History of Osceola, NY
FROM: History of Lewis County, New York and its people
By Franklin B. Hough
Published By D. Mason & Co. 1883


CHAPTER XXXIII.
HISTORY OF THE TOWN OF OSCEOLA.

This town was formed from West Turin, February 28, 1844, in accordance with a vote of that town, embracing Townships 8, or Rurabella, and 13, or Hybla, of the Boylston Tract. The Board of Supervisors, on the 22d of November, 1867, annexed the northern part of this town to Montague. The part thus set off included lots 1 to 38 of Township 8, which had then begun to settle in the western part, and whose business connections were altogether toward the north.

The name was applied at the request of a young lady in New York, in memory of the celebrated Seminole chief, whose career forms an important item in the history of Florida. This warrior was a half-breed, and was first known by his father's name Powell, but received the title of As-se-o-la (as pronounced in the original dialect), because he could drink a greater quantity than others of a drink of this name taken preparatory to the fast and feast of the green-corn dance. He arose to the rank of chief by the force of his native talent, and began and continued the bloody wars which for years wasted the southern frontiers. The superior numbers and discipline of our troops having turned the war against the savages, Osceola with a train of seventy followers, came into thecamp of Gen. Thomas S. Jessup, in October, 1837. They were detained and sent prisoners to Fort Moultrie, near Charleston, where he languished and died in the January following. His detention has been severely censured, but facts seem to indicate that his intention was to capture the place and release some prisoners had he found it practicable, but if not, to return and continue the war. The Indians had been told, that when willing to remove, they should be received and protected, and they were made to understand that they could not return when they once came in. Osceola's party under these circumstances could claim no alternative but removal.

Some of the settlers proposed to call the town Greenfield, in compliment to the resident agent, but on suggestion of the present name, it was approved at a public meeting called for the occasion.

Supervisors. - 1844-'48, Seymour Green; 1849, John Marsden; 1850-'52, S. Green; 1853, J. Marsden; 1854-'56, S. Green 1857, Henry E. Griffin; 1858, Anthony Rowell; 1859, J. Marsden; 1861, William Rowell; 1862, S. Green; 1863, Dennis O'Connell; 1864-'65, Junius A. Cowles; 1866-'71, William Rowell; 1872, J. A. Cowles; 1873-'74, William Rowell; 1875-'76, Abraham F. Vandawalker; 1877-'78, Seth Bullock; 1879-'80, A. F. Vandawalker; 1881, Junius A. Cowles.

Clerks. - 1844, John Roberts; 1845-'46, Roswell A. Hubbard; 1847, Washington Shorey; 1848, R. A. Hubbard; 1849-'50, David Dunn; 1851-'52, Jas. Roberts; 1853-'54, Jas. Mitchell; 1855, Jairus Rowe; 1856, Henry E. Griffin; 1857, Henry J. Baker; 1858, John Gibbs; 1859, John Bain; 1861, Geo. A. A. Shorey; 1862, John Bain; 1863-'64, Sylvanus Williams; 1865, Michael Quinn; 1866, S. F. Dyer; 1867- '70, George W. Vandewalker; 1871-'72, H. H. Wemple; Samuel J. Griffith; 1875, H. H. Wemple; 1876, Seth Bullock; 1877-'78, John Knopp; 1879, Wm. Rowell; 1880-'82, Edward Rolling.

The survey of the outlines of Township 13 were made as follows
W. line North, 687 ch., 65 lks (1795). M. Mitchell.
N. line S. 80° E. 764 ch., 19 iks. (1795). M. Mitchell.
E. line S. 30° W. (1795). W. Cockburn.
S. W. (Patent line), N. 68° 50' W. (1794).

Area 37,041 1-2 acres by Wright's survey. Length of lines, 204 miles, 70 lks. Cost of survey, £204 17s 6d.

It was subdivided by Benjamin Wright in 1795, into 151 lots, and resurveyed in 1839. The note book of Moses Wright, an assistant who was running a line in this township in 1797, has the following entry which sets forth some of the hardships of a land surveyor

"This 9th day of October, it being Monday, had the pleasure of running all day in the coldest rain I ever was sensible of. The rain that fell the day before yesterday, last night and to-day, raised the brooks and creeks over their banks, and what gave me the worst feeling is, that the hard, pinching hand of Poverty, seven days ago took all the rum."

