The Husatunnuk Indians previous to the Revolution were located at Sidney, then called by the whites Unadilla, by Brant Tunadilla, by Hawley in 1753 Teyonadelhough, and in the treaty of Fort Stanwix (1768) Tianaderha.
In 1769 Simon Metcalf, a government surveyor, proceeded to run the line agreed on at Fort Stanwix, from the mouth of the Tewbeac creek (Oquago) at Deposit, in a course north, nine degrees east. It was claimed by the Indians that he should have made his starting point farther up the river, at Cannonsville, by the terms of the treaty. This line came out about three-fourths of a mile southeast from the mouth of the Unadilla. It was called "the line of property," and was made the western boundary of the Evans patent when surveyed and patented in 1786.
In May, 1770, the Rev. William Johnston, a Presbyterian clergyman, who resided near Schenectady, started with an Indian guide to explore the Susquehanna valley. They passed through Cherry Valley and the Indian path to Otsego lake, and thence down the river to Oquago in a canoe, without molestation from the Indians, who had many small wigwam villages on the banks of the river.
Oquago was then the largest Indian settlement in either the Susquehanna or Delaware valley. It was the great mart of the fur trade of both rivers; the traders from Albany and Schenectady there met the trappers of the far west, and for their furs and peltries gave in exchange rifles, powder, lead, traps, blankets, tobacco, knives, hatchets, tomahawks and rum, which were more acceptable currency than Spanish milled dollars. Mr. Johnston in his journal described the valley as a beautiful country, the soil fertile and well timbered. It was watered by creeks and rivers in every section. The deer, he said, were as numerous as the cattle on a thousand hills. The rivers were alive, teeming with millions of fish. Mr. Johnston and his pilot in descending and ascending the river landed at the Indian hill place, now known as Brant's hill, in Sidney Plains. On this knoll were three Indian families, living happily, in their simple mode, on dried venison, fish and cake of pounded corn. The Indians here were Husatunnuks. There was an ancient fort a little west of the present cemetery, containing about three acres of ground, enclosed by mounds of earth and encircled by a ditch. This is supposed to have been made by a more civilized race than the Indians found here by the whites. The locality was long known and called "the fort ground."
In 1771 Mr. Johnson made a purchase of five hundred and twenty acres, including Brant's hill and the Indian orchard, at one dollar per acre, of Goldsboro Banyar, of Albany. The land had been granted by the king to Alexander Wallace, Banyar and others in 1770. Wallace was a Tory afterward, and his property was confiscated. After the war the Johnston heirs paid the price into the State treasury, and the title to the farm was confirmed by the Legislature.
A better location could not have been found from Otsego lake to Oquago. One-half was intervale or flat, and the rest was covered with the most elegant white pine, of the largest size. Part of the flat had been cultivated by the Indians for corn and beans. A fine creek flowed through from the South mountain.
In May, 1772, Mr. Johnston and his son Witter started on foot from Duanesburg, Schenectady county, driving a cow, through the unbroken forests, guided by an Indian, to take possession of the farm at Sidney Plains, then called Unadilla. On arriving they built a log house sixteen feet by twenty-two, on the west end of Brant's hill, and spent the summer in clearing, fencing and making provision for the future comfort and support of the family. In the fall Domine Johnston returned to his family, leaving Witter to pass the winter alone, or with Indians, whose language was unknown to him. He soon learned, however, to understand them, and to convey his thoughts to them. The Indians here were always friendly to the family, and aided them when short of provisions and in sickness.
In June following the whole family (except the eldest son, who was married, and who died ten years later) removed to the Plains, which for many years after was called "the Johnston settlement." The family now consisted of the father, mother, two sons, Witter and Hugh, generally called "Hughey" (ten years old), and four daughters. They came with all their effects in canoes or batteaux down the river from Otsego lake.
Before the arrival of the family not a little anxiety was felt on each side. Neither had heard a word from the other since the father left in the fall. We will not attempt to describe the joy of the meeting. Witter was safe! The family now began pioneer life, bravely enduring their trials and privations.
The nearest civilized white neighbors were on the Mohawk river, at the distance of seventy-five miles, with no roads but the Indian paths and the river.
The daily supply of bread was obtained here, as in all the early settlements, by pounding the grain in a mortar or hollow made in the level top of a hard wood stump. A pestle or pounder was attached to a bent sapling for a spring pole. A seive, made of dressed deer skin, perforated with holes answered for a bolt. On Saturday a double portion was ground for the Sabbath.
The Rev. William Johnston, born in Dublin in 1713, was then about sixty years old. He had received a thorough education at Edinburgh University, four years in the literary and three in the theological department. He came to this country a young man, and married a Miss Cummins, an English lady. Previous to his removal to the Susquehanna he had resided in the vicinity of Albany and Schenectady and at Curry's and Warren's Bush.
He had followed his profession as a minister of the gospel of the Presbyterian Calvinistic faith. His wife was an accomplished lady, and till the breaking out of the war received an income of 150 pounds per annum from England.
There was a hill opposite, since called "Moses hill," without timber, having been burned over annually by the Indians, as was their custom, for hunting purposes.
The hill afforded a fine prospect up and down the valley. How different the landscape today! The utmost stretch of the imagination could not have pictured the elegant residences, the highly cultivated fields in all directions, the rail cars rapidly moved by a power then undreamed of, and the spires of God's temples pointing to the sky.
