History of Locke, New York
From: History of Cayuga County, New York
By: Elliot G. Storke, Assisted by: Jos H. Smith
Published by: D. Mason & Co.,
Syracuse, New York, 1879


LOCKE lies upon the south border of the County, east of the center. It is bounded on the north by Moravia, east by Summer Hill, west by Genoa, and south by Tompkins county. It was formed from Milton, (now Genoa,) February 20th, 1802, and originally comprised the Military township of Locke, the south half of which was set off on the organization of Tompkins county in 1817. The north-east quarter was set off to form the town of Summer Hill, April 26th, 1831.

The surface is broken by the deep, narrow valicy of Owasco Inlet, which flows through the central part of the town, bordered by hills, whose summits range from 200 to 400 feet above its level, and widen into a beautiful, undulating region, with a mean elevation of 1,000 feet above tide. Dry Creek crosses the north-east corner of the town, its head waters being in close proximity to the east line of the town. It flows through a deep, narrow, rocky gorge, whose steep, and occasionally almost perpendicular banks, covered with primitive forests, tower upward to a height of more than two hundred feet above the bed of the stream. It plunges over a succession of falls, the principal of which is the lower one, in the town of Moravia. The banks of the stream are singularly rugged along its entire course, and possesses at various points the elements of grandeur. During continuous rains and freshets it is an object of terror to the inhabitants of the fiats, and has caused the destruction of much valuable property. Several other small streams flow into the outlet.

Limestone of a good quality exists in the town, and is used for building purposes. It crops out along the ridge which forms the east boundary of the valley of the Inlet, and appears in places on the surface in large, rugged masses, especially near and east of the road to Moravia. It is also seen to good advantage along Dry Creek, where it forms the bed of the stream in various places, the crests of its falls, and the perpendicular masses of its banks, being associated in the latter instance both above and below with the shales of the group. Sulphur springs exist in various localities in the fiats, and the water of many of the wells in the village is so strongly impregnated with it as to be unfit for culinary purposes.

The soil upon the highlands consists of a graycity loam interspersed with clay. In the flats it is a deep, rich, loamy alluvion.

The Southern Central R. R. crosses the Central part of the town, its course lying through the valley of the Inlet.

The first settlement was made in 1790, by Ezra Carpenter, James Cook, James Durell and Solomon Love. James Cook settled about three miles south of Milan, on the place now owned by Abram Westcott. He removed with his family to Ohio. Samuel Cook, a grandson of his, is living in the town. Cook was the first inn-keeper, in 1810. James Durell built the first grist-mill in 1810. It is still standing and in use, forming a part of the mill owned by Wm. W. Alley, Jr., in Milan village. Before Dureil's mill was built, however, a small mill was put up on the Carpenter place, in a ravine a mile south of Milan, on the farm owned by Lavern Green. The stones were made from common sandstone, and were driven by a small stream emptying into the Inlet. Here the settlers were accustomed to grind their own corn, without having to pay the miller's toll, each being his own miller. A daughter of Dureli's was the first child born in Locke. Solomon Love settled first in Groton and removed thence to Locke. He settled a mile and a half east of Milan, where Franklin Murphy now lives, and died in the town. Daniel Carpenter was one of the first settlers. He was from Rhode Island, and located on a farm adjoining that of Joseph Harris on the east, where he died. His family moved from the town long ago.

Silas Bowker came in from the eastern part of the State previous to 1802, in which year he was elected Supervisor of the town. He settled on lot 44, about two miles south-east of Milan, where Jackson Holden now lives, and died there. Areli, widow of Levi Henry, living in Locke, is his daughter. Stephen Pure]], who removed to Genoa about 1812, and Archibald Harding, who was from the eastern part of the State, came in as early as 1802. James and Miller Harding, brothers of Archibald, came in about the same time. All three settled in the same locality as Bowker, Archibald where William Greenleaf now lives, and James and Miller, on the farm of Andrew Jackson Holden. They moved west at an early day.

