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The Town of Champion
This town, embracing township number four, of the Eleven Towns, was formed from Mexico, by an act of March 14, 1800, including all that part of the present town of Denmark, north of Deer River. It received its name from General Henry Champion, of Colchester, Ct., who was one of the early proprietors of this town, and was also very extensively interested in lands in Ohio, and in the western parts of this state.
Supervisors. - 1800-14, Noadiah Hubbard; 1815, Wilkes Richardson; 1816, 17, Stowell Warner; 1819-20, N. Hubbard; 1821, Eseck Lewis; 1822-26, N. Hubbard; 1827, Samuel Dean. At a special town meeting in October, Eseck Lewis was chosen to fill a vacancy; 1828, 9, Henry D. Cadwell; 1830-33, Otis Loomis; 1834-38, Richard Hulbut; 1839, 40, David Smith; 1841-43, John Pool, Jr.; 1844, E. Lewis; 1845, James C. Lynde; 1846, David Smith; 1847, John Pool, Jr.; 1848, William Vanhosen; 1849, D. Smith; 1850, William Vanhosen; 1851-53, Benajah A. Lewis.
The town officers elected at the first town meeting, April 1, 1800, Were Noadiah Hubbard, supervisor; Eli Church, clerk; Timothy Pool, David Coffeen and William Hadsall, assessors; Ephraim Chamberlain, constable and collector; John Ward and Reuben Rockwood, overseers of the poor; Solomon Ward, Amaziah Parker, and Elihu Jones, commissioners of highways; Daniel Coffeen, William Crowell, Timothy Pool and Moses Goodrich, overseers of highways; Levi Barns, fence viewer; Bela Hubbard, pound master.
The following is a record of the first school meeting in town, as it occurs on the records in the town clerk's office:
"Champion, 23rd October, 1800. At a regular meeting of the inhabitants of the town aforesaid, it was resolved, that there shall be a house erected near a spring, on the road now running from Noadiah Hubbard's to Daniel Coffeen's, in said town; and likewise resolved, that said house shall be built with logs, sixteen feet one way, and twenty feet the other way. Also, resolved by said meeting, that Daniel Coffeen and Noadiah Hubbard, shall act as trustees of said school. Attest, Eli Church, Town Clerk."
Champion was surveyed by Moses and Benjamin Wright, in 1797, the former subdividing, and the latter surveying around it; the area, according to M. Wright, was 26,703 acres, and by B. Wright. 25,708 acres. It was subdivided into lots of 500 acres.
This town was the first one in which actual settlements were begun in the county, unless, perhaps Ellisburgh, which was explored with the view of settlement at about the same time. The following advertisement appeared in the Western Centinel, published by Lewis & Webb, near the post office in Whitestown, County of Herkimer, four columns, small folio, June 7, 1797:
"Lands for sale, lying on Black River, in the County of Herkimer, and State of New York.
Forty lots of land laid out into farms, containing from 100 to 240 acres each, on Inman's Patent, Leyden, so called; in this township there is about forty actual settlers, and a good grist mill within one mile and [illegible] on said land. This land is of an excellent soil, and the situation convenient and pleasing for settlers. The subscriber will remain on the land the most of the ensuing summer and fall. Terms of payment will be made to accommodate purchasers. Also township No. 4, Champion, lying on and adjoining Black River, about thirty miles from Boon's Mills; this township is of an excellent soil; twenty actual settlers will be on this township this summer. For terms please to apply to the subscriber, who will reside on Inman's Patent, or to Capt. Noadiah Hubbard, of Steuben, who is making a settlement on said township No.4.
Also for sale a township of land lying on Black River, near Lake Ontario, Houndsfield. These townships are all laid out in lots, and will be sold by large or small quantities, to suit purchasers, and the title indisputable. Also ten lots of land to be leased on first tract."
May 10, 1797. 75, 4m.
Settlements were commenced in this town by Noadiah Hubbard, in 1797, the details of which we give in the following letter, which was written at our request, and can not fail of being read with interest:
Champion, June, 1853.
"Dr. F. B. Hough, Dear Sir: As you requested some months since, I now transmit to you a few of my recollections of the early settlement of this county. I should have complied with your request earlier had it not been for a pressure of business during the summer and autumn, and more recently not being in my usual state of health.
