FENTON 1  was formed from Chenango, Dec. 3, 1855. It lies upon the east bank of the Chenango River, and borders on the south boundary of Chenango county. Its surface is hilly, but the hills are broad and the slopes gentle. The steep hills which border along the Chenango and rise from 500 to 700 feet above it, confine the valley of that river within narrow limits. Page Brook,2  the principal stream, flows in a southerly direction through the west part, and divides the uplands into two distinct ridges. Osborn Creek rises near the tunnel on the A. & S. R. R. in the north part of the town of Colesville, and entering this town near the south-east corner, flows in an easterly direction to the Chenango, into which it discharges its waters a little north of Port Crane. Pond Brook is composed of two ponds over a mile in length and separated from each other by a sharp ridge, called the "Hog Back," under which the water from the upper passes into the lower pond. The outlet is but a few rods from the river and as the ponds have a considerable elevation above it, an excellent water power is formed. This has been and still is a great resort for fishermen. The ponds are yet stocked with various kinds of fish. The surface of the country for some distance around is very peculiar. It consists of plain land interspersed with basins or small valleys, some of which descend to a great depth below the general level. These basins have no connection with each other and all present the appearance of having been ponds at some remote period. The plain was formerly covered with a dense growth of pine. The soil is well adapted to tillage. On the hills it consists of a clay and slaty loam underlaid by hardpan, while in the valleys it is a rich gravelly loam and alluvium. With the exception of the country bordering the Chenango River and Page Brook the town is comparatively new. Along these streams are some fine farms and sightly residences. Among the latter are the residences of James E. Waite at Port Crane, Marvin Conniff at North Fenton and Jno. Hull 3  at the confluence of Page Brook and the Chenango River, which, in point of architectural beauty, compare favorably with villas of greater pretensions. The latter is especially attractive. It is situated about twenty-five rods from the main road, on an elevation of forty feet, covering an area of about two acres. It is approached from the east on an artificial embankment, and is surrounded by trees and shrubbery which give evidence of fine taste in their owner and constitute it a most lovely retreat.
    The Chenango Canal extends through the town, following the course of the Chenango river. The Syracuse and Binghamton R. R. crosses the south-west corner, about three-fourths of a mile east of the border. The Albany and Susquehanna R. R. enters the town near the south-east corner and, running in an easterly direction until within about a mile of the south-west border, turns south and runs nearly parallel with the S. & B. R. R., leaving the town on the south border.
    The town covers an area of 17,972 acres, of which, in 1865, according to the census of that year, 9, 759, were improved. Its population in 1870 was 1,499.
    During the year ending Sept. 30, 1871, it contained nine school districts and employed nine teachers. The number of children of school age was 428; the number attending school, 354; the average attendance, 177; the amount expended for school purposes, $2,215; and the value of school houses and sites, $4,260.

    PORT CRANE, (p. v.) on the Chenango canal, in the south part, contains two fine, new churches, (Baptist and M. E.) two stores, a hotel and a good school house. It has been for many years a depot for considerable quantities of lumber, and, being a canal village, boat building and repairing has been an important branch of its industry. It is nearly surrounded by hills, although lying on the bank of the Chenango. Formerly, for nearly two miles below, the river washed the base of perpendicular rocks, known as Crocker Mountain, and the inhabitants were obliged to cross this summit to get to Binghamton. But now the canal is cut in its base and is separated from the river by an embankment wide enough for a highway, both of which are protected by a slope wall. A fine view is afforded of the A. & S. R. R. as it winds along the mountain side, far above the level of the canal. Fort Crane station on this road is distant from the village about a mile.

    NORTH FENTON (p. o.) (also known as Ketchum's Corners) is pleasantly located in the valley of Page Brook, in the north part of the town. It contains a fine church, a store, grocery and a large cheese factory. The people are energetic and enterprising. 4

    The first settlement is believed to have been made by Elisha Pease in 1788. Jared Page, _____ Vining and Timothy Cross,5  were also early settlers. Isaac Page, Garry Williamson,6  John F. Miller and Elias Miller settled on Page Brook, in 1807. John F. Miller located one mile below North Fenton, where his son, Robert T. Miller, now resides. He died March 5th, 1869, aged 87 years. His sons (Geo. P., Robert T., Hurd F. and Addison,) are still residents of North Fenton. The birth of Chester Pease, in 1793, was the first in the town; the death of Mrs. Pease, in 1789, was the first death; and the marriage contracted by Gardner Wilson and Polly Rugg, in 1800, was the first marriage. The first saw mill was erected by Elisha Pease in 1797; and the first store was kept by Thomas Cooper, in 1813. Ozias Masch taught the first school in 1800. Rev. John Camp conducted the first religious services in 1798.
    As nearly as we have been able to ascertain the number of persons who enlisted during the war of the Rebellion in Port Crane and its immediate vicinity was sixty-four, of whom twelve were killed. Enlistments were made in the 16th N. Y. Artillery, and the 27th, 50th, 89th, 109th, 137th, 149th and 179th Regts. N. Y. Vol. Infty. North Fenton furnished, in addition to the above, twenty-six men, who enlisted in the 8th N. Y. Cavalry and the 79th N. Y. Infty., and of whom six were killed or died from wounds received or disease contracted while in the service.

    The First Baptist Church of Port Crane was organized with nineteen members, by W. Alibum, in 1860. Their first pastor was Rev. A. P. Menie; the pulpit is at present supplies by Rev. H. H. Mills. Their house of worship, which will seat 350 persons, is a very fine one, and was erected in 1870, at a cost of $5,000. There are thirty-three members. The church property is valued at $6,000.

