This town was not organized until April 22, 1823, lies northwest of the center of the county and is bounded north by Lincoln and Sullivan, east by Smithfield, south by Nelson, and west by Cazenovia. Its surface is rolling upland, which includes the most elevated parts of the ridge which divides the waters of the county. A branch of Chittenango Creek, which forms a large part of the western boundary, rises in the eastern part, and the headwaters of Canaseraga Creek and a minor branch of Cowasselon Creek are in the northern part. Perryville Falls, on the Canaseraga, are somewhat remarkable, the water having a descent of about 150 feet, into a large basin hollowed from the rock.
The underlying rock of the town is mostly of the Hamilton group and the limestone crops out in the north and northwest parts; this stone has been quarried to some extent. Marl deposits are found in the northwest part from which lime is made. The soil is gravelly loam and well adapted to mixed farming.
The site of Champlain Battle (located in the Town of Fenner at Nichols Pond Park), Samuel dechamplain Aided By 10 Frenchmen And 300 Hurons Attacked The Stockaded Oneida Indian Village, October 10-16, 1615.
The Oneida Nation is of the 6 Iroquois Nations. O-NE-I-TA means “People of the Stone” or “Living Stone.” The Oneidas affirm that they sprang from stone.
The Indian village located here was surrounded by water consisting of the pond on the north and an artificial moat on the south side. Around the inner top of the stockade was a wooden gutter. Water was carried up into this gutter for use if the stockade walls were set on fire.
Champlain was wounded twice on the second day of the battle. His men built a moveable wooden platform from which they fired their arqueouses, which were early guns, known as “Iron Arrows” to the Indians, into the village. Failing to defeat the Oneidas during the three days of battle, Champlain withdrew into the woods and waited for expected reinforcements of 500 Susquehannocks, which never came. On October 16th Champlain retreated.
This attack turned the entire Iroquois Confederacy against the French during the ensuing 100 year battle between the French and the English for the supremacy of the New World. The Iroquois were always on the side of the English.
The battle that took place here over 350 years ago is termed by some as the most decisive battle in American history. For it was here that the question of whether America north of the Rio Grande was to become an English or French territory was thus decided.
Fenner was first settled about 1793, in the west part, but not permanently until two years later, when the New Petersburgh Tract had been leased to Peter Smith. Among the families who came into the town in the closing years of the last century were those of Jonathan and James Munger, Alpheus Twist, John Needham, Thomas Cushing, Davis Cook, Lt. David Hutchinson, Seneca Robinson and John Barber. Other pioneers of a little later date were Enos Wells, William, Arnold and George Ballou, James Cameron, John Douglass, John Robertson, Robert Stewart, Guy Hatch, Gideon Parsons, Joel Downer, Hezekiah Hyatt, David Baldwin, J. D. Turner, Martin and Daniel M. Gillet, Thomas Wilson, Wallace Woodworth, Benjamin Woodworth, Col. Elisha Farnham, Ithuriel Flower, Amos Webster, Samuel and Zattu Payne, Timothy Foster, Drake Sellick, Russell Ransom, Asa Dana, and others noticed more fully in an earlier chapter.
The first town meeting was held in the school house near David Cook, jr's, May 6, 1823, and the following named officers were elected: Daniel M. Gillet, supervisor; Sardis Dana, clerk; John Needham, William Esseistyne and Ralph J. Gates, assessors; John F. Hicks, collector; John Needham and Samuel Nichols, overseers of the poor; Samuel Ives, Amasa Ives, jr., and Noah Blakeslee, commissioners of highways; John F. Hicks and William Nichols, constables; Sardis Dana, William Doolittle and Daniel Pratt, commissioners of common schools; John Needham, jr., Federal Dana and Erastus E. Park, inspectors of common schools; David Cook, poundmaster.