When I consider the long lapse of time since the first settlement of this country to the present, and my very advanced age, I can scarcely expect to write much that will interest your readers; and, therefore, I give you liberty to use or not to use the simple records as you see fit. I am past the age when most men write at all, being now in my eighty-ninth year, and past events may well be supposed to be becoming dimmed by reason of age, and more like a dream than a reality; yet I have been, and am wonderfully blessed both as respects health and the possession of present memory - some of the choicest gifts of a kind Providence. All the companions of my early youth and of my more mature years, have passed away, and I am left alone to tell the tale. Yet not alone as it respects friends. Others have risen up around me to take the place, in some measure, of those that are gone. Of the friends of my early manhood's years, I often feel to exclaim where are they? and "echo answers where are they?" Gone to tbat "bourne from whence no traveler returns." The original landholders, even, of all this region of country are passed away, and have left no trace or name save in the title deeds. I have not very many records of those early days; so full of life and bustle were they, that little time was left to record their stirring events; yet some I have, and when I give you dates at all, they are from memoranda made at the time.
I first came to this town, Champion, in the year 1797, with Lemuel Storrs, a large landholder, when he came on for the first time to view his purchase. I was then residing in Steuben, in what is now Oneida County, but then, or shortly before, Herkimer. Mr. Storrs then hired several pack men, whose business it was to carry the necessary provisions for the expedition on their backs. This was late in the autumn. We traveled on foot by what was called the French Road to the High Falls on the Black River. This road had been cut for the accommodation of the French refugees who had made a settlement at High Falls, and had then a log city. Many of these French belonged to the nobility of France, who were obliged to abandon their country during the revolution in 1793, but who were afterwards permitted to return when the star of empire rose upon the Bonapartes. Their settlement was made upon what was called the French Tract, on the north and east side of the Black River, and extending a great distance. From the High Falls we descended the river in a boat to the rapids, called Long Falls, now known as Carthage. Here we landed, and in two days explored the township, then an unbroken wilderness. On our way down, Silas Stow, then a young man, and afterward known as Judge Stow, of Lowville, joined us. On the third day we re-embarked and proceeded up the river, and it was two days hard rowing to get back again to the High Falls. As I believe I before mentioned, it was late in November, and the night we were obliged to be out, we encountered a severe snow storm. To protect ourselves from it in some measure, we made a shanty by setting up some crotchets, and laying on poles, and covering them with hemlock boughs. We also scattered branches upon the ground upon which to lie, and by making a rousing fire in front of our shelter, we contrived to be very comfortable. By this time our provisions were nearly exhausted, and we had before us the prospect of a hungry day. But in ascending the river we fortunately killed a duck and a partridge; these being stripped of their feathers in the evening, I cooked them for our breakfast the next morning. I prepared them as nicely as we could with our scanty means; salt we had none. I had a little pork left; this I cut in small bits and inserted into the flesh of the fowls, when it served the double purpose of salt, and butter for basting. To cook them I set up a couple of crotched sticks, laid another across, and from it by strips of bark suspended my fowls before the fire, where they cooked most beautifully, and were all in good time partaken of by the company with rare relish. Indeed, Messrs. Storrs and Stow declared they had never eaten so good. Hunger and a limited supply gave a keenness of relish not often experienced.
In due time we arrived safe and well in Steuben, from whence we had started, where I passed the winter. Mr. Storrs offered me very liberal inducements to come on here and commence a settlement; so liberal that I determined to accept them, though I may say in passing and then dismiss the subject forever, that he failed to fulfil his liberal offers. But in consideration of those offers, I left my home in Steuben the 1st of June, 1798, and started for this place, accompanied by Salmon Ward and David Starr, with fifteen head of cattle. We traveled again upon the French road, as far as it availed us. This township had been surveyed by Benjamin and Moses Wright, the year before, and this year Mr. Storrs had engaged B. W. to survey Houndsfield, and on his way there he was to mark a road to this place, and to precede me. I met the surveyors agreeably to appointment at a Mr. Hoadley's, and from there we came on to what is called Turin Four Corners. There was only one log house there then. From there we went west about thirty or forty rods to Zaccheus Higby's. There we laid down our maps and consulted them, and came to the conclusion to take from thence a north course. This led us up on to the top of the hill, now known as the Tug Hill. We were entirely ignorant of the face of the country, and of the most eligible route to pursue, and therefore took the one which seemed the most direct, not knowing the obstacles to be encountered. We had before come down by water, and on this route there was not even a marked tree. It was the duty of the surveyors to precede us, mark a road and chain it. Mr. W___ started in advance of us for this purpose. It was a beautiful, clear morning and we followed on, progressing finely until the middle of the afternoon, when we came to a great gulf, and an abundance of marked trees. We went over the gulf but could find no more trees marked. We then made a fire and took out the stoppings from our bells, and suffered our cattle to feed around the fire, while we set ourselves to search for marked trees, over the gulfs up and down, but could find no place to cross, or marks which to determine what course the surveyors had taken. In this predicament we prepared to construct a shelter for the night of hemlock boughs, etc.
