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rence and Herkimer and Hamilton counties, and claimed the whole country as hunting grounds, although their title had been long extinguished. This seemed to produce an unfriendly feeling between the hunters of the two races, which proved fatal to some of them, but the red men were the greatest sufferers.
The next case in the criminal annals of the county, was that of John Allen, who was arraigned on an indictment for murder, before Philo Gridley, justice of the supreme court, of the fifth district, Ezra Graves, county judge, David Humphreyville and Morgan S. Churchill, justices of the sessions, on the 5th of September, 1849. George B. Judd, district attorney, conducted the prosecution, and Messrs. V. Owen and R. Earl, the defense. Thirty-nine witnesses were called and examined by the prosecution. The jury empanneled to make "true deliverance" found the prisoner not guilty, under the direction of the court. This is the substance of the entry in the proceedings of the court, and those familiar with the expressions used, will conclude that the prosecution failed to make out a case of probable cause of guilt, against the prisoner. The murder was charged in the indictment, to have been committed in the town of Schuyler, in the winter of 1848-9. The lifeless body of a man was found, bearing strong marks of violence having been inflicted upon it, and sufficient to produce death. It was identified to be that of a foot pedler, traveling about the country, with goods of some value. It was also believed he had a small amount of money with him. The circumstances connected with this sad affair, produced a strong impression on the public mind, that the man had been murdered, in order to obtain possession of his goods and money, or that he was killed in defending himself against a violent robbery. The popular excitement in our community ran to a pretty high pitch, and a just indignation at the commission of so foul a deed, was loudly expressed. The officers of justice were soon on the alert, and the district attorney ably and resolutely performed his duty, and if he failed to convict the man indicted and arraigned, that failure can not justly be charged to a want of industry or energy, on the part of the prosecution.
This ends my catalogue of capital offenses against life, for a period of nearly sixty-four years, since the erection of the county. In all that time there have been two convictions for murder, but no public execution by the hangman. May the good Providence of God, and a just regard of our population to their duty and obedience to the laws, continue to avert from us all cause for such an exhibition of punishment.
We can not and do not claim to be exempt from the commission of crime in the lower grade of offenses, but the calendar has not been large, nor have the instances been grave or serious. The petty larceny fraternity have not yet quite left us, or abandoned their business, and there have been those who indulged in acts of felonious appropriation upon a larger scale, so as to come under the definition of grand larceny.
Bands of counterfeiters and persons engaged in passing counterfeit paper money, and spurious coin, have heretofore infested the county, the rigor with which these law-breakers were prosecuted, and the vigilance of the public officers in detecting and ferreting out these depredators upon the public, has long since cleared the county of this class of offenders. I do not mean to say we have not had instances of offenses of this sort committed in the county within twenty years, but the cases have been rare within that time compared with the period between 1820 and 1830.
Upon a careful review of the statistics of crime committed in this county the present century, and comparing them with other counties in the state, and other communities, we find much to encourage a hope that the future in our progress will present more gratifying results than the past, and that the moral sentiment of the population of the county in this respect, as in every other duty of life, may be found the highest and best of any in the state.
Biographical Sketches of Stephen Ayres, Alexander H. Buell, Robert Burch, Stephen W. Brown, Benjamin Bowen, Dan Chapman, Atwater Cook, William H. Cook, Rufus Crain, Henry Ellison, John Frank, Simeon Ford, David V. W. Golden, Gaylord Griswold, Joab Griswold, Elihu Griswold, John Graves, David Holt, Michael Hoffman, Stephen Hallett, Philo M. Hackley, Henry Hopkins, Sanders Lansing, John Mahon, Thomas Manly, Jacob Markell, John Mills, Michael Myers, William Petry, George Rosecrants, Nathan Smith, Ephraim Snow, Henry Tillinghast, Stephen Todd, Abijah Tombling, Edmund Varney, Richard Van Horne, Evans Wharry, George Widrig, Westel Willoughby, Chauncey Woodruff, Sherman Wooster, Samuel Wright.
The writer has indulged in some personal gratification in collecting and writing out the biographical sketches presented to the reader's attention in this chapter. That gratification would have been greatly increased, if the means of doing more ample justice to the subject had been within his reach, and he could have included every name found in the official list printed in the appendix. He was familiarly acquainted with very many of the individuals of whom he has written, and take them as a class, or individually, with one exception, for purity of character, elevated and patriotic purpose in action through life, they should not have a second place on the scroll of fame. Their sphere of action was limited, but they bore the same relation to the people of the county, that others filling higher and more elevated positions held in respect to the communities they represented. There have been and always will be, I suppose, grades of excellence in official men; some may have no excellence at all, but this can not be said of those whose biographies are
found in the succeeding pages of this chapter. Stephen Ayres
Was a native of Massachusetts, and born at Braintree, February 16th, 1770. He came into this state with his father, Jabez Ayres, in the year 1792, who settled in the town of Salisbury, where he made his clearing, raised his family, and went to his final rest, leaving the subject of this notice to inherit a good farm and a large share of his energy of character. Mr. Stephen Ayres purchased a lot of land in the then town of Norway, now Fairfield, in the fall of 1792, which he brought under cultivation and on which he lived until his death. He was a practical surveyor, an occupation he occasionally pursued until age incapacitated him from service in the field. In the course of a long and active life he had traced many of the lines of lots on the patents on the north side of the river, and could designate the boundaries of lots, and describe and locate the corner trees from memory, many years after he had quit the active pursuits of his profession, and indeed many years after he had made his survey His son, Hiram Ayres, was called on, not many years before his father's death, to trace the lines of a lot at a distant point on the Royal grant, from the family residence, and when told the number and location of the lot, Mr. Ayres described to his son with particular exactness, the corner of the lot where the survey commenced, and lest these landmarks might have been removed or destroyed, he also described a peculiar witness tree, and its course and distance from the true corner, when surveyed about twenty years before and not since visited by him.
In 1836, Mr. Ayres represented this county in the Asembly, with Frederick Bellinger and Thomas Hawkes. He was not ambitious of political preferment, although he deservedly enjoyed the confidence and esteem of his fellow citizens. In stature he was full six feet, and "well proportioned." He was of that class and school of men who reasoned well and endeavored to act wisely. He chose to be governed by the results of his own reflections, and the