Boundaries. --- Lincklaen's Purchase.--- Original Division of Towns and their Names. --- Naming of De Ruyter. --- Party of Pioneers. --- Opening of Roads. --- Historical Incident. --- Joseph Messenger. --- Squire Samuel Thompson. --- Names of Pioneers. --- First Death. --- First Birth. --- First School. --- DeRuyter Village in 1805. --- First Improvements at Sheds Corners and Early Settlers in that Vicinity. --- Quaker Basin. --- DeRuyter Village in 1809. --- Cold Season of 1816. --- Affecting Incident. --- Inconveniences and Privations. --- Customary Amusements. --- Incidents. --- Schools and their Teachers. --- Distinguished Sons of DeRuyter. --- The Village in 1832. --- Incorporation. --- Lively Progress. --- S. D. B. Institute. --- Sketches of DeRuyter Citizens. --- Churches. --- Newspapers.

    DeRuyter is the southwest corner town of Madison County. It is bounded north by Cazenovia, east by Georgetown, south by Chenango County, and west by Onondaga and Cortland Counties. The principal stream of this town is the Tioughneoga River, which, however, has numerous branches. Along this river a beautiful valley of richly fertile soil spreads out, and on either side rise the summits of hills, some of which are 400 to 500 feet in hight. Pretty valleys follow the course of the Tioughneoga tributaries. A branch of the Otselic has its source in the southeast part of this town, along the course of which the Midland railroad finds its way among the hills into the town of Otselic.

    DeRuyter, previous to 1795, was included in the ancient town of Whitestown and was part of the famous "Lincklaen Purchase." "Tromp Township" was the original name given by Mr. Lincklaen to this town, which retained while it belonged to that portion of the purchase lying in Chenango County. A portion of "Road Township" is also included in DeRuyter. The ancient line between Tromp and Road Townships passed just south of Sheds Corners, and crossed the lands which are the present farms of widow W. I. Alvord, Samuel Smith, Orville Fowler and Asaph Smith. By reference to maps, it will be seen that the original survey, when those towns were recognized, still holds good. The familiar name of "Tromptown" was not readily dropped when this, with No.1 and No.6 of the Clinton purchase, became in 1795, a part of Cazenovia; but when an act was passed March 15th, 1798, authorizing the formation of the new town of DeRuyter, its inhabitants soon grew to be familiar with the illustrious title. As its formation under this act, it embraced its present limits, with Georgetown, in Madison County, and Lincklaen, Otselic, German and Pitcher in Chenango County. Its population in 1800 was 310. The name DeRuyter was given by Mr. Lincklaen in honor of his countryman, Admiral DeRuyter, of the Dutch Navy, an illustrious personage in the history of Holland.

    At the date of March 21, 1806, when the County of Madison was formed, that part of DeRuyter lying within the county of Chenango was taken off , and in 1815, when Georgetown was organized, two miles of the town of Cazenovia was added.

    In 1793, Col. John Lincklaen employed the services of Nathaniel Locke, by whom this tract was surveyed, when it was immediately opened for settlement. In this same year a small party of emigrants wended their way southward from Cazenovia into the pathless, unbroken wilderness of DeRuyter, or Tromptown, as then called. Their progress was impeded by heavy underbrush which they were compelled to cut from their pathway, and which, aided by the trees they marked, left them a passably well defined route for communication with the outer world. They halted near the confluence of the three streams, whose narrow valleys, united, form the entrance to the expanding and beautiful valley of the river which yet bears it Indian title, "Tioughneoga," (said to be "Te-ah-hah-hogue" in the aboriginal dialect) meaning "the meeting of roads and water at the same place."1

    On the rolling land, up from the river full two miles from DeRuyter village, Elijah and Elias Benjamin, from Dutchess County, N.Y., and Eli Colgrove, from Rhode Island, selected their location on lots contiguous to each other; --- the two Benjamin families coming together, and the later at or about the same time. Elijah Benjamin's family consisted of three sons, -- Elias P., David and Elijah E. Benjamin. The last named son is only one of those pioneers now living. He resides in DeRuyter village, is now (1871) eighty-two years of age, and in possession of mental and physical health unusual for a person of his years. These settlers obtained their farms of Mr. Lincklaen at the almost nominal price of fifty cents per acre, -- farms which are now worth $100 per acre.

    At an early date Colonel Lincklaen opened two roads through his purchase; they were called the east and west roads. The west road was first laid out, and extended the whole length of his tract, --- or from Cazenovia to German. The engineer employed in cutting this road had a corps of four axmen and one teamster, among whom were two of the hardy Jerseymen who came on to Cazenovia with Mr. Lincklaen, --- John Wilson and James Smith. The former located in the town of Lincklaen; the latter was long afterwards a resident of DeRuyter. These road-cutters found the wilderness to be continuous and extremely dense, from DeRuyter settlement southward, far into German. There were five families then living in the latter town in the utmost seclusion, their only communication with the world being by a "blazed" route to Oxford. Two of these were named Doran, and the three others Vanauker. They were ignorant of the approach of any settlement from northward, and consequently on the evening that the road party were nearing them, and the sound of axes and echo of voices could be heard, no small amount of speculation and excitement was produced thereby. Some of the men were gone to mill to Oxford, but returned that night and found their families had gathered together and made their calculations. If the coming band were Indians they were to be prepared to accept them as they came; if friendly, they should meet a friendly reception; if hostile, then otherwise;--- but if the new comers proved what the evidences led them to believe --- a band of emigrants --- great would be their joy! And if this was indeed so, they then queried, where could they come from? --- so far as they knew all settlements and thoroughfares in the direction whence these were approaching, were many leagues to the northward; and why should emigrants cross the great Indian country intervening, when the traveled routes from the east were far preferable? Such and similar queries and speculations were indulged in till a late hour, and sleep scarce visited this log hamlet that night. Early the following morning the engineer, while his men were preparing breakfast, walked out to reconnoitre, and in a short time reached the little settlement. There were mutual and hearty greetings, even though between strangers, for all were glad to look upon new faces; there were rapid and eager questionings from the settlers, and ready and satisfactory answers given. The worthy and hospitable Vanauker, earnestly pressed the stranger to take breakfast with them, but the invitation was respectfully declined, on account of the anxiety his men at camp would be sure to feel if his absence was prolonged; he left, however, promising that himself and men would gladly avail themselves of the hospitalities of their host's house that night, and as an evidence of the welcome they would meet with, the men of the settlement took their axes, went out to woodsmen, and helped them through. That night was the most eventful and happy one that had yet closed upon the settlement; it brought to their doors a road which was to give them communication with neighbors. From that time forward they became closely connected in intercourse with the settlement at De Ruyter.

    Joseph Messenger and Samuel Thompson settled in this town in 1795. The former location on lot No. 20, and built the first tavern in the town. It was a large, double log house, and stood but a few rods from the present dwelling of George Lewis, who now occupies the farm. The Messenger Tavern was for many years the famous stopping place for numerous emigrants coming in to settle the Lincklaen purchase, and many a way-worn traveler had cause to remember with gratitude the kindness of the proprietor. Mr. Messenger was employed by Mr. Lincklaen to cut through the east road, which runs on the ridge east of DeRuyter to the town of Lincklaen, and which the older inhabitants remember to have long borne the name of the "Joe" road. Upon the farm that he took up, cleared and cultivated, Joseph Messenger died and was buried. Upon the headboard, above his remains, the following epitaph was written, which, although not transferred to the marble his family reared in affectionate memory, was nevertheless true: --

"Here lies the remains of old Uncle Joe,
A Messenger here a long time ago;
Pioneer of the woods and worker of the way,
He did a great deal of work for a little pay."

