Smithfield is an interior town lying north of the center of the County. It is bounded north by Lenox, east by Stockbridge, south by Eaton and Nelson, and west by Fenner. It was formed from Cazenovia March 13th, 1807..Fenner was taken off in 1823, and a part of Stockbridge in 1836..It is now the smallest town in Madison County, having but 15,246 square acres of land...It is the only town in the county not traversed by a railroad, but in the matter of wagon roads it excels. The second turnpike of this County, the "Oneida Turnpike," passed through Peterboro from Oneida to Cazenovia; it was a famous road in its days and is now a well kept highway. The "Peterboro Stone Road," which passes through this town on its way from Morrisville to Canastota, is no doubt the best road of its class in the County.
The surface of this town as a whole is a hilly, rolling upland. One of the largest branches of the Oneida creek rises in the large swamp lying west and northwest of Peterboro. From here the stream courses southerly past the center of the town, then turns to the southeast and finds its way to the valley of the main creek through a deep gulf in the southeast corner of the town. On the ridge bordering this creek to the northward rise a few springs, the united waters of which form the origin of the Cowassalon, which passes northerly through Siloam and thence on out of the town. The general character of the soil is a sandy and gravelly loam, well adapted to the culture of grain. Limestone and gypsum are found in the northeast part. The most extensive marl bed in the county is found on the land of Gerrit S. Miller, in the swamp before mentioned, where at least four hundred acres are underlaid with a shell deposit of unascertained depth.1 This swamp was apparently once the bed of a lake. Mineral waters are found in various parts of the town; near Siloam is a spring possessing mineral properties of great strength.
Smithfield was the tract of land obtained of the Oneida Indians in 1795. While living in Utica in 1794, Mr. Smith obtained of this tribe the lease of the "New Petersburgh Tract," (thus named from Peter Smith,) comprising an area of 50,000 acres, embracing a large part of Augusta, Oneida County, a portion of Stockbridge, and nearly all of Smithfield, Fenner and northern Cazenovia. This he divided into four allotments. At this time a law had been enacted in Congress which forbade the Oneidas selling their lands to the white settlers. There was, however nothing in the act to prevent their leasing their lands for any length of time; therefore Mr. Smith obtained possession of this tract by a lease extending for a term of 999 years. The Oneidas were then divided into two parties, known respectively as the "Christian" and "Pagan" parties. The Pagan party was strongly opposed to the leasing to Mr. Smith, while the Christian party, with the chief of the Oneidas, the celebrated Skenandoah at their head, upheld him in the rights they had given him. Skenandoah was Mr. Smith's warm personal friend. Immediately upon the arrival of the surveyors upon the tract, there arose a great commotion among the Indians. The Christian party were stationed at the foot of Stockbridge hill, near the site of the old house known as "five chimneys," and by their presence were felt to be a protection by the surveyors. However, the wily pagans, to avoid any arbitration with their peaceably disposed brethren, eluded their vigilance, and secretly taking a circuitous route, came down in war-like attitude upon the defenceless party, surveying at the time, in and about the present village of Peterboro, then a dense wilderness. Here the attack was made by the Indians, near the point where Elias Sager now lives, in the north part of the village. A hatchet was thrown by an Indian, which struck and severely injured the hand of Joseph Annin, one of the surveyors. The compass and chain were then broken and the surveying party driven from the tract. Being out-numbered, unarmed, and far from the habitation of white men, they were glad to seek safety in flight. Col. Thomas Cassity,2 then of Canajoharie, but a little later of "Cassity Hollow," (named after him,) now Oriskany Falls, whose thorough knowledge of Indian character, and intimate associations with the Oneidas gave him great influence among them, assisted Mr. Smith in adjusting his difficulties with the Pagan party, and his proceedings were no further interfered with by them. His operations however, were watched by Congress, and this body deputed Timothy Pickering to come to Oneida to arrest Mr. Smith's influence over the Indians. Mr. Pickering on arriving addressed them at a great meeting held at "Butternut Orchard," near Oneida Castle, his speech being given through an interpreter. Mr. Smith, having acquired the Indian language, and being able by long custom to speak it fluently, replied to Mr. Pickering in a speech in the Indian dialect, reminding them of their long and intimate acquaintance and extensive business relations, calling upon any or all present to say if, in all their dealings or intercourse he had practiced deception or fraud, or had ever attempted to wrong them in any manner whatever. The speech was remarkable for its force and clearness, and appealing as it did to their understandings and sense of justice, he sustained himself triumphantly, and re-established his influence over both parties of the Indians.
In 1795, in a treaty with the Oneidas, the State purchased Mr. Smith's tract. He had leased much of the eastern part of his tract, before this purchase, to white settlers, for a term of 21 years; but the State thus coming into ownership, the Legislature, in 1797, passed an act providing that those who had obtained leases of Mr. Smith, should have a patent from the State, upon their paying $3,53 ½ per acre. The large proportion not leased before the treaty, Mr. Smith was required to pay the State for at the same rate, in order to obtain his own patent. The State, however, compromised with him by allowing a certain sum for his original lease of the Indians, which reduced the price actually paid by him for the land to about $2 per acre. Thus he acquired title to all that portion not leased by him to the white settlers, amounting to 22,299 ½ acres.
In accordance, therefore, with the said act of the Legislature, these settlers accepted the terms and became purchasers of the State. Their lands lay in Augusta and Stockbridge, being of the "New Petersburgh 1st allotment," and with the exception of a strip about a mile wide extending across the southern part of Stockbridge and into Augusta, to the amount of six lots in the latter town, was no more included in the New Petersburgh tract. This "strip," of the 1st Allotment is that portion of those towns retained by Mr. Smith, and forms what is denominated the "L,"3 The sales to those settlers under Mr. Smith's twenty-one year leases, therefore, reduced the 1st Allotment to the dimensions of the L, and the New Petersburgh tract was, thereafter, composed of that and the 2d, 3d and 4th Allotments.
The original town of Smithfield included within its limits a few tiers of lots at the west end of the first Allotment, the whole of the second and third Allotments excepting the west tier of the third-which west tier and the whole of the fourth Allotment were in Cazenovia-together with that part of the "Mile Strip Tract" lying east of lots 28 and 29. The present town embraces the two western tiers of the first Allotment, the whole excepting the two western tiers and that part of the Mile Strip lying north.
Settlement commenced early in New Petersburgh. Jasper Aylesworth, the first settler of Smithfield, came in 1795, and opened a clearing in Peterboro. He had no family, and therefore was sole inhabitant for a short time. Oliver Trumbull came in with his father's family (who settled in Fenner a short time after) and took up a farm about half a mile south of Peterboro. Seth Griffin came the same year.
