The soil upon the flat lands of the north, is generally of red clay, with great quantities of muck and marl in the swampy regions. Upon the northern declivities of the hills, the soil is a gravelly loam, intermixed with lime and plaster, and is very productive. Further south, the soil upon the hills is a clayey, gravelly and shaly loam, lest adapted to pasturage; and in the valleys, a gravelly loam and alluvium. Stock raising and dairying are the principal pursuits of the people. Hops are cultivated extensively throughout the County. Manufactures are limited, and confined chiefly to a few villages.
The County seat is located at Morrisville. The first Courts were held, alternatively, at the schoolhouse near David Barnard's, in the Sullivan, (now Lenox,) and at the schoolhouse, in the village of Hamilton. The first officers were the following: - Peter Smith, First Judge; Sylvanus Smalley, Edward Green, Elisha Payne and David cook, Associate Judges; Asa B Sizer, County Clerk; Jeremiah Whipple, Sheriff; and Thomas H. Hubbard, Surrogate. In 1810 Cazenovia was selected as the site of the County buildings, and Col. John Lincklaen, and Capt. Jackson were appointed to superintend the erection of a Court House. A brick building was erected, and the first Court was held in it in January 1812. In 1817, the County seat was removed to Morrisville, and the first Court was held there October 7, 1817. A new Court House was erected in 1847, and burned in October 1865, during the session of Court. It was rebuilt in 1866. It is a two story wooden building, containing a very fine court room, with gallery, jury rooms, and library. It is pleasantly situated, on a small park, fronting on the main street. In the park is a beautiful fountain and reservoir, thirty feet in diameter, and seven deep, affording an abundant supply of water in case of fire.
The Clerk's office is a small brick building, fire-proof, adjacent to the Court House. The present county officers are, Charles L. Kennedy, Judge; Andrew J. French, Sheriff; Lambert B. Kern, District Attorney; Nathan Brownell, County Clerk; Lambert B. Kern, District Attorney; Nathan Brownell, County Clerk; Henry S. Wiser, Deputy Clerk; David F. Payson, County Treasurer.
The County Poor House is located upon a farm of 159 acres, in the town of Eaton, five miles south-east of Morrisville. The following statistics respecting it are taken from the annual report of the Superintendents of the Poor, for the year 1867. The total expense for the year ending November 15, 1867, was $17,774.96. The stock upon the County house Farm consists of one span of horses, one yoke of oxen, 16 milch cows, 17 fat cattle, 28 sheep, and 4 fat hogs. The products of the farm were as follows: - 60 tons of hay, 100 bushels of oats, 250 bushels of corn, 450 bushels of potatoes, 35 bushels of bean, 10 bushels of onions, 14 bushels of peas, and a large supply of garden vegetables. There were milked on the farm, during the summer, 15 cows. Eight hundred pounds of butter were made, and four hundred and eighty dollars worth of cheese. There were manufactured at the County House, during the year, 37 pairs of pants, 22 men's frocks, 6 pairs drawers, 30 pairs overalls, 42 shirts, 29 women's dresses, 16 chemise, 2 night dresses, 2 under-skirts, 23 pairs sheets, 18 pairs pillow cases, 14 bedquilts, 7 straw ticks, 7 jackets and one coat. Fifty-two pounds of wool were manufactured into stockings and mittens by the inmates.
The whole number of paupers relieved and supported at the County house during the year was 161.
Number at the County House at the date of last report, 73. Number of births, .1. Number of deaths .7. Number discharged 60. Number who left without leave, 10. Number of children bound out, .7. Number of children out on trial, .5. Number at County House now, ..72. Greatest number at one time, ...135. Least " " " .,67. Number of children under 15 years of age, .15. Number of idiots, ..4. Number of insane, 14. Number of blind, .1. --------- Number of weeks board of resident paupers, ....4,079 3-7. Number of weeks board of transient paupers, .....660 2-7.
Total, ..4,739 5-7. Average cost per week, exclusive of produce of County Farm, ..$0.6387.
