History of Madison, NY

The Town of Madison.

Madison was set off from Hamilton on February 6, 1807, and is one of five towns erected in the year following the formation of the county. It lies on the east border of the county south of the center and conesponds with No. 3 of the Twenty Townships. Its surface consists chiefly of a rolling upland, with intervening valleys along the course of a branch of the Chenango River and a branch of Oriskany Creek, which are the principal streams; the former flows south and the latter north. The town is abundantly watered with small brooks and springs. There are several small ponds, the principal body of water now being the Madison Brook Reservoir, in the south part, which covers 235 acres, and was connected with the Chenango Canal by a feeder. The ponds in the north part of the town have largely filled with marl, but the surroundings are such that it could not be recovered for lime economically. The soil is gravelly loam on the hills and clayey loam in the valleys and is rich and productive as a rule. The rocks of the Hamilton group underlie the whole town, but are so deeply covered with drift that they are not quarried for building purposes. The Utica, Clinton and Binghamton Railroad runs diagonally across the town from northeast to southwest closely following the line of the abandoned Chenango Canal, and has stations at Solsville and Bouckville. According to the census of 1892 the town has a population of 2,251.

The territory of Madison forms part of the great tract in which Sir William Puitney had an interest, and through his agents the early settlements were promoted. Prospectors came in in 1791 and the next year the first permanent settlement was made by Daniel Perkins, who took up two lots near the site of Madison village, parts of which he afterwards sold to other poineers. Jesse Maynard also settled in that year, and his brothers, Amos and Moses, somewhat later. John Berry came about the same time. Gen. Erastus Cleveland, who was for many years the leading citizen of the town, came in 1792, built mills near the site of Solsville, a woolen factory at that point, and other mills on the Oriskany, and engaged in potash making, store keeping, and in many ways advanced the welfare of the growing community, as elsewhere explained. Settlers of 1793 included Col. Samuel Clemens, Thomas McMullen, Stephen F. Blackstone, Russell Birker, Warham Williams, William and David Blair, James Collister, Henry W. and Israel Bond, Elijah Blodgett, Joel Crawford, John Niles, Francis Clemens and Seth Snow.

In 1794 settlement was begun by a colony from Rhode Island in the southwest quarter of the town, among whom were Charles and George Peckham, Samuel Coe, Joseph Manchester, Samuel Brownell and the Simmons families. Nicanor Brown and Samuel Rowe were settlers of about that year. In 1795 Abial Hatch, Elijah Thompson, Israel Rice, James and Alexander White, Abizar and David Richmond, and William McClenathan came into the town, and were followed in the next year by Dr. Jonathan Pratt and his brothers, James and Daniel, and Nathaniel Johnson; at about that period also came in Gideon Lowell, William Sanford, Judson W. Lewis, Nehemiah Thompson, Peter Tyler and Thomas Dick. Other pioneers who came to the town mostly before the erection of the county were Capt. Seth Blair, Joseph Head, Samuel Collister, Joseph Curtis, Deacon Prince Spooner, Robert, Samuel and Timothy Curtis, Reuben Brigham, Agur Gilbert, Joseph and Job Manchester, Abijah Parker, Paul Hazard, Jared and Samuel Wickwire, Nehemiah Fairchild, Paul Greenwood, Jonas Banton, John Edgarton, Eli Bancroft, Abner Burnham, Luther Rice, Dr. Samuel McClure, David Peebles, James D. Coolidg, Solomon Root, Capt. Gilbert Tompkins, Ralph Tanner, an early tavern keeper at Madison village, Samuel Goodwin, early stage proprietor, Solomon Alcott, Daniel Holbrook and perhaps a few others, all of whom have been noticed more in detail in earlier chapters.

The town of Madison is one of the foremost in the great hop growing industry of this county, and James D. Coolidg and Solomon Root, above mentioned, were the first in the business in this section.

