Lebanon Wilderness

Background: Col. William Stephens Smith fought in the Revolutionary War alongside generals Washington and Lafayette and served as aid to Baron von Steuben. After the war Smith served as a diplomatic representative in London (1784). Here he met and courted Abigail Adams (daughter of President John Adams and Abigail Smith Adams). The two were wed in London in 1786. They had four children: William Steuben (birth 1787 death 1850), John Adams (birth 1788 death 1834), Thomas Hollis (birth 1790 death 1791), and Caroline Amelia (birth 1788 death 1852). In 1788 the Smiths returned to America and settled near New York City. Col. Smith was appointed by President Washington as the first U.S. Marshal for the NY district (1789). Smith later was appointed to the position of surveyor for the Port of NY by President John Adams (1780).


Smith sought his fortune as a land speculator and was granted a patent in 1794 for Townships 2, 3, 4, 5, 8, and 9 of the Chenango Twenty Towns - a total of 150,000 acres at a cost of 24,375 pounds sterling. Lots 2, 3, 4, and 5 are present day Eaton, Madison, Lebanon, and Hamilton respectively. Lots 8 and 9 are Smyrna and Sherburne respectively in Chenango County. In the late 18th century all of this land was wilderness. Some time after 1794 Smith either sold or turned over lots 2, 3, 4, and 5 to Sir William Pultney. Smith retained lots 8 and 9 in Chenango county and a large tract of land bordering the Chenango River in Madison County. Col. Smith's brother, Justus B. Smith, was assigned the task of subdividing and selling lots from this tract. Justus built a large house in Smith's Valley from where he conducted the land sales business. Col. Smith had a small frame house located near here which he occupied infrequently. Both Col. Smith and Justus B. died in Smith's Valley in the year 1816 and are buried in West Hill Cemetery, Sherburne.
Faint Signature of W.S. Smith
Faint Signature of Abigail Smith
Very faint signatures of W S Smith and Abigail Smith.

Map of Chenango Twenty Towns

Map of Chenango Twenty Towns

Deed From Justus B. Smith to John W Bulkley

Dated June, 16 1812
Description of the property conveyed as follows:
All that certain piece of parcel of land situate lying and being in the Town of Lebanon aforesaid being a part of Lot number ninety two in the fifth Township beginning at the north east corner of said Lot number ninety two at a Stake and Stones marked 89 90 91 92 thence south thirty four minutes east fifty one chains and seventy five links to a Stake and Stones marked 91 92 thence south eighty nine degrees thirty six minutes west forty three chains fifty links to a Stake and Stones thence north ten degrees thirty minutes east twenty five chains sixty six links to a Stake and Stones thence south eighty nine degrees fifty five minutes west four chains fifteen links to a Stake and Stones thence north thirty four minutes east twenty six chains sixty six links to a Stake and Stones thence north eighty nine degrees fifty five minutes east forty two chains thirty links to the place of beginning. Containing two hundred sixteen acres three roods and sixteen perches of land and no more subject nevertheless to the restrictions and reservations contained and enclosed in the original letters patent from the State of New York.

The parcel is located in the southeastern corner of the town of Lebanon.


The document is signed by Justus B. Smith and witnessed by J. A. Smith (John Adams Smith) a lawyer practicing out of Hamilton, the nephew of Justus B. Smith and son of Col. William S and Abigail Adams Smith.
Signature of Justus B. Smith
Signature of John Adams Smith
John W Bulkley was town of Lebanon supervisor from 1810 to 1811.

Grand Total

Justus B Smith conveyed 6498.5 acres of land in Madison County during his lifetime and an additional 76.5 acres were conveyed by his heirs, a grand total of 6575 acres. The total amount received from all of these transactions was $45,310.35 (the equivalent of $536,882.34 in today's money).

The parcels were located in the towns of Eaton, Hamilton, and Lebanon. View a listing (PDF) of all the parcels aggregated from the County Clerk's deed books.