The surface of the country and the disclosures of the plow revealed to the early settlers of this town evidences of its occupancy prior to their advent, and partially indicated the character of its occupants. On the farm originally settled by Timothy Hatch, on the west side of the river, about a mile and a half north-west of the village of Sherburne, were the remains of caches, where corn had been buried; while in the field adjoining it on the north numerous arrow heads, stone chisels, hatchets and pestles have been disclosed by the plow. About four miles north of Sherburne village and one west of Handsome brook, were the remains of an embankment, constructed of coarse gravel, in the form of a horse-shoe, with the open ends towards the north. It was about four rods wide at the outer ends and seven or eight rods deep to the center of the bow. From the lowest point in the center to the highest part of the embankment, it was full twenty-five feet. Embankments extended from each extremity of the bow, that to the east fifteen or twenty rods long, terminating in a swamp, and that to the west, being much longer, terminating at the foot of a hill, and nearly in range with the other, but disconnected from the main structure by an opening two or three rods wide. In front of the whole is a low swampy piece of ground of small extent. Flint arrow heads have frequently been found in its locality. Its origin and use are not sufficiently indicated. (Hatch’s History of the town of Sherburne)
The settlement of the town was mainly begun by a company of persons originally from Kent, Conn., who, two years after the termination of the struggle of the colonies with the mother country for independence, emigrated to Duanesburgh, Schenectady county; and being disappointed in their hopes of securing a title to the lands on which they settled in that town, they resolved to move in a body to the Chenango Valley, to the newly opened lands in the Twenty Townships. In June, 1791, Deacon Nathaniel Gray, Elisha Gray, Joel Hatch, Newcomb Raymond and James Raymond, visited these lands in the interest of the company as an exploring party, accompanied by Josiah Throop, chief of the corps who had surveyed the tract that and the preceding years. On their arrival they found that a family consisting of five men, one woman and some small children from Paris, Oneida county, had squatted a few hours previously on Handsome brook, and were occupying a bark cabin, to which the explorers were attracted by the tinkling of a bell attached to a cow which was the property of this family. There they found hospitable welcome through the night, and in the morning were regaled by their hostess with new bread and beer, both her own making. This family remained but a short time, for they had left before the return of the party. The exploring party examined the south-west quarter of the 9th township, containing 6,222 1/2 acres, which they and their associates eventually bought of William S. Smith, to whom the township was patented for $1.25 per acre. They returned with a good report, and in the winter of 1792 Abraham Raymond and family settled on the tract selected. Mr. Raymond and his family remained at Norwich until spring, when they were joined by their associates, who in the meantime had increased from eleven to twenty. They were Nathaniel Gray, Newcomb Raymond, Elijah Gray, Eleazer Lathrop, Josiah Lathrop, James Raymond, Joel Hatch, John Gray, Jr., Abraham Raymond, Timothy Hatch, Cornelius Clark, Joel Northrop, John Lathrop, John Gray, John Hibbard, Ezra (Died Oct. 17, 1830, aged 70, Betsey, his wife, Oct. 22, 1853, aged 80.) Lathrop, Elisha Gray, Elijah Foster, Amos Cole and David Perry, the first eleven being those to whom the contract for the tract was given.
During the summer and fall of 1792 the tract had been resurveyed by Cornelius Clark, and divided into twenty equal parts in such manner that each should have an equal share of bottom lands and uplands.
During the first year of their settlement (1793,) several log houses were built, the first saw-mill erected, and a road built from the “Quarter” to the Unadilla, a distance of ten miles. This mill was located in the gulf, on the stream east of Sherburne village, about half a mile below Rexford Falls. Joel Hatch was dispatched to the nearest blacksmith shop at Clinton, to procure some necessary mill irons that were lacking. He went on horseback, following Indian paths, and returned with the irons after an absence of three days. All, except Abraham Raymond, who was the only one who had thus far brought his family in, returned in the fall for their families, with whom they came back that winter or the following spring.
