settlers to have designated it by name. We append a list of the names by which the towns are at present known in connection with the numbers by which they were originally designated, though there have been slight changed in the outlines of some of them, the principal of which are the addition of parts of ten and fifteen to sixteen, and fourteen to fifteen.
Township No. 1 is now known as Nelson. " " 2 " " " Eaton. " " 3 " " " Madison. " " 4 " " " Hamilton. " " 5 " " " Lebanon. " " 6 " " " Georgetown. " " 7 " " " Otselic. " " 8 " " " Smyrna. " " 9 " " " Sherburne. " " 10 " " " North Norwich. " " 11 " " " Plymouth. " " 12 " " " Pharsalia. " " 13 " " " McDonough. " " 14 " " " Preston. " " 15 " " " Norwich. " " 16 " " " New Berlin. " " 17 " " " Columbus. " " 18 " " " Brookfield. " " 19 " " " " " " 20 " " " Sangerfield.
The Gore comprises the present towns of German, Pitcher, Lincklaen, DeRuyter and the southern and larger half of Cazenovia.
Purchases of the Twenty Townships were made pursuant to an act passed March 22, 1791, amendatory of an act previously passed for the disposition of the lands of the State. The following applications are recorded and marked accepted.
Leonard M. Cutting applied for No. 15, containing 25,000 acres, at the rate of three shillings and one farthing per acre, 600 £ to be paid on or before October 1, 1791, and the residue in two equal payments, one on or before April 1, 1793, and another on or before February 1, 1794. He further applied for Nos. II and 14, containing 50,000 acres, at three shillings and three pence per acre, one-sixth to be paid October 1, 1791, and the residue in two equal payments, one, April 1, 1792, the other January 1, 1793.
James Tallmadge and Ezra Thompson applied for No. 10, containing 25,000 acres, at the rate of three shillings per acre, one-sixth part to be paid October 1, 1791, and the residue in two equal installments, the first May 1, 1792, the second January 1, 1793.
Michael Myers, Jedediah Sanger and John J. Morgan applied for Nos. 18 and 20 and the unsold portions of 19, containing 67,130 acres, the first two at the rate of three shillings and three pence per acre, and the last at three shillings and one penny, one sixth payable October 1, 1791, and the residue in two equal payments, the first April 1, 1792, the second January 1, 1793.
John Taylor applied for the unsold portions of Nos. 16 and 17, containing 43,377 acres, at the rate of three shillings and three pence per acre, one-sixth payable in six months, one-half the residue in one year and the other half in eighteen months from date, which is not given.
Col. William S. Smith applied for Nos. 2, 3, 4, 5, 8 and 9, containing 150,000 acres, at the rate of three shillings and three pence per acre, one-sixth to be paid October 1, 1791, one half the residue January 1, 1702, and the other half January 1, 1703.
Alexander Webster, Edward Savage and John Williams applied for No. 1, containing 25,000 acres, at three shillings and three pence per acre, one-sixth to be paid October 1, 1791, and the residue in two equal payments, the first April 1, 1792, the second January 1, 1793.
White Matlack and Jacob Hallet applied for Nos. 12 and 13, at three shillings and five pence per acre, one-sixth to be paid October 1, 1791, and the residue in two equal payments, the first January 1, 1792, the second January 1, 1703.
Robert C. Livingston applied for No. 7, containing 25,000 acres, at three shillings and six pence per acre, one-sixth to be paid October 1, 1791, and the residue in two equal payments, one January 1, 1792, the other January 1, 1793.
An application was made by Thomas Ludlow and Josiah Shippey for two townships, (not designated,) containing 50,000 acres, at three shillings and five pence per acre, one-sixth payable October 1, 1791, and the residue in two equal payments, one January 1, 1792, and one January 1, 1793. No. 6 was the only one not covered by previous applications.