We remark here that in 1795, Utica (Old Ft. Schuyler) was the nearest market, and thither through the woods, guided by marked trees to the old Genesee road, the sparse population of all this section of Madison County wended their way to market. At that time John Post, a clever Dutchman, was merchant and postmaster at Utica for all this region, and Jason Parker carried the mail between Albany and Utica. The arrival of half a dozen letters for people of this far off section was a remarkable incident which sometimes happened---as we find indicated by the following advertisement of "Letters remaining in the post office at Fort Schuyler," published in the "Western Sentinel," Sept. 23d, 1795, the oldest issue of that paper known to be extant;---"Jedediah Jackson or Asahel Jackson, Clinton; Stephen Burton, 2, Whitestown; Oliver Trumbull, Fort Schuyler." These men were then or soon after residents of this and adjoining towns.
From the Madison County Directory of 1868 and '69, the following, from the pen of Hon. A. A. Raymond, is extracted:---
"The Trumbulls and Griffins had families, and all of them located on lot 33, Second Allotment, being the first lot south of No. 26, on which is Peterboro. Aylesworth was unmarried, and came as the hired man of Judge Smith, and in that capacity felled the forest trees on the village plat, then an untouched wilderness which had never before been made to echo to the sound of the axman's blows and the hourly crashing of falling trees. How long he continued in Judge Smith's employ is not known; but at an early day in the history of the town he married a daughter of John Taft, Esq., another early settler who lived in town. Mr. Aylesworth endured the privations incident to the early settlers. On one occasion he brought a five-pail kettle on his back from Utica, to make maple sugar! Some of his first supplies and provisions he brought from Utica in the same manner. He became a permanent resident of the town and was an enterprising and successful farmer. One only, of the large family he reared remains in town.
Ithamar Bump settled on lot 41 in 1797, where he continued to reside until removed by death, Aug. 14th, 1815. Soon after his first settlement in town, he was joined by his father, Ichabod Bump, and in course of a few years, Moses, Nathan, David, Jonathan, Gideon and Jacob, brothers of Ithamar, and a sister named Hannah, the wife of Ebenezer Bronson, all became residents of the town. In their physical characteristics this was a peerless family. The brothers were all large, well developed men, averaging six feet in hight, with great muscular power, and as wrestlers and for personal prowess (qualities prized in those days,) were a terror to the athletes of the county. Some of them were enterprising and successful farmers, among whom Ithamar, especially, was an industrious, upright and esteemed citizen. His descendants to the third generation still live in town, and include some prominent businessmen. The old patriarch, Ichabod, died Dec. 22d, 1823, in his 90th year.
Capt. Joseph Black came in about the year 1798. Where he first located is not certainly known, but in the fall of 1802, he was on lot 59, N. P. second Allotment, and in 1803 or '04 he became a prominent contractor for the construction of a large section of the old "Oneida Turnpike," which was made under his immediate supervision. He was proverbially upright and reliable, insomuch that to this day the question is sometimes asked by those who knew him and still remember him, whether this generation furnishes any specimens of such unswerving integrity. His memory is precious, and 'though dead he yet speaketh.'
Between the years 1798 and 1805, many valuable men came in and settled as farmers in different parts of the town, but chiefly on the two southern tiers of lots on the Mile Strip tract. On this Mile Strip tract and contiguous thereto were Jacob and Samuel Walker, Allen Bill, David Shipman, Solomon Merril, sen., and sons, Robert Streeter, Gideon Wright, Jabez Lyon, Shadrach Hardy, David Tuttle, Ezra Chaffee, Mrs. Moody and her sons David and Samuel, Mrs. Matteson and her sons John, Abraham, Eli and Nathan, Barzilla and Amos Northrup, Sylvanus Matthewson and sons Winchester and Stephen, Stephen Risley, Moses Howe, Salmon Howard, and Francis Dodge. On the two southern tiers of lots were Edward Bliss, Wright Brigham, John Lucas, Rodman Spencer and sons, David Blodget, Alpheus Thompson, John Ford, Reuben Rich, Andress Loveland and others. Most of these, with many more not named in the list, settled permanently, became prosperous farmers, and valuable men and citizens, and were equally worthy of more than this passing notice, as were those before referred to at greater length."
A few additional particulars of early settlers we give in this connection:--John Taft emigrated from Connecticut, and located on Lot 33. Shortly before his decease he sold this farm to John Pray. During his last illness he expressed a desire to be buried in an orchard he had planted on the farm. His wish was complied with, and for many years the traveler who passed along the adjacent highway could distinguish the marble slab in the northeast corner of Mr. Phipps orchard, (a subsequent owner,) which marked the grave of John Taft, one of the original settlers.
Elder John Pray was an eccentric "Six Principle" Baptist minister, well remembered by the oldest inhabitants for his odd speeches and peculiar ways. He was from Rhode Island, and lived with his sons John and Jonas Pray, on the old "Pray farm," to a good old age. He died in 1830, leaving numerous descendants.
Stephen Risley came from East Hartford, Conn., in 1801. He was a soldier of the revolution during the most of the war; was in the battles of Long Island, Brandywine and Monmouth, and was a sergeant in Washington's Guard. He was present and on duty at the execution of Andre.
Daniel Petrie,4 another early settler, and connected with the Bellingers, served a clerkship under Van Epps. He learned the Indian language, which gave him influence among the natives. In 1808 he was a Captain of Militia.
David Shipman, before mentioned among the settlers of the Mile Strip, was a native of Clinton, Livingston Co., N.Y. and came to this town in 1800.
Many of the farms taken up and brought under cultivation by these sturdy men, still remain in possession of their descendants.
James Livingston, a brother of Mrs. Peter Smith, was the first merchant in Peterboro---in the year 1801. The building in which he carried on his business was a fine one for those days. It is still standing at the east end of the public green, near its former location, having only been set back a few yards. It was the first frame house of the village---built in 1800. It is now owned by Eliphalet Aylesworth, son of Jasper Aylesworth, and occupied by him as a dwelling. Livingston was followed in the mercantile business by a Mr. Eggleston. Later, Captain Daniel Petrie established a store, which he kept many years. This was situated on the corner now owned by Mr. Miller. A portion of this original building is embodied in the house where Mr. Bridge now (1869) resides. Capt. Petrie was the first postmaster of Peterboro.
The first school was taught by Miss Tabitha Havens, in Peterboro, in 1801. Her school consisted of some half a dozen children---all there were in the sparse population. Smithfield thus early evinced her proclivities in favor of education, which proves to have been sustained in her later history. We remark here that the same year Miss Havens taught this school she was married to James Tucker, of that part of Smithfield now Fenner.
