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The Town of Adams
pp. 71-79


Was formed from Mexico, embracing townships No. 7 and 8, on the 1st of April, 1802, the first town meeting being held at the house of Eliphalet Edmonds. The town derived its name from president John Adams.

Notes from the town records. -- Wolf bounties of $5 were offered in 1803; of $10 from 1804 to 1814; of $15 in 1815. In the latter year a bounty of $10 was offered for wild cats, and $1 for foxes. A special meeting was held December 20th, 1815, and these bounties were rescinded. In 1818, a wolf bounty of $10 was offered. Panther bounties of $10 offered in 1811, 1813.

On 1822-3, the poor upon the town were voted to be sold at auction, to the lowest bidder. In 1823, the town voted against adopting the poor house, and house of industry, recommended by the supervisors. In 1812, a penalty of $5 voted for allowing Canada thistles to go to seed. At a special town meeting, passed November 29th, 1842, the sum of $500 was voted for repairing the state road from Rome to Sackett’s Harbor in the towns of Redfield and Boylston.

At the first town meeting of Adams, held March 1, 1803 the following town officers were elected: Nicholas Salisbury, supervisor; Phineas Keith, clerk; D’Estaing Salisbury, John W. Smith, David Grommon, Jr., Thomas White, assessors; Isaac Baker, collector; Thomas White, David Comstock, overseers of the poor; Paul Stickney, Jacob Kellogg, Simeon Hunt, commissioners of highways; Isaac Baker and Anson Moody, constables; Daniel Comstock, David Smith, George H. Thomas, George Cooper, fence viewers; Jacob Kellogg, Benjamin Thomas, pound keepers; Abraham Ripley, James Perry, Enan Salisbury, John Cowles, Consider Law, Solomon Robbins, Hezekiah Tiffany, Thomas White, Daniel Mansfield, Asa Davis, Squire Read, Abel Palmer, overseers of highways; David Comstock, Simeon Hunt, deer reeves.

Supervisors. 1803-1812, Nicholas Salisbury; 1813, Jacob Kellogg; 1814,17, N. Salisbury; 1818-20, Elipalet Edmonds; 1821-16, Wm. Hart; 1827-28, Isaac Baker; 1829-30, Cyrus Eddy; 1831, Chauncey Baker; 1821, Isaac Baker; 1833, Cyrus Eddy; 1834, Wells Benton; 1835, David J. M. Howard; 1836, Isaac Baker; 1837, Samuel Bond; 1838, D. J. M. Howard; 1839-40, John H. Whipple; 1841, Robert B. Doxtater; 1842-43, Rufus Herick; 1844, Abram Sheldon; 1845-47, Joseph L. Green; 1848, Charles Potter; 1849-52, John C. Cooper; 1853, Joseph C. Green.

Adams, or No. 7, fell to the share of Nicholas Low, in the subdivision of the eleven towns, by ballot, and was surveyed by Benjamin Wright in 1796, into 56 lots, numbered from west to east, and from north to south, commencing near Henderson Bay, and ending on the line of Lorraine. Mr. Wright complained of local attractions, that rendered it impossible to run straight lines. The lots varied in contents from 240 acres to 676 acres, and the whole made an aggregate of 26,505 acres.

