HISTORY OF THE TOWN OF SOLON
SOLON is one of the interior towns of the county and is bounded on the north by Truxton; on the east by Taylor; on the south by Freetown, and on the west by Cortlandville and Homer, thus locating it near the center of the county.
Solon was No. 20 of the townships comprising the old military tract and originally embraced the territory now comprising Solon. Taylor, and the southern portions of Truxton and Cuyler. The town was organized on the 9th of March 1798. Its former dimensions were reduced in April 1811, by annexing the north fourteen lots to Truxton, and again in 1849 by the erection of the town of Taylor. The town now comprises 19,068 acres, with an assessed valuation of $17.55 per acre and a total valuation of $334.705.
The surface of the town is broken by a number of valleys, through which flow small streams. On the eastern border the ridges rise to an elevation of from fourteen to fifteen hundred feet above tide. Trout brook flows through the town in a northwesterly direction and is bordered by a fertile valley. Pritchard, North and Maybury brooks flow into Trout brook from the north, and Smith brook flows from the southern portion of the town towards the northwest. The soil of Solon is a gravelly loam, much better adapted to grazing than grain-growing. Dairying is the most prominent interest to which farmers now turn their attention.
There are in the town, one post office, one store, one saw-mill, one grist-mill, one cheese factory, one hotel, one blacksmith shop, two churches, Roman Catholic and Baptist.
The first permanent settlement in Solon was made in 1704 by Roderick Beebe and Johnson Bingham. The former located on lot No. 75, on that portion known as Mount Roderick. He came originally from Massachusetts.
Mr. Bingham was a native of Connecticut, but came to Solon from Vermont, locating on lot 62. He purchased 550 acres; was justice of the peace for about twenty years, and associate judge for quite a period. He reared eight children.
William Galpin was probably one of the next settlers in the town, locating on lot 47 in the year 1796; he came from New Jersey. He was one of the many unfortunates who bought land and found they had no valid title, and he removed to Pompey, Onondaga county.
In 1799 John Welch came into the town from Wyoming and located a little south of the farm of Roderick Beebe. He remained but a few years and removed to Cleveland, Ohio.
Col. Elijah Wheeler, from New Haven, Conn., came in the year 1801 and located on lot 100, where he purchased originally 100 acres.
Settlements were made principally in the northern and eastern portions of this town during the early period, and many who came in at an early day are noticed in the histories of those later divisions. Captain Stephen N. Peck came from Stanford, Duchess county, N. Y., and located on lot 62 in March 1804. He first purchased ninety-two acres but subsequently added considerably to his farm. He lived on his place to a good old age.
Garrett Pritchard was one of the pioneers who came into the wilderness full of determination to do his part towards making it "blossom as the rose." He was from Litchfield, Conn., and located on lot 74 in the year 1806. He came into the town with a pack on his back and $16.50 in money in his pockets. His father had preceded him one year and was finding it difficult to meet the small payments falling due on his land; but the son came to his aid and paid $500 on his father’s estate, afterward locating on lot 75. He became the owner of 500 acres of land and lived the latter years of his life in the enjoyment of his competence.
In the same year of Pritchard’s arrival Richard Maybury came from Luzerne, Pa., and located on the State’s hundred, lot 53, where he purchased 100 acres. He was an industrious and worthy citizen.
Stephen N. Peck, with his wife and two children, came in from Duchess county in 1805. He located on lot 62 and lived to be over ninety years old, retaining his faculties to a remarkable degree. His sons, Lyman E., Burlingham, Platt and John all settled in the town.
Luke Chapin, father of Hiram Chapin, came from Massachusetts in 1805 and settled on lot 42. In the same year Gen. S. G. Hathaway, who was also from Massachusetts, settled on lot 71 and two years later removed to lot 73, in Solon, where he spent the remainder of his life. In 1810 he was appointed justice of the peace and held the office forty-eight successive years; he gained the reputation of being the ablest magistrate in this office in the county, possessing the faculty of seeing intuitively into the merits of cases before him, making up his mind as to the facts with rare judgment from which no ability or ingenuity on the part of lawyers could swerve him. His fairness and justice were seldom or never called in question. He represented Cortland county in the legislature in 1814 and 1818. In the last named year he procured a division of the town of Cincinnatus, and the part of it in which he resided at that time fell within the limits of Freetown, which was named after his native town in Massachusetts. He was elected to the State Senate in 1822 to Congress in 1832 and was chosen presidential elector in 1852. He had a decided taste for military affairs and rose through the various graded of office until he was commissioned major-general in 1823. He was an able politician and possessed of those qualities that give an influence over men and tend to make their possessor a leader. Mr. Hathaway died without disease, while sitting in his chair at six o’clock A.M. on the 2nd of May 1867, in the eight-seventh year of his age. His son, Calvin L. Hathaway, resides on the homestead and is a man of prominence in the county, both as a businessman and a politician.