The principal public works in the County, are the Erie Canal and the New York Central Rail Road, extending through Lenox and Sullivan; Chenango Canal, extending through the north-west part of Madison, along the east border of Eaton, and he west border of Hamilton, leaving the County at Earlville. A new canal, connecting Oneida Lake, at South Bay, with the Erie Canal at Durhamville, is now under contract. The New York and Oswego Midland Rail Road is located in this County, from Oneida, through Stockbridge, Eaton and Lebanon, to Norwich. It is now under contract from Oswego to Sidney Plains, and the grading has already been commenced at several points. The Utica, Chenango and Susquehanna Rail Road extends through the north-west corner of Brookfield, near Hubbardsville, East Hamilton and Earlville, to Sherburne. The cars are already running to Sherburne. The Cazenovia and Canastota Rail Road Company has been organized, and the surveys made for a road from Canastota via Perryville, to Cazenovia.
The first newspaper published in the County was,
The Madison Freeholder, at Peterboro, in 1808, by Jonathan Bunce & Co. It soon after appeared as
The Freeholder, and was continued until 1813, when it was changed to
The Madison County Herald, and was continued several years.
The Christian and Citizen was published at Peterboro in 1854, by Pruyn & Walker.
The Pilot was established at Cazenovia, in August, 1808, by Oran E. Baker, and continued till August, 1823.
The Republican Monitor was started at Cazenovia, in September, 1823, by L. L. Rice. It was published by John F. Fairchild from April, 1825, till January, 1832; J. F. Fairchild & Son, till July, 1840, and by J. F. Fairchild, till March 5, 1841, when it was discontinued.
The Students Miscellany, semi-monthly, was published at Cazenovia, in 1831, by A. Owen and L. Kidder.
The Union Herald was commenced in May, 1835, by L. Myrick and E. W. C lark. In 1836, Clark withdrew, and in 1840, the paper was discontinued.
The Cazenovia Democrat was starting in September 1836, by J. W. Chubbuck & Co. It was edited by J. W. Dwinelle. In February 1837, it was discontinued.
The Madison County Eagle was commenced at Cazenovia in February 1840, by Cyrus O. Pool. In 1841 it was published by Thos. S. Myrick and W. H. Phillips. In June 1842, Myrick withdrew, and in May 1845, it was changed to
The Madison County Whig. In August 1848, Phillips was succeeded by H. A. Cooledge, by whom the paper was changed to
The Madison County News, in October 1853. In May 1854, it was again changed to
The Madison County Whig, and in January 1857, it was discontinued.
The Abolitionist was started at Cazenovia in 1841, by Luther Myrick, and continued for two years.
The Madison and Onondaga Abolitionist was published in 1843, by Luther Myrick and J. C. Jackson.
The Madison Republic was commenced at Cazenovia in January 1850, by W. H. Phillips, and continued about three months.
The Cazenovia Gazette was published by Baker & Debnam from October 1851, until May 1852.
The Progressive Christian was established in April 1853, by A. Pryne, and continued for two years.
THE CAZENOVIA REPUBLICAN was commenced May 1, 1854, by Seneca Lake; it was subsequently published by Crandall Brothers, and is now issued by Forte Brothers.
The Gazette and Madison County Advertiser was established at Peterboro in May 1817, by John B. Johnson & Son. It was removed to Morrisville in 1819, and discontinued in 1822.
The Madison Observer was commenced at Cazenovia in January 1821, by Rice & Hall. It was removed to Morrisville in 1822, and in 1824, Bennett Bicknell became its publisher. In 1829 it was united with The Hamilton Recorder, and issued as
The Observer and Recorder. In 1832 it passed into the hands of H. C. Bicknell and James Norton, and in 1834 into those of James Norton. In 1835 it was changed to
THE MADISON OBSERVER. In 1839 J. & E. Norton became its publishers, and in 1856, Edward Norton, by whom it is still published.
The Hamilton Recorder was started in 1817, by John G. Stower and P. B. Havens. In 1819 it passed into the hands of Stower & Williams, and afterwards into those of John P. Van Sice. In 1829 it was removed to Morrisville, and united with The Observer.
The Madison Farmer was published at Hamilton in 1828, by Nathaniel King.
The Civilian was started July 27, 1830, by Lauren Dewey. In February 1831, it passed into the hands of Lewison Fairchild, and in November 1831, it was discontinued.
