By Lorraine Kinney-Kitchen, Clark Mills Historical Society
In 1798 Noah Clark and his family traveled by covered wagon from Connecticut to the land his father purchased from George Washington.
They built a log cabin on the Seneca Trail (now Seneca Turnpike) near Oriskany Creek. Many grain wagon drivers, enroute from Buffalo to Albany, requested and were permitted to rest for the night at their log cabin.
Two years of pioneering in the rugged wilderness took its toll on Mrs Clark's health, so Noah packed his family up to return to Connecticut.
The log cabin was later converted into a tavern to continue serving as a site of respite for weary wagon drivers along the Seneca Trail.
There is no record of anyone on the property until 1840 when three of the Clark's sons, Eneas, Ralph and Amni Bailey (AB), came. They were successful brokers of cotton and importers of silk at the New York Exchange.
They decided to build a factory for spinning cotton and came to look at the land they inherited from their grandfather. Conditions being favorable, they began construction of the first mill.
The cornerstone was laid in June 1846 and brickwork was completed by the Fall of that year. Stone dug from the plowed fields and bricks made from local clay created the 5-foot thick foundations.
The factory was four stories high and measured 275 feet long and 70 feet wide, with a wing at the rear, half the size of the main building.
A second branch, the Clinton Mill was located on the Oriskany Creek in Clinton, now Laurel Place.
The mill in Clarks Mills had 188 looms, 7,428 spindles and employed 160 people. The Clinton branch had 60 looms, 3,236 spindles and employed 90 people.
The manufactured goods were transported to Utica via wagons pulled by mule.
That same year, the Clark brothers received permission from Washington DC to establish a separate post office because their land spanned four townships: Kirkland, Westmoreland, Whitestown, and New Hartford.
AB and Eneas lived in Clarks Mills to run the business while Ralph lived in NYC to work as a textile broker.
According to the 1870 census, Clarks Mills had 420 residents: 318 native born, 102 foreign born (primarily English immigrants from factory towns in England)
A bell in the tower of the mill rang at 6 a.m. to awaken workers who had to report for work at 7a.m. The bell sounded again at 1 p.m. to signal return from lunch.
By 1870, Clarks Mills had developed into a full community with a church (St Mark's Episcopal), a public school, two stores, a post office, mason, blacksmith,...