George Knapp Collins.

Spafford, Onondaga County, New York online

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a large family, some of whom were born before coming here
and some afterwards. They were all persons of marked
character, but possibly none of his sons were better known
than his son Daniel Wallace, Jr., who at one time was one
of the largest real estate holders in town. " Uncle
Daniel," as the latter was familiarly called, died at a
great age and was buried in Borodino Cemetery. He
always claimed his family was of Scotch origin, but the
old stock spelled the name Wallis in a very un-Scottish way.
Uncle Daniel took great interest in town affairs, and his


neighbors early discovered the neecssity of consulting his
wishes in such matters. Political questions were of vital
importance to him, and all measures submitted to public
vote usually received his cordial support or unyielding
opposition. He was a lifelong Democrat, and like most
members of that party, was generally opposed to new inno-
vations, or so called reform movements. He firmly believed
in the right of every man to think and act for himself in
relation to religious and political questions, and therefore
rebelled against all restaints in such matters. When the
temperance movement was first advocated it met his deter-
mined opposition; and when local option as to the sale of
intoxicating liquors become a question of town politics he
was furious, and threw his strength with the License Party.
There are some still living who well remember the bitter
fight which Uncle Daniel and his followers put up in the
Special Election, held April 27, 1847, when the question of
License or No License was first determined by vote of the
town. The Liquor, or License men, turned out early and
strong, and during the fore part of the day it looked as if
the question was going their way, and Uncle Daniel was
happy, but in the afternoon the other side had their inn-
ings, and the question was finally determined in favor of
the No License men, by a vote of 181 to 171. This was too
much for Uncle Daniel and for years afterwards he did not
forget the leaders of the men who were opposed to him in
this movement.

Uncle Daniel was a thrifty and prosperous farmer and
at one time raised many turkeys for the Syracuse market.
In the Fall of the year it was not uncommon, at evening
time, to see turkeys roosting on the fences and trees for
a quarter of a mile on either side of his house; and at
Thanksgiving Syracuse was made happy by the luscious
character of his. birds, and Uncle Daniel was enriched by
Syracuse silver received in return. The frequent reoccur-
rence of these annual visits to Syracuse obtained for him
the sobriquet of " Turkey Wallace," a name which he bore
to the time of his decease.

Uncle Daniel had a large, intelligent and respectable
family of children whom, for reasons best known to him-
self, he named after distinguished notables and royal per-
sonages which attracted his attention, as follows : " Simon


Bolivar, Napoleon Bonaparte, Santa Anna, Maria An-
toinette, Demetrius Ypsilanti, and Andrew Jackson."
Andrew Jackson was a name particularly to his liking, for
the first of that name having died young, he named a second
after that distinguished character in American history.


Like other communities settled by New England people,
the first settlers in town had hardly put their things to
rights in their log cabins before they organized schools and
churches. The first school teacher at Spafford " Corners "
was Hannah Weston, who came from her home in Skan-
eateles Village and returned to it weekly on horseback ; the
road through the wilderness between the two places not
permitting of any other mode of travel. This school, the
beginning of District School No. 2, was taught in a log
cabin, standing near the present residence of Nathan Ran-
dall, two doors south of Roundy's store in 1900. Miss
Weston was born in Fitz William, N. H., September 22,
1786, and came to Skaneateles with her parents before 1800,
among the first settlers in that village. It was while teach-
ing that school she made the acquaintance of Captain Asahel
Roundy, with whom she was afterwards united in marriage,
January 19, 1809.

The school thus organized was continued for a short time
at the place where it was first instituted, but soon after,
as a compromise between the patrons residing on the two
main thoroughfares running north and south through this
portion of the town, a building specially designed for school
purposes was erected on " The Hill," a quarter of a mile or
more east of the " Corners," on a cross road leading from
one to the other of these two leading highways.

