History of Hermon, NY


Local Histories

THIS was the twenty-fourth town erected by an act of the Legislature passed April 17, 1830. Hermon was originally organized under the name of Depeau, after Francis Depeau, once proprietor of a large tract of land in Jefferson county. He was also interested in the middle third of this territory, which had passed from McCormick to George Lewis, July 12, 1804, who sold to John and Curtis Bolton, August 1, 1823, and they sold to Depeau, June 6, 1828. He sold to Sarah, wife of John Bolton. May 3. 1830.

The town was formed from De Kaib and Edwards April 17, 1830. The first town meeting was held at the school-house near Nathaniel Kent's May 4, 1830, and the following officers elected: William Teall, supervisor; Benjamin Healey, town clerk; Wilkes Richardson, Isaac C. Pool, Silas Williams, assessors; Martin L. Cook, John Matoon, over-. seers of the poor; Simeon Peterson, Jesse Worden, Shubael Parker, commissioners of highways; Wilkes Richardson, Robert Gotham, Harry Tanner, commissioners of schools; Benjamin Healey, Aaron Teall, C. D. Morehouse, inspectors of public schools; Charles O. Redfield, collector; Ariel Wrisley, Charles C. Redfield, constables.

The town originally embraced the township of Fitzwilliam and a strip one mile by six from the southwest side of De Kaib. On the 17th of November, 1852, the supervisors annexed a tract from the southeast corner of the town of Edwards, leaving in Hermon 36,686 acres.

The name of the town was changed to Hermon, February 28, 1834, as there was a Depeauville in Jefferson county. A post-office named Hermon had been established in the northeastern part of the town December 28, 1828.

The surface of the town is generally rolling, some parts being hilly, particularly the northern part, where it is broken and sterile. The soil is well adapted to grazing, and dairying is quite extensively carried on. Some attempts at mining of iron have been made, but none of continued prosperity. Elm, Tanner, and Carter Creeks are the only streams of account. Trout Lake is in the southern part, and Cedar Lake extends into that part of the town.

Many of the pioneers of this town came from Vermont and were industrious and hardy people. The first white settler was James Taylor, who made a small clearing in the western part about 1805. Philemon Stewart, Ariel Inman and Rufus Hopkins came in soon afterwards, but left on the breaking out of the War of 1812 and did not return. Thomas Tanner came in March, 1809, and spent the remainder of his long and useful life there.

The first road leading through this town was that from Russell to De Kaib, which was opened just prior to the War of 1812. In 1818 the road from De Kalb to what is now Hermon village was opened.

The first school taught in the town was kept in the house of David McCollum in the winter of 1817-18 by William D. Moore.

The first marriage in the town was that of Ashbel Tryon and Harriet McCollum, July 4, 1821; and the first death was that of Peter, infant son of Germain Sutherland, in 1818.

A post-office was established at what is now Hermon village December 20, 1828, with Benjamin Healey as postmaster. The mails then came in from De Kaib, carried on horseback by Henry Tanner.

David McCollum settled in 1812 and had four sons: Martin, John, Jefferson D. and Samuel. The latter took the homestead. Roger Story came in 1813. Germain Sutherland in 1816, he was father of Moses H. and one of his daughters married H. B. Hamlin, and another Rosalve Healey.

Other early settlers were Joseph H. Baird, One Gibbons, William Teall (the first supervisor), Benjamin Healey (the first town clerk, and who left numerous descendants), Clark Main, Ralph Fisher, Lorenzo H. Sheldon, Chester Winslow, Shubael Parker, Wilkes Richardson (one of the first assessors and father of Ferdinand and King R,), William D. Gilmore, William H. Underwood. Henry Reed, Orlando Babbitt, Dr. H. Alexander, Reuben L. Willson, John Gardner, and Asa, his son, Frank Matteson, Ransom and John Day, Noah Hamilton, Ezra Leonard, Alexander Brown, Almon and Amos V. Farnsworth, Silas Williams, A. F. Gates, a prominent dairyman and farmer, William Rasback, Thomas Thornhill, Alvin A. Corey, William A. Scripter, E. J. Stewart, son of Philemon Stewart, an early settler. Many of these men became prominent in the community and sonic of them left descendants in this section.

The early industries of this town were connected with lumbering, the clearing of land and raising such crops as were needed by the people. But early in the history of this locality its excellent adaptability to grazing became apparent and more attention was given to stock-raising and dairying, and in recent years the latter industry has given it a rank among the best towns in the county. Cheese is the principal product.

