Profile and History of the Town of Columbia
from the Gazetteer and Business Directory of Herkimer County, N.Y. 1869-1870

COLUMBIA was formed from Warren, June 8, 1812. It lies on the south border of the County, west of the center. Its surface is rolling and moderately hilly, with an average elevaton of 500 to 600 feet above the Mohawk. The town is drained by small brooks, some of which flow north into the Mohawk, and others south into the Unadilla. The soil is a clayey loam and generally fertile, producing all the fruits and grains common to the County.

Columbia Center, (Columbia p.o.) in the central part of the town, contains a hotel, a store, a cheese factory, a shoe shop, a wagon shop, a carriage shop, two blacksmith shops and about 80 inhabitants.

Miller's Mills, in the south-west part, contains a church, a cheese box factory, a grist mill, a saw mill, a blacksmith shop and ten dwellings.

South Columbia, in the south-west part, is a post office.

The first settlement of this town was commenced before the Revolution by several German families, among whom were Conrad Orendorff, Conrad Frank, Conrad Fulmer, Frederick Christman, Timothy Frank, Nicholas Lighthall, Joseph Moyer and Henry Frink. The place where these families settled was called "Coonradstown", previous to the organization of Columbia in 1812. The improvements made previous to the war were abandoned during the struggle for independence.

In 1791 Asahel Alfred settled in the town. He was a native of Connecticut and a soldier of the Revolution, having entered the service in his fifteenth year. He remained in the service more than three years, participating in the battle of Monmouth, the capture of Burgoyne and other engagements. He was taken prisoner at the Cedars, in Canada, by a party of the enemy, composed of whites and Indians, stripped of all his clothing except his shirt and pants, and marched off. He died in 1853 on the farm upon which he first located.

Philip Ausman taught the first school in the town, in 1795. It was in the German language. The next year Joel Phelps taught the first English school. The first store was kept by David W. Golden and Benjamin Mix, in 1796. The first grist mill was built in 179-2, by Andrew Miller and George Bell, at Miller's Mills. The first religious services were held at an early period by the Reformed Protestant Dutch. Abram Rosegrantz was the first preacher.

The population of the town in 1865 was 1,732; its area is 21,375 acres.

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Last Updated: 2/23/00

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