M A D I S O N     C O U N T Y .



Early Civil Divisions---Formation of Madison County---Derivation of Name---Topography of the County---Table Showing the Comparative Amount of Improved Land in the Various Towns in 1823 and 1875---Waters of the County---Climatology---Soils---Productions and Industries---Comparative Statistics of the Agricultural Productions of the County and Towns from the Census of 1875.

Some of the earlier civil divisions which preceded and affected the organization of Madison county have already been noticed in Chapter VII. This county embraces the major portion of that part of Herkimer county which entered into the formation of Chenango county, and was formed from the latter county, March 21, 1806. It was enlarged in 1836 by the annexation of that part of the town of Stockbridge which lies east of Oneida creek. Its name perpetuates the memory of President James Madison. It is an interior county, lying in the central part of the State, and is centrally distant ninety-eight miles from Albany. It is bounded on the north by Oneida Lake and Oneida county, on the south by Chenango county, on the east by Oneida and Otsego counties, and on the west on Onondaga and Cortland counties. Its area is 392,290 acres.1    It is geographically situated between 42° 45' and 43° 12' north latitude, and 1° 5' and 1° 28' east longitude. Its greatest length from north to south is about thirty-two miles; and width, from east to west about thirty-five miles. 2

    On its formation Madison county contained only five towns, vis: Brookfield, Cazenovia, DeRuyter, Hamilton and Sullivan. Each then covered a large area, and from nearly the same territory nine towns have since been erected. Five of the latter were formed the year following the organization of the county.

    It presents a diversified surface. In the north it is low and level, much of the land bordering Oneida Lake being swampy. The central portion forms the water-shed between the streams flowing north to Oneida Lake and south to the Susquehanna river. The southern portion, though less elevated, and broken, is hilly and forms a part of the system of highlands which characterize Central New York. The hills generally have rounded outlines and steep declivities; their highest summits range from five hundred to eight hundred feed above the valleys, and from nine hundred to twelve hundred feet above tide.

    The streams, though small, are numerous, and some of them, especially Chittenango creek, furnish valuable hydraulic properties. The Chenango, Tioughnioga and Unadilla rivers are the most considerable streams affecting the county, though little more than the headwaters of the two former streams lie in the county, and the latter only skirts the east border of the town of Brookfield. These and their numerous small tributaries, the principal of which are Beaver creek in Brookfield, and the headwaters of Otselic creek in Georgetown, drain the southern half of the county. The principal streams flowing north are Chittenango,3 Oneida, Canasaraga,4 Canastota5 and Cowaselon6 creeks, all of which empty into Oneida lake. The Chittenango rises in the highlands of Fenner, Nelson and Smithville, and flows in a circuitous course through Cazenovia and Sullivan, forming for a few miles before it empties into Oneida lake, a part of the west boundary of the latter town. It presents in its course some rare scenes of romantic beauty, and is altogether the most important stream in the county for hydraulic purposes. Between Cazenovia and Chittenango it possesses as convenient and uniform a water power as exists in the State. Every portion of this distance of 8 1/4 miles may be conveniently used for hydraulic purposes. The descent is somewhat more than 740 feet, with one perpendicular fall of 134 feet. Oneida creek forms a portion of the east boundary of the county. It rises in Eaton and Smithfield, and in its upper course furnishes some good mill sites. It flows through an exceedingly rich and fertile valley, which was a favorite resort of the Oneidas. The other streams named are mostly confined to the two northernmost towns in the county. Oneida lake is about twenty miles long and forms the entire north boundary of Lenox and Sullivan. It discharges its waters at the west and by the Oneida and Oswego rivers into Lake Ontario. It abounds with fish of various kinds and is much frequented by the lovers of psicatory sports. Cazenovia Lake,7 the only considerable inland body of water in the county, is a beautiful sheet of water, and since it has been made more accessible by the opening of the Chenango Valley Railroad, it is becoming more and more a popular resort for pleasure, picnic and excursion parties. It is four and one-half miles long from north to south, and from a half mile to a mile wide. It discharges its waters into Chittenango creek. It occupies an elevated basin, and is nine hundred feet above tidewater. There are several ponds in the southern part of the county, which are utilized as reservoirs for the Chenango Canal, or were before that avenue was abandoned.

