The surface of the country and the disclosures of the plow revealed to the early settlers of this town evidences of its occupancy prior to their advent, and partially indicated the character of its occupants. On the farm originally settled by Timothy Hatch, on the west side of the river, about a mile and a half north-west of the village of Sherburne, were the remains of caches, where corn had been buried; while in the field adjoining it on the north numerous arrow heads, stone chisels, hatchets and pestles have been disclosed by the plow. About four miles north of Sherburne village and one west of Handsome brook, were the remains of an embankment, constructed of coarse gravel, in the form of a horse-shoe, with the open ends towards the north. It was about four rods wide at the outer ends and seven or eight rods deep to the center of the bow. From the lowest point in the center to the highest part of the embankment, it was full twenty-five feet. Embankments extended from each extremity of the bow, that to the east fifteen or twenty rods long, terminating in a swamp, and that to the west, being much longer, terminating at the foot of a hill, and nearly in range with the other, but disconnected from the main structure by an opening two or three rods wide. In front of the whole is a low swampy piece of ground of small extent. Flint arrow heads have frequently been found in its locality. Its origin and use are not sufficiently indicated. (Hatch’s History of the town of Sherburne)
The settlement of the town was mainly begun by a company of persons originally from Kent, Conn., who, two years after the termination of the struggle of the colonies with the mother country for independence, emigrated to Duanesburgh, Schenectady county; and being disappointed in their hopes of securing a title to the lands on which they settled in that town, they resolved to move in a body to the Chenango Valley, to the newly opened lands in the Twenty Townships. In June, 1791, Deacon Nathaniel Gray, Elisha Gray, Joel Hatch, Newcomb Raymond and James Raymond, visited these lands in the interest of the company as an exploring party, accompanied by Josiah Throop, chief of the corps who had surveyed the tract that and the preceding years. On their arrival they found that a family consisting of five men, one woman and some small children from Paris, Oneida county, had squatted a few hours previously on Handsome brook, and were occupying a bark cabin, to which the explorers were attracted by the tinkling of a bell attached to a cow which was the property of this family. There they found hospitable welcome through the night, and in the morning were regaled by their hostess with new bread and beer, both her own making. This family remained but a short time, for they had left before the return of the party. The exploring party examined the south-west quarter of the 9th township, containing 6,222 1/2 acres, which they and their associates eventually bought of William S. Smith, to whom the township was patented for $1.25 per acre. They returned with a good report, and in the winter of 1792 Abraham Raymond and family settled on the tract selected. Mr. Raymond and his family remained at Norwich until spring, when they were joined by their associates, who in the meantime had increased from eleven to twenty. They were Nathaniel Gray, Newcomb Raymond, Elijah Gray, Eleazer Lathrop, Josiah Lathrop, James Raymond, Joel Hatch, John Gray, Jr., Abraham Raymond, Timothy Hatch, Cornelius Clark, Joel Northrop, John Lathrop, John Gray, John Hibbard, Ezra (Died Oct. 17, 1830, aged 70, Betsey, his wife, Oct. 22, 1853, aged 80.) Lathrop, Elisha Gray, Elijah Foster, Amos Cole and David Perry, the first eleven being those to whom the contract for the tract was given.
During the summer and fall of 1792 the tract had been resurveyed by Cornelius Clark, and divided into twenty equal parts in such manner that each should have an equal share of bottom lands and uplands.
During the first year of their settlement (1793,) several log houses were built, the first saw-mill erected, and a road built from the “Quarter” to the Unadilla, a distance of ten miles. This mill was located in the gulf, on the stream east of Sherburne village, about half a mile below Rexford Falls. Joel Hatch was dispatched to the nearest blacksmith shop at Clinton, to procure some necessary mill irons that were lacking. He went on horseback, following Indian paths, and returned with the irons after an absence of three days. All, except Abraham Raymond, who was the only one who had thus far brought his family in, returned in the fall for their families, with whom they came back that winter or the following spring.
Abraham Raymond settled on the west bank of the river about midway between the river and Sherburne Hill. There he and his wife died. His children were thirteen in number, Mercy, David, Ebenezer, Abigail, John, Cynthia, Newcomb, Lodema, Electa, Joseph, Semantha and two others who died in childhood of scarlet fever.
Newcomb and James Raymond were younger brothers of Abraham Raymond, and all were natives of Sharon, Conn. Newcomb settled on 150 acres adjoining Abraham’s farm on the south, and resided there till his death in February, 1837, at the age of 89 years. He married in Connecticut the year after the close of the Revolutionary war, Mabel Gray, who also died on the homestead in Sherburne, in February, 1826. They had ten children, Sarah, Jerusha, Harvey, Irad, Alfred, Anna, Alfred, Laura, Augustine, and George B., the first four of whom were born before they came here. James Raymond settled on a farm adjoining that of Newcomb’s on the south, now owned and occupied by Palmer Newton.
