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SENECA COUNTY: 1800-2000
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The year 1862 opens upn the village of Geneva, and sees it a flourishing place of between six and seven thousand inhabitants; with its many churches, its college, and schools; its beautiful and busy streets, and fine dwellings, and surrounded by highly cultivated farms, and elegant mansions. The whistle of the engine, or the propeller, announces many times a day, that the means of transportation to all points of the compass are at hand. The smoke of the mill, and the whirr of machinery, assure us that here the agent steam is at work in another direction; while the magic wires which thread the land in its length and breadth, convey the subtle fluid which has become the slave of man, and by whose agency we are able to converse with friends thousands of miles away, as rapidly as if they were sitting by our side.
Let us close our eyes to all this evidence of the ingenuity and labor of man, and by the aid of imigination to transport ourselves to a period a century back, and fancy the scene which would present itself to our eyes upon this very spot, if they were suddenly to open upon it.
The wilderness is around us, undisturbed by the hand of man. The Aborigines are the sole possessors of the region. No foot of white man has ever intruded upon the soil which is their birth-right. Here, near the shores of the loyely Kanadesaga, (beautiful water,) with their usual appreciation of all that is charming in nature, they have built one of their castles, and established one of their villages. Here is the gathering round the council fire, and for the yearly festival, and here the smoke of the of the offering ascends to the Great Spirit, whom they "ignorantly worship."
Darting from the shore in his light birch-bark canoe, the red man paddles across the lake, or rests silently upon its surface, while he draws from their homes below, the finny inhabitants of thc deep clear water. Down these very banks comes the wild deer, to slake his thirst at the margin of the lake, while the stealthy hunter watches his prey, as he
HISTORY OF SENECA COUNTY, NEW YORK.
Population increasing, Seneca contributed a portion of her area to the formation of Tompkins on April 17, 1817, and on April 11, 1820, gave up Wolcott and Galen towards the organization of Wayne County, and thus reduced her territory to 197,500 acres. In the year 1809, Elisha Williams, Esq., of Hudson, New York, bought of John McKinstey the six-hundred-acre lot on which that part of Waterloo north of Seneca Lake outlet stands. The price paid was $2000. In 1816. he built, through his agent, Reuben Swift, the Waterloo Mills, two saw-mills and several houses, and originated an extensive business. The formation of Tompkins County, in 1817, made Waterloo about the centre of Seneca, and Mr. Williams successfully used his influence in removing the County courts from Ovid to Waterloo, which thus became the shire town. A spur was given to improvement; Swift. Daniel Moshier. Colonel Chamberlain, Quartus Knight, and others, immediately set about the erection of large, fine taverns, and the County began the erection of a new court-house and clerk's office upon the public square donated by Squire Williams. This movement proved a check to Ovid, and raised sectional feeling. When Wayne was formed, in 1823, Waterloo was near one end of the County; hence it was found desirable to divide the County into two half-shires, and hold the courts alternately at the court-houses of Ovid and Waterloo. Fayette and the towns north constitute the northern jury district, and Varick and those towns south of it the southern. The court house at Waterloo was finished, and the first courts held, in 1818. At these courts, John McLean, Jr., officiated as Judge, and Lemuel W. Ruggles as District Attorney, these men being nominated to their position by Governor DeWitt. Clinton, and confirmed therein by the Council of Appointment. The courts at that day were conspicuous affairs. Crowds of lawyers and clients came from far and near, and sessions continued from one to three weeks. In early days a path to the court-house ran diagonally across the square. This path was often filled with water, and bush and brake grew rank on either side in wild profusion, and hence gave origin to the soubriquet. "The Swamps of Waterloo." The legal talent of that day was splendid, and. with due respect to present members of tho bar, has never been excelled. Among the prominent lawyers were John Maynard, William Thompson, Ansell Gibbs, and Alvah Gregory, of Ovid; Jesse Clark, Samuel Birdsall. and John Knox, of Waterloo; and Garry V. Sackett and Luther F. Stevens, of Seneca Falls.
Contemporary with the courts, and an essential to the enforcement of their decrees, was the press. An early newspaper, remembered by old settlers to have circulated in Seneca, was the Geneva Gazette, published by James Bagert, as The Expositor, from 1806 to 1809. and for many years later known as the Geneva Gazette. It was not until 1815 that the pioneer newspaper of Seneca County was published at Ovid, under the name of The Seneca Patriot. The proprietor changed the name, in 1816, to The Ovid Gazette, and following the removal of the county seat to Waterloo, in 1817, continued it there as the Waterloo Gazette. George Lewis, the editor and proprietor, from financial troubles, sold out to Hiram Leavenworth, in October, 1817. James McLean, Jr., for a brief time assisted Leavenworth, who then continued on alone for several years. Political feelings ran high, and offended parties, entering the printing-office by night, took the entire establishment, press, type, and all, and threw them into the Seneca River, so demonstrating the power behind the throne.
But two public executions have ever occurred within the present organization of Seneca, and these the punishment of murder. In 1810-12, a man named Andrews killed an assistant in a distillery, and was hung at Ovid. Years after wards, the stumps of the gallows were pointed out in a vacant lot, as some spectator recounted the details of the sickening scene. On May 28, 1828, one George Chapinan expiated the crime of shedding blood, by being hung, at Waterloo. The killing was without palliation, and a negro was the unfortunate victim. The names of those engaged upon this, the last trial resulting in public execution in Seneca County, are as follows: Circuit Judge. Danief Mosely; First Judge, Luther Stevens; Junior Judge, James Seely; Counsel for the people, Jesse Clark, District Attorney, assisted by Messrs. Thompson, Whiting, and Park
HISTORY OF SENECA COUNTY, NEW YORK. 33
Prisoner's counsel, Messrs. Hulbert, Mott, Stryker, and Knox. Seventeen witnesses were examined, and the case finally submitted to the following-named jurors: John Norris, Aury Marsh, Abial Cook, John White, Tyler Smith, Israel B. Haines, Benjamin Cuddeback, Robert Livingston, Garvin Stevenson, Peter Whitmer, George Bachman, and Jacob Sell. The gallows was erected on the "Island," and when the doomed man met his fate a body of troops surrounded the scaffold; boats upon the water and buildings far around were crowded by curious spectators, whose memories will never efface the scene. Conforming to a belief that such exhibitions demoralize, the criminals of modern days perish ignominiously in the seclusion of the jail-yard, in presence of officials only, and time will be when the details will not be in print.
Towns are subdivisions of counties, and territorial. A city or village is specially incorporated, restricted to a small area, and vested with certain immunities and privileges, and civil. This distinction explains the use of town for township. An area is, civilly, a town; the tract comprised, a township. When Seneca was organized, in 1804, it was comprised within the limits of four towns, Ovid, Romulus, Fayette, and Junius. Since 1830, the number has been ten, derived as follows: Ovid and Romulus were formed March 5, 1794. Washington was formed from Romulus in March, 1800, and the name changed to Fayette on April 6, 1808. Junius was taken from Washington, February 12, 1803. Walcott, now in Wayne County, was formed from Junius, in 1807, and Galen (Wayne County) from the same town, in 1812. Hector (Schuyler County) was taken off Ovid in 1802, and Covert, April 7, 1817. Lodi was taken from Covert, January 27, 1826; Tyre, Seneca Falls, and Waterloo from Junius March 26, 1829, and Varick from Romulus, in 1830. A striking dissimilarity between the United States and other countries is the absence of beggars from the streets and highways. Ample provision is made in each county for the support of its unfortunate, infirm, and indigent. No reference is made to that horde of wandering men, known as "tramps," who infest the whole land, and live by importunity upon the benefactions of the generous. Overseers of the Poor were chosen in 1794, at the first town meeting held in the County, and a liberal allowance furnished. But it was not till March 17, 1830, that the superintendents of the County poor bought for $2720 one hundred and one acres of land for a poor farm. This land included the place then recently occupied by widow Silvers. On the premises were a two-story house, twenty-six by forty-two feet, a framed barn forty by fifty feet, an orchard of apple- and peach-trees, and two stone-quarries. Zephaniah Lewis, of Seneca Falls, was appointed the first keeper. The farm, in 1866, contained one hundred and twenty-six and a half acres; it is located on the town line, between Seneca Falls and Fayette, four miles southeast of Waterloo. The buildings are ample, and the management creditable to all concerned. On December 1, 1866, there were 63 inmates: males 34, females 29. Of these, 14 were foreigners, 11 lunatics, and 4 idiots. Of those relieved during the year 1866, 959 were foreigners, 24 lunatics, and 19 idiots. From a total of 1663 persons relieved or supported, 704 were natives of the United States, and 719 of Ireland. 450 trace the cause of pauperism to intemperance, and 350 were left indigent and destitute. On November 1, 1875, it was reported by Robt. L. Stevenson, William Parrish, and Peter S. Van Lew, Superintendents of the Poor, as follows: Paupers in Poor-House last report, 45; received during year, 207. Total 252. Died, 7; discharged, 207; remaining, 38. Of these, 3 are idiots, 2 lunatics, the rest common paupers. Born in the United States, 28; foreign-born, 10. In the Orphan Asylum, at Syracuse, 9 children are chargeable to Seneca County. There are in the Willard Asylum for the Insane, at Ovid, 30 insane paupers; of these, 9 are chargeable to the County. The sum of $4500 was asked for supplies for the present year (1876), and the expenses of the year past was $5740.66. The product of the farm, for 1875, was nearly 2500 bushels of produce, 35 tons hay, and 450 pounds butter. The farm is well supplied with stock and tools, and has a value of about $25,000.
The farms of Seneca were allotted, the gift of the State, to her veteran soldiery. Remembering their struggles in arms, and settled upon lands whose deeds recalled appreciation of services, it was from the old Revolutionary fathers that the Anniversary of American Independence received its most hearty honors. A week before the 4th of July, 1817, verbal notice was given at Ovid, and a committee of arrangements chosen to duly celebrate the day. By ten o'clock in the morning a large concourse of people had assembled in the village. At half-past eleven a procession was formed in front of the hotel, under the direction of Captain John Reynolds, marshal of the day, and marched to the grove east of the court-house, attended by military music. The ceremonies began by an able prayer, by Rev. Stephen Porter. The Declaration was read by Rev. Moses Young, in good style. A. Gibbs, Esq., orator of the day, delivered an oration well adapted to the occasion. Another prayer by Rev. Mr. Young; then vocal music and refreshments were in order. Dinner was served on the court-house square. Patriotic toasts were read by the President, Silas Halsey, Esq. An elegant brass six-pounder cannon, a trophy acquired by the capitulation at Yorktown, responded in thunder-tones, under command of Captain Ira Clarke, and as night gathered its shades each went home, well satisfied. The toast, in those convivial times, was the main feature of any public meeting for honors or rejoicing. On the occasion of the visit to Waterloo of Governor De Witt Clinton, accompanied by Commodore Bainbridge, Lieutenant-Governor Philips, of Massachusetts, and the Russian Admiral, Tate, a public dinner was held at the house of James Irving. General I. Maltby and Colonel S. Birdsall presided at the table, and thirteen toasts were given and acknowledged. The last, Governor Clinton having retired, was couched in these words: "De Witt Clinton The projector of the Great Western Canal, the faithful guardian of the people's rights, the undeviating patriot and incorruptible statesman." Six hearty cheers greeted this sentiment by the friend of the Canal Governor.
Preliminary to those immense industries which give a name and fame to Seneca, were the humble manufactures of her early mechanics. At the village of Scauyes, about 1796, Matthias Strayer, a wheelwright, manufactured large spinning-wheels for wool and tow, and small mills for flax. Two years prior to this, Martin Kendig, Jr., in the same place, had set up a shop for making tinware, sheet-iron, stove-pipes, and the moulding of pewter spoons, less serviceable than silver, but an improvement upon horn and wood. In 1804, Paul Goltry, in a log house, the first in present Lodi, manufactured looms, fanning-mills, and other articles. He jealously guarded the secret of weaving "riddles" for his mills, and his work shop was forbidden to his own family. The mills had no castings, and would be a curiositv now. One Cooper was a maker of spinning-wheels in the same locality, and did a thriving business. The founder of a colony has use for most, save silversmiths and gentlemen, of trades and professions. The cultivation of the voice was regarded as needful, and the associations of the singing-school were pleasant. One of the early teachers of vocal culture was Daniel Clark, of Ovid. During the year 1808, he got up six schools, and held them at most accessible points: one at the log house of James Cover, and another at Smith's tavern, near Lodi. The books in use were Smith & Little's collection. The terms were fifty cents per scholar for thirteen nights. The close of terms was marked by a good "sing" at the court-house, where an audience could be accommodated. Nor was
34 HISTORY OF SENECA COUNTY, NEW YORK.
the art of dancing neglected or destitute of advocates. An early number of the Waterloo Gazette gives notice of a dancing-school held by one Robinson at the house of Thayer. The rude mills of Bear and Halsey were speedily supplanted by others larger, more durable, and efficient. Mr. Bear, at Seauyes, employed the Yosts to prepare an ample frame. Post, girth, sill, and plate were worked and ready to be framed, when it was found the physical strength of the community was insufficient to raise the new building, and the proprietor was at a loss for help. Word was sent to Geneva, and the officiating minister gave notice to his congregation) at the close of the Sunday exercises of the facts in the case, and suggested that all should lend their aid at once and raise the building. The proposition was favorably received; boats were manned, the mill-frame put up, and the settlers quietly returned home, well satisfied with their having assisted a neighbor in a laudable enterprise, upon a day assigned to rest. The mill at Seauyes froze in winter, and, thawing in summer, when possible kept steadily at work. Too small to store the gathering grists, these were duly labled, placed upon stumps about the mill, and attended to in due time. If the settlers waited for their grinding, the shop of Mrs. Phoebe Smith offered refreshments of cake and beer, unless providentially a lunch was brought along.
Deacon Isaac Rosa, wife, and seven children came in 1817 to Waterloo. Old, he was yet active and enterprising. Having superintended the building of the mills, he was employed to run them. The door in the front of the mill was in two parts. The pigs, attracted by feed, would crowd into the front door, which the deacon would close; then opening a back door, some fifteen feet above the water, he ran them out, and they shot, much surprised, into the water below. Deacon Rosa was employed to put up the frame of the old Presbyterian meeting-house. Messrs. Fairchild, Bacon, and Malthy went to see the frame, and found the plates on and supports placed in the basement for the heavy beams. The roof-timbers were being hauled up with a ginpole and tackle by a score of men, and the studs beneath bent with the pressure. Suddenly, with a crash, the whole frame fell, and seven or eight men lay under and among the ruins. Lorin Wills, a young, recently-married mechanic, was crushed and bruised, and soon died. Deacon Rosa was badly hurt and rendered a cripple for life. Mr. King, a carpenter from an adjoining county, was so injured that amputation of a leg was necessary. Orrin R. Fanisworth got off with a fractured skull, was trepanned, and lived several years. William H. Stewart was severely hurt, but finally recovered, badly crippled. Adon Cobleigh fell uninjured, and Captain Jehiel Parsons caught on the plate and escaped a fall. This misfortune was the event of the time, and can never be forgotten by witnesses. In the summer of 1821, the people of the county seat and vicinity were duly notified that on a certain day a whale, twenty-two feet long, would be on exhibition at the Eagle Tavern. The time arrived and so did the whale. An old resident, who could not be mistaken, describes the object as "a well-preserved real whale, braced internally with wooden ribs, thoroughly dried, and shaped up so as to show the size and form as near as could be of the real fish." It was seen during the day by various parties. Some took the wagon into the street to dump the whale into the canal to see if it could swim, but it was hauled back and locked in the barn. About three A. M., a bright light shone out and aroused the citizens, who hastened out and found the whale on fire and nearly consumed in the middle of the street, just north of the Eagle barn. The hostler, a Frenchman, ran to the showman's room and called out, "Mr. Parsons! Mr. Parsons! Your codfish be all on fire!" Mr. Parsons arrived in time to cut off a tail-piece, about four feet in length.
About the year 1820, Seneca Falls and Fayette were visited by an odd-looking boy, clad in tow frock and trowsers, and barefooted. He hailed from Palmyra, Wayne County, and made a living by seeking hidden springs. This boy was Joseph Smith, the founder of Mormonism. On September 23, 1823, an angel appeared to Smith at Manchester, Ontario County, and told him that in the hill 'Cumorah' lay buried golden plates on which was engraved the history of the mound-builders, full and complete. The plates were duly unearthed and the translation commenced. Three men believed the new doctrine, Martin Harris, a well-to-do farmer, David Whitmore [sic], and Oliver Cowdry [sic], whose pen gave the prophet great assistance. Harris mortgaged his farm for money to print the 'Book of Mormon,' went to Ohio, lost all, and came back a poorer and wiser man. Mrs. Harris consigned a hundred or more pages of manuscript to the fire, delayed the work; and finding her husband infatuated, left him. Converts embracing the new faith, the first Mormon conference was held June 1, 1830, in the town of Fayette, Seneca County. W. W. Phelps published an anti-Masonic paper in Canandaigua, and Brigham Young is reported to have been a teacher and a religious exhorter in the same place.
Few but are familiar with the heroism of the young Marquis La Fayette. Enjoying wealth, rank, and influence, he nevertheless left all these, and, coming to America, found in Washington a bosom friend. Intrusted with a command, he lavished his fortune upon their equipment, and aided us through the Revolution to its successful termination. Years passed. America developed grandly. Broad domains were peopled and cities by scores sprang into being. La Fayette was invited, in 1825, to visit this people, and when the old man came the enthusiasm was unbounded. His progress from point to point was a continuous ovation; bonfires blazed from the hill-tops, cannon thundered his coming, and deputations from one town escorted him to the next. From Geneva he came to Waterloo and Seneca Falls, and went thence to Auburn. Old soldiers flocked to meet him, and were received with the greatest kindness. Many persons on horseback and in carriages escorted him from Geneva, and when he had taken his position on the chamber stairs in the hall of the Waterloo Hotel, now Bunton's yeast factory, the multitude of men and women thronged in to shake his hand. Fatigued he certainly was, and this penance to a foolish custom marred the pleasure of an otherwise triumphal and happy tour of the country. The festivity of the occasion was interrupted by an accident and loss of life. An old swivel gun, which had been many voyages to Africa on the brig Pegasus, a Newport slaver, was being used to fire the salute. Not content with an ordinary load, a double charge of powder was put in and a mass of flax rammed in upon it, the charge being still further compressed by driving upon the rammer with an axe. The party were afraid to touch it off. Captain J. P. Parsons chanced to pass along, and, ignorant of the dangerous loading, took the burning match and touched it off. A tremendous report followed; the gun burst. A fragment struck and instantly killed the Captain, but of the throng around no one was hurt. Parsons left a mother and three sisters and a brother who depended on him for support, and when La Fayette learned of' the accident he sent them a thousand dollars.
The celebrated preacher, Lorenzo Dow, preached in Seneca County on several occasions, more notably at a camp-meeting held on the west bank of Cayuga Lake, in October, 1821. A temporary log shelter had been erected to provide against storms; in this rude temple he addressed a large audience, drawn together by the fame of his strange manners and quaint expressions. In appearance, he was small of stature, dark complexion, long hair, and poorly dressed. In the pulpit, he was apt in expression, shrill in voice, and earnest in manner. Familiar with Scripture, blunt in their application, he won favor with the old settlers by his knowledge of their needs and evident sympathy with them. His text on this occasion was the well-known verse, "It is appointed unto man once to die, and after that the judgment."
The tour of Andrew Johnson, in his "swing around the circle," brought him through Seneca Falls and Waterloo. He was accompanied by Generals Grant and Sherman, and Secretary Seward, and spoke briefly to the crowds assembled. Various celebrities have, at times, visited the towns of Seneca; among these was Prince de Joinville, who, in 1843, came near closing his career in a Seneca swamp, owing to the act of a gamin in turning the "old turnaround" switch, east of Seneca Falls village, and sending the engine, "Old Columbus," and all her train, off the track....
Note 1: The 1876 text reveals no source for the assertion of Joseph Smith, Jr. having frequented Seneca County as early as "about the year 1820." This indefinite date was perhaps supplied by an old Waterloo resident by the name of Daniel S. Kendig -- see the information reportedly given by him, regarding the association of Joseph Smith with the prominent Seneca Falls businessman, Colonel Jacob Chamberlain, on page 129 of this history.
Note 2: Another published assertion for the early presence of Joseph Smith, Jr. in the Seneca/Ontario borderlands came from Geneva pioneer Thomas D. Burrall. Mr. Burrall wrote to the Rochester Union & Advertiser in 1867, saying, "I knew him [Smith] well before his book was published. He was then a wood-cutter on my farm, more willing to live by his wits than his axe, and worked through the winter in company with some twenty or thirty others, rough backwoodsmen." Charles F. Milliken, in his 1911 History of Ontario County, p. 358, mentions that Burrall occupied his Geneva farm "from 1814 to 1856;" and that "During the ownership of Mr. Burrall, Joseph Smith ('Joe Smith') was for a while a foreman, but in the end being ignominiously discharged as an arrant rogue and a conscienceless swindler, the future prophet vindicated himself by discovering the 'Golden Plates of Mormon' and becoming the founder of a new religion." Milliken evidently obtained his information from the pages of old Geneva newspapers, but he provided no date for Smith's supposed employment. Those old newspaper reports allow for a period running from 1814 to about 1827. For example, the Geneva Advertiser of Mar. 23, 1886 stated: "Among those whom [Burrall] employed to cut the timber and pile it into cordwood was Joseph Smith... In his transactions with Mr. Burrall this Jo. Smith was far from honest and square. The work of cutting was paid for by the cord. Joseph followed the man whose duty it was to measure the wood, and removed the marks of measurement, through which means he received double pay for his work." Joel Henry Monroe, on pp. 40-41 of his A Century and a Quarter of History: Geneva From 1787 To 1912, guessed that "Joe Smith from about 1812, was a laborer on the farm in what is now the northern section of Geneva. It was said of him at this time that he was in every way unworthy of confidence." Monroe's unattributed date is an impossibility for a farm laborer known to have been born at the end of 1805.
