Belleville, on the north bank of North Sandy Creek, three miles above Woodville, and by rail road, five from Pierrepont Manor, began as a farming settlement, by Metcalf Lee, Bradley Freeman, Joshua Freeman, Martin Barney, James, Benjamin, and Jedediah McCumber, and a few others about 1802-03. Elder Littlefield soon after purchased, and the place being favorably situated for mills, gradually grew to a village. Soon after the War (1812) at the suggestion of Calvin Clark, a merchant, a meeting was called to seleConnecticut a name or the place, and a committee was chosen, who selected the present, which is said to have been taken from Belleville in Canada. Before this it had been known as Hall's Mills, from Giles Hall, who in 1806, purchased of J. McCumber a hydraulic privilege here, and who has ever since resided in this place. The first merchant was Laban Brown; John Hawn was the first innkeeper.
This place has, within the last year, (1853) been brought in communication with markets, by completion of the Sackets Harbor and Ellisburgh Rail Road, which has given a new impulse to its growth. It is the center of a highly cultivated district, and one that has taken great interest in agriculture as a practical science, The Ellisburgh Agricultural Society, of which an account will be given, has recently fitted up a fair ground adjacent to the village; and in no town in the county has so much emulation been evinced in agricultural pursuits as in this. The village of Belleville contains a Presbyterian, a Baptist, and a Methodist church, and is the seat of the Union Literary Society, an academic institution, whose history and condition will be given in a future chapter. It is three miles from Ellis Village, two and a half from Woodville, six from Smithville, six from Henderson, five from Adams, and five from Pierrepont Manor.
At its first organization, it was designed to apply to the town of Ellisburgh only, and was instituted and sustained by a number of spirited agriculturists who were desirous of promoting a competition in the rearing of stock and the details of farm husbandry in general, but who found it difficult to attend the fairs of the county society, or to excite through them that local interest and emulation so desirable to attain.
Comparatively, but few had attended the fairs of Watertown, and the benefits of association scarcely extended to the more remote seConnecticutions of the county. This society has held one fair annually since its organization, viz: at Ellis Village in 1849 and 1850; at Belleville in 1851; at Ellis Village in 1852, and at Belleville in 1853.
By a resolution of January 8, 1853, the citizens of Adams and Henderson were allowed to compete for premiums, but all meetings were to be held in Ellisburgh, and on the tenth of March, 1853 an eligible lot, partly in a cleared field and partly in an open wood, was leased from William T. Searles for ten years, the first six years being free of rent, on condition that the premises should be enclosed in a high board fence, and the remaining four to be paid at the rate of ten dollars per annum. The subjects for premiums embrace the various classes of domestic animals, agricultural implements, the produce of the field, the orchard, the dairy and the garden, household manufactures and miscellaneous articles; and the money with which these premiums are paid is derived from the annual contributions of members.
The officers for 1853 were Mason Salisbury, president; John C. Cooper, Henry Green Jr., vice presidents; B.K. Hawes, corresponding secretary, John Clark, treasurer, V.C. Warner, Nelson Boomer, Ferendez Brown, C.B. Eastman, James F. Converse, Jabez Hunting, S.D. Hungerford, A.E. Webster, and George Cark, executive committee.
Some disappointment was felt, from there not being inserted a provision from avails of the land, rents of rooms, and otherwise, as was anticipated; but though there was no chance of profits, they still felt a lively interest for the welfare of the school, and put forth their best energies to sustain it, for the benefit of the place, and of the pupils who attended.
While preparations for building were pending, a school was commenced by Mr. H.H. Haff, under the direConnecticution of Mr. Bradley, which was taught for a time in a private house at Mather's Mills, one mile above Belleville, and afterwards in the Baptist church. The location of the institution having been settled with some difficulty, from the struggle of rival interests, the ereConnecticution was commenced in 1829, and on the first of January 1830, the present academic building was dedicated. On the 5th day of the same month, it was received under the visitation of the Regents, upon the application of the trustees, and Benjamin Durfee, Nahum Houghton, James McCumber, Henry Shaver, Jesse Brewster, Matthew Green, Thomas Clark, Amos Pratt, Daniel Wait, Culver Clark, Jotham Littlefield, Wadsworth Mayhew, and Charles Avery, who had contributed to its ereConnecticution.
Charles Avery, now a professor (1854) in Hamilton College, was appointed principal, and for a time the academy flourished to a degree that justified the highest expectation of its friends, and attracted great numbers of students from distant parts of the county. Mr. Isaac Slater served as assistant the first year, and William D. Waterman the second, at the end of which Mr. Avery was succeeded by Mr. La Rue Thompson, who staid (sic) two years and was followed by George W. Eaton, who remained a year. Joseph Mullin and H.H. Barney were next employed; the first, for one, the other for two years, when the school was for some time closed. In 1837, Mr. T.C. Hill was employed a year, when the building was closed by the mortgagee. Efforts were then made throughout the town to free the institution from debt, and in this the Reverend. J. Burchard took an especial interest, and these efforts were attended with success.
Early in 1831, a petition was made for a tax upon the county, in aid of the institution, which procured a favorable report, and a bill for that purpose, but which failed to become a law.
The library of the Savoritian Society, connected with this academy, was formed under the general account, April 12, 1833, with Edward Kellogg, Thomas J. Field, C.M. Elbridge, Roswell Barber, O.S. Harmon, Wm. T. Searles, L.H. Brown, and Allen Nims, trustees, which was continued till 1848. There is belonging to the academy, a small library, and a fine collection of apparatus, for illustrating the physical sciences. The building was designed to embrace a steward's department, which is not now maintained, and contains, besides recitation and school rooms, about a dozen apartments for students