The first town meeting for Madison was held March 3, 1807, and the officers elected whose names have already been given. Following is a list of the supervisors of the town from its formation to the present time:

1807-8, Erastus Cleveland; 1809-11, Seth Blair; 1812-18, Levi Morton; 1819, William Manchester; 1820-21, Edward Rogers; 1822-24, Rutherford Barker; 1825-27, Samuel Goodwin; 1828, Levi Morton; 1829-40, William Manchester; 1841, Samuel White; 1842-43, Samuel White, 2d; 1844, Samuel White; 1845-46, Samuel White, 2d; 1847, Hiram L. Root; 1848, Samuel White, 2d; 1849, William Manchester; 1850-55, Samuel White, 2d; 1856-58, Gilbert Tompkins; 1859-61, Allen Curtis; 1862-77, John W. Lippett; 1878-83, David Z. Brockett; 1884, Joseph W. Forward; 1886-87, Albert R. Nicholson; 1888-97, Samuel R. Mott.

The population of Madison on the dates when the census has been taken is shown in the following figures:

1835. 1840. 1845. 1850. 1855. 1860. 1865. 1870. 1875. 1880. 1890. 1892
3,655 2,344 2,313 2,405 2,483 2,457 2,414 2,402 2,434 2,474 2,316 2,251

It will be seen that the number of inhabitants in Madison has fluctuated and declined less than in most other towns of the county. In a general way this may be taken as an evidence of prosperity and contentment among the people.

There are three post-offices in Madison- Madison village with the same name, Solsville and Bouckville. The largest village is Madison which was incorporated April 17, 1816. The first trustees were Samuel Goodwin, Trumam Stafford, Alfred Wells, Edward Rogers, and Adin Howard. The first merchant in the place was John Lucas, who began business before 1800 at the "Opening" and moved it to the site of the village about 1807, when the Cherry Valley turnpike was constructed. Other early merchants were Alanson B. Coe, a partner with Lucas, Robert B. Lane, H. C. & 0. C. Bicknell, Truman Stafford, Gen. Erastus Cleveland, Benjamin F. Cleveland, B. F. Gaylord, Lyman Root and Henry Lewis, partners, James D. and Robert W. Lane, and Horace C. Bailey (firm of Lane, Bailey & Co.), A. S. Ackerman, Henry Hull, Adin Howard, John Morgan and others. The present merchants are: F. H. Bicknell, who in 1896 succeeded 0. C. Bicknell, successor of H. C. & 0. C. Bicknell; Louis Fuess, successor of Davis & Fuess, who followed Harry Morgan; George H. Root, successor of Cushman & Root; D. B. Smith, E. B. Wells, drugs and medicines, established in 1888; I. L. Dunster & Son, groceries, traded since 1896; Thomas Terry and H. Morgan (Terry & Morgan), meat market; Thomas A. Ferguson, shoe shop; John Bensted, harness shop; John Salisbury and F. Collister, blacksmiths.

The present hotel is the Madison House, kept by F. B. Howard. At Madison Lake, a quarter of a mile from the village and near the line of the Ontario and Western railroad, are two summer hotels kept by D. W. Leland and White & Lewis respectively. This beautiful spot has many attractions for those seeking rest and recreation and is attaining considerable popularity.

The post-office was established at the "Opening" at an early date, but it is not known just when. Dr. Asa B. Sizer was the first postmaster, and was succeeded by Ralph Tanner, the early tavern keeper. He had the position until about 1840, when he was succeeded both as postmaster and tavern keeper by Isaac Curtis, who filled both positions to about 1861. James Brown was then postmaster until his death in 1874, and was succeeded by A. J. Cushman; the officials since have been 0. C. Bicknell, G. C. White, both of whom again alternated in the office.

The first physician was Dr. Jonathan Pratt, whose early settlement has been noticed; others have been Drs. Zadock Parker, Daniel Barker, Asa B. Sizer, John Putnam, Marcus H. Sutcliffe, Elisha B. Hopkins, still in practice, B. R. Gifford, and Dr. Hammond. There is no lawyer in the town.

