Note: There is another rendering of this town’s history (by Child) on the New York Local History Network - Jefferson County, N. Y., Town of Rutland. In order that my project may be complete, I present my typed version of the Town of Rutland History. And no, I have not lifted anyone else's hardwork, believe me! (by Shirley Farone - 2-5-2002)
History From Child’s Gazetteer of Jefferson County, N. Y.
Note. -- In 1876 Elijah Graves, Luman D. Olney, and Henry T. Hopkins prepared an excellent historical sketch of the town of Rutland, which has since remained in manuscript in 1794, and came to this town in 1817, where he purchased of Elder Johnson a farm in the form. That sketch has been freely used in preparation of this article. EDITOR.
RUTLAND, embracing its present limits, or townships No. 3 (“Milan”) of the “eleven towns,” was taken from Watertown, April 1, 1802. The name of the town was selected at a meeting held for that purpose and suggested by settlers from Rutland in Vermont. It lies upon the south bank of Black River, east of the center of the county, and is bounded on the north by Le Ray, east by Champion, south by Lewis County and a part of Rodman, and west by Watertown. The surface of the town consists of a narrow river valley on the north, a terraced plateau in the center, and a hilly region in the south. The central plateau, embracing the greater part of the town, is 300 or 400 feet above the flat country farther north, and it descends by a succession of steep declivities to the level of the river. It is underlaid by Trenton limestone. Upon the south the surface gradually rises to the summits of the slate hills which occupy the south part of the county. A remarkable valley, known as “Rutland Hollow,” extends through the town upon the lower terrace of the plateau, parallel to the river. It is deeply excavated in the limestone, and appears like the bed of an ancient river. Another smaller and deeper valley extends in the same direction across the summit of the plateau, and forms the bed of a deep, narrow lake. Pleasant Lake, Champion, is situated in the continuation of this valley. These valleys and terraces seem the result of abrasion rather than upheaval. Upon the edge of the terrace, 100 feet below the summit, may be seen the ancient lake ridge before mentioned. The soil is a very fertile loam upon the plateau, and a sandy loam upon the river. The town has an area of 27,238½ acres.
The first town meeting held within the limits of Jefferson County was organized at the house of Asher Miller, near Rutland Center, March 14, 1800. The records of the town of the town of Watertown previous to 1805 having been burned, we have no list of the officers elected at that meeting. The first town meeting for Rutland was organized at the house of David Coffeen and adjourned to the house of Levi Butterfield, on Tuesday, March 7, 1803. The following officers were chosen, viz.: Henry Coffeen, supervisor; Jacob A. Williams, town clerk; Levi Heath, Solomon Thompson, and Gershom Tuttle, assessors; Benjamin Edde, constable and collector; Levi Butterfield and Daniel Evans, poundmasters; Clift French, Doctor Phillips, and Peter Cook, fence viewers; Levi Heath, Thomas Duntin, Frederick Tyler, Stephen Commins, John E. Howard, Stephen Ellice, Richmond Howland, Isiah Babcock, Nathaniel Welch, Wolcott Hubbel, Thomas Lee, and Chandler Maltby, pathmasters; Joseph Underwood, Mathias Howk, and Thomas Lee, deer reeves; John Smith, Clift French, David Coffeen, Perley Keyes, Chauncey Rawson, Zelotus Harvey, and Asher Ward, hog reeves.
Previous to 1830 justices of the peace were appointed by the Governor and Council. We have not been able to ascertain who first received appointments, but among those who served as justices were Zelotus Harvey, Daniel Eames, Perley Keyes, Ethel Bronson, Archibald Clark, Joseph Graves, Levi Hale, and Merril Coburn. At a special town meeting held for the purpose at the house of Jonathan Porter, July 5, 1813, William Brown, Jonathan Smiley, and Abel Doolittle were elected commissioners of common schools in place of Ethel Bronson, Amos Stebbins, and Judah Williams; and Josiah Massey, Timothy Tamblin, Obed Weeks, Ethel Bronson, and Robert Middleton, inspectors of common schools. In 1806, at the annual town meeting, Ethel Bronson was elected supervisor, but at his request was excused, and Perley Keyes was elected to fill his place. In Hough’s History of Jefferson County Mr. Keyes’s name does not appear as a supervisor of Rutland.
From Spafford’s Gazetteer of 1813 we quote: --
“There are three houses of worship, and 10 school-houses in which schools are kept eight months in 12. The population is 1,946; taxable property, $153,296; acres of improved land, 10,063; 2,946 cattle, 551 horses, 6,461 sheep; yards of cloth made in families, 23,895. There were three grist-mills, six saw-mills, three fulling-mills, two carding machines, five distilleries, and four asheries.”
In 1880 Rutland had a population of 1,796. The town is located in the second school district of Jefferson County, and in 1888 had 13 school districts, in which the same number of teachers were employed 28 weeks or more. There were 329 scholars attending school, and the aggregate days attendance during the year was 26,989. The total value of school buildings and sites was $6,425, while the assessed valuation of all the districts was $811,755. The whole amount raised for school purposes was $2,857.67, of which $1,389.10 was received by local tax. Truman C. Gray was school commissioner.
BLACK RIVER (p. o.) is situated on the river from which it derives its name, and is a thriving little village, containing about 40 dwellings on the Rutland side and a large number in the town of Le Ray. It has quite extensive manufacturing interests already, with a prospect of more being added. The Dexter chair manufacturing establishments are located here, whose reputation is not confined to this country, but extends to Europe and countries of the East. The Watertown Paper Company has erected a large paper and pulp-mill on the south bank of the river, and another firm is contemplating putting up similar works on the “island.” It also contains a grist-mill, cabinet shop, bending shops, planing-mill, blacksmith shop, three stores, and two churches. It is a station on the Utica division of the R., W. & O., six miles from Watertown, 181 from Albany, and 323 from New York, has express, telephone and telegraph offices, and a population, on both sides of the river, of about 700.
RUTLAND CENTER (Rutland p. o.), situated on the old State road in the central part of the town, is a little hamlet of a half dozen houses, and contains a blacksmith shop, blacksmith and wagon shop combined, and a hotel, the latter of which was the first built in the town.
TYLERVILLE (South Rutland p. o.), is situated in the south part of the town, contains one hotel, two stores, two churches, two wagon shops, two blacksmith shops, and about 25 dwellings. The first woolen-mill north of the city of Utica was erected there in 1814, by a stock company, of which Daniel Eames was president and Eber Ingalsby, secretary. The building now stands unoccupied, and is in a dilapidated condition. The first frame building built in the village is now the kitchen of Mr. Scott’s hotel.
FELT’S MILLS (p. o.), so named from a grist-mill owned by Mr. Felt in early times, is a small village containing about 15 dwellings, one church, one hotel, three stores, one blacksmith shop, a wagon shop, grist-mill, saw-mill, and cheese-box factory. The building occupied as a pump and axehelve factory was built by Jason Francis in 1845, and is used by two companies, Roberts & Slack, who manufacture axehelves, and Hiram Howland, who manufactures pumps.
