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Town Of Lee, Oneida County, New York

Site Index Delta Lee Lee Center Point Rock Stokes West Branch
Census Cemeteries Military Obituaries Odds and Ends Schools Vital Statistics

Town of Lee
Utica Morning Herald, Thursday, October 4, 1894

The town of Lee has an area of 27, 771 acres, and its equalized valuation last year was $500,650. It embraces parts of townships one and two of Scribas patent, with several small tracts and a portion of Scribas patent. According to the last census, its population was 1,845. It was formed from a part of Western in 1811 and in 1823 a part of Annsville was taken from it, leaving it as at present constituted. The first town meeting was held March 3, 1812, in the school house near S. Darlings. Prior to the organization of Lee, the territory now included in the town was in the town of German Flatts until 1788, in Whitestown from that time until 1792, in Steuben from then until 1796, and in Western from that date to 1811. It was at the request of James Young and Joshua Northrup, who originally came from Lee, Mass., that the town was given the name of Lee. They were appointed a committee by their townsmen to get the law passed establishing the town. Appropriate exercises in honor of the 60th anniversary of the first town meeting were held in Lee Center in March 1873.

Esek Sheldon and his sons, Stephen, Reuben and Amasa, were the first settlers in what is now the town of Lee. They located near the present site of Delta in 1790, and Stephen erected the first building, a log cabin, between Potash brook and the dwelling afterwards erected by Israel Stark. Among the other pioneers were James Northrup, David Smith and his two sons, David and Russell, Prosper Rudd, Deacon Nathan Barlow, Smith, Eliakim, Dan and Luther Miller, Colonel Apheus Wheelock, Edward Salisbury and sons, Otis White, Hezekiah Elmer and sons, John Spinning and sons, Luther Washburn and sons, Benjamin Crittenden, Deacon Andrew Clark, Ephraim Ballard, Abiel Kenyon, Mathew Clark, Jonathan Bettis, Josiah Rising, Reuben Marsh, William Purdy, Isaac Buell, Jared Olcott sr., Jared Dingman, Nathan Yeomans, Joseph Hale and brother, Frederick Sprague, James Young, and his sons, Samuel Nisbet, Alexander Davidson, Deacon John Hall, West Waterman, William Lany, Tillotson Rose, and Messrs. Fish, Walker and Hitchcock, Dan Taft, Thomas Lawrence, Charles Ufford, John Ufford, Ephraim Pease, Arvia B. Pease, Elam Pease, Jotham Worden, Jesse, William and Amasa Sexton, David Webster, Gideon, Erasman and Gideon B. Perry, James, Simeon N., Lewis, George and Daniel Eames, George Cornish and sons, Stephen Cleveland, Captain John Ford, Stephen Allen, Asahel Castle and sons, Hoewell Spinning, A. J. Wilkinson, Nathaniel Kenyon, Orrin Kenyon, Joseph, Daniel, Elisha, Abijah and William Polk, Stephen Sutphen, Samuel Wyman, Martin Winchell, Captain David Starr, Oliver Armstrong, Deacon Samuel Wright and sons, Walton Worden, Captain Asa Fillmore, Nathaniel Wood, James Wood and sons, Ephraim J. H. Curtis, Appolle King, Gates Peck, Asa Starr, Henry Hall, John Shaver, A. J. Wentworth, William Taft and sons, William Remington.

Fenner Sheldon, son of Reuben Sheldon, was the first white child born within the limits of the present town of Lee, the year of his birth being 1791. The first death in town was that of Jacob Kaird in 1798. Dan Miller and Amy Taft, daughter of William Taft, were the first couple to be married.

In 1791 the first saw mill was built by David Smith on the Mohawk River in what is now the village of Delta. In 1796 John Hall and Smith Miller built one on the Canada creek at Lee Center. General William Floyd built the first grist mill on the latter stream near Rome in 1796. Thomas and William Forfar erected one on this creak in 1798. About this time Luther and Smith Miler and Roswell Fellows put up one on the Mohawk a few miles above Fort Stanwix. David Byam built a grist mill near the old Lee post office prior to 1812, and it was called the pepper mill.

