THE TOWN OF ADAMS.
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In the month of August, 1796, the proprietors of the eleven towns divided the
territory among themselves by ballot; and in that general division numbers two, seven and eleven (Watertown, Adams
and Lowville) with 1,576 acres of what is now Worth, fell to Nicholas Low. During the months of April and May,
previous to this division, the proprietors employed Benjamin Wright to survey the entire tract (the eleven towns,
or the Black river tract) into townships, and as he pro ceeded with the work the worthy surveyor made notes of
the character of the region through which he traveled. Of this town (which he knew only as No. 7, but which Simeon
De Witt, in his survey made in 1802, called Aleppo) Mr. Wright remarked: "The town has every good quality;
millseats, springs of excellent water, fine timber, maple, beech, bass, ash, butternut, birch, iron-wood, pine,
oak and some chestnut, limestone, fine soil, black mould and loam in general." Commenting generally the surveyor
said "It is a pretty level country, some undula tions, and some excellent swaley land. The principal streams
are Stony creek, and the north branch of Big Sandy creek. This branch is a large stream of one chain, eighty links
width, in general, and has some very fine intervales, and is nearly all flat rock bottom. There are some appearances
of mill seats on this branch, and I suppose probably very good ones, but I have seen nothing of that kind."
Benjamin Wright's survey was made more than a century ago, and so far as we have any knowledge he was the first
white person to traverse the region having in mind the ultimate settlement and development of the territory. According
to his measurment, the township contained 26,505 acres of land. The present town of Adams contains 27,020 acres,
but surveyor Wright reported that local attractions rendered it very difficult for him to run straight lines, which
in a measure accounts for the difference. Mr. Wright also surveyed the town into lots, which varied in size from
240 to 676 acres each, and these were again subdivided according to the requirements and purchasing ability of
It is somewhat strange that Benjamin Wright should so carefully examine the territory of the Black river country
and yet make no note of existing evidences of the occupation which antedated the period of his visit. Indeed, even
at that time the good surveyor must have met with some straggling remnant of the former Indian people who so numerously
inhabited the region, for all along the borders of Sandy creek, and elsewhere, the pioneers discovered traces of
the occupancy and also unmistakable evidences of their villages, burial grounds and defensive fortifications.
The town abounds in evidences of the aboriginal occupation, and numerous indeed have been the Indian relics found
within its limits. One of the most interesting of all the places inhabited by the Iroquois was in the vicinity
of the old Talcott tavern in the extreme northeast corner of the town, where, on a bluff some 40 or 50 feet high,
once stood a fortification of considerable size and of great defensive strength The property is now owned by the
heirs of John Metcalf, deceased. The exact location of the fort was on the commanding bluff just below the old
cider mill site, the latter being on the head waters of Stony creek. The place is more conspicuous from a large
projecting rock which cannot but attract the attention of travelers.
The front of the position is faced with an abrupt ascent, evidently difficult of approach without discovery. The
ground in rear is depressed and swampy, and is drained by a small stream which falls over a cliff near the old
cider mill site above mentioned. This stream was formerly obstructed by a beaver dam, which converted the marsh
into a pond. The elevation of the work was well fitted for defensive operations, possessing the primary requisites
of difficulty of approach and a non failing supply of water. The artificial defenses consisted of an embankment
of earth with an exterior ditch. The forest growth now covers the greater part of the work, and the lines are thus
well preserved. The average height of the embankment was three feet, and ten feet wide at the base. The ditch was
of the same width. There were seven gateways, varying in width from 8 to 30 feet. An abrupt bank is on the right
of the work, 30 feet high, where the defenses are interrupted.
On the northeast slope of the eminence, within the enclosure, in dry sandy soil were formerly seen numbers of small
pits or depressions, which were originally from four to six feet deep, but are now filled with leaves and vegetable
mould. These were caches or places for hiding stores. Quantities of parched corn were also found here. Within the
walls were found 40 or 50 of these caches, and several more on the crown of the eminence. On removing the leaves
in the work the bones of animals and fragments of pottery were found. A small portion of the work is now under
cultivation, and in the vicinity several skeletons have been exhumed by the plow. Some of them were of Indians
of large proportions, and were buried in a sitting posture.
The accompanying diagram of the fort was made in 1848 and fairly represents the work as it now stands, although
with passing years portions have become partially obliterated. As represented on this plan a is the stream; b is
where a large basswood tree stood on the embankment; c was where the caches were found; d is where the skeletons
were upturned by the plow, and e is a small mound in the form of an amphitheatre outside and to the right of the
work, rising out of marshy ground which has been supposed by some authorities to be artificial.
[Image 1 ] [ Image 2 ]
Another work of considerable size was found about one-half of a mile north of Adams village, on lands formerly
owned by Wells Benton, but now owned by Rev. O. P. Pitcher. Justus Eddy described this work in 1848 as having been
semi-circular in form, about 400 feet in diameter, and with the open segment, which was originally palisaded with
pickets, facing a marshy tract of land through which flowed a small stream. There were two or three breaks or passage
ways in the embankment. When the country was first settled trees two and three feet in diameter were found growing
in the wall and inside the inclosure. The embankment was then from three to four feet high. Within the work were
found quantities of pottery, pipes and beads, covered with ornamental figures. A silver star-shaped ornament bearing
the initials "P. H." was also found, which was quite thin, not more than the thickness of a common sixpence
piece. The discovery of this ornament unquestionably shows that the work was occupied subsequent to the advent
of the whites upon the continent, and the existence of the trees within the enclosure do not lead to a different
conclusion, as the natural indolent habits of the Indian deterred him from removing forest growths when erecting
fortifications in heavily timbered regions. A diagram of this work was prepared and the same is here reproduced.
But, notwithstanding all the antiquarian interest associated with these old aboriginal villages and fortifications,
they are but lightly esteemed in the minds of our white people. The Indian titles to land in this region were extinguished
by the treaty of September, 1788, and three years later the state sold to Alexander Macomb the vast tract which
included all that is now this county. Through the several transfers and conveyances noted at length in another
chapter, the territory now comprising Adams passed into the ownership of Nicholas Low, and was through his agents
sold to settlers. In the early summer of 1799 a party of explorers from New England made a tour of investigation
into the Black river country, having in mind the purchase of a considerable tract of land if a suitable location
should be found. In this company were Nicholas Salisbury, Robert Fulton, Caleb and Daniel Ellis, Joel Guile, Abram
Wilcox, John and Gideon Howard and Elihu Phillips, who came through the town now called Ellisburgh, but then almost
uninhabited, into township No. 7, and crossed the latter following the general course of Sandy creek. These adventurous
explorers were so well pleased with the situation of this town, and with the evident fertility of its soil, that
Nicholas Salisbury, who was the leader of the party, went to New York in the fall and made a contract for the purchase
of a considerable tract of land about a mile below the village.
The land sale books of Nicholas Low show that the first purchase in the town was made by Elisha Phillips in 1798,
and that the purchases which resulted from the visit above mentioned begun Oct. 29, 1799, and continued until at
least all the available parcels were sold. Having recourse to the record of sales referred to, it may be of interest
to reproduce the names of purchasers as there noted, viz.: 1798, Elisha Phillips; 1799, Oct. 29, Stephen Shippey,
Enos D'Estaing, Nicholas and Alexander Salisbury, Solomon Smith, Daniel Cornstock, David Smith, Abram Ripley, Jonathan
Cable; Nov. 6, Eliphalet Edmunds, John W. Smith, Francis McKee, Robert Myrick; Dec. 1. Squier Reed, Daniel Fox,
Zacheus Walworth; 1800, Josiah Godfrey, Jenks Seaman, Simeon Forbes, Ebenezer Lazelle, David and Stephen Grummons,
Isaac Baker, Samuel Fox, George Houseman, Peter Doxtater, Paul Stickney, Elias Avery, James McCumber, Russell Smith,
Amos Claflin, Ebenezer Brown (afterward removed to Lorraine), Joshua Comstock, Matthew Wilkie and Consider Low;
1801, Abijah Miller, John Freeman, Josiah Godfrey, Daniel Talcott, Hezekiah Tiffany, Joseph Cook, Phineas Rose,
Robert, Solomon and Asher Robbins, Simeon Meacharn, Timothy Pond, Barnabas Weilman, William Thomas, Abel Hart,
Henry Walradt, Chauncey and Roswell Mills; 1802, Nathan Loveland, Cornelius Hinds, Sylvanus P. Daggart, Abel Loveland.
Roswell Taylor, Roswell Coe, John Richards, David Higgins, Aaron Farr, John F. Toll, John C. Scott, James Streeter,
John Kidder, Joseph Landon; 1802, John Jones, Truman and Theodore Bunce, John Wentworth, Sylvanus Barney, James
Randolph, D. M. Gaylord. James Henderson, Thomas James, Absalom Price, David Gardner; 1804, Job Taylor, Eliphalet
Adams, Abel Myriek, Darius Markham, John C. Dickinson, John Weaver, Aaron Webster.
