History of Sherburne.


    The first Bridge across the Chenango river, was built near the junction of the Handsome Brook, to accommodate foot passengers. Teams forded the stream a short distance below. It consisted of only one large tree in width, and three of them in length, leveled on the upper side with the hewing ax. Stakes driven a few feet apart near the outer edges, were interwoven with withs, to protect women and children from falling into the stream. A woman by the name of Lathrop, rode across the bridge with a child in her arms, to the astonishment of her friends and neighbors, in safety. It was considered a hazardous undertaking, even to lead a horse over the structure. A Frenchman, rather than ride through the river, made the attempt, when, unfortunately, the horse fell upon the bridge, with his feet dangling on both sides, and was prevented from falling into the water by the stakes and withs, which held him there, until the neighbors could be rallied, from a quarter to one mile around, in sufficient numbers to lift and support the horse across the remainder of the bridge, which, with considerable difficulty, and great exertion, they were enabled to accomplish.


    In 1803, there was built and launched into the Chenango river, near the first bridge above the village, a boat, called by the inhabitants, an "Ark", for the purpose of conveying lumber down the river, with the expectation of finding a profitable market at Baltimore, in Maryland. Nathaniel Austin, and his brother, embarked in this enterprise. The anxiety of the people to make the river available for purposes of navigation, was such, that they voted a tax upon the town, to clear it of obstructions. The launching of the Ark was a gala day. Men, women and children turned out to witness the performance. When the famous Ark was afloat, they must have a ride. Like the Ark of old, it was soon filled with living creatures, even to the dog. With towing, setting and pulling by the willows, they were enabled to ascend the river towards half a mile, when, like boys after tugging and hauling their sleds to the top of the hill, they were well paid for their toil, by riding down again. It was freighted chiefly with pine staves and shingles, which did not prove as remunerative as they anticipated; and they found more difficulty in keeping the channel of the river than they expected, especially when it was on the rise. There were one or two other Arks built, for similar purposes, near the south line of the town, one of which was freighted with grain, which became damaged during the voyage, and was a total loss. Mr. Austin and his son Seymour, while on this expedition, were both attacked with the yellow fever, with which Mr. A. died,7 his son recovered and returned home.


    The Chenango Canal, running from Utica to Binghamton, nearly through the centre of the town, was commenced in 1833, forty years after the town was settled, and completed in 1837, at a cost of $1,737,703. When the bill of 1833 became a law, there was great rejoicing through the valley. In Sherburne, old boats were dragged from the river, mounted on runners, and drawn through the streets, by from four to six pairs of horses, with flags and streamers flying, drums, fifes and other musical instruments playing, which, together with the shouts and hurrahs from those assembled, gave unmistakable evidence of the joy that event occasioned.

    When we contrast the present with the past, we cannot wonder at the enthusiasm manifested by the people. Their market was at Albany. Such was the condition of the roads in the primitive days of the settlement, that it usually required from nine to thirteen days to perform the journey, with loaded teams. For every cwt., the cost of transportation would be from seventy-five cents to one dollar fifty cents, besides freight from New York city to Albany. Now, even from New York, the expense is only from twenty-five to fifty cents, leaving a saving to the people, of from fifty cents to one dollar on every cwt. Exported or imported. Mr. Zacheus W. Elmore, who was an early merchant, relates that when he came into the place, 1801, he brought the second two-horse wagon into the town, and that he broke two axles between here and Albany, and was nine days on the road.


    The first Newspaper published in the town and county, was the "Western Oracle," by Abraham Romeyn, at the Four Corners, in 1803. It was a single octavo sheet, containing few advertisements, and but little domestic news. Its pages were in most instances, occupied with public documents, chiefly relating to the affairs of our nation with the French.

    The next was the "Olive Branch," printed on West Hill, by Phinney Fairchild, May 1806. In 1808, John F. Fairchild became the sole proprietor.

    The "Republican Messenger" made its appearance in 1810, published by Jonathan Pettit and James Percival, in the village of Sherburne.

    The "Sherburne Palladium" was issued in 1836, by J. W. Marble, in the village.

    "Sherburne Transcript" succeeded in 1855, published by James M. Scarritt. All these were ephemeral in their existence.


    According to the Census of 1800, seven years after its first settlement, Sherburne contained 1,282 inhabitants.

In 1810 . . . . . . . . .2.520
1814 . . . . . . . . .2.607
1820 . . . . . . . . .2.509
1825 . . . . . . . . .2.493
1830 . . . . . . . . .2.601
1835 . . . . . . . . .3.108
1840 . . . . . . . . .2.791
1845 . . . . . . . . .2.680
1850 . . . . . . . . .2.623
1855 . . . . . . . . .2.776

    The Census returns of 1855, give the cash value of farms $1.039.734.

    Improved acres 20.702, unimproved 5.544 acres.

    Cash valuation of stock $169.867.

    Tools and implements $38.332.

    There were 523 framed houses and 1 log, 2 stone buildings (should read 5) and 5 brick.

    According to the Census of 1830, there were 2,601 inhabitants. In five years, 1835, owing to the influx of foreigners, occasioned by the building of the Chenango Canal, they amounted to 3.108, being an increase of 508. After the public works were completed, many of these settled in the town. In 1855 there were 183 Irish, 27 English, and 14 Germans, amounting to 224 foreigners then residents in the town.

    Clark, in his history of the county, quoting from the Census returns of 1830, says, "There were four slaves set down in the enumeration, as belonging to Sherburne, and that no other town in the county contained any persons held in servitude; and that three of the slaves held in Sherburne, 1830, had attained to the age of one hundred years." This is news to me. I have seen the day when I knew, and could name every individual residing in the town, and never knew but one person held as a slave, and he was only nominally such, having been brought in by a Dutch family some twenty years after the settlement was commenced. The head of this family was heir to certain property, held upon condition that he should maintain the colored person in question, during his life, as he was judged incapable of acting for himself. Not one of the Twenty Proprietors ever owned a slave. No resident, white or colored, ever attained to the age of one hundred years.

    The settlers showed a marked zeal in establishing and fostering the Common School, the importance of which they deemed second only to the moral and religious training of the rising generation, with which it should go hand in hand, in order to prepare them for usefulness in their day, and enable them to form correct principles for their guidance in the management of public affairs, eventually to rest upon their shoulders. In reviewing the result, the honorable manner in which her sons and daughters have acquitted themselves, in every station they have been called upon to occupy, leaves Sherburne no cause to blush. For general intelligence, they would not suffer in comparison with an equal number in any community. Pass through the States and Territories of the Union, Sherburne has representatives in nearly, if not quite, two-thirds of these; go to the shores of the Pacific, behold they are there; enter our halls of legislation, her sons have been found here; look into the pulpit, many of them stand there, proclaiming the news of salvation through a crucified Redeemer, to a lost and ruined world; turn to India's burning clime, there lie the mortal remains of one who, in obedience to her Saviour's commands, left father and mother, kindred and country, the wife of Rev. Mr. Little, an honored Missionary of the American Board;8 cast your eye upon the judicial bench, they have had seats there; survey the Bar, many of them are filling that with honor and profit to themselves, and it is to be hoped, without detriment to the communities in which they reside; pass not by our Colleges and Seminaries of learning, for they are there occupying the highest and most responsible stations;9 turn your telescope upon Jupiter's belts or Saturn's rings, behold! some of them, in imagination, have wandered there---

"Could plan new worlds without the least misgiving,
But on this planet couldn't make a living."

