Chapter XXVII

HISTORY OF THE TOWN OF SCOTT

The town of Scott lies in the extreme northwest part of Cortland county and comprises a portion of the old military township No. 14 of Tully. It was formed from the town of Preble on the 14th of April, 1815, and named in honor of Gen. Winfield Scott. Its surface is chiefly an upland, broken by two deep and narrow valleys, which extend north and south through the town. The declivities of the hills are steep and in many places precipitous.

The town is drained in the eastern valley by Cold brook, and Factory brook and Skaneateles inlet flow through the western valley. These streams not only drain the town, but furnish excellent water power. Skaneateles lake borders on the northwest corner of the town.

The soil is a sandy and gravelly loam, and the town embraces many most excellent farms. It is not, however, a grain-growing town, the land being generally better adapted to grazing, and the farmers are, in later years, turning their attention largely to dairying.

There is but one village in the town of Scott; it is called Scott Center, and contains about three hundred inhabitants. East Scott is a hamlet.

The first permanent settlement was made in the town in 1799. There had, however, been a rude hunter within its boundaries as early as 1795. He erected a bark shanty and lived by hunting, an employment in which he was quite successful. He spent about a year and a half in the solitude of this unbroken wilderness, when he was joined by a half-breed Indian, who is said to have come from Canada, and in a few months afterward they gathered up their peltry and made their way to a French trading-post, then established near Whitestown, where they sold out with a good profit. Dividing their effects they sought a retreat in the wilderness to the far West. The birth-place and other data in regard to this hunter are not known; though it was apparent that he was of French extraction.1

{Footnote 1}

An Indian of the "Leni" tribe, from whom we gather these facts and who occasionally visits the Oneidas, relates many characteristic anecdotes touching this singularly strange yet interesting original. Years after he was seen standing upon the bank of the great father of waters -- the majestic Mississippi. There was heard a shriek, a plunge, the waters closed over the lone hunter and all that was mortal had disappeared forever. When the horror-stricken Indian, who was with him and had watched his movements, called for the white man of the woods, the evil genius that had wrecked his hopes in early life and made him a wanderer, answered: --

      "Where the dark tide runs strongest,

            The cliff rises steep;

      Where the wild waters eddy,

            I have rocked him to sleep.

      "His sleep is so strong,

            That the rush of the stream

      When the wild winds are abroad,

            Cannot waken his dream."

                  -- Goodwin’s History.

{End footnote 1}

During the year 1799 several settlements were made in Scott. Peleg Babcock, accompanied by his brothers, Solomon and Asa Howard, came in from Leyden, Mass., and selected locations. Peleg settled on the south part of lot 82. Solomon located on the northwest part of the same lot, while Howard took up his abode a little to the east of his brother Solomon. About the same time George Denison, from Vermont, pitched his tent on the west part of the same lot, making the fourth settler on lot 82. Cornish Messenger and Daniel Jakeway came in from De Ruyter in 1800 and settled on lot 92. In 1801 Maxon Babcock came in from Leyden and located on the northeast corner of lot 82. Ghershon Richardson and his two sons-in-law, by the name of Clark, came from Pompey, Onondaga county, and located on lot 71. In 1802 Henry Burdick, a native of Rhode Island, migrated from Colerain, Mass., and located on lot 72. He purchased originally, in company with John Babcock, 109 acres. He was an active and prominent pioneer in his locality. Jared Babcock came in during the year 1804 and spent about three or four years. In 1809 he was engaged in the mercantile trade in Spafford, being the first merchant in that place. He subsequently removed to Homer.

John Gillet, from Norfolk, Connecticut, located during the same year (1805), but did not purchase until 1807 or 1808, when he selected 100 acres on lot 84. He filled the office of justice of the peace for a period of twenty years; that of supervisor and other town offices at various times; he was associate judge of the county court for fifteen successive years and also member of the Legislature and presidential elector.

Jacob Smith, from Delphi, located in 1806 on lot 84; his original purchase was fifty acres; he, however, made subsequent additions until he had a farm of one hundred and five acres.

