The formation of Cortland county on the 8th of April, 1808, left the north half of military township 14, Tully, within the bounds of the county of Onondaga. This one-half embraced fifty lots of about 600 acres each, numbered from 1 to 50 inclusive, and these subdivisions, in common with other portions of the Military Tract, were drawn by soldiers as bounty lands for services in the Revolutionary war. Three lots, Nos. 13, 26, and 31, were reserved for gospel and school purposes, leaving forty-seven for grantees. The fifty lots were apportioned as follows:
1, Joseph Sevey; 2, Joseph Ball; 3, Brig.-Gen. James Clinton; 4. Brig.-Gen. George Clinton; 5, Joshua Kelly; 6, Lewis Du Bois; 7, John De P. Ten Eyck, captain; 8, Andrew Hoffman; 9, Russell Brockway; 10, Lieut. Josiah Bagley; 11, John Cherry; 12, Benjamin Lawrence; 13, Reserved for Gospel, etc.; 14, Capt. William Bull; 15, Martin Decker; 16, William Peck; 17, Amos Beach; 18, Michael Christian; 19, Thomas Sager; 20, Caleb Ray; 21, Caleb Sweet; 22, Richard Whalling; 23, George Allen; 24, Capt. Abraham Livingston; 25, Lieut. Ephraim Fenno; 26, Reserved for Gospel, etc.; 27, Samuel Townsend; 28, Thomas Cartin; 29, John Russell; 30, Moses Mulliner; 31, Reserved for Gospel, etc.; 32, John Pierson; 33, Capt. John C. Ten Brook; 34, Shorter Smith; 35, John Limbacker; 36, William Boomer; 37, John Ellison; 38, Martin McEverin; 30, Nicholas Cook; 40, John Gann, captain; 41, John Frederick; 42, Elias Wilcox; 43, Joseph Smith; 44, Nathaniel Brock; 45, Lieut.-Col. Benjamin Walker; 46, Humphrey Marsden; 47, Capt. Elihu Marshall; 48, David Pembroke; 49, Isaac Hubbel; 50, Capt. Thomas Machin.
But one of these, Michael Christian, who located on lot 18, and gave his name to Christian Hollow, ever became an actual resident of the town, and even he, through failure of title, was dispossessed and moved to La Fayette. Five other veterans of the Revolution subsequently made their homes within the present Tully. The titles of the original grantees generally passed into hands of speculators; a few, however, were acquired by permanent settlers and escaped the costly litigation which resulted in many cases.
Common consent has hitherto ascribed the honor of being the first white settler within the present limits of Tully to David Owens, whose time of arrival Clark gives as in 1795, and who located on the site of Tully village. Clark also stated that Michael Christian, the Revolutionary soldier previously mentioned, who drew lot 18 and immortalized his name in Christian Hollow, "was one of the few who enjoyed the fruits of their suffering and toil by taking possession of the land for which they served," and some authorities place his settlement as early as 1792, three years before Owen came in and built a log cabin. Owen arrived early in 1795 and was followed by James Cravatte, Phineas Howell, William Trowbridge, Timothy Walker, Phineas Henderson, and (a local writer says) Michael Christian. The last two lived neighbors in New Jersey. Christian promised Henderson a deed for 100 acres of his soldier's claim if he would locate upon it, make clearings, and erect a house. Accordingly, early in 1796, with his wife and little girl Rachel, one cow, and some provisions, Henderson came by boat up the Susquehanna to Binghamton, up the Chenango to the Forks, and up the Tioughnioga to Port Watson, near Cortland, and thence on foot to Tully flats, where they spent a night. The next day they journeyed to lot 18, where he built a dwelling on the east side of the old plank road near the residence of Gideon Seeley. On March 14, 1797, Peter Henderson their second child, was born, being the first white birth in Tully. In the same year Mr. Henderson went to New Jersey and brought from there a straw hive the first colony of bees ever seen in the town. Shortly afterward Christian, finding a purchaser, sold the home and improvements and offered Henderson another chance to build and improve, as before, on the same lot. Christian, as hitherto stated, finally removed to La Fayette.