There are large deposits of hematite iron ore in the town and early attracted attention, and it was long believed they would prove to be a source of wealth. Mining operations were begun on an extensive scale in 1864, and J. W. Lowden, an eastern capitalist, also erected a furnace at Cooper's Falls in De Kaib. Mr. Lowden invested a large sum of money, mostly in preliminary work, In 1872 he sold out his whole interest to the Union Iron Company of Buffalo, John Webb of Gouverneur acting as local agent of the company. The "hard times "of 1873-4 came on, and that fact was given as a reason for cessation of the enterprise, which has never been resumed. Like most of the other attempts to successfully mine and produce iron in this county, there seem to have been conditions and circumstances which, coupled with the cheap production elsewhere, rendered it impossible to profitably pursue the industry here.

The dairying interest, which has been mentioned, has been rapidly developed in the past twenty years. In 1877 the product of cheese had reached about 700,000, and in that year the following factories were in operation:

Factory.         Owner.          No. of Cows. Pounds of Cheese.

Hermon Village   Charles Risley    750         200,000

Hermon Center    A. F. Gates       500         140,000

West Hermon      Baker & Pickard   450         120,000

South Hermon     George La Lone    400         110,000

Porter Hill      John Foster       375         100,000

Parker Factory   Asa Parker        100          30,000

TOTAL                            2,575         700,000

The present condition of the industry is no less encouraging. In Hermon Village there is a butter factory owned by Lewis Knox; and at Hermon Center is a cheese factory, by Baker & Pickard; at West Hermon another by Morrow Brothers; and at Porter Hill, one by John Foster. A factory was in operation in the southern part of the town, but was burned. The Parker factory was discontinued about ten years ago.

Hermon Village.- This village is pleasantly situated in the northeast part of the town, near the Canton and De Kalb lines, and is a thrifty place. The first settlement was made at this point by Roger Story in 1816, who at once built alog house. In the same year Germain Sutherland came. Other settlers on the site of the village were Alexander Brown, Nehemiah Barker, Thomas Gilmore, Elisha Burnham, David Wesley, Samuel McCollum, William D. Moore and William Martin, the latter opening the first store in the place in 1823. Fromthatyear until the present time, the village has continucd to grow in population. Its prosperity was temporarily checked by a disastrous fire April 27, 1875, the loss by which was about $100,000; but the energy of the citizens enabled them to promptly recoverfrom the disaster, and new and handsome blocks of buildings arose on the sites of the former ones. Some of these are noteworthy examples of business architecture, among them being the old and the new Lynde blocks, the block of Dr. G. G. Seymour, the J. B. Ryel block, the building erected by George Johnson and J. B. McLean, the W. G. Popple block, the new Baptist church, etc.

The village was incorporated in 1887 and the first election of officers was held November 17, following, at which were chosen: W. W. Matteson, president; Elisha Burnham, Martin R. Folsom, William M. Green, trustees; James K. Hale, treasurer; John J. Haile, collector. Water works were established in 1891, at a cost of $7,000, and give the village a good supply of pure water.

Since the opening of the first store in the village there have been various persons engaged in mercantile business here, for longer or shorter periods. Those now engaged in business are E. B. Hatch and Conant & Beswick, general stores; Johns & Newell, groceries; James K. Hale, groceries and boots and shoes; W. G. Popple and J. B. McLean, hardware; James Robinson, drugs; Isaac Gibbons, liquor store; G. W. Johnson has a meat market; Daniel Booth and Robert Davidson are blacksmiths; L. M. Fuller and Green & Babcock, furniture, the latter firm also undertakers. The hotel is kept by S. H. Ladd. J. E. Robinson is postmaster.

The various industries of the village have kept pace with the other interests. A tannery was established here early and operated until recent years, but the business was finally abandoned and the old building is empty. James Kelly has been engaged in carriage making since 1856, doing a large business in that line. The first grist mill was erected by Milton Johnson in 1819, and stood about opposite the site of the present mill on the east side of Elm Creek; he also built a distillery at the same time, both of which were long ago abandoned. The present mill was built by John Stokes, who sold it to T. W. Sheldon in 1865. The mill is now operated by James Brown. There is no saw mill in operation here now, though there was, of course, one for many years.

A beautiful cemetery has been laid out near the village, the officers of the association being Z. W. Babcock, secretary and treasurer; W. W. Matteson, president; and W. M. Green, James Keiley, H. C. Maine, Joseph Firth, trustees.