Henry L. Randall was one of the prominent early pioneers, who came from Sharon, Conn., and located on lot 74 in 1808. He made the journey with his wife and three children, with a two horse team, bringing a few necessary articles with which to begin life in his wilderness home. He lived more than half a century where he first settled and reared a family of five children, and died in 1863. One of his sons, Orrin Randall, now lives on lot No. 6, where he is pleasantly located. He married Libbie Bean, daughter of Josiah Bean (an early settler on the same lot), and removed from lot 74 to his present location in 1876.
Joel Rankin, also from Massachusetts, settled on lot 42 in 1807. His daughter Margaret became the wife of Amos Pritchard.
Luke Cass, from New Hampshire, settled on lot 51. Columbus Cass, his son, came in with his father and afterwards located on lot 61. Jonathan Rundall, from Sharon, Conn., located on lot 74. Ebenezer Blake, from Stoddard, New Hampshire, settled on lot 84. Joseph Holden, an early settler, located where Edward Holden now lives.
Such were the principal pioneers who came into this town at an early day to spend their lives in subduing the wilderness, encountering hardships and privations which are all unknown at the present time. Settlement in the town was not very rapid and it was long after the close of the War of 1812 before all the land was occupied and largely under cultivation.
The first birth in the town of Solon was that of a daughter of Johnson Bingham. The first marriage united Robert Smith and Amy Smith. The first death was that of Lydia Bingham, which event occurred on the 9th of May 1798. Johnson Bingham died in 1843 and his wife, Annie, died November 14th, 1865, at the great age of 102 year, 11 months and 25 days.
The first school was taught in Solon by Roxana Beebe and Lydamana Stewart, in the year 1804. Benjamin Tubbs kept the first store and Lewis Beebe the first tavern. The first mill was built by Noah Greeley, and the first church was organized in 1804, by the Rev. Josiah Butler, who was the first preacher.
The mill built by Noah Greeley was a sawmill, and the first gristmill was built by Eber Wilcox; it was located on Maybury creek just below the site of the present mill and was erected in 1812. The water wheel was made of a log some twenty feet in length and acted on the recoil principal, which was patented before that time by a Mr. Barker. The water entered a hole in the middle of the log, was conducted through a large bore to either end, where it escaped through smaller holes on opposite sides of the log, the action of the water against the air serving to revolve the wheel. A child of Mr. Wilcox fell into this wheel when it was in motion and was killed.
John Maybury built the present mill, now owned by his nephew, E.B. Maybury, prior to 1840. It soon afterward passed into the hands of General Hathaway and was then leased to C. Albridge, who ran it a number of years, a part of the time with his son-in-law, Wm. Dorr. It then passed into the hands of P. F. Moses, then to P. P. Moses and finally in 1874 to the present owner, who put in a turbine wheel; the mill has now two runs of stones and does a flouring and custom business.
Palmer’s furniture factory is located near the Maybury mill, its water power being drawn from the same dam. The building was erected in 1876, by E. E. Palmer, who put in machinery for the extensive manufacture of all kinds of furniture.
A cheese factory was in operation in this neighborhood between 1874 and 1876. Benton Dice removed the frame of this structure from Blodgett’s Mills, but soon afterward sold it to Irving Stevens; it was burned in 1876.
The only cheese factory now in Solon is located near the village, or hamlet, and was built in the winter of 1881-82, by B. T. Turner. It is a creamery and the building was erected over "Bear spring", which is noted for the purity and coldness of its water. The establishment is doing a good business.
The hamlet of Solon is located near the center of the town, and contains a store, post office and a hotel.
The first merchant was Benjamin Tubbs; he was followed by Samuel Wilber. Flint Phelps kept a store for a time two miles west of the hamlet, but it was finally abandoned. Since then the mercantile trade of the town has all been done in Solon, and was for many years conducted by Samuel Emerson. He was one of the pioneer settlers, who came in from New England in 1803 and located one mile west of the hamlet. He died in 1869, at the age of eighty-three years. His father was in the Revolutionary War and also in the War of 1812. Mr. Emerson’s store was on the east side of the creek.
The principal merchants of the place since Mr. Emerson have been Lyman Alden, Ezra Rockwell, A. Stevens, Lyman and Rufus Peck, Willis Holmes and A. S. Brown, who is the present proprietor. He began business in 1883, carries a large general stock of goods and receives the patronage of most of the inhabitants of the town.