    Mrs. Messenger, or "Aunt Mima," as she was called, was a most excellent christian woman and beloved by everybody. Her character combined the requisites which highly qualified her for all the duties and needs of the new county. Courageous and self-reliant, she feared not to mount her horse, (astride if the case was urgent,) at any time of night, and ride ever so far in the woods, to attend the wants of the sick. As a safe and skillful practitioner of midwifery, her celebrity extended over a wide circuit.

    Squire Samuel Thompson settled on Lot No. 4, where members of his family still reside. He was a marked character of the period--a famous hunter, a wonderful marksman, and from various other characteristics, similar to one of Cooper's heroes, he was called the "Leather-Stocking" of this section. The following extract from the DeRuyter "New Era," tells one of the many stories related of this rare character: --

    "In his prime he was a bundle of nerves and bone, nothing else. On a time, he went to the village of Cazenovia, or as it was termed in those days, "up to the Lake." His business, which was with the late Col. Lincklaen, being over, Mr. T. stepped into the street, and passing along, unconscious of danger, met a sort of crazy, drunken chap, who, without prelude or ceremony, struck him a most unexpected blow over the head. Sudden as a flash, the assailed returned the 'how d'ye do' with a tremendous whack over the other's pate, who, seeing the stars fall, cried out lustily, 'Oh, you shouldn't strike me! I'm a crazy man! Instantly the old squire, whose motions were as quick as lightning, hauled off again, giving him another crack, with the retort, "D--n you! I'm as crazy as you be!' leaving bedlamite sprawling on the walk, to come to his senses as best he might."

    Squire Thompson died a few years since, at the advanced age of ninety.

    Joseph Rich came in from Connecticut about 1795, and took up Lot No. 36, which is traversed by the Tioughneoga, where, in 1807, he built the first saw mill, and, in 1809, the first grist mill in this town. These mills were in operation until the construction of the DeRuyter Reservoir, which cut off the supply of a large part of the stream. The same property is now owned by DeGrand Benjamin, a grandson of Joseph Rich.

    The isolated band of DeRuyter pioneers, located in as close proximity to each other as the size of their farms would permit; they opened clearings which year by year widened and lengthened. It was a most salubrious situation, and the success which attends vigorous health and favorable natural surroundings, was theirs. The fame of their local advantages was not long in reaching their former homes in the east, and large numbers were induced to emigrate.

    Eleazer Gage, from Dutchess County, with his sons, Justus, Eli, Samuel, Ira and Jeremiah, came before 1800, and also Darius Benjamin, all of whom located south of, adjoining this settlement, some of them opening clearings where DeRuyter village now stands. Darius Benjamin cleared the land and set out a small orchard on his place, very near the new cemetery.

    Jeremiah Gage built, at an early day, the tavern between the Messenger House and the village --- two miles north of the latter --- now owned by Newell Reeve, and remodeled into a mansion-like farm house. The Gages became thrifty, well-to-do farmers, and as a family, were public spirited, and possessed influence. Eli Gage was quite popular as a political influence. He was Supervisor for several years, and many years a Justice of the Peace. Only one of this once numerous family lives in town --- Edwin Gage, grandson of Justus. Ira Gage Barnes, adopted son of Capt. Jeremiah Gage, became quite prominent as a teacher, and also held the office of Supervisor and of School Inspector. On the death of Jeremiah Gage, he succeeded to his estate. He subsequently moved into DeRuyter, and established a banker's and broker's office. He was a successful business man, prominent and influential. He now resides in Syracuse.

    Daniel Page, from Dutchess County, came before 1800, and at an early date --- perhaps 1806 --- opened the first public house in DeRuyter village. It was a frame building, and on the erection of the Annas House on the same site, it was moved off the ground; it now stands adjacent to the hotel, and is used as a drug store.

    William and Thompson Burdick, brothers, came from Hopkinton, Rhode Island, in the year 1795. Thompson Burdick's deed of his farm bears date, May 1st, 1795. These brothers located their farms in the vicinity of the chapel, north of DeRuyter. Thompson's house stood next the chapel, (which was afterwards built,) and the farm of William, Lot No. 128, adjoined his. The family record of Thompson Burdick discloses the fact that David Burdick, his son, was born May 25, 1796, which makes this the first birth in the town of DeRuyter. The Burdicks reared large families, who were generally thrifty and enterprising. Beginning poor, they attained a competence; they were men of good judgment, safe, trustworthy, substantial, and locally public spirited. Two sons of Thompson --- Albert G. and Joseph --- settled in this town. The surviving sons of William --- Ira. C., Kenyon and Lorenzo, reside in this town, and are farmers.

    Prominent among the early settlers in the north part of the town, were three brothers --- Jonathan, Luke, and Pardon Coon --- who took up, cleared and improved fine farms, and reared large families, sons and daughters, most of whom lived to the estate of manhood and womanhood, contributing numbers and strength, virtue and intelligence to the native population of the town.

    David Paddock, Gideon Foster, Samuel Bowen, James Nye and David Mayne, sen.; also came early.

    Samuel Bowen kept the first store opened in the town, on the side hill, just north of the corporation, on the turnpike (or plank road).

    James Nye located on Lot 54, where he cleared a beautiful farm, and resided many years.

    David Mayne located at the head of the reservoir; he reared a large family, several being daughters, all of them dying in youth. This family were at one time prominent. David Mayne, jr., was a surveyor and teacher, a Justice of the Peace for many years, and a member of Assembly. He was a man of great memory, or good judgement, and was highly respected. One of his sons resides on the homestead, the other is a teacher in Rochester.

    Aaron, Belden, Isaac and Nathan Paddock, young men, came with their mother from Dutchess County, and located north of DeRuyter. All were afterwards married and remained in this vicinity. At one time they also were a prominent family.

    Holbrook and Hitchcock came in 1802, and took up their farms adjoining DeRuyter, in the town of Cuyler. Being so near the village, where they transacted business, they were reckoned as belonging to DeRuyter.

    The first death in town was that of Gideon Foster, which occurred in 1796. It was early in the spring, and the scarcity of food for cattle compelled all the settlers to resort to browsing. Mr. Foster, in his labor of this kind, overtaxed his strength, and brought on an aggravated form of hernia, to which he was subject, which terminated in his death in forty-eight hours. Any decimation of their small numbers caused real sorrow in this community, and the suddenness of this event, removing one by death, was therefore felt as a calamity. A burial ground was then laid out, on the farm of Elijah Benjamin, and here, for the first time, the earth closed over a body of a white settler. This spot was for many years the only burial ground of this vicinity; the remains of many of DeRuyter's pioneers are resting here.

    Dr. Hubbard Smith was the pioneer physician and was the only one for many years. His practice was an extensive one, and he was universally esteemed. Dr. Smith early built the house which is now the boarding house of the DeRuyter Institute. He was the first Postmaster of DeRuyter.

    The first school house in town was a log structure built on lot No. 20, near the Messenger tavern. Eli Gage was the first teacher, in the winter of 1799.

