Marshall Historical Society

Town and City Notebook
By Ted Townsend
December 12, 1955

Quite a few columns ago we mentioned that Captain Julius Waterman, who has a herd of two buffalo down Deansboro way, was questioning the Marshall Town Board regarding a park in the town. Now Julius didn't ask for a great big park, just the land owned by the town along Willona Creek, a step from Forge Hollow. A shed once occupied the spot and town machinery was stored there. This was torn down and the Land was vacant.

The Board okayed the project and now we have a park with a big boulder, dragged down from Fred Zweifel's farm, at the center and an anvil is cemented to the top. Come spring some trees will be planted around the edges, so the captain says.

Supervisor George Van Swall has taken a great interest in the project and is working with Captain Waterman in bringing the historic bit of metal to the attention of the residents of the area.

The anvil isn't large perhaps two feet high, but it weighs over 600 pounds. There are holes in either side so that one man with a bar can move or turn it, that is they could until it was cemented to the boulder.

The anvil came from a forge at Forge Hollow in a one-time hammer shop. It was a trip hammer affair run by water and Julius thinks the first hop bar ever turned out was heated and treated on this anvil. A hop bar is different from a crow bar. Just about every farmer in these parts has one, that is if he ever grew hops.

It takes on a bulge before coming to the point, and it was used to make a hole in which a cedar hop pole could be dropped. The poles were nigh onto 12 feet tall so you couldn't tap'em on the top. That meant the hole had to be large enough so the pole could be dropped in. The hop bar did the trick.

The shop was tom down and the anvil was moved from one farm to another. Come Fourth of July, the boys used to put black powder in a hole, hammer in a wooden plug in which a fuse had been inserted in a notch, and then touch'er off. It made a very satisfying roar, in fact Captain Waterman's father used to say, you could hear it in any part of the Town of Marshall.

The anvil made a couple of trips to Utica for celebrations and many a window around Bagg' Square vanished when the anvil was fired.

One trip was made by canal boat to the big city and on the return trip, the boat pulled up at a Deansboto mill where the 600 pound bit of metal was to be unloaded. A wagon was backed down to the canal and a rope and pulley at the mill raised the anvil and then lowered it onto the wagon.

It kept right on going through the bottom of the wagon and onto the ground. Planks had to be secured and placed under it, before it could be hauled away.

The "Marshall" boys took over the cannon for these celebrations, however one day the local boys were on the shy side, and a bunch of fellows from Waterville dropped in. They started to take the anvil and a fist fight resulted.

As the "guests" from the "Huddle" were in the majority they drove off the natives and carted the anvil the 2 1/2 miles up the road to Waterville.

The "new owners" took the anvil to the middle of the village and loaded it up with gun powder. The result was all the windows in the middle of town were blown out.

The anvil, was obtained by Jule Hanchett and buried in the woods on his farm. Local boys went to the farm with crow bars and pushed them down into the ground in the fields trying to locate the metal. They came away empty handed for the anvil was just over the fence in the woods. It was dug up and buried in a woodshed, to be out of harms way.

The anvil next turned up on the Bill Landen Farm, where the work was carried on with a team of oxen. a son, Raymond worked on the Pierrpont White Estate at Crow Hill and it was next hidden in the ground on the height which overlooks the Mohawk Valley.

As owners passed away the anvil moved on and came in the possession of George Beck of Clinton. Mrs. Beck had the anvil, then George Jr., and finally it came into the hands of Captain Waterman.

The anvil was made of no ordinary iron. The story is told how it was taken to Utica to be broken up and run through a smelter. It was too tough, they couldn't get enough heat to melt it down.

The latest story from the Captain is that the anvil was used at Forge Hollow by the Remington Arms Company around 1865 to make one of their first rifles.

This story will be investigated by the Captain and Supervisor Van Swall. If true the Remington-Rand Company will be invited to take part in the dedication come spring.

More information about the anvil and forges :
         Anvil         First Forge and          a prior report by Ted Townsend.


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