The first school house was of logs and was located at the foot of the hill at an angle of the road between Delta and Lee Center. It was taught by Joshua Northrup. Elijah Blake taught a school in town in 1798. The first school in the vicinity of Delta was taught by a daughter of Esquire Prosper Rudd on Elmer Hill in 1801. Rev. Dr. Thomas Brainerd, for 36 years pastor of the Old Pine Street church, Philadelphia, was among the early teachers. Rev. Dr. Albert Barnes and Rev. Dr. Gideon B. Perry also taught school in this town.

Lee now has 17 school district, including one union free school. The town drew $2,144.48 school money this year.

The roads in the town of Lee are most of them naturally sandy or a light sandy loam, and in those places where nothing has been done but to turnpike them the wheeling in is not infrequently heavy in the dry season, owing to the depth of the sand, and in the wet season the dirt roads become soft and very muddy. Excellent gravel is to be had in town, however, and much has been used for the betterment of the highways. The roads constructed wholly of gravel are in fine shape, and those where this material has been placed on the sand roadbeds are good. For two years the town has practically abandoned the old plan of scraping the dirt from the ditches to form the road, and instead has had gravel drawn to build them up. Tiles are now being used instead of plant sluices. It is said that on some of the dirt roads which are good now, the mud is so deep when the wet weather comes in the fall that a wagon wheel cuts in up to the hub. Near Point Rock there is a piece of road, formerly in bad shape, where the commissioner had the dirt thrown off this year and flat stones put in, on which gravel was placed, putting the road in excellent condition.

The town has sixty three road districts and six road machines. The mode of assessing for highway purposes is a days work for $300 valuation.

Lee has no railroad and no canal, and as a consequence a great deal of teaming is done. Heavy loads of lumber, wood and dairy products are hauled to Rome and coal and merchandise is brought from there. The distance from Lee Center to Rome is eight miles and from Point Rock to Rome fourteen miles.

The best land in the town for farming purposes is in the lower part, where the soil is a gravelly loam. There are some excellent farms there. In the upper part of the town much of the soil is light sandy loam, with something of a mixture of clay, and it is cold and unproductive unless liberally fertilized. One farm of 125 acres in that part of the town, with all the farm buildings, has been sold for $1,290. Some of the farms are going backward and there are five on the Fish Creek road on which the houses are vacant.

Dairying is the chief source of revenue to the farmers in this as well as most of the other northern towns. Lee has five cheese factories, Charles H. Waters factory, David Karlans factory, Herbert M. Parks factory, Charles Bathwicks factory, and the Saulpaugh factory. Limburger and swiss cheese are made by the Krebs family on their farm and they are also manufactured on the C. F. Myers farm by Charles Anken.

The hay crop this year was first rate. Potatoes are turning out well, comparatively few rotten ones being found. The corn crop is good and the farmers who raised sweet corn for the market have done well. In the upper part of the town some of the farmers are drying sweet corn. The oat crop was light this year, and there are not many apples. There are a few hop yards in town but the crop has not proved very satisfactory.

Olney and Floyd own two large canning factories, one at Delta and the other at Westernville. This season 550,000 cans of corn have been put up at each factory. The work of canning began about August 28 and has been finished in the Westernville factory, and will be this week at the one in Delta. Some delay has been occasioned by difficulty in getting cans. The firm uses the Merrett & Soule cookers. The capacity of each factory is 28,000 cans in a day of ten hours. At the Westernville factory string beans, pumpkin, squash and succotash have been canned as well as corn. The varieties of corn put up are Moores Early, Hickock and Evergreen.

