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

UTICA was incorporated as a village April 3d, 1798. It was formed as a town, from Whitestown, April 7, 1817, and was incorporated as a city, February 13, 1832. It lies upon the south bank of the Mohawk, on the east border of the County. The land along the river is low, but rises in gradual slopes to the north west. The Erie Canal and the New York Central Railroad extend through it. It is the southern terminus of the Utica and Black River Railroad, and the northern terminus of the Utica, Chenango and Susquehanna Valley Railroad, and the Utica, Clinton and Binghamton Railroad. The last is operated by horse power to New Hartford, thence by steam to Deansville and Oriskany Falls. There are two lines of horse railroads in the city, one to Whitesboro and the other to New Hartford, and stage lines to all points. It is situated in the midst of one of the best agricultural sections of the State, and has an extensive trade. It contains about thirty churches, eleven banks, the County buildings, and a large number of manufacturing establishments of cotton and woolen goods, steam engines, mill stones, musical instruments, telegraphic apparatus, and a great variety of other articles.

The city Hall is a fine, large brick building, on Genesee street, and contains a large public hall, Common Council room and rooms for several city officers, public library, &c.

The Public Schools are under the management of a Board of Education, consisting of six members, two of whom are chosen each year and hold their office three years. The schools are graded and include all departments, from the primary to the academic course. The free academy, for the highest grade, is a fine brick structure on Academy street. There are fifty seven teachers employed. The whole number of pupils attending school during the year ending September 30, 1868, was 3,836; the average attendance, 2,242, and the amount expended for teachers' wages, the same year, was $23,891.50; contingent expenses, $10,000. The value of school hcuse and titles is $221,000, and the number of volumes in the district library, 4,500.

The Utica Female Academy was founded in 1837, and for many years occupied a high position among the literary institutions of the State. The building was burned March 27, 1865, since which the school has not been in operation. The Trustees are now engaged in the erection of a fine building which will be an ornament to the city, and will possess all the modern improvements necessary to make it one of the most substantial and convenient structures in the State, for the purposes to which it is to be devoted. The building is 150 feet in length, sixty in width, and three stories high, besides the basement and attic. The basement is stone and the superstructure brick, with a roof of variegated slate. The whole will cost, when completed, about $75,000.

The city is supplied with water from springs in Graefenberg, by a stock company with a capital of $200,000. The company are building a new reservoir and have laid about six or seven miles of pipe in the city during the last season.

The manufacturing of the city is extensive and various.

The Utica Steam Cotton Mills were erected in 1848; the capital at present is $345,000. The old mill is 350 feet by seventy, and three stories high. A new mill near the old one is now in process of erection, 300 feet by seventy, and four stories high besides the attic. Sheetings and shirtings are the products.

The Utica Steam Woolen Mills and The Globe Woolen Mills are large establishments.

The Utica Burr Mill Stone Manufactory, of Hart & Munson, has been established for more than forty years, and turns out all kinds of mill machinery, pumps, &c.

The Wood & Mann Steam Engine Company is another large establishment for the manufacture of portable and stationary engines, boilers, circular saw mills, &c. The works cover an area of one and a half acres. The buildings are of brick, constructed in the most substantial manner. The capital invested is $200,000, and the number of hands employed from 150 to 200. Messrs. E. D. Wood and James F. Mann are now sole proprietors.

The Utica Steam Gauge Company employ fifteen or twenty hands, and manufacture an improved kind of steam gauge.

There, are two dailies, one semi weekly and seven weekly newspapers published in the city, besides two advertising sheets, which are published monthly. Two of the weeklies are in the Welsh language and the semi weekly is published in the German language. The American Journal of Insanity, published quarterly, is edited by the officers of the Lunatic Asylum. There are also several large job printing establishments besides those from which the newspapers are issued.

