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|Mayfield, One of First Fulton County Towns, Traces History
to Sir William Johnson
Mayfield was set off as a town from Caughnawaga on March 12th, 1793 and became fully
organized as such on the 1st of April, 1794, when it elected its first officials. The following
officials were chosen at the first town meeting, held at the log meeting-house about three miles
south of the village. Supervisor, Selah Woodworth; assessors, John Grover, Robert Jackson
and Joseph Newton; collector, Caleb Woodworth; constables, Caleb Woodworth and Adam
Backer. The town of Wells, in which is now a part of Hamilton county, was taken off of Mayfield
in 1805. In 1812, another portion was annexed to that town. Also in 1842, a part of the south
end was annexed to the town of Perth.
The Mayfield Patent was granted on June 27th, 1770, and from this the town derives its name.
There were two main trails, on from Johnstown, leading through Riceville to Dennie Hollow,
Cranberry Creek, and so on north to the upper Sacondaga; and the other crossing the town a
little south of its center, and known afterwards as the Sacondaga road, over which Sir William
Johnson traveled from Johnstown to Summer House Point.
The first settlement was made about 1760, under Sir William Johnson, on the old road from
Tribes Hill to the Sacondaga, and was then called Philadelphia Bush-one or more of the
earliest settlers having come from Philadelphia or that vicinity. The names of some of the first
white settlers were Dunham, Woodworth, Bishop, Grover, Romeyn, McNitt, Hosmer, Wells,
Williamson, McQuein, Green, Parsells, Dovenor, Christie and Dennie. Some of these were
from Scotland, and some were from Connecticut. The inhabitants after the Revolutionary War
were the above mentioned names along with families of Courtneys, Browns, Andersons,
Shaddocks, Duboyses, McKinlays, Seymours, Burrs, Newtons, VanBurens, Galors, Jacksons,
Vails, Bemases, McDougals, Knapps, and others. Most of these settlers were farmers, but
some were more or less accustomed to different trades, and were enabled to accommodate
their farmer neighbors.
In most instances, the deeds given to these early settlers are lost, or they never had any. The
oldest deed that can be found issued by the State, was given by The Commissioners of
Forfeiture to Gershom Woodworth in 1786. It is the deed of the farm first occupied by Truman
Christie, and afterwards owned by H.H. Woodworth, where there was also built the first log
house as well as the first orchard set out by Christie. Tradition says this farm,one of the
earliest, was set upon an Indian trail. On this same trail, about a mile and a half north of
Mayfield village, lived Col. A. J. Banks and was later owned by Nicholas Dennie. Micah
Hegeman owned another farm just north of the village, on the same trail, that was occupied by
Mr. Dunham, in which the Indians and Tories committed some of their most heinous crimes in
this area, now marked by a historical marker.
The first land grant or patent lying in this town, was a tract of 14,000 acres granted to Achilles
Preston and others, a portion of which was a farm owned by Francis Bishop, about two miles
north of the village of Mayfield. This tract was granted on June 10th, 1770, and surveyed by
Alexander Cohen, survey-general. On November 8th, 1806, the Bishop Farm was deeded by
James Reynolds, of Columbia county, N.Y., to Luke Woodworth. On November 15th, 1796,
Cyrenus Woodworth and wife gave a deed to Luke Woodworth of the farm later owned by P.N.
Gray, and was supposed to be part of the 14,000 acre tract, as it adjoined the Bishop farm.
Solomon Woodworth, born in Connecticut in or abouts the year 1730, came to Mayfield with
his brother Selah, and purchased a tract of land southeast of the village of Mayfield. His
brother, finding the Indians and Tories troublesome, tried to get Solomon to return to
Connecticut with him until the war was over. Solomon, however, refused to return and located
his home on the Brooks farm, and on the other, a short distance from his home, he built a log
stockade for defence, into which he and his wife located when threatened by the enemy. He
was soon known as the leader of a band of patriots that gathered around him, and his bravery
won him the most intense hatred of the tories in this town. The allies of the British oppression
soon became very troublesome, and Mr. Woodworth took the precaution to stay in his little fort
at night. Here in the winter of 1780 he was attacked by a party of Indians. He would likely run
out of bullets, but his faithful wife laid their little child by the fire, and with the spirit that
characterized heroines of that time, ran bullets as fast as her husband could shoot. The result
was the retreat of the Indians and tories with one wounded. Early in the morning Capt.
Woodworth rallied a few of his men, followed the retreating party for three days, and at length
surprised and killed them all. Immediately after this success, Woodworth was appointed
lieutenant in a company of nine month men. At the expiration of this term, in the year 1781, he
was appointed captain for the purpose of forming a company of Rangers to explore the woods.
He at once raised a company of able-bodied soldiers, all well armed and equipped. From Fort
Dayton - now the village of Herkimer- he started, at the head of his company, in a northernly
direction to range the woods and make discoveries. He had been out but a few hours when
one of his foremost men discovered an Indian in ambush, and fired upon him. They instantly
found themselves surrounded by a band of Indians, outnumbering them two to one. A short
but bloody encounter ensued. Captain Woodworth was killed, and out of 41 men only 15
escaped; all the rest were either killed or taken prisoner. Mr. Dunham was one of Woodworth's
men who escaped.
