Gambar halaman
PDF
ePub

to the growth and prosperity of the place, which brought it into notice at an early period; but the paralyzing policy of the proprietor, who was an alien, in limiting his alienations to leases in fee rendering an annual rent, and refusing to make only a few grants of that description, to which he affixed the most stringent conditions and restrictions in the exercise of trade and the improvement of the water power, kept the place nearly stationary, until 1831, excepting that part of the present village on the south side of the river, not subject to the dead weight of nonalienation. Upon the opening of the Erie canal, in 1825, the only erections in that part of the village were a bridge and toll house, at the south end of the bridge; the Bellinger grist mill and a small dwelling, for the miller's residence, and the Vrooman house.

In 1816, there were only two streets, or thoroughfares, in the village. The turnpike, now known as Main street, and the Eastern and Western avenues, which thenextended on the present line no farther than to cross Furnace creek, where it turned down east of the yellow house, thence over the old canal, and along between the old canal and river, to the head of the falls. The Western avenue was not then opened. The other road was what is now called German, Bridge, Ann and Church streets, crossing the river from the south, and leading to Eatonville and Top-notch. There were not over forty dwelling houses in the place at that time. Before Main street was extended west from Ann, the traveled road was down Ann street, across the old canal, and thence along Mill street. At this time, there was one church, the octagon, not finished, the stone school house, two taverns, two blacksmith shops, five or six stores and groceries, and one grist and one saw mill on the north side of the river. This was nearly the state of things until 1828, except the few erections and improvements that had been made on Main and Ann streets, and two or three dwelling houses on Garden street. Ann street, north of Garden, was a pasture. All that part of the village east of Second and south of the lots fronting on Main street, extending to the river, as well as that portion east of the old Salisbury road, was a drear wilderness, thickly covered with white cedar undergrowth.

farm, which he cultivated with success more than fifty years. He raised a family of five sons and seven daughters, some of whom still survive, and others have gone with him to their final rest. All of his children, with two exceptions, I believe, settled in this county. Colonel Feeter adhered through life to doctrine and mode of worship of the German Lutheran church, which must lead one to believe he had been early and thoroughly educated in the tenets of the great reformer. He died at Little Falls, May 5, 1844, aged 88 years.

His father, Lucus Feeter, stood high in the confidence of Sir William Johnson and the whole family, and because his rebellious boy would not consent to abandon his native country and follow the fortunes of Sir John, he was driven from the paternal roof, and compelled to seek a shelter and a home where he could. The surrounding neighbors being mostly adherents of the Johnson family, and friendly to the royal cause, the task of finding a kind and sympathizing friend, and one who would advise and counsel him for the best, may have been a difficult matter for young Feeter to surmount. He succeeded, however, in securing a temporary home in the family of Mr. Yauney, a near neighbor of his father. At a proper time, Mr. Yauney presented a musket to his young protege, and told him he would have to rely upon that for defense and protection, until his country's freedom was acknowledged by the British king. The colonel used that musket through the whole war, and it is now preserved as an heir-loom in the family of his youngest son. Col. Feeter was born St Stone Arabia, February 2d, 1756.

I now relate the foliowingincident, which shows the cool courage and resolute determination of the man, or I should say, perhaps, of him and his companion. On one occasion, he and Mr. Gray, the father of the Hon. Charles Gray, of Herkimer, had, during the war, been on an expedition up the river, and were returning in a small canoe; when they reached the Little Falls, instead of taking their light craft over the carrying place, or sending it over the falls empty, they pushed into the stream, and safely navigated their frail vessel amid boiling, surging waters, over the rapids. He performed B like feat at another time during the war, when a comrade in another canoe was stranded on the rocks, and barely escaped drowning.

The reader, who knows the locality as it now appears, may think this rather an improbable story. The fact is not only well attested, but we must reflect, that the stream was not then hedged hi and confined by dams, arches and artificial structures, and that the flow of water, at an ordinary flood, was much greater than it is at present.

[graphic]

The village charter, granted March 30th, 1811, was amended in 1827, and the corporation authorized to open streets, which had been dedicated to public use, as laid down on a map made by the proprietor, in 1811. The power given was exerted in the first instance, by opening Albany, Garden and Second streets, at the expense of the owners of the adjoining lots. This touched the proprietor's purse, and he consented to sell in fee the lots on those streets. This, however, did not reach the water power, which was not improved, neither would the proprietors on either side of the river consent to sell lots and water rights, but the alien owner adopted the plan of making short leases, by which he anticipated a rich harvest on the falling in of the revisions. The people of the village were not slow to perceive the fatal effects of this policy, and applied to the legislature for the passage of an act to prohibit the alien proprietor from making any grants or leases, except in fee. These were the conditions on which he was authorized to take, hold and convey lands in this state. The act passed the senate at the session of 1831, and was sent to the Assembly for concurrence. The agents offered to sell the whole proprietary interest in the village for $50,000, and active negotiations were set on foot by several parties to make the purchase. The act made slow progress in the assembly. The leading citizens of the village were appealed to, and advised to form a company, and make the purchase. The bill was finally acted upon in the house, and rejected. Almost simultaneous with that rejection, the sale was effected to several members of that body and other parties, and the purchasers in a short time realized a net $50,000 on their purchase, or very nearly that sum. Whether there was any connection between the defeat of the bill, which I had some agency in carrying through the senate, and the sale, I never sought to know. The sale accomplished all that we of the village desired, because we believed the purchasers had bought .with the intention of elling out, as fast as they could; but the proprietor, Mr. Ellice, had a large interest at stake; he was the owner of other considerable tracts of land, not only in this county, but in different parts of the state; it was important to him, therefore, to get rid of the restrictive provisions of the bill, in respect to his other lands. His agents in this country were well satisfied that the applicants for coercive but just measures would not rest quietly under one defeat, and that his interests would be damaged in proportion to the duration of the controversy.

The new proprietors made immediate arrangements to bring the property into market, and effected large sales by auction and private sale, in the year 1831, and in the course of a few years, what remained of the original purchase, with other lands of Mr. Ellice on the north side of the river, came into the hands of Richard R. Ward and James Munroe Esquires, of the city of New York, not however as joint owners. No sale of the water power, in separate lots or privileges, were made before Mr. Ward became the sole owner of all that portion of the original purchase from Mr. Ellice. When these were brought into market, Gen. Bellinger, the principal owner of the water power, on the south side of the river, supposing a prior appropriation might not tally with his private interests, also came into market, and mills, factories, foundries and other machinery, were soon in operation, giving life, vigor and animation, to this circumscribed spot.

After the opening of the canal in 1825, the little patch of habitable earth in its vicinity, was soon improved, and what had hitherto been a wild, broken cedar thicket, was converted into a habitable spot and active business place, by the art of man. In 1830, the whole population of the town was, 2,539, and about 1,700 of that number, were within the village limits. *

It appears by the recent census that the population of the town on the 1st day of June, 1855, was 4,930, and that within the corporation limits, which embraces a small portion of Manheim, the whole population was, 3,972. The progress

[graphic][ocr errors][merged small]

of the village in population and industrial pursuits has been slow, but quite as rapid as any of its sister villages in the valley between Utica and Schenectady. It now ranks the first in population and commercial and manufacturing importance.

This village contains two large and commodious brick schoolhouses, with a capacity of seating 600 pupils, which cost about $10,000; two stone, one brick, and two wood framed churches. These structures have all been erected within the last 25 years, and evince a commendable feeling of public spirit and liberality in the population of the village.

It is a singular, and perhaps a remarkable fact, that

« SebelumnyaLanjutkan »