CHENANGO 1 was erected Feb. 16, 1791. It was one of the original towns. Windsor was taken off March 27, 1807; Conklin, March 29, 1824; and Binghamton and Fenton, Dec. 3, 1855. A part of Union was annexed Feb. 26, 1808, and a part of Maine, Nov. 27, 1856. It lies west of the center of the County, its eastern boundary being formed by the Chenango River. Its surface consists of the river intervale, and several ridges which rise to an altitude of from 300 to 600 feet and are separated by the narrow valleys of the streams running parallel with them, north and south, through the town. The principal streams are Castle2 and Kattel3 creeks, which are tributary to Chenango River, and Gilbert Creek, which empties its waters into Kattel Creek. On the north hills the soil consists of a gravelly loam mixed with disintegrated slate and underlaid by hard pan, but further south, it becomes a deeper and richer gravelly loam. It is productive, but moist, and for this reason is devoted principally to grazing. Stock raising and dairying form the chief agricultural pursuits. The town covers an area of 21,154 acres, of which, in 1865, according to the census of that year, 14,262 were improved.
In 1870 the population of the town was 1,680. During the year ending Sept. 30, 1871, there were fourteen school districts, and the same number of teachers employed. The number of children of school age was 761; the number attending school, 679; the average attendance, 281; the amount expended for school purposes, $7,403; and the value of school houses and sites, $8,815.
The Syracuse & Binghamton R. R. enters the town in the north-east corner and follows the course of the Chenango River until it reaches near the center of the east border, when it diverges and crosses the point formed by the bend in the river and leaves the town on the south border, a little east of the mouth of Kattel creek. The Utica & Chenango Valley R. R. just enters the town in the north-east corner. Both these roads are leased and operated by the D. L. & W. R. R. Co.
CASTLE CREEK, (p. v.) located near the north line, on the creek whose name it bears, contains two churches, (Baptist and M. E.) two stores, one hotel, a steam saw mill, two blacksmith shops, a wagon shop, cooper shop and 180 inhabitants.
KATTELVILLE (p. o.) is in the east part, on Kattel creek, near the S. & B. R. R.
GLEN CASTLE (p. o.) is located about two miles above the mouth of Castle creek.
WEST CHENANGO (p. o.) is in the western part.
CHENANGO BRIDGE (p. o.) is located on the S. & B. R. R. at the point where it crosses the Chenango River.
CHENANGO FORKS (p. v.) is partially in this town.4 That part in this town contains one church, (M. E.) two stores, one hotel, a cabinet shop, shoe shop and blacksmith shop.
NIMMONSBURG5 is a hamlet in the south part, lying in the valley of the Chenango, three and a half miles north of Binghamton.
The first settler was Thomas Gallop, who, as previously stated,6 located at Chenango Forks, in 1787. He is believed to have remained there but a short time. Among the other early settlers were Col. Wm. Rose and John Nimmons, who located in the south part. Col. Rose settled on the farm now owned and occupied by Wm. R. Nimmons. Jedediah Seward, Wm. Hall, John Jewell, Stephen and Henry Palmer, Josiah Whitney, Jared Page, Nathaniel Bishop, James Temple and Foster Lilly were early settlers. Settlements appear to have been made rapidly and to have assumed some importance, for in 1788, a saw mill, which was owned by Henry French, was built at Glen Castle. It was the first erected in the county. The Indians from whom the Boston Company purchased their lands, reserved a tract of one-half mile square, which was situated near the mouth of Castle Creek and was known as the "Castle Farm." "Upon this reserve the Indians of the neighborhood who did not remove to New Stockbridge, or Oneida, resided." Their number "is said to have been about twenty families." They cultivated the farm to some extent, but depended chiefly upon hunting and fishing. Wilkinson in speaking of them says:
"[They] kept up their peculiar mode of dress so long as they remained upon their farm; clothing themselves with their shirt and moccasins, their head bare, except sometimes ornamenting it with feathers, and wearing jewels of silver in their nose and ears. Their wigwams were built of logs, locked together at the ends, and sloping up on two sides from the ground to a peak, like the roof of a house.