"The earliest marriages referred to by old settlers were those of John Matteson to Hudassah Bliss, and Elijah Trumbull to Abigail Carey, both of which are believed to have occurred in 1803.
Emmons Downer, Esq., still a resident, was born in Peterboro, in September 1805. No reliable account of an earlier birth has been given, and he is therefore believed to be the oldest native resident living. * * *
Elijah was the first physician of Peterboro,---in 1801 or '02; he was also the first male school teacher. Rev. Joshua Johnson, Presbyterian, was the first resident preacher---in 1806; Nehemiah Huntington was the first lawyer---in 1807; Captain Daniel Petrie was the first postmaster---in 1807; John Downer and Peter Weber were the first blacksmiths---in 1802; and Reuben Long built the first grist mill and saw mill in 1802." --- [From A. A. Raymond's sketches.]
Dr. Phineas Lucas was the next physician after Dr. Pratt; he was located on the old road, about midway between Peterboro and Morrisville, where he died April 27th, 1806, at the age of 32 years. Dr. Dourance, from Windham Co., Conn., was in Smithfield at the time and attended the funeral; he decided to remain and commence practice where his brother physician had left it. Accordingly he did open an office immediately and succeeded well in business. He will be remembered with respect for his good qualities by many of the oldest citizens in this town in 1807.
Dr. Joel Norton succeeded Dr. Nash in 1814. He was not only a successful physician, but was highly respected as a citizen through the lustre of his inherent private virtues. For twenty-seven years he was a favorite physician in Smithfield, a devoted christian and valued and steadfast friend of the Presbyterian church.5
Mrs. Olive Raymond, widow of James Raymond, of Windham County, Conn., with two children, and accompanied by her three sisters, the Misses Downing, came to Smithfield quite early in this century. Mrs. Raymond sickened and died three days after her arrival. A. A. Raymond, Esq., of Peterboro, and his sister (now dead,) were the children thus orphaned. The sisters of Mrs. Raymond continued the home until their death by the "epidemic," elsewhere noted, in 1813.
John Forte,6 an early settler of Lenox, became one of the long ago citizens of Smithfield. The late Allen H. Forte,7 of Cazenovia, Avery Forte, of Peterboro, and Mrs. Myron H. Bronson, (mother of the Bronsons famous in musical circles,) are of John Forte's family.
The Bronson family so well known in Smithfield, are of the family of Deacon Simeon Bronson, (formerly "Brownson,") who settled on the Mile Strip in Fenner, 1802. Deacon Bronson's wife, Lucinda Gleason Bronson, died, leaving him with a family of eight children. He subsequently married Lucretia Stewart, by whom he had nine children. The youngest of the family is the father of the above named Bronson singers, viz:--- Lorenzo, Aurelia, Willie and Mellie Bronson.
Moses Rice came early and settled, probably in the Fenner part of Smithfield. He afterwards removed to Quality Hill, served in the war of 1812, came home on a furlough and died of camp fever. His eldest son, Billings Rice, is the only one who remained in this part of the county. The celebrated Rice vocalists, viz.:--- Warren, Moses, Henry, Simeon, Sarah, Florence and Maria, all children of Billings Rice, of Smithfield. Mrs. Avery Forte, one of his daughters, resides in Peterboro.
In the winter and spring of 1813, sickness of a type previously unknown, prevailed throughout Central New York, and it is believed in all parts of the State. Having no other name for it, physicians called it "the Epidemic," by which name it came to be generally known, and whenever referred to or spoken of from that day to this, it has been called by no other. Its victims were prostrated at once and sank rapidly to utter helplessness and delirium, from which no stimulant or manner of treatment could arouse them. In numerous cases, persons attacked with it, though in the prime of life and previous vigorous health, sank away and died in from four to ten days! In the town of Smithfield there were probably more than one hundred cases, a very large per centage of which proved fatal. Its first victim was an interesting youth of some sixteen years, who died on the 12th day of January. Thenceforward till late in March, funerals occurred throughout the town almost daily, sometimes several on the same day in different sections. In one instance, on March 14th, four adults were buried in the old Peterboro cemetery, all within a few hours. These four were all advanced in life. Three of them were maiden sisters by the name of Downing, who had always lived together, and in their death were almost literally undivided, all dying within thirty hours. The fourth was an aged man, an early settler in the town, living but a few rods from the residence of the Downing sisters. It is believed that there were other burials in town on the same day. Early in April the sickness abated; new cases became of less frequent occurrence and of a milder type; and, as the season advanced, the mysterious visitation wholly disappeared.
In 1806, there were ten buildings in Peterboro,---Judge Smith's house, since re-built and enlarged by Gerrit Smith; the Aylesworth house, then the Livingston store; the grist mill and saw mill; the rest dwellings.
After the organization of the town in 1807, the first town meeting, in April of the same year, was held at the school house near Fenner Corners. The spirited efforts of the eastern Smithfield voters to secure the election of their officers, and of the adjournment of the meeting to Peterboro, is noted in the Fenner Chapter. Peter Smith was elected Supervisor, and Daniel Petrie, Town Clerk. In June of this year, Peter Smith, who had been one of the Associate Judges of the County Court, was appointed first Judge, and the office of Supervisor became vacant. Consequently, a special town meeting was held July 18th, at which Roswell Glass was chosen to fill the vacancy. At the second annual town meeting, Asa Dana was chosen Supervisor.
At this period the county began agitating the question of the county seat. Cazenovia and Smithfield put forward their claims for the permanent location. A forcible argument in favor of Smithfield by her citizens was the fact that the town was more central than Cazenovia, Hamilton and some other points. The question however was not decided for a number of years, and Madison County had no jail or court house when the second criminal offence came before the courts. Even when it seemed settled, by the erection of the court house in Cazenovia, like Banquo's ghost the mooted question would rise again in the form of "centering," and would not "down" until it had finally been located at Morrisville, in the year 1817.
