HISTORY OF THE TOWN OF TAYLOR
The town of Taylor lies near the center of the eastern border of the county and is bounded on the north by Cuyler; on the east by Chenango county; on the south by Cincinnatus, and on the west by Solon. As a civil organization it is comparatively recent, being formed from Solon on the 5th of December, 1849; it was named in honor of General Zachary Taylor and comprises 18,738 17/24 acres of land.
The surface of the town is very hilly and broken. The declivities are very steep, some of them precipitous and rising from 600 to 800 feet above the valleys. Mt. Roderick, which lies partly in this town and partly in Solon, is the highest point. The uplands of the town are however, mostly arable while the valleys are rich and productive. The town as a whole is remarkably well adapted to grazing, and butter and cheese are the staple products.
A number of small streams flow through the town in a southerly direction, most of them emptying into the Otselic creek. Taylor pond is a small body of water in the central part of the town. The soil is largely a gravelly loam.
The first permanent settlement within the limits of Taylor was made by Ezra Rockwell and his sons, Ezra and Thomas. They came from Lennox, Mass., in the year 1793 and located on lot 78. Mr. Rockwell, sen., served in the Revolutionary army and for his services drew the lot on which the family located. In 1795 Thomas Rockwell removed to Cincinnatus and after a residence there of thirty-two years, returned to Taylor and located on lot 100, where he purchased six acres on which the village of Taylor now stands. He also purchased one hundred acres on lot 99. His house on lot 100 originally stood on the ground now covered by the public house, which was afterward owned by E. W. Fish. The building was burned in 1828.
Ezra Rockwell was a man of considerable prominence in the town, held several offices, among which was that of justice, which he creditably filled for a number of years. He was nearly ninety-six years old when he died.
The Beebe family were originally from Connecticut. Roderick located on Mt. Roderick, on lot 75, in the spring of 1794. He was a hardy, industrious man, capable of great endurance.
Orellana Beebe migrated from New Haven in 1796 and settled on lot 7, in Solon, now Truxton. After remaining there two years he removed to Taylor and settled on lot 100. He lived to the age of ninety. His youngest daughter became the wife of Ira Rockwell.
Increase M. Hooker located on lot 88, in 1797, but removed to Truxton the following year. He came from Vermont.
Lewis Hawley, from Huntington, Conn., located on the Howe farm in Pitcher, in 1805. He remained there but a brief period and then came to Taylor and settled on a farm now owned by Frank Wire. A few years later he removed to the West, or rather started for that region, but as he was traveling on the snow and it having suddenly disappeared, he was unable to travel farther than Bath. The next fall he returned to Lisle, and the following spring to Taylor, locating on lot 78. He subsequently purchased one hundred acres on lot 77, where he died January 15th, 1858.
He was an active and prominent citizen and reared a family of children. Lewis T. went to Syracuse, where he became a prominent member of the community. James T. settled on lot 87, and Francis remained on the homestead; the latter being now dead. Hiram L. removed to Liverpool, Onondaga county, where he died. Cyrus M. removed to Chicago where he was a well-known lawyer, and John H. went to Kansas.
John L. Boyd and John Phelps came to Taylor from Saratoga county. The former located on lot 98 in 1811, where he purchased 119 acres, to which he subsequently added 251 acres. The latter settled on lot 86, purchasing eighty-six acres, to which he afterwards added more than a hundred more. Mr. Phelps found the region about his farm heavily covered with timber, and such was the case with some portions of the town a number of years later.
In 1814 David Wire, who came originally from Connecticut, located on lot 100, where he reared a family of eleven children. His father was a native of England and had a somewhat thrilling experience. He was kidnapped in London when he was but seven years old and sold in Boston, where he remained until the beginning of the war between the French and the English. He was then impressed in the English service for a term of six years; he subsequently settled in Connecticut. When the War of the Revolution broke out he enlisted in the American army and served throughout that conflict.
