The first settlement in the town, if such it can be called, was made in the valley of the Genegantslet, on the site of Smithville Flats, in 1797, by Robert LYTLE, an Irishman, who was a single man, and erected a shanty, a mere hunting cabin, which stood some forty rods north-east of the lower hotel in that village. He made no clearing, nor other improvements, and in February, 1798, sold to Joseph AGARD, who came in that year from Litchfield, Conn., where he was born August 17, 1746, in company with Major Epaphras SHELDON, from the same place, the latter of whom had previously prospected the locality and induced Agard to accompany him in its settlement. Major Sheldon had formerly been a man of property and Agard had worked for him as a day laborer in Connecticut. They were the first permanent settlers in the town. Both brought in their families, which then consisted of five sons and one daughter each, and varied but little in their relative ages, and both occupied at first the rude cabin vacated by Lytle. But being too numerous for one small cabin, Agard erected in the fall "a pen of logs," "to which the family repaired and excavated the snow and camped down in this inclosure to guard them against the wolves with only the heavens for a covering. They split boards out of trees, and soon improved their habitation." "These families contended against poverty and hardships in a severe winter, with snow nearly seven feet deep, without neighbors till the spring birds struck up their melody." [From MSS. writings of the late Erastus Agard, of Smithville Flats.] AGARD soon after built a frame house, which stood in front of Robert HETRICK's residence in the village, where he died Aug. 25, 1836. Tabitha, his wife, was born Nov. 20, 1750, and died Sept. 9, 1818, aged 68. That frame house was the first one built in the town. It is still standing, but has been moved. It is the first house east of the lower hotel, and is now occupied as a dwelling by Eugene CHASE. Agard was a soldier in the Revolution, and was present at the surrender of Burgoyne. He was descended from Welch ancestors; his wife was of English descent. His children were: Joseph, born in Litchfield, Conn., May 11, 1776, and died of yellow fever in New York, Sept. 11, 1798; Tabitha, called Roxa, born in Litchfield, May 17, 1779, and died Oct. 4, 1814; John, born in Arlington, Vt., Aug. 21, 1781, and died in Michigan, Oct. 26, 1835; Elijah, born in Arlington, Vt., Nov. 10, 1782, and died at Sacket's Harbor, Aug. 22, 1814, while a soldier in the war of 1812; George, born in Tomhannock, March 2, 1785, and died at Springville, N.Y., May 14, 1854; and Erastus, born in Litchfield, Conn., February 11, 1787, and died at Smithville Flats, Oct. 1, 1863. Two grand-daughters are living in Smithvillle Flats, Marianne, wife of Hon. Judson L. GRANT and De Francee, a maiden lady, who is living with her sister, Mrs. Grant.
The first marriage in the town was contracted in 1801 by Enos B. BRAGG and Tabitha (Roxa) AGARD, daughter of Joseph Agard.
Vinson Loomis, son of Edward, married Polly, daughter of Heber WILLIAMS, and lived and died near the center of town, on the farm now occupied by David PURDY. He died November 27, 1864; and his wife on his father's farm in East Smithville about 1825. He afterwards married Cynthia MOORE, who died in 1840.
The children of Edward LOOMIS born after he removed to Smithville were: Jane, who was born May 2, 1801, and was the first child born in the town, who married Thurston WILLCOX of Smithville, where she lived and died July 8, 1861, leaving eight children, (Edward, Mary Jane, who married Ransom YALE, Ruth, who married Chauncey ADAMS, Thurston, Patience, wife of Henry CHURCH, Charles, Harriet, wife of Avery D. LANDERS, and Almira, widow of William STRATTON and wife of Eugene BUTLER;) Eleanor, who married Joseph CORBIN and died August 20, 1876, in Harford, Cortland county, where most of her family are now living, none in this town; Lucinda, who married Daniel WILLIAMS, and died in Cincinnatus, Cortland county, February 24, 1867; Lovina, who married Charles STRATTON and died in Willett, Cortland county, January 3, 1870, leaving five children, one of whom, Louisa, wife of Joseph Warren HAMILTON, is living in Smithville, and another, Charles, in Oxford; Abigail, who married Joel WEBB and is now living in Oxford, where three of her children reside, George, Alvin and Charlotte, wife of Charles A. McFARLAND, and four in Greene, Benaiah, Edward, Whitman and Marion, wife of Clark McNEIL; Daniel, who married Mary CLINE, and after her death May 30, 1853, Diantha, widow of William WOOD, with whom he is now living in Oxford, and has one child living in Smithville, Betsey M., wife of Samuel CLINE; Hannah, who married Simon G. WILLCOX, and died in Cortland November 6, 1866; Lois, who married Jonathan BENNETT, and died in Cortland county January 15, 1865; Rachel, who married Charles WILLIAMS and is living in Michigan; Benaiah, who married Sally HAMILTON, and is now living in Smithville, having five children living in the county, Edward, Alexander and Minnie in Smithville, Sarah, wife of Arvine LEWIS, in Oxford, and Emma, wife of Adelbert FLAGG, in Greene; and Betsey, who married George M. STARKEY, and is living in Broome county.
