This is the eighth of the Twenty Townships and one of the six originally purchased of the State by William S. SMITH, who, in 1794, sold it, with the exception of lots 6, 8, 10, 14, 20, which had been sold to settlers, to John LAWRENCE, of New York city, whose heirs owned about three-fourths of the town as late as 1824.
The first settlement as made by Joseph PORTER, who came from Conway, Mass., in August, 1792, and settled about a half mile south of Smyrna village, on lot 14, which he afterwards purchased. His log cabin stood upon a high knoll, on the east side of the railroad track, near the south limits of the farm, which is now owned and occupied by Leman H. TALCOTT, whose father, Joshua Talcott, bought the farm of Porter, on the latter's removal to Chautauqua county. Mr. Porter had he misfortune to be burned out before leaving Massachusetts and was thus destitute of household furniture. He married in Massachusetts, Jerusha, daughter of John POPE, of Martha's Vineyard, who accompanied him in the settlement in 1792. They drove a yoke of oxen, and Mrs. Porter rode a horse, mounted on a feather bed saved from the fire. An ax, a rifle and a few culinary utensils were of necessity brought, but the latter were few in number. Mrs. Porter died without issue soon after their settlement and was buried upon the farm on which they settled. Mr. Porter afterwards married a young wife and removed soon after to Chautauqua county. When Porter sold his farm to Mr. Talcott, he reserved forever the plot on which his wife was buried.
Mrs. Tobey's children by her first husband were Betsey, Polly, ---- and Edmond; by her second husband (Mr. Tobey,) were Elnathan, Phebe, Jerusha, who was born May 7, 1793, being the first child born in the town, and died unmarried in her 20th year; John, who married Temperance STONE, of Smyrna, and settled on the homestead, where he still lives, having in 1876 celebrated the sixtieth anniversary of his wedding; Joseph, Freeman and Deborah.
David WILBUR [the family now spell the name WILBER] came from Nine Partners, Dutchess county, and settled about a mile north of Sherburne Four Corners, on the farm now owned by Elmer ISBELL. After one year he went back to Dutchess county, returning the following year and locating at Sherburne Four Corners, where he kept tavern eighteen years in the house now owned by Milton BENTLEY. He then traded for a farm about a mile north-west of the Four Corners, which is now owned by his son, Platt Wilbur, and occupied by his grandson, Wesley, son of Platt, where he resided till his death, Feb. 2, 1865, aged 93. He married in Dutchess county at the aged of nineteen, Polly PECK, also of Dutchess county, who died Sept. 14, 1862, aged 90. He came to this county on foot, while his wife came on horseback, carrying in her arms her infant son Thompson, then only two years old. She afterwards returned to Dutchess county and brought in her household goods in the same way. Their son Thompson married Clarissa, daughter of Asa MANWARRING, of New London, Conn., and settled on a farm adjoining his father's on the west, which is now owned by his son, Charles C. Wilbur. He died in Smyrna village, Oct. 10, 1871, having lived on that farm till the 1st of April preceding his death. His wife returned to the farm and died there Dec. 31, 1876. They leave nine children, seven of whom live in this county, (five in Smyrna,) one in Hamilton and one in Chicago.
David Wilber had eight children who were born here, viz: Sally, Smith, German, Maria, Lyman, Cynthia, Platt and Miles.
Joseph COLLINS and Joseph BILLINGS, the former of whom married the latter's sister Betsey, came from Somers, Tolland county, Conn., in the winter season bringing their families on ox sleds. They settled on 160 acres previously selected in the north part of the town, COLLINS on the farm now owned by Thomas BROOKS, and occupied by Deloss Brooks, and BILLINGS on the place now owned and occupied by his son Harlow Brooks. Both resided where they settled till their death. COLLINS died of a fever in Westfield, Chautauqua county, in 1841, while returning from a visit to his son Alonzo in Michigan; and his wife, on the homestead, June 19, 1848, aged 77. BILLINGS died May 18, 1847, aged 74, and his wife "Aby" POMEROY, of Somers, Conn., Sept. 1, 1851, aged 84.
Joseph Collins was a clothier, and carried on that business in connection with farming. About 1818 he erected clothing works just below the saw-mill on Collins' creek [This stream is variously known as Collins' and Billings' Creek or Brook.], and carried on the carding and cloth-dressing business till 1840, when he sold to his sons Levi and Warren, who continued it together seven years, when they disposed of the same.