The Hamilton Courier was commenced by G. R. Waldron, in February 1834, and in the following year it appeared as
The Hamilton Courier and Madison County Advertiser. It was continued until 1838.
The Hamilton Palladium was started in 1838, by John Atwood, and continued six years - a part of the time by J. & D. Atwood.
The Hamilton Eagle was published in 1839 by G. R. Waldron.
The Literary Visitor was published at Hamilton about three months, in 1842, by Dennis Redman.
The Democratic Reflector was started at Hamilton, by G. R. Waldron, in 1842, and was published by Waldron & Baker from 1843 until 1854, and two years by Waldron alone, when it was united with The Madison County Journal, and appeared as
THE DEMOCRATIC REPUBLICAN. It was published by Waldron & James until 1861; by J. Hunt Smith sixteen months, when it passed into the hands of E. D. Van Slyck, by whom it is now published.
The Madison Caunty Journal was commenced in September 1849, by E. F. & C. B. Gould. W. W. Chubbuck, F. B. Fisher and T. L. James, were afterwards in its publication; and in 1856 it was untied with The Democratic Reflector. The Mill Boy was published during the campaign of 1844, at the Palladium office, and
The Polker at the Reflector office.
The Land Mark was published as a campaign paper in 1850.
The New York State Radii was removed from Fort Plain, Montgomery County, in 1854, by L. S. Backus, and continued about 18 months, when it was returned to Fort Plain.
THE DEMOCRATIC UNION was commenced at Hamilton in 1856, by Levi S. Backus; and in 1857 it passed into the hands of W. H. Baker, who removed it to Oneida in 1863, where he continues to publish it.
The Canastota Register was published in 1830, by Silas Judd and H. B. Mattison, and in 1831, by H. S. Merritt.
The Canastota Times was commenced in 1857, by G. H. Merriam, and was discontinued the following year.
The Canastota Eagle was started November 5, 1858, by J. E. N. Backus, and published about three years.
THE CANASTOTA HERALD was commenced in September 1866, and published by A. White until April1 867; then by White & Greenhow one year, when it passed into the hands of Greenhow & Son, its present publishers.
The Chittenango Herald was established in 1832, by Isaac Lyon, and was published successively as
The Chittenango Republican,
The Phoenix, and
The Democratic Gazette, until 1856, when it was discontinued.
The De Ruyter Herald was published in 1835, by C. W. Mason.
The Protestant Sentinel was moved from Schenectady to De Ruyter in November 1836, and was published by J. & C. H. Maxon until the fall of 1837. It then passed into the hands of Wm. D. Cochran, by whom it was issued as
The Protestant Sentinel and Seventh Day Baptist Journal. In February 1840, Joel Greene became its publisher, and changed it to
The Seventh Day Baptist Register. In 1841 it passed into the hands of James Bailey, by whom it was continued until 1845.
The National Banner was commenced at De Ruyter in October 1847, by A. C. Hill, and continued two years.
The Central New Yorker was published at De Ruyter, by E. F. & C. B. Gould, from September 1848, until May 1851.
The Banner of the Times was started at De Ruyter, by Walker & Hall, and continued until 1855.
The De Ruyter Weekly News was established in 1862, by J. E. N. Backus, and was discontinued in 1864.
The Sabbath School Gem, monthly, was published in 1863 and 1864, by J. E. N. Backus.
The Oneida Telegraph was commenced at Oneida in September 1851, by D. H. Frost. In June 1854, it passed into the hands of John Crawford, and was changed to
The Oneida Sachem, under which name it continued until May 1863, when it changed to
THE ONEIDA DISPATCH. September 16, 1865, it passed into the hands of Purdy & Jackson, its present publishers. From March to October 1864, Edward H. Spooner was associated with Mr. Crawford in the publication of the Dispatch.
The Independent Volunteer was started July 28, 1864, at Morrisville and Hamilton. September 25, 1866, it was changed to
WALDRON'S DEMOCRATIC VOLUNTEER, and is now published at Hamilton, by G. R. Waldron & Son.
The Circular is a weekly paper, published by the Oneida Community.