The above mentioned second instance of capital crime had its denouncement in Smithfield, the murderess, Mary Antone, (daughter of Abram,) being executed in Peterboro in the autumn of 1814. The Indians disputed the right of the white-man authorities to interfere with their customs, or to exercise jurisdiction over them in criminal or other cases where the parties were of their race, and it was feared that there would be trouble at the execution, as Abram Antone and one of his sons, Mary's father and brother, came over from Siloam painted and equipped in warrior style a few days before the consummation of the fatal decree; and there was also a report afloat that Antone had said that " the man who hung Mary should die." Thus forewarned, Capt. Daniel Petrie signified to the members of his company that they must hold themselves in readiness, for they would be called on in case of any disturbance. The Indians were quite numerous in the village on the morning of the execution, and Capt. Petrie, having a good knowledge of the Indian language, took the occasion, as they lounged about his store, to make it plain to them that Madison County officers in carrying out the laws were not responsible for the execution of Mary Antone; that the laws must be obeyed, and also that order must be maintained. In their hearing, he directed some of his men present to have their arms in readiness to protect the officers. The gallows was erected on the flat due west from the grist mill, and some twelve or fifteen rods from the channel of the creek. Abram was there, grim, restless, silent; sometimes moving about on the brow of the ridge above the flat, scanning the multitude with a keen eye. There is a statement given the author that he was heard to make the ominous threat, as he pointed to Sheriff Pratt, "Me kill him ! Me kill him !" and that the Sheriff, before performing the final act, called for Antone to come forward and take a last leave of his child; that the latter's sinewy form appeared upon the scaffold, and without moving a muscle of his stoical features, took the hand of his daughter and then turned silently away, neither betraying a sign of emotion. The fatal moment came and passed, justice was vindicated without even a whispered utterance or move of opposition from the natives. It is said, however, that Antone afterwards sought Sheriff Pratt's life and that the latter settled his affairs and moved west. Be this as it may, those who lived at that time know how surely Antone executed his threats, and how long he cherished and finally wreaked his vengeance on John Jacobs, the principal witness against his daughter.
In the earlier days of Smithfield, the forests were dense and the swamps dismal, from abundance of foliage. Game abounded, and it is said that wolves and bears were quite plenty till 1827, about which period there was a great wolf hunt in this section. Panthers were occasionally seen till the years 1815 to '18. A panther incident worthy of record and well authenticated, occurred about 1818, on the old County Road between Peterboro and Clockville, at the entrance of a piece of thick forest through which that road passed for a distance of half a mile. For the information of those who have the curiosity to locate the spot we will say here, that the incident took place within the bounds of the farm them owned by Aaron Crary, and afterward by his son. This farm, it is believed, lay chiefly on the north side and adjoining the present north line of Smithfield, which would be in the town of Lenox. The adjoining farm on the Smithfield side, and which may have included a strip of this half-mile forest, was owned by Ebenezer Lathrop. Moses Howe lived on the same road, not far south of Lathrop's, about one mile from Peterboro.
One morning in haying time, Mr. Howe called his boy Stephen, a lad of some eight or nine years of age, and told him he must take a horse and go to Clockville to mill---the mill at Peterboro being then out of repair---and told him also that he must wait for his grist that time, as he wanted the horse to draw in hay the next day, and the flour was needed for use in the family. So the boy started off on the horse's back, with two and a half bushels of wheat under him on the saddle. It being late when the grist was ground, he started homeward as speedily as possible, and reached the border of the woods just at dusk, being then over a mile from home. Almost the first tree on entering this half mile of thick, dark forest road, was a gigantic elm, with one huge limb some twenty-five feet from the ground, shooting far out horizontally over the traveled path.
The horse suddenly pricked up his ears as he neared and came under this limb, and hearing as he thought a slight noise, the boy looked up, and there, poised upon the limb with glaring eyeballs, bared teeth, feet rapidly lifting and gathering for a spring, while every nerve and muscle seemed ready to burst with their fearful tension, was an enormous panther, apparently fully prepared to leap, and sure of his defenceless prey. Indeed it would seem that only a direct interposition of providence could save that boy from the terrible doom staring him in the face! But the very suddenness of the appalling danger, and the quick instinct which is often the offspring of a sudden and fearful peril, yet which would have probably and at once, either paralyzed a man with fear, or caused him to pause for the encounter, gave the boy a ready, almost superhuman keenness of sense and strength of nerve. He cried out to the horse in a quick, sharp tone which the noble animal, now all alive with fear, from his own instinct seemed to understand, and away he sprang with his double burden of flour bags and juvenile rider at a flying speed, which was heightened and intensified by what instantly followed. The fierce and undoubtedly hungry panther being thus suddenly and unexpectedly foiled when so sure of his victim, gave vent to his rage in the frightful yells peculiar to his species, which it is said are so frightful and appalling that no human being, when heard under such circumstances, is ever able to shake off the terrible sense of fear they arouse. The mad animal sprang instantly from his position, and then from limb to limb, and from tree to tree, howling, yelling, crashing through the dense tree tops after his escaping prey, and thus he followed 'till the horse and young rider swept triumphantly out of the forest into the clearing beyond, and left the wild brute to what we may well believe a bitter disappointment. Yet on, on, dashed the horse, the boy by this time almost overcome with terror, fearing the awful danger was still pursuing him, and permitted no slack of speed till he reached his father's door himself and horse dripping with perspiration.
"You are late home," said the father, "and I guess you have rode pretty fast, hav'nt you ?"
"Yes sir, I have," replied the boy caressing the horse, "and I think you would if you had been in my place. It will be a good while before I will go through those woods again after dark !" and here the boy was obliged to yield until he had recovered composure, when he briefly related what had happened. The father was astonished. There stood the boy quaking with the thought of what he had just passed through, and the horse close by him, with drooping head, panting and dripping with sweat. His son had run his horse over a mile, with the flour and bran of two and a half bushels of wheat under him. "'Till this day," says this then boy, Stephen R. Howe (now Justice Howe of Oneida Co.) the awful fear I then experienced affects me sensibly when I recall the circumstances, and I never afterwards passed the spot without experiencing it." He further says that he did not again pass over that road till he was eighteen, when he was teaching school in Sullivan. On one occasion, when going home he found himself on the same road, at the same place, before he was aware of it, and just at dark. Said he, "I never ran faster than I did through those woods."
The large town of Smithfield was destined to become the smallest in the county. The project to divide it was long agitated; it was finally accomplished in 1823, and the new town of Fenner formed of its western half. Again, in 1836, a large portion was shorn from its eastern part to help form Stockbridge. The first town meeting after the division, in 1823, was held at the house of Harry Nichols. In 1824, Nehemiah Huntington was elected Supervisor, and Thomas Beekman, Town Clerk, both of whom were eminent men in State and Nation.
Smithfield has in one sense suffered from her habits of generosity; for after giving most of her territory to other towns, she gave her men of talent and enterprise to the world; to the cities of the east, the west, the north, the south; and consequently trades, arts, manufactures and professions in the course of time languished within her limits.