Timothy Walker settled in what is now Tully village, where in 1797 he built the first frame house in town, and where Moses Nash, the pioneer merchant, erected the second. The early settlers were mainly industrious farmers from the New England States--a class of sturdy, resolute men and women who brought to their frontier homes the sterling characteristics of native worth and enterprise. With wonderful energy and perseverance they subdued the wilderness and implanted in the communities those elevating attributes of civilization which survive unto this day, and which in after years brought a number of their descendants and successors into wider prominence and usefulness. The five Revolutionary soldiers who came in after Christian were James Fuller, Oliver Hyde, Jedediah Winchell, Henry White, and Enoch Bailey. Eli Farr, born in Cummington, Mass., in 1768, came with his wife, Betsey Beebe, and six children, in October, 1801, from Paris, Oneida county, by way of Manlius and Pompey, and settled on one hundreds acres on the Tully flats. He died March 8,1808. Mr. Farr was a man of exceptional education, and a captain of local militia, and engaged extensively in the manufacture of potash. Among the settlers who also arrived about 1801 were Seth and Samuel Trowbridge, Samuel and Robert Cravatte, Edward Cummings, Nicholas and Floyd Howell, and a Mr. Mattoon. The first death in the neighborhood was Mattoon's son, and in selecting a suitable burial place the northeast corner of Mr. Farr's farm was chosen for the purpose. Soon afterward a stranger, who died at a Mr. Bernhart's, near Tully village, was buried in the same plat, which was never sold, but remains to this day without an owner except as its title is vested in the name of Eli Farr. It has always been known and revered as the Farr burying ground and to-day is one of the most interesting of the local landmarks. The third interment therein was that of Mr. Farr's mother in 1805, by whose side her husband was buried in March, 1813. Mr. and Mrs. Farr were the parents of Leonard B., Chester W., Phylinda, Sylvester W., Eli, jr., Sally, Eliza, Polly, Lucretia, and Betsey (Mrs. Ingraham). Mrs. Farr afterward married Joseph Goodelle, by whom she had children Joshua, Aaron B. and Elvira.
Among the settlers of Tully prior to 1810 were John Meeker, Nicholas Lewis, Jacob Johnson, Peter Van Camp, Amos Skeele, Job L. Lewis, and Milo Trowbridge (son of Seth).
These and other pioneers seeking homes in the then far west found themselves surrounded by natural scenery that has ever since been admired for its attractive picturesqueness. Locating in the midst of heavy forests, consisting of hemlock, beech, birch, maple, ash, basswood, pine, elm, etc., their first abodes were rude log cabins with oiled paper for windows and blankets for doors; but during the early years of this century comfortable frame houses largely replaced those primitive habitations. They discovered evidence of Indian occupancy and not infrequently had visits from the Onondagas, whose reservation nestled in the valley to the northward. But their chief enemy was the wild beasts that roamed the wilderness in great numbers and endangered both life and property. Bears, wolves and wild cats, existed for many years notwithstanding the bounties offered for their destruction. The timber was rapidly cleared off and converted into lumber or ashes, the latter being manufactured into blacksalts or potash, which was long the principal article of revenue. As the forests receded attention was directed mainly to agriculture, which in time became the leading occupation of the people. The soil, consisting of sandy and clayey loam, proved exceeding productive, especially on the famous Tully flats, which were the earliest sought for settlement, the broken and hilly portions on the east and west being left for later comers. Ample drainage was afforded by Onondaga Creek and its numerous small tributaries, which find their way into Lake Ontario. This stream has its source in Crooked Lake, so called, the largest of the several bodies of water widely known as the Tully Lakes, and lying about 800 feet above the canal at Syracuse. Big Lake, four feet lower, gives rise to the west branch of the Tioughnioga River, which flows south into the Susquehanna and thence into Chesapeake Bay.
Meantime, on March 9, 1798, Tully, comprising the whole of military township 14, became a part of the civil town of Fabius, which in 1789 was included in the great town of Pompey. On the 4th of April, 1803, Tully, including all of Scott and Preble and portions already mentioned of Spafford and Otisco, was given separate civil and judicial privileges. It then comprehended the entire military township of the same name. On March 21, 1806, lots 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 12, 13, 14, 15, and 16, or parts of the same, were taken off to form a part of Otisco, and on the 8th of April, 1808, when Cortland county was organized, the towns of Preble and Scott, containing lots 51 to 100 inclusive, were included within that subdivision of the State. On April 8, 1811, Tully was reduced to its present size by setting off lots or parts of lots 1, 2, 11, 12, 13, 21, 22, 23, 24, 31, 32, 33, 34, 41, 42, 43, and 44 to form a portion of Spafford, leaving this town with about 15,600 acres, or nearly twenty-six square miles of land.