Nearly all the south half of this County belonged to the tract known as the "Chenango Twenty Towns;" a tract ceded by the Indians of the State, in a treaty made with Gov. George Clinton, at Fort Schuyler, September 22, 1788. These towns were originally designated by numbers. Those embraced in Madison County are Nelson, Eaton, Madison, Hamilton, Lebanon and Georgetown, formerly numbered respectively, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, and Brookfield, embracing 19 and 20. A strip lying between this tract and the Military Tract, including De Ruyter and the greater part of Cazenovia, was embraced in the Lincklaen purchase. The Oneida Indian Reservation originally embraced all the north part of the County, but was subsequently divided into several large tracts. The "New Petersburgh Tract," or purchase of Peter Smith, embraced fifty thousand acres, including nearly all of Smithfield and Fenner, the north part of Cazenovia, and a strip, one mile wide, across the south part of Stockbridge. The remainder of Stockbridge was included in the Reservation of the Stockbridge Indians. Lenox and Sullivan constituted the northwest portion of the Oneida Indian Reservation.
The first settlements of this County were made by squatters upon the Oneida Reservation, in 1770. The permanent settlements were commenced about 1795, by immigrants, chiefly from the New England States, who have left an indelible stamp upon the County, of their industry, intelligence and morality. The great lines of travel, from the Hudson to the Niagara, passed either north or south of the territory embraced in Madison County, and to this fact, perhaps, may be attributed its exemption from the horrors of war, which disturbed the more southern and adjoining counties.
One incident, prominent among the revolutionary events, and probably the leading cause to the first settlement of the County, may with propriety be recorded among the local interests of the County. In the fall of 1780, about 800 men were collected in the vicinity of Montreal, with all possible speed and secrecy; embarked without delay upon batteaux that were in readiness for them; they passed up the river to Lake Ontario, through the lake, up the Oswego River, through the Oneida branch to Oneida Lake, thence a few miles up Chittenango Creek, where they concealed their boats and stores, and started on a marauding expedition. While Col's Johnston and Butler were organizing this force in Canada, Brant had collected the Indians at Tioga Point, and ascending the Susquehanna to Unadilla, he united his force with that of Col. Johnston and Butler, and the whole army moved to Schoharie. Satins of blood and fir marked the progress of the invading foe. Yielding to the same fiendish spirit, the proceeded to the valley of the Mohawk, plundering and burning, till overcome with fatigue, and overburthened with plunder, they halted at a place called Klocksfield, on the East Canada Creek. As soon as the news of this irruption reached the American headquarters, General Robert Van Rensselaer went in pursuit of the foe, with a force of 1,500 men. Advancing upon the south side of the river, he reached the ford west of St. Johnsville, which was guarded by forty men, but did not advance until the guard was withdrawn. On the afternoon of the next day, the force came up with the British troops and Indians, who fled, intending to reach their boats by the shortest route. Gen. Van Rensselaer pursued them as far as Herkimer, then sent an express to Fort Schuyler, (Rome,) ordering Captain Vrooman, with a strong detachment, to hasten forward to Chittenango Creek and destroy the enemy boats and stores. Capt. Vrooman surprised the guard left in charge of the boats, made them prisoners, and sunk all of their boats but two. Having accomplished their work, Vrooman and his party were in turn surprised by the arrival of Butler's Rangers and Indians, and the whole party made prisoners, without firing a gun. The British were much irritated at the discovery of their boats sunk, and their stores destroyed. They succeeded, however, in raising a sufficient number of boats to make their escape. While the regular troops were making the necessary arrangements for their embarkation, their more savage allies amused themselves by the wanton massacre of three prisoners and the torture of the fourth. For many years a lofty pine tree stood near the place of Vrooman's capture, memorable as the "Turtle Tree" from the circumstances of the rude outline of a turtle been engraved upon the trunk. This symbol indicated a victory and torture of prisoners. An importance was attached to the latter incident, which caused the Indians, for many years, to make an annual pilgrimage to the "Turtle Tree". The prisoner was bound between two files of Indians, who were armed with clubs and other weapons, ready and anxious to give their victim a blow. They promised him life and honor if he should reach the end of the line without serious injury. The prisoner mad nine leaps along the line, of such astonishing length, that, for the moment, the savages withheld the blows they seemed ready to inflict; but at the tenth leap he was struck down, cruelly beaten, and afterwards burned. . Each leap of the prisoner was marked, and for many years the Indians were accustomed to assemble at this spot, and attempt, unbound, to equal the leaps of the unfortunate prisoner, but without success. Authorities differ as to the precise spot upon which this British force landed, but the early settlers of Sullivan found portions of muskets, knives, hatchets and bullets, in the vicinity, and fragments of boats among the driftwood along the shore. A rumor long prevailed that in the hurry of escape, Johnston lost his military chest, containing a large amount of specie, and search was made for the lost treasure, but without success.