In 1806 Daniel Doubleday came from Lebanon, Connecticut, and located in the town of Homer. In 1809 he removed to Scott and settled on lot 105. He reared a respectable family, accumulated property and was a useful citizen.

In 1805 Elisha Sabins and John Babcock cut and cleared a road from Scott Corners (then called Babcock’s Corners) to Spafford Corners. They transported their goods to their new home on sleds and found it a hard journey. The next year Isaac Hall, of the latter place, passed over the road with a wagon, and after purchasing a load of lumber at Babcock’s Settlement, put it on his wagon and drew it to his home in Spafford.

As an indication of what life in Scott was at this early period, it used to be related by Solomon Babcock that in the summer of 1799 he was in the habit of making frequent visits to his brother’s corn-field, accompanied by a small dog, for the purpose of driving away the bears, they being very troublesome and destructive to the corn crop. It was a common occurrence to find half a dozen in the field at a time, and to him it was amusing to see them hasten off at the bark of the harmless dog. An incident denoting the plentifulness of game was also related by Mr. Babcock. Early in the month of March he went into the woods for the purpose of obtaining a birch broomstick. The snow was about three feet deep and the crust sufficiently strong to bear a man’s weight. A fierce and well-trained dog belonging to his brother Peleg bore him company, and before the trunk of the little sapling was secured, he had actually killed seven deer. The small feet of the animals, as is well known to hunters, would push through the snow crust, making it impossible for them to run with any speed.

Another hunting incident which occurred in this town is of sufficient interest for these pages. Three persons started out in the month of March, 1799, in pursuit of bears, which had been unusually numerous and bold during that season. One of the men soon gave out and returned, but the other two continued in pursuit, the trail leading in the direction of Skaneateles lake; but the snow being very deep, the others finally gave up and concluded to return home by a circuitous route, in the hope of meeting with an old bear which had wintered within a mile of their home. As they neared the spot the bear was discovered. Both hunters discharged their guns, but only succeeded in wounding the animal. He hastily left for other quarters, followed by his pursuers, who, after camping out for the night near Skaneateles lake, drove him into a clearing eight miles from home, in Sempronius, where they dispatched him and took off his hide, out of which they made each of them a cap, as they had lost theirs the day before, and returned home.

The first ordained preacher in the town of Scott was Elder Town. The first persons baptized were Mr. And Mrs. Solomon Babcock, the former in Homer.

The first merchant was Nathan Babcock.

The first inn-keeper was James Babcock. The first postmaster, John Gillet. The first marriage was solemnized in the fall of 1802. There being no authorized person at hand to perform the ceremony, the parties went to Homer on horseback, and after attending church went to Squire Bishop’s, on East Hill, where they were wed.

The first child born in Scott was Harriet Babcock. The first death was an infant daughter of Peleg Babcock.

Public religious worship began about the year 1806 or ’07. The Close Communion Baptists, the Seventh-Day Baptists, the Presbyterians and the Methodists, each formed prosperous societies.

The first postmaster of East Scott was Alvan Kellogg, the cloth manufacturer and dresser with whom President Millard Fillmore learned his trade.

The first saw-mill in the town of Scott was erected as early as the year 1804, by Henry Burdick; it stood on Skaneateles inlet where A. L. Whiting’s flax-mill is at present located. He was an enterprising Rhode Islander, who preceded his father from Massachusetts to this town in 1802. Henry Burdick, sen., came a year or so afterward. The water privilege was on lot 72, and owned at a later period by George S. Green. Henry Burdick sold out his farm, originally purchased in 1802, to his father and removed to where Henry L. Burdick now lives. The saw-mill, soon after its erection, passed into the possession of Nehemiah Brown, who took it between the years 1810 and 1812; he was a son-in-law of Esquire Paul Babcock. The latter was a relative of Henry Babcock. Comfort Brown was the next owner of the mill and utilized this valuable water privilege until the year 1858. James Skillie and Dr. Babcock each also had possession of it for a short time; but during the year 1863 A. L. Whiting bought the property and turned it into a flax-mill. He used it first for dressing flax, subsequently for manufacturing tow for upholstering purposes. The mill is still in use.