Those who applied, however, did not, in all cases, it appears, consummate the purchase. The first certificate of purchase was issued November 2, 1792, and the first patent was granted December 29, 1792, to Leonard M. Cutting, for the 15th township. The west part of No. 14, 7,049 acres, was purchased by Melanchthon Smith and Marinus Willett, November 3, 1792; and the east part, by Mr. Cutting, November 9, 1792, at which time he also bought the 11th township. The patents for the respective purchases were dated June 1st, and January 28, 1793. Robert C. Livingston purchased the 7th township January 12, 1793, and received a patent therefor on 31st of the same month. William S. Smith purchased the townships for which he made application. His certificate was issued April 6, 1793; and the patent, April 16, 1794. The 10th township was bought by the applicants, both of whom were supposed to be residents of Dutchess County; so also was the 12th, for which the certificate was issued April 6, 1793. The 10th was patented to James Tallmadge, January 13, 1793; and the 12th to William Matlack, Sr., April 16, 1704. The certificate for the 13th township, which was bought by Thomas Ludlow and Josiah Shippey, was issued February 6, 1793. The patent was issued to the same parties March 2, 1793. John Taylor bought Nos. 16 and 17, February 2, 1793. His patent was issued February 14, 1793. Nos. 1, 18, 19 and 20, were bought by the applicants; and No. 6 by Messrs. Ludlow and Shippey. No. 1 was patented to Alex. Webster June 4, 1793; Nos. 18, 19 and 20, to John J. Morgan, May 3, 1793; and No. 6 to Thos. Ludlow, Jr., March 2, 1793.5
The whole of the Twenty Townships were embraced in Chenango County at its organization; but the 20th was transferred to Oneida County April 4, 1804; and the 1st, 2d, 3d, 4th, 5th, 6th, 18th and 19th were set off when Madison County was erected, March 21, 1806.
The Gore, to which reference has been previously made, was purchased by John W. Watkins and Augustus Sackett and by John W. Watkins and Royal Flint. Messrs. Watkins and Sackett bought 15,000 acres in the south part, which now constitutes the town of German, at three shillings and five pence half-penny per acre; and Messrs. Watkins and Flint, that portion extending from the south line of Cazenovia to the south line of Pitcher, embracing 41,000 acres, at three shillings and eight pence per acre. These two tracts were known as Brakel Township. The remaining portion, extending from a line in prolongation of the north line of Nelson to the south line of Cazenovia, was 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 the possession of the Holland Land Company through the instrumentality of Theophilus Cazenove, their agent, through whom the Holland Purchase in the Genesee country was also obtained.
Notwithstanding reservations of gospel and school lots were provided for by law in each of the Twenty Townships, the lots set apart for that purpose were unscrupulously sold for the benefit of the State. The early New England settlers, who protested that they were in a large measure induced to settle by reason of this provision for religious and educational purposes, justly regarded this action as an outrage, and in response to their earnest and persistent remonstrance, reparation was made in 1805 by the appropriation of a corresponding number of lots of like dimension in the Canastota tract, in Madison County, to be devoted to that purpose.
The other tracts of land in the county were: that portion of the town of Oxford lying west of Chenango River and east of a line in prolongation of the west line of the fourteenth township till it reached the Chenango, which was also known as the Gore, embracing 6,000 acres, and which was originally sold at four shillings and one penny per acre, to Melanchthon Smith and Marinus Willett, who subsequently divided it into sixty-nine lots of nearly uniform size; the Township of Fayette, which embraced the town of Guilford, most of that part of Oxford lying east of the Chenango, and a small part of the north-east part of Coventry, which was surveyed and subdivided into one hundred lots of about six hundred and forty acres each and patented by the State to various individuals; the Township of Clinton, which was subdivided in the same manner as Fayette, and embraced the towns of Afton, Bainbridge and the Harper Patent, which comprised sixteen thousand acres granted by letters patent to Robert Harper, January 4, 1787, and was by him divided into lots of one thousand to two thousand acres each, and re-sold to various individuals; the Township of Greene, which embraced that part of the town of Greene lying east of the Chenango, the western part of the town of Coventry, and a portion of Oxford, and in the eastern part of which was a tract of 16,138 acres, granted by the State to Walter Livingston in 1788, and by him subdivided into one hundred and fifty-two lots of about one hundred and six acres each, according to the field book of Rickitson Burlingame, who surveyed the tract, (the residue of the Township of Greene, 15,835 acres, granted to Malachi Treat and Wm. W. Morris in 1787 or '88, and called the French Tract, was surveyed by their agent, Charles BoLyne assisted by Captain John Harris, a surveyor, and subdivided into one hundred and fifty lots of various sizes, exclusive of the French village plot on the east side of the Chenango, in the village of Greene;) and the easterly portion of the Chenango Triangle, which comprised the lands embraced in the angle of the Chenango and Tioughnioga rivers, extending as far north as the south line of the Military Tract, the Gore and the Chenango Twenty Towns, and east to that part of the town of Oxford which was originally sold to Melanchthon Smith and Marinus Willett. This tract was purchased by Col. William S. Smith in 1791, at three shillings and three pence per acre. It was divided into four townships, numbers 1, 2 and 3 ranging from west to east across the northern portion, and number four occupying the remaining and southern portion. Parts of numbers two and three constitute the town of Smithville. The residue of number three is partly in Oxford and partly in Greene. The remaining portions of numbers two and four lying in this county are in the town of Greene. Number one and parts of numbers two and four are now in Broome county.