The New York State Lunatic Asylum is located upon a large lot on an eminence near the west line of the city. It receives insane persons subject to County charge, where there is a reasonable prospect of relief, and such others as its accommodations will admit. In 1830, Governor Throop recommended to the Legislature the establishment of an institution for the insane poor. Committees were appointed for several successive years, who reported favorably, but nothing further was, accomplished until 1836, when an act was passed for the establishment of the New York State Lunatic Asylum, and three commissioners were appointed to purchase a site at an expense not exceeding $10,000. Three commissioners were also appointed to contract for the erection of the Asylum, and an appropriation of $50,000 was made for that purpose. In the summer of 1837, the present site of the Asylum was purchased, including a farm of about 130 acres, for $16,300, of which the State paid $10,000, and the citizens of Utica $6,300. William Clarke, of Utica, F. E. Spinner, of Herkimer and Elam Lynds, were appointed commissioners to superintend the erection of the necessary buildings. The original plan consisted of four buildings, each 550 feet long, to be located at right angles, facing outward, to be connected at the corners by verandahs, the whole including an octagonal space of about thirteen acres. The main building was erected and the foundation of the others laid, when the original plan was somewhat modified. The appropriations made and expended previous to January, 1842, amounted to $285,000. April 7, 1842, an act was passed putting the institution in charge of nine managers, and an appropriation of $26,000 was made for purchasing furniture, fixtures, stock, books, &c., and inclosing the ground. The managers organized as a board in April, 1842, and in September following, appointed Dr. Amariah Brigham, Superintendent. On the 16th of January, 1843, the Asylum was opened for the reception of patients, and during the year, 276 were admitted On the 8th of Sept., 1849, Dr. Brigham was removed by death, and Dr. N. D. Benedict was appointed his successor. The building was partially destroyed by a fire set by one of the inmates July 14, 1857. The walls remained standing, and the premises were refitted without interruption of operations, and with improvements far exceeding in safety and convenience those that were destroyed. The buildings are well supplied with water and gas, and have ample facilities for extinguishing fires, including steam force pump, ample reservoirs of water and pipes for filling the upper rooms with steam. The Asylum has shops and gardens for the employment of such as prefer it, and various amusements for occupying the minds of those who have a taste for them.

The following table shows the statistics of the Asylum from its opening, January 16th, 1843, to December 1st, 1867:

Total number of admissions,


Total number of discharges,


Total number of discharged recovered,


Total number of discharged, improved


Total number of discharged, unimproved........




Not insane.


The following are the statistics for the year ending November 30th, 1867:

Number in the Asylum, December 1, 1866.....


Number received during the year


The whole number under treatment


Number discharged, recovered


Number discharged, improved


Number discharged, unimproved






Number present November 30, 1867


The products of the farm and garden, during the year, amounted in value to $16,467.78. The stock upon the farm consists of eight horses, one pony, three yoke of oxen, one bull, two yearlings, four calves, thirty one cows and one hundred and fifteen hogs.

The present officers of the Asylum are: John P. Gray, Superintendent and Physician; A. O. Kellogg, M. D., First Assistant Physician; Judson B. Andrews, M. D., Second Assistant Physician; Walter Kempster, M. D., Third Assistant Physician; Horatio N. Dryer, Steward; Emma Barker, Matron.

The site of the city of Utica is included in a grant made to William Cosby and others in 1734, and commonly called "Cosby's Manor." The Indian name of the site was Ya-nun-da-da-sis, which means "around the hill." In 1758 Fort Schuyler was erected upon the south bank of the Mohawk and named in honor of Col. Peter Schuyler, an uncle of Gen. Philip Schuyler of the Revolution. It was a stockaded work and stood between Main and Mohawk streets, below Second street. This fort was designed to guard the fording place in the Mohawk, and to form one of the chain of posts between Fort Stanwix and Schenectady. By the taking of Ticonderoga, Crown Point, Niagara and Quebec, the "old French war" was brought to a close, and Fort Schuyler soon became useless. Settlements commenced soon after the Revolution, and in 1787, "there were three log huts or shanties, near the old Fort." Uriah. Alverson came to this place in 1788, and leased a portion of lot 98 of General Schuyler. At this time Philip Morey and his sons, Solomon, Richard and Sylvanus, from Rhode Island, were living as squatters on lot 97, and Francis Foster was at the same time living on lot 96. Other early settlers were Stephen Potter, Joseph Bailou, Jason Parker, John Cunningham, Jacob Chrestman and Matthew Hubbell. This was not a very inviting place for settlers as most of the land now built upon was an almost impassable swamp, and the most that was anticipated was to make the place a landing upon the Mohawk. The business men established themselves close to the river, and those who did not live in the same buildings as their shops, had their residences along on Main and Whitesboro streets. The old Indian path from the site of Utica to Oneida Castle, here intersected the road from Albany to the Portage from the Mohawk to Wood Creek, and made it a convenient place for a trading house for the Indian trade.