Four other families came the same year or the next and settled in the vicinity, named Sliter, Carr, Woodcock and Dingman. Little is known of the last three except that they were Tories , and that Carr afterward built a grist and saw mill on Carr's creek, named after him.
Nicholas Sliter, deceased, of Tompkins, a grandson of the pioneer at the Johnston settlement, when very old related to the writer many of the incidents of this narrative, having lived in Sidney til of age, and the families of Sliter and Johnston being connected by marriage. For some years the pioneers were largely dependent on hunting and fishing for their meat. After the Declaration of Independence, and in the spring of 1777, the aspect of affairs in the valley began to look cloudy. Up to this time the Indians had taken no active part on either side. Brant was at Oquago with a large body of Mohawks and others of the Six Nations. The Johnstons and Sliters were warmly attached to the colonial cause. They could not but feel some uncertainty and apprehension.
Early in June, 1777, Brant came up to Unadilla with eighty warriors, and encamped on the plains. Sliter's three sons were plowing on the opposite side of the river, with three yoke of steers. A party of Indians came and took one of the steers, killed it and took it over to the camp. They also took from the house all the provisions they could find.
Brant alleged that his men were "hungry and must be supplied, peaceably if they could, forcibly if they must." The old man mounted a horse and rode to Cherry Valley for aid. On arriving at the fort the commandant furnished him with a sergeant and forty men, to go with him and have an interview with Brant to learn his intentions. He, with the escort arrived at Unadilla, when the soldiers encamped near Sliter's house.
He sent one of his boys over to Brant, inviting him to come and meet them. Brant told the boy to say to his father: "If you want to see me more than I do you, come over and see me." He further told the boy to tell his father to bring the men with him, and they should not be molested.
The boy delivered the message, and after consulting together they concluded to rely on the pledge and go. Having crossed the river, on approaching within about forty rods of the camp they were suddenly surrounded by a large number of Indians, who enclosed them in a hollow square.
Brant now made his appearance, and ordered seats of poles and logs to be prepared, which being done all were invited to be seated. They having complied the chief addressed them in a few words, telling them to say all they wished, for his answer would be short. Mr. Johnston was present, and was spokesman for the whites. He stated that the Americans desired to have the friendship of the Indians; that the King and the Boston people had a quarrel, and that all the colonies united in sympathy with the Bostonians in sustaining them; that they did not wish the Six Nations to be involved in the difficulties, and hoped they would remain neutral, saying that they could not but feel great solicitude on the subject, as they had heard reports that he had collected a large body of Indians from several tribes at Oquago. Brant asked if that was all they had to say, and was answered in the affirmative. After a short pause he arose and said: I am a man for war. I've taken an oath with the King, and will not make a treaty with you. I will give these five families forty-eight hours [one tradition says eight days] to get away. So long they shall be safe. If any among them want to join us I will protect them, and they may stay." The council then broke up, and the whites were suffered to return to camp. Brant took eight or ten head of cattle, some hogs and sheep, and returned to Oquago. Before leaving, Johnston's clothes-line was robbed by some of the Indians. When complaint was made to Brant he passed it off by saying: "Ha! These Indians! I can't control them."
The Johnston and Sliter families buried their tools and such valuables as they could not carry, and hastened away in batteaux and canoes up the river to Otsego lake, and thence by land to Cherry Valley.
The other three families concluded to stay and espouse the cause of the King. Whether they were protected or not, or what became of them, is not known, except that one Carr is known to have supplied Brant with provisions, in accordance with a written request, of which the following is a copy:
Tunadilla, July 26, 1777. Mr. Carr - Sir, I understand that you are a friend to the government with sum of the settlers at the Butternutts, is the reason of my applying to you and those people for sum provisions, and shall be glad you would send me what you can spare, no matter what sorte, for which you shall be paid, you keeping an account of the whole. From your Friend & Humbled Servant "To persifer Carr. Joseph Brant."
On page 49 we have noted General Herkimer's interview with Brant at Unadilla, in the summer of 1777. Herkimer's camp was a mile and a half above Sidney Plains, on the Huyck flat. Brant's was a mile below the Plains, on the present Milton Johnston farm. The meeting of the leaders occurred on what is now the Bradley farm. General Herkimer, with two officers, and Brant and another Indian chief met in a circle which had been marked out. Here Brant asked the reason of his being thus honored. General Herkimer replied that he had come to see him on a friendly visit. "An all these have come on a friendly visit, too," said the chief. "All want to see the poor Indian! It is very kind," he added, sarcastically. The unsatisfactory conclusions of the interview is known to the reader of the early pages of this work, and need not be again related.
Mr. Johnston and family remained at Cherry Valley till November, 1778. Witter and Hugh Johnston were in the fort there at the time of the massacre. Hugh, then in his fourteenth year, started to run to his father's about two miles off in an opposite direction from what whence the Indians came. On arriving he cried, "Run for your lives - the Indians are coming!" They had heard the gun at the fort, but it was with difficulty the father was prevailed on to flee. The mother, then feeble, was placed on a horse, and all the rest on foot fled to the woods, where they concealed themselves, before which they saw the smoke of their burning house. The party consisted of the parents and son Hugh, and four daughters, and a lad seven years old named McMaster, long afterward well known in Sidney as Captain McMaster. Witter remained in the fort, which was attacked vainly several times during the day.