The first town meeting was held at the house of Samuel Trowbridge on May 1, 1803, when the following officers were elected:
Phineas Howell, supervisor; Amos Skeel, town clerk; Jacob Johnson, Samuel Cravatte, and Solomon Babcock, assessors; Floyd Howell, James Cravatte, and Solomon Babcock, commissioners of highways; Henry Hill, collector; Nicholas Lewis and Solomon Hubbard, overseers of the poor; Henry Hill, constable; Amos Skeel and James Cravatte, commissioners of public lands; John Osgood and Nicholas Lewis, fence viewers; Samuel Trowbridge, poormaster; and Rufus Clapp, Stephen Bailey, David Van Patten, John Potter, Samuel Smith, John Brown, Nehemiah Parks, Albert Collier, Johnson Babcock, Samuel Trowbridge, Henry Burdick, Samuel C. Woolston, John Grant, Jonathan Buell, and Eliphalet Thomas, overseers of highways.
These names and others following figured quite prominently in the early history of the town. Amos Skeel became the first justice of the peace in 1803, while Moses Nash and Job L. Lewis held that office from 1808 to 1812. Mr. Nash afterward moved to Indiana, where at a general election, he came within one vote of being elected governor of the State. Many of the earlier town meetings convened at the dwelling of Samuel Trowbridge, and at one of them, a special meeting held February 20, 1805, a petition was presented by Judah Hopkins and others asking for the erection of another town, using therefor two tiers of lots off the north end of Tully. The proposition was voted down "by a large majority," as was also a second one looking to a similar division comprising other territory. In 1807 fifty-eight votes were cast for Daniel D. Tompkins and fifty-four for Morgan Lewis for governor of new York, showing a nearly equal division of political sentiment. In 1808 it was resolved "that hogs be free commoners," but a little later a resolution declared that certain male animals found running at large "be fined five dollars," one-half of the fine to be paid to the person capturing the animal and the balance to the town poor.
The supervisors of Tully have been as follows:
Phineas Howell, 1803-09; Nicholas Howell, 1809, elected in July, at a special town meeting, to fill vacancy caused by the death of Phineas Howell; Moses Nash, 1810-12; Nicholas Howell, 1813-16; Russell Chase, 1817-21; William M. Allen, 1822; Russell Chase, 1823; Nicholas Howell, 1824; Hugh Reed, 1825; Russell Chase, 1826-27; William Trowbridge, 1828; Nicholas Howell, 1829; Russell Chase, 1830; Henry F. King, 1831-33; Lyman Walker, 1834-36; Nicholas Howell, 1837; Henry F. King, 1838; Harman Van Dusen, 1839-40; Daniel Peck, 1841; Daniel Vail, 1842; William C. Gardner, 1843; Joshua C. Cuddeback, 1844; William C. Gardner, 1845; William Patten, 1846; Ansel Strong, 1847; David K. Arnold, 1848; Ebenezer V. P. French, 1849; L. Harris Hiscock, 1850-51; Justin Dwinelle, 1852; Avery R. Palmer, 1853-56; Frank Hiscock, 1857; Allen Palmer, 1858-62; Jared C. Williams, 1863-64; Allen Palmer, 1865; Robert C. Trowbridge, 1866; Ellis V. King, 1867; Samuel Willis, 1868-69; Horace K. King, 1870-71; Samuel Willis, 1872; Horace K. King, 1873; Samuel Willis, 1874-77; Ellis V. King, 1878; John M. Arnold, 1879; Alfred B. Daniels, 1880; David P. Vail, 1881-82; Samuel Willis, 1883; William H. Hotaling; 1884-85; George W. Earle, 1886-88; George W. Gardner, 1889; David P. Vail, 1890-91; Sullivan A. Carr, 1892-93; William H. Dwinelle, 1894-95.
Returning from this brief digression to the chronological narrative of the present chapter it is pertinent to notice for a moment the settlement and growth of Tully village, which became an established trading point as early as 1803, when Moses Nash opened here the first store in town, in which he was succeeded by John Meeker in 1805. In 1802, however, a tavern was opened by Nicholas Lewis, who in 1807 was followed by Jacob Johnson, who in turn finally gave place to William Trowbridge. Among those who had settled here were Nicholas Howell, for many years a prominent citizen; Timothy Walker, whose marriage to Esther Trowbridge and whose death was the first in the territory under consideration; and Samuel, Seth, and William Trowbridge, of whom the latter became the second postmaster. All these were worthy pioneers, and to their enterprise and native energy is due the early development and prosperity of the embryo village. John Meeker was for many years an extensive merchant and one of the most successful men in the town, owning several hundred acres of the best farm land in Tully.
