Excerpts rom the article “Vernon” by Sadie E. Namminga, Town Historian (1977), Ellen Murphy, Village of Vernon Historian (1998), as found on Village of Vernon Website 2020.
The first permanent settler in the Town of Vernon was Josiah Bushnell, who located in 1794 on what was to be the Bleecker Patent, Richard Hubble located in 1795 on land which later became part of the Van Eps Patent. After the Oneida Reservation was sold at auction and the patents were granted, the settlements grew rapidly.
Early settlers in the town were mostly from Litchfield County, Connecticut, and Berkshire County. Massachusetts. The Mt. Vernon Presbyterian Society was organized in June 1805, taking its name from the commonly used title for the village. The Baptist Society formed in 1807. The Methodists and Catholics came later.
The Sconondoa Creek flows northward across the town and because of its drop in elevation was a major factor in the town’s early settlement. At one time, there were five sawmills, three gristmills, two tanneries, a carding and fulling mill, a distillery, and several other manufacturing sites which utilized power from this creek.
Three glass factories were in operation for a number of years because of the abundance of trees for firewood. These were the Mt. Vernon Glass Company, 1810-1844; Oneida County Glass, 1809-1836; and Seneca Glass Company, which was incorporated in 1810. These businesses moved when the fuel supply dwindled. It was more economical to move than to transport fuel.
Probably the town’s single largest developing factor was the Genesee trail, which ran from east to west through the town. This road was chartered in 1800 as the Seneca Turnpike toll road and was surfaced with planks later in the century.
The Village of Vernon was incorporated on April 6, 1827. For many years Vernon was the home of the Vernon Fair. In the beginning, about 1848, it was held on the Mt. Vernon Presbyterian Church lawn. Later on it was held where Vernon Downs is now. The last fair held on the fair grounds was in 1952.
Abram Van Eps opened a store in what is now Vernon Village in 1798. Before this he operated the first stores in Oriskany and Westmoreland. Thus he was the first merchant in three townships within the limits of Oneida County. He also established a grist and flour mill which operated continuously until it closed in June 1952.
Although many industries have been located within the town, dairy farming has been the largest continuous source of livelihood for its inhabitants. Today the southern and northern portion is primarily devoted to farming, the farms being fewer, but larger in size.
The Oneida Indians’ chief village was called Oneida Castle and the present-day Oneida Castle Village is located near the site of the last castle of the tribe. The present Oneida Castle Village was organized in 1815. Oneida Castle is the approximate geographical center of New York State and three attempts were made to have the state capitol located here.
The hamlet of Vernon Center is located in the southeast part of the town. State Route 26 passes through from south to north. This was originally known as the Rome-Madison Plank Road.
On Thursday, the 8th day of July 1802, 17 persons gave their assent to the “Confession of Faith and Articles of Admission and Discipline” and thus the first church body in the Township of Vernon [the Vernon Center Presbyterian Church] was organized. The society adopted the Congregational form of government, but later voted to adopt the Presbyterian mode. In 1826 the Methodist Church was founded.
In the early days of the hamlet it was necessary for the people of the Catholic faith to travel several miles to attend mass. In 1884 these people purchased Pettibone Hall to be used as a place of worship. This became St. Agnes Church. The town’s early schools were also used for church services, public meetings and social gatherings.
The town was also the home of several tuition schools. Within the Village of Vernon, the Mt. Vernon Academy for Young Men and the Vernon Female Seminary opened in 1833. The Seminary became the female department of the Mt. Vernon Academy when the Academy was incorporated in 1838. In the 1850s there were also the Mt. Vernon Boarding School for Boys and the Van Eps Institute for Young Ladies. In Oneida Castle, The Bronson Academy opened in the 1820s and was operated as a private school until 1863. The 31 district schools in Vernon, Verona, and Sherrill were centralized in 1950. A new junior-senior high school was built in 1953 midway between the villages.
Vernon is the location of a number of successful industries: Dairylea Milk Company; H.P. Hood Milk Company; Oneida Containers; Vernon Downs; Ferris Industries; Eastern Crown; Burton Livestock Exchange; Old Forge Metals; Kuhn Farm Machinery; and TDS Telecom.