The town of Madison lies on the east border of the County, south of the center. It is bounded north by Stockbridge and Augusta, east by Sangerfield and Brookfield, south by Hamilton, and west by Eaton. Its principal stream is the Oriskany Creek, the source of one of its braches, and one of those of the Chenango, being in this town. Madison Brook Reservoir, one of the feeders of the Chenango Canal, is situated near the south part of the town; it covers an area of 235 acres, is 45 feet deep, and has a feeder two miles long. The Chenango Canal passes through the town northwest of the center, bearing in a northeasterly and southwesterly direction. Nearly the entire length of the summit level of this Canal is in the town of Madison. The Utica, Clinton & Binghamton Railroad, crosses the same section of the town, and is all the way contiguous to the Canal. The soil of the town is a gravelly loam in the valleys, and clayey loam upon the hills; the deepest and most extensive deposits of gravel-drift in the county, are found in the eastern part of this town, being near Madison village, one hundred feet deep. The general surface of the township is diversified between undulating valley and rolling upland. Marl deposits are found in some places. Says Guerdon Evans: (Trans. Ag. Soc., p. 762.)
"The small pond (Little Lake,) in Madison, has filled up with marl deposits on one side as much as twenty rods within fifty years; and the beach on the side where the filling up has taken place is composed entirely of white marl and shells; so it is said by the inhabitants who have resided here for more than fifty years. The reason why the accumulation has occurred, appears to be that the pond is sheltered on all sides by a gravel bank about 80 feet high, so that as the shells rise to the surface they are always floated to the side of the outlet, instead of being driven to all sides, as is often the case where the surface is exposed to winds from various directions. At the rate that this pond has filled up for the last fifty years, it will, in the course of two hundred years be quite obliterated, provided the same cause continues to operate."
From the prominent hights of the Stockbridge and Eaton range of hills, overlooking the point where the Oriskany and Chenango valleys diverge, where the little lakes abound, whose outlets are only kept from taking one course by the almost imperceptible rise of the summit level, is a most beautiful view of the lengthened basin, formed by the oppositely extending valleys. From the Eaton hights, particularly, the undulating country bordering the Oriskany is revealed in its most perfect contour; it appears to the observer to be a broad valley, lying visible to the eye far toward the Mohawk, with the range of hills on either side sloping towards each other; but as we follow the course of the Oriskany, what had seemed a valley is but a lengthy undulating plateau, rising and extending back southward from the course of the creek, forming a goodly portion of the fair territory of the town.
The ancient race of the Oneida Nation, held all this territory in the ages past; the lofty hights of their famous "Council Ground" held a commanding view of the prospect of valley and hillside, and woodland broken here and there by sheeny lakes. Centuries ago, many a path down the Stockbridge hillsides came winding around and among those nestling lakes, where the redmen fished in summer for ages. An ancient map shows a path following the Oriskany a distance, then diverging in the direction of Fort Herkimer, (east of Utica,) which was traversed occasionally in the early part of the eighteenth century by adventurous white men, and which had been for many years a frequented path of the "Six Nations." Near Madison Lake lay an opening in the heavy forest, where, years before white men saw it, luxurious Indian corn throve in the full sunshine, cultivated by the dusky Oneidas; here the native women gathered it, in the contiguous waters the men fished, the half nude children meanwhile rolling upon the beach or playing under the shade of the luxurious oaks. But in time, having yielded their right to this territory, the Indian saw this with other cherished localities pass into other hands; the handsome location, the charming scenery, attracted the pioneers, and naturally enough the "Indian Opening," as it was called, became the first location for a concentrated settlement.
Madison was originally No. 3, of the "Chenango Twenty Townships," and was also included in the town of Paris, until March 5th, 1795, when Hamilton was organized; thereafter for twelve years it was embraced in the town of Hamilton. February 6th, 1809, Madison was formed from Hamilton; it was named in honor of President Madison. It embraced an area of 22,500 acres. The first town officers elected, were: --- Erastus Cleaveland, Supervisor; Jonathan Pratt, Israel Rice, Ephraim Blodgett, Assessors; Silas Patrick, Constable and Collector; Joseph Curtis, Pound Keeper. At this first meeting it was voted that the next town meeting be holden in the Center Meeting House. It was accordingly held there in 1808, and the following town officers were chosen for that year: --- Erastus Cleaveland, Supervisor; Jonathan Pratt, Seth Blair, John White, Assessors; Isaac Thompson, Seth Snow, Amos Burton, Commissioners of Highways; Russel Barker, Esq., and John T. Burton, Overseers of the Poor; Daniel Barber, Constable and Collector. It was voted at this meeting that widows be exempt from highway taxes.
When Gov. George Clinton, in 1788, made the memorable purchase of the Chenango-Twenty-Towns, land speculators immediately turned their attention to this region. English noblemen as well as Dutch Patroons were making extensive purchases in different parts of the State. "Sir William Pultney,1 of the County of Middlesex, in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, Baronet," as the old deeds particularized, became one of the princely land holders of this country about the year 1792, and purchased at least three of the Chenango Townships, of which Madison was one. Robert Troup, his agent and attorney in this country, who took up his residence in the western part of the State, opened the lands of Township No. 3, to settlers under the immediate direction of his agent, Benjamin Walker, who acted in this capacity till his death, about 1815. Upon the death of Sir William Pultney in 1806, his vast estates here passed into the hands of "Sir James Pultney, of Middlesex County, Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, and Henrietta Laura, Countess of Bath, the wife of Sir James Pultney." Subsequently, and before the Madison lands were all sold, they fell to other heirs, named in transfers as Earnest Augustus, Duke of Cumberland, David Cathcart, (commonly called Lord Alloway,) Masterton Ure and Charlotte Johnstone.2 On the decease of Benjamin Walker, Robert Troup, having never been in Madison, sent on hand bills appointing a public meeting to be held at the hotel of Samuel Goodwin, Esq., in Madison village. At this meeting he stated to the holders and purchasers of the lands, the fact of the liability of its being sold by the heirs of Sir William Pultney, who were in debt to the merchants and mechanics of the city of London to the amount of two million dollars. At this time the most of the settlers still held their farms only by contract from Benjamin Walker. Robert Troup now offered to take up these old contracts and give them new ones in his own name, acknowledging all that had been paid and endorsed on the old contracts, and would, to the best of his ability, adapt future payments to the circumstances of each. The measures carried out by Troup were conspicuously honorable in comparison with the unjust course pursued in many sections of the State by dishonest agents and land speculators, who, taking advantage of insecure titles or the necessities of the settlers, compelled them to pay twice for the farms they had redeemed from the wilderness, and the people of Madison appreciated the scrupulous fairness and kindness of their landlord, who often threw off interest, sometimes accepted half a payment, and in numberless ways evinced a desire to give the people a fair start. He visited Madison yearly, and the general prosperity steadily increased.
As early as 1791, prospecting companies came into this town. Thomas Dick, James White and Thomas McMullen, (or Millen, as it is now written,) from Massachusetts, came in that year to "look land." They first reached Paris, and made their way from there to Township No. 3, by marked trees. On arriving they found the continuous forest prevented a view of the country; so each selected a tree on East Hill and ascended it, from which elevated position they were enabled to get a tolerably extensive view of the town, then covered with a luxurious growth of fine timber. These men (afterwards settlers of the town,) returned east with a good report, which induced others to come out the ensuing year.
