Fulton County Living
The Town of Mayfield, which embodies Mayfield village of about 760 inhabitants, was associated
closely with the early history of this region when Sir William Johnson lived in Johnstown. It was
one of the first three towns in Fulton County. It received its name from the Mayfield Patent which
was granted in June, 1770, and it was designated as a town March 12th, 1793.
First permanent settlement within the present limits of the town was made under Sir William
Johnson about 1760. This occurred on an old road which led from Tribes Hill to the Sacandaga
River. Only a few descendants of the early families remain. Some of these were the Dunhams,
Woodworths, Bishops, Christies, and Dennies.
Principal occupation of the early settlers was farming, but some pursued other trades. The pioneers,
being frugal folks, made their own clothing.
It is recorded that about 1800 a Mr. Snyder was residing on a farm south of the present village. His
wife, a skilled weaver, made garments, and soon had all the work that she could do.
The oldest deed in the town is recorded as having been given by the commissioners of forfeiture of
the state of to Gershom Woodworth in 1786. It was on this farm that the first log house was erected.
Today the Woodworth homestead is located on Phelps Street about two miles southwest of the
village. The present structure was erected about 1750.
|Mayfield, One of First Fulton County Towns, Traces History
to Sir William Johnson
|by The Schenectady Union-Star 1955
Life was a perilous one for early settlers in Mayfield because of the increasing hostility of the British
and their savage allies. Stockades were erected, and it is recorded that in the winter of 1780 Solomon
Woodworth was attacked by a party of Indians and Tories. Woodworth and his wife managed to beat
off the attack.
As the land was cleared from the forests, Mayfield settlers began agriculture on a small scale. It is
said that wheat first was raised on a farm midway between Shawville and present Mayfield village.
This farm later was owned and operated by Thomas Embling who also operated a general store for
many years. The store building and the house, the latter said to be 100 years old, are still standing.
One of the first brick structures erected in the town is the large dwelling on the
Mayfield-Gloversville highway, and is known as the McKinlay place. It is said to have been erected
in 1805 by John McKinlay from bricks made on the farm, Alexander McKinlay, son of John, who
played a prominent part in Mayfield affairs, was residing at this place in 1802 at an advanced age.
Site of the first grist mill in the Town of Mayfield was on Mayfield Creek in what is now called
Shawville, just east of the village of Mayfield. The mill is said to have been erected under the
direction of Sir William Johnson in 1773, but was burned during the Revolution. The mill later was
rebuilt and about 1892 was being operated by Edward Elphie.
The Rice family played a prominent part in the early settlement of Mayfield, and in 1795, Oliver
Rice erected a mill. The Riceville hamlet became the scene of much industrial activity. It was here
that the tanning of leather was commenced about 1866 by Moses Kinney. Other industries of early
1800 included an iron foundry built by Joseph Wood. Grist and sawmills and a distillery also were
in operation here for a time. Riceville is located just south of the village on the Gloversville-Mayfield
The first store was opened in the town of Mayfield about 1800 by William McConnell at Wilkins
Corners, two miles south of the village.
Probably the first blacksmith shop in the town was opened by John McKinlay, who came from
Scotland in 1783. A few years later William Wilkins started a shop.
The first physician to settle in the village was Lazarus Tucker., who came from Connecticut about
1790. He lived on the site of the present John Laird property on North Main St.
Early inhabitants of the Town of Mayfield, prior to 1800, had to travel on foot or horseback over
Indian trails to Johnstown for nearly all their merchandise. There were no inns in the town for
travelers prior to 1800. Later in 1808 a hotel, at one time known as the Jackson house, was erected
in the village square.
The first postal route of the village was established in 1819. Collins O'Dell, a storekeeper, was
appointed postmaster. For the first two years he carried the mail on horseback between Mayfield
and Broadalbin, a distance of about 5 miles. He received 50 cents per trip, making the journey twice
Later a post office was established at Cranberry Creek, about a mile north of Mayfield on the main
highway. Samuel Gilbert served as postmaster.
Before these mail routes were established, headquarters for mail was at the store of William
McConnell, and inhabitants had to take their turn going to Johnstown after the mail. The distance,
about 9 miles, led through forest most of the way.
Collins O'Dell held the postmastership at Mayfield for many years, and then it passed to David
Getman about 1850. He held the office about seven years. A.B. Close also held the post until 1885,
when William Wilkins took over.
Baltie Dixon was postmaster in 1889, and later Firmer W. Brown served for many years. At
present his son, Harland N. Brown is assistant postmaster.
The village of Mayfield had a slow but substantial growth. The manufacture of grain, leather,
fleshers and gloves in 1892, were the chief industries, and today the manufacture of gloves is the
main industry of the village.
