Gazetteer of Towns


    COLUMBUS was formed from Brookfield, (Madison Co.) Feb. 11, 1805. A part of Norwich was annexed in 1807. It lies in the north-east corner of the County, and occupies a part of the high ridge forming the watershed between Unadilla and Chenango Rivers. The highest summits are elevated from 400 to 600 feet above the valleys. Unadilla River forms its east boundary, and receives as tributaries Beaver Creek, Tallett, Campbell and Shawler Brook and several smaller streams. The soil is a gravelly and shaly loam. Dairying is carried on extensively.

    Columbus, (p. v.) situated near the center of the town, contains three churches, a hotel, a tannery, the usual number of stores and mechanic shops and about twenty houses.

    This town, constituting No. 17 of the Twenty Towns, was sold to John Taylor at the rate of three shillings and three pence per acre. The first settlement was made upon lot 44, in 1791, by Col. Converse. Henry, Daniel and James Williams, from Rhode Island, settled on lot 90, in 1792. Thomas Howard, from Rhode Island, settled on lot 89, Israel Greenleaf, from New Hampshire, on lot 62, Gilbert Strong on lot 61, and Josiah Rathbone on lot 54, in 1794. Melica Tuttle settled the same year.

    The first birth in the town was that of Sally Williams; the first marriage that of Joseph Medberry and Hannah Brown, in 1794, and the first death, that of Mrs. Dorcas Howard, in 1797. Nicholas Page taught the first school; Col. Converse kept the first inn, in 1793; and Amos C. Palmer the first store, in 1797. Job Vail built the first saw-mill in 1794 and the first grist-mill in 1795. The first religious meeting was the funeral of Mrs. Howard. Elder Campbell, (Bap.) was the preacher. The first and only murder committed in this town, and the first in the County, was that of __Gregory, by George Denison, in the fall of 1832. He was executed in March 1833. This was the only execution that has taken place in the County. Liquor was the cause of the deed, and the influence of this crime upon the inhabitants of the town has from that time to the present been felt in favor of temperance.

    Melica Tuttle, who removed into this town in 1794, is now 94 years old, and is the oldest man and the oldest resident in the town. His great-grandchildren are now living with him on the farm he originally settled. One day, during his second year's residence, while he was engaged in making a wooden plow, the only kind then in use, two of his sons who were cutting corn a short distance from the house, hailed him, saying that the dog, a very strong and courageous animal, had encountered a bear in the woods near by. Mr. Tuttle seizing an axe, the only weapon within his reach, ran to the woods, where he found the bear up a tree and boys and dog much excited. Mr. T. at once commenced cutting down the tree, at which the bear commenced descending. Mr. T. seeing his prize approaching, stopped chopping, when Mr. Bruin again started up the tree. Mr. T. commenced chopping again, when the bear immediately began to descend again, this time coming to the ground, when he was fiercely attacked by the dog, and the boys fell upon him with clubs; it was a very unequal contest however, as the bear was very large and strong, and easily kept his antagonists at bay until Mr. T., directing the dog to attack him on one side, quickly stepped up on the other side and dealt him a heavy blow on the head with his axe, laying his brains open and killing him almost instantly. He weighed over two hundred pounds.

    It is averred by many of the inhabitants of this town that the last time a wolf was known to howl in the town was on the 16th of Oct. 1803, which was the birth day of Mr. Amos Tuttle, a circumstance which has been the subject of many a joke on Mr. Tuttle.

    Mr. Joshua Lamb, from Oxford, Worcester Co. Mass., settled in this town in July 1804. Mr. Lamb was a true representative of his native State and in many respects a remarkable man; by his sagacity in business, judgment in legal matters, and the strictest integrity, he won the confidence of his fellow-townsmen. He held various town offices, almost without intermission from the time he settled in town until 1837, when he was appointed County Judge, in which capacity he served six years. Samuel Campbell, who was elected the first constable in town, held the office of Justice of the Peace over 25 years. He was also elected County Judge. J. Green Olney and Grant B. Palmer, who have each held various offices of trust and honor in their town and County, were elected to represent their County in the State Legislature respectively in 1837 and 1859.

    The first town meeting was held March 5th, 1805. Tracy Robinson was elected Supervisor, Ambrose Hyde, Town Clerk and Joshua Lamb, Collector. On the town records we find the following among the acts of that meeting.

    "Voted that hogs run at large Yoaked and Wringed."

    "Voted that rams shall be taken up the first of September and kept up until the 20th of November."

    "Voted five dollars bounty on every wolf's head."

    The next year the bounty on wolves' heads was raised to ten dollars.

    The population of Columbus in 1865 was 1,273, and its area 23,264 acres.

    The number of school districts is ten, the number of children of school age, 338; the number attending school, 285; average attendance, 153, and the amount expended for school purposes during the year, $2,273.31.


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