    Would you learn more? Wrap close your mantle of fur, steer for the frozen regions of the north, and among the tumbling mountains of ice, inquire of those who strike the harpoon---more than one of them are there.


    Raymond Dixon graduated at Yale in 1807, and was the first citizen of the town, and probably of the county, who graduated from any College. He became a preacher of the gospel---died in 1861. Abraham Dixon, Yale, a lawyer, honored with a seat in the State Senate; John H. Lathrop, Yale, Chancellor of the University of Wisconsin; Hubert A. Newton, Yale, Professor of Mathematics in Yale College; Isaac LaFayette Cushman, Yale, no profession---honored with a seat in the New York Legislature; Julius W. Hatch, graduate of Hamilton, Lecturer on Astronomy; Columbus Foster, graduate of Union, farmer; Charles Babcock, Yale, no profession; Alvin Lathrop, Hamilton, teacher.


    Ebenezer Raymond, graduate of Union; Eleazer Lathrop, and Isaac Adams, graduates of Hamilton; Caleb Johnson, graduate of Hamilton, died before he had completed his Theological studies. Lyman S. Rexford and William Robinson, graduates of Yale; Nathaniel Smith, graduate of -----; Blackleach Gray, -----; Jared W. Fox, Shubel Carver, Jonathan Copeland, Hiram Lee, graduates of Oberlin; Israel Foote, graduate of -----, Episcopal Rector; Smith Curtis, Union.


    John H. Lathrop, Joseph Guthrie, Benj. F. Rexford, DeWitt Rexford, John Babcock, Joseph Benedict,10 Pitt Lynde, Oliver M. Benedict, Warren Newton, Isaac Newton, Nathaniel Foote, Wm. Hopkins, Wm. Lathrop, Julius K. Rose, David Follet, Herchell Hatch.


    From the Geological Report of the State, published in 1842, by Lardner Van Vexem, we copy what relates to the town of Sherburne:

    The lowest rocks of the county are those belonging to the Hamilton group, (named after Hamilton in Madison county.) It contains the Tully limestone, the Genesee slate, the Portage, the Ithaca, the Chemung and the Catskill groups. The whole of the Hamilton group is confined to the towns of Sherburne and Smyrna, and a strip extending along the Unadilla river, through Columbus and New Berlin, below the village of which it passes under the higher rocks. It is well exposed along Handsome Brook, to the north east of Sherburne village, exhibiting a mass from sixty to one hundred feet thick, chiefly of the dark colored shale of the group, and abounding in its characteristic fossils. The falls in the creek are over the shale, which extends towards the mouth of the creek, and is lost under a covering of alluvion and soil, being the most northern part of the Chenango Valley where seen. The same mass makes its appearance to the east of the village of Smyrna, beyond which, at a lower level, are those of the upper rocks of Hamilton Seminary, and of Ladd's quarry, on the Canal, above Sherburne. The ridge, from Madison county, composed of the Hamilton group, appears to incline rapidly near Sherburne, so as to admit the Sherburne flags to appear at the level which they present, at less than two miles below the village.

    PORTAGE AND ITHACA GROUPS. --- Numerous quarries are opened in all the towns in this group, for building stone, and for flagging. The better kinds of the latter occur in the lower part of the group. Several points south of Sherburne were examined, among which was Mr. Skinner's quarry, where the flags were large and smooth, but the quantity of shale and slate upon them was considerable. At Church's quarry, about two miles from the village, they were more accessible, but not so good. The opening here is about twenty feet in depth upon a hillside, rising about forty feet above the valley, and showing dark blue or blackish slaty shale, with the sand stone.

    On page 160, he says: "Though but little is exposed of the group in the county, there are four points of interest. The first is Ladd's quarry on the canal, near Madison county line, and is the continuation of the range of West Hamilton. The quarry is rich in many of the fossils of the group.

    "The next point is the falls and banks of Handsome Creek, (should read Sulphur Springs Creek,) north of Sherburne. The water falls for sixty or more feet, and the sides of the Creek expose about one hundred feet of the finer kind of shale."

    On page 234, speaking of Sulphur Springs, he says: "A Sulphur Spring issues from the slate of the Hamilton group, at the foot of the Falls, on Handsome Brook, near Sherburne."

    Locating the Falls and Spring on Handsome Brook is an error. They are on a stream, east of the village of Sherburne, called promiscuously Sulphur Spring, Harris or Mad Brook, which enters the Chenango river, about one mile below the village---the Handsome Brook nearly one mile above.


    When the trees of the forest reigned monarchs of the soil, they exerted such controlling influence over the winds and storms of this valley, as to give them a different character from those of the present time. The rays of the sun being obstructed by these masses of foliage, rarefaction could only take place when the sun shone with its greatest warmth, at which time the humidity which had been collecting during cold and cloudy days, was taken up and condensed in large quantities. In these days, when a greater extent of the surface of the earth is exposed to the direct rays of the sun, evaporation goes on with more constancy and uniformity, and the sky is oftener overcast with clouds of less density, which discharge their contents in the form of rain or snow, in much smaller drops or finer flakes, forming a noticeable contrast with storms of former times. The early showers would generally be seen rising in the western horizon, in a dark lowering cloud, advancing with greater or less rapidity. All knew that this portended a violent rain, and no time was to be lost in seeking a shelter from the drenching torrent. These clouds were frequently accompanied by flashes of lightning and peals of rolling thunder, far exceeding in sublimity those of the present day. The forest trees, acting as conductors, rendered the electrical phenomena comparatively harmless. Accidents from this cause were almost unknown for twenty years or more, if we except rare cases, where men or cattle imprudently took shelter under tall trees. When the outpouring was over, the sun shone out as suddenly as it had been obscured, in brilliant contrast with the gloom which before prevailed.

    Sudden showers of rain, are not now so marked and frequent, they are more drizzling, and an approaching shower is not, as a general rule, so distinctly foreshadowed by the appearance of the clouds. When the snow had covered the ground at the commencement of winter, it usually remained three months or more, and the inhabitants could and did rely upon having good sleighing for that length of time, with the exception of what was termed "the January thaw," which was almost as regular and certain as if governed by fixed laws---usually taking place about the middle of the month, and continuing two or three weeks. These thaws are now more varying and uncertain. Sudden thaws during the winter months, are more frequent; as a natural consequence, winter grain is more liable to be injured by freezing and thawing, causing its cultivation to be in a great measure abandoned.

    Between the middle of October and the fifteenth of November, there used to be from nine to eighteen days of mild, balmy sunshine, usually termed Indian Summer, or smoky days. Their beauty and genial influence was such, that their advent would be hailed with unusual delight. The peculiar features of that period are now less marked, and have changed their character and durability, to such a degree, as scarcely to attract attention.

    According to the State census of 1855, four-fifths of the area of Sherburne have been brought under cultivation. Along the banks of Chenango river, from the north line of the county to its junction with the Susquehanna, we now rarely see trees of primitive growth. The consequence is, that an unobstructed avenue is left for winds to circulate up this valley, from south to north. South winds, (such as we experience at the present day,) were unknown to the early settlers. Their severest storms were from the north-east, and the prevailing wind from the north-west. Both these appear now to be modified by the increasing prevalence of those from the south. The northeast winds have nearly disappeared, are less intense, and of shorter duration; the west and north-west are more fitful, and at times assume the character of a tornado, whose general direction is from west to east. Early settlers remember the time when the seasons were more uniform---when the snow as it fell upon the tops of stumps, would heap in cones twelve or more inches from base to apex, and stand there for days and even weeks, before the wind would disturb them.