The Lee Canning company has a factory at Lee in which of 600,000 cans of corn were packed this season. The work of putting up the corn was finished last Friday. The varieties canned are about the same as those mentioned above. Some succotash has also been put up.

The principal farmers in town are: Strewn Bros., Julius Sly, Jacob Zimmer, Samuel Krebs, Joel Hudson, Thomas J. Brown, Eli Dewey, Alfred Wyman, Lemual Williams, Thomas Williams, John Lewis, on the Utley Farm, William Stephens, Thomas Marsh, Emery Wager, the late Daniel G. Drummond farm, John Evans, Evan Evans, Niles Sloan, George M. Wood, the McCullough farm, Frank Bingham farm run by F. Wisebelt, Barsle Bros. farm run by John Smith, John Marsh, Benjamin West, Benjamin Golley, Jordan Golley, William Golley, George Haps on the Hunt farm, Christopher Rohrbeck, Wright Wilson, John Wybel on the Daniel Wilson farm, Nicholas Rigby, Lorenzo Dunster on the William Dingman farm, Mrs. J. H. Smith, William Oram, Lewis Egger, George Bergman, Norman Potter, John Greggains, Joseph Wallace, N. Countryman, George Countryman, H. Snyder, Richard Wiesmiller, R. Kent, Henry Fox, Theodore Fox, Melvin Lyman, Mrs. Caleb Anken, John Castle on the N. P. Griswold farm, Edward Jones on the Armstrong farm, William Dennison, George Spink on the Sly farm, Jacob Knutti, E. Pritchard, Elliot Ferguson on the farm owned by the Fort Stanwix bank, Ezra Williams, Charles Weismiller, Saulpaugh farm, Lewis Wentworth, Ed. Wentworth, Thomas Castle on the Platt Capron farm, James Bingham, William Coleman on the A. Arnold farm, Joseph Reynolds farm, George Bingham, Peter Platt, William Platt, William Hart on the Morris Platt farm, Joseph Chisam, Ed Worden, Samuel Freeman, Jay Capron, Charles F. Myers, Charles Myers, A. Goodwin, Charles Britten on the John Miller farm, Squire Johnson, Giles Johnson, Fred Tracey, Andrew Golley, Edward Eames, H. Willet Steadman, William Winchslpeck, John Champlin, Willam Jones, Peter Bork, the Busbee farm, William Burns, John Graves, the Banger and Simonds farm.

Lee has stones to sell if not to give away. They can be had by the square yard, cord, or acre, by the dozen, hundred, thousand or million, as they lie on the ground in the fields where deposited by natural forces or piled in great heaps by human agencies, big stones, little stones, and assorted sizes, round ones and flat ones, granite, traprock, sandstone and slate. Any town desiring to build stone roads and to obtain the necessary material from outside its limits will do well to examine Lees stock before purchasing elsewhere. The above is not a bold advertisement but a plain statement of facts. There is material enough in Lee to make a stone road of every one in town if not the county. It has been stated that there are fields in Remsen which a person can walk across without stepping off from stones. In the town of Lee there are plenty of fields which it would be impossible to get half way across without stepping on stones. Some of them actually have the appearance of being paved with cobbles. It is a matter of wonderment how anything can be cultivated in these fields. Corn does very well there, however, where dirt enough can be found to form the hills and in one lot there is a fair crop of rutabagas this year, altho the latter muster have to fight hard to crowd aside the first occupants of the soil to make room for expansion. One peculiarity of the loose stones in this town is that a large proportion of them are flat. Presumably they came from the great beds of traprock found in the extreme upper portion of the town. Supervisor Smith, while excavating the cellar of his store at Point Rock, took out stones enough to build the walls, which are 8 feet high and 20 inches thick, and besides this drew 20 loads of cobbles away. In this connection it will be interesting to remember the statement made by Dr. Cox at the roads meeting, concerning the stones removed from his farm. Stone walls are numerous in all parts of the town.

