Charles B Knox Gelatine Co. Inc.
Edition of
The Old Mohawk-Turnpike Book

The American Corner, Rome.

   

ROME.

(Oneida County)

(Over N.Y.C.R.R., N.Y., 250 m.; Buffalo 189 m. Sea elevation, 420 feet. 1920 Pop., 26,341.)

Turnpike Mileage Distances.

East: Oriskany Battlefield Monument 6 m., Oriskany 8 m., Whitesboro 11 m., Yorkville 12 m., Utica 15 m., Frankfort 25 m., Ilion 27 m., Mohawk 29 m., Herkimer 30 m., Fort Herkimer Church 31 m., Little Falls 37 m., Gen. Herkimer Home 39 m., St, Johnsville 47 m., Palatine Church 50 m., Fort Plain-Nelliston 53 m., (by detour) Stone Arabia Churches 57 m., Canajoharie-Palatine Bridge 56 m., Fonda-Fultonville 68 m., (by detour) Johnstown 72 m., Gloversville 76 m., Auriesville 73 m., Fort Johnson 76 m., Amsterdam 79 m., Schenectady 95 m., Albany 110 m., New York 269 m.

West: Oneida 13 m., Syracuse 43 m., Rochester 140 m., Buffalo 197m.

  

The most important points eastward are Oriskany Battlefield, 6 m.; 
Oriskany, 8 m.; Whitesboro, 11 m.; Utica, 15 m.  Westward, Oneida, 13 m.

Rome is on the summit level or divide of land (440 ft.) between the waters of the Atlantic and the Great Lakes. The city lies in the broad basin of the upper Mohawk, the channel of which here turns north to its source, 25 m. n., at Mohawk Hill in Lewis county. Its most important northward branch is that of Lansing Kill, along which runs the Black river canal feeder of the Barge canal summit level. Wood creek, which forms the connecting link between the waters of Oneida lake and the Mohawk, runs through the western part of Rome.

Rome lies at the western end of the Mohawk Turnpike. The road to Oneida reaches the main New York to Buffalo (1924) highway at Oneida, 13 m. w. Automobile roads run northwest to Oswego and north to Watertown, the Thousand Islands and Canada.

Railroads entering Rome are the New York Central, New York, Ontario & Western and the Rome, Watertown & Ogdensburg division of the New York Central Lines. An interurban trolley line runs east to Utica and Little Falls.

The city was incorporated in 1870. In 1910, nearly 20 per cent of the population was of foreign birth, the peoples of southern and eastern Europe predominating.

  

Rome, Industrial.

Rome's principal industries are the manufacture of copper and brass products, knit underwear, bar iron and metal beds, the canning of fruits and vegetables, the repairing of locomotives and the manufacturing of automobiles and house trim. In 1909 Rome had 119 factories, employing 3,998 people, producing an annual valued output of $14,500,000. The city is the trading and shopping center for the surrounding dairy farming country. Two miles north of Rome, in 1851, the first American cheese factory began operations. Rome is an important center of the vegetable canning industry. Rome has electric lighting service, sewers, municipal water works and three hospitals.

The New York Central Railroad has important tie creosoting works at Rome.

In 1919 Rome had 71 factories, with 5, 038 workers, 17,874 primary horsepower; capital of $25,805,000; annual value of manufactures, $34,868,000 (1920 U.S. Census Report).

In 1924 Rome manufactured one-tenth of the copper and brass products made in the United States.

Rome offers unusual facilities to the manufacturer. The great extent here of level ground adjacent to railroads and Barge canal affords a large number of available industrial sites. Persons who are interested in Rome's manufacturing opportunities are referred to the Secretary of the Rome Chamber of Commerce.

Rome is located in the center of beautiful and fertile Oneida county, which is almost the exact area of the state of Rhode Island, and which comprises part of the headwaters of four drainage systems - the Mohawk, Oneida lake, Black river and the Unadilla and Chenango rivers, which are headwaters of the Susquehanna.

The Oneida county fair is held at Rome in the fall.

Rome lies in the broad belt of Hudson river shale surface rock which overlies the upper Mohawk valley. There are here available commercial clay deposits and stone quarries.