    As the country becomes cleared, our rivers, brooks and rivulets have less water in them, than when their margins were skirted with trees. Many of them, which now are dry most of the time in summer, would then contain more or less water throughout the year, and many of our "mountain streams" would flow more months than they now do weeks.

    It is supposed by some, that the cold winds from our northern lakes, especially Ontario, exert an influence upon the climate of this valley. This was more or less the case, in the early days of the settlement, when the prevailing winds were from that direction. But the south wind at this day overpowers and drives these back.11 There is one peculiarity in the snow storms of Sherburne at the present time, which, probably, has some connection with the winds from the lakes. The snow falls decidedly deeper, near the north line of the town, than south of it. Sherburne is bounded north by the county of Madison, through which runs in an east and west direction, a range of hills, nearly, if not quite, one thousand feet above the waters of the Ontario, and extending westward, nearly the whole length of the lake, and easterly along the valley of the Mohawk river. The cold winds, as they sweep over the northern seas, are rolled against and along the northern slope of these hills, where numerous clearings admit the rays of the sun, which warm their sides and tops to such a degree, as to rarefy the air from the lake, and cause its currents of mist to ascend into the cold regions of the clouds, when they are borne in an eastern direction by their own impetus, until checked by the south winds of the Valley of Chenango, near its head, where they are condensed into snow and fall to the earth near the south line of Madison county. As the trees of the forest daily diminish, and the changes in the topography of the valley gradually advance, and as the habits, manners and customs of the people, rise in the scale of refinement and extravagance, many of the "ills that flesh is heir to," take a new form, and require a corresponding change of medical treatment; and, although there are no diseases peculiar to this valley, the hardy, robust constitutions of early days, are seldom seen. The above mentioned prevalence of south winds, undoubtedly is the chief agent in producing these results. We have reason to believe that this will be modified by the multiplication of fruit and shade trees, and that the increasing value of timber, will so check its wanton destruction, that the Valley of Chenango will continue to maintain its celebrity, as a healthy and agreeable place of residence.


    Sherburne is situated in 42 degrees and 44 minutes north latitude; 1 degree and 36 minutes east longitude from Washington; 96 miles west of the capitol of the State; about 90 feet lower than the head waters of Chenango river in Madison county; and 546 feet above the level of the Erie Canal, at Utica.


    The Valley of the Chenango, had from time immemorial, been the red man's hunting and fishing ground, and he continued it as such, until agricultural improvements banished the bear, the wolf, and deer from the valley.

    The Oneida Indians were the occupants when the emigrants first came into it. They were a quiet, peaceable, inoffensive race. Men, women and children, soon became so accustomed to their ways and manners, that the effect of their presence was that of pleasure, unalloyed with the least dread or fear, provided they were not under the influence of intoxicating liquors. I never knew an instance of complaint against any of them, for petty pilfering. The productions of the field, garden and hen-roost, were more secure from their depredations at that day, than from those of the white people at this. In summer they roamed up and down the banks of the Chenango, in quest of game.

    In the winter, they built wigwams in the vicinity of the settlers, and manufactured baskets and splint brooms, to sell to the inhabitants for provisions to sustain themselves, until the opening spring, when they resumed their accustomed practice of hunting and fishing.

    They exhibited considerable skill and ingenuity in making baskets and brooms, which were almost the only articles of manufacture they would attempt, and was usually done by the squaws. Their brooms were made generally of black-ash staddles, between two and three inches in diameter, pounded the length of the brush, until the grains would separate, and then split into fine strands; or of water beech, or birch, peeled into fine shreds, and then bound together with strips of the same.

    The settlers would frequently make them small presents of articles of provisions, which the children were very fond of conveying, and receiving their thanks in an unknown tongue, or in half English and half Indian dialect, which to them was quite amusing.

    They appeared to have very limited fastidiousness in their intercourse with the inhabitants. If they wished to enter your house, the first you would know, the door would be noiselessly opened and their heads unceremoniously thrust in, and in a low tone they would ask: "Want to buy broom?" receive your answer, and walk away with a fixed monotonous countenance, which seldom changed. They scrupled not, secretly if they could, to spy what was going on in your house, through any crevice they could find. The wife of one of the settlers, at a very early day, was seated before the fire, which was built against a few stones piled upon each other, in order to protect the building from igniting---large holes between the logs and stones being inclosed. She was waiting the return of her husband until darkness had spread its curtain around, with two small children playing before the fire, when she discovered an Indian peaking, close by the fire, into her apartment, without any apparent attempt at concealment. With a little natural excitement, she cried "peak-a-boo!" when he quietly retired.

    They were a shrewd people, not easily outwitted. A young gentleman of my acquaintance related, that after the war of 1812, as he was sitting on the piazza of an Inn, a young Indian came and seated himself by his side, in an easy, familiar manner, saying, "How do? how do? Don't you know me? Ain't you Colonel P.? Did'nt you command me at the battle of Queenstown?" "No, I never was in the army." "Me thought you was Col. P.---he brave warrior---he handsome man---you look just like him," tapping upon his shoulder, "now treat---now treat."

    They would often be seen paddling their canoes along the river, which they used extensively for the purposes of navigation. They kept it free from obstructions, from Smith's Valley, in the town of Lebanon, Madison county, to its junction with the Susquehanna river. Their canoes were constructed of pine logs, made so thin and light, and so skillfully proportioned, that they would glide over the water with admirable grace and rapidity, and could easily be carried upon their shoulders from place to place. Their intercourse with the inhabitants was peculiarly brief. They were never known to linger around their dwellings, in loaferish idleness for one half hour---their business or curiosity was soon satisfied, and they would depart as unceremoniously as they came.


    On the farm originally settled by Timothy Hatch, about one mile and a half north-west of the village, on the west side of the river, 30 or 40 rods from its bank, are to be seen, four or five round excavations in the earth, from four to six feet deep, measuring about the same in diameter at the top, lying close to each other; on the edges of which were large trees standing, comparing in height and size, to the average dimensions of those comprising the rest of the forest, which consisted mainly of hard maples, and was occupied thirty or forty years for a sugar orchard.

    While I was spending a few hours at their boiling camp, the celebrated Abraham Antoine, (who, a few years after, was executed at Morrisville, Madison county, for the murder of one of his own race,) was seen approaching. It was proposed to invite him to go and examine these, and see what he would say about them, to which he readily consented. After looking at them a moment, and running his eye up to the top of the trees standing upon their edges, he said: "It's a place where Indian bury corn great while ago." The trees have been cleared away, and the place more or less since plowed over.

    In an adjoining field, on the north, which has been long under cultivation, many stone arrow heads have been plowed up; also stone chisels, hatchets, pestles for pounding corn, &c.; and as late as 1846, a stone of a peculiar red color was found in the same field. It was about three eights of an inch thick, five inches long, rounded at each end, three inches broad at one, and two at the other, with a hole near the narrowest end, about half inch in diameter, and polished quite smooth on each surface. It is said that no stone of the same species was ever obtained this side of Mexico. It was undoubtedly worn for an ornament.

    When they were constructing the Chenango Canal, which is on the opposite side of the river, human bones were exhumed, which, with a few exceptions, would, on exposure to the atmosphere, crumble into dust.


