CHAPTER VI.

FORMATION OF THE COUNTY.

    A Division of Onondaga County Demanded --- The Petition of Southern Residents for that Object --- Important Provisions of the Law Organizing Cortland County --- Origin of Name --- Changes in the Townships --- Organization of the Courts --- First County Officers --- Early Political Parties --- Pioneers of the County --- Delays in Early Settlement --- Comparative Dates of Other Settlements --- Routes of Incoming Pioneers --- Privations of Early Settlers --- Winter Travel in Olden Times --- The First Settlers in Cortland County --- Mrs. Beebe's Lonely Life in the Wilderness --- Settlements in the Different Towns Previous to 1810 --- Population at that Date --- Opening of Early Roads --- Turnpike Road Companies --- Necessity for Grist-Mills --- The First Churches --- Early Schools.

AS might be apprehended, there were internal causes, originating in the necessities of the inhabitants, the growth of settlements, the convenient transaction of business of a public nature, etc., which led to the formation of Cortland county as a separate civil organization. Some of the principal of these causes were enumerated in the original petition to the Legislature for the division of Onondaga county, which read as follows:---
    "To the Honorable, the Legislature of the State of New York in Senate and Assembly convened: The Petition of the Subscribers, inhabitants of the towns of Fabius, Tully, Solon, Homer, Virgil, and Cincinnatus, humbly sheweth:---
    "That the county of Onondaga is ninety-six miles in length, and at an average breadth of about twenty-five miles; that from the extreme of the southern boundary of the said county to the court house is sixty miles, --- which operates greatly to the inconvenience of many of your petitioners in giving their attendance at court. That the population of said county is now very great,1 and is daily increasing, which renders it impossible for our Court of Common Pleas and General Sessions of the Peace to transact with due expediency the legal business of said county; whereby the suitors of said courts experience great delay of justice, which, in the opinion of your petitioners, is equivalent to a denial of justice. That you petitioners humbly conceive that a division of the said county will be of signal advantage to the inhabitants of the said towns of Solon, Fabius, Tully, Homer, Virgil, and Cincinnatus, and also to the inhabitants of the northern part of said county.
    "Your petitioners, therefore, humbly pray that the before-mentioned towns be erected into a new county by the name of Cortlandt, and that there be three Courts of Common Pleas and General Sessions of the Peace held in the said county as follows, viz.: on the second Tuesday of April, and the first Tuesday of September and December, in every year, after the due organization of the said county.
    "And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray."
    This petition was signed by seven hundred and forty-seven of the prominent residents of the five towns desiring the separation. On the 4th day of February, 1808, the petition was introduced in the Senate by the Hon. John Ballard, a resident of Homer and a member from the western district. It was referred to a committee composed of Messrs. Ballard, Buel and Yates. On the following day Mr. Ballard made a report in favor of the payer of the petitioners, presenting at the same time a bill to that effect, which was thereupon read the first and second times and referred to the Committee of the Whole. In this Committee it was called up on the 8th, when it was ordered to be engrossed. On the 10th it was read for the third time and passed.
    It was sent on the same day to the Assembly, read and referred to the Committee of the Whole. Here it met with considerable opposition, as important measures usually do. The northern towns of Onondaga county remonstrated against the proposed division of the county, and opposition was fostered among the people to such an extent that the Hon. Joshua Forman, the founder of Syracuse and then in the Assembly, make a characteristically eloquent and forcible speech against the measure. But it was all without avail; Cortland Count was to be, and it was --- and is. The bill became a law on the 8th day of April, 1808. Following are the more important sections of the law which gave this county a place among the civil organizations of the State:---
    "An Act to Divide the County of Onondaga, passed April 8th, 1808.
    "I. Be it enacted by the people of the State of New York, represented in Senate and Assembly, that all that part of the county of Onondaga, to wit: Beginning at the south corner of the town of Cincinnatus, and thence running north along the east line of the towns of Cincinnatus, Solon and Fabius, to the northeast corner of lot number sixty, in said town of Fabius; thence running west along the north line of that tier of lots, through the towns of Fabius and Tully, to the northwest corner of lot number fifty-one, in said town of Tully; thence south along the east line of the county of Cayuga, to the southeast corner of the towns of Virgil and Cincinnatus, to the place of beginning, shall be one separate and distinct county, and shall be called and known by the name of Cortland.