Nathaniel Gray was born March 17, 1736. He returned here in the winter of 1793, and located a mile and a half north of Sherburne, and resided there till his death, June 24, 1810. He had two children by his first wife, who died in Connecticut, where he married for his second wife Bethiah, widow of Benjamin Newcomb, who was born Feb. 26, 1735, and died on the same farm August 19, 1811, and who had five children by her former husband, all of whom came here. The children by his first wife were Elijah and Bethiah. Gray’s second wife’s children were Abraham Newcomb, James, Mercy and Hannah Raymond. The first school, which was organized for the winter, was kept at the log house of Nathaniel Gray.
John Gray’s land extended from the river east to the quarter line and included all that part of the village of Sherburne lying north of the State road now known as State street. His log house stood near the site of the Upham block, on the north-east corner of the business part of the village. He was born in Windham, Conn., in 1793, was a revolutionary soldier, and married Elizabeth Skeel, who was born in New Milford, Conn., in 1745, and died in Sherburne in 1824, aged 79. He had six children, all of whom were born in Connecticut: John, Jr., Nathaniel, Mabel, Betsey, Margaret and Reuben. John, Jr., married and settled on the river, his farm lying upon both sides of the river. His house stood on the bank ten or twelve rods from the west end of the bridge on the old State road. He was Justice here several years and Associate Judge.
Eleazer, Josiah, John and Ezra Lathrop were brothers. Eleazer settled in the south part of the village, where General Hollis Rowland now lives; Josiah on the west side of the river, on the farm now owned by Alson Adams, where he resided till his death Feb. 28, 1854, at the advanced age of 96 years; John, in the Quarter, just north of the cotton factory, where Martin Benedict now lives, (probably,) and Ezra, two and one-half miles north-east of the village, where Theodore Adams now lives. They came from Chatham, Columbia county.
Timothy and Joel Hatch were brothers, and the former had a large family. Timothy died June 28, 1847, aged 89, and Ruth, his wife, Nov. 6, 1848, at the same age. Joel died March 26, 1855, aged 90, and Ruth, his wife, Aug. 7, 1838, aged 71. Joel was an early Justice, succeeding John Gray in that office soon after the formation of the town. He built in 1794 the first grist-mill in town. It was located on Handsome brook, in the north part of the town. The mill-stones and irons were brought from Albany with great labor and at the expense of a three weeks’ journey, by means of a sled and oxen. John Lathrop was one of the two who went after them. This mill proved a great convenience, for hitherto they had been compelled to carry their grists a distance of forty miles to Whitestown, over roads no better than Indian trails, or resort to the primitive method of reducing their grain by means of the mortar and pestle A second mill was built at an early day by John Gilmore, close to Rexford Falls. The water was conducted to it by means of a spout passing through the roof. The road leading to it was down a small ravine from the north, running under a bridge over which the Cherry Valley turnpike passed. The ravine under the bridge has since been filled up, and no trace of mill or bridge remains.
Joel Hatch built a machine shop on Handsome brook, a mile north of the village, in 1812. He also set up the first turning lathe in the town, probably the first in the county, for turning the various parts of spinning wheels. It was a primitive affair, and consisted in a cord wound around the article to be turned, with one end attached to a spring-pole overhead and the other to a foot-piece. By the alternate action produced by the pressure of the foot and the spring pole the article revolved backward and forward. This contrivance was the best that was in use for many years.
None of the Hatches are living here now. Joel Hatch, Jr., was the author of a History of the Town of Sherburne, published in 1862. He died Dec. 27, 1864, aged 73, and Melona, his wife, May 14, 1846, aged 55.
Lorenzo Hatch, son of Timothy Hatch, was the first white child born in Sherburne. Justus Guthrie, who is also claimed to have been the first child born in the town, was born on the evening of the same day and year (1793) while Hatch was born in the morning.
Joseph Guthrie, whom French’s State Gazetteer credits with being among the first in the town, in 1792, settled on the north side of Pleasant brook, his farm extending to the river and lying in the angle formed by the river and creek, and died there, both he and his wife.
Joseph Dixon came from Manchester, Vermont, in 1795, and settled on Sherburne Hill, in the west part of the town, on the farm now occupied by Levi N. Smith.
Levi Follett came from Winchester, N. H., in 1798 or ’9, and settled in the south part of the town of Hamilton. He removed thence within a year about a half mile south, to the north edge of Sherburne. He bought of John Watts 50 acres on lot 41, to which he made subsequent additions, and resided there till his death April 29, 1830, aged 54.
Henry Gorton came from New London, Conn., about 1800, and settled on East Sherburne Hill. He removed thence about 1837 to North Norwich, where he and his wife died. Only one child is living, Mary Ann, wife of Andrus Pellett, in Norwich.
Samuel Stebbins came from Hartland, Conn., in 1804, with his family, consisting of his wife, Sarah Boardman, and six children, Eleanora, Sarah, Harlow, Sophia, Melissa, and Jerusha. Mr. Stebbins came here first in 1803 and built that year the rear portion of the Medbury House on the site of which he settled, and where, in company with Bela Scoville, he kept tavern till about 1809. He died March 6, 1833, aged 74, and his wife, September 4, 1833, aged 70. He was a Revolutionary pensioner.