The early pioneers of this town, in common with those of surrounding localities, suffered all the hardships and privations incident to life in the wilderness. They dwelt in simple log houses as a rule until long after the War of 1812. No mill was erected in the town until that year, previous to which the inhabitants had to pound their corn into a semblance of meal, or carry it a distance of from twenty to forty miles to have it ground. Money was very scarce, and the exchangeable produce of the clearings on the farms was barely sufficient, after the necessities of the family were supplied, to obtain the bare comforts of life. But the hardy and determined pioneers were generally equal to any lot that fell to them. Gradually their lands were cleared. Mills and shops came nearer, their farms brought them increased products, money became more plenty, the log cabins were displaced by more comfortable framed cottages and general prosperity attended the growing settlement.
Thaddeus S. Whitney came into Taylor from Delaware county, N. Y., in 1830. His father, David Whitney, was born in Norwalk, Conn., in 1775, and married Nancy Raymond, removing to Delaware county in 1805. He died in 1834. Thaddeus S. married Laura Rockwell, daughter of Thomas Rockwell, in 1832.
Newell Cole, a native of Rhode Island, came into the town before 1820, and located on the farm now owned by Mr. Welch. Besides being a farmer, he was a skillful mechanic, following his trade of carpenter for many years. He was, moreover, one of those pioneers who were unfortunate in getting an invalid title to their farms, and after making an ineffectual attempt to pay for his land the second time, was compelled to give it up. He died in 1864. His wife was Susan Potter, daughter of Chas. Potter, and was also from Rhode Island. Their daughter, Mrs. Edwin E. Hoag, now resides in Taylorville.
We cannot, in the space allotted, trace the growth of settlement farther towards the present time, the object being to preserve the names especially of those who conquered the wilderness and laid the foundations of the town’s present prosperity.
There are but two hamlets in the town of Taylor --- Taylorville and Union Valley --- although there is a post-office and some business done at Taylor Center. Taylorville is situated in the southeastern part of the town and contains one store, post-office, and about twenty-five houses, with two churches. Union Valley, in the northeastern part of the town, contains a church, a store, hotel and several shops, with a small collection of dwellings.
As a rule one of the first mechanics in a settlement was the blacksmith. His trade could be made of such varied use to the pioneers that he usually followed closely on the heels of the first settler in a new district. William Blackman was the first blacksmith to locate in Taylor; but just when or where he settled we have not learned. He was followed by Alexander Hart, who worked at the trade, in connection with gun-smithing, for a number of years. His shop was sold to Thaddeus S. Whitney, who changed it partly to a manufactory of edge tools, in which he did an extensive business during a period of more than twenty years, manufacturing axes principally.
Ambrose Allen was a blacksmith at Taylor for a time, and the shop is now owned by Philander Kingsbury.
Edwin E. Hoag owns a wagon and repair shop, which was formerly established by G. P. Swan many years ago, and was afterward owned by John D. Joyner. The first saw-mill in the town was built in 1812, by Thomas Rockwell. He sold it to a Mr. Isbell, after whose proprietorship it passed through the hands of Ezra Rockwell, Ira Wicks, Jonathan Brooks, Joseph Rice, and is now owned by Hiel Tanner, who has had possession of it for a number of years.
The grist-mill built at an early day by Messrs. Wells & Lord was the first one in the town. Hayes & Out owned it in 1881 when it was burned.
Mr. Durkee built the saw-mill at Taylor pond in 1830. It is now owned by Isaac H. Smith. A grist-mill was also built here by Potter Joslyn about the year 1860, but it has gone into disuse.
The first mercantile business in the town was done at Taylorville, by Hiram Rockwell. The store afterward passed into the hands of Eli Dickinson, Ezra Rockwell, and after a number of other changes was purchased by Albert West, under whose proprietorship it was burned in the winter of 1869. Edmund Potter rebuilt the structure and subsequently sold out to A. J. B. Norton. Following him the business was conducted by A. West, J. B. Kellogg, Kellogg & Clark, in 1880, who transferred it to William Comstock in 1884.
In Union Valley Messrs. Hulbert & Gilbert, and afterward Enos and Allen Hulbert, conducted a store and an ashery as early as 1830. They subsequently removed to Gilbertsville, and the property changed hands a number of times. E. Jipson had it in 1869, and it is now owned by Valentine Jipson.
