Madison County History

Madison County was formed on March 21, 1806. The land was a break off from Chenango County and was named "Madison County" in honor of the president, James Madison.

When Madison County was created, courts of records and supervisor meetings were held, alternating in each town until a county seat was decided upon. The first court of general sessions, the trial of Alpheus Hitchcock, was held in a Sullivan schoolhouse on June 3, 1806. This first murder case was adjourned to the barn of Sylvanus Smalley due to the overcrowding of spectators.

The first county seat was located in Cazenovia and moved to Morrisville in 1817. Buildings were erected on the new site, a jail, courthouse, and county clerk's office. The jail was a wooden structure, built of timbers. The timbers were placed one on another and were bolted firmly by long iron rods.

Small windows were constructed to provide light and ventilation which were secured by heavy irons, that crossed diagonally, set deep into the timbers. This building which included the Sheriffs department consisted of two stories. In the center of the jail there was a wide corridor that extended to the grated doors of the jail, which led into a corridor on either side which consisted of heavily ironed cells.

These cells were those which the more hardened criminals or those awaiting trial for serious offenses were confined to. Here Antone, Wilber, and Haddcock, each of whom suffered the death penalty for murder were confined in the cells. Antoine's cell was deeply carved with Indian signs indicating the number of moons, days, and hours intervening between the hour of sentence and execution. Wilber's execution took place in the enclosure which was attached to the back. Haddcock was hung in the main hall.

There was a dungeon cell in the jail that was seldom used, located in the basement, besides the four cells on the second floor, two for the men, three for the women. The women's cells on the second floor were placed so the occupants could have a view of the street, while the men's cells looked upon the fields to the South.

The jail was heated with stoves and burned wood for fuel, each cell had a small stove for heat in the winter time. The yard attached to the rear of the jail, 20 by 30 feet and boarded tight, the walls were some 15 to 20 feet in height. The old jail was torn down and a new brick jail was erected during the summer of 1872. The county seat was later moved to Wampsville in 1907.