History of Rome, NY FROM: Gazetteer and Business Directory
OF Oneida County, N. Y. For 1869.
Compiled and Published By Hamilton Child, Syracuse, NY 1862
ROME was formed from Steuben, March 4, 1796. It lies upon the Mohawk, a little west of the center of the County. Its surface is level and some portion of it low and marshy. The Mohawk flows south-east through the east part, and Wood Creek flows west through the north-west part. Fish Creek, forms the north-west boundary. The soil generally is a gravelly loam and highly productive. On the south line of the town is a quarry of freestone, and on the north line, along the banks of the Mohawk and Gulf Brook, are large masses of shale. In excavating the canal through the swamp, clam shells of a large size, charcoal and ashes, were found imbedded eight feet below the surface.
Rome, (p. v.) situated upon the Mohawk, south-east of the center of the town, was incorporated March 26, 1819. It is a half shire of the County, and contains the County buildings, thirteen churches, four banks, two newspaper offices, an academy, several private schools and several extensive manufactories. It is the most important station on the New York Central R. R. and Erie canal between Utica and Syracuse, and is the southern terminus of the Rome, Watertown and Ogdensburgh R. R. The Oswego & Rome R. R. connects with this at Richiand, and is under the same management. The Black River Canal also terminates at this village. The public schools are all under one board of trustees and in a prosperous condition. The Union School, occupying a large building on Liberty street, is under the management of Mr. L. H. Birdseye, Principal, assisted by nine female teachers in the various departments.
The Rome Academy was incorporated April 28, 1835, re-incorporated by the Regents, March 15, 1849. It occupies a beautiful site at the corner of James and Court streets, and is valued at $11,500. The estimated value of the library and apparatus is $1200. The school is now in a very flourishing condition, and under its present able management is well worthy of the patronage it receives from this and adjoining counties. There are several private schools, affording ample facilities for the education of the youth of both sexes.
The Rome iron Works, Edward Huntington, Pres’t., is a large establishment engaged in the manufacture of railroad iron, employing 160 hands and turning out about 10,000 tons of iron annually. The R. W. & O. R. R. Co., have a large shop where they manufacture locomotives, cars, &c.
The Rome Merchant Iron Mill, in process of erection, is 150 by 90 feet, with truss roof upon brick piers. Its capacity when completed wIll be 6000 tons annually. The capital of the company is $100,000. J. B. Hyde, Manager, Secretary and Treasurer.
The Rome Iron and Steel Bloom Co., and a large number of smaller manufacturing establishments are located here.
The New York Fuller’s Earth and Soap Manufacturing Com pany is a corporation formed for the purpose of mining, preparing and vending Fuller’s Earth. The principal office of the company is at Rome. They own a bed of this earth, located in the town of Vienna, of about ninety-five acres and ranging in depth from fifteen to thirty feet. The capital stock of the company is $400,000, divided into 8000 shares. The officers of the company are Palmer V. Kellogg, President; David Utley, Vice President; A. J. McIntosh, Secretary.
The village is well laid out, the streets are nicely shaded and lighted with gas, rendering it one of the pleasantest villages in Central New York. The population is about 10,000.
West Rome is a thickly settled suburb, just west of Rome.
Stanwix, (p. o.) on the canal is a hamlet.
Green's Corners is a station on the N. Y. C. R. R., in the southwest corner.
Ridge Mills and North Rome are hamlets.
The “Carrying Place,” between the Mohawk and Wood Creek, was discovered and made available at a very early period. At this point the two streams approach within a mile and a half of each other and are deep enough for batteau navigation. The Dutch inhabitants called the place “Trow Plat,” while the Indians called it .De-o-wain-sta, meaning the place where canoes are carried across from one stream to the other. There is a tradition that two forts were erected at this place. previous to the ereetloit of Fort Stanwix, but we have no reliable account of them. “Fort Bull,” upon Wood Creek, is said by some to have been erected in 1725, but the commandant, at the time of its capture by M. De Lery, bore the name of Bull, hence some have inferred that it was built but a short time previous. This Fort was surprised and taken by M. De Lery, with a party of French and Indians numbering $62, March 27, 1756. The English garrison numbered ninety. From the account of De Lery, found in “Documentary History of the State of New York,” we learn that the besiegers had been fifteen days in coming from Montreal, and for two days were entirely without provisions. “It is estimated that more than 40,000 weight of powder was burned or thrown into the creek, with a number of grenades, bombs and balls of different calibre. A great deal of salted provisions, bread, butter, chocolate, sugar and other provisions, were likewise thrown into the water. The stores were filled with cloths and other effects, which were pillaged, the remainder burnt. This day has cost the English ninety rncn, of whom thirty are prisoners.” Other accounts say only five escaped the sword of the conquerors. Fort Williams, on the Mohawk, was destroyed by Gen. Webb, after the reduction of Oswego, in 1756.