We extract from Hamilton Childs' Gazetteer of Chenango County, published in 1869, the following facts relative to Mr. YOUNGS' settlement, furnished by Mr. Harry YOUNG of Triangle, Broome county, as being applicable in great measure to the settlements in general:- "At the time of his settlement here there was one family about one-half mile and another about a mile distant; they were the only ones within five miles.* His first work, like that of all other pioneers in this country, was to clear the land; this he did to some extent and soon raised corn, potatoes and a little rye. He purchased two cows soon after, and yet with this additional aid his little store of provisions would sometimes run short, compelling him to resort to the forest for additions to his stores. Deer were very abundant and furnished the settlers with plenty of venison, and the streams abounded in fish. The tallow of the deer furnished candles, and when that gave out the 'fat pine' was brought into requisition. They pounded their corn for bread, or hulled it, to sustain life, until a mill was erected at Oxford, twelve miles distant. Going to the mill was a tedious journey, for they had no wagons nor roads suitable for them. The grist was placed upon the horse's back, and the animal led over the hills, the journey sometimes occupying three or four days. The children at home were sometimes put upon so short an allowance as to cry for food. The wolves were always within hearing of the traveler and rendered night hideous by their howls. A few Indians still lingered in this region, and were accustomed to camp along the streams, hunt, fish, make baskets, brooms, &c. They were generally quiet and peaceable, but the whites would sometimes abuse them after they became more numerous. On one occasion they laid a plot to frighten the red men from their camping ground. To do this the settlers assembled, and at night crept cautiously as near the Indian camping ground as they deemed prudent, and at a signal, discharged their guns into the air, as they did not wish to hurt the Indians. The latter replied to the shot by firing among the trees behind which their foes were concealed, but no injury was done. The next morning the Indians departed, some went down the river and some went north, where they could hunt in peace."
*This statement is made on the above authority, thought there is reason to doubt its correctness.
Captain John PALMER kept both the first inn and store at Smithville Flats in 1806. He also erected the first distillery, and died in Chenango Forks, Aug. 20, 1847, aged 63.
Thomas SHATTRICK came in with his family in company with the PHELPSes from Connecticut, and settled on the farm adjoining that of Rodney PHELPS. It now forms a part of William KINNIER's farm. He lived there a good many years and then removed to Smithville Flats, and subsequently to his son Calvin's in Greene, where he died May 22, 1834, aged 82. Olive, his wife, died July 23, 1819, aged 52. He had two sons, Calvin, who died in Greene, on the same place as his father, and Lyman, who moved west. One daughter by his second wife, Mary, widow of Henry HOYT, is living in Greene.
John CARPENTER came in from Rhode Island about 1806, and settled a little east of the ridge raod, about three miles above Smithville Flats, on the farm now occupied by Chas. MATTHEWS and brothers, where he and his wife Sarah died, the former May 29, 1828, aged 77, and the latter, Oct. 12, 1838, aged 84. Samuel, his son, came in with him and settled in Greene, on the creek road, about a mile above Genegantslet, on the farm known as the FORBES place. Samuel had one daughter living in Greene, Lydia, widow of Elhanan W. KING, who died August 20, 1850, aged 55. She is living with her daughter, Urania ATWATER. Marianne, wife of Judson L. GRANT of Smithville Flats, is as grand-daughter of his.