Settlement proceeded slowly for several years, but few important additions being made previous to the war of 1812. Salmon Heath a native of Massachusetts, came in from Saratoga counfy, and Nathan Cook, from R. I., came in 1811, and settled, the former on lot 23, about one and onehalf miles south-east of Milan, where Jefferson S. Hewitt now lives, and where he died February 10th, 1843, and the latter two miles south of Milan, where David Pierce now lives. Cook removed several years after to Almond, N. Y. Two children of Heath's are living in the town, viz: Eunice, widow of John White, aged eighty-four years, and Harvey, aged seventy-eight years. Dr. Philander Mead, who was born in Greenwich, Conn., November 11th, 1785, came in from Chester, Warren county, the same year, (1811) and settled at Pine Hollow, in the east part of Genoa, on sixteen acres bought of Elnathan Close, who settled there in 1794, where he practiced medicine till 1819, when he removed to Milan and settled where his son Dr. Nelson Mead now lives, and where he practiced till his death September 3d, 1853. Four children are living besides the one named, viz: Philander, Sophia A., widow of Jonathan C. A. Hobby, and Edward B., in Locke, and Charlotte, wife of John G. Stevens, in Groton. Lyman and Elijah Brown came in from Scipio soon after 1811. Lyman was a clothier, and built a carding and cloth-dressing establishment on Hemlock Creek. Elijah was a miller, and run a grist-mill, which stood near the carding-mill. Both establishments were about a mile above Milan.

Joseph Harris, who was born in Windham county, Conn., in 1788, and in 1813, married Eunice Broga, who was born in January, 1789, came in from Massachusetts, in 1815, and settled on lot 32, where both he and his wife now live, having bought the tract two years previously. They have had ten children, six of whom are living, viz Henry, Harvey, Joseph, Jr., Alonzo, and Lois, wife of Erastus White. in Locke, and Huldah, widow of George Ferris, in Tioga county, Penn.

Evidences of the occupancy of this country long anterior to the first settlements by the whites exist in this locality, but whether referable to our immediate predecessors, the Indians, or to a race who ante-date them, can only be conjectured, as examinations have not been made with sufficient scientific exactness to warrant a deduction as to their origin. About half a mile west of Milan, upon the ridge which skirts the west border of the Flats, upon the summit of a hill with steep acclivities, and partially separated from the neighboring highlands by two deep gulfs, are traces of what appears to have been a stockade, but which is locally denominated an Indian burying ground. Holes of uniform depth, in which palisades of considerable size have evidently been set, are easily traced at regular intervals. They inclose about four acres, in a neaily square tract, the lines following the general conformation of the bill, which generally slopes from them quite precipitously. At intervals apparent openings of a few feet have been left, as if for entrance and exit; but these are guarded by parallels covering the openings, and are in places additionally guarded by flank lines, running at right angles with the general outline. The size and position of trees with respect to these lines indicate that their origin is 250 to 300 years previous to the present time. The character of the works and their strategic properties, makes it highly probable that they were used for offensive or defensive purposes, rather than a place of sepulcher. Human bones, supposed to be those of Indians, have been exhumed there, and Dr. Nelson Mead of Milan, has some of them in his office. Fragments of pottery, ornamented with lines drawn in the substance of which the vessels were formed, parched corn, and arrow-heard have also been found within the inclosure. The former indicate that whoever left these traces of their presence in this historic region they were conversant with rude ceramic arts. Numerous excavations, partially filled with decayed vegetation and the surface washings of their embankments, exist within the inclosure, and a few outside; but whether they are the result of efforts known to have been made at an early day by treasure-seekers, or were the work of the original builders can only be surmised. Certain it is that the contour and design of the works refer their origin to a superior intelligence.

TOWN OFFICERS.- The first town meeting was held at the house of James Cook, March 2d, 1802, and the following officers were chosen: Silas Bowker, Supervisor; William Webster, Clerk; Samuel Brown, Lemi Bradley and Stephen Durell, Assessors; Thomas Parker, Constable and Collector; Isaac Hopkins and Archibald Harding, Poormasters; Daniel Bradley, Jacob Jewitt and Joseph Cone, Commissioners of Highways; Jason Phillips, Robert Rathbun and John Niles. Fence Viewers; Frederic Patmore, Hezekiah Murdock, James Savage, Seth Curtice, James Smith, Joshua Bennett, Amos Mix, John Perin, Daniel Bradley and Samuel Hogg, Pathmasters, and James Bennett, Joseph Cone and Elisha Smith, Poundmasters.