At a former period, considerable business was transacted in Peterboro. At one time there were two glass factories, one distillery, one tannery, a grist mill, a saw mill, a carding and fulling mill, five stores, three taverns, and various mechanic shops, all together giving a supply of work to many people, and contributing to sustain a much larger population there, then, than exists at present. Years since the glass factories were metamorphosed into dwellings; the fires of the distilleries also were long ago extinguished; the grist mill was superseded by a better structure for the same business, and the tannery and some of the stores are among the things that are not, and the temperance reform, and the changes in the traveling world have disposed of two of the three hotels. Here was kept one of the first, if not the very first, temperance hotel,8 properly so called, of the world! Some of the first anti-slavery meetings in the United States were held here, from pulpit and forum has the tocsin of reform been repeatedly sounded during the last third of a century. The poor were ever kindly cared for in Peterboro, and the down-trodden, hunted slave found here a refuge from his pursuers and persecutors. Undoubtedly the first school in the United States established for colored children, was kept in Peterboro, which, however, was soon done away with, as caste on account of color was ruled here to be out of place in common schools, and poor black children were thenceforth allowed equal rights with the white.
The first movements of the county in literature began simultaneously here and at Cazenovia. In 1808, the Madison Freeholder was started in Peterboro, Peter Smith, proprietor, and Jonathan Bunce, editor. It was after a time changed to the Freeholder, and continued till 1813, when it was changed to the Madison County Herald, and continued under that title several years. The early efforts in the cause of temperance brought into existence the Journal of Madison County Temperance Union, a monthly, edited by Wm. B. Downer. The latter was changed to the Maine Law Journal, and was discontinued after an existence of sometime over a year. The Christian & Citizen, was published at Peterboro, in 1854, by Pruyn & Walker.
It is somewhat remarkable that Peterboro, an unimportant inland village, having no railroad or other great artery of communication with the outer world, should have been and should still be the scene of so many great public gatherings, such as temperance, anti-slavery, political, religious, reform and free speech conventions, &c. Probably no village of its size in all our great country has equalled it in this respect. But we have an explanation at hand; It has ever been favored with the citizenship of distinguished and progressive men; hence, though but a small village, the prevailing atmosphere of the place has been steadily genial and attractive to those striving for a higher plane.
Peterboro has furnished public men as follows:---Greene C. Bronson, Chief Justice of Supreme Court and Court of Appeals; Thomas Beekman and Gerrit Smith, Members of Congress; Henry A. Foster, State Senator for several terms, United States Senator in 18--, and Justice of the Supreme Court in 1863; J. S. T. Stranahan, Representative in Congress from Brooklyn, N.Y., in 1855; Daniel G. Dorrance and Asahel C. Stone, also State Senators. Peterboro is the native place, or was for some years the home of five of the Sheriffs of Madison County, viz:--- Elijah Pratt, John Matteson, Joseph S. Palmer, John M. Messinger and Asahel C. Stone. Nehemiah Huntington and James Barnett, once Member of the Legislature, and Henry M. Rice of the United States Senate, are also Peterboro men. We might extend this roll of honor were certain dates and data, which we have failed after much effort to obtain, at our command. We however record a few brief sketches:
Nehemiah Huntington belonged to the early years of Smithfield's history. He came to Peterboro in 1807, and became the first lawyer of the place. He was a graduate of Dartmouth College, being there a classmate of Daniel Webster, and was aged thirty-one when he came to Smithfield. He entered into every good enterprise which concerned the prosperity of his adopted town. His generosity and goodness of heart was conspicuous. His liberal education and good abilities fitted him for a wide field of usefulness, but he was too modest to aspire to distinction in his profession. He, however, encouraged and assisted young men to make their way in the world, and several young lawyers received their first help from him; his kind instructions and fatherly guidance, aiding them in their first steps toward after success. His life was long and eminently useful, and at his death in 1855, aged 79 years, he was greatly missed.
James Barnett succeeded to a position of usefulness, from the time of his commencing in the mercantile business in Peterboro, in 1838. He became successful in that business, which he followed there for many years. He stood high in the confidence of his fellow citizens, and was often called to official positions in his town and county, and in 1859 was elected from this county to the Legislature. In 1865 he was elected to the State Senate from this, the twenty-third, Senatorial District. During the late war he gave largely of his time and means, actively and effectively encouraging enlistments; two of his sons volunteered, and one, the eldest, bravely met his death at Antietam. Mr. Barnett removed to Oneida some years since where he still resides.
Asahel C. Stone came to Peterboro with his father's family in 1808. He struggled with poverty in his youth, but gradually arose by his own efforts to a position of influence. He was a well known and able lawyer. He held many prominent responsible offices, in all of which he proved himself to be a man of superior ability, well sustaining the confidence reposed in him. He was State Senator from the 23d District in 1850, and at the time of his death, in 1866, he held the position of High Sheriff of Madison County. It was said of him, that, although esteemed and respected for his abilities, yet it was the kindness of his heart, his strong sympathy for human suffering which had most endeared him to all. He passed away at the age of 61 years.
In 1848 William Evans, Esq., of Boston, deposited a fund of $10,000 in the hands of Gerrit Smith to endow a "Home" for the poor of the town of Smithfield. He appointed Gerrit Smith first Treasurer, designating that at each subsequent annual town meeting the legal voters should elect a suitable and responsible person as Treasurer. The provisions he made were, that the principal shall be loaned in sums of not over $1,000 upon good bond and mortgage security; and that as soon after 1862 as the accumulated interest amounts to a sufficient sum, a farm of not less than fifty acres, within one and a half miles of Peterboro, shall be bought, and suitable buildings erected thereon as a home for the needy; where under the most favorable auspices they shall be made to forget the necessities of their condition, and where habits of self-respect, self-reliance, industry, prudence and economy, the underlying principles of success, shall be nurtured, while the healthy comforts of life are being enjoyed.
The day which Mr. Evans set apart his errand of love---the formal presentation of his gift---was Friday, September 3d, 1858, the forty-seventh anniversary of his birth. The day was one of festivities and rejoicing, a "red letter day in the calendar of Smithfield."9
William Evans was born in Smithfield of very poor parents, September 3d, 1811. His earliest days were spent in poverty and privation; but he inherited a good constitution and all the elements of physical and mental health. Trained to habits of industry, economy and morality by one of the wisest of mothers, the foundation of a grand and successful manhood was laid. He went into the world very young and very poor. In the course of years his name became coupled with the great enterprises of the day, --- a heavy and successful contractor on public works. He amassed wealth, and devoted much of it to benevolent enterprises in various ways.