In 1869 Isaac H. Smith did some trading at Taylor Center and took charge of the post-office which he still continues. There has been little business done there since that time. J. I. V. Potter also kept a country grocery there.
In later years the attention of the farmers of Taylor has been given largely to dairying interests. The Hawley factory, which was built by Lewis Hawley in 1866, was the first of its kind in the town and is also the most extensive. The building was 108 by 20 feet; it received the patronage of 145 cows and has always had the reputation of manufacturing an excellent product. It is now owned by the widow of the original proprietor.
The cheese factory owned by William Brown has since been converted into a town hall. It was built in the spring of 1868, but was not long used for its intended purpose.
The factory built by William Gorsline in 1866, a half mile from Union Valley, was sold to Calvin Warner, who in turn transferred it to the present owner, James Lake.
The first post-office in Taylor was opened at Taylorville in 1834, under the official charge of Ezra Rockwell; he continued in the office for fifteen successive years, and also had the office in 1856. He was succeeded by Edwin Potter and Orrin Leonard. G. W. Gage, the present postmaster, took the office in 1880. He is also clerk of the town and proprietor of a shoe shop.
As before stated, Isaac H. Smith is the postmaster at Taylor Center and Valentine Jipson at Union Valley. A daily mail from Cortland village reaches these places by stage.
The first tavern in the town was kept by Orlando Beebe, on lot 100, for many years. The first one in Taylorville was built by Leonard Holmes in 1842 and was kept as a public house until 1875, when it was burned. It was at different times owned by Levi Mallery, Levi Lock, Mr. Neal, Mr. Chatfield, E. W. Fish, M. Lock, George Thorpe, and probably others. Mr. Thorpe was its owner when it burned.
The hotel in Union Valley was built before 1830, but was afterward used as a private house. P. Kingsbury kept tavern here for some years.
The first school teacher in the town was Barak Niles; he was a man of ability and was sent to the Assembly in 1825.
The first birth in the town was Hezekiah Beebe. The first marriage was that of Asaph Butler and Lucy Beebe. The first death that of Zerah Beebe in 1800.
Of the physicians of Taylor we find little to record. Dr. Ichabod Allen was one of the earliest and continued in practice many years. Dr. Jerome Angell, of Union Valley, is an old and skillful practitioner. He was vice-president of the County Medical Society in 1869.
The inhabitants of Taylor paid early attention to religious matters, and as soon as circumstances would admit, churches were organized and houses of worship built. Dr. Williston, a Congregational minister, first preached as a missionary in the town. Reuben Hurd was the first settled pastor, but when he began his labors is not now known. He was pastor of a church in Pitcher in 1813; but if there was a church at that time or later of this denomination in the town, it has long since closed its career.
The Wesleyan Methodists of Taylorville and vicinity erected a house of worship in 1835, but their organization has always been weak. The Rev. A. M. Blackman is now the pastor. Some members of this society and others joined in the formation of the Episcopal Church of this place a few years after the erection of the Wesleyan Church; but this organization is also small in numbers. The Rev. W. Robertson is the present pastor.
The Union Church at Union Valley is now used by the Methodist society, but has no pastor at the present time. The M. E. Church at Taylor Center was built in 1873.
The following table shows the names of the patriotic sons of this town who enlisted in the service of their country in the War of the Rebellion under the different calls for troops, and were paid bounties, with the amount of the same: ---
Call of October 17th, 1863, February and March, 1864. Bounty paid $300. Total, $6,000. --- James W. Smith, Benjamin J. Strong, Libeas H. Merry, Orlando Oliver, Hiram W. Perry, Oren Coon, Edson C. Rogers, Moses M. Whiting, Dudley W. Wier, Lewis Perry, William C. Young, James Mahoney, John W. Foster, Charles Marsh, Henry Williams, John Farrell, James Vaughn, George Smith, Charles Hill, James P. Clark.