In 1792, Solomon Perkins, from Kennebec, Maine, directed his course to the western lands. When he reached the Stockbridge settlement of Indians, he desired them to show him land where grain would grow, informing them that he had come from a cold country and wished to find land where he could raise wheat and corn. They described to him the Madison lands, then for sale, and one of the Indians, Capt. Pye, offered to be his guide. He led the way by a path through the woods, some fourteen miles, to the head, or south side of Madison Lake. Mr. Perkins was pleased with the land and its location, and took up five or six hundred acres. He built a small house, and returned to Maine for his family. Early the next year, with his wife and four children, Mr. Perkins came and took up his abode in the home he had thus provided. More than three months of solitary forest life passed away, without their once looking upon the face of a white neighbor, when they were gladdened by the intelligence (through a native,) that a white family had settled in their vicinity. Mrs. Perkins determined to visit them immediately. She set out, and after following a winding path through the dense woods, marked by blazed trees, for a distance of more than two miles, she reached the family of Jesse Maynard, who had taken up a farm on Lot No. 45, about one mile south of Madison village. The two women, though strangers, were happy to meet, as may be supposed; and this first visit made in town, after the fashion of New England matrons, by the only white women within its boundaries, was recorded in the hearts of each as one of the pleasantest of their lives.
The town was divided into quarters, and large tracts were sold off at once to companies or individuals, as the case might be.
In 1793, many came to locate. Among these were William and David Blair, who located in the northeast corner of the southwest quarter. Also, at this period a company was formed in Rhode Island, who sent on their agents, chief of whom was Capt. Gilbert Tompkins, to make the purchase. They selected the southwest quarter, which contained twenty-five lots, and made the purchase of Benjamin Walker. Two of these lots having been sold to the Blairs, the deed, which is recorded in the Chenango County Clerk's Office, bearing date March 27, 1797, describes only twenty-three lots. As a compensation for the two lots, the same quantity of land was set off to them in the southeast quarter, being duly purchased by the company. It is said that the members of this company drew lots for their shares. This was thereafter denominated the "Rhode Island Quarter." Eight families of this company, from Little Compton, R.I., consisting of about forty persons, came on the following year to occupy their lands. The names of some of these were: Gideon and Benjamin Simmons, Samuel Brownell, Samuel Coe, George and Charles Peckham, Zarah Simmons, and perhaps his son George. Benjamin Simmons located on Lot No. 75; Brownell where Sidney Putnam now resides; Zarah Simmons on Lot No. 22, where Sanford Gardiner now lives, and George Simmons where Dea. Whitcomb lived for many years. Samuel Coe settled near the Center, the Peckhams southwest of the Center.
Capt. Gilbert Tompkins, from Westport, R.I., at the time of his coming in 1792, took up Lot 84, which was situated on the east side of the reservoir. There he cleared off several acres and put up a log house, with the design of moving his family the next season, but after returning to Rhode Island, inducements of a pecuniary nature kept him for fifteen years longer in the coast trade business. Nevertheless, during those years his influence was exerted in helping others to settle here by advancing means, and in assisting in making the purchase of homes. Capt. Tompkins finally moved his family to Madison in 1808, and became established on the lot he first took up. He had a family of ten children' one son, Rev. Wm. B. Tompkins, became a Congregational minister; another, Dea. Phillip Tompkins, remains on the old homestead. Capt. Gilbert Tompkins died at the age of 82.
A number of farms had been taken in the northeast quarter as early as 1793. In 1794, Samuel Clemmons, from Massachusetts, purchased largely of this quarter. He settled there built a house and kept entertainment, especially for those who came to "look land." Like many another landholder in those times, he was a shrewd man in deal and traffic. It was remarked (perhaps enviously) that those who came to purchase land were treated by him to the best entertainment the country afforded, at little or no charge, having the sale of his own land in view.
Mr. Thomas Millen, (before mentioned,) from Pelham, Mass., who with his family settled in 1795, on one of the center lots of the town, was also a large purchaser in the northeast quarter. Mr. Millen was one of the earliest singing school teachers of the town. He possessed a superb voice, and had a large, handsome form. It is said that all of his family were of large size and of great physical strength.
Henry Bond and Elijah Blodgett took the northwest quarter, purchasing of Benjamin Walker. Many of those to whom the firm of Bond & Blodgett sold lands were from Stratford, Conn. This firm remained in town but a few years, and some of the settlers, among them William and James McClenathan, were compelled to pay for their farms a second time to the agent. Blodgett is said to have been the first surveyor in town; early surveys, however, were made by Gen. Salter, by White, and by Broadhead, those of the last named being the standard surveys here, as well as in other parts of the county.
Gen. Erastus Cleaveland, in company with a friend, reached Whitestown early in the summer of 1792; from that point they directed their course by marked trees to Madison. When within a mile of the Center, they found a cabin occupied by a family, of whom they asked refreshments and permission to remain over night; when the people told them they had themselves arrived only the day before, and were obliged to go back to Paris immediately, fifteen miles, for provisions. The latter, therefore, directed the travelers on to the Center, informing them they would find a family there who had been in a week. They arrived there --- at Jesse Maynard's --- in time for supper, remained over night, and next day returned to Whitestown by way of Augusta. The impression Mr. Cleaveland received on this visit induced him to return to Madison in the spring of 1793.
Although but twenty-three years of age, his active brain planned the course which should bring prosperity to himself and to the inhabitants round about. He purchased a farm on the Oriskany Creek, about one mile below Solsville, where his first work was to erect a small log house. Being a carpenter, he built a saw mill on the creek with but little assistance from others, which was running in the summer of 1794. During the winter following he was married. A romantic incident is related pertaining to this eventful era of his life: --- At the time of his first coming to Madison in 1792, he went from here to Whitestown, where he spend the summer, employed at the carpenter and joiner trade, and in the fall returned to his home in Norwich, Conn. As he drew near his native place, he stopped in the adjoining town to remain for the night, where, with a young man he had formerly known, he attended a singing school. In the gay spirits of youth it was agreed between them that Cleaveland should select the best looking girl he should see there and offer his company home. On arriving at the school, his rather critical eye ranged keenly over the company of fair young ladies till it rested upon a dark eyed brunette, a lady of very superior manner and attractive appearance. On an introduction, their acquaintance rapidly progressed, and according to pre-arrangement Cleaveland accompanied her home. From this beginning of an acquaintance with Miss Rebecca Berry, a mutual affection ripened which resulted in their marriage, as before stated. Mrs. Cleaveland was a woman every way worthy of highest praise, and her husband with pride awarded to her the merit of assisting, in a great degree, toward their subsequent prosperity. The uncouth surroundings of his forest home, the meager comforts, the absence of refinements, in which he would have gladly placed his wife, weighted upon his spirits, which the brave-hearted woman, by her admirable tact, dispelled by one significant act. He was one evening walking along with bowed head, wearied with labor, and wearing a despondent air, when he was suddenly aroused from his somber revery by the presence of the bright face of his wife. She laid her hand upon his arm and said "look up, Erastus, look up! Never look down again!" The cheerful, resolute voice and face had the desired effect. Henceforth, with firm courage and faith in himself and in the counsels of his companion, he went earnestly into the battle of life and his onward course was one of prosperity.
During the summer of 1795, Mr. Cleaveland built the first grist mill in Madison, so widely and so long known an "Cleaveland's Mill," which stood on the site now occupied by Wheeler & Tyler's Mill, east of Solsville on the Oriskany Creek. While building this mill he kept his saw mill running, and from the tall hemlocks which grew around his home, manufactured lumber which sold readily to the settlers for five dollars per thousand, from which income his workmen were paid, as work on the new mill progressed; and at its completion, with a lucrative business awaiting him, he was fairly entered upon the direct road to wealth, which he won in a few years.3
Gideon Simmons one of the pioneers of the Rhode Island Company, located in the southwest quarter. He had a family of seven children and lived a long life in Madison, dying at the ripe age of 96.