    "II. And be it further enacted, that the Courts in and for the said county shall be held at the school house on lot number forty-five in the town of Homer.
    "III. And be it further enacted, that all that part of the town of Fabius situated in the county of Cortland shall be called Truxton; and all that part of the town of Tully in said county of Cortland shall be called Preble."
    Other sections of the Act provided that Cortland county should have one Member of Assembly; that it should form a part of the Western Senatorial District and part of the Thirteenth Congressional District.
    The passage of this Act, forming as it did the town of Preble from Tully, and Truxton from Fabius, gave the new county six townships --- Virgil, formed from Homer in 1804; Cincinnatus, formed the same year from Solon; Homer, Solon, Preble and Truxton. No changes were made in the towns during the first decade of the century.
    The Act of the Legislature erecting the county provided for the holding of three courts of Common Pleas and General Sessions of the Peace; they were to be held on the second Tuesday of April, and the first Tuesdays of September and December, in every year after the due organization of the county. These courts were to have "the same jurisdiction, powers and authorities as the courts of Common Pleas and General Sessions of the Peace in the other counties of the State have in their respective counties." Suits previously commenced, however, were not to be affected so as to work a wrong or prejudice to any of the parties; nor were any criminal or other proceedings on the part of the State to be in the least affected by the change; on the contrary, all such civil and criminal proceedings were to be prosecuted to trial, judgment and execution. It was also provided that the courts of the new county should "be held at the school-house on lot 45, in the town of Homer." John Keep was the first County Judge, receiving his appointment on the 3rd day of April, 1810.
    As before stated, Cortland county was made a part of the Western Senatorial District and of the Thirteenth Congressional District, and was entitled to one Member of Assembly; this latter fact continued until 1823, when two Members, Daniel Sherwood and John Gillett were elected. Ephraim Fish was the first Member, elected in 1810, taking his seat at the opening of the 33d session. Further first officers of the county were John Ballard, County Clerk, appointed April 8th, 1808; succeeded by Reuben Washburn, April 3d, 1810. Asahel Minor, Sheriff, April 8th, 1808; succeeded by Wm. Mallory June 9th, 1808 (by appointment), and Joshua Barllard April 3d, 1810. John McWhorter, surrogate, appointed April 8th, 1808; succeeded by Mead Merrill, April 3d, 1810.2
    The political parties of the country at the time under consideration were the Democratic and Federal; but the era was not yet inaugurated when the political field was annually filled with the hotly engaged contestants of later days, determined to show that the fate of the country depends upon the success of their respective parties.
    In order to place clearly before the reader the events leading to the formation of the county, its boundaries, its condition at the time of its formation, etc., necessary to a proper understanding of its detailed history, we have anticipated by about seventeen years the first settlements within its borders. Let us now revert to the history of that period.
    The pioneers of this county came, in the main, from New England --- brave, hardy, energetic, persevering Yankees. While it was not for them to perform great and heroic deeds, in the common understanding of the term, they nevertheless participated in events about their own hearthstones and in the thick forests that surrounded their primitive dwellings, which should record their names on the imperishable rolls of honor beside those of men who have marshaled armies to drench with blood a hundred battle-fields. They were men who must have lived not so much for the enjoyment of living, as for the future good that might accrue from their earthly work. Many of them had taken active part in the stern events of the Revolution, while all had felt the inspiring influences born of the knowledge that henceforth they and their country would be free; and they came into the wilderness full of rugged enthusiasm and an unflinching determination to create peaceful and permanent homes for themselves and their posterity.
    Settlement in Cortland county was delayed beyond that of most other sections of this State. The Indian title to the rich garden of the Genesee country was extinguished before the Military Tract was ceded to the State, and it lay on the great thoroughfare from the populated country farther east. The Phelps and Gorham purchase, through the energy of its owners and eastern agents, was rapidly settled at an early date, about fifty townships having been sold by the year 1790; while the central portions of the State, hilly and covered with a heavy growth of timber, was looked upon with little favor by prospective pioneers. Hence, it was not until the fall of 1791 that a permanent white settler began his home in this county, on the banks of the Tioughnioga river. At that date the valleys of the Susquehanna and Chenango rivers had been settled to some extent for more than five years. The site of Binghamton had been occupied two years. Onondaga valley had been settled about five years. Salt had been manufactured at Salina for three years. Norwhich had been settled three years; Ithaca two years. Oxford, Chenango county, was settled in 1790, and mills had been erected at Rochester in 1788.