    About four miles north of Sherburne village, and one mile west of the Handsome Brook, are the remains of a structure worthy the examination of antiquarians. It is an embankment of coarse gravel, built in the form of a horse-shoe---the open ends towards the north. It is about four rods wide between the outer ends, and seven or eight rods deep to the centre of the bow. From the lowest point in the centre, to the highest part of the embankment, is full twenty-five feet. There are embankments running from each extremity of the bow; the one easterly, fifteen or twenty rods long, terminating in a swamp; that on the west side is much longer, ending at the foot of a hill, nearly in the same range with the other, but disconnected from the main structure, by an opening two or three rods wide. In the front of the whole, is a low swampy piece of ground of small extent.

    A gentleman by the name of Champlin, who formerly owned the farm on which it is situated, says he has frequently plowed upon the top of the bank, and thinks it is three or four feet lower than when he first saw it, and that flint arrow points were frequently found in its vicinity. Finding arrow points is verified by other witnesses.

    It remains an open question, whether this is a natural or artificial structure. If artificial, for what purpose? It was originally crowned with trees corresponding in dimensions with those of the surrounding forest. The small extent of the area enclosed within its walls, is a serious draw-back to the supposition that this was an Indian fortification. In whatever light we view it, we cannot but consider it as a curiosity.


    Wild animals were Bears, Wolves and Deer, which are now entirely extinct. The last wild bear seen in town, was met and killed with an ax, one mile north of the village in the Handsome Brook, by Lorenzo Hatch, the first white person born in the town.

    Eli Marsh used to relate, that early one morning, he heard a hog squealing, in a manner so unusual, in the woods near his house, that he took his gun and sallied out to ascertain the cause. He soon discovered a large bear sitting 'in state' upon his haunches, in conscious pride of power and dignity, holding the hog upon the ground; and on every exertion to free himself from his clutches, Bruin was cuffing him, first on one side of his head, and then on the other. This he would repeat at every attempt of his captive to extricate himself from his grasp---the slightest motion would bring the paw of his majesty about his ears with such force, that from necessity he would drop his head upon the ground, and remain as quiet as the nature of his situation would admit.

    Mr. Marsh was enabled to advance so near the animal, on account of his attention being wholly drawn to his victim, as to get a close shot upon him, which he gave with such effect as to bring him to the ground. The porker, for a moment, appeared to be in a quandary about the sudden relaxation of the grasp of his captor; slowly raising his head, and cautiously making a movement, he walked off a few feet, halted---looked round as if wondering what it all meant---turned back, grabbed him by the ear, gave one indignant shake, accompanied by a significant grunt---then apparently satisfied that he had shown proper resentment, wheeled about and started for the farm house upon a run. This bear measured over seven feet in length, and was killed within, or near the corporate bounds of the village.

    WOLVES.---Wolves were more numerous and troublesome, frequently making sad havoc among flocks of sheep, so much so, that the town voted from year to year, a premium of ten dollars a head for every full grown wolf killed, until their depradations ceased. The last wolf killed in town, was by Smith M. Purdy, Esq.

    PANTHERS.---I never heard of one being seen in the town, but certain effects and frights which were now and then encountered, were supposed to have been caused by the panther. Young cattle were sometimes found killed, under circumstances which led to the belief that they had been slain by some ferocious animal, other than the bear or wolf.12

    DEER.---Deer were occasionally taken for twenty or thirty years, and the recollection of the saddle of venison smoking upon the table, would almost reconcile us to the idea of a return to the days of Nimrod, log-houses, and spinning wheels again.

    BEAVER.---Beaver were in a few instances caught by the Indians, but soon disappeared.

    OTTER.---Otter were more plenty, and occasionally taken, forty or fifty years after the settlers came in, but at this day few traces of them are to be seen.

    HEDGE HOGS.---A few hedge-hogs were killed, at an early day, but have long since been exterminated.

    FOXES, RACCOONS AND RABBITS.---Foxes, Raccoons and Rabbits are yet caught, but comparatively rare.

    FLYING SQUIRRELS.---Flying Squirrels were frequently seen, but at this day seldom if ever.

    SKUNKS.---Skunks were not original inhabitants. They did not honor the town with their company, until some fifteen or twenty years had elapsed.

    VENOMOUS REPTILES.---Of Venomous Reptiles, none were ever known in the town.


    QUAILS.---Quails were repeatedly seen in flocks at an early day, but are now extinct.

    BLACK BIRDS.---Black Birds, in large bodies, would grace our forests, but now in greatly diminished numbers, and generally of a smaller species.

    WILD PIGEONS.---Wild Pigeons in successive flocks, would be seen for hours at a time, passing overhead with great rapidity, but now their visits are few and far between.

    WOOD DUCKS.---Wood Ducks would often be seen making their nests, in bodies of old decaying trees, but now seldom, if ever.

    PARTRIDGES.---Partridges were plenty and frequently caught, but now in diminished numbers.

    HAWKS.---Hawks were daily seen in considerable numbers, sporting on the wing for hours at a time, a circumstance which, at the present day, has no parallel.


    The trees of the forest consisted of Beech, Birch, Hickory, Ash, Elm and Basswood, with large Oaks, white, black and red, standing here and there, in towering grandeur like so many aged sentinels; and tall and stately Pines, which, if now standing as they then stood on certain localities, would sell for more than the lands they occupied, with all their improvements. On the hills, were Hemlocks, interspersed with orchards of sugar Maples, on which the inhabitants depended for their main supply of sugar for a number of years. Chesnuts, although more or less plenty in the lower part of the county, are unknown in the town, excepting on a few lots bordering upon the towns of North Norwich and New Berlin. The Whortleberry also, is rarely seen north of the southern boundary of the town.

    Apple-trees were found near the river, which were supposed to have originated from seed accidentally scattered by the Indians, and bore fruit for half a century. The Apple and Pear, improve as the country grows older. The Peach and Quince never did thrive in this locality.

    Thorn-apples, of three-fourths of an inch in diameter, were not uncommon, which the inhabitants frequently cooked. The largest kinds were of rich, yellow color. When ripe they exhaled an agreeable odor. This fruit appears to come to its greatest perfection in the shade, for, as soon as the lands are cleared around them, they rapidly diminish in size and odor, and become unpalatable.

    Meadow Plums of good quality were numerous.

    The Gooseberry, smooth and prickly, together with Black Currants of a nauseous flavor, abounded on the flats.

    A few Red Currants were found, supposed to have been scattered by birds or Indians.

    Wild Onions were plenty, on the low grounds near the river, in beds of various dimensions---their bottoms seldom exceeding half an inch in diameter---and were frequently gathered and cooked by the inhabitants. They are now extinct, or nearly so.

    Leeks were very numerous and annoying to dairy women, on account of the nauseous and disagreeable flavor imparted to the milk, when, in grazing, the cows fed upon their tops. It would taint their butter to such a degree that it could not be eaten, without first biting a piece of the root. In eating milk, in any form, all would resort to this, before that otherwise delicious article could become palatable. They are almost, if not entirely, eradicated.

    The Ginseng, Sweet Scisley and Tallow roots, were often met with, but at this day, it is doubtful whether a root of any of them can be found.