Benjamin Simmons had his farm a mile or more south of the Center, where his son Benjamin now resides. In journeying to this section he came by way of Paris Hill, where he left his family, consisting of a wife and four children, with a friend living there, till he could go to Madison and put up a bark covered cabin that would shelter them through his summer's work, intending in the fall to build more comfortably. During the stay of his family at his friend's, one of his children sickened and died. The next two days after this sad event he spend in journeying to Madison, with an ox team and cart, over the miserable route through the woods, and though only fifteen miles, it was a journey of sore weariness, sadness and discouragement. The first season of his resident here he obtained his grain at Paris, and the time occupied in getting a grist ground and home to his family was three days, employed in this wise: --- First, he went on foot to Paris and bought his grain, then to his friend's for a horse to take it to mill, and from there home, so much occupying two days; the third was spent in returning the horse and getting back home. By perseverance, the next year found him in better circumstances, and in a few years he became a prosperous farmer and an influential citizen.
George and Charles Peckham, young men who came late the same year, (1794,) took up land southwest of the Center. They chopped and cleared a few acres during the winter months, and in the spring returned to Rhode Island. It is stated that on the day of their departure, the 8th of May, 1795, the leaves on the trees in Madison were out in full size. The next year they came back, and after a time their aged father, George Peckham joined them. Both of these brothers married and reared families here.
Stephen F. Blackstone was on of the pioneers of Cazenovia, being one of the company with Mr. Lincklane. He was afterwards induced to settle in Madison, where he attained a position of influence. He, as well as many others, was subjected to the privations incident to pioneer life. He build his own log house, and it is said that in the process of its construction, he was necessitated to travel six miles, to James McClenathan's, to borrow an augur to bor the holes for his wooden hinges, before he could hang a door.
Joseph Head came from Rhode Island in 1796, and took up land about half a mile southwest of the Center. He was a Quaker, and a worthy citizen. He, also, had a large family. One of his sons, Pardon Head, represented this district in the Assembly in 1832. Nicanor Brown, from Massachusetts, came, probably, as early as 1794, and took up land in the north part of the town, but afterwards went to the southeast quarter. A daughter of his, Sally Brown, was the first white child born in town. James Collister came in 1793.
Seth Snow was one of the first settlers of the northeast quarter. The first apple tree set out in the town, Seth Sow brought on his back from the Indian orchard in Stockbridge; the same tree was standing in 1869, on Squire Samuel White's place. Mr. Snow also built the first brick house in town, on the turnpike two miles east of the village. Rev. Simeon Snow was a brother of Seth Snow, and was one of the first ministers in town.
Abiel Hatch came in 1795, and settled one mile southeast of the village.
Samuel Rowe came from Farmington, Conn., about 1794, and settled on Lot 13, where Dea. Matthew R. Burnham, now resides.
Elijah Thompson came from Charlestown, Mass., in March, 1795. He moved to Madison on a sled drawn with oxen, bringing his wife and six children. He bought of William Blair in the southwest quarter. To procure the necessary supply of groceries and store goods, Mr. Thompson manufactured potash and transported it to market. He was a Revolutionary soldier, in the Artillery service during six years of that eventful period. At the first Fourth of July celebration in Madison village in 1808, he was selected to take charge of the artillery firing.
There were three of the Maynard brothers: --- Jesse, the pioneer of 1792, who resided in town but a few years; Amos, a young man, who afterwards married and settled near the Center, on the same lot with Jesse; and Moses, who came some years later with his family, and finally settled near Bouckville. Amos Maynard was the first Military Captain in town, served through the war of 1812, and rose to the rank of Colonel. He is remembered as an officer of splendid military bearing and presence. We remark here that the sword carried by Capt. Maynard during the war, became, and is still, the property of Mr. Orrin Chase, of Eaton, who was a Captain of Milita. Moses Maynard, distinguished himself in various official capacities, and was one of the chief projectors of the Chenango Canal.
Eliphalet House, with his son Eliphalet, jr., came from East Windsor, Conn., to Eaton in 1795. The sickness then prevailing in Eaton, caused them to change their location to the "Indian Opening."
Gideon Lowell came from Maine to Madison, perhaps as early as 1796. Israel Rice came from Worcester, Mass., in 1795, and bought in the east part of the town, where now his son, Francis Rice, resides, --- Lot No. 32. James and Alexander White came also in 1795, and bought land joining Rice on the southwest. John White, a brother of James and Alexander, came from near Northampton, Mass., in 1796, and purchased a 100 acre lot of Samuel Clemmons, for $400, now owned by his son Alexander White. Samuel White took a piece of land on the hill, Lot 31. He and his wife lived to be upwards of ninety years of age, and died within a few weeks of each other. The three brothers, John, Samuel and Thomas White, moved their families from Massachusetts together, and in the winter of 1797, using sleds and a team of fourteen oxen. On account of a thaw, after setting out, they found bare ground some of the way and on reaching the Hudson river at Albany, found the water so much raised that they were forced to get boards and bridge some twelve feet from the shore to the ice on either side of the river, before crossing. The poor sleighing and bare ground much of the way for upwards of twenty miles westward from Albany, so wore upon the wooden shoes of their sleds that they were compelled to stop, unload their goods, and put on new ones. The timber used for sled shoes was from the hardest that the forest produced, such as oak, hickory and iron-wood. In spite of these and other delays, they arrived in Madison the last of February.
Calvin Whitcomb was an early settler. He kept tavern a few years south or southwest of the Center. Russel Barker, who had a large family, settled in the southeast quarter, at what date we have not been able to ascertain. Warham Williams, from Brantford, Conn., came at the same time with Russell Barker. Paul Hazzard came early, and took up land where his two sons, Oliver and Russel, now reside, --- Lot 55. Mr. Hazzard was a near relative of Commodore Oliver Hazzard Perry, of Lake Eire notoriety in the war of 1812. Nathaniel Johnson, from Worcester, Mass., came in 1796. Abizar and David Richmond, bothers, came to Madison in 1795. They were originally from Massachusetts, but had lived in Fairfield, Herkimer Co., a few years before coming here. Abizar bought in the southeast quarter, where his son Merrick Richmond now lives. David purchased in the southwest quarter, where he lived till his death, which occurred December 23, 1864. He attained the great age of 90 years. The Richmonds were fine men and good citizens.
David Peebles, another worthy citizen, came from Pelham, Mass., to the northeast quarter, quite early. Sylvester Woodman, from Rhode Island, came early to the southwest quarter, and took up the farm where his grandson, George B. Woodman, now lives --- Lot 77 or 78. William Sandford came in 1797, also to the southwest quarter. Benjamin Chapman settled in the southeast quarter; he was a respected citizen.
Many of the settlers of the northwest quarter were from Stratford, Conn. The road which was early laid out through their settlement, was called Stratford St., in memory of their native town, by which name the street is known to this day.
Solomon Root, from the eastern part of this State, settled in the northwest quarter in 1806. He was one of Madison's most influential citizens; alike respected as a business man, a promoter of good morals, a friend of law and order, of justice and religion; he was a Christian in the true sense. It may be mentioned here, that the Rev. T. Pearn, so long known as one of the pioneer Methodist preachers of Oregon, was a son-in-law of Mr. Root. Mr. Root's death took place in Madison, Jan. 5, 1859, at the age of 86 years.
Justus Root, a brother of Solomon, arrived in town some later than his brother, and settled in the same vicinity, near the town line west of Bouckville. His death occurred at the original homestead, now owned by his son-in-law Mr. F. Tooke, about 1867.
