The first Rome merchant located at Fort Stanwix early in the spring of 1793 and displayed his slender stock of goods in a room in the tavern kept by John Barnard, a little northeasterly of the site of the present court house. This merchant was George Huntington, a native of Connecticut, twenty-three years old. He had served a year as clerk at Whitestown and had visited the Fort prospecting, and concluded that the outlook for trade was good. He accordingly joined with his brother Henry and began business as above stated. In 1794 Mr. Huntington built a frame store and a frame dwelling on Dominick street near the corner where the Merrill block was erected. Some of the account books of that old mercantile firm are in existence, and it is of interest to know that seventy or eighty years ago charges were made for rum and brandy against customers about as frequently as for any other merchandise; this would be equally true with reference to any other merchant of those days, and a list of such customers included deacons, elders and members of churches as well as others. When Rome was organized as a town in 1796 Mr. Huntington was supervisor, and when the county was formed three years later he was appointed one of the side judges of the Common Pleas, and was twice reappointed. He was elected supervisor of Rome in 1804, 1814 and 1817. In 1810 he was elected to the Assembly, and in 1813 was elected lieutenant-governor on the “War Ticket.” In 1815 he ran for the State Senate in opposition to Henry Seymour, father of Governor Seymour, but was defeated. He was elected to the Assembly in 1818—19—20—21. Under the new Constitution of 1822 he ran again for senator, but was defeated. He was trustee of Rome village in 1820—21—22—26—27. He and his brother Henry retired from mercantile business about 1816 and devoted their attention to their other interests in the State. George Huntington died in Rome in September, 1841.
Henry Huntington was elected as assessor and school commissioner in Rome in 1800, and 1803—7 was chosen supervisor. In 1804 he was elected to the State Senate, the first one in Rome. In 1806 he was a member of the Council of Appointment, and 1808 and 1812 was presidential elector. In 1816-17 he was elected to the Assembly, and in June, 1821, was elected a member of the Constitutional Convention. He ran twice for lieutenant-governor, 1822 and 1826, but was defeated on both occasions. The Bank 01 Utica was started in 1812 and in the following year Mr. Huntington was elected as its second president and held the position until a short time before his death, a period of thirty two years. He died in Rome in October, 1846.
Alva Mudge was the son of Nathaniel, and the latter was the sixth generation from Jarvis Mudge, the first of the name to come to America from England in 1638. Nathaniel Mudge settled in Rome not far from 1800 and lived in a small frame house just west of the site of the Willett House. He afterwards lived in other places, and had a grocery on the corner of James and Whitesboro streets, on a part of the site of Stanwix Hall. He died in February, 1821. Alva Mudge was the fourth of his ten children and the elder son. In 1826 he began business as a grocer in the old Checkered building. In 1837 he and his brother-in-law, Roland S. Doty, purchased the premises on Dominick Street in some part of which he was long in business, either alone or with Mr. Doty. During his long life in Rome he was prominently identified with the growth of the place, and as trustee of the village, of the Presbyterian church, a director in the banks and various other enterprises, he gained the confidence and respect of the community.
Lebbeus E. Elmer, son of Theodorus Elmer, was born in Montgomery county October 21, 1791. He worked at farming until he was twenty years old, and in June, 1831, settled in Rome. The first work he did was to aid Nathaniel Mudge in digging a well on the lot where Stanwix Hall stands. Later he began the grocery trade. He married a sister of Alva Mudge and was all the remainder of his life a leading citizen. He held the offices of assistant U. S. assessor of internal revenue, U. S. deputy collector, deputy sheriff, and other positions of honor.
John B. Jervis came with his parents to Rome, from Long Island, in the same year Oneida county was formed. In 1817, when the construction of the Erie Canal commenced, Benjamin Wright, the engineer, was in need of an axman, and young Jervis was temporarily engaged. He was ready with an ax and apt in learning, and soon after he was promoted to the position of rodman in the survey, for twelve dollars per month. He then turned his attention to the study and practice of surveying and engineering, and made such proficiency under Mr. Wright that in two years he was made resident engineer, at one dollar and a quarter a day, on seventeen miles of the canal, extending from Madison into Onondaga county. After remaining there two years he was made resident engineer for two years more, on a more difficult and important division near Amsterdam. In 1823 he was made superiütendent of the work for fifty miles of the canal, employing and discharging all the subordinates. When the canal was completed in 1825, having been seven years on that work, he resigned to engage in higher duties, and he received from Henry Seymour, canal commissioner and the father of Governor Seymour, a kind and very commendatory letter. He received from Benjamin Wright, then chief engineer of the Delaware and Hudson Canal, the appointment of assistant engineer, and upon Mr. Jervis devolved the main duties. He examined the route, and on his recommendation the use of the river, for part of the way, as was first intended, was abandoned. He was engaged as engineer on a great many other works of internal improvement, among which may be mentioned the railroad between Albany and Schenectady, the Schenectady and Saratoga Railroad, the Chenango Canal, the eastern division of the Erie Canal on its enlargement in 1836, the Croton Water Works, supplying New York city with water, and which was considered the greatest piece of engineering skill in the world, and the success of which gave Mr. Jervis a world wide reputation. He was consulting engineer to supply Boston with water, and chief engineer of the Hudson River Railroad, etc. The water works of Port Jervis (a place on the Erie Railroad named after him) were constructed under his approval and the Rome water works plan was submitted to him and received his sanction. He was during most of his long life a consistent and active member of the First church in Rome, which he joined in 1816.
Lynden Abell, who died June 28, 1884, was a native of New Hampshire, and settled in Rome in 1826. He was a baker and confectioner, and later a prominent contractor on public works, particularly on the canals. He was one of the founders of the First M. E. church, and an honorable and useful citizen.
Marquis D. Hollister died November 23, 1891. He was born in the town of Chatham, Conn., in June, 1811, and after learning the harnessmaking trade, settled in Rome in the winter of 1836—7, leasing a hotel the property of his uncle, Jeremiah Brainerd, on the south side of the canal, for $150 a year. Four years later he engaged in the stage and livery business with Giles Hawley and M. L. Kenyon. In 1846 he leased the Stanwix Hall hotel and kept it two years, afterwards re-engaging in the livery business which he followed until 1885. He was a Whig politician of some prominence.
Jesse Walworth was born in the town of Rome, July 26, 1806, and died March 9, 1892. His father was also named Jesse, and was one of the pioneers. Mr. Walworth was employed nearly the whole of his active life in building operations for Benjamin and Edward Huntington. He was a Whig and Republican in politics, but held no office except village trustee.
William T. Pratt, born in Lyme, Conn,, October 29, 1800, was a son of Daniel Pratt, and died in Rome, April 1, 1893. The family settled in Rome in 1816. Mr. Pratt was a carpenter by trade and was engaged in building operations up to within a short time of his death. He was upright in business and an industrious and useful citizen.
Our City and its People
A Descriptive work on
THE CITY OF ROME, NEW YORK
Edited by: Daniel E. Wagner
The Boston History Company, Publishers 1896