History of Lebanon, NY

The Town of Lebanon.

This town was formed from Hamilton on February 6, 1807, and is one of the five towns of the county erected in that year. It is the center town on the south border of the county, bounded north by Eaton, east by Hamilton, south by Chenango county, and west by Georgetown. It contains a little more than 26,000 acres, about fourfifths of which is improved. The surface is hilly and lies mostly between the valleys of the Chenango and the Otselic; the first of these streams flows through the eastern part of the town, its valley comprising a fertile and beautiful region, expanding to nearly a mile in width and bordered by the steep slopes of the hills, which rise 500 to 800 feet above the valley bottom. The town is underlaid mostly by the Hamilton group and some good stone has been quarried for building purposes. The soil on the hills is gravelly loam underlaid with hardpan, and in the valleys alluvium. It is almost exclusively an agricultural district, dairying being extensively followed, with hop growing to a limited extent. The New York, Ontario and Western Railroad crosses the town along its east border in the Chenango valley, connecting at Smith's Valley with the Utica, Clinton and Binghamton road, and at Eariville with the Syracuse and Chenango branch of the West Shore road.

Lebanon was one of the six towns originally patented to Col William S. Smith, who soon transferred the most of it to Sir William Puitney, reserving a tract on the Chenango River. Settlement began under the auspices of those men through the direct agency of Justus B. Smith, brother of Colonel Smith and others. Joshua Smith was sent in to the town in 1791 to prospect, built a log house near the Smith's Valley settlement, returned to report to his principal, but subsequently came back to Lebanon and settled here permanently. Justus B. Smith, the agent, also settled with his brothers, John and James, and five sisters. Jonathan Bates, Enoch Stowell, and John and James Salisbury came on in the fall of 1792, the Salisburys settling in Eaton, and Bates and Stowell in Lebanon; during that fall they cleared twenty acres of land. In the spring of 1794 David Hartshorn and Samuel Felt, with his brother David, became settlers. Lent Bradley and Solomon Jones settled as early as 1797, john W. Bulkley about the same time and David and Dunham Shapley and Arunah Moseley as early as 1798.

As early as 1800 nine separate families of Campbells came into the town, locating at Campbell's Settlement in the north part. Daniel and Elisha Wheeler settled about 1798 and soon built the first grist and saw mills in the town on the Chenango. Settlers at about the beginning of the century were Malatiah Hatch, Dane Ballard, Elihu Bosworth, Jabin Armstrong, Thomas Buell, and Abraham Webster. Silas Seymour, a Revolutionary soldier, settled in the town in 1800, Rev. Matthias Cazier in 1803, and Orsamus Gilbert and Francis Whitmore in 1805. Other pioneers were Ephraim Gray, Benjamin Hewes, Thomas Hueston, Daniel Stowell, Deacon Asa Tenney, Capt. Roderick Moore, Philip Kibbie, Captain Truman and Jabez Billings. John Sheldon, Giles Collins, and Richard Taylor, all of whom have been noticed more in detail in an earlier chapter.

The first town meeting for Lebanon was held. on March 3, 1807, in the red school house and the following officers elected: John W. Bulkley, supervisor; Silas Seymour, clerk; Giles Collins, Josiah Lasel and Jacob Kennedy, assessors; Malatiah Hatch and Roderick Moore, overseers of the poor; Jacob Kennedy, Daniel Clark and Roderick Moore, commissioners of highways; David Hartshorn and Joseph Hitchcock, constables; Joseph Hitchcock, collector; George Morey, Walter Baker, Clark "Wilicocks," Stephen James, Orsamus Gilbert, Samuel Lewis, Abraham Webster, Jacob Hartshorn, Justus B. Smith, Ezra Gates, John W. Bulkley, Elisha Wheeler, Darius Sperry, Sheldon Smith, Gardner Saisbury, Moses Pomeroy, William Taggart, James Dorrance, Roderick Moore, Archibald Campbell, David B. Hitchcock, Aaron Davies, Giles Collins and William Sloan, overseers of highways and fence-viewers; Charles S. Campbell, poundkeeper.

A special town meeting was held November 23, 1807, at which John W. Bulkley, Constant Merrick, Jacob Kennedy, Moses Wylie and Roderick Moore were appointed a committee to select the place for "centering the town," as it was expressed. A little later steps were taken to raise funds by subscription with which to build a town house; this purpose was never carried out.