In June, 1799, a company consisting of Nicholas Salisbury, Robert Fulton, Caleb Ellis and son Daniel, Joel Guile, Abram Wilcox, John and Gideon Howard, and Elihu Phillips, followed up the creek from Ellisburgh, through this town and Rodman, and the former was so struck with the probable fertility and value of the town that he went to New York the same fall, and purchased a tract one mile below the village. About a dozen, whose names are given in the following list, took up lands the same fall. This list is taken from the land books of Nicholas Low, in the hands of I. W. Bostwick, Esq., of Lowville the agent under whom the town as mostly settled. 1798, Elisha Phillips; 1799, Oct. 29, Stephen Shippey, Enon D’Estaing, Nicholas and Alex. Salisbury, Solomon Smith, Daniel Comstock, David Smith, Abram Ripley and Jonathan Cable; Nov. 6, Eliph’t Edmonds, Alexander Dewey; Nov. 14, Geo. Cooper, Jehoida Page, Solomon Truman, John W. Smith, Francis McKee, Robert Myrick; Dec. 1, Squier (sic) Read, Daniel Fox, Zaccheus Walworth; 1800, Josiah Godfrey, Jenks Seaman, Simeon Forbes, Ebenezer Lazell, David and Stephen Grummons, Isaac Baker, Samuel Fox, Geo. Houseman, Peter Dockstader (sic), Paul Stickney, Elias Avery, James McCumber, Russell Smith, Eben’r Brown, Amos Claflin, Joshua Comstock, Matthew Wilkie, Consider Law. In 1801, Abijah Miller, John Freeman, Josiah Godfrey, Daniel Talcott, Hezekiah Tiffany, Joseph Cook, Phineas Rose, Robert, Solomon and Asher Robbins, Simeon Meacham, Timothy Pond, Barnabas Wellman, Wm. Thomas, Abel Hart, Henry H. Walrodh, Chauncey and Roswell Mills. In 1802, Nathan Loveland, Cornelius Hinds, Sylvanus P. Daggart, Abel Loveland, Roswell Taylor, Roswell Coe, John Richard, David Higgens, Aaron Farr, John C. Toll, John C. Scott, James Streeter, John Kudder, Joseph Landon. In 1803, Truman and Theodore Bunce, John Jones, John Wentworth, Sylvanus Barney, James Randolph, D. G. M. Gaylord, James Henderson, Thomas James, Absalom Price, David Gardner. In 1804, Job Taylor, Eliphalet Adams, Abel Myrick. Darius Markham, John C. Dickinson, John Weaver, Aaron Webster, and subsequently many others. Although in the fall of 1799, many parties were in looking for lands, yet no settlement was made until April 16, 1800, when Nicholas Salisbury* (*Mr. S. died in town, Dec. 11, 1824, aged 71) from Western, N. Y. found his way into town through Lowville, by a tedious journey of 26 days, bringing with an ox team and sled, his family and goods, fording the streams with great peril, and camping at night wherever necessity compelled them. Solomon Smith and son accompanied, as hired men. John Smith, Francis McKee, Consider Law, David Smith, Peter Doxtater* (Mr. D. was born at German Flats; was taken prisoner by the Indians, and kept three years; served in the revolution, and died at Adams, Dec. 1, 1842, aged 92. Congress in 1834, granted him a pension.) and others, several with families, came into town, and begun small clearings, mostly in the valley of Sandy Creek. The terms of purchase were $3 per acre, and an obligation to clear two acres, and built a house within a certain time. A tract of 500 acres, where Adams village now is, was taken up by David Smith, (Mr. Smith died March 18, 1844, aged 73.) who in 1800, built and got in operation a saw mill, and the same season witnessed the arrival of numerous settlers, mostly from Oneida County. Those on foot, came by way of Redfield, but this route was then impassable for teams. The first acre of clearing was cut in May and June, 1800, by Samuel Fox, three miles above the village. Mr. David Smith, where Adams Village now is, in 1801 or 1802, got in operation a very small grist mill, that superseded the stump mortars of the first season, and relieved the settlers from the long and tedious journeys to Coffeen’s Mill in Rutland, or voyages in open boats from the mouth of Sandy Creek to Kingston. From the first prominent settler at the village, the place acquired and long retained the name of Smith’s Mills, by which it is still sometimes known by the old inhabitants. In 1801, Jacob Kellogg, John Cole, and many others, moved in, and in the second or third following years, a flood of immigration soon filled up the town, which every where presented small patches of clearing, rude huts, blind paths through the forest, destined to become roads, and from every side echoed the woodman’s axe, that gradually prepared the way for cultivation.

The first deeds of land to actual settlers, were given Aug. 20, 1802, to George Houseman, Peter Doxtater, Francis McKie (sic), Robert Myrick, and David Smith.

In 1802, a bridge was built near Smith’s Mill, which has been swept off several times by the floods to which Sandy Creek is peculiarly liable, and their maintenance has cost the town considerable expense. A tax of $500, upon the town of Adams was authorized April 13, 1839, for the purpose of building a bridge across the north branch of Big Sandy Creek at the village. The first death in town, was that of Alexander Salisbury, who was drowned, March 21, 1801, while attempting to cross the creek above the dam, in a scow. The first marriage is said to have been his widow, to Daniel Ellis, June 8, 1802. In 1803, schools were begun at Smith’s mills. The first innkeeper in town, was Abel Hart; the first merchant, Jesse Hale.