At Rome is a statue of Gen. Gansevoort, the defender of Fort Stanwix, the site of which is partly occupied by the Rome club. The Rome postoffice stands on the old portage or carrying place from the Mohawk to Wood creek. Fort Stanwix was close to and defended this portage.

  

Court House and Gansevoort Statue.
Oneida county court house at Rome, in front of which stands the
statue of General Peter Gansevoort, defender of Fort Stanwix in 1777.

Rome - Historical.

Rome, of course, takes its name from the capitol of the ancient Roman empire and of modern Italy. It is one of the many classic names applied to central and western New York town during the classic revival of the early nineteenth century. The original name of the town was Fort Stanwix.

The history of Rome and its section is of great importance both in connection with the history of the United States and in relation to the development of transportation on the New York-Buffalo route.

  

De-o-wain-sta, the Carrying Place.

The carry from the Mohawk river at Rome to Wood creek, one mile west, was of great importance to the Indians and early settlers. It lay within the Oneida's territory and was controlled by them. The Oneidas called the carry and its two terminals (including Rome) De-o-wain-sta, or "the carrying place," and this name they also gave to the upper Mohawk (from Utica to Rome). The Indians frequently applied their name for a natural or unusual landscape feature, to a large area of the country about it, as in this case. The waterway from Albany to Oswego was fortified by forts built at Fort Hunter 1711, Oswego 1727, present Rome 1727, Wood creek 1736, and others later - Fort Brewerton (1756) on the west and Fort Royal on the east end of Oneida lake. The Wood creek fort was Fort Bull and was destroyed by a French and Indian force in 1756 and most of its small garrison killed.

  

Fort Stanwix, 1758.

Fort Stanwix was built on the site of Fort William (1746), near the ford across the Mohawk, on the site of present Rome. It was erected in 1758 by General John Stanwix, who later became a British Lieutenant-General and was drowned at sea in 1765. Fort Stanwix cost 60,000 pounds and was constructed on the most approved scientific principals of engineering, "having four bastions surrounded by a broad ditch, eighteen feet deep, with a covert way and glaces [sic]. In the center of the ditch was a row of perpendicular pickets and a horizontal row from the ramparts. Col. Bradstreet and his American militiamen assisted in building the famous post upon their return from the capture of Fort Frontenac (Kingston) in Canada in 1758.

The Rome portage and Fort Stanwix were important military points in the great French war (1754-1760). Here the army supplies and ordnance, of the several great expeditions against French-Canadian forts, were portaged from the Mohawk to Wood creek. The most important of these was Gen. Amherst's march to the conquest of Montreal and French Canada in 1760, when his army of 10,000 (6,000 American militia and 4,000 British regulars) marched up the Mohawk from Schenectady and boated his ordnance and supplies from that point to present Rome (95 m.). Here this British-American army made the portage, went on the Oswego by land and water and thence, on Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence to Montreal, which he captured Sept. 8, 1760, ensuring North America to the English-speaking peoples.

A German farmer named John Roof settled close by this post in 1760.

  

Rome Club, Site of Fort Stanwix.
The Stars and Stripes were first flown in the smoke of battle
during Colonel Willett's sortie against the British camp,
August 6, 1777, the of the battle of Oriskany.  The cannon marks
the southwest bastion from the flag was flown.  The elm, close to
the house, was a sapling in the fort in 1825.  The Rome Club was
formerly the Barnes-Mudge mansion, built in 1828.

Present Site of Fort Stanwix.

The Rome Club (formerly the Mudge mansion) and the cannon at its southwest corner today marks the site of the southwest bastion of Fort Stanwix, from which the first American battleflag was flown. The great elm at this corner was a sapling within the fort and is one of America's historic trees. Fort Stanwix lay somewhat irregularly within this block.

Hon. Wheeler Barnes leveled the south side of the fort and in 1828, erected the mansion (now occupied by the Rome Club) which was later sold to Mr. Alva Mudge.

Hon. John Stryker leveled the entire north side of Fort Stanwix in 1835 and erected the house on the site of the northeast bastion, now (1924) occupied by Dr. M. Woolsey Stryker, formerly president of Hamilton College.

Dominick Lynch leveled the southeast bastion about 1805 and erected a residence which was burned in 1827, in which year Mr. Virgil Draper built the house now (1924) owned by Dr. H. D. White.