Edward PURPLE was born in Middlesex county, Conn., in August, 1769, and removed thence in 1798 to Burlington, Otsego county. In 1805 he removed to New Hartford, Oneida county, and then in 1807 to the central part of the town of Smithville, where he took up 50 acres. In 1814 he removed to the village of Greene, and engaged in wagon making. He returned to Smithville in 1828, and died there July 1, 1834, aged 65. Three of his children are living: Thomas S., in Windsor, Broome county, Dr. William D., formerly a physician, now a merchant in Greene, and Lydia, widow of Lyman ACKLEY, in Dubuque, Iowa.
Jared GRANT was born in Litchfield, Conn., Oct. 19, 1779, and removed to Smithville in 1807. He settled about one-half mile east of Smithville Flats, on the farm now belonging to the David Grant estate. After a few years he sold his place and went to Ohio prospecting, but soon returned and bought the HARRISON farm, where Hugh F. CROZIER now lives, and where, in 1818, he built the first two-story house in the town. He subsequently removed to the farm now occupied by George FOULSTON, about three miles north of the village, on the ridge road, where he died Dec. 10, 1849, aged 70. Jan. 27, 1807, just before coming to Smithville, he married Betsey JUDSON, daughter of Lewis Judson, of Litchfield, Conn., where she was born Sept. 20, 1780. She died Oct, 1, 1870, aged 88. Their children were Lavinia, who married John FORBES, and is now living in Rochester; Cornelia A., who married Drury MORSE, and died in Jan., 1878; Mary E., who married Edson GOULD, and died Nov. 3, 1855; Judson L., who was born in Smithville, where he now resides, July 11, 1815, and represented this county in the Assembly in 1859; Rebecca S., who died unmarried Oct. 22, 1850; and Harriet C., who is living, unmarried, with her sister in Rochester.
Nicholas POWELL settled in Smithville Flats, where, in 1809, he built the first grist-mill in the town, on the site of the present grist-mill in that village, which he ran till about 1820. About the same time he built also in the village a saw-mill on the site of the mills of Uri RORAPAUGH, a grandson of Peter Rorapaugh, an early settler at East Smithville. Powell removed from the town soon after discontinuing the mills. He died about 1832, aged 58.
David, Caleb and Jesse LEACH, brothers, and nephews of Joseph AGARD's wife, came in with their families from Litchfield, Conn., about 1808. David settled on the site of the house now occupied by he widow of Joseph McCRARY, next north of the Baptist church in Smithville Flats, and subsequently became a Baptist minister; Caleb, where Dr. Luther J. PURDY now lives; and Jesse, about a mile north-east of the village. All three lived here till they became old men.
David died at Whitney's Point; Caleb, in Milwaukee; and Jesse, in Smithville, Oct. 19, 1837, aged 53. Zeruah, wife of Jesse, died August 23, 1871, aged 80. Two sons of Jesse's, Lorin and Frederick, are living in the town.
Other settlements were made as early as 1808, by Jerediah BROWN, Elisha HARRIS, Woodruff HARRIS, Bela and Sylvester COWLES, Whiting EDGERTON, John STARKEY and Levi BENEDICT. Whiting EDGERTON died March 24, 1865, aged 80, and Jane, his wife, Aug. 14, 1874, aged 83. Bela COWLES spent a long life in this town and Greene. "He was emphatically a pioneer in this wilderness, and did his whole duty in making the same blossom with the fragrance of civilization."
Stephen OLMSTEAD settled in the central part of the town. He raised a large family. Silas READ settled on the Genegantslet, two miles above Smithville Flats, on the farm now occupied by James and Arthur HARRISON, where he died Feb. 8, 1850, aged 79, and Lucy, his wife, May 25, 1853, aged 78. Colonel Silas M., his son, settled on an adjoining farm on the north, the one now occupied by William HARRISON. He afterwards sold and went to Elmira where he died, Oct. 28, 1858. Virgil Read, a grain dealer in Elmira, and Horace S. Read, a resident of Oxford, are sons of his. None of the elder Silas' children are living. The last, Harriet, wife of Dr. CHAPPELL, died in Rochester in 1876. Sophia and Polly died in Smithville. Hiram settled one-fourth mile north of Colonel Silas, his brother, on the farm now occupied by William JOHNSON. He afterwards removed to Greene and died there. One child only, Bruce, is living in Greene. Merrick settled opposite to his father, where James HARRISON now lives. He afterwards removed to the Flats and engaged in mercantile business, in which his father and brother, Horace S., were also previously engaged and subsequently to the Elder LEACH farm. He died in California, Oct. 31, 1860, while engaged in transacting business for his son.