    The pioneers of this county, or a large majority of them, came in either by way of the Susquehanna, the Chenango, and the Tioughnioga, from the south and east; or southward from Manlius through Truxton, an later from Onondaga Valley. The Indian trails were followed, where practicable, until State roads were opened, and many of the limited domestic outfits of the early settlers were brought up the Tioughnioga in canoes. Journeys of hundreds of miles, from Massachusetts and other Eastern States, were made in what were then called "Connecticut covered wagons," which toiled onward through the wilderness day after day, the pioneer and his family sleeping in or beside them at night. The forests were peopled with innumerable deer, so that the pioneer seldom wanted for excellent meat; but often when the journey was unexpectedly prolonged, the little store of supplies was exhausted, and the travelers were forced to depend upon roots to keep away the wolf of hunger.3 Many of the pioneers had never seen an Indian; but the greater part of them had read or heard of their bloody deeds on the border, and met them for the first time with much trepidation. In almost every instance, however, the settlers were kindly received, and were often placed under obligations almost for life itself, to the generous and faithful deeds of the red men.
    Many of the early settlers came into the county in the winter season, and often suffered severe hardships. Deep snows buried the indefinite trials from sight, and made progress through the forests exceedingly slow. But three miles a day were traveled at times for days together; and when these unusual delays caused a scarcity of food, as just alluded to, the situation of the pioneer, in the midst of a snow-covered forest, with wife and children looking to him for care and sustenance, was not an enviable one.
    In the year 1789 Amos Todd and Joseph Beebe left their homes in New Haven, Conn., and journeyed through the wilderness to Windsor, in Broome county. They were brothers-in-law, Mr. Beebe having married the sister of Mr. Todd, and she shared the fortune of her husband and brother in their new and primitive home. Two years after their settlement in Windsor they became convinced that the valley of the Tioughnioga held out greater inducements for them than were offered in their present locality; they accordingly determined to penetrate still further into the wilderness. After a tedious journey, accompanied by the usual toil and hardship, they reached a point on or near the site of Homer village, where they erected the first rude dwelling constructed by white men within the limits of this county. These three pioneers reached their destination in the fall, and immediately built their house, which stood near the bridge on Main street, just north of Homer village. The dwelling was built mainly "of poles, twelve by fifteen feet." During the following winter the two men returned to Windsor for the remainder of their household goods which had been left behind. Instead of making the journey as anticipated, they were snow bound for six weeks, leaving Mrs. Beebe alone in the wilderness, her only companions the howling wolves and other beasts of the forests. But her remarkable bravery and hopeful patience sustained her through the long period of loneliness and anxiety as to the fate of all that was dearest to her. It was an example of womanly heroism of which there are few parallels.4
    The two men packed their goods in a canoe, and at the earliest possible moment started towards the waiting wife and sister. At Binghamton they were joined by John Miller, a native of New Jersey, and in due time reached the lonely woman. Mr. Miller explored the East river section, and then returned southward. In the spring he came into the county accompanied by John House, James Matthews, James Moore, Silas and Daniel Miller. All of these men located near the site of Homer village, Mr. Miller on lot 56, (now in Cortlandville); Messrs. Beebe and Todd subsequently settled on lot 42. Darius Kinney came to Homer in 1793, and other settlers in that vicinity rapidly followed, more particular records of which will be found in the history of the town of Homer. In 1797 Homer contained but ninety-two inhabitants.
    In the year 1792 Joseph Chaplin came into the town of Virgil and made the first permanent settlement; he located on lot 50 and two years later moved on his family. He explored and surveyed the State Road from Oxford, Chenango county to the Cayuga lake during the first season, afterward employing assistants and fulfilling his contract for the construction of the road. It was completed in 1793-94; after which he brought in his family. About the same time a road was surveyed and partially cut through the wilderness from the south, near the river, until near the present site of Marathon village, when, diverging from the stream, it crossed the south line of lot number 72, about three-fourths of a mile east of the village of Marathon, and, continuing in a northerly direction, intersected the State road on lot 42 in Freetown and so passed on northward through the county to the Salina salt works, giving it the name of "the Salt Road." These two roads were the first in the county that were worthy of being called roads.
    The next settlers came into Virgil in 1795, after which time, as will be learned in the history of that town, settlement was made from year to year, though not so rapidly as in some other portions of the county.