The Evans Fund in care of Gerrit Smith, who has continued Treasurer, has increased from ten to fifteen thousand dollars. The proper establishment of the "Home" is under consideration, but in the mean time its benefits are felt by the destitute, for the trustees pay over three hundred dollars a year to a committee of three responsible ladies, to be used by them as their judgment shall dictate for the relief of the needy of the town. For a time the Evans Fund was, with his consent, used to endow the Peterboro Academy, which then had its name changed to "Evans Academy." This building is now (1872) used for the purposes of the Home for orphan children, it having been donated for that purpose by Gerrit Smith; and by the consent of Mr. Evans the use of the Fund has been appropriated to establishing the Orphan's Home.
Peterboro Academy was incorporated January 23d, 1853. In 1860 a report states that it had 42 students, 14 of whom pursued classical studies. The value of its lot and buildings at that time was $4,528; its library $207; apparatus $174. Total revenues $334; total expenditures $319. Number of volumes in the library 184.
At a subsequent period, the Evans Fund became an endowment for the Academy and it was then called the "Evans Academy." In 1870 the Academy building was donated for the Orphan Asylum, and the Presbyterian Church has been transformed into the Academy.
The Orphans' Home in Peterboro village, was established here in 1870. The old Academy, a building of goodly proportions, three stories high, appropriately fitted up, was placed at the command of the Supervisors of the County, for the Home, by Gerrit Smith. Mr. Charles Blakeman and wife were appointed to take charge. Twenty children from the County Poor House were placed in their care. They are comfortably situated and resources for their advancement are constantly being multiplied.
Peter Smith, the proprietor of the celebrated New Petersburgh Tract, was born in Rockland County, N.Y., in the year 1768 Of his advantages in early life we have no data, but infer they were fair; therefore we find him at the early age of sixteen (1784) entering as clerk in the counting-house of Abraham Herring & Co., of New York. For three years he served in this capacity, and where he was characterized for his brightness and activity, and his aptness in acquiring knowledge. From here, at the age of nineteen, with a supply of goods for a country store, he removed and settled himself in trade at a small place called the "Fall Hill," about two miles below Little Falls. He remained but a year here, and then went to Old Fort Schuyler, where he put up a log store, nearly on the site of the Bagg Tavern. He continued in the mercantile business in Utica several years, and also built two fine residences there, the last of the two having a farm of 150 acres attached to it.
Mr. Smith's unusual success in trading with the Indians and in dealing in the fur trade, attracted the attention of other men of enterprise among whom was John Jacob Astor, who became a partner with him in the trade in furs. At a later period they were united in buying lands. By a dextrous improvement of every sale of public lands, Mr. Smith early acquired a large fortune, having become the possessor of extensive tracts in various parts of the State.
In 1794, he obtained the New Peterburgh tract of the Oneida Indians, the history of which is given in the foregoing. In 1802, he removed to Whitesboro, where he resided until his removal to Smithfield in 1806. Here he built the family mansion, which has since been changed and is now (1871) the home of Hon. Gerrit Smith.
Upon the organization of Madison County in 1806, Mr. Smith was chosen one of the Judges of the County; in 1807, he was appointed first Judge, and continued to hold that position till 1821. It was said by the lawyers of that day that he made a most excellent magistrate, that although his school education was limited he wrote a bold and free hand, and expressed himself well; that his knowledge of human nature was profound, and few words were spoken by him in conversation that were not worthy of recording.
All matters in his care received minute attention. He was known as a man of extensive knowledge, of careful habits and unceasing industry. Even among the Indians he was noted for those qualities, and in consequence they gave him the sobriquet of "Sawmill," meaning, "the man of incessant activity.
The following anecdote, entirely characteristic, is related of Judge Smith:---a poor man entered the office of the Judge and took a seat. After witnessing in silence for some time the ease and rapidity with which the Judge handled his papers and dispatched his business, he drew a heavy sigh and burst out with the abrupt question:---"Judge Smith, what must I do to become a rich man?" Dropping his pen and drawing down his spectacles as he raised his head the Judge replied at once, yet deliberately, "Mr. Lawson, you must be born again."
Sagacious and shrewd, he was also active and untiring in his efforts to accumulate, yet he was a man of his word, and too wise to be dishonest. Independent and fearless, he was at the same time modest and unassuming, and held himself as no more than the equal of those of lesser means. Excessively plain in his dress and equipage, and frugal in all ways, he was even lavish where his feelings were enlisted; for these feelings were deep, and his affections ardent. In person he was five feet and eight inches high, and rather stout. The most striking features were his curved nose and hawk eye, which latter was keen and penetrating. His readiness of resource, and his promptness to circumvent a rival are well illustrated in a story that has already appeared in print, which is as follows:---He was lodging one night at Post's Tavern, at the same time that Messrs. Phelps and Gorham were also guests. Mr. Smith occupied a room which was separated from the other land speculators by a very thin partition. In the night he heard them whispering together about a certain valuable tract of land which they were on the point of buying. Rising from his bed and summoning the landlord for his horse, he was soon on his way to the land-office, at Albany. When Messrs. Phelps and Gorham had finished their night's rest, and taken their breakfast, they jogged on leisurely to the same destination. What was their surprise when near the end of their journey, to encounter on his way back, Mr. Smith, whom they had so recently seen in Old Fort Schuyler, and how much more astonished to learn on reaching the office at Albany, that the coveted prize was his. Messrs. Phelps and Gorham paid Mr. Smith a handsome bonus for his bargain.
Skenandoah, the "white man's friend," was regarded by Judge Smith with warm friendship, and he was frequently visited by the aged chief. So harmonious was their intimacy that Mr. Smith named one of his sons, Peter Skenandoah Smith, in honor of this last chief of the Oneidas and in memory of their friendship.
Four children were born to Mr. and Mrs. Smith, all during their residence in Utica. Cornelia, wife of Capt. Cochrane, Peter Sken. (Skenandoah,) Adolphus, who died at the age of 45 years, and Gerrit. In his marriage, Mr. Smith connected himself with the Livingston family, so well and honorably known in the early history of New York State. His wife was the daughter of Col. James Livingston of the revolutionary army, and sister of the wife of the late Hon. Daniel Cady, of Johnstown, N.Y. She was a woman esteemed for her piety, for her rare intellectual gifts, and all the graces that adorn the true lady. She died August 27, 1818.
Up to the year 1819, Judge Smith resided in Peterboro, attending to the various duties of his public office, and the arduous labors connected with the management of his large estate. At this period he conveyed his estates to his son Gerrit, and spent many of his last years in traveling. He finally settled in Schenectady, where he died April 13, 1837.
Peter Skenandoah Smith, who died in 1857, was the eldest son of Peter Smith, born in 1795. The noble and generous qualities of his mind and heart made him greatly beloved by all who knew him. He died in Oswego, N.Y., at the age of sixty-three.