The Summary of this book was in error in stating that the American flag was first flown from the northwest bastion. It was first flown from the southwest bastion as above stated. This error will be corrected in future editions, and also references to Fort Stanwix as Fort Schuyler, in the Summary.

  

Fort Stanwix Treaty, 1768.

On Nov. 5, 1768, Sir William Johnson took deed to all the lands of the Six Nations south of the settled boundary line and paid the Six Nations $10,000 for their interests. The boundary as adjusted ran from the mouth of the Tenesee, followed the Ohio and Allegheny rivers to Kittaniny and thence to the west branch of the Susquehanna to the east branch of the Susquehanna northeastward to the junction of Canada and Wood creeks, its northern boundary. To the north of this line lay the land of the Six Nations. South of it they ceded their interests to the Crown. Thus did they barter away their birthright.

In 1776 Fort Stanwix was rebuilt and strengthened by American troops under Col. Elias Dayton, who had charge of erecting or rebuilding fortresses in the Mohawk Valley for use as American army posts. The chief of these was Fort Stanwix, the most famous fort on the Mohawk river and one of the most noted fortresses of America.

The most important American forts in the Mohawk valley during the Revolution, from west to east, were the following: Fort Stanwix (Rome), Fort Dayton (Herkimer), Fort Herkimer, Fort Plain, Fort Paris (Stone Arabia), Fort Alden (Cherry Valley), Fort Johnstown, Fort Hunter, Lower Fort (Schoharie), Middle Fort (Middleburg), Upper Fort (Fultonham or Breakabeen), Fort Schenectady.

Col. Dayton took the liberty (in 1776) of calling the local post Fort Schuyler for General Philip Schuyler, commander of the American Army of the North, with headquarters at Albany. The name Fort Schuyler had a Revolutionary military usage from 1776 to 1781, but the actual usage of American officers and soldiers largely was the name of Fort Stanwix, as reference to journals and diaries of the day will show. Dayton's naming has caused considerable historical confusion of Fort Stanwix at Rome with the Fort Schuyler erected at Utica in 1758. The name Fort Stanwix has the official sanction of usage by the Continental Congress.

In 1777 Fort Stanwix was an objective of Col. St. Leger's British-German-Tory-Indian motley army of 1,200 men, which left British Fort Oswego, to join Burgoyne's army near Albany, for the conquest of the Hudson Valley. Fort Stanwix was garrisoned by 500 men under Col. Gansevoort. It was besieged on August 2, 1777, by the enemy.

  

First American Battlefield Flag Unfurled Over
Fort Stanwix, August 3, 1777.

Here at Fort Stanwix, on the site of present Rome, occurred the first raising of our national ensign - the stars and stripes - during this historic siege. Just before St. Leger's advance guard of savages came down on Fort Stanwix, 200 men of the Ninth Massachusetts regiment reached and entered the post. They brought the news that on June 14, 1777, the American Congress had adopted the national flag of stars and stripes. Officers of the garrison at once set to work to make such an ensign. "It was made, according to the most truwstworthy accounts, from a soldier's white shirt, a woman's red petticoat and a piece of blue cloth from the cloak of Captain Abraham Swarthout [of the New York troops] and was raised on August 3, 1777, on the southwest bastion, the one nearest the camp of St. Leger, who had invested the fort. The drummer beat the assembly and the adjutant read the Congressional resolution ordaining the flag of the republic, and up it went; there it swung, free and defiant, until the end of the siege on the 22d of August." Our national banner also here first flew in battle on August 6, 1777. The national flag was designed by General Washington and the first sample flag was made by Betsy Ross.

At Rensselaer, opposite Albany, "Yankee Doodle" was composed in 1756; at Troy in 1812, the national character of "Uncle Sam" first began his career, while at Rome, at the western end of the Old Mohawk Turnpike, our country's battleflag was first unfurled to the breeze.

Under the Oriskany Battlefield Monument is given a description of the Oriskany battle of August 6, 1777. When Gen. Herkimer's valley American militia were ambuscaded in a forest glen two miles west of present Oriskany. It was Col. Willett's sally from Fort Stanwix against the enemy's camp which enabled the gallant patriots of Oriskany to drive the enemy from the field at the end of the bloodiest battle of the Revolution (See Oriskany Battlefield Monument).