John Root, a younger brother of the two preceding, came into town with or soon after Justus, married here, and was settled near his brothers for a few years; then removed to the Genesee country, but returned in a short time to Madison. At a late date he was still living in the State of Michigan, in the home he had hewn from the wilderness, since the frosts of age came upon his temples. Each of these brothers had a large family, yet we learn of but one in town now (1870,) bearing the name. Thus (as did their fathers before them,) have many of the descendents of the Madison pioneers yielded the parental hearthstone, the old time "vine and fig-tree," to the tread of the stranger, and gone forth into the world to become in their turn, founders of homes and fortunes of their own, great or small; the sites of the dwellings in which they were born --- the fruit trees, shrubbery and flowers surrounding --- the broad fields of the farm and the remnant of old woods beyond, all developed by the toil of their fathers and mothers, little by little, from the primeval forest, into homes that gave them sustenance and protection through the intervening years, from the cradle to adult age --- know them no more. It may be that these brief, fragmentary annals only will preserve their family names to the future, among the honored who were first to plant civilization amid the former wilds of this now fair territory, teeming with progress.
George and Robert McCune came at quite an early date, and bought where Sandford Peckham now lives, a half mile west of Solsville. Stephen Woodhull, from Stratford, also came in early and settled a half mile west of Madison village, where his son, Aaron Woodhull, now resides --- Lot No. 37. William and James McClenathan were among the earlier settlers here. They selected their farms on the hill in the northwest quarter, which is to this day called "McClenathan Hill." The opinion was prevalent here, as in other localities at an early day, that hill land was the most valuable as well as the most healthy, and it is true that there was much weak, cold soil here, as elsewhere in the lowlands.
Samuel Collister and Seth Blair arrived in March, 1798. Mr. Blair was from Worcester County, Mass. He purchased in the southeast quarter, where his son Seth, now (1869) resides, a half mile south of the Center, on Lot No. 66. Soon after his arrival he built a frame house, which still stands, and is a part of the present dwelling. Seth Blair, sen., was a Revolutionary soldier, having entered the service at the age of sixteen. He was a worthy respected citizen, and died in 1852, in the ninety-second year of his age. He was the last but one of the Revolutionary veterans of the town of Madison.
Judson W. Lewis, from Stratford, Connecticut, came in 1797, and purchased Lot No. 19, where Leroy Curtis now resides. Mr. Lewis' six sons and two daughters came into town at or near the same time. Their names were: --- Silas, Whiting, Charles, William, Isaac, Conway, Betsey and Catharine. Charles, however, did no arrive till 1799, when he purchased a mile and a half north of Solsville. All of these eight children had families in town, and several of the members still reside here.
Nehemiah Thompson, also from Stratford, arrived in 1797, and bought Lot 17, (on Stratford Street,) where Ransom Curtis now lives. Robert Curtis, from Stratford, bought part of his land of Nehemiah Thompson. Peter Tyler came also in or about the year 1797, and purchased where Hon. J.W. Lippett now resides, also on Lot 17. Joseph Curtis, from Stratford, arrived in 1798, and took up a farm on the north line of the town on Lot No. 4, where George Lewis now lives. Daniel Warren, from Royalston, Worcester County, Mass., came soon after 1798, and purchased a part, or all of Lot No. 4. He soon removed to Augusta. Samuel and Timothy Curtis, also from Stratford, located on Stratford street, we believe, about the last named date.
Joseph Manchester, from Tiverton, R. I., came to Madison in 1798,4 and bought land in the southwest quarter, --- Lots 96 and 97. He lived to his eighty-second year. After his decease, his son Gideon, occupied the place for many years. At this date (1869), the property is owned by his grandson, William T. Manchester, of Hamilton.
The first year and more of Joseph Manchester's residence here, he was obliged to carry his grain to mill at New Hartford on his back. On one occasion he took a bushel to mill in this manner, and while on his toilsome way home bearing his grist through the gloomy forest, a heavy thunder shower arose, making the approaching darkness of night grow blacker, so that it became impossible to proceed, and although not more than a mile from home he was compelled to remain in the woods till morning. On arriving at home, he found that during his absence a ferocious bear had visited his premises, and in spite of the efforts of his hired man, who, with a hoe as his only weapon, had endeavored to drive away the intruder. The beast had taken his only one hog from the pen and bore it away.
Job Manchester settled early in the southwest quarter, on Lot 57. He was one of the company from Rhode Island. He spend the remainder of his years on this farm, when it passed to his son William, who also spent a useful life on the same location, and was succeeded by his son, L. B. Manchester. Ichabod Manchester located in town some two or three years after Joseph. He lived to be nearly eighty years of age. Thomas Dick, one of the three who came to "look land" in 1791, arrived in town with his family, to settle, in 1797. He purchased Lot 55, one mile east of the Center, where the Hazzards now reside. He was from Pelham, Massachusetts.
Gilbert Stebbins, from Wilbraham, Mass., came in 1799, and located in the southeast quarter. He was a most worthy and influential citizen. His brother Harvey came about three years later and took up land where his son, DeLonna Stebbins now lives, Lot No. 92.
Reuben Brigham came into Madison, March 4, 1799, and purchased the farm took up by Abner Bellows, situated half a mile south of the Augusta line, on the road running due north from Solsville to Augusta Center. He was born in Sudbury, Middlesex Co., Mass., September 23, 1769, attended the common school of his native place in his youth, and was then sent to and in due time graduated at the oldest college in the United States --- Harvard University, at Cambridge, Mass. From a diary kept by him, now three-fourths of a century old, and so dim with age that it is in good part illegible, we learn that in 1794 he taught school at Newton, Mass. In 1796 he came west, as we learn from the same record, and taught school at Saratoga Springs. He subsequently came to Madison at the period above named, and settled permanently upon the Bellows' farm. Here there was but a small clearing when he came in possession, but within it was a log house and barn, and a young orchard planted. Many of the apple trees of this orchard are still standing and in bearing condition.
The following quaint certificate is found among the ancient looking papers left by Mr. Brigham:
"Sudbury, Jan'y 8th, 1793.
by Jacob Biglow, Minifter of Sudbury."
Mr. Brigham remained upon his farm during his life time and was ordinarily successful as a farmer; but like others, he had to encounter many hardships and endure serious privations during the first few years. In illustration, we mention a fact: --- When he came here to settle he had a wife and one or more children, and brought with him a single ewe sheep, all he could obtain, with which he expected to start a flock at once; but as it proved, the impossibility of mating postponed this some years. Meanwhile, home manufacture of cloth was the only resource for family clothing, and the one fleece yearly went but a little way in Mr. Brigham's growing family. At last something had to be done to increase the bulk of raw material, and it was done in this way: --- A yoke of oxen and one cow had been purchased; in the spring these animals were carded every day and the gathered hair was carefully saved each time till all the old coating was accumulated; this was cleansed, incorporated with the one fleece of wool by hand-carding, spun into yarn on the family spinning-wheel, and woven into cloth in Mrs. Brigham's old time hand loom. Thus was the "web" lengthened out and the number of yards materially increased; and we are assured that it made excellent "filling," and that the cloth was equal in quality to "all wool," with the single exception that it was rather rough. Necessity was the mother of invention.
Mr. Brigham, though college educated and intelligent, was eccentric, and from first to last quite unorthodox. He was no office-seeker, and was never an office-holder, except in his own town. He was at intervals invited to address the people, in his own vicinity, publicly, and was always entertaining and instructive; occasionally he volunteered to do so, and made his appointments by posted notices written in his own hand. The following is a sample, copied verbatim from one which called together a large meeting forty years ago: ---
"NOTICE is hereby given that the plough-jogger will deliver a political Oration, or Address, on Saturday the 22nd inst., at Madison village, beginning at early candle-light; calculated to refine the minds and enlighten the understandings of a divided, misguided, and tumultuous populace. --- Sept. 17th, 1832."
