The passages below were transcribed by volunteer Kathy Lencki from the classic "The History of Herkimer County, N.Y." by F.W. Beers & Co., 1879.


In territorial extent this town is with one exception the largest in the county, having an area of over sixty-eight thousand acres. The northern portion is mountainous and very thinly inhabited. It embraces a part of the Jerseyfield patent, issued in 1770, and also portions of the first, second and fourth allotments of the Royal Grant.

The town received its name from Salisbury, Conn., the native place of many of the early permanent settlers. It was taken from Palatine, Montgomery county, and organized into a separate town on March 3rd, 1797, and on the 7th of April, 1817, it was annexed to Herkimer county. The organization was fully completed at the first town meeting, held April 4th, 1797, of which the following first official record for the town was made:

"Agreeable to statute, the freeholders and inhabitants of the town of Salisbury convened at the house of Aaron Hackley, Esq., on Tuesday, the 4th day of April, 1797. Cornelius Humphrey and Aaron Hackley, Esqs., superintended the meeting. Polls opened and proceeded to put in the town officers, and the following were chosen, that is to say: Cornelius Humphrey, Esq., supervisor; Eliphalet Taylor, town clerk, Abijah Ford, Samuel Bennet, Jonathan Cole, assessors; Jonathan Hallett, William Lee, jr., and Joseph Munson, commissioners of highways; Nathaniel Curtis, constable and collector; Stephen Todd, jr., constable; Reynolds Cahoon, and Jabez Ayers, overseers of the poor; Augustus Thorp, Stutlely Can and Caleb Bates, commissioners of schools; Eleazer Can, Jabez Tuttle and Joseph Tuttle, fence viewers and appraisers of damages; Joseph Cahoon and Alexander Ayers, pound masters." The entire town at that time contained only thirteen road districts, and one overseer was elected for each district.

The inhabitants of the town were not unmindful of their poor that year, as the following from the records shows: "Agreeable to notification a special town meeting was held at the meeting house in Salisbury. Voted that the supervisor be directed to raise $30 by way of tax for the use of the poor.
Sept. 12th, 1797."

The following entry on the town book against two of the early citizens of the town would indicate that a violation of the excise law was not always allowed with impunity even in those early days:

"Be it remembered that on the 15th day of January, 1798, Joseph Cahoon and Isaiah Kenyon, merchants of the town of Salisbury, county of Montgomery and State of New York, was this day convicted before me, Cornelius Humphrey, one of the justices of the peace of said county, for retailing, on the 9th day of this instant--January--and at several other times, at their store in the town aforesaid, gin and other spirituous liquors by small measure to be drank in their house; without having a license or such permit in their house, out-house, yard or garden, or without having entered into such recognizance as is mentioned in the act entitled 'an act to lay a duty of excise on strong liquors and for the better regulating of inns and taverns,' passed March 1st, 1788."
"Given under my hand and seal the 15th day of January, 1798.

The following unique document was also made a matter of town record:

Wallingford, Conn., Jany. 8th, 1797
"This may certify that I, Ebenezer Moss of Wallingford, do lend to my daughter Ruth Nickerson, of Salisbury, State of New York, some articles of furnitures, viz: one bed and bedding, two chests, two cows and their increase, one pot, teakettle and bake kettle, and other furniture, all of which I lend to said Ruth and her heirs. One cow marked--hole through left ear and a slit in the upper part of the same. "
"Recorded 23d February, 1798."

Following is a complete list of the supervisors from the organization of the town to the present time (1878), showing the years in which each served:

Cornelius Humphrey, 1797-99
Samuel Bennett, 1800
Jonathan Hallett, 1801, 1802
Cornelius Drake, 1803-5
Alvah Southworth, 1806-13
Stephen Todd, 1814, 1820-22, 1824
Elijah Ford, 1815
Isaac Sears, 1816
John D. Waterman, 1817-19
Jeremiah Drake, 1823, 1825, 1829
Abraham Marsh, 1826, 1827
Abial Pratt, 1828
Henry Waterman, 1830, 1831
George W. Alton, 1832-36, 1839
Eliakim Sherrill, 1837, 1838
Atwater Cook, 1840, 1841
Hiram Hadley, 1842-44
George Avery, 1845
Ira Comstock, 1846
Truman Bliss, 1847, 1848
Harry Burrell, 1849
Lorenzo Carryl, 1850
Billious Avery, 1851, 1852
Daniel A. Northup, 1853-55, 1859, 1860
James J. Cook, 1856-58, 1877, 1878
James H. Ives, 1861-64
Milton B.Avery, 1865, 1866
George L. Byington, 1867-69
John Ives, 1870, 1871
W.F. Burrell, 1872, 1873
Volney Hopson, 1874
Ormel Leavitt, 1875, 1876

The town clerks for this period have been:

Eliphalet Taylor, 1797, 1798
Elijah Ford, 1799
Thomas Bennett, 1800, 1801
Alvah Southworth, 1802-4
Abial Pratt, 1805
Eli Frisbee, 1806-12, 1814
Jeremiah Drake, 1813
Joseph Sabin, 1815-29
Aldin S. Gage, 1831
Wyllys Avery, 1832-37, 1839, 1841, 1842, 1856-65
Ezra T. Reed, 1830
Henry B. Reynolds, 1840
George L. Byington, 1843, 1844, 1866
James C. Avery, 1845-52
Truman Bliss, 1853
Storm R. Bliss, 1854, 1855
Selem Newell, 1867
William S. Perkins, 1868-74
Frank H. Loucks, 1875, 1876
John W. Rose, 1877, 1878

The polls for all elections for the entire town are held at Salisbury Center. The town contains about four hundred voters.


Settlements were begun in the southern part of this town prior to the Revolution, by several families who during the war adhered to the crown or remained neutral. Being located on the Royal Grant they were undoubtedly tenants of the Johnson family, imbibing more or less of their sentiments and following their lead. They were conveniently situated on the direct route from the Mohawk valley to the head waters of the Black river, and their houses were made a rendezvous where the disaffected could congregate in safety and mature their plans of mischief. Straggling parties of the enemy also received aid and comfort here. These settlers were allowed to remain here undisturbed throughout the war, but when, in 1784, the Commissioners of Forfeitures claimed the Royal Grant as the property of the State, they were obliged to relinquish whatever claim they had upon the lands. The first settlements in the town were in this way broken up, and all or nearly all of the inhabitants left this part of the country. Among these original settlers were one Johnson, who resided on lot 154 in the first allotment, a short distance west of the present village of Salisbury, and Daniel Lobdell, who lived in the same vicinity. Mr. Lobdell had four or five grown up sons living with him who at an early period of the war went to Canada with a party of Indians and remained there until peace was proclaimed. One of the sons, whose name was Joseph, became a waiter to a British officer. After his return to this town he was pensioned by the United States for Revolutionary services, but for what reason, or in what way he proved his services to the Colonies, was always a mystery to those who knew him.

Two or three families ventured to locate in this town during the Revolution, among whom were John Faville and Cornelius Lamberson, both natives of New Jersey. John Faville was born in 1749. In his early manhood he resided near Albany, and was engaged in running batteaux on the Mohawk. He was married during the war to Nancy Lewis, and soon after marriage settled in the southwestern part of Salisbury, on a farm now owned by Harry Burrell. His oldest child, Betsey, was born here in 1780, and his son William was born here December 19th, 1785. In 1795 he removed to the northwestern part of Manheim, where he erected a gristmill previous to 1800. He was the father of eight sons and four daughters, most of whom located in Salisbury and Manheim. Cornelius Lamberson located on the farm now owned and occupied by his grandson, Joshua W. Lamberson, in the southern part of the town. He became a resident of Salisbury soon after Mr. Faville. He reared a family of seven sons and one daughter. His second son, Charles, was born here in 1781.

But few other families ventured to make a home so far beyond the more thickly inhabited limits of Manheim and Oppenheim for the following ten or twelve years. Among those who became permanent settlers during that time were Major Jonathan Hallett, Stephen Todd, Jabez Ayers, and Nathaniel Foster.

Major Jonathan Hallett was an officer of the Revolutionary army and a native of Connecticut. He removed to Salisbury as early as 1787, and located in the western part of the town, where Patrick Lucy now resides. His son Stephen Hallett was born here in 1787, and remained a resident of the town until 1820, when he removed to Fairfield and engaged in mercantile business. He was appointed sheriff of the county in 1821. Jonathan Hallett was supervisor of Salisbury for the years 1801 and 1802.

Jabez Ayers was a native of Massachusetts, from whence he came to Salisbury in the spring of 1792, locating on wild land near what is now known as Burrell's Corners, where he made his clearing, raised his family, and went to his final rest. His son Stephen Ayers was born in Braintree, Mass., February 16th, 1770, and came to this town with his father's family. He subsequently located a mile or more west of his father's residence, in the present town of Fairfield. He was a practical surveyor and his knowledge of the science was often brought into requisition in the early settlements of Salisbury. Many of the first roads in the town were surveyed by him. He was one of the representatives of this county in the Assembly in 1836. He died September 17th, 1850.

Stephen Todd emigrated from Wallingford, Connecticut, to Salisbury in 1792 and settled at what is now known as Diamond Hill, on the State road, where he converted a wilderness into fruitful fields and where he remained until his death. His son, Stephen Todd, jr., was born in Wallingford, Connecticut, December 23d, 1773, and came with his father's family to this town in 1792. He worked with his father on the new farm for a few years, when he commenced the study of medicine, obtained a license and began practice in 1799. Dr. Todd attained a very considerable eminence in his profession, which he continued to pursue in Salisbury till near the close of his life. He was also engaged in agriculture to quite an extent, and was one of the first in this county to adopt the change from grain growing to grazing. He was the captain of a company of light infantry in the war of 1812, and was elected a member of the Assembly from this county in the fall of 1821. He died at his home in Salisbury on the anniversary of his birth in 1827, aged 54 years.