    POTATOES.---Humbolt, in the history of his travels in South America, remarks that the Potatoe was before the arrival of the Spaniards, in use in Chili, Peru, Quito and New Grenada, and seems to think those countries the original source of it; and adds that Sir Walter Raleigh found it in Virginia, in 1584, and raises the question, whether it was introduced there, from the North or South? One thing is certain, they were found in the town of Sherburne, by the emigrants, in various localities---the root under, rather than over, half inch in diameter. Conversing with an octogenarian,13 who has resided in the town since 1795, he remarked, "that Potatoes were so plenty that no one need have starved, in the season of them, if he had nothing else to live upon," adding they were small. They covered the ground extensively, on both sides of the river, and around the mouth of the Handsome Brook. Abraham Raymond's family, by repeated plantings, obtained fair sized Potatoes from them, which, after they had come to maturity, were gathered promiscuously with others, and no further notice taken of them. Cornelius Clark, also raised from the Potatoe plant found on his lot, full sized Potatoes, which became part and parcel of his supply, from year to year. They were exterminated mainly, by cattle feeding upon their tops. At that early day, every rood of ground reclaimed from the forest, must be appropriated to raising grain, roots and vegetables, to sustain themselves and their cattle through the winter. For a number of years, they were obliged to cut trees, on the buds and small twigs of which, by "browsing," their cattle were enabled to eke out a precarious living. Their only resource in summer, was to strap a bell on the leading cow and let their cattle tun at large in the woods; as a consequence, in grazing, they would crop the Potatoe plant, and by so doing, destroy the blossom which produced the seed, from which the root was annually propagated. The Potatoe being so near the top of the ground, would be annihilated every winter by freezing, which accounts for their diminutive size, being reproduced only from the ball each year. The inhabitants, understanding but little of its early history, or the philosophy of its propagation, generally discarded it as a useless weed, and would allude to it only as the wild Potatoe.


    There have been nine or ten Distilleries and one Brewery established in the town, all of which, save one, it is generally believed, have proved to their owners, an unprofitable investment. One was burned down; one man lost his life in another, by being scalded with steam. Three or more of the owners of these establishments died drunkards.

    The town has wiped the stigma of manufacturing "fire water" from her escutcheon, about twenty years, and the county for nearly the same time. According to the State Census of 1855, there was not a Distillery in the county of Chenango. The following extract from Spafford's Gazetteer, of the State of New York, published in 1813, may not be inappropriate here: "While the people of the county are entitled to credit for their Common Schools and social regulations, they ought to exclude a multitude of small Distillers. No invidious discrimination prompts this remark too generally necessary throughout the State, but thinking and sober men would do well to consider the tendencies of these little establishments, and observe their effects in a neighborhood. Will they fail to contract habits of drinking more than is conducive to health or comfort, when a jug of whiskey is constantly at hand, or can be had in a few minutes, fresh from the Distillery?" Clark, in his history of the county, remarks: "As Mr. S. complimented our citizens highly, in 1813, except they patronized Distilleries, and as they had not one of these establishments in the county, in 1845, it follows, we must be an unexceptionable people, in this latter year. Long may we continue so."

    The pioneers considered it very essential to their health and comfort, to have ardent spirits with them, in order to "warm them when too cold, or to cool them when too hot." Accordingly they purchased a barrel of rum in company, and brought it into the valley the first year when the twenty proprietors came on to make a beginning, and left it in the care of Abraham Raymond, who placed it outside of his shanty, and built a roof over it of bark and brush. This building you will recollect, was near the mouth of the Handsome Brook, and on the east side of the river. A daughter of Mr. Raymond's, only seven years of age at that time, relates to the writer sixty years after, that she had somehow imbibed the idea that liquor was very bad for the Indians, and that she had no fear or dread of their presence, if it was kept from them. Hearing them paddling their canoes along the river, and expecting a visit from them, she flew to the rum barrel, and covered it up in the best manner she could, and watched the issue as if her life depended upon the result. Their swarthy visages---their half clothed bodies---their tomahawks and knives suspended from their belts, were all harmless in her eyes, provided they did not discover the hidden barrel. They landed, walked up to the hut, and looked around, but finding no one there except Mrs. Raymond, and two or three small children, quietly returned to their canoes and departed; the girl, in the mean time, congratulating herself for her prudence and discretion, as having thereby saved herself and mother, from the tomahawk and scalping knife! At that day, the use of intoxicating liquors was almost universal. It would be considered a breach of hospitality, not to present the bottle to their friends and neighbors at almost every interview, especially if they were rendering assistance as laborers or otherwise. It had grown into a proverb, "as bad as a raising without rum," which they frequently applied, when they wished to draw a disparaging comparison. Whenever they assembled to assist at the raising of any building, before they commenced operations, the bottle or jog must be passed around, each drinking directly from its mouth, and handing it to his neighbor. If this had been neglected, they would take their places and wait the order to "Heave O! heave!" when, with much apparent exertion, they would not be able to make any progress. The master workman would call for the bottle, after which, they were able to finish their work with ease and alacrity.

    If my recollection does not fail me, there was but one of the twenty proprietors, who might be considered as a subject of "king alcohol," and he not sottish and brutish, but occasionally under his power, although there were too many of that class in town. In 1815, the town voted to petition the legislature, to pass laws "to prevent men from drinking," (intoxicating liquors.) I believe nothing further was done about it at that time, except to forward the petition.

    It is not to be disguised that they paid too much tribute to his majesty, by allowing themselves to go in the way of temptation, not duly considering that his ranks are always recruited from the sober and temperate part of community.


    The fathers, with their families, arrived Saturday night, March, 1793. They assembled for public religious worship, on the second Sabbath after; and it has been continued by them and their descendants, without intermission from that day to this, whether they had the preaching of the Word or not. A Congregational Church was organized the 6th day of July, 1794, by Rev. Mr. Campbell, consisting of the following individuals: Nathaniel and Bethiah Gray, Elijah and Sarah Gray, Abraham and Betsey Raymond, Timothy and Ruth Hatch, Josiah Lathrop, Eleazer Lathrop, Mabel, wife of Newcomb Raymond, and Ruth, wife of Joel Hatch, Melissa, wife of James Raymond, Ezra Lathrop and Mariam his wife. Nathaniel Gray and Abraham Raymond, were chosen Deacons. Although the above differs from the printed list of the members of the First Church, it is believed to be as correct as can be obtained. The records having been burned, positive accuracy cannot be claimed. March 15, 1798, the society was incorporated The First Congregational Church and Society of Sherburne. Eli Marsh, Joel Northrup and Orsamus Holmes were elected Trustees. This was the first church and society formed in this region. There were only three churches organized previous to this in western New York, and these but one year earlier.14 Rev. Blackleach Burritt preached the first sermon in the town and county, 1792---he tarried but one week. It was thirteen years after their arrival, before they had a settled pastor. During these years, this and other churches subsequently formed in this region, were occasionally supplied and counseled, by missionaries sent and supported by churches in Connecticut and Massachusetts. They would be received with marked attention and unusual delight. Their advent would be hailed as an era, long to be remembered. Messengers would be sent in every direction, until all, however scattered or remote, had heard the news. Such was their hungering and thirsting to hear the living preacher, that, at the time appointed, the women and the aged would be seen on horse-back, slowly wending their way among the trees of the forest; and pedestrians of both sexes and all ages filling up the picture, until they arrive at the place appointed. "Their house of worship has no tall spire pointing to heaven---no bell to summon the people to prayer---no ceiled walls, nor cushions filled with softest down." Its walls are round logs, its roof of boards, or perhaps of bark. When their increasing numbers require a more commodious building some newly erected barn would be substituted, until school houses were built. Rev. Nathan B. Darrow was the first minister employed by the people. He was engaged to preach one year, and also to teach a winter school, which numbered for weeks, over ninety scholars per day. He settled in Homer, Cortland county, Feb. 1803. Four or five years after, he removed to Ohio, where he died many years since.

