Siloam, Town of Smithfield
Note: By Mrs. Sylvia E. Shaver, daughter of H. Eugene Chaffee, 1952
One of the early villages of this section was Ellinwood Hollow - later known as Siloam. It is located in the township of
Smithfield (named after Peter Smith), and it is pleasantly situated on the banks of the Cowaselon Creek about ten miles south
of Oneida. This creek, which originates from a group of springs south of the town, meanders down the valley in a generally
north-westerly direction, to flow into the Canaseraga Creek; which, in turn, empties into Oneida Lake. The rolling hills of
glacial origin form the eastern and western extremities of the village.
Many years ago the Oneida and Stockbridge Indians roamed these hills and valleys and made encampments on them.
Evidence of one such encampment has been found on and near the Ronald Olcott farm. Here were located fire places which
they used to send smoke signals to their friends near Oneida Lake. Nearby is a shallow rectangular ditch which is all that
remains of an Indian stockade. Ronald Olcott has a very interesting collection of Indian relics found on their farm.
The hill east of Siloam is now known as "Stockbridge West Hill." It is a matter of record that Joel Baker, the first white
settler there, lived among the Indians for some years and finally bought a farm on the edge of Smithfield township. It is
presumed that these were the Stockbridge Indians.
The story is told of a young girl - Mary Antone - who was about to be hanged at Peterboro. She was tried and convicted
of murdering a rival who had succeeded in gaining the attentions of a young Indian whom she admired. The day of the hanging
came and the authorities summoned her father and brother who lived on or near the Adams farm near Siloam, to bid her
good-bye. She was on the platform awaiting the signal and there was expectation of trouble but they shook hands stoically with
not a sign of emotion from either one, and her family calmly walked away. He was later hung for killing the man, John Jacobs,
who testified against her.
Peter Smith, then of Utica, a smart Dutch trader, drew the attention of some influential people in New Youir City on
account of his trade in fur with some Indians. Among them was John Jacob Astor with whom he formed a partnership - Smith to
buy the furs and J.J. Astor to sell them in New York. When Peter Smith made these fur-buying trips, he kept a weather eye out
for good investments in land as he knew the settlers would soon be coming in large numbers as the country opened up.
The town of Smithfield, including Ellinwood Hollow was part of one of these parcels of land, which he obtained about
1795. As settlers were not allowed to buy land from the Indians, Mr. Smith with the help of his good friend, Chief Skenandoah,
of the Oneidas, leased this land from the Indians for 99 [999?] years and he, in turn, leased it to the settlers for 21 years.
Eventually the state bought the land from the Indians and either sold or leased it to individuals or companies. This land leased
by Smith was known as the "New Petersburgh Tract" and contained about 50,000 acres. The settlers had to clear away the
forest from three or four acres and build a cabin. They paid $60.00 for three years as a betterment tax to the state; then, $30.00
The only means of bringing supplies and mail to the New Petersburgh Tract was to follow the blazed Indians trails on
horseback or on foot and the principal source of supply was Utica. Mr. Lucas brought the first mail through Madison County
territory on horseback about 1798. Later it was brought by a Mr. Langdon - still later by mail coach.
Peter Smith wished to develop the New Petersburgh Tract to a greater extent, so he urged the Oneida Turnpike
Company, Inc., to build a road into the region. The contract for this turnpike was let in 1801 to Capt. Black, one of the most
upright men of the times. This road was to follow a well-traveled Indian trail from the dwelling place of Jonathan Dean in the
town of Augusta, Oneida County, through the Oneida and Stockbridge reservations, over the hills to Ellinwood Hollow, then to
Peterboro, and eventually to the home of John Lincklean in Cazenovia.
As Peter Smith, John Lincklean and Jonathan Dean were deeply religious, they felt that this road would also facilitate the
traveling of missionaries through this region.
