The discovery of waterlime forms an interesting incident in the early history of this town. When the construction of the Erie Canal was commenced, contracts were made to do the masonry with common lime, on account of the expense of hydraulic cement. Mason Harris and Mr. Livingston, of Sullivan, entered into a contract to furnish a quantity for the construction of culverts, aqueducts, &c., on the middle section. They burned a large kiln and commenced delivering it, when, upon trial, it was found that it would not slack. All were greatly surprised, and Canvass White and Judge Wright, two engineers, taking an interest in the affair, examined it. Dr. Barton, a scientific gentleman of Herkimer, was called to experiment, and, if possible, ascertain what it was. He broke a quantity in the trip hammer shop of J. B. Yates, of Chittenango, burned some, pulverized it in a mortar, and after mixing it with sand, rolled a ball and placed it in a bucket of water for the night. In the morning it had set, and was solid enough to be rolled across the floor. It was pronounced equal to the best Roman cement. It was first burned for market in log heaps, about a mile and a half west of Chittenango village. J. B. Yates fitted up a mill for grinding it.
There are several mineral springs in the town, the most noted of which are the "White Sulphur Spring," and the "Yates Spring." The former, called "Chittenango Springs," and long noted for its medicinal qualities, has recently changed proprietors and been refitted and greatly improved, making it a first class watering place for those who are in search of health, or amusement and recreation. The spacious hotel and family cottages are located in a beautiful grove, through which flows the Chittenango Creek, affording ample facilities for fishing and other amusements. The location is four miles south of Chittenango station, on the New York Central R. R., with which it is connected by good macadamized road, over which excellent stages of the Cazenovia line connect with all principal trains. Daily mails and telegraph convenient. B. P. Backus, M. D., is the present proprietor of the springs.
The following is a statement of the analysis of a pint of water from each of these springs:
White Sulphur Spring. Yates Spring Carbonate of Lime . . . . . . . . . . . . 1.33 . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . .0.88 Sulphate of Lime . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8.22 . . . . . . .. . . . . . . .) Sulphate of Magnesia . . . . . . . . . . . 3.11 . . ..... . . ... . . . . . .> 12.75 Sulphate of Soda . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ... . . . . ) 1.66 Chloride of Calcium . . . . . . . . .. . . trace . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 0.14 Organic matter . . . . . . . . . . . . ... trace . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . trace
The soil in the north is a clayey loam, alternating with muck and marl, and in the south it is gravelly loam.
Chittenango, (p. v.) on Chittenango Creek, was incorporated March, 15, 1842. It contains four churches, the Yates Polytechnic Institute, a bank, a grist mill, a machine shop, and several small establishments. A building has been erected and the machinery for manufacturing cotton goods is being put in. The Baptist Society are about erecting a church at a cost of $15,000. The population of the village is about 1,100.
Perryville (p. v.) is partly in this town.
Canaseraga (Sullivan p. o.) contains a church and about 40 houses.
Bridgeport (p. v.) contains a church, a flourishing mill and about 500 inhabitants.
Lakeport, (p. v.) situated on Oneida Lake is largely engaged in the lumber business, and is a summer resort. It contains two hotels, a steam mill and several stores. A new schoolhouse has recently been erected.
East Boston is a post office in the eastern part, on the canal.
The first settlement was made in 1790, by squatters from the Mohawk valley. They were James and Joseph Pickard, Jacob, David, and Hon. Yost Schuyler, Jacob Seeber, Garrett and George Van Slycke, John Palsley and John Freemyer. They settled on the Indian Reservation near Canaseraga. The Indians complained to the Governor of their intrusion, and they were ordered to remove. They did not obey the order, and in 1791, Col. Galbraith, the sheriff of Montgomery County, was sent with a company of sixty men to dislodge them. They still refused to leave, and their furniture was removed from their dwellings and their houses burned. They then removed to the neighborhood of Chittenango, and settled on land lately acquired by Indians. John G. Mayer, John Walrath, Captain Timothy Brown, Solomon, Joseph and David Beebe, Colonel Zebulon Douglas, John Matthews, Philip Daharsh, Nicholas Pickard, Ovid Weldon, Peter Dygart, John Keller, John Sower, Wm. Miles, David Burton, Timothy Freeman and Peter Ehle, settled in the town shortly after.
The first birth was that of Peggy Schuyler, in 1791, and the first death, that of a child of David Freemyer. John G. Mayer built the first saw and grist mill, and Jacob Schuyler kept the first inn.
