HISTORY of OPPENHEIM , NY
FROM HISTORY OF FULTON COUNTY
REVISED AND EDITED BY:
WASHINGTON FROTHINGHAM
PUBLISHED BY
D. MASON & CO. PUBLISHERS, SYRACUSE, NY 1892



TOWN OF OPPENHEIM.

OPPENHEIM is the southwest corner town of Fulton county. Its northern boundary is formed by the town of Stratford and its eastern boundary by the town of Ephratah. Montgomery county bounds it on the south and Herkimer county on the west. The surface consists mostly of a hilly upland, gradually rising towards the north and east, where many of the hills attain an altitude of from 1,200 to 1,500 feet above the Mohawk river. The soil in the southwestern portion of the town is composed largely of clay, while in the southeastern part it is mixed with loam, and in the centre and north a light, sandy and gravelly loam is found. Boulders of various sizes appear upon the surface in nearly every portion of the town ; and primary rock is noticeable in the north. Limestone has also been extensively quarried in the south. western part, much of which was used in constructing and repairing the Erie canal: The territory comprised within the present limits of Oppenheim is well watered with a number of rapid streams. Among these are East Canada creek, which flows in a southerly direction along the west border of the town, forming the dividing line between Fulton and Herkimer counties; Fish creek, which flows across the northwest corner; Little Sprite, Crum, Zimmerman’s and Fox creeks, all of which flow in a southwesterly direction, finding an ultimate outlet in the Mohawk.

The soil of Oppenheim is well adapted to coarse grains and for grazing purposes, and hence the farmers are chiefly engaged in stock raisiug and dairying. Wheat has been successfully raised in the southern part of the town, but it is not considered a leading product.

Oppenheim was formed from the town of Palatine, March 18, 1808, and at that time extended south as far as the Mohawk river, but when Fulton county was formed (April 18, 1838), the town of St. Johnsville was set off, and was included in Montgomery county. Oppenheim contains 31,127 acres, about two thirds of which is under cultivation. The assessed valuation of real estate is $365,006, and the aggregate taxation for 1891 was $3,618.05. The territory within the present limits of the town embraces parts of the Kiock, Magiii and Lott patents.

Early Settlement-Oppenheim was first settled by Germans, and the history of its pioneers is much interwoven with that of the towns of Palatine and St. Johnsviile. Tradition says that Rudolph Youker was the first settler, being followed in a few years by John Shaffer, Jacob Goram, Daniel Dikeman, Henry Burkdorff, Frederick Bellinger, and Simeon Schuvler For many years the greater portion of the population was confined to the southern part of the present town, and but few attempts were made to establish permanent settlements in the northern sections, where the exposed condition of the country made pioneer life very dangerous. During the revolution, David Davis located in the southeastern part of the town on the farm afterwards occupied by Benjamin Crouse, and in 1791 Jacob Baum moved into the neighborhood and settled in the eastern part, on the place more recently occupied by Jacob Baum. He purchased 100 acres of the Klock and Nellis patent, for which he paid $1.25 per acre. Harvey Ne]lis settled a short distance from him in 1792. Daniel Ingersoll came from Saratoga county in 1794, and settled on the property for many years known as the Ingersoll place, in the southwestern part of the town. Another pioneer was Moses Johnson, who came from New Hampshire, in January, 1794, bringing his family with him and settling about two miles west of the centre, where he purchased 219 acres of land at $2.50 per acre. On this land he had erected, during the previous summer, a log house, the covering of which was made from bark split from the trees surrounding it. He also brought two horses with him from his native state, and so scarce was food during the first summer of his stay, that he was compelled to sell one of theni, using the money to purchase provisions. The land upon which he located is now owned and occupied by Emerthew Johnson and William H. and Alexander Ingersoll. In 1796 Peter Mosher came in and located a short distance south of the centre of the town on the place afterwards occupied by Leonard Mosher, and now the home of his son, Chauncey Mosher. In the same year Marcus Dusler located on the present David Dusler place in the southeastern part of the town. Others who came in about 1796 and 1797 were James Johnson, Jacob Laude, William Bean, Richard Hewitt and Randall Hewitt, all of whom were from the New England states. Tn 1797 John Swartwout and Peter Cline located in the town, the former taking up his residence near the centre, and the latter a short distance east. Peter Cline’s two sons, Knapthalee and John P., were born on the old homestead in 1797 and 1800 respectively and were for many years prominent residents, living to ripe old age. John N. Cline, a son of John P., still resides on his father’s place in the village of Oppenheim. Daniel Guile came in about 1798 and settled on the farm now owned by Peter Yost and occupied as a dairy by Robert Bydleman. Guile was a soldier in the revolution and came from Saratoga county. Andrew Claus and Jacob Ranch also came in 1798, the former locating on the farm afterwards occupied by Jacob Claus, and at present occupied by Albert Claus, who lives next to it, and the latter on the place now occupied by Hiram Turner. In 1799 Christian House, a soldier of the revolution, settled where Nathan Cross now lives, and his son, John C. House, came in and located in the southern part of the town. Gordon Turner also came at the same time and located near the centre of the town and Henry H. Hayes settled on the place now owned by Eugene Mosher. Peter Claus came from Rensselaer county in 1801, and located on the farm now owned and occupied by Morgan Hoffman. He made a purchase of 100 acres of land paying $2.20 per acre for it. Richard Hewitt came into the town during the latter part of the last century, and settled on the place afterwards owned by his son, Joseph Hewitt, and at present in the possession of one of his grandchildren.