The present town officers (1878) are A. W. Brooks, Supervisor; R. D. Lung, Clerk; Lavern White, Abram Brooks, Samuel Greenleaf and Lawrence I. Lockwood, Justices; Daniel McIntosh, Charles Lester and Harvey Shaw. Assessors; J. R. Heath, Commissioner of Highways; D. B. Satterly and John Howell, Overseers of the Poor; Jay C. Lowe and Seth Talmadge, Inspectows of Election; Lavern White, Collector; Timothy Loomis, Abram Stryker, Lavorian Towslee and James Bothwell, Constables; Frank Westcott, Game Constable; J. C. Tuttle, J. W. Ingley and Lee T. Swartwout, Excise commissioners.

At an election held in the town of Locke for the purpose of electing five Senators to represent the Western District in the Legislature, and three Members of Assembly to represent the County of Cayuga, which opened at the house of Joseph Cone and closed on lot No. 2, on Archibald Crowell's old place, April 3oth, 1802, the following votes were cast: For Senator, for Joseph Annin, 35; John Meyers, 9; Matthias B. Tallmadge, 26; David Ostrom, 18; Jacob Snell and Asa Dan forth, each 34; George Tiffany, 27 Walter Wood, 7; Silas Halsey, James McClung and Thomas Hewitt, each 2 ; and Silas Bowker, r. For Assemblymen, Silas Halsey, 66; Salmon Buel, 46; Thomas Hewitt, 55; Joseph Grover, 7; John Beardsley, 11; Jacob Snell, George Tiffany, Matthias B. Tallmadge, Asa Danforth, David Ostrom and Amos Rathbun, each 2.

The population of the town in 1875 was 1,130; of whom 1,090 were native; 40, foreign; and all, white. Its area was 14,675 acres; of which 11,819 were improved; 2,179 woodland; and 677 otherwise unimproved.


MILAN is finely situated in the fertile valley of the Owasco Inlet, and on the S. C. R. R., a little west of the Center of the town. Both the postoffice and station are known as Locke. It contains two churches, (M. E. and Baptist,) a district school with two departments and two teachers, four stores, two hotels, a grist-mill, a tin shop, (of which Geo. W. Allen is proprietor,) a wagon shop. (kept by J. F. Demmon, who also carries on undertaking,) four blacksmith shops, (kept by Lee T. Swartwout, John Brigden, George Englehart and Azro Demons,) a shoe shop, (kept by Timothy Loomis,) and a population of about 200.

MERCHANTS.- The first merchant was Aaron Kellogg, who opened a store in a gamble-roof building, which stood diagonally opposite the store of Edwin Guest, previously to 1819. Henry Kennedy, a soldier of the war of 1812, opened a store soon after the close of that war, in which he was wounded, and kept it two or three years. Elihu Walter kept store a few years in the building occupied by Kellogg. He removed to Syracuse and died there. A man named Baker built a store where Mrs. J. C. Leghorn now lives and kept it several years. Jesse Millard, uncle of Millard Fillmore, came in from Moravia and opened a store on the site of Edwin Guest's store. He subsequently removed to the south part of the village. He did business a good many years and removed to Auburn, and subsequently to Wisconsin. He died at Milwaukee. Gordon Palmer, from Norwich, opened a store in the building vacated by Millard, on the site of Guest's store, and afterwards removed to the corner diagonally opposite. He engaged extensively in buying and selling horses, and died at Owego while returning from a trip on business of this character. Hiram Becker acquired possession of his goods and carried on business till about 1831, when he sold to Wm. Kingsley, who remainea only two or three years. In 1833, Wm. Titus, from Kelloggsviile, bought the property of Becker, with whom he was afterwards associated as partner, and did an extensive business, which he continued till 1847, after which he removed to Hannibalville. Becker removed to Auburn, and afterwards to St. Paul, Minnesota, where he died. Cady & Stoyell, from Moravia, did business several years, when Cady sold his interest to Stoyell, who admitted Seneca B. Powers to partnership. After two or three years they admitted M. D. Murphy, who subsequently bought the interest of his partners, and did business a good many years, till about 1850, when he sold to J. H. Wethey, his brother-in-law, from Port Byron, who sold, after two or three years, to Wm. D. Bennett, who continued till the spring of 1864, when he exchanged the store with Charles E. Parker, of Moravia, and removed his goods to that village, where he now resides. Philander Mead bought the property in 1866, and rented it in 1870 to Z. Lupton, from Dryden, who opened a store and kept it till October of that year, when he sold his goods to John Marsh, from McLean, Tompkins county, who, after about a week, sold to Edwin Guest, Jr., who did business till June, 1872, when he traded his goods with D. Raynor for a farm. April 1st, 1873, Raynor admitted Jeremiah P. Cady as partner, with whom he did business till December, 1874, when they sold to Guerdon Merchant, from Sempronius, who kept it till March, 1876, when he traded his goods for a house and lot in Auburn, with J. C. King, who is still doing business here.