On October 24, 1889, the village of Felt’s Mills was visited by a disastrous fire which destroyed the business part of the village. The buildings burned were: the glove factory, axehelve factory and pump shop, grist-mill, furniture and repair shop, Good Templars hall, Mary Lanmark’s dwelling, W. S. Cooper’s store, Charles Tifft’s dwelling and confectionery store. Hiram Allen’s grocery, M. M. Parker’s general store, in which was kept the post-office, S. W. Foster’s general store, and a blacksmith shop. The loss was about $10,000. Since the fire several new houses have been erected, E. M. Marshall has built a new store, and Henry Marshall & Son a glove factory building. The Felt’s Mills Paper Co. is now engaged in the erection of buildings for its extensive business. The buildings already up and inclosed are the engine house, dimensions 43 x 163 feet; two machine rooms, each 36 x 152 feet; boiler house, 34 x 45; pump house, 31 x 59 feet; finishing room, 33 x 102; storehouse, 40 x 97 feet; rag room, 40 x 73 feet; and chloride room, 20 x 23 feet. The buildings are all of brick, one story high, and cover considerable ground. During the past season over 150 men have found employment and 50 are now at work. A huge pulp-mill, 65 x 200 feet, will be erected this spring. The new paper company practically controls all the water privileges on the river at Felt’s Mills.
Dexter & Co. --In 1880 Christopher Poor and D. E. Dexter, who were engaged in the manufacture of bent chair stock, with works located on the “island,” in the village of Black River, in the building now occupied by Wolcott Brothers, as a planing-mill, commenced in a small way the manufacture of the “Dexter rocker,” under the firm name of Poor & Dexter. Their operations began in the spring, and in the following fall D. E. Dexter disposed of his interest in the concern to Charles Woulf and Charles P. Dexter, and the business was continued under the firm name of Poor, Dexter & Co. With them the business began rapidly to increase, and their chairs found a ready market it (sic) all parts of the United States and Canada. In the spring of 1884, on account of the failing health of Charles P. Dexter his brother, Henry C. Dexter, was admitted into the firm, the name of which remained the same, and in the spring of 1885 Poor and Woulf retired from the company and were immediately succeeded by D. H. and R. Byron Scott, when the firm was known as Dexter & Scott. February 10, 1886, the Scotts retired by selling their interests to Charles P. and Henry C. Dexter, since which time the firm name has been Dexter & Co.
In the summer of 1884 Charles P. Dexter’s health failing, he went to Dansville, N. Y., and thence to Texas, where he remained for about a year, but experiencing no beneficial results from that climate he went to Southern California in the hopes that there might be found a panacea for his weakened constitution. Here, also, he was disappointed, and on May 3, 1886, nearly two years after leaving home, at San Gorgonia, the highest point on the Southern Pacific Railroad, he died. As a member of the firm he developed a tact for doing business very rarely found in one of his age, and the firm’s success is largely due to his management of the office work and general details of the business. Since the death of Charles P. the business has been conducted by Henry C. Dexter, retaining the same name. Soon after the business was started the company occupied the ball-room of the old McOmber hotel, at the four corners south of the river, for finishing, upholstering, and packing, and as it increased the whole building was appropriated for their use. In 1884 the main building was doubled and the barns were taken in, making a floor space of 14,000 square feet. The whole buildings as they now stand, including the woodworking shop on the north side of the river, occupy a floor space of about 25,000 square feet. The main building of the finishing shop is 30 x 120 feet, and that of the woodworking shop 30 x 110, both of which are three stories high. The company gives employment to about 50 men, and turns out nearly 30,000 chairs annually. Their goods find a market in all parts of the world, and their business is still rapidly on the increase.
D. Dexter’s Sons. --David Dexter, a carpenter and joiner by trade, came to the village of Black River in the year 1837, from Athol, Mass., and perfected arrangements for the erection of a building in which to manufacture chair, on a site very near the present location of D. Dexter’s Sons. He then returned to Massachusetts and, with his family, in July, 1839, came again, bringing with him A. N. Brittan, a practical chairmaker. He found his shop in readiness on his arrival, and he immediately set about preparing stock, kilning, and drying, but not until the spring of 1840 did articles of his handiwork appear upon the market. At this time about six hands were employed, with Mr. Brittan as foreman, and only a limited number of chairs were made principally of wood seat. In 1842 Mr. Brittan sought other employment, and the care and management of the business devolved solely on Mr. Dexter. The demand for his goods began to increase, and in 1847 he took into partnership his brother, Simeon Dexter, and the firm was known as D. & S. Dexter. By them the business was continued till 1856, when David again assumed control, his brother retiring from the business to engage in farming. A year or two later Mr. Dexter’s business had grown to such proportions that he found it necessary to enlarge his buildings and add new facilities in order to supply the demand of his increasing patronage. Thus he continued till 1864, when he took in his son, E. A. Dexter, and the partnership was known as D. Dexter & Son. In December of the following year, 1865, the entire property, the accumulation of 25 years of toil, was destroyed by fire, the origin of which was incendiary and said to be caused by Southern sympathizers. The buildings were immediately rebuilt, the size of which very nearly double the original dimensions, and in the summer of 1866 the business again assumed its former proportions. In 1880 the death of David Dexter occurred, when the partnership which now exist was formed, the individual members of which are E. A. and D. E. Dexter. Their works, located on the south bank of the river, are at the present time equipped for the performance of all parts of the business, and the chair is started from the log and passed through all of its varied changes till it comes from the upholstering department complete and perfect in all its parts. Their woodworking shop is 40 x 80 feet and four stories high; their paint shop and storeroom 40 x 72 feet, three stories high; and their lumber sheds are 230 feet long. They manufacture all kinds of chairs, and give employment to from 35 to 50 men. Their reputation is second to none in the country for good work, and their chairs find a market in all parts of the United States and Canada, and in Europe.
Black River Pulp Co’s mill, located on road 6, on Black River, was built in 1888 by H. Remington & Son, of Watertown. The size of the building is 150 by 51 feet, and has the capacity for grinding eight tons of dry pulp per day, giving employment to 11 hands. It is the intention of the proprietors to greatly enlarge the building.
Empire Wood Pulp Co’s mill, located at Black River village, in the town of Rutland, was started in 1888. It furnishes employment to seven men, and manufactures from three to four tons of dry pulp per day.
The Jefferson Paper Co., located at Black River village, in this town, was incorporated in 1887 by Frank H. Munson and William P. Herring, and their mill was erected in 1888. It has the capacity for manufacturing six tons of dry pulp per day and employs 13 men. Frank H. Munson is president of the company, and F. W. Herring, secretary and treasurer.
The Benefit Glove and Mitten Co., located at Felt’s Mills, was organized as a stock company in March, 1888. The concern employs 13 hands, and does a business of about $10,000 annually.
P. M. Paige & Co’s machine shop, at Black River village, gives employment to four men and does a general business in repairing machinery. The company also does blacksmithing.
Felt’s saw mill and cheese-box factory, located at Felt’s Mills, employ seven men in the manufacture of 5,000 feet of lumber per day and 30,000 cheese boxes annually.
Henry Marshall’s saw-mill and cheese-box factory, located at Felt’s Mills, employ seven men in the manufacture of 5,000 feet of lumber per day and 30,000 cheese boxes annually.
Henry Marshall’s saw-mill and cheese-box factory, located on Black River at Felt’s Mills, was built by George C. Kidder in 1866, and purchased by Mr. Marshall in 1872. He manufactures about 500,000 feet of lumber and 50,000 cheese boxes annually, employing about 10 hands.
Rutland Valley creamery, Azro T. Frink, proprietor, was built by him in the spring of 1887, and is supplied with the Danish Western separators. It has the patronage of 300 cows, receives about 850,000 pounds of milk annually, from which is manufactured 35,956 pounds of butter, valued at $8,130.
Tylerville cheese factory, Byron Dickinson, proprietor, was built by his grandfather, T. Bailey, in 1871. It has the patronage of 275 cows, receives about 825,000 pounds of milk annually, from which is manufactured 82,5000 pounds of Cheddar cheese, valued at $7,425.
