Town Of Russia
 History 

HINCKLEY DAM

History

NAMING OF TOWN OF RUSSIA A MYSTERY:

The Town of Russia was formed from the town of Norway on April 7, 1806, it was named the town of Union.  It did not last long because on April 6, 1808, it was changed to the town of Russia.  Herkimer County has a community and a township by the name of Russia and historical records fail to disclose any accurate light on why the name was selected.

 

Much of the area was settled from Norway, which had been named for the nation in Europe, so it is very likely that the folks in the new town of Union thought it would be a better idea to continue in America the "Good Neighbor Policy" which existed between the two nations in Europe.  It has worked out well.  There have been no boundary disputes.

 

The town of Russia lost part of its territory when the town of Wilmurt was set up on May 2, 1836.  Wilmurt flourished for 60 years thriving on lumbering operations mostly.  In 1896 the division of the town to form the township of Webb came about.

 

Twenty-two years later the Herkimer County Board of Supervisors petitioned the State Legislature to abolish the town and divide the land between Ohio and Webb.

 

Russia did not regain any of the territory it lost back in 1836.

 

Records show there were no white settlers in Russia township prior to the Revolutionary War.

 

Stoddard Squires came here from Connecticut in 1792 and settled in Cold Brook.

 

Russia village is located in the southern part of the town and was settled in 1800 by Hon. Samuel Wright, who rolled up a log cabin in 1803.  He also kept a tavern and a store.

 

Other pioneers included Moses Prindle, William Smith, William France, Nathaniel Waters, Isaac Norton, Elijah ayers and Jeremiah Smith.

 

The town of Russia lies on the west border of Herkimer County, north of the Mohawk Valley.  Its northern part extends into the border of "the great northern wilderness" according to French's Gazeteer.

 

The towns surface is rolling and moderately hilly, and on the west descends abruptly to the West Canada Creek Valley.  The hills are from 800 to 1,000 feet above the Mohawk River.

 

The principle streams are the West Canada and Black Creek, the West Canada forming part of the town's west boundary.  Trenton Falls, on the West Canada, is on the west border.

 

There are several communities in the town.  One was Russia.  In 1860 it contained two churches and 170 residents.  Like Gravesville, it had a post office.  Gravesville had a church and 67 residents.

 

Poland, near the south line, had a church and 180 folks, while Cold Brook, an industrial community, had 225 persons, a saw-set factory, a cheese box factory and a gristmill.

 

Records show a settlement named Booth (Grant) on Black Creek.  It has a church, a grist and saw mill, a tannery and 71 inhabitants.

 

The other communities were Prospect, a manufacturing place and Russia Corners with 58 residents.

 

It is interesting to know that the first religious meetings were conducted by the Free Will Baptists with the Rev. Benajah Corp in the pulpit.

 

The first school was taught by a man named Morehouse at Graves Hollow.

 

Going back over the records, Stoddard Squires settled on the Cold Brook, a little south of the present village.

 

Historian Charles E. Crandall noted:  "History does not record the privations and hardships these early home-loving people endured clearing the virgin forest, planting crops and building homes."

 

"The small streams running through the villages provided water power for the many industries and were the probable reason for the first settlements."

 

"The most important manufacturing plant in the town was the gang sawing and lumber planning mills."

 

A tanner by trade, Major Geer settled on Mill Brook in 1796.  Four years later, William Graves, a native of Vermont, traded his horse, saddle and bridle for the tannery and entered business on a limiited scale.  It was from this small beginning that Gravesville came into being.

 

Other industries included a cow bell factory, wagon shops, cheese factories, blacksmith shops, and a trip-hammer factory.  Samuel Wright settled in the south part of town on land where the hamlet of Russia now stands.

 

The first log school house was erected in 1798 in Poland which at the time was called Russia Flatts.

 

At a later time, Russia Flatts was called Danielsville.  This name caused much confusion with Dansville, NY.  This caused the name to be changed to Poland, this from the fact that Poland in Europe was in the southwest part of Russia.

 

Isaac Woodin was the first settler in 1816 in a small village known as Potter's Bush on the Black Creek.  Again, folks decided a change was in order, and it was renamed Postville in honor of John Post.

 

Alexander Booth later obtained a change in honor of his son and the name of Booth was ordered.  Things had a way of changing and with the assassination of President Lincoln by John Wilkes Booth in 1865, the final change came, this to Grant in honor of General U. S. Grant.

 

Summing it up, there were many changes, but after the beginning of the 20th Century things stuck and folks were satisfied.

 

Other early settlers included:  Johathan Millington from Vermont;  Farley Fuller, George Taylor, Roscum Slocum, William Buck, Jethan Carpenter, Austin and son, and a family named Coon.

 

The first nuptial vows were those repeated by Farley Fuller and Minerva Smith in 1794.  Other firsts included a store owned by Swintburn, and a gristmill by Benjamin Hinman. 

 

Finally, Russia contained a part of the third allotment of the Royal Grant, portions of Jerseyfield, Remsenburgh and Machins, and all of Lush's Marvin's and Jacob's Patents.

 

The firm Hinckley and Ballou, were owners of an extensive saw mill, planning mill, blacksmith shop, trip hammer and edgetool business, employed more than 100 men and turned out work estimated at

$ 80,000 which was considered a fortune in those days.

 

Documents:
This is from our history book.  If you would like to read more historical information, our history book is filled with information, some of which you may already know, and some which is new to you.  These books are on sale at half-price for $ 5.00 at the Town Clerk's Offices.  This book was written for our Bi-Centenniel in 2006, however, the information is always informative, and the pictures were mostly donated for use by residents of the town.  Call the office with any questions, or if you have further information.
RAILROADS (PDF - 202.3 KB)
ROADS (PDF - 639.3 KB)
BRIDGES (PDF - 175.4 KB)
Images:
TRENTON FALLS, TOWN OF RUSSIA SIDE
HINCKLEY RESERVOIR