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.