In 1824 the boundaries of the counties of Herkimer and Montgomery were quite different than they are today. Familiarizing yourself with some of the place names mentioned in the old township profiles of Spafford's 1824 Gazetteer can help you better pinpoint the whereabouts of your earliest area ancestors. Some of the 1824 townships are now in neighboring counties. The section below, prepared for us by Jim Orgel, covers the Towns of Columbia, Danube, Fairfield and Frankfort.


From the 1824 Gazetteer of the State of New York, by Horatio Gates Spafford

Columbia, a Post-Township of Herkimer County, 10 miles S. of Herkimer, erected from Warren in 1813; bounded N. by German Flats, E. by Warren, S. by Winfield and Otsego County, W. by Litchfield. It has one free church, near the centre, built by Lutherans and Presbyterians together. It is a limestone country, for details of which see Warren. The Post-Office is nearly centrally situated. Population, 2051; taxable property, $268447; electors, 362; 10594 acres improved land; 1976 cattle, 806 horses, 5005 sheep: 20350 yards of cloth made in the household way in 1821; four grist mills, six saw mills, two fulling mills, two carding machines, one cotton and woolen factory, and one ashery: 12 school districts, in which schools are kept to average eight months in 12; public monies received in 1821, $288.80; 696 children between five and 15 years of age; 752 received instruction in the schools that year. The first settlements in this township were made by some German families, prior to the Revolutionary War.

Danube, a Post-Township of Herkimer County, on the S. side of the Mohawk, ten miles SE. of Herkimer, and 68 from Albany, on the Mohawk turnpike; bounded N. by Manheim or the Mohawk River, E. by Minden in Montgomery County, S. by Otsego Co., W. by Warren and German Flats. This township was erected in 1817, from the W. part of Minden in Montgomery Co., and attached to Herkimer County, at the same time with Salisbury and Manheim. It is a good township of land, near ten miles in length N. and S., and 5 1/2 wide. The soil is principally an agrillaceous stiff loam, variously intermixed with vegetable remains, underlaid by a very heavy and hard agrillaceous grit, close bordering on what is called hard-pan. It is well supplied with springs; and the surface is handsomely waving in easy undulations. It is but poorly supplied with mill streams, the only one being the Nowadaga that runs northerly to the Mohawk. For early history and many particulars, see Minden, minutely described. The Indian Castle, a chief town of the Mohawks, was near the mouth of the Nowadaga, and the residence of Hendrick, a celebrated Chief, slain at Lake George in 1755. They had a Church, at this place, prior to the Revolution, with a Bell, of which they were so fond that on their retreating to Canada, they tried every effort of art to convey it away with them. The Church is repaired, and still has the old Bell, an object of no little curiosity or interest.

It ought to be restored to the Indians, as an act of Christian charity. Poor Sons of Nature! How are you hunted, from pillar to post! To be sure they took up arms against us, --- and I may be told this is our justification: But this, in my opinion, is only plausible to our understandings, warped by nursery tales and the prejudices of education, and will not be accepted as such at the bar of eternal justice. --- Restore this Bell; send it to the main body of the tribe, wherever they may have taken refuge, and set them an example of Christian tenderness of spirit, of gospel justice, --- and, in due time, we may find the Bell itself connected with such acts in their remembrance, a better Missionary to send among them than even whole troops of young theologians.

The Otsquago Church is in this town, also; and there are 13 school districts, in which schools are kept nine months in 12; public monies received in 1821 for the support of these schools, $496.51; 967 children between five and 15; 759 received instruction in the schools, that year. There are five grist mills, seven saw mills, four fulling mills, four carding machines, one distillery, and one ashery. Population, 3187; electors 564; 18900 acres of improved land, 2698 head of cattle, 1267 horses, 5435 sheep: 20366 yards of cloth made in families, in 1821. Taxable property, $477680. The Post Office is in the W. part of the township, on the river road, 10 miles from Herkimer.