In the above list the reader may discover the name of the pioneer ancestor of his family in the county, although
it must be said that many and perhaps the majority of those named never became actual residents in the town. Some
of them were purchasers for speculative purposes alone, while others remained so short a time that their names
are hardly to be mentioned either with pioneers or early settlers. It will be seen, however, that the lands were
sold with rapidity, and within the very short space of two years from the time the first improvement was made the
creation of a new town in this part of Oneida county became necessary. Nearly all writers of Adams history have
accorded to Nicholas Salisbury the honor of having made the first settlement and improvement in the town, in April,
1800, yet a more recent and reliable authority inclines to the belief that Samuel Fox was the pioneer in fact,
he having in the same year cleared the first acre of land. Wherever the truth may be, the present writer cannot
say, although the weight of opinion favors the Salisbury pioneership.2
Nicholas Salisbury left his former home in Western, N. Y., in the early spring of 1800, and with his family and
all his effects and property packed on an ox sled, made his way to Lowville and thence to town. ship No. 7, arriving
on April 16, after a journey of twenty-six days. The family went at once to the Salisbury land below the village
and built a log house. Mr. Salisbury was an active and successful settler, and afterward attained a position of
prominence in the town. He was the first supervisor, and held that office until 1814. He had a large family, and
the surname has ever since been known in the south part of the county. Solomon Smith and his son came with the
Salisbury family, in the capacity of hired men, but recollections of these pioneers are indeed meagre.
Samuel Fox settled three miles above the village site, and there his clearing was made in 1800, He, too, built
a log cabin, and then brought to the place his young wife. They lived on the farm about fifty years, and reared
a family of twelve children. Daniel Fox, elder brother to Samuel, also came in 1800 and settled on the opposite
side of Sandy creek. He lived on the farm he developed for a period of 73 years, and died in 1873, at the advanced
age of 102 years. He had two sons (both of whom he outlived), and four daughters. One of the latter married with
John C. Cooper, who was once president of the Agricultural insurance company. Peter Doxtater was a settler in 1800,
and came from the Palatinates of the German Flats in the Mohawk valley. His clearing was about a mile from the
village. In his family were George, William and Peter, his sons, and Elizabeth, his only daughter. She married
with Elijah Wright, who came from Deerfield, Mass., in 1804. George Doxtater succeeded to the old home farm, while
William became a merchant at Adams, and later on was the first superintendent of the Rome & Watertown railroad.
Peter, the youngest son, spent his life in Adams. Peter, the pioneer, died in 1842, aged 92 years.
One of the most prominent and worthy pioneers in Adams was Eliphalet Edmunds, more frequently known in later years
as Judge Edmunds. If Watertown local tradition be true, Eliphalet and Christopher Edmunds came into this region
from Vermont as early as 1798, and voyaged down Black river in a boat. They were hunters and were in search of
a profitable hunting ground, but when at the falls of the present city site their frail craft was upset, and guns,
ammunition and supplies disappeared beneath the waters. Then the brothers struck out into the Black river country,
where they learned that settlements were beginning, both stopping in Ellisburgh, but very soon afterward Eliphalet
came into Adams and was afterward one of the foremost men of the town and county. He was presidential elector in
1816, and was otherwise prominent in early local instory until about 1827, when he removed to Monroe county.
David Smith was the pioneer on the site of Adams village, to which place he came in 1800, and in that year, or
very soon afterward, built both saw and grist mills. From this fact the locality took the name of Smith's Mills,
and the proprietor honestly deserved all the honor which came to him, for he was an earnest, industrious settler.
He left a large family. Zacheus Walsworth was another pioneer, and is said to have been one of the first persons
to bring a cooking stove into the town. Among the other settlers of the same period, though the exact year cannot
be given (nor the precise place of settlement of all of them), may be recalled the names of John Smith, Francis
McKee, Consider Low, Jacob Kellogg, John Cole, George Houseman, Robert Myrick, John Coles, David Hale, William
Benton, Francis Baker and others. Settlers Coles, Kellogg, McKee, Hale, Benton and Baker lived on the line of the
state road laid out through the town soon after settlement was begun. The Bakers were a numerous family, comprising
besides the parents, two sons and nine daughters, all of whom, except two, grew to maturity. One of the daughters
married with Elihu Morton, and another with Cyrus Eddy, both of which latter names were well known in Adams history.
William Benton was father of Wells Benton, who was once sheriff of the county.
Elihu Morton was an early settler and was one of the most influential and wealthy men of the town. Originally there
were three brothers named Morton who came to Adams from Vermont, and all raised families. The eldest was Abner,
who became prominent in political history, but who afterward removed to Michigan. Elihu was next younger than Abner,
and the third was Julius, who is remembered as an early merchant in the town. Major Isaac Baker was an early settler
and a successful farmer. His farm lay adjoining that of Samuel Fox, of whom mention has been made. In the same
connection may be mentioned Capt. Richard Goodell, who served during the war of 1812, and who also was elected
to the assembly several times, and was speaker of the house in 1824. Later on he served in an official capacity
at Auburn prison, and died there about 1829.
Bradford Lisk came into the town previous to or during the year 1802, and settled on Sandy creek above Smith's
Mills. Here he and Francis McKee built a tannery, and the locality soon became known as Lisk Settlement. The bridge
in this locality is still called the Lisk bridge. About the same time one Munn came here and opened a public house.
Other early corners in the vicinity were Appleton McKee, Priarn Thompson, Elijah Fox and Myron Cooper.
A few miles below Adams village, on Sandy creek, is a locality known as the Thomas Settlement. It was here the
Thomas family settled during the early years of the century, and some authorities assert as early as 1800. In the
family were four brothers, William, Benjamin, Ezra and Ira, who came from Windham county, Vermont, and made a clearing.
In the next year they were followed by their widowed mother and two younger brothers, Elihu and Joel. The Thomas
brothers were instrumental in clearing many fine farms in the southwest part of the town, and were, withal, thrifty
and industrious settlers; and if all memories of the family be true, the brothers were not lacking in patriotism,
and served with the militia in the defense of Sackets Harbor. For many years the Thomas drum corps was one of the
institutions of Adams. Many descendants of this family are still in the county. At the corners where the Thomas
improvement was begun, a Captain Barney opened a public house about 1810. and soon afterward opened a stock of
goods in connection with his tavern. Later on he removed to Watertown, where he also kept tavern, but was afterward
accidentally drowned in Black river. Betwen the settlement and the village one Salisbury opened a public house
in 1811, but this was abandoned after the village became the trading point of the region. Edward Barney came to
the town about 1801, and is recalled as a sort of physician in the locality, though not regularly educated for
Another prominent family in early Adams history was that of the brothers, Charles, Thomas R. and Joseph L. Greene,
who came from Berlin. N. Y., at a very early date and settled near the center of tile town. Thomas afterward lived
at Adams Centre, where he died in 1874, and Joseph resided in Adams village. He had three sons, George, who died
in 1870; David M., who served eight years in the navy, one of the faculty of Troy Polytechnic school, and was afterward
deputy state engineer; and Albert S., an engineer in the U. S. navy. The Greene settlement was very near the geographical
center of the town. The family came originally from Rhode Island, and settled in Chenango county. Charles Greene
acted as land agent for Bostwick, of Lowville, and was instrumental in causing settlement in this region by many
of his acquaintances in the east. Paul, D'Estaing, De Forest and O. De Grasse Greene (late county clerk), were
grandsons of Charles Greene, the pioneer.
A school was opened in the Greene settlement about 1815. Joshua Clark, also an early settler, started a blacksmith
shop, and Samuel Marot and Lorenzo Rhodes kept a store. Thus the hamlet was founded, and when in 1835 Charles Greene
and Samuel Crosby built a saw mill on the brook, the place was at the height of its importance. However, as years
passed these old interests were discontinued, arid now the settiement is nothing more than a cluster of dwellings
in an excellent agricultural region.
North of the Greene settlement Captain Sill and Baxter Adams were early settlers. Sill was a surveyor and a prominent
man in the town. The Wright family also founded a settlement in Adams in 1804. The pioneers were Westwood Wright
and his brothers, Moses and Carmi, who came from Massachusetts and located north of the village site. This was
a numerous colony, as Westwood Wright's family had eight persons; Carmi's twelve, and the others a less number.
With them, or about the same time, also came John Wright and wife, Eli Wright, Rufus Nims, Lemuel Arms and his
sons, Richard, Leman, Hiram and John, and others, in all numbering thirty-eight persons. Cyrus Eddy was also a
settler of about the same period, possibly 1803. He located north of the village, and lived there until his death
in 1859. One of his sons, Justus Eddy, was for many years a reliable authority on all questions relating to early
history in Adams.