The soldiers composing Capt. Vrooman's detachment, sent from Fort Schuyler, were mostly Dutchmen from the Mohawk settlements; a part of them lived to reach their homes, after a long captivity. They remembered their early expedition, the rich lands of the Oneida, the streams abounding in fish, and the forests in game. Among these hardy pioneers was Capt. Seber, who, in March 1790, with nine families, started from their first homes upon the Mohawk, to visit and people the region of their battle ground, now forming the north part of Madison County. In this pioneer band were included the Pickards, Van Slykes and Palsleys, names familiar in the early history of the County. Reaching the flats of Canaseraga, they were pleased with its appearance, and selecting farms contiguous to each other, commenced to clear the land, and put in the seed for their future harvest. The season was propitious, and a bountiful harvest rewarded the labors of these first settlers. The Oneida Indians were greatly irritated at the intrusion of these pale faces upon their rightful possessions, and watched Capt. Seber and his party with a jealous eye. Their ill will increased, and their grievances at length became intolerable. by the advice of their missionary, they submitted their grievances to the Governor, whose duty it was to see that justice was meted out to all within his dominions. The result was, that the settlers were ordered to remove from the lands of the Oneidas. They pertinaciously refused to obey the order, and Col. Colbraith, Sheriff of Montgomery County, was sent with an armed force of sixty men to dislodge them. Unawed by the power and authority of the Sheriff; they clung to their cabins, absolutely refusing to remove. Finding all commands and entreaties of no avail, the Sheriff ordered all movable articles to be removed from their cabins, and then set them on fire, leaving the settlers to witness, in sullen silence, the destruction of their houses, and the blasting of their hopes of a permanent home in this goodly land. The Indians having accomplished their object, now came forward and directed the settlers to the grounds near the present village of Chittenango, where they were permitted to settle, and, unmolested, to hunt and fish until the earth should again yield her fruits for their sustenance. Capt. Seber and a few others removed afterwards to the vicinity of Clockville, in the town of Lenox. When this first attempt was made to form a settlement in this region, no road had been opened for wagons. An Indian trail extended from the villages of the Oneidas to the cabins of the Onondagas, nearly on the line of the Seneca turnpike, to Chittenango, thence to "Deep Spring," on the County line. The first attempt to make a road through the County was by William Wadsworth, from Connecticut, on his way to the "Genesee Country." He left his home in June 1790, with an ox team and cart, two or three hired men, and a favorite colored woman, Jenny, who was for a long time the only one of her race in that region. West of Whitesboro, Mr. Wadsworth was obliged to cut away logs, build causeways through the sloughs, ford streams, and, at Cayuga Lake, construct a pontoon of two Indian canoes lashed together, and covered with poles. The State afterwards made an appropriation for the improvement of this road, and in 1800, the "Seneca Turnpike Company" was empowered to improve the old State road, from Utica to Canandaigua. During the first season it was opened to the width of six rods, as far as Vernon, and the next season to Chittenango. Another road was opened at an early day from Peterboro to Cherry Valley, greatly increasing the facilities of travel, and offering additional inducements to settle this delightful region. Emigrants from Mohawk Valley began at this time to settle upon lands now comprised in towns of Lenox and Sullivan. The soil was fertile, and yielded abundant harvests to reward the labor of those pioneers of the forest. There was neither grist-mill or saw-mill in this region till 1794, when they were erected by Col. John Lincklaen, in Cazenovia. Previous to this the inhabitants traveled with their grists to new Hartford on Manlius. From this time, roads were multiplied and improved; the facilities of travel increased, and the County rapidly increased in wealth and population. To facilitate the transportation of farm products to the canal and railroad, plank roads, for a time, were rapidly extended. In 1848 a plank road was constructed from Hamilton to Utica, and in 1850, another connecting Hamilton, Madison and Oriskany. The same year Georgetown and Pecksport were connected by a road passing through Eaton and Leeville. In 1851, a plank road was laid from Canastota to Morrisville, and another soon after from Peterboro to Clarksville. One of the principal plank roads of the County extended from De Ruyter, through Cazenovia and Chittenango, to Oneida Lake. it was completed in 1848, at a cost of $21,000 more than $10,000 of which was expended in grading. - This road passed through a very difficult valley, in some places assuming the character of a gorge, and overcame an elevation of 800 feet, by a gradual ascent, in no place more than six feet in one hundred. The old road required an aggregate ascent of about 1600 feet. This road rendered available a valuable water power, which before was inaccessible. Many of these roads have been macadamized since the plank was worn out. One of the best in the County is from Canastota to Peterboro; another from Chittenango depot to Cazenovia.