    What is said in Chapter VII, upon the climatology of Chenango county, applies with almost equal force to this county, as the same agencies which operate there are at work here with only slight modifications. The difference in the character of the agricultural productions is determined less by climatic influences than by the constituent elements of the soil, which corresponds with the underlying rocks, affected somewhat by the alluvion which may blend with it. The four northern towns-Sullivan, Lenox, Fenner and Smithfield-have loamy soils, compounded with clay and sand, in which great quantities of muck and marl abound in the swampy regions and calcareous gravel upon the northern declivities of the hills. These are admirably adapted for and produce vast quantities of wheat.8    The soil of the southern towns, in which clay predominates, intermixed with gravel and shale upon the hills and gravel and alluvion in the valleys, is better adapted and more suitably employed in the production of grass. Some portions of the county are subject to premature frosts, but summer crops generally thrive well in the south.

    Hops are the staple production of the county; and the culture of these, together with dairying and stock raising are the leading pursuits of the people. Manufacturing is mainly confined to the principal villages, and that is rapidly diminishing in extent and importance if the census of 1875 is to be relied upon. The number of manufacturing establishments from which returns were received in 1870 was 736, while in 1875 it was reduced to 494, a difference of 242, or a decrease of more than thirty-two per cent. In its staple production this county ranks as second in the State. The hop crop of the State in 1874 amounted to 13,846,065 pounds, of which Madison county raised 2,670,457 pounds. Oneida, the only county which exceeded this production, raised 3,101,958 pounds. Otsego county, which ranked next to Madison, produced only 1,976,623 pounds.

    The dairy interests of the county are by no means unimportant. The milk is more extensively sent to the factory than in Chenango county. The county ranked as fourth in the State in the number of factories, which, in 1874, was 78; fifth in the amount of capital employed in factory dairying---$175,850; sixth in the average number of cows whose milk was sent to factories---19,021; fifth in the average number of patrons---1,446; sixth in the quantity of milk used in factories during the season of 1874---60,479,439 pounds; seventh in the quantity of full cream cheese made in factories---4,662,682 pounds; third in the quantity of skimmed milk cheese---939,375 pounds; and fourth in the quantity of butter made in factories---334,228 pounds. It ranks only twenty-seventh in the number of pounds of butter made in families in 1874, and seventeenth in the number of pounds of cheese made in families. Of the former, 1,543,040 pounds were made, and the latter, 126,489. The tendency to patronize factories increases. The number of cows whose mile was sent to factories in 1874 was 23,302, and in 1875 24,425.

    Madison county lies upon the south border of the wheat producing region of this State, and the fertility of its soil with respect to this crop has increased. The average yield per acre in 1845 was fourteen bushels;9 while in 1874 it was 16.43, exceeding the State average, which was 16.16. Of the other great staple productions ---hay, oats and corn---Madison county ranked as follows: fourth in hay, of which 1.229 tons were yielded to the acre, the State average being 1.13, and the highest average, in Herkimer county, 1.35; fifteenth in oats, of which 32.08 bushels were yielded to the acre, the State average being 28.59; and the highest average, in Monroe county, 36.97; and thirty-third in corn, of which 31.96 bushels were yielded to the acre, the State average being 32.33, and the highest average, in Yates county, 47.82, while the lowest average in Lewis county, was 26.71. In barley it ranked fifth, yielding 25.43 bushels to the acre, the State average being 22.83, and the highest average, in Saratoga county, 32.87; in buckwheat, twenty-seventy, yielding 15.95 bushels to the acre, the State average being 15.14, and the highest average, in Steuben county, 19.99; in rye, thirty-third, yielding 11.79 bushels to the acre, the State average being 11.82, the highest average, in Herkimer county, 21.63, and the lowest, in Franklin county, 11.12; in potatoes tenth, yielding 122.68 bushels per acre, the State average 102.22, and the highest average, in Kings Co., 153.64. The ratio of milch cows to the acreage of improved land, June 1 1875, was 11.33, the State average being 8.44, and the highest average, in Herkimer county, 14.89, Madison ranking as eleventh. It ranked as forth-third, the lowest, in the average yield per cow of dairy products in 1874, estimated in pounds of butter, its average being 105, that of the State, 124, the highest, Orange county, 172.10    In its wool product it ranked ninth, the average weight of fleece in 1875 being 5.21 pounds, while that of the State was 4.90, and the highest, in Ontario county, 5.99. The average yield of spring wheat per acre in 1874 was 12.76 bushels, while that of the State was 12.19, and of the highest, Kings county, 45; of hops, 524.54 pounds, while that of the State was 489.64, and the highest, Cattaraugus county, 826.46. In the former it ranked fifteenth, and in the latter sixteenth, though those counties which exceeded it in the latter, with the exception of Franklin, Oneida and Ontario, had a comparatively very small acreage.