No signature was affixed and none was needed; the "plough-jogger" was well known; the people came.
Mr. Brigham and his wife Betsey (the latter a native of Guilford, Conn., born in 1764,) with several of their children have been dead many years. All rest in the family burial ground, in a beautiful grove selected by Mr. Brigham for that purpose, on the homestead farm. The farm passed to the youngest daughter, Mrs. Aaron Richards, who survives. It is now (1872,) in possession of her son, Daniel Richards. This home has thus remained and still continues in the family of its founder.
Jonas Banton, also from Wilbraham, came in 1801. Banton was a man of great physical strength and activity. On one occasion he engaged to chop an acre of land for Brownell Simmons and fit it for logging, for the sum of six dollars; he performed the work in six days; but when on the last tree, after it had fallen, he accidentally struck the ax into his foot, and was obliged to lay by for three months. The first piece of land he purchased, after spending seven years of hard labor in improving it, he failed in making a certain payment upon, when due, and lost the whole. Strong and hopeful, he did not yield to this serious discouragement, but immediately purchased again, and was thenceforth successful. He became a prosperous farmer, through steady, never-failing courage and perseverance, and was ever worthy of and enjoyed the respect of his fellow townsmen; and now, (1869) at or near the age of ninety, can look back with a memory but little impaired, and with conscientious satisfaction, upon the events of his earlier life, when he was a sort of leader or foreman among his fellows, at raisings, loggings and similar gatherings. He remembers with affection the ready assistance of his wife (many years since deceased,) in his pioneer labors, who was ever to him a true help-meet, companion and promoter of his prosperity. An incident illustrative of what those pioneer women could do, is related: --- Mr. Banton was once burning a large coal-pit; it caught fire in the night, and soon got under such headway that he could not control it. The ground was covered with snow twenty inches deep, but undaunted, Mrs. Banton went through it a mile on foot to obtain help for her husband to arrest the fire. In that day, when women were ashamed of timidity, even alone, in the night, and in the depths of the forest, this bravely-met emergency, in a mid-winter night of darkness, storm and gloom, was counted a courageous act.
Agur Gilbert, from Stratford, Conn., arrived in town in 1799, and bought at Solsville, where his son, Dea. John Gilbert, lived till the death of the latter in 1870. One of the six children of Mr. Gilbert, Agur Gilbert, jr., was a Justice of the Peace at Solsville many years; he was also, for two terms, we believe, one of the Justices of Sessions of Madison County. We note further of this son, that though self-taught, he acquired much; he became a man of marked ability, and was from the first a popular magistrate. It is not too much to say that in his removal to Wisconsin in 1867, the town and county of Madison lost one of its soundest and worthiest public men. Agur Gilbert, sen., died at his homestead in Solsville about 1840, aged over seventy years. Dea. John Gilbert, who, as we have just noted, deceased in 1870, succeeded his father upon the farm, and was scarcely ever known to leave his home over night. He was too small a child, when his parents made the journey from Conn., in 1799, to remember anything of the circumstance; and it is said, with the exception of one trip to Utica, (22 miles,) when he was a young man, he was never twenty miles from home, never rode in a stage coach, and never saw a train of railroad cars.
Dea. Prince Spooner came early to the northwest quarter, and took up a farm on Lot No. 2, where his youngest son, Benjamin Spooner, now lives. John Niles settled on Lot 43, near Bouckville, about 1794 or '95. He was followed by his father's family, consisting of father, brothers and sisters --- in all fourteen persons. He sold in 1808, to J. D. Cooledge, and removed to Lebanon.
James D. Cooledge was from Stow, Middlesex Co., Mass. He came to Madison in 1806. He had good business talents, and his own way of exercising them. It is said that he came into town as a flax-dresser, making very little show, but at the same time keeping a sharp look out for a good farm and chance to buy. When he made the purchase of Niles and paid $200 down to secure the bargain, the latter did not suppose the purchaser would be able to meet subsequent payments, and did not, therefore, consider the farm really sold. One of his neighbors, Solomon Root, who had observed the quiet business abilities of Cooledge, meeting Mr. Niles one day, sententiously remarked to him, "Mr. Niles, your farm is sold!" Contrary to Mr. Niles' expectations, Mr. Cooledge proved to be successful, and took possession of the farm next spring. The farm he thus bought is now one of the best in the town of Madison; it once took the County Agricultural Society's premium of a silver cup. It is now owned by Charles Z. Brockett. On this farm grew the first crop of hops raised in Madison County. James and William, sons of James D. Cooledge, reside in Bouckville at the present date. James was born in Boxboro, Mass., and is now (July, 1870,) aged 84 years; William was born in Stow, in December, 1802, and is therefore now 68 years of age. Sylvanus, another son, also resided near Bouckville till some thirty years since. Henry Cooledge, now a resident of Madison village, is another son of J. D. Cooledge.
Dr. Samuel McClure came to Bouckville in 1805, and opened a tavern. The Cherry Valley Turnpike was then being built, and this point offered an advantageous location for such an enterprise.
In the spring of 1804, Eli Bancroft and Abner Burnham, from Hartford, Conn., came to "look land." They stopped in Madison, and Jeremiah Mack, who owned a piece of land on "Water St.," asked them to see it before going further. They were pleased with its location, and immediately purchased. With their families they arrived in October, having been four weeks on the road. They found a double log tenement, none too large or commodious, but the two families, Bancroft and Burnham, consisting of fourteen persons, were soon domiciled in one part, the other being occupied by Mack, which they found to be rather snug quarters for the winter. This house stood near where Albion Burnham, a grandson of Abner Burnham, now lives, on Lot No. 13.
Mr. Burnham kept the land that he and Bancroft at first jointly occupied, which is still owned by his sons, Matthew R. and Elizur Burnham. Abner Burnham lived to the age of 80 years, a respected citizen.
David Mason, from Springfield, Mass., came into town in 1808, and bought what has since been known as the "Old Clemmons Place," nearly a mile east of the village. He had a family of several children. One son. Elihu, became a minister of the Presbyterian order; another, Hezekiah, (a graduate of either Yale or Harvard,) entered the legal profession. David Mason died at the residence of his son David, in the adjoining town of Augusta, in 1822, at the advanced age of 83 years.
Roderick Spencer, from Hartford, Conn., came in the winter of 1806, and located on Water street, purchasing near Abner Burnham.
Abijah Parker settled in town very early, locating three -fourths of a mile northeast of Bouckville, on Lot 23, now known as the "Babcock Place." Zadok, son of Abijah, was one of the first physicians in Madison.
Thomas, Levi and the Rev. Salmon Morton, were early settlers, and were among the most successful and influential of that day. The mother of these men died at the home of her daughter, Mrs. Charles Lewis, about the year 1846, aged nearly 102 years.
The first child born in the town of Madison, as before stated, was Sally, daughter of Nicanor Brown. She became Mrs. Anson Brooks. The first male child was Marcena Collister.
The first saw mill erected in Madison, is supposed to have been the one known as the Dunham saw mill, located one mile below Cleaveland's mills on the Oriskany Creek.