Following is a list of the supervisors of this town from its formation to the present time, with the years of their service: 1807-9, John W. Bulkley; 1810-11, James Campbell; 1812-14, Francis Whitmore ; 1815-19, Amos Crocker; 1820-21, Francis Whitmore; 1822-28, Daniel Clark; 1829-30, Josiah Lasell; 1831-34, Francis Whitmore; 1835-3 6, Jacob Hartshorn; 1837, Erastus B. Burroughs; 1838-40, Curtis Hoppin; 1841-42, Jeremiah Ballard; 1843-44, David Clark; 1845-46, Curtis Hoppin; 1847, Joseph A. Norton; 1848-49, David Clark; 1850, Joseph A. Norton; 1851-52, David Clark; 1853-55, Jason Owen; 1856-58, David Clark; 1859, Aylmer Ballard; 1860-61, John C. Head; 1862-65, E. M. Lamb; 1866-67, George W. Baker; 1868-69, Henry Seymour; 1870, Albert 0. Pierce; 1871, Edwin M. Lamb; 1872-75, Ephraim Fisk; 1876-77, Ladurna Ballard; 1878, John S. Ross; 1879-80, Sidney D. Smith; 1881, Herman Snell; 1882-83, Edwin M. Lamb; 1884-85, Morris N. Campbell; 1886-88, Stephen R. Campbell; 1889-95, De Forest A. Wilcox; 1896-99, Stephen R. Campbell.

There are only two post villages in Lebanon-the village of Lebanon, which is the largest, and Smith's Valley, the post-office here bearing the name of Randallsville. Lebanon was locally known in past years as " Toad Hollow;" it is situated about a mile west of the center of the town and is a station on the railroad. Justus B. Smith was the first to sell goods here, keeping a small stock in the basement of his house. The first merchant to trade in a regular store building was Jonathan Thayer, jr., who continued until his death in 1830. Other early merchants were Orson and William L. Sheldon, who traded in the Gilbert store; after a year or two William withdrew; Curtis Hoppin, who bought out Orson Sheldon; Joseph A. Norton, Edwin M. Lamb, Joseph D. Avery, Fisk & Gilbert, Pike & Seymour, Abraham Martin, and a few others. The present merchants are S. W. Seymour, succeeded Pike & Seymour, general store; J. H. Poole, boots and shoes; Irving Collins, established flour and feed store in 1889 and afterwards added a general stock; W. S. Niles, boots and shoes and hardware, succeeded Niles Brothers in May, 1898; their general stock was taken by Frank D. Lyon who conducts a store. C. M. Henry has a blacksmith shop.

Horace A. Campbell built the upright part of the original hotel about 1834 for a store and a little later converted it into a hotel, which he kept until about 1853; the house afterwards had several proprietors and is now called the Currier House, and kept by George M. Currier.

The old saw mill built many years ago at Lebanon still stands, but is now in use only as a storehouse by L. Ballard; the dam is gone. A tannery was established here in 1838 by Thomas Bright and passed through several hands until 1884 when it was burned. It was rebuilt the next year and is now owned by S. B. David and T. A. Beach; it was used for a time as a saw and grist mill, but is now idle.

The first physician here was Joseph Stowell, who came from Stowell, Mass., and about 1799 settled on the southeast corner lot in this town, near Eariville, and there practiced until his death in 1831 or 1832. His son, Kittridge, succeeded to the homstead. Dr. Constant Merrick from Lanesboro, Mass., settled about 1802 about two miles southeast of Lebanon, and about 1806 removed to the village and practiced until his death in 1828. Other former physicians were Drs. John Clarke, Erastus B. Burroughs, Lyman O. Horton, John Baker and his brother Cyrus, homoeopathists, Frank D. Beebe, Elam Root, and the late James Mott Throop. The physician now in practice is Dr. M. D. French.