    Frederick, the fourth son of Elijah Benjamin, was the second native (as the records show) of DeRuyter, born in 1798. He received his fine and healthy physical, moral and mental education in this town; to the influences of his home was he indebted for the true manhood he bore with him to the home of his adoption in Belvidere, Ill. He died in the autumn of 1868, aged seventy-four years.

    We have the names of several who came previous to 1805: Abram Sutton, from Westchester County, N.Y., John Pierce and wife, from New York; Dr. Ephraim Otis, from Saratoga, N.Y.; Job Webb, from Hudson, N.Y., and Benjamin Stratton.

    Tiddeman Hull and his son George, came from Hudson, Columbia County, N.Y., in 1805. They located in the town of Cuyler, Cortland County, about two miles from DeRuyter village; living so near, they were regarded as a part of the same brotherhood of pioneers. Their "meeting" (Friends,) was at DeRuyter, and their business was transacted there. These men cleared a large farm. At this period DeRuyter village had only about six log houses. A little building containing a few goods, situated where the meat market now stands, was called a store and was kept by one Gray. There was more business transacted at other settlements in the vicinity than here. The mills of Paddock & Benjamin exhibited considerable enterprise; the Hulls, however, at a period somewhat later, but previous to 1815, built a grist mill and saw mill, and kept a store of goods at their place in Cuyler, and thereby drew a considerable trade from the DeRuyter settlement. George Hull also manufactured cast iron plows, having obtained the right from the patentee by paying two dollars on every plow he made. The first cast iron plow made in Cortland County was turned out at George Hull's establishment, and he sold the first one that was bought in Madison County. George Hull is yet living in DeRuyter village, (June 22, 1871,) aged eighty-five years.

    The Harts, two brothers, came from Connecticut and located near the village, but over the line in Cortland County. Abram Hart soon settled in DeRuyter village.

    Richard Worth came about the same period, (1805,) and Joseph Mitchell came from Dutchess County in 1807. The latter had a wife and family of several children.

    Stephen Bogardus was another from Columbia County. It is related that he moved from there in a wagon, bringing with him his household goods, a barrel of old irons, (being a blacksmith,) among which he packed $2,000 of specie, for safety along a route where sometimes highway robbers lurked, knowing that emigrants often possessed nice little sums of money which they had carefully husbanded for years, to help them on in the new country.

    Matthew Wells came into this town from Petersburg, Rensselaer County, N.Y., in the year 1800. He located permanently on lots No. 3 and 4, Tromp Township ( 125 acres,) and lots No. 129 and 130, Road Township, (89 acres,) making one of the most beautiful and productive farms of the county, containing 214 acres. His family consisted of one son, Matthew, jr., who was ten years old when the family moved, and five daughters. They all lived to be married, and all died in consecutive order from the youngest to the oldest. Of the family of Matthew Wells, jr., there were twelve children, eight sons and four daughters, only four of whom are now living. J. B. Wells of DeRuyter, is one of the sons.

    Eleazer H. Sears was one of the settlers about this time. His family was quite prominent for many years; Stephen G., George S. and Francis Sears, his sons, all now deceased, were influential men.

    Jonathan Bentley, a native of Richmond, Rhode Island, was married in Easton, N.Y., his wife being a native of Westerly, Rhode Island. They moved in 1808 to DeRuyter. Hampton S. and the late Gen. Z. T. Bentley, their sons, were children at this time. Mr. Bentley improved a handsome farm, and reared and educated an influential family. The son, H. S. Bentley, died a few years since in Michigan. Gen. Z. T. Bentley died in Oneida in 1870.2

    Eli Spear became a settler here previous to 1809.

    Benjamin Merchant was also an early settler, and took up a large farm at the head of the reservoir. His eldest son, Bradley, now resides on the farm. M. R. Merchant, another son, is a merchant of DeRuyter village. Hon. Joseph Warren Merchant is still another of his family.

    While the vicinity of DeRuyter village was being fast populated, other sections of the town were receiving their share of emigrants. Jonathan Shed came in from Brimfield, Mass., in the year 1800, and settled on lot No. 118. From him and his locality, comes the name of "Sheds Corners." The original frame house built by Mr. Shed was erected previous to 1812, and stood at the north end of Alverson B. White's dairy barn, in 1870.

    Levi Wood also came from Brimfield, Mass., in the year 1803, and took up lot No. 135. His first purchase, which was from Mr. Lincklaen, consisted of 111 acres, for which he paid $5 an acre. The price of land had doubled within the past two years, and the increase continued for a few subsequent years. Mr. Wood sold a portion of his land the next year at $7 per acre. Levi Wood was born in the town of Munson, Hampton County, Mass., in 1778, and is consequently now (1869,) ninety-one years old. He still resides on the noble farm he redeemed from the wilderness. The "Oneida Dispatch," in the autumn of '69, mentioned the fact that "Levi Wood, who voted for John Adams, and at every Presidential election since, was present at election (in DeRuyter,) and cast his vote for Grant and Colfax." The aged veteran is still in possession of excellent physical and mental health.

    When Mr. Wood returned east for his family in 1804, he took a route leading through Georgetown, and found not one family from DeRuyter to Lebanon.

    The first frame house built at Sheds Corners was erected by Pliny Sabins about 1808. D. M. & A. D. Gardner reside (in 1870,) where Mr. Sabins built.

    The first frame barn was built by Caleb Wood, and stood near the saw mill, on land belonging to Mrs. W. I. Alvord. As there were no saw mills in the town at that date, (1806,) the timbers, rafters, braces , &c., were hewn. The boards , all pine, were drawn from near Cazenovia village. The men who assisted at the "raising" came from distances of five miles around.

    The first school house in this district was a log one, situated on the south side of the road, east of where Levi Wood resides. Ample territory was embraced in this district, and the large families of the pioneers made a full and flourishing school.

    As late as 1812-13, school was taught at Sheds Corners in a log house, but during 1813, the first frame one was put up, where Willard M. Smith's garden is, on the north side of the Georgetown road, near the corner. Jonathan Shed was the first teacher.

    The first death at Sheds Corners was Daniel Alvord, about 1809.

    Among the early settlers in this vicinity were: Daniel Alvord, from Northampton, Mass; David Weeks, from Long Island; Caleb Wiley, Benjamin Northrup, John Leet, from Sherburne, Mass; Dwight Gardner, from Brimfield, Mass.; Joseph Holmes, native of Munson, Mass.

    A number of Quakers came in soon after 1800, and settled in a romantic spot which was named Quaker Basin. Among these families may be mentioned the Russels, Woods, Rings, Shephards, Breeds, Abram Sutton and others, men of considerable competence, whose sober, industrious habits have left an indelible impress upon the character of the town. Abram Sutton came early and settled a half mile north of DeRuyter village; he reared a large family and a prominent one. The only surviving son, Allen, resides in this village.

    In 1816, the "Friends" meeting house at 'Quaker Basin" was built, and is still standing, a specimen of the architecture common among the Friends all over the country at that day. It was built of excellent material, which its shingled sides have protected from decay, in spite of the wind and weather of more than a half century. Its builder was Abram Sutton, who performed the job for the sum of $999, --- one dollar less than the figures of any other bidder.

    There is a locality east of DeRuyter village, on the line of the Midland Branch, called Crumb Hill.

