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pp. 228 - 232
This town, embracing its present limits and a part of Pinckney, or township No. 8, and part of No. 9, of the Black River Tract, was erected under the name of Harrison, from Adams, March 24, 1804, the first town meeting being directed to be held at the house of Simeon Hunt. The name was derived from Richard Harrison, of New York, an eminent lawyer and an associate in several large purchases in this and adjoining counties, but it was found inconvenient to have a name so near like Harrisburgh, previously existing in Lewis County, and on the 6th of April, 1808, the name was changed to the present. We have been unable to ascertain from whence it was derived. By an act of February 12, 1808, township No. 9 was erected into a separate town, under the name of Pinckney, and the county line was changed to pass around that town instead of across it.
Nov. 4, 1804, a special town meeting was held, to choose delegates to attend a convention at Denmark to consult on measures for the division of the County of Oneida. William Rice, Cyrus H. Stone and Simeon Hunt, were appointed.
At the first town meeting of Harrison, held at the house of Simeon Hunt, Thomas White was chosen supervisor; George H. Thomas, clerk; Ozias H. Rawson, Cyrus H. Stone, William Rice, assessors; Jonathan Davis, Robert Stuart, poor masters; David Nikles, S. Hunt, Calvin Clifford, commissioners of highways; Peter Yandes, constable and collector; George H. Thomas, John Fassett, fence viewers; S. Hunt, pound master. A special town meeting, held for the purpose, September 12, 1805, chose Wm. Rice a committee to wait on the court house commissioners, and represent the interests of the town. On the 12th of January, 1807, Wm. Rice, Cyrus H. Stone and Ebenezer Moody, were chosen delegates at a special meeting to meet a convention at the house of Joseph Clark, in Watertown, on the 13th inst., to take into consideration the military situation of the county.
Wolf bounties of $10 were offered in 1806, 7, 8. In 1806 and 1814, laws requiring Canada thistles to be cut. In 1823 voted against poor house. In 1826, voted to let Wm. Glass’s wife have the use of a cow, the cow being secured to the town.
Supervisors. -- 1805, Thomas White; 1806-9, Jonathan Davis; 1810-11, Enoch Murry; 1812, Samuel C. Kanaday; 1814, Abel Cole; 1815 and 1830, Nathan Strong; 1831-32, William M. Winslow; 1833-36, Ora Cooley; 1837, George Gates; 1838, N. Strong; 1839-40, Thomas Wait; 1841, Ora Cooley; 1842, Henry C. Strong; 1843, Herman Strong; 1844-45, H. C. Strong; 1846, Wm. Gill; 1847, Dennis M. Wait; 1848-49, Benjamin F. Hunt; 1850, Alanson Tibbetts; 1851-52, George Gates; 1853, Ora Cooley.
This town was first opened for settlement by Harrison and Hoffman, under Silas Stow, of Lowville, as agent, in 1801, having been surveyed by Joseph Crary the year previous. It was divided into 56 lots, and these were subdivided into quarters. The land was generally sold for $3.50 an acre. In 1801, Anson and Ebenezer Moody, Jonathan, Noah, and Aaron Davis, Benjamin Thomas, William Rice, Simeon Hunt, and perhaps a few others came in, and commenced small clearings, and in September Mrs. E. Moody came in to reside, being the first woman that settled in town. This family occupied a log house which A. Moody had erected that season. In the fall, the first birth occurred, it being a son of E. Moody, who was named Walter Harrison Moody. He died at the age of 3 years, and is believed to have been the first death in town. His father, in accordance with a promise of Mr. Harrison, received 50 acres of land. Roads along Sandy Creek and to Burrville were opened in 1801, September 4th, 1802, Timothy Greenly from Litchfield, New York, bought of Harrison and Hoffman 2669½ in the southeast corner of the town at eighteen shillings per acre, and the second season after removed by way of Redfield. He was a prominent citizen, and died February 19th, 1852, aged 84. William Rice erected at Rodman Village a saw mill in 1804, and in 1806 a grist mill. Simeon Hunt was the first inn keeper. Bridges were not completed over Sandy Creek until 1809.
The books of the land holders show the following additional names of those who contracted for land under date of December 1st, 1804.
Jesse Smith, afterwards the founder of Smithville, Aaron Moody, Horace Townsend, Thomas White, Joseph Nickles, Arnold Stone, Nathan Whiteman, Avery Wallsworth, Joseph Dana, Titus King, Noah Davis, Thadrick Case, Leonard Farewell, Joshua Finney, John Vaughan, Leonard Barker. On the 25th of March, 1805, Buell and Westcott, Nathan Freeman. In August, Hawks and French, Pierce and Lampson, Wright Mead, &c. During the years 1803-6, the town settled with great rapidity, and the pioneers suffered no further hardships than fall to the lot of all emigrants. In 1813, sixty deaths occurred in town, mostly within three months, and from the prevailing epidemic. With this exception the town has not suffered from the sickness that has prevailed in other towns, nearer the lake. Its feeling of mutual dependence and a willingness to divide the burthens and misfortunes of life, is spoken of as having existed to an unusual degree in the early settlement of the town, in evidence of which, the custom is said to have prevailed, if any one was sick and unable to attend to his fields, his work was always kept up even with those around him, and if one chanced to kill a deer, then very common in town, the venison was uniformly divided with neighbors. The kindest feeling has ever exited between the several religious societies. A school was first opened in town by Miss N. Nobles, in Anson Moody’s barn, in the summer of 1803.
