Gazetteer of Towns


    SHERBURNE was formed from Paris, (Oneida Co.) March 5, 1795. Smyrna was taken off in 1808, and a part of New Berlin was annexed in 1852. It is situated upon the north border of the County, east of the center. The highest summits of the hills are from 200 to 500 feet above the valleys of the streams. Chenango River enters the County from Madison, and flows in a south-east direction through the town, receiving from the east Handsome, Mad and Nigger Brooks, and from the west, Pleasant Brook and several smaller streams. The soil is chiefly a gravelly and slaty loam, but in portions of the valleys the soil is a sandy loam. The Chenango Canal passes through the town along the valley of the River. Hops are extensively raised along the river. The timber of the town consisted, at the time of its settlement, of beech, birch, hickory, ash, elm, basswood, oak, chestnut, hemlock and maple. The last named furnished the early settlers with their principal supply of sugar.

    Sherburne (p. v.) is situated a little south of the center of the town and contains six churches, viz., Methodist, Presbyterian, Universalist, Baptist, Episcopal and Roman Catholic; a newspaper office, two hotels, a cotton factory, a foundry and machine shop, the usual number of stores and mechanic shops, and about 1,000 inhabitants.

    The steam cotton mill of Hector, Ross & Co., employs about eighty hands and manufactures 180,000 yards annually. The capital invested is $100,000.

    The first settlement of this town, according to the State Gazetteer, was by Joseph Guthrie, in 1792, near the site of the present village of Sherburne. The account of the first settlement given in Hatch's History is in the main adopted, though some of the statements can scarcely be reconciled with each other. Hatch tells us that a party from Duanesburgh came to Sherburne in June, 1791, to explore the country, and were so much pleased with its appearance that one of their number, Nathaniel Gray, was dispatched to New York City to negotiate for the same. On his arrival he learned that six townships, including No. 9, or what is now Sherburne, had been purchased by William S. Smith, but subsequently an arrangement was made by which the south-west quarter of this township was purchased for $1.25 an acre, by eleven men whose names are given below. It also appears that Mr. Smith did not receive his certificate of purchase until April, 1793, and his patent was not issued until a year later. The following are the names of the eleven proprietors: Nathaniel Gray, Newcomb Raymond, Elijah Gray, Eleazer Lathrop, Josiah Lathrop, James Raymond, Joel Hatch, John Gray, Jr., Abraham Raymond, Timothy Hatch and Cornelius Clark. This land was subsequently divided into lots among the proprietors. Through the kindness of B. F. Rexford, Esq., of Norwich, we were permitted to examine the original deed given to his grandfather, Cornelius Clark, and signed by the ten associated with him. These settlers, with others, making twenty in all, were originally from New England. They have for several years been living in Duanesburgh, but being unable to purchase the land upon which they resided, resolved to remove to the "Chenango Country." Religious services were held the next Sabbath after their arrival, and have continued without interruption every successive Sabbath to the present time. During the first season several log houses were erected and a saw mill. This mill was located in the gulf, on the stream, east of the village, about half a mile below the falls known as the Sulphur Springs. The necessary irons were procured at Clinton, Joel Hatch having been dispatched thither on horseback to procure them. The scarcity of seed was one great source of inconvenience to the early settlers. They were obliged to send to Otsego County for seed potatoes. Mr. John Lathrop, with a cart and oxen, was dispatched to procure this necessary seed, and notwithstanding the many mishaps, arrived in due time with about twenty bushels. Their tables were furnished with those things only which afforded the most nourishment at the least expense. Beans and corn were the staple articles during the first year. The streams abounded in fish and the forests in game, all of which were laid under tribute to supply the pressing demands of the pioneers. The nearest grist mill was at Whitestown, about forty miles distant, and reached only by Indian trails through an unbroken forest. For two years this mill, with the mortar and pestle, was their only resource. The first grist mill in the town was erected in 1794, in the north part of the town, on Handsome Brook. The mill-stones and irons were brought from Albany with an ox team, three weeks being occupied in the journey. The next mill was built near the falls known as the Sulphur Springs. The first town meeting was held at the house of Timothy Hatch, on the first Tuesday in April, 1795. Isaac Foote was chosen Moderator, and Oramus Holmes, Town Clerk. The town received its name from the consideration that the settlers were accustomed to sing the tune of Sherburne at their meetings. Nathaniel Gray was the first Justice of the Peace. The first school was taught by a man by the name of Gardner; it was at the house of Nathaniel Gray, about one and a half miles north of the village. The first store was opened by James Elmore, about a mile and a half north of Sherburne. He also kept the first inn and built the first framed house in town. He was the first post master, his commission bearing date January, 1801. The first machine for carding wool was erected by Simeon Paddleford, in 1804, one mile below the village. This is said to have been one of the first two machines in the country. The first woolen factory was erected by William Newton, in 1812, on Handsome Brook, one mile north of Sherburne village. It was twice burned down and then abandoned. Joel Hatch built a machine shop near the same place the same year. The first turning lathe in the town, and probably in the County, was set up by him for turning the various parts of spinning wheels. It consisted of a spring pole fastened over head, a cord attached to one end of it, wound about the article to be turned, the lower end fastened to a foot piece. Pressing this with the foot would cause the stick to revolve a number of times. On releasing the pressure the spring pole would return to its former position, causing the stick to roll backward and forward. Such was the machinery for turning for many years. The first school house was located about one mile and a half north of the village, near the bridge on the Handsome Brook road. The district embraced the whole town. The second one was located about one and a half miles west of the village, at the junction of the two roads, near the residence of Daniel Newton. The early settlers of this town, as of other parts of the County, foresaw that the foundation and support of free institutions must rest in the intelligence of the people, and for the promotion of this end, free schools were established and the means of an education placed within the reach of all. The first bridge across the Chenango River was erected near its junction with Handsome Brook, and was for foot passengers only, teams fording the stream a short distance below. It consisted of one large tree in width and three in length, hewn upon the top. Stakes driven a few feet apart, near the outer edges, were interwoven with withes to prevent people from falling off into the stream. The first ark upon the Chenango was built and launched in 1803, a short distance above the village. It was constructed for the purpose of conveying lumber down the river with the expectation of finding a profitable market in Baltimore. Mr. Nathaniel Austin and his brother were engaged in this enterprise. A tax was levied upon the town to clear the stream of obstructions. The day of the launch was celebrated with as much eclat as the launching of an ocean steamer at a later day in one of our seaports. As soon as the craft was afloat it was loaded down with the assembled multitude, all eager for a ride. It was towed up the stream a short distance and then allowed to float down with the current, thus affording the assembled throng an opportunity to test its qualities. The ark was loaded with pine staves and shingles, but the enterprise did not prove as remunerative as was expected.