The next morning the sun came up clear and bright, and I called a council. I told the men how much damage it would be to me to return, how great a loss not to proceed, and asked them if they were willing to come on. David Starr replied that he would go to h__l, if I would. Though no way desirous of going to the latter place, even in good company, I determined to come on, if such a thing were possible, without a compass or guide. We then set ourselves to work, and felled trees, with which we made an enclosure, into which we drove our cattle, and then shoved them down the precipice, one after another; they went up slantingly on the other side, and much better than we got them down, so that finally they were all safely over, after much toil and trouble. I then agreed to pilot the company down, took off the ox bell and carried it in my hand, leading the way, and steered a north course by the sun and watch. We had the advantage of bright sunshine. We had to cross a number of gulfs, and one windfall, which was the worst of all. We continued to travel upon the summit of the hill, where we found much fine table land. The cattle would travel as fast as I could lead the way. One man drove them, and another followed, axe in hand, to mark the trees, and leave traces behind us, so that if we could not advance, retrace our steps.
We descended the hill before reaching Deer River. The latter we struck and crossed above the falls - not far from where the village of Copenhagen now stands - and coming on, we succeeded in finding the town line, which was identified by marked trees, not far from where the toll-gate now is, on the Champion and Copenhagen Plank Road. We then changed our course, following the line to the Black River, at Long Falls, where we arrived before night. We there found Mr. W*** and men. They had not arrived more than an hour before us. When seeing us, Mr. W___ exclaimed, "How, in the name of God, have you got here?" I replied, "You scoundrel! you ought to be burnt for leaving us so!" It was a most rascally piece of business their leaving us as they did. But I suppose the truth was, they thought it impossible for us ever to get through with our cattle; but this does not excuse them for not having marked the road; 'twas for that they were sent - and if others could not follow, they were not answerable; but their duty was plain before them.
My boat, which I had dispatched from the High Falls, soon after arrived, with my provisions, yokes, chains, cooking utensils, etc., etc. The next day we left one to watch our effects, while the others were searching for a desirable location. In a few days I selected the farm upon which I now live, principally for the reason that it was the center of the township, rather than for any peculiar advantages it possessed over other portions of the town. Yet the soil has proved good, and sufficiently luxuriant with proper cultivation. This was what I sought, a good agricultural location, rather than one possessing hydraulic privileges. Not one tree had been cut here for the purpose of making a settlement, nor was there a white man settled in what is now the county of Jefferson, when I came here. I was the first white settler in the county. I remained here through the summer, and until October, engaged in making a clearing. We then returned to Steuben, where my family was, to spend the winter.
During the summer, some families had come into Lowville, and Mr. Storrs had caused a road to be marked from there to the Long Falls, and by that we returned, driving our cattle home again. These had become fat, by running in the woods, during the summer, and I sold them for beef. I would mention here, though rather out of place, that 1 found a living spring of pure water, a few rods before where the public house, in this place, now stands, which had its influence in deciding my location. Near it I built my first house, and there I kept "bachelor's hall" two summers, being myself "chief cook." My first habitation was a cabin, erected in a few hours' time, with the aid of my men. It was a rude structure, but served our purpose. We first set some posts, and then, having felled great trees, stripped them of the bark, and, with this, covered the roof and three aides of our dwelling, the front was left opened, so that it may truly be said, we kept open house. The covering was kept firmly in its place by withes of bark. After the completion of our house, the next most necessary thing, was an oven, in which to bake our bread, for bread we must have, it being the staff of life. This was soon made, with two logs for a foundation, and a flat stone thereon, the superstructure was soon reared with smaller stones, cemented together by a mortar of muck, from the side of the spring, and crowned by a flat stone. This answered my purpose as well as one of more elaborate construction. For a door, we split out a plank of basswood; and for a kneading-trough, we again had recourse to the basswood, from whence we cut a log of the required length and dimensions, split it, and from one half, dug out, with an axe, and an in-strument named a howell, which we had brought for such purposes, in a short time; a trough, which answered our purpose very well. I brought some yeast with me, to make my first batch of bread; after that, I used leaven, kept and prepared, after directions given me before leaving home. Whatever may be said of our cooking, in general, I am sure none ever seemed sweeter to me, or was eaten with a better relish by others; labor sweetened every mouthful.· We had cows; a plenty of milk, etc. We sometimes washed dishes, when we could not remember what we last ate upon them, but oftener turned them the bottom aide up, there to remain until wanted again. Some even pretend to say, our table needed scouring, we sprinkled salt upon it, and put it out for the old cow to operate upon. However that may be, I am sure, if we ever did do it, it must have come from under her scouring apparatus exceedingly white. But the whole story is rather apocryphal.
