Osceola

History of the Town of Osceola
From: History of Lewis County, New York and its people
By: Franklin B. Hough
Published by D. Mason & Co. 1883

This town was formed from West Turin, February 28, 1844, in accordance with a vote of that town, embracing Townships 8, or Rurabella, and 13, or Hybla, of the Boylston Tract. The Board of Supervisors, on the 22d of November, 1867, annexed the northern part of this town to Montague. The part thus set off included lots 1 to 38 of Township 8, which had then begun to settle in the western part, and whose business connections were altogether toward the north.

The name was applied at the request of a young lady in New York, in memory of the celebrated Seminole chief, whose career forms an important item in the history of Florida. This warrior was a half-breed, and was first known by his father”s name Powell, but received the title of As-se-o-la (as pronounced in the original dialect), because he could drink a greater quantity than others of a drink of this name taken preparatory to the fast and feast of the green-corn dance.

The first persons who came into this town were Jabez Green, Christopher Devine and Harvey Potter, who located on lot 138 about 1822, without title, but did not remain. Samuel W. Nash also located soon after, a little above, but not permanently. In 1826 one Clark burnt off a windfall, a mile south of Salmon river, and planted corn, which yielded abundantly, but was claimed and entirely harvested by bears. This windfall was the track of a tornado that had passed across the town three years before, and the fire, when applied, ran through it with tremendous energy, sending up columns of flame and smoke, which were observed to an immense distance, the former by its reflections upon the clouds at night, and the latter by its dense sombre masses by day.

The first agent of the Pierrepont estate in this town was James S. T. Stranahan of Brooklyn, but then of Florence, Oneida county. Settlement was delayed by various causes, among which was the failure of the proprietors of scattered lots, to unite in an agency for the opening of roads and other improvements necessary for bringing the town into market. Tn July, 1839, Seymour Green was appointed Pierrepont”s agent in No. 13, with power to sell lands at $1.50 cash, or $2 on a credit of four years. A road was marked out from Florence village northward, nearly across the township, and reports favorable to the tract gaining currency in the surrounding country, the landless rushed forward to secure a homestead with such avidity, that between the first of September and Christmas, nearly 18,000 acres were sold under contract with the intention of settlement. The north part of Redfield (No. 7 or Greenboro) was opened under the same agency, and in the above period 1,000 acres were contracted upon that township. In May, 1840, the proprietor, in six days, issued 68 contracts and 22 deeds, and received $4,000 in cash. The lands sold amounted to 11,996 acres, and the price to $25,219.35. The following winter was unusually severe, and in 1842 half the lands sold had reverted. As there were no town officers accessible for laying out roads, whatever was done in this line, devolved upon Mr. Pierrepont, the owners of scattered lots being generally indifferent as to these improvements. In 1843, there were 250 inhabitants, two school houses and 60 children. In 1848, 1,600 acres were under contract, and 5,491 acres were deeded. In 1850, there were 400 inhabitants in town. The settlers were mostly from the older towns around. Several families came from the factories at Oriskany, and some from the public works upon the suspension of 1842. The northern part of No. 13 is called “Vermont Settlement,” from the original locality of the settlers. The first family that actually settled with title, on Township 13, was that of Robert Russell, on lot 139, in December, 1839. They wintered here alone, and in the spring were joined by Ira and Thomas Hulbert and others. Roswell A. Hubbard, William G. Smith, Lyman Weliman, David Shorey, Silas A. Fox, Henry J. Baker, Anthony Rowell and others, were also early settlers. Mr. Green, the agent, settled in 1842, and at the first town meeting in 1844. there were 37 voters. The first birth was that of Russell Chase, the first marriage that of Captain Edward Humaston and Jane Smith, and the first death that of Agnes Russell, a child eight years of age. The first school was taught in 1844 by Jerusha Wetmore, and the first two framed school houses were built in that year. The town had in 1860, five framed and one log school house, and two joint districts, of which the school houses were in Redfield. A road, authorized by law in 1859, was laid out by Seymour Green and Diodate Pease from the Vermont Settlement to Martinsburgh, a distance of about twelve miles from one clearing to the other, and about 23 miles from the court house to Osceola village. At present the distance around is about 70 miles by the nearest public thoroughfare and over 50 by the nearest passable road. This road was nearly or quite cut out, and for some years the non-resident highway taxes of adjacent lands were applied, but it is now wholly abandoned, and growing up.

The principal business point in town is at Osceola village and postoffice, or as it is usually called, “The River,” situated in the deep narrow intervale of Salmon river, five miles from Florence, and thirteen from the R. W. & O. R. R. station at Camden. The first saw-mill in town was built by William Roberts, in 1841. A tannery, two hundred feet long, was erected on the south bank of Salmon river, in 1859, by Cowles, Sliter & Co., for the manufacture of sole leather, chiefly from Spanish hides. it was discontinued about 1871. It had a capacity of about 30,000 sides of sole leather a year.

The census of 1880 reported a population of 92 in Osceola village. The place has a hotel, (owned and kept by Sylvanus Williams;) two stores, (Alonzo Barlow, and Richard Chase, Jr.;) a cooper shop, (Samuel E. Thayer;) sawmill, on Salmon river, (Williams & Jackson;) and steam saw-mill, (William P. Griffith.)

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