Nathaniel Foster, the justly celebrated hunter and trapper of northern New York, was born in Windham county, Vermont, in 1767. About the year 1790 he married Jemima Streeter, of New Hampshire, and a year or two later he removed to Salisbury, and remained a resident of the town for nearly forty years, devoting most of his time to his favorite pursuit, that of hunting and trapping in the northern wilds of Herkimer and Hamilton counties, at which he was eminently successful, realizing, it is said, as high as $1,250 from his catch in one year. He died in Oneida county in March, 1841. One or two years after he located in Salisbury, his father, whose name was also Nathaniel, moved into the town with his family, among whom were two sons, Shubael and Elisha, younger than Nathaniel. They located on the farm now owned by W.J. Thompson, in the southwest part of the town. Several of the descendants of this family are still residents of the county.

In the early part of 1794 emigration began to flow in this direction, and in that and the following year many New England and New York families found new homes in the southern part of Salisbury; and the beginning of the present century found this portion of the town inhabited by a population of quite 1,500 souls, following the various branches of industry incident to a new country.

Nathan Metcalf, from Berkshire county, Mass., located in the extreme southern part of the town in 1794.

Abial Pratt, a native of Taunton, Mass., came here in 1794 and purchased a farm of Alvarius Hopson, upon which he remained one year, when he returned to Massachusetts. In 1799 he removed with his family to his farm in Salisbury, which he subdued and cultivated and upon which he resided until his death, February 22nd, 1864, aged ninety-two years. The place is now occupied by S. Luther, half-way between Salisbury and Salisbury Center. Mr. Pratt was clerk of his town in 1805 and supervisor in 1828. Jonathan Cole, from Berkshire county, Mass., came to this town with Abial Pratt in 1794, and located on an adjoining farm, where he resided the remainder of his life. He was one of the first assessors of the town. Abijah Ford located early in 1794 near what is now known as Diamond Hill, where he opened a tavern previous to 1800, which he continued to keep until his death. Town meetings and elections were often held at this house in an early day. Asa Sheldon settled the same year about two miles west of Deveraux.

Atwater Cook was a native of Connecticut, and came to Salisbury early in the year 1795. He first located at what is known as Ives's Hollow, but subsequently removed to a farm just west of Salisbury Corners, where he lived to attain a pretty advanced age. His son, Atwater, jr., was born in Salisbury, December 17th, 1795. He was reared to agricultural pursuits, and was among the first to turn his attention to grazing and the dairy. He was endowed with a strong and vigorous mind, sound judgment and practical good sense, and became a useful and influential citizen not only of his native town but of Herkimer county. He was for many years a justice of the peace, and also served the town as supervisor, and was twice elected one of the members of Assembly for this county, viz., in 1831 and 1839. He died at his family residence, in Salisbury, February 14th, 1835, and was then the oldest male inhabitant born in the town.

Aaron Hackley removed from Wallingford, Connecticut, and located at what is now known as Burrell's Corners in 1795, where he soon after erected a frame building, one part of which he used as a store, and the rest for tavern purposes. This building is still standing, and occupied as a dwelling. Mr. Hackley was one of the first justices of the peace of the town.

Silas Thompson was a native of Chesterfield, New Hampshire. He was one of a family of fourteen children and was born in 1774. At the age of twenty-one he came to this county and was a short time engaged in driving six yoke of oxen to draw the river boats past the rapids at Little Falls. In the fall of 1795 he came to Salisbury, and was for a year or more employed in clearing the land for other people, after which he purchased and located on the farm now occupied by his son William J. Here he resided the remainder of his life, reared a family of five children, and died in 1858.

Joseph Munson and Moses De Witt came from Connecticut in 1795, and became permanent settlers on farms near Salisbury Corners. Among others who settled in the town that year were Cornelius Humphrey, Eliphalet Taylor, Samuel Bennett and William Lee, who became permanent residents and influential citizens.

A big thank you to Kathy Lencki, who typed this entire section, as well as the township profile! We'd like to help Kathy get her wish for more detailed info about Revolutionary War Major Jonathan Hallett, briefly profiled as well as cited in the above article. In Kathy's query of October 21, 1997 she hopes someone can help her make a connection for her ancestor Isaac Benjamin (or Benjamin Isaac) HALLETT, who was born 1820/22, in Salisbury. Kathy and other Hallett researchers' genealogical puzzle is this - no one has confirmed if the Salisbury of Benjamin's birth refers to Herkimer Co. NY or Salisbury, CT (after which our Salisbury was named by early settlers). Benjamin resides down in Westchester County by the 1840 census. Kathy has recently developed a personal web site for her own LOVEN-LEWIS genealogy, which features the Hallett and many other ancestral surnames, and is updated frequently.

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Last Updated: 12/7/97
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