It may be well to note the civil changes of early days in order, and recall, in official positions, the names of the pioneers. The settlement of Waterloo began when Onondaga was formed from Herkimer, in 1794. Two towns, Ovid and Romulus, embraced the area of Seneca County. In 1799, this region was included in Cayuga, and, in 1800, Washington was formed as a town from Romulus. Junius was formed from Washington, in 1803, and included the lands north of the Seneca River. The first town election was held Tuesday, March 1, 1803, John Parkhurst, clerk pro tem., and result shown by ballot:
Supervisor, Lewis Birdsall; Town Clerk, Gideon Bowdish; Assessors, Asa Moore, Hugh W. Dobbin, and Elisha Pratt; Commissioners of Highways, Jesse Southwick, Jabez Disbrow, and Nathaniel Potter; Overseers of the Poor, Herman Swift and Stephen Hooper; Collector, Sirenus Swift; Constables, Jacob Chamberlain and S. Swift; Pound Master, Samuel Lay; Fence Viewers, S. Lay and Robert Oliver. Among road overseers are Josiah Crane, James Tripp, Henry Brightman, and Benjamin Collins.
Tuesday, March 6, 1804. Meeting held at Stephen Hooper's tavern. Supervisor and Clerk re-elected; Nicholas Squire appears as Assessor; Stephen Crane and Amasa Shearman are new Commissioners of Highways; Simeon Bacon is Collector; Benjamin Stebbins, Constable. Fence Viewers are voted one dollar per day for services, and Oliver Brown, Bradley Disbrow, Henry Parker, Asa Bacon, Thomas Beadle, and William Galt are officials for this service and remuneration.
March 5, 1805. Daniel Sayre is Supervisor; Russell Pratt, Town Clerk; D. Southwick, Assessor; T. Morris, R. Disbrow, J. Hall, J. Maynard, L. Van Alstine, and S. Chapman, Overseers of Highways.
1806. A. Knapp and B. Parkhurst are Constables; and Messrs. Briggs, Livingtone, Young, Southwick, Swift, Barnes, Reynolds, Parker, and Rogers in charge of roads.
The meeting of 1807 was held at Lewis Birdsall's. Jacob L. Lazelere, Town Clerk; David Lum and Asa Smith, Commissioners of Highways. "Voted that no person shall keep a tavern or inn in this town, unless he cause to be made a good and sufficient yard for lodging stock." Voted, in 1808, that the town be divided by the north line of Galen, the new town to be called "Stirling."
Meeting in 1811 at the house of J. Chamberlain. Resolved, that the town be divided at an original survey line, and the north part annexed to Galen. Election held in 1813, at Asa Bacon's, where State school allowance is refused as regards schools, and desired if a fund to educate the poor.
Election was held at Pontius Hooper's, in 1815, and for several years at Jesse Decker's. In 1822, a meeting was held at the court-house; T. F. Stevens, P. A. Barker, J. Burton, and A. A. Baldwin, Justice of the Peace, presiding. Received of County, for schools, $243.80; of Town Collector, $246.25. Total, $490.05. Fifty-seven highway districts in the town. A vote was cast on dividing the town in 1824, and carried in the negative by ten to one.
ORGANIZATION OF WATERLOO.
HISTORY OF SENECA COUNTY, NEW YORK.
In or about 1800, a man named Asa Bacon was the owner and occupant of Lot 81. During the epidemic of tavern-keeping, he erected and conducted a house of entertainment for some years. Finally, dividing the lot, which is regarded as one of the best in the town, among his children, he returned to the Shakers at Lebanon, whence he had come. The old tavern has been transformed into a neat residence, and few would suspect the stout bench-hewed studding, covered by modern weatherboarding, to have held together a half-century, and, still firm as metal, form the basis of J. C. Halstead's pleasant home. The lot is in part owned to-day by the grandchildren of the old settler, W. F. and B. Bacon, the former being a resident.
The first settler in the town of Waterloo was John Greene, who came here in 1789, from Rhode Island, and located at the cross-roads of Lot 80. Greene had right in one hundred and fifty acres, upon which he built a log hut, and gave his time to hunting, trapping, and traffic with the Indians, who are said to have feared him, principally on account of his unusual strength. The advent of settlers destroyed the interest of Greene in this locality, and, selling out to Walter Wood, he moved again to the woods beyond. Wood sold to John Tripp about 1800. The latter put up a frame tavern in 1803, and an addition to it afterwards. The building was burned some twenty years ago, while owned by Samuel Lundy, who had indirectly purchased. of Tripp. The farm was sold to David Devoll, and by him disposed of to A. McIntyre. Gideon Bowdish came upon the lot at a very early period, and, buying eighty acres on the northwest, made a temporary home of logs. The farm has descended by entailment at death from Gideon to William, his son, and from the son to his children. John Fowler, a maker of spinning-wheels during leisure hours, was owner and dweller upon a of one hundred and fifteen acres of the northeast corner in the year 1805. His stay was transient and he sold out to John Lane, a New Jersey carpenter, well qualified for his business; his services were in demand, and he is recalled as the leading mechanic of the locality. At his demise, the heirs sold to William Shotwell, and the successive owners have been Josiah E. Holbrook and S. S. Maynard, the present possessor. Joseph Bigelow had one hundred acres on the south part, and moved upon them with his family in 1805. Sale was made to Benjamin Howland, who in turn sold to William Webster, from New Jersey. Abram Vail became its next owner, and his son-in-law, O. S. Maynard, is now occupant.
When Henry Bonnell, of New Jersey, in 1803, came out to Seneca County bringing his family in a wagon, he settled on fifty-five acres of the north part of Lot 79. Before be could put up the customary log house, the trees had to be cut away from the site, but these and like difficulties gave way before his persistent efforts. Twelve years he tilled the fields in summer and continued his improvements in winter, while a family grew up about him. At the close of the war of 1812, he yielded to the impulse to sell, which has been to the advantage of some and the injury of many, and, receiving his price from Richard Dell, moved north to Wayne County. Dell continued in possession until 1834, when he gave way to Charles Bonnell, whose son is the present owner. Not with long, pointed tube, driven by successive blows deep into the earth, and having attached the justly celebrated pumps like those turned out by thousands from the works at Seneca Falls, but by an ever-deepening cylindrical hole, from which the earth, clay, and gravel came up slowly by the windlass, till a subterranean vein was reached, stone walled, with sweep and oaken bucket, was the early settler supplied with water. The well-digger's occupation is gone, but William Hyatt, who came September 1, 1800, with the Tripps from Washington County and dug the wells through the neighborhood, did an essential service to the settlers, and is remembered as having lived on a farm of fifty acres of the lot, which he found time to clear and make productive. Hyatt was stout and industrious, and maintained himself upon his possession until 1810, when he went West to Ohio, having made a sale to a blacksmith named Daniel Mills, who ran a shop in connection with the farm. William Bowdish bought the field and deeded it to Phoebe B. Dean, his daughter, and it is now the land of William R. Bonnell. Benjamin Ball, of New Jersey, moved with a family upon the centre of the lot, and claimed a tract of sixty-five acres. He was an adept at nail-making, which business, pursued at intervals in the East, furnished means to help clear up his land and surround himself with comforts. His trouble seems to have been the prevalence of bears, which lost no opportunity to carry off a hog; yet Ball was able to reimburse himself with the scarcely inferior meat of bruin's self, whose shaggy coat made warm coverings. Hugh Jackson came very early, and located upon eighty-five acres in the southeast of the lot; having sold to Philetus Swift, he in turn transferred to Benjamin Hartwell, and then, from various ownership, the tract has passed to become the property of Henry Bonnell.
Lot 78 lies on the west, and joins upon Ontario. Samuel Canfield, an early school-master, settled on the west line upon fifty acres, and was the first upon the lot, which lay unoccupied till 1828. A log house yet standing stood opposite Canfield's place. In it lived Charles Doty, who was the owner of a tract, which has been known in consequence as Doty's Marsh. The lot has a number of occupants, principally of more recent date.
Lot 89 was first settled in 1804, by an Irishman named Martin, who moved upon the east side with his family, and erected a habitation. Martin moved away within a few years. Hugh W. Dobbin, a colonel during the second war with Great Britain and a gallant and meritorious officer, acquired the whole lot some time in 1825, and his sons, Lodowick and William, took up a residence upon it. A part of the tract still remains with the descendants. Lot 90 was settled about 1802, by James Dobbin, from Long Island. He owned one hundred acres in the western part, and built a tavern, which is in use as the residence of E. Stone, and he afterward became a well-known merchant of Rochester. Six years after the location of Dobbin on the lot, Septimus Evans settled a little to the east of him, and was known as a person of considerable property. Joseph Scott bought a part of Evans's land, and lived upon it many years ago. Two roads, two railroads, and a canal traverse the lot. H. W. Dobbin is regarded as the first settler upon Lot 92. His farm embraced one hundred and thirty acres in the central portion.There he erected a frame house, and opened a tavern which he kept for many years, and became known as a social and military man and an excellent landlord, far and wide; We have said that he distinguished himself in the engagements fought on Canadian territory, and, returning to Seneca, he resumed his vocation of keeping a public house. Finally removing to Geneva, in 1840, he there resided till his death, which transpired at the age of eighty-six. S. S. Mallory now owns the former Dobbin farm. The east side of the lot was taken up by Governor Tompkins. About 1818, John Cowdry moved upon it with a family, and erected a frame dwelling. He had acquired the rank of colonel in the war of
HISTORY OF SENECA COUNTY, NEW YORK.
Note 1: John Cowdery (1757-1835) was a third cousin to Oliver Cowdery's father. It is unlikely that John arrived in Waterloo (then Junius) township as early as "about 1818." His name does not appear in the 1820 federal census tabulation for the region which later became known as Waterloo.
Note 2: Oliver Cowdery's possible interaction with his cousin John remains undetermined. Oliver was presumably living in the nearby Arcadia-Lyons area (in now Wayne County) by late 1827. At least a letter was sent to him via the Newark post office, prior to Oct. 1, 1827 and he signed a promissory note for Lyons grocer David Adams on Aug. 11, 1828. One old-timer from Fayette township places Oliver at the Yost school, near John Cowdery's residence, during the second half of the 1820s. It is reasonable to assume that Oliver knew of his cousin's presence in Waterloo, and that the two men may have interacted there.
[ 120a ]
JACOB P. CHAMBERLAIN
Frequent allusions in mercantile and political history demonstrate the public activity and useful services of Jacob P. Chamberlain in all that regards the best interests of the villages ofSeneca Falls and Waterloo, and of Seneca County and the Stateat large. His native State is Massachusetts, where, in Worcester County in 1802, began his long and unblemished career. He is of English descent, and his ancestors were among the first settlers of the Bay State. His father, John Chamberlain, was also a native of Massachusetts; and, by authority of the State, was one of the first surveyors that entered the State of Maine to lay out her territorial boundaries. Mr. Chamberlain removed with his parents to Cortland Village, in the State of New York, in the year 1807, and, in about the year 1809, to Waterloo, Seneca County. Both parents died in the year 1818. -- Mr. C. was brought up on a farm, securing a common English and academical education which he early made practical by several years of service as a teacher in the town of Varick. Engaging in farming, and desirous of enlarging his field of labor, he sold in Varick, and purchased in the town of Seneca Falls the property known as the Dimmick Farm, lying immediately west of the large landed estate of his old and trusted friend, the late Gary V. Sackett.
His interest in agriculture has always been of an earnest and lively character, continuing, during all his life experience, unabated, and in which he still has invested much of his resources. In 1843, Mr. C. removed to the village of Seneca Falls, having become the owner of the milling property known as the "Lower Mill," and, in 1854, of what was called the "Dey Mill." He did a large and extensive milling business, and continued in it until within a few years. Public spirited and ever ready to aid all enterprises looking to the welfare and growth of Seneca Falls, he early became interested in the manufacture of woolen goods, and, in 1855, prominently assisted in the organization of the Phoenix Company, of Seneca Falls, of which he became president, and so continued until 1864, making the business extended and prosperous and adding greatly to the fast-growing reputation of his place as an advantageous manufacturing point. More recently he gave largely both of means and time towards the erection of the new Methodist Episcopal Church edifice, whose construction he personally superintended, and of whose society he is a worthy and estimable member. In political conviction, Mr. C. was originally a Whig, but on the organization of the "Republican party he was one of the most forward to embark in the new movement, taking a deep interest and an active part in all matters affecting our State and national politics. In 1859, he represented the county of Seneca in the State Legislature as member of Assembly, and in the Thirty-seventh Congress was representative of this district, then embracing the counties of Seneca, Ontario, and Yates.
Mr. C. was married in 1823 to Miss Catharine Kuney, and has a large and reputable family, whose members are mostly residents of this place. Jacob P. Chamberlain is one of those men, not uncommon to our American life, who pursue their course in a quiet, unostentatious manner, doing thoroughly and earnestly whatever they once undertake. He is well, favorably, and extensively known as a high-minded, houorable, and intelligent man, and his unvarying success in his various projects is attributed not only to his large business capacities, but to that earnest, thoughtful, and persistent will-power constantly employed in every duty. Not unmindful of the approach of age and infirmity, he has constructed a spacious, comfortable, and beautiful home, where, now retired from business cares, memory reverts to the stirring and eventful past, wherein a worthy part was borne and no responsibility shirked; and hope glorifies the future with promise of enduring reward in the higher and after life. In the manifold character borne in a life's gradation, we find a conscientious and faithful teacher, a fair, upright farmer, advancing steadily in his laborious calling and in the estimation of his fellow-men, a scrupulous and methodical miller, an enterprising and judicious manufacturer, a benevolentand philanthropic churchman, and a patriotic and consistent politician his highest enjoyment and purest gratification arising from the laudable desire to produce the greatest general good from individual resources. He has been the benefactor of his village, his county, and his State.
Note 1: On page 129 of this same book, the historian says, "Joseph Smith, the Mormon prophet... worked as a day-laborer for old Colonel Jacob Chamberlain, and occasionally for others, when not engaged with his mineral rods digging for gold in various places." Unfortunately the date of Smith's presumed employment with Mr. Chamberlain was not provided. Kurt Elieson, in his 2011 book, Historical Context of the Doctrine & Covenants, speculates that Smith's hired hand work began in October of 1830: "'...finally, he sent to [Harmony,] Pennsylvania for his goods and settled himself in Waterloo.' While at Waterloo Joseph Smith 'worked as a day laborer for old Jacob Chamberlain and occasionally for others.' Joseph & Emma previously left Harmony in about late September and stayed a short time with Whitmers at Fayette, but they now settle at Waterloo." There is something wrong with that generalization -- throughout October and November of 1830, Joseph Smith, Jr. must have been at the Whitmers' in Fayette, and not north of the Seneca River in adjacent Waterloo. During the first week in December he was at his parents' temporary residence in Seneca Falls (more properly, "The Kingdom" settlement in west Seneca Falls). At no time does Smith's history place him for any substantial length of time in Waterloo. He may indeed have received some support from Jacob P. Chamberlain (who lived at "The Kingdom) during the fall of 1830 -- but not for "day laborer" work in Waterloo.
Note 2: Since Joseph Smith, Jr. was likely busily engaged in preaching, "translation," and other church work during the last weeks of 1830, he would have had precious little time to spare doing manual labor. His employment of that sort (whether with Chamberlain or "others") must have occurred at an earlier date -- during the timespan when he was "engaged with his mineral rods digging for gold in various places." And it is to these earlier times that historian D. Michael Quinn relegates Smith's association with Jacob P. Chamberlain. In the second edition of his Early Mormonism and the Magic World View, Quinn favors the "about the year 1820" period reported by the History of Seneca County writer on page 34. Quinn attributes this bit of historical information to the same Daniel S. Kendig mentioned on page 129 -- but there is nothing in the 1876 text to support the conclusion that either Mr. Kendig or Mr. Chamberlain supplied any such "1820" information. Quinn goes on to bolster his "about the year 1820" speculating with a report of a letter "remaining at the Junius Post-Office" in April 1819, addressed to "Joseph Smith." However, at the beginning of 1819 Joseph Smith, Jr. would have been barely thirteen years old -- an unlikely age for a boy to be receiving letters away from home. Perhaps the letter addressee mentioned in the 1819 notice could have been Joseph Smith, Sr., but even that fact (?) would not place the younger Smith in Seneca County as early as 1819-20.
Note 3: On page 51 of Early Mormonism and the Magic World View, Quinn goes on to say: "Born in 1776 [sic], Jacob Chamberlain was one of young Smith's early converts at Junius/Waterloo. This was far closer to the Smith farm than the Susquehanna River border. Junius Township was adjacent to Phelps, which was only nine miles east from Manchester." And on pp. 58-59, Quinn adds: "When the Smith family began treasure-seeking in 1819 they were poor and lacked outside financing... In the Smith family's immediate neighborhood, most of the funding for the treasure-quest came from one man... a Mr. Fish... There were different benefactors in other locations... first Oliver Harper and later Josiah Stowell provided the funding... Jacob Chamberlain apparently financed Smith's treasure-quest in the area of Junius/Waterloo. In 1831 Palmyra residents referred to Chamberlain's former financial aid to Joseph in Waterloo and they expressed hope that it had ended." See also the reference to a "Col. C." of Waterloo breaking away from Mormon influence at about this same time, in the 1867 letter of Thomas D. Burrall, a prosperous Geneva resident of that period.
Note 4: There is yet another possibility -- that Joseph Smith, Jr. met Jacob P. Chamberlain as early as 1821-22 or 1823, at a time when members of the Smith family were hiring out as "water witches." One of Chamberlain's sons reported in 1903 that Seneca Falls' "The Kingdom was also the early home... where Joseph Smith, the founder of Mormonism, lived for a while in the fall of 1823." An 1904 preface to the same Chamberlain son's recollections, asserted that "Joseph Smith, the founder of Mormonism... located at Kingdom, a mile west of Seneca Falls, about 1821 or '22 as a general hand for any kind of work: but engaged chiefly in finding water with a switch carried in the hand." As with the 1876 account of Smith's presence in Seneca County in "about the year 1820," the 1904 re-dating to "about 1821 or '22" comes from an anonymous source. It is very likely that Joseph Smith, Jr. (and perhaps also his father) did encounter Jacob P. Chamberlain and work for him in the vicinity of "The Kingdom" during the 1820s. The exact circumstances and date may never be known. By early 1831 Chamberlain had severed his connection with the Smith family, however (see notes appended to Lucy Mack Smith's Jan. 6, 1831 letter.
The territory embraced within the boundaries of this County, and more particularly the town of Fayette, formed a part of the celebrated "hunting-grounds" of the Iroquois Indians. Here the circling smoke arose from many an Indian village, and the wilderness was dotted with wigwams. The hunter bounded through the forest after the deer and moose; beavers, otters, and martens were in abundance; the salmon smoked at every camp-fire; the waters of the lakes were parted by the birchen canoe, and the dripping oar of the Seneca glistened in the sunlight. Here was the Indian in all his glory. This was the Indian Eden, and, as far as his unsophisticated vision extended, destined to remain. The unfortunate allegiance of the Six Nations to the British crown soon brought this sweet dream to a close. The butcheries of Cherry Valley and Wyoming called down upon the heads of the red brothers the wrath of Washington, and the result was that terrible blow of Sullivan, when he swept the Indian country, as it were, with a besom of destruction. This town is identified with that invasion. When the stern Indian-hunter returned from the Genesee flats, retracing his line of march strewn everywhere with desolation and ruin, he encamped on "Oakland Farm," and from this point dispatched Colonel Zebulon Butler, with five hundred riflemen, to visit the east shore of Cayuga Lake and inflict the same punishment upon the Cayugas that he had so severely dealt to the Senecas.
It is claimed by some, and we think justly, that Red Jacket, the celebrated Seneca orator and chieftain, was born in this town. Seven cities contend for the birthplace of the poet Homer, and nearly as many places have laid claim to the nativity of Red Jacket. The writer feels justified in placing upon the imperishable pages that he first saw the light of day near Cayuga Lake, on the banks of Canoga Creek, in about the year 1759. He died near Bufialo, New York, January 20, 1830. His Indian name was Sagoyewatha or Suguwatha, signifying "the keeper awake." His English name -- Red Jacket -- was due to a richly-embroidered scarlet jacket given him by the British during the Revolution. He was exalted above his tribe as an orator, and boasted that he was "born an orator." He strenuously resisted the advances of civilization, but gradually gave way to the onward march of the pale-face, and ended his eventful career as a confirmed drunkard. He was not a warrior in the true sense of that term, and was not possessed of those savage elements -- to his honor be it said -- that characterized Brandt. He was mightiest at the council-fire, and wielded the greatest influence at the treaty.
THE MORMON PROPHET -- FIRST BAPTISM.Joseph Smith, the Mormon prophet, was at one time a resident of this town. Hon. D. S. Kendig, who furnished the writer this information, remembers him very well. He worked as a day-laborer for old Colonel Jacob Chamberlain, and occasionally for others, when not engaged with his mineral rods digging for gold in various places. He was invariable disappointed, though often times striking with his crowbar an iron chest, supposed to contain the desired gold, when by some mysterious agency it would vanish to some other place. On one occasion, he happened to strike the 'Golden Bible,' as he averted, near Palmyra, Wayne County. This Bible he brought to the house of an honest old Dutch farmer, named Whitmer, living in Fayette, about three miles south of Waterloo, and there translated it, and by the aid of one Cowdry, wrote the Mormon Bible, or a portion of it, which was afterwards printed. This was about the year 1829 or 1830. In 1831 he left Fayette, with numerous converts, among whom were the whole Whitmer family and William Jolly. With them also went a family from Junius, named Bennett, and many others. They first stopped at Kirtland, Ohio, and subsequently located at Nauvoo, Illinois. The manner of translating the 'Golden Bible' was a novel one. "Joe" Smith would look into a hat and read, and Cowdry would write down as the mysterious characters on the plates were revealed to his understanding. The first baptism in the Mormon faith was made in this town, by immersion in a small brook, called Thomas Creek.