Early in the spring, 1799, I sent on two men, to make sugar, before I came on myself. They commenced making sugar, and one day went out hunting, leaving their sugar boiling. The consequence was, the house took fire and burned down, with all of the little it contained. During the winter, the Indians had stolen all the cooking utensels I had left, and the potatoes which I had raised and buried the autumn before. Thus my riches were taking to themselves wings and flying away. I came on soon after. This Spring, Esquire Mix and family came on; John and Thomas Ward, Ephraim Chamberlain, Samuel and David Starr, Jotham Mitchell, Salmon Ward and Bela Hubbard, David Miller, and Boutin, a Frenchman came to Carthage. The above were all young, unmarried men, save Mix. We continued our labors through the summer of 1799, but not with that spirit which we should have dome, had not a rumor reached us of the failure of M. Storrs, and the probability that we should lose, not only all our labor, but the money which I had advanced for my land. But I will not enter particulars here - let it suffice that I could not afford to lose all I had done and paid, and consequently entered into a compromise with him, to save a moiety of what was justly mine - of not only what I had actually paid for, but of what I was to have had, for leading the way in this first settlement of a new country, and subjecting myself again to all its discomforts and inconveniences. Consequently, in view of making this my permanent home, I moved my family here in the autumn of 1799. We had a very unfavorable time, to come. There had been a snow-storm, in which about six inches of snow had fallen. We were obliged to travel on horseback; the horses' feet balled badly: we had sloughs to go through, and altogether it was very uncomfortable traveling in that manner, with children. We arrived at Mr. Hoadley's the first night, and our ox-teams and goods the next day. From there, we came to the High Falls where I had a boat awaiting us, which I had caused to be built for my own use. Here we embarked with all our goods and chattels, of all kinds, loading the boat to its utmost capacity, so that when all were in, it was only about four inches out of water. We Spent one night at the Lowville landing, where a family were living. During the evening, there came in a number of men, wet, cold and hungry. Among them, was one named Smith. He went to pull off the boots of one of his companions, wbich were very wet and clinging close. He pulled with all his might - the other bracing himself against him as firmly as possible. All at once, and with unexpected suddeness, the boot came off, and poor Smith was sent, with his bare feet, into a bed of live coals. There was both music and dancing for one while.
We arrived at the Long Falls, about noon, the second day from our embarkation. The weather had by this time become warm and pleasant. Our oxen arrived soon after by land, we unloaded our boat, put our wagon together, loaded it with some of our effects, set off, and, before night, reached our "wildernes home." My wife said, in view of the difficulties in getting here, that, if she had any thing as. good as a cave to live in, she would not return in one year at the least. She, of choice, walked from the Falls here, a distance of four miles through the forest. We arrived on the 17th of November, 1799. The weather continued pleasant until the 27th, when it commenced snowing, the river soon froze over, the snow, of which a great quantity fell, and continuing to fall, lasted all winter, and we were entirely cut off from all intercourse with the world. I kept fifteen head of cattle through the winter, by browsing them, and they wintered well. Isolated though we were, yet I never passed a more comfortable winter. We had a plenty of provisions; my wheat, I had raised here, a very fine crop from seed sown in the autumn of 1798, and my pork, etc., was fatted in Oneida County, and brought here by boat. And take it all together, I perhaps settled this country as easy as any one ever settled a new country, as completely isolated as this was at that time, and easier than I settled in Steuben, 18 miles from Utica. At that time we had to go to Utica or Whitesborough for provisions, and it always took one day to go out, and another to return, incredible as it may now seem. In the spring of 1800, people began to flock into the country by hundreds, and, as my log house afforded the only accommodation for wayfaring men, we were obliged to keep them, whether we would or no; sometimes, and that very often, my floors were strewn with human beings as thick as they could lie, some so near the huge fire place as not to pass unscorched; one man in particular, it was said by his companions, had his head baked, by too close a proximity to the oven. This rush continued two or three years, and was full of incident and interest, but at this distance of time I can not recall these incidents with sufficient accuracy to detail them here. The town settled rapidly with an intelligent and energetic class of people. The society was good; it might be called good any where. Perhaps there was never a more intelligent and interesting people congregated together in an obscure little inland town, than in this, within a few years from its first settlement. I can not state the order of time in which they came, but the names of a few of them I will record, that in future time, when this place shall have sunk into insignificance, as it too probably will, before the greater lights arising around it, it may be known that we were once honored by having in our midst such men as Egbert Ten Eyck, afterwards first judge of the court, who was then a young lawyer, and married here to one of our beautiful maidens; Olney Pearce and wife, Hubbel and wife, Judge Moss Kent, brother of the late chancellor, Henry R. Storrs, who opened an office here, and afterwards became one of the most distinguished lawyers of the state. Dr. Baudry, a Frenchman, Drs. Durkee and Farley, and many others, too numerous to mention, as well as many ladies of grace and beauty, whom it would be invidious now to particularize. Common schools were soon established. Religious meetings were held on the sabbath, after old Deacon Carter came into the town, and in very few years, I think as early as 1805, the Rev. Nathaniel Dutton came. He was sent out by some missionary society at the east, to form churches in this western world, and coming to this place, was invited to remain, which he did, and continued here until the close of his valuable life, in September 1852, and for the greater part of that time was the pastor of the Congregational church, which flourished under his ministrations, and enjoyed many powerful revivals of religion.