About 1827, Samuel Cone built a store opposite to where Philander Mead now lives, and rented it to Gregory & Tupper, from Venice, who kept it three or four years. They were succeeded by Elijah Cone, Jr., who kept it a year or two, till his death, when his father continued the business three or four years. Silas Grover kept a store there some three years, and was succeeded by Samuel Jewett, who kept it several years and removed to Ann Arbor, Michigan, where he now lives. Samuel Croft next kept it three or four years. He also went to Michigan, but returned. Lester Maltby, from Summer Hill, kept a store some two years from 1837; and Josiah Goodrich, from Groton, from about 1845 to 1848, when he went to California. He subsequently removed his family to Ithaca, and died there. James Stewart and David Raynor were in mercantile business here from 1854 to 1858.

A union store was started here about 1852, by a stock company, composed mostly of farmers, with a capital of $10,000. It was managed by Aaron L. Cone, and continued about three years.

Ambrose Culver and Philander Mead opened astore about 1861, and kept it three years. M. Downing kept a jewelry store one year, in 1863. He removed to Moravia, where he now carries on the same business. Amzi M. Lyon kept a store from Dec., 1866 to 1869, and sold to Luther Nichols, from Xenia, Ohio, who kept it two years and sold to M. D. Murphy. He kept it about a year and sold to Edwin Guest, Jr., who was succeeded at his death in 1876, by his father, (who came in from Brooklyn and commenced business in 1847, selling to his son, Edwin, in 1865,) and in whose name the business is still conducted by his son, Theodore M. Guest. T. L. Jakway and Caleb King opened a grocery in the spring of 1871, where Lavern White's shoe store now is. In 1873 they removed to the hotel building, the present location. In February, 1876, Jakway sold his interest to Allen A. Dutton, from Danby, Tompkins county, whose interest was attached three months afterwards. King continued the business till April, 1878, when he sold to T. L. Jakway, the present proprietor. George Miller opened a boot and shoe store in 1874 and in 1875 he sold to Theodore Guest. He and Joseph Ferris bought it back the same year, and in April, 1877, Ferris sold his interest to Miller, who admitted J. L. White to partnership the following October. In March, 1878, White bought Miller's interest and has since carried on the business.

PHYSICIANS.- The first physician at Milan was Philander Mead, who came in 1819, from the east part of Genoa, where hesettledin 1811, and practiced till his death September 3d, 1853. He was in partnership from 1823 till about 1833, with David G. Perry, from Warren county, who afterwards practiced alone till his death a few years later. Nathaniel Leavitt came in from New Hampshire about 1840, and practiced four or five years. He finally returned to New Hampshire and died there. Nelson Mead, son of Philander Mead, commenced practice in 1847 and still continues. He is an allopath. Dr. Lacycame in from Groton about 1850, and practiced one or two years. Wm. C. Cox came in from Niles about 1872, and after practicing two or three years removed to Moravia, where he is now practicing. Mead Hobby practiced a few years with his uncle, Nelson Mead, and removed to Iowa in 1874. He is professor of anatomy and ophthalmy in the Medical College in Iowa City. Frank Putnam came in from Venice in 1876, and is still practicing here.

POSTMASTERS.- Henry Kennedy was probably the first postmaster. He was appointed soon after the close of the war of 1812, and was soon succeeded by Jesse Millard, who held it a good many years,till about 1830. He was succeeded by D. Perry and Giles Gregory, each of whom held the office but a few years, till 1836, when Wm. Titus was appointed and continued in office till about 1849, when Mahlon D. Murphy was appointed, and was succeeded in 1853, by Lester Maltby, who held the office about six months, when he went to Michigan. He was succeeded in the fall of 1853 by Abraham A. Colony, who held it till his death about a year after. He was succeeded by Barnabas King, who held it till the spring of 1861, when Ambrose Culver was appointed and held it about three years. Amzi M. Lyon next succeeded to the office and was reappointed February 23d, 1866. He was succeeded by Edwin Guest, Jr., who held it till his death in April, 1876, when J. P. Cady, the present incumbent, was appointed.