Gerrit Smith was born in Utica, March 6, 1797. He received his education at Clinton, graduating at Hamilton College with the highest honors of his class in 1818. In the language of Rev. Albert Barnes, once a fellow student with him, "his high social position, warm, generous nature, and acknowledged talents and scholarship, led to a universal expectation of a high career of honor and usefulness." His life has more than verified these expectations, but quite likely in a direction least expected. The intellectual world was, perhaps, best acquainted with his qualities, yet it knew little of the individuality of the man, and little foresaw the career he would mark out for himself.
In the year 1819, Gerrit Smith married Miss Wealtha, only daughter of President Backus, of Hamilton College. Seven months of happy wedded life followed, and then death bereaved him. With his affectionate and impulsive nature, thus thrown back upon himself, he redoubled his vigilance and energy in the care of the large estate, conveyed to him by his father, (Nov. 1st of the same year,) and thus bore up manfully under his early affliction. In January, 1822, he was again married to Miss Ann Carroll, daughter of Colonel Fitzhugh, formerly of Maryland. Of a family of seven children born to them, but two lived to the years of maturity. These are Mrs. Charles D. Miller, residing at Geneva, N. Y., and Greene C. Smith of Peterboro.
With a heart full and overflowing with sympathy for all classes of unfortunates, and with abundant means at his command, Mr. Smith early identified himself with the benevolent enterprises of the day. In 1825 he connected himself with the American Colonization Society, with the hope that its projects and efforts would be successful and lead to speedy emancipation. He gave largely for its interests, but in 1835 he withdrew and connected himself with the American Anti-Slavery Society, as a surer prospect of accomplishing the desired result.
Though by inheritance and purchase from fellow heirs a large land-holder, he nevertheless became strongly opposed to land monopoly and practically illustrated his sentiments by the distribution of 200,000 acres of land, in part amongst institutions of learning, but mostly among poor white and black men. His largest gifts in money have been in aid of emancipation and to assist the poor in buying homes. He made it a rule to give all he could spare.
Mr. Smith was never a regular student of law, yet he was admitted to practice in State and Federal Courts in 1853. He had been a student of men, measures, and statutes during a third of a century, and became a lawyer of rank through a steady, healthy growth of intellect.
In 1861, and at intervals all through the war of the rebellion, he made public speeches in favor of a vigorous and uncompromising prosecution of the war, and from time to time wrote and published circulars in the interest of the union cause.
For many years he had advocated by public speeches, published essays and appeals, a larger liberty of opinion and freedom from what he believed to be the bondage of sect. In 1856, a volume of his speeches in Congress was published; in 1861 another volume was issued, entitled "Sermons and Speeches;" in 1868 "Letters of Rev. Albert C. Barnes and Gerrit Smith" appeared.
Mr. Smith's religion is as comprehensive as his principles of freedom. It is essentially a religion of love. "Do unto others as you would they should do to you" is the religion of his life, taught by him in precept and by example. It fills his heart with the deepest sympathy and the broadest philanthropy; and yet, from convictions which have settled themselves in his mind after the maturity of years of study and reflection, it is emphatically a religion of reason, which discards all statements not based upon proofs which can be substantiated by the essence of truth; it must be taught by facts, and not fancies. But in throwing away all that he cannot reconcile with his ideas of truth, he might remove the foundation upon which another's reason would stand. Let him place a broader, firmer stepping stone, not too high, before removing the rock on which the millions have rested their faith ! He holds that the religion of reason is tolerant and patient, because men are conscious t! hat reason, mixed as it is in the human breast with ignorance, prejudice and passion, is not to be relied on as an entirely infallible guide.
Against Slavery, Land Monopoly, Intemperance, and for Woman's Rights, he launched the force of his master intellect, always telling with powerful effect wherever directed.
In 1852, when elected to Congress, in defining his political position he thus gave a few of the "peculiarities," as he terms them, of his political creed:
"1st, That it acknowledges no law and knows no law for slavery; that not only is slavery not in the Federal Constitution, but that by no possibility could it be brought either into the Federal or in a State Constitution." It seems, that having defined his principles he went to Congress with no other aim than to defend and enforce them on every occasion when they were legitimate, or pertinent in debate. His memorable, speech on the Nebraska Bill brought up again the ever recurring question of Slavery; and here he seized the opportunity to enlighten the Honorable Body, the House, in his view of the laws of God and humanity.
"2d. The right to the soil is as natural, absolute and equal, as the right to the light and air." The "Homestead Bill" called forth his masterly appeal for "homes for all," yet when the bill came up amended so as to limit the grant of land to white persons, he voted against it, "and that to" he says "nothwithstanding I have for so many years loved, advocated and acted upon, the great essential principles of the bill." He adds:---"The curse of God is upon the bill, or there is no God. There is no God, if we have liberty to insult and outrage any portion of His children."
"3d. That political rights are not conventional, but natural, inhering in all persons, the black as well as the white, the female as well as the male."
Witness this defense of a theory unpopular now, scarcely thought worthy of respectful notice then---"Woman's Suffrage."
"4th. That the doctrine of "free trade," is the necessary outgrowth of the doctrine of human brotherhood; and that to impose restrictions on commerce is to build up unnatural and sinful barriers across that brotherhood."
"5th. That national wars are as brutal, barbarous and unnecessary, as are the violence and bloodshed to watch misguided and frenzied individuals are prompted, and that our country should, by her own Heaven-trusting and beautiful example, hasten the day when the nations of the earth shall "beat their swords into ploughshares and their spears into pruning hooks; when nation shall not lift up sword against nation, nor learn war any more."
"6th. That the province of the Government is but to protect persons and property; and that the building of railroads and canals, and the care of schools and churches, fall entirely outside of its limits and exclusively within the range of the 'voluntary principle.' Narrow, however, as are these limits, every duty within them is to be promptly, faithfully, and fully performed:---as well, for instance, the duty on the part of the Federal Government to put an end to the dram-shop manufacture of paupers and madmen in the city of Washington, as the duty on the part of the State Government to put an end to it in the State."
"7th. That as far as practicable, every officer, from the highest to the lowest, including especially the President and Postmaster, should be elected directly by the people."
In his speech on the then late war with Mexico, also that on the Pacific Railroad Bill, his letter to Senator Hamlin on the Reciprocity Treaty, and his speech on the bill making appropriations to the naval service, he availed himself of the privilege to defend and enforce his views of each subject. How heroically he battled for his principles of right the reader of those speeches will readily feel. In the bill making appropriations for the naval service, he endeavored to introduce the following clause:---"but no intoxicating liquors shall be provided as a beverage." In a speech glowing with earnestness and anxiety for our national welfare he insisted on its adoption,---only to see it fail. This was in July, 1854. He still persists in his arguments and entreaties to the people---finding that the government fails---to do away with all dram-shops and liquor selling. Just so persistently he fought against slavery, wisely directing his forces, until he saw the huge superstructure of the evil crumbling before him. The crisis came in a manner he had not sought and sooner than he had presumed to hope; "he had builded better than he knew."