A house was built at a very early day, on the hill, west of the village, which combined the double purpose of a church and school house. It was an expensive house for the times and community. In a few years it was burned to the ground. The next school house was also a large one, located across the gulf, on the road to the Great Bend. This was also used as a meeting house. A part of it is still standing and is now converted into a dwelling house. Some years later it was determined to erect a church, but the details of this and other movements, I presume, you will obtain more fully from other sources.
Yours, etc. Noadiah Hubbard."
The difficulties attending the early settlement of this town, and the country generally, are set forth in the following petition to the legislature, dated the third Tuesday of February, 1801:
"The memorial of the subscribers, proprietors, and inhabitants of Champion, on Black River, in the County of Oneida, in said state, humbly sheweth: That your memorialists, induced by the extraordinary fertility of the soil, have made an establishment in said Champion, and extended the frontier settlements of the state in a northerly direction from Rome to Lake Ontario. That in prosecuting this enterprise, those of your memorialists who have emigrated from Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire and the eastern parts of this state, have not only been subjected to the inconvenience of excessively bad roads, but have been and are still obliged to go around by the way of Rome to Utica, and through Boon's settlements, and Steuben, a distance of at least forty miles further than it would be in a direct line. That from the High Falls, on Black River, on a line tolerably direct to Johnstown, and from thence to Albany, on the old road is but 105 miles; but from the High Falls to Albany, by way of Rome is 145 miles. Your memorialists are informed, and verily believe, that a good road may be made in the direction they have pointed out, by which all the aforesaid saving in distance would be realized. But the country through which it must run, is either not settled at all, or so thinly inhabited that neither the towns through which the proposed road must be laid out, nor individuals, are competent to the opening of said road. Your memorialists would further observe that the road would not only be a great accommodation to them, but would be of so much public utility as to claim the patronage of the legislature. It would save at least forty miles in the travel from Albany to Upper Canada, between which places the commercial intercourse, particularly in the articles of skins and furs, is at present very considerable, and is daily increasing. The fur traders from this state, who have been bound to Kingston, and the bay of Cantic (from whence a great proportion of the furs have been brought), have heretofore been obliged to go through Vermont, and Lake Champlain, or through Rome, the Oneida Lake, into Lake Ontario, and thence to Kingston, either of which routes (as is evident from the map) is very circuitous; whereas the road which your wemorialists propose, would make the traveling for these traders as direct as possible. Besides, it is believed, that those traders who are bound to Niagara, would find their account in traveling the new proposed road, and passing from Black River to Kingston, and taking passage from thence by water. It must also be the post road between this state and Upper Canada. This improvement in the road will rapidly increase the emigration to this part of the country, and consequently the prosperity of this part of the state. Your memorialists therefore pray your honors to take this case into your consideration, and to appoint commissioners to lay out a road from Johnstown, in the nearest direction to the High Falls on Black River, and to grant out of a future lottery, a sum of money which shall be necessary to open a road, and make it passable, or in some other way grant relief, and they as in duty bound will ever pray, etc."
This petition was signed by N. Hubbard, Benjamin Pike, Jr., Eli Church, Harrison Mosely, Timothy Townsend, Joel Mix, Samuel Foster, Abner White, Mathew Kemp, Bela Hubbard, Jr., Elisha Jones, William Davis, and William Crowell.
The virgin soil of this town was found to yield bountifully, and return an abundant increase to the hand of the cultivator, but the difficulty of realizing any means from the sales of produce, from the difficulty of getting to market, led to efforts like the foregoing, to obtain aid for opening lines of communication, and we have heard it related from the lips of one who had shared in these privations, that once on an evening, when a few neighbors had assembled to exchange the news, the subject was being discussed, and one more sanguine than the rest, hazarded the prediction, that there were those then living, who would see a weekly line of mail stages pass through the town. This prophecy, like the dream of oriental fable, has come and gone, for although within ten years, not only a weekly but a daily mail was established, and for many years several mail coaches passed daily, the modern changes of routes by rail roads, and plank roads, have withdrawn these lines, and almost deprived the town of a stated mail service. The proprietors of the town never expended a dollar upon the roads or bridges in it.