The production of maple sugar is carried on to a large extent in Solon. Many of the sugar camps contain from one to three thousand trees. During the sugar making season of 1884 Mr. Brown handled and shipped a ton of this product per day. Among those who engage most largely in this manufacture we may mention Jerome White, Luman Maybury, John Maybury, Adelbert Holden, B. H. Randall, E. Z. Smith, George Cooper, Joel Pritchard, Silas Stevens, Robert Smith, James Finn, Daniel Morris, Alfred Smith, John Livingston, Philander Underwood, S. Marten, Joseph Murphy, Jacob Atkins and Isaac Walker.
The first tavern in Solon was located a mile or so west of the hamlet, and was kept by Lewis Beebe. William Copeland, son-in-law of Mr. Emerson, before mentioned, was the first tavern-keeper at the hamlet. Succeeding him came Noah Goodrich, John Wheeler, Mr. Fish, Wm. And Philip Hays, A. S. Pierce, John and James Warden, and Earl Palmer. The tavern is now kept by James Warden. The present building was erected by Earl Palmer in 1865.
Churches. – The Baptist Church in Solon was organized in 1804 by Rev. Josiah Butler. We were unable to learn much relative to the past history of the church; it is not, however, in as flourishing condition as in former years.
There is a Catholic Church in the town which is under the effective guidance of Father McLoghlin, of Cortland village.
The Presbyterian Church was organized September 11th, 1827, with a membership of fifteen. The membership has always been small. The church was furnished a portion of the time for a year or two, with preaching by the Presbytery of Cortland, and was dissolved in 1831.
When the great Rebellion broke out the patriotic people of Solon volunteered freely for the defense of the Union, and many sealed their devotion to their country with their blood. Following are the names of those who gave their lives in the perpetuation of liberty, from this town:
Lucius Randall, son of Orrin Randall, killed at Gravelly Run, March 29th, 1865. Orrin Reed, killed in the same battle. John Cahill died in a rebel prison. Dayton Harvey, son of Charles Harvey, died from wounds received in battle at Gettysburg. John Stevens, son of Jacob Stevens, died in Libby prison. Job Gillett, died in hospital. Dennis B. Hicks died of wounds received in service. Edwin Fish died in hospital at Hilton Head. James Atwood died on the field. Adelbert Taylor died in Washington, and _______ Walker died after returning home.
Following in a list of the soldiers who went from this town and were paid bounties and credited to this town:
Call of Oct. 17th, 1863, February and March 1864. Bounty paid $300. Total, $2,700. – James Sargant, Daniel Barnes, Horatio Niles Hicks, Mark Brownell, John Cahill, William R. Wells, Edwin R. Albridge, William B. Gilbert, Luther P. Hicks.
The early records of this town are not now available; we were unable to find a list of town officers earlier than 1844, since which date the following is a list of the supervisors and town clerks, the supervisor’s name appearing first in each instance, with the present town officers: --
1844-45. Rufus Rice, John Wheeler, Ezra Rockwell, Stephen Kellogg, 1846. Ezra Rockwell, Russel C. Fowler, 1847. John Wheeler, Lewis M. Wolsey, 1848. John Wheeler, Samuel G. Hathaway, 1849. John Wheeler, Freeman Warren, 1850-51-52. John Wheeler, Samuel G. Hathaway, 1853. Johnson Wheeler, Lyman Stone, 1854 Johnson Wheeler, John M. Freeman, 1855. Johnson Wheeler, Lewis Dickinson, 1856. David I. Brownell, Lewis Dickinson, 1857. David I. Brownell, Randolph R. Maybury, 1858. David I. Brownell, Cornelius D. Fish, 1859. Philander P. Moses, Robert B. Fish, 1860. Philander P. Moses, Leroy D. Stevens, 1861. Calvin L. Hathaway, Earl Palmer, 1862. Ransom Warren, Earl Palmer, 1863. David I. Brownell, Earl Palmer, 1864. David I. Brownell, Melvin Maybury, 1865-66. David I. Brownell, Harvey J. Stone, 1867. Johnson Wheeler, Harvey J. Stone, 1868. Calvin Hathaway, Lyman Peck, jr., 1869. David P. Brownell, Harvey J. Stone, 1870. John Wheeler, Harvey J. Stone, 1871. John Wheeler, Mordeca L. Totman, 1873. Philo F. Moses, Mordeca L. Totman, 1874. Harvey J. Stone, Mordeca L. Totman, 1875. Harvey J. Stone, James Dougherty, 1876. J. J. Walker, James Dougherty, 1877. J. J. Walker, C. T. Peck, 1878-79. James Dougherty, William E. Burr, 1880-81-82. James Dougherty, B. H. Randall, 1883.
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