Joseph Collins and Joseph Billings were interested in the construction of a saw-mill on the same stream. It occupied the site of the saw-mill now owned by Levi Collins. It was built in 1795, and was the first mill erected in the town. A run of stones was soon after put in, and proved a great accommodation to the settlers of that period, who had previously carried their grists to Cooperstown. It was abandoned as a grist-mill about the time the grist-mill in the village was built.
The saw-mill has been continued to the present day, three or four buildings having been erected on the site. Collins & Billings owned the property till about 1835, when the latter sold his interest to Collins and his sons.
The property has since been in the possession of the Collins family.
The mill contains three circular saws-log, wood and splitting saws.
Joseph COLLINS' children were Betsey, Grace, Joseph, Warren, Myron, Marcia, Loren, Joseph W., Levi B., Alonzo and William W.
Joseph BILLINGS' children were Joseph, Timothy, Lauren, Diana and Harlow. Harlow settled and still lives on his father's homestead.
October 30, 1800, he was appointed First Judge of the Court of Common Pleas and General Sessions of the Peace in Chenango county, being the first person who held that office in the county.
May 31, 1773, Mr. Foote married Mary, daughter of Jonathan KELLOGG, Jr., of Colchester, Conn., who died Nov. 15, 1826, aged 81. They had eight children: Mary F., Margaret P., Isaac, who died in infancy, Isaac, (the second by that name,) Amasa, Asahel, who died in childhood, John and Hiram.
[* John L. Sexton, of Big Flats, son of Elijah, who was born in Smyrna, May 3, 1798, who claims to be the oldest person living who was born in Smyrna, and is the only one of Elijah Sexton's children now living, says, under the date of March 14, 1880, the settlement was made in 1795. Mr. W. Sexton, of Smyrna, a grandson of Elijah Sexton, says, under the date of March 25, 1880, the settlement was made in February, 1796, though he does not claim entire accuracy as to dates.]
Only two of John Billings' grandchildren are living in the county, Erastus Clinton Billings, a druggist, and J. Monroe Billings, a farmer, both in Smyrna.
In 1800 Obadiah SPENCER bought the Smith CAULKINS or Milton SMITH property.
The same year Stephen PARKER bought the farm owned by Thomas BROOKS.
In 1803 Jesse HUTCHINSON and Apollos ALLEN bought lot 15, comprising the site of the village; also the west half of lot 16. They are supposed to have been the first settlers on the site of the village and were jointly interested in milling and distilling. They built the saw-mill and grist-mill which was purchased in 1809 by Squire John MUNSON. ALLEN's house stood near the residence of A. EASTMAN, on the west side of the garden plot of Laroy C. SWEET.
Alapheus HALL bought the Col. Solomon HALL farm, towards Earlville, in 1804.
Sept. 18, 1804, Aaron HUTHCINSON purchased the east half of lot 26, west of the village, now owned by Dwight HALL and Mrs. MANWARRING.
The same year William STOVER bought the Stover farm; and David FELT, lot I, the PARSONS and TEFT farms. William Stover was elected supervisor in 1810 and held that office continuously till 1820.
Comfort RECORD was an early settler in the west part of the town; also John PARKER, on the farm now owned by Mr. RICHMOND.
Luke HALL came at an early day from Somers, Conn., and settled in the north part of the town, where his son Erastus now lives, and died there, he and his wife.
Mr. Munson was engaged in the milling and distilling business till his death, Dec. 13, 1827, aged 42. He married Sally, daughter of John MERRELL, of Barkhampsted, Conn., who died on the homestead in Smyrna, Jan. 29, 1862, aged 76. He came here with his wife and two daughters, Eliza and Hannah, the former of whom married Philip S. MEAD, brother of Dr. Nicholas B. Mead, who came from Kingsbury, Washington county, about 1826 and settled about two miles south-west of Smyrna village, on the farm now owned by the heirs of Thomas PURDIE, to whom he sold about 1830, and removed to Smyrna village, where he died June 13, 1833, aged 29, and where his wife still lives. Hannah married Jonathan SHEPARDSON, Jr., a native of Plymouth in this county, and settled on the Munson homestead, where he died May 16, 1841, aged 35. His wife afterwards removed to Smyrna village to live with her son and only child, Andrew Shephardson, who is the present clerk of Chenango county. She died there in 1877. Mr. Munson had only one child after coming to Smyrna, Albert, who was born in 1811, and owns and operates the mill property purchased by his father in 1809. Amanda, wife of Gardner BUTTS, living in Smynra village, is the only one of Eliza's children living. She married for her first husband Albertus MERRITT, who died in Milwaukee, where they then resided. Albert has three children living in Smyrna, George A., John H., and Sarah, wife of Frank DIMMICK, a jeweler in that village.