The post office at Lee Center was removed there from Stokes in 1827. Charles Stokes was the first postmaster at the latter place, and also the first at Lee Center. The present postmaster is Carl Simon. Lee Center has two churches, the M. E. and one other, a flourishing union free school of which Professor Belcher is principal, the Lee Center hotel, of which John Bowman is proprietor, the Hitchcock hotel, George Hitchcock proprietor, four general stores conducted by Carl Simon, H. J. Hitchcock, Hollenbeck & Ingalls, J. R. Rogers, respectively, Arthur Hitchcock, drugs and millinery, Merrit Knight, clothing, boots and shoes, John Miller, harness shop, P. B. Scothon, grist and saw mill, Herbert M. Park, cheese factory, James Butler, John H. Harris, blacksmith shops, Charles Laufer, cooper shop, one attorney, M. N. Wilson, two physicians, Drs. H. F. Kilborn and T. H. Cox. The latter conducts a gold core institute and has a very fine building, David Swancott has an extensive lumber yard near the village.

Charles Stokes, while at Nisbets Corners, Stokes post office, in company with Mr. Nisbet, conducted an ashery and he subsequently conducted one at Lee Center, He also conducted a store there. The manufacture of leather was commenced on a small scale as early as 1815, and subsequently for many years between 1830 and 1875, the business of tanning was quite an important industry.

The village of Delta was named by Anson Dart, who with his brother, Oliver Dart, located there quite early. The former built a grist mill there in 1834 and called it Delta Mills. Prior to 1829 there was a post office at Newberlinville (Elmer Hill) and Andrew Elmer was postmaster until 18? When the office was removed to Delta, and the name changed to correspond. The first postmaster in the latter place was Franklin Peck. Early in the century there were a number of distilleries in and near Delta. Joseph Allen is the present postmaster. The village has a Methodist Episcopal church, a school, Olney & Floyd canning factory, P. W. Browns hotel, Jackson Clark and Frank Harrington, general stores, Joseph Allen and William McIntosh, wagon shops, Charles Fuller, blacksmith shop, Daniel Wyman & Sons oar makers, Charles Bathwick, cheese factory, A. J. Slys sawmill and lumber yard, one physician, Dr. J. Pillmore.

The village of Point Rock derived its name from the steep, rocky point between Fish Creek and the Point Rock stream, which here meets. The scenery at the point is extremely picturesque and very beautiful and if easy access by rail the locality might be made a popular summer resort. The village has a Dutch Reformed church, a school, the Point Rock hotel, conducted by Louis Wicks, jr., Charles H. Waters cheese factory, Jasper Fergusons saw mill, O. C. Bates steam saw mill, DeWitt C. Smiths general store, Benjamin Gfeller and Edward Blessing, blacksmith shops, Mrs. F. C. Dorn, photographer. The postmaster is Thomas Welch. Fowler and Wilson have a steam saw mill on Fish Creek one mile from the village.

At West Branch there is a Friends Church, a school, G. A. Simon and Julius Haynes, general stores, William Butlers hotel, David Karlens cheese factory, J. House’s steam saw mill, George Wyman, blacksmith shop, A. Turners grist mill. The post master is Julius Haynes.

The village of Lee has a M. E. church, a school, the Saulpaugh cheese factory, Lee canning companys factory, William Fisher, general store, Frank Hyde box factory and saw mill, Charles Baker, blacksmith shop. William Fisher is the postmaster.

At West Lee there is a blacksmith shop conducted by Frank Murphy. The village of Stokes has a post office of which Postmaster Hartson has charge, David Barrys hotel, Jones & Hartsons general store, George Tuttles blacksmith shop.

The first frame barn erected in the town of Lee is still standing. It is on the farm occupied by John Graves.

The spire of the church at Point Rock is surmounted by the figure of a brass or gilt rooster.

Charles H. Waters has erected a new chair factory at Point Rock this year. Seth Cornish is building a large addition to his residence in Delta.

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