History of the Town from Child’s Jefferson County, N. Y. Gazetteer (1890)

WORTH, named in honor of Gen. William J. Worth, was formed from Lorraine, April 12, 1848. It is located in the southeastern corner of the county, and is bounded on the north by Rodman and Pinckney in Lewis County, on the east by Montague in Lewis County, on the south by Redfield in Oswego County, and on the west by the town Lorraine. It has an area of 25,816½ acres. It is designated in the old records as town No. 2, of the Boylston tract. Upon the division of the Black River tract the eastern portion of this town was divided up among the proprietors to make their proportions equal. Recknoning from north to south these tracts were Harrison and Hoffman, 1,283 acres; Henderson, 649; Low, 1,576; William Constable, 947; the remainder to Harrison and Hoffman. In the northwestern part of the town Daniel McCormick and Charles Smith made purchases, which afterwards became the center of the first settlement. Abel French, the agent of McCormick and Smith, employed Joseph Crary to make the first surveys in November, 1801, and May, 1802. The town was only partly surveyed, and subsequently was lotted in such a way that several duplicate numbers occurred, which occasioned much trouble. Mr. French, while journeying through Herkimer County, from his home in Denmark, induced a company of citizens of Litchfield to purchase a large tract here. This company appointed Timothy Greely (sic), Joseph Wilcox, and Elihu Gillet a committee to visit this tract and report upon the advisability of making a purchase upon the proper basis. Their report being favorable a contract was concluded by which they agreed to pay $7,622 for the northwest quarter, of the town. Afterwards a deed was executed to them, in turst, for themselves and their associates, and a mortgage given. The tract was divided into lots (it comprised the nine great lots in the northwestern corner), and was drawn by ballot by the company, who paid over money as they might be able to their committee, and received bonds for the delivery of deeds when the purchase money should have enabled them to produce a clear title. Besides the committee mentioned the company consisted of Asaph Case, Leonard Bullock, W. Flower, Eli Gillet, Lodwick Edwards, John Griswold, Ezekiel Chever, Phineas Rose, Joel Caulkins, Abram Ford, Nathan Matson, Asa Sweet, John Pinear, Phineas Stevens, Elijah and David Richmond, John and William Sagas, John Houghtaling, and perhaps a few others, all from Herkimer County.

The general surface of the town is undulating and very elevated, the altitude of its territory being probably greater than any other part of the county. In the eastern part of the town is the height of land between Black River and Sandy Creek, in this county, and Salmon River in Lewis County. The south branch of Sandy Creek flows through the town in a general westerly direction. It has numerous tributaries, the principal ones being Chloe and Abijah creeks. These streams afford water-power at certain seasons of the year, and drain the town thoroughly. The soil, being underlaid by a shale rock, is less liable to drouth than the lower portion of the county, and is finely adapted to grazing. The surface was originally covered with a fine growth of timber, chiefly beech, maple, hemlock, and pine, and large forests are yet found in the southern and eastern parts of the town. These forests have been the source of considerable revenue, furnishing the material for numerous mills and tanneries. Gathering these products and dairying are the principal industries of the town.

Since the organization of the town the supervisors have been A. S. Gillet, 1848-49; R. W. Green, 1850; J. M. Ackley, 1851; R. W. Green, 1852; J. M. Ackley, 1853-54; D. Gillet, 1855-56; L. P. Gillet, 1857; C. C. Moore, 1858-62; S. P. Stearns, 1863; C. C. Moore, 1864-69; S. W. Kellogg, 1870; H. V. Jenks, 1871-72; J. M. Ackley, 1873-74; H. V. Jenks, 1875-76; H. L. Grimshaw, S. B. Kellogg, 1887-89; Philip Brennan, 1890.

In 1880 Worth had a population of 951. The town is located in the first school district of Jefferson County, and in 1888 had eight school districts, of which one was joint, in which seven teachers were employed 28 weeks or more. There were 254 scholars attending school, and the aggregate days attendance during the year was 17,754. The total value of school buildings and sites was $3,795, while the assessed valuation of all the districts was $206,177. The whole amount raised for school purposes was $1,417.17, $552,38 of which was received by local tax. S. Whitford Maxson was school commissioner.

WORTHVILLE (p. o.) village, formerly known as Wilcox’s Corners, is pleasantly located on both banks of the south branch of Sandy Creek, near the northwest corner of the town. It was the center of early settlements, Joseph Wilcox having made the beginning at this place. It has a church (Methodist Episcopal), hotel, two stores, two blacksmith shops, a wagon shop, one furniture factory, two saw-mills, a steam shingle-mill, grist-mill, a restaurant, cheese factory, cooper shop, and about 30 dwellings.

WORTH CENTER (p. o.) is a hamlet near the center of the town on Abijah Creek. It has a saw mill, blacksmith shop, store, and about 20 dwellings. This place owes its existence to Edward Cornell, who made the first settlement here in 1850, and is now extensively engaged in lumbering. The place is supplied with a telephone.

Worthville furniture factory, built by W. A. Cornwell in 1880, is located on Mill street in Worthville village. It is engaged in the manufacture of chamber suits, etc., and also sleighs, coasters, and matched and dressed lumber and moldings, making a specialty of prepared supplies for contractors and builders.

Cornell’s mills, at Worth Center, on Abijah Creek, were built by Edward Cornell in 1851, as saw and shingle-mills, and rebuilt and enlarged by him in 1866. The size of the building is 60 by 60 feet, and the mills turn out 600,000 feet of lumber annually, one-half of which is planed and matched.