The first two or three generations of village boys and
girls who attended school on " The Hill,' have many reminis-
cences to relate in reference to these times, pleasant and
otherwise. We imagine, however, that none of them were
ever exactly satisfied with that location for a school house.
In the Summer it was dreary, nearly half a mile from any
residence, and in Winter it was the bleakest and windiest
place on earth. The cold northwest wind, coming over
Skaneateles Lake, had a free and unobstructed sweep of
twenty miles or more, and struck the school building fair


and square in its full strength and vigor. In looking back
to those days we only wonder why the building was not
blov/n away. It took many cords of three foot wood to
feed that old box stove, in use at that time, to keep the
boys and girls in comfort on the back seats and their ink
stands from freezing. Every scholar had to carry a dinner
pail in those days, the noon hour being too short to permit
going to the nearest house for the mid-day meal. In Winter
the east and west road between the school house and village
v/as always drifted full, so it was imperative for teams and
pedestrians to pass through the open fields, in going from
one to the other of these places. Then there were many
other objections to this location for a school house that a
pupil could allege, besides those already noted, and not least
of these was the fact, that it was altogether too near a fine
old grove of beech woods, which was just opposite of the
school house grounds. Teaching school in those times was
very niuch like driving oxen; it was attended with much
talking and a dextrouse use of a beech gad. We doubt if
there is any boy living or dead, who attended school on
" The Hill," who has not a score of vows registered in High
Heavens to " lick " some teacher who taught in that old
house, " as soon as he got big enough to do the job." There
was something in the very air of that old school house to
make a schoolmaster " whale ' a boy ; and so far as heard
from there were no exceptions to the rule in teachers.

About 1824 or 1825 the first school building accidentally
(?) burned and the boys and girls were happy. But the
time was not then ripe for a change, so a new building was
promptly erected on the old site to replace the old one.
During the interim school was continued in Webster's barn,
then standing a few rods east of the village cemetery. The
second building was used for school purposes until about
1860, when a new generation of fathers having come In
power, a new building was erected just south of the Comers,
where school has been taught ever since.

Among the pleasing incidents which occurred at school
on the hill was the raising of a flag and pole. At a Summer
term the small boys had under discussion the subject of
pole and flag, when the school mistress good naturedly
observed, that if they would erect the pole she would furnish
the flag. This put the youngsters to work, and very soon,


with the aid of their friends, the pole was in place, obligat-
ing the teacher to perfonn on her part. In her dilemma
she engaged the services of the village wagon maker, who
professed knowledge on the subject of flags, to furnish the
article required. At the time appointed the flag was pro-
duced ; it consisted of a strip of white cotton cloth striped
with paint in all colors of the rainbow, and on the field,
where stars usually are placed, instead appeared this motto :
" What man has done, man can do again. No. 2 will try

The flag was a grievous failure, for when hoisted to
the top of the pole, like any piece of oil cloth, which in fact
it was, it would not float in any zephyrs known to Spafford
Hills. Yet, the motto was there and made an indelible
impression, which we trust will endure as long as a scholar
of that old school shall survive to repeat the sentiment.

In April and May, 1813, the original town of Spafford
was divided into five school districts, very much as now,
with the exception of the Spafford Hollow district, which
was then included in, and afterwards taken from, the Cold
Brook district. The Nunnery district was then designated
as No. 1, Spafford Corners as No. 2, East Side Hill as No.
3, Cold Brook as No. 4, and the North district, sometimes
called the Woodworth District, as No. 5.

From time to time subsequent to this first school order,
slight changes were made in district lines to accommodate
patrons of these schools ; and from time to time, to meet the
wants of school children, new districts were created out of
old ones, or discontinued, as the exigencies of the times
seemed to require. Among the changes made which seem
worthy to be noted are the following :

In 1817 School District No. 2 was divided by a line drawn
east and west though the center of Lot 31, Tully. and the
southern portion created into a new district, known as No.
6. The next year (1818) Ripley Hill was taken from
School District No. 4, and, after a separate existence as
School District No. 7 for a short time, was finally dissolved
in 1821, and its territory added to School District No. 6.
In this district school was first taught in a log house which
stood west of the highway on Lot 41, Tully, just south ot
Prindle's Woods. In 1831 a new frame building was
erected east of the same highway and at its junction with



a cross road south of Barker's house, leading to Ripley
Hill. In the latter building school was continued until
the Spring of 1850, when this district was dissolved and
its territory re-annexed to School District No. 2. At this
time the school building was sold, moved to Spafford
Corners and re-modeled into a dwelling house, lately occu-
pied by Alexander Green. This house is now the first
house south of Roundy's store, on the west of the highway.