The Madison County Agricultural society was formed in September 1841. J. D. Ledyard, of Cazenovia, was chosen President; Elijah Morse, of Eaton, H. G. Warner, of Sullivan, J. H. Dunbar, of East Hamilton, Vice Presidents; Alexander Krumbhaer, of Cazenovia, and A. S. Sloan, of Eaton, Secretaries. For several years the Society held annual Fairs at various points in the County, and the occasions were of general interest to those immediately Concerned with their management, and to the spectators generally. Among those who have at different times been interested in introducing improved breeds of stock, we find recorded the following: Messrs. Whitman and Douglass introduced a Devon bull into the town of Sullivan, about the year 1825, and in 1843, S. A. Gilbert, of East Hamilton, raised a bull calf that became generally known as the "Ackly Bull," and was subsequently owned by D. D. Palmer, of Brookfield. The weight of this animal was nearly two thousand pounds. A yoke of steers, the progeny of this bull, were exhibited at the County Fair in 1851, by H. P. Potter, of East Hamilton, which weighed 3,360 pounds. Mr. Beaumont, of Eaton, brought into the County a thorough bred Durham bull, and a few heifers, which contributed to the improvement of the stock of the County. Sylvester Burchard, of Madison, and David Osgood, of Hamilton, may be honorably mentioned in this connection; as also Sanford P. Chapman, of Lenox, who at one time owned a very valuable herd of short-horn stock. In 1810, Curtis Hoppin brought into the town of Lebanon about two hundred sheep, of mixed breeds, among which were coarse wooled, fine wooled, and a few South-down bucks and ewes. This may be considered the commencement of sheep raising in the County with a view to profit; the farmers selected from his flocks, and commenced sheep breeding. In 1823, Mr. Hoppin introduced a few full blooded Merino sheep, which in due season gave character and value to the growing flocks. John B. Yates, Esq., of Chittenango, deserves honorable mention for his efforts in improving the breed of horses in the County. He introduced "Ethiop" and "Hambletonian," and other excellent horses. "Messenger" was brought into the County by Henry and George Ehle, of Sullivan. Messrs. Ackley, of Hamilton, introduced the "Morgan" horse from Vermont. For several years the existence of the Agricultural Society inspired a healthy rivalry on the part of the farmers and stock breeders of he County, but for some reason, unknown to the writer of this, the Society has become a defunct institution.
In preparing this brief historical sketch, we have had access to no reliable statistics from which we could ascertain the number of men this County furnished for the late war, or the number whose lives were offered as a sacrifice upon the altar of our common country, that the blessings handed down to us by our fathers might be preserved. That she responded cheerfully to the several calls, and performed her part in preserving the Government, whose foundation was cemented by the blood of our fathers, there is abundant evidence. The battle fields and prison pens of the South will bear witness that Madison was not behind her sister counties in her devotion to loyalty and justice. Though shafts of marble and granite may arise to perpetuate the memory of her fallen heroes, the most enduring monument is found in the hearts of a grateful people, whose land has been freed from treason and slavery.