After the destruction of the village the fort was abandoned, and the Johnstons removed to the Mohawk, near Schenectady, where they remained till after the war, before which the father died, and also his eldest son, in April 1783.
In May, 1784, the Johnston family returned to the valley of the Susquehanna. Indians and Tories had desolated their farm, their buildings were burned and fences in ruin. The thorn and the brier had grown up. They built a log dwelling again on Brant's hill, where they lived till 1798, when they removed to their new frame house. Before his death the Rev. William Johnston made a last will and testament, giving his four daughters equal shares in the property at Unadilla. Colonel Witter and Captain Hugh Johnston bought out the sisters and became sole owners of the homestead farm. Mrs. Nancy Johnston, widow of Rev. W. Johnston, died April 15th, 1795, aged seventy-five, and was buried at Sidney Plains.
Colonel Witter Johnston served in the army till the close of the Revolutionary war, and was with Colonel Willet in the engagement at West Canada creek, where Walter Butler was killed. Colonel Johnston was a man of great strength and energy of character, and though the father was the first pioneer, he was really the founder of the Johnston settlement, the first in the Susquehanna valley in New York. He devoted his pay as an army officer to the support of the family. He was in after life prosperous and public spirited, though reported to be "set in his way." This trait is said to be apparent in the descendants. He died October, 1839, aged eight-six.
Captain Johnston (the boy Hughey) resided on the homestead about fifty years after the war, and died in 1833, aged seventy. He was a man of a social and genial temper, and enjoyed a good story, a joke and a laugh. He was an active business man, with stalwart frame and great physical strength. Members of the Johnston family still reside on the old homestead. Abner Johnston, deceased, son of Hugh, was born at Sidney Plains in 1785, and resided through a long life on a part of the old homestead.
The family whose name has been spelled Slouter, Sloughter, Tluyter and lastly Sliter was among the early Dutch settlers of Nieu Amsterdam (New York), one of whom was Governor Sloughter. Mr. Sliter came to Unadilla with his family as before related and was compelled to flee with Johnston to Cherry Valley and afterwards to Schenectady. He had five sons, Cornelius, Nicholas, Conrad, Peter and Jonas, all of whom served in the Revolutionary army till the close of the war. He married a daughter of Domine Johnston and settled at Unadilla. His descendants are numerous and respectable. One of them, Deacon Nicholas Sluyter, deceased, was born at Sidney Plains July 21st, 1785. He made a profession of religion at nineteen years of age, and through a long life maintained his Christian character. He passed his declining years with his son William.
Nathaniel Wattles, a cousin of Judge Sluman Wattles, moved in in 1795, and settled on the Susquehanna below the mouth of the Ouleout. He established a ferry there, long known as "Wattle's ferry." In 1790 the Legislature passed an act to construct a road from the Hudson to the mouth of the Ouleout, and appropriated £600 toward building it. Nathaniel Wattles was one of the contractors. The road began at the ferry, and after going a mile and a half up the Ouleout ran up and over the steep hills to the head of Carr's creek, and on to the Delaware. Mr. Wattles lived at the ferry several years, and kept the first tavern in the town, the river being the chief highway for many years. He raised a large family, who all settled in the vicinity. He was an active and prominent man; was one of the first two members of Assembly from Delaware county, and died at Albany while a member.
Mr. James Hughston, a relative of Nathaniel Wattles, settled in the town soon after Mr. Wattles, on the farm owned long after by his son, Colonel Robert Hughston. He was a man of exemplary piety. The late Hon. Jonas Hughston, envoy to China, was his son. Before going to China (where he died) he was a member of Congress. Mr. Hughston, sen., moved his wife into the county on horseback, with a bed and other things strapped on the horse. She used to relate how she made a cradle for her first child out of a piece of a hollow tree. Mr. Hughston was a magistrate for forty years in the town where he died, and several times a supervisor, and once a member of the Legislature.
Timothy Beach, from western Connecticut, with his son, explored the Susquehanna county soon after the Revolution, with a view of locating on some lands of Colonel Harper, near Oquago. Passing through Catskill he traversed the wilderness (having engaged a half-breed Indian as a guide) on horseback to Cairo, and thence through the Patawa trail. The first night they reached what is now Ostramville and encamped. During the night, while lying on hemlock boughs by their camp fire, they were suddenly aroused by the scream of a panther. While listening intently to the repeated cry as it approached near, it suddenly ceased altogether. Their danger was now greatly enhanced, as it was evident the animal was creeping toward them for a sudden leap. In this season of suspense and anxiety they heard the repeated and plaintive bleat of a deer, on which the panther had pounced, and which, with suppressed yells, he was tearing to pieces. The Indian now crawled out near the spot and shot the panther in the region of the heart, killing it instantly. Returning to the fire, they made a torch of bark, and went and put the deer out of its misery, as it was not yet dead, and dragged it to the fire. The wolves kept them awake the remainder of the night by their howling, having scented the blood. No other unusual occurrence happened til they arrived at Wattle's ferry, and the next day Mr. Beach met a Mr. Herrick with a boat and provisions. For these Beach exchanged two of his horses, paying the difference. The father and son took the boat and floated down the river, while the guide rode the other horse; but he proved treacherous and did not meet them at night as agreed. Mr. Beach had a dream two nights in succession of a voice saying, "Timothy, go back, go back." He gave up the idea of settling at Oquago, and returned , setting the boat up the sluggish river. Before arriving at the ferry he was encountered by the guide and six Indians, with evident hostile intentions; but he escaped from them by a stratagem, after furnishing them with some rum in the early evening. During the night he set the boat up to the mouth of Carr's creek, and then left it and traveled on foot to Wattle's ferry, where he selected a farm, since known as the John M. Betts farm, at the mouth of the Ouleout, and returned with his boy to Connecticut. On the 11th of November, 1784, he again started with his family, traveling by way of Albany, the Mohawk valley, Otsego lake and the Susquehanna, and arrived at the destination just as winter set in. How they suffered in this miserable hovel, hastily erected, through the cold season can only be known by experience. The remains of the cellar of his house are still to be seen. He lived there several years, and was drowned in the river, it was supposed, by an Indian. His descendants are numerous, many of them residing in Franklin and Walton.
