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on the west by the counties of Oneida and Lewis. It lies in the central part of the state, between 42 degrees and 50 minutes, and 44 degrees and 5 minutes north latitude, and 1 degree and 43 minutes, and 2 degrees and 14 minutes east longitude from the city of Washington; and is 75 miles long from north to south, and about 26 miles in width from east to west.
Rivers, Streams And Lakes.
The Mohawk river runs through the southerly part of the county from the west, on an easterly course, and is the most considerable stream of water in it. The East Canada creek, or kill, as formerly called, takes its rise in Hamilton county and discharges itself into the Mohawk river from the north, and forms the eastern boundary line from the river to the northeast corner of the royal grant.
The sources of the West Canada creek, or kill, called by the Indians Tueghtaghrarow, are traced to the northerly part of the county, and into the westerly part of Hamilton, running a southwesterly course to the southwest corner of Matchin's patent, and thence southerly and easterly to the northwest corner of Walton's patent, it forms the boundary line between Herkimer and Oneida counties. It empties into the Mohawk river from the north, near the village of Herkimer.
The Moose, Black and Beaver rivers, which flow into Lake Ontario, have their sources in the north part of the county, fed by numerous lakes and ponds of pure water, none of which, however, are of any commercial note, but are now often visited by the amateur angler and hunter, as they formerly were by the veteran aboriginal of the forest, and sad is the fate of him who is not proof against the assaults of the mosquito and midge. The bite of these insects is very annoying and poisonous to many of the whites. There are two small lakes or bodies of water in the south part of the town of Warren, called the Little Lakes, but there are no others of note on the south side of the Mohawk.
The Nowadaga creek, in the town of Danube, which flows north into the Mohawk river; the Otsquaga creek, that drains the town of Stark, and the head waters of the Unadilla and Susquehanna rivers take their rise in the towns of Columbia, Warren, Litchfield and Winfield, and flow south, are the only streams which are worthy of note on the south side of the Mohawk. On the north side, besides those already noticed, are several tributaries of the Mohawk and East and West Canada creeks, affording eligible sites and water power for mills and manufactories, improved to a limited extent.
Face Of The Country.
The surface is much diversified, and it may properly be called " a hill country," but it is not mountainous, as it has been sometimes asserted. The Adirondack range of elevated lands enters the county on the northeast from Hamilton and extends to the Mohawk at Little Falls, where it is broken through by the river; thence the same range extends southwesterly in the southern part of the county, forming a dividing ridge for the waters running south and those that flow into the Mohawk river. The settlements now extend about thirty miles north of the Mohawk and the most elevated points of land on the north and south sides of the river, are productive of grass, Indian corn, and coarse grains. These remarks apply particularly to the settled parts of the county. The ranges of upland are quite elevated, in some places being eight hundred feet above the waters of the river. The Ostrander hill, south of Newville in the town of Danube, the hill east of Fairfield academy, and an elevated plat in Russia, observable in a clear day, on the road from Little Falls to Middleville, fourteen miles distant in a northerly direction up the valley of the West Canada creek, are prominent points of this description, and still these elevations are not precipitous or inapproachable.
The northern part of the county, remaining in forests, is elevated, but not more broken than the southern portions under cultivation, and along the valleys of the Mohawk and the East and West Canada creeks.
This is somewhat various, depending upon localities. Sandy and argillaceous loams, based on limestone, sandstone and primitive granite gneiss, clay and calcareous loam, calcareous and sandy loam, calcareous loam, sandy and clay loam, are the general characteristics of the uplands. Rich alluvial flats are found in the Mohawk valley, and quite as productive in grains of various descriptions, as any of the best lands in the state. The alluvial flats of the smaller streams are also rich and productive. The soil north of the royal grant is light and sandy, producing fair summer crops, and is pretty well adapted to grazing.
Before the war of 1812, and as recent as 1820, the principal productions of this county were wheat, corn, rye, barley, peas, beans, oats, hay and potatoes; wheat and barley forming the chief articles of export to the Albany market; of corn, oats, peas and rye, there was some surplus, and also of fat cattle and hogs. The Mohawk valley and the Schoharie were once the granaries of the Albany and New York markets, even when "York flour" had attained some celebrity in New England, and was preferred there to the southern article. The opening of the Erie canal in 1825, brought a rival into market, against which it was useless to contend—Western New York and the country on the south shores of Lake Erie, where the harvests were gathered nearly two weeks earlier than in Oneida, Herkimer and Montgomery, and the crops in bulk would be in market before the grain growers in those counties had begun their wheat harvests. If there was no difference in the quality of the article produced, the difference in the price of land in western New York, Pennsylvania and Ohio, and that along the Mohawk valley and in the county, and the disparity in the quantity of the yield per annum, made grain-growing an onerous and unprofitable business to the Herkimer county farmer.
During the period of ten years, from 1820 to 1830, agriculture was at a low ebb in the county. Year after year the insect destroyed all the fields of wheat, and year after year the toil-wearied farmer found himself without the means of paying even his small debts, much less to grapple with bonds, mortgages and interest, given to secure the purchase money of his lands.
In 1820, if all the personal or movable property in the county had been sold at a fair appraisal, it would not have produced sufficient means to pay the domestic debt of the county, and probably not more than half of it. But the recuperative energies of the American can not be borne down even by formidable obstacles, nor can "his hopeful and go-ahead resolution" be "crushed out." As early as 1825, some few of our farmers began to think seriously of "changing their mode of husbandry." They abandoned grain growing and turned their attention to grazing, and now the dairy house, and not the granary, is the great point of attraction. Butter, cheese and fat cattle now constitute the staple of the agricultural exports from the county. At one period, Herkimer county cheese stood the first in the market, and it has not lost any of its qualities, but other localities have no doubt improved their productions, still the supply hardly keeps pace with the demand, so that prices do not recede but advance moderately. The business has been quite remunerative for years past to those who bought lands as prices ranged about ten years since. Formerly, the most considerable portion of cheese made was taken to market in the fall of the year; the shipments by canal commencing in September and continuing until the close of navigation, or until all the early made cheese was sent off, •and that made late was kept over the winter and sent forward in the spring. But since the rail roads have carried freight, the article is now sent to market as soon as it becomes sufficiently cured to bear transportation in boxes. The raising of broom-corn and the cultivation of the hop has lately attracted attention, and are now being produced to some extent, and on some soils it will no doubt be found quite as profitable as raising grain or devoting the lands to grazing. The soil of the royal grant is said to possess, in an extraordinary degree, the quality of yielding sweet fall pasturage even until covered with snow.
Sawed lumber from the North woods is yet produced in moderate quantities and forms an article of export; and since the construction of plank roads in that direction this business has somewhat increased, and will continue to afford employment for the hardy pioneer lumberman for some years to come.
At no period within forty years have the agricultural interests of the county been as prosperous and healthful as at present, and the domestic or home indebtedness so small; and with the balance of trade largely in its favor, the future prospects of its people are most cheering and hopeful. In the article of breadstnffs, and particularly flour, the consumption greatly exceeds the production, and very considerable quantities of western flour and wheat are annually brought into the county for home use. Wheat is not raised in any quantity; the home supply of corn, oats, rye, buckwheat, potatoes and apples is equal to the consumption; and apples are sometimes exported when the crops are good and the eastern supply short.
Iron ore is found in large quantities in the north part of the county, and formerly in what is called Brown's tract, there were works for smelting the ore, but these have been