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

WESTERN was formed from Steuben, March 10, 1797. Lee was taken off in 1811. It lies in the interior, north of the center of the County. Its surface is a hilly upland, broken by numerous gulleys worn in the slate by the streams. Lansing Kil Creek unites with the Mohawk River near the center of the town and flows south-westerly to Rome. The soil in the valleys is alluvium and very productive. Stone quarries are extensively worked near the confluence of Stringer's Creek and the Mohawk. These quarries furnished large quantities of stone for the Black River Canal.

Westernville, (p. v.) situated in the southern part of the town, contains three churches, two hotels, three stores, a tin shop, a carriage shop, two blacksmith shops, a tannery and about 200 inhabitants.

North Western, (p. v.) situated on the Mohawk River, a little east of the center of the town, contains a Methodist church, a hotel, two stores, a grist mill, a saw mill, a tannery, a blacksmith shop and about 100 inhabitants.

Hillside, a little north of the center of the town, is a hamlet.

Big Brook, (p. o.) is a hamlet near the east line.

Delta, (p. v.) is mostly in Lee.

The settlement of the town of Western was commenced in 1789, by Asa Beckwith, and his four sons, Asa, Reuben, Wolcott and Lemuel, who were soon followed by Henry Wager. With a single exception, these settlers continued to reside until their deaths, upon the same farms upon which they first located. Their nearest neighbors were at Fort Stanwix, (Rome,) nearly ten miles distant.- Their grain, potatoes, &e., for seed, had to be procured at the German Flats. Henry Wager and Asa Beckwith went on foot to German Flats for seed potatoes, and each brought home a bushel upon his back. These were the first potatoes planted in town. Mr. Wager harvested serenty bushels in the fall, from his one bushel of seed. The proprietors of this town refused to sell their land, but leased it in perpetuity, or for three lives, receiving annual rents. This materially retarded the prosperity of the town. In the fall of 1789, the inhabitants built a bridge across the Mohawk River at this place, the first one built between its source and its junction with the Hudson. There was not a plank or a stick of hewn timber of any kind in it.

The first church (Bap.) was formed in 1798. The first town meeting was held at the house of Ezekiel Sheldon, and John Hall was elected supervisor. He.held the office two years, and was succeeded by Henry Wager, who held the office twenty-four years.

GENERAL WILLIAM FLOYD, one of the pioneers of Western, was born on Long Island, December 17, 1735. He was early chosen an officer of the militia of Suffolk Co., and rose to the rank of Major General. He was soon after elected a member, of the Provincial Assembly, and in 1774 was sent as a delegate to the first Continental Congress. He was one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence. In 1784 he purchased a large tract of land in what is now the town of Western, and removed thither in 1802, or previous to that. Rev. J. Taylor's journal, published in "Documentary History of New York," says of him: "He spends the summers in this place and the winters on his seat on Long Island;" and further on says: "Lodged at Gen. Floyd's, on the, night of the 12th," [August, 1802.] "He is a gentleman of immense property, and is now building an elegant seat on the banks of the Mohawk." For more than fifty years he was honored by his fellow citizens with offices of trust and responsibility, and died universally lamented August 4, 1821. Many anecdotes of Gen. Floyd have been handed down, some of which are too good to be lost. He was very kind and generous to the poor, sometimes giving more liberally than his wife, though an excellent woman, felt it her duty to do. A poor man once called upon the General for aid, and received a bushel of wheat. On returning to the house Mrs. Floyd gave him a lecture on the impropriety of giving without knowing whether the object was worthy or not. The Gen. immediately turned to one of his men and directed him to measure another bushel of wheat and give to the man in the name of Mrs. Floyd, as he wished her to share with him the happiness of receiving the poor man's gratitude. When the General came to Western he brought with him several slaves, one of whom, named Bill, was quite a favorite. Bill wished to go to Rome, to celebrate Independence, and was furnished with a horse and some spending money. While there he beard the Declaration of Independence read, and the announcement that "all men were created free and equal," set him to thinking. He had taken sufficient of the ardent to make him feel his importance, and on his way home began to reason that if all men were equal there was no reason why Massa Floyd should not turn out his horse on his arrival, as he had been accustomed to turn out Massa's horse. In this delightful state of mind he rode up to the gate: "Halloo, Massa Floyd." The General had retired, but arose and asked Bill what he wanted. "I want Massa Floyd to turn out the horse," replied Bill. The General, perceiving the peculiar state of Bill, replied, "Well, well, in a minute," and proceeded to turn out the horse and put the saddle and bridle in their places. After Bill had slept off the effects of his over-indulgence, he appeared before the General to apologise for his conduct, but the General replied, "Never mind Bill, never mind, that is all got along with." Afterwards he used to relate with great glee, the part he took in helping Bill finish up the celebration of the glorious Fourth. He had another very tall man, named Long Tom. He was a gre.at fox hunter, as the skins hanging about the premises abundantly testified. Upon killing his hogs the General discovered that the best one, weighing betweeà three and four hundred pounds, was so measly as to be worthless; he therefore told Tom he might have it for fox bait. Without revealing, his plan, Tom, after dark, harnessed a team and took the pork to Brayton's store, where he sold it for the highest price. The next morning Mr. B. discovered the utter worthlessness of his purchase and at once called upon the General for an explanation. The General knew nothing of the affair, but called Tom, and asked if he gave directions to sell the hog. "No, Massa," said Tom. "How did I tell you to use it?" "Massa Floyd gave me the measly pig to bait foxes, and I have caught the biggest fox in town with it." The effect of the negro's wit was such that the General took from his pocket the price of the hog, paid Mr. B. and let Tom enjoy his pelt, obtained by successful fox hunting.

The population in 1865 was 2,362, and the area 33,294 acres.

There are twenty-one school districts in the town, employing thirty teachers; number of children of school age 916; average attendance 340; amount expended for school purposes during the year ending Sept. 30, 1868, $3,743.08.

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