THE  FIRST SETTLEMENT.The first settlement in Fayette was undoubtedly made by a pioneer named James Bennett, from Pennsylvania, who located on the shore of Cayuga Lake in the year 1789.
Captain Ward, an ofiicer in the war of the Revolution, was an early settler on Lot 25, in the northeast comer part of the town. A man named Oves was an early settler on Lot 26, and was somewhat celebrated as a pioneer tailor; but, unlike those of to-day, who form suits from the various kinds of costly material, he had only one known to him, and that was deer-skin. Mr. John Williams, now residing a short distance south of the village of Canoga, relates that he well remembers going to this primitive knight of the shears, and having pants cut and made from the above-mentioned material. John Oliver was an early settler on Lot 27, and died thereon a number of years ago, at the advanced age of seventy-three. Michael Vreeland was a pioneer on the Canoga reservation. In an early day in the State of Pennsylvania, Mr. Vreeland and his father were captured by the Indians, and the savage spirit of the red man, not content with the simple custody of their prisoners and the torture they might inflict upou them, concluded to dispatch the elder Vreeland, whereupon he was massacred, cut in pieces, and roasted, and the son compelled to partake of the flesh of the father. David Blackney was also an early settler in the Canoga reservation. He met a melancholy fate by burning to death in an attempt to rescue his little child, who was asleep in his dwelling when it was burned in about the year 1815; both father and child were consumed in the flames. James Kilpatrick was an early settler on the site of the present village of Canoga. Mr. Conner and Patrick Fowler were early settlers on Lot 40, south of the village, on lands now owned by A. McDuffie and Alanson Hause. The first proprietor of Lot 41 was G. Johnston, and the first settler John Badgley, on premises now owned by George W. Randall and Daniel Disimger. Dr. Hartshorn and Charles Woodruff early located on Lot 46, Israel Howell and John Baker on Lot 52, and Enos Tooker, from Orange County, New York, on Lot 51, on premises now owned by his son J. H. Tooker. A Mr. Bull was also a pioneer on this lot. Mr. Hortan early settled on Lot 57, near the lake, at the point then called Hortonis, and since known as Hause's Point. Jacob Singer was an early settler on Lot 56; Peter Ditmars on Lot 50; Peter Dear, Jr., James Huff, and Arthur Williamson, familiarly known as Uncle "Ort," on Lot 45; Mr. Emerick on Lot 39, and Cook and Noricon on Lot 34. On this lot is the celebrated Canoga Spring. This spring is about ten feet in diameter, and the water rises to the surface with great rapidity, and is clear, tasteless, and inodorous. The bubbles of gas which rise are pure nitrogen. The water from this spring, which forms Canoga Creek, furnishes a supply for turning several mills, and passes into Cayuga Lake. "The amount of gas given off by this spring is incredibly great, as the surface presents the appearance of ebullition, and on stining the bottom with a stick the supply is so much increased that a large test-bottle may be filled in a few seconds. The temperature of thewater in June was 45 degrees, the air at the same time was 82 degrees." Isaac Coyle and Jesse Boardman were early settlers on Lot 33, on premises now owned by Michael Hoster and Michael Hoster, Jr.
Archibald Mellon, from Connecticut, was the pioneer on Lot 38, where, in an early day, was a large rattlesnake den, the terror of the neighborhood for miles around. John Kuney early settled on Lot 44; the Krumps on Lot 49; Peter Dear on Lot 55; Peter Thayer on Lot 54; Adam Hosstetter on Lots 47 and 48; Geo. Stroub and Jacob Reigel on Lot 37; Ludowick Stofflett on Lot 32; Daniel and Henry Reigle on Lot 28; Wm. Lewis and Phineas Butler on Lot 23; Mrs. Packer and a Mr. Martin, Urias Van Clief and Squire Jacob Knox on Lot 22, on premises now owned by L. Frantz and M. L. Allen; Hugh McAllister and a man named Conner on Lot 27; Christian Hoster and Thomas Disbrow on Lot 31. Mr. Hoster came from Northumberland County, Pennsylvania, in 1803, and settled on this lot, where he died, in 1810, at the age of sixty-four years. The
( under construction )
CENTENNIAL HISTORICAL SKETCH
TOWN OF FAYETTE
SENECA COUNTY, NEW YORK
GENEVA, N. Y.
PRESS OF W. F.HUMPHREY.
One of these was established at the Burgh schoolhouse in or about 1819, by the late Deacon Hugh McAlister, which was undoubtedly the earliest Sunday activity conducted in the town.
The chief province of the local historian is to give a statement of facts and events relating to his locality.leaving criticisms thereon, to others.
The Mormon church which has arisen to prominence at the present time, was first organized at the house of Peter Whitmer, a Pennsylvania German farmer (residing upon a farm in the southeast corner of Military Lot No. 13, in Fayette), April 6, 1830.
The founder of this church was Joseph Smith, born at Sharon, Vermont, Dec. 23, 1805, who in 1815 removed to Western New York with his parents. In after years, he made it known, that as early as Sept. 22, 1823, he had discovered certain plates, known as the "Golden plates," buried in a hill, in the Town of Manchester, Ontario County, N.Y., about four miles south of Palmyra, which plates however he did not remove from their place of deposit, until four years afterwards. These plates contained inscriptions in unknown characters, or letters, which soon after he had exhumed them, in Sept. 1827, he began (while living at the home of his wife, in Harmony, Penn.) to translate and transcribe into English, with the aid, as he alleged, of certain mysterious Seer Stones, which he called Urim and Thummim.
In June 1829, Joseph Smith removed from Pennsylvania to the residence of Peter Whitmer, where the work of translation progressed, assisted by Oliver Cowdery and David and John Whitmer (sons of Peter), and the "Book of Mormon," called also the "Mormon Bible," first printed by Egbert B. Grandin at Palmyra, N. Y., was issued in the year 1830.
The organization of April 6, 1830, alluded to, was perfected by Joseph Smith (then known as "the Prophet") and five others, to wit: Oliver Cowdery, David Whitmer, Peter Whitmer, Jr., Hyrum Smith and Samuel H. Smith.
As early as June 1829, David Whitmer and Hyrum Smith were baptized by Joseph Smith by immersion, in Seneca lake, and one (John Whitmer), was baptized there by Oliver Cowdery.
The first public meeting after the organization referred to, was held at the house of Peter Whitmer, April 11, 1830, at which Oliver Cowdery preached. On the same day Hiram Page, Catherine Page, Christian Whitmer, Anna Whitmer, Jacob Whitmer, and Elizabeth Whitmer were baptized, and on April 18, of the same year, Peter Whitmer, Sr., Mary Whitmer, William Jolly, Elizabeth Jolly, Vincent Jolly and Elizabeth Ann Whitmer were baptized.
In June, 1830, nine coverts in addition to those named, were baptized in Fayette, and a number of others were from time to time baptized by immersion in Seneca lake, Seneca river, Thomas and Kendig creeks, and other streams not far from the Whitmer farm.
Preaching services were held in 1830 and 1831 at Peter Whitmer's house, and at Whitmer's school house, in District No. 17, Fayette (northeast from Whitmer's near Martin Miller's, and the junction of Military Lots 3, 4, and 13). This school district was annulled in 1841, and the school house has since been removed.
Another preaching point was at the school house in school district No. 15 (now No. 7), in the locality known as "The Beach," in northeast Fayette.
The first Conference of the Mormon church was held in Fayette, June 1, 1830, at which thirty members were present.
The second General Conference held in Fayette, Sept. 1, 1830, continued for three days, and a third Conference was held in this town, Jan. 2, 1831.
Joseph Smith removed his family from Harmony, Pa., to Peter Whitmer's, the last week in August, 1830.
Sidney Rigdon and Orson Pratt (who, with Oliver Cowdery and David Whitmer were prominent in the early development of the Mormon church), came to Fayette late in the year 1830.
In the latter part of January, 1831, Joseph Smith and wife, Sidney Rigdon and others, removed to Kirtland, Ohio. The Whitmer and Jolly families accompanied, or soon after followed there. A brief mention will be made of subsequent movements, especially as relating to former residents of Fayette. At Kirtland, Ohio, a temple was erected and in 1834, Joseph Smith was chosen President of the Mormon church. In 1838, the Mormons
then remaining at Kirtland and vicinity, decided to remove to Missouri -- whither a large colony had preceded as early as 1831, locating at Independence, in Jackson County, and afterward in Clay County in that State. The Whitmer family were included in the number which removed early to Missouri, but a part of the Jolly family is understood to have remained in Ohio.
Meeting with much opposition in Missouri, the Mormons removed in May, 1839, to Nauvoo, Illinois, on the Mississippi River. Here a city was founded of which Joseph Smith was several times elected mayor.
A temple of great proportions and indeed a magnificent structure, was here erected and the membership of the church increased -- many foreign converts being of the number of additions. Here again a conflict arose with the local authorities and in 1844, Joseph Smith and his brother Hyrum were incarcerated in the county jail of Hancock County, at Carthage, Illinois, were both were killed by a mob, June 27, 1844.
The Mormon removal from Illinois to Utah Territory, took place in 1846-1847, in which last named year, Salt Lake City was founded -- the semi centennial of the founding of which was celebrated July 24, 1897.
Utah was admitted as a State of the United States, in January 1896, polygamy having been declared abolished.
It may here be stated, that at the time of its organization in Fayette, and while the members of the Mormon church remained in this county, polygamy was neither avowed, preached nor practiced, nor indeed until about thirteen years afterwards (1843) was it announced by revelation and in 1852, proclaimed as a doctrine of the Mormon church by Brigham Young, then President of that church.
The Whitmer family remained in Missouri and took no part in the Mormon removals to Illinois and Utah. Peter Whitmer, Sr., the head of the family -- born near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, July 14, 1773, and removing to Fayette about 1810 -- was the father of five sons and one daughter, all of whom joined the Mormon church. He died at the house of his son -- Hon. David Whitmer in Richmond, Ray Co., Missouri, Aug. 13, 1854. He is spoken of by old Fayette residents, as a worthy and industrious citizen.
David Whitmer, who bore a leading part in the Mormon movement, while a resident of Fayette, was, after June, 1838, not in sympathy with Joseph Smith and in a pamphlet published by him in 1887, entitled "An Address to all believers in Christ," while avowing his belief both in the Holy Bible and in the Book of Mormon, gives a number of reasons for dissenting from the Mormon church of the Salt Lake City organization, as well as from the Re-organized branch of that church. In his pamphlet, Mr. Whitmer strongly denounces certain changes and additions in the Book of "Doctrines and Covenants," including polygamy, and says: "left the Body in June 1838, being five years before polygamy was introduced." He says of polygamy: "I wish here to state, that I do not indorse polygamy or spiritual wifeism. It is a great evil; shocking to the moral sense, and the more so, because practised in the name of religion. It is of man and not of God, and is especially forbidden in the Book of Mormon itself."
David Whitmer was born near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, Jan. 7, 1805, and removed with his parents to Fayette, N. Y. He was baptized and ordained an Elder of the Mormon faith by Joseph Smith in June 1829. On Jan. 9, 1831, before removing from Fayette, he married Miss Julia Ann Jolly, daughter of William Jolly of this town. He removed to Kirtland, Ohio, in 1831 and from Ohio to Missouri in 1834, locating at the city of Richmond, in the latter State in 1838, where he continued to reside until his death. He was a substantial and prominent resident of that city, having been elected its mayor in 1866, where he died Jan. 25, 1888.
In his pamphlet of 1887, he divides the Mormon church into three parts -- naming his own branch as "The Church of Jesus Christ" -- the second division being the Salt Lake City, Utah branch known as "The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints," and the third division with headquarters at Lamoni, Iowa, (known also as the Anti-Polygamy branch) as "The Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints."
The brothers of David Whitmer were Christian, Jacob, John and Peter, Jr., and his sister married Hiram Page of Fayette.
Two of the Whitmer brothers -- Christian and Jacob -- each
married a lady by the name of Schott, descending from a Fayette family of that name -- before removing West.
In his pamphlet, David Whitmer says that his brothers, Christian and Peter, died prior to 1838.
John Whitmer became the first historian of the Mormon Church. He died at Far West, near Kingston, Caldwell County, Missouri, a few years ago. Nothing has been ascertained as to Jacob Whitmer and Hiram Page, since leaving Fayette.
Oliver Cowdery, a school teacher, came to Fayette and taught a district school in the Yost district before 1830, * and he with David Whitmer and Martin Harris, constituted the three witnesses certifying to the Book of Mormon. (Mr. Lee Yost, now of Lenawee County, Michigan, aged eighty-five years, attended this term of school.) Mr. Cowdery died at Richmond, Missouri, March 3, 1850.
Martin Harris, of Palmyra, N. Y., an active participant in the early movements of the church in Fayette, one of the three witnesses, and who it is said gave financial assistance in the publication of the Book of Mormon -- was born in East-town, Saratoga Co., N.Y., May 18, 1783, and died at Clarkston, Cache Co., Utah, July 10, 1875.
In the year 1899, several missionaries from the Salt Lake City, Utah, branch of Mormons, visited Fayette (and other parts of Seneca County) and devoted considerable time to a personal house-to-house canvass of the localities visited....
* Note 1: Lee Yost's early recollection of Oliver Cowdery is further detailed in his May 18, 1897 letter to Diedrich Willers, (EMD 5 287-291) where he says: "Oliver Cowdery taught School in our district before Joe Smith said he found the golden plates [Sept, 1827?]... it was the winter school... Cowdery was in the habit of staying in the school house late nights writing about something, no one knew what." -- See David Whitmer's interview in the Chicago Daily Tribune of Dec. 17, 1885 where it is stated: "The father [Peter Whitmer, Sr.] was a strict Presbyterian, and brought his children up with rigid sectarian discipline. Besides a daughter, who married Oliver Cowdery, the village schoolmaster, there were four sons -- Jacob, John, David and Christian..." -- In an article published in the Kansas City Journal of June 5, 1881, David Whitmer reported an early familiarity with Oliver Cowdery: "I first heard of what is now termed Mormonism in the year 1828. I made a business trip to Palmyra, New York, and while there stopped with one Oliver Cowdery.... Cowdery and I, as well as others, talked about the matter." The implication provided in these two interview reports, is that David and his sister knew Oliver Cowdery at an early date, because he had been a "schoolmaster" in their "village," (or perhaps in some other nearby village in the Waterloo-Fayette area).
Note 2: The publication of an unclaimed letters notification, in the Lyons Advertiser of Oct. 17, 1827, in which a letter for "Oliver Cowdery" is listed, shows that some correspondent expected Oliver to be picking up his mail in that place (Arcadia and/or Lyons townships of Wayne Co., where Oliver's father and brother lived). The close proximity of the Waterloo-Fayette area and the Arcadia-Lyons area, is a further indication that Oliver Cowdery could have lived close enough to the Whitmers, c. 1826-27, for David and his siblings to have known Oliver as "the village schoolmaster." See also Larry E. Morris' 2007 JBMS paper, "The Conversion of Oliver Cowdery," where he dates Oliver's arrival in western New York to "the mid-1820s." Morris does not, however, supply any information relative to Oliver's reported teaching employment at the Yost School (presumably the old schoolhouse in Fayette's Distict 1, where members of the Yost family had farms). See also Morris' 2007 Fair Conference paper, "The Cowdery Controversies," wherein he provides additional information on Oliver Cowdery's Aug. 11, 1828 promissory note, but does not address the school teaching reports.
Note 3: In his 1938 book, The A. B. C. History of Palmyra, Willard Bean speaks of the young Oliver as having "canvassed the vicinity of the Smith home in Manchester, to get up a subscription school" "where the 'little red' cobble-rock Armington school now stands" in November of 1828. Oliver's educational career activity during "the mid-1820s" may also explain the seemingly strange chronology provided to Thomas Gregg by Lorenzo Saunders in 1885: "Oliver Cowdery, he came from Kirtland [sic - Kirtland Tract?] in the summer of 1826 and was about there until fall and took a school in the district where the Smiths lived and the next summer he was missing and I didn't see him until fall and he came back and took our school in the district where we lived and taught about a week and went to the schoolboard and wanted the board to let him off and they did and he went to Smith and went to writing the Book of Mormon." If Oliver, on different occasions, went about soliciting students "to get up a subscription school," then his activities may account for the report from David Whitmer, of Oliver teaching in the Waterloo area, as well as Lorenzo Saunders' memory of Oliver teaching at both Manchester's Stafford School, "in the district where the Smiths lived" (Ontario Co. District #11) and the Armington School (Ontario Co. District #10) on Canandaigua Road, where the Saunders family lived.
Note 4: See also Elder Heman C. Smith's exposition of Willers' account, published in the RLDS Journal of History for Jan. of 1910, along with D. Michael Quinn's 1973 article on Rev. Willers and an interesting letter on Seneca County Mormonism written by him in 1830.
( under construction )
[ 91 ]
..."Mormon Joe, born near Waterloo -- Joseph Smith, the Morman prophet, came to Waterloo, or rather the town of Fayette about 1830. He made his headquarters at the farm house of Peter Whitmer, two miles south-west of the village, which was the birth place of the Mormon church; for it was there where Joe Smith first declared the golden plates, and their divinity, which he claimed to have unearthed on a hill near Manchester, Ontario county; and it was at Whitmer's where he received and promulgated "the revelation" for establishing the church and where it also effected the organization. Several weeks following his arrival, Smith was shut up in Whitmer's house, hours at a time, engaged in translating the charactors engraved on the plates which he called "Reformed Egyptian." With two bright, clean stones in his hands -- stones similar in appearance to those usually gathered in fresh water on a gravelly beach -- he sat intently gazing upon them and from time to time uttering in baritone sentences, which, as he spoke them, were written down by a companion named Oliver Courdnay [sic - Cowdery?]. Thus was produced that great volume of manuscript upon "which the Morman church rests the claim of divine inspiration. Smith called the two stones he used, through which he said he interpreted the golden plates, his "divine optical instruments." He said they "had a spiritual reflection from the plates." In the meantime he obtained such funds as he required, by days' work at cutting timber, burning brush and digging ditch. Neighbors came in from time to time but were never allowed to see the golden plates. Smith told them the plates were too sacred for profane eyes.
The half a dozen followers he obtained at that time he took one by one, as each professed the faith, to the nearest shore of Thomas creek, a small stream flowing near the eastern end of the village, where he baptised them. Then he invited as many as could be reached to attend his meetings at Whitmer's house. At last he ostentatiously "enrolled" in "the book of life" his assistant Oliver Courdney and Hymen [sic - Hyrum?] Smith, Peter Wilmer [sic - Whitmer?], Jr. Samuel H. Smith and David Wilmer, and on the 6th day of April, 1830, organized the Morman church at Wilmer's house. The following June a Morman conference was held on the shore of Cayuga lake. Delegate Cannon says the organizatIon of the church was made on a day and after a pattern directed by God in a revelation given to Joseph Smith who was 24 years of age at the time. The revelation gave the name by which the church was to be called as "The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints."
To outsiders, especially residents of Waterloo, where Smith was an occasional visitor and which was then a small village, "Morman Joe," as Smith was generally called, occasioned no end of fun and comment. He was often seen in the outskirts of the village, by people still living who say that it was his custom to pace slowly along some favorite walk with his hat in his hand, crown downward, steadily gazing into it. This led his scoffers to say that he was communing with the spirits -- midgets that occasionally infest unclean heads.
It was at that time that Smith attracted the attention of Brigham Young who was then a lad, one of the five sons of John Young who lived in the town of Tryone, Schuyler County. Lewis Halsey says that John Young was a revolutionary soldier from Whittingham, Windham Co., Ct., who became a "traveling tinker and mender and a poor farmer;" and that his sons spent most of their time hunting and fishing; usually in harvest time crossing Seneca lake to work for farmers in Romulus. That was probably how Brigham became acquainted with Smith. The latter upon quitting this country with his followers, repaired to Kirkland [sic], O., whence "the church" shortly migrated to Nauvoo, Ill., where Smith met his death....
Note: The report of Joseph Smith having sought "work at cutting timber, burning brush and digging ditch," at the same time he was "engaged in translating" at Fayette is puzzling. Possibly Smith did find enough free time, away from his 1829-30 religious efforts, to obtain money as a day laborer. This is the historical interpretation expressed by Kurt Elieson, in his 2011 book, Historical Context of the Doctrine & Covenants. See notes appended to the 1876 biographical sketch of Jacob. P. Chamberlain, for some further discussion.
[ 6 ]
The Kingdom. -- [By Harrison Chamberlain] --
This little hamlet, boastful and pretentious in the early years of the past century, was located about two miles west of our village. Its christening is wrapped in mystery, some claiming that it was so called after a man named King, who built a dam in the outlet or in an adjoining creek and hence from King's dam the place came to be called "The Kingdom." This is a happy, ingenious theory but unfortunately lacks the evidence to sustain it. Others explain that it was so called in very much the same way that Devil's Half-Acre and Whiskey Hill had received theirs, purely out of jest and in view of well known customs and habits. There is no doubt of the fact that the Kingdom was a jolly, happy place, where the outflowing currents of the old Eagle at Waterloo and of the Globe at Seneca Falls met and were ever at high tide of social and convivial life.