In January, 1824, after a protracted controversy among
the patrons of School District No. 3, over the location ol
a new school building, that district by order of the School
Commissioners was divided into two districts numbered
3 and 7, but in 1835 the latter was dissolved and its terri-
tory re-annexed to School District No. 3.

In 1831, after the annexation of a portion of the town-
ship of Marcellus to the original town of Spafford in the
prior year, the schools then existing in the new territory
were recognized and re-numbered, so as to make their
numbers consecutive in order with those then existing In
this town. There have been some changes in these school
districts since that time, owing principally to changes in
town lines by acts of the Legislature of the State of New
York, so there are now in the Marcellus end of the town,
three full districts instead of seven, as at the beginning
of 1831.

In addition to the schools above enumerated there have
always been joint districts, supported by this and adjoining
towns, notably the Scott and Ripley Hill District, and the
school in Spafford Hollow, supported by the towns of
Spafford, Otisco and Tully.

It seems unnecessary to add that these schools have been
for years free schools, supported by public tax, are under
the general supervision of State authorities, and, like all
schools of the State, are justly commended for their
excellence and efficiency.


One of the oldest churches in the County of Onondaga is
that of the Baptist Church at Thorn Hill, which was organ-
ized largely through the instrumentality of Elder Elias
Harmon, its first pastor, who came to this town and settled
on Lot 77 or 76, Marcellus, on or before February 25, 1801.


The first records of this church are dated April 19, 1806,
but the general belief is that the organization of the church
preceded that date. The incorporation of the society under
the name of " First Baptist Religious Society of Marcellus,"
took place May 7, 1815, when the church building was
begun, and at which time Alexander Enos, Elijah Cody,
John Wiltsey, Medad Harvey, Joshua Chandler and John
Hunt, were made trustees. It is probable that the church
building was completed in 1816 ; prior to which time church
services were held in school houses and private residences.
The names of Nathan Thompson, Amasa Sessions, John Ten
Eycke and Charles Nichols were additional names mentioned
in said letters of incorporation, which were recorded in
Onondaga County Clerk's Office in Miscellaneous Records,
Book " D," page 2, etc., April 4, 1816.

The following account of said society is taken, corrected,
and adapted from Israel Parsons, M. D.'s, Centennial
Address delivered at the Village of Marcellus, New York,
July 4, 1876.

" The materials concerning the Baptist Church at Thorn
Hill were taken from a manuscript history of that church
prepared by Elder Hatch in 1867, during his pastorate of
that church. At the date of the first records of the church
on April 19, 1806, Elder Elias Harmon was pastor, and
the following were among the most active male members:
Amasa Sessions, Amasa Kneeland, John Kneeland, Warren
Kneeland, Jesse Manley, Chauncey Deming, Nathan Thomp-
son, and Joshua Chandler.

The following is a list of the early pastors of this churcn :

Elias Harmon 1805 (or earlier) to Feb., 1816

Salmon Morton Aug., 1816 to Aug., 1818

Jesse B. Worden Nov., 1816 to Mar., 1835

W. Benjamin Capron Mar., 1835 to Mar., 1840

Thomas Brown Apr., 1840 to Feb., 1848

A. R. Palmer Feb., 1848 to Dec, 1849

Sylvester Gardner Spring, 1850 to May, 1851

William Wilkins May, 1851 to Mar. 1852

Jno. Baldwin June, 1853 to Sept., 1854

Alexander Milne Mar., 1855 to Mar., 1857

Hiram Powers Mar., 1857 to Mar., 1858

Thomas Bowen Apr., 1858 to June, 1858

the date of his decease.


J. N. Seeley Dec, 1858 to Nov., 1860

William Roney May, 1861 to May, 1864

E. B. Hatch Apr., 1865

(The latter was pastor when this record was made.)

" From the org-anization of the church to September, 1867,
(when the record was made) a period of sixty-two years,
there had been united to it by baptism five hundred ana
twenty-two, and by letter three hundred and eight.

