Much has taken place in Sherman over the past years since Dearing Dorman, the first settler, set foot in the wilderness in 1823. It was another 121 years before the settlement became an incorporated village. That took place on the 8th day of September, 1890 under the Statute of “Village Law” Chapter 291 Section, laws of 1870. There were 176 ballots cast of which 100 were for incorporation and 76 against. The first election for village officers took place on Oct. 3, 1890.
The name of the new village changed twice before it became Sherman. Some people say it was named after General Sherman, but according to a yesteryear “Chautauqua News,” no one knew where the name came from. However, many of the earliest town records, which might have contained that information were destroyed in a fire. It was 1827 when settlers began arriving in Sherman more rapidly. Although much was being accomplished, it was still a rough lonely place.
The early settlers had many hardships. Crops could not be planted until the woods were cleared and land made suitable to grow them.
Gradually, small plots were cleared and gardens were planted. Often, a family had a cow to furnish their milk. There were also creeks where folk could catch fish and water could be obtained and plenty of woods for hunting deer, turkey and squirrels for food.
As new settlers arrived, everyone pitched in to help them build a house of logs and bark. It was not an easy task to cut the logs by hand, but those early folk were hard workers and determined to make a new place to live.
One of the first things the settlers wanted, besides their houses, was a church for it played an important part in their lives. The Presbyterian was the first church in the area and it was located on what was called Presbyterian Hill about a mile and a half south of town. It was what is Route 76 today. Later the church was moved to the village park.
Another high priority for the early settlers was a school. The first one was held in a house. The first actual school house was built with logs and bark and was located abut one half mile from the church, at Hemstreet’s corner, currently named Bailey Hill Road.
As the years went by, the businesses began to increase and at one time there were 40 of them in the area.
There were some five fires on Main Street over the years in Sherman. They had to rebuild the areas damaged and after one fire, the men decided to use brick blocks to repair them because they would help keep the fire from spreading to the business which were connected to each other.
It was also discovered that there had been an Underground Railroad in Sherman prior to and during the Civil War. Some slaves were hid under the Presbyterian church, which had been moved to what is now the museum, and also in one of the settlers homes.
One of the most significant and meaningful things that took place in Sherman was when the Soldier’s Monument was constructed at the park on the corner of Church and Park Streets. The following account was in the Tuesday, Nov. 11, 1913 “Chautauqua News”, a newspaper that began in 1876 and still continues today though the name is now Sentinel News. The Oct. 28, 1912 publication stated “a meeting was held in Library Hall, to discuss the question of a Soldiers’ Monument in Sherman, which had been thought about for some time before by various citizens. At that meeting, a committee was appointed to canvas for funds and have charge of the work. … The Monument is of white bronze which is unchangeable by weather and time. It was made by the Monumental Bronze Co. of Bridgeport, Conn. and the work on the foundation and setting up was done by W.H. Akeley and Son, and apparently all have done their work well.”
The completed monument is located on the corner of Church and Park Streets and faces south. “It is crowned with a life size statue of a soldier with musket at parade rest. Below are the shaft, die, pinth and base, in all eighteen feet in height.”
The monument has considerable writing and some pictures on it including a picture of Abraham Lincoln. There is a drapery of the stars and stripes with the G. A. R. badge. At the top of the die, is the word “Antlatetam” and on the tablet just below the dedication to the perpetual memory of the local defenders of the union in the wars of 1770, 1812, 1861-65. There are the names of one Revolutionary solder, nine of the War of 1812 and the names of those who served in the various regiments and volunteers.
In a sealed dopper box inside the monument were placed the names of all who subscribed to the fund, also the names of village and town officials, members of the G. A. R. and W. R. 0. and many other things which may be of interest should the box ever be opened.
One must visit the village of Sherman to totally realize the magnificence of the Soldiers’ Monument and what it means to the citizens of Sherman both long ago and today. Sherman Day would be a good time to come and enjoy the many activities taking place, visit the monument and also check out the Yorker Museum which is behind the fence near the Soldiers Monument.
The Museum has several buildings including the Peter Riley house, a store, school, meeting room, church and buggy shed. All are furnished with yesteryear furnishings.
Photo by Elaine G. Cole
Sherman Mayor John Patterson and Jerry Russel decorated the base of the
Soldier’s Monument with flags and flowers earlier this summer.