Before these interests had sprung into existence the subject of education received a substantial impulse, and indeed, it seems "that a school was the first public object to which the inhabitants turned their attention, thus placing before their children the means of making themselves useful members of society and distinguished citizens." In 1801 Miss Ruth Thorpe opened a school in Timothy Walker's barn, which stood on the farm owned by Mrs. Lorenzo Trowbridge, and in 1804 a log school house was erected in the village--each being the first institution of the kind in town. In 1809 the log structure gave place to a frame school building, which was burned, and which was succeeded by the old "red school house," 20 by 25 feet in size, which occupied a portion of the present school grounds. This building gave way to a two-story frame structure, having one-story wings on the north and south, in 1846-48; the first teachers were Myron Wheaton and Miss Smith.
Religion likewise had an early exponent in the person of Rev. Mr. Riddle, a Presbyterian missionary from New England, who held services and in 1804 organized a church of his faith in Tully village. On November 16, 1811, the First Presbyterian Society was incorporated, and this was followed on December 9, 1814, by the incorporation of the Union Presbyterian Society of Tully and Fabius. The first of these two societies maintained an active existence until about 1830, when it disbanded.
In 1806 the Hamilton and Skaneateles turnpike was laid out and opened through what are now Fabius, Apulia, Summit Station, Tully, Tully Center, Vesper and Otisco, the prime movers in the enterprise being Lemuel Fitch, Samuel Marsh, Elisha Payne, David Smith, Col. Elijah St. John, Comfort and Samuel Tyler, Thaddeus Edwards and Elnathan Andrews. This thoroughfare gave a spur to business, facilities for communication which added essentially to local prosperity, and, what was very important, the first substantial impetus to subsequent routes of travel. It also contributed largely to the growth and development of Tully village and to the inception of the hamlets of Tully Center and Vesper, which enjoyed considerable activity until the construction of the Syracuse and Binghamton Railroad in 1854.
In 1810 Peter Van Camp erected the first grist and saw mills in the town on Onondaga Creek at Tully Center, thus adding two important industries to those already established. Before this the settlers were obliged to go long distances for flour and meal, often over almost impassable roads filled with boulders, ruts, stumps and tree roots.
The war of 1812-15 brought the same degree of excitement to the settlers of Tully that it created in other frontier towns, yet their distance from the scenes of actual conflict rendered them comparatively safe from attack. On two occasions, however, the militia was called out to the defense of Sackett's Harbor and Oswego, but returned under orders before reaching their destination. Closely following this came the famous "cold season" of 1816, which wrought considerable suffering among the several communities from a general scarcity of provisions. With characteristic energy the pioneers soon recovered from these events and plenty abounded on every hand.
In 1815 a post-office was established at Tully with Nicholas Howell as postmaster, his successor being William Trowbridge. Prior to this mail was received at Pompey Hill or Preble. In 1818 the village was further augmented by the erection of a grist mill by Timothy Walker, the machinery being put in by Joel Hiscock, uncle of Hon. Frank Hiscock, ex-member of congress and ex-United States senator, of Syracuse, and of the late L. Harris Hiscock, an attorney here and in Syracuse, and brother of the latter. This mill is remembered as the Arnold mill; it was changed in 1874 from water to steam power, and is still in operation.
The years between 1810 and 1820 witnessed not only the arrival of many new settlers, but the inauguration of several institutions which contributed materially to the moral and general welfare of the various communities. On the 28th of February, 1816, a council of ministers and delegates from Baptist churches in Pompey, Fabius, Truxton and Homer convened at the house of Uriel Smith, and organized the First Baptist church of Tully with fourteen members, as follows: Uriel and Sybil Smith, Ziba and Hannah Palmer, James B. and Nancy Stroud, Lydia Chapman, Aaron Vail, Sarah Hughson, Eliza Fuller, Sarah McCollery, Susanna Brown and Elizabeth Van Tassel. Services were long held in school houses in Christian Hollow, Tully flats and Vesper, but under the ministrations of Elder Frederick Freeman in 1824 the first church edifice in the town was built in Tully Center and dedicated February 11, 1825. In 1848 a division occurred, several members withdrawing to form a Baptist church in Vesper. The building was then removed to, and rebuilt in Tully village at a cost of $2,500. In 1834 the society had a membership of 219, and at that time belonged to the Onondaga association. The first pastor was Elder Squire Abbott, who came in 1818. Among his successors were Revs. Frederick Freeman, Randolph Streeter, John D. Hart, Reuben Winchell, Nelson Camp, John Le Grange, Hiram Powers, Butler Morley, J. D. Webster, and others. Two very early members were Matthias Outt and Mrs. J. B. Hall. As early as 1820 a Methodist class held meetings in the Vesper school house under the leadership of Durin Ferris, a circuit preacher. Soon afterwards classes were formed in other parts of the town, notably one in the vicinity of Tully village, which, in 1828 was organized into a society, the first preacher being Elder Sayers, who was succeeded by Elder Puffer, familiarly known as old "chapter and verse," from his frequent quotations of scripture. In 1832 this was reorganized into the present church society, which, in 1834 erected their first edifice. The structure was rebuilt in 1862 under Rev. John Barnard; again in 1877 under Rev. Fred Devitt, and for the third time in 1894 under Rev. Eli Pittman at an expense of about $10,000. The first class leader of the Tully society was Silas Aylsworth, and among the early members were Myron Wheaton, David Bouttelle, Sarah Vail, Esther Johnson, Mary E. King, Cynthia Arnold, Polly Vail, and Mrs. Aaron Vail. In 1840 Sarah Vail donated the parsonage, being the building now owned by W. R. Topp, which was exchanged for the present parsonage. The Vesper church was of later inception.