Lemuel Arms, who is mentioied in the preceding paragraph, came from Deerfield, Mass., in 1804, and settled at the
Centre. His sons, Leman and Hiram, built the first hotel at that place, and also made wagons and sleighs. Miles
Cooper came from Durham, Conn, about 1803, and settled on the Adams village tract, his house standing on the site
of S. D. Hungerford's residence of later years. In 1811 Cooper built the first framed house in the village. Titus
Bassett came in 1804, and died in the town in 1867. Heman Colton came in 1806, and worked at clearing land until
he saved enough money to make a payment on a 103 acre tract in the north part of the town. Herman Keep, with his
wife (Dorothy Kent), and their children, Mary, Martha and Henry, came to Adams about 1817, and located near the
Centre. Bissell Keep was born after the family settled in the town Henry Keep afterward removed to Watertown, and
married Emma A., daughter of Norris M. Woodruff. Mr. Keep was a banker at the county seat, and still later removed
to New York and finally became president of the New York Central railroad. He also became one of the richest men
this county ever sent into the business world.
Another early settled locality in the town was that long known as North Adams. The pioneer here was a Vermont Yankee
by the name of Roger Read, whose settlement was made in 1806. Among his children were three sons, one of whom,
Asahel Read, afterward lived in Watertown. Heman Colton was another early settler in this part of the town, where
he opened a large farm. Benjamin Sweet and Albert Rice located farther west, and were also prominent early settlers.
Previous to 1812 one Waddell built a grist mill on Stony creek, and Willett Ranney was its miller for many years.
His interest afterward passed to E. & A. Read, who in turn sold to Samuel Cook. He (in 1829) established the
North Adams "Pioneer Mills," a name by which the old structure has ever since been known. Henry Moulton
was one of the later day proprietors of the mills. Saw mills on the creek were numerous, and among the early proprietors
may be recalled the names of Gideon Gifford, Heman Colton, Philo Ellenwood and James Hodge. On the same stream
Richard Oatman once had a turning mill and corn grinder.
A post office was established at North Adams about 1845, and Benjamin Sweet was postmaster. The office was on the
stage route from Watertown to Salisbury's Mills. Albert Rice was the second postmaster, succeeded in 1862 by Win.
Stanley, under whom the office was discontinued, for by this time the locality had lost many of its old time interests
and was no longer of much importance in the history of the town.
The Second Congregational Society of Adams was organized in this part of the town, at the house of Roger Read,
on Nov. 1, 1809, and included in its original membership Timothy Betts and wife, Simeon Read and wife, John Patrick,
Elizabeth Miller, Esther Price, John Barnard and wife, Ebenezer Root and wife, Lydia Read and Sally Lyon. The church
organization was perfected Dec. 5, 1810, and John Barnard, Asher Robbins and Ruel Pearsons were chosen trustees.
In 1818 a frame church edifice, 30 x 40 feet in size, was built on land owned by John Graves, and on Nov. 11th
Rev. Edward W. Rossiter was installed pastor. The society prospered for a time, but in 1823 the members from the
Smithville neighborhood withdrew to organize a new church. In 1830 the meeting house was moved a mile east, and
about the same time a new society, called the North Adams Congregational society, was formed with Heman Colton
and Elisha and Ephraim Read as trustees. The society continued until 1856, and was then dissolved. The pastors
following Mr. Rossiter were A. L, Crandall, D. Spear, Austin Putnam, P. Cook, Lewis M. Shepland and Henry Budge.
In the eastern part of the town, bordering on Rodrnan, is a locality which has ever been known as East Adams, and
otherwise called Honeyville. The same general locality has also been known as State Road. This part of Adams began
to settle about 1805, although some of the pioneers found their way here as early as 1801. Among the well known
names in this section were Heath, Grummon, Loveland, Truman, Harris, Talcott and Davis, the descendants of many
of whom are yet in the town and represent the best element of its citizenship. In later years a family named Davis
came into the neighborhood, and Joseph Davis, one of the sons of the settler, built a store at the corners and
was in trade for a number of years. He was the father of George L. Davis, of Watertown. Farther north, near the
Watertown line, David Talcott built the tavern elsewhere mentioned in this chapter. In this locality a post office
was established about 1827, under the name of Union, but later on was changed to Appling, and so called in allusion
to Major Appling, the hero of the battle of Sandy Creek. E. M. Howard was the first postmaster, and was succeeded
by D. M. G. Howard. The office was abolished about 1840.
Here also was the location of the Adams Baptist church, more frequently known as the First Adams Baptist society,
which was organized in September, 1802, at the house of the pioneer David Grummon. Early meetings were held in
barns, hut in 1824 the church was legally organized and a house of worship erected on the state road, one mile
east of the Centre. The second edifice was built in 1838 and still stands. This church has a present memership
of 178, with 192 Sunday school attendants. The present'pastor is Rev. D. G. Forbes.
It will be seen from what has been stated that settlement in Adams began on Sandy creek, and thence extended north
toward the center and northern portions of the town. The pioneers found their way into the region with only marked
trees to guide them, and when streams were reached they were either compelled to ford them or cross on footlogs
felled across the channel. Rude roads were located between the principal settlements in 1801, and the next year
a bridge was built across Sandy creek at Smith's Mills. In 1804 the state road to Rome, via Redfield, was opened
and ten years later the old "Salt Point road" was built from Salina to Adams, at the latter place intersecting
the Rome road, which ran through Redfield, Lorraine and Adams to Brownvifle. When this road was extended to Adams
Centre, and thence through the northeast corner of the town of Watertown, a new country was opened for settlement,
and within the brief space of ten more years, the old thoroughfare was lined with good log farm houses and taverns,
some of the latter, however, being constructed of stone. The old Talcott house' (now owned by heirs of the Metcalf
estate) was a fair and substantial illustration of the typical tavern of the period, and in its gable end was built
in the wall the traditional bottle of whiskey, indicative of the comfort and good cheer presumed to reign within.
Settlement in Adams began in 1800 and continued without interruption until all the available lands were occupied
and improved; yet it is difficult to state just when early settlement actually ceased, for the records show a gradual
increase in population until the year 1860. Indeee in 1807 the inhabitants having requisite property qualifications
numbered 163 thus indicating at least 500 population, and it was not surprising, therefore, that the creation of
a new town in this part of the county (then Oneida) should be desired.
Organization.- The creating act
was passed April 1, 1802, and within the new jurisdiction was inclitded townships 7 and 8 of the Black river tract
(Aleppo and Orpheus, as laid down on Simeon De Witt's map), or Adams and Rodman as now known. The latter town was
set off from Adams March 24, 1804, under the original name of Harrison, which was soon changed to Rodman. In accordance
with the act, the first town meeting was held March 1, 1803, at the house of Eliphalet Edmunds, at which time officers
were elected as follows:
Nicholas Salisbury. supervisor; Phmeas Keith, town clerk; D'Estaing Salisbury, John W. Smith, David Grummon, Thomas
White. assessors; Isaac Baker, collector; Thomas White, David Comstock, overseers of the poor; Paul Stickney, Jacob
Kellogg, Simeon Hunt, corn. of highways; Isaac Baker, Anson Moody, constables; David Cornstock, David Smith, George
H. Thomas, George Cooper, fence viewers; Jacob Kellogg, Benj. Thomas, pou ndkeepers; Abraham Ripley, James Perry,
Enan Salisbury, John Cowles, Consider Low, Solomon Robbins, Hezekiah Tiffany, Thomas White, Daniel Mansfield, Asa
Davis, Squier Read, Abel Palmer, overseers of highways; Simeon Hunt, David Comstock, deer reeves.
A number of settlers mentioned in the above list were residents in the Rodman part of the town; in fact it is probable
that township No. 8 had a majority of the officers, as in 1807 it had 236 voters with property qualifications,
or 73 more than were in No. 7 (Adams) at the same time. In this year (1803) the town voted to pay $3 bounty for
every wolf killed, from which it appears that the settlers were much annoyed by the depredations of wild animals.
Indeed, the nuisance seems not to have been abated in later years, for in 1804, and continuing until 1814, the
wolf bounty was $10. In 1815 the offer was raised to $15, and at the same time a bounty of $10 was offered for
wildcats, and $1 for foxes.
The pioneers and early settlers in Adams, if local tradition be reliable, were a conscientious, law-abiding and
sturdy set of men, having due respect and regard for the proprieties of daily life. The records show that in 1804
fines were levied against Thomas, James and John Richards for unlawfully selling liquors, but these good brothers
evidently did not know they were offending against the law, hence the town voted to remit the fines, in 1805 Peter
Doxtater killed a deer, whereupon he, too, was subjected to a penalty; but it was likewise remitted. In 1808 the
town voted not to collect the fine imposed upon Benj. Sawyer for unlawful trafficking in liquor; and in the same
year it was voted not to collect fines for "profane swearing" from Dr. Eli Eastman and Ephraim Joy.
Among the settlers, who were chiefly from New England, were several who had seen service in the revolution. Peter
Doxtater was one of these, and was a scout in the American army. He was captured by the Mohawk Indians and was
held a prisoner about three years. Among the other patriots of that struggle who afterward lived in Adams were
Abel Bassett, Daniel Fox, John Merriam and Danforth Doty. Paul Stickney served as a sailor under Paul Jones, and
Preserved Redway is said to have been one of Washington's body guard. Lucy Thompson and Cynthia White were widows
of revolutionary soldiers. Few of these names have been previously mentioned in this chapter, for the year of their
settlement in the town is unknown.