South Champion creamery, owned by Jay W. Waldo, is situated two miles east of South Rutland. It has the patronage of about 500 cows, and receives nearly 1,500,000 pounds of milk through the season, from which is manufactured 63,000 pounds of butter, the estimated value of which is $15,120. The creamery was built in 1878, is fitted up with the Danish Western separators, and has all modern improvement for the manufacture of first-class butter.
Edward J. Williams’s cheese factory, located about a mile east of Rutland Center, was built in 1877 by C. C. Hardy. It has the patronage of 400 cows, receives about 1,500,000 pounds of milk annually, and makes 157,000 pounds of cheese, valued at $18,750.
B. P. Smith cheese factory, Bailey R. Mearns, proprietor, located on the west end of the South road, was built about the year 1860, by J. C. Hardy. It receives the milk of 600 cows, taking in 2,100,000 pounds of milk during the season, making therefrom 210,000 pounds of cheese, valued at $18,900.
Henry C. Eames’s cheese factory, located in the east part of the town, has the patronage of 200 cows, receives 60,000 pounds of milk through the season, from which is made 60,000 pounds of cheese, valued at $5,400.
Parkinson Brothers’ cheese factory, located on the Hollow road, was built by Asa Parkinson in 1870. It has the patronage of 300 cows, receives about 900,000 pounds of milk during the season, and makes about 90,000 pounds of cheese, valued at $9,000.
Hon Moses Eames furnishes the following, which was read before the Jefferson Historical Society. In the early days of Rutland the keeping of sheep and raising of wool was one of the most important of home industries, as nearly every family manufactured the clothing used in the household. So important had this home industry become that the legislature of the state passed a law the 22d day of March, 1811, entitled an act relative to incorporation for manufacturing purposes, under which law the following company was formed: --
“We whose names are hereunto subscribed being desirous of forming a company for the purpose of manufacturing Woolen goods in conformity to a law passed the 22d day of March, 1811, entitled ‘An act relative to incorporations for manufacturing purposes,’ Do hereby Certify that we have associated ourselves together by the name and style of the ‘Rutland Woolen Manufacturing Company’ for the purpose of manufacturing woolen goods in the Town of Rutland, county of Jefferson and State of New York with a capital stock of twenty-five thousand dollars consisting of two hundred shares of one hundred and twenty-five dollars each, and that there are three Trustees viz, Ethel Bronson, Daniel Eames, and Josiah Tyler, who are to manage the concerns of the said company for the first year. In witness whereof we have hereunto set our hands and seals at Rutland, September 25th, 1811. Thomas Hill (L.S.), Abel Doolittle (L. S.), Eber Ingalsbe (L. S.), John Oaks (L. S.), Ethel Bronson (L. S.), Josiah Tyler (L. S.), Daniel Eames (L. S.).
“SS JEFFERSON COUNTY---ss, Be it remembered that on the eighth of October, 1811, before me came Ethel Bronson, Josiah Tyler, Daniel Eames, Thomas Hill, Abel Doolittle, Eber Ingalsby, and John Oaks, known to me to be the persons herein described and who severally acknowledged they executed this instrument in writing I allow it to be recorded.
“JOSEPH CLARK, Judge State.”
Two of the stockholders, Ethel Bronson and Daniel Eames, took each one-fourth of the stock, which was $25,000. Of this stock only about $17,000 was ever paid in. As I now look back I am surprised at the spirit and energy these men put forth and the difficulties they had to encounter. The country was not only new, but not one of them was acquainted with the manufacture of cloths. The company in the fall of 1811 made preparations for building, and in 1812 put up most of the buildings and commenced work. This was a very busy year. War with England was declared June 18, 1812, and the price of things went up, as well as the cost of labor. Common wool was 50 cents and fine wool 75 cents per pound, and all dye-woods and cotton, which was used in the satinets, were high. Log-wood and all other dye-woods in the log were cut by hand, and the machinery was not of the improved kind. This was the first and only factory of the kind in all Northern or Western New York, and the company was doing a very fair amount of work in the years 1813-14-15, but at the close of he (sic) war, there being no duty on woolen goods, the importation of British cloths soon put an end to this as well as many other factories in the states. In the year 1816-17 this company had accumulated manufactured goods beyond the sale, and there were some debts against the company for dye-stuffs, machinery, and other things, and it was thought best to sell and close out the company. In September, 1817, it was sold to Daniel Eames for $400, he making the only bid. The debts of the company were to be paid by those that bought the company. All the stockholders in the company lost about all they had paid in. After the sale of the company’s interest in the property the buildings and machinery were rented for some years and used for cloth-dressing and wool-carding for customers till about 1844.
Previous to this date, however, it had been used as a cloth-dressing establishment by Calvin Blackstone, for a tannery by Firman Fish, and a tannery by Orrin Roberts, which was followed by L. A. Walker as a cooper shop. In 1844 it was left to fall into ruins, and some years since the high water carried off the dam and the buildings attached to the water-power, but the main building, which was erected in 1812, is yet standing, which is up from the creek on the margin of the highway. Since its disuse as a factory building it has been devoted to various uses, and for a time was used as a creamery or butter factory. On the 15th day of July, 1814, the Rutland Woolen Manufacturing Company made an agreement with Gershom Tuttle and Daniel Eames to dig a well for the use of the company.
I have thought it due to those who were most directly interested in the enterprise of the Rutland Woolen Manufacturing Company that their names should be presented, as some of their descendants may call to mind the events of the past. In the settlement of any new country many very interesting events take place that are of great interest to those that come after them. Most of those who came and settled in Rutland were from the New England states, and were men and women who could endure toil and suffer privation from the luxuries of life. Only one decade had passed when this enterprise of the Rutland Woolen Manufacturing Company was organized, and the following persons were more or less interested in it until 1817 or 1818: Ethel Bronson, Daniel Eames, Eber Ingalsby, Thomas Hill, Abel Doolittle, John Oaks, Josiah Tyler, Gershom Tuttle, David Canfield, Joseph Hopkins, Nathaniel Kellogg, John Beecher, Benham Webb, Nathaniel Frink, Jacob Miller, Ira Phillips, Sydney Ball, Erastus Lathrop, David Thomas, Amandah Tucker, Thomas Rickerson, David Hicox, Ephraim Towne, Elisha Parks, Joseph Commins, Owen Riley, and Alvin Hunt. There are many other things of interest to our historical society connected not only with the town of Rutland, but of other towns of the county, which should be preserved, and I hope an interest will be manifested that will make the Jefferson County Historical Society one of the most interesting in this state.
In relation to the first library in Rutland I will read this document: --
“I hereby certify that more than 20 persons belonging to the town of Rutland, in the County of Jefferson and State of New York, have by writing under their hands signified their desire to associate themselves together for the purpose of procuring and erecting a Library, in the said town of Rutland, agreeable to law, and have subscribed for that purpose more than $100, and that more than two-thirds of said subscribers did assemble at the dwelling house of Amariah Tucker, in said Rutland (it being the time and place previously agreed on and appointed), and being so assembled did proceed to elect a chairman by ballot from among themselves to preside at said meeting, and did also elect by a plurality of votes Ethel Bronson, Hugh Henderson, Abel Sherman, Daniel Eames, and Curtiss Mallery to serve as trustees for said Library for the year ensuing, and did also agree that the style name or title by which the said Corporation shall be distinguished or known shall be the “Rutland Farmers’ Library.’ Signed and sealed at Rutland the 11 day of November, A. D. 1806.
“ETHEL BRONSON, Chairman of S’d Meeting.”