J. Billings PARSONS and Aristarchus MUNROE, the former from Smyrna and the latter from Plymouth, traded in the old Elmore store a few years about 1840. Elmer ISBELL, of Smyrna, whose father, Seymour, came here from Otsego county about 1840, occupied the same store three or four years from about 1843 or '4. Eber DIMMICK, father of F. E. Dimmick, came from Sherburne Hill and traded about a year in the store now occupied by A. K. DIXON. J. Orville RANSOM, from North Norwich, succeeded him, and traded three or four years during the war, first in the same store and afterwards in the building occupied by F. E. DIMMICK and George P. PUDNEY.
Joshua PRATT, from Sherburne, opened a store in 1825, in the building now occupied by Giles COWLES as a dwelling, which was built by Mr. Pratt, who was engaged in mercantile business in Sherburne, and entrusted the management of the store at this place to Richard WILEY, who afterwards traded in the bar-room of the old HALL tavern, which occupied the site of the M. E. church, and was the first tavern in the village. It was kept at a very early day by Obadiah SPENCER, by whom, probably, it was built. The present tavern, or rather the central part of it, was built about 1820 by Luther BOWEN and Jethro HATCH, who kept tavern and traded there a number of years. Several additions have subsequently been made to the building.
Dr. Nicholas B. MEAD and Nathan SUTLIFF, the former from Kingsbury, Washington county, opened a store in the building now unoccupied just west of the residence of Brundage FERRIS, and traded several years. They were succeeded by Milo, son of Nathan SUTLIFF, who also did business several years and failed. Brundage FERRIS occupied the tavern stand of Julius KELSEY. Julius Kelsey, before he moved into the tavern, kept a good grocery some eight or ten years.
Luther BOWEN and Jethro HATCH sold to Russel CASE, who kept the tavern and traded at the same stand for several years.
Trowbridge SHEPARD, a native of Lebanon, commenced trading here about 1830. After a few years he engaged in the drug business, which he continued till his death, Aug. 26, 1862.
The other merchants now doing business here besides the Dixon Bros., are Abel COMSTOCK, druggist and grocer, who commenced in 1864; Almenzo K. DIXON, hardware dealer, in 1866; Ery W. STOKES, flour and feed and ready-made clothing, in 1869; Erastus C. BILLINGS, druggist, in 1878; Charles D. STOKES, general merchant, 1877.
The present physicians are George E. LAWRENCE, James E. McCLENNAN and Thomas Edward STACK.
George E. LAWRENCE was born in Oneonta, N.Y., Nov. 18, 1816, and educated in the common schools of Oneonta and Sherburne. He commenced the study of medicine in 1837, at Cobleskill, N.Y., with Dr. KIBBER, and subsequently pursued his studies with Dr. Holden SWEET, of Sherburne. He attended a course of lectures in the New York Medical Institute in 1867, and Jan. 5, 1868, was granted a certificate by the Eclectic Society of the State of New York. In January he received a certificate from the Chenango Co. Medical Society, and commenced practice that year in Sherburne, continuing till 1854, when he removed to Smyrna, where he has since practiced.
James E. McCLELLAN was born in Glasgow, Scotland, October 3, 1836, and emigrated to Sherburne in 1852, removing thence after two or three years to Smyrna. In 1867 he entered the Long Island College Hospital, where he was graduated in June, 1868. From thence he went to DeRuyter, where he practiced eight years, and thence in 1876 to Smyrna.
Thomas Edward STACK is a native of Ennis, Ireland and emigrated thence to Smyrna in March, 1878. He is a graduate of Dublin University and the Queen's College.
----- WALES, who lived about three-fourths of a mile south-west of the village, practiced in Justices' courts about sixty years and until his death. A Mr. CHAPEL practiced here two or three years from about 1839.
George P. PUDNEY, the only attorney now practicing here is a native of Smyrna, and was admitted in 1877, in which year he commenced practice here.