One cannot rise from the reading of his speeches in Congress without beholding the man, as with the interior sight, in all the grandeur of his high manhood, standing alone, surrounded by opposing forces, boldly declaring most unpopular theories, defending with the might of a Hercules the rights of the down trodden slave. His cool, clear brain was never confused; God-given power inspired utterances of God's truth; he wrought under the illumination of the fires he had kindled upon the altars of truth, freedom, and universal brotherhood; the weight of justly balanced arguments convinced; his comprehensive mind weighed nation, excusing not our own national sins more than those of others. He was a patriot, but more, a philanthropist. If he erred, it was in the way of according too large liberty to the people; for he advocated the principle that "the less a people are governed the better they are governed."
But Gerrit Smith never loved the arena of political warfare; his deep sense of the wrongs which have been allowed to exist with no voice of authority lifted against them, has been all that has drawn him from the peaceful rural life he loves so well. Having been the manager, as well as the possessor, of the extensive landed estate inherited from his father, his general tastes and habits were of the more quiet and retired class. Amid the surroundings of nature, his great philanthropy and the wonderful sympathy for his fellow-men has been in great part developed. Much of the vast property gathered by the shrewd management and thrifty enterprise of the father, has been judiciously and wisely distributed by the son, in obedience to the holy lessons learned.
In his home, wealth has been expended for the cultivation of all intellectual tastes and domestic virtues, and everything is in keeping with the largest hospitality. Harmony and affection preside. Mrs. Smith is a lovely woman. Her devoted and religious character is conspicuous, and her fine and elevated mind grasps the beautiful and the pure, and worships the noble and the good.
This small village is located in a deep valley, through which the Cowassalon Creek flows. On the east rises the ridge, or rather stretch of highland, which separates the Oneida Creek, or Stockbridge valley, from the Cowassalon valley. Westerly rises another range of the water-shed. The old Peterboro Turnpike passes through this village. As one descends the steep hills from the westward, at a curve in the road he is suddenly surprised at the sight of the little "ville" nestled so cosily at the base of the hills in the narrow, deep valley. He sees first---and conspicuously from his standpoint---on the pretty landscape, the round, or octagon building painted white, Mr. Hardy's apiary. It is constructed on the most modern or scientific plan for beekeeping. He sees at least two large buildings, which were once taverns, one of which is converted into a cheese factory; and then the old Baptist church, somewhat hoary with age, not a large building, and without a steeple---an appendage it never had---in the rear of which is the old burial ground, with many old, and some new headstones. This last was built about 1820. Siloam has now, (1872,) some fifteen or twenty dwelling houses, some of them not in the style of to-day, and wearing the aspect of age, though they were reckoned pretty cottages in the day of their erection.
This place was settled about 1803. Its first pioneer is said to have been John or George Gregg. The next were Capt. Joseph Black, a Mr. Cowen and a John and Jacob De Mott.
Capt. Joseph Black kept the first tavern of the place, in a log house, about 1804 or '05; the next was kept by his son, John Black, and the third by J. Ellenwood, about 1808, in a small house built by himself. This building was demolished in the summer of 1871, thus obliterating a rather old landmark. The first grist mill of the village---the one in operation now---was built in 1810, by Jeremiah Ellenwood and Elijah Manley, and the first saw mill, in the same year, by Ellenwood and David Coe. The present owner of this grist mill is Hosea W. Holmes. The first store was kept by Alexander Ostrander and John Black, in 1821 or '22, but it started on a small scale as is illustrated by the following:--- A few days after it was opened, one of the proprietors seeing a citizen that lived a mile or so out of the village, invited him to see his store. The citizen walked in and apparently surveyed its contents with some degree of surprise and then exclaimed, "Nice ! very nice ! just such an establishment as every man wants for his own convenience."
Benjamin Palmer was the first physician located in Siloam.
In addition to the business of this place as above mentioned, there were built at a later day a brewery and a distillery, by J. Ellenwood, another distillery by Daniel Dickey, (once a Member of Assembly,) and the third by Wilbur & Wales. These distilleries furnished whisky enough for the whole surrounding country. For some years before the Chenango Canal was completed, the two taverns of the place dealt out at retail about one hundred barrels yearly, there being in those years a large business done by teams, which furnished them patronage, hauling plaster through this section to the southern counties of the State. After the canal was opened the resident population refused to sustain these institutions by dram-drinking patronage, and they went down. There is now no inn in the place; but any respectable appearing traveller is able to obtain comfortable entertainment of the well-to-do citizens.
The village was first known as "Ellenwood's Hollow;" but Elder Beman, of Peterboro, gave it the Scripture name of Siloam, on account of the medicinal qualities of a spring of water here which was resorted to, to some extent, by invalids. This water has proved very beneficial. It doubtless contains as many medicinal qualities as any other mineral spring of the many in this section of the State. It is still occasionally visited, but no improvements are made around it.
The Baptist Church of Siloam. --- The church edifice was built in 1820. Among the first members are Phillip P. Brown and wife, David Coe and wife, William Sloan and wife, John Warren and wife, Nathan Parkhurst and wife, John Stewart and wife, Capt. Joseph Black and wife, and Miss Fannie Wood. The church society was organized January 5th, 1820, with forty-five members. Elder Dyer D. Ransom was the first pastor. Elder P.P. Brown, now of Madison village, was pastor some ten years. When he closed his labors the church members numbered two hundred. After he left these dwindled away; in a few years but a small percentage was left.
The Presbyterian Church of Peterboro was instituted at an early day. Its early membership was not large. The meeting house was built about 1820. It was built on an extensive plan at great cost, the work being largely aided pecuniarily by Gerrit Smith. It has recently been changed into the Peterboro Academy.
The Baptist Church at Peterboro was organized about 1810. Meetings were regularly held in school houses and private dwellings until 1820, when the Baptist meeting house was built.
The Methodist Episcopal Church at Peterboro. --- This society was first organized as a class on Mile Strip in February, 1830, by Rev. Isaac Puffer, assisted by George Butler, a local preacher. Meetings were held in the school house. About sixty persons were connected with this society. Subsequently this society was transferred to Peterboro where they held meetings in the Presbyterian Church. In 1853 the society was organized and the same year built their meeting house.