That part of the old town of Lenox which is now the town of Lincoln was
settled by the Klocks, a family of German emigres heading west after the
Revolution. They settled in the area of present day Clockville in the
Clockville got its start as a center for milling. By 1820 J. D. Nellis
had built a gristmill there. A later owner of that mill, H. H. Hathaway,
patented a hay fork May 21, 1867, and brought out an improved version two
years later. On December 7 of that later year, he patented a grappling
hook for suspending horse pulleys.
The Oneida Dispatch (then a weekly) of August 27, 1880, reported further
that Hathaway "has invented a machine for picking hops . . . it will be
exhibited at the Lenox Agricultural Fair in Oneida."
Joseph L. Mansfield established a hay fork and rake factory at Clockville
in 1866. One hundred rakes were produced the first year and for some time
Mansfield was quite successful When his factory did fail, the building was
taken over by the firm of Patten and Stafford, which continued to
manufacture hay rakes. Their company proved so successful that they
eventually relocated in Canastota.
At various times Clockville was the site of such diverse industries as
cheese, triphammer, and wagon and furniture factories; not only did
Clockville have the usual gristmills and saw mills, but it also boasted a
In 1863 a toll road called the Canastota-Peterboro Highway was
constructed of gravel and wooden planks. Part of the capital was raised by
or came from the wallet of Gerrit Smith who thought industry in Peterboro
would be well served by this road which crossed Lincoln from railroadless
Peterboro to Canastota, an important freight stop on the New York Central
and a port on the Erie Canal. The highway was still a going, toll
collecting concern as late as 1881. (fig. 6-41)
Loring Fowler, a Canastota attorney, drew up a petition April 20, 1869,
to build a railroad between Canastota and Cazenovia. The line that was
eventually built became part of the branch line of the Lehigh Valley
Railroad which extended to Elmira. The line passed through Lincoln,
serving the area until December 1967.
Alene was the home of yet another cheese factory in addition to mills, a
blacksmith shop, and a triphammer factory. When a post office was
established there in 1894, the name Alene was given in honor of the
daughter of Canastota banker, county sheriff, then Congressman, Milton S.
Delano. When Rural Free Delivery service was started at Canastota in 1903,
Alene lost her post office.
Alene is probably best remembered by many older citizens as the site of a
World Wat II aerial observation post operated by Dorothy Simpson and manned
by area residents.
Solomon Merrill built the first frame house on the site of what became
Merrillsville, the original spelling of which was Merrellsville. His house
was called "the mansion," but was later used as a cow barn. A post office
was organized at Merrillsville as early as 1832 with W. Eddy, postmaster.
Aside from mills, early industries consisted of a woolen factory and a
potashery between 1851 and 1870.
In 1859 Merrillsville had two sawmills, a hotel, a post office, a foundry,
plow, and blacksmith shops. The plow shop was eventually relocated to
Munnsville and absorbed into the Munnsville Plow Works. When Rural Free
Delivery service from Oneida commenced, about 1905-6, the Merrillsville
post office, like Alene's before it, closed.
As the mid-1890s approached, Lenox was the largest township in the entire
state. Intense rivalry between Oneida and Canastota, which were then
considered highly populated urban centers and the need to more easily govern
the town led many to seek a paring down of Lenox. Some like H. H. Hathaway,
wanted four towns carved out of Lenox.
The village of Oneida wanted to be a separate entity but desired to realize
the goal through what was called the Oneida Plan: to have the village's
western boundary encompass Wampsville and extend north to Oneida Lake.
Canastotans and residents along the lake's southern shore favored the
Canastota Plan: to keep Oneida's western boundary east of Wampsville.
These plans were voted upon in late 1895 with the Oneida Plan going down
In the spring of 1896 a bill was passed splitting portions of the tired
giant Lenox into the town of Lincoln and village of Oneida. Lincoln took
its name from the president who guided a nation torn asunder by regional
friction back into unified brotherhood. The populations of Lenox and
Oneida in 1896, according to John E. Smith, were 3,850 and 7,8501
respectively (287). Meetings were held in Oneida, Canastota, and Clockville
May 18, 1896, and the bill dividing Lenox passed.
The town of Lincoln, upon its creation in May 1896 contained 14,889 acres
assessed at $452,875, with a population of 110; in 1976, Town of Lincoln,
USA listed total acreage of 15,585 assessed at $6,838,957, with a
population of 1,168 (70).