    Ezra Rockwell and his sons, Thomas and Ezra, jr., came into the present town of Taylor in 1793; they were from Lenox, Mass., and settled on lot 78, a bounty for the father's services in the Revolution. Two years later (1795) Thomas Rockwell removed to Cincinnatus, occupying lots 9 and 19, the latter including the site of Cincinnatus village. Settlements in Taylor were few until after 1810.
    The first actual settlers of the town of Marathon were Dr. Japheth Hunt and wife, then aged people, two sons, James and William, and three daughters, Betsey, Nancy and Hannah. The family came up the Tioughnioga in canoes in the year 1794, and located about a mile south of the site of the village. Settlements had progressed but to a limited extent by 1810. In the same year (1794) Nathaniel Potter, Jonah Stiles, Christopher Whitney, David Morse and Benjamin Brown located in the town of Truxton, and a large number of settlers had located in the town by 1810. Settlement within the present limits of Cincinnatus was begun in 1795, about which time John Kingman, Thaddeus Rockwell Zurial Raymond, Dr. John McWhorter, and Samuel Vining came in. By the year 1810 settlement in this town had advanced so the that the population was about 1.500. Solon was first settled in 1794, by Roderick Beebe and Johnson Bingham, the former locating on lot 75, a portion of which has since been called Mt. Roderick; he was from Massachusetts and Mr. Bingham from Connecticut. During the succeeding five or six years settlement in this town progressed slowly.
    In 1794 the first of those energetic men --- men of brain as well as muscle --- who laid the foundation for the present prosperity of the town of Cortlandville, made a settlement near the site of the present thriving village. Jonathan Hubbard and Moses Hopkins both came that year, the former becoming the owner of the greater part of the land on which the village now stands, and the latter locating on lot 64, just west of the village. They came in by way of Cazenovia and Truxton. Several accessions were made in the settlement during the years 1796 and '97, and from that time to 1810 pioneers came in rapidly, attracted by the natural features of the spot and in a greater degree, doubtless, by the influence of their predecessors. By the year 1810 the nucleus of a village was established, while a settlement of still greater activity existed at Port Watson. The lands in that vicinity had passed into possession of a few eastern men, the principal one of whom seems to have been Elkanah Watson, whose name appears in the records of the County Clerk's office with wonderful frequency from the year 1800 through the succeeding twelve or fifteen years, as the seller of lots in the village of Port Watson. Watson's home is given as in "Albany county (now Pittsfield), Massachusetts." Many of his sales were made by attorney, and will be more particularly referred to in the history of the town, in a subsequent chapter.
    Settlement was begun in Freetown in 1795 and in Preble in the next year; the former town by Ensign Rice, who settled on lot No 2, which was drawn by Robert Smith, a soldier of the Revolution. Rice was a son-in-law of Smith and the latter also settled on the lot in 1800. James Cravath and John Gill were the first settlers in Preble, the former removing from Pompey Hill, whither he had migrated from Connecticut; he located on lot 68 and Gill on lot 76.
    In the year 17975 Ebenezer Crittenden settled within the present town of Willet. He came from Barrington, Mass., married a wife in Binghamton, and, with their child, he pushed a canoe containing his family and household goods up the river to the chosen spot for their pioneer home. About twenty families had located in the town by 1810.
    The town of Scott was settled in 1799; Lapeer in 1802 and Harford in 1803. In the latter but few families had arrived by 1810. Peter Gray, a native of Fishkill, Duchess county, was the first white settler in Lapeer,6 locating on lot 70. Peleg Babcock, with his brothers, Soloman and Asa Howard, came into the town of Scott in 1799, from Leyden, Mass. The former located on lot 82, with Solomon and Asa H. beside him on the same lot. Settlement in this town was slow, until later in 1810.
    The population of the towns that had come into existence by the year 1810 as shown by the census report was as follows:

Homer,2,975
Solon,1,263
Virgil,906
Cincinnatus,1,525
Preble,1,179
Truxton,1,031

    In the portion of this work which is to be devoted to a general review of the history of the county, it is unnecessary to follow farther the course of settlement in the different towns, as those matters will be treated in full detail in subsequent chapters. The reader has learned in the foregoing few pages that, during the first decade of the present century, settlement by white people had become firmly established in nearly all sections of the county, while in the more favored localities it had progressed rapidly, with assurances of still faster growth in the immediate future. Lots in many sections had already been cut into smaller farms and were changing hands at gradually advancing prices. While the primeval forest still covered a large portion of the county, still the settlers, who had occupied their farms for periods ranging from ten to fifteen years, cleared acre after acre and, hampered as they were by numerous obstacles and trying circumstances which would in these days appear insurmountable, were rapidly placing their cleared lands under a state of cultivation.