John Gillet, before alluded to, bought one hundred acres of land on lot 84, in 1807, and built the mill there two or three years later. Mr. Gillet was an active, prosperous and prominent man. J. H. Gillet now owns the mill. About the year 1835 Harlow Gillet, only son of John Gillet, built a foundry, which was run for a number of years and burned. Upon the site now stands a workshop, owned and operated by his sons, who are skilled mechanics.

Alvan Kellogg, the first postmaster of East Scott, came to the town in 1805, and built a saw-mill within the next few years. His son, Silas Kellogg, now owns the old homestead, and Lewis Hazard and Hamilton Whitney the saw-mill. A prior owner was James Bacon, who placed flax machinery in the mill in 1878, and the present firm built a flax store-house there more recently.

Messenger & Kenyon built a grist-mill on the site now owned by George W. Southwick, in 1817, and sold it to Samuel Hardy about the year 1832; he rebuilt the structure almost entirely. The mill then passed successively through the hands of the following persons; Case & Melville, George W. Southwick, Sylvanus Grout, George W. Southwick, Mr. Meade, Ameron & Ellis and George W. Southwick; the latter has also operated a shingle-mill in connection with the grist-mill.

About the 1828 or 1829 Luke Babcock built a grist-mill two and a half stories high, a short distance below the Messenger mill, in which were two runs of stone. In the ownership of this mill he was succeeded by Lucius Dyer, Edwin Norton, Raymond P. Babcock (who made general repairs and put in a new wheel), Isaac Bellows, R. P. Babcock, J. L. & L. H. Comstock, and John B. Cottrell, the present owner. The mill is located about a mile from Scott Center.

Three-fourths of a mile below the Cottrell mill is the frame of an old flax-mill that was put in operation at an early day by the West family, who ran it until about the year 1865. The property is still owned by members of the family, but the mill is not used as such.

Near the old saw-mill built by Jonathan Scott and about opposite to it, is the oil-mill built by him. The saw-mill was erected in 1828 and the oil-mill in 1830. The latter has always been kept in the hands of the Scott family, being now owned and operated by Ransom Scott. The site of the old saw-mill now belongs to Esquire Hunt. A freshet of twenty years ago carried off the saw-mill, and three thousand bushels of flax seed.

Ransom Scott built a distillery in the vicinity of these mills during the War of the Rebellion. It was afterward burned.

In 1880 a saw-mill was built by Samuel Scott a mile below the oil-mill, which he still owns. On the east shore at the head of the lake Greeley Cady and brothers built a steam saw-mill on this stream, in that direction; but there are others on the same stream northward from Scott Center. A. Babcock built one of these in 1833; it is now owned by Childs & Hazard, who put in flax machinery soon after 1880. It is now a combination of a circular saw-mill, a flax-mill and a wagon shop.

The Townsley saw-mill, in the vicinity of East Scott, was built by Henry Townsley, an old resident of the place, about 1825. This was afterward converted into a grist-mill and is now used for grinding coarse products.

The tanning business in Scott was probably begun in an early period by a Mr. Dowd, a shoemaker, who had in connection with his shop a few vats for curing hides. Eastman & Lawrence established a tannery about the year 1830, on a much more extensive scale.

Prior to this date, B. A. Denison carried on the business of carding and fulling cloth. He died in 1828.

From the period of 1855 to 1860 and down to the present time the farmers of Scott have earned an excellent reputation for the quality, as well as the quantity of their dairy products. The grass-lands of the town are unexcelled and by the improved methods of late years, with which the farmers have made themselves familiar, a product that enjoys a first class reputation is made. The cheese factory, located just north of Scott Center, was formerly owned and operated very successfully by John B. Cottrell & Son.

The first annual town meeting of Scott was held at the school-house near Paul Babcock’s, according to appointment, on Tuesday, March 5th, 1816, and the following business was transacted: ---

Peleg Babcock was chosen supervisor of the town, and David Harris, town clerk.

Other officers were Paul Babcock, Henry Babcock and Holly Maxson, assessors.

George Frink and Benjamin Pelton, poor masters.