    In the production of hay, Lenox takes the lead, as compared with other towns in the county. Brookfield and Sullivan closely approximate it, and Cazenovia, and Eaton also exceed the general average, which is 9,504 tons per town. Lenox also takes the lead in the production of barley, far exceeding any other town in the county, and more than trebling the general average per town, which is 5,145 bushels; Cazenovia, Fenner, Nelson, Smithfield and Stockbridge exceed the general average. Fenner takes the lead in the production of buckwheat, more than doubling the average, which is 2,122 bushels per ton; Brookfield, Cazenovia, Lenox, Nelson and Sullivan exceed the average. Lenox takes the lead in Indian corn, nearly trebling the average---23,312---which is exceeded by Brookfield, Cazenovia, Eaton, Madison, Stockbridge and Sullivan. Lenox takes the lead in the production of oats and closely approximated by Sullivan; Brookfield and Cazenovia are the only other towns which exceed the average, which is 65,525 bushels. Fenner most nearly approximates it, producing 61,706 bushels. The production of the other towns ranges from 27,939 in Georgetown to 50,826 in Nelson, all except Georgetown and DeRuyter closely approximating the latter number. The rye product of the county was light, Lenox taking the lead with 2, 031 bushels, closely followed by Sullivan, which produced 1,747 bushels. Cazenovia, Eaton, Fenner, Georgetown, Madison and Stockbridge did not produce any, and the other towns varied from 8 to 105 bushels. Fenner took the lead in spring wheat, producing 3,129 bushels. Cazenovia, Lenox, Nelson, Stockbridge and Sullivan exceeded the average---1,252---which Lenox and Sullivan more than doubled, and which Smithfield lacked only sixteen in reaching. Lenox produced the greatest quantity of winter wheat---34,029 bushels, which was closely approached by the product of Sullivan---29,078 bushels. Cazenovia and Stockbridge were then only other towns which exceeded the average---7,487½ bushels. Georgetown was the only town which did not produce any. Madison took the lead in hops, producing 757,547 pounds. Only four other towns, Brookfield, Eaton, Lenox and Stockbridge, produced the average quantity---190,747 pounds. All the towns produced some, the least, 17,952 pounds, being raised in Fenner. All the towns produced potatoes in great abundance, Brookfield taking the lead with 72,078 bushels, closely followed by Lenox with 70,575 bushels. The smallest crop, 16,200 bushels, was produced in Smithfield. Cazenovia and Sullivan were the only other towns which exceeded the average, 41,545, the production of the other towns, except Stockbridge, being quite uniform. Sullivan produced 43,846 pounds of tobacco, nearly the entire crop of the county, which was 52,851. Only three other towns, Cazenovia, Lebanon and Lenox, produced any, and the latter town produced more than three-fourths of the residue.

    The apple crop is common to and abundant in all the towns. Lenox took the lead, producing 70,718 bushels, more than double the quantity produced any other town in the county, except Sullivan, which raised 46,613 bushels, and nearly three times the average for the county, which was 25,824½ bushels, and was exceeded only by Eaton, Madison and Stockbridge, in addition to the other towns named. The smallest quantity, 8,165 bushels, was raised in Georgetown. Grapes are raised only in moderate quantities, the production in most of the towns being quite limited. Lenox raised 7,527 pounds, which was nearly a third of the product of the county. Stockbridge raised 6,150 pounds and Sullivan, 6,915. Georgetown, Madison and Nelson were the only towns which did not raise any. Maple sugar was a common and valuable production, Nelson taking the lead in the production of 21,990 pounds. DeRuyter and Georgetown each exceeded 20,000 pounds, while Brookfield, Cazenovia, Eaton and Lebanon exceeded the average, 10,501 pounds. The smallest quantity---1,077 pounds---was made in Lenox.