Elder Vv^orden's pastorate was the longest, eighteen years,
and Elder Hatch says was the period of the Church's
greatest prosperity. He preached two thousand sermons,
attended two hundred funerals, and solemnized one hundred
and twenty marriages. Over four hundred were taken into
the church during that time.

Dr. Jonathan Kneeland is quoted as saying : " The Baptist
Church at Thorn Hill was built fifty-nine years ago, and
previous meetings were held in school houses. Elder Jesse
B, Worden preached to the people from the high pulpit of
this church, standing on one leg, (not Worden but the
pulpit), for about 18 years, when he went to Montrose,
Pennsylvania, where he died. He was Captain of Volun-
teers in the War of 1812. His church salary was $250.00
per year, one-fifth in cash, and the balance in produce, prin-
cipally corn and wheat, the former at three shillings and
the latter at six shillings per bushel."

Dr. Kneeland is further quoted as saying : " Elder Morton
will be long remembered for his strong Calvinistic sermons."
" Elder Harmon moved to Chautauqua County, N. Y., and
many of his sons became men of mark." Hon. Sidney
Smith says " Elder Morton died and was buried at Thorn
Hill." He " died January 22, 1822, in his 55th year and
the 23rd of his ministry," according to the inscription on
his tombstone at Thorn Hill.

A public library was instituted and incorporated at Thorn
Hill, February 12th, 1811, at a gathering of twenty or more
people at the residence of John Hunt. The name of the
society was entitled as " The Harmonical Library," and the
following were chosen as its first trustees : Elias Harmon,
Thomas King, Amasa Sessions, Jeduthan Lamb, Jesse Copp,
Lewis Smith and Amasa Kneeland.

The good results flowing from the establishment of this
church and library at Thorn Hill at such an early date are


noteworthy and can be seen and felt in that rural community
even to this day. Dr. Parsons, in speaking of the Thorn
Hill community says : " More of her sons and daughters
have entered the literary field than is usual in that amount
of population. Besides others that I have mentioned as
having become statesmen in the Great West, the following
have been members of the New York Legislature one or
more times : Daniel Baxter, S. S. Kneeland, Sidney Smith,
Charles R. Vary and Lewis Smith (three times) ; the last
also once held the office of Sheriff of the County of Onon-
daga." It is to be regretted that Dr. Parsons did not
mention the names of others who grew up in this Thorn
Hill community subject to the influence of this Church and
Public Library, and who have gone forth to make an honor-
able record for themselves in the learned professions and
in the business pursuits of the world. Among others be-
sides those already named, who should be mentioned in this
connection are the names of William Smith, who became
a lawyer, college graduate, and successful business man,
but who died early of asiatic cholera; Stephen and Job L.
Smith, two college graduates and distinguished physicians;
Stella Kneeland, missionary to India ; Amasa Spencer Knee-
land, Baptist minister; Hon. A. Judson Kneeland, lavv-yer;
Dr. Jonathan Kneeland, a distinguished physician of Onon-
daga County from whose comments on Thorn Hill people
we have already quoted; Horace Kneeland, sculptor; John
Sessions, a lawyer of Brooklyn, New York ; Alonzo Sessions,
Lieutenant Governor of the State of Michigan, Member of
the State Legislature, and also of the State Constitutional
Convention of the latter State, and a Bank President and
successful business man; two or more of Elder Harmon's
boys whose names are not known, also attained eminence in
professional and business life ; and undoubtedly many others
whose names are unknown to the writer. It is much to be
regretted that the moral influence of this church, the incen-
tive to study and to higher literary attainments emanating
from this public library established at such an early date
cannot be better told and described at this writing.

On the 25th day of August, 1829, a religious society was
incorporated in the Village of Borodino under the name
of the " First Religious Society of the Village of Borodino,'
of which Merrit Leonard, John Baxter, Dyer Coe, Charles










JWm ^










Vary, Benjamin Trumbull and Ira Coe were the first
trustees. George Dickson, Jr., John H. Fargo and Ransom
Howard were additional names mentioned in said letters of
incorporation. This society, according to statements made
by Simon B. Wallace, built a church building in which
services were held for a number of years, and owing to
want of membership was finally abandoned as a place of
worship ; the building has since been occupied and used as
a town hall and a place for public gatherings in the Village
of Borodino.

