Eaton House

(Information gathered from various records in the
genealogy room at Herkimer's Basloe Library)

By Betsy Voorhees
Town of Herkimer Editor

In earlier years the County Treasurer's Building/County Clerk's Office was an interesting and colorful residence, the home of two members of Assembly, an equal number of sheriffs, and a County Judge. For over a century this weather beaten brick building had figured prominently in the social and political life of the county. The site was an original land grant of 1723 to Michael Myers, Herkimer County's first representative to the New York State Assembly. The stockade of old Fort Dayton was a dozen yards from the place where the building stood. Presumably, General Nicholas Herkimer stood upon that very ground to address his small army of patriots just before they set out upon the long march to Oriskany, the famed battleground that turned the tide of victory and speeded our cause of freedom. It was at Oriskany Battlefield that Gen. Herkimer received his fatal wound.

The building itself was of Federal design, marking the immediate post-colonial period. Title to his portion of the old Myer's grant was transferred to Gaylord Griswold soon after the middle of the 18th century. Griswold, like Myers, served in the State Assembly. Thirty years after his death the property was sold to Charles Spinner who like several previous owners was not an active political figure. In 1875 Volney Eaton, of Russia, NY, a former sheriff, acquired the estate. The brick home soon assumed the name of this owner who lived there until his death in September, 1899. Three years later Warren Eaton, son of Volney, and himself a former sheriff, gained title to the place. Within a short time Warren H. Eaton died, leaving his widow, Amanda, heir to his possessions. It was from her, Amanda Taylor Eaton, that Herkimer County bought the property in March of 1917 at a cost of $10,500.00.

This very important purchase provided needed housing for the offices of the Auditor, Purchasing Agent, Commissioner of Jurors, Election Commission, Agent for Dependent Children, the Highway Superintendent and Treasurer. A few minor changes were made, a fireproof vault was constructed; and at the rear there was added a central heating plant for this and the three adjacent county buildings. An additional $15,000,00 was appropriated for this purpose. It was not long before the expansion of county business, especially in the work of Social Welfare necessitated another change. Child Welfare and Public Welfare offices were set up eventually in quarters provided by remodeling the Court House. Offices of the Auditor, and Purchasing Agent, meanwhile, had been transferred to the annex of the Clerk's Building, thus leaving the entire first floor of the old Eaton residence for the needs of the Treasurer.

As soon as the Clerk's Building was vacated, it was remodeled to provide ample modern facilities of the time for the County Treasurer; while the Election Office and Highway Department were assigned to the new office building. The two-story structure, an historic landmark, was demolished and the land turned into a parking area for the personnel of the county departments.

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Created 12/2/03
Copyright © 2003 Betsy Voorhees
All Rights Reserved.