Following is a list of the supervisors of the town of Fenner from its formation to the present time: 1823, Daniel M. Gillet; 1824-26, Czar Dykeman; 1827, Nathaniel Hazelton; 1828-31, Daniel M. Gillet; 1832-3, Nathaniel Hazelton; 1834, Asa Blakeslee; 1835-6, John Needham; 1837-9, Sardis Dana; 1840, Charles G. Dibble; 1841-2, Walter Clough; 1843-8, Robert G. Stewart; 1849, David Hess; 1850, Sergeant Britt; 1851, R. G. Stewart; 1852, Jesse Watson; 1853, D. Miner Gillet; 1854, John Hill; 1855, Harvey W. Kendall; 1856, Thomas Marshall; 1857-8, Asa R. Maine; 1859, Asahel A. Annas; 1860-1, James Monroe Lownsbery; 1862-3, L. Vander C. Hess; 1864-6, Orra B. Hamblin; 1867, L. Vander C. Hess; 1868, John Woodcock; 1869, Theodore Meade; 1870, John Wilson; 1871, John Woodcock; 1872-3, J. Somers Hill; 1874-5, Norman B. Hill; 1876-7, Charles W. Barrett; 1878-Si, Andrew Whipple; 1882-86, Paul S. Maine; 1887, Andrew Whipple; 1888-91, Paul S. Maine; 1892-93, R. Duncan Robertson; 1894-97, Paul S. Maine.
Following is a statement of the population of the town since 1835 as shown by the census of various decades and semi-decades:
1835 1840 1845 1850 1855 1860 1865 1870 1875 1880 1890 1892
1,972 1,997 1,833 1,690 1,622 1,649 1,387 1,381 1,265 1,272 1,040 999
The decrease in population in this town is seen to be as great, or a little greater, than that of any other town in the county. The causes are the same as have been mentioned elsewhere, and need not be further noticed.
There are only two post-offices in this town; one at Perryville and the other at Fenner Corners, with the name of Fenner. Perryville is the most important village and lies partly in three towns- Fenner, Sullivan, and Lincoln. The post-office was established probably in 1816, with Oren S. Avery, postmaster. He held the office until he died, in 1836. His successors have been as follows: Silas Judd, to about 1845; Leonard Gough, Ira Bates, Mr. Judd, again, O. J. Woodworth, Joseph V. Wells, Webster C. Hill, H. L. Keeler, John Hill, Paul S. Maine, Leon Berson, Duane Chapman, Paul S. Maine, James Wells, and again Paul S. Maine.
Among the early merchants here were Pyre & Cole, about 1811; the Weeks Brothers, about 1812; William Doolittle, about 1820; Samuel Hill and a Mr. Stilison, succeeding Doolittle; Leonard Gough, 1835-50; John Hill, 1839-59 (also a tavern keeper and distiller); Webster C. Hill, son of John; H. L. Keeler, 1864, sold to Paul S. Maine in 1876, who is still in trade.
The Perryville House was built about 1825 by Simeon Jenkins. It has had a number of proprietors and is now kept by F. F. Hamilton.
The early physicians of the village and town were Dr. John Didama, Dr. N. C. Powers, Dr. Powers R. Mead, Dr. Theodore Mead, and at later dates Drs. John H. Ramsey, Sylvanus Guernsey, George B. Munger, Benjamin R. Mead, George W. Miles, and M. R. Joy. The present physician of Perryville is Dr. Nelson O. Brooks.
The first church in Perryville was St. Stephen's, formed in September, 1816. It passed out of existence many years ago. The Methodist Church was organized in 1831, and the edifice was built in 1839.
There are eleven school districts in this town, and in 1897 the Union School District of Perryville was incorporated. This school occupies the old Episcopal church building.
Fenner Corners is a hamlet in the central part of the town, where Martin and Daniel M. Gillet opened the first store. Other early merchants were Charles F. Kellogg, Hiram Preston, Martin Woodworth, Perry Tibbits, and Augustus Daniels. Benjamin Peariman is the present merchant. The post-office was established some time between 1820 and 1825, with Ebenezer Dunton, pstmaster. The Fenner Baptist Church was organized here in 1801.
A part of the hamlet of Chittenango Falls is in the western part of the town, and has been sufficiently described in an earlier chapter.