    The principal difficulty with which the pioneer had to contend was the absence of roads, mills and markets. The first authorized road in the county was the old State Road before alluded to as having been opened by Joseph Chaplin7 and finished as far as his contract went, in 1794. This road extended from Oxford, Chenango county, to Ludlowville, on the eastern shore of Cayuga lake, a distance of about sixty miles. Coming into this county in the southeastern part, it passed through Willet, thence along the north line of the present town of Marathon and through Virgil.
    At this time several roads had been opened through the northern part of what is now Onondaga county, and, in 1796, $500 was appropriated from the first money coming into the hands of the Surveyor-General for the improvement of the roads of the country. What the final result of this appropriation was, we have been unable to determine.
    Within a few years after the opening of the State Road, and before 1800, a road from Port Watson to Solon was opened, and about the same time numerous short intersecting roads were laid out in different parts of the county. The main road from Cortland village to Virgil was opened in 1806.8
    In the year 1807 the Salina and Chenango Turnpike Company was incorporated by the Legislature. The company comprised Samuel Coe, Reuben Cross, Chauncey Hyde, Daniel Hudson, Elsiha Alvord, Joseph Smith, Samuel Trowbridge, Levi Bowen and John Ballard. Several of these men were residents of this county. The road was to run from Salina, through Onondaga Hollow to the north line of Tully; thence southerly through the towns of Tully, Homer, Virgil and Cincinnatus to Lisle, and thence to Chenango Point (Binghamton.) There were 6,000 shares of stock put in market, at $20 per share.
    On the 4th of April, 1811, a road was authorized from Manlius to intersect the turn pike in the northeast corner of lot 87, in the town of Truxton.
    June 2d, 1812, the Cortland and Seneca Turnpike Company was incorporated with Jonathan Hubbard, David Jones and Parley Whitmore as corporators. The road began at the house of Daniel Miller in the town of Homer, and ran thence to Ithaca. The capital of the company was $25,000 divided into shares of $20 each. The company were authorized to erect a toll gate as soon as twelve miles of road were finished. This road was not built, probably, until after 1816, as in that year the charter of the company was revived by the Legislature.
    Much of the business of the Legislature from 1800 to 1820 was in connection with the incorporation of turnpike companies and other road matters; and in 1804 a Board of Turnpike Commissioners was appointed by the State, whose duty it was to inspect the State roads, hear complaints relative to the highways, and kindred duties. Their compensation was two dollars per day.
    During the period under consideration grist-mills were exceedingly scarce in Cortland county, and, indeed, throughout Central New York; the nearest to most of the settlers were thirty or forty miles distant, and several of the earliest years of settlement had elapsed before there were any even at that distance. The prevailing substitute for mill-stones was an enormous mortar make by digging and burning a hollow in the top of a hickory or other hard wood stump, after the manner of the Indians. Into this the corn was put and pounded into coarse meal by the action of a heavy pestle attached to a sweep or spring-pole. This primitive method was followed even after mills were built at Onondaga Hollow, Manlius, Chenango Forks and Ludlowville; for it was not always that a journey could be make by inhabitants of Cortland county to either of those distant points with a small grist; they were all nearly or quite forty miles distant for most of the settlers of the county, and more than that for many. As there were no roads, the trail being followed by marked trees, with often considerable streams to ford, the grists being mostly transported upon "drays",9 or carried in a single bag on horseback, it will be readily imagined that "going to mill" was not the light task that it soon afterward became.10 It was therefore, a source of great relief to the early settlers of this county when Asa White and John Keep, of Homer, built the first grist-mill in the county, at Homer village, in 1798 which was followed within the succeeding two or three years by that of Jonathan Hubbard, on the west branch of the river and now within the corporation of Cortland village.11 While these mills were not comparable in any sense to what is considered in this day as necessary in a good flouring mill, they were, nevertheless, a blessing to the pioneers, the magnitude of which can scarcely be appreciated. Other mills, both grist and saw-mills, succeeded each other in different parts of the county, as the needs of the inhabitants demanded --- in Virgil in 1805; in Truxton in 1809, etc., as hereafter noted.