Jason SMITH came in from Massachusetts and settled about a miles west of East Smithville, where Henry FLAGG now lives. His marriage with Hannah RORAPAUGH, in 1807, has been generally supposed to have been the first in the town; but there is no doubt whatever that the supposition is incorrect. He died in Smithville some twenty years ago, and his wife, some fifteen years ago. His children were: Blodgett, who married west; Lumina, who married Dyer PERKINS, and removed to Michigan; Stephen, who married and moved west; Andrew, who married Betsey Ann, daughter of Joseph CORBIN, and is living in Cortland county; Chauncey, who moved west; Jane, who died in Smithville; and Dow, who removed to Ontario county, where he was living a few years ago.
Reuben CRANDALL settled on Bowman brook, a little north of East Smithville, on the farm now occupied by Albert and Nathan WILLCOX, where he died. He had two sons, Lewis and Cyrus. The former married Editha SHADDOCK, and the latter, Sylpha WILMOTH. Both died on the homestead.
Stephen HASTINGS was from the New England States and settled in the south-east part of the town on the farm, a large portion of which is occupied by Erastus HILL. He removed to Tioga county and died near Owego. His children were: Hiram, William, Abigail, who married James POTTER, and Clarinda, who married Jacob BUCKLEY, of Oxford.
Richard HOLDRIDGE, also from the New England States, settled in the north-east part of the town, on the farm now occupied by his grandson, Lorin Holdridge, and died there. His children were: Ira; Richard, who married Polly WEBB; Daniel, who married a Miss TEACHOUT; Peter, who married Delilah CUTLER; and a daughter who married Jesse MATTESON.
Leonard WEBB was from Massachusetts, and settled in the north-east part to the town, on the farm now occupied by Warren HAMILTON, where he died. His children were: Sally, who married ---- WHEELER; Polly, who married Richard HOLDRIDGE; Merritt, who married an adopted daughter of ---- BALDWIN; Angeline, who married Andrew RORAPAUGH, both of whom died in Smithville; Charles, who removed from the town before marrying; Sylvester, who married Polly NORRIS, and died in McDonough; Julia Ann, who married Henry FLAGG, and died in Smithville.
NORRIS came from the New England States and settled in the east part of the town, on the farm now occupied by his grandson, William Norris, and died there. His children were: Lawrence, Daniel, Henry, Samuel, Peter, Isaac, William, Silas, Charity, who married George WHITTENHALL, and two other daughters who married respectively Reuben and Smith SIMMONS. Two are living, Isaac in Smithville, and Silas in Oxford.
PHELPS settled a little west of East Smithville, where Edward LOOMIS now lives. His wife died upon the farm on which they settled. His children are: Samantha, who married John SKILLIN; Samuel; and Edward, who married a BRONSON, all of whom are living, Samantha in Greene and Edward in Oxford.
Eli TARBELL came in from Chester, Vt., in 1816, and settled below the village, on the east side of the creek, where he was engaged in farming for several years. In the spring of 1825 he removed to the village and commenced keeping hotel in a building which occupied the site of the Central Valley House and was then an old building. In 1825 he built for a hotel the place now occupied as a dwelling by his widow, wife of Loren HOTCHKISS, which he kept for 13 or 14 years. At the same time he fitted up the north part for a store, and rented it to Isaac COMSTOCK, who occupied it about a year, when he filled the store himself and did business till within a year of two of his death, which occurred Oct. 4, 1845. "He was a man of enterprise and energy, and became extensively engaged in the manufacture of lumber, and for many years was the most prominent man in his vicinity." His son, John Seymour, who had done business with his father three or four years, succeeded him and continued till about 1855, when he removed to Montrose, Pa., where he had since kept a hotel. In the meantime Eli built and moved into a store until recently occupied by the late George KINNIER. Isaac COMSTOCK continued business some four or five years, when he removed from the place. He ran a still quite extensively the last year of his stay.
Nathaniel HOWE commenced mercantile business about 1828, and after about two years became associated with his father-in-law, Silas READ, whose daughter Sophia he married. They continued together till about 1836, when they closed out the business. Silas READ, a son of Howe's partner, commenced business about 1831, and continued till about 1842, when his son Horace S. succeeded him and carried it on five or six years. Merrick READ succeeded to Howe's business about 1836 and continued it some five years.