John or George Gregg was the first settler in Ellinwood Hollow, which he thought an ideal spot. As work on the turnpike
progressed, he was joined by Mr. Cowen, Capt. Joseph Black, John and Jacob DeMott, David Coe, Samuel Ellinwood and
A part of the Genesee Turnpike was already built; also a contract was signed in 1803 for building the Cherry Valley
Turnpike to the south, so this Peterboro turnpike would be a connecting link between the two roads.
When Joseph Black, the road builder, reached Ellinwood Hollow, he needed accomodations for his workmen. So he
built the first tavern of logs there in 1804. John Black, Joseph's son, and Samuel Ellinwood built a larger tavern there in 1808
to care for the increasing number of travelers coming into the region and this tavern continued in business there many years.
Ellinwood also built a smaller tavern and home for himself between the present homes of Harold Wright and Wm. Smith. This was
finally demolished in 1871. One of the other taverns was the old cheese factory, now Ray Bishop's barn. Another was where
Janet Mitchell lives. Still another was situated on the rise of ground above Mrs. Frank Davis'.
By the year 1810 the influx of settlers was large. The census that years noted 47,000 people in Madison County and
there was business enough in Ellinwood Hollow to warrant the building of a sawmill by Ellinwood and David Coe. A grist mill
was built the same year by Ellinwood and Elijah Manly, both of which utilized the water power from Cowaselon Creek. About
this time John Black and Alexander Ostander built a store and established a post office which continued in this location until
1856. The first and only physician, as far as I can find out, was Benjamin Palmer.
About 1814-1816 a group of 17 families out of 100 who came from Scotland and North Ireland traveled on horseback
from Londonderry, N. H., and entranced by the beauty of the place, settled along the turnpike on Stockbridge West Hill. Among
them were the McGregors, Blacks, Greens, Porters, Coes, Fosters, Sloans, Bulgers, Boylans, Millers, Thompsons, etc. The
Warrens, Alexanders, and Dodges also settled there. They introduced the cultivation of linen to this region.
Wm. Dodge, Sr., one of these many pioneers, was born in a small house - now gone - at the foot of the hill, just below
Chas. Putnam's to the left, and had his own little blacksmith shop which was customary in those days. The Abraham Dodges
once lived between Siloam and Peterboro. Around 1880 Wm. Dodge, who married Achsah Davidson of Stockbridge, lived
where Chas. Putnam does now; then his son Monroe and later Forbes Dodge lived there. It was finally sold to Willis Putnam.
From 1824-1830 the Chenango Canal was built. The Erie was already built as a cheaper means of transportation. This
increased business on this turnpike, and Ellinwood Hollow was a stopping place for teamsters coming down from Oswego with
plaster and materials for the canal, who stopped here to rest their horses and often stayed overnight to refresh themselves.
Wheeler Holmes and his six brothers, who had never been separated, came to Oswego about 1830 from Stonington,
Conn., to seek their fortunes. Here they stayed only a short time, then continued their wanderings, and when one of the
brothers, Wheeler - a millwright by trade - reached Ellinwood Hollow, he realized the possibilities of Cowaselon Creek
waterpower. Here he built a grist mill about 1840. In this same mill he built a corn-sheller, corncob crusher, etc. The grain was
ground by two large stones, one of which revolved on a shaft - the other was stationary. Later he built a sawmill. This mill
continued in operation until 1899 when it caught fire from chimney sparks and was burned. later, two other sawmills were built
by other people, one down the creek on what is now Floyd Avery's farm.
This was later turned into a cider mill by Burt Hardy and torn down by Chas. Avery in 1901 and rebuilt as a workshop and
garage. The other - farther down - was on the creek back of the old stone house on Lee Shaver's property.
One of the wheels of the old mill at Ellinwood Hollow was salvaged by Edward Brophy and used for shaping wagon
wheel tires at his blacksmith shop across the road. This wheel is now on the lawn of the Hrold Park home - the former home of
Two sulphur springs were discovered on the property of Squire Ellinwood. At that time, sulphur baths were considered a
good treatment for rheumatism, so the Squire proceeded to promote these springs as a business proposition. Ellinwood hired
Jonass Wright, grandfather of Henry, Harold and Roy Wright, to build a bathhouse, also a flume to carry the water from the
spring - about an eighth of a mile distant - to this bathhouse. It was eight-sided and, even to this day, unusual for this part of
New York State.