    During these days, peace and harmony prevailed in the church. It would almost literally be said, that they saw "eye to eye;" but alas for poor human nature! when meeting and school houses began to be topics of conversation, they found here an entering wedge of discord; they could not be agreed upon their location, especially the meeting house. Enough was said and done to demonstrate that they, in common with the rest of human kind, possessed selfish and depraved natures. They had their failings, who has not?

    The Chenango river, dividing the town nearly through its centre, those on the west side argued that the church ought to be built there, in order to accommodate the people of Smyrna, which was at that time part of Sherburne. Those on the east side contended that the town would in time be divided, and in that case the house would be quite one side of the centre of business and population. A council was called, many arguments advanced pro and con, but all to no purpose. In 1802, those on the west side of the river withdrew, joined with Smyrna and formed a Church, styling themselves The Second Congregational Church and Society of Sherburne. They built a house of worship on what is known as West Hill. This was the first house erected for religious worship within the present bounds of the county of Chenango. Rev. Joshua Knight was their first and only settled preacher. Four or five years after, the Eighth and Ninth Townships were divided---the Eighth taking the name of Smyrna. From this time, the Church and Society began to wane. The death of Mrs. Knight, and the marriage of Mr. Knight to her daughter, who had lived in his family, and had uniformly addressed him as her "father," resulted in his speedy dismissal from his Church, and accelerated its removal to the village of Smyrna. It is creditable to the Church and Society, that this affair caused no division among them. Although Mr. Knight labored strenuously in his own defence, he carried no party with him.

    Those on the east side of the river, which are the present Church, located their house one and a half miles north of the village, in 1803 or 4, near the residence of Asa Foote, jr. In 1810 it was removed to the village. After it had been moved about half the distance, the interest taken in the operation was such, that the ladies must have something to do about the matter. Accordingly, one beautiful morning, they were assembled, and placed themselves at the levers, the word was given to 'heave,' when the building was seen to move some feet, amidst lively cheers from the gentlemen around. How much help they had from some unobserved corner, it may not be necessary to relate.

    They worshiped in this house, nine or ten years, before it was lathed and plastered, or in any measure done off inside. The seats, at first, were loose boards, in their rough state, resting on blocks. Even the pulpit had never seen the smoothing plane, if we except the top shelf or table, and the seat. For two or three years, it was not glazed around the galleries, and for the first one or two winters, some of the windows were not even boarded up. A certain clergyman from abroad, who occupied the pulpit, (which was nearly on a level with the gallery,) one stormy winter's day, after he had closed the service, thus addressed the congregation: "It is a shame for any people to let their minister stand in his pulpit, with the winds blowing directly upon him, while they are secured from the storm below. You ought, at least, to do as much as to board up the windows in the galleries." This hint was duly attended to before the next Sabbath day.

    It was over twenty years, before stoves were introduced. The only provision for their comfort, was foot-stoves, which were filled with coals, before they left home. At intermission, they would resort to the nearest dwellings, to warm themselves before their ample fire-places, and replenish their dishes of coals for the afternoon service. They occupied this house for more than half a century. While yet a few of the venerable fathers remained, the subject of building a new house was gently broached; but out of deference to their strongly expressed attachment to the old house, and the cherished associations connected therewith, the subject was waived, until the last of them had been "gathered to their fathers," which was in 1855. Their successors, in 1857, erected a new house, better adapted to their circumstances and the times, which was dedicated in June, 1858.

    The first settled pastor was Rev. Roger Adams. He was installed August, 1806. An interesting revival, by which the church was quickened and enlarged, followed as the fruit of his labors. Mr. Adams' voice failing, he was obliged to relinquish preaching, and was accordingly dismissed in 1809.

    His education was limited. He was modest and unassuming. His style and matter were plain, forcible and convincing. He was not a great, but a good man, winning the affections of all who knew him, and well calculated to foster and promote union among brethren.

    Their next settled pastor was Rev. Abner Benedict, who was installed in 1811. During his ministry, there were thirty or forty added to the church. He left in 1813. He was the antipode of Mr. Adams, having the advantage of a good education. He was much inclined to hold forth the terrors of the Law, and harp (excessively, perhaps,) upon predestination and election. He was a Boanerges. His matter and manner would often startle weak minds, and offend those less favorably inclined, creating for him warm friends, or strong opposers.

    Rev. John Truair, their third settled pastor, was installed 5th July, 1815. During his ministry, in 1816, there were about one hundred added to the Church. In 1819 and 20, there was another addition of one hundred and nine. He was dismissed in 1820.

    Mr. Truair was a self-made man, and of Spanish descent. (His father, when quite a lad, emigrated to this country, and was sold for a limited period, to pay his passage.) He possessed a fearless, untiring energy, and unaided, persevered until he had acquired a good academical education. His natural talents were of a superior order. He was apt and appropriate, on any emergency. He spoke with a rolling eloquence, that would rivet the attention of his audience at times, to such a degree, that you may almost hear the dropping of a pin. At the close of a rousing discourse, one of his hearers remarked to another, as they were leaving the house, "I hate to hear a man preach as if he was mad." This coming to the ears of Mr. T., he announced as his text the next Sabbath morning, "I am not mad, most noble Festus, but speak forth the words of truth and soberness." In the pulpit, he had few superiors; out of it, some felt that he was not as careful as he ought to be, to avoid, at least, the appearance of evil. A mother in Israel, one of his admirers, remarked, "He ought to go into the pulpit, and stay there."

    Rev. I. N. Sprague was installed June 7, 1825. Dismissed Sept. 7, 1834. In 1831, there were about ninety added to the church, by the blessing of God upon his labors. Dec. 14, 1827, his dwelling-house, together with most of its contents, including the book of Records and Sacramental Vessels, belonging to the church, was providentially destroyed by fire. In consequence of this calamity, the church and community are deprived of many of the statistics and facts relating to its history, for the first thirty-three years. A committee was appointed by the church to remedy this misfortune in the best manner practicable. Their report is, undoubtedly, the most reliable history of that period, which can be obtained.

    George E. Delevan was installed pastor of this church, 14th of March, 1838, and was dismissed in 1839.

    Amos C. Tuttle was settled October 30, 1845, and dismissed September, 1853. During his ministry, the church enjoyed two interesting revivals, by which there were about eighty added to its communion; and passed through a trying ordeal, arising out of the anti-slavery excitement. About sixteen of their number presented a petition to be dismissed from her watch and care, in order to form themselves into a separate body, assigning as a reason why they wished to withdraw from her fellowship, that the church would not conform to their views of the matter, religious or political, accompanied with such demands and ultimatums, that out of self-respect and due regard to her obligations to the Great Head of the Church, she refused to grant their request.