On the first occasion in which the services of a physician were needed, in the winter of 1801-2, C. Smith went on snow shoes to Western Oneida County 25 miles, through a forest, and returned the second day. This mode of communication was common from necessity at that period. Dr. Green is said to have been the first physician who settled in town. Dr. Eli Eastman, located at an early day and resided till his death, Sept. 6, 1844, aged 77. The early history of this town presents few incidents worthy of special notice. During the war a company of Silver Grays, or old men not liable to military duty, and mostly revolutionary patriots, was formed in town, and once or twice repaired to Sackets Harbor, but were never taken into the service of government. In 1828, the sickness which prevailed so extensively in the vicinity of the lake, extended to this town, and proved very severe. Great numbers were attacked and many died. The location of David Smith, gradually became the centre of business, and has become one of the largest and neatest villages in the county. Adams Village is located mostly on the north bank of North Sandy Creek, near the south line of the town, and contains a bank, a weekly newspaper, churches of the Presbyterian, Methodist, Baptist, and Episcopal orders, and for thrift, enterprise and progress, will compare favorably with most villages in the state. A visible impulse has been given to it by the rail road, which here receives and discharges a large amount of freight for this and the adjoining towns. The water power of the village is adequate for its ordinary wants, and the surrounding country is remarkably fertile and well cultivated. The village was incorporated under the general act, by the court of sessions, Nov. 11, 1851, and confirmed by a vote of 79 to 51, on the 19th of Dec. in the same year. The village plat includes 812 acres. An attempt had been made in 1823, to obtain an act of incorporation, but failed; the notice of application was signed by Elihu Morton, David Smith, Benjamin Wright, and John Burch. The trustees of the village have been: Feb. 1852, John H. Whipple, Samuel Bond, Calvin Skinner, Calvin R. Totman, and Wells Benton. March 1852, Jeremiah Grisworld (sic), J. H. Whipple, C. Skinner, C. R. Totman, W. Benton, March 1853, Thomas P. Saunders, J. H. Whipple, Justice Eddy, Wm. Grenell, Julius K. Bartlet.

On the 27th of May 1852, the village was divided into five wards, and a code of by laws adopted. A fire company was formed, May 24, 1853. About twenty-five years since, an effort was made towards establishing a female seminary here, of which Mr. Thomas C. Chittenden was one of the most active promoters. A small academic building was subsequently erected by individual enterprise, and the aid of Universalists, who stipulated the right of holding meetings in it on the sabbath. The building has since been generally used for private schools, under the name of the Adams Seminary, and is now occupied as a session room by the Presbyterian Society. The project of found an academy at this place, has lately come up for discussion.

The Adams Library was formed April 12, 1831, with Cyrus Eddy, Wm. Chittenden, Walter Webb, Forester Dexter, and Wells Benton, trustees. It has long since been dissolved.

A Rural Cemetery Association was formed under the general act, Jan. 17, 1848, of 33 citizens, who have laid out a neat and quiet lot, for the purpose, near the village.

Adams Centre, ten miles by rail road from Watertown, and 3˝ from Adams Village, is situated on the upper lake ridge, which extends many miles southward and around into the Black River Valley. Its first growth as a village commenced in 1818, and since the location of the rail road it has increased rapidly, containing in August 1853, two Seventh Day Baptist, and one Baptist churches, 2 hotels, 4 stores, 2 carriage shops, 1 tin shop, the usual variety of mechanics, and about 40 dwellings. It was formerly known as Adams Five Corners. This place is 5 miles from Smithville, 4 from Rodman, 10 from Brownville, 11 from Dexter, and 8 from Sackets Harbor.