    Sylvester Crumb and Grace, his wife, came from Rhode Island about 1803. Eight sons came with them, Sylvester, jr., William, Joel, Culver, Hosea, Sands, John and Wait. Sylvester, jr., who had preceded them to the town of Brookfield, two years before, now joined his father on his removal to DeRuyter. The father and most of the sons, when they reached manhood, settled upon the hill which has since borne their name. The land they took up was a dense wilderness, and as they were poor, and but little could be raised the first year, they experienced great privations for a time.

    Col. Elmer D. Jencks came into this town from Smyrna, in 1809. He was a native of Lenox, Mass., and emigrated to Smyrna when that town was a dense forest. He located a mile north of DeRuyter village, where he carried on a distillery on the Messenger farm. He continued this business till 1814, when he removed to the village, and entered the mercantile business in a store located a little west of the corners. The same building is now (1871,) owned by Lewis Sears, and is situated west of the M. E. Church. In 1817, Col. Jencks built a store on the northeast corner, now occupied by Daniel Scott; from this time on he continued in the same business about forty years.

    In 1809, DeRuyter village could boast of a tavern, kept by Daniel Page, and a store, kept by Eli Spear, the latter situated on the southwest corner where he afterwards kept a store and tavern together. Page's tavern and Spear's were frame buildings, and there was a small collection of houses, mostly log. A saw mill, then owned by Lawrence Barker, stood on the location of the present one owned by J. H. Crumb; also, Eli Spear had a potash located perhaps ten rods from the southeast corner. Daniel Watson built about this time the first frame house of the village.

    In 1812, DeRuyter was a post-village. The census of two years before (1810,) gave the town -- still including the present territory of Georgetown, be it remembered -- a population of 1,503,with 253 heads of families. There were then, also, three grain and eight saw mills.

    During, or a little subsequent to the last named date, the fourth Great Western Turnpike, -- from Cooperstown to Homer, -- was being built, which was completed about 1815. This gave a fresh influx of inhabitants to this section, though the growth of DeRuyter village was gradual.

    The first school house of the village was built about 1812, and was for many years the only one.

    In 1816, came the "cold season." There was a frost in every month. The crops were cut off, and the meagre harvest of grain was nowhere near sufficient for the needs of the people. The whole of the newly settled interior of New York was also suffering from the same cause. The inhabitants saw famine approaching.3 What little grain there was that could be purchased at all, was held at remarkable prices, and this scant supply soon failed. Jonathan Bentley at one time paid two dollars for a bushel of corn, which, when ground, proved so poor that it was unfit for use; throwing it to his swine, they too refused the vile food. Every resource for sustenance was carefully husbanded; even forest berries and roots were preserved. The spring of 1817 developed the worst phases of want.

    In various sections of the country, families were brought to the verge of starvation! One relates that he was obliged to dig up the potatoes he had planted, to furnish one meal a day to his famishing family; another states that his father's family lived for months without bread, save what was obtained in small crusts for his sick mother, and that milk was their chief sustenance. When the planting season arrived there was no seed grain in De Ruyter, so the inhabitants combined and sent Jeremiah Gage to Onondaga County to canvass for wheat and corn. He was absent several days, and the people, all alive to the importance of the mission, grew discouraged, fearing there was none to be found. At length he was seen approaching along the road where the head of the reservoir now is, his wagon loaded, his handkerchief fastened to a pole and hoisted, fluttering in the breeze, a signal of joy and plenty. A crowd quickly gathered; there was great rejoicing and tears stood in strong men's eyes. Each family repaired to Gage's house to receive their quota of grain, and every household was glad. Although a backward season, that of 1817, furnished sufficient for a fair winter supply.

    The first quarter of the ninteenth century was now passing; it had exhibited a phase in history not to be repeated here in all after time; and in passing it is well to record any anecdote illustrating the peculiar trails the inhabitants had to contend with, the exciting occurrences that engrossed their attention, and the nature of the enjoyments they found amid so many privations. As one of these we quote the following from a newspaper: ---

    "In the early days the huntsmen found plenty of deer, while the bear and wolf roamed the forest in unconscious freedom. Notwithstanding the Onondaga Indians frequently encamped on this eastern branch of their favorite Tioughnioga, and made this town a part of their vast hunting ground, yet these bold brute prowlers kept the settlers ever on the alert to guard their flocks, who in their journeys were usually prepared for a defensive warfare, should an encounter occur,

    "An incident, illustrating the royal freedom of the black bear, occurred in the year 1796. David Paddock, with his two young nephews, David and Elijah E. Benjamin, were crossing the hill west of DeRuyter village, when they observed that the small dog which accompanied them came running in from its circuitous rambles, exhibiting much fear. However, it again ran off, but in a short space of time returned, pursued by a huge black bear. The three were unarmed, and their only resort was in climbing trees. Their fright was great, and their haste rapid, though they wisely selected trees too small for a bear to ascend easily, yet large enough to enable them to get beyond her reach. Mistress Bruin, on arriving at the spot, deliberately sat down, complacently looked at her captives for some time, and probably calculating her chances of securing them to be small, and not being in a ravenous condition, finally arose and marched majestically away into the depths of the forest, to the infinite relief of the three prisoners.

    At one time the wolves considerably decimated the flocks at Sheds corners. Levi Wood lost a number of sheep in their frequent raids, and at one time a bear killed a fine hog for him.

    In 1809, there was a great turn out to capture a wolf, which was killed upon the hill west of the Rich mill.

    Thus the settlers were compelled to sustain a perpetual warfare with the untamed forces of animate and inanimate nature, while privations were many, and the appliances of comfort were few. Rude furniture, much of it of their own manufacture, graced their humble dwellings, while every article brought from their native homes was guarded with tender care. Implements of farming were of the most primitive fashion. The brush drag, the cumbrous imperfect plow, and other articles few in number, and unhandy in use, were all our forefathers could afford. All early transportation was done on horses' backs, and the settler knew well what a severe task it was to perform a journey to mill, which, previous to the building of the Rich Mills, was made over the hills to Onondaga settlement, or up to Cazenovia. The first one-horse wagon owned in this section, one informant says, belonged to Squire John Gardner, about 1820.

    After the supplies of ready cash, brought by the settlers when they came, were exhausted, they had but scanty means for obtaining money. In the earliest days nothing they had, brought cash but "black salts," which every farmer manufactured from the ashes saved from "burnings." As soon as clearings progressed, wheat was raised, but which, for years, brought only five shillings a bushel. Wages were extremely low, and each man preferred to change works with his neighbor rather than pay money.

    And yet, with all their hardships, they prospered; their wants were few, and their few pleasures were keenly enjoyed. It was remarked by an aged lady, that when there was but few families, living quite distant from each other, a visit was enjoyed to the utmost, and there was no fear of criticism, gossip or backbiting to mar the full flow of friendliness. Modern fashionable calls and tea-parties, from the very hollowness of the pretensions made, suffer much in comparison with the noble friendship developed amid trials.

    As population multiplied, and demands of a social nature increased, parties of pleasure sweetened the days of toil. An afternoon's visit, perhaps a "bee" of some nature, a "quilting," a "wool picking," or maybe a "husking," is planned, to which the young ladies for many miles around are invited, --- the young men in the evening coming in on horseback to spend the remaining festive hours, perhaps bringing a violinist with their party. After the work of the "bee" is completed, and refreshments freely dispensed, a few hours of gay amusement terminates the party, when each gallant places his fair partner upon his horse behind him. Her long custom to this manner of riding, enables her to sit with ease and grace, with only the firm grasp of her little right hand upon the coat of her protector, under his right arm. The "pillory" is sometimes used, but oftener dispensed with, the well trained horse being perfectly gentle under his double burden.

