Gazetteer of Towns


    SMITHVILLE was formed from Greene, April 1, 1808. It lies upon the west line of the County, south of the center. The surface consists of high ranges of hills, with the narrow valleys of the streams, extending north and south. It is drained south by Genegantslet and Ludlow Creeks and their tributaries, and several other smaller streams flowing into the Chenango. The soil is a gravelly and clayey loam in the valleys and a clay and slaty loam upon the hills.

    Smithville Flats, (p. v.) situated in the south-west part of the town, on Genegantslet Creek, contains four churches, two hotels, a grist mill, two saw mills, a sash and blind factory, several stores and mechanic shops and about 250 inhabitants.

    East Smithville, situated in the east part, on Ludlow Creek, contains two churches, a foundry and machine shop, several stores and mechanic shops and about fifteen or twenty houses.

    The first settlement was made in the valley of the Genegantslet in 1797, by Robert Lytle, from Ireland. He erected a log house and commenced other improvements, and in February, 1798, sold out to Joseph Agard and Eppaphes Sheldon, from Litchfield, Connecticut, who removed their families thither and became the sole residents of the town. During this year and the next they were joined by Edward Loomis, who settled on Ludlow Creek, Simeon Neal, Robert Williams, Asa Straight, Daniel Phillips, Captain Samuel A. Skeele, John Young and John Palmer. John Young came from Vermont and purchased one hundred acres of land of Elisha Smith, at five dollars per acre. At the time of his settlement here there was one family about one-half mile and another about a mile distant; these two were the only ones within five miles. His first work, like that of all other pioneers in the country, was to clear the land; this he did to some extent and soon raised corn, potatoes and a little rye. He purchased two cows soon after, and yet with this additional aid his little store of provisions would sometimes run short, compelling him to resort to the forest for additions to his store. Deer were very abundant and furnished the settlers with plenty of venison, and the streams abounded in fish. The tallow of the deer furnished candles, and when that gave out, the "fat pine" was brought into requisition. They pounded their corn for bread, or hulled it, to sustain life, until a mill was erected at Oxford, twelve miles distant. Going to mill was a tedious journey, for they had no wagons nor had they roads suitable for them. The grist was placed upon the horse's back and the animal led over the hills, the journey sometimes occupying three or four days. The children at home were sometimes put upon so short an allowance as to cry for food. The wolves were always within hearing of the traveler and rendered night hideous by their howls. A few Indians still lingered in this region and were accustomed to camp along the streams, hunt, fish, make baskets, brooms &c. They were generally quiet and peaceable, but the whites would sometimes abuse them after they became more numerous. On one occasion they laid a plot to frighten the red men from their camping ground. To do this the settlers assembled, and at night crept cautiously as near the Indian camping ground as they deemed prudent, and at a signal, discharged their guns into the air, as they did not wish to hurt the Indians. The latter replied to the shot by firing among the trees behind which their foes were concealed, but no injury was done. The next morning the Indians departed, some went down the river and others went north, where they could hunt in peace. The above incidents were received from Harry Young, of Triangle, Broome County, a son of Mr. John Young.

    The first child born in Smithville was Jane Loomis, May 2, 1800; the first marriage was that of Jason Smith and Hannah Rorapaugh, in 1807, and the first death that of a son of George Shaddock, in 1799. Captain John Palmer kept the first inn and store and erected the first distillery. Timothy Scoville built the first saw mill, in 1805, and Nicholas Powell the first gristmill, in 1809. The first church (Bap.) was formed in 1805 by Elder Gray, the first preacher.

    The population of Smithville in 1865 was 1,634, and its area 31,312 acres.

    The number of school districts is fourteen; number of children of school age, 599; number attending school, 542; average attendance, 233, and the amount expended for school purposes during the year ending September 30, 1868, was $4,456.96.


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