We have before stated that Erastus Cleaveland built the first grist mill in town in 1794. In a few years, finding his mill overstocked with grinding, particularly in the dry season, he, with characteristic enterprise, erected a mill half a mile east of his first, on the same stream, which soon took the name of "Gray's Mill," and some years after he built still another at Solsville, now Parker's. Cleaveland transferred this mill to his son-in-law, N.S. Howard, about 1832,who, after the completion of the Chenango Canal, claimed that his mill privilege was damaged by this State work to a large extent. He applied for, and obtained of the Legislature, damages to near the value of the mill, and the distillery which he also owned, standing opposite. These, with much other property for manufacturing, remained unused for about ten years, when the entire water power of the place passed into other hands, and the mill was repaired and put in use. Within a few years the old distillery has been changed into a cheese factory on the same site.
The first frame house in town was built by Solomon Perkins, where T.L. Spencer now resides, one mile west of Madison village --- Lot No. 37. Samuel Clemmons built one, near the same time, a short distance west of Squire Samuel White's present residence. A short time after, another frame house was built, which is still standing (1867) opposite Samuel Cleaveland's house; this was for many years the residence of Samuel Berry, a brother-in-law of Erastus Cleaveland.
Taverns, institutions of great importance to the new country and to the emigrating public, were numerous. One of the first, perhaps the first, was kept by Daniel Holbrook, one mile west of Solsville. Samuel Clemmons kept a tavern in the northeast part of the town at an early day, and Seth Snow kept one at about the same time two miles east of the village. Maj. Ephraim Clough, from Boston Mass., also kept a tavern in the northeast part. "Clough's Tavern" had a wide reputation. Otis McCartney bought the stand, after Clough's death, and converted it into a private residence. Amos Fuller kept a store near Clough's, which was burned down in 1808 or 9.
The "Indian Opening" gave promise from the first of being the village of the town. It was beautifully situated, and presented many inducements for the inhabitants to make it a centralizing location. John T. Burton built, and for many years kept a tavern at this point; this, also, was one of the first taverns opened in Madison. The remark used to be made, that "Burton kept his flip-iron hot from December to May," --- which would indicate that nearly everybody drank flip in those days. There is an anecdote related which illustrates the efficiency of a law in force at that period, forbidding the sale of intoxicating liquors to Indians: --- An Indian came to Burton's tavern one day and asked for whisky, which, though the request was repeatedly urged, Burton decidedly refused. Finding persistence did not avail, the shrewd fellow went away a short distance and found a boy, whom he sent to Mr. Burton's bar, and got the whisky. Possessed of his jug, and triumphantly displaying it, the Indian stalked up to the tavern door, and as he took a drink with evident gusto, called out, "Misser Burton! Misser Burton! Your law got a hole in it!"
A store was kept at the opening by John Lucas. At this place the first postoffice in town was established, with Asa B. Sizer as first postmaster. The mail was carried on horseback about once a week, over the State road, which was early opened to Waterville, (then "Sangerfield Huddle,") and soon extended through Madison. One of the earliest physicians, Dr. Parker, had his office here for many years, and a church, organized in 1798, erected a house of worship here in 1802.
The first "Fourth of July" celebration in town was at the Opening. The inhabitants determined this should be a memorable time, and accordingly great preparations were made beforehand. A pine bough house was put up which was tastefully finished off by the women; powder was procured, a fifty-six pound weight was got in readiness to serve as a cannon, and a keg of rum was transported from Utica. In the evergreen arbor a tastefully decorated table was spread, loaded with every luxury the country afforded at that time. We doubt not there were, in the infinite variety, chicken pies and roast meats in abundance, including in the latter the stuffed pig standing upon all fours on the largest pewter platter in the settlement, with gingerbread, doughnuts and dried pumpkin pies, the standard delicacies, once, for dessert. The day came and was somehow ushered in; but the fifty-six, as ordinarily charged, did not cause sufficient éclat; so they placed upon it a thick plank loaded with cobble stones and applied a slow match to the powder. The stones were thrown in every direction, and the thundering sound of the discharge echoed and reverberated far away in the adjacent woods, this time doing satisfactory honor to the illustrious occasion; but the tedious waiting for the slow match did not harmonize with the spirit of the day. At length an old Indian, who had imbibed somewhat freely of the imported beverage in the keg, decided to stand by the improvised cannon and ignite the powder after the manner of the "white man" artillerists. This he did repeatedly, the cobbles flying all around him; and at each explosion he could be seen in the midst of a cloud of smoke, swinging his arms, gesticulating like an orator and shouting out amid the confusion, "Good soldier! never flinch!"
After the excitement of the firing had passed, all were exceedingly astonished, and very thankful too, to find that the Indian had not been harmed. Those who took part in this celebration, declared in after years, that in all their lifetime, they never so well enjoyed the "glorious Fourth," as on this occasion at the Opening.
The first Church society in the town of Madison, Congregational, was organized in 1796, with nine members. The first pastor of this Church was Rev. Ezra Woodworth, who preached about eight years. A barn belonging to Mr. Berry, which stood where now is Samuel Cleaveland's garden, was their place of worship for a season. In 1804, they built a church at the Center. The barn above mentioned was also used for town meetings and other large gatherings previous to the building of the Church.
The people of Madison were ever ready to improve opportunities promising the general advancement. Hence when the Cherry Valley Turnpike was projected, they gave the enterprise a hearty and effective support. It became the means also of bringing new villages into existence, and so Madison village and Bouckville grew up, while the "Opening," and the "Center," both in the beginning promising some notoriety as villages, fell into decay.
The land upon which the village is located, was first taken up by Seth Gibson, and by him sold to Samuel Berry, receiving twenty-five dollars for his interest. The good soil and fine location induced Mr. Berry to make the purchase, though he acted on the suggestions of Mr. Cleaveland; not thinking, however, that time and circumstances would so largely enhance its value. The germ of the new village soon appeared above ground; Mr. Berry sold Samuel Sinclair the northwest corner in the cross-roads, where the latter built and kept a tavern a number of years. He was succeeded by Goodwin, and the same building is now (1870) standing. John Lucas moved his store from the Opening to the northeast corner, where Mr. Morgan's hardware store now is, and continued trade there many years. The town clerk, Asa B. Sizer, located his dwellings just east of the tavern. Alfred Wells was also one of the first merchants, and had his store on the southeast corner. Dr. Samuel Barber, kept the first drug store --- which was the place where the murderer, Hitchcock, obtained the poison to destroy his wife. Dr. Barber built the first dwelling house of the place, which is standing now, east of the M. E. Church. Eliphalet House, who was for many years, in the early days, a blacksmith and edge-tool maker at the Opening, was followed in the same business by his sons Eleazer and James, who located and continued in the business, in the village, for many years. Lawyers, doctors and other professional men, found this point a desirable location for their several callings. Phineas L. and Albert H. Tracy, brothers, Judge Edward Rogers and David Woods, were of the earliest and most prominent lawyers; and Doctors Parker, Collister, Putnam, Sizer, Pratt and Barker, are remembered as physicians of the first quarter century; some of them for the later period. Rev. Ezra Woodworth, Elder Salmon Morton, Rev. Simeon Snow and Elder E.M. Spencer, are frequently named as pastors of this town during the early years of the churches. Itinerant ministers from all denominations frequently visited the people here, among whom were Rev. Eliphalet Steele, of Paris, Congregational; Elder John Peck, of the Baptist order; Father Stacy, of the Universalist denomination, and the noted and eccentric Lorenzo Dow. Madison village was incorporated, April 17, 1816, being then one of the three incorporated villages in the county.
BOUCKVILLE was mostly built up after the construction of the Chenango Canal. It was known at first to the traveling world as "McClure Settlement," and continued to be thus known many years. McClure's tavern, which stood east of the M. E. Church, is still a very good building, having been commodiously and tastefully improved; it is now the residence of Dea. William Cooledge. Southeast of his tavern stood McClure's dwelling house, on the once State road, on land now owned by James Cooledge, Esq.; the house was removed years ago. On the corner where Marcius Washburn now lives, stood the "Crain House" one of the taverns of the turnpike. John Edgarton, one of the first settlers of the town, located at Bouckville.
