Marshall Historical Society

History of the Town of Marshall
By Janet Dangler, September 17, 2015

Today, it is generally agreed that Deansboro in 2015 is the hub - the seat, as it were - of the Town of Marshall. It wasn't always that way, though. The first settlers in the Town of Marshall - known as the Town of Paris at first (the Town of Kirkland was part of the Town of Paris, and then the Town of Marshall was incorporated from the Town of Kirkland in 1829) - were the Brothertown Indians, made up of different tribes (the Narragansetts, the Pequots, Mohegans, Montauks, Natnicks and Shinicooks) from Connecticut and Rhode Island. They settled in the land the Oneida Indians gave them. This was a "considerable tract of land," about 24,000 acres. It stretched approximately from Madison Lake to College Hill in Clinton.

One of the first of the Indian settlements was around 1774, known as Dicksville, named after Asa Dick, a Narragansett. Dicksville boasted two sawmills, a shoe shop, a school, a grist mill on the bank of Willona Creek (Big Creek, or the east branch of Oriskany Creek), a blacksmith shop, a tavern and a carpentry shop. By the early 1900s, although some buildings remain (Amy Marris lives in the former Indian church, later their school house; and Ed Gallagher lives in the house that Asa Dick built, formerly Wratten's), Dicksville pretty much was a memory. However, there is a historical marker near a lilac tree on what was Asa Dick's property and used to be a pasture connected with the Milton Wratten farm (now behind a newer ranch house on property owned by Ed Gallagher). Under the lilac are several gravestones, the largest and most interesting of which is the one inscribed "In memory of Asa Dick." There is also another cemetery on the Brothertown Road, and some descendents of the Brothertowns have come from the mid-west, where they were relocated, from time to time to visit it. It's unclear where exactly Dicksville was located, but I believe it was roughly from around the home owned by Bob and Maureen Gray (formerly Clifford Small) on the left side of Route 315; and Eric Gallagher's (formerly Clarence Lloyd) on the right going toward Waterville; by Ed Gallagher's farm on the corner of Rt. 315 and Burnham Road; to the Forge Hollow line. Possibly Dicksville went down what is now Route 315 as far as California Road. The curve on Route 315 from Dicksville into Forge Hollow is known as Daniels' Nose, as the area was once owned by people named Daniels.

Another little-known and mostly forgotten hamlet which was settled around 1775 is Brotherton (Brothertown), or the Indian name Eeyamquittoowayconnuck, at the top of Bogusville Hill Road at McMillan corners. Bogusville - so named because of the counterfeit coins manufactured and distributed there - is about a mile from Clinton going toward Deansboro, and the road where the hamlet was is called Bogusville Hill Road. Every community back then had a grist mill and Brotherton was no exception; also there was a cheese factory. 1775 turned out to be a bad year in which to settle, however, because when the Revolutionary War began in earnest, they moved out temporarily due to conflicted allegiances. Once peace was declared, they moved back, led by David Fowler, and were pleased to find that the potatoes they had planted years before had grown from year to year and were still thriving, making them a sustaining crop. Anyone who has ever cultivated potatoes can easily understand this!

Forge Hollow was another once-thriving community in the Town of Marshall. It was settled in the late 1700s and was notable for its forge - it used ore from Clinton and later scrap iron to turn into farm tools - hence the name Forge Hollow. The proprietors were Daniel Hatchett and Captain Nathan Daniel. Forge Hollow was also known for its grist mill and saw mills. It was also celebrated for the cave-pocked limestone cliffs over which a spring bubbles to a pool below. It used to provide water for nearby grist mills and sawmills; now, one can see bicyclists stopping by for a cool drink, or people filling water jugs with the spring water from the "hollow." Forge Hollow ended just about a mile from Waterville on Rt. 315.

Most white settlers first settled in the areas in higher elevations around what is presently Deansboro, because they felt it was healthier; the valley was termed a swamp hole. Joseph Eastman, the first white settler, came in 1784. David Barton, ancestor of the present Bartons in Waterville and whose name was given to the Barton Hose Company in Deansboro arrived next in 1794. David Barton first settled in the west hills, on the farm now owned by the Bishopp family; but, because he inadvertently landed in Brothertown land, he was obliged to move, and he did. The most important early "white" settlement in the Town of Marshall was Hanover in the east hills. It's still there, but only a shadow of its former self. In 1795, the first settlers in Hanover, Isaac Miller and his wife Irene and their children, chose the hillside, fearing malaria in the lower valley, possibly due to the close proximity of the Oriskany Creek. In Hanover was a tavern; a cobbler, who went from house to house to make shoes for the family; a general store; a post office (the mail was brought to Hanover Green by a post rider); a school house; mills and houses; and a church - called the Hanover Religious Society, which was organized in 1797. The first main highway ran from Waterville to Whitesboro through Hanover.

These were all important and bustling communities until about the mid-1800, when the Chenango Canal was opened in 1837, followed by the railroad along the canal route in 1867. Homesteaders realized that the supposed "fever valley" boasted fertile land (witness the crops of the Brothertowns!), not to mention plenty of water, and they started settling in the lower regions. The mills and the stores of Forge Hollow, Dicksville, Hanover and Brotherton were abandoned, and those regions became neighborhoods of homes, such they are today.

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