Fort Stanwix was built in 1758, by Brig. Gen. John Stanwix, at a cost of 60,000 pounds sterling. It was a square work, constructed on the most approved scientific principles of military engineering, having four bastions and surrounded by a ditch. It stood a few rods south of the present park in the village of Rome. After the close of the French war it was of little use, and was suffered to go to decay. In 1776 it was repaired and an attempt was made to change its name to Fort Schuyler, which has caused some confusion in subsequent history, though Col. Willett, in his narrative, speaks of it as Fort Stanwix. It was besieged by St. Leger in 1777, but without success. A force under Gen. Herkimer, sent to raise the siege, fell into an ambuscade, and the battle of Oriskany was the result. This battle was fought at great disadvantage to the Americans. Their baggage and ammunition wagons fell into the hands of the enemy on the first attack, leaving them with only the ammunition contained in their cartridge boxes. The day was warm, and with no water, they contended for six hours, causing the enemy to suffer as much as themselves. Gen. Herkimer received a wound which caused his death. Capt. Jacob Gardinier distinguished himself in this battle. After receiving several wounds he crept into a cavity at the roots of a tree and continued the fight, by the aid of a Dutch boy, who brought him the guns of the fallen soldiers. The Captain was afterwards cured of thirteen wounds. While this hattie was going on, Col. Willett made a sortie from the Fort, attacked the Tory camp, and immediately after, the Indian camp, capturing the entire camp equipage, clothing, blankets, stores, &c., and the baggage and papers of most of the officers. Among the plunder were five British standards. The siege was raised the 25th of August. After the close of the war the Fort was of no further use, and now not a vestige of it remains.
The precise time when the first settlers, after the Revolution, came to Rome cannot be ascertained. Jèdediah Phelps came in 1784, and erected a shop at Wood Creek for carrying on the business of brass founder and silversmith, but the next year changed his location to Fort Stanwix. During the years 1785 and 1786, five log houses were erected in the vicinity of the Fort. In January, 1787, there were three log houses at old Fort Schuyler (Utica), seven at Whitestown, three at Oriskany, five at Fort Stanwix and three at Westmoreland. These houses, or huts, then sheltered the whole white population of the State west of Utica, except a few Indian traders. Among the early settlers, previous to 1800, were John Barnard, George Huntington, Joshua Hathaway, Dr. Stephen White, Henry Huntington, Rozel Fellows, Matthew Brown, Bill Smith, Seth Ranney, Matthew Brown, Jr., David Brown, Ebenezer, Daniel W. and Thomas Wright, Thomas Selden, Solomon and John Williams, Peter Colt, William Coibraith, Abijah and Clark Putnam, Caleb Reynolds, Rufus Eaton, Thomas Gilbert, Moses Fish, Stephen Lampman, Jeremiah Steves, Annin Wiggins and John Niles. Mr. Wiggins settled in the north-east part of the town. His son, Mr. David Wiggins, now living, came with his father in 1798; he is the oldest settler now living in the town. In 1793 John Barnard kept a tavern a few rods north-east of the present site of the Court House. Mr. George Huntington arrived soon after with a small assortment of goods, and for want of better accommodations put them up in Barnard’s bar-room. The building they occupied was the first two story building erected in Rome, and was built by Seth Ranney. In the course of the season Mr. Huntington put up a store on James street. About the first of August, 1799, Thomas Walker started the first printing press in Rome, and issued the Colunibian Gazette, a weekly paper, for the proprietors, Eaton & Walker. The first grist mill in Rome was erected in 1795, on Wood Creek, a few rods north of the United States Arsenal. In 1796 or 1797, a batteau loaded with corn arrived from Ontario County, and after the grist was ground, returned by the same route without accident. Previous to 1800, a man by the name of Logan kept a hotel in a building on the size of the “American.” In 1797, “The Western Inland Lock Navigation Company,” completed a canal between the Mohawk and Wood Creek. it was two miles long and was sufficient for “Durham boats” of forty tons burthen. The canal was supplied by a feeder from the Mohawk. It had a lock of ten feet at the eastern terminus and one of eight feet at the western. About 1812 it was estimated that 300 boats, with 1,500 tons of merchandise, went through the canal annually. This canal, with the one at Little Falls, was considered a stupendous work in its day. The United States Arsenal, magazine, workshops, &c., were erected at this place in 1813. On the 4th of July, 1817, the ground was first broken for the Erie Canal. Hon. Joshua Hathaway cast the first shovel-ful of dirt. The canal from Montezuma to Utica was so far completed as to be navigable in 1820. Bela H. Hyde was the first Collector appointed at Rome, and held the office for eighteen consecutive years. The Erie Canal, as first constructed, passed half a mile south of the village, but when it was enlarged its channel was made through the village. The construction of the New York Central Railroad and the Black River Canal, and more recently the Rome, Watertown & Ogdensburg Railroad, have contributed greatly to the importance of the village. The first church (Congregational) was formed September 5, 1800, consisting of eleven members. Rev. Moses Giflett was the first pastor.
The population in 1865 was 9,478, and the area 43,946 acres.
The town contains twenty-one school districts, employing thirtytwo teachers. The whole number of scholars is 3,091; the average attendance, 787, and the amount expended for school purposes during the year ending September 30th, 1868, was $13,639.38.