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Town of Lee, Oneida County, New York

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Honorable Anson Miller's Address
60th Anniversary Celebration
March 8, 1872

On the 8th of March, 1872, the 60th Anniversary of the 1st. Town Meeting was celebrated at Lee Center. In attendance at this celebration were the following natives of Lee: Samuel Nisbet, Henry Hall, John Shaver, Asa Starr, Asahel Castle, Albert J. Wilkinson, Nathaniel Kenyon, Orrin Kenyon, Lewis Eames, Walton Worden, D.G. Drummond, A.W. Cornish, Capt. Asa Fillmore, Lyman Sexton, Albert J. Wentworth. Besides these there were present William Parke, Stephen Allen and Nathaniel Kenyon (the last above named) were among the original voters in the town. Four other original voters were then known to be living but were unable to be present; these were Nathaniel Wood, A.B. Pease, Joseph Kenyon, and Tillotson Ross. Those natives of the town who were present from other localities were the following: George Hovey of Herkimer county; Col. E.B. Armstrong of Rome; Henry Twitchell of Pulaski; Dr. H.N. Porter of New York Mills; Smith Miller and Philetus Laney of Annsville; Dwight Waterman of Whitesboro; Calvert Comstock of Rome and Anson S. Miller of Rockford, Ill. This list includes, of course, many of the early settled families in the town.

An address was delivered by Hon. Anson S. Miller, then of Rockford, Ill., in which he reviewed the early settlement of the town as follows:

The first settlement in what is now Lee was made on the west side of the Mohawk River, near the present site of Delta, by Esek Sheldon and his sons, Stephen, Reuben, and Amasa, in 1790. Stephen built the first house, a little log cabin, between Potash Brook and the house afterwards built by Israel Stark. The father and the other brothers took up land on the flat west of the Mohawk, next above the land known as the Bugby place, just north of the road leading from Delta to Lee Center. At this angle in the roads under the hill was erected the first school house in the town of Western, now Lee. It was a small, log house, with a Dutch fireplace, stick chimney, and slab roof and seats. Joshua Northrup, a young surveyor, scarcely eighteen years old, was the first teacher. He settled in what is now Western, and was a magistrate there for many years.

About the time of the Sheldon settlement, or soon after, David Smith and his sons, David and Russell, came to the Mohawk country, near Delta, described by a writer of that time as "away up the Mohawk country beyond Fort Stanwix, inhabited only by bears, wolves and Indians". David Smith, jr., built a saw mill there soon after, which he subsequently sold to Judge Prosper Rudd, who came into the country from Franklin, Mass., with Eliza, his wife, and his sons, Jabez F., Benjamin, and Wyllis, and his daughter, wife of the late Captain Gates Peck. Judge Rudd soon added a flouring mill, with one run of stone, and a carding machine, which were a great convenience to the country. The flouring mill has been greatly enlarged and improved by Eliakim Elder, Anson Dart and Elisha Walsworth.

Soon after came 1790 Dea. Nathan Barlow and Lydia, his wife, late the widow of Joseph Miller, of Granville, Mass., and mother of Smith, Eliakim, Dan and Luther Miller, pioneer settlers. They cut the first wagon path from the residence of Roswell Fellows, on the road running from Fort Stanwix to Elmer Hill, a mile and a half, to their residence in Lee Centre.

In 1792, Colonel Alpheus Wheelock and Rachel, his wife, a famous female physician, settled at Elmer Hill, and about the same time Edward Salisbury and his seven sons, Nicholas, Edward S., Enon, Alexander, Lodowick, De Estaing, and Smith, settled near Delta. Nicholas, the father of Mrs. Abigail Rudd, wife of Colonel Benjamin Rudd, was the first resident on the Bugby place, next south of Esek Sheldon's. Edward S. took land further up the Mohawk River, on the west side, near what became the residence of Silas Morse.

Another early settler, Otis White, father of Moses T., Willard, Otis, jr., and Israel, took up land in the same neighborhood. Edward Salisbury, jr., settled with his other sons on the land since the farms owned by Adin and Rensselaer Sly, on the road from Delta to Lee Centre. The Sheldons, Smith, Wheelocks and Salisburys emigrated from the state of Rhode Island. Hezekiah Elmer and Elizabeth his wife, and his sons Andrew, Eliakim, Hezekiah and his daughters, subsequently the wives respectively of Dr. Enoch Alden and James Benedict, came from Connecticut at that early day, and settled near what is known as Elmer Hill. Colonel Wheelock opened the first tavern west of Fort Stanwix at the Hill.