The alarm of the first attack on Sackets Harbor, reached this town on the sabbath, and created a great excitement. On the day following, there was formed a Silver Grey company, of men not required to perform military duty. Nathan Strong was chosen captain, Simeon Hunt, lieutenant, and Sheldon Hopkins, ensign. It numbered about 60 men, and on one occasion repaired to Sackets Harbor, but was never armed or called into service. In the drafts upon the militia during the war, this town sustained its full share, and but few persons left through fear. The Silver Greys, in their articles of association, agreed to march to any place, within 50 miles of home.
The earlier surveyors and settlers noticed in a small flat at the bottom of the Gulf Stream, a ravine in this town, growing in great luxuriance, a variety of plants which are common around dwellings, and introduced for medicinal purposes, as tansy, mints, balm, &c. The question of their origin, and the time and manner of their introduction is a matter of curiosity, but was never ascertained. No appearances but these indicated that the place had been formerly inhabited.
Rodman village, in the valley north of Sandy Creek, five miles above Adams, is built mostly on the south bank, and has two taverns, four stores, a Methodist and a Congregational church, a seminary, and about forty-five dwellings, with the usual variety of mechanics’ shops. During a considerable part of the year, it has hydraulic power for mills, but in the summer months this is to some extent supplied by steam. In 1816, a mail route was established, and Nathan Strong was appointed first postmaster.
In 1840, a seminary of wood, two stores high, with a porch in front, and a cupola, was built by voluntary subscriptions, at a cost of about $1,200. The land was conveyed in trust to the trustees of the Harrison Society, for the purpose of a school, by the heirs of Nathan Strong, and for several years a select school has been maintained here. On the 8th of December, 1840, the name of Rodman Union Seminary, was adopted, and Jan. 5th, 1841, a constitution was formed, and thirteen trustees chosen.
Zoar is a hamlet on Sandy Creek, one mile above Rodman Village, where there is a Baptist church, inn, store, a few shops, and about twenty dwellings.
Whitesville (East Rodman, post office), is on Sandy Creek about five miles above Rodman Village. It derives its name from Thomas White, who in 1802 settled there from Litchfield, N. Y. He was for several years a sub agent for the town, and in 1803 built the first grist mill in town. He removed westward, about 1810. At this place is a small village, consisting of a store, grist mill, a few shops, and a small cluster of dwellings.
Religious Societies. -- The first religious service in town, was conducted in the summer of 1802, by Rev. Mr. Woodward, a missionary, who on a week day preached to a small audience, at the hut of Anson Moody.
The Congregational Church of Rodman, was formed by Rev. Ebenezer Lazelle, of Watertown, Sept. 22, 1805; Occasional preaching only was had until the second sabbath in Aug. 1808, when the Rev. David Spear,* (*It is seldom that we meet with an instance in which the pastoral relation has been so long maintained by one person. Mr. Spear was born in Rupert, Vt., June, 1781, and studied with Rev. John B. Preston, of his native place. Since the above date he has resided here, and no better evidence of esteem and regard, earned by a lifetime of daily precept, by example, could be adduced.) first preached, and was soon employed. In Sept. 1809 he was installed, has since, with two or three years’ interval, continued the pastor until the present time. The first number was 9, total 521; present number (August. 1853), 210. In 1809, July 17th, the Harrison Society, belonging with this church, was formed, with Reuben Tremain, James Loomis, Asa Davis, Simeon Hunt, Jonathan Wyman and D. Eastman, trustees. The society was reorganized, April 24, 1834, and in 1815 built a church 38 by 50 feet. In 1850 this was replaced by the present church, which was dedicated in March, 1851; it is 40 by 61 feet. From 1809 to 1821, was a period of religious interest, and in 1821-23, were great accessions.
In the spring of 1811, about six or eight Baptists in town, agreed to hold meetings on the sabbath, as often as convenient, and to invite such preachers as might be procured to attend, among whom was Joseph Maltby, who on the 27th of March, 1812, formed, at the house of Benjamin Cole, a church of nine males and thirteen females. These, on the 10th of June, were duly fellowshiped (sic), by a council convened for the purpose by delegates from Rutland First Church (Elder Solomon Johnson), Adams (Elder Timothy Heath), and Watertown (Elders Gill and Morgan), and Mr. Maltby was duly ordained as pastor. Isaac Benjamin, Joseph Cornell, Daniel Peck, and others have since been employed. This church was afterwards formed as a branch of the Adams Church, and in November 1844, it was reorganized as a separate church, on a petition signed by about 50 members. In 1822, a church was erected at Zoar, and Dec. 11th, 1822, a society was formed with Arnold Stone, Levi Heath, and Elisha Cook, trustees. On the 6th of Oct. 1846, this was reorganized with P. W. Dyer, John Nichols, and John W. Wait, trustees.
The First Methodist Society in Rodman, was formed Aug. 6, 1829, with John Adams, Jonathan Boyington, Ebenezer Blackstone, Arthur Robbins, Anson Moody, Epaphras Moody, Wm. Butterfield, Daniel Kinney, and Chauncey Davis, trustees. This society has a church, two miles below Whitesville.
The First Methodist Episcopal Society, in Rodman Village, was formed March, 1848, with Elam Cooley, Hiram Buell, John Buell, James W. Brown, Winson D. Allport, Alanson Kinney, Isaac Jenks, Freeman Tuttle, and Almanzor Tibbets, trustees. A church was built in 1849.
The Second Society of the Methodist Episcopal Church, in Rodman, was formed Dec. 10, 1841. Green Budlong, Hiram Buel, Allen Parker, Orris Buel, Joseph S. Rising, Jesse Spencer, Abel Case, Jacob Vroman, and Hervy (sic) Kellogg, were elected trustees.