The first postmaster at Lebanon was Jonathan Thayer, appointed about 1814 and held the office until his death in 1830. His son Sylvester succeeded him until 1833, when Orrin Thayer, another son of Jonathan, was appointed. He was followed about 1836 by Horace A. Campbell. Orrin Gilbert was the next incumbent for a short period and was succeeded by William L. Sheldon who continued until near his death in 1847. H. A. Campbell was the successor and was followed in 1853 by Edwin M. Lamb. About 1858 Reuben S Hall was appointed and was succeeded by Joseph D. Avery in 1861, and he by Milton E. Danforth in 1865. Charles W. Brasse was appointed about 1870 and in 1873 was succeeded by John D. Gilbert. He held the office until 1876, when he was succeeded by Silas W. Seymour, who has held the office in all Republican administrations since, while James Mosher has been the incumbent in Democratic administrations.

The Congregational Church at Lebanon was organized October 2, 1802, as the Third Congregational Church of Christ in the town of Hamilton, with fifteen members. The first settled pastor was probably not ordained until 1825, when Rev. S. Scott was called. The meeting house was built in 1825 a mile north of the Center and in 1839 was removed to its present site, where it has been greatly improved according to modern ideas. The society is now prospering under the ministrations of Rev. Hugh Ivey.

Steps were taken early in the century that resulted in the organization of a Baptist Church in June, 1816. In November, 1819, it was agreed to build a house of worship 24 by 23, feet in size. The site was a little south of the site of the second edifice, which was finished in 1835 and was there occupied until 1889, when it was removed to its present site in the village and remodeled and substantially rebuilt. The society is now in an active and prosperous condition and the pulpit is supplied chiefly from Colgate University.

A Universalist society had a brief existence many years ago and erected a church about a mile east of the village; the church long ago passed out of existence and the building is now in use as a storehouse.

South Lebanon.- This is a small hamlet a mile and a half south of Lebanon village, containing a school house, a blacksmith shop by Cornelius Downey; a steam saw mill operated by Charles Bills; a paint shop by Samuel Benedict, and a general store by Sidney Catlin. There is not and never has been a post-office here. The first store at this point was opened by W. H. Williamson, a native of Lebanon, who removed from Hamilton about 1871; he sold out to Lewis H. Wedge in 1876, who continued the business a number of years. The main part of the saw mill was built about 1860 by Sidney Bills for a carriage shop and was used for that purpose until 1871, when it was converted to its present use. An addition containing a feed grinding mill, was built in 1858 for a cider mill and was removed to the side of the main building when that was erected.

Smith's Valley (Randallsville P. O.).-This is a hamlet in the east part of the town, the southern terminus of the Utica, Clinton & Bing. hamton Railroad and a station on the New York, Ontario & Western. It was once a place of considerable business importance, as the reader has learned in an earlier chapter; but trade and industry were attracted elsewhere in the natural course of development and the little village settled down into rural quite until reawakened by the incoming railroads. Here was established the first store in the town by the Smith family of pioneers, and near by were built mills and shops of various kinds. The first merchant here under the second stage of business activity was J. Dayton F. Smith, who began trade in 1870, was associated with his son, Adon N., from 1873, and sold out in the next year to Charles E. Montgomery. A year and a half later he sold to Sidney D. Smith, who continued several years. The present merchants are George Waite and Riley Arnst. Peter L. Beers was appointed postmaster just previous to the opening of the railroad and was succeeded by Henry T. Robinson, J. D. F. Smith, C. Montgomery Smith, Sidney D. Smith, and Mary C. Hutchings, who has been in charge about ten years.

About a mile and a quarter east of Lebanon is a grist and saw mill, operated by water, built many years ago and now operated by George W. Phillips. The grist mill has existed since about 1810. About a mile southwest of Smith's Valley is a saw and planing mill and cheese box factory, built by Erastus Clark about 1860 and still operated by him. In the north part of the town, a mile from Smith's Valley, a saw mill was built many years ago which has gone to decay. About a mile and a half west of Lebanon were two saw mills, one of which was last operated by Clinton Stowell; in the same vicinity is a carding machine, which is now operated by Mr. Stowell, who has also a large cold storage business. Another small saw mill a mile above South Lebanon, and still another a mile below that place, the latter built about 1887 by Marvin Torrey, have both fallen into decay.

Lebanon was early divided into school districts and the first commissioners, chosen in 1813, were Constant Merrick, Amos Crocker, and Moses Wylie; the school inspectors were James Campbell, Curtis Hoppin, and Francis Whitmore. This town now forms a part of the First Commissioner District of the county, and has twelve districts with school houses, employing in 1897 twelve teachers. The number of pupils attending in that year was 251.

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