By 1821 two fulling mills and a carding machine were in operation, while 14,593 yards of cloth were produced in families during that year. There were also six school districts in which schools were maintained six months annually.
In 1824 the town contained three grist mills, five saw mills, two fulling mills, one carding establishment, three distilleries, three asheries, "a small library," 210 voters, 6,141 acres of improved land, 1,397 cattle, 193 horses, 3,686 sheep, "no slaves," and one free black. A person making the journey at this time from Tully to Hamilton, a distance of forty miles, could count twenty-six taverns, all doing a brisk business.
The opening of the Erie Canal through Syracuse in 1825 had in a measure a permanent influence upon the settlement and industries of this town, but it was not until 1827, when, on April 16, the Tully and Syracuse Turnpike Company was incorporated by Oliver W. Brewster, Archie Kasson, and Mr. Howell, that the territory under consideration received a general start upon a new era of prosperity. This company was rechartered in April, 1831, and for many years the road afforded great convenience. It may be noted here, in view of the fact that Tully lies on an almost direct line between Syracuse and the Chenango valley, that on April 3, 1807, the Chenango and Salina Turnpike Company was incorporated and authorized to build "a good and sufficient turnpike road, beginning at the village of Salina, and running thence south through the Onondaga Hollow to the north line of Tully," and so on southward. Again on April 10, 1824, the Onondaga and Cortland Turnpike Company was incorporated for a similar purpose. Public highways were laid out and opened largely before 1830.
The prosperous years of the Hamilton and Skaneateles turnpike gave considerable activity to the hamlet of Vesper, near the Otisco town line, and in 1827 a post-office was established there with William Clark as postmaster. Afterward Samuel Ashley and more recently A. J. Estey and James E. Henderson held the office. The place contained in former years a store or two, a tavern, and the usual complement of artisans, etc. The turnpike likewise imparted a lively impulse to Tully Center, but in this respect the Onondaga Creek perhaps contributed a greater degree of activity. Peter Van Camp's saw and grist mills of 1810 formed the nucleus around which later industries of a similar character assembled, and as late as 1845 the place and vicinity contained four grist mills, two carding machines, and a woolen mill. These enterprises, however, long ago went out of existence, leaving the hamlet a mere country settlement without its old-time prestige.
In 1836 the town contained four grist mills, eight saw mills, a fulling mill, one carding establishment, two asheries, a woolen factory, two tanneries, twelve school districts, and 563 school children. The distilleries of former years had fully disappeared. In this year a post-office was established at Tully Valley, near the La Fayette town line, the first postmaster being George Salisbury, who was succeeded by John Henderson. Recent incumbents have been A. Benjamin and Clark Estey. This hamlet, like many others similarly situated, lost much of its former activity after the completion of the railroad in 1854.
Attention is once more called to those settlers and residents of the town who, prior to 1850, aided in no small measure in developing and molding the several communities into prosperous, thriving, and noteworthy sections of a fertile and attractive part of the county.