“SS. JEFFERSON COUNTY---be it remembered that on the twenty second day of November, A. D., one thousand eight hundred and six, before me came Ethel Bronson, the subscriber of the within certificate, whome I am personally acquainted, an on oath declared that he did execute the within certificate and that the facts therein stated are true, and I finding no material erasure or enterlineations therein do allow the same to be recorded. Perley Keyes, one of the Judges of the Court of Common please within and for the County of Jefferson.”
The last librarian was John D. Randall, who was elected in 1843. Soon after his election he took the books to his house and the library ceased to exist. Speaking of schools Mr. Eames said: The first settlers of Rutland, as soon as enough log houses were made to make them comfortable, gave their attention to schools, and in 1804 a subscription was raised to build a schoolhouse by the following persons: Abel Sherman, Nathaniel Welch, Nathan Green, James Brainard, Thomas M. Converse, Daniel Eames, John M. Dole, Gardner Cleveland, Solomon Thompson, Artemus W. White, Orange Eno, David Y. Fitch, Francis Commins, Stephen Commins, Benjamin Commins, Samuel Brainard, Daniel Smith, Raphael Porter, Gershom Tuttle, Levi Hale, John Stanley, Jedediah Stanley, John Winslow. The subscription amounted to $250. A library was formed at Jonathan Graves’s, called the Young Men’s Library, about 1812, by the boys in the vicinity. It prospered until its boy patrons, coming of age, left the neighborhood. John Grannis was librarian.
At the time the county of Jefferson began to settle its territory was embraced in two towns of Oneida County. All south of the Black River was a part of Mexico, and all north of the river belonged to Leyden. The organization of Jefferson County, etc., has been noted in the County Chapter.
In a division of the 11 towns among the proprietors No. 3, or Rutland, fell to Henderson, who appointed Asher Miller, of Middletown, Conn., as his agent, June 6, 1799. As a consideration for removing to the town and commencing improvements he was allowed the choice of 500 acres wherever he might select at a very reduced price. Accordingly, in July, he opened a road from the river to near the center of the town, and fixed his residence and location about one-half a mile east of Rutland Center. During the year the following sales were made, viz.: September 21, 172 acres to Levi Butterfield; October 3, 343 acres to Perley Keyes, William Keyes, and Amos Stebbins; November 1, 391 acres to David Coffeen; November 6: Goldsmith Coffeen, 312; Raphael Porter, 213; Israel Wright, 98; Jonathan and Clark Ross, 161; James Kilham, 141; Charles Kelsey, 116; Jephtha King, 137; John Dole, 154; Gardner Cleveland, 242; Warren Foster, 140; John Cotes, 134.
Among those that purchased in 1800 and 1801 were Danford and John Earl, Solomon Tuttle, Abel Sherman, Jacob A. Williams, Ezekiel Andrus, George White, Clift French, William Coffeen, Alexander Warner, Samuel Treadway, and Stanley Weeks. The total amount of sales during the three years was 17,549 acres, for $50,738.14. In June, 1803, Abel French succeeded as agent, and the same year sold 2,313 acres of $7,112.60. The town was thus rapidly settled, the unsold parts being along the north and south bounds.
Early in 1804 Henderson assigned to Dr. Bronson his interest in the town. Dr. Bronson appointed his brother Ethel as agent, who served in that capacity until his death in 1825, when he was succeeded by George White, an active and prominent citizen and among the first settlers of the town, who continued agent until the lands were sold and the accounts settled with the proprietor. The last of the lands sold was an island near Black River village, which was disposed of April 13, 1846. Dr. Bronson was a very generous landlord, and treated his debtors with much lenity. On a visit to the town he found that a number of holding contracts were unable to meet their payments. These he gave new contracts at a reduced rate. Ethel Bronson served the town as supervisor nine years.
The most reliable authority names Asher Miller, Henderson’s agent, as the first settler in Rutland, he having located here in July, 1799. Most of those who purchased lands in that year came on early in the next spring, while many who purchased in 1800 settled the same year.
The first grist-mill built in the county was erected by David Coffeen, in 1800, on Mill Creek, at Felt’s Mills, just above the lower bridge. It was put in operation in 1801, and the first grist ground was for William Hadsall, of Champion. This was a great improvement on the “stump mortars,” and was resorted to from great distances. After being in operation about two years the mill was burned. In 1804 Wolcott Hubbel bought out Coffeen and rebuilt the mill, which he subsequently sold to Barnabas Eldridge. From Eldridge the property passed to Barnabas La Grange, and In 1813 to John Felt.
The first saw-mill in town was erected at Felt’s Mills in 1801, and about the same time the first framed house in town was erected on the lot-known as the Jacob Tooker lot, situated nearly opposite Felt’s Mills school-house. This ancient building was still standing a few years ago and was used as a barn.
Joseph Warden, Sr., formerly settled in Rutland, from Halifax, Vt., in the fall of 1803. He bought the farm known as the Lewis Clark farm (or a portion of it), of Morgan Starks, who was the original purchaser, and lived there until his death in 1817. In 1807 he opened a public house, and continued that business until he sold his farm to Elisha Clark in the year of his death. Mr. Clark discontinued keeping the hotel. According to the recollections of Ezekiel Andrus and Ezra Worden* (*written in 1876) Dr. Hugh Henderson opened the first tavern in town, at Rutland Center, but Hough’s History names Levi Butterfield as the first inn-keeper, and the town records seem to confirm the latter statement. As the town meeting from the years 1803-, ‘05, and ‘06 were held at the dwelling house of Levi Butterfield the insertion of the word “dwelling” before “house” would rather imply that it was not a tavern. The first physician in town was Dr. Hugh Henderson.
In 1803 there were but nine farms occupied on or near the Rutland Hollow road. The occupants were William Newton, John Cotes, John Eddy, Morgan Starks, Robert Adams, Stanley Weeks, and three men by the name of Maltby. There were but two families settled between the Hollow and what is now Felt’s Mills, viz.: those of Elihu Veber and Jacob Fuller. At the latter place a very few settlers had located. Among those who had located in the north part of the town about this time were Richmond Howland, and his brothers Rufus and David, Jonathan Graves, Asa, Elisha, Elias, and Archibald Clark, Asaph Chase, Reuben Scott, David Wilcox, Enoch Eddy and family, and David Veber. Zelotus Harvey, who had previously settled, was for many years a very prominent and useful citizen of the town, as a teacher, magistrate, supervisor, and inspector of common schools.
Among the incidents that retarded the prosperity of many of the settlers of the north part of the town was the following: A man by the name of John Harris, having a contract to deliver spars at either Montreal or Quebec, bought all the Norway pine on the Le Ray plains. Many of the settlers, thinking it a favorable opportunity to get a little ready money (an article very scarce in those days), contracted to deliver the spars on the banks of the river at $5 each. All except Enoch Eddy and Asa Ness, who delivered 100, after delivering a part failed to fulfill their contract, as it cost much more to deliver them than they were to receive. In floating the spars down Black River 11 men were drowned, and those who failed in their contracts were sued by Harris for damages. This reduced many of them to poverty.