One Abraham Fuller settled on the Ouleout and built a grist-mill in 1788, on the site of the present mills, the first grist-mill built in Sidney or in any of the adjoining towns. Previous to this the inhabitants were obliged to go to Schoharie or Harpersfield to mill. One of Judge Wattle's sons relates that when a boy his father sent him forty miles on horseback with a grist through an unbroken wilderness. The first grist-mill on the river in Sidney was built by a Mr. Bennett at Crookerville, opposite Unadilla village. He owned it a long time, after which Mr. Crocker purchased it and built a woolen factory. The grist-mill is still in operation.
One Carr built a saw-mill early on Carr's creek. It is said he carried the iron from Cooperstown on his back all the way.
In 1789 Isaac Hodges, from Florida on the Mohawk, purchased a farm of about five hundred acres on the Ouleout, about a mile from it's mouth. He paid $1.25 per acre, and divided the tract among his four sons - Hezekiah, Benjamin, Isaac and Josiah. Early in the spring of 1790 Hezekiah and wife, and brothers Benjamin and Josiah, came and took possession of the land. They traveled by way of Schoharie to the head of the Delaware, thence over to the Ouleout, and down that to this place. They moved with a yoke of oxen and one horse, and carried their goods and provender for the team on a dray or sled, much used then. Indeed, no other could be used to pass over logs, etc. They arrived April 29th, with two hundred pounds of hay and a little corn. Next day snow fell two feet deep, and they suffered much through lack of provisions for themselves and feed for stock. They built a log cabin open in front , and covered it with bark and brush. In front they piled a large log heap and set it on fire. In this cabin Elizabeth, the eldest child of Hezekiah, was born June 20th, 1790. As soon as some improvement had been made and a house built, the father came on and lived with the sons till he died, and was buried on his own land. Two of the sons went west; Benjamin died, and Hezekiah and Maria his wife both lived in Sidney to a good old age, and left numberous descendants, many of whom still reside in the town. Hezekiah bought apple seeds and planted a nursery, from which many of the old orchards are derived.
In 1797, Stephen Dewey, with his sons William, Roger and Daniel, settled on the farm now owned by his grandson Ralph Dewey. Soon after, his son William, since known as Colonel Dewey, purchased the farm, and resided on it until his death. He was supervisor and a member of the Legislature. His wife, Betsey, was the youngest daughter of the Franklin pioneer, Sluman Wattles.
Among the early settlers on the Ouleout are remembered Jonathan Bush, at whose house the first town meeting was held; and one Stevens, who had the grist-mill on the Ouleout, and operated the first and only distillery for making whiskey in the town; Oliver Gager, a captain in the militia; Nathaniel Wolcott; Josiah Thatcher, for many years town clerk; and William Evans.
The first permanent settler at Sidney Center was Jacob Bidwell. He moved there with his family in 1793, and built a cabin on the Mrs. Dewey farm. He moved his family on a sled over the hill from the Ouleout on the old State road, never completed. His sled broke, and he put his wife and children on the horses and pushed through, going back for his goods the next day. Mr. Bidwell found two or three families there, whose names are unknown. The next winter was a very hard one; these families moved away, and Mrs. Bidwell did not see the face of a while woman for three months. They suffered great hardships for want of provisions, till the land could be cleared of heavy timber and crops raised.
A short time after, John Wellman came and settled on the Samuel Niles farm. Two families of Bradshaws came soon; one settled where the school-house stands. Charles Thompson also came about the same time, and Captain Samuel Smith further up the creek, at "Smith's Settlement." Most of these old settlers raised large families and have numerous descendants, some in Sidney and some widely scattered.
Jacob Bidwell was an energetic and industrious man, noted for his zeal in religious matters. He was the father of the Baptist churches in Sidney, and conducted the first religious meeting on Carr's creek. The occasion of the meeting was the death of the wife of Charles Thompson, who was killed by lightning. The meeting was held at Bidwell's house, and he then made the first public prayer ever offered by a white man on Carr's creek. A revival ensued, a society was formed, and this was the foundation of the Baptist church in that part of the town, and also of the church afterward formed on the Ouleout. Mr. and Mrs. Bidwell are buried near their first house, the place marked by a marble monument. The memory of the wife has a living monument in a large pine tree, saved by her from the clearing fire by spreading her apron over it. It was then (more than eighty years ago) a small bush.