John Post, the first merchant of Utica, was engaged for some years previous to 1790 with Mr. Martin of Schenectady, in trading with the Indians. Ginseng formed an important article of trade and large quantities were purchased and exported to China, as a supposed remedy for the Plague. Mr. Post was a native of Schenectady, served his country faithfnlly during the Revolution, was at the taking of Burgoyne, in Sullivan's expedition, at the battle of Munmouth, and at the surrender of Cornwallis. in the spring of 1790, he removed to Fort Schuyler, upon Cosby's Manor. His family, consisting of a wife and three small children, together with his furniture, provisions, building materials, and a stock of merehand ise, were shipped on boats at Schenectady, and in eight days were landed at their new home. Mr. Post carried on an extensive trade with the Indians, and with the settlers of the surrounding country. He purchased of the Indians, furs, skins and ginseng, in exchange for rum, paints, cloth, powder, shot, beads and other ornaments. Mr. Post also kept the first tavern in the town. Travelers in those days were obliged to wait upon themselves and take care of their teams, and if they ventured to ask to be served in anything, the independent landlord would sometimes reply, "Who was your waiter last year?" Mr. Post erected several warehouses and owned several boats, which ran between this place and Schenectady, transporting merchandise and families removing to the new country. Subsequently he fitted up three "stage boats" with oilcloth covers, seats and other conveniences for the accommodation of travelers. He was also the first post master in the place.

At an early day, Moses Bagg, opened a tavern on the site of "Bagg's Hotel," which was widely known and extensively patronized. John House kept a tavern for some time at the corner of Genesee and Main streets. Peter Smith, the father of Hon. Gerrit Smith, was an early settler; he had a small log store near the river, east of Genesee Street. He was extensively engaged in the Indian trade. In 1793, he erected a building for the manufacture of potash, and afterwards erected a dwelling in which he resided for some time. In 1794, J. S. Kipp purchased a lot and built a small log house near the east end of Main street; he also established a landing upon the river nearly in front of his house, and endeavored to draw the commerce of the river to that part of the town. Mr. Kipp was one of the most prominent men of the place, was sheriff of the .County for several years, and held other important posts. In 1791, Thomas and Augustus Carey purchased 200 acres of lot 95, and afterwards sold out to Boon & Lincklaen, agents for the Holland Land Company. This land was known to the early settlers as the "Hotel Lot," from the fact that the Holland Company erected upon it the first brick house in the place, a large hotel, known as the "York House." In 1794, Dr. Carrington resided in the place, and in 1800, kept a stre for the sale of drugs, paints, dyestuffs and books. March 28, 1797, a law was passed authorizing the raising of $45,000 by lotteries, to be expended in improving the roads in this State, $2,200 of which were appropriated to the improvement of the "Genesee Road," between "old Fort Schuyler" and Geneva, and $400 were to be paid to John Post, Nathan Smith and Isaau Braytcn, for erecting a bridge over the Mohawk at old Fort Schuyler. The erection of this bridge and the construction of the Seneca turnpike put new life into Utica, and from this time its business and population rapidly increased.. In 1804 an act was passed granting to Jason Parker and Levi Stephens the exclusive right to run stage wagons from Utica to Canandaigua, for seven years from the first of June, 1804. The fare was five cents a mile, and two trips were to be made each week. Only seven persons could be taken in any stage at once without the consent of those aboard, and if there were four more than a stage load, they were entitled to an extra. The time for the trip was forty eight hours. The first mail to this place was conveyed by Simeon Pool, in 1793, under an arrangement with the post office department, authorizing the transpor tation of the mail from Canajoharie to Whitestown, the inhabitants along the route paying the expense. This contract soon passed into the hands of Mr. Parker, who carried the mail on horseback, his wife sometimes taking his place when he could be more profitably employed. From such small beginnings his business increased until it became one of the largest organizations ever formed in the place. At the time of his decease there were eight lines of daily stages running through Utica, east and west, besides twelve daily, semi weekly and weekly lines running north and south, in most of which he was or had been interested. Besides these there were two daily lines of packets upon the canal to Schenectady, and one to Buffalo, and one to Syracuse. Mr. Parker died September 28, 1830, aged sixty seven. Bryan Johnson, James and Archibald Kane, J. C. Devereux, Watts Shearman, John Bissell and Daniel Thomas were among the early merchants of Utica. On one occasion, when Mr. Parker arrived with the mail from Albany, it was found to contain six letters for the inhabitants of Old Fort Schuyler. This was so remarkable that it was heralded from one end of the settlement to the other, some even doubting the truth of the statement until it was confirmed by the word of the postmaster. About the same time, 1794, Mr. Parker had in his employ a colored man and a colored dog also, and by these two the mail was dispatched to Fort Stanwix. The contract time for the trip was "up one day and back the next."