  

Willett's Sally, August 6, 1777.

While the battle of Oeiskany (see Oriskany) was raging at Oriskany, six miles east, two scouts from the advancing valley militia, reached the fort, bearing a request from Gen. Herkimer for the garrison to attack the British camp. Col. Willett sallied forth at the head of an American battalion, stormed the enemy's camp, burned a part of it, captured much plunder and defeated the British guard, with a British loss of 50 killed, while Willett did not lose a man. Willett's Americans, among other things, captured four British flags "which [Willett's own account says] were displayed on our flag-staff under the Continental flag." (See "The American Flag ," pp.20,21; published by the New York State Education Department, Albany, 1919.)

  

Siege of Fort Stanwix, August 2-22 -
Willett and Stockwell's Scout for Aid.

Although the enemy lost heavily at Oriskany, following that battle they pressed the siege of Fort Stanwix with vigor. Col. St. Leger demanded its surrender and his flag officer was led blindfolded into the fort, where he received Col. Gansevoort's refusal of St. Leger's proposals. Considering the situation somewhat desperate, after the failure of Gen. Herkimer's relief expedition, Col. Willett and Lieutenant Stockwell (an experienced woodsman and scout), each armed with a spear, left Fort Stanwix in the night, during a violent storm, and started on a 140-mile journey to secure aid from General Schuyler, then at Stillwater, on the Hudson, awaiting the approach of Burgoyne. They made a wide detour northward through the woods to avoid the enemy and reached Fort Dayton, where they secured fast horses and galloped down the Mohawk, meeting General Benedict Arnold coming up the Valley with an American relief force.

St. Leger's motley forces kept up a constant sniping on the fort and ran tunnels to mine and blow up the works. One of these had progressed so far that it reached under a bastion of the fort, before the enemy ran away. Gansevoort had decided to give battle and cut his way out as a last resort, but, on August 22d, the Americans were astonished to see the enemy camp and works deserted. On the 24th Arnold's army arrived and a general jollification took place.

  

Gen. Arnold's American Army Ends Siege.

Gen. Benedict Arnold and 800 Americans were sent up the Mohawk to Fort Stanwix and St. Leger, learning of his approach, fled back to Canada, August 22, 1777. Burgoyne was thus deprived of the re-inforcement of St. Leger's troops and this cause contributed greatly to his surrender. The invasion of New York was defeated, the aid of France was secured for the American cause and liberty for America became assured.

Fort Stanwix continued to form the American outpost fort of the New York Revolutionary border until 1781, when it was largely destroyed by fire while part of the garrison "was playing ball," according to an old account. It was then abandoned and its garrison marched down the Mohawk and joined the garrsions of Forts Herkimer and Dayton (Herkimer), which remained the extreme border posts until the end of the Revolution.

  

Great Indian Treaties of 1784 and 1788 at Fort Stanwix.

The treaty of 1783, between the United States and Great Britain did not include the Indians of the Six Nations. A great peace council was here held at Fort Stanwix, Dec. 2, 1784, at which a peace treaty was signed. The Six Nations ceded all their lands along the Ohio to the United States and arranged to give up their war captives.

The great treaty of 1788 at Fort Stanwix between New York State and the Six Nations ended the power of the latter as a nation in the United States. The State Iroquois accepted State reservations and gave up title to their lands in New York State to the extent of over 4,000,000 acres. This territory was claimed by Massachusetts, which State sold the land. It was thus opened up to settlement and a great movement of immigration started to it, largely through the Mohawk Valley.

The proceedings ended with the distribution of presents to the Indians and a famous foot race, for which governor Clinton hung a buckskin bag containing $250 to a tree branch as a prize. The two-mile race was won by Paul, an Oneida boy, who beat the great Mohawk champion amid great excitement.

Lafayette and several other distinguished Frenchmen and Americans were present.

By three treaties at Fort Stanwix - 1768, 1784, 1788 - the Six Nations lost their once great empire. The majority of them removed to the Iroquois reservations in Canada given them by the English government.

And so passed the Mohawk from the scene of his once mighty sway along his river and his valley.

  

Fort Stanwix Settlement, 1785.