In another place the weary and rumless engineer records :- "Lots 112, 113: 30 chains up the highest hill that ever was. 5,000,000,000 feet high!"

Had he stopped seven cyphers short, he might have represented without exaggeration, the rise from the flats of Salmon river to the high lands which border it, but his hand once started on the cyphers, he let it run!

Township 8 was subdivided into 111 lots, by B. Wright in 1805, and contains 28,419 53-100 acres. While surveying in this region in 1795, Mr. Wright remarked, that the beavers were building a dam on the north branch of Salmon river, that would flow 400 acres of land.

In December, 1795, a negotiation was pending for the purchase of Township 13, by John Bernard, of Rome, who proposed to form a company for this object. The price then proposed was two dollars per acre, payable by installments in four years, with interest from April 20, 1797. The bargain was not closed from the inability of Bernard to find associates.

In 1805, a road was cut out from Fish creek across township No. 1 (now Lewis), and 13 and 8 in this town, to the line of 7, with the design of intersecting the State road in Redfield, but the north end and the portion south of the Macomb purchase were never cut out, and the route soon relapsed into the state of nature. It entered Township 13, on lot 137, and in Township 8 crossed lots 96, 85, 84, 73, 62, 61 and 50. In the fall of 1805, James Constable and Hezekiah B. Pierrepont, two of the executors of the estate of William Constable, crossed these towns by this road, and the following journal of the former will be read with interest.

"Sept. 7. After breakfast set off from Fairservice's (in Western) towards Fish creek, the first two miles passable for teams, but the rest of the distance to the creek not cut out at all, but it is easy ground and not heavily timbered, and the people promised to do it this fall without fail. Forded the creek, and on the other side our road begins. The ascent from the creek very well done, and the cutting appears to be according to agreement, although the clearing out of the timber is occasionally neglected. The soil of the whole of No. i is very indifferent, the timber mostly hemlock, except sometimes beech or a hard mossy birch, the face of the country uneven and ridgy, though not much stony. I fear it will not settle speedily. The southeasterly part of No. 13 not much better, though we have occasionally some better timber, ash, bass, &c. As we advance to the Salmon river we find better land fit for settlers; some good swales and very little hemlock. Forded the river, it being here a small stream, and there being some grass for our horses we stopped to bait them and ourselves. A fire being soon kindled each man cut his slice of pork, toasted or fried it, and we made a hearty meal. The brandy brought with us and the water made a good drink. Passed on, the land improving till we came to the 13 and 14 mile tree, to a good spring and a brook where there was a good hut of the road makers, and although we might have gone two or three miles furthér before dark, yet Fairservice being doubtful whether we should meet such good accommodations, it was determined to remain here for the night. Another cause was, that we got some hay for the horses. We made our fire, cooked our pork and made our meal with an excellent appetite. Our horses were not neglected.

"Sept. 9. After sleeping pretty soundly till daylight, the weather seemed likely to turn to rain, and we resolved to proceed on through the road so far as to insure our getting to Redfield in the course of the day, as the provisions would not hold out longer. Went on to the 18 mile tree, and at another hut prepared and ate our breakfast of pork and bread, with brandy and water for tea. I found these articles less palatable at this meal than the others, however the pork improved (?) very mildly. We went down the road some miles further, leaving No. 13 and going on to No. 8, and found the latter very good land, such as settlers will not refuse. The road is equal to roads as new as it is. The weather looked threatening, and to be sure of reaching Redfield in good time, we took a course southwest to strike the state road, and coming to a good stream which was at first supposed to be Salmon river (it is certainly a branch of it), as it afforded some grass for our horses we thought it a proper place to halt and refresh. Accordingly dinner was provided as usual; we ate heartily, and finished the last of our brandy. We had now to pass through the woods, the south part of No. 7 and north part of Redfield, which was very difficult to ourselves and dangerous to our horses, from the swamps and heavy fallen trees covered with underbrush. We struck one of the main branches of the river, but the brush and fallen logs prevented us from keeping the bank, and the high ground was a hemlock ridge which occasioned us much trouble, but after a good deal of fatigue we came to the State road about two miles from Ingraham's, when it begai' to rain and we were nearly wet through before we got there. The rain did not continue long, and we set out for Johnson's tavern in Redfield, half a mile beyond Butler's, where we arrived early in the evening a good deal tired with this day's journey. It is a better house than Butler's, and we were well provided for in supper and sleeping.