    Previous to the beginning of the century most of the limited supplies of groceries used by the inhabitants of the county were procured in Manlius, or at other distant points whither it was necessary to go to get milling done; but it must not be supposed that "groceries" were then considered the necessity that they soon became, under the advance of civilization.12 Maple sugar in any quantity the settlers could make on their own farms, and tea and coffee were not by any means a daily beverage with many of them until long after the period under consideration. By the year 1810, however, there were stores in the little villages of Homer, Cortland, Port Watson and a few other points in the county, which were a great convenience to the inhabitants and will be found further noticed in the subsequent town histories.
    Religious and educational matters early commanded the attention of the people of this county. The first church was organized in the town of Homer as early as 1801, and religious services had been observed since 1793.13 In June, 1807, a commodious house of worship was dedicated, with a sermon, by the Rev. M. Darrow. The edifice stood upon the site now occupied by the handsome brick church in rear of the "green" in Homer village. The organization of a Baptist church was effected through the joint labors of the inhabitants of C Cortland, Port Watson, on the East river and in Homer, in the same year (1801) and a building erected in 1811, about "one-half mile north of the old court-house." A congregational church society was formed in Tully (now Preble) in 1804, and in Virgil in the succeeding year. A Methodist meeting was held in the house of Jonathan Hubbard in Cortland in 1804, and a class was soon after formed, and other religious organizations rapidly followed the march of settlement in other and more remote portions of the county, extended reference to which will be found in the proper course of the town histories herein.
    Contemporaneous with the organization of religious societies and the building of churches, the establishment of school was effected, the first of which was opened in Homer in the year 1798; the building stood near the railroad crossing just north of Homer village. A second one was built a littler later on the northeast corner of the "green." A school was taught in Cincinatus in 1797; in Marathon in 1803; in Preble in 1801; in Scott in 1803; in Solon in 1804; in Truxton in 1799; in Taylor in 1810; in Harford in 1806, etc. Indeed, in every neighborhood where there were families of children (and that was the rule in almost every neighborhood in early times) it was considered one of the first duties of the settlers to provide, by the most available means, for their education. It mattered little what were the conditions --- how far the little ones must trudge through the woods or how hard the seats they were compelled to occupy through each day --- to school they were sent at the earliest possible time; thus assuring the intelligent communities that grew up throughout the county.
    The information that we have been able to obtain as to the first birth in the county has not been very satisfactory; but it was probably that of Stephen Potter, of Truxton, in 1794. Mr. Potter's father was killed in the year 1798, by a falling tree. The first death in the county of which we find reliable record was that of Mrs. Thomas Gould Alvord, of Homer, in 1795.
    It may not be uninteresting to close this chapter (which carries the general county history through the first decade of the century) with a brief reference to a few of the quaint names found among those of the early settlers. The gradual change in the character on names given to children has often been remarked; very few of the old bible, classical and heroic names are now inflicted upon offspring. This change will be a desirable one, or otherwise, according to the tastes of different persons. We find among the names of early Cortland county residents, numerous examples of the Asaphs, Zerahs, Keziahs, Zadocs, etc., of olden times; but perhaps the most astonishing of the entire list were those of Increase Hooker, Remembrance Curtiss, and, to cap the climax, Preserved Fish. Yet, after all, "What's in a name?"


    1 - The population of Onondaga county in 1810 was 25,987.
    2 - For county officials after 1810, see civil list in subsequent pages.
    3 - An old lady relating to us the hardships through which they had passed, remarked that, "had it not been for the deer that roamed at large, they should have suffered still more severely, and perhaps unto death, as roots and venison were their only food for many a long and gloomy day;" and the tears came in the eyes of this sainted mother of Israel as she told her tale of privation, suffering and sorrow. --- Goodwin's Pioneer History of Cortland County.
    4 - A more detailed account of this event, and one that sheds some new light upon it, will be found in the history of the town of Homer.