Among them were Edward Miller, Lyman Walker, John Gilbert, Aaron Vail, John and Daniel Vail (sons of Aaron), Moses and Hiram Tallman, the Birney family, Samuel Ousby, Matthew D. Cummings, Russell Chase (father of Hamilton and Franklin), Miles and William Trowbridge, Henry Van Bergen, Colonel Johnson (tavern keeper), Wilmot and Alvah Lake, John Potter, Aaron B. Goodelle, Henry F. King, L. Harris Hiscock, Joshua C. Cuddeback (at one time county sheriff), Hiram Chapin, Garrett Van Hoesen, William M. Allen, William C. Gardner, Avery R. and Allen Palmer, Jared C. Williams, Justin Dwinelle, Lucius F. King, Hon. Samuel Willis, and Frank M. Wooster (captain of Co. K, 122d N.Y. Vols., and killed in battle in the Civil war).
Aaron Vail came to Tully from Herkimer county in 1810 and settled in the village where his grandson David P., son of David, a justice of the peace, now lives. He purchased 135 acres of land, covering the best part of the village site, from which he sold off a few lots. He died about 1845, leaving four heirs, of whom David bought the interest of his brother James, thus becoming one-half owner. David Vail's tract included the most desirable unsold lots, which he continued to sell until his death in 1866. His brothers Daniel and John also disposed of their property in small parcels. The Vail homestead, where David P. was born in 1824, has never been out of the family. Aaron B. Goodelle was the father of Hon. William P., a prominent lawyer of Syracuse, who was born here May 25, 1838. Henry F. King arrived in Tully village from Suffield, Conn,. in 1818, and held the office of post-master for more than thirty years. In 1828 he set out a row of maples in front of his residence, bringing them from the woods on his back. He was long one of the foremost men in the town, and died in 1853. William C. Gardner served the county as sheriff and Jared C. Williams was both sheriff and superintendent of the penitentiary. Hon. Samuel Willis was born in Hamilton county in 1818, came here at the age of seventeen, and with his father purchased a farm of Orange Smith. He served as assessor for six years, was supervisor several terms, and represented the second district of Onondaga in the Assembly in 1878 and 1879.
In 1845 there were in Tully 125 militia, 378 voters, nine common schools, 435 school children, 10,909 acres of improved land, four grist mills, five saw mills, two carding machines, a woolen factory, one trip-hammer, two asheries, two tanneries, four churches (a Baptist, one Seventh-Day Baptist, and a Methodist), four taverns, four stores, 190 farmers, 60 mechanics, three physicians, and one lawyer. Fifteen years later (1860) the town contained 12,270 acres of improved land, 352 dwellings, 352 families, 289 freeholders, seven school districts, 633 school children, 562 horses, 863 oxen and calves, 1,102 cows, 2,176 sheep, 763 swine, and real estate assessed at $366,355 and personal property at $98,400; while the productions aggregated 1,425 bushels winter wheat, 66,626 bushels spring wheat, 1,797 tons hay, 8,059 bushels potatoes, 24,115 bushels apples, 108,654 pounds butter, 30,900 pounds cheese, and 323 yards domestic cloth.
Meanwhile Methodist living in the vicinity of Vesper were sustaining regular services, a church having been incorporated July 7, 1840, with about thirty-five members, among whom were Enoch Bailey, Aaron Hollenbeck, Henry Stewart, Zenas Pickett, Asahel Nichols, Alvah Hodge, Sanford Moore, and Reuben Aylsworth, all under Levi Highley as class leader. In the same year a church edifice was built at a cost of about $1,000, which was recently repaired under the pastorate of Rev. Frederick Keeney. The pulpit has generally been supplied by pastors from the mother church at Tully. On May 9, 1840, the church of the Disciples of Christ was organized at the house of Hamilton A. Chase, one mile east of Tully village, by Elders Calvin Thomas and Harry Knapp of Pompey, the first members being Hamilton A. and Russell J. Chase, Marvin Baker, Amasa Evans, Lola Emmons, Amos and Mary Hodgman, Keziah Wilcox, Lydia Chase, Lydia Lansing, Matthew Fuller and wife, Harriet Kingsley, Betsey Fuller, and Daniel Rice and wife. The first pastor was Elder J. M. Bartlett. H. A. and R. J. Chase were leading members of the society, and through their liberality an edifice was built in the village in 1845 at a cost of $1,500. Prior to 1848 the Baptists in the west part of the town affiliated with the Tully Center church, which was at this time removed to Tully village. In December, 1848, the Baptist church of Vesper was organized at the house of Josiah Smith with such members as Deac. Uriel Smith, Dea. Joseph and E. J. Daniels, E. V. B. French, Harry Rowland, Peter and Sally Henderson, Allen and Betsey L. Palmer, Sarah M. King, Zuriah Rowland, Nancy Darrow, Polly Williams, and thirteen others. In 1848 they erected a church edifice at a cost of about $1,200, which was dedicated January 18, 1849. Among the early pastors were Elders A. Galpin, Thomas Brown, William Jones, and B. Morley. Since the latter's incumbency in 1860 the society has been supplied mainly with preachers from Tully.