During the war of 1812, the inhabitants were in constant fear of an Indian invasion, and devised various means
for the protection and safety of the women and children of the community in case the male portion of the population
was called to the frontier. At least twice during the period the militia were called out, and even the "Silver
Grays" marched to Sackets Harbor, but were not called into service. After the return of peace the inhabitants
resumed their accustomed occupations, and during the next ten years the resources of the town were developed almost
to their fullest extent; the forest gave way to fine farms of rare fertility, and saw mills lined the banks of
North Sandy and Stony creeks. In the course of time hamlets and villages sprung up in places formerly known only
as settlements, and during the early 'fifties one of these had attained sufficient importance and size to assume
the corporate character.
In 1810, at the first census enumeration after the town was separately set off, the inhabitants numbered 1,376;
in 1814, 1,693; 1820, 2,461; 1825, 2,415; 1880, 2,805; 1835, 2,970; 1840, 2,966; 1845, 3,055; 1855, 3,105; 1860,
3,496; 1865, 3,418; 1870, 3,848; 1875, 3,321; 1880, 3,302; 1890, 3,181; 1892, 3,191.
From this it is seen that the greatest population was attained in 1.860 (the number then being 3,496) and that
since that time there has been a gradual decrease in inhabitants, due to the same causes which have lessened the
population of nearly all interior towns where agriculture and its kindred occupations have been the chief pursuits
of the people. Generally speaking, from first to last, Adams has been a purely agricultural town, and in point
of fertility has ranked among the first civil divisions of the county. During' the first fifty years of its history,
nearly all marketable products were taken from the town over the two great public highways leading to Rome and
Syracuse, while little indeed found its way to the county seat.
North Sandy and Stony creeks were also to a limited extent public highways for logs and manufactured lumber, and
occasionally duiing the embargo period a' flat boat laden with potashes found its way to the lake, and thence to
market across the border. In 1849 the Adams and Ellisburgh plank road was constructed through the town, and with
other similar thoroughfares formed a continuous road to Oswego and Syracuse.
As early as 1832 the subject of a railroad from Rome to Watertown was discussed with much interest by the people
of Adams, for thereby all interests would be improved and benefited. This great consunimation was not attained,
however, until 1851, when the road was opened, and Adams and Adams Center were made stations. In the meantime the
people had become somewhat interested in the proposition to build another railroad, leading from Sackets Harbor
to Trenton, by way of Adams or Ellisburgh. This project, too, was long delayed, and when finally built the eastern
terminus was at Ellisburgh, thus only remotely affecting local interests. Still another railway project designed
to benefit this town was the proposed Boston & Henderson Harbor company, which was incorporated in April, 1872.
The articles provided for a line of railroad from the harbor through Jefferson, Lewis and Oneida counties, into
Herkimer (to Salisbury), and there to intersect with a road to Boston via Hoosac tunnel. The company's capital
was $2,000,000, and of the stock some $80,000 was subscribed in this county. The persons in this town most interested
in the enterprise were S. D. Hungerford, W. A. Gilbert, G. W. Bond and D. A. Dwight. It was never carried to completion,
but the measures taken are only one of many proofs of the public-spiritedness which has ever characterized the
people of Adams.
About the year 1850 it was discovered that the soil of this town was peculiarly adapted to the growth of peas,
beans and other like vegetables. Previous to this tune cereals, especially barley, were staple products, but as
the wonderful qualities of the west became developed so did the farming regions of the east correspondingly suffer.
Therefore the growth of seed peas and beans as an industry was a welcome boon to the Adams farmers. At least 200
farmers in this town were for years engaged in this special industry, and the extensive seed-houses of J. M. Cleveland
and T. V. Maxon of Adams village were the result. They prospered for a time, but at length the industry declined
and the growth of market seeds is no longer a staple industry with the people.
[Photo of J. M. Cleveland ]
About the same time General Hungerford began breeding and raising for market the best strains of thorcughbred and
grade Ayrshire cattle, and for the purpose imported from Scotland some of the best stock that money could procure.
During the next thirty years the fame of Adams as a stock producing town was spread throughout the land. About
1852, H. C. Averill, of Adams Centre, began breeding a fine grade of horses, and he was followed in the same line
by J. A. D. Snell, also of the Centre, and R. P. White, of Adams village. The result of all this enterprise was
the formation, in 1856, of the Ellisburgh, Adams and Henderson Agricultural society. For several years the annual
exhibitions were held at Ellisburgh, amid afterward at Adams, but finally the society passed out of existence.
The Union Agricultural society of Adams, Rodman and Lorraine was of a similar character, and was formed about 1857.
Among its chief promoters were Gen. Hungerford, R. P. White, T. V. Maxon, Albert Webb and Hugh Heustis. For many
years annual exhibitions were held at the "Valley Park farm," and among the notables who delivered public
addresses there may be recalled Edward Everett, Eli,hu Burritt, Horace Greeley, George W. Bungay and others.
In the same manner the cheese making industry was built up and established. The Smithville factory was the first
in the town, and one of the very first in the county. It was something of an experiment, and for its operation
a company was formed, comprising A. D. & O. M. Stanley, D. M. Hall and Charles Mills. Plans were procured at
Rome and the factory was built within 1861, with a capacity to use the milk of 700 cows. This was followed by the
Adams village factory, which was built in 1864 by Ingraham, Lewis & Huestis. The F. M. & J. B. Muzzy factory,
on the west border of the town, south of Smithville, was also built in 1864. The next was the P. S. Maxon factory,
west of Adams Centre, and was put in operation in 1867. C. A. Benjamin's factory, north of Smithville, was built
in 1866 or '67. The N. Thomas factory in the southwest part of the town was built in 1877, as was also the Lewis
creamery in the Greene settlement. Since 1861 this industry has not materially decreased although during the time
many new methods of manufacturing have been adopted, old proprietors have given way to new and frequent changes
have been made in the location of factories. As now distributed through the town the cheese factories are located
and owned as follows: The Smithvillefactory, owned by C. S. Kink; the North Adams factory, owned by Edward Halloway;
the Adams Centre factory, owned by E. S. Maxon; the Adams factory, owned by White & Allen; and the F. M. &
J. B. Muzzy factory, south of Smith yule.
In earlier pages of this chapter allusion has been made to several of the settled localities of the town which
attained sufficient importance to be designated by name. The Thomas settlement, Greene's settlement, North Adams
and East Adams were among the places so mentioned, all of which were of some consequence in the early history of
the town, but which in subsequent years lost much of their old-time importance, and now exist only in name. Among
the more enduring settlements were Smithville, Adams Centre and the village of Adams, each of which may be briefly
treated in this connection.
Smithville, the smallest perhaps of the villages of the town, is located on both sides of the line dividing Adams
and Henderson, the greater portion, however, being in the former. The settlement here was found by and named in
allusion to Jesse Smith, who was nut the pioneer, but was the purchaser of improvements previously made. The first
settlement on this site was made in 1804 by Daniel Hardy, although in the preceding year Chauncey Mills came from
Connecticut and settled a little east of the Hardy location. In 1805 he (Hardy) built on Stony creek the first
saw mill in the west part of the town. He lived in the locality until 1821, when he died. Abel Myrick, Henry Knapp,
Samuel and Andrew McNitt were also early settlers in this part of Adams. About 1808 or '9 two young men, whose
names were Powell and Kendall, came to the vicinity, built a dam across the creek, and erected a saw mill. In the
course of a few years Jesse Smith came and purchased this property and thus founded the village. He was then poor,
but possessed energy and strength, and soon had a considerable tract of land cleared and cultivated. He also made
potash, and extended his business until it included milling, distilling and general merchandising. Later on he
became interested in the lumber trade and lake commerce until his operations extended to every lake and river port
of any consequence. He was one of the most successful business men of the town for many years and deservedly acquired
a fortune. About 1825 the cash sales of Jesse Smith's enterprises at Smithville frequently reached $1,200 per day.
He built the first large grist mill opposite his saw mill, but this he afterward sold to Carter Bros., and erected
the stone mill on the Henderson side of the line. In 1838 Mr. Smith removed to Newark, Ohio, and other proprietors
succeeded to the interests at the village. Some of them have been maintained to this time, while others have passed
out of existence. The old mill was turned into a wagon shop by Carter Brothers and, with other property, was finally
destroyed by fire. A tannery was built by a Mr. Sprague, and was afterward run by O. H. Randall and Abram Cramer,
previous to its destruction by fire. A carding mill was built about 1830 by Samuel Eaton. D. Hardy and Willard
Dodge were later proprietors of the mill before the property was burned. Jesse Smith also started a cooper shop,
and was followed in the same business by Elisha Peck and Duane Cooley. John Ivory was the first blacksmith, and
was followed by his son Jonas, and John Covey, David Hunter and Joel Smith.