Deacon Calvin Coe and Benjamin Rexford came from Middle Granville, Mass., the last of February, 1804. Deacon Coe, was born in Granville, Mass., June 9, 1781, and died in Sherburne, March 4, 1872. He was thrice married. Benjamin Rexford was born in Connecticut in January, 1776, and died July 30, 1825, aged 49. August 16, 1806, he married Mary Clark, who died April 10, 1846, aged 65. He left five sons, Benjamin F., Daniel A., Nelson C., John DeWitt, and Seneca Butts.
Capt. William Newton was born in Colchester, Conn., Oct. 15, 1786. His father, Asahel Newton, had served several years in the army of the Revolution. He was in straitened circumstances and had a large family of children, of whom William was the oldest, and on him devolved a large share of the burden of supporting his brothers and sisters. Having learned the trade of a clothier he came to Sherburne in 1806 and worked with Landon & Mills at Bullocks Mills. He took a factory in New Berlin in 1807, and went to Camden, N. Y., and worked in 1809. Aug. 22, 1810, he married Lois Butler, a native of Wethersfield, Conn., who still survives him and is living in Sherburne with mental faculties unimpaired. Mr. Newton moved his family to Sherburne May 11, 1812, and resided here from that time till his death, which occurred August 13, 1879, at the age of 92 years. He bought twenty acres of land and in 1812 built the house now occupied by Jacob Kuhn, and near it a woolen factory, on the bank of Handsome brook, which was ready for cloth dressing in the fall of that year. The factory was burned in 1822 and rebuilt in 1823. It was again burned in the winter of 1826-7 and was not rebuilt. The house in which he resided at the time of his death was built by him in 1822. His surviving children are William Butler, Louisa N. Lathrop and Lucinda N. Buell, both widows, in Sherburne; Warren, a banker, and Isaac S., a lawyer, both in Norwich; Lucius, a farmer on the homestead in Sherburne; Hubert A., a Professor in Yale College; Albro J., a sash manufacturer in Brooklyn; and Homer G., a physician in Sherburne, but not in practice.
Other early settlers were Jeremiah Purdy, Benjamin and Israel Ferris, Judge Joel Thompson, Jonah Poyer, John Guthrie, Stephen Kelsey, James Anderson, Richard Jackson, John Smith, Jeremy Warriner, Benjamin Lyon and Simeon Paddleford.
Jeremiah Purdy came from Dutchess county and settled at Sherburne Four Corners, where Milton Bentley now lives, and resided there till he had become advanced in years. Benjamin and Israel Ferris were brothers, though the latter settled in North Norwich, about a mile above the village, on the Dalrymple farm. Benjamin settled about a mile west of Sherburne village, where Morris Buell now lives.
Judge Joel Thompson settled at Sherburne Four Corners, where Edmund Purdy now lives, and resided there till he was well advanced in years. Jonah Poyer settled at a very early day, when there were only two or three log houses in Sherburne, on the forks of the river, up which he came from Oxford. After a few years he removed to the town of North Norwich.
John Guthrie settled on the south line of the town, and after the death of his wife Polly, who was a daughter of Abner Purdy, (April 30, 1821,) he removed to Sherburne village. Stephen Kelsey settled on the Thompson Fisher farm, in the south part of the town, and died there Sept. 9, 1807, aged 70.
James Anderson settled in the south-west part of the town, on the farm now occupied by Roderick Fuller, where he died April 14, 1832, aged 62, and his wife, Electa Kelsey, Sept. 2, 1848, aged 74. His son Stephen also died in this town May 2, 1853, aged 55. Richard Jackson settled at a very early day at Sherburne Four Corners, where his father kept a tavern. He died in the first house north of the corners, Jan. 17, 1821, aged 67, and Sarah, his wife, Oct. 20, 1834, aged 74. John Smith settled on the Cyrus Hartwell farm, where he was killed in his door-yard by a young team, Aug. 16, 1810, aged 49. His wife, Lydia, survived him many years. She died July 14, 1854, aged 84. Jeremy Warriner and Benjamin Lyon settled at Sherburne Four Corners, where the latter died Nov. 10, 1854, aged 87, and Hannah, his first wife, May 16, 1806, aged 35, and Debora, his second wife Nov. 10, 1859, aged 80. Warriner removed to Hamilton and died there Jan. 14, 1868, aged 83. Simeon Paddleford erected in 1804 the first machine for carding wool, a mile below Sherburne village. This is said to have been one of the two first machines in the country.
The settlement of the town was rapid and within seven years the number of inhabitants had increased to 1,282. Many of these were drawn from the localities from whence came the earlier settlers.
The first bridge across the Chenango was built near the mouth of Handsome brook. It was designed to accommodate foot passengers only. It consisted of one large tree in width and three in length, leveled upon the upper side with a hewing ax. Stakes were driven a few feet apart near the outer edges and interwoven with withes to protect those passing over it from falling into the stream.