The construction of the Syracuse and Binghamton Railroad in 1854 inaugurated a new impetus to general prosperity, but proved injurious and in a measure disastrous to the village of Tully, Tully Center, Tully Valley, and Vesper, drawing from those previously thrifty centers a large volume of trade and directing it to Syracuse or Cortland. Tully village, however, having the benefit of the only station in town, succeeded in retaining much of its old time prestige, and became a shipping point of great prominence. In more recent years large quantities of milk and farm produce from the surrounding territory have been shipped to New York and other cities. The railroad also caused the abandonment of the plank roads and turnpikes, thereby destroying the vital business of country taverns and stores, as well as rendering useless many local manufacturing establishments.
During the Civil war, from 1861 to 1865, the town contributed a large number of her brave and patriotic sons to the Union army and navy, and nobly responded with unfailing promptness to the various calls for troops. Tully's record in that sanguinary struggle is both brilliant and imperishable, not only because of her heroic soldiers who fought the nation's cause and laid their lives on their country's altar, but also because of the universal patriotism and public spirit which characterized the inhabitants--men and women.
By this time the primitive forests had largely disappeared, and with them nearly all the old saw mills, woolen establishments, asheries, etc. Agriculture was paramount to other interests and flourished with a degree that did credit to the fertile soil. Dairying rapidly developed, and assumed extensive proportions, yet the grains, hay, potatoes, corn, fruit, cabbages, etc., were not neglected.
Various mercantile and other interests in Tully village, besides those previously noticed, contributed materially to its growth and prosperity. What is known as the "King corner" was for many years the leading store, and for a time the only one in the place. It was built by Henry F. King, one of the most prominent merchants of his day. Among others who traded just west of the Slayton House were David Arnold, John B. Hall, Lavosha Gowan, and Joseph Fletcher. In May, 1872, this entire corner, consisting of a tavern and the stores of Messrs. Wright, Fletcher, Scammel, and Gardner, was destroyed by fire. Other merchants of the village, past and present, are J. W. Wright & Son, W. F. Jones & Co., Tallman, Miller & Hoxsie, Bouttelle Brothers, W. W. Hayford & Son, A. G. Dryer, E. B. Lincoln & Co., J. L. Lawrence, M. Meara, C. P. Remore, H. B. Scammel & Son, J. S. Wright, Thomas Butler & Co., F. C. Hayford, and others. Among the postmasters were Henry F. King, Hiram Chapin (also justice of the peace), John B. Hall, M. J. Bouttelle, Joseph Fletcher, William H. Brown, William L. Stone, and William A. Dewey, incumbent. Shepard W. Cately was for many years a prominent and an extensive wagon and carriage manufacturer here, having a shop on the premises now occupied by the dwellings of W. H. Brown and Mrs. Ramer Wright. His wagons were known and used throughout Central New York. Pike & Welch and Andrew Strail were long engaged in blacksmithing.
In 1875 the village was incorporated, and at the first charter election held January 26, 1876, these officers were chosen: John Outt, president; George Smith, Henry C. Tallman, and Henry Crofoot, trustees; Henry V. B. Arnold, clerk; H. B. Scammel, treasurer; Nathan W. Fuller, collector; George W. Gardner, street commissioner.
The successive presidents have been John Outt, 1876; Edward Miller, 1877; Henry C. Tallman, 1878; Haskell B. Scammel, 1879-81; William H. Hotaling, 1882; William L. Earle, 1883; Charles A. Gardner, 1884; Dr. George W. Earle, 1885-87; George E. Barker; 1888-89; William L. Stone, 1890-91; Frank C. Caughey, 1892-94; William H. Leonard, 1895.
William L. Earle was for nine years a trustee or president, and it is to him that incorporation was largely due. He was born in Truxton on June 15, 1845, came here to study medicine with his brother, Dr. George W. Earle, in 1872; succeeded George Warren in the furniture and undertaking business in 1874, and organized the present Tully Furniture Manufacturing Company in 1887, becoming its first president. He was also interested in the manufacture of the Earle & Strail patent buggy; was the prime mover in organizing the New York State Undertakers Association in 1878, and has served as its president, and organized Tully post, No. 593, G. A. R., in 1887, which chose him its first commander. For a time he was very active in evangelistic work, and is now also interested in the undertaking business in Syracuse. Dr. George W. Earle was born in Truxton in 1849, and about 1872 came to Tully as a practicing physician.