An event in the early history of the town, and one which caused much sympathy, was the death of Avery Worden. On the afternoon of the 26th of February, 1810, the first school exhibition held in the town of Rutland was given at Heath’s tavern, at Rutland Center. The school was taught by Charles Dayon, afterwards a prominent citizen of Lewis County, member of Congress, Senator, etc. It being something new the house was crowded with spectators. Ezra Worden, and his brother Avery, aged 12, started for home afoot about 6 o’clock P. M., the snow being fully five feet deep. The road between the turn west of O. Phillips’s and the Hollow road had not been opened that winter. In passing over that part of the road at the top of the hill Avery became so overcome with cold and weariness that he could go no farther. Ezra attempted to draw him through the snow, and succeeded in drawing him about 100 rods, when, his strength failing, he was obliged to leave him in order to obtain assistance. He proceeded to Benjamin Weeks’s house, near the Hollow road, when he arrived between 11 and 12 o’clock. Benjamin Weeks and Robert Sword put on their snow-shoes and went after Avery, whom they found alive, but he died before he could be got to a house. Ezra became unconscious soon after arriving at Mr. Weeks’s, and remained so about 12 hours. He was frozen even worse than his brother, and only by superior endurance was his life saved.
Francis Towne, the father of Gardner and Luther H. Towne, came with his family to Rutland in January, 1804. His wife, Relief Towne, was killed by lightning August 16, 1804. She was found dead near the corner of the house, where she appears to have been engaged in fixing a tub to catch rain water. This was undoubtedly the first death in the town. The first child born in Rutland was Harriet Kelsey, daughter of Charles and Lois Kelsey. She became the wife of Alfred Pardee, who eventually settled in the bend of the river in Champion. The first twin children born in town were Robert and William Middleton, sons of John Middleton. Robert died at Felt’s Mills.
The father of Ezekiel Andrus migrated from Utica to this town, and brought his family, consisting of himself and nine children (his wife having died several years before). His conveyance was a two-wheel cart, one yoke of oxen, and a horse---the horse carrying a part of the time two and often three of the girls of the family on their way to the “Black River wilderness.” One of the girls afterwards became the wife of Danford Earl, another of Warren Spaulding. A bark shanty sheltered the large family until a more commodious dwelling could be provided.
The State road was laid out where it is now located, about 1805, previous to which date the road diverged from its present line from Samuel Frink’s farm southwesterly, and came out at J. F. Treadway’s present residence.
One of the oldest landmarks in town (in 1876) was a framed house, undoubtedly the second erected in town, built by Solomon Tuttle about 1803. It was still standing a few years since on the farm of Mason Spaudling.
The pioneers of Rutland were mostly from the New England states, and were generally intelligent, robust, and industrious. They were distinguished for their sound common sense, their love of justice, and the early interest they took in education. Most of them came here with scarcely enough of the world’s goods to make them comfortable. Their peculiarities might be illustrated by many an anecdote, but we will let the following suffice:
A curious phrase how justice was administered in the early settlements was one of an anomalous character held before Daniel Eames, Esq., as follows: A suit arose on account of 20 bushels of wheat. The plaintiff to the suit could not prove his account except by the defendant’s acknowledgment. The plaintiff called upon the defendant to be sworn; he refused. The plaintiff then offered himself, but the defendant barred that out. Then the justice said to the defendant, “wont you be sworn nor allow the plaintiff?” “No sir!” replied the defendant. Then said the sedate justice of the peace, “I shall give judgment against you for the amount of 20 bushels of wheat; the judgment is $20.” His explanation why he took so arbitrary judgment was, that on an appeal, the whole facts now concealed would came (sic) out.
The town of Rutland took an early interest in the subject of education. It was the practice, when a sufficient number settled in a neighborhood, to sustain the school, to erect a log house, and engage a teacher. The first of these houses in town was built in 1800 or 1801. Dr. Hough names Miss A. Porter as the first teacher. Soon after this school-house was built on the Hollow road, a short distance west of the four corners. Miss Naomi Blachmer was the first, or one of the first, teachers here. This house was used but a short time, as many of the settlers lived at too great a distance from it. In its place a house was erected farther west in the Hollow, and another near the site of the late M. L. Graves’s residence, on road 20. In these rude structures the children of the pioneers of Rutland received the rudiments of education. Among the early teachers was Curtis Mallery, Jocob (sic) Fuller, Zelotus Harvey, Charles Dayon, and Jason Clark; at a later date Horatio Sherman, Gardner Towne, A. P. Sigourney, John M. Dunlap, John Felt, the Misses Cordelia Johnson and Adeline M. Brown, and Elijah Graves. The latter commenced teaching in 1833 and continued for many years, when the citizens of Felt’s Mills presented him with a testimonial that “age has not dimmed his zeal or made him rusty.”
In December, 1807, Enoch Eddy and George White took each 35 bushels of wheat to Albany, which they sold for 80 cents a bushel.
The first record we have in relation to religious matters is of a visit to the settlements in Jefferson County by the Rev. James W. Woodward, in 1802. He collected $1 in Adams, 50 cents in Watertown, $3.47 in Rutland, $1.50 in Champion, and 25 cents in Brownville--Rutland contributing more than all the other settlements combined.
The records of religious societies in this town are very imperfect. The Baptists appear to have been the pioneers in organization. As early at least as 1806 the Rev. Mr. Maltby held services in both North and South Rutland, and a great revival was the result of his labors. It is presumed that societies, if not organized before, were then organized. Meetings continued to be held in both parts of the town. They were held for North Rutland in Charles Fuller’s barn, about 80 rods west of Elisha Clark’s, Rutland Hollow. A church was built near Deacon Fuller’s, on David Veber’s land, in 1821. Martin E. Cook was the first preacher in the new church. Some of those who preceded him in town were Elders Wilkie, Morgan, and Card. Elder Palmer Cross preached in the church several hears. In 1837 the North Rutland Church was reorganized. By a vote of the society in 1842 the church was removed to the great bend in Champion. The successors of Elder Cross were Elders Gardis Lyttle, A. D. Freeman, and John Wilder. The society at Tylerville reorganized in 1833; James Brown, Stephen Brainard, and Milo Maltby, trustees. We have not succeeded in obtaining a list of clergymen officiating there.
The First Congregational Church was organized by the Rev. William Lathrop, a missionary from Vermont, January 26, 1808, consisting of 10 members, viz.: David Tyler, Amos Mallery, Thomas Converse and wife, Timothy Tamblin and wife, Samuel Porter and wife, William Parkinson and wife. Amos Mallery and David Tyler were afterwards chosen deacons. It may be mentioned as indicative of the strict Puritanism of the early fathers of the church that Amos Mallery was objected to for the office of deacon on account of not having a wife, a deficiency which is contrary to the letter of the law. It is not now known whether the fathers of the church or the maiden ladies of the congregation raised the objection. The first religious society of Rutland was formed February 8, 1808, and Ethel Bronson, Timothy Tamblin, John Reed, Thomas Converse, and Ebenezer Hayward were elected trustees. The successors of the Rev. Mr. Lathrop were Enos Bliss, Leavenworth and Daniel Banks, who became pastors over this church and Watertown in 1815. On January 20, 1824, the church united with the Presbytery; number of members, 87. Since then among the pastors have been Revs. David Spear, J. H. Rice, Hiram Doane, Henry Budge, and James Douglas.
The first church south of the State road was erected opposite the residence of the late Henry T. Hopkins, in 1819. It was removed and rebuilt some years since on the four corners about one half mile west of its former site. The brother of Dr. Isaac Bronson, then residing in New York city, gave the site, and also the site for a parsonage. His interest in the ownership of the land of the town was considered the motive that promoted him to the act.
At what time the first Methodist Episcopal organization took place is uncertain. Itinerant preachers were in the town at a very early date. From 1804 to 1815 the whole county was included in the Black River circuit. Among the early preachers were Datus Ensign, Luther Bishop, Joseph Willis, Isaac Puffer, and Goodwin Stoddard. Many new circuits have been formed from Black River circuit. The first class organized in Rutland was in Rutland Hollow. Another, at the Cotes school-house on the farm of E. Crain, was organized about 1824 or 1826. The dates of the organization at Felt’s Mills and South Rutland are not found. The first M. E. church in Rutland was built in Rutland Hollow about 1820.