In its strong, sturdy and able men. The Kingdom had much to commend it. Those who fostered it believed in its future, believed that it was destined to be the center of the legal and court business of the county. They mapped out portions of it into city lots and awaited confidently its growth. But the revolutions that soon followed in industrial and manufacturing conditions, the destruction of the Great Western Distillery in 1846 and the introduction of travel by steam, all forced The Kingdom to give way to other points of trade and business.
The growth of the place fell under three periods. Now and then a trapper or venturous explorer would row his canoe up the river, but the first travel through the section of any importance was after the construction of the Cayuga Lake bridge and the organization of the stage coach line. Hence the stage coach period came first, from 1800 to 1815, when this method of travel and means of development had no rival. Lewis Birdsall settled here and in 1808 built the brick house now occupied by James Lawrence. It was said to be the first brick house in the county; that the sand and clay of which the brick were made were taken out of the lot and the kilns or pits in which the brick were burnt may still be seen.
The Old Birdsall House, Seneca Falls (photograph not in original text)
Just west lived John Knox and John Burton, well known in our history. These men held high positions in the county and state. They were able and brilliant and of their wit and humor many excellent stories are told today. West of the tavern. Col. Jacob Chamberlain lived. He came into this section with teams of oxen, transporting over the long bridge heavy pieces of cannon, and was so pleased with the country that he took up some two hundred acres of land and actively identified himself with the place. On the south side of the river there was a settlement, though very small and scattering. The place known today
as the Sweet place was owned by Thomas and Frank Carr. Later on the Carrs sold to Mathew Sisson and then removed to Seneca Falls, where Thomas Carr was for years the owner and manager of the Carr hotel, occupying the site of the present Hoag house. West of the Carr property were the homes of S. Dimmick, John Babcock, John Perry and others. These men had taken up the land immediately south of the river and thrifty and industrious in their habits they had already developed line farms with large clearings for raising wheat, oats, rye and corn.
"Kingdom" area on 1850 Seneca County Map (image not in original text)
The second period came down to 1840. During it the growth on the north side was large. Many new residents had come in, the Lawrences, Reamers, Hers, Fitts, Harrises, Scotts, Whitmores, Pease, Denistons and others, and some of these people continued to live there down to a time that I can well remember. I particularly recall Thomas R. Lawrence, who came to The Kingdom from Long Island and bought the Birdsall house. He was a man well cultured and informed, of stately bearing and always dressed neatly in black. He was very fond of fishing and on pleasant days it was his habit of coming to the river bridge with his pole and line.
The important additions, during this period, on the north side, were the building of a saw mill and turning shop, a cooper shop and grist mill. This was made possible by changes in the navigtion of the river. A lock had been constructed with a fall of 4 to 5 feet of water. On the berm side a strip of land had been extended up the river, thus dividing the canal from the river and creating hydraulic sites that gave a stimulus to the investment of capital in manufacturing enterprises. On the south side of the river, about the locks, the effect was even more marked. The free navigation of the river, opening a water carriage all along eastward to tide water was an era in the development of this section. Boats were built for freight and passengers. The packet line, far more comfortable and expeditious than the Sherwood stage became the popular mode of travel. At the lock Stephen Smith built a house and grocery and large barns for the accommodation of the boatmen, and his son, Reuben Smith, built a house next to him. John Babcock put up a grist mill, plaster and clover mill and adjoining was a yard for building boats. Deacon John Fitts, who was now landlord of the tavern, with a Mr. Gilbert, erected a wool carding and cloth factory. Matthew Sisson was operating a brewery and malt-house and supplying all the country about with beer. The effect of these industries was immediate in attracting both people and capital. The population about the locks doubled many times. There were the Jolleys, Colwells, Allemans, Warners and many other new comers. It was towards the close of this period, or late in the year 1831, when my father, Jacob P. Chamberlain, moved down from Varick and settled on the Dimmick farm immediately south of the river bridge. He remained here till the year 1843 when he bought the lower Mynderse mills and moved to Seneca Falls.
The third period, from 1840, was notable for the construction of the Great Western Distillery. If I should describe to you its size, the ground it covered and the number of bushels of wheat, rye, oats and corn consumed daily you would admit that even in comparison with our great enterprises of today it would stand out in grand proportions. At that day it was simply a wonder and there was nothing like it. Its original promoters were Col. Jacob Chamberlain, Pickney, Lee and Dodge. It was erected in 1841, after the most approved plans. The large boilers were made of copper and also the large pumps, used for supplying the fermenting vats and for conducting the spirits. The cost of such appliances, when you consider the value of the material may be readily imagined. In fact to install this plant and put it into operation, the expenditure ran so high that it
was found necessary to bring into the scheme Thomas and Levi Fatzinger and Joseph Wright of Waterloo. It was the crowning business, effort carrying the, place, during the forties, to its height of prosperity. Many new families had come here. These were the Hopkins, Conkeys and others. The tavern had grown: it had become in a true sense a hotel with first-class accommodations, and its landlord, George Kuney, had constructed a half mile race course, not excelled in Central New York.
Within a stone's throw of the tavern was the building used for a school during the week and on Sunday afternoons for sacred service. The plan of thrashing ideas into obstinate and dull brains at that time was rather hard upon the scholar, yet wonderfully successful. I want to introduce to you one who taught in this school for a term, not even in intimation that the birch played a greater part than the text book, but for the fact that Amelia Jenks, afterwards Mrs. Bloomer, connected The Kingdom with one of the great progressive and social movements of the century. Soon by contributions of her pen she came to be known far and wide as a strong thinker on questions of dress, social and temperance reforms. She was active in the Washingtonian Temperance movement in 1840; and later on with Lucretia Mott and Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony in securing the modifications in the law by which woman was given in her own right a legal standing.
The Kingdom was also the early home of Joseph Smith, the founder of Mormonism, and was where he first promulgated his "inspired doctrines" and "interpreted" the "divine word" from the golden plates which nobody ever saw. Just east of the tavern and adjoining the Reamer blacksmith shop, there stood in the fifties a small story and a half house. I remember it very well, and can recall the fact that the neighbors spoke of it as the house where Joseph Smith, the founder of Mormonism, lived for a while in the fall of 1823. A more complete description of Smith is given elsewhere....
“Mormon Joe,” as he was called -- Joseph Smith, the founder of Mormonism. first made known his "divine discovery," the "golden plates," which none hereabouts ever saw, to some of the prominent residents of Junius. He located at Kingdom, a mile west of Seneca Falls, about 1821 or '22 as a general hand for any kind of work: but engaged chiefly in finding water with a switch carried in the hand, a custom in those days. He came here from Pompey [sic - Palmyra?] and lived chiefly by his wits. From this place he went over into the town of Fayette, about 1830, where in April of that year he organized the first Mormon church and baptized the first converts. Mr. Harrison Chamberlain well remembers much told about his personality by his father and grandfather.
Strangely he procured financial assistance from wealthy men living hereabouts to whom he in confidence first made known his "divine inspirations." Some of these men sacrificed a good deal to furnish him funds. He had with him an assistant or secretary, Oliver Cowdery, who transcribed what Mormon Joe, standing behind a curtain, professed to read from the golden plates, the "inspired Word of God," as Smith said.
He was a peculiar, odd looking man, dressed in the plainest homespun, and rather an object of wit and pleasantry. It was not until the fall of 1823 that he aroused particular interest in himself. Then he claimed that he had a singular and mysterious mission. It soon was noised about that Smith had received some spiritual revelation, and the place was wild to learn more about it. Under apparently a simple and innocent manner, Smith must have been a keen judge of human nature, understanding well how to excite curiosity and make converts.
His earliest "baptisms" -- by immersion -- were at Silver Creek, south [sic - southwest?] of Kingdom. He then resided in the house of Peter Whitmer, three miles south of Waterloo, where he gathered his few followers about him and preached to them.
It was while here that Smith attracted the attention of Brigham Young, who was then a lad, one of the five sons of John Young, who lived in the town of Tryone, Schuyler county. Levi Halsey says that John Young was a revolutionary soldier from Whittingham, Windham county, Ct., who had taken land given to the soldiers in the "military tract," and who finally became "a traveling tinker and mender and a poor farmer," and that his sons spent most of their time hunting and fishing, usually in harvest time crossing Seneca lake to work for farmers in Romulus. That was what brought Brigham over here when he met Smith and at once became his follower...
The following is a list, so far as they could be found, of the revolutionary soldiers, and towns to which they belonged, and so far as possible towns or cemeteries in which they are buried...
Note 1: Although the recollections regarding Joseph Smith in Seneca County were ostensibly penned by editor Ernest L. Welch, his contribution appears to have consisted of a superficial editing of an article written by amateur historian Harrison Chamberlain. Chamberlain read his "The Kingdom" composition before an annual meeting of the Seneca Falls Historical Society in 1903. For an abriged reprint of its major topics, see the Hilton Record of Nov. 20, 1924.
Note 2: The mention on page 8, of "the house where Joseph Smith... lived for a while in the fall of 1823," is problematic on two accounts: (1) it appears to have been a temporary residence of Smith's parents; and, (2) the time of their occupation of the house was the winter of 1830-31, and not so early as "1823." It is barely possible that young Smith did frequent "The Kingdom" during the first part of the 1820s, but no firm evidence of his spending time there has been found. Had Smith been a well known visitor to that vicinity in 1823, it is likely that Rev. Diedrich Willers would have documented the fact in his 1900 history.
Note 3: The account of Joseph Smith, Jr. given on page 26 is both second-hand and contradictory. On one hand Mr. Chamberlain asserts that Smith was a water diviner near Seneca Falls "about 1821 or '22;" and on the other hand, he says that "until the fall of 1823" did Smith's presence there arouse any public interest. The most likely explanation for the odd details in Chamberlain's report, is that either he or one of his sources confused Joseph Smith's 1830-31 temporary presence in "The Kingdom" with various stories spread by popularizers of Smith's early activities in and around neighboring Ontario County.
Note 4: "John Cowdry" (p. 84) was a third cousin of Oliver's father (both were descended from the same great-grandfather: Samuel Cowdery, Sr., 1657-1742). John had lived in western New York as a young man and he returned to the area in his later years. The 1810 Census shows him in Ovid, Seneca County and the 1830 Census shows him in Waterloo, Seneca County. Since he lived on the border with Fayette township, he may have been associated with Revolutionary War veterans in Fayette. For more on John Cowdery see pp. 82-83 of the 1876 History of Seneca County.
Vol. ? Rochester, New York, Sunday, March 12, 1922 No. ?
"The Kingdom," Once Thriving, Little Known.
Midway between Waterloo and Seneca Falls on the State highway between Buffalo and Albany is a community known as "the Kingdom," which has a history not only interesting, but practically unknown, even to some of the best historians of the Finger Lakes Region. It was the original home of Sheriff Lewis Birdsall, who, some claim, held sway over the territory a century ago in a manner not unlike the monarchies of Europe. The late Harrison Chamberlain, of Seneca Falls, and Attorney G. M. B. Hawley, a present-day historian of Geneva, has furnished much of the information concerning "the Kingdom."
[ 3 ]
The consideration of a subject so vast and far reaching as this historical review, covering an entire century, within the time allotted to me, calls for only a general statement and avoiding of detail relating to the several towns.
The first white men to penetrate the wilderness region, covered by this county, were missionaries, prompted by no sordid motives, but solely with self-sacrificing zeal, to labor for the spiritual welfare of the Indians. Of these, the earliest were Jesuit missionaries, who in the period 1656 to 1684 established mission stations among the Cayuga nation of Indians -- one called St. Stephen at the Indian village (Tiohero) situate on the east side of Cayuga outlet (Seneca liver), a short distance from the north end of Cayuga lake, and another one at St. Rene (Onontare), near the present village of Savannah, in the bounds of the old town of Galen, and near the north line of the present county of Seneca. The ministrations of these missionaries extended also to the Indians residing on both sides of Cayuga lake and to the Seneca tribe of Indians further west.
The devoted Moravian missionaries, Bishop Cammerhoff and Rev. David Zeisberger, visited the Onondagas and also the Cayugas at the principal town of the latter, near Union Springs, on the east side of Cayuga lake, which they crossed and then passed on foot over the territory of this county in 1750, upon a spiritual mission to the Seneca Indians -- returning by the same route after a short absence. Rev. Samuel Kirkland, who served as a missionary to the Seneca Indians at Kanadesega (near Geneva) in 1765-66, passed up Seneca river in a batteaux, across this county. In his ministrations to the Senecas he sometimes also visited the east side of Seneca lake.
A few traders with the Indians were also early visitors between the Cayuga and Seneca lakes prior to the American revolution. The military expedition of General John Sullivan, in 1779, during a trying period of the Revolutionary war, to chastise the hostile Indians of Western New York, proved to be of great importance to this locality. We need not recount in detail the onward march of the expedition, or its several movements from Easton,Pennsylvania.
Leaving Elmira (Kanawaholla) after a decisive battle with the Indians, the army reached the east side of Seneca lake, in the present town of Hector, September 3d, and continued to march northward, destroying the Indian village of Kendaia September 5th, and rescuing Luke Swetland, who had resided there a year as an Indian captive. Continuing its march, the command reached and forded the outlet of Seneca lake at its northeast corner and arrived at Kanadesega (near Geneva) on the 7th of September. The expedition then advanced through the Seneca Indian territory to the Genesee river, carrying destruction in its path, and returned to Geneva by September 19th. The main army began its returu march southward, September 20th, upon the east side of Seneca lake. On the same day detachments under Col. William Butler and Col. Peter Gansevoort marched eastward on the north side of Seneca river, completing the destruction of the Indian village of Skoiyase, upon
the site of the present village of Waterloo (which had already been visited and partly destroyed on September 8th by a detachment under command of Col, John Harper), and encamped there for the night. Resuming their march on the next day, the detachments marched across the locality of the present town of Seneca Falls, to the outlet of Cayuga lake, a short distance north from trip lake and near the Indian village of Tiobero (St. Stephen) on the east side. Fording the outlet, the command of Col. Gansevoort proceeded to Albany and Col. Butler marched up the east shore of Cayuga lake, destroying several Indian villages and proceeding to Elmira, rejoined the main army near there, on September 28th.
On September 21st, Col. Henry Dearborn with a detachment of 200 men, after leaving the main army, marched across Fayette to Cayuga lake and destroyed three Indian villages on the west shore of Cayuga lake, near Canoga, and proceeded south along the west shore, destroying several additional villages and rejoined the main army near Elmira, on September 26th.
The chastisement of the hostile Indians was indeed severe, but paved the way to peace and to the relinquishment of their lands and their occupation by early settlers.
General Sullivan and his army were much surprised to find on all sides evidences of great fertility of soil and beauty of location, in the lake region of Western New York, in which are found the "Finger lakes" so called.
In their devastating march through the Indian country large quantities of corn, beans, melons, etc., were either consumed or destroyed; also an abundance of apples, plums and peaches.
The soldiers on their return home, gave glowing accounts of the "Lake region," which soon after became known as the "Genesee country," and some of the pioneer settlers of this county were soldiers who had marched with the army across this locality in 1779.
Elkanah Watson of Albany, N. Y., who was interested in lands in this locality, and who made a trip here in September, 1791, in writing of the Lake country, said: "The map of the world does not exhibit, in any other country, two lakes equal in magnitude to the Seneca and Cayuga, which are so singularly and happily situated. What a theme for poets, painters, philosophers and travelers, for the last two thousand years, had they been found in Italy! In general, the country lying between these beautiful lakes, rises gradually in symmetry from the opposite shores toward the center, producing a pleasing effect. Whenever it reaches a cultivated state, by the vigorous arm of freemen, it will become the 'Paradise of America.'" The poet, James G. Percival, has written of the beauties of Seneca lake, and a member of your Historical society, has written a "Sonnet to Lake Cayuga."
Our narrative of events cannot, however, be confined to the exact limits of a century, but it must relate back to the first permanent settlements in this county, fifteen to seventeen years prior to its official organization.
It is indeed fitting that our meeting to-night should be held in the town in which the first location and the first settlement in this county were made in 1787.
When this first location was made, our territory was still a part of Montgomery couuty, and then passing through three changes in a decade, the county of Herkimer followed in 1791, Onondaga in 1794. and then our immediate parent. -- Cayuga county -- was organized in M 1799, a county which still retained a large area.
The position of Seneca county, as will be seen upon the State map, is a peculiar one -- the lakes, Seneca and Cayuga, bordering its west and east shores, with the Seneca river running across the couuty from lake to lake, forms a part of it, into a peninsular shape.
The county seat of Cayuga county for a number of years after 1799 was somewhat fluctuating, but in order to reach either, Cayuga village, on the east shore of Cayuga lake, or Aurora, on the same side, in which villages the county business was transacted, the waters of Cayuga lake must be crossed, and although, after 1800, the Cayuga bridge, near the north end of the lake, one mile and eight rods in length, connected the present territory
of Seneca county with Cayuga village, the village of Aurora could only be reached by small boats propelled by oarsmen or by small sailing vessels, or, indeed, by a circuitous overland route.
The difficult communication with Cayuga county, with county seat rivalries and the ambition of "local statesmen," were doubtless prominent causes for the organization of the county of Seneca. When the question of the formation of a new county was first agitated in 1802 several projects were discussed. One of these was for a division of Cayuga county east and west, by a line commencing at Seneca lake and running east on the line between Romulus and Ovid, crossing Cayuga lake and the military townships of Scipio and Sempronius, to the county of Onondaga. The territory north of this line and continuing the entire width of Cayuga county to Lake Ontario, to constitute one county (doubtless to remain as Cayuga county), and that part of the territory of Cayuga county as then constituted, lying south of the above line to constitute another county, probably the new one. It is said, that had Cayuga county been divided by an east and west line as above, that the county seat of the north county would have been established at Cayuga bridge and of the south county at Ithaca, in the town of Ulysses.
A second project was for a north and south division, substantially the same as the one adopted by the Legislature in 1804 in the formation of Seneca county.
Still another project is indicated in a petition presented to the Assembly by William Powell and others of Ontario county, praying that a part of Ontario county and a part of Cayuga county be formed into a new county. The Assembly Journal does not show the precise plan, but it probably contemplated the erection of a new county by a north and south division of Cayuga, and the annexation of Geneva and vicinity thereto.
The question of dividing Cayuga county was brought before the State Legislature of 1803, when petitions in favor thereof were presented to the State Senate, and on March 16th of that year, Senator Lemuel Chipman of Ontario county, brought in a hill to give effect to the prayer of the petitioners. The hill was read twice and committed to the committee of the whole, but no further action was taken thereon by the legislature in that year. In 1804, however, the division question took active form and a number of petitions favoring the several projects, and several remonstrances, were introduced in both houses of the Legislature.
Dr. Silas Halsey, a resident in the bounds of the present town of Lodi, then Ovid, had, while a resident there, been elected to the State Legislature, as a Member of Assembly from Onondaga county for the years 1797 and 1798, and again represented Cayuga county as its first Member of Assembly in 1800 and was continued in 1801, 1803 and 1804 from that county.
During this long term of legislative service, Doctor Halsey had become well versed in legislation and had formed an extensive acquaintance at Albany, so that his efforts in behalf of the new county were of great value to the friends of that project, although Cayuga in 1803-4 had three Members of Assembly, of whom two resided east of Cayuga lake.
Joseph Annin, a resident in the present territory of Cayuga county, was one of the Senators from the Western district of this State, and the immediate representative of Cayuga county in the State Senate in 1803-4.
It is not positively known whether Assemblyman Halsey and Senator Annin both favored the same division project. However, on February 3d, 1804, when a petition was presented in the Assembly by citizens of the town of Hector, praying that the territory situate between Cayuga and Seneca lakes, etc., be erected into a new county. It was referred to a special committee of five, of which Dr. Halsey was named chairman.
On February 27th of the same year, Dr. Halsey introduced "an act to divide the county of Cayuga and for other purposes," which was read twice and referred to the committee of the whole. On March 7th the hill was favorably considered, and on March 9th referred to a select committee of which Dr. Halsey was chairman to report complete. He reported back the hill with amendments, which were agreed to
and on March 10th it passed the Assembly. The Senate, after consideration, passed the Assembly bill without amendment on March 21st, and it received the approval [of] Governor George Clinton on March 24th, 1804, and became a law on that day. The name "Seneca" given to the new county -- as well as the name of Seneca lake and Seneca river -- is derived from the Seneca nation of Indians, the strongest and most warlike tribe of the Six Nations of Iroquois Indians.
The exact boundary line between the lands of the Cayuga and Seneca nations of Indians was not very closely defined, and as late as December, 1789, an agreement was entered into with this State, whereby the Seneca nation agreed to the old Pre-emption line running a little west of Geneva, and north to Lake Ontario, as a boundary line, and conceding to the Cayugas the whole of Great Sodus bay, known as "Bay of the Cayugas." The whole of Seneca lake, however, belonged to the Seneca nation, and it is said that a few fishing villages on its east side, near its north end, belonged to the same nation, together with the Indian village of Kendaia. All the rest of the present Seneca county, it is believed, belonged to the Cayuga Indians. Our county, therefore, while receiving the name "Seneca," was really a part of the original domain of the Cayugas, and it was the fourth county to be named from an Iroquois tribe -- Onondaga, Oneida and Cayuga having preceded it.