    The first newspaper published in the County was the Western Oracle, in 1803, by Abraham Romeyn, at the Four Corners in Sherburne. It was a single octavo sheet containing but little reading matter of any kind. The first sermon preached in the town was by Rev. Blackleach Burritt, in the fall of 1792. Previous to this time religious services had been conducted by the settlers, and consisted of singing, prayer, conference and the reading of a sermon.

    The first church was organized in 1794, and consisted of seventeen members, eight males and nine females. Nathaniel Gray and Abraham Raymond were the first deacons. The following are the names of the members of the first Congregational Church organized in Sherburne: Nathaniel and Bethiah Gray, Elijah and Sarah Gray, Abraham and Betsey Raymond, Timothy and Ruth Hatch, Josiah and Eleazer Lathrop, Mabel, wife of James Raymond, Ezra Lathrop and Mariam, his wife. It was thirteen years before the Church had a settled pastor.

    The first Baptist Church was organized June 24, 1802, consisting of twenty-four members. Their first house of worship was erected in 1818, east of Earlville, on the dividing ridge between Chenango valley and Handsome Brook.

    The Methodist Church was organized March 12, 1839, by Rev. James P. Backus and Ebenezer Celson. Their house of worship was erected in 1840.

    The Free Communion Baptist Church was organized as a branch of the Plainfield Church, Feb. 8, 1809, by Elder Strait, Deacons Crumb, Jr., and Fuller, and Messrs. Spicer, Fitch and others. In 1819 their connection with the parent Church was dissolved.

    The Episcopal Church was organized in July, 1828, by Rev. Russel Wheeler.

    The Universalist Society was organized August 25, 1849.

    The Roman Catholic Church was organized soon after the completion of the Chenango Canal. In 1858 they purchased their house of worship of the Congregational Church.

    The population of Sherburne in 1865 was 2,820, and its area 27,456 acres.

    The number of school districts is eighteen; number of children of school age, 927; number attending school, 820; average attendance, 394, and the amount expended for school purposes, $5,389.36.


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