Daniel Hardy opened a hotel previous to 1810. Brooks Harrington was the second landlord, and in 1828 built the
brick hotel on the Henderson side. Jesse Smith built the large stone store building in 1831. Later store keepers
were Robert McGregor, Dudley & Burr, John Bishop, Bliss & Gibbs, Abram Cramer, George Babbitt, Thomas Angel,
H. Knapp, A. Schuyler, A. P. Hall and perhaps others whose names are now forgotten. The post-office was established
previous to 1818, Brooks Harrington being the first postmaster. Dr. E. Adams was the first physician, and settled
here about 1825. A school house was built in 1823 or 1824 at the joint expense of the district and the religious
societies whose members lived in the locality. The building was used both as a school and church until 1845, when
the new school house was erected.
The Smithville library was another of the once important local institutions, and was formed Feb. 16, 1824, with
Abel L. Crandall, Henry Keith, Daniel Hall, John M. Bart, C. M. Adams, Roswell Bosworth and Brooks Harrington as
trustees. A good collection of books was secured and the library was a useful institution of the village until
1845, when it was dissolved.
The Congregational society of Smithville was formed Sept. 16, 1823, by the withdrawal of members from the North
Adams church. The new society united with the Baptist members, and with the school district trustees, and erected
a combined school aud meeting house as above stated. This church, however, was not of long duration, some of its
members afterward uniting with the Presbyterian church of Henderson, while others united with the Baptist church.
The First Baptist church of Smithville was formed Sept. 23, 1823, with Henry Keith, Austin Robbins and Ebenezer
Sumner as trustees. In the same year, with the Congregationalists and school district, the society. built the stone
church edifice at Smithville, at a cost of about $3,000. It stands on the Henderson side of the line.' This society
has survived to the present time and has a present membership of 77 persons, anda sunday school of 70 pupils. The
present pastor is the Rev. J. Foster Wilcox.
The First Methodist Episcopal church of Smithville was organized Oct. 31, 1844, with Horace Ivory, John Shanley,
John G. Gillett, James Morton and John Bailey as trustees. The society secured the old stone school house and occupied
it as a place of meeting. After eight or ten years the organization was dissolved.
As now situated Smithville is a pretty village of about 200 inhabitants, located on Stony creek. In the present
history of either Adams or Henderson, it occupies a position of no special prominence, yet is a convenient trading
center in the heart of a rich agricultural region. It has a good district school, a large church and several mercantile
and manufacturing industries, which may be mentioned about as follows: Frank Ives, general store; Leonard Hill,
grist mill; W. S. Rice, truss factory; F. K. Hallett, furniture factory; Chas. Benjamin, saw mill; Timothy Roberts,
hotel keeper. The local postmaster is D. B. York.
Adams Center.- This pretty little
village of between 400 and 500 inhabitants is pleasantly located on what is commonly known as the upper lake ridge,
which here forms a plain. It is a little east of the geographical center of the town, in the midst of the most
fertile agricultural districts of the county, where all the elements of nature seem to have combined to make easy
the life and work of the husbandman. These conditions have been accepted, for all along the north and south thoroughfare
of the town, on which the village is chiefly built up, are seen fine and well cultivated farms, and evidences of
thrift and plenty prevail on every hand. Notwithstanding all this, settlement in this part of the town was not
begun until about 1816. The region was slow in development, and did not really begin to make history until several
years after the pioneers in other localities had opened their farms.
This locality was originally covered with a heavy growth of cedar and hard wood timber, and clearings were made
with much difficulty. This condition of things confronted Luman and Hiram Arms when, in 1816, they opened a farm
just north of the village site, and also opposed the way of pioneer Priest, who about the same time made a beginning
where the village stands; but Priest soon left the place, having sold his improvement to Luman Arms, and the latter
was in fact the founder of the settlement. Just south of him one R. Warriner settled and opened a tavern as early
1810. He kept a public house until 1827, when Luman Arms built a large two-story house and opened "Arms' Inn."
The old structure was maintained with various changes and became the Talcott house of later years.
In laying out roads in the town several thoroughfares centered at this place, from which the locality became known
as the Five Corners, but soon afterward Adams Centre became the generally accepted name, and was so definitely
fixed when the post-office was established here about 1828. In 1822 Hiram Arms built a wagon shop, and he and his
brother made wagons here for more than forty years. Julius Paltrier and Pliny Wright afterward engaged in the same
business, and the fame of Adams Centre wagons spread all through the Black river country. One Wellman, whose first
name is lost, opened a blacksmith shop in 1823. In 1830 Jonathan Davis started a store, and was afterward for many
years in trade here. Later merchants were O. R. Davis, W. D. Arms, Calvin Greene, Joseph Dewey, and Joseph Davis.
Greene began trading in 1835. The Union block, built of brick, was erected in 1860 by Hull & Whitford, who
were also in trade at that time. The upper floor of their building was arranged for public assemblages. The first
village physician was Dr. John T. Dickson, who was followed in later years by A. P. Hale (an eclectic), E. R. Maxon
(1846), Wm. C. Bailey (1855), E. D. Potter (about the same time), Dr. Wilder and C. F. Wright, all a quarter of
a century or more ago.
The village did not gain a position of any importance until about 1852, or following the completion of the railroad.
The absence of desirable water power prevented its building up as a manufacturing center, yet in times past several
industries have been established, and some still have here a seat of operations. The Adams Centre sash and blind
factory was started by O. De Grasse Greene in 1868, and is still the chief industry of the place. The buildings
were burned about 1891 or '92, but were at once replaced. The handy package dye factory was started by Dr. Potter
in 1874, and at one time did a flourishing business. It is no longer known among local enterprises. The other and
present industries are the Ingraham feed mill; the Edmunds axe helve works; the Parkham steam saw and shingle mill,
and the Maxon feed mill. Not all of these are within the village proper but are to be counted among local industries.
The village mercantile interests are represented by the general stores of G. B. Grimshaw, A. G. Glass, Bunce &
Dean, and J. C. Heath's dry goods store; A. L. Wiswell's variety store; Dr. F. C. Bailey's and M. D. Titsworth's
drug stores; Prior & Spencer's harness shop; two blacksmith shops and two hotels (Centre house and Exchange
The Adams Centre Union school, one of the most complete and thorough institutions of its kind in any unincorporated
village in the county, was established in its present character in 1876, but was the outgrowth of the little old
plank school house which was built at the forks of the road away back in 1823 by Lurnan and Hiram Arms, R. Warriner
and Major Earl. In 1829 a stone school building was erected and occupied until 1857, when the large frame school
house was built. In 1876 the old district system gave way to the union free school, and from that time Adams Centre
has maintained the best Public school in the town. The first board of education comprised C. D. Potter, J. A. D.
Snell, J. J. Witter, E. C. Crosby, T. Williams, W. Fuller, A. J. Greene and J. Q. Arms. The present board comprises
Rev. J. 0. Perkins, prest.; W. P. Greene, treas.; D. C. Read, secy., and E. C. Maxon, A. G. Glass, W. H. McIntyre,
W. D. Snell, E. M. Hammond and 0. D. Greene, jr. Principal, V. C. Warriner.
The church and religious history of the village is also interesting. Indeed, the inhabitants of the Centre and
its surrounding region have long been known as a decidedly church-going people, and the societies have been noted
for their numerical strength.
The Seventh-Day Baptist church dates back in its history to 1817, when several families of that faith settled in
the vicinity of the Centre, although not until June 9, 1822, was the church organized. The first members were Rev.
William, Charles, Joseph, Ethan, Russell, Mercy, Amy, Amanda, Betsey, Cynthia, Clarissa, Martha and Mercy (2d)
Greene, Jared Potter, Tames Main, Elisha Crosby, Selah Burdick, Roswell Saunders, Olive Sweet, Mary Saunders and
Sarah Crosby. William Greene was the first pastor, and Jared Potter the first deacon. Regular preaching was maintained
in the school house at Greene settlement for fifteen years, and until 1837, when the meeting house at the Centre
was erected. The structure was raised and enlarged in 1868, and had a seating capacity for 400 persons. The church
has ever enjoyed a healthful existence, and at one time numbered 300 members. The present number is somewhat less,
yet the congregations are large and all the influences for good are kept alive as in years past. The present pastor
of the church is Rev. A. B. Prentice,
The Adams Centre Baptist church was organized Dec. 17, 1852, when about 50 members of the mother church at Adams
village withdrew to form a new society at the Centre. The deacons were Abram Sheldon, J. W. Horton and L. Allen.
The house of worship was completed in 1853, and cost $6,000, It was dedicated January 12, 1854. The edifice was
thoroughly repaired in 1877, and is one of the finest church structures in the entire town, Its members number
about 230 persons, thus being one of the largest churches in Adams. The Sunday school has about 200 pupils. The
present pastor, J. O. Perkins, Ph. D., was settled in 1894.