Other interests of the village are the novelty works of George A. Dorman & Son and two hotels, the Empire House and the Slayton House, the latter being built by Reuben Slayton, father of James M., the present proprietor.
The Tully Times, one of the brightest and most influential weekly newspapers in the county, was started December 29, 1881, by Raymond Wright, for the purpose of advertising his father's business. It consisted at first of four pages each six inches square, and was issued occasionally and later monthly. In 1882 the late Frank S. Slayton purchased the outfit and made regular weekly publications. He soon sold an interest to Richard R. Davis, who in time became the sole owner, and who still continues its very successful publication.
In July, 1891, St. Leo's Roman Catholic parish was organized by Rev. Daniel Doody, although for nearly twenty years mass had been said occasionally by Father McLaughlin. On July 25, 1893, Father Doody completed and dedicated the present church edifice and has since remained as pastor. In the fall of 1895 the village voted to put in a water system and in December an electric light plant, and named William L. Earle, William A. Dewey, Judson S. Wright, William H. Dwinelle, and James M. Slayton as commissioners for the purpose. The water works are now (January, 1896) practically completed.
Educational affairs throughout the town have ever received that close and constant attention which elevates individuals and communities and forces them into a front rank in modern life. In 1846 there were nine school districts, in 1860 seven, and at the present time eight. In 1878 the school house in Tully village was rebuilt, and in 1893 a movement was inaugurated which results in the organization of the Tully Union School, the first Board of Education being Adelbert Butler, president; Dr. W. H. Leonard, secretary; and George A. Beeman, T. S. Cowles, and S. Z. Lake. In 1894 it was placed under the board of Regents of the University of the State of New York, and has recently had a training school for teachers connected with it.
By the development of two local resources the town has been brought during the past decade into wide and growing prominence. The first and foremost of these is the somewhat famous Tully Lake Park, situated on what was formerly known as Big Lake, which was called by the Indians "Sacred Waters" and held in great veneration by them. Tradition says that the Indians would never allow a fish to be taken from its crystal depths nor a canoe to float upon its glassy surface, yet they considered an accidental drowning therein to be an especial desire of the Great Spirit. The celebrated Tully Lakes, forming an unbroken chain of natural water gems, consist of Tully (Big), Green, Crooked, Jerry's and Mirror Lakes, of which the first named is the largest and most prominent. Here upon the shores camping parties were wont to pitch their tents and revel in the beauties of nature during the hot weeks of summer, but the first decisive step towards converting a desirable spot into a park was taken by M. J. French, R. C. Morse, and Dr. George W. Earle, who accidentally met on the fair grounds in Syracuse in 1887. This resulted in the immediate organization of the Tully Lake Park Association, which was incorporated May 7, 1888, the first officers, elected May 12, being M. J. French, of Syracuse, president; Dr. George W. Earle, of Tully, vice-president; and J. Will Page, of Syracuse, secretary and treasurer. The association purchased of Oliver Schell sixty-four acres of land, which was laid out into lots, walks, and drives. The first cottage and a part of the hotel were erected in 1889; other cottages and villas followed until now upwards of fifty adorn the once wild site. In 1892 the Central New York Assembly established Assembly Park on the east side of the lake, where annual sessions of an educational nature, similar to those at the celebrated Chautauqua, situated on the lake of that name, have since been held. The rare picturesqueness of the locality and its privileges bring hither hundreds of summer visitors each year who contribute materially to the varied interests of the town and especially to those of Tully village.
Another resource was developed about 1888, when the Solvay Process Company, of Syracuse, began prospecting for what was believed to be a bed of rock salt in the Tully valley. Some 600 acres of land were purchased and since then twenty-nine wells have been sunk to depths varying from 1,200 to 1,500 feet, at the bottom of which a bed of salt was discovered fifty feet thick. The Tully Pipe Line Company, incorporated in April, 1889, laid a twelve-inch main to Syracuse, a distance of about eighteen miles, during the following summer. These wells are flooded with fresh water, which is drawn out thoroughly impregnated with salt.
The population of Tully has been, periodically, as follows:
In 1810, 1,100; 1820, 1,194; 1830, 1,640; 1835, 1,618; 1840, 1,663; 1845, 1,621; 1850, 1,559; 1855, 1,619; 1860, 1,690; 1865, 1,583; 1870, 1,560; 1875, 1,473; 1880, 1,476; 1890, 1,380; 1892, 1,378.
Submitted 14 August 1998