In the early times there was a road passing from the State road, from a point where Mr. Theodore Spencer now lives, in a southerly direction over the hill to the Manchester Settlement. On this road lived Capt. Russel in a log house. Charles Z. Brockett, the present owner of the same farm, has preserved the hearth-stone of Russel's log cabin, a slab of common limestone, and uses it as a door-stone at his residence.
McClure's settlement was also known as the "Hook;" but when the place (about 1824) began to assume the proportions of a village, it was considered proper that a distinctive name should be given it. Accordingly a number of the leading men of the place and neighborhood convened to select one. A. P. Lord, the Lelands, the Edgartons, and many others were present. After enjoying a convivial season, in which all became more merry if possible than was their wont, John Edgarton was duly crowned master of the ceremonious occasion, and his name was decided upon as the one to be honored, by naming the place "Johnsville." The locality bore this name until the construction of the Chenango Canal, when, a postoffice being about to be established, it became necessary to select a new name. Many, perhaps a majority, preferred the last christening; but to this there was discovered a serious objection. The State of New York already had so many postoffices named after "John," with the variations so nearly approximating "Johnsville" in orthography, that it was feared confusion might become worse confounded by continuing it for the postoffice, and so it was dropped. The name of "Bouckville," in honor of Governor Bouck, was therefore adopted for the village and postoffice.
SOLSVILLE, a small village on the Chenango Canal, which, as before stated, once bore the name of "Dalrymple's Saw Mill," and "Howard's Mills," was, like Bouckville, named at the convivial gathering, in honor of Solomon or "Sol." Alcott, who was a resident of the place and manufacturer of potash.
The Chenango Canal has done much for the prosperity of the town of Madison, as well as for the county at large, and other sections through which it passes. In its incipiency the prominent men of Madison, Chenango and Broome Counties, particularly, labored long and earnestly to obtain a movement by the Legislature in its behalf. Moses Maynard was sent: by the people to Albany to advocate the budding enterprise. By his persistent efforts he obtained a recognition of the bill, and also gained the interest of Wm. C. Bouck, who afterwards became Governor. The Governor' influence was a great acquisition; the bill received attention, Commissioners were appointed to estimate the cost, &c.; but even this support, together with Mr. Maynard's two years' labor at Albany, did not quite insure the success of the enterprise, till it was ascertained that the "long level" on the Erie Canal needed another feeder. The advocates of the new canal were on hand at this juncture; they succeeded in showing conclusively that the proposed work would become such a feeder, and the bill authorizing its construction, therefore, passed; with provisions that it take none of the waters from the Oriskany and Sauquoit Creeks, and that the cost be not more than a million dollars. The work was begun in 1833, and completed in 1836. The summit level, as before stated, is in this town. From Oriskany Falls to Bouckville, a distance of six miles, it rises 172 feet, it being at the latter point 1,128 feet above tide. From Utica to the summit, it rises 706 feet, by 76 locks, and from thence descends 303 feet by 38 locks, to the Susquehanna, at Binghamton.
The origin of the name of "Water Street" is thus related: - One hot summer day, when the country was new, a stranger on horse-back came through the town on this street, and at every house stopped for water to give his thirsty horse; there were no wells, and the springs and streams were dry. Being at last unable to refresh himself or beast, he rode off in disgust to the nearest point on the Oriskany Creek, where their pressing needs were satisfied. He mentioned his ill luck on that long street to the first settlers he met, and contemptuously called it "Water St." It has borne that name to this day.
In 1805, Madison was the scene of a great religious discussion, between Elder Salmon Morton, Baptist, and Rev. Nathaniel Stacy, Universalist. The meeting was held in a barn. The entire community for several miles around were deeply interested, and sympathy for one or the other of the eminent disputants waxed warm. The Baptist Church at Hamilton took a lively interest in this discussion. Rev. Stacy, or "Father Stacy," as he was affectionately called in his advanced years, was a traveling preacher, and one of the ablest of his denomination. The founding of a Universalist Church in Madison grew out of Rev. Stacy's discussions, and his itinerant visits in the subsequent years. According to the information obtained in reference to this --- at the time --- famous religious disputation in Madison, each disputant came out of it triumphantly victorious; each creed was totally annihilated, in the opinion of its opponents, yet each church lived and flourished afterwards.
About 1807, Alpheus Hitchcock, the murderer, lived at Madison Center. He was a fine singer, and one of the best of the early singing school teachers. He was said to have been one of the handsomest men in the country. The unlawful attachment he formed for one of his pupils proved his ruin; to be free to follow the bent of his inclinations, he compassed his wife's death by giving her poison. He was arrested, proven guilty and hung in Cazenovia, then the County Seat. He was the first person upon whom was inflicted this extreme penalty, in Madison County. The murder, the circumstances connected with it, the trial and execution, produced intense excitement throughout the entire county.
In the autumn of 1806, this section was visited by a malignant fever, to which many fell victims: A merchant at the Center, Silas Patrick, had been to Philadelphia to purchase goods, and while there contracted it. The contagion spread; Mr. Thomas Dick's family, living near Mr. Patrick's, being the first after the latter to be prostrated with it. On the 4th of December, Mr. Dick, aged 50 years, died. Within six weeks from the date of his attack, his wife, a daughter, two sons, his aged mother and himself were all dead. Levi Dick, another son, aged 22, was left with the care of three young children, the eldest a girl of 12, and the youngest an infant a year old. This terrible disease, which made such havoc throughout the settlement, somewhat resembled yellow fever, but with such peculiar symptoms that the physicians were unable to successfully control it. Dr. Greenly, of Hamilton, by skillful treatment, arrested its progress. Levi Dick pursued a manly, praiseworthy course with the surviving remnants of his father's family; he went on with the cares and labors of the farm, his young sister keeping house, and with more than brotherly affection reared the young children; by his diligence and prudence he kept up the payments on the farm, thus securing at last a paid for homestead, and subsequently accumulated a considerable property. He was a respected member of society, possessed excellent qualities of head and heart, with a mind well stored with that solid and practical knowledge which is gained by diligence in spare moments during years of toil. He survived to a ripe old age, dying at the home of his daughter, Mrs. W. F. Warren, in August, Oneida County, in the winter of 1870, aged 85 years.
We have before noted that the first crop of hops grown in Madison County (perhaps in Central New York,) was raised by James D. Cooledge. In 1808, he began the culture by securing all the roots that could be spared from the single hill or two in each of his neighbors' gardens; these he increased and enlarged from, year after year, and supplied home breweries. In the fall of 1816, Mr. Cooledge took the first western hops to the New York marker, after which, dealers in that product were ready to hold out inducements to growers in Central New York. His adjoining neighbor, Solomon Root, also engaged in hop growing as soon as he could obtain the setts, and about the year 1817 or '18, sold two tons of hops at $1,000 per ton. After this, farmers of this section needed no urging to go into the business. During the subsequent forty years the town of Madison was largely indebted to the hop culture for its steadily growing wealth; so marked and substantial was the advance among hope growers, that travelers were always struck with the evidences of it on every farm where one or more acres of stacked poles were to be seen.