The construction of the Erie Canal added greatly to the business facilities of Utica, so that it speedily outstripped all its early rivals. The canal was commenced at Rome on the Fourth of July, 1817, and in October, 1819, it was completed from Utica to the Seneca River. In 1821 boats descended as far east as Little Falls. The work was completed in the fall of 1825, and the 4th of November was celebrated throughout the State with every domonstration of joy and gratification.

The first act of incorporation of the village of Utica was dated April 3, 1798, and in 1805 a new charter was granted, providing that five "discreet freeholders" should be chosen annually as Trustees. In the early legislation of the village we find the following:

June 3, 1805. "Voted that the assize of bread for the ensuing month be as follows: Wheat fourteen shillings per bushel, a loaf of superfine wheat flour, to weigh two pounds ten ounces, for one shilling, and other sizes in proportion; a loaf of common wheat flour, to weigh three pounds three ounces, for one shilling, with a fine of five dollars for selling at a higher price, for each offense."

The "assize of bread" was regulated and published monthly as long as Utica was a village. In 1808 a fire engine is first mentioned upon the records, and a committee is directed to make the necessary repairs.

January 2, 1810, the Trustees "voted that the village pump be put in complete repair, and that a contract be made with some faithful person to keep the same in repair one year."

This pump was in the center of Genesee street, nearly on a line with the south side of Whitesboro street.

Utica received a city charter by an act of the Legislature, passed February 13, 1832. Its growth in wealth and numbers has been onward, and its geographical position, lines of communication and natural advantages are guarantees of its future increase.

The population in 1813 was 1,700; in 1820, 2,972; in 1840, 12,782; in 1850, 17,565; in 1865, 23,686. The area of the city is 5,500 acres.

The improvements during the last year have been unprecedented, more than two millions of dollars having been expended in enlarging and improving the city. A large number of public and private buildings have been erected, and others have been greatly eularged and improved. The hopes of the most sanguine respecting the growth of Utica, seem destined to be realized.

Among the citizens of Utica, who have contributed largely in making the city what it is, few are deserving greater credit than Hon. John Butterfield. He entered the County about fifty years ago, a poor boy, and was employed for some time as mail carrier between &1 Bank and Utica. The latter place was a very small village at that time, and a one horse wagon making the trip once a week was sufficient to supply all the demands of the inhabitants. He was honest, sober, industrious and faithful in the discharge of all his duties, and in addition to these qualities, was economical and enterprising. At length with the accumulations of his small earnings, he purchased the right to carry the mail on his own account, and soon the more pretentious stage took the place of the one horse wagon. A livery stable was the next enterprise, on a small scale at first, but as business increased the number and elegance of the horses and carriages was increased, until be was able to build large and elegant stables, furnished with all the modern improvemants, and horses and carriages to match. Some twelve or fifteen years ago, he engaged extensively in the Express business, which proved to be very lucrative. His funds were freely invested in every enterprise calculated to build up the city in which he lived. Business blocks, railroads and other enterprises received an impulse from his energy and his money. The splendid hotel in Utica, which bears his name, is one of the finest in the State. In 1865, he was elected may or of the city. About a year ago he was prostrated by a stroke of apoplexy, from which he has never recovered, and probably never will. As an active business man his days are ended, but he has left an example of what energy and perseverance can accomplish.

Hon. Roscoe Conkling United States Senator, is a resident of Utica. He was born in Albany in 1828, studied law and removed to Utica in 1846. In 1849 he was appointed District Attorney for Oneida County; in 1858 he was elected Mayor of Utica, and subsequently a representative to the Thirty Sixth Congress. After being re-elected several times and serving or important committees, in January, 1857, he was chosen to represent the Empire State in the United States Senate, a position which he still holds.

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