On the west line of the town, and partly in Henderson, is the village of Smithville, which derives its name from Jesse Smith, one of the most energetic and active business men, who have lived in the county, and who, from a small beginning, arose to affluence, and controlled a business, which, for extent and importance, has had few parallels in the country. He first settled in Rodman, when the town was new, and began life as a jobber, in clearing land and making potash. At Smithville, he engaged in milling, distilling, and merchandise, and generally became interested in the lumber trade, and commerce of the lakes, to a great extent. He removed about fifteen years since to Newark, Ohio, where he now resides. Settlement was begun here in 1804, by Daniel Hardy. In 1805, Abel Myrick, Henry Knapp, Samuel and Andrew McNitt, and soon after others located in the vicinity. The first public house was opened by D. Hardy. Brooks Harrington was the first post master. The village contains now fifty families. It has a limited water power on Stony Creek, and is surrounded by a rich dairying country. The Sackets Harbor and Ellisburgh rail road passes near the village. The Smithville Library was formed Feb. 16, 1824 and dissolved in 1845, having collected 362 volumes. The first trustees were Abel L. Crandall, Henry Keith, Daniel Hall, Jr., John M. Bart, C. M. Adams, Roswell Bosworth, and Brooks Harrington. In Feb 1827, a post office was established near the line of Watertown and named Union Post Office; E. M. Howard first post master. It has since changed to Appling, in honor of the intrepid officer who took the chief command in the battle of Sandy Creek. Adams, Adams Centre, and North Adams are names of the other post offices in this town.

Religious Societies. The Presbyterian Church of Adams Village, was formed as a Congregational one, July 1804, by Rev. E. Lazell, of 4 males, and 2 females. In 1801, divine worship had been established on the sabbath, and in 1802, the first sermon was preached by Rev. Mr. Woodward, missionary. Mr. John Taylor was hired a short time after, and in 1806, Rev. Phelps was hired to preach a few months. On the 31st of July 1811, Rev. Chauncey Cook was installed first pastor, in which year 25 were added. In 1815 the pastor left, and in the spring of 1816, Mr. Burt was hired 3 months. Rev. Mr. Porter was then employed 2 years, and in 1818 Rev. Enos Bliss, 6 months. In 1819, 40 were added, and in April Rev. Geo. W. Gale was employed. Oct. 25, 1819, he was installed by the St. Lawrence Presbytery, and in 1823 resigned. During Mr. Gale’s ministry, a general revival of religion occurred, and in 1822, 63 united with this church, among whom was Charles G. Finney, who has since acquired a national celebrity as an evangelist, and is now president of Oberlin College. He had previously been a law student, under Judge B. Wright, and evinced an ability and sagacity, that would doubtless have made him eminent in that profession. His attention is said to have been turned to religious subjects, under the preaching of the Rev. Jedediah Burchard, who has attained a distinction not less general as a revival preacher, and of whose labors we shall have repeated occasions to mention in the following pages. The preaching of Mr. Finney has been remarkable for the boldness and originality of his logic, and the strength and clearness of his arguments, which seldom fail to secure the undivided attention of his audience, without those extraneous aids to excitement, which, in the hands of some, have produced analagous results. His first ministerial labors were performed in Lorraine, and, previous to his commencing his career as a revival preacher, he was employed at Evans Mills and elsewhere, as a stated supply. This church became Presbyterian Jan. 29, 1821, and has since so remained. On the 25th of Jan. 1825, the Rev. John Sessions was installed pastor and remained till the spring of 183. Rev. J. Hart was hired the same fall and in 1831, a period of great religious interest occurred, and many were added to the church. David A. Clark was in 1832 installed, and left the next year. Joseph Myers, Chas. Jones, Dexter Clary, J. H. Carr, R. Richard Kirk, and P. C. Headley have since been employed, the latter being the present pastor. The First Congregational Society of Adams was formed Aug. 28, 1805, with Jacob Kellogg, Eliphalet Adams, Elijah Fox, Daniel Comstock, Preserved Redway, and Simon Meacham, trustees. A church, 30 by 40 feet, was built soon after the war, and opened 1818; it was afterward used by the Methodists, until burned about a year since. In 1825 the present church was commenced, and dedicated in 1827; cost $7,000. The total number who have united with this church is about 600.

A Baptist church was formed at the house of David Grommon, in September, 1802, and on the 13th of October, 1805, the Lord’s Supper was first administered. In June, 1806, Elder Timothy Heath was employed, and meetings were for some time held at his house and barn; and on the 14th of December, 1824, a society was formed, with Daniel Talcott, Jacob Heath, and Asa Lewis, trustees. In the same year a church was built one mile from Adams Centre, on the state road, and in 1838, their present church was erected at a cost of about $3,000. Timothy Heath, Joshua Freeman, Charles Clark, Thomas Bright, and J. J. Teeple, have been successively employed as pastors of this church. In 1853, a portion of the members erected a meeting house at Adams Centre, and have organized a separate society. On the 30th of March, 1837, a Baptist church and society were formed at Adams village, with Jesse Wright, Hannibal Miller, and Spencer Woodward, trustees; but no church was built until 1847, when the present one was erected at a cost of $3,500, and dedicated in January, 1848; the Rev. Charles Clark, ______ Hartson, and M. C. Manning, have been employed as ministers by this church.