October 18, 1853, the Methodist people in Borodino and
that vicinity who prior to that date had been meeting in
the school house and other places met and were duly incor-
porated under the name of the " Borodino Methodist Epis-
copal Church," with^ Isaac Harris, William Hayford, Isaac
Morrell, Charles Ferry and William Cowan as its first board
of ti'ustees. Mr. S. B. Wallace says, this society at the time
of its incorporation purchased a church building in the
Village of Skaneateles, took it down, and rebuilt it in this
village where it stands to-day and is still used as a church
building by this society. This society and the M. E. Society
at Spafford " Corners " have for many years been presided
over by a minister assigned to them by the M. E. Conference
of this district as one charge ; the minister residing formerly
at Spafford Corners, but latterly in the Village of Borodino.
Like most country religious societies neither of these two
Methodist societies have the power and influence that they
once had.

The members of the Methodist Episcopal Church in
Spafford Hollow were incorporated on the 5th day of March,
1834, under the name of " The Spafford Hollow Methodist
Episcopal Society," and Wliliam O'Farrell, Esq., David B.
Boutell, Elias Jacobs, Jonas Terbush and Isaac Smith were
chosen the first Board of Trustees. The same year a church
edifice was built on the following described real estate,
which was conveyed to said Board of Trustees by Isaac
Smith and wife Lucy, on the 9th of January, 1835, as
follows: Being part of Lot 23, Tully, and bounded on the
east by the highway running northerly and southerly
through said lot and Hollow — on the south by a cross road
running easterly and westerly across said Hollow, and unit-
ing with said first highway — and on the west and north by


parallel lines to said two highways so as to contain said
church edifice and one-half acre of land. The Spafford
Hollow Cemetery is located only a short distance from this
church. Among the early active members of this church
society were the OTarrells, Boutells, Jacobs and Smith
families, and the family of Bene j ah Cleveland. Since these
families have died out or moved away the active spirit of
the church has been much impaired.

About fifty years ago the Methodist Episcopal Society of
Cold Brook built a church building, opposite the Cold Brook
Cemetery, but no articles of incorporation have ever been
filed or recorded in the Clerk's Office of Onondaga County,
and no deed of conveyance has ever been recorded granting
the church lands to any Board of Trustees, although these
lands have been excepted on one or two occasions from
deeds granting surrounding lands. Among the active
church members of this society in former years were the
families of Justus N. Knapp, the Churchills, Tafts, Maxons,
and Crosleys. The present state of this society is not

A Baptist Church Society at Spafford Corners was incor-
porated under the name of " Spafford Baptist Society,"
March 21st, 1817, in which John Babcock, John Hutchens,
Asahel Roundy, Amos Palmer, and John Knapp were named
as trustees, but the society never had any church building,
or left any records, except these articles of incorporation.
What is supposed to be the same society was afterwards
re-incorporated on the 7th day of May, 1838, with Phineas
Hutchens, Cornelius Williamson and Samuel French as
trustees, and Asahel Roundy and John C. Harrington also
named in said Articles of Incorporation. This society
under its re-incorporation built a church building in the
year 1839, which was dedicated January 8, 1840. Among
the stated ministers who presided over this church were
Elders Benjamin Andrews and Alanson Boughton. After
a season of prosperity and usefulness this society went into
decline and finally failed for want of membership. The
church building was sold in 1860 to Uriah Roundy, Esq.,
who converted it into a store for the sale of general mer-
chandise, and it is now in use for that purpose on the old
church site at the " Corners."

This church edifice was, during the early forties, the


scene of a remarkable disputation between the two resident
ministers of the Methodist and Baptist denominations, on
the subject of baptism by imm.ersion as an essential saving-
ordinance. People came from far and near to attend these
meeting's, which continued for several days, and at the end,
as usual in such controversial debates, both sides retired
feeling that each had won a great victory over the other
side. One thing is certain, baptism by immersion may
have been efficacious in saving the members of this church

Online LibraryGeorge Knapp CollinsSpafford, Onondaga County, New York → online text (page 4 of 32)