Firms engaging in glove manufacture about 1889 included Wilkins & Close, Close & Christie,
Wood & Wilkins (formally Wood & Kelly,) Christie Bros., B.D. Brown, J.C. Titcomb, Dixon & Wilkins
and Van Denburgh & Bartholf. Members of the Wilkins family are still operating a large factory.
The village's single drug store, which had been opened prior to 1890, was operated by William
Jerome. Later this passed into ownership of B.D. Brown, and later Filmer Brown.
A flour and feed store, operated by Caleb Tucker on North Main St., was a meeting place for
checked devotees of the village. Here they gathered daily on the old porch to pursue their favorite
game. Grocery stores were operated then by George Mercer and E. Elphie.
There were few schools in any part of Mayfield prior to 1794. The first teacher of which there is
any record was Allen Fraser, who conducted a school near a little hamlet called Woodworth's
Corners in 1798. Among the early pupils were Sara Woodworth, Eliza Romayne, John Romayne
and Rosannah Woodworth.
Some time after 1850 the village acquired a brick four-room school building, and this served for
educational purposes until 1938, when old structure was razed and modern centralized school was
Mayfield religious life dates back to Colonial times, according to the records.
Origin of the two churches, the Methodist and Presbyterian, goes back to about 1792, when a
Baptist society was organized three miles south of the present village. It was known as the Mayfield
and Broadalbin church. The place of worship was constructed of logs, and it was in this building that
the first town meeting was held. The site is said to be near that of the "Nine Mile Tree," which was
nine miles from Johnson Hall in Johnstown, and on a road used by Sir William Johnson to reach
Summer House Point, which he frequented for hunting and fishing. Hezekia Gordon was the first
A Christian church was organized about 1868 at Jackson Summit under Elders Brown and
Evans. Dissension caused the church to disband. Another religious society was organized at the
Summit in 1855 by some of German descent.
Early in 1800, that part of Mayfield known as the "Corners" or Mayfield Village was almost an
unbroken wilderness, and log cabins of settlers were few and far apart. However, an itinerant
preacher penetrated the forest and pitched a tent on the Benjamin Ferguson farm north of the
village. It is believed that this was the beginning of the Methodist church. First services were held
about 1820 in a building known as "Titcomb's Row," which housed a large ball room. It stood near
the present village square. Later a church was erected.
The Low Dutch church, said to be one of the earliest, and which later became the present
Presbyterian church, was organized in 1793. The first church was located in the old part of the
Mayfield cemetery south of the village. In 1828 a better church was erected in the village. It's
pastor for many years was Jeremiah Wood who died in 1876. In September, 1826, the society was
organized as the Mayfield Presbyterian Church.
One of the village's first major fires occurred in 1866, when a portion of the center of the village
In the autumn of 1886, a fire broke out in the Jackson hotel in the village square, and destroyed
the large Titcomb building housing the ball room, the hotel, a store and several dwellings including
the residence of David Getman.
Subsequent threatening fires occurred in the village, and it was not until about 1921, when
another disastrous blaze swept a large section of the south side of West Main street, that the
villagers organized a public water works, installing pipe lines and erected a water tower, giving the
community its first modern water works.
Mayfield's Cemetery Association was formed in 1847. It did not become fully organized until
1872. The Rev. Jeremiah Wood was its first president.
The village had a Masonic lodge as early as 1804, when Constellation Lodge was formed with
Oliver Rice as worshiped master. The village also had an Odd Fellows Lodge.
The construction of the Gloversville-Northville line of the Fonda, Johnstown & Gloversville
Railroad was momentous in the village of Mayfield. This line was completed in 1875 through the
co-operation of citizens from Northville and Mayfield and the railroad company.
Some of the other smaller communities within the Town of Mayfield which played a prominent
part in the early history of the region included Closeville, originally known as Wood's Hollow, in the
southern part of the town, settled about 1795: Munsonville, a hamlet about two miles southeast of
the village on the Sacandaga road settled by Solomon Woodworth prior to the Revolution; Vail's
Mills, in the southern part of the town near Broadalbin, formerly called Lower Bush, located on the
Kennyetto creek and settled by Daniel Lefferts about 1795.
One of the first town supervisors was Parris G. Clark, who served in 1826. In 1853 and 1854
Alexander McKinlay was holding this post. The first town clerk was William McConnell, who held
office from 1826 to 1830. In 1855 Isaac T. Close was town clerk. The first justice of the peace in the
town was Samuel Gilbert who was elected in 1830.
An important addition of more recent years, which has given Mayfield added economic
importance, was the Sacandaga reservoir, which was built in 1930.
|Spring on the Sacandaga Begins