Profile and History of the Town of Wilmurt

From the Gazetteer and Business Directory
of Herkimer County, N.Y. 1869-70

WILMURT was formed from Russia and West Brunswick, now Ohio, May 3, 1836. It is the largest town in extent of territory in the State, and one of the least populous. It includes the whole north part of the County, extending about fifty miles in length and about sixteen in width. The surface is rocky and mountainous, and the greater part wholly unfit for cultivation. In the deep valleys among the mountains are numerous beautiful lakes, forming one of the finest features of the landscape. Numbers one and four of the Fulton chain of lakes are sources of Moose River; Transparent, Woodhull, Bisby and Chub Lakes flow into Black River. Several of these lakes are used as reservoirs for feeding the Black River Canal. Upon the shores are large quantities of iron sand, derived from the abrasion of the rocks containing iron ore. The soil is a sandy loam. The hills are covered with a thin growth of forest trees, but the soil in the valleys is more fertile and fit for pasturage.

The settlements are confined to the south part. There is no post-office, village, store, church or grist mill in the town. There are two saw mills and one tannery. There are a few well cultivated farms in the south part of the town; among them that of J. W. STANTON deserves special notice. His dwelling and out-buildings are large and convenient, and his cow barn one of the finest in the State. During the last year he made $4,000 worth of cheese, and raised 700 bushels of oats and 1,000 bushels of potatoes. He keeps sixty-five cows.

Lumbering is carried on to some extent, but the logs cut are for the most part floated down West Canada Creek to Prospect, where they are sawed.

The first attempt to settle this town was made in 1790 by Arthur NOBLE, the patentee of the tract, and a saw mill was built at that time but the project proved a failure. In 1793 another attempt was made with no better success. A few years after this, John BROWN, a wealthy capitalist of Providence, Rhode Island, who owned a large tract in this town, made another attempt to settle it, but this project failed also. In 1812 Charles T. HARRISOFF, a son-in-law of Mr. BROWN, made another attempt to settle this tract. He erected a forge and a saw mill and cleared 2,000 acres, but the outlay brought no adequate return, and his supply of money being cut off the project was abandoned. HARRISOFF continued upon the land until December 19, 1819, when to free himself from the embarrassment that his great losses had produced he committed suicide. It is said that the day before his death he made preparations for going to Providence, and gave orders to his men to go out after he had left and fill up a large hole that had been dug for ore. They went out to perform their labor, but before commencing it one of them went down to see if any tools had been left in the hole, and at the bottom found HARRISOFF, who had concealed himself there with the intention of being buried. Disappointed in this he took his life the next day by a pistol shot.

The population of the town in 1865 was 148; its area is 244,714 acres.

There are four school districts, employing the same number of teachers. The number of children of school age is 98; the number attending, 79; the average attendance, 39, and the amount expended for school purposes during the year ending September 30, 1868, was $761.04.

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Last Updated: 2/23/00
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