History of Steuben, NY
FROM: Gazetteer and Business Directory
OF Oneida County, N. Y. For 1869.
Compiled and Published By Hamilton Child, Syracuse, NY 1862



STEUBEN, named in honor of Baron Steuben, was formed from Whitestown, April 10, 1792. A part of Mexico, (Oswego Co.,) was annexed, and Floyd and Rome were taken off, in 1796. Leyden (Lewis Co.,) and Western were taken off in 1797; Parts of Steuben's Tract in Western and Remsen were annexed in 1803; and a part was annexed to Remsen in 1809. It lies in the interior, north-east of the center of the County. The surface is a hilly, broken upland, rising from 800 to 1,200 feet above the Mohawk. The south line of the town crosses near the top of Floyd Hill, a high ridge running east and west. Big Brook runs westerly and north-westerly and empties into the Mohawk in Western, and Steuben Creek flows into Cincinnati Creek at Trenton; the latter, forms a part of the eastern boundary. Steuben Hill is a high ridge rising somewhat abruptly toward the north from the central valley.- Starr's Hill is the highest point in the County, and from it can be seen Hamilton College and portions of seven counties. This point received its name from Captain David Starr, one of the earliest settlers, who served seven years in the Continental Army. The soil is a gravelly loam, and bowiders of every size and shape dot the fields. Many of them have been removed and laid up into substantial fences. There are quarries from which good building stone is obtained.

Steuben Corners, (Steuben p. o..) in the southern part of the town, is a hamlet.

Steuben Station, on the Black River and Utica .R. R., is in the north part, on the line of Boonville.

The first settlement was commenced in 1789, by Samuel Sizer, under the patronage of Baron Steuben. Captain Simeon Fuller settled in 1792, and Captain David Starr about the same time.- Baron Steuben received from the Legislature a tract of 16,000 acres of lend, in 1786, and settled there himself; but did not live to see his intended improvements carried out.

The first birth in the town was that of Stephen Brooks, Jr., and the first marriage that of William Case and Miss Platt. A large number of Welsh have settled here.

In view of the services rendered by Baren Steuben during our severe struggle for Independence, it seems proper to give a more extended notice of his life. His full name was Frederic William Augustus Baron de Steuben, and he was born in Germany about the year 1780 or 1788. He served with Frederic the Great in the "seven years' war," and became his Aid-de-camp and Lieutenant General of the Prussian army. In 1777, he came to America with letters of recommendation from Dr. Franklin, whom he had met in Paris, to General Washington. He offered his services to Congress without any other remuneration than his expenses, but in case the Americans gained their independence he would expect an indemnity for the sacrifice he had made. His services were accepted, and he joined' the army at Valley Forge in that darkest period of the Revolution. He was greatly astonished at the destitution, and declared that no foreign army could be kept together a single month under such circumstances. Disheartening as was the prospect, and increased by the Baron's ignorance of the English language, he entered upon his duties as Inspector General. The rapid improvement of the army soon became apparent, and showed itself upon the battle field as well as in the camp. General Washington said of him: "The Baron has in every instance discharged the several trusts reposed in him with great zeal and ability, so as to gIve him the fullest title of my esteem as a brave, indefatigable, judicious and experienced officer." After the close of the war he settled on the tract granted him by the New York Legislature. On the 25th of November, 1794, he was struck with paralysis, and died on the 28th. He was buried in his military cloak, to which was attached the star of Knighthood, always worn during life. He was buried by his servants and a few neighbors, in a deep forest, which being afterwards crossed by a road, caused his re-interment about a quarter of a mile north of his house. By his will he left his library and one thousand dollars to a young man of literary habits, named Mulligan, whom he had adopted, and the remainder of his property to Wm. North and Benjamin Walker, his aids. Col. Walker gave a Welsh Baptist society a lease of fifty acres of land, five of which was woodland, around the grave of the donor, with no other rent than the obligation to keep this woodland fenced, so as to prevent the range of animals in it. These conditions have been carefully observed. The following anecdote is related of the Baron: While on a visit to New York, some of his friends rather jeered at his attempting to settle the mountains at the head of the Mohawk. He declared it was the best land in the world and he could prove it. Said he, "There is Capt. Simeon Woodruff, who had sailed around the world with Captain Cook, and he has bought a farm on my patent and settled on it, and if in all his voyage a better location had been found, he would not have done so." The argument was conclusive, of course.

Rev. J. Taylor, in his journal in 1802, says of Steuben: "This Patent is on the height of land between ye Mohawk and the Black River. Standing on a hill near the center of the town, we have an extensive prospect on three sides; to the south-west, about 35 miles, we see Oneida Lake, south we see ye settlements of New Hartford and Clinton. It is said that upon ye tops of ye trees, Ontario is in sight." He says a considerable part of the land is leased for an annual rent of ten dollars for 100 acres, but most of the leases are perpetual. About oae-third of the people are Welsh, who are industrious and prudent beyond all example. "I am now at ye house of the first settler who came into the town, Esq. Siser's. Here I find the grave of the once active and enterprising Steuben. He lies in a swamp, under a hemlock, with a bier standing over the grave, and a few rough boards nailed to some trees to keep ye cattle off. Alas.! what is man, that the great Steuben should be suffered to lie in such a place, and without a decent monument." The house of the Baron, a few rods from the swamp, is described as facing the south, and consisting of two log houses, one at the end of the other, containing in all three rooms.

The population in 1865 was 1,416, and the area 25,783 acres.

There are thirteen school districts in the town, employing eighteen teachers. The whole number of children of school age is 421; average attendance, 146; amount expended for school purposes during the year ending September 30, 1868, $2,048.54.


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