Oneida

Main and Broad Streets Oneida NY c1885
Part of Bird's Eye View Map of Oneida, NY
L.R. Burleigh, Troy, NY
1885

THE HIGINBOTHAM FAMILY

Sands Higinbotham (b. 1790 d. 1868) is often referred to as the “founder of Oneida.” In 1827 he purchased a 200 acre tract of land from the State of New York west of the Oneida Creek. He purchased additional lands in 1829. A section of this land was cleared and a house was built on what is today Main Street. The family moved here in 1834. Higinbotham contributed land to the Syracuse and Utica Railroad under the stipulation that the railroad stop all passenger trains at a depot he constructed for refreshments. This resulted in the development of Oneida Depot.

Sands’ son Niles (b. 1813 d. 1890) purchased land in Oneida and donated it for the construction of a village park. He also donated land to the Presbyterian, Episcopal, Baptist and Methodist churches. During 1849-1850 he had constructed a fine brick and stucco house he called Cottage Lawn (home of the Madison County Historical Society) on property located at the corner of Main and Grove streets. Upon completion of the home Niles, his wife Eliza, and their two daughters Lily and Louise moved in. The home was occupied by Higinbotham family members until 1934 when Louise bequeathed the property to the Madison County Historical Society.

The Oneida Valley Bank was established in 1851 by Niles, his father Sands, and Niles’ good friend Samuel Breese. According to the incorporation papers on file Niles held 940 shares, Sands 40 shares, and Samuel Breese 70 shares.

The Village of Oneida was incorporated in 1848 being a part of the town of Lenox. Oneida was set off from Lenox to form the town of the same name in 1896. The charter creating the City of Oneida was enacted in 1901.
1875 Beers Atlas showing Higinbotham property
Click image above for larger map
1875 Beers Atlas
(Photo: Kevin Orr)

 

JUST FIVE DAYS

On May 20th, 1903 the City of Oneida sent the following “Sidewalk Notice” to Louisa (s/b Louise) A. Higinbotham:

To Louisa A. Higinbotham

You are hereby notified and required, within five days after the service of this notice upon you, to construct & build a sidewalk in front of and adjoining the land and lot owned by you on the west side of Main Street, being No. 175 in said city, and in case of your failure, refusal or neglect to make said improvement within five days after the service of this notice, the Superintendent of Public Works, under the direction of the Board of Public Works will make said improvement at the expense of the property adjacent thereto.

In making said improvement you are required to lower said sidewalk and conform to the grade established by the city engineer as shown upon a map or maps filed in the office of the city clerk and which grade will be furnished to you upon notice whenever required by you.

In making said improvement you are required to use the following material cement or flagstone. Said sidewalk to be of the width of five feet and to extend the whole length of said premises upon said street, the same to be constructed in manner satisfactory to the Board of Public Works. In case of your neglect to make said walk safe for public travel and to protect the public from danger and injury therefrom, the City of Oneida will hold you liable for all damages resulting from your negligence.

By order of the Board of Public Works
  
J.F. Connor, Clerk

Notice in the above that the property is listed as being located on the west side of Main Street. In fact, Cottage Lawn, the Higinbotham homestead, is located on the east side of Main Street. This point is used in a legal argument by Louise Higinbotham’s attorney, E. L. Hunt. She further states in her argument that there is no deed or easement to the City of Oneida for Main Street, that she owns the lands from the center of the street eastward, that her father, Niles, owned the land before her and was owned by her grandfather, Sands, prior, that the existing sidewalk is new and in good condition. Lowering the grade by six feet would require the removal of several 35 year old trees that provide shade and add to the value of the property. The City of Oneida intended to construct the sidewalk as stated and had contracted with parties to remove the trees (their payment was to be the lumber and $6) and for others to remove the “dirt” - their payment being the quantity of “dirt” removed. Louise Higinbotham’s attorney argues that the trees, lumber, and soil are the rightful property of Louise Higinbotham and cannot be given away by the City of Oneida.

A restraining order was issued and work ceased or was never begun. If you drive by Cottage Lawn, you will see that the sidewalk remains at an elevation approximately 6’ higher than Main Street.
 


Burt Olney Canning Co poster

The Burt Olney Canning Co.



The Oneida Chamber of Commerce Invitation
Oneida Chamber of Commerce Invitation to Companies
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