Many of the pioneers and early inhabitants of Oppenheim took part in the war for liberty, and suffered heroically from the depredations of savage warriors and brutal tories. The names of some of these have been preserved, together with brief incidents in their lives that have made them famous in local history. One of these brave men was Peter Getman, who, when only sixteen, joined a company of militia and went in search of a party of Indians, which had committed outrages in the neighborhood. These Indians had stopped at the house of the Rector family, asking for something to eat. After being told to help themselves, instead of doing so in an orderly and decent manner, they proceeded to lay hands on everything within reach and were boldly upbraided by Mr. Rector. They became angry at his remonstrances and as they were departing, they turned and fired a volley from their muskets through the upper half of the door, which was open. Quick to realize the danger, Mrs. Rector held up a frying pan to protect her husband from the bullets of the enemy, one of which passed through the pan and shattered the arm of her husband. Maddened with rage at the futile attempt to murder their innocent victims, the Indians rushed forward with upraised tomahawks, and felled Mrs. Rector to the ground, afterwards taking her scalp and leaving her as they supposed dead. While this conflict was going on an old grandfather, who was living with his children and grandchildren, escaped to the woods with two of the youngest, but one of them, a little boy six years old, was captured and killed, and his body was thrown into the adjacent creek. Mrs. Rector afterwards regained consciousness, dressed her wounds, and walked to Stone Arabia, remaining there until she entirely recovered.

Among others who were prominent in those perilous times were Frederick Baum, a mail carrier; Andrew and Marcus Dusler, John Flander, Peter Bidleman, Jacob Vedder, John Sponable, and Capt. Elijah Cloyes. Jacob Youker was taken prisoner at the battle of Oriskany, forced to accompany the British to Canada, where he enlisted in their army. Having been marched to the vicinity of Little Falls he, with a few others, made his escape, hiding among the rocks until the army left, and finally reaching their friends. Peter Davis, an old settler, was killed while at work in the field. His wife escaped, but his daughter was captured and, together with a prisoner named Pring, was taken to Canada, where they suffered imprisonment, but eventually escaped and were married after their return.

VILLAGES.

Oppenheim village, situated on both sides of Crum creek near the centre of the town, is surrounded by an excellent agricultural and stock raising region. It was in the immediate neighborhood of this village that many of the pioneer settlers of Oppenheim first located. The first hotel in the place was opened in 1805 by Peter Cline, his first license being secured by a number of the citizens who were anxious to have him establish an inn. He built a tannery about the same time, operating it with his son, Knapthalee, until the year 1836, when the stream upon which it was situated failed, and the establishment was thereupon discontinued. A saw-mill was built about 1806 by Henry Cline, a brother of Peter, and two years later a grist mill was erected by Henry Miller. The grist-mill was the scene of active operations for a period of twenty years or more, but was subsequently neglected and abandond. The first store was built and conducted by Henry I. Ostrom about the year 1810 A distillery was also built and operated by him soon after, but was continued as such for a short time only. Anson E. Brown, the present postmaster at Oppenheim, was first appointed during the administration of President Arthur, but the office was held during the Cleveland administration by Charles H. Brown. Anson H. Brown was again appointed, July 24, 1889. The office is located in the general store of Brown Brothers, of which Anson H. and George A. Brown are proprietors.