In 1792 the inhabitants near Delta were joined by John Spinning and his sons, John, jr., Daniel, and their brother in law, Luther Washburn, and sons, Martin, Rufus, Freeman, Luther, jr., and Calvin; also their relative, Benjamin Crittenden. These were from the State of Vermont. Crittenden was the first settler on the land afterwards the home of James Baker, father of Miles and Lorenzo D., where Daniel Twitchell subsequently resided.

Near this time Deacon Andrew Clark, father of Joseph Clark, grandfather of Mrs. Stokes, built a house near Nisbet's Corners. Ephraim Ballard was the first settler on the Nisbet farm, and Abiel Kenyon lived near. Matthew Clark and Jonathan Bettis took the land afterwards occupied by Hazzard Steadman. Joseph Hale and his brother were the first residents on the land adjoining, on which Colonel Wheelock subsequently built a large frame house, afterwards occupied by John Dye, Peter Husted, John Shaver and others.

Smith Miller built the Mallory House, in which the Rev. Lorenzo Dow was married with Margaret (Peggy) Holcomb, the younger sister of Mrs. Miller. Early in the settlement of what is now Lee, James Young and Hannah, his wife, and his sons, James, jr., Benjamin, David and Alvan, and a number of daughters, emigrated from Lee, Mass., and settled a half a mile south of Lee Centre. Deacon John Hall had previously located on land near Mr. Young, which John Smith purchased of Hall, now owned by William Graves. There was a neighborhood west from Lee Centre, known as Brookfield Settlement, where West Waterman, William Lany, Tillotson Ross, and Messrs. Fish, Walker, Hitchcock, and others, from Brookfield, Mass., settled. Dan Taft settled on the State road, towards Taberg, and Tom Lawrence settled on the west branch of the Mohawk at an early day.

The land in Lee was mainly embraced in four patents, which corned on the south side of Canada Creek, where Ezra Hovey afterwards had his garden. Fonda's and Oothoundt's Patents were lease land. Jellis Fonda sold much of his extensive patent to Stephen Lush, of Albany, and other land dealers, for ten cents per acre. The other patents were Scriba's and Banyar's. There were other lands in what is now Lee, known as Matchins, Boon's and Mappa tracts. A part of Scriba's Patent known as the 6,000 acre tract in township No. 1, afterwards known as Fish Creek Settlement, and a part of the 4,000 acre tract, in township No. 2, were sold to Daniel C. White, John W. Bloomfield, John Hall, George Huntington and others.

Some of the early settlers on the 6,000 acre tract were Charles Afford and John, his son; Ephraim Pease, and Arvin B., his son; Elam Pease; Jotham Worden; Jesse Sexton and his sons, William and Amasa, David Webster, Gideon Perry and his sons, Freeman and Gideon B.; James Eames and his sons, Simeon N., Lewis, George and Daniel; George Cornish, with his sons, Hosea and George; Asahel Castle and his sons, John J. and others; Roswell Spinning, the son of Benjamin Spinning; Joseph Park and his son Joseph, jr.; Daniel Park, and the sons of Jacob Park, Elisha, Abijah, and William; Oliver Armstrong, father of Wheeler, Jesse, Enoch and Earl; Deacon Samuel Wright and his wife Vienna, and his sons, William B., Arunah, Eben and Samuel, jr., and his nine daughters, originally from Connecticut, settled on this tract; James Wood and his sons, Amasa and Nathaniel; Ephraim J.H. Curtis; Apollos King; William Taft with his sons, Paul and Says, who first settled near Luther Miller, on land afterwards owned by Adonijah Barnard, where George Sheldon afterwards resided; and many others settled on the 6,000 acre tract.