The Rev. P. P. Beman of Peterboro was much interested in the plan, and to make it more attractive to prospective
patients, he suggested changing the name of this village from Ellinwood Hollow to the Biblical name of Siloam on account of
the medicinal springs. For a time these springs were a center of attraction for rheumatic sufferers, but their popularity finally
waned and, as this venture was not a financial success, the bathhouse soon closed. The larger of these springs is said to be
30 feet across with overflow and is supposed to be bottomless. They both have the same sulphur analysis. The property was
bought from Squire Ellinwood by Mrs. Cordelia Miller, who sold it to DeEstin Wright in 1901. The bathhouse was moved by his
son, Harold, to its present location on the main road in 1928. It is now used by him as a garage.
One of the older families was that of Uzal Parkhurst who lived on the Creek Road where Burt West lives now. He was
married three times and had twenty seven children. One son, Edgar, as a young man. was working for Mr. Quackenbush of
Stockbridge on his farm. As the Midland Railroad had just been built about 1870 through Madison County and being of an
advernturous disposition, on hearing the whistle of a train, he tied the team to the fence, hopped a freight and departed for
parts unknown, ending up at Hot Springs, Arkansas. He returned in about two years but found the horses were not where he
left them. He made several trips this way until the railroad put a ban on his kind of travel. Orlando, the youngest son, was a
musician and played the pipe organ in churches at Rome and Utica for many years. Chloe Ann Parkhurst Moon, Uzal
Parkhurst Jr., and Mary Ann Parkhurst Shaver were grandparents of Bernard Moon, Naomi Conine Park, and Lee Shaver,
Another one of the older families was that of Isaac Johnass Wright who lived on the Valley Road where the Jack
Marstons now live. Two sons, Morris and LaFayette, went west. Francis bought the John Woodcock house and store about
1899. Mr. Woodcock was a hunchback and kept store and post office here for a long time before Francis Wright took over. As
a sideline, Mr. Wright wove rag rugs and carpets with a foot-powered loom. He died in 1918 and both he and his wife are
buried in Siloam Cemetery. After Francis Wright, Jay Gregg kept store across the road. He sold out to Mrs. Margaret Martin, who
kept the last complete store in Siloam. Another of Johnass Wright's sons was DeEstin, who bought the John Dolly house, now
owned by his son, Harold. He was a carpenter but kept bees as a sideline, and his bee equipment was stored in the old bathing
house. One of DeEstin's sons, Roy, graduated from Syracuse University in Chemical Engineering and taught in Herkimer for
several years. Elizabeth, the older daughter, took over the old home. Chas. and Estella Wright Benn, also Watson Wright, lived
with her. Watson, blind from birth, had a remarkable memory and could recall all of the local history - dates of birth, marriages,
deaths, etc., seldom making a mistake. He could repeat many passages from the Bible also - nearly verbatim stories read to him.
He finally went to Batavia and learned the trade of broom making and returned home to make brooms for the local trade. For
some time he made brooms in the old bathing house. In later years, a small house was erected near the old home for his use. Here
he continued his work as long as he was able. He passed on in 1935, aged 82 years. The Wright land deeds back to the
Siloam Cemetery was laid out at an early date. One of the earliest burials was 1817. Jeremiah Ellinwood, one of the
earliest settlers, was buried there in 1824. John Armour, grandfather of Phillip Armout, founder of the Armour Packing
Company, who died in 1849, and his wife, Sarah Preston Armour, who passed on in 1847, are both buried there.