    Brookfield took the lead in the average number of milch cows kept in 1875, the number being 4,034. Cazenovia, Eaton, Lebanon, Lenox, Nelson and Sullivan exceeded the average per town---2,443; while the lowest number kept in any town was 1,498, the number in both DeRuyter and Smithfield. With the exception of DeRuyter, Georgetown and Madison, all the towns sent milk to factories in 1875 from an increased number of cows as compared with 1874. Brookfield sent from the greatest number, 3,356, and Georgetown the least number, 70. The next lowest was 1,107---DeRuyter. All the other towns, except Fenner, Hamilton, Madison, Smithfield and Stockbridge, exceeded the average per town---1,744. Lenox took the lead in the quantity of butter made in families in 1874. It produced 156,775 pounds, which was closely approximated by Madison, which made 156,150 pounds. All the towns, except DeRuyter, Eaton, Fenner, Georgetown, Smithfield and Stockbridge, exceeded the average product, which was 110,217 pounds. Smithfield made the smallest amount, 53,175 pounds. Lenox also sold 30,164 gallons of milk in the market, nearly half the quantity thus sold in the county, and largely exceeding the sale of any other town. Fenner took the lead in the quantity of cheese made in families during the same year, making 21,400 pounds. Brookfield, Cazenovia, Eaton, Hamilton, Lenox and Nelson exceeded the average product, 9,035 pounds. The least quantity, 653 pounds, was made in Madison. All the towns made more or less of both butter and cheese.

1 - Census of 1875. According to French's State Gazetteer it is 428,800, (670 square miles;) according to Mather and Brockett's Geographical History of New York, 372,480 (582 square miles;) while according to Spafford's Gazetteer of 1824, it was 394,240 before the annexation of 1836.
2 - The subjoined table shows the number of acres of improved land in each town in 1823 and 1875:---


3 - Meaning "waters divide and run north." Seaver, in The Life of Mary Femison," says it is a corruption of the Oneida word, "Chu-de-naany," signifying "where the sun shines out." Hough's Gazetteer of the State of New York.
4 - Meaning "Big Elkshorn." Seaver gives the name "Ka-na-so-wa-ga," signifying "several strings of beads with a string lying across." ---Ibid.
5 - "Ka-ne-to-ta," signifying, according to French's Gazetteer of the State of New York, "Big Pine," and according to Hough's "pine tree standing alone."
6 - Meaning, "Weeping Squaw."
7 - This lake is variously known as Cazenovia and Owahgena Lake, but more commonly by the former name, which corresponds with the beautiful village upon its borders and the town in which it is located. The latter is the Indian name, and is written by Spafford and others, "Hawgena." Spafford, in his Gazetteer of 1824, says "it is more properly called Lincklaen Lake."
8 - The composition of the wheat district in Madison county is shown by the following result of an analysis by Ebenezer Emmons, M.D., of 100 grains of soil of the red shale near Canastota and mostly derived from it:---

Water of absorption ………..…………….1.50
Organic matter ………..………………….2.50
Silex ……………………..……………….80.00
Peroxide of iron and alumina …….……......8.12
Carbonate of lime ………………………...2.17
Magnesia ………………………………….0.12
Phosphate of alumina ……………………...0.50

    Total 99.91

    There is a loss of lime and magnesia in the disintegration. The analysis of soil resting upon limestone gives less lime than that resting upon slate.

9 - Natural History of New York, Part V. Agriculture, Ebenezer Emmons, M.D., which also says that in 1845, Daniel Gates, of Madison, who raised 44 bushels of wheat to the acre, made application to the State Agricultural Society for a premium. The first premium that year was awarded to Edward Rivington, of Vernon, Oneida county, who raised 110 bushels and 20 pounds on two acres, the average per acre being 55 10/16.
10 - See foot note page 76.

Transcribed by Dot Raymer
March - November, 2005
Tim Stowell - April, 2006
If you have resources for Madison County or would like to volunteer to help with look-ups, please e-mail Tim Stowell
1880 History
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