The county of Seneca, by the act of incorporation of 1804. embraced a territory described as follows: The south boundary, beginning at the head of Seneca lake, at the southwest corner of the town of Hector -- thence running east on the south line of the towns of Hector and Ulysses, to the southeast corner of the last named town (the whole of the town of Ulysses and Hector being included in Seneca county -- and the south boundary of Ulysses extending about 4 1/2 miles south of Ithaca) The east boundary, being constituted by the town of Dryden and the center of Cayuga lake, and its outlet, to the west line of the town of Brutus, and thence north in the west line of Brutus and Cato, and farther on north to Lake Ontario -- the north boundary extending along Ontario lake to the county of Ontario, thence south along the Ontario county or new Pre-emption line to Seneca lake. The west boundary, which has been the subject of considerable comment and controversy, had been already defined in the boundaries of Cayuga county, established by the Revised Laws of 1801, (and continued as to Seneca county in the Revised Laws of 1813) -- as bounded westerly by the line called the new Pre-emption line, from Lake Ontario to Seneca lake and thence along the west shore of said lake to the south west corner of the township of Hector.
After the counties of Tompkins and Wayne had been erected, in part from Seneca county, the Revised Statutes passed in 1837, describe the county boundaries as they now exist, as follows: All that part of the State bounded on the north by the county of Wayne, on the east by the county of Cayuga, on the south by the county of Tompkins (and now in part belonging to Schuyler county) and on the west by the west shore of the Seneca lake, and from the north end of said lake, by the Pre emption Hue, as established by law.
The territory of the new county; in 1801, comprised lands in the Military tract, Cayuga reservations and the Williamson Compensation Patent, (at the north end), situate in the six towns of Ovid, Romulus, Junius and Fayette, with Hector and Ulysses.
The county extended in length, north and south, sixty three miles with an average width of eleven miles and an area of 744 square miles, or 476,160 acres of land.
One hundred years ago, when Seneca county was organized, its population was sparse and some of its territory, especially at the extreme north end, was almost an unbroken forest!
The Indian ownership of the West Cayuga reservation had not been ceded and relinquished until 1795. and a Cayuga Sachem, Fish Carrier, was still interested in a reservation at Canoga. Our pioneer settlers, not infrequently met Indians, and as late as 1803, one of the early settlers in the bounds of the present town of Tyre, was murdered by an Indian, although to the credit of both pioneers and Indians, it may
be said, that they usually maintained friendly relations.
The population of the original territory included in Seneca county by the U. S. Census of 1800, was only 4,984, divided as follows: Ovid, including "Hector, 2,169; Romulus, 1,025; Fayette, including Junius and the entire north end of county to Lake Ontario, 863, and Ulysses 927. The town of Ovid, included the center of population of this territory.
It is not our purpose, to enter at length into the history of the settlement of the several towns, as to which there is some dispute, as to priority. As already stated, Seneca Falls contained the earliest settlement by Job Smith in 1787, followed by Lawrence Van Cleef and others, in 1789. Romulus, Ovid, Lodi and Waterloo were also settled in 1789, while the other towns of the present county, followed within a few years later. The town of Ulysses, claims settlement in 1789, and Hector in 1791, while the towns of Galen and Wolcott, which formed a part of our original county (although not yet organized at the time i of its formation), were not settled until 1800 and afterward.
It has been well said, "that the founders of every community, impress their characteristics, which remain fixed for a long period, perhaps permanently."
The early settlers of Seneca county represented German and Scotch Irish from Pennsylvania, Holland Dutch and English from New Jersey and Eastern New York, Yankees from the New England States, with a few persons of foreign birth. From such an admixture, including many Revolutionary soldiers, a conservative, industrious, frugal, and patriotic population has resulted.
Usually, in the formation of a new county, there is a contest, upon the location of the county buildings, and the legislation which provides for their location, is sometimes very shrewdly drawn, to accomplish a desired purpose.
The act for organization of Seneca county, required the supervisors of the new county, to raise one thousand dollars for buildings, and named John Sayre of Romulus, James VanHorue of Ovid and Grover Smith of Hector, as a commission to superintend the building of a court house and jail, "to be erected in the town of Ovid, and not more than four miles south of the north line of said town, and not less than three miles from the Seneca and Cayuga lakes." It was further provided, that the courts for the county "shall be holden at the meeting house on Lot No SO in the town of Ovid." undoubtedly the first church edifice erected in the bounds of the present county -- about five miles southeast of Ovid village -- until further legislation; also, that prisoners be confined in jail at Elmira, until comity jail is completed.
The commissioners, it will be seen, were really restricted as to the location of the site, between the North boundary of the town of Ovid, and a line extending south four miles, reaching to the present town of Lodi, and three miles east of Seneca lake.
The village of Lancaster, situate upon the site of the present village of Willard, in the town of Romulus, desired the location of the county seat, and at a special town meeting, held in that town, June 9th, 1804, its citizens protested vigorously against this location and the town of Washington (Fayette), in special town meeting held July 7th in the same year, took similar adverse action.
It is understood that the town of Ulysses, in which the promising village of Ithaca was located, was also decidedly opposed to the proposed location of the county buildings, as were also the inhabitants of Junius.
The first board of supervisors of the new county, which convened at Ovid, October 2d, 1804, and adjourned to the house of John McMath, about two miles, south of the village, refused, at first, by a tie vote, to appropriate moneys for erecting county buildings, the supervisors of Ovid, Hector and Romulus voting in the affirmative, and the supervisors of Junius, Fayette and Ulysses, voting in the negative. Before adjournment, however, the sum of one thousand dollars was appropriated, leaving the question as to location of site of the county buildings, open to further legislation.
The legislature of 1805, refused to change the location, but made it still
more definite and positive, by requiring the building commissioners to locate the county buildings, on lot No. 3, (upon the site of Ovid village) the site to be located not exceeding fifty rods west of the three mile limit from Seneca lake, imposed in the preceding year. From this, it is evident, that some measurement had been made during the year, showing that the desired site was not quite three miles from Seneca lake. It may be added here, that as early as 1797, when the territory of this county, still formed a part of Onondaga county, the courts of that county were required by the legislature to be held, at Manlius, Aurora and at the house of Andrew Dunlap in Ovid. The Ovid term to be held on the 4th Tuesday of September.
Hon. John Delafield, in his county history says, that this term of court was held at the barn of Andrew Dunlap. At the session of the legislature in 1805 it was provided that the court appointed to be held at the meeting house, already referred to, on the second Tuesday of May 1805, after convening, shall adjourn to the house of John Seeley on Lot 3 aforesaid. Through the courtesy of County Clerk Savage, it has been ascertained, that the site for county buildings at Ovid, on Lot 3 aforesaid, was deeded to the supervisors of the county of Seneca, by John Seeley and wife, by an absolute deed of conveyance, for a "consideration of five dollars, and the advantages and emoluments arising from the building of a court house." The site comprises three acres of land, including the public park in front of the buildings. The erection of the court house and jail, was begun in 1806, and completed without delay, and thus the machinery of the new county was fully set in operation, Dr. Silas Halsey having been appointed county clerk.
As indicating the influence of the towns of Hector and Ulysses in the affairs of the new county, it may be mentioned, that the first sheriff appointed in 1804, was a resident of Hector, and the appointee for first judge of the Court of Common Pleas, was a resident of Ulysses, as were also his two successors, and up to 1815, this important office was held by a resident of Ulysses. Hon. Cornelius Humfrey, the first appointee for judge, was also elected supervisor of Ulysses in 1805, although later a resident of Hector. Five residents of Ulysses also served as Members of Assembly, during the thirteen year period before the erection of Tompkins county, and one Representative in Congress, Dr. Oliver C. Comstock, for four years. For a number of years, the public affairs of the county, now seemingly moved along smoothly. The town of Wolcott, adjoining Lake Ontario, was erected a town in 1807, although not fully organized and represented in our board of supervisors until 1810. In 1812, that town was however annexed to Cayuga county, and remained in connection with that county, until 1817, when it was re-annexed to Seneca county.
The town of Galen was organized in 1812, from territory lying on the north of Junius. The population of the south towns increased most rapidly, and the inhabitants of Ulysses becoming more and more restive, sought the erection of a new county, with county seat at Ithaca.
For several years prior to 1817, one of the Members of Assembly from Seneca county, had been elected from Ulysses, and in the last named year, Hon. Archer Green was one of the Representatives from this county.
The influence of Hon. Simeon DeWitt, a resident of Ithaca, and for fifty years surveyor general of this State at Albany, then in active public life, had been exerted for a new county, with county buildings at Ithaca, to secure which, he and other citizens made liberal offers. Hon. Elisha Williams, a property holder at Waterloo, represented Columbia county in the Assembly for several years, including the year 1817.
The county of Seneca was in 1817 represented in the State Senate by Hon. John Knox of Waterloo, who favored the new county, and although Hon. Win. Thompson of Ovid, was a Member of Assembly that year, the combined influence of Waterloo and Ithaca, was too great for him to overcome, and on April 7th, 1817, the new county of Tompkins was erected, which included the towns of Hector and Ulysses, from Seneca county. Not content with the annexation of these towns, the new
town of Covert erected from Ovid on the same day, extending from lake to lake, was also annexed to the new county, leaving Ovid only four miles from the south line of the county.
It may be here stated, that two years afterwards, by act of April 13th, 1819, the town of Covert was re-annexed to Seneca county, and Ovid was then located nine miles from the south hue of the county.
The Act erecting Tompkins county, named Hon. John Knox, and Reuben Swift of Waterloo and John Watkins of South Waterloo, as building commissioners to erect court house and jail for Seneca county, on a site at Waterloo to be conveyed to the county. The act required the supervisors to raise four thousand dollars in aid of erecting the new buildings, whenever the building commissioners certified that a like amount had been voluntarily contributed.
The site for the county buildings was as the county clerk states, conveyed by absolute deed of conveyance, on July 4th, 1817, to the supervisors of Seneca county by Hon. Elisha Williams of Hudson, N. Y., and Reuben Swift and wife of Waterloo, the consideration named in deed, being "one dollar, and the advantages arising from the building of a court house at Waterloo."
The building commissioners reported to the board of supervisors in October 1817, that four thousand dollars had been raised by voluntary contributions and requested alike appropriation from the county. This request was denied, as were several motions to raise lesser amounts, but finally before the board adjourned, the sum of five hundred dollars was voted.
The buildings were erected in 1818, and in compliance with the terms of the act, Waterloo became the sole county seat.
The village of Ovid and the south towns of the county, while losing the county seat, were undismayed, perhaps little thinking that in six years, Waterloo, would by the erection of another new county, be placed in precisely the same position, as that of Ovid in 1817. The legislature was again appealed to for relief, and in 1822, when Hon. John Maynard, at that time a resident of Ovid, represented Seneca county as
Member of Assembly, with Hon. James Dickson of Galen, by Act chapter 137 laws of that year, the county was divided into two jury districts, by the south line of Fayette, a division in effect creating north and south jury districts, which still exists, and requiring the courts to be held alternately in the same, and also providing for the use of jails at Waterloo and Ovid. The passage of this act, created substantially the half shire system of court houses, which the creation of a new county, the following year, cemented more strongly. The Act of 1822, also provided, "that it shall not be lawful for the supervisors to sell the court house in Ovid, or the land on which the same stands."
When the construction of the Erie canal was authorized in 1817, it crossed the town of Galen, in the territory of which, several important villages were located. A movement for a new county culminated in 1823, when Hon. Annanias Wells of Galen was one of the Members of Assembly from Seneca county and Hon. Byram Green of Sodus, then in Ontario county, was a member of the State Senate. By Act Chapter 138, Laws of 1823, passed April eleventh, in that year, the county of Wayne was erected, and the towns of Galen and Wolcott were annexed thereto, the large area of these two towns now forming six towns of that county. Ovid and Wayne county, evidently joined forces, this time against Waterloo. The two towns annexed, embraced all of the territory of Seneca county north of Junius and left Waterloo village, only eight miles from the north boundary of the county.
Although efforts were made in 1844 and 1854 in the board of supervisors to secure a single set of centrally located county buildings at Bearytown, the project was lost in 1854, by one vote less than the necessary two thirds vote (the vote resulting six ayes and four noes) and the half shire system with two jury districts established in 1822, and perpetuated in 1823, still remains in full force and effect. The rotation system, iu nominations for county officers, between the towns of the two jury districts long practised by the two leading political parties, has of late years not been closely observed. The number
of towns had now become reduced to five, Ovid, Romulus, Fayette, Junius and Covert, to which Lodi was added in 1826, Seneca Falls, Waterloo and Tyre in 1829, and Varick in 1830, making the number ten, as now existing. No change in the towns has been made since, and no change in town territory, except, two slight changes in Ovid boundaries in the year 1837 and 1843. There are now four incorporated villages in the county, Waterloo, Seneca Falls, Ovid and Farmer, the latter dating from 1904.
The area of the county as now reduced, extended thirty-two miles north and south in length, and an average width of about ten miles and contains 199,500 acres of land, the two court houses being situate fifteen miles apart in a direct line. In order to complete the statement relating to county buildings it may be added here that the Board of Supervisors has from time to time, since 1823, maintained and improved the county buildings at Waterloo and Ovid.
A proposition to rebuild the court house at Ovid failed in 1841 and 1843. but was adopted by the board in 1844, the contract was let therefore and the building completed upon the lot where the first court house had been located. The county clerk's office at Ovid was authorized to be built in 1859 and completed by 1861.
The erection of a county clerk's office at Waterloo was authorized in 1858-59, and completed in 1861. the land therefore having been conveyed to the County in the latter year. The building and lot were ordered sold by the Supervisors in December, 1900, and the erection of a new county clerk's office, to include also surrogate's office was provided for, adjoining the court house, and which was completed for occupancy early in the year 1902. The present jail at Waterloo was authorized to be built in 1866 and completed the next year.
It may be of interest to note the several attempts since 1817, to change the court house site, and boundaries of Seneca County, as well as annexation schemes. After the erection of Tompkins County and during the controversy between Waterloo and Ovid over the county buildings, already in 1818, notice of application to the legislature of 1819 was published, asking for the annexation to Seneca County of the town of Seneca (including Geneva) and the town of Phelps, Ontario County, with half shire court houses at Waterloo and Geneva. This application failed. In 1829, several years after thy erection of Wayne couoty, an application was made to the legislature for a new county to comprise the five north towns of Seneca County and the towns of Phelps and Seneca in Ontario County with half shire court house at Waterloo and Geneva. This application also failed.
The question of division or annexation was discussed from time to time, but in 1869, when Judge Charles J. Folger, of Geneva, held a seat in the state senate, it again took such formidable shape that a special meeting of the Board of Supervisors of this County was held on February I8th of that year, at whiuh your honored townsman, Hon. Gilbert Wilcoxen presided, and strong resolutions were adopted, reciting:
"Whereas, An effort is being made to annex the towns of Seneca and Phelps in the County of Seneca, to the County of Seneca, making Geneva the county seat of the proposed county, therefore
Resolved, That in the opinion of this board such a measure is inexpedient, unwise and uncalled for by any public necessity of the County of Seneca, and is, we believe, entirely opposed to the wishes of a very large majority of the people of this county. On calling the ayes and nayes the preamble and resolution was adopted by nine ayes, one nay, (the Supervisor of Lodi.) It was further
Resolved, That we do earnestly protest against any change in the boundaries of Seneca County, as at present organized." This resolution was adopted by eight affirmative votes, two votes being cast in the negative (the Supervisors of Lodi and Junius.) This
scheme again failed and let us hope that the sentiment of fidelity to this county expressed in this resolution may long continue to prevail therein.
The latest project for change embraced the annexation of the city of Geneva to Seneca County or the annexation of Border City in the town of Waterloo, to Geneva. The Board of Supervisors of this County at its annual session in 1902, on December 19th, adopted the following resolution:
"Resolved, that a committee of three be appointed by the chairman to act in the matter regarding the annexation of Geneva to Seneca County or the annexation of Border City to Geneva" A committee was appointed to look, after and oppose this change. This scheme, like its predecessors, was unsuccessful. The Supervisors in 1903, however, again appointed a committee to guard the interests of this County.
The population of the original territory of Seneca County in 1800, his been already stated. In 1810, it had increased to 16,609, in 1814 to 21,401. Even after the annexation of two large towns to Tompkins county, it reached 23,619, in 1820, and in 1825 after the erection of Wayne County, and the loss of two more towns, leaving the county area, as at present, it was 20,169. The greatest population attained by the county at any time, was 28,138 in 1860, since which time the population of six towns has deceased, and notwithstanding the increase in population of Seneca Falls and Waterloo -- and the increase since the opening of Willard State Hospital in 1869, in Ovid and Romulus -- the population by the census of 1900, was 28,114
Based upon population, from 1804 to 1815 inclusive, the county elected one Member of Assembly; in 1816 and 1817, three members; from 1818 to 1836 inclusive, two members; and since the latter date, one member.
The tendency of population to large villages and cities, and the falling off in population of agricultural towns -- on account of consolidation of farms, etc., causes which affect many other counties of the state, sufficiently accounts for the falling off in our population, without assigning other causes.
Our county has reached and passed a number of important periods or epochs, in its process of development, from the time of the earliest settlements made within its borders. A few of these will be mentioned:
1. The opening of the Bennett Harris ferry across Cayuga Lake, and the first State Road crossing thereat, 1790-1791 followed by the Great Genesee road 1796-97, both leading from the eastern part of the state to Geneva, and farther west, and the incorporation of the Seneca Turnpike Road Company, 1800-1801.
2. The opening of the famous Cayuga Bridge across Cayuga Lake in 1800, and the impetus given to travel and the carrying of United States mails by the organization of lines of stages.
3. The incorporation of the Ithaca and Geneva Turnpike Company in 1810, and its partial completion for travel and transportation of the United States mails.
4 The improvement of the navigation of the Seneca river and other early improvements, by the Seneca Lock Navigation company, 1813 1819.
5. The opening for traffic of the Erie Canal from Albany to Montezuma and its completion in 1825, followed by the Cayuga and Seneca canal completed in 1828 and the new method of travel by canal packet boats.
6. The opening of steamboat travel and traffic on Cayuga lake (1820) and on Seneca lake (1828).
7. The opening for travel and business of the Aurora and Rochester railroad across this county in 1841, making a continuous line of railroad to Albany.
8 The establishment of telegraph and telephone lines and of express offices.
9. The completion of a line of the Geneva Ithaca & Sayre railroad, (now Lehigh Valley) across this county in 1873, and of a second line in 1892, with a branch to Seneca Falls in 1898.
10. The development of manufactories in the villages of Seneca Falls, Waterloo, Farmer Village and other villages of the county.
11. Improved methods of farming and introduction of improved machinery connected therewith.
12. The opening of an electric line of railway across the county to Cayuga Lake Park with promise of further extension.
Time will not permit an extended notice of public schools and teachers, or of educational progress in this county.
When the first general act for the encouragement of public schools was passed in 1795, there were very few schools within our boundaries, and these were privately supported. Under the act, a number of schools were established but it was not until after the passage of an act by the state legislature in 1812 for the organization and establishment of common schools, that school districts were systematically organized and established.
The state, at an early date, made small appropriations for public schools and these were aided in the towns of the military tract, by income from the gospel and school lot.
An application to the state school department for information as to schools in this county as early as 1804, elicited the response that the department has no record of Seneca County school districts prior to 1838.
Spafford's Gazetteer of the state of New York, published in 1813, mentions thirty three school houses in the towns of Ovid, Romulus and Fayette, by the census of 1810, but gives no data as to the other towns, and it is safe to give the number at that time, as fifty. This was the era of log school houses, followed by the "little red school house," and within the past sixty years, by commodious and well adapted structures in 1838, there were in the bounds of the present county, 116 school districts, which number has become reduced by the consolidation of districts, and the formation of several Union High schools, to ninety-two school districts in 1903.
Academies were established and incorporated at Ovid in 1830, at Seneca Falls in 1837 and at Waterloo in 1842. All of these academic institutions are now continued as Union High schools, and in addition, a high school has been established at the village of Farmer.
The Seneca Falls Union High school is still known as Mynderse Academy, in honor of its early patron, Col. Wilhelmus Mynderse.
In 1853, the State Agricultural College was incorporated and located upon the farm of Hon. John Delafield in Fayette, who was chosen its president. After his death, it was removed to Ovid, a college building was erected, and opened in 1860, under the presidency of Gen. Marsena K. Patrick, who retired therefrom to enter service in the Civil War.
This college was subsequently removed to Havana, Schuyler county, and afterwards to Ithaca, where having received the college land grant from the United States, it is now located as a Department of Cornell University The only consolation for the division of this institution from Seneca county is, that it is now located in the original territory, of Seneca County, and that the president of its Agricultural department, who long served in that capacity, was born in the present county.
The history of the State Agricultural College and Willard State Hospital, its successor, will be separately written and presented to your society, by One thoroughly conversant therewith.
The learned professions have been represented in this count; by many prominent men.
At the time of the organization of the county, as far as can be ascertained there were only five organized religious congregations in the bounds of the present county, all at the south end, and two or three in Ulysses and Hector, With a single exception (the church on lot thirty, Ovid in which the first courts were held) it is believed that these congregations then worshipped in private houses, barns or school houses, and primitive log churches followed later, in some cases Some of these congregations were without regular pastors, and the first clergymen of the county, were those who officiated therein. Of these congregations
one in the town of Romulus, celebrated its centennial in 1895, one in Lodi in 1900, one in Varick, (at Romulus village) in 1902, and one each in Ovid and Covert, in 1903. During the next few years, one congregation in each of the towns of Fayette, Seneca Falls, Junius and Tyre, will attain one hundred years of age.
Many of the clergyman of this county, have enjoyed long pastorates, one at Bearytown for an active period of sixty years, one at Waterloo for thirty seven years, one at Romulus village for twenty seven years, one at Ovid for twenty six years, one at Seneca Falls for twenty-one years, besides six or seven others, for periods of from fifteen to twenty years.
At the present time, the pastor of the Baptist church at Magee's Corners, in the town of Tyre (who is present with us to night) is serving his fortieth year in active ministry in the town in which he was born of patriotic Revolutionary ancestry.