The first saw mill in town was built by William Hadsall, and John A. Eggleson, from Greenwich, New York, in 1802, on, Mill Creek, near the line of Rutland, where several years afterwards a grist mill was built. In 1804, David Coffeen removed from Rutland to the west side of the river, opposite Carthage, and in 1806 built a mill on this side of the river, which was the first hydraulic improvement at that place. Finding the supply of water in the channel insufficient, he constructed a wing dam partly across the river, which was completed by Le Ray, upon his commencing his iron works at Carthage. One and a half miles from the present village of Champion, towards the Great Bend, is a hamlet known as The Huddle, where mills and a distillery were erected several years before the war.
It has been intimated, that Champion had been contemplated as the probable center of a new county. A special meeting was held November 13th, l804, to choose delegates to discuss this measure, and Egbert Ten Eyck, Olney Pearce, and John Durkee, were chosen by ballot for this purpose. At the same meeting, the two latter were recommended for appointment as justices of the peace. In 1806, $100.00 was raised for killing the Canada thistle, to be expended by a committee consisting of Abel Crandall, Olney Pearce, and [name illegible]. Wolf bounties of $5.00, were offered in 1807-8-9-10-11-12-13. In 1812, panther bounty $5.00, and fox bounty 50 cents. In 1815, fox bounty $1.00, wolf and panther bounty $10.00. In 1820, 50 cents for foxes; 25 cents for young foxes. Wolf and panther bounty $10.00. Every man required to cut the Canada thistles growing in the road, in front of his lands, under a penalty of $1.00 for each thistle. In 1822 a bounty of 50 cents for foxes, both old and young.
While referring to the subject of bounties, the following may not be inapplicable.
The anecdote is related, that a magistrate in this town, having had an altercation with a leading citizen in Lowville, heard that his opponent had offered a bounty of $5.00 for his head. Feeling somewhat uneasy under this, he resolved to ascertain its truth, and made the journey on foot on purpose to demand satisfaction, or a withdrawal of the offensive reward. Upon reaching the place, he found the person of whom he was in search, in company with several others, and not wishing to make their quarrels a subject of publicity, he requested a private interview. This was promptly refused, on the ground that there was nothing between them that required secrecy, and he was told that if he had any thing to say, he might say it where he was. He then commenced by repeating the story he had heard, and demanded whether it was true. His enemy denied at once the charge, calling his neighbors to witness whether they had ever known him guilty of the folly as the offering of such a sum, but admitted that he might have bid twenty shillings, and was very sure he had never gone higher! Finding that it was impossible to get this bounty taken off, he returned home. We are not informed of the result, or whether the reward was sufficient to tempt the cupidity of his neighbors.
We have alluded to the fact that this town was owned at the time of settlement by Henry Champion, of Colchester, and Lemuel Storrs, of Middletown, Ct. On the 12th of May, 1813, an instrument was executed between them, by which the latter conveyed, for $18,30.00, his half of the sums due for lands in this town and Houndsfield, but this conveyance not being delivered during the lifetime of Storrs, was subsequently confirmed by his heirs Jefferson Deeds, O, page 286.
At Champion Village is a Congregational and a Methodist church, (the latter newly erected), a stone edifice built for academic purposes, an inn, union store, and about twenty dwellings. The academic building was built in 1836, by Freemasons, partly with the funds of their lodge, and partly by subscription; the lower story being devoted to schools, and the upper to a lodge room. It is managed by five trustees appointed by the lodge. The village is on the state road, where crossed by the Great Bend and Copenhagen Plank Road, and is seven miles from Denmark, four from Carthage, five from Great Bend, six from Felt's Mills, twelve from Watertown, and five from Copenhagen.
The village of Great Bend, is situated mostly on the south side of Black River, about a mile below where it bends from a northern to a westward course, and at the point where the Chassanis line crossed the river. A bridge was built here about 1804, which in ]807, was swept off by the spring flood, which in that year was very general in this section of the state, and of extraordinary height. It was soon rebuilt. In 1840, a substantial covered bridge at this place was burned, and a few weeks after, an act was passed authorizing a loan of $2,500.00 to the town of Champion, $750.00 to Le Ray, $2000.00 to Wilna, and $750.00 to Pamelia, for building bridges over Black River, among which were those at this place and Carthage. These loans were to be repaid by a tax in eight equal annual instalments.