    However, accidents did sometime take place. One is related which happened to a young lady of De Ruyter, who, with her companion, was riding home from a party in the vicinity of Sheds Corners. During the evening a heavy shower had fallen, and, as the party started, our fair equestrian, clad in white, even to the dainty white kid shoe, gathered up her muslin dress, and enveloped in a protecting cloak, took her seat upon the horse at the back of her escort. All went well, and a pleasant chat they were having, when ascending the steep hill south of Sheds Corners, by the quick movement of the horse as he sprang up an unusually steep ridge, her grasp was suddenly loosened, and the dignity of the damsel received a mortifying humiliation as she alighted in the mud, while her kids and snowy muslin were rendered quite unpresentable. Her considerate companion reassuringly assisted her to her place again, yet her great embarrassment found no relief until she bade him 'good night," and closed her father's door as he rode away.

    An instance of the intractibility of a horse on a similar occasion is also related. This party was also held in the same neighborhood. At its conclusion, when nearly all the company had mounted their horses, each beau with his respective partner seated at the back of his saddle, it was found that one horse refused to submit to the burden. Repeated efforts were made, but each time the young lady took her seat the disobedient animal unseated her. Two young men then mounted the horse, and after a short time in training he yielded to the arrangement. Our persevering heroine again sprang to her place, when the mad animal, with heels flying in the air, once more unceremoniously compelled her to alight. It was evidently unwise to further attempt this course, and at last the young man found it was necessary to lead his horse the whole distance home, a mile and a half, that his partner might ride in the saddle.

    Incidents like the foregoing furnish material for many a hearty laugh at their own expense, by the survivors of those sportive scenes; and not only do these find pleasure in such recitals, so also does the veteran schoolmaster delight in recounting the pleasures of "boarding round," of the abundant luxuries and merry making at each new home he found, in his revolution around the district; of the days when teachers' wages were $8 a month in winter, and six shillings a week in summer. It is related that a gentleman well known in public circles, thirty-five years ago taught a summer school in this town for $1 a week. He was a competent and highly esteemed teacher, and the price he received was greater than had been previously paid. Common schools in the past seem to have furnished education almost without money or price, nevertheless the schools of DeRuyter have been her glory and her strength. They have nurtured and sent forth into the world a class of distinguished and highly endowed spirits.

    But very much of the credit for this, must of course be awarded to the teachers employed, who were often very fortunately selected. Among these was David Mayne, Esq., who taught many years in DeRuyter, and was regarded by all heads of families as the teacher best qualified to train the youth. He taught several consecutive seasons in the Burdick district, and was sought as teacher in all sections of the town. He was loved and respected by his pupils everywhere; from him they received instruction in morals and religion as well as in learning; to him a large number of DeRuyter's citizens, once his pupils, are indebted for a correct formation of character. Our public men whom this town has sent forth, who have made themselves honored abroad and have adorned the positions they occupied, are largely indebted to David Mayne for the elements of their education and the founding of right principles and noble manhood. Among these who were his pupils, we mention Gen. Zadock T. Bentley, attorney and counselor at law; Paul Chase, well known as a long time teacher and rare scholar; Dr. Phineas H. Burdick, A. V. Bentley, Esq., J. B. Wells, Esq., Hon. John F. Benjamin, M. C. from Missouri; Albert G. Burdick, Esq., Sanford M. Green, an eminent lawyer and recently one of the judges of the Supreme Court of the State of Michigan; the late Joel Burdick, Esq., Hon. James W. Nye, U.S. Senator from Nevada, and the late Hon. Henry C. Goodwin, M. C. from this Congressional District, and formerly District Attorney for Madison County.


    Up to 1830, DeRuyter was a quiet country village; the travel of the turnpike and the business of the hotels constituted the chief activity of the place. The hotel of Eli Spear had been purchased by Thomas C. Nye, was remodeled and added to, and under the name of the Mansion House, was considerably patronized. Mr. Nye connected stage running and mail transportation with his hotel keeping, and altogether transacted quite an extensive business. There was also at this period one store, kept by Col. E. D. Jencks, a postoffice, a tannery, and the carding and clothing works of Benjamin Mitchell, --- built in 1814 , by Joseph Mitchell and Joe Webb, --- which was located near the northeast corner of the corporation.4 There was a large society of Friends who had their meeting house at Quaker Basin; also a large society of Seventh Day Baptists who held their meetings in the school house, and also a society of First Day Baptists. A Methodist class had been formed at this time also, which held its meetings in the school house. Only one school then existed in the village, which was a large one. There had been a flourishing Lodge of Free Masons, which had, however, suspended its workings during the excitement attending the "Morgan affair, " so called.

    About 1832, the business of the village became more active. Live business men were the men of influence in public affairs. At this time there was a prospect that the proposed canal from Utica to Binghamton might pass through here, at least surveys were made to ascertain if this was the most feasible route. Mason Wilbur and George Hull were sent to Albany as lobby members, to advocate its passage through this town. The results of the surveys, however, decided in favor of the Chenango route.

    The proposed railroad of that day, from Chittenango to Cazenovia, was to have been extended to DeRuyter. In the winter of 1832, the first railroad meeting ever held in this part of Madison County, or in contiguous parts of Onondaga, Cortland and Chenango, convened at the public house of T. C. Nye.5 The death of Judge Yates in 1836, at the commencement of operations for building this road, suspended matters, and virtually caused the company to abandon the project and disband their organization.

    From 1832, for a term of years the spirit of enterprise prevailed; it was an era of building. Abijah Annas built a large number of fine residences in various sections of the village; the Gardners built their wagon shop and elegant dwellings; Mitchell's carding and clothing works were turned into a tannery; the farm of Oliver Mitchell was cut up into building lots, and in all parts, the village grew, lengthened and widened. In 1833 it was incorporated. In 1834, the Seventh Day Baptist Church was built, and operations for the erection of DeRuyter Institute, under the patronage of that denomination, were in progress. Through the untiring zeal of its chief projector, Elder Alexander Campbell, and his effective corps of helpers, who constituted the "building committee," the Institute was completed in 1837. In 1835, the DeRuyter Union Church was erected, and somewhere about this time A. N. Annas put up a block of stores, opposite the brick store, which was burned about ten years since (1870). Meanwhile the vicinity of the institute and S. D. Church, became rapidly occupied with dwellings belonging to the people connected with those institutions. The "DeRuyter Herald" was published in 1835, by C. W. Mason, and in 1836, the "Protestant Sentinel" was issued, which continued to be published for several years with various changes of name. For twelve or fifteen years, artisans, mechanics and merchants flourished. There was at one time eleven dry goods stores in this village. At the date of its incorporation its population was 600.

    Since 1840, business establishments have been started in the village, that have failed. A foundry was built and in operation for several years; a stock company put up a farming tool factory on an extensive plan, and a steam saw mill, both of which after a time failed, and a few years since the buildings took fire and burned down.

    The grist mill now (1870,) owned by Mr. Hill, has been built since 1840. Also the Page Hotel has been extensively rebuilt by Abijah Annas, at cost of $9,000, and for years, as the "Annas House," it was widely known as a first-class hotel. Mr. Annas sold; and now, as the "Tabor House," it retains its former reputation. The Mansion House has been cut up into several shops, where various trades are prosecuted. The Bank of E. B. Parsons & Co. has been recently established.