"Sept. 9. Mr. Pierrepont having occasion to see a man who lived off the road respecting his lands in No. 13, set off very early intending to follow us on to Rome, but having found the man near, he came and joined us at breakfast, and we all set off together. They are working upon the road and improving it much. The causeways are mostly new laid and covered three inches with sand or other earth, so that the travelling on them is equal to any part. Stopped at Lyman's, 11 miles, and at Waring's near Fish creek, but we'decided to eat the last dinner cooked by ourselves in the woods at the creek and went there, having bought some brandy on the way. The weather was very hot, but after kindling a fire and bathing in the creek, we ate with as good an appetite as ever. After dinner we paid and discharged Fairservice, and set off for Rome, intending to see the new causeway lately finished near that town, but the road not being cut through, we had difficulty to get to it. We succeeded, and it was worth the pains. The length is two miles, of equal sized logs 18 feet long and covered with earth, so that the travelling is excellent. Arrived at Rome late in the evening. Not liking the thought of White's beds we slept in the hay-loft, and made out pretty well."

Portionsof Townships 1 and 13 were sold by Wm. Constable, July 25, 1801, to John Jones, John McVickar and John Rathbone, of New York, in payment of notes and endorsements of William and James Constable, to the amount of $85,704.50. Lynde Catlin received a conveyance January 28, 1804, of the whole or a greater part. At the time the settlement began about two-thirds of No. 13 was owned by the Pierrepont family, and the remainder by G. Lynch, - Goddard, - Bush, J. W. Taylor, J. Lawrence, --- Gentil, --- Stewart, Jefferson Insurance Co., - Pratt, Gerritt Smith, Lyndes, S. Stevens, J. and Edward McVickar, Lynde Catlin, Bishop Moore and Wm. Constable, together amounting to fifty-one scattered lots.

Township 8 was divided among the Pierrepont heirs January 1, 1853, as follows: To Wm. C. Pierrepont, lots 17 to 19; 28 to 31; 39 to 44; 50 to 86; 92, 93, W. part of 95, 96, 110 and 111, To Maria T. Bicknell, 87 to 91, 97 to 109; Seymour Green, agent. To E. G. Miner, 1, 2, 6, 7, part of 3 and 8; Diodate Pease, agent. To M. C. Perry, (in trust) parts of 4, 5 and 8; to 16; 20 to 27 ; 32 to 38; 43 to 49; Diodate Pease, agent. A few settlers have located upon the extreme northwest corner (since annexed to Montague), but the remainder of that township is still as it was when our first edition was published in 1860, a wilderness. One Saunders was the first settler in this part of the town.

The first persons who came into this town were Jabez Green, Christopher Devine and Harvey Potter, who located on lot 138 about 1822, without title, but did not remain. Samuel W. Nash also located soon after, a little above, but not permanently. In 1826 one Clark burnt off a windfall, a mile south of Salmon river, and planted corn, which yielded abundantly, but was claimed and entirely harvested by bears. This windfall was the track of a tornado that had passed across the town three years before, and the fire, when applied, ran through it with tremendous energy, sending up columns of flame and smoke, which were observed to an immense distance, the former by its reflections upon the clouds at night, and the latter by its dense sombre masses by day.