Universalist societies have been organized at Tylerville, Felt’s Mills, and Black River. The dates of these organizations are not known. Revs. C. G. Parson, Pitt Morse, H. L. Haywood, J. P. Averell, O. Wilcox, H. J. Stewart, and others officiating. The society at Tylerville is the only one that retains its organization.
The Church of Christ, or Disciples, first held meetings at Felt’s Mills in 1857, Rev. Mr. Benedict officiating. A society was formed, including Black River, and at the latter place a small chapel was erected in 1871.
Rutland Congregational Church, located on Rutland middle road, was organized January 26, 1808, by Rev. William Lathrop, and at its organization consisted of 10 members. Their house of worship, a wooden building, was erected in 1841. It will seat 300 persons, and is valued, including grounds, etc., at $3,000. The present membership is 50, under the pastoral charge of Rev. William H. Way. The Sunday-school has a membership of about 75.
Black River Methodist Episcopal Church, at Black River village, was organized in 1833 by Revs. S. Orvis and I. S. Bingham, and Rev. Lewis Whitcomb was the first pastor. Their first house of worship was erected of wood. Their present church edifice, also a wooden structure, was built in 1884, at a cost of about $3,000. It will comfortably seat 500 persons, and is now valued, including grounds, at $11,200. The present membership of the church is 198, under the pastoral charge of Rev. Robert Flint. The Sunday-school has a membership of 22 officers and teachers, and 175 scholars, with C. S. Mellen, superintendent.
The Christian Church at Felt’s Mills was organized in 1871 by J. S. Hughes, the first pastor, and at it organization consisted of 30 members. Their house of worship, a wooden building, was erected in 1844, and occupied as a union church. It will comfortably seat 150 persons, and is valued, including grounds, etc., at $1,500. The present membership is 35, with no regular pastor. The Sunday-school has 35 members, with J. Cotton, superintendent.
The union church at South Rutland, occupied by the Methodists and Universalists, was organized July 2, 1872, by Rev. Mr. Tomlinson, the first pastor, with 34 members. Their house of worship was erected of wood in 1872, will comfortably seat 200 persons, and cost about $1,400. The present membership is 34, and Rev. M. Danforth is pastor.
The Eames family, of Massachusetts, were early settlers, the emigrant, Thomas Eames coming from England in 1630. In 1640 he married and settled in Dedham, Norfolk County, Mass. By his wife, Margaret, he had three children. In 1662 he removed to Sherburne, now a part of Framingham, with his second wife, Mary Paddleford. Of their six children, two were killed with their mother by the Indians, February 1, 1676, in a King Phillips’s war. The four others were taken prisoners. Thomas Eames died January 25, 1680. He was a man well-to-do for the times.
The line of descent to Moses is Thomas1, Nathaniel2, Daniel3, Daniel4, Daniel5, Moses6. Daniel5 was one of the pioneers of Jefferson County and a prominent factor in its growth. He was born March 11, 1767, in Hopkinton, Middlesex County, Mass. In April, 1794, he left Massachusetts with his wife, three children, household furniture, and an ox-team, and May 16 they occupied a log-camp, which Mr. Eames hastily put up, about eight miles from Rome, and five miles out in the wilderness. In the spring of 1801 he went to No. 3, now Rutland, and “took up” 160 acres. Here he cleared land, built a log house, and, in the spring of 1802, he moved his family hither. This house was on the site of the old homestead destroyed by fire February 18, 1887. Mr. Eames passed a long and useful life on this place, and died at the age of 88 years, September 15, 1855. His wife, Mollie K. Wight, died February 4, 1842, aged nearly 74. They had a family of 13 children, of whom Moses was the ninth son and twelfth child.
Moses Eames was born in Rutland, March 19, 1808. In that period of this county’s history the pioneers were obliged to educate their children largely in the school of labor, and it was well for them, for early to learn to work is often the foundation stone of a life of usefulness and future competence. Mr. Eames had private school instruction in the summers of 1812 and 1813; then he attended the district school, where one teacher had charge of from 80 to 90 children, and he took the few crumbs of knowledge of reading, spelling, writing, and arithmetic, which fell to his share, gladly. He also had the advantages of two winter terms at Lowville Academy, and of the Rutland Farmers’ Library, which was organized and established in 1806. Many of the books were historical and biographical works, and these he read thoroughly; he took several newspapers and spent his time profitably in pursuing their contents. During his minority he was occupied in the farm work, and at his majority he hired out to his father for $12.50 per month and continued with him until the spring of 1833, when an arrangement was made whereby he should make his home with his parents, and help to provide for their comfort and happiness during the remainder of their lives.
Mr. Eames married, June 7, 1837, Delia Ann Howk, of Rutland. Their children were Delia Jane, who married Lafayette Beach, of Rochester, and died March 29, 1870: her daughter is Mrs. Daniel B. Ryan, of Albion, who has one child; and Mary Alice (Mrs. James Phelan), of Baltimore, who died October 9, 1876: she has one son, Arthur B., born June 30, 1870. Mrs. Eames died February 18, 1865.
Mr. Eames early showed a marked aptitude for agriculture and gardening, and was not content to go on in the same manner as past generations. He was quick to see, and had mechanical skill to carry out his ideas. He twice received premiums for the best farmer’s garden in the county. He was early a member of the County Agricultural Society, was a director, and aided in securing the purchase of its grounds, and in erecting the buildings. In 1849 he was president of the society, and his addresses evinced his great knowledge of practical agriculture, and his happy faculty of formulating his ideas in words. His suggestions and advice have been freely given, and the society has to-day no more active or useful member than he. From 1837 he engaged largely in cheese dairying, and for 24 years continued to follow and develop this industry. He made many experiments to secure labor saving, and with marked results. In 1848 he discovered and applied the heating of the milk and the scalding of the curd by means of steam introduced into the water under the milk, and in so doing developed the portable steam engine, having the first one ever made built for him in that year. In 1851 he received the State Agricultural Society’s first premium of $25 for a model building for a cheese house and apparatus for making cheese by steam. Among other records he has from 1830 made a daily statement of the weather, and the precipitation of moisture. Mr. Eames has been the pioneer in Jefferson County of every improvement in agriculture since he attained man’s estate. He introduced the first drain tile in 1857; the first mowing machine in 1852; and has given much time and money in experiments for the good of the public. He has set examples worthy of emulation in these and other ways, and proven himself fully entitled to the appellation of “public benefactor.” The fine watering-trough erected by him on one of the principal roads of the county is a token of his interest in the welfare of dumb animals, and should be duplicated at proper distances on every highway.
Mr. Eames has always been on the side of the poor and oppressed, a strong and anti-slavery man, and, in 1833, he was an active conductor on the “Underground Railroad,” a name applied to the movements of an organization to assist fugitive slaves to escape to Canada. In 1838 he joined the Hunter Lodge, an historic band of the “Patriot war” of Canada. From 1846, when he united with the “Sons of Temperance,” he has been actively engaged in temperance work. In 1846 he also joined the “Odd Fellows.” In 1854 he became a “Know-Nothing,” and was elected to represent the county in the legislature in 1855, and, as chairman of the committee on agriculture, drafted the bill, passed in April of that year, forming the law under which county agricultural societies are organized. This session was a memorable and exciting one from the movements of the up to that time unknown secret political party, --the “Know-Nothing,” or Native American, --which destroyed the plans of the regular political leaders. From his freedom of action Mr. Eames was called to explain his course before the state convention of his party held at Syracuse in 1855, and caused a great excitement there by his maintenance of his action, and his refusal to be bound to pursue a course contrary to his conscience, and from that time he has been a Republican. From Horace Greeley’s endorsement, the same year (1855), he identified himself for a time with Fourierism. In 1857 he joined the Congregational Church at Rutland, and transferred his connection to the First Presbyterian Church of Watertown when he removed thither in 1861. Since that time he has been active in many and widely-varying enterprises. It has been ever his desire to help anything tending to betterment and progress by personal exertion, and to the extent of his pecuniary resources. He has been a vice-president of the Jefferson County Historical Society since its organization.