There are at present forty-nine church edifices open for religious services in the county, besides several chapels (several rural churches having been closed) with forty pastors. These churches and chapels had by the last published census, a seating capacity for 20,850 persons. It is by no means a matter of which to be proud, but the truth of history compels the statement, that the Mormon church (called also the church of Latter Day Stints) was first organized in the town of Fayette, by Joseph Smith and five others, on April 6, 1830.
At the time of the organization of Seneca County, March 24, 1804, so far as has been ascertained, there was not a lawyer residing in the bounds of the present County, if indeed there were any such in the whole County as then existing. Many of the practising lawyers, from time to time, have taken a prominent and distinguished position at the Bar or on the Bench. The last court calendar issued by the County Clerk, contains a roll of forty resident attorneys at law. The "Judiciary of Seneca County" is to be specially written up by one who will do full justice to the subject.
The medical profession has from the beginning been well represented. In the early history of the County, Dr. Silas Halsey served as member of assembly, the first county clerk, representative in Congress and in many other public capacities.
Dr. Jared Sandford served as the first surrogate and treasurer of the County; Dr. Oliver C. Comstock as judge, member of assembly and representative in Congress. Many other physicians have held prominent public positions and have enjoyed a high standing in their profession.
Dr. Alexander Coventry, who located with his family in Fayette in 1792, and afterwards removed to Oneida County, was twice elected president of the State Medical Society, and Dr. Henry D. Didama, a former resident of Romulus village, 1846 to 1851, now residing at Syracuse and serving as Dean of the Medical department of Syracuse University, at an advanced age, was honored with an election to the same position
Since the opening of Willard State Hospital for the insane, in 1869, the Medical Society of the County has been reinforced by a number of prominent physicians, whose labors in behalf of the unfortunates in their charges have been productive of much good. The history of this institution, one of the largest of its class in this state, shows an honorable and worthy record throughout. It has at the present time, two thousand two hundred and twenty-five (2,225) patients.
The Editorial profession, the fourth estate, has been well sustained since the first newspaper was established at Ovid in 1815 At the present time six newspapers are published in the County, two at Seneca Falls, two at Waterloo and one each at Ovid and the village of Farmer. The newspapers of Seneca County have taken a deservedly high position in this state. One of the present editors has edited his newspaper in Seneca Falls for forty-five years, and several others for more than an average period of editorial service. Several of the editors have been
chosen to the highest positions in State Editorial Associations, of which they are honored members.
It has been said by a prominent statesman that "The cultivation of the soil is the foundation of all public prosperity." Farming has for many years been a leading pursuit in the County which has taken a high rank among the agricultural counties of this state.
The temperature of this county is favorably influenced by the waters of the adjacent lakes, which also exert a genial influence upon the soil and its cultivation.
The aboriginal owners of the soil, recognized its fertility, even by the most primitive methods of cultivation.
Upon four occasions, the state premiums for the best farm in the state, has been awarded to farmers in this county, and on two occasions, the Presidency of the State Agricultural Society, has been given to farmers of Fayette. The distinguished honor conferred upon the county, when the first State Agricultural College was located therein, has been already mentioned.
Sixty years ago, wheat was the principal product. It is said that at one time in the decade between the years 1840 and 1850, the seven or eight flouring mills of Seneca Falls, in amount and value of manufactured products, ranked next in order to the flouring mills of Oswego and Rochester.
It is to be regretted that farming has of late years been unremunerative, and that grape culture and fruit raising as adjuncts to farming have had much to contend with from severe winters, unfavorable seasons and insect enemies, so that farming lands have greatly depreciated in value.
The Patrons of Husbandry (or the Farmers Grange) have done much in the past thirty years, to elevate the standard of farming and to improve the condition of farmers and their families, as have also Farmers' Institutes held under the supervision of the State Commissioner of Agriculture.
In the early history of the county, its manufactured products and industries, were of the most primitive kinds.
These included the manufacture of potash, charcoal and maple sugar.
When the three flouring mills at South Waterloo, Lodi and Seneca Falls were completed, their respective proprietors, Samuel Bear, Dr. Silas Halsey and Col. Wilhelmus Mynderse, were deemed the most public spirited, as well as popular men, in their several localities.
By far the most extensive system of manufacture, however, was that conducted in each well regulated family, in which linen and woolen fabrics, known as "home spun" were made for family use, by aid of spinning wheels and looms. The state census of 1810, reports the whole number of looms in families of this county, in that year as 601 producing fifty thousand yards of woolen cloth, and 158,000 yards of linen cloth. This manufacture also gave employment to seven fulling mills and ten carding machines. The census makes mention also of fifteen tanneries in the county in that year
In later years manufactures, especially those located upon the abundant water power of the Seneca river, have greatly prospered and have taken a high position. In order to do them justice and note their advancement from step to step, would require more time, than that allotted to me.
The traveller in other states and in foreign lands frequently sees the steam fire engine, and the various kinds of pumps and machinery, with other articles of manufacture from Seneca Falls, while the fabrics produced by the Woolen Mills of Seneca Falls and Waterloo, have a world wide reputation, and the musical instruments and vehicles manufactured at Waterloo, also the manufactures of Farmer, and other villages of the county, are well and favorably known, wherever introduced.
There is room for greater development and expansion in manufacture in our midst, to inure to the advantage not only of the manufacturer, but indeed to every one, for when the manufacturer and the farmer are prosperous every other pursuit and occupation
is benefitted thereby.
The discovery and manufacture of salt, at and near the head of both Seneca and Cayuga Lakes, in adjoining counties recalls the fact, that before the settlement of this locality by white men, salt was found by the Indians, in this county on the west side of Cayuga Lake, near its foot, and in the town of Galen. It is believed that salt, will in time also be found along the shores of Seneca and Cayuga Lakes, in the towns of Lodi, Ovid and Covert, and thus add to the value of our manufactures.
The County records show that as early as February 12, 1805, a public library was organized in Ovid, known as Ovid Union library, and in the same Tear Seneca Library number one, located at Lancaster, in the town of Romulus, was organized. Both of these libraries have long since ceased to exist
The Waterloo Library and Historical Society was organized in 1875-76, and its library building completed in 1883. On September, 3, 1879, the centennial of General John Sullivan's Indian Expedition was successfully celebrated at Waterloo under its auspices, as was also the dedication of a monument to Red Jacket near Canoga, October 15, 1891. It has at present 7,441 volumes in its Library.
The Seneca Falls library was incorporated in 1892, and has already 4,198 volumes, although it has no permanent library building as yet.
The Seneca Falls Historical Society, separately organized about nine years ago, and incorporated 1904, has from the beginning devoted much attention to historical inquiry and research. It includes in its membership not only persons engaged in the learned professions but also business men in the several pursuits of life, and some of its most zealous and enthusiastic workers are ladies. In 1903. this society gave much attention to the commemoration of the centennial of the town of Junius. The present commemoration of the centennial of the official organization of Seneca County has engaged the attention of the society for some time, and the collection and preservation of material connected therewith, will continue even after this meeting.
The Whittier library of Lodi, organized in August, 1898, has six hundred volumes in its library, and at the last town election the people of the town voted to extend financial aid in its behalf.
The Ovid library was organized December 21, 1899. and has already seven hundred volumes in its library.
A public library was also organized at Farmer, November 8, 1901. as the Farmer Free Library, and opened to the public July 22, 1905. which has six hundred and ten volumes on its shelves.
In the year 1838, the legislature of this state inaugurated a system of school district libraries. Many of the school districts accumulated several hundred volumes, and although some mistakes were made in selecting the same, many useful books were thus circulated in every neighborhood. In time the State reduced its appropriations for these libraries and school districts, diverted the same for other purposes, and books were lost also by locating libraries in school houses in some cases. The decline of the school district library is to be deeply regretted, and a re-establishment of the same, under suitable safeguards, would result in great advantage to every neighborhood.
In the treatment of our subject, we must occasionally present the dark as well as the bright side.
This County has its share of pauperism and crime and it cannot be denied that with increase of population there has been considerable increase in both, as well as in the expense of administration.
In the early years appropriations for the support of the poor were frequently voted at town meetings. The County poor house was opened for reception of poor persons in the year 1830, a farm having been purchased therefore by the county in that year, on the line of Fayette and Seneca Falls. The present poor house building, located
in Fayette, was erected in 1853, and with internal changes, additions ard improvements, is still in use. The number of permanent paupers therein has not greatly increased since the removal of the insane therefrom, but the numher of temporary inmates has increased considerably in recent years, from the class known as pauper tramps. The cost of the poor administration in the several towns has been greatly increased, however, of laie, by a somewhat liberal bestowment of temporary aid or outdoor relief
The passage of laws by the state legislature, forbidding the keeping of children over two years of age in the poor house, and the removal of all insane paupers therefrom to State hospitals for the insane, were measures which have commended themselves to all humanely disposed persons.
Already in the year 1803, the first murder was committed within the territory of the present County, then a part of Cayuga County, when Indian John, otherwise known as Delaware John, murdered Ezekiel Crane, a pioneer settler in the bounds of the present town of Tyre. In an historical paper on the "Early Records of Cayuga County," read before the Cayuga County Historical Society, by George W. Benham, Esq., county clerk, a former resident of Seneca Falls, he makes mention of the indictment and trial of the murderer. The indictment found by the Grand Jury of Cayuga County is in the following words: "That John, a Delaware Indian, not having the fear of God before his eyes, but being moved and seduced by the instigation of the devil, on the 12th day of December, 1803, with a certain rifle gun, of the value of fifteen dollars, then and there loaded and charged with gun powder and one leaden bullet, did inflict a mortal wound of the depth of six inches, upon the person of Ezekiel Crane, of which wound said Ezekiel Crane died on the seventeenth day of December, 1803."
Notwithstanding the organization of Seneca County, in March, 1804, the County of Cayuga retained jurisdiction in this case, and Delaware John was tried at a court of Oyer and Terminer, held June 27, 1804, at the academy in the village of Aurora, by and before Honorable Ambrose Spencer, one of the judges of the Supreme Court Judicature, presiding, and upon his own confession of guilt, the murderer was adjudged guilty and sentenced to be hung, which sentence was carried into effect.
The County History of 1876, mentions the murder of a man in this county, committed by one Andrews, for which he was tried, convicted, sentenced and executed at Ovid, in the period, 1810 to 1812. Diligent inquiry to ascertain more definite data in relation to this case, failed to elicit additional information.
In later years, George Chapman, on July 20, 1828, murdered Daniel Wright in the town of Waterloo. Me was tried and convicted at a term of court held at Waterloo, was sentenced and publicly hung there, May 28, 1829
The last execution for murder in this County was that of Charles Johnson, who, upon trial and conviction of the murder of John Walters, at the village of Waterloo, was senteuced and hung at the jail in that village, November 15th, 1888.
There being two jails in this county the same are never crowded with prisoners. There has been no marked increase in the higher grades of crime, although with increase in population the number of convictions for minor offenses, punishable by sentence to jail, has increased, principally from vagrant tramps, as also the number of penitentiary cases.
In the palmy days of the local militia, this county had several militia regiments, and a number of independent military companies. The military forces of the county, bore a prominent part in the War of 1812, and were also represented in the Mexican War. In the Civil War (1861-1865), the several towns were represented in the volunteer service and several residents of the County, arose to high rank in the military service. The County was also represented by a few volunteers, in the late war with Spain.
There are now no military organizations in this County, and the days of "General Training" formerly so imnortant an event, in early years, occur no more.
It is a matter for regret, that the "Town Meeting" occurring as an annual event in each town, every spring and which enabled our fathers to meet together and consider and perfect many measures thereat, for the local well being, has in the past three years been consolidated with the general election and is now held biennially in the fall. Already, it is manifest, that town business has been greatly lost sight of, by this change, which has not been a beneficial one, and let us hope, for a return of the good old-fashioned Town Meeting, which was so greatly enjoyed in former years.
The History of Seneca County, edited by Hon. John Delafield, and published in 1850, and the County History published at Philadelphia in 1876, are indeed interesting and valuable publications, but the data thereof, should now be extended and brought down to the present time.
The history of the towns of Romulus and Varick, of the south towns, and of the town of Fayette, and the old town of Junius, (now comprising the four north towns) have also been partly written. Historical sketches of the villages of Waterloo and Seneca Falls have also been recently published. To complete the stories of the towns, that of the original military township of Ovid, now comprising the town of that name, with Covert and Lodi, remain to be written, and it rests with citizens of those towns, to undertake this good work.
Had time and space permitted, many other subjects might have been referred to, or considered at length, among which may be mentioned, the Preemption line; the Military Tract and Indian Reservations; the visit and reception of General La Fayette in this County, June 8, 1825; Negro Slavery in this County; early Town
Meetings and elections; the Public Men of the County; The Woman's Rights Movement; roads, bridges and ferries; early births, marriages and deaths; early villages, cemeteries, taverns, stores and shops; early teachers and schools; and many other subjects, which must be left for the consideration of our Historical societies, and local historians in the several towns.
So too, no time is left for suitable mention and consideration of the vast progress made, in the century which the history of our County covers, the advancements made by the efforts and labors of the sturdy pioneer settlers, the great improvements produced by the power of steam and electricity; the developments made in manufactures, arts and sciences, and in short every department of life and business activity.
"A Century with all its hopes and fears, Has sank into the deep abyss of time; And on the threshold of the new, we stand,
Like travellers to a strange and distant clime."
During the century past, three average generations of men have passed away.
The transformation from 1804 to 1904, has been wrought with great labor and toil. Let us not forget the work of our fathers, now that we enjoy the comforts of life brought about by their exertions, with the advantages attained by education, religion, society, refinement and progress.
While we must not be unmindful of the past, let us enter upon the second century of our County, with the trust and confidence in the Divine Being, that He will direct the events of the future, as mercifully as He has done in the past.
I thank you for your kind attention, and will not forget my acknowledgements to several state and county officials and citizens, who assisted me, in collecting material presented for your consideration and in closing extend my very best wishes for the future of your Historical Society.
ELDERS' JOURNAL 59
A Gospel Letter.
The following very interesting and earnest gospel letter written by Lucy Mack Smith, mother of the Prophet Joseph, to her brother, Solomon Mack and his wife, was presented to President Joseph F. Smith a few weeks ago by Mrs. Candace Mack Barker, of Keene, N.H., a granddaughter of Solomon Mack, to whom the letter is addressed. Mrs. Barker stated that it was her desire to place the letter in the hands of those who would appreciate its contents and preserve it as she felt it properly deserved. Readers of the Journal will agree that the lady made the very
60 ELDERS' JOURNAL
wisest selection in choosing President Smith as the holder of this important relic. It is with untold pleasure that we are privileged to present in this magazine this beautiful sermon which was written so soon after the organization of the Church by one of the greatest and noblest mothers that ever lived, whose life of continued toil and tribulation was spent so constantly in the humble endeavor to help establish the everlasting Gospel revealed from God through her prophet son. Her brother Solomon became a faithful member of the Church, and remained so until the end of his mortal life.
(image not in original publication - added from later sources)
ELDERS' JOURNAL 61
they love, for all the holy prophets spoke plainly of the gathering of the house of Israel and of the coming forth of this work, and God says He will give us line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little; there are more nations than one, and if God would not reveal himself alike unto all nations he would be [a] partial. We need not suppose that we have all His words in our Bible, neither need we think that because He has spoken once [that] He cannot speak again.
62 ELDERS' JOURNAL
We read that at the day of Pentecost people being pricked in their hearts began to cry, saying, "Men and brethren, what shall we do?" and Peter being filled with the Holy Ghost, stood up and said, "Repent [every one of you] [and be baptized] in the name of [our Lord] Jesus Christ for a remission of your sins and you shall receive the Holy Ghost." Now this promise was not to them alone, for he goes on to say, this "promise is to you and to your children, and to all that are afar off, [which] as many as the Lord our God shall call;" therefore the promise extends unto us if we will obey His commads. Peter did not tell them to go away and mourn over their sins weeks and months, and receive a remission of them and then come and be baptized, but he told them first to repent and be baptized and the promise was that they should receive a remission of their sins and the gift of the Holy Ghost; and this is the Gospel of Christ, and His Church is established in this place and also in Ohio; there have been three hundred added to the Church in the Ohio within a few weeks, and there are some added to this Church almost daily. The work is spreading very fast.
Note 1: The final line of the above text is actually taken from the outside cover of the letter, which has the words:
To be left at Keen
NY 8 Jany
18 1/4 [cents]
Capt. Solomon Mack
Note 2: It is interesting to see that as early as Jan. 6, 1831 Lucy was anticipating a removal to Ohio. She subsequently led a group of about eighty local converts to Kirtland. The Seneca County Mormons' westward trek began from her riverside residence in Seneca Falls' "The Kingdom," early in April. At about the same time the "Colesville Branch" followed their example. The "revelation" commanding the Mormons to move to Ohio was written down in Canandaigua, about the last week in December (probably just before Smith and Rigdon met with W. W. Phelps in that place on Christmas eve). Public announcement of the migration was probably reserved for the Jan. 2, 1831 "General Conference" at the Peter Whitmer, Sr. home. Thus, Lucy's communication of the momentous decision to her brother must have occurred within three or four days of her hearing about the impending migration.
Note 3: In writing her son's biography, Lucy commented that "Esquire Chamberlain" came on board of her company's departing boat and asked "what money I wanted to make my family comfortable." This last minute visitor was Jacob P. Chamberlain. He was evidently never baptized a Mormon and he reportedly severed his connections with the religious group at about this time -- see what must have been Abner Cole's letter of March 12th in the Painesville Telegraph of March 22, 1831, where it is reported that "Chamberlain and Burrows, two of the principal [men of property], it is said, have refused to sell, or obey Jo any longer." Perhaps Chamberlain still felt some compassion for Lucy, after he had decided not to follow her son to Ohio. See also the reference to a "Col. C." of Waterloo breaking away from Mormon influence at about this same time, in the 1867 letter of Thomas D. Burrall, a prosperous Geneva resident of that period.
The town of Fayette, Seneca County, New York, though an obscure place, will always command an interest because of its historic importance. It was here on Tuesday, April 6, 1830, that a church organization whose subsequent history is of special and thrilling interest and importance had its beginning. Here at the home of an honest Pennsylvania German by the name of Peter Whitmer the first adherents to the claims of the far famed Book of Mormon found friends and hospitable shelter, and here under this hospitable roof a part of the golden plates were translated. Here divine communications were received, which led to the organization on the date above mentioned.
The church was at first composed of six members, three Smiths, two Whitmers, and one other, viz: Joseph Smith, Oliver Cowdery, Hyrum Smith, Samuel H. Smith, David Whitmer, and Peter Whitmer, jr. The three Smiths were brothers, and the two Whitmers brothers, and sons of the Peter Whitmer before referred to. Subsequently Oliver Cowdery married a sister of the Whitmer brothers, so that the six charter members represented but three families, which later were resolved into two families.
Notwithstanding this meager beginning the communication before referred to made provision for a great and complex organization. With quorums of twelve apostles, seventies, high councils, high priests, bishops, elders, priests, teachers, and deacons. This plan was made public early, and thus these young men were taking desperate chances, if moving on their own initiative, as it was impossible for human sagacity to foresee that there would be a sufficient number of suitable men receive their message to form this stupendous organization. Yet it came about, and from this nucleus of
six men came an organization to which many thousands gave allegiance. A First Presidency of three was formed in 1833; a high council composed of twelve high priests, in 1834; a Quorum of Twelve Apostles, and two quorums of seventy in 1835.
Those six charter members were young in years, and education limited, Cowdery, a school-teacher, being the most learned. Joseph Smith was in his twenty-fifth year, Oliver Cowdery in his twenty-fourth, Hyrum Smith a little past thirty, Samuel H. Smith just past twenty-two, David Whitmer twenty-five; Peter Whitmer, jr., not yet twenty-one.
Such were the half dozen young men who met in this obscure town of Fayette eighty years ago with the declared intention of instituting a church of such extensive jurisdiction.
The fulfillment of their declarations has filled the world with surprise. Though these people are not worshipers of holy places, and there are no pilgrimages to the old shrine in the old New York village, yet Fayette has its historical interest as the birthplace of a great religious movement.
Fayette is situated on a high and beautiful site between the lakes of Seneca on the west and Cayuga on the east; on the north flows the Seneca River connecting the two lakes as it flows from Seneca to Cayuga. This beautiful tract of land three fourths surrounded by lakes and rivers was until early in the nineteenth century an unbroken wilderness inhabitated only by the Cayuga tribe of Indians, one of the six tribes constituting the powerful confederation known as the Iriquois. In the Cayuga treaties of 1789 and 1795 the Indians ceded all the land lying between Cayuga and Seneca lakes to the State of New York, except one mile square at Canoga, and this was acquired by the State a few years later.
The first white men to visit this section of country except occasional traders were the missionaries of the Moravian Church, in the person of John Frederic Christoph Cammerhoff,
and Rev. David Zeisberger, who arrived from Wyoming, Pennsylvania, at the chief town of the Cayuga nation on the east side of Cayuga Lake early in June, 1750. June 27, 1750, these missionaries. crossed the Lake Cayuga and proceeded westward through the tract where Fayette was subsequently located. The following is an extract from their journal, published several years ago by the Honorable George S. Conover, as it is recorded in "Historical Sketch of Fayette, New York, by Diedrich Willers":
Saturday, June 27, 1750. We took a very affectionate leave of the old chief, returned to our quarters and packed up our things. Our ferryman had already arrived. He was a fine, modest Indian, named Gannekachtacheri (this is also the name Secretary Peters in Philadelphia bears). He is of importance among his nation, great warrior and said to be always very successful in war. We then took leave of our hosts in Indian fashion and went with our Gajuk (Cayuga) to the 'lake which was pretty rough and broke in great waves, it being quite windy. We got into our bark canoe and set off. Some Indians in another canoe went with us to Nuquiage. Our bark vessel danced around bravely on the waves, and the water came in freely, as the lake was very wild. Near the shore the water was green, but in the middle it was blue as the ocean and the Indians say that it must be from twenty to thirty fathoms deep. In the middle of the lake we saw in the east and northeast the Gajuka town of Sannio (Ticero) about ten miles distant; in the west, a town called Ondachoe (Sheldrake Point), said to be larger than Gajuka, about fifteen miles from us, but which we could not visit this time.