    A new era has dawned upon the history of DeRuyter, with the advent of railroads; the Midland passes through it on its way from Norwich to Auburn, and the extension of the Canastota and Cazenovia to Homer, crosses the Midland in this village. The history of these enterprises, together with others of a late date, and the movements of this people in the great national struggle with a gigantic rebellion, (the records of which, we trust, are ample and well preserved,) we leave to the future historian.


    The prime mover and pioneer in the enterprise of opening a denominational school at De Ruyter village, was Elder Alexander Campbell, now residing at Verona, Oneida County, N. Y. A meeting was held, pursuant to his call, sometime in the autumn of 1834, to take into consideration the matter of establishing in this place a literary institution to be under the direction of the Seventh Day Baptist denomination. At this meeting, Elder Campbell was appointed to circulate a subscription among the churches of this denomination, for that purpose. The result was, $13,937 was obtained, 6

    In the summer or autumn of 1835, a building committee was chosen to erect suitable buildings. LeBaron Goodwin, (father of the late Hon. H. C. Goodwin,) Henry Crandall, Elmer D. Jencks and Matthew Wells, jr., were members of this committee. The Legislature of 1836, passed an act of incorporation, appointing as trustees the following gentlemen: --- Henry Crandall, LeBaron Goodwin, Ira Spencer, Elmer D. Jencks, James Nye, Alexander Campbell, Joel Greene, Martin Wilcox, Eli S. Bailey, Adin Burdick, Matthew Wells, jr., Perry Burdick.

    In the spring of 1837, the building was so far completed, that a school was opened under the charge of Solomon Carpenter, from Rensselaer County, as principal, and Miss Sarah A. Robinson, from Troy Female Seminary, as Preceptress; but the institute proper was not opened until September, 1837, at which time Eber M. Rollo, A.M., a graduate from Williamstown College, Massachusetts, was Principal, and Miss Robinson, above named, continued as Preceptress. For a few years the school was extensively patronized by the churches of the S. D. B. denomination, located in various counties in the States of New Jersey and Rhode Island , and in the counties of Rensselaer, Jefferson, Oneida, Allegany, Cortland, Chenango and Madison, in this State. But soon academic schools were started at Alfred, N.Y., Shiloh, N. J., and Hopkinton, R. I., which resulted in a withdrawal of foreign patronage, and consequently more or less pecuniary embarrassment followed. It has, nevertheless, with many changes, continued in operation to the present time, it being now (1870,) prosperous under the care of L. E. Livermore , A.M., Principal. The original cost of the buildings and grounds of the institution was about $22,000.


    About 1816, the first Masonic Lodge was instituted at DeRuyter. It continued through a long number of years, and was a means of forming and perpetuating friendly ties, and of promoting social feelings among its members, early residents of the town and vicinity. It included many leading men of the day, among whom were the Hon. Benj. Enos, James Nye, Esq., Samuel Thompson, Jonathan Shedd and Elias P. Benjamin, Esq., E. D. Jencks, Capt. Jeremiah Gage, Reuben Doane, Jonathan Brainard, John Hewitt, Nathan B. Wilbur, Capt. Epaphras Leet, and many others. In the excitement which swept over the country upon the abduction and murder of Wm. Morgan, in 1827, the lodge suspended its working operations, which were never thereafter resumed. Its hall, or place of meeting, was situated in the long double frame, ancient building on the south side of Albany street, near the east bridge, owned for many years by Job Webb.

    Among those who constituted the lodge, if we except Capt. Leet, who does not now reside in DeRuyter, Col. Jencks is the sole survivor in the town.

    In 1872, the DeRuyter Lodge F. & A.M., No. 692, was formed, and continues a successful organization.


    Dr. Ira Spencer is a prominent citizen of DeRuyter, whose long residence in this town, and extensive practice here in the region round about, have identified him with the history of the place for a great number of years. On the completion of his medical studies, while yet a young man, he settled in DeRuyter, in 1830, and in connection with the late Dr. Nathan Collins, entered at once into a successful and extensive practice. In 1835, Dr. Collins having emigrated west, and the labors of the profession increasing, Dr. Spencer formed a co-partnership with Dr. James Whitford, which continued for some years. Upon its dissolution in 1838, these two gentlemen thenceforward became active competitors, and took a leading position among the members of the medical fraternity in this section of the country. Dr. Spencer has continued in an unbroken career of practice, often laborious and responsible, now over forty years, extending into the counties of Madison, Onondaga, Cortland and Chenango, in which he has frequently been called by his medical brethren, on account of his skill and experience, to important consultations in difficult and doubtful cases in practice. He is a self-made man. During these long and eventful years, he has accumulated a fine property, and raised a respected family to competency, and an honorable social standing in the community. He acquired his profession, unaided by others, alternately pursuing his studies, and teaching in winters as a means of pecuniary assistance, and commenced practice with nothing but his abilities, native and acquired, together with that sort of determination and perseverance which seldom fail to insure success. At the age of sixty-six, (May,1871,) although his hair is white with the frosts of many years, he still enjoys a good degree of physical health, and continues in active business habits, the oldest physician in DeRuyter.

    Dr. James Whitford, another long resident physician in DeRuyter, came to the place in 1835, a young man of modest and unassuming demeanor, and entered into practice with Dr. Spencer, then already here, which relation continued for a few years, and on their business interests becoming separate, continued in an honorable and successful practice for thirty years. He married Miss Mary Gage, eldest daughter of Arza Gage, Esq., purchased the dwelling-house built and formerly owned by Benj. R. Mitchell, on Utica street, and reared and educated a family which held rank in the social scale among the first in the community. Dr. Whitford, like Dr. Spencer, acquired, by hard work and perseverance, a handsome property as a reward of diligence and professional ability. He took a deep interest in the military discipline and education of the citizen soldiery, and was for many years Colonel and Commandant of the 42d Regiment, 19th Brigade of the Militia of the State. On the close of the war in 1866, he resigned his commission. His health having become somewhat impaired, in the spring of 1869, he removed, together with his family, to a more genial and healthful climate, where the rigors of winter are less severely felt -- to a beautiful location in Onondaga Valley, near the city of Syracuse, where he now resides.

    Dr. S. S. Clarke comes next among the physicians of this town. He studied with Dr. Spencer, received his diploma about twenty years ago, and commenced practice at DeRuyter, where he still resides. He, too, has acquired a fair property, and is establishing, by dint of hard work and diligent attention to business, a reputable standing in the profession. But as a sketch of him here would be more immediately with the current events of the present time, rather that the past history of an early day, we leave his present and prospective career to the pen of the future historian.

    The Legal Fraternity of DeRuyter has included several men of considerable note, and some of them of fine talents. Abraham Payne was the first lawyer that ever settled in DeRuyter. It was about the year 1823. He erected a fine dwelling-house on Utica street, which is now the residence of Mr. Allen Sutton, leather manufacturer and shoe dealer, and opened an office on what is now (1871,) the site of the DeRuyter Bank. Mr. Payne was a young man of liberal education, well read in law, and for a few years did a good business without any local competitors. But his native diffidence was such, that it was said by Dr. Hubbard Smith, the justice before whom he had frequent occasion to appear in the trial of suits, that he lacked the cheek necessary to a modern lawyer. Mr. Payne was a gentleman highly esteemed. After some years he removed to Seneca Falls, abandoned the practice of law, and embarked extensively in the milling business, in which he became quite wealthy, but subsequently lost his property by some unlucky turn in the wheel of fortune. We believe he afterwards removed to Ohio, and has been some years deceased.