Loring Boies, constable and collector.

Paul Babcock, Ezra Babcock and David Harris, school inspectors.

It was voted at this meeting that $25 be raised for the support of the poor.

Down to the year 1860 peace reigned in the town of Scott, in common with the remainder of the county. The farmers labored diligently and effectively for the clearing of their lands, and though isolated entirely from railroad communication with other portions of the county and State, prosperity prevailed and the inhabitants were contented. Schools multiplied and the youth of the town grew up in an atmosphere of intelligence. When the first gun in the great Rebellion was fired, it found the people of this town imbued with such patriotism, that her young men went forth to aid in sustaining the government as freely as from any other portion of the county, while her treasure was liberally devoted to the payment of such bounties as were deemed advisable by the county authorities. Following is a list of the enlistments from this town of all men who were paid bounties:---

Call of October 17th, 1863, February and March, 1864. Bounty, $300. Total, $9,300. --- Oren D. Wheeler, Miles G. Frisbie, Jonathan Scott, David Scott, Clark C. Spencer, Edwin P. Burdick, William H. Brown, Ambrose H. Mabie, Henry C. Babcock, Frances E. Barber, Andrew S. Barber, William Spencer, Philo Fuller, Andrew D. Collins, Edmund D. Crosby, James B. Richardson, Sidney Harrington, Washington B. Fisk, William A. Picket, Charles Barnum, Lucius E. Robinson, Janna P. Northaway, Lorenzo D. Whiting, Stennett C. Stillman, John T. Pratt, Charles R. Whiting, Thomas Blunden, John Wagner, William Stringham, James B. Clark, James Fenton.

Call of July 18th, 1864. Bounty, $1,000. Total, $6,000. Brokerage, $150. --- James R. Corl, Nathan M. Bennett, Edwin E. Dunn, Albert G. Geutcheous, William B. Maxson, Daniel B. Pender.

Call of December 19th, 1864. Bounty $600. Total, $9,600. Brokerage, $240. --- John Brittle, James Gordon, Patrick J. Brady, Thomas Daley, Thomas Murphy, John Adams, Nicholas Haler, Henry Kraft, Thomas Tully, William Wolfer, Jonathan Francis, Adam Sherr, Edward S. Anable, John Breman, John Carlton, Joseph Suger.

Recapitulation. --- Paid for filling quotas, calls for October 17th, 1863, February and March, 1864, $9,300. Paid for filling quota, call July 18th, 1864, $6,150. Paid for filling quota, call December 19th, 1864, $2,640 {sic}. Grand total, $18,090 {sic}.

Following is a list of the supervisors and town clerks of the town, the supervisor’s name in each case preceding that of the clerk: ---

From 1825 to 1828, inclusive, Aaron Brown, Ezekial Potter; 1828, Aaron Brown, P. Hoadley; 1829-30, Aaron Brown, G. S. Green; 1831, Aaron Brown, Phineas H. Burdick; 1832-33, Aaron Brown, G. S. Green; 1834-35, Alvan Kellogg, John Barber; 1836, Alvan Kellogg, Alonzo D. C. Barber; 1837-38, Alvan Kellogg, Simeon M. Babcock; 1839, John Barber, Alonzo C. Barber; 1840, Anson L. Whiting, Jerome K. Babcock; 1841, Geo. M. Niles, J. K. Babcock; 1842, George M. Niles,