The First Society of the Methodist Episcopal Church of Adams, was formed October 24, 1828; the first trustees being Laban Ross, Philip Younge, David Wright, Zephania Jacker, Chester McKee, Daniel Dikeman, and John Adams. For some time the Methodists occupied the edifice first erected by the Presbyterians, but this being burned, they, in the summer of 1853, erected in Adams village a house 44 by 80 feet, at a cost of about $6000, including the site. In point of elegance and taste this edifice will compare favorably with any of the class in the county. A parsonage was built adjoining, the same season. The society had been reorganized May 14, 1838.

The First Methodist Episcopal Church and Society in the village of Smithville was formed October 31, 1844, with Horace Ivory, John Shanley, John D. Gillett, James Morton, and John Briley, trustees. A small church was built about 1845.

In 1817, one or two families of Seventh Day Baptists, removed from Berlin, N. Y., to Adams Centre, and soon held meetings. On the 5th of June 1822, Wm. B. Maxson, and David Coon, sent for the purpose from Brookfield, N. Y., ordained Wm. Green, and June 9, formed a church of 10 males and 11 females. January 3, 1836, a society was formed, with Edward Whitford, Elihu Cleveland, Joseph S. Maxson, Asa L. Maxson, Benjamin Maxson, Charles Greene, Joseph Greene, Jr., Job Spencer, and S. Burdick trustees, who erected a church at Adams Centre, soon after. This body belongs to the Central Seventh Day Baptist Association of New York. The clergy have been, Wm. Greene, Eli S. Bailey, Giles M. Langworthy, Joel Greene, Alexander Campbell, and James Summerbell; and by their report of 1853, the church contained 196 members. During the ministry of Mr. Campbell, the church was divided.

In March, 1852, seventeen members who had withdrawn and had been excommunicated from the latter, were formed by Rev. Alexander Campbell into the Independent Seventh Day Baptist Church of Adams, who, the same year, built at a cost of $1,300, a church in the south part of Adams Centre Village, which was dedicated December 15, 1852. The Evangelical Seventh Day Baptist Society was formed January 3, 1853, with H. Bunce, Job Spencer, and Joel Saunders, trustees. Present number of church (August, 1853), eighty-two. The Second Congregational Church of North Adams was formed by Rev. D. Spear, at the house of Roger Reed, November 1, 1809, of five males and eight females; and their first pastor was Edward W. Rossiter, who was installed November 11, 1818, and has been followed by Abel L. Crandall, D. Spear, Austin Putnam, P. Cook, and Lewis M. Shepard; the most of whom preached alternately here and at Smithville. The latter was installed July 19, 1848, and remained till September 5, 1850, since which there has been no minister. The Society of the church was formed at the house of Asher Robbins, December 5, 1816, of which John Barnard, Asher Robbins, and Ruel Parsons, were trustees. January 18, 1817, Simon Read, Daniel Hall, Jr., and Amos Bosworth, were added to trustees.

The centre of the society being found to be a mile west of North Adams, a church was built in 1818, and in August, 1823, the society was divided; the Smithville Church leaving the meeting house with the Adams portion, who removed it to North Adams, its present place. Upon removing and repairing their church, a new society was formed, November 19, 1839, with Heman Colton, Elisha Reed, and Ephraim Reed trustees.

Emanuel Church (Episcopal), in the town of Adams, was legally formed February 18, 1849, the Rev. J. M. Bartlett being rector. Henry B. Whipple, and Wm. Morton Johnson were chosen wardens, and John McCarty, David Gaylord, Hiram Salisbury, Philip R. Ward, John Wright, Justus Eddy, Charles W. Rodgers, and Thomas Dobson, vestrymen. On the 9th of October, 1849, the corner stone of a church was laid, and it was completed at a cost of over $2,000. The Rev. O. E. Herrick has been since employed, but the parish is now vacant.

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