    In the early part of the excitement, the church had explicitly defined her position, by passing a series of resolutions upon the subject of slavery, which are recorded in the following words:

    "Whereas, The subject of Slavery is one of deep and intrinsic importance to every Anglican Christian, and is now agitating the public mind throughout the land, we, as a church, feel it to be both our duty and privilege to make a public expression of our views in reference to it. Therefore

    "Resolved, That we consider the enslaving of one part of the human family by another, as a gross violation of the most precious and sacred rights of human nature---as utterly inconsistent with the law of God, which requires us to love our neighbor as ourselves---and totally irreconcilable with the spirit and principles of the gospel of Christ, which enjoins that 'All things whatsoever that ye would that men should do unto you, do ye even so to them.' Slavery, we believe creates a paradox in the moral system. It places rational, accountable and immortal beings in circumstances where they have not the power of moral action. It makes them dependent on the will of others, whether they shall receive religious instruction---whether they shall know and worship the true God---whether they shall enjoy the ordinances of the gospel---whether they shall perform the duties and cherish the endearments of husbands and wives, parents and children, neighbors and friends---whether they shall preserve their chastity and purity, or regard the dictates of justice and humanity. Such are some of the consequences and evils of slavery---consequences and evils not imaginary---not arising from an abuse of the institution, but which connect themselves with its very existence, and are inseparable from it. If, in any instances, the slave does not suffer all these evils, as we believe there are many, it is owing to the humanity of the master, rather than to any inherent righteousness in the system itself. The slave is deprived of his natural rights, degraded as a human being, liable to have inflicted upon him all the hardships and injuries which inhumanity and avarice may suggest. Such being the system of slavery, we regard it as a sin against God and man, and do feel it to be our duty to use our honest, earnest and unwearied endeavours in all suitable ways, to remove its evils from our land and throughout the world.

    "Resolved, That, holding as we do, that American Slavery is a sin against God and man, we cannot invite to our pulpit a minister who is actually a slaveholder, and approves of the system; nor invite to our communion an individual holding a like relation to the system.

    "Resolved, That, great as we believe the evils of slavery to be, and much and earnestly as we desire its removal, we do not believe that its evils would be mitigated, or its abolition hastened by gatherings for political effect on the Sabbath, and therefore we cannot approve or countenance gatherings for such purposes, on that sacred day.

    "Resolved, That, as a church, we do not feel called upon to express an opinion of any system of political action for the removal of slavery, believing, as we do, that its political bearings should be settled by us as citizens, in connection with our fellow citizens, and not as an ecclesiastical body."

    The church adopted these resolutions, with the expectation that they would satisfy all parties, and produce peace and concord among the brethren. In this they were disappointed. About forty withdrew, formed themselves into a separate body, thereby breaking the covenant by which they were bound to the Great Head of the Church and his people, erected a house of worship, labored with zeal to build themselves a place and a name, but to no purpose. They speedily ran down, sold their house, and are scattered, more or less, through the land, and generally remain isolated from all church relations, like sheep without a shepherd. Five only have returned, after the lapse of fourteen or fifteen years, to the bosom of the church, which they had repudiated.

    Rev. Archibald McDougal was installed February 14, 1854. Dismissed 1860.

    The church, at an early day, was accustomed to assemble all the children of its members, at the commencement of every new year, for the purpose of having close personal conversation with each, upon the subject of their souls' concern and future well being. They continued this practice until their increasing numbers rendered it impracticable, when Sabbath schools took their place. It was a general custom among them, to require their children to commit to memory the Assembly's Short Catechism. Nothing short of great accuracy in the answers would be accepted. With few exceptions, they entered, early in life, some branch of the vineyard of the Lord, and are useful members of the Church and State, an honor to their parents, honored and esteemed by the communities in which they reside.

    The present number of communicants, is one hundred and sixty five; and of Sabbath school scholars, one hundred and ten.


    The first Baptist Church was founded June 24, 1802. It consisted of twenty-four members, of whom, one only is now living. Their first house of worship was erected in 1818, east of Earlville, on the dividing ridge between the Chenango valley and the Handsome Brook, near the south line of the town of Hamilton. About 1836, they mutually agreed to divide and locate the church at Earlville.15 Those living in that vicinity continued their relations with the first church. Those on the east side were organized as the Second Baptist Church of Sherburne, Oct. 7, 1836, with twenty members. Their number increased to one hundred and fifteen in four years, and was then diminished in one year, by emigration, to sixty-five. They now number eighty-seven.

    They erected their house of worship, in the village, in 1837, at the cost of about $2.300.


    The Methodist Church was organized in the village of Sherburne, March 12, 1839, by Rev. James P. Backus and Ebenezer Colson. They built their house of worship in 1840. They now number eighty-three members.


    The Free Communion Baptist Church, was organized as a branch of the Plainfield Church, Feb. 8, 1809, by Elder Strait, Deacons Fuller and Crumb, jr., and Messrs. Spicer, Fitch and other brethren. They chose Elder Strait their pastor, and Ephraim Mowry church-clerk. They received, on that occasion, eighteen into their fellowship by baptism. From this time they had a succession of pastors, and frequent additions were made until 1819, when, by mutual consent, a council of ministers and delegates, from churches in their connection, was called to dissolve their relations with the parent church. This council consisted of Elder William Hunt, from Plainfield; Elder Benjamin Rowland, Exeter; Elder Easterbrooks, Brookfield; Deacon William Phelps, New Berlin; and Deacon Hart, from Plymouth. They met at the school-house, near Stephen Tillotson's, on the 2d day of June, 1819. Elder William Hunt was chosen moderator, and Royal Bryant clerk. The council after due consideration, organized them into a separate church, which contained forty-eight members. Elder Hunt gave the solemn charge, Elder Easterbrooks the right hand of fellowship, and Elder Rowland made the concluding prayer. Stephen Tillotson and Stephen Tinker were Deacons, Robert Dart church clerk.

    About this time, Elder Benjamin Rowland, was chosen pastor, and occupied the pulpit seventeen years. During his ministry, there were frequent revivals. In 1820, there were fifty-five added to the church. Occasional additions were made from year to year, until 1831, when there was another revival, and sixty-seven were added.

    About this time, they obtained a charter from the Legislature, and were incorporated Free Communion Baptists of the State of New York. They erected a house of worship, at the cost of about $500.

    From 1831, the church continued to prosper---revivals were frequent, and large accessions were made. Deaths, exclusions and emigrations, have reduced their number at present, to about one hundred. Elder Rowland's successors, in the pastoral office, were: Elders Lotheridge, Mathers, Brown, Clark, Russel, Gardner, Moore, Cook, Lewis, and J. M. Darling, who is the present pastor.

    Two of their members have become preachers of the gospel, viz.: William Lothridge, ordained July 9, 1831; and Daniel Mather, in 1837.


    The Episcopalians were organized into a church, by the Rev. Russel Wheeler, ia name ="ras2

    Its first male Members, were---Thomas Kershaw, H. N. Fargo, Amasa Skinner, Asa Foote, Ezra Griffin.

    First Wardens.---Thomas Kershaw, H. N. Fargo.

    First Vestry.---Amasa Skinner, Alexander Holmes, Reuben Davis, Elijah E. Merrill, Peter J. Davison, Wm. Rees, Asa Foote.

    Their first Rector was the Rev. Edward Andrews, who was engaged to officiate one fourth of the time, for one year, from the first of Sept., 1828.

    They erected their church edifice in 1831, at the cost of about $2.500, including the bell.16

    In 1832, Bishop Onderdonk made them their first parochial visit, and confirmed thirty-six.