The Seventh-Day Advent society at Adams Centre was formed in 1863, with seventeen constituent members. A small
house of worship was soon afterward erected in the south part of the village. The membership is small, numbering
about 35 persons. The society is without a pastor, Mr. Whitford being the present reader.
The Village of Adams.- In 1800 David Smith made the first settlement and improvement on the site whereon now stands
this village. In the same year the worthy pioneer built a saw mill on Sandy creek, and notwithstanding every effort
on his part he could not manufacture lumber as rapidly as the settlers required, hence they were content to use
slabs in erecting their first habitations. From this the settlement became known as "Slab City," but
when lumber became more Plenty the rude cabins disappeared and comfortable frame and plank houses replaced them.
Then the place took the more appropriate name of Smith's Mills, and was so called until after the post- office
In 1807 the town meeting voted "that cattle shall not run at large within half a mile of Smith's Mills between
the 1st day of December and the 15th day of March." This simple resolution of the inhabitants assembled in
town meeting was an evidence of the thrift and cleanliness which have characterized Adams in all subsequent years.
In making their beginning the settlers were of necessity compelled to use both logs and slabs in erecting dwellings
and other buildings, but just as soon as the mill could supply the lumber, the native love of order on the part
of the people asserted itself, and from that day to the present time Adams has been known as the most attractive
and desirable residence village in all Jefferson county. In 1802 pioneer Smith erected a small grist mill, and
thus furnished another much needed industry to the people, for previous to that time they were obliged to go to
the Coffeen mill in Rutland (at Felt's Mills) for their grist. The old mill stood until 1827, and was then replaced
with the "Adams mills," the latter one of the most substantially constructed buildings in the region,
and one which has ever stood the wear of time and the elements. It was built by Willard Smith, son of the pioneer.
The property has since passed through many ownerships, and is now operated by E. J. Seeber & Co. In 1808 Seth
Gaylord came to the settlement, and soon afterward erected a small tannery on the creek. He was followed in the
same industry by Wm. Doxtater. The latter was discontinued in 1832, and a shoe store was built on its former site.
In 1814 David Wright purchased a mill site about fifty rods above the Smith mills, and there he erected a saw mill
and also a carding and fulling mill. He carried on business until 1822, when the buildings were swept away by one
of the spring floods for which Sandy creek has ever been noted. The mills were afterward rebuilt by Williamand
Herman Grinnell, but still later the carding mill was converted into a woolen cloth factory by Willet R. Willis.
The first bridge over the creek at this point was built in 1848. The once well-known Jefferson tannery was built
in 1831 by Wright, Grinnell & Co., on the site where formerly stood an old distillery which was erected and
operated by Hale, Hart & Williams; but when the latter was built is not now known. In 1847 J. S. Lewis became
proprietor of the tannery and for many years did an extensive business. In 1850 John F. Weaver built a tannery
in the lower part of the village, and operated it for a number of years, but all the industries of this class have
now passed out of existence. Another of the pioneer enterprises of the village was the cabinet and furniture factory
established in 1817 by Samuel Bond and Perley D. Stone, by whom the business was carried on forty-four years, when
they were succeeded by Overton Brothers. There were also pot and pearl asheries and distilleries among the early
interests of the place, with which at one time or another Elihu Morton, and also Hale, Hart & Williams were
connected; but just when these lesser interests were begun or when they passed out of existence is now difficult
to determine. However, all added to the growth and business importance of the village during its early history,
and as elements which contributed to later progress and development, are worthy of at least a passing mention in
The first village merchant was Jesse Hale, who came from Oneida county in 1804 and brought a small stock of goods.
For two years he was the only merchant in the place. He died in 1808, and his son Erastus succeeded to the business.
Hale & Hart opened a store in 1806 and continued until 1809, when the firm became Hale, Hart & Williams,
merchants and distillers. During the war of 1812 this firm furnished large quantities of supplies for the army
at Sackets Harbor, and were among the most extensive dealers in the county. The firm was dissolved in 1815, and
Mr. Hart moved the stock to a new building on the north side of the creek, the old store having been on the south
side. He retired from business in 1811, but in a few years sold out to M. V. V. Rosa. The latter was in trade more
than thirty years, and retired from business and removed to Watertown, possessed of a comfortable fortune. John
H. Whipple was a merchant from 1820 to 1859, and Frederick Harter was also in trade from about 1820 to 1840. William
Doxtater & Son began about the same time and were known in trade circles until 1848, when they retired. Whipple,
Eddy & Johnson began soon after 1840, and S. N. Bond in 1845. Among the other leading old firms who carried
on business in the village were Bond & Co., Angel & Chittenden, H. Miller, Stearns & Carter, Salisbury
& Bond and Waite & Co. In 1860 A. P. Redway opened a book store, and in 1862 was succeeded by D. A. Dwight.
In 1863 the old firm of Dwight & Eddy (Justus Eddy) was formed. Still later village merchants were Arms &
Hungerford, D. E. Taylor, Lovelee & Kilby, E. B. Cooper, E. S. Salisbury, Thompson & Little, John Waite
& Son, Withington & Kneeland, Fox & Ingraham, Lyman Buckley, J. O. Brown, J. B. Cook, Ripley &
Son, Chandler & Lampson, B. F. Thayer and others down to a time well within the memory of young men. Thus it
is seen that as years passed and the population increased, so, correspondingly, did enterprising business men establish
themselves in trade; but of all who have been mentioned few indeed now remain, and many of the old familiar signs
of a quarter of a century and more ago have disappeared, and have been replaced with others representing a new
generation of business proprietors.
The pioneer landlord was Abel Hart, who about 1803 opened an inn on the site of the afterward known Huson house.
Four hotels were built on this site, at the corner of Main and Railroad streets, and during their long years of
occupancy probably four times four landlords have greeted the arrival of the wearied traveler. The present building
was erected by Mr. Whitney in 1867, and under its present owner (G. L. Gardner) has taken the name Hotel Gardner.
The Continental Inn stands on the rear of the site of the Cooper house, which was built in 1867, and was burned
Aug. 28, 1884, Among the other local institutions which had an existence previous to the incorporation of the village,
was the institute, the history of which is reserved for a later page, for it survives to the present time.
Incorporation.- As early as 1823
an effort was made to secure an act of incorporation for Adams village, but for some reason the attempt was not
successful. The petition for the act bore the names of Elihu Morton, David Smith, Benjamin Wright and John Burch.
So far as any previous record shows, no further attempt was made in the same direction until November 11, 1851,
when the village was incorporated under the provisions of the general statutes relating to municipal corporations.
The original plat contained 812 acres of land, and has not been materially changed.
The first regular election of village officers was held in March, 1852, and resulted a.s follows: Jeremiah Griswold,
J. H. Whipple, C. Skinner, C. R. Totman and W. Benton, trustees; Wm. Merriam, Samuel Harmon and Samuel Greene,
assessors; Mason Curtis, clerk; Nelson Greene, collector; Spencer Woodward, treasurer; Alouzo Maxon, Seelye Hungerford
and Perley D. Stone, fire wardens; Samuel B. Bliss, poundmaster.
On May 27, 1852, the village was divided into five wards, and bylaws and regulations were adopted. These laws have
been subsequently revised as the growth and interests of the village seemed to demand. The territory was also divided
into three fire wards, or districts, and an appropriation of $650 was voted to l)urChase a lire engine. With this
money the trustees purchased a "Button engine," and in 1853 Tempest fire company of 44 men was duly formed.
This organization has since been maintained, although few indeed of its old members still survive.
The Adams fire department, however, had its origin in a company formed in the village as early as 1836. A subscription
fund was raised and a small crank-engine was purchased. Previous to this time there had been few serious fires
in the village, but in later years, particularly in 1860 and 1866, several valuable buildings and much property
were destroyed. On Dec. 15, 1860, a fire burned Saunders & Holman's machine shop, the Carter and Skinner blocks,
Rosa's store and Doxtater's corner store. The conflagration of April, 1866, destroyed nearly all the business -buildings
on the east side of Main street, including the Whipple block and the Whitney house. These disasters occasioned
great temporary loss, but in the end had a rejuvenating and purifying effect, for fine buildings replaced those
of former years, and by the improved character of its business places Adams soon gained the enviable prominence
of being the cleanest and most attractive village in the county. This reputation it has since easily maintained.
The Adams Water Works was organized as a stock company in 1885, by the constructing firm of Moffett, Hodgkins &
Clark, The works were located on the north side of Spring street, and on the top of Doxtater hill was erected a
stand pipe 400 feet high and 15 feet in diameter. Water is taken from springs on the south side of the creek, and
is pumped to the tower. It is then distributed throughout the village streets by gravity pressure. In the fall
of 1897 the company met with financial disaster, the property and franchise were sold under order of the court,
and were purchased by F. H. C. Reynolds, of Boston. The local superintendent of the water works is Isaac W. Payne,
who has served in that capacity since the system was constructed.