    Martin P. Sweet was the next lawyer in this town. He opened an office about the year 1830, in connection with Lorenzo Sherwood, a young man of fine abilities, from Hoosick, Rensselaer County, N.Y., who here finished with him his course of study. Mr. Sweet was a self-made man. He possessed splendid oratorical powers, and was noted for much eccentricity of character. Before a jury, or in public debate, his flights of oratory were often brilliant, and rarely excelled. He removed west and died since the close of the war, somewhere in the State of Illinois.

    Zadock T. Bentley, afterwards known as Gen. Bentley, succeeded Mr. Sweet in the practice of law at DeRuyter, and formed a partnership with Geo. W. Stone, a young man of great promise and fine intellectual endowments; and subsequently thereto, the law firm of Stone & Bentley on the one side, and Lorenzo & Luman Sherwood on the other, constituted the legal force of DeRuyter, till 1840, when Mr. Stone died, and Luman Sherwood removed to Cayuga County, and his brother, Lorenzo Sherwood, in connection with James W. Nye, (now Senator Nye,) went to Hamilton, where they opened an office in that town. Gen. Z. T. Bentley was a native of Washington County, N.Y., and removed to DeRuyter with his father, when a child; with the help of his boys, Mr. Bentley cleared up his farm, and gave them such advantages as the place afforded. Young Bentley chose the profession of the law, and entered the office of Hon. Alonzo G. Hammond of Rensselaer County, studying during the summers, and teaching during the winters. He finished his studies with Judge Darwin Smith, at Rochester. He was admitted to the bar in 1833, and immediately opened an office in DeRuyter, and continued practice till 1843, when he was elected County Clerk. In 1850 he was appointed Brigadier-General of the 19th Brigade N. Y. S. Militia. He performed a great deal of literary work for the State Militia Association. During the late war, his voice was often heard maintaining the government in putting down the rebellion. Z. T. Bentley was a lawyer of superior attainment, well read, and an advocate of much ability. His death from paralysis, at his residence in Oneida, in July, 1870, though sudden, was not wholly unlooked for by friends.

    At a little later date, A. V. Bentley, then a young man, who had pursued the study of law in the office of his brother, Z. T. Bentley, was admitted to the bar, in 1842, at the July term of the old Supreme Court, in Utica, the Hon. Samuel Nelson, Chief Justice, presiding, with Esek Cowan and Greene C. Bronson, Associate Judges. A. V. Bentley opened an office separate from that of his brother, and thenceforward for several years they were pitted against each other professionally. Their competition, whilst honorable and friendly, was nevertheless exceedingly animated and the trail of their causes was contested inch by inch between these brothers, with the greatest spirit and earnestness. The Bentleys continued practice until on the election of Z. T. Bentley to the office of County Clerk, when he removed to Morrisville, leaving A. V. Bentley sole master of the field. About this time, two young men, scarcely emerged from boyhood, David J. Mitchell and Henry C. Goodwin, both DeRuyter boys, entered the office of A. V. Bentley, and for four years pursued a regular course of reading and clerkship at law therein. During this time the practice of the law, particularly the trail of causes in Justice's Court, at DeRuyter and in the adjacent sections of Onondaga, Cortland and Chenango counties, to which their field extended, afforded opportunity for the exhibition of rare legal talents and acumen, and did much towards laying the foundations on which the subsequent eminence and success of these young practitioners were built. On their admission to the bar, they opened an office in Hamilton, and under the copartnership name of Goodwin & Mitchell, rapidly won their way to distinction. About this time, A. V. Bentley, Esq., whose health had become impaired through the effects of an early infirmity, was elected a Justice of the Peace, an office to which the people of DeRuyter elected him term after term for twenty-five years. Mr. Bentley was regarded as a good lawyer and safe counselor. His office practice has been extensive covering a period of more than a quarter of a century. In that department especially, and as a magistrate, he has done a vast amount of conveyancing relating to real estate. But a few deeds, contracts, or securities relating to real estate, made, executed, or acknowledged within that time, at DeRuyter and the adjoining towns of Georgetown, Cuyler and Lincklaen, can be found which are not in the handwriting, or do not bear the signature of Mr. Bentley, which are as well known there as he is personally. His legal advice has been much sought by parties, because he has been in the habit of bestowing it disinterestedly, and much of the time gratuitously, and became of his always counseling peace, and the adjustment of difficulties without a resource to law.

    About the time that Goodwin & Mitchell went to Hamilton, A. Scott Sloan and H. C. Miner, opened an office at DeRuyter, under the name of Miner & Sloan, having their office in the Annas block. Mr. Sloan was considered a good lawyer, and H. C. Miner was a through business man, possessed of great executive force and energy, and was capable of enduring physically a large amount of hard work, qualities which were brought to bear in their practice. For several years thereafter they did a large business; and on the removal of Mr. Sloan to the State of Wisconsin, Mr. Miner continued to practice. It was in the office of Miner & Sloan that D. Q. Mitchell, Esq., now also a practicing lawyer at DeRuyter, and a brother of D. J. Mitchell, prosecuted the study of law, and was soon afterwards admitted to the bar. He thereupon opened an office at DeRuyter and entered practice, in the meantime holding the office of Supervisor of the town for two terms, and discharging, at a later date, the duties of Commissioner of the Board of Enrollment for this Congressional District, during the rebellion, to which office he had been appointed. The duties of that post were very arduous and responsible, and Mr. Mitchell acquitted himself with credit and satisfaction to the public.

    About the same time L. B. Kern, Esq., removed from Morrisville to DeRuyter, and formed a connection in partnership with Mr. Miner, and under the firm name of Miner & Kern, forthwith commenced an extensive practice. Mr. Kern is the only lawyer from DeRuyter, who has been honored, whilst a resident thereof, with the office of District Attorney. The firm of Miner & Kern has been recently dissolved, and these men have now separate offices in DeRuyter, each doing a large amount of business.

    Among the citizens of DeRuyter, A. N. Annas deserves especial mention. He has long been one of the most efficient business men of the town. He came to DeRuyter in 1834, or thereabouts, opened a stove and tin shop, and has wrought out for himself a handsome fortune with his own hands. Whilst in the mercantile business he was one of the firm of Elmore, Annas & Ayer, who erected in 1841 the stone stores, known as the Lafayette block, on Cortland Street, the finest block of buildings ever in DeRuyter, and which was burned a few years ago. He also built the public house known for many years as the "Annas House," now the "Tabor House," and has erected more dwelling houses and buildings of various kinds, and done more for the external improvement of the place than any other man. He is a man of excellent practical judgement, and has been repeatedly honored by his townsmen with the office of Supervisor and other positions of public trust, the duties of which he ever discharged with fidelity and success.


    Col. Elmer D. Jencks, was born in the town of Lenox, Mass., in the year 1791. In 1796, with his parents, he removed to the town of Smyrna, Chenango County, where they lived till 1809, when he came to the town of DeRuyter, being then eighteen years of age. Mr. Jencks belonged to the militia during the war of 1812 to 1815, and in 1814 received promotion. From the office of Sergeant, he passed through the several grades up to that of Colonel of the regiment, which last promotion he received in 1827, by which title he has since that time been known. The same year he received the commission of Postmaster which he held several years.