We crossed the lake in about two hours, landed (probably on Cayuga Reservation, Lot No. 51), and then started on our way. It was intensely hot. Our course lay west by north and west-northwest. We soon entered a wilderness which we called the Dry Desert because we found no water, and were obliged to suffer from great thirst on account of the intense heat. At last, after we had walked about twenty miles we came to the first running water, which Gallichwio (Cammerhoff) named the Golden Brook (now called Silver Creek on Military Lot No. 27 probably), because although the water was rather warm, it tasted so good to him. We continued our journey and walked very fast, from fourteen to fifteen miles, again without water. At last we came to a creek called Ganazioha (Kendig's Creek) where we found an Indian, who had procured rum from a French trader living further on, near Lake Nuquiage (Seneca Lake). We went on and arrived about an hour before sunset at Nuquiage (on Rose Hill Farm, at northwest corner of Fayette), a Gajuka town. The Indians went directly towards the house of the French trader, who fills the whole neighborhood with his rum. Then we went into it also and he bid us welcome. He immediately offered us roasted eels, and
made us punch to drink, and inquired where we came from. We told him as much about ourselves, as it was necessary for him to know.
He was entirely in the Indian dress, could speak the language of the Sennakas very well, but, as he said, could neither understand English nor low Dutch. His merchandise consisted chiefly of rum, of which he had but little remaining. The Indians then began to drink in good earnest. An Indian also came for rum from Zoneschio (Genesee), in the land of the Sennakas, a place at least one hundred and twenty miles distant. We had much trouble to get our Gajuka away, and when we succeeded, he was half intoxicated. The trader allowed us to use his boat to cross the river (Seneca Outlet), which flows from the lake, and is very deep and rapid. Generally it is necessary to wade there, where the river empties out of the lake. The current is so swift and this river so deep, we must be very sure footed to be able to pass through it. We walked a short distance down along the water's edge, towards the boat and found that it was on the opposite shore. The Indian who was to row us over, swam across and brought us the boat, in which we crossed. We passed over a beautiful plain, where the grass stood as high as a man and then continued up the river to Lake Nuquiage, from which this village receives its name. The Indians say, that the lake is very much, larger than the Gajuka Lake and that both flow together and then through Lake Tionctora (Cross Lake) into Lake Ontario. We constructed a hut for ourselves as well as we could. In the evening we heard the intoxicated people in the town, making a great noise. We called our quarters the Pilgrims' Retreat and we were glad to have escaped the storm so safely. During the night, there came up a thunderstorm with a pouring rain, and as our hut was not secure, we could not keep dry; however we felt ourselves safe in the Lord's keeping.
The missionaries proceeded farther west, but returned the following month.
During the Revolutionary war Congress determined to chastise the Six Nations of Indians and in 1779 a military expedition was sent against them under Major-General John Sullivan and General James Clinton. This expedition destroyed the Indian villages throughout this section. After this settlers gradually began to settle and improve this hitherto wild section of country. Among the early settlers were many Pennsylvania German families of which Mr. Willers names the following:
"John and George Pontius, Jacob Riegel, Ludwig Stofflet, Christian Hoster, Anthony Houtz, Nicholas Deisinger, William Gamber, William Reed, Frederick Rathfan, Henry Mauger,
Henry Singer, Adam Hofstetter, John Markel, Jacob Alleman, George Bachman, John Emerick, Peter Whitmer, John Deppen, John and Jacob Frantz, Frederick Hassinger, George Shiley, Daniel Rhoad, Bartholomew Hittel, and the Kuney Brothers, with many others," as having settled there during the first ten years of the nineteenth century.
Mr. Willers says that the favorable situation of Fayette between two lakes well drained by the Seneca River and smaller streams, the temperature and climate in winter favorably modified by proximity to the lakes, doubtless tend to promote longevity in this and adjoining towns. He then gives some notable instances as follows: Mrs. Orwan, who resided in Fayette, lived to the age of one hundred years and four months. John Jolly, who resided in West Fayette, lived to the age of one hundred and three or one hundred and seven years. John Widner, who resided many years in this locality, died in the one hundred and first year of his age.
Other instances are Jane Hinkley, 97 years old; James McClung, 95; William Chatham, 96; Henry Moses, 96; Reuben Lutz, 96; Frederick Schott, 93; Michael Hoster, 94; Charles L. Hoskins, 98; Samuel Acker, 93; John Lowden, 91; Margaret Brickley, 91. Several living at the time of his writing were over ninety years old.
The official organization of the town of Fayette dates March 14, 1800. It was first named Washington and was in Cayuga County, now Seneca.
On April 6, 1808, the name was changed to Fayette, perhaps because there was a town by the name of Washington in Dutchess County, New York. It is said that General Lafayette visited the town of Fayette June 8, 1825.
It was in this favored locality that Joseph Smith found a home and valuable friends when struggling against adverse circumstances to present to the world the Nephite record, and
here that the church begun its remarkable growth in the house of the Pennsylvania German farmer, Peter Whitmer.
Mr. Willers, in his valuable work, gives a brief history of this organization which we insert. It will be seen that he gives a fair and unprejudiced account so far as the events happening in Fayette are concerned, but where he depends upon hearsay regarding what happened subsequent to the removal of the church from New York, he is led into error occasionally.
The Mormon church which has arisen to prominence at the present time, was first organized at the house of Peter Whitmer, a Pennsylvania German farmer, (residing upon a farm in the southeast corner of Military Lot No. 13, in Fayette,) April 6, 1830.
The founder of this church was Joseph Smith, born at Sharon, Vermont, December 23, 1805, who in 1815 removed to western New York with his parents. In after years, he made it known, that as early as September 22, 1823, he had discovered certain plates, known as the "golden plates," buried in a hill, in the town of Manchester, Ontario County, New York, about four miles south of Palmyra, which plates however he did not remove from their place of deposit until four years afterwards. These plates contained inscriptions in unknown characters or letters, which soon after he had exhumed them, in September, 1827, he began (while living at the home of his wife, in Harmony, Pennsylvania,) to translate and transcribe into English, with the aid, as he alleged, of certain mysterious seer stones, which he called the Urim and Thummim.
In June, 1829, Joseph Smith removed from Pennsylvania to the residence of Peter Whitmer, where the work of translation progressed, assisted by Oliver Cowdery and David and John Whitmer (sons of Peter), and the "Book of Mormon," called also the "Mormon Bible," first printed by Egbert B. Grandin at Palmyra, New York, was issued in the year 1830.
The organization of April 6, 1830, alluded to, was perfected by Joseph Smith (then known as "the Prophet") and five others, to-wit: Oliver Cowdery, David Whitmer, Peter Whitmer, jr., Hyrum Smith, and Samuel H. Smith.
As early as June, 1829, David Whitmer and Hyrum Smith were baptized by Joseph Smith by immersion, in Seneca Lake, and one (John Whitmer) was baptized there by Oliver Cowdery.
The first public meeting after the organization referred to was held at the house of Peter Whitmer, April 11, 1830, at which Oliver Cowdery preached. On the same day Hiram Page, Catherine Page, Christian Whitmer, Anna Whitmer, Jacob Whitmer, and Elizabeth Whitmer were baptized, and on April 18, of the same year, Peter Whitmer, Mary Whitmer,
William Jolly, Elizabeth Jolly, Vincent Jolly, and Elizabeth Ann Whitmer were baptized.
In June, 1830, nine converts in addition to those named, were baptized in Fayette, and a number of others were from time to time baptized by immersion in Seneca Lake, Seneca River, Thomas and Kendig Creeks, and other streams not far from the Whitmer farm.
Preaching services were held in 1830 and 1831 at Peter Whitmer's house, and at Whitmer's schoolhouse, in district number seventeen, Fayette (northeast from Whitmer's near Martin Miller's, and the junction of the military lots 3, 4, and 13). This school district was annulled in 1841, and the schoolhouse has since been removed.
Another preaching point was the schoolhouse in school district number fifteen (now number seven) in the locality known as the "Beach" in northeast Fayette.
The first conference of the Mormon church was held in Fayette, June 1, 1830, at which thirty members were present.
The second General Conference was held, in Fayette, September 1, 1830, continued for three days, and a third conference was held in this town January 2, 1831.
Joseph Smith removed his family from Harmony, Pennsylvania, to Peter Whitmer's, the last week in August, 1830.
Sidney Rigdon and Orson Pratt (who, with Oliver Cowdery and David Whitmer were prominent in the early development of the Mormon church) came to Fayette late in the year 1830.
In the latter part of January, 1831, Joseph Smith and wife, Sidney Rigdon and others, removed to Kirtland, Ohio. The Whitmer and Jolly families accompanied or soon after followed there. A brief mention will be made of subsequent movements, especially as relating to former residents of Fayette. At Kirtland, Ohio, a temple was erected and in 1834,  Joseph Smith was chosen President of the Mormon church. In 1838, the Mormons then remaining at Kirtland and vicinity, decided to remove to Missouri -- whither a large colony had preceded as early as 1831, locating at Independence in Jackson County, and afterwards in Clay County in that State. The Whitmer family were included in the number which removed early to Missouri, but a part of the Jolly family is understood to have remained in Ohio.
Meeting with much opposition in Missouri, the Mormons removed in May, 1839, to Nauvoo, on the Mississippi River. Here a city was founded, of which Joseph Smith was several times elected mayor.
A temple of great proportions and indeed a magnificent structure, was here erected, and the membership of the church increased -- many foreign converts being of the number of additions. Here again a conflict arose with the local authorities  and in 1844, Joseph Smith and his brother Hyrum were incarcerated in the county jail of Hancock County, at Carthage, Illinois, where both were killed by a mob, June 27, 1844.
1 The First Presidency was established in March, 1833. -- H. C. S.
2 Not with authorities, but with the populace. -- H. C. S.
The Mormon removal from Illinois to Utah Territory, took place in 1846 and 1847, in which last named year, Salt Lake City was founded -- the semicentennial of the founding of which was celebrated July 24, 1897.
Utah was admitted as a State of the United States in January, 1896, polygamy having been declared abolished.
It may here be stated, that at the time of its organization in Fayette, and while the members of the Mormon church remained in this county, polygamy was neither avowed, preached, nor practiced, nor indeed until about thirteen years afterwards (1843)  was it announced by revelation and in 1852, proclaimed as a doctrine of the Mormon church by Brigham Young, then president of that church. The Whitmer family remained in Missouri and took no part in the Mormon removals to Illinois and Utah. Peter Whitmer, sr., the head of the family -- born near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, July 14, 1773, and removing to Fayette about 1810 -- was the father of five sons and one daughter,  all of whom joined the Mormon church. He died at the house of his son -- Honorable David Whitmer in Richmond, Ray County, Missouri, August 13, 1854. He is spoken of by old Fayette residents, as a worthy and industrious citizen.
David Whitmer, who bore a leading part in the Mormon movement, while a resident of Fayette, was, after June, 1838, not in sympathy with Joseph Smith and in a pamphlet published by him in 1887, entitled "An address to all believers in Christ," while avowing his belief both in the Bible and the Book of Mormon, gives a number of reasons for dissenting from the Mormon church of the Salt Lake City organization, as well as from the Reorganized branch of that church. In his pamphlet Mr. Whitmer strongly denounces certain changes and additions in the book of "Doctrine and Covenants," including polygamy, and says, "I left the body in June, 1838, being five years before polygamy was introduced."  He says of polygamy: "I wish here to state, that I do not indorse polygamy or spiritual wifeism. It is a great evil; shocking to the moral sense, and the more so, because practiced in the name of religion. It is of man and not of God, and is especially forbidden in the Book of Mormon itself."
David Whitmer was born near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, January 7, 1805, and removed with his parents to Fayette, New York. He was baptized and ordained an elder of the Mormon faith by Joseph Smith in
3 Here Mr. Willers was doubtless guided by hearsay so far as he refers to what was done after these people left New York. The scene was far removed from the place of his residence, and the place of which he wrote. His statement, however, as to what transpired in New York is valuable. -- H. C. S.
4 Peter Whitmer, sr., was the father of five sons and three daughters, viz, Christian, Jacob, John, David, Catherine (wife of Hiram Page), Peter, jr., Nancy (who died in childhood), and Elizabeth Ann (wife of Oliver Cowdery). -- H. C. S.
5 David Whitmer had no opportunity to know what the church did five years after he left it, as he was never near the scene of operations.
June, 1829. On January 9, 1831, before moving from Fayette, he married Miss Julia Ann Jolly, daughter of William Jolly of this town. He removed to Kirtland, Ohio, in 1831, and from Ohio to Missouri in 1834, locating at the city of Richmond, in the latter State, in 1838, where he continued to reside until his death. He was a substantial and prominent resident of that city, having been elected its mayor in 1866, where he died January 25, 1888.
In his pamphlet of 1887, he divides the Mormon church into three parts -- naming his own branch as "The Church of Jesus Christ" -- the second division being the Salt Lake City, Utah, branch known as "The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints," and the third division with headquarters at Lamoni, Iowa, (known also as the antipolygamy branch,) as "The Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints."
The brothers of David Whitmer were Christian, Jacob, John, and Peter, jr., and his sister married Hiram Page, of Fayette.
Two of the Whitmer brothers -- Christian and Jacob -- each married a lady by the name of Schott, descending from a Fayette family of that name -- before moving west.
In his pamphlet, David Whitmer says that his brothers, Christian and Peter, died prior to 1836. 
John Whitmer became the first historian of the Mormon church. He died at Far West, near Kingston, Caldwell County, Missouri, a few years ago. Nothing has been ascertained as to Jacob Whitmer and Hiram Page, since leaving Fayette. 
Oliver Cowdery, a school-teacher, came to Fayette and taught a district school in the Yost district before 1830, and he, with David Whitmer and Martin Harris, constituted the three witnesses certifying to the Book of Mormon. (Mr. Lee Yost, now of Lenawee County, Michigan, aged eighty-five years, attended this term of school.) Mr. Cowdery died at Richmond, Missouri, March 3, 1850.
Martin Harris, of Palmyra, New York, an active participant in the early movements of the church in Fayette, one of the three witnesses, and who it is said gave financial assistance in the publication of the Book of Mormon -- was born in East Town, Saratoga County, New York, May 18, 1783, and died at Clarkstown, Cache County, Utah, July 10, 1875.
6 Christian Whitmer died in Missouri, November 27, 1835, and Peter Whitmer, jr., died near Liberty, Ray County, Missouri, September 22, 1836. Both died firm in the faith espoused at Fayette, New York. -- H. C. S.
7 Jacob Whitmer died near Richmond, Missouri, April 21, 1856; and Hiram Page died near the same place August 12, 1852. Both were firmly attached to their testimony concerning the Book of Mormon unto the end. -- H. C. S.
In the year 1899, several missionaries from Salt Lake City, Utah, branch of Mormons, visited Fayette (and other parts of Seneca County) and devoted considerable time to a personal house to house canvass of the localities visited.
This intentionally fair account coming from the place of the origin of the church speaks well for the early adherents of the faith.
Here we would expect to find prejudice running high and if there was anything in the character of the men to be used against them it would be used; for here the unpopular and strange announcement was made that in the woods near Peter Whitmer's house an angel appeared to four young men exhibiting the gold plates, and the voice of God spoke to them commanding them to bear record.
Note 1: See Diedrich Willers' 1900 book, Centennial Historical Sketch of the Town of Fayette, as well as his 1830 letter, in D. Michael Quinn's 1973 article.
Note 2: It is interesting to notice that Elder Smith seemingly accepted Willers' assertion, on page 353, saying that Oliver Cowdery had once served as a school teacher in Seneca County. Evidently RLDS Historian Heman C. Smith saw no conflict between the Willers' account and the Church's own literature, identifying Cowdery's short-lived teaching career as having commenced in Manchester during the winter of 1828-29.
INCORPORATED VILLAGE, 1824-1840 115
JOSEPH SMITH -- Mormon Joe
Smith was a farm hand, not overly ambitious, only fairly reliable, and without much education. He had the habit of going about with mineral-rods, searching for gold and minerals. He wandered around this part of the state, and finally claimed to have discovered certain gold plates on a hill south of Palmyra. He brought these plates, he said, to the house of Peter Whitmer, an honest and highly respected Pennsylvania Dutch farmer who resided some three miles south and a mile west of Waterloo in the town of Fayette.
The History of Seneca County published by Everts, Ensign and Everts, elsewhere mentioned herein, gived the following concerning Joseph Smith, crediting the information to Hon. D. S. Kendig.
Joseph Smith... worked as a day-laborer for old Col. Jacob Chamberlain, and occasionally for others when not engaged with his mineral rods digging for gold in various places. He was invariably disappointed, though oftentimes striking with his crowbar an iron chest, supposed to contain the desired gold, when by some mysterious agency it would vanish to some other place. On one occasion, he happened to strike the 'Golden Bible,' as he averted, near Palmyra, Wayne County. This Bible he brought to the house of an honest old Dutch farmer named Whitmer, living in Fayette, about three miles south of Waterloo, and there translated it, and, by the aid of one Cowdry, wrote the Mormon Bible, or a portion of it, which was afterwards printed....
Three men believed the new doctrine, Martin Harris, a well-to-do farmer, Peter Whitmer and Oliver Cowdry whose pen had so greatly assisted the "Prophet." Later other converts were made, but they were few. Smith invited all his acquaintances and as many others as possible, to attend his meetings at Whitmer's house, where on April 6, 1830, he formally organized the Mormon Church. He baptized his converts either in Kendig's Creek or Seneca Lake. Both places are mentioned. It is said that a few Mormon services were held in the old Jerusalem Church, thus making that church, burned in 1835, the first church edifice in which Mormon services were held.
In recent years, April, 1929, representatives of the Mormon Church purchased of Mr. Joseph H. Manges, the former Peter Whitmer farm and now own it. Occasionally Mormon services are held there. The house
Home of Peter Whitmer, Birthplace of the Mormon Church
presents a fine appearance as one of the old landmark farm houses and is well worth a trip from Waterloo, to see it. The first Mormon baptism was made in the town of Fayette, the birthplace of Mormonism.
Smith claimed that the revelation gave the name by which the church was to be known as "The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints." Soon thereafter, Smith and his followerrs left our county for Ohio....
Note: Becker's initial quote, on page 115, appears to have been taken from an 1890s regional newspaper. It supplies no specific information unavailable in other, more detailed sources. In particular, the account fails to relate when it was that Joseph Smith worked as "a day laborer for Col. Jacob Chamberlain in the town of Fayette." Since Jacob P. Chamberlain lived across the Seneca River, in what was then known as "The Kingdom," it is difficult to account for any sort of employment he might have provided for Smith in Fayette.
feared. Appalled by Mormonism's popularity, he could obtain comfort only by remembering the ephemeral schisms of the past.
Willers' letter also gives us an interesting, though limited, personal view of some early Mormon leaders. He knew the names of Joseph Smith, Jr. and Oliver Cowdery, but he was not personally acquainted with them and did little more than mention them by name. In contrast, he knew the Whitmers and Hiram Page. On April 5, 1822, shortly after his own arrival in Fayette, Willers received the Whitmers as communicants in the Reformed Church.  In his letter, Willers accused the Whitmers of believing in witches, which may have derived from the Mormon belief that people could be "possessed" by evil spirits. He also claimed that the Whitmers had affiliated with five different religious denominations prior to 1829. Current research has identified the Whitmers with only the Reformed Church.  Willers' position as their pastor, however, gives his assertion added credence. He implied that their alleged gullibility and instability were enough to invalidate their testimony concerning the existence of the plates. Implicit in his letter, however, was a persistent unwillingness to believe that David Whitmer would actually claim to have seen an angel. This would indicate that Willers himself was not fully satisfied that gullibility and religious instability alone could account for the testimony of David Whitmer. There are also characteristics of Mormonism which are conspicuous by their absence in the letter. There was, for example, no reference to any distinctive Mormon teachings concerning authority or priesthood. Moreover, the Mormon concept of a total apostasy of Christianity was not mentioned by Willers. There is also no specific reference to the First Vision of Joseph Smith, but according to present research this experience was not recorded by Joseph Smith himself until 1832.  It is significant, however, that Willers noted that Joseph Smith claimed to have association with both spirits and angels...
arguments which later characterized Mormonism were not prominent in the 1830 church.
Willers' 1830 letter on Mormonism should not be narrowly construed as a comprehensive catalogue of the teachings, practices, and characteristics of the newly-founded church Nonetheless, the letter does provide an excellent indication of the things which most infuriated and worried the opponents opponents of Mormonism in 1830.
[Bearytown, Fayette, New York]Reverend Brethren
18 June 1830
The greatest fraud of our time in the realm of religion is certainly Joseph Smith, the alleged translator of a book entitled:
"The Book of Mormon, an account written by the hand of Mormon upon plates taken from the plates of Nephi wherefore it is an abridgment of the record of the people of Nephi and also of the Lamanites written to the Lamanites which are a remnant of the house of [Israel] and also to Jew and Gentile written by way of commandment and also by the spirit of prophesy and of revelation. Written and sealed up and hid up unto the Lord that they might not be destroyed to come forth by the gift and power of God unto the interpretation thereof; sealed by the hand of Moroni and hid up unto the Lord, to come forth in due time by the way of Gentile the interpretation thereof by the gift of God an abridgment taken from the book of [Ether] -- also which is a record of the people of Jared which were scattered at the time the Lord confounded the language of the people when they were building a tower to get to heaven which is to shew unto the remnant of the house of [Israel] how great things the Lord has done for their fathers and that they may know the covenants of the Lord that they are not cast off forever and also to the convincing of the Jew and Gentile that Jesus is the Christ the eternal God manifesting himself
unto all nations. And now if there be fault it be the mistake of men wherefore condemn not the things of God that ye may be found spotless at the judgment seat of Christ."