The educational system of the village also has an interesting history, and dates back to the year 1802, when the
first school was opened at Smith's Mills, as then known. A short time afterward (the exact year being unknown)
a frame school house was built, and was occupied several years as a district school, but was finally turned into
a furniture factory. After the Jefferson county bank was removed to Watertown, the building was occupied as a select
school by M. C. Manning, who afterward became a distinguished Baptist clergyman. Later on Jason Marsh taught the
school, and here many of the now old business men of the village and town acquired their education. The Adams seminary
was also a noted institution, and was established in 1832, chiefly through the efforts of Judge Thomas C. Chittenden.
The academy was erected jointly by individual enterprise and the Universalist society, with the understanding that
the latter should hold Sunday services in the building. It was originally a female school, and was placed in charge
of Miss Frapces Willard, who came to Adams from Tray for that purpose. She conducted the school successfully for
several years, but when the institution was opened to both sexes Ira Mayhew became principal. Still later instructors
here were Foster Montgomery, Prof. Stephens and others, but finally the institution declined and eventually resolved
into a private school, and was so occupied until about 1848 or '50.
In 1870 the public school of the village was erected on a lot east of the institute building, at a cost of $4,000.
This is still a district graded school, and has never taken the character of a free or academic school by reason
of the presence of the institute. It is nevertheless a good school, and is under charge of Miss Mary Salisbury,
with five assistants. The trustees are George W.Williams, William H. Nichelson and W. H. Legg.
The Adams Collegiate Institute, as originally and now known, but otherwise as the "Hungerford. Collegiate
Institute," was incorporated by the regents, April 22, 1855, and was the ultimate success of several endeavors
to establish a permanent school for higher education in the village. The preliminary organization had been completed,
but nothing further was done previous to 1859, when Gen. Solon D. Hungerford placed in the hands of Justus Eddy
a proposition whereby he offered to deed to a board of trustees the Sidney J. Mendell hotel property, with the
single reservation that in case the trustees should sell the same, the avails should be used to erect another building
for an academy within one mile of the Hungerford residence. At a public meeting held Nov. 30, 1863, the offer was
accepted, and a committee was appointed to raise a fund to equip and open the school. For this purpose the sum
of $10,568 was subscribed, and at a public meeting held March 4, 1804, it was resolved to apply to the regents
for a charter under the name of Hungerford Collegiate Institute; which, accordingly, was accomplished.
The first trustees were Joseph Mullin, E. R. Mason, George Frasier, Asa M.Whitford, William M. Johnson, Solon D.
Hungerford, B. Randall, W. A. Gilbert, George Cooper, Justus Eddy, George W. Bond, Philander Smith, J. N. Hobart,
G.W. Mackiè, F. F. Jewell, Rufus P. White, A. J. Brown, T. P. Saunders, H. F. Overton, Samuel Harmon, E.
S. Salisbury and A. W. Ingraham.
The institute was opened an began its career under the most gratify- ing conditions, but on Jan. 19, 1858, the
building was burned to the ground. Five days later the trustees met and decided to at once rebuild, but as a change
in location was suggested General Hungerford generously paid for the proposed new site, whereon the institute now
stands. He also gave $7,000 toward the construction of the new building, which was duly completed and dedicated
Aug. 24, 1870. It then was, and still is, one of the largest and most attractive educational structures in the
county, being four stories high and 97 x 129 feet on the ground.
This building was occupied from 1870 to 1882, when, "having been sold for a debt, and the trustees being unable
to agree with the purchaser for further occupation upon terms deemed just, the school was removed to a block in
the business part of the village, where it reniained until burned out in the fire of August 28, 1884. Subsequently
the academic building was purchased by D. A. Dwight and wife, and was conveyed by perpetual lease to the trustees,
subject to certain conditions."
The liberal and public-spirited citizens of Adams have raised by subscription for the benefit of this institution
during the period of its history, a total of more than $50,000. The name "Adams Collegiate Institute,"
was restored in a provisional charter granted by the regents May 29, 1S83. On Nov. 16, following, the charter was
The principals in succession, have been as follows: Rev. J. Dunbar Houghton, 1866-68; Albert B. Watkins, 1871-82;
Orlo B. Rhodes, 1882-94; J. Firman Coar, 1894-95; Salem G. Patterson, 1895-90; H. Erwin Bard, 1896-.
The present officers and trustees are D. A. Dwight, president; W. D. Arms, vicepresident; W. J. Allen, secretary;
T. T. Carter, treasurer; and the officers and John Sinclair, W. H. H. Taylor, L. E. Pruyne, A. J. Lovelee, G. W.
Hannahs, R. D. Gardner, A. W. Ingraham, W. A. Waite, A. K. Hale, S. T. Thompson, Orlo B. Rhodes, A. D. Ripley,
H. 0. Kenyon, J. J. Stilman, J. M. Hungerford, D. E. Taylor, S. H. Pitcher, W. H. Nichelson, W. H. Wheeler and
H. E. Fox, trustees.
Another of the early institutions, and one which also antedated the village incorporation, was the old Jefferson
county bank, which was originally intended to do business at the county seat, but on account of existing rivalries
between Watertown and Brownville was located at Adams. A substantial brick building was erected for its use, and
from 1817 to 1824 the bank did business here and then removed to Watertown. The bank building was afterwards converted
into a dwelling house.
The next attempt to establish a bank in the village was made in 1845, when Solon D. Hungerford opened a banking
house under the name of the Hungerford bank. On September 1, 1853, it was organized as an association with the
same name, and with $125,000 capital. The first directors were Solon D. Hungerford, Jeremiah Griswold. Philander
Smith, M. R. Patrick, N. M. Wardwell, George Gates, Almanzo Braddon, Roswell Kinney and Samuel Wardwell. In 1865
the institution was resolved into the Hungerford National bank, with with a capital of $125,000. The bank continued
business until 1881, when it went into liquidation.
The First National bank of Adams was organized August 27, 1863, with $75,000 capital, and Solon D. Hungerford,
president, and R, H. Huntington, cashier. The bank did business in the older Hungerford bank building, and March
17, 1873, was merged into the Deposit National bank of New York.
In 1872 the Adams bank began business in the Whitney block, with Gilbert & Babcock as proprietors. This was
not a bank of issue, and after a time was sold out to Hungerford & Huntington of the First National bank.
The Adams National bank was organized in 1883, with a capital of $50,000, and with W. A. Waite, president; Harrison
Fuller, vice-president, and George W. Hannahs, cashier. It did a successful business until May 29, 1889, when it
was reorganized as the Farmers' National bank (No. 4,061) with $65,000 capital, and with Dr. C. D. Potter, president;
Isaac P. Wodell, vice-president, and G. W. Hannahs, cashier. From that time the history of the bank has been a
record of continued success, and it is regarded as one of the safe financial institutions of the the county. Its
present officers are Isaac P. Wodell, president; Harrison Fuller, vice-president; and George W. Hannahs, cashier.
Directors, I. P. Wodell, Harrison Fuller, J. A. D. Snell, C. W. Gates, C. D. Grimshaw, Erwin Pitkin, Geo. M. Wood,
Fred Williams, M. D. Swan and N. D. Yost, The bank's surplus is $7,500; and its undivided profit account, $7,500.
The Citizens National bank (No. 4,103) of Adams was organized Aug. 7, 1889, with a capital of $50,000. Its first
officers were George Mather, president; L: F. Caulkins, vice president, and H. H. Hathway, cashier. This, too,
has been an entirely successful institution, and one which has ever enjoyed the confidence of moneyed men throughout
the county. It has a present surplus of $10,000, and an undivided profit account of $10,400. Mr. Mather has been
the president since the bank was organized. A. S. Thompson succeeded Caulkins as vice-president, and in December,
1895, H. H. Waite succeeded Mr. Hathway as cashier. The present directors are George Mather, Wm. Mather, N. M.
Wardwell, Lucy J. Bullock, W. A. Waite, J. A. Eastman, A, S. Thompson, J. W. Overton, J. J. Mather, F. N, Muzzy,
C. H. Bickford, M. M. Filmore and H. H. Waite.
After the incorporation of the village, in 1851, and the subsequent organization of its municipal affairs under
that action, there appeared to be a general and somewhat rapid local growth in all directions, and during the following
ten or more years many of its most prominent institutions were established, as preceding pages will show. At the
same time there was a corresponding increase in population and business interests, and as early as 1860 Adams was
regarded as one of the most progressive outlying villages in the county. It was about this time that John F. Weaver
established the tannery business which was so long carried on by his sons. In 1856 a stock company was organized
and started a hoe and fork factory. The business afterward passed into the hands of Saunders & Holman, who
turned it into a general machine shop and so continued it until the property was burned. New shops and new industries
replaced the old buildings, and Saunders & Wright afterward carried on business. About the same time, probably
in 1S55, a large brick malt house was built near the depot by Rufus P. White, who in June, 1877, sold out to W.