The lease land proved to be a great curse to the town. What is the town of Western, once embracing Lee, dates back one year before the settlement of the Sheldons. Henry Wager, Asa Beckwith and his sons, Asa, jr., Lemuel, Reuben and Wolcott, came to the Mohawk country in 1789; and soon after Josiah Church and his sons George, Brayton, Jonathan, Ivan, Allan, Frazier; Joshua Northrup; Jabez Halleck and his sons, Joseph and Jabez, jr.; William Cleveland; Daniel Paddock and sons; Otis White and sons; William Olney; Daniel and Robert Felton; and other well known citizens settled on the Mohawk, above Fort Stanwix. In this early settlement the people built the first bridge across that river. It was back of the residence of Dr. Zenas Hutchinson, near Elmer Hill, where John Treadway, Anson Dart, and George Williams afterwards lived. The river here was narrow, with a high bank on the south. The bridge had only one set of stringers, and there was not a stick of hewn or sawed lumber in it. At this time all this region was in the town of Whitestown.

One of the first mills built on the Mohawk river was erected by Roswell Fellows, Smith and Luther Miller. It stood in the notch or little gulf nearly opposite where John Barnard afterwards built a mill. The water was raised by a wing dam. Subsequently, General William Floyd, who bough a large tract of land at an early day on the upper Mohawk, built a mill on that stream near what is now Westernville, and erected a saw mill and grist mill on Canada Creek, a few miles below Lee Centre. At the first settlements in what are now Western and Lee, and before the erection of these mills, the early settlers got their grain ground at Wetmore's on the Sauquoit, and other distant places. The gigantic William Remmington is said to have carried on his shoulders the flour of two bushels of wheat from Wetmore's mill near Whitestown, to his residence in what is now Lee, without resting. Very few of the roads at this time could be used for wagons, and journeys were therefore made on horseback or on foot. Henry Wager and Asa Beckwith, jr., walked to German Flats, and there procured one bushel each of seed potatoes, which they brought home on their shoulders.

In 1811 and previous the people of Western had discussed the question of dividing the town, and a committee consisting of James Young and Joshua Northrup, both emigrants from Lee, Mass., acted as a committee for getting an enabling act to divide the town. The act was passed by the Legislature, attended to in the Senate by Jonas Platt, then a senator, and in the Assembly by George Huntington, then a member from this district. The name "Lee" for the new town was inserted at the request of Messrs. Young and Northrup. The question of division was determined at the next town meeting of Western (1811), at the house of Silas Morse. George Brayton was chosen moderator, and after the election of officers for the ensuing year, the crowd of voters, finding the house too small for their accommodation, retired to the yard, where a division was agreed upon with great unanimity. Henry Wager, from Western, John Hall, from Lee, and George Huntington, of Rome, were chosen commissioners to fix the boundaries, with Benjamin Wright as surveyor. The boundaries were harmoniously agreed on, and Lee remained under Western till the 3d of March, 1812, when the first town meeting was held in the old West schoolhouse, the only framed one in the town, the first building north of Luther Miller's and about three fourths of a mile southeast of Lee Centre, at the road crossing near which the late John Calvin Capron resided.

James Young was elected supervisor and West Waterman town clerk; Jesse Dutton, Earl Fillmore, and Joseph White, assessors; John Hall and Dan Taft, overseers of the poor; Jotham Worden, Dan Taft, and Thomas E. Lawrence, commissioners of highways; George Hawkins, Samuel Hall, and Zebediel Wentworth, constables; Adonijah Barnard, Dan Taft and Asahel Castle, fence viewers. There were then 22 road districts in the town, and overseers were duly chosen. Justices of the peace were at that time appointed by the State, executive for the county, and there were no inspectors of common schools till 1816, when the justices of the peace - Jesse Dutton, James Eames, and Joseph White - appointed Dr. Jonah B. Burton, Eleazer Bushnell, Simeon N. Eames, William B. Wright, George Hawkings, and Samuel Hall such inspectors.

In 1813, James Young was reelected supervisor and West Waterman town clerk. The town meeting was held at the school house before described, which answered in that day as a school house and for religious and political meetings. Nearly all the officers elected in 1812 were reelected except the assessors and collector. Charles Ufford, Luther Miller, and Charles Ladd were chosen assessors, and Simeon N. Ames, collector.

In 1814, John Hall was elected supervisor and James Young town clerk, General election: Nathan Williams, Republican, for member of Congress, 89 votes; Thomas Gold, Federalist, for member of congress, 43 - Republican majority, 46. These election returns are certified by James Young, John Hall, Luther Miller, Charles Lass and Charles Ufford, inspectors of election.

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