Religious meetings had long been held here at Siloam and the 2nd Baptist Church was organized in 1820 with
]forty-five members. A church without a steeple was built on a site deeded by Peter Smith of Peterboro to Daniel Coe, Amos
Bridge, and Winchester Mathewson, as trustees of the church and their successors in office. Elder Dyer D. Ransom was their
first pastor. P. P. Beman was there ten years and there were 200 [100?] members at the close of his pastorate. Some of the
first members were Phillip Brown and wife, David Coe and wife, Mr. and Mrs. Wm. Sloan, Mr. and Mrs. Nathan Parkhurst, Mr.
and Mrs. John Stewart, Capt. and Mrs. Joseph Black, and Mr. and Mrs. John Warren.
In later years, not many members were left and it later fell into decay and was taken down about 1881.
Another of the three generation families was Lyman Olcott, who lived on the road parallel to the Valley Road. His sons
were Caius, Gordon, Walton and Wilton (twins) and Jared. Walton took over the farm, then his son, Earl, and now Ronald and
his family live there.
The Ezra Davis' lived on the road between Siloam and Peterboro. Their son, William, took over the place. Now, Gerald
Davis and his family live there.
George Clark lived near Butler's Corners on the Valley Road and built the farm home, later occupied by his son, Seymour,
and family. Now his son, Burt,lives there with his daughter and family - the Costons.
The little red schoolhouse on the opposite side of the road was there many years. Some of the teachers were Seymour
Clark, Maude Shaver, Nettie White of Cazenovia and Grace Chaphe Convoy. It was closed soem years ago and sold to Mott
Fargo and torn down.
A little farther down the road at the corners lived Wm. Butler, Sr., and after he passed on, one of his sons, Wm. Butler,
Jr., lived where Donald Palmeter lives now; Frank Butler where Robert Bartlett lives; and Truman Butler, another son, where
Lee Shaver lives. All descendants havleft this vicinity, but they were prominent farmers and lived in this vicinity for many
Another of the three generation families were the Rices who lived just off the Siloam-Peterboro Road. Jesse Rice, Sr.,
had two sons - John and Joseph Rice. John took over the home place. Brother Joseph settled nearby. Now Frank, John's
son, lives there with his wife - the former Mary Moon. Her father - Freemont Moon - lived up the Stockbridge Hill Road with
his family. Leslie Parkhurst, a hunchback, lived with them. Her grandparents were Seth and Sabrina Moon, early settlers in
On a Madison County map of 1859, we find G.W. Ellinwood was the Justice of the Peace. A French was postmaster,
S. Davis - blacksmith, B. Parks and Daniel Dickey were storekeepers. Wheeler Holmes had a saw and grist mill. Other
residents were B. Metcalf, B. Parker, S.E. Holmes, Mrs. N. Williams, W. Parkhurst, and J. Palmeter, whose wife was
grandmother to the Parkhust family.
The Siloam schoolhouse, just at the foot of Peterboro Hill, was there at that time, and here many of the older generation
attended school. One of the first teachers was a Miss Loveland. Other teachers were Edd Messinger of Peterboro, Gussie Coe,
Mert Austin, Jennie Harrington and Maude Davis, a native of Conn., in the early 1800s. All the Browns were hop growers and
prominent in the life of the community.
In 1864, Charles Petrie Shaver, whose father - William - was a Universalist minister, then living in Merrlesville, bought the
McGregor farm on the Valley Road and moved there with his family, his wife - the former Mary Ann Parkhurst - and daughter,
Lola Maude New Zetto. Ora Lina, Mildred More and Wm. Alvarado were born on the farm. This was just after the Civil War
when hay was scarce and high. He had to buy hay for his stock and paid $40.00 per ton for it. In those early days hop
growing had edged in from adjoining counties and many hops were grown in Smithfield. He often dried hops in the daytime and
played for dances at night. Many hop pickers came from Oswego and vicinity on the O&W and were picked up by hop wagons
at Oneida and Canastota. Most large growers fed and lodged their hop pickers and helpers. Wm. Shaver took over this place
after his father passed on. Now his son, Lee, lives nearby and runs this place for his mother.