    The M. E. Church, at Port Crane, was organized in 1841. Rev. G. A. Burlingame was the first pastor.7  Their house of worship, which will seat 250 persons, was erected in 1870, at a cost of $4,700. There are forty-five members. The church property is valued at $5,000.

    The First M. E. Church, located at North Fenton, was organized in 1832, by Rufus G. Christian, Ebenezer Cole, Charles Elliott, Justin Watrous, Garret Williamson and Claude Hamilton. The first church edifice was erected the same year; the present one, in 1871, at a cost of $2,000. It is a very fine building and will seat 400 persons. The first pastor was Rev. P. S. Worden; the present one is Rev. Thomas Burgess. There are 120 members. The church property is valued at $6,000.


1 - It was formed as Port Crane, (which name it derived from Jayson Crane, one of the engineers on the Chenango canal,) and its name changed to Fenton, March 26, 1867, in honor of Reuben E. Fenton, in consequence of the extreme aversion of a part of the inhabitants to the former name, an aversion which was so potent as to induce some of them to resist the payment of taxes.
    The names of the officers elected by the Board of Election, (composed of John Bishop, George Hickox, Willet Cross and H. A. Slosson, the latter clerk of the Board,) Feb. 12, 1856, are as follows: (No choice was made for Supervisor,) Hermon Waite, Town Clerk; John Bishop, Enos Puffer, Thomas Taber and Ebenezer Crocker, Justices; John B. Van Name, School Superintendent; James Nowland and Benj. A. Potter, Commissioners of Highways; James A. Barnes, I. D. Amsbury and Geo P. Miller, Assessors; Wm. Slosson and Garry V. Scott, Overseers of the Poor; Hiram Silliman, Collector; Henry Kark, Sherman McDaniel, John Jones, Leverett Jeffers and Willet Cross, Constables; Daniel Hickox, Wm. Williamson and Simon J. Lounsbury, Inspectors of Election.
2 - This stream is named from Isaac Page, who settled on it in 1807.
3 - Mr. Hull was the first Supervisor elected in the town, an office he has since several times filled. He has for several years been extensively engaged in erecting public works, and has held important trusts from the State.
4 - This was the place of residence of the late Rev. Enos Puffer, who, during the Rebellion, invented a bomb-shell charged with inflammable matter.
5 - Mr. Cross is still a resident and is hale and hearty. He is conversant with many of the daring exploits of the early settlers in their encounter with wild beasts. Owing to its peculiar situation Port Crane was for many years a famous sporting field. It lies outside the arc formed by the bend in the river in its vicinity. In its rear is a fine circular range of hills, which terminate above and below in perpendicular rocks called the upper and lower rocks, and which is divided nearly midway, by Osborn Creek; while in front are magnificent hills filling the arc down to the river's brink. A hound set after a deer anywhere in the area inclosed by the river and this semi-circle of hills was sure to bring it to the water at one of the points of rocks, and if it escaped those stationed there would cross the stream and take to the opposite mountains. Deer were numerous and in warm weather, as is their custom, visited the salt licks in large numbers. Mr. Cross relates an adventure of Isaac Page, who knew of one of these resorts, and, as was his custom, went one night to watch. Soon his experienced ear detected signs of the approach of the expected game. He waited some time, but failing to ascertain their whereabouts, he concluded they had left the vicinity without the usual manifestations, and became convinced that something extraordinary was the matter. He was not long left in suspense, for his conviction was soon confirmed and his attention riveted to two fire-like balls which gleamed above a log but a few feet in front of him, and from behind which they seemed gradually to rise. At this critical moment he leveled his trusty rifle, with as much precision as the darkness rendered practicable and fired, and rising, walked deliberately away. In the morning he returned and to his surprise saw that he had shot a large panther. Thus the unaccountable leaving of the deer the previous night was explained.
    Mr. Cross also relates the following incident of himself: One day he heard hounds on the trail, and as it was evident the deer would cross the lower rocks too soon for him he took his favorite dog in a dug-out and crossed over to the upper point on the other side. As he expected the deer came to the river, crossed and took to the mountains. The dog, being well trained, crossed likewise and was soon on the trail. This was as Cross anticipated, and taking his dog in his arms he took his station in the road which runs along the river-bank several feet above the water. Soon the deer made its appearance in the road and he threw the dog very nearly against it. Both deer and dog plunged into the river. The deer came to a bar, on which it was able to maintain a footing, and stood at bay. As the current was swift the deer had the dog at a disadvantage, for as often as the dog swam to it, it was struck under by the fore-paw of the deer, and would come to the surface some distance below. Cross stood for some time a spectator of the unequal contest, until apprehension for the safety of his dog induced him to wade out to its assistance. Intent in watching its assailant the deer did not heed his approach until he got within a few feet of it, when it suddenly turned, rose upon its hind feet, and tried to strike him down. In its struggles, the deer struck one foot into Cross's hand. He immediately grasped it. At the same time it became so firmly entangled in its horns as to draw its head into the water, where Cross had it entirely at his mercy. When the dog, which was nearly exhausted, saw it enemy subdued, he took a position on the deer and retained it till its master drew both ashore.
6 - Garry Williamson's was the third deed recorded in the Broome County Clerk's office. His son, Garry Williamson, lives on the old "Homestead."
7 - Until his death, May 22, 1872, this Society enjoyed the ministrations of Rev. Enos Puffer.
Transcribed by Mary Hafler - February, 2007.
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