A. Waite. The business has been continued and is one of the largest enterprises of the village. In the same manner,
the old flour mill still survives, as is previously mentioned, and is flOW operated by E. J. Seeber & Co. The
Adams machine shop and foundry was started about 1863 by Saunders & Holman, and afterward passed through several
changes in proprietorship. The property was once burned but was rebuilt. It is now owned by Levi H. Brown (of Watertown)
and is operated by T. P. Saunders. rfhe Adams lumber company was established about the same time by Julius Fox,
and has also passed through several ownerships, among whom was W. H. Wheeler. The present proprietor is W. L. Pratt.
The F. L. Webster canning factory began business in July, 1889. The property is now owned by W. A. Waite &
Sons, maltsters. The Kenyon & Thomas company began the manufacture and sale of Hale's household ointment, and
household tea, about 1889, and have since built up a business of large proportions.
In strictly mercantile interests Adams is well represented, and while the number of merchants appear to be sufficient
for all purposes there is little outward evidence of over-competition. The stores as a rule are large and well
stocked, and throughout the village is a pleasant indication of constant business activity. Indeed, in the history
of business life in the county, the claim has been made, with much show of truth, that in this village there has
been a less proportion of failures than in the majority of similarly situated places. Whatever of truth may be
found in this claim the writer cannot say, yet on every hand in Adams are evidences of thrift, enterprise and prosperity
not always noticeable in villages of this class, where agriculture is so wholly the pursuit of the inhabitants
of surrounding country.
Rising Sun Lodge, No. 124, was organized in 1806, with Robert Merrick, master. Regular meetings were held and a
large membership was acquired, when in 1827 the lodge was obliged to suspend on account of the anti-masonic troubles
of that period. In March, 1851, the lodge was revived with the same name, but changed in number to 234. The officers
and charter members were Benj. Wright, master; J. C. Cooper, S. W.; J. Griswold, J, W.; and Dennis Waite and Titus
Bassett, members. From that to the present time the lodge has maintained healthful existence7 and is numbered among
the strongest and most influential masonic organizations of the county. The present membership is 107.
Meridian Chapter, No. 86, R. A. M., was chartered in February, 1824, with thirty-one members, and with Joseph Enos,
H. P., and E. H. Pond, secretary. But the chapter, like the lodge, was forced to succumb and surrender its charter
in 1828. No further attempt at a similar organization was made until Feb. 26, 1867, when Adams chapter No. 205,
was chartered with thirty members. Its first officers were Thos. C. Chittenden, H. P.; C. K. Stone, E. K.; H. C.
Brodie, E. S. The present members number forty-eight, although at one time the number was nearly ninety.
Winona Lodge No. 323, I. O. O. F., was chartered Oct. 18, 1847, and was continued about twenty years and then dissolved.
Oriental Encampment, No. 75, I. O. O. F., was organized by the withdrawal of several former members of Montezuma
Encampment of Watertown. The year of organization Is not now known, but the society did not enjoy a long existence.
The Presbyterian church was organized as the First Congregational church of Adams, in July, 1804, by Rev. Ebenezer
Lazelle. The original members were Joshua Beals, Jacob Kellogg, Abraham and Betsey Griswold, David Comstock and
Asenath Cooper. The society was governed by the rules of the Congregational church until 1821, when the Presbyterian
form was adopted. The subject of a house of worship was discussed as early as 1811, but an edifice was not begun
until 1815, and was finished in 1818. In 1828 the structure was sold to the M. E, society, and on its site was
erected the large and more attractive edifice which is still in a fair state of preservation. It was substantially
repaired in 1881, and after the interior had been refurnished the edifice was rededicated Dec. 1, 1884. The membership
in the church is now about 180 persons. The present pastor, Rev. J. Rosser Jones, came to Adams in March, 1896.
The Sunday school was established in 1818. The chapel property was purchased in 1850. The present chapel building
was erected in 1881. The parsonage property was purchased in 1866.
The First Methodist Episcopal church of Adams was organized in 1828, after which the society purchased and occupied
the old house of worship formerly owned by the Presbyterian society. The building was removed to a neighboring
lot and was occupied until 1852, when it was destroyed by fire. The present church edifice was erected in 1852-
53, and cost $10,000. It was materially repaired in 1875. This church is numerically one of the strongest in the
town, the members numbering 286, and 14 probationers. The Sunday school has 228 members. The pastor is Rev. John
The Baptist church at Adams village was organized December 17, 1846, although services of this denomination had
been held in the village several years earlier. In 1847 a frame church edifice was erected, at a cost of $3,500.
It was dedicated in January. 1848. In 1871 the old building was removed, and in its place the present house of
worship was erected, being the only brick church structure in the village. The first regular minister was Rev.
Charles Clark. The present membership is 178, and the total enrollment in the Sunday school is 192. The present
pastor is Rev. R. J. Thompson.
Emanuel church, Protestant Episcopal, of Adams was legally organized February 18, 1849, in pursuance of a public
notice read to the mission congregation which had held services in the village for many years previous to the date
mentioned. Henry B. Whipple, afterward Episcopal bishop of Minnesota, was lay reader. The erection of a chapel
was at once begun, the corner stone being laid Oct. 9, 1849. The edifice was completed June 19, 1850. The first
rector was Rev. T. F. Wardwell. The rectory prokerty was purchased in 1875. The present number of communicants
is 80. The rector is Rev. English Crooks.
During the period of its history, the town of Adams has furnished Jefferson county with some of its best and strongest
men, and it is a conceded fact in the political history of the county that this town has been as frequently represented
by its people in high office as any of its civil divisions with the exception of the city of Watertown. The first
improvements in Adams were made by pioneers of exceptional mental and physical strength, and from that time the
town has been noted in this respect. David Smith who founded the settlement of Adams was a man of energy and determination,
and Jesse Smith, the pioneer of Srnithville settlement, was much of the same mould. In later years there were the
Bakers, the Doxtaters, the Edmunds, the Greenes, the Arms, the Wrights, the Mortons, the Thomases and a host of
others equally worthy of mention. Then there was Judge Benjamin Wright, the old surrogate, whose daughter married
John H. Whipple. They were the parents of Henry B. Whipple, hereafter mentioned.
Among the men of intellectual strength who have attained renown in the field of theology may he mentioned Rt. Rev.
Henry B. Whipple, Episcopal bishop of Minnesota, and Rt. Rev. W. X. Ninde, bishop of the Methodist Episcopal church,
both of whom are natives of this town.
This town was the former residence and place of conversion of the late Rev. Charles G. Finney, who won renown in
the ministerial field and was for many years president of Oberlin college. It was also the home of that famous
orator, evangelist and divine, the Rev. Jedediah Burchard, for the last ten or fifteen years of his life. He died
in Adams and was interred in Rural cemetery. Many are the anecdotes told and quaint illustrations repeated of this
famous though eccentric divine who was one of the most forceful preachers of his day and as such won a national
Other prominent men in Adams history are Samuel N. Bond, Perley D. Stone, Seth Gaylord, Dr. Joshua Beals, Judge
Thomas C. Chittenden (elected to congress in 1838 and again in 1840), Daniel Wardwell (elected to congress), Dr.
Samuel J. Gaines. Judge Calvin Skinner, Dr. Eli Eastman, Lyman Munson, John C. Conper, Wm. A. Gilbert, Erastus
Hale, C. C. Case, Henry Keep, Capt. Richard Goodell, M. V. V. Rosa, Dr. Walter Webb, John Cowles, Solon D. Hungerford,
James M. Cleveland, De Alton Dwight, T. V. Maxon, O. De Grasse Greene, Thomas P. Saunders, J. L. Greene, Henry
O. Kenyon, George W. Hannahs, Thos. R. Greene, Justus Eddy, Isaac L. Hunt, N. M. Wardwell, A. E. Cooley, Harrison
Fuller, several representatives of the Waite surname, the Mathers and others, all worthy men who have in some manner
been factors for good in the history of the town.
Supervisors.- Nicholas Salisbury, 1803-12; Jacob Kellogg, 1813; Nicholas Salisbury. 1814-17; Eliphalet Edmunds,
1818-20; Wm. Hart, 1821.-.20; Isaac Baker, 1827- 28; Cyrus Eddy, 1829-30; Chauncey Baker, 1831; Isaac Baker, 1832;
Cyrus Eddy, 1833; Wells Benton, 1834; David J. M. Howard. 1835; Isaac Baker, 1836; Samuel Bond, 1837; D. J. M.
Howard, 1838; John H. Whipple, 1839-40; Robert B. Doxtater, 1841; Rufus Herrick, 1842-43; Abram Sheldon, 1844;
Joseph L. Greene, 1845-47; Charles Potter, 1848; John C. Cooper, 1849-52; Jos L. Greene, 1853; J. C. Cooper, 1854;
John H. Whipple, 1855; Justus Eddy, 1856-57; Chas. A. Benjamin, 1858-62; Geo. W. Bond, 1863-64; Chas. A. Benjamin,
1865-67; Royal Fuller, 1868-70; Oscar D. Allen, 1871; Royal Fuller, 1872; 0. De Grasse Greene, 1873-80; W. D. Arms,
1881-95; P. Stillman Maxon, 1896-99.