In 1881, my father - H. Eugene Chaffee - who had moved from a farm near Munnsville with his wife, the former Annie E.
Hinman, and four little girls to Manton, Mich., came back to Stockbridge West Hill and bought the old Sloan farm on the
turnpike from J. Snell. That year, dried hops brought $1.00 a lb. and some farmers made a fortune (for those days.) Others
waited for higher prices and sold for a few cents per pound the next spring. In a few years, as it was expensive to spray for lice
and mold and as they could be raised more profitiably on the Pacific Coast, hops gave way to other cash crops and most
farmers took up dairying. One of my earliest recollections is of a tread-powered threshing machine which came to my father's
farm to thresh his grain. It may have been run by John Dolly and Mr. Ottoway, who threshed grain in this vicinity for some time.
In 1872, there were 15 or 20 houses at Siloam. There was a brickyard across from Burt West's, farther up the road; a
hand rake factory between the Holmes house and the creek; a match factory, and a potash factory in the old Tucker house.
At this time,mail came to Siloam by stage only once a week.
In 1875, there was a cheese factory run by Avery and Wadsworth, who also had a factory at Morrisville. Bill Cramer
made cheese. In 1899, Albert Miller ran this factory and made cheese there many years. It was finally discontinued when
farmers began shipping milk, as they received much more money for it in fluid form than from cheese factories.
In 1881, when my father came to West Hill, men worked out their road taxes according to the valuation of their
property; later they had Road Commissioners. Now, we have Highway Superintendents. In 1923-24, our first macadam road
was built by the town. Now the state is building us a farm-to-market road - we hope. An atlas of 1875 shows that Uzal
Parkhurst, another Civil War veteran, bought the farm now occupied by Mrs. Frank Davis, and that H.W. Holmes ran the saw
and grist mills. Edward Brophy and family lived in the house now occupied by the Harold Parks and ran a blacksmith shop
close by the creek. John Dolly ran the post office. Other residents were E.J. House, M. Foster, A. Hardy, S. Clark, Seth Moon,
and Al Miller. Burt Hardy lived where Floyd Avery does now and kept bees there for many years.
Another of the older families were the Averys - although they didn't live in one location all the time. The older generations
were from Merrillsville and are buried there. At one time, Amos Avery lived up the South Road. Later he lived on the corner
where Don Stanford now lives. His son - Charles - lived where his son - Floyd - now lives on the Valley Road and drove stage
from Peterboro through Siloam to Oneida. He succeeded Aaron Fuller of Peterboro. This route was discontinued about 1905
when rural delivery began in this section. Our first mail carriers were Frank Wheeler and Ray Bishop, and our mail came from
Munnsville. Chas. Putman and Merton Helmer carried mail here for some time. Later, it was changed to Oneida.
Around 1917, Adolph Fietz and family moved to Siloam and he ran a grist mill and saw mill. He also ground alfalfa hay
into meal. About this same time the Burt Olney Canning Company of Oneida moved a pea viner to the Frank Davis place.
Farmers contracted to raise peas for this company for several years. The peas were shelled here, then taken to Oneida to be
canned. The viner was finally moved to another location and that was Siloam's last commercial venture.
This town of Siloam will be 150 years old next year - 1953. What will happen in the next 150 years is anybody's guess.
Whatever comes - may we have progress,prosperity, and peace - not only fpr Siloam but for America and all the world.
The Orville Clarks, Frank Davis, Walter Gough, John Whipples, Wm. Burnetts, Warren Snyders, Jay Clarks, Chas.
Bliss, Guss Rills, Wm. Branagans, Willis Putnams, Ambrose Ratnours, Burt Hardys, Wm. Moores, Milo and Marshie Greens
(twins), Chester Austins, John Armours, the Horatio Greens (who with his oldest son was killed by lightning), and Aunt Kate
Bishop (who told me she knew oil would sometime be found on her farm) all have contributed to the story of Siloam.
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