The Observer is a weekly newspaper started by G. T. Chancy in 1888. It is Republican in politics and is successfully published by Hamilton & Demmons.

The first school taught in this town has already been mentioned; it was followed by another in the second winter (1819-20) in the same place by Wesley McCollum. In 1826 a school was taught at the site of the village by Miss Huldah Wickerson. The first district established after the formation of the town was No. 1, June 10, 1830, and embraced a wide extent of territory. This has been succeeded by various divisions and there are now thirteen districts in the town. In 1868 a department school was organized in the village, the first board being as follows: A. M. Spalding, Otis Earle, Harris Bartholomew, W. W. Matteson, and Z. W. Babcock; the present board is composed of E. B. White, H. C. Main, Benjamin Cleghorn, John C. Gibbons, and W. W. Matteson.

The present commodious school building was erected in 1885. The school has now four departments with four teachers, and the languages are embraced in its course. The Board of Education for 1893 is Dr. C. E. Northrup, clerk; Z. W. Babcock, president; E. A. Conant, H. C. Maine, E. O. Reynolds.

Marshville.- This is a hamlet situated on Elm Creek about one mile south of Hermon village. The early settlers at this point were Clark Main, William H. Dodge, L. W. Campbell, J. M. McCollum, and Amos Marsh, father of Horatio Marsh; from the former the place received its name. About the year 1825 Abram Fisk built the second saw mill in the town here. Amos Marsh bought this property and erected a grist mill. These mills were subsequently burned.

The Marsbville Cemetery Association was incorporated in March, 1850, and the cemetery established; but the association was allowed to die out in a few years.

Following is a list of the supervisors of the town from its formation to the present time:
1830-32, William Teall; 1833, Reuben L. Wilson; 1834-36, Harry Tanner; 1837, Silas Williams; 1838-39, Henry P. Cook; 1840, Nathaniel Kent; 1841-42, H. P. Cook; 1843-47, Silas Williams; 1848-51, Seymour Thatcher; 1852-53, David W. Weeks; 1854-55, William E. Tanner; 1850-57, Orlando Babbitt; 1858, Horace Barnes; 1859- 60, Clark Maine; 1861-64, William E. Turner; 1864-67, Alanson A. Matteson; 1868- 70, Dolphus G. Lynde; 1871, Otis Earle; 1872-73, A. A. Matteson; 1874, Z. W. Babcock; 1875-79. A. A. Matteson; 1880-84, Z. W. Babcock; 1885-87, D. S. Lynde; 1888, H. C. Maine; 1889, W. A. Leonard; 1800, George Babbitt; 1891-94, W. W. Matteson

The War of the Rebellion, see Chapter XV.


The first religious meetings held in town were by Rev. Wm. Wright, a Congregational missionary, in 1814-15, who paved the way for other religious bodies to follow, but did not organize a church. The first Methodist church was formed about the year 1820, but preaching had been enjoyed in the house of Roger Story as early as 1816. The society was incorporated November 1, 1847, with Samuel I. Bingham, Seymour Thatcher, Joseph H. Baird, Lorenzo H. Sheldon, Orin Nichols, Timothy H. Hatch, and Daniel McIntire, trustees. In the next year they built a handsome church, which is still in use, but has been at various times greatly improved and modernized. The society is now prosperous under the charge of Rev. W. H. Kanoff.

The first Baptist church at Hermon viElage was organized in January, 1818, and the society was incorporated December 3, 1845, with the following as trustees: Horatio Marsh, Daniel K. Babcock, Edward Maddock, William E. Tanner, Theodorus Frisby, and Orle Gibbons. The house of worship was built in 1849. This church was burned March r, 1891, and a new and very handsome modern edifice erected. The present pastor is Rev. S. Mills.

A Congregational church was formed at Marshville in 1835 by Rev. Mr. Eastman. Among the early members were Wilkes Richardson and wife, Ezra Leonard and wife, John Matoon and wife, and others. The first named men were trustees. In 1840 they built a church at a cost of $2,500. The membership has never been large, between forty and fifty. They are now supplied by Rev. W. G. Roberts, pastor of the De Kalb church.

A Universalist church was organized March 8, 1858, at Hermon village, and continued in existence something more than twenty years, but finally died out.

The Christian church was formed by Elder Spooner in 1826. The society flourished for a time, and in 1859 erected a wood meeting-house in Marshville, having at one time upwards of 200 members, but by death and removals a few years later dropped to about thirty. Their services have been irregular since.

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