    In 1832, the Rev. John W. Woodward, supplied the parish one half of the time. In August of the same year, the Rev. Liberty A. Barrows was employed as Rector, one half of the time. By a subsequent arrangement, he continued to serve the parish until 1838, when he resigned. In January, 1838, the Rev. Thomas J. Ruger, succeeded him, and occupied the pulpit six months. In June, 1839, the Rev. Thomas Towel, filled the vacancy. In Feb., 1842, the Rev. Liberty A. Barrows was recalled, and continued until 1846, when he resigned. In May of the same year, the Rev. W. D. Wilson was chosen Rector, and continued the same until 1850. On the 8th of May, that year, the Rev. Levi H. Corson was chosen Rector. During his ministry, on the 19th June, 1850, the records of the church and society were burnt, and the above minutes were collected by him, from the best information that could be obtained. May 8, 1854, he resigned. The Rev. Thomas Applegate succeeded in July, 1854. He resigned Oct. 1, 1855. Rev. G. L. Foote became Rector, April 1, 1856, and continued until April, 1858. May, 1858, the Rev. Joshua L. Burrows became Rector, and still officiates as their pastor.

    In 1858, their church communicants numbered seventy. The number of families belonging to their society was fifty-eight, containing one hundred and thirty adults, and fifty children; in all one hundred and eighty. Sabbath school pupils thirty. Moneys raised for missionary and benevolent objects $131 60.



    The Universalist Society of Sherburne, was organized on the 25th day of August, 1849, by the friends of the cause, who met at the brick school-house, situated east of the Academy, in the village of Sherburne, which building was previously purchased by them, to be used as a place of public worship. The meeting was organized, by appointing the Rev. James S. Sherburne, as Moderator, and Isaac Plumb, as Secretary. The Rev. Alfred Peck, offered a prayer; and a Constitution for the government of the society, was presented by the Rev. C. L. Shipman, for consideration, which was adopted. Alberto Sabin, Naham Starr and Luther N. Murdock, were elected Trustees; and Elijah S. Lyman, was elected Secretary. Rev. James S. Sherburne, Naham Starr, Richmond White, Alfred Sabin, Alberto Savin, Elijah S. Lyman, William C. White, Luther N. Murdock, and Isaac Plumb, were present and participated in the proceedings of the meeting.

    The society held religious services at this house, until the year 1856, when they purchased the meeting-house in the village of Sherburne, known as the Free Church, a neat and commodious building, which they still occupy for religious worship.


    After the completion of the Chenango Canal, a number of foreigners, chiefly Irish, remained in the town. They were soon organized into a church, professing the Roman Catholic faith.

    In 1858, they purchased the house belonging to the First Congregational Church and Society of Sherburne, and have preaching once in two or three weeks. If I am rightfully informed, there is not an American born citizen, except their own children, united with them. It appears to be the policy of their Priests, to keep them isolated as much as possible, from all religious or educational intercourse with the Protestant community.


    Josiah Lathrop was one of the original proprietors of the south-west quarter; and was three years in the service of his country, during the Revolution. He and Joel Hatch were the last survivors of that band of pioneers. It was a curious coincidence that their birth days should be the same day and month, the 29th of August, although Mr. L. was seven years the senior. It was their custom to meet at each other's houses, alternately on that day, and have a social visit with each other, and their offspring, to the fourth generation. It was a grand sight to behold these venerable men, "o'er whose grey locks four score and ten winters had shed their frosts and snows," sit side by side, and recount the reminiscences of the past. They had seen sixty winters pass over the valley, since their first arrival, and now found themselves the only survivors of all their compeers. Together they had gone through the trials and vicissitudes of their country, "in the times that tried men's souls." They could contrast the present with the day they first beheld the Valley of Chenango in its primitive glory, when it was only the residence of the roving Indian, the wild bear, the prowling wolf, and the bounding deer. When with slow and steady perseverance of the ax, swung by their own arm, they beheld, one after another, the trees of the forest fall, crashing to the ground. Now, in their stead, the expanded landscape, dotted with comfortable dwellings, surrounded by lawns of luxuriant grass, and fields of waving grain, spreads itself out before them. With hearts overflowing with joy and gratitude, they saw temples erected to the living God, filled with worshipers from Sabbath to Sabbath---flourishing schools around them---prosperity and internal improvements exceeding their most sanguine anticipations. Every bosom would swell with grateful emotion towards them and their associates, for all the toils and hardships which they encountered in laying the foundation for these results: all would be disposed to honor them, not only as soldiers of the Revolution, but as soldiers of the Cross---to regard them not merely as aged citizens, but as sages "whose words were words of wisdom, which it would be safe to follow."

    These fathers, and the greater portion of the early settlers with them, have gone the way of all the earth. The last of this band was Joel Hatch, who survived Mr. Lathrop, about one year; and was one of the first to explore and settle in this town, and the last to leave it. He died March 26, 1855, in the 91st year of his age.


    What people have received a greater legacy from their forefathers, than the people of Sherburne? The boon of freedom, from tyrany and oppression, almost every one of the original, and many of the early settlers with them, were personally active in obtaining, which, together with the beautiful landscape that adorns the banks of the Chenango, as a well watered garden, and was made such by the sweat of their brow, they have bequeathed to us. These organized churches, religious and literary institutions, so prominent in our midst, after being watered by their tears, and nourished by their prayers, they have handed over into our hands for safe keeping. May we ever have their names in grateful remembrance, imitating their virtues, and transmitting this inheritance unimpaired to our posterity.

7 - Mr. Austin was compromised by Shay'' Rebellion in Massachusetts, and was taken and sentenced to be hung. While confined in prison at Springfield, Mass., his wife came the night before he was to have been executed, to make a farewell visit. She exchanged her cloak and hood with him, and in the evening twilight called to the keeper to be released. Her husband walked out unsuspected and made his escape. She remained quiet until he had time to get beyond danger of being recaptured, when she called again to be released. The jailor, finding he had no legal authority to detain her, she was allowed to depart. Mrs. Austin lived in town an honored and respected widow thirty years or more. She always maintained a modest reserve when any allusion was made to the above transaction.
8 - Amelia, daughter of Wm. Newton.
9 - John H. Lathrop, Chancellor of the University of Wisconsin; Hubert A. Newton, Professor of Mathematics, Yale College.
10 - Author of "Benedict's Treatise.
11 - Ontario, at the nearest point, is 80 or 90 miles north-west.
12 - Since writing the above, Mr. Benjamin Church has informed me, that while passing through a piece of woods, one and a half miles east of the village, at a late hour one moon-light winter's evening, he distinctly saw a panther in the path directly before him, reared upon his hind legs. By swinging his hat, and giving as shrill a shout as he could, he so frightened the animal, that he gave a sudden spring, and disappeared in the woods. His first leap was found by measurement the next day to have been twenty feet.
13 - Asa Northrop.
14 - Hotchkin's History.
15 - They sold their house to Henry Waters of Earlville, who removed it to the bank of the Chenango Canal, where it was converted into a store-house. Some years after, the conversation among a party of young men, turning upon the singular and quaint variety of articles with which Mr. Waters had surrounded himself, one of the number offered to bet that no one could inquire for anything in his store, which he could not produce. Another accepted the wager---revolving in his mind what impossible article of merchandise should save the stake---"Have you any pulpits for sale, sir?" Mr. W. promptly led him to an out building, where, in the midst of kindred rubbish, he displayed to the astonished youth, and his intensely amused companions, the article inquired for, standing entire.
16 - Trinity Church, in New York, contributed 500 dollars; John Watts, of New York, (a large land-holder in the north-east quarter,) $500; Amasa Skinner, Thomas Kershaw, and H. N. Fargo, each $100, and other smaller sums, according to their several abilities.
17 - Communicated by Isaac Plumb, Esq.
Transcribed by Mary G. Hafler
December 2003 - January 2004
Town of Sherburne
Reminiscences, anecdotes and statistics
Chenango Co, NY
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