Union Free School District No. 1 of Madison was formed December 7, 1878. The faculty is now headed by William D. Miller, and about 129 students are enrolled in the various departments. A library of about 400 volumes is connected with the school. The present Board of Education is composed of Louis Fuess, president; G. H. Barker, clerk; 0. C. Bicknell, A. J. Cushman, and F. S. Collister.

There are four churches in the village-the Congregational, organized in 1796, and the First Baptist, organized in 1798; both are now in a prosperous condition. A Universalist Church was formed here in July, 1828, with Rev. Nathaniel Stacy, the first pastor. The society was not formally organized until 1852, and was reorganized and incorporated in 1866. The meeting house was built in 1821 and is still standing, but services are not now held. The Wesleyan Chapel (Methodist) was organized about 1833 with a class of nine members, and meetings were held in the small chapel in the east edge of Eaton about a mile west of Bouckville for a few years when the church in Madison was built; it was remodeled and improved about 1871. In 1888 the name of the church was changed to the Methodist Episcopal Church of Madison; it is a very prosperous organization.

Bouckville- This is a small village near the western border of the town on the line of the Utica, Clinton and Binghamton Railroad. The first settler on its site was John Edgarton, and the first merchant was Dr. Samuel McClure; other early traders were Ira Burhans, his son, Lindorf, William Coolidg, and Lewis B. Coe. With the opening of the Chenango Canal this place assumed considerable mercantile and manufacturing importance, but in recent years both of these branches have declined. H. I. and E. L. Peet as a firm, established the extensive manufacture of cider about 1860, in a storehouse built by Moses Maynard; they also operated a saw mill and cheese box factory. Samuel R. Mott also engaged in the manufacture of cider before 1870. This business and also that of Peet Brothers was taken by J. C. Mott, son of Samuel, and carried on for a time. In 1890 the Genesee Fruit Company took the business, which is conducted during the apple season on a large scale; they also manufacture cider and whiskey barrels. The mercantile business established in 1876 by Lewis B. Coe is now conducted by his wife in company with H. D. Brockett, under the firm name of Coe & Brockett.

The post-office at this place was opened about 1837, with Moses Maynard, postmaster; he was then keeping the tavern which he built about that date. William Coolidg held the office from about 1861 until his death in 1875, when Lewis E. Coe took it. Several years later he was succeeded by Isaac Forward, A. J.. Wiltse, and F. Parker, the incumbent.

The Methodist Church here was organized in 1853 and the meeting house was erected in the same year. There is only one hotel, called the White House, kept by D. T. Livermore. A steam saw mill and cheese box factory is operated by Leo Phelps.

Solsville.- This is a hamlet in the northwest part of the town two miles below Bouckville, on the railroad and formerly on the canal. It is in the deep valley of the Oriskany about three-quarters of a mile north of Madison village. The excellent water power, as has been shown, has been used for various manufactures. The abandonment of the canal and opening of the railroad seriously affected its prospects. Nathaniel S. Howard, who formerly owned the mill property, had also a small store in company with his brother Ambrose, from about 1831 to 1839. Other former merchants were Abel and Thompson Curtis, Marsden Kershaw, Benjamin S. Bridge, Augustus N. Peckham, John Harris, and Warren H. Benjamin & Sons (Frank H. and Will H.), who began in 1875 and still continue.

The first postmaster here was Albert Hall; others have been Marsden Kershaw, Agur Gilbert, Isaac Phelps, W. H Benjamin, Rodney Bridge, W. L. D. Lewis, and George R. Smith.

The old grist mill built by Gen. Erastus Cleveland, as before described, with the improvements subsequently made, is now operated by Smith & Spooner. Another grist mill is in operation a mile below the village by F. M. Fisher L. D. Lewis has a general store; T. B. Manchester a blacksmith shop, and the hotel conducted by Newton Livermore. A milk station is located at the railroad depot which is conducted by the Mutual Milk and Cream Company, with A. D. Barnes local manager. About 1,000 pounds of milk are taken in daily and considerable cheese is made.

Pecksport is a flag station on the railroad in the west part of the town, which was formerly an important shipping point for the town of Eaton.

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