LAWYERS.- The first lawyer was Isaac Sisson, from R. I., who practiced some twelve or fifteen years, till about 1843, when he removed to Auburn. The next was Nelson T. Stephens, who was born at Genoa, November 20th, 1820. His education was such as was afforded by a desultory attendance at the neighborhood academies. He read law with Leonard 0. Aiken, and was admitted to the Court of Common Pleas in the winter of 1844, and to the Supreme Court in the fall of 1846. In 1852 he went to California, and returned after about a year to Moravia, where he distinguished himself as a nisiprius lawyer. He was a Captain in the war of the Rebellion, and on being mustered out of service, resumed practice in Auburn. He soon after removed to Kansas, where he is now Judge of the Supreme Court, and, in connection with his partner, Solon 0. Thatcher, is engaged in some of the most important litigation in that State. Orlen White, a native of Locke. studied with Stephens and cormmenced practice about 1844 or '45, and continuec till his death in 1855. James Youngs came ir from Cortland about 1845 and practiced some three years. J. E. Cropsey was admitted to practice in 1855, having previously been admitted to practice in the courts of Michigan. In February, 1874, he removed to Moravia, but returned to Milan and is still practicing here. Glen Gallup came from Albany, about 1858, and practiced one year.

MANUFACTURES.- Upon the Inlet, a little more than a mile below Milan, at a place known as Centreville, is a saw and cider-mill and jellyfactory, owned by Charles Peck. The establish. ment was built in 1872. at a cost of $7,500. During the cider and jelly season seven persons are employed, and 1,000 to 1,800 barrels of cider made. Of this 350 to 500 barrels are made into jelly, which is put up in oak pails holding twenty-five pounds, and three pound tin cans, and shipped to New York, Philadelphia and othet markets. The custom and flouting-mill at Milan has been in possession of the present proprietor, Wm. W. Alley, Jr., since 1867, in which year he bought the property of John C. Legern. The mill was built by a Mr. Durell, in 1810. It contains three run of stones, which are propelled by water from Owasco Inlet, with a fourteen feet head. Upon Hemlock Creek, one mile south of Milan, is a grist-mill owned by John Silcox, who bought it of Jeremiah Cady in 1870. for $5,000. It is a frame building, and was erected in 1831, by Gage Miller. It contains three run of stones. The creek, which furnishes the motive power, has a fall of 22 feet.

THE SECOND M. E. CHURCH OF LOCKE, located at Milan, was incorporated May 22d, 1849; but the members of this denomination enjoyed the ministrations of circuit preachers for several years prior to that date. Among the latter were W. Batcheller, B. D. Sniffin, Wm. Cameron and Isaac Parks in 1834; L. K. RedIngton, Z. Barns and Wm. H. Woodbury, in 1835, '6 and '7; Wm. Cameron and Alonzo Wood, in 1838; Thomas D. Wire and D. Lamkins in 1839 and '40; Isaac Parks, Herman H. Winter, Wm. Cameron and Aaron Cross, in 1841 and '42; S. Minier and A. Hamilton in 1843 and '44; and Daniel Cobb in 1849. Their church edifice was erected in 1850.

SOCIETIES.- Uskeep Lodge No. 459, I. O. O. F., at Milan. was instituted March 8th, 1877, with six charter members. The first officers were James M. Stewart, N. G.; Wm. N. Reynolds, V. G.; John E. Cropsey, Secretary; Henry Close, Treasurer; J. H. Grant, Warden: H. Y. Cornwell, Conductor. The present officers are, Frank Putnam, N, G., Abram W. Brooks, V G.; Charles Peck, Secretary; Lavern Towsley, Treasurer; H. M. Dean. Permanent Secretary; Lee Swartwout, Warden; John Taylor, Chaplain. Meetings are held at the lodge rooms in Milan every Saturday evening.

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