Others of less prominence may have done business here for short periods, other than those at present doing business and those who have been associated with them.
The following are the merchants at present doing business here: -
Richard HARRISON came in from New York city about 1842 and commenced mercantile business, which he continued till 1865, when his son, A. M. Harrison, succeeded him, and is still dealing in saddlery hardware, boots, shoes and trunks.
Jerome B. LEWIS came in from Madison, his native county, in 1848, and commenced the hardware business, which he has since continued. He was associated as partner with his brother Alonzo the first ten years.
S. L. RHODES, general merchant, who came in from Guilford three or four years previously, commenced business in 1855, in company with Lambert TERRELL, with whom he did business a little over seven years. Mr. TERRELL died Sept. 20, 1862, aged 59; and Jennet, his wife, July 2, 1875, aged 57.
Erastus TREMAIN is a native of Greene and a grandson of Daniel Tremain, an early settler in that town. He removed to Smithville Flats in the spring of 1864, and commenced the grocery business, which he has since continued, with the exception of two years.
Edward HARRISON, general merchant, commenced business in 1869 in company with his brother, A. N. HARRISON, under the name of A. N. & E. Harrison. After about five years he bought his brother's interest.
Dr. Luther James PURDY, druggist, commenced business April 1, 1874, in company with J. D. SKILLMAN, whose interest he bought October 10th of that year.
H. D. READ, a native of Smithville, dealer in boots, shoes and confectionery, commenced business in December, 1875.
J. D. Livermore & Co., (Jerome D. and Cyrus K. LIVERMORE,) general merchants and druggists, came in from Chenango Forks, and commenced business in April, 1879.
Postsmasters: - The first postmaster at Smithville Flat was Erastus AGARD, who held the office a great many years, till 1837, when R. N. MESSENGER was appointed and held it during Van Buren's administration. John S. TARBELL was appointed in 1841 and held it till about 1849, when it passed into the hands of Horace S. READ, who held it about four years. Benjamin BROWN next held it till 1861, when Jerome B. LEWIS, the present incumbent, was appointed.
Physicians: - The first physician at Smithville Flats is believed to have been Dr. LOCY, who came in about 1822, settled where Frederick LEACH now lives, and practiced till about 1831. Daniel CLARK came in from Genegantslet about 1827 and remained till about 1865. He went to Cortland and is now living with his son James in Philadelphia.
Dr. ALLING came in about 1859 and entered a military hospital about the opening of the war. He was taken sick with a fever and returned home deranged and died about 1864.
Dwight M. LEE, who served about a year in the army as surgeon, came after his discharge, in the fall of 1865, and practice here about a year, when he removed to Oxford, where he has since practiced.
George O. WILLIAMS, who was graduated from the Albany Medical College in December, 1866, commenced practice here in the spring of 1867 and remained six years, when, in the spring of 1873, he returned to Greene, where he is now practicing.
The present physicians are Luther James PURDY and Arthur L. LOWE.
Luther James PURDY was born in German, April 4, 1848, and studied medicine in McDonough with Dr. E. L. ENSIGN, and in Cincinnatus with Dr. R. Barnes. He entered the Albany Medical School in 1869, and was graduated in 1871. He commenced practice in McDonough, January 1, 1871, and after two years removed to Smithville Flats, where he has since practiced.
Arthur L. LOWE was born in West Almond, N.Y., Sept. 15, 1853. He entered the University of Wooster, at Cleveland, Oct. 7, 1874, and remained there two years. November 5, 1876, he entered the University of Buffalo, N.Y., and was graduated Feb. 22, 1877. He commenced practice at Smithville Flats.
Lawyers: - The first lawyer was R. N. MESSENGER, who came here from Oneida, commenced practice about 1834 and continued till about 1841, when he removed to Milwaukee, and died there. No other has settled here permanently since. Robert DUNNING, who lives in the north part of the town, practices here occasionally.
WILLCOX was a native of McDonough, to which town he returned. KNOWLTON returned to his farm one-half mile west of the village, the one now occupied by Chauncey S. BROWN, where previously for several years and subsequently for a short time he also kept store, and where hewas variously occupied as drover, tavern-keeper and shoemaker.
Physicians: - The only physician who has located at East Smithville was Edward YORK, who practiced about a year, some forty-five years ago.