In 1785 James Deane and Jedediah Phelps located at Fort Stanwix after making an unsuccessful settlement on Wood creek westward in 1784, from which they were driven by high water. In 1786 Dominick Lynch, a New York merchant, bought what was known as the "Expense Lot" here of 397 acres. He later bought 2,000 acres for 2,250 pounds and laid out a village site in 1796, calling it Lynchville.

In 1787 there were seven log cabins of pioneers at Fort Stanwix and in 1789 there were settlers here by the names of Jedediah Phelps, William Collins, Ebenezer Wright, William Colbraith, Ranney, Wm. Smith, Dumont and Armstrong. William Colbraith was the first sheriff of Herkimer county (formed 1791) and of Oneida county (formed 1798). The section where Wright settled was called Wright's Settlement.

Fort Stanwix grew slowly but was an important frontier town of its time. In 1790 John Barnard built the first tavern and George Huntington opened the first store, 1791. The settlers were generally New Englanders with some from the lower Mohawk valley. Lynch made local improvements and built mills which subsequently burned. Between 1800 and 1810 he built here 35 houses. In 1798 a postoffice was here established. In 1813 the Judd pottery works and in 1823 the Worthington hat factory were started. In 1819 the village of Rome was incorporated and the name changed from Fort Stanwix, its previous title.

In 1792 the Inland Lock and Navigation Co. was formed to improve navigation on the Mohawk. In 1797 locks and canal, connecting the Mohawk with Wood creek, were built at Rome. These and other river improvements elsewhere produced considerable passenger and freight traffic over the Mohawk, which continued until the construction of the Erie canal (1817-1825) and which helped materially in the growth of Rome.

  

Beginning of Work at Rome on Erie Canal, July 4, 1817.

July 4, 1817, the first spadeful of earth in the Erie canal construction was here thrown up, and the first canal boat ran from Rome to Utica, on the first section completed between those points, on Oct. 22, 1819, when the initial trip of the first boat between the two towns was made the occasion of a great celebration. In 1825 the Erie canal was completed. In 1829 the Utica & Syracuse railroad was completed passing through Rome. In 1849 the Black River canal was constructed running north to Carthage. The Rome, Waterton & Ogdensburg (now a New York Central line) was built later. There was later further railroad, highway and trolley development and the development of Rome in commerce, transportation, industry, agriculture and social life has been similar to that of other New York to Buffalo towns. In 1870 Rome was chartered a city. In 1878 the manufacture of brass and in 1887 the manufacture of copper goods were begun at Rome, these being the city's two leading industries. A United States arsenal was located here in the first half of the nineteenth century.

The construction of the Mohawk division of the Barge canal (1905-1918) was an important factor for the transportation and industrial interests of Rome, which utilizes this great waterway to an unusual extent.

  

Old Erie Packet Boat Travel.

Packet boats were a favorite fashionable and pleasant means of travel over the old Erie canal. For two decades (or until the building of the railroads which now form the New York Central R.R.) it supplanted to a large extent stage coach travel. These packets were well furnished, set excellent tables and, with their three-horse teams constantly at a trot, far surpassed the freight boats in speed. The packet boys riding into the canal towns always sounded a trumpet on approaching either towns or locks.

For interesting descriptions of early river, canal and highway travel along the Mohawk, see "The Historic Mohawk," by M. R. Diefendorf, Putnam, Pub., New York city. See Wagner's "History of Rome." Hon Daniel E. Wager, the historian, was a noted citizen of Rome.

  

Rome in 1840.

In 1840 Haskell and Smith's U.S. Gazeteer describes Rome as follows: "Rome, postoffice, township and semi-capital of Oneida county, N.Y. 107 m. northwest Albany, 391 m. from Washington. The surface is chiefly level or gently undulating; soil, a fertile clay and sandy loam. Drained by the Mohawk river on which is excellent land and Wood creek, which flows into Oneida lake. These two streams were connected by a small canal, before the construction of the Erie canal, which was bought out when the latter was made. The village is on the Mohawk river and the Erie canal and contains 6 churches, 1 bank, 1 female seminary, a United States arsenal with a magazine and workshops, 25 stores, 1 cotton factory, 1 flouring mill, 1 saw mill, 1 brewery, 1 blast furnace, 350 dwellings and about 2,500 inhabitants. The Black River canal here unites with the Erie and the Syracuse and Utica railroad passes through the village."