Thomas Hunt; 1843, N. Salisbury, Ambrose Higgins; 1844-45, Alvan Kellogg, --------; 1846, Alvan Kellogg, A. L. Whiting; 1847, Ransom Scott, William H. Burdick; 1848, Chauncey W. Bierce, A. D. C. Barber; 1849-50, Isaac S. Jackson, Sanford D. Kinney; 1851, Joseph Atwater, A. L. Whiting; 1852, A. W. Clark, Joseph Atwater; 1853, Joseph Atwater, A. L. Whiting; 1854, A. W. Clark, Samuel A. Childs; 1855-56, Hammond A. Cottrell, John J. Wagner; 1857-58, Samuel A. Childs, William A. Alvord; 1859-60, Edmund Spencer, Peter Knapp; 1861, Chauncey W. Bierce, John K. Chandler; 1862, S. A. Knapp, P. Childs; 1863-64, Cyrus Kellogg, Peter Knapp; 1865, Jeremiah G. Alvord, Peter Knapp; 1866, S. A. Childs, Fenn G. Alvord; 1867, Raymond P. Babcock, Frank D. Babcock; 1868, Isaac M. Bellows, F. A. Babcock; 1869-70, S. A. Childs, S. D. Babcock; 1871-72, Phineas Hutchins, Wm. A. Morgan; 1873, Dwight K. Cutler, W. A. Morgan; 1874, Chauncey W. Bierce, W. A. Morgan; 1875, Phineas Hutchins, W. A. Morgan; 1876, John D. Cottrell, W. D. Morgan; 1877, S. A. Childs, W. H. Morgan; 1878-79, G. D. Crosley, W. H. Morgan; 1880, Dwight K. Cutler, W. H. Morgan; 1881, William A. Niver, W. H. Morgan; 1882-83, W. H. Morgan, S. C. Stillman.

The present town officers for the town of Scott are: ---

Supervisor --- W. H. Morgan.

Town clerk --- S. C. Stillman.

Justices of the peace --- Byron L. Barber, Wm. D. Hunt, G. F. Barber.

Commissioner of highways --- Norman E. Black.

Assessors --- Sylvanus A. Churchill, Jared Babcock, Miles G. Frisbie.

Overseer of the poor --- D. D. L. Burdick.

Collector --- Elbert E. Barker.

Auditors --- Elias L. Frisbie, Henry Underwood, Fenn G. Alvord.

Inspectors of election --- W. C. Bockes, James Taft, Edward Slocum, Edwin P. Burdick, John Knight, J. B. Underwood.

Game constable --- H. D. Babcock.

Excise commissioner --- Lewis S. Hazard.

 

SCOTT CENTER

The village of Scott (or Scott Center) is situated near the center of the town and contains a population of about three hundred. It has a hotel, three stores, two churches and one or two shops.

The first merchant in the place was Nathan Babcock, who had a store on the grounds now occupied by the present hotel building. He was, during a part of his stay in the village, engaged in teaching a day school.

In 1828 George F. Green located in the place and built the original part of the present hotel building and also the house on the opposite corner now owned and occupied by his son. After building the store he occupied it as a merchant until 1840 or 1841. He came from De Ruyter to this place in 1824.

William Alvord was an early trader and bought out Mr. Green. Alvord was in business but about fourteen years. Succeeding came Lewis & Cottrell, and in 1844 L. A. Whiting also began trading in the village, continuing for sixteen years. He was burned out in the destructive fire of 1858.

As early as the year 1833 George Ross built the store just north of the present post-office and went into business with George Atwater. On the first day of April, 1836, Wm. Alvord succeeded and traded five years at that stand, finally selling out to P. H. Van Schaick. Following came Welch & Howells, Dr. Ira Babcock, Martin Knapp, Miles Bierce, Sanford Kinney, Wm H. Alvord, and Philander Knight, who owned the store in 1858, when it was burned.

The store building on the corner, now owned by S. R. McConnell, was built by R. P. Babcock about the year 1865 or 1866. Isaac N. Bellows traded there for a while, also; Mr. McConnell has been in business at this locality since 1872.

The store now owned by Tinkham & Churchill was built by Elijah Niver just before the late war.

S. C. Stillman, town clerk of the town of Scott, established the drug business in 1880, and keeps also a line of other goods. He has a tin shop in connection with his store.

The harness trade was early established in the village by Jerry Jones, Hiram Herrick and others. John H. Chandler afterward engaged in this business and continued in it for many years. He was succeeded by W. H. Morgan, a skilled mechanic, in 1866. Mr. Morgan is also postmaster at the present time, succeeding H. W. Babcock in 1872.