The first Union church in the village was erected about 1820, and was occasionally occupied by different denominations, but remained in an unfinished condition and was finally sold and moved away. The present edifice was built in 1834, but has undergone material improvements from time to time. It is built of wood, convenient and commodious, and being situated near the centre of the town, is easily accessible to the inhabitants of a large district. Rev. Jacob Trisband held the first religious services in the town about 1800, but since 1825 the Methodist and Baptist denominations have been the more prominent ones in keeping up the church. Prior to 1861 there had been no officers of the Baptist or Methodist societies elected for ten years. On the 23d of April of that year, however, trustees were chosen as follows: Peter B. Claus, William S. Stewart, Lucian Healy, Leonard Mosher, Harry V. Velding, John P. Swartwout, Daniel A. Sherwood, John D. Robinson, and Cyrus D. Dean, the last named being chosen clerk of the board.

Since that time trustees have been elected regularly, but for the past fifteen years the Methodist Episcopal denomination has used the church almost entirely, as the members of the Baptist and other denominations have diminished in number, some by death, while others
have moved from the vicinity. The Methodist Society of Oppenheim was on the charge with St. Johnsville for a number of years, and afterwards transferred to that of Dolgeville, but since 1884 it has formed a joint charge with Lassellsville, and regular services have been held each Sunday afternoon by the pastor. A parsonage, located at Lassellsville, was erected by the society four years ago. The Oppen helm church has an active Sunday-school, of which Byron Leavitt, a member of the Methodist Episcopal Society, is superintendent. Mrs. Julia Barker, who lives about three miles north of the village, is recording steward of this charge. The present trustees of the church are M. H. Barker, William S. Hess, Watson Turner, Nathan Cross, and James H. Cline.

Dolgeville, also called Brockett’s Bridge, is situated on East Canada creek, but the greater part of the village lies in the adjoining county of Herkimer. The place has attained considerable importance as a manufacturing centre during the past few years, and with the completion of the Little Falls and Dolgeville Railroad, of which the grade has been made and a large amount of the track laid, the village will be put in quick communication with other commercial centres, and will undoubtedly reach a substantial growth.

Middlesprite, in the northeast part of the town; Lottville, in the northern part; and Crum Creek in the southern part, are hamlets, with post-offices and stores.

Dairying, including the manufacture of cheese, is the principal industry of Oppenheim, and at different times there have been as many as five large cheese factories in active operation within the limits of the town. An extensive plant, known as the Willow Spring factory, situated three-fourths of a mile east of Oppenheim village, was built by a stock company in 1867 and operated by them for a number of years This factory is nowowned and conducted by James O. Bennett, who does a large and increasing business. Three miles west of the village is located another cheese factory, owned by Warren H. Bacon, and operated by Nelson C. Radley. On the west border of the town, near the village of Ingham’s Mills, is located the Johnson factory, and the Youker factory in the south part of the town is owned and operated by William H. Youker. There is a building formerly used as a cheese factory near Lottville. It was built by a man named Galusha, and afterwards purchased by Peter Van Allen, who operated it for two or three years, but it has recently been closed. It is customary during the months of June, July and August for the patrons of the factories to deliver their milk both night and morning. After September I, only one delivery per day is made, usually in the morning, the previous night’s milk being skimmed before coming to the factory. During the winter months deliveries are made only once in two or three days, each milking before the last being skimmed before being brought in. Each customer is given credit for the number of pounds of milk delivered, and after the product is sold the final settlement is made upon this basis.

Town Officers.- The first town meeting of Oppenheim was held at the house of Jacob Zimmerman, April 15, 1801, at which time the following officers were elected: Supervisor, Andrew Zabriskie; town clerk, John C. Nellis; assessors, Peter I. Nellis, Jacob I. Failing, and Ricard Hewett; commissioners of highways, Rufus Ballard, Jacob G. Klock, and Daniel Guile; overseers of the poor, John L. Bellinger and John I. Kiock; collector, John Tingue; constables, Samuel Frame, Joseph B. Grover, Cornelius Swartwout, David Lyon, and Joel Daniels; poundmasters, Thomas T. Ballard and Christopher Fox; viewers of fences, Conrad Hellingas and Jacob Frey. The election of the above officers was certified to by Henry Beekman and Jacob G. Kiock, justices of the peace.

The present town officers are as follows: Supervisor, John C. Davis; town clerk, Anson E. Brown ; justices of the peace, Samuel Cramer, Henry Schuyler, M. E. Barker, and Marvin Hayes; assessors, George W. Youker, Edgar L. Cline, and George P. Davis; collector, William Clemons.

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