Mr. Eames possesses a quick, vivacious, and impulsive, but a well balanced, temperament, with great mental and physical vigor; and now, at the age of 82 years, is pleasant, cheerful, lively, and industrious as ever. He never wastes a moment. He is constantly at work, and whatever he does is done with his whole heart and soul. He is noted for integrity, unswerving adherence to principle, and promptitude in fulfilling engagements. The generous and sympathetic side of his nature is largely developed, and he is liberal to a fault. He is a great admirer of nature and enjoys her solitude and communion with his own thoughts, and is very tenacious in his attachments and friendships. His fund of general knowledge is both comprehensive and useful. He is one of Watertown’s most valuable citizens; enlisting in every good work, and laboring with a zeal which does not tire, and an energy rarely surpassed; and it is to such men as Moses Eames that the rise and prosperity of many towns is largely due.
It is valuable to preserve for coming generations, in connection with the history of events, something of the personality of those who have been representative men, and have taken part in those occurrences which, when recorded, become to future generations the history of the past. The perpetuity of American institutions and a republican form of government depends not upon the strength of armies, mighty corporations, or the wealth of millionaires, but upon the steady persistency and industrious labor of those who, by perseverance, economy, long years of toil, both of brain and hands, temperate habits, and a devotion to law and order, have acquired a competency and an honorable position in the community.
Martin Lisk Graves, son of Jonathan and Nancy (Cotes) Graves, was born in Rutland, on the place where he always resided, August 14, 181.. His grandfather, Jonathan Graves, was a native of Massachusetts; his grandmother was Elizabeth Lisk, and at the time of Jonathan’s birth, Mary 7, 1777, their home was in Shelburne, Mass. They moved to Oneida County, N. Y., at an early period in its settlement, located in the town of Vienna, and there developed a farm. Many children were born to them, and here, after long lives, they passed on to the hereafter. About 1801 Jonathan, Jr., came to Rutland in company with John Cotes, and March 24th married Mrs. Nancy (Cotes) Grannis, widow of John Grannis, and sister of Mr. Cotes. Mr. Graves located on great lot number 15, the late home of Martin L. Graves. With no capital but their energy and willing hands they made a home; the forests were cleared; the land brought into a state of cultivation; and from its products the purchase money was paid, their family fed, clothes, and educated. Mr. Graves was a strong, vigorous man in early life, but his hard labors, accompanied by exposure, brought on rheumatism, which made him a cripple in his later years. He was a Democrat in politics; a Universalist in his religious views: however he liberally supported the Baptist Church, of which Mrs. Graves was a member. He was interested in progress and improvement. The famous library of the Young Men’s Literary Association was established and kept at his house, and an early district school was located near his residence. Mrs. Graves’s parents were also among the first settlers of Oneida County, where they died: Mr. Cotes aged about 70 years, and Mrs. Cotes aged 88 years. Mr. and Mrs. Graves were a good type of the best order of pioneers, doing good and not evil all their days, giving to their children examples worthy of emulation. Mr. Graves died April 13, 1849. His wife died October 2, 1866. Their children were Nancy M., Martin L., Elijah, and Hannah, all deceased.
Martin Lisk Graves received his education at common schools, but supplemented it largely by extensive and thoughtful reading, and was, for a few winter terms, a successful teacher. He became a “tiller of the soil,” and although from his childhood days he had earnestly desired to “go west,” the failure of his father’s health prevented, and upon him, as the oldest son, rested the care of the home place, and he has ever pursued that oldest and most honorable calling among men, farming, on the paternal acres. On the 19th of March, 1840. Mr. Graves married Matilda E., daughter of Nathan and Polly (Jones) Wood. She was born in Fairfield, Herkimer County, N. Y., March 1, 1821. Her people were pioneer settlers of that county, coming thither from Massachusetts, where they were colonized early, emigrating from England when the Plymouth colony was in its infancy. Both the Jones and Wood families were of the best English and colonial stock, and Mrs. Graves is a true descendant. Their children are M. Adaline (married Edward R. Johnson, M. D., has two children, Martin G. and John Prentice) and Louisa E.
Mr. Graves was identified prominently with public matters. He was a true believer in the Jeffersonian doctrines of politics, and as a Democrat cast his first presidential vote for Andrew Jackson in 1832. On attaining his majority he was chosen inspector of common schools, and held that office and commissioner of common schools for a long term of years. He creditably and satisfactorily filled the principal town offices, and was supervisor three years. In 1845 he was chosen loan commissioner of the county, and continued in office until the fund was consolidated with the United States Deposit Fund in 1850. In 1883 he was appointed by Gov. Grover Cleveland a commissioner of the United States Deposit Fund, which position he held until his death. He was an active participant in politics; a frequent delegate to town, county, and district conventions; and one of the valued counselors and advisors of his party. He was often offered the nomination by his party for various positions, but very rarely accepted, his private affairs demanding his attention. In 1874 he was named by the Farmers Alliance as their candidate for member of Congress. This nomination was endorsed by the Democrats. The district comprised Jefferson, Lewis, and Herkimer counties, --strongly Republican, --but he largely reduced the majority against him, a proof of his personal popularity. The official returns were: --
Jefferson,.............................................................. 5,608 6,873
Lewis,.................................................................. 3,240 2,744
Herkimer,............................................................ 4,407 4,774
1872,................................................................. 13,220 17,337
Majority for George A. Bagley over Martin L. Graves, 1,136. Republican majority in 1872, 4,117.
He was a member of the Jefferson County Agricultural Society (of which his father was an original member) for many years, and since 1845, had been connected with Odd Fellowship. He was an Universalist in religion. In 1857 the Jefferson Leather Manufacturing Co. was organized at Felt’s Mills. M. L. Graves was one of its stockholders and directors. After a few years the company became financially embarrassed, and he was made its president for the purpose of closing up its affairs, which was done to the satisfaction of all creditors. The business of tanning was successfully carried on for a few years by the firm of M. L. Graves & Co., when the property was sold to other parties. Since that time he gave his exclusive attention to his farm. He also dealt extensively in live stock, and from his youth to nearly three-score years and 10 he was a worker, a producer, and not a mere consumer. Under the old military system of the state, when every citizen was a soldier, Mr. Graves filled every station in the crack independent company, to which he belonged from private to captain with noted excellence. A wise, conservative administrator and counselor in affairs of business or state, an unassuming and expemplary (sic) citizen, he has done his life’s work well, and has gone to his final reward loved and honored by a large circle. He died at his home in Rutland, March 22, 1890, three days after the 50th anniversary of his wedding day.