Mr. Wellman was a captain in the Revolutionary war. Many thrilling stories are told of his deeds in killing bears, panthers and wolves in the early days. The first school on Carr's creek was taught by Charles Bidwell, a brother of Jacob.
Jonathan Carley came from Dutchess county in 1796, and settled on the banks of the river in the town of Sidney, two miles below Otego. He found one Collie and Nathan Hill there. Josiah Chase came before that time. Some of this family still remain on the farm. Laban Crandall, John French and Jerry Reid, and one Godfrey Calder, came soon after. Miss Abigail Reid kept the first school in that part of the town, in Mr. Calder's barn.
John Avery, Esq., settled at Avery's ferry about 1798. He was a native of Ashford, Conn., and served in the Revolution. He was the father of seven children, and died in 1836, aged eighty.
Levi Baxter, Esq., settled in Sidney in 1805. He and his excellent wife were born in Hartford county, Conn., and were married there. He first settled in Delhi in 1792, and was a man of great energy of character. He had seven children, most of whom are deceased. He died in 1851, aged eight-seven, leaving a good name as a legacy to his descendants. His venerable widow followed him at the age of ninety-two. Squire Baxter was the son of Mr. Francis Baxter, a Revolutionary soldier, who during the war was taken prisoner by the tories and Indians, and after suffering much ill usage and abuse was confined in the memorable "sugar house" in New York.
Deacon Peter Bradley was also a native of Connecticut and settled at the Plains about the close of the lasat century, on a farm adjoining "Squire Avery's farm on the southeast, and resided there till his death in 1814. He was a good citizen and consistent Christian man. He had six or seven children, all now dead. It was on his farm that General Herkimer and Captain Brant met and had their conference in 1777.
The first death of which we have an account in Sidney was the suicide of an Indian lover, a young Indian, in 1775, who it is said, became enamored with a beautiful Mohawk maiden who was visiting the valley. He made proposals of marriage and was rejected by the maiden, who was already betrothed. His disappointment so preyed on his mind that he procured a poison - the musquash, or wild parsnip - which he ate in her presence, and lived but one hour. His grave is in the Sidney Plains burying ground.
The town of Sidney was taken from Franklin in 1801. It is bounded on the north by the Susquehanna river, east by Franklin, and south and southwest by Masonville and Bainbridge, and contains 31,289 acres, of which 7,844 are unimproved. The real estate is assessed at $21.6o an acre (equalized value, $675,842); personal estate assessed, $12,850. There are of plowed land 3,349 acres; mowing, 7,187; pasture, 13,039; horses, 614; cows, 2,405; sheep, 1,073.
The following are the names of the supervisors: Witter Johnston, 1801, 1802; Jonathan Bush, 1803; Osias Stephens, 1804-07; John Avery, 1808, 1809; Jonas Houghton, 1810-19, 1823, 1824, 1828; William Dewey, 1820-22, 1825; Samuel Rexford, 1826, 1827; John M.Betts, 1829-31, 1834, 1836, 1847; Charles S. Rogers, 1832, 1835; Henry Bradley, 1833; William H. Webster, 1837, 1838; Stephen Wood, 1839, 1840; Robert Hughston, 1841; Reuben Lewis, 1842; R. T. Hunt, 1843, 1844; Evander Odell, 1845, 1846; Robert S. Hughston, 1848, 1849; William J. Hughston, 1850; David Siver, 1851, 1852; Sluman Wattles, 1853, 1854, 1864-67; Robert W. Courtney, 1855, 1856; Henry E. Fisher, 1857, 1858; William H. Bradford, 1859; Milton Johnston, 186o; William Dewey, 1861; William H. Bradford, 1862, 1863; William T. Hodges, 1868, 1869; Hiram C. Weller, 1870; Walter Wattles, 1871-74; William McLellan, 1875; Harris Gillet, 1876, 1879; Frederick K. Shaw, 1877; Horace Goodrich, 1878.
The following persons have been members of the Legislature from this town: Nathaniel Wattles, James Hughston, Stephen Dewey. Reuben Lewis, Ira E. Sherman, Albert H. Sewell.
The village of Sidney Plains contains some seven hundred inhabitants; one lawyer, Charles T. Alverson; two physicians, Drs. Winne and Thompson; three clergymen; an organ and piano manufactory and three hotels.
The town is bonded for $50,000 for the Midland railroad, the interest of which is paid annually.
The population of Sidney at the last nine censuses has been as follows: 1835, 1,597; 1840, 1,732; 1845, 1,759; 1850, 1,807; 1855, 1,797; 1860, 1,916; 1865, 1,753; 1870, 2,597; 1875, 2,231.
On the 13th of June, 1872, the first centennial cerebration of the settlement was held at Sidney Plains. The committee of arrangements was Messrs. Ira E. Sherman, John Baxter, Martin B. Luther, J. J. Rogers, A. Hardy, T. G. Smith and Abner Johnston. Ira E. Sherman was chairman, A. Hardy secretary, and T. G. Smith treasurer. Milton Johnston was very active and prominent in the promotion of the project. Ample preparations were made for the accommodation and entertainment of the expected guests. The Susquehanna Agricultural Society and the Delaware County Agricultural Society generously tendered the use of their tents. The ladies of the place were untiring in the cheerful performance of the arduous duties of providing a dinner, bountifully and admirably arranged.