Call of July 18th, 1864. Bounty $1,000, except $600 to two, $700 to one and $300 to two. Total, $23,100. Brokerage, $575. --- Bartholomew Castle, Henry Harden, William S. Barnum, Leonard W. Wood, John T. Earl, Robert W. Brooks, Martin E. Chapin, Alfred E. Watrous, Austin A. Watrous, George W. Chapin, Egbert Peck, Henry E. Phelps, Enoch Rood, Nathan W. Sperry, Orson B. Torry, Melvin Wavle, Edgar Burlingham, Edmund Eaton, Charles A. Goodyear, William H. Oliver, Alanson Oliver, Harden Potter, Samuel C. Potter, Welcome J. Potter, Samuel Sluth, Joseph L. Cotton, Albert J. Wildman.
Call of December 19th, 1864. Bounty, $600. Total, $6,600. Brokerage, $15. --- John Ryan, John Grant, Thomas Fannon, Alexander H. Radford, Lewis Stanton, Joseph Thompson, Theophile Clouter, Thomas W. Ackerman, James Kierns, William Johnson, Charles Edwards.
Recapitulation. --- Paid for filling quotas, calls October 17th, 1863, February and March, 1864, $6,000. Paid for filling quota, call July 18th, 1864, $23, 675. Paid for filling quota, call December 19th, 1864, $6,615. Grand total, $36,290.
The organization of the town of Taylor was perfected on the 5th of December, 1849, and the officers elected for the year 1850 were as follows: ---
Supervisor --- Sheldon Warner.
Town clerk --- John R. Wire.
Superintendent of schools --- Nelson L. Brooks.
Justices of the peace --- Stephen Kellogg, Eli Wright, Stephen Skinner.
Assessors --- Aaron W. Dunbar, S. Fuller.
Commissioners of highways --- Hubbard Harrison, Horace Neville.
Collector --- David Wire.
Constables --- Perry Mudge, David Wire, 2nd, Calvin M. Barber, Matthew W. Richmond.
Overseer of the poor --- Israel Ellis.
Inspectors of election --- Potter Joslyn, James Blanchard, Seth Hulbert.
Following is a list of the supervisors and town clerks since the formation of the town, the supervisor’s name occurring first in each year: ---
Sheldon Warner, John M. Wire, 1851; Eli Wright, Horace Place, 1852; Thomas C. Wentworth, David Wire, 1853; Sheldon Warner, Orrin Leonard, 1854; Zadoc Short, Horace Neville, 1855; Leander Greene, Samuel B. Kenyon, 1856; Sheldon Warner, Orrin Leonard, 1857-58; Wm. C. Angell, Orrin Leonard, 1859-60; Irvin Phelps, Orrin Leonard, 1861-62; Edmund B. Heath, Edmund Potter, 1863; O. F. Forbes, Orrin Leonard, 1864; O. F. Forbes, D. W. Whitney, 1865; O. F. Forbes, G. W. Gage, 1866; Irvin W. Phelps, Francis Hawley, 1867; O. F. Forbes, Edwin E. Hoag, 1868; Irvin W. Phelps, Albert Clark, 1870; Irvin W. Phelps, Leander Brooks, 1871 to 1873, inclusive; Calvin P. Warner, Valentine Jipson, 1874; J. Lorenzo Cotton, J. B. Kellogg, 1875; J. Lorenzo Cotton, Jerome A. Norton, 1876; J. L. Cotton, Leander Brooks, 1877; J. L. Cotton, N. C. Rockwell, 1878 to 1880, inclusive; G. W. Gage, Albert Clark, 1881; Jerome Angell; Albert Clark, 1882; Albert Clark, G. W. Gage, 1883-84.
The present justices are Wm. B. Stetson, L. R. Serven, Valentine Jipson, Sterling A. Smith, George W. McDonald.
Assessors --- L. Birdlebough, Thomas G. Brooks, Martin Wire.
Commissioner of highways --- Almon W. Angell.
Overseers of the poor --- Wm. G. Skinner, Burdett Skinner.
Constables --- John C. Rogers, Ransom Halbert, Benjamin Wilcox, A. F. Potter, Harris C. Allen.
Collector --- A. F. Potter.
Inspectors of election --- Jefferson O. Hill, Rufus L. Cass, Leroy W. Finn.
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