The publication of the above work of deception stems from a speculation which is intended to benefit the financial interests of the publisher and those who are allied with him. Like deceivers of earlier centuries, this man claims to associate with spirits and angels. Because the plates from which the original was translated, according to the allegation, were of gold, in the region hereabouts this book is known by the title "The Golden Book." Since this work was printed in this region, I want to inform you of the following, according to the most credible reports:
1) The history of the origin of the book.
In the month of July [in 1829], Joseph Smith made his appearance in Seneca County, in the neighborhood of Waterloo, about six miles from my hometown. There a certain David Whitmer claimed to have seen an angel of the Lord, so Smith proceeded to his house, in order to complete the translation of the above work himself. According to the reports, only there could he work -- where men who have had association with the other world also reside. This is the eleventh place where he had worked on the translation of his work and where men saw angels.
He asserted that the angel of the Lord appeared to him and made it known that in the neighborhood of Palmyra there were golden plates in the earth, upon which was described the doings of a Jewish prophet's family, associated with many not yet fulfilled prophecies. The angel indicated that the Lord destined him to translate these things into English from the ancient language, that under these plates were hidden spectacles, without which he could not translate these plates, that by using these spectacles, he (Smith) would be in a position to read these ancient languages, which he had never studied, and that the Holy Ghost would reveal to him the translation in the English language. Therefore, he (Smith) proceeded to Manchester township, Ontario County, and found everything as described, the plates buried next to the spectacles in the
earth, and soon he completed the translation of this work.
Upon receiving this report, I hurried immediately to Whitmer's house to see this man, in order to learn the actual source of this story and to find out how it might be possible to nip this work in the bud. However, I received the reply from Whitmer's father that Smith had already departed to take his translation to press. I tried to expose the clumsy deception to this man, and he was silent about Smith's pretension, which is such that it is not worthy of refutation.
Since last year all of the neighboring congregations have been frequently and earnestly warned to beware of this so-called Golden Book [Book of Mormon] and not to buy any. The above-named Smith, however, found his followers. The security had been given to the printer for the payment of his work, and about 10,000 copies of the book have been printed, which are supposed to be sold for $1.75 each. Already in this region more have been sold than one would have expected, and the unbelieving and godless vermin have now gone to Pennsylvania in order to scatter their books among the public. The author has already been frequently challenged to demonstrate his inspiration, as did the Apostles, through genuine miracles. Naturally he cannot perform such. His followers, however, claim that through their preachers devils have been cast out recently. It goes without saying that this is allowed only in the presence of their own followers. The dear Savior has already pronounced their judgment for such false exorcists. Matthew 7:22-23.
2) Various weighty volumes could be written against the contents of this book which consists of 588 pages. The style is so insipid and wretched that even men of mediocre intelligence can recognize it. It is nothing more than a tempting work of man. I have read only a little of it and would wish to be excused from this effort, but it is the express request of my congregations which have obtained it for me so that I could read it.
The first two books are called the book of Nephi and describe the family of a so-called prophet Lehi (about whom the Bible tells us nothing) and his four sons Laman, Lemuel, Sam, and Nephi. They are represented as descendants of Joseph who lived during the reign of Zedekiah, King of Judah. It is said that Lehi saw God in the heavens which had been
opened unto him. (John 1:18; 4:24). This Lehi (elevated to the status of a prophet by man) prophesies concerning John the Baptist, that he would baptize at Bethabara and that the Messiah should be baptized by him. The author must not yet have learned that prophecies deal with future things, and that something which happened 1,800 years ago can no longer be a prophecy in this year, because it deals with the past. Nephi (the created prophet) even affirmed that in his own time he had seen in the heavens Mary the mother of the Savior with the child Jesus in her arms. Such false prophecies contrast with the prophecies throughout the Bible: 1) that they make prophecies about things which have already occurred, 2) that they have too much clarity which God according to his wisdom reserved for the bible prophecies, so that either men, as they seek to fulfill these same prophecies, do not give the honor of the fulfillment to themselves, which belongs alone to God the highest, or men try to subvert them, and thereby induce the Almighty to perform miracles where natural means would have sufficed.
According to God's command, this prophet's family departed Jerusalem so that they would not experience the coming destruction of Jerusalem by [Nebuchadnezzar], and to live for awhile in the desert. Shortly after, Nephi and his brothers travel again back to Jerusalem and bring Ishmael and his family back to their father Lehi. Ishmael, Abraham's son, however, must have been 1,800 years old by the time of King Zedekiah.
The Bible certainly would not have concealed so great an age from us, since it established Methuselah as the oldest man. It says much more about Ishmael (Genesis 23), that he died when 137 years old and was gathered to his people. According to the history of the world, the Arabians in the 13th Century were the discoverers of the compass needle, but according to Nephi's book, God himself gave this family a compass in order to lead them across a great sea to the promised land.
As a punishment, God is supposed to have given the Lamanites a black skin, because they did not want to follow the Nephites. Prior to this they had been white and delightsome (as Asiatics). According to this assumption the origin of the Blacks would come from Laman, one of Nephi's brothers whom God had given a black skin because of his godlessness, and yet so many reasons exist to conclude that the origin of the Blacks came from Ham the son of Noah.
According to page 65 of the Book of Mormon, human reproduction was a result of the Fall; consequently, if Adam and Eve had not sinned, according to this principle, they would have had no children. The author in his blindness must have never read Genesis 1:28. Moreover, he maintains that if the
Fall had not occurred, the animal creations would have been [illegible] and that they would have remained in their original condition, thus incapable of propagating themselves. The last refutation in Genesis 1:22 concerns the everlasting life of animals. The holy scriptures describe the death of man as a result of the Fall, and it is recognized that without the Fall the body of man would have remained in immortality. Never, however, do the holy scriptures mislead one to conclude that the death of animals resulted from the Fall.
In chapter 8 of the book of Moroni, a letter of his father Mormon is presented. To begin with, he writes that the Holy Ghost instructed him that children were wholesome, needing no baptism (Romans 3:12) and that those who claim that child baptism is necessary were filled with bitter gall and were without faith, love, and hope; and those who believe in child baptism must be consigned to hell. The holy scriptures, however, never prescribe damnation for belief in any kind of baptism, but instead for disbelief. (Mark 16:16). The scriptures also never assert that faith, love, and hope are fruits of the baptism of adults, but instead maintain that they are the fruits of the gospel and of the Holy Ghost (John 20:31; Romans 10:17; Galatians 5:22). When he writes that infant baptism invalidates the Atonement of Christ, then the Apostle Paul makes him (Mormon) a false teacher (Romans 6:3), who writes that everyone who is baptized unto Jesus Christ is baptized unto his death.
I have read only about 100 pages in the Book of Mormon. The author, now established as a prophet through the transmission of his nonexistent plates, wants to elevate his book to the status of a canonical work through which the Spirit of God is revealed to men. Even with this he is not satisfied, but introduces a second Bible, and thereby expects it to be acknowledged that the Word of God is not complete. Moreover, he threatens damnation upon all who do not believe in his false bible. We must with the Apostle Paul await this curse upon such: Galatians 1:6-8.
3) What the ultimate object of this book concerns is its self-condemnation. The reprobate Jewish people are supposed to receive mercy once more and become part of the Church of Christ, and the Gentiles likewise are to be grafted into the true church. There are teachings which we have in the true
Bible and we need no new Bible in addition. Such superfluous revelations conflict with the wisdom of God which has done nothing unnecessary. In all of His ways there has been the grandest design which has been achieved by the shortest means.
4) The effects of this book already extend upon members of various Christian persuasions. Some members of the Lutheran, Reformed, Presbyterian, and Baptist congregations have given this book their approval, have been baptized by immersion, and formed their own sect. Because they baptize by immersion they are winning over many members of the Baptist Church (including General as well as Particular Baptists), first because of their teachings about the universal grace of God and lastly because of their agreement in attitude toward the proper subject of holy baptism.
This upstart sect calls itself the True Followers of Christ; however, because they believe in the Book of Mormon, they bear the name Mormonites. For the past several Sundays many people of both sexes have been immersed by them, and so many during the week that their numbers in the region hereabouts may amount to at least 100 persons. They have their own preachers whom I know, Oliver Cowdery by description and David Whitmer (the so-called angel-viewer) personally. Their sect, however, numbers still other preachers, unknown to me. The Book of Mormon, from which they all preach every Sunday, must be regarded by the converts as not only a symbolic book but even more as a second Bible to be used for godly instruction. Most of their present adherents were apparently General Baptists.
By itself this new sect may not astound the Christian Church. Past centuries have also had their religious monstrosities, but where are they now? Where are the sects of Nicolaites, Ebionites, Nasoreans, Montanites, Paulicians, and such others, which the Christian churches call fables. They have dissolved into the ocean of the past and have been given the stamp of oblivion. The Mormonites, and hopefully soon, will also share that fate. Most of their preachers have gone to Pennsylvania in order to make converts to their doctrines and also to carry a quantity of books to sell.
And so I am, your brother, commissioned by the Zion Congregation, imploring you to warn with the utmost urgency the residents of the Union, wherever our Magazine of the Reformed Church is read, against these new doctrines and against the purchase of these books.
In conclusion I will add the testimony of these unbelieving and godless men:
The Testimony of Three Witnesses
Be it known unto all nations, kindreds, tongues and people, unto whom this work shall come, that we, through the grace of God the Father, and; our Lord Jesus Christ have seen the plates which contain this record, which is a record of the people of Nephi, and also of the Lamanites, his brethren and also a record of the people of Jared which came from the tower, of which has been spoken, and we also know that they have been translated by the gift and power of God, for his voice has declared it unto us, wherefore we know of a surety that the work is true, and we also testify that we have seen the engravings which are upon the plates, and they have been shewn unto us by the power of God, and not of man, and we declare with words of soberness, that an angel of God came down from heaven, and he brought and laid before our eyes, that we beheld and saw the plates, and the engravings thereon and we know that it is by the grace of God the Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, that we beheld and bear record that these things are true; and it is marvellous in our eyes. Nevertheless the voice of the Lord commanded us, that we should bear record of it; wherefore to be obedient of God, we bear testimony of these things, and we know that if we are faithful in Christ, we shall rid our garments of the blood of all men, and be found spotless before the judgment seat of Christ, and shall dwell with him eternally in the heavens, and the honor be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost, which is one God. Amen.
(signed) Oliver Cowdery, David Whitmer, Martin Harris.
And Also the Testimony of Eight Witnesses.
Be it known unto all nations, kindreds, tongues and people,
unto whom this work shall come that Joseph Smith, Jr., the author and proprietor of this work, has shewn unto us the plates of which has been spoken, which have the appearance of gold; and as many of the leaves as the said Smith has translated, we did handle with our hands; and we also saw the engravings thereon, all of which has the appearance of ancient work and of curious workmanship and this we bear record, with words of soberness, that the said Smith has shewn unto us, for we have seen and hefted, and know of a surety that the said Smith has got the plates of which we have spoken, and we give our names unto the world to witness unto the world that which we have seen: and we lie not, God bearing witness of it. -- Christian Whitmer, Jacob W., Peter W., Jr., John W., Hiram Page, Joseph Smith, Sen., Hyrum Smith, Samuel H. Smith.
I am acquainted with the Whitmers. During the past nine years, they were followers of the Methodists, Reformers, Presbyterians, Mennonites, and Baptists, and are unstable, spineless men; moreover, they are gullible to the highest degree and even believe in witches. Hiram Page is likewise full of superstition, and the Smiths are probably the close relations of Joseph Smith, Jr., author of the Book of Mormon.
With deep respect and love,
Reverend L. Mayer and D. Young
Note: Ellen E. Dickinson published an 1882 Diedrich Willers letter on pp. 249-252 of her 1885 New Light on Mormonism. A partial extract reads:
When I came to Seneca County as pastor of a number of congregations of the (German) Reformed Church, in April, 1821, I found among the members of a remote congregation, Zion's Church (afterward known as Jerusalem Church), in West Fayette, a plain, unassuming farmer of the name Peter Whitmer, a native of Pennsylvania, of the class of settlers known as Pennsylvania Germans. He was a quiet, unpretending, and apparently honest, candid, and simple-minded man....
I may state here, that I never met or had any acquaintance with Joseph Smith, Hiram Page, Cowdrey, or Sidney Rigdon, nor, in fact, with any of the persons connected with them, except the Whitmers and the Jolly family. I am informed by Mr. Jacob Shiley an old gentleman, aged seventy-nine years, now a resident of Fayette (who fifty or more years ago occupied a farm adjoining the residence of the Whitmers and Jollys), that the five persons of the name Whitmer whose names appear in the "Testimony of three witnesses" and the "Testimony of eight witnesses," appearing at the end of the Mormon Bible...
Hiram Page, who is described to me as an itinerant botanic or root doctor, married a daughter of Peter Whitmer. It was said at the time of the marriage of Page to Miss Whitmer, that her father was opposed to the marriage...
One of the sons of Mr. Whitmer (as I am informed by Mr. Shiley) married a Miss Jolly, whose mother, the wife of William Jolly, of West Fayette, was a baptized convert to Mormonism, and with her husband removed with the Mormons to Ohio....Two other sons of Mr. Whitmer (as Mr. Shiley informs me) married ladies of the name Schott, of West Fayette, near Waterloo, one of whom is said to have returned to Seneca County upon the death of her husband.
My informant (Mr. Shiley) says that he has attended the services held at the houses of Peter Whitmer and William Jolly, and heard, among others who spoke (or preached), Joseph Smith, Sidney Rigdon, and Hiram Page. The baptisms were performed by immersion in Thomas' Creek and Kendig Creek, in the town of Fayette. Mr. Jacob Shiley and his brother George Shiley, also still living in West Fayette, were present, and witnessed the immersion in baptism of Mrs. William Jolly. When it became known to me that Peter Whitmer and his family were becoming the dupes of Smith and his co-workers, I called upon Mr. Whitmer, in order to remonstrate with him and to warn him of the errors and delusions and the false doctrines promulgated by these men....
A history of Seneca Co., N. Y., published in 1870 by Everts, Ensign & Everts, Philadelphia, Penn., contains some reference to Mormonism, from the recollection of Hon. Daniel S. Kendig, still living at Waterloo, who was born in Fayette in 1802, and lived there in the early years of his life. French's New York Gazetteer, published by R. Pearsall Smith, at Syracuse, New York, in 1800, also contained some data concerning Mormonism, and states that the first Mormon society was formed in the town of Fayette, Seneca County, in 1830. In this gazetteer Martin Harris is reported to have mortgaged his farm to defray the expense of printing the Mormon Bible. It was generally reported hereabouts, however, that Peter Whitmer had become surety for paying the cost of printing this Bible, and it may be difficult now to ascertain the exact facts in regard thereto; but as Smith was engaged in preparing the Bible for publication at Whitmer's house, it is probable that Whitmer also became involved in the expense of publication....
104 Origins of the LDS Church in New York and Pennsylvania
The Joseph Smith, Sr., Family
Locates in Seneca County
Lucy Smith indicated that they located in "Waterloo," however, in a technical sense, the apparently located in a community midway between Waterloo and Seneca Falls called the "Kingdom." Local histories have identified the residence of the Smith family at that location only by their mention of Joseph Smith, Jr., having been there. One accout purported that Joseph Smith, Jr., "located at Kingdom, a mile west of Seneca Falls, about 1821, or '22 as a general hand for any kind of work" adding that his earliest 'baptisms' -- by immersion -- were Silver Creek, south of the Kingdom." 
A graphic description of the Kingdom has trace its history over a period of years:
Few of the thousands of motorists who daily speed along busy Route 5 between the village [of Seneca Falls] and Waterloo, realize that midway between the two communities they pass through what was once a larger village than either of them.Lucy Smith said that their home was situated on the Seneca River.  On September 10, 1959, Stanley I. Reynolds, a Waterloo genealogist, told Sister Wilford A. Hall, an LDS missionary at the Peter
136. See Chapter III herein, for a discussion of Joseph Smith, Sr.'s, confinement and the prospective dates involved.
137. Lucy Smith, op. cit., p. 167.
138. [Welch], "Grip's" Historical Souvenir of Seneca Falls, p. 26; See also Arnold H. Barben, Notes on "The Kingdom" (Seneca Falls: Seneca Falls Historical Society, n.d.), located in the Seneca Falls Historical Society, Seneca Falls, New York.
139. From a newspaper clipping, n.p., n.d., probably the Post Standard or the Syracuse Herald Journal, Syracuse New York. The newspaper clipping is in the "Charles F. Hulbert Scrapbook," located in the possession of Charles F. Hulbert, Geneva, New York. John S. Genung secured the scrapbook for the writers examination.
140. Lucy Smith, op. cit., p. 171.
Origins of the LDS Church in New York and Pennsylvania 105
Whitmer Farm, the location, according to his research, of that house.  He directed her to a home which, at that time, was standing on the north side of State Highway 5, north of the Seneca River, in the Kingdom. The next day, September 11, 1959, Sister Hall, in the company of Mrs. Edna Kime, visited the designated house and there met a Miss Duntz, an elderly lady who affirmed the tradition of the house being that of the Smiths.  Today, the purported Smith home is no longer standing, having been torn down to make way for a business district. The only indications of where the Kingdom once flourished is a New York State "Kingdom" historical marker and the use of the name to designate present day business establishments. The "Kingdom Plaza" derived its name from the former community, although the "River View Plaza" is more appropriately centered where the old settlement of the Kingdom stood. On the south side of the river, at the "Kingdom Bridge," is the "Kingdom Tavern." 
"Kingdom" area on 1850 Seneca County Map (image not in original text)
Lucy Smith recalled that they were well received in the new neighborhood and noted:
We moved into a house belonging to an individual by the name of Kellog. Shortly after arriving there, we were made to realize that the hearts of the people were in the hands of the Lord; for we had scarcely unpacked our goods, when one of our new neighbors, A Mr. Osgood, came in and invited us to drive our stock and teams to his barnyard, and feed them from his barn, free of cost, until we could make further arrangements. Many of our neighbors came and welcomed us to Waterloo. Among whom was Mr. Hooper, a tavern keeper, whose wife came with him, and brought us a present of some delicate eatables. Such manifestations of kindness as these were shown us from day to day, during our continuance in the place. And they were duly appreciated, for we had experienced the opposite so severly, that the least show of good feeling gave rise to the liveliest sensations of gratitude." In 1830, "Kingdom" was located within the boundaries of the town of Seneca Falls. The U.S. Census for Seneca County, town of Seneca Falls, for that year lists as heads of families, Pontius Hooper, Fuller Kellog and Leonard W. Osgood. The writer believes that these men might well be the individuals named above by Lucy Smith.  It should also be noted that Pontius Hooper was a tavern keeper in the Kingdom for many years, fitting Mrs. Smith's label of "Mr. Hooper, a tavern keeper." 
During their residence in the Finger Lakes country, Lucy also reported: "We established the practice of spending the evenings in singing and praying. The neighbors soon became aware of this, and it caused our house to become a place of evening resort for some dozen or twenty persons." 
The Hon. Daniel S. Kendig stated that he remembered Joseph Smith, Jr., very well. He recalled that Joseph Smith "worked as a day laborer for old Jacob Chamberlain and occasionally for others."  Jacob Chamberlain was a resident of the town of Seneca Falls, in the vicinity of the Kingdom.  Judge Gary V. Sackett, of Seneca Falls, was another who remembered Joseph Smith "at the Kingdom." It is reported that, "Judge Sackett was also acquainted with Joseph Smith, the founder of the Mormon Church, when he was at the Kingdom and Kendig Creek making converts. Though impressed with the earnestness of this new prophet he regarded him as self deceived by his fanciful notions and dreams." 
141. "Missionary Journal of Elder and Sister Wilford A. Hall," p. 194, located in the possession of Mrs. Wilford A. Hall, Provo, Utah.
142. "Missionary Journal of Elder and Sister Wilford A. Hall," p. 194; personal interview with Mrs. Wilford A. Hall, April 5, 1971.
143. The owner of the "Kingdom Tavern," Mr. Dominic Carfora, told the writer that the tavern is not one of the old taverns from the "Kingdom era," but that it was one of the old residential homes of that community, converted to a modern tavern in 1949. He stated that the Plaza Motors now stands on the site where the last of the early taverns stood, on the north side of the river, opposite the "Kingdom Bridge." -- Personal interview with Dominic Carfora, the "Kingdom," August 20, 1970.
144. Lucy Smith, op. cit., pp. 167-168.
145. U.S. Census, Seneca County, Town of Seneca Falls, p. 26, BYU Film #317, Brigham Young University Library, Provo, Utah.
146. "Waterloo Sixty Years Ago," Waterloo Observer, August 11, 1875.
147. Lucy Smith, op. cit., p. 168.
148. [McIntosh], History of Seneca Co., New York, p. 129.
149. U.S. Census, Seneca County, Town of Seneca Falls, p. 26.
150. "Genealogical and Biographical Sketch of Gary V. Sackett," Papers read before the Seneca Falls Historical Society for the year 1905, ([Seneca Falls: Seneca Falls Historical Society, 1905]), p. 70, located in the Seneca Falls Historical Society, Seneca Falls, New York.
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