Early on Thursday, June 13th, the people began to assemble, coming from all directions. The railroad trains came crowded almost to suffocation. A great number of aged persons were in attendance, including Cook St. John, from Walton, in his one hundredth year. An immense procession took its way to the "Indian Knoll," where the tents were erected, one of which contained the platform for the speakers and seats, and the other the dinner tables.
The address of welcome was made by the chairman, Hon. Ira E. Sherman, and the response by Rev. M. F. Dunham. Then, on taking the chair, the president of the day, Henry W. Rogers from Ann Arbor, Mich., made a short and impressive address to the sons and daughters of the pioneers, referring especially to the Johnstons, the Smiths, the Sliters, the Averys, the Baxters, the Farnhams, the Bradleys, the Redfields, the Hoveys, the Dudgeons and the Bixbys. Prayer was then offered by Rev. J. B. Morse, after which the Norwich Glee Club sang a piece entitled "A Hundred Years Ago." A historical sketch was then delivered by Judge David McMaster, of Bath, N. Y., a son of Captain David McMaster, one of the first settlers and a beloved and honored citizen of this valley seventy years ago and long after, and a great-grandson of Rev. William Johnston, the pioneer. To his address we are indebted for many of the particulars of this sketch. The "Sidney Plains Centennial Ode" was then read by the author, Benjamin L. Baxter, of Tecumseh, Mich. Another song was sung by the glee club, when an extraordinary spectacle was presented, namely, Mr. Cook St. John, having standing with him on the platform his son T. S. St. John, aged seventv.five; his grandson William St. John, aged fifty; his great-grandson George St. John, and his great-great-grandson Benjamin St. John, aged five vears; each of them the first born in his family, all healthy and vigorous. The patriarch, on being urgently invited, stepped forward and spoke briefly, attributing his attainment of the great age of ninety-nine years to his industrious mode of life.
The president introduced Patty Thayer, now Mrs. Davis, aged eighty-six, who taught a school for small children in Sidney in 1804; Nicholas J. Sluyter, of the same age, descended maternally from Domine Johnston; and a Mr. Raymond, aged ninety-four.
The dinner followed, at which over one hundred persons more than seventy years old were seated. After dinner several persons gave interesting pioneer reminiscences.
In connection with the centennial celebration just described a history was given by Rev. J. B. Morse of the first religious society of Sidney. From that paper the following is taken:
For thirty-six years after the first settlement no church existed. Occasional missionaries preached to the sparse settlements along the river. There was a church in Bainbridge in 1798, to which Rev. Joel Chapen preached till 1806, and some of the time at Sidney as part of his parish.
January 12th, 1808, a council was called to constitute a church in Sidney, composed of Revs. Joel Chapen, David Harrower, William Bull, Archibald Basset (moderator), and Joel T. Benedict (clerk). Mr. Chapen then lived in Bainbridge. Mr.Harrower was a missionary preaching in Hamden and Sidney. Mr. Basset was pastor of the Congregational church in Walton, and Rev. William Bull had no settled residence.
After a careful examination the following persons were approved and considered qualified to be constituted into a church, to wit: Israel Smith and Elizabeth, his wife; Samuel Rogers and Sarah, his wife; Israel Smith, jr.; Enos Goodman and Esther, his wife; Darius Smith and Lydia, his wife; Samuel Bixby and Hannah, his wife; David McMaster; Simeon Elmer and Hannah, his wife; Solomon Farnham and Sally, his wife; Elijah Bryan; Peter Bradley and Phoebe, his wife; Talcott Gould and Anna, his wife; Hezekiah Wells, Polly Taylor, Jane Johnston, Jemima Judd and Lydia Johnston, twenty-six in all.
The next day the church was duly constituted in the upper room of a public house, then kept by David Smith. Rev. Archibald Basset preached the sermon. The name given was "The First Church of Christ in Sidney." Israel Smith and Enos Goodman were chosen the first deacons. Deacon Israel Smith was great-grandfather of President Hayes.
The first year, under the pastoral care of Rev. David Harrower, was one of great prosperity, thirty-five new members being added.
The present church edifice was raised as a meeting house in 1807, and roofed and clapboarded that year and the year following, but was completed and dedicated in 18l4 by Rev. Isaac Garvin, then pastor. The church has been twice repaired; first in 1839, when the square pews were taken out, and the high pulpit and sounding board taken down. In 1871 the church was finished as it is now, at a cost of $7,500.
Since the organization the ministers here have been as follows : Rev. David Harrower, 1807-12; Rev. Mr. Jewell in 1812, eight months; Rev. Artemas Dean, from August, 1812, to May, 18l3; Rev. Isaac Garvin, 1813-17; Rev. Charles Thorp, half the time for six months in 1817 and 1818; Rev. Messrs. Atwood and Gray, revival missionaries, a few weeks in 1818; Rev. M. Pratt, six months, from March l818; Rev. Caleb Clark, three months, from the fall of 1818; Rev. Jacob Burbanks, six months in 1819; Rev. Marcus Harrison, 1819-22; Rev. Isaac Flagler, 1823; Rev. Samuel Gorton, 1825-27 (first minister installed); Rev. J. B. Fish, 1828-31; Rev. Samuel Manning, 1832; Rev. Mr. Shumway, 1833; Rev. Josiah Haws, 1834-37; Rev. Mr. Gaylord, 1838-41; Rev. George Hull, 1842, 1843; Rev. J. B. Fish, 1844-51; Rev. Charles H. Force, 1852-55; Rev. Alfred Ketchum, 1856-63 (first occupant of the new parsonage); Rev. Mr. Abbott, 1864-67; Rev. Ariel McMaster, 1868, 1869; Rev. J. B. Morse and Rev. E. G. Cheeseman. 1870-78; Samuel Johnston, the present pastor.