Elijah Graves, brother of Martin L. Graves, was born in the town of Rutland, July 16, 1813. His education was mostly acquired in common schools. In the fall of 1827 he attended a course of lectures on grammar and arithmetic given by William Ruger, in an adjoining district, where he was one of the pupils who made the greatest progress in grammar, and he ranked the first in arithmetic, although he was the youngest member of the class. He afterwards attended the academy at Holland Patent, Oneida County, one term. He commenced teaching in November, 1833, and from that time taught a portion of each year until his death, which occurred December 18, 1882. He probably passed more years in that occupation than any other person in Jefferson County, and always in district and select schools. His labors were confined to this county, and many of its prominent business men and successful teachers refer to him as their early instructor. In several instances, during his later years, he had under his tuition children and grandchildren of some of his earliest pupils. He taught in the villages of Chaumont, Three Mile Bay, Smithville, Evans Mills, Black River, Felt’s Mills, Great Bend, West Carthage, Champion, and Rodman, and in many country districts. He had served as town superintendent of common schools, in the towns of Lyme and Rutland, previous to his appointment as school commissioner for the second district of Jefferson County, in June, 1856. In 1858 he failed of an election for a second term, though running far a head (sic) of his ticket. Early in life he was clerk in a store for a short time; afterwards he went into the mercantile business, but not for long. His project sphere was the school-room. The last year of his life he taught in the district where he was born, where his own school days were spent. He was in the midst of a winter term, when he went to stay over Sunday at the old homestead with his brother’s family. On Monday morning he was ready to start for the school-house, when he was stricken by death from heart-disease. His wife died some years before him. He left one child, a daughter.
John A. Sherman was born in the town of Rutland, June 13, 1809, and died in Watertown, March 25, 1882. He was the oldest son of Alfred Sherman, and a grandson of Dr. Abel Sherman, a native of Massachusetts, whose ancestors were among the early settlers of New England states, and of English descent. Susan Hull, his mother, was an adopted daughter of Roswald Woodruff, who was one of the pioneers of Jefferson County. His grandfather, Dr. Abel Sherman, was a physician, and came from Massachusetts to Oneida County, in this state. His residence in Oneida County was brief, and in 1803 he removed to this county, settling in Rutland, upon 220 acres of timber land, which in time he cleared and made tillable. He was the first sheriff of the county. Alfred Sherman, father of John A., after his father’s death, having inherited the farm, actively engaged in agricultural pursuits, and attained a comfortable fortune. During the War of 1812, however, as contractor of the army, he lost the larger portion of his property, and crippled for want of means, he was prevented from giving his children any better educational advantages than those afforded by the common schools. He died in 1827, leaving John A., then only 17 years of age, to take charge of the farm and support the family, which consisted of his mother, two sisters and three brothers, and himself. Five years after his father’s death he wedded with Miss Julia Ann Larned, of Rutland, who survives him, at the advanced age of 83 years. Two years later, in 1834, he purchased a dairy of 20 cows, and thus opened the cheese business for the county. At the close of that year he sent his cheese to New York, packed in salt barrels, the shipment of which, by canal, occupied 21 days. He received six cents per pound for the cheese, and considered it a very good price at that time. His was the first dairy of cheese manufactured in this county, and had much to do in hastening the growth of the dairy interests.
As soon as this interest grew to sufficient proportion to warrant it he engaged in the purchase of butter and cheese for the New York market, continuing in this trade for many years. In 1839, in partnership with Henry Hopkins, of Rutland, he bought largely of cheese during the early fall of that year. With the then facilities for transportation in Jefferson County cheese could not well be shipped until late in the fall, when the weather was cool. At the proper time he visited the city for the purpose of making sale of his cheese, but found the market so depressed that it was impossible to make any sales except at a great sacrifice, which resulted in the financial ruin of many dealers. Mr. Sherman asked his creditors for a little time to make sale of his cheese, assuring them that he would carry them through safely. They, having confidence in his wisdom and honesty, granted him the leniency he asked, and he at once shipped his cheese on a vessel to New Orleans, taking passage thereon himself. After a stormy voyage he arrived at his destination with his cargo in good order, which he disposed of to advantage, receiving payment in silver. This he packed in kegs, and on his return voyage deposited it in his stateroom, where he was obliged to closely guard it, with the assistance of a trusted friend, as the conduct of the captain and crew was not such as to inspire confidence. He arrived in New York during the financial troubles of 1839-40, when the banks had suspended specie payment, sold his silver for a large premium, and was enabled to pay his creditors honorably, dollar for dollar, and had quite a little profit for himself and partner. We mention this little episode as characteristic of his whole life, and as demonstrating his indomitable industry and perseverance. Always cautious, full of resources, never getting into business enterprises or entanglements from which he could not see his way out. He continued his produce business in New York, purchasing mostly from dairies and factories in Jefferson, St. Lawrence, and Lewis counties, in connection with his farming interests at home, until about 1851, paying for his paternal estate, which was left him badly encumbered, and adding farm to farm until 1856, when he retired from farming and removed to Watertown city. He was a progressive farmer, with practical ideas, and often introduced new farm implements, which tended to speed on the enlightenment and prosperity of his neighbors and the section in which he lived. His popularity among the farmers was such that he was almost unanimously elected to the presidency of the Jefferson County Agricultural Society about 1853.
Mr. Sherman was a great but unostentatious philanthropist. He was always opposed to having any of his beneficent gifts made known to the public, and endeavored to make such gifts appear like business transactions, of which he was to reap a pecuniary benefit. His liberality to the Young Men’s Christian Association, which has occupied the greater portion of the second floor of Washington Hall block since the society was formed in 1869, at a nominal and sometimes free rental, is a fair example of his munificence. A short time before his death Mr. Sherman donated to the association this valuable property, with the provision that they pay a rent to Mrs. Sherman during her life, and to his daughter, should she survive her mother, during her life.
At the time of his death Mr. Sherman owned valuable real estate in Jefferson County, and was president of the Agricultural and Insurance Company, one of the largest and most successful business corporations in the county, the success of which was largely promoted by his wise counsels and sound advice. He was a director in two banks and two insurance companies in Watertown, and always a sound, practical adviser.
Mr. Sherman had four brothers, namely: Eli, who died in early childhood, and Hampton, William, and Eli, 2d, who dies in early manhood. A sister, Sylvia Orinda, died young. His nearest relatives now being his wife, his daughter, Mrs. D. S. Marvin, and his two sisters, Mary Sherman and Mrs. Orinda Lewis, of Adrian, Mich.
Having acted a prominent part in the business affairs of the county and city, he will long be remembered by his associates as a genial, pleasant, reliable business companion and courteous gentleman. At the time of his death the many business institutions in which he was interested offered appropriate resolutions of respect. His memory is perpetuated by the hundreds of kindly actions and noble deeds of his life.
The Appendix of this volume had one entry which constituted a personal sketch of a Town of Rutland citizen. This sketch was submitted too late for publication:
Charles Cummings located on Rutland Hill in 1800 and built a log house, covering it with bark. In 1820 he erected the stone house, still standing there. He had 11 children, of whom only one, Perly Ann, widow of William K. Butterfield, is living. Rawson M. Cummings, son of Charles, was born in Rutland in 1802, and married Minerva, daughter of Deacon Jacob Bliss, by whom he had four children. He was a contractor and builder, and built some of the first buildings in Watertown. He died in 1871. Two of his children are living, namely: Harriet V. (Mrs. Dr. J. M. Spencer), of Gouverneur, and Albert R. The latter was born December 12, 1832, and enlisted first in Co. K., 7th N. Y. city militia, and afterwards in Co. H., 18th N. Y. Vol. Cav., remaining till the close of the war. Mr. Cummings married Alice Smith, of Watertown, and they have two children. He is a farmer.
Note: The family sketches followed. Those are presented on Nan Dixon's NYGenWeb site for Jefferson County, N. Y.Return to Index of Town Histories from Child's Gazetteer Return to Shirley Farone's Homepage
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