Abraham Raymond settled on the west bank of the river about midway between the river and Sherburne Hill. There he and his wife died. His children were thirteen in number, Mercy, David, Ebenezer, Abigail, John, Cynthia, Newcomb, Lodema, Electa, Joseph, Semantha and two others who died in childhood of scarlet fever.
Newcomb and James Raymond were younger brothers of Abraham Raymond, and all were natives of Sharon, Conn. Newcomb settled on 150 acres adjoining Abraham’s farm on the south, and resided there till his death in February, 1837, at the age of 89 years. He married in Connecticut the year after the close of the Revolutionary war, Mabel Gray, who also died on the homestead in Sherburne, in February, 1826. They had ten children, Sarah, Jerusha, Harvey, Irad, Alfred, Anna, Alfred, Laura, Augustine, and George B., the first four of whom were born before they came here. James Raymond settled on a farm adjoining that of Newcomb’s on the south, now owned and occupied by Palmer Newton.
Eleazer, Josiah, John and Ezra Lathrop were brothers. Eleazer settled in the south part of the village, where General Hollis Rowland now lives; Josiah on the west side of the river, on the farm now owned by Alson Adams, where he resided till his death Feb. 28, 1854, at the advanced age of 96 years; John, in the Quarter, just north of the cotton factory, where Martin Benedict now lives, (probably,) and Ezra, two and one-half miles north-east of the village, where Theodore Adams now lives. They came from Chatham, Columbia county.
Deacon Calvin Coe and Benjamin Rexford came from Middle Granville, Mass., the last of February, 1804. Deacon Coe, was born in Granville, Mass., June 9, 1781, and died in Sherburne, March 4, 1872. He was thrice married. Benjamin Rexford was born in Connecticut in January, 1776, and died July 30, 1825, aged 49. August 16, 1806, he married Mary Clark, who died April 10, 1846, aged 65. He left five sons, Benjamin F., Daniel A., Nelson C., John DeWitt, and Seneca Butts.
Timothy and Joel Hatch were brothers, and the former had a large family. Timothy died June 28, 1847, aged 89, and Ruth, his wife, Nov. 6, 1848, at the same age. Joel died March 26, 1855, aged 90, and Ruth, his wife, Aug. 7, 1838, aged 71. Joel was an early Justice, succeeding John Gray in that office soon after the formation of the town. He built in 1794 the first grist-mill in town. It was located on Handsome brook, in the north part of the town. The mill-stones and irons were brought from Albany with great labor and at the expense of a three weeks’ journey, by means of a sled and oxen. John Lathrop was one of the two who went after them. This mill proved a great convenience, for hitherto they had been compelled to carry their grists a distance of forty miles to Whitestown, over roads no better than Indian trails, or resort to the primitive method of reducing their grain by means of the mortar and pestle A second mill was built at an early day by John Gilmore, close to Rexford Falls. The water was conducted to it by means of a spout passing through the roof. The road leading to it was down a small ravine from the north, running under a bridge over which the Cherry Valley turnpike passed. The ravine under the bridge has since been filled up, and no trace of mill or bridge remains.
Lorenzo Hatch, son of Timothy Hatch, was the first white child born in Sherburne. Justus Guthrie, who is also claimed to have been the first child born in the town, was born on the evening of the same day and year (1793) while Hatch was born in the morning.
Joseph Guthrie, whom French’s State Gazetteer credits with being among the first in the town, in 1792, settled on the north side of Pleasant brook, his farm extending to the river and lying in the angle formed by the river and creek, and died there, both he and his wife.
Joseph Dixon came from Manchester, Vermont, in 1795, and settled on Sherburne Hill, in the west part of the town, on the farm now occupied by Levi N. Smith.
The settlement of the town was rapid and within seven years the number of inhabitants had increased to 1,282. Many of these were drawn from the localities from whence came the earlier settlers.
The first bridge across the Chenango was built near the mouth of Handsome brook. It was designed to accommodate foot passengers only. It consisted of one large tree in width and three in length, leveled upon the upper side with a hewing ax. Stakes were driven a few feet apart near the outer edges and interwoven with withes to protect those passing over it from falling into the stream.