The first agent of the Pierrepont estate in this town was James S. T. Stranahan of Brooklyn, but then of Florence, Oneida county. Settlement was delayed by various causes, among which was the failure of the proprietors of scattered lots, to unite in an agency for the opening of roads and other improvements necessary for bringing the town into market. Tn July, 1839, Seymour Green was appointed Pierrepont's agent in No. 13, with power to sell lands at $1.50 cash, or $2 on a credit of four years. A road was marked out from Florence village northward, nearly across the township, and reports favorable to the tract gaining currency in the surrounding country, the landless rushed forward to secure a homestead with such avidity, that between the first of September and Christmas, nearly 18,000 acres were sold under contract with the intention of settlement. The north part of Redfield (No. 7 or Greenboro) was opened under the same agency, and in the above period 1,000 acres were contracted upon that township. In May, 1840, the proprietor, in six days, issued 68 contracts and 22 deeds, and received $4,000 in cash. The lands sold amounted to 11,996 acres, and the price to $25,219.35. The following winter was unusually severe, and in 1842 half the lands sold had reverted. As there were no town officers accessible for laying out roads, whatever was done in this line, devolved upon Mr. Pierrepont, the owners of scattered lots being generally indifferent as to these improvements. In 1843, there were 250 inhabitants, two school houses and 60 children. In 1848, 1,600 acres were under contract, and 5,491 acres were deeded. In 1850, there were 400 inhabitants in town. The settlers were mostly from the older towns around. Several families came from the factories at Oriskany, and some from the public works upon the suspension of 1842. The northern part of No. 13 is called "Vermont Settlement," from the original locality of the settlers. The first family that actually settled with title, on Township 13, was that of Robert Russell, on lot 139, in December, 1839. They wintered here alone, and in the spring were joined by Ira and Thomas Hulbert and others. Roswell A. Hubbard, William G. Smith, Lyman Weliman, David Shorey, Silas A. Fox, Henry J. Baker, Anthony Rowell and others, were also early settlers. Mr. Green, the agent, settled in 1842, and at the first town meeting in 1844. there were 37 voters. The first birth was that of Russell Chase, the first marriage that of Captain Edward Humaston and Jane Smith, and the first death that of Agnes Russell, a child eight years of age. The first school was taught in 1844 by Jerusha Wetmore, and the first two framed school houses were built in that year. The town had in 1860, five framed and one log school house, and two joint districts, of which the school houses were in Redfield. A road, authorized by law in 1859, was laid out by Seymour Green and Diodate Pease from the Vermont Settlement to Martinsburgh, a distance of about twelve miles from one clearing to the other, and about 23 miles from the court house to Osceola village. At present the distance around is about 70 miles by the nearest public thoroughfare and over 50 by the nearest passable road. This road was nearly or quite cut out, and for some years the non-resident highway taxes of adjacent lands were applied, but it is now wholly abandoned, and growing up.

The principal business point in town is at Osceola village and postoffice, or as it is usually called, "The River," situated in the deep narrow intervale of Salmon river, five miles from Florence, and thirteen from the R. W. & O. R. R. station at Camden. The first saw-mill in town was built by William Roberts, in 1841. A tannery, two hundred feet long, was erected on the south bank of Salmon river, in 1859, by Cowles, Sliter & Co., for the manufacture of sole leather, chiefly from Spanish hides. it was discontinued about 1871. It had a capacity of about 30,000 sides of sole leather a year.

The census of 1880 reported a population of 92 in Osceola village. The place has a hotel, (owned and kept by Sylvanus Williams;) two stores, (Alonzo Barlow, and Richard Chase, Jr.;) a cooper shop, (Samuel E. Thayer;) sawmill, on Salmon river, (Williams & Jackson;) and steam saw-mill, (William P. Griffith.)

In the north part of the town, is a saw-mill, owned by Albert J. Brockway; another, near the center, owned by Benjamin Jackson, and one in the eastern part owned by Almanson Whitford. There are also in town a wagon shop, (Edward Rolling;) blacksmith shop, (John Knapp;) two oar shops, (Oscar T. Dyer, and William H. Payne;) and a cheese factory, (Martin V. Dubois.)

By an act passed July 8, 1881, the sum of $6,000 was appropriated for the improvement of Salmon river, for the floating of lumber, of which $1,000 was to be spent in Lewis county, above the locality known Hooker's Mill.

RELIGIOUS SOCIETIES.

The First Congregational Church in Osceola, was organized December 15, 1853. Its deacons are Junius A. Cowles, Edward Rolling, and Joseph R. Stephenson. Its trustees are Edward Rolling, Alonzo Barlow, Junius A. Cowles, William P. Griffith, Robert Black, and Thomas Smith. Treasurer and clerk, Henry S. Carpenter.

The First Methodist Church of this town was organized May 9, 1882, with Albert Williams, Nelson Limbeck, and Abram F. Vandewalker, as trustees. This society built a neat and commodious church, during the summer of 1882. It was dedicated November 28, 1882, and a balance of $700 was subscribed to pay off the debt.

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