The first improvements at the Great Bend were commenced by Olney Pearce and Egbert Ten Eyck, who purchased a pine lot of one hundred acres in the vicinity, and entered into an engagement to build a dam, which was done by a Mr. Tubbs, and a saw mill was erected in 1806. Henry G. Gardner subsequently became interested in the improvements, and in 1807, the mill which had been destroyed in the flood was rebuilt. In 1809, a distillery was got in operation, and in 1816, the premises were sold to Watson & Gates, who in 1824, conveyed them to Charles E. Clarke, by whom the water power and mills are still owned.
A destructive fire occurred at the Great Bend, March 5, 1840, by which the grist mill, bridge and other property were burned. The loss was estimated at $20,000.00. The mill was immediately rebuilt on an extensive scale.
The river has here a fall of about sixteen feet, and both above and below a succession of rapids occur, which from Carthage to the lake amount to 480 feet. Of this the Long Falls, below Carthage, have 57 feet, and from thence to this place the fall is 33 feet.
The village of Great Bend, being at the crossing of an important and early traveled road into to the northern part of the county, naturally became a place of some business, and has at present a large grist mill, a saw mill, two inns, two stores, a Baptist church and thirty or forty families.
In 1834, Joseph C. Budd, William Bones, and Benjamin Bentley, erected a blast furnace in Champion, west of the river, opposite Carthage, which was 26 feet square at the base, and 32 feet high. It was run by four blasts, the first two on bog ore alone when, it was abandoned in 1836. About 1000 tons of iron were made at this furnace, with the cold blast. No castings were made here. The parties owning it had in February 1833, purchased of Aristarchus Champion, about 320 acres, opposite Carthage, which was surveyed into a village plat, and sold to parties in New York, who caused a new survey and a map to be made by Nelson J. Beach. The speculation failed, and the property reverted to Champion, who sold it to V. Le Ray, the present owner of the greater part. This village company procured an act incorporating the West Carthage Iron and Lead Company, with a capital of $200,000.00 in shares of $500.00, which was incorporated May 15, 1837. The first directors were Ebenezer Jesup, Jr., Chauncey Burke, Wolcot Hubbell, Ebenezer Griffin, and Carlos Woodcock, and the company was limited in duration to 25 years. Nothing was done towards carrying this into effect.
West Carthage, is now assuming some importance, having 3 saw mills (one of which is an extensive gang mill, built by Coburn & Rulison, in 1852), 1 grist mill, 2 oil mills, 1 clothing works, 1 tannery, 1 cabinet shop, with water power, and an increasing population. It has a Congregational Church erected in 1852, at a cost of $2000.00.
A society library, was formed Dec. 24, 1823, at Champion village, with Martin Ellis, Allen Kilborn, Dorastus Wait, George L. Coughlin, and J. P. Johnson, trustees. It has been for several years discontinued.
Religious Societies. - The first regular religious organization in the county, is believed to have been formed in this town, in June, 1801, by the Rev. Mr. Bascomb, of Chester, Massachusetts, who was sent out on a missionary tour by the Ladies' Charitable Society, of Connecticut, and on that date formed a Congregational Church. The numbers that first composed it were small, and only occasional preaching was enjoyed until 1807, when the Rev. Nathaniel Dutton, was ordained. There were present on this occasion, the late Rev. Dr. Norton, of Clinton, N. Y., Mr. Eels, of Westmoreland, and one or two others. Mr. Dutton maintained for nearly forty years, the pastoral relation with this church, and became in a great degree identified with the religious movements not only of the town, but county, and was instrumental in effecting numerous church organizations in this section. The following notice, published soon after his death, was written by the Rev. David Spear, of Rodman, who for a period quite as long, has labored in the ministry at that place, and whose opportunities for knowing the character and worth of the subject of the notice were most ample.
"Died, in Champion, New York, September 9th, 1852, Rev. NATHANIEL DUTTON, aged 73 years, the first settled minister in Jefferson County. His parents live in Hartford, Vermont. The son, having become pious in early life, devoted himself to the work of the ministry, graduated at Dartmouth in 1802, studied theology under Dr. Lyman of Hatfield, commenced preaching in 1805 under the approval of Hampshire Association, was sent by the Hampshire Missionary Society to labor in the Black River country, and in 1807 was installed pastor of the First Congregational church in Champion.