The first survey of roads was made on the 15th of April, 1794 and was sanctioned by the
commissioners of highways on the 7th of May. Bridges were also built during 1794, and
previous to that, one was built across Mayfield creek at Shawville and one at Vail's Mills. Luke
Woodworth was the first resident surveyor in this town, and was employed, soon after arriving
to Mayfield, by its officers in the survey of roads and boundaries. Early on there where about
50 burial grounds until the Sacandaga Valley was flooded. We are still today discovering old
burial sites. Many of the cemeteries removed were re-interned in the King Cemetery in
Northampton. The largest cemetery in Mayfield is the Union Rural Cemetery, however, there is
the Broadalbin-Mayfield cemetery located in Mayfield approx. 0.1 miles west of the Broadalbin
town line on Broadalbin's North Main Street Extension. Mayfield schools early on were
scattered having been erected for family and neighborhood friends. These early schools were
made of logs, notched together at the corners, with a door in the middle of one side, a window
at each end and the gaps filled with mud. Throughout the 1800's and into the 1900's came
more schools scattered about the region. These were classified as one-room schoolhouses.
The first grist mill or flour mill was located at the now Mayfield bridge. It was owned by Edward
A. Elphie. The mill was built in 1773 by Sir William Johnson. It was burned during the
Revolutionary War. At the close of the war, the property was confiscated and then sold to Rev.
Dr. Romeyn who rebuilt the mill and put it back into operation. It was known as Romeyn's mills,
on the Romeyn creek as late as 1795. At that time it the property passed to Mr. Bogart, and
from there to Mr. Zule, then to Mr. Stanley and to Sidney Chase. The mill had 2 runs of stone
with one bolt and made some of the finest quality of flour, meal and feed. It was located just
south of the Village of Mayfield at the Mayfield bridge as it was known as Shawville.
Oliver Rice was the first to build a clothier's mill in or about the year of 1795. It was located in
Riceville near the Mayfield creek. He conducted business there until around 1830 when he
gave up the mill and the property went into decay. The Rice Homestead still stands today and
is maintained by the Mayfield Historical Society. Mr. Wood also operated a grist mill and saw
mill at the same time and place. However, litigations between Messrs. Clark and Clancey, who
were owners of most of the Riceville land, led to financial difficulties and business crashed.
There as well was a skin mill there until years later, it too went into decay. In 1866 or 1867,
Moses Kinney built a skin mill on the site of the old clothier's mill and about 1868, Mr. George
C. Allen built a skin mill on the site of the first mentioned, south of the highway. It is evidenced
on the 1868 map of Mayfield. Flavel Bartlett is by all, acknowledged to have been the first to
start the tanning business in Mayfield. He had a little shop in the village of Mayfield. It was built
about the year of 1795 and discontinued in about 1825. Larger tanneries were built at
Jackson Summit and at Vail's Mills. Also adopting into this business were William Kennadas in
the northern part of town, and Kent & Co. at Woodworth's Corners.
The first store was opened about the year 1800 by William McConnell, two miles southwest of
Mayfield, at Wilkin's Corners. McConnell carried an assortment of goods and whiskey played
an important part of his inventory. Soon after Mr. Otis started a store in the village. McConnell
kept up his store until about 1830.Previous to its opening, settlers were forced to take the trip
to Johnstown for all of their trading. This was done on foot or horseback and as there were no
roads, used Indian and tory trails.
In the early settlement of this town, taverns were unknown until the year 1808 is there a record
of such an establishment. In that year the town meeting was held at the inn owned by William
VanBuren. It is said that the first tavern was run by Ebenezer Woodworth in the village of
Mayfield. That building was later owned by David Getman Esq. Elisha Stone kept a tavern
near the center of town for several years until it closed about 1863.
John McKinlay was the first blacksmith according to records. He came from Scotland in 1783,
and immediately went to work at his trade. A few years later William Williams went to work at
the trade at Wilkins Corners. Edward Kinnicutt, upon coming to Mayfield from Pittstown, NY,
opened a blacksmith shop about a mile and a half north of the village in 1801. Among the
early blacksmiths were the firm of Smith & Billingham, who carried on an extensive business in
the village, and Billingham was know as Old Vulcan because of his physique. The first and
only distillery operated here was in or about 1805, at Riceville, by Clark & Clancey, previously
described in this article. They did a large business for a few years, buying up all the grain in
the area. The distillery went to decay as their other business's did at that time.
Weaving in early times was an important task to be done in the home. In 1800, Mr. Snyder
came into town and his wife, Eveline, was a professional weaver. Having a large family, she
soon had all the work she could handle, thus supporting her family as her husband could not
at the time. They lived on the hill south of Anthonyville.
The first physician in the town was Lazarus Tucker. Coming from Connecticut about 1790, he
settled in the now village of Mayfield. He was certainly an old school doctor as science then is
not what it is today. Of the early lawyers, there were David and William Kennedy, John Stewart
and William Waite. The Kennedy's were brothers and lived on the south end of town.
Early postal service was done on horseback and was established in 1819 between Mayfield
and Broadalbin. Collins Odell was the first appointed postmaster and travelled the route for
the first two years for fifty cents per week. Soon after this the first post office was established
at Cranberry Creek and Samuel A. Gilbert was its postmaster. The route then ran from
Broadalbin to Fish House, Cranberry Creek, Mayfield village, and across again to Broadalbin.
Prior to this, mail headquarters was at Squire McConnell's store, and the neighbors would take
turns going to Johnstown after the mail. When H.H. Woodworth reached 12 years of age, he
had to go in place of his father. He went on foot, nine miles, following the Indian trail as no
wagon route had be made at the time and the region was wilderness most of the way.
Eventually a post office was established at Riceville, but soon removed to Mayfield Corners.
On the 17th of July, 1861, a post office was established at Jackson Summit, with W.H. Shaw
post master and the mail was to be carried between that place and the Mayfield Corners twice
a week with no compensation. The office was closed about the end of the war in 1865.
Villages at the time were Anthonyville, Cranberry Creek, Closeville, Jackson Summit, Riceville,
Vail's Mills, Mayfield Corners, Munsonville, Woodworth Corners and Shawville.
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