    5 - Our authority for the date given above is Goodwin's History. French's Gazetteer gives the date of Crittenden's arrival as 1793; but it is probable that this is incorrect. In this connection the following statement from Elder S. G. Jones, of Virgil, who formerly lived there, is important. He says: "Do not make the mistake of crediting Ebenezer Crittenden with being the first settler of the old town of Cincinnatus (including Freetown, Marathon and Willet). Elnathan Baker was the first settler and located on the east side of the Otselic, a mile and a half north of Dyer Hill. I saw his son fifty years ago --- the Rev. Elnathan Baker. We visited the site of his father's log hut; it was then grown up with trees six to ten inches through. He said that the only white man he saw while they lived there was Dr. McWhorter. A young Irishman came to their cabin one day and reported that his father had been shot by an Indian; the bullet being lodged in his thigh. Dr. McWhorter extracted the ball, and after the wounded man's recovery he and his son went down the Otselic and the Susquehanna to their home. It was reported that he was shot in after years by the same Indian. North of the cabin of Mr. Baker was what was known fifty-eight years ago, as the "Indian orchard," comprising some fifty trees. The younger Baker says his father planted the seeds from which this orchard grew, and he saw the work done; the trees were growing when they left the locality, which was when he was ten years old. He died in Luzerne county, Pa.
    6 - Primus Grant, a colored man, purchased lot 594 and settled thereon in 1799. He died on his farm and was buried by the side of the "big brook."
    7 - Mr. Chaplin was drowned a few years later in the Hudson river at Coxsackie. See history of town of Virgil.
    8 - "At this period (1800) a road had been cut through to Virgil Corners, to intersect the State Road. Another had been cut through to Locke --- now Groton; a third to McGrawville; a forth to Truxton, and a fifth to Homer." --- GOODWIN. It is probable that Mr. Goodwin's statement refers merely to the "cutting out" of these roads, or a portion of them at least, and not to their being opened or worked. The late Nathan Bouton gives the date of the opening of the road from Virgil to Cortland as 1806, and his authority on the subject can scarcely be question.
    9 - The "dray" was simply a large crotched limb or tree, across which were nailed a few boards; to this the horse was attached.
    10 - Mr. Orellana Beebe, of Taylor, informed Mr. Goodwin that he was compelled, one spring, in order not to neglect other necessary work, to send his ten-year old son to Genoa, after either grain or flour. The boy mounted the horse and started with three bags, each containing eight pounds of maple sugar, which would pay for three bushels of wheat. The distance was forty miles, and the road a line of blazed trees. Reaching his destination after a long and fatiguing day, the little fellow was filled with grief when informed by 'Squire Bradley that he could not have the grain. He was much relieved, however, when the kind man agreed to open a barrel of flour in the morning and give him the value of the sugar in that. With his precious load the boy reached the residence of Judge Bingham, on the Salt Road, at nightfall, where he was kept over night, and at ten o'clock the next day he turned the flour over to the admiring father and mother. Of such determined character were the boys of that day.
    11 - Jonathan Hubbard must have had an interest in the Homer (village) mill as early as 1800, as Mrs. Hubbard, of Cortland, possesses an article of agreement dated June 23d, 1800, made between Jonathan Hubbard (senior) and Asa White of the first part, and James Turner of the second part, whereby the first parties lease to Turner for the sum of fifty dollars, "a privilege of water to carry a fulling mill at their mills on lot number 45 in Homer, at all times when it does not damage their mills now erected," etc.
    12 - "The early pioneers located in these dense forests erected their rude unadorned cabins, hoping for the sure rewards of industry, perseverance and economy. But they were often subjected to great inconvenience and suffering, for the want of the necessary articles of husbandry, and also those of subsistence. We have been told of instances of whole families living for successive weeks upon turnips and salt; of others who boiled roots gathered in the forest and ate them with a relish that is unknown to the epicurean lords of the present day. To them a mess of parsley presented by a neighboring hand was regarded as an act of marked and generous attention. Grain and potatoes were not to be had in the country. David Merrick (of Cortland) sent his team through the woods to Geneva by a neighbor, to whom he gave five dollars, just enough to purchase two bushels of wheat. It was procured and ground; but on the return one of the bags was torn open by coming in contact with a tree, and the flour of one bushel was lost; the remainder was emptied on its arrival by Mrs. Merick into a four quart pan." --- GOODWIN
    13 - The records in the County Clerk's office bear evidence that on the 20th day of April, 1805, the First Religious Society of Homer, represented by Thomas L Bishop, Admatha Blodgett and Eliphalet Price, trustees, purchased for $1.00 six acres on lot 45, Homer village, "for the purpose of erecting a meeting house and all necessary outbuildings, and a burying ground."
Transcribed by Wilma Staiger - May, 2009.

1885 History of Cortland County

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