"Another form of their wigwams was, to erect four stakes, or crotches, two longer and two shorter; upon these to lay two poles, one upon the longer and one upon the shorter crotches. Upon these poles they would lay sticks or smaller poles and then barks, with sufficient ingenuity to exclude the rain and weather. From the lower crotches to the ground they would tie barks, answering to our weather boarding. They would close up the two ends in the same manner. Upon the front side were suspended skins of deer sewed together, from the pole upon the high crotches to the ground, and which they could raise or fall at pleasure. Before this their fire was kindled, and the curtain of skins raised by day time, and more or less lowered by night, as the weather might be. In some cases they would have their wigwams lined with deer skins. Seldom any floor but the ground. Their bed consisted of straw, or skins thrown down. When they sat down, it was always upon the ground. In eating they sat generally without any order, as they happened to be, upon the ground, with each his piece in his hand. Their adroitness in spearing fish was admired by the whites, in which they displayed as much markmanship as they do with the bow and arrow. They would throw the spear at the fish which very seldom failed of transfixing its object, though the distance to which it was thrown should be twenty or thirty feet, the fish moving rapidly at the same time, and the water running swift.
"Their chief was called Squire Antonio. This title was given him by the whites on account of his just decisions, his correct judgement, and his sober habits. He was very much esteemed by the white people, as well as revered and loved by his own. He undoubtedly contributed very materially towards maintaining that peaceful and friendly, or at least orderly, conduct which the Indians have the good name of having observed towards the whites."
But notwithstanding the amicable relations which subsisted between the whites and Indians, and the nominal price at which the latter were induced to sell their vast possessions, there was, in the neighborhood, a person named Paterson, who was sufficiently base, either through his own designs, or as the tool of others, to rob them of the small portion reserved for their own uses, by an appeal to the cupidity of the chief's son, Abraham Antonio.
"About 1792 or '3," says Wilkinson, "he went to the Indians at the Castle, and made himself very familiar and sociable with them. He brought with him a silver mounted rifle, which he knew would gain their admiration and excite their cupidity. Abraham Antonio was smitten with a desire for it. He endeavored to purchase it, making such offers as he could afford. But Patterson put him off, telling him he did not wish to sell it; or setting such a price upon it as he knew was beyond the power of Abraham immediately to command. After he had sufficiently prepared the way for himself, he proposed to the young chief, that if he would engage to give him so many bear skins he would let him have the rifle. This the prince complied with. A note was required on the part of Patterson, with the son and father's name subscribed, that the skins should be delivered against a specified time. Abraham hesitated as to such a course, as he did not understand such a mode of business. He therefore asked his father as to the propriety, who told his son it was a common mode of doing business with the whites. Patterson then professedly wrote a note, specifying the number of skins, and read it off to the father and son accordingly, who both signed their names. But instead of writing a note, he wrote a deed for the Castle farm."
For this act of perfidy, however, Patterson is believed to have forfeited his life and that of his family at the hands of Abraham, who either followed him for the purpose to Ohio, whither he moved, or accidentally met him there and summarily revenged the treachery of which he was made the victim. With the loss of the Castle farm, the Indians appear to have gradually withdrawn from this section, leaving their favorite hunting grounds in undisputed possession of the whites.
Nothing of marked prominence appears in the history of the town until the breaking out of the Rebellion, from which it suffered in common with other sections of the country. It contributed seventy-one soldiers as its share in the establishment of the supremacy of the Union.
The First M. E. Society, at Chenango Forks, was organized in 1833. Their house of worship will seat 250 persons. It was erected in 1863, at a cost of $2,500, which is the present value of Church property. There are sixty-eight members. The present pastor is Rev. C. E. Taylor.
The Castle Creek Baptist Church was organized in 1844, in which year its first house of worship was erected. The present one, which will seat 300 persons, was erected in 1870, at a cost of $7,860.75. There are eighty-seven members. Rev. A. P. Merrill is pastor. The Church property is valued at $9,500.
The M. E. Church, at Castle Creek, was organized with thirty members, in 1847, by Rev. T. D. Wire, its first pastor. The first Church edifice was erected in 1840; the present one in 1868. It cost $6,000, and will seat 300 persons. Rev. N. S. DeWitt is the pastor. It has eighty members. The Church property is valued at $7,500.
The Kattelville M. E. Church was organized with nine members, by Rev. R. S. Rose, its first pastor, in 1851, in which year was erected the house of worship, at a cost of $1,500. It will seat 225 persons. Rev. C. E. Taylor is the pastor. The number of members is forty-eight. The Church property is value at $1,600.
The Glen Castle M. E. Church erected its house of worship, which will seat 300 persons, in 1851, at a cost of $1,200. Its 39 members are ministered to by Revs. Philo Wilcox and Robert Thomas. The Church property is valued at $2,000.