The census of 1865 gives the town population of 5,340, and an area of 44,230 acres. The number of school districts is twenty-seven, employing twenty-three teachers. The whole number of pupils is 1,339, and the average attendance is 501. The whole amount expended for school purposes in 1867 was $7,119.
The murder of Robert Barber by Lewis Wilbur, on the line of the Erie Canal, in this town, Aug. 30, 1837, created great excitement in this region. Barber was a widower from Colraine, Mass., upwards of fifty years of age, and on his way to Onondaga County to marry a lady residing in that County. On his way to Utica, he fell in company with Wilbur, a young man about twenty-one years of age, a native of Saratoga. They became quite friendly and social as they traveled by canal. The particulars of the murder were learned from the confession of Wilbur, a short time previous to his execution. Soon after the idea of murder entered Wilbur's mind, he purchased a common shoe knife, and carried it, wrapped in paper in his pocket. When near Chittenango. Wilbur proposed to Mr. Barber to take a walk, and on various pretenses, enticed him into the woods a short distance from the canal. Here, on a sudden, Wilbur drew his knife and demanded Barber's money. Barber replied, " I did not think that of you, I thought you were my friend," but immediately took out his pocketbook and threw it on the ground as directed. Wilbur then told him to lie down on his face and not look up for half an hour. The order was obeyed, and Wilbur then picked up the pocketbook and started off, but thinking how easy it would be to detect robbery, returned, raised the old man's coat, and plunged the knife into his side. The blow was effectual, for when found, he had not changed his position in the least. Wilbur, fearing that his work was not accomplished, threw a large stone upon the victim's head, fracturing his skull. He then returned to the boat, and continued on his journey. In the following April, he was arrested in Cleveland, Ohio, and brought to Morrisville, where he was tried and executed, Oct. 3rd, 1839.
The first settler in the vicinity of Bridgeport, was Captain Rosel Barnes, now living in Illinois. He built the first frame house having previously kept a tavern in a log one. Mr. Rector, father Captain John Rector, of Bridgeport, was among the first settlers, his son having resided here for sixty years. Barrels were manufactured there at an early day, taken down the Chittenango Creek, through Oneida Lake and Three River Point, thence to Salina, where they were exchanged for salt. Utica was the nearest market place, and thither the settlers were compelled to go for their supplies, making a journey without roads, guided only by marked trees. On account of the swampy land in the vicinity, it was not settled as early as the higher lands further south. One of the early settlers, who soon removed to more congenial clime, thought they were "robbing the wild beasts of their rights," as he did not "believe the Almighty ever designed it should be inhabited by human beings." Fine fertile farms and convenient dwellings now occupy this region, then so unpromising. Mr. Robert Carter was one of the early settlers in this vicinity. At one time he started on foot for Manlius, carrying a sack of fine salmon, which he designed as a present to Esquire Kinney. On his way he saw in the path before him two cubs, and thinking to frighten them by vociferously shouting, he rushed forward, when to his surprise he found he had aroused the old bear, and to escape her wrath, he dropped his salmon and climbed the nearest tree, one so small that the bear could not climb, and so smooth that he was compelled to hang on by main strength. The cubs had taken to other trees, and the old bear took her station at the foot of the tree which Mr. Carter had climbed, and there guarded most vigilantly her prisoner. For five long hours he maintained his position, until at length the cubs, leaving their retreat, came down, and they with their mother jogged slowly away, leaving Mr. Carter to resume his journey.
Mrs. Cuppenoll, an aged lady living at Bridgeport, and a daughter of Mr. Carter, relates that when she was first married, her husband used to "change work" with a friend at a distance, leaving her alone, sometimes for a week. On one occasion, before he left home she prepared a dish of "thickened milk." It being late, she deferred washing the kettle, but filling it with water, set it outside her cabin door and retired. The door was only a "rag rug" hung temporarily. During the night she heard what she supposed to be fighting and scrambling dogs over her kettle, and only wondering where they all came from, she gave herself no further trouble and went to sleep. Early in the morning she was awakened by the hallooing of her nearest neighbor, who having heard the howling of a pack of wolves near her dwelling in the night, and knowing the frail character of her door, fully expected to find she had been devoured by the ravenous beasts. Her kettle was licked clean, but no damage was done. Afterwards, until her husband's return, she slept in the loft.
In addition to the pioneers already named, we may mention the following, who came at a later date, and whose descendants are scattered throughout this region: Briggs, White, Eastford, Owen, Crownhart, Dunham, Hosley and others.
At "Owen's Point" are several Indian mounds, supposed to contain the remains of Oneida chiefs. Near them stands a large beech tree, hollow and open at one side, from which it is said the skeleton of an Indian was once taken.