  

Wood Creek.

The history of Rome as a water transportation point is of national commercial importance, as is that of both the Mohawk river and Wood creek.

Wood creek may be regarded as perhaps the most important link in the New York to Buffalo waterway chain as it connects the Atlantic seaboard waters (by way of the Mohawk) with those of the Great Lakes (by way of Wood creek, Oneida lake, Oneida river, Oswego river and Lake Ontario).

  

Barge Canal Westward of Rome - Atlantic and Great Lakes Divide.

The Barge canal at Rome leaves the line of the New York Central (which it parallels to Schenectady, 95 miles eastward). The Barge canal runs considerably to the north of the New York Central and the New York to Buffalo highway from Rome on the east to Weedsport on the west, a distance of 50 miles.

In 1924 State plans were made to deepen the Barge canal channel to 14 feet to insure a constant 12-ft. depth and the replant trees along its banks.

  

Delta Dam.
Four miles north of Rome.  Height of overfall, 70 feet.  Dam impounds
2,750,000,000 cubic feet of water.

Barge, Erie and Black River Canals - Delta Reservoir.

At Rome the Black River canal enters the Barge canal. This was an important waterway of the mid-nineteenth century but now used mostly as a feeder for the Erie division, Barge canal. About five miles north of Rome is located the Delta reservoir, which with the Hinckley reservoir which dams the upper Mohawk (about 15 miles north of Herkimer), constitute the two great artificial reserve water supplies for the Mohawk section of the Barge canal, Erie division. These huge concrete structures are but two of the great works reared to make the great New York state waterway possible. Farms, with their houses, barns, family burial plots, etc., and little hamlets, with their houses, gardens, stores and churches, were all flooded over to make this Delta lake to supply the inexorable demands of present day commercialism.

Rome is the summit level (420 feet sea elevation) of the Barge canal central Erie section and the highest water level on the waterway from Waterford, N.Y., to Newark, N.Y.

The industries of Rome use the Barge canal to a large extent and the canal terminal is a busy place in season.

 

Lansing Kill Road to Boonville.

The automobile route, along the Mohawk river and Lansing Kill north from Rome to Boonville, is one of the favorite picturesque drives in the western Mohawk Valley. Along the beautiful little upper valley of the Mohawk, one passes the State Fish Hatchery, attractive Lake Delta, where the Teugega Country Club has its house and golf links; and, three miles beyond, one comes to the little village of Westernville, 8 m. n. of Rome. In the Presbyterian church cemetery lies the

Grave of Gen. William Floyd,
Signer of the Declaration of Independence, at Westernville.

Mohawk Valley people are justly proud to have had (1804-1821) as a citizen, General William Floyd, one of the makers of America and a signer of the Declaration of Independence, and to point to his last resting place along the Mohawk. He was born at Brookhaven, L.I. in 1734, came to the township of Floyd in 1804 and died at Westernville in 1821. General Floyd was a prominent soldier and legislator. In the same cemetery lies Rear Admiral Montgomery Sicard of Civil War fame. Major General Henry W. Halleck, chief commander of the Union armies in the Civil War for a time, was born in Westernville in 1815. Seldom has so small a place had so much patriotic military lustre shed upon it as Westernville. It is but a few miles eastward to the tomb of General Steuben, the "Drillmaster of the Revolution," on Starr Hill, Steuben township, Oneida county.

   

Rome of the Future.

Rome's future can be confidently assured as the development of a busy and thriving industrial city, with a noble American heritage of history, into a great and model manufacturing community, in which the breadth of vision, the intelligence and the solidarity of interests, characteeristic of the Romans, will maintain happy living conditions which will make every Roman of the future proud to be a citizen of this famous western Mohawk Valley city.

  

The American Corner - End of the Old Mohawk Turnpike.

We come to the end of our Turnpike journey at the American Corner in Rome - a fitting name for the ending of the most American of American roads - a highway which should serve to quicken the pulse of every son and daughter of Uncle Sam and to renew our pledges of service and loyalty to the liberties of America, for which Americans fought, bled and died on the Old Mohawk Turnpike.



  

  

      

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