For several years there was almost a continuous revival among his people, with constant accessions to the church. In 1817 he witnessed a general revival, which in a few months added 168 members to the church. Abundant as were his pastoral duties, he frequently visited destitute regions around him, to preach the word and administer the ordinances, and to organize churches. He also made himself useful by directing the studies of young men, preparatory to their college course. But few have performed more labor, or daily exhibited more of the fruits of righteousness. His uniformly pious and consistent life gave great weight to his pulpit and other instructions. He was a scribe well instructed, rooted and grounded in the doctrines of the Bible, and a firm believer in the form of church polity he inherited from his Puritan ancestors. He resided with his people forty-six years; and although the pastoral relation was dissolved several years before his decease, he ever cherished towards them the tenderest sympathy and most affectionate regard. He never ceased his efforts to win souls to Christ, till compelled by disease. The Congregational churches of Carthage and Philadelphia will long remember his faithful labors among them in his declining year:. The Consoclation to which he belonged, have lost a friend and counselor, and a venerated father. His last sickness was short but distressing, which he bore with Christian patience and submission. He died in the full hope of a glorious immortality. 'Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints"
A convention of ministers and churches, assembled at Champion, September 22d, 1807, voted a proclamation recommending to the inhabitants of the Black River settlements, the observance of the first Thursday of December next, as a day of thanksgiving and praise. This document set forth in general terms the obligations felt toward Divine Providence for the blessings of the year, and advised religious services to be performed in the several churches. It was signed by a vote of the convention, James Murdock, moderator, Nathaniel Dutton, scribe, and published in the Black River Gazette, at Martinsburgh, then the only paper north of Utica. The governors of the state had not then adopted the custom of appointing a day of thanksgiving, as is now the invariable custom.
The First Congregational Society of the town of Champion, was formed May 7th, 1805, Jonathan Carter, Abel Crandel, Joel Mix, Noadiah Hubbard, Joseph Paddock, and John Canfield, being the first trustees. 'On the 4th of July, 1807, Champion & Storrs conveyed to the town two acres on the summit of a hill, that overlooks the village, for the site of a church and a public green, and it was contemplated to begin the erection of a church soon after, but the war that followed, directed attention from the object until 1816, in which year Noadiah Hubbard contracted to build a church edifice to be paid in the sale of pews, but it being expensive he never realized the cost. It was completed at a cost of $5000.00 and dedicated December 25th, 1816. General Champion had promised the town a bell, as a compliment for having had his name given to it, and this was accompanied by the following letter dated Hartford, September 9th, 1816, and addressed to Mr. Hubbard.
"The bell for your meeting house, was shipped from this place for Albany, about ten days past. The tongue is made fastened to the bell. I expect before this it is in Albany. It weighs a little short of 800 pounds, and it is said by Col. Ward to be a very good one. The bell they first cast appeared not to be as perfect as they wished, and of course they broke it to pieces, and cast another. I hope it will arrive safe, and be satisfactory to your society. I am, sir, your very humble servant,
Noadiah Hubbard. HENRY CHAMPION."
The first church being in a bleak and exposed situation, difficult of access, and in many respects uncomfortable, was taken down in the summer of 1841, and rebuilt in the valley, it having been oompleted and dedicated in the fall of that year.
A Baptist church in this town in 1818, reported twenty-five members, and the First Baptist Ecclesiastical Society, was formed October 16th, 1826, with Moses C. Merrill, Elisha Jones, Thomas Campbell, Elisha Bentley, Moses Miller, Sidney Hastings, and James Thompson, trustees. There was no house of worship erected in town by this order until 1842. A church in North Rutland on the 6th of January, 1842, decided to rebuild at the Great Bend, and formed, January 27th, 1842, a society with Cicero Potter, Miner C. Merrill, Thomas P. Francis, Daniel Potter, and Henry G. Potter, trustees. In May 1843, a subscription was drawn up for this purpose, and in December the house was completed and dedicated. It is 36 by 48 feet, and cost with fixtures $1400.00.
The Methodists first organized a legal society December 30th, 1825, with M. Andrews, Wilson Pennock, and Josiah Townsend, trustees. A second society was formed, April 11th, 1827, with Samuel Loomis, William Davis, and Wilson Pennock, trustees. A church was built in 1826 or 7, in this town, two miles from Great Bend, at a cost of $700.00. It is a plain and cheap, but comfortable edifice. In the season of 1853, this denomination built a chapel in Champion Village. On the South Road in this town a Union church exists.
The Congregational Church of East and West Carthage was formed in 1830 by Rev. N. Dutton and J. H. Monroe. A society was formed, August 4th, 1838, with C. J. Hewett, Alfred Lathrop, John Vrooman and S. Gilbert, trustees. In 1852, they erected a church in West Carthage at a cost of $2000.00. The Rev. J. A. Northrop, C. F. Halsey, W. Woolcot, N. Dutton, H. Doane and H. H. Waite have been employed as stated supplies. While Mr. Doane was in charge of this church, he withdrew from the Consociation and united with the Presbytery, having formed a portion of the members a Presbyterian church, who have an organization in the village of Carthage.Return to Clickable Map of Jefferson County Return to Shirley Farone's Homepage
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