A part of Clinton Township was devoted to the relief of the Vermont Sufferers, a class of people who had purchased lands of this State in the present State of Vermont, on territory to which both New York and New Hampshire laid claim, and to which, after a long and angry discussion, New York surrendered her claim, when Vermont became an independent State.
That part of the county of Madison lying north of the Twenty Townships and the Gore was embraced in the Oneida Reservation when the cession of 1788 was made. A large part of this tract was acquired by the State in 1795, and by subsequent purchases made at various times, the Reservation within this county had been reduced to very narrow limits. The last treaty was held in 1840, "when they ceded all their lands held in common and received individual portions." 6 The territory so ceded was cut up into large tracts.
The principal one of these divisions was the New Petersburgh Tract, which was of the Indians in 1794, for a term of nine hundred and ninety-nine years, by Peter Smith, from whom it derives its name. The tract comprised fifty thousand acres, and embraced nearly all of Smithfield and Fenner, that part of Cazenovia lying north of the Gore, a part of Stockbridge, and a large portion of Augusta in Oneida county. In was included in the cession of 1795. Much of the eastern part of the tract had been leased by Mr. Smith to settlers, previous to the extinguishment of the Indian title, for a term of twenty-one years. In 1797 the Legislature made provision to grant patents to those who held these leases, on the payment of $3.53½ per acre. Mr. Smith, in consideration of his original lease, was allowed a reduction on the 22,299½ acres not leased, which made the cost to him about two dollars per acre. The tract was divided into four allotments, the first of which contained seventy-four lots fifty-five of which were located in Augusta, fourteen in Stockbridge, and five in Smithfield. The patents to lessees covered portions of this allotment, which ceased from that time to be distinguished as a part of the New Petersburgh Tract.
The Oneidas were then divided into two parties, known respectively as Christian and Pagan, the former, with the famous Skenandoah at the head, favoring, and the latter opposing the lease to Mr. Smith.
The Canastota Tract comprised ninety-one lots in the town of Lenox, and extended from the shore of Oneida Lake to within about a half mile of the Seneca Turnpike. In 1805, then thousand acres, the major part of this tract, was appropriated as a substitute for the gospel and school lands in the Chenango Twenty Towns, the proceeds of which had been unauthorizedly appropriated to the State Funds. The avails of these lands have been thus applied.
The Cowasselon Tract was purchased from the State in 1797, By Dr. Enoch Leonard. It comprised twenty-five lots, lying in two tiers in the north part of Fenner, between the Chittenango and Cowasselon creeks, and from the fact of its being a mile in width is also known as the Mile Strip. It was a cession from the Reservation of the Oneidas.
Various other small tracts have been ceded from time to time in the towns of Lenox, Stockbridge and Sullivan; among which are the East Hill Tract and West Hill Tract in Stockbridge, the former comprising fifty and the latter forty-two lots; also the Mile Strip, Oneida Creek Tract and New Guinea Tract in the same town; all ceded, at different times, between the years 1822 and 1830; the Two Mile Strip, of twenty-four lots, in four tiers, two of which are in the west part of Lenox, and two in the east part of Sullivan, the south line being a part of the south line of those towns; to the west of this six lots, commonly designated as West of Two Mile Strip; a tract of eight lots to the north of Two Mile Strip; the Bell Tract of fourteen lots, purchased by an Englishman named Bell, and extending on both sides of the Central railroad from Canaseraga Creek to Chittenango Creek; the Forty Rod Strip, north of the Bell Tract, bought of the State by Dr. Jonas Fay; and the Varrick Location, purchased of the State by Richard Varrick, of New York City, the latter three lying in the town of Sullivan.
No. 1………………………27,187 acres. | No. 11………………………26,200 acres. " 2………………………28,245 " | " 12………………………24,185 " " 3………………………24,624 " | " 13………………………24,218 " " 4………………………24,400 " | " 14………………………26,030 " " 5………………………26,200 " | " 15………………………25,335 " " 6………………………24,384 " | " 16………………………18,713 " " 7………………………24,180 " | " 17………………………18,068 " " 8………………………25,780 " | " 18………………………22,565 " " 9………………………24,205 " | " 19………………………20,750 " " 10………………………24,200 " | " 20………………………24,856 "