The present number of members is one hundred and seventy-eight; the whole number of those who have belonged to the church is five hundred and eighty.
The Baptist church at Sidney Plains was constituted in 1868, with Rev. D. Van Fradenburg pastor, and fourteen members. The society is building a house of worship.
In 1801 Sidney Centre was nearly an unbroken wilderness, with only four families in the vicinity: Jacob Bidwell, John Wellman, Samuel Smith and Charles Thompson. The latter, that sumnier, returning home after a violent thunder storm, found his wife and mother killed by lightning, a small child asleep on its mother's breast, and an older one crying bitterly. Mrs. Bidwell was the only professor of religion among them. The funerals were held at the house of Captain Wellman, and Mrs. Jacob Bidwell made the first audible prayer ever made in the place. Prayer meetings were held, and Wellman and wife, Smith and wife and Bidwell and son converted.
In 1815 or 1816 Elder Simpson, of Masonville, preached at this place, and thirty persons were converted and united with the Masonville Baptist church. In 1817 a church was constituted at Sidney Centre. After a year or two, it being thought they were intruding into the territory of neighboring churches, they disbanded, and aided in forming a church, known as the Sidney and Unadilla Baptist church, on the Ouleout creek, some four miles north, which has since become extinct or absorbed into other churches. After worshiping here a few years they concluded they had erred in disbanding, and in 1828 reorganized. Among the constituent members we find the names of Simeon and Uriah Bidwell, still living. James Clark, from Massachusetts, a licentiate, was ordained here, and became the first pastor, serving for a short season. Elders Wattles and Simpson preached for them previous to 1828. Elder Simeon P. Griswold was moderator of the council, representing four churches, called to recognize the church, when articles of faith and a covenant were adopted. He served the church till 1830. The names of Amner, Kingsley, Tucker, Baldwin, Griswold and Crane are recorded as having administered the ordinances in the following years. About sixty were baptized in 1830 and 1831. In 1834 the church gave Elder Simpson a call for half the time, paying him the first regular salary agreed on. Lewis Raymond was baptized in 1830, licensed to preach afterward and became a successful evangelist. Rev. D. Crane was pastor from 1836 to 1842; Rev. Mr. Sherwood, 1842, 1843; Rev. Ransom Hunt, 1843, 1844; Rev. Lewis Robinson, six months; Rev. Levi Peck, 1845, 1846 (no pastor in 1847); Rev. E. L. Benedict, 1848, 1849; Rev. J. Amner, 1849-51; Rev. N. Wattles, 1851, 1852; Rev. M. Hunt, 1853. In 1853 James Teed was licensed to preach. In 1854 Sylvenus Smith was pastor, and the next year there was none. In 1855 Rev. A. B. Earle held a series of meetings, and many were added to the church, among whom was E. H. Covers, who was licensed and next year ordained a preacher, and was pastor until 1861, when rumors of improper conduct caused his resignation. In 1861 a new church was formed from this at Little York. S. P. Brown was pastor of the parent church from 1861 to 1863, and Rev. Mr. Turnbull one year thereafter; since which Rev. Frank Fletcher, E. C. Bowene, E. C. Wright (expelled for immorality), - Lamoine, G. A. Smith, D. C. McClyment, A. Reynolds (evangelist), L. Raymond, N. Ripley and D. Van Fradenburgh have served the church as pastors.
When constituted the church had twenty-two members; it now has sixty-three. The house of worship was built in 1852 and repaired in 1870. The parsonage was built in 1857.
The M.E. church at Sidney Plains was formed in 1832. The church edifice was built in 1833. Arvine Clark was the first class leader. George Thurman was presiding elder. William Wilbur is class leader and C. G. Wood the present pastor, and there are seventy-five members.
The other two M. E. churches are one at Sidney Centre and one at Union; S. Shureman, pastor.
CHARLES T. ALVERSON, son of Daniel M. and Ann E. Alverson, was born in Tompkins January 19th, 1847. He is an attorney and counsellor at law, which profession he began at Sidney Plains in 1870. He was elected a justice of the peace in 1874. His great-grandfather, Jeremiah Alverson, was a soldier in the Revolution.
SAMUEL W. BECKWITH was born in Windsor, Broome county, N. Y., June 19th, 1826. He followed blacksmithing from 1847 to 1872. He married in 1854 Mary Parsons, daughter of Charles Parsons, of Bainbridge, Chenango county, N.Y.; she died October 3rd, 1877. They had three children, of whom Milton died at sixteen, and Henry and Samuel are now living.
CALEB ST. JOHN BENEDICT, son of Sarah and James Benedict, was born in Walton April 26th, 1803. He died September 7th, 1824, at the age of seventy-six. He was a farmer. He was united in marriage to Eliza A Hoyt, who was born in Connecticut November 8th, 1805. Seven of their children are now living, viz.: Curtis, Daniel W., Mary E., Stephen J., Matthew W., Sarah Jane and George L. The last mentioned enlisted in Company E 3d N.Y. cavalry August 16th, 1861, and was discharged April 16th, 1862. He died in May following from disease contracted in the army. Matthew enlisted in the same company at the same date. He was discharged July 8th, 1862. March 12th, 1863 he married Hannah Wells, of Sidney. He is a farmer.