The first physician, probably, in the town was Dr. Huntington. He practiced in this place a number of years and died in 1840. His son Justin lived in the same town until he reached the advanced age of eighty-seven years, dying in 1883. Dr. Whiting was also an early physician in the town, but removed to the West about fifty years ago. Dr. Stowell came in about the year 1824, but remained only a few years. Phineas H. Burdick came in a little later and in 1828 became a member of the County Medical Association. In 1834 he removed to Preble, where he continued practice until his death in 1870. Dr. Ira L. Babcock became a member of the County Medical Society in 1832. Dr. Wm. M. Truman studied medicine with Dr. Maxson in 1833; afterwards attended college and began practice in the village in 1834 or 1835. He remained only two or three years and then removed to Lincklaen, Chenango county. A few years later he returned to Scott, remaining two years. Dr. Hazlett Wilcox came about 1850; his stay was also short. Dr. Clarke Hubbard came in 1854 and practiced here until his death. Dr. Waters came in 1859, but entered the Union army at the breaking out of the late war. Dr. D. C. Sydney came in 1869, but left for Friendship, Pa., the following year. Dr. Irvin Truman came in 1872. Dr. Maxson, the oldest physician in town, and one of the oldest in the county, was educated at Fairfield, Herkimer county, N. Y., and graduated in 1830, going first to Plymouth, Chenango county. He came from that place to Scott in 1833. In 1834, on the 16th of May, he became a member of the County Medical Society. He practices in the old school of medicine.

The old hotel of the village was probably built by Daniel Royce before 1830. It was at that time a small affair, serving the purposes of a saloon as much as of a hotel. Joseph Royce made some additions in 1830. Thomas Harrop next took the proprietorship and added seventy feet to the building for a saloon. This would indicate that the business was prosperous. Following him in the hotel came Nathan Culver for a few years, after which there were many changes. Charles Dunbar was proprietor of this house when it burned on the morning of May 4th, 1879. Mr. Dunbar then opened the present hotel, which he still successfully conducts.

The Presbyterian Church of Scott. --- This society was organized May 25th, 1818, by a committee of the Presbytery of Onondaga. It remained in this connection until the organization of the Cortland Presbytery, when it was assigned to that. The Congregational form of government was adopted in 1825, but the church still retained its connection with the Presbytery. Rev. Reuben Hurd was ministering to the congregation during a portion of its early history. Rev. Mr. Dunning was the second minister and after him Rev. Mathew Harrison gave one-fourth of his time to the church. Rev. Llewellyn R. Powell began preaching here in August, 1833, and was installed as pastor August 25th, 1835 continuing about three years. After this date came Rev. Mr. Redfield and Rev. Mr. Foltse. In the year 1842 Rev. Daniel Slie, a Unionist, was employed for one year. Rev. Hiram Harris was made pastor in the fall of 1843. He was then a licentiate preacher and was installed and ordained by the Presbytery of Cortland on the 18th of October, of the same year. Mr. Harris preached at Borodino one-half of the time during the year 1845. The church has always been small in membership. In 1825 it had but twenty-four members; in 1836, sixty-eight, and in 1846, seventy; since then it has gradually diminished until the year 1878, when the building was removed from its foundation and used for other purposes. The church building was erected, but not entirely finished, in 1838.

The Close Communion Baptist Church was the oldest organization in the town. Its membership was the largest in the town at one period. It has ceased to exist and there are no available records of its career.

The Seventh-Day Baptists have an organization in this town, which dates from an early period. No records of the society could be obtained from which to compile its history. The society is in a flourishing condition; a good Sabbath-school is connected with it. The present deacons are John Barber, E. H. P. Potter and Lewis Hazard. Miss Artelia Babcock is superintendent of the Sabbath-school; there is no present pastor.

The Methodist Episcopal Society has a membership of one hundred, with a good Sabbath-school, under the direction of C. J. Jones. The organization dates back to an early period, but no records are in existence from which to write its history. Rev. Mr. Sharpe, the pastor, took charge of the church in 1882. The church officers are Chas. Jones, C. Clark, Watson J. Black, James Clark, Franklin Ticket, Dr. G. W. Maxson, Solomon Clark, John Lamphire, Henry Niver, Mrs. Letitia Bedell and Mrs. Jared Babcock.

 




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