    For the first thirty years of this century, cattle buying and drover business was a source of great profit to the country. In this Col. Jencks was extensively engaged. Such men as Gen. Erastus Cleaveland, Maj. Samuel Foreman and Maj. Ellis Morse, were his colleagues in this department, and they frequently met and traveled together, conferred with each other, and in many ways increased the interests of the trade throughout the county, thereby enriching the coffers of our farmers. Col. Jencks was widely known. Such has been his integrity all through life, that all men honored him with their confidence; such his public spirit, that local enterprise desired his sanction to receive the sanction of the mass. Although not religious, he was a supporter of religious societies, and although not a political man, his opinions on political matters shaped those of others. Prudent, clear-headed, self-reliant and enterprising, with integrity for his guide, is the summing up of the character of one of DeRuyter's pioneers, Col. Elmer D. Jencks.

    Mr. Jencks lost his first wife in 1824, and was again married in 1831, to Mrs. Matilda Wallace, who with him still lives in DeRuyter village. His son Elmer D. Jencks, jr., resides one mile south of the village. Col. Jencks is still hale and hearty, at the advanced age of 83 years.


    We find the name of Hon. Warren Merchant as another among the principal men of this town. He has served with ability in many positions in town, County and State. Mr. Merchant, while Supervisor, lent his own private credit to meet the wants of the town in raising funds for enlisted men, and in raising bounties and otherwise aiding soldiers. He was a warm friend and advocate of the Midland Railroad, being a member of its first Board of Directors.


    Among others of DeRuyter's native born citizens, whose talents and positions in the arena of public life have given credit to the influences and early training of their native town, and consequent pride to this, their foster-mother, may be named Darwin E. Smith, one of the Judges of the Supreme Court of the State of New York, a son of Dr. Hubbard Smith, the pioneer physician of DeRuyter, and who himself one of the Associate Judges of Madison County for a time; Hon. John F. Benjamin, Member of Congress from Missouri, of the pioneer Benjamin family of DeRuyter; Hon. James W. Nye, U.S. Senator from Nevada, son of James Nye, the pioneer, also born in DeRuyter, and Ezra Cornell, founder of the Cornell University at Ithaca, whose boyhood was spent in DeRuyter, where, amid poverty and labor he learned the principles of true greatness, and gathered wisdom and strength for a life of usefulness to his fellowmen.


    The subjoined obituary of Hon. Benjamin Enos is altogether too brief a notice of one of DeRuyter's first men in the days past. We are compelled, however, to offer only this, it being all the data we have at hand.

    "OBITUARY. --- Hon. Benjamin Enos died at his residence in DeRuyter on Tuesday evening, Feb. 4th, 1868. He was born in Richmond, Washington County, R. I., Feb. 13, 1788, making his age eighty years, lacking nine days. Mr. Enos has been a resident of DeRuyter for many years, and was one of the most active politicians of the Democratic party until incapacitated from age and infirmity from taking part in the active duties of life. He filled several town offices, and was member of Assembly from Madison County in 1834, 1839 and 1840; Canal Commissioner from Feb. 8, 1842, to Jan. 1, 1845, and State Treasurer from Feb. 18, 1845, to Feb., 1846 --- all of which offices he filled with credit to himself and to the satisfaction of his constituents. For several years past Mr. Enos has been nearly crippled by disease, and has suffered a good deal of pain. He has resided with his son-in-law, Charles H. Maxson, Esq., for many years, where he found not only a comfortable home, but the kind hands of affection to soothe and comfort his declining years."


    The Seventh Day Baptist Church of DeRuyter, was organized in 1816. John Green, licensed to preach by this society, was the first pastor in 1818. The S. D. B. Church of Lincklaen was formed from this. The edifice was erected in 1834, at a cost of about, $2,200.

    The Presbyterian Church of DeRuyter village, was organized about 1830. First settled pastor, Rev. Mr. Adams. Their house of worship was built in 1835, by the "DeRuyter Religious Society," composed of Presbyterians, Universalists and Methodists, and called the Union Meeting House.

    The Methodist Church. A class formed about 1830 in DeRuyter village, holding meetings first in the school house and afterwards in the Union Meeting House. Rev. Orrin Torry, pastor in 1861, carried forward the project of building a church, and in 1863 it was completed.

    The Society of Friends commenced their meetings about 1804, holding them in the school house in the village. They built their meeting house at the "Basin" in 1816, in which ancient building they still continue to hold their meetings.

The Baptist Church of DeRuyter village was first formed in 1797. In 1816, the society was revived. About 1820 the first church was built. They have again built on a large and improved plan.

The Methodist Society has a church at Sheds Corners, and a Universalist Church is also located there.


The DeRuyter Herald was published in 1835, by C. W. Mason.

The Protestant Sentinel was moved from Schenectady to DeRuyter in Nov., 1836. It was published by J. & C. H. Maxon until the fall of 1837. It then passed into the hands of Wm. D. Cochrane, by whom it was issued as

The Protestant Sentinel and Seventh Day Baptist Journal. In February, 1840, Joel Greene became its publisher, and changed it to the

Seventh Day Baptist Register. In 1841, it passed into the hands of James Bailey, by whom it was continued until 1845.

The National Banner was commenced at DeRuyter in October, 1847, by A. C. Hill, and continued two years.

The Central New Yorker was published at DeRuyter by E. F. & C. B. Gould, from September, 1848, to May, 1851.

The Banner of the Times was started in DeRuyter by Walker & Hill, and continued until 1855.

The DeRuyter Weekly News was established in 1862, by J. E. N. Backus, and was discontinued in 1864.

The Sabbath School Gem, monthly, was published in 1863 and '64, by J. E. N. Backus.

The DeRuyter New Era was commenced Sept. 29th, 1870, John R. Beden publisher, by whom it is still continued.

1 - See Spafford's Gazetteer, 1812.
2 - See "sketches" at close of chapter.
3 - The alarm and depression so wrought upon the feelings of the community, that a religious revival ensued, and during the summer, Elder Hudson Benedict, Baptist minister, baptized sixty converts in this town.
4 - Now (1870,) converted into the tannery on that location.
5 - The DeRuyter New Era of April, 1871, speaks further of this railroad meeting in 1832, as follows:

"It was largely represented by prominent men who favored the project, among whom were Judge Yates, before mentioned, Gen. J. D. Ledyard of Cazenovia, the Hon. Wm. K. Fuller, member of Congress from this district, John Fairchild, editor of the Cazenovia Monitor, the late James Nye, Elias P. Benjamin, Benjamin Enos, Z. T. Bentley, Bradley Merchant and Stephen G. Sears, Esqs., of this village, all now deceased, and Col. Jencks, who yet survives; also Dr. Miller of Truxton, Luther Bowen and Mr. Tyler of Otselic, Mr. Avery of Chenango, and we believe, Mr. Whitney of Broome County, together with divers others whose names we cannot, after the lapse of thirty-nine years, recall. The meeting was ably and eloquently addressed by Judge Fuller, Gen. Ledyard, Judge Niles, Dr. Miller and others, all ardent and enthusiastic in support of the measure."
6 - The citizens of DeRuyter contributed liberally.

Ttranscribed by Jim Knapp
July, 2003
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Madison County History - 1872
Madison Co, NY Page
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