GEORGE L. BRIGGS, son of George W., was born in Schoharie county, N.Y., December 1st, 1849. From 1864 he was engaged in the mercantile business in Boston for two and a half years; then went to school one year. He was then in the hat jobbing business in New York three months. He was then in Jersey City in the lumber business up to the fall of 1874. He came to Sidney Plains in 1875, and is engaged in the lumber and coal trade. He was married June 6th, 1877, to Mary W. Sabin, a daughter of Joseph Sabin, of Brooklyn. They have one child.
CHAUNCEY COE, was born in Kortright August 4th, 1825. From the age of twenty-one to 1855 he worked at the carpenter and joiner trade. Most of the time since 1855 he has been a farmer. In September 1850, he was married to Sarah Stockwell, of Bainbridge, Chenango county N.Y. (now deceased). They had one child. Mr. Coe was married January 1st, 1875, to Betsey A. Clark, of Masonville. His father, Saxon Coe, came from Granville, Mass., in 1801.
JOHN H. COONS, was born in Rensselaer county, N.Y., March 6th, 1814. At eleven years of age he began to learn the clothier's trade, and set up for himself as a clothier in 1835. He followed the business to 1865; then saloon keeping to 1869. In 1870 he was elected county clerk of Schoharie county for three years. He has also been engaged in mercantile business and farming. He has been justice of the peace twenty-two years and supervisor one year. He was married November 23rd, 1836, to Mary Etta Kennicutt, daughter of Samuel Kennicutt, of Richmondville, Schoharie county N.Y. Their children are William H., Gosaltha, Lucy A., Samuel K., Hettie, Charlie and Nettie. Mr. Coons' grandfather, Abram Coons was a patriot through the whole of the Revolutionary war, and died at the age of ninety-nine, having never taken any medicine in his life.
WATSON COUSE was born in Oneonta, Otsego county N.Y., February 1st, 1833. He has been a farmer since 1853. February 1st, l854, he was married to Elizabeth Clark, a daughter of William Clark, of Sidney. They have six children: Ellen M., William W., Charles A., Frank E, Flora E. and Alfred A.
OLMSTED FLINT, son of Richard and Dorotha Flint, was born in Columbia county, N.Y., May 23rd, 1818. He has been a farmer since 1839. March 6th, 1850, he married Alvina Young, daughter of James C. Young, of Otsego county, N.Y. They have one child - Charles O. Mr. Flint's grandfather on his mother's side, Samuel Olmsted, was in the French war and the Revolution.
ARA D. FISHER, son of Lawrence Fisher, of Unadilla, was born at Schuyler Lake, Otsego county, November 29th, 1855. He has been a manufacturer of lumber, shingles, etc., at Sidney Plains since 1876.
HARRIS GILLETT was born in Cherry Valley, Otsego county, N.Y., December 31st 1834. He is a dairy farmer, making cheese manufacturing a specialty. He was supervisor of the town of Sidney for 1876. March 20th 1856, he married Mary E. Marks, daughter of David Marks, of Cherry Valley. They have one child, Theresa. Mr. Gillett's grandfather on his mother's side, Daniel Clark, was in the War of 1812.
EDWARD GRANGER was born in Sidney November 21st, 1818. He is a son of Henry and Sophia Granger. He was a farmer, employed by others, till 1848; since then has been farming for himself. In 1862 he married Matilda Murray, daugbter of Stephen and Emeline Murray, of Franklin. They have four children - Edward L., Charles A., Effie L. and George Eugene.
OSCAR F. HARPER was born Davenport May 14th, 1818. He was a farmer from 1832 to 1838. He then took up the carpenter's trade, and he also carried on coopering from 1862 to 1868. He was united in marriage to Lydia Hotchkiss, a daughter of Joseph and Lydia Hotchkiss of Harpersfield. Their children are four sons and one daughter.
GEORGE H., CHARLES M., and THEODORE, sons of Harvey H. and Juliette HICKOK, were born as follows: George H., September 6th, 1845; Charles M., March 15th, 1848, and Theodore O., April 25th, 1850. Their father, who was a farmer, died October 10th, 1867; their mother is still living. The sons are farmers and also proprietors of the Central Hotel at Sidney Plains. Charles H. and Theodore manage the hotel, and George H. has charge of a farm of one hundred and fifty acres in Unadilla. George H. married Maria T. Hull; they have two children, Josphine and Eugene. Charles M. married Amelia P. Moore, daughter of Jacob and Sally Moore of Oneonta, Otsego county; their only child, Harvey H., was born April 12th, 1875. Theodore O. married Emma C. Gates, a daughter of William and Jane Gates, of Unadilla, October 6th, 1873.
WILLIAM T. HODGES, son of Andrew and Mary and grandson of Hezekiah and Mary Hodges, was born on the farm which he now resides on and works, in Sidney, November 3rd, 1820. He was married July 5th, 1852, to Susan A. Williams, daughter of Thomas P. and Priscilla Williams of Sidney, who was born July 8th, 1828. The fruits of this union were four children, of whom Maryette is the only one living. She married Stephen H. Wate of Unadilla.