Fairfield, a Post-Township of Herkimer County, on the N. side of the Mohawk, 10 miles NE. of Herkimer, and 76 miles WNW. of Albany; bounded N. by Norway, E. by Salisbury and Manheim, S. by Herkimer, and W. by Herkimer and Newport, or by W. Canada Creek. Its extent N. and S. eight miles, with a medial width of about four miles. The general surface is elevated, and may be called hilly, or broken by strong featured undulations; but the soil, a strong and productive loam, yields good crops, and the whole is well watered. Its agriculture is very productive, and a large proportion is arable land, and enjoys a fine healthy atmosphere. The W. Canada Creek, and some small streamlets that run into it, furnish a scanty supply of mill seats. This Township comprises a part of that range of hills noticxed under Mountains, and of the tract called Royal Grants, characterized by a peculiar meteorology, and a mountain temperature, when compared with the adjacent plains. The inhabitants came principally from the Eastern states, and have preserved the rural and domestic economy of those people. Limestone, in horizontal strata, which quarries well for building, and burns to good lime, is very plenty.

There are two churches, and 14 school houses: five grist mills, four saw mills, two fulling mills, one carding machine, one distillery, and one ashery. The College of Physicians and Surgeons, noticed in another place, is in this Town, an institution of promising merit; and there are several places that demand local detail. Population, 2610; 561 farmers, 90 mechanics, and six traders, or store-keepers, or merchants: electors, 435; 12827 acres of improved land; 3777 head of cattle, 763 horses, 6370 sheep: yards of cloth made in families in 1821, 187491.

The Village of Fairfield is pleasantly situated on a commanding eminence, near the centre of the Township, 10 miles NE. of Herkimer, 76 miles by the nearest route from Albany, has the Fairfield Post-office, the College edifices, an Episcopal church, an Academy, and a handsome collection of dwellings, offices, shops, &c.

The Village of Middleville, which has a Post-office of the same name, is on both sides of W. Canada Creek, partly in this Town, and partly in Newport, under which it is particularly described, though the P. O. is kept on the Fairfield side. In the S. part is Eaton's Bush, a pleasant farming neighborhood, where is a Baptist church. There are, besides the College of Physicians and Surgeons, and a flourishing Academy, (both in Fairfield village,) 14 school districts and common schools, in which schools are kept 8 months in 12; public money received for the schools in 1821, $349; 692 children between 5 and 15 years of age; whole number taught that year, 709.

Frankfort, a Post-Township of Herkimer County, on the S. side of the Mohawk, 8 miles W. of Herkimer, and 86 WNW. of Albany; bounded N. by the Mohawk, or Schuyler and Herkimer, E. by German Flats, W. by Oneida County. The flats along the river are pretty good and extensive, but there is a large proportion of rough, broken land. It has no public buildings, excepting schoolhouses, of which there are 9: schools kept 8 months in 12: public monies received in 1821, $201.09; 294 children between 5 and 15 taught; No. taught that year, 307: taxable property, $276580: No. of families, 319; electors, 422; the whole population, 1860; No. of acres of improved land, 7066; head of cattle, 1733; horses, 517; sheep, 3532: 15674 yards of cloth made in families: three grist mills, seven saw mills, two fulling mills, two carding machines, one iron works, one trip hammer, three distilleries, and one ashery. The Post-Office is on the river road, one mile W. of the E. line, six miles from Herkimer, (the seat of the County buildings, in Italics,) and a Correspondant writes me there is a furnace in operation on the S. border, which is making good castings. This Township has three locks on the Erie Canal, where the level from Salina terminates, a distance of 69 1/2 miles without a lock!

Many thanks to researcher Jim Orgel for his efforts in completing the remaining towns from the 1824 Gazetteer! Jim tells us he's researching the ORGEL family, who came from France to Herkimer in the 1870s, and the RYAN and RILEY families, who came from Ireland in the 1850s, to Newport, Schuyler and Norway. If you have information to share with Jim on his mid to late 19th century immigrant families, he looks forward to hearing from you.

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Last Updated: 3/30/00
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