The imaginative tourist will readily draw comparisons between the primitive ages and the to-day. In yonder field of stacked poles, he sees the wigwams of far away olden times; in those grotesque groups of merry hop pickers, he beholds the dusky women of the ancient forest convened in the "Opening" to gather the harvest of Indian corn; in the hilarious shouts and songs of those same groups of country girls under the growing vines, or in the shriek of the steam whistle, as the locomotive rushes like a ferocious monster over the iron threaded landscape, he fancies that he hears the concerted whoop of the savage horde ringing through the wilderness of an hundred years ago; and his vision of what has been, is faithful and true, even upon or contiguous to the scene which produced it. There is truly a coincidence thus far in the two periods of time so far asunder, but here it must end. The heavy depths of the ancient forest is wanting. All this has been swept away by the men of whom we have been writing. Another race of beings swarm upon the area once covered with massive trees; all is changed, and the march of progress is onward.
Erastus Cleaveland of whom frequent mention has already been made, was from Norwich, Conn. He was born in 1771, was a poor youth, and compelled by the rigor of circumstances to support himself from the age of fourteen. In 1792 he visited Madison, and in '93 came here to locate and build up the first mills, as has been stated in the foregoing annals.
In addition to these enterprises on Oriskany Creek, he also started a distillery and brewery, and afterwards a carding machine and satinet cloth factory. He also dealt largely in buying and fattening cattle for the New York and Philadelphia markets. Gen. Cleaveland, Maj. Clough and Capt. Seth Blair, frequently journeyed together in taking their droves to market. Cleaveland was remarkable for energy, skill and perseverance. He was all through his life one of the first business men of Madison, and possessed unrivaled influence among his townsmen, while throughout the country he was well known, respected, and his judgment relied on. He held the office of Justice of the Peace for many years, was Supervisor for a long period, and was elected to the Legislature twice after the organization of Madison County. He also held several other offices, both in town and county, all of which is evidence of the confidence and respect in which he was held in his every day life. He was commissioned Lieut. Colonel in the war of 1812, and was acting Colonel of his regiment, on duty at Sackett's Harbor. He was afterwards constituted a Brigadier General of militia in this county.
Mr. Cleaveland was successful in all his business pursuits. He died at his residence near Madison village in 1858, in the 87th year of his age. His worthy Christian wife survived him four years. Samuel G. Cleaveland, his son, succeeded him upon the homestead.
Phineas L. and Albert H. Tracy, from Norwich, Conn., came to Madison village in 1811, then young men, and engaged, in co-partnership, in the practice of law. They remained four or five years, when Phineas removed to Batavia, where he became somewhat noted in the profession. Albert went to Buffalo and won a high reputation in practice. He was elected to Congress from that district.
Edward Rogers succeeded the Tracys, and practiced law in Madison about thirty years. He was also for some years Judge of the Court of Common Pleas. Judge Rogers was a graduate of Yale College, a writer of ability, and published several works. In 1840 he was elected to Congress and served one term. His son. H. Gould Rogers, was commissioned Consul to Sardinia under the administration of President Taylor.
David Woods, from Salem, Washington County, N.Y., came to Madison about 1816, and practiced law about eight years. He was elected to the Legislature in 1816, and in 1817, and was Speaker of the Assembly both years. During Mr. Wood's stay in town, Samuel Nelson, now a Senior Judge of the Supreme Court of the United States, studied two years in his office and afterwards married his daughter. Judge Nelson now, (1870) resides at Cooperstown.
Dr. Asa B. Sizer, one of the early physicians of the town, the first Postmaster, the first Clerk of the County in 1806, became Surrogate Judge of Madison County in 1816. Dr. Sizer was a man of ability, and was highly esteemed politically, among his constituents.
Stephen F. Blackstone, was a man possessed of the qualities requisite in providing for the public needs of a new country. Always wide awake to the interests of the community, he was by that community trusted, honored and promoted. In 1814, he was chosen to the Assembly; subsequently he was constituted Judge of Common Pleas, but his chief energies were directed towards developing the resources of the new country; hence he became a zealous and leading agriculturist. Through the always conspicuous activity of this man, improvements were introduced, many branches of industry were revived, better stock was reared, and altogether the agricultural interest of the town were being continually expanded and placed upon a better basis than before. No man in Madison was more energetic in bringing about these results than Judge Blackstone.
James Cooledge, Esq., is one of the last survivors of the early settlers of Madison. He was for a great many years a practical surveyor, and hence became the standard authority in this town, in matters pertaining to this science. The author of French's map of Madison County, trusted to Mr. Cooledge's critical judgment in delineating this town, and found he had acted wisely in so doing. Mr. Cooledge has held the office of Justice of the Peace for many years, and has frequently, all his long life, been chosen to act in other official capacities, to the satisfaction and credit of his constituents.
Physicians. --- Among the earlier physicians were the following: ---
Dr. Parker was located at the Indian Opening several years, but afterwards removed to a new residence a half mile east of the village. Though possessing some peculiar constitutional traits, he had the reputation of being a well read, skillful physician.
Dr. Elijah Putnam, originally from West Cambridge, Mass., came to Peterboro in 1801. In March, 1802, he located a half mile east of Madison Center, where he resided and continued to practice about forty years. He was a worthy respected man and Christian gentleman, as well as an excellent physician. He spent a few of the last years of his life in the village, with his son, Henry Putnam. His death occurred in January, 1851, in his eighty-second year. His son, Dr. John Putnam, residing in Madison village, succeeded him in practice.
Dr. Jonathan Pratt came into town early, and lived near where Samuel G. Cleaveland now resides. He was a highly respected citizen as well as a skillful physician. Dr. Pratt, of Eaton, and Dr. Pratt, of Fenner, were his brothers. He practiced several years, when he lost his life by accident in falling from a ladder.
Dr. Samuel Collister practiced medicine a number of years at the Center with Dr. Putnam, with whom he studied. He was considered a physician of superior skill, and his death at middle age was much lamented.
Dr. Daniel Barker, having taken a part in the war of 1812, came to Madison in 1815, and established himself in the village. Here he was a successful practitioner through life, dying but a few years since. He was popular professionally, and was a man of influence. As a man of talent, and as a gentleman in the true sense, he had few superiors.
The Congregational Church of Madison, was organized September 6, 1796, by Rev. Eliphalet Steele of Paris. Ten members composed the organization. The barn of John Berry was used for the meetings. In 1802 a meeting house was commenced at the Center, which was finished and dedicated about two years after. Rev. Ezra Woodworth was the first pastor. He was sent out to preach by Rev. Jonathan Edwards, the renowned divine. The meeting house after standing twenty years at the Center, was taken down and rebuilt on a new site, on the north side of the road nearly opposite where it stood before. In 1856, it was again taken down and rebuilt in Madison village, where it still remains.
The Baptist Church of Madison was formed December 20, 1798, at the hose of Moses Phelps near Solsville. Rev. Joel Butler, was the first pastor. The meeting house was built at the "Opening" about 1802. (Note o.) Elder Salmon Morton was ordained in this house June 23, 1802, and preached here twelve years. In 1833, the society built a new house of worship at Madison village. It has recently been improved at considerable cost.
A Society of Friends was early organized in this town, and built a small meeting house. The society is now extinct, and their building is unused and falling to decay.
The Universalist Church of Madison was early established in the village. The present edifice was built in 1821. This church is at present markedly prosperous under the pastoral care of Rev. A. H. Marshall.
Methodist Episcopal Church of Madison village, was organized with a class of seven persons, at an early date. Solomon Root was prominent in erecting the Chapel in 1840. During the present year, under the labors of Rev. Samuel Babcock, a fine enlargement has been made, also thorough repairs at considerable cost.
The Methodist Church at Bouckville, was organized at Solomon Root's house, by the Rev. Barak Cooley. Solomon Root was the first Class Leader. The first Methodist Chapel, of this part of the country, was built on Mr. Root's farm near the town line. In 1852, the society erected their church at Bouckville.