S. B. Kellogg’s saw and lumber-mills, at Worthville, built in 1861, do a profitable business in planing and matched lumber and moldings.

William H. Prouty’s saw and shingle mills, on the south branch of Sandy Creek, about two and a half miles east of Worthville, were built by H. A. Prouty in 1868. They have the capacity for turning out about 350,000 feet of lumber and 300,000 shingles annually.

William Spies’s saw-mill, located about three miles east of Worthville, on the south branch of Sandy Creek, does a profitable business.

Samuel B. Kellogg’s grist-mill, at Worthville, built in 1861, does a thriving custom business.

Asaph Case and Leonard Bullock, from Herkimer County, came to this town in the fall of 1802, settling on lots 7 and 8, and were among the first to locate in the territory now comprised within the limits of Worth. They were both members of the company’s committee, as was also Eli Gillet, who came in with his family soon after. Mr. Bullock’s first house was built entirely of logs, without floor, door, or windows. The roof was made of hollow basswood logs, split, and so laid that every alternate one formed a trough to carry away water. A blanket hung up served as a door, and the earth, smoothed down and covered with leaves, served as the floor. In March of the following year Joseph Wilcox came in with an ox-team hitched to a sled. There were no roads nor bridges, and their only guides were blazed trees. Mr. Wilcox erected a log house, which had a puncheon floor, bark roof, and for a window a sheet of paper oiled so as to admit the light. It had a chamber floor, too, but, as it was made of elm bark, the utmost caution was required in movements of the occupants. The wintry winds, too, would sometimes take away a portion of the roof, admitting the snow to the depth of several inches, so that it was not uncommon to be obliged to shovel away the snow before those in bed could descend to the room below.

Nearly all the others of the Litchfield company came in 1803, and were subjected to the many hardships incident to pioneer life. The settlements had attained but mediocre proportions when the War of 1812 was declared. This so alarmed and frightened the settlers that many of them deserted their homes and returned to their native places. The cold seasons which followed caused others to forsake their possessions here, which nearly depopulated the settlements. Then the mortgages were foreclosed, bringing extra hardships upon those who remained; for all had, by the terms of the contract, made themselves liable for the failure of one, and much of the land reverted to the proprietors.

After these discouragements the settlement of the town progressed very slowly, and in 1830 the list of residents of Worth was as follows: Joseph Wilcox and son Sterling, Daniel Wilcox, Asaph, Able, and John Case, E. West, John Russell, Chester Bushnell, Andrew W. Craig, John Wilson, Paul Pryor, Peter Wakefield, Joseph H. and Venus C. Rising, Joseph Totten, James Potter, Zadoc Hale, Henry, Erastus, and Richard Lyon, Leonard and Alanson Bullock, Joel Overton, Boomer K., Charles, and Lyman Jenks, William, Simeon, and James Houghtaling, Eli, Elihu, David, and George Gillet, Leonard Parker, Daniel and Joseph Caulkins, and Nathan Mattoon. Albert S. Gillet came in this year and became a prominent man in the town, as did also his brother, Lorenzo P.

In 1808 Leonard Bullock commenced the erection of a saw-mill on Sandy Creek, on lot 7, but it was never completed. In 1810 Joshua Miles built a saw and grist-mill under one roof, on Sandy Creek, east of the Corners. He operated the mills five or six years, then sold to Timothy Greenly, who, in turn, sold to Abner Rising. These were the first mills in the town, and for a long time the grist-mill was the only one of the kind. Previous to its erection the settlers carried their grain to Adams or Whitesville. In 1816 a second saw-mill was built, by Joseph Wilcox and Green Kellogg, near the Corners, on the site of the present grist-mill. To erect the latter a company was formed in 1856, composed of A. S. Gillet, L. P. Gillet, Abel Case, Sterling Wilcox, Leonard Parker, Horace R. Chafin, anbd Boomer K. Jenks, who bought the mill site of John Henderson, and gave it, together with a cash bounty, to Pealer and Fox, who erected the mill in 1861, now the property of Samuel B. Kellogg. In 1857 Abel Case built a saw-mill just below the first mill, which afterwards became the property of A. S. Gillet.

The first district school in Worth was taught in Asaph Case’s barn by a Mrs. Nobles, about 1807. Ten or twelve pupils attended. In 1808 Ruel Canfield taught a school in part of Timothy Greenly’s house, in Rodman, near the “Corners.” Miss Betsey Bugbee taught a school in a log house, a few years latter (sic), in what is known as district No. 2. About this time a log school-house was erected at the “Corners,” which, in 1830, gave place to other small log and frame houses, in which A. S. Gillet taught for a number of years.



The Union Church at Worthville, a neat and commodious wooden building, was erected in 1875, at a cost of about $2,600. Although the church is free to other denominations it has been occupied principally by the Methodists, who have held regular services for several years. The pulpit has been occupied by Revs. Fulford, Le Clair, Crofut, and Earnest. The trustees of the church are L. D. Monroe, L. D. Spalsbury, Levi Wilcox, Oren Greenly, George Kellogg, and W. P. Ackley.

Note: The family sketches followed. Those are presented on Nan Dixon's NYGenWeb site for Jefferson County, N. Y.

St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, at Frederick’s Corners, was erected in 1888, under charge of Rev. Mr. Daily. It is a neat structure, valued at $1,000, and will comfortably seat 150 persons.

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