George Knapp Collins.

Spafford, Onondaga County, New York online

. (page 6 of 32)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

but beyond this fact, and the general purpose indicated by
its name, we have been unable to obtain any further infor-
mation of this Society.

" The Skaneateles Lake Park Company" was duly incor-
porated December 4, 1888, with a capital stock of $30,000,
and time limit of fifty years, to build a hotel building on
Skaneateles Lake. In the Articles of Incorporation John
E. Waller, John McNamara, Mai-tin Fennell, William F.
Gregory and Lewis B. Fitch, were named as first trustees.
This corporation purchased " Ten Mile Point,' planted it
with shade trees, built a steamboat dock, and put up a
dancing pavilion ; but up to the present time have not erected
a hotel building. Since this incorporation, the Skaneateles
Railroad and Steamboat Company, of which this company
is supposed to be an adjunct, has changed hands and is now
owned or controlled by William K. Niver of Syracuse, New



SPAFFORD, ONONDAGA COUNTY, NEW YORK 09

York ; the property of this corporation is supposed to have
gone into the same control. Whether the hotel building
proposed will ever be built or not is an uncertainty, depend-
ing largely on the future of Skaneateles Lake as a place of
summer resort.

The " Borodino Creamery Company," with a capital of
$3,000.00, was formed and incorporated February 16,
1898, with Orrin I. Hayford, Marcus Patterson, Hiram A.
Colton, Francis Ide, Frank Harvey and Edgar L. Bockes,
as its first Board of Trustees. This creamery is located at
Borodino Village, and is still in active operation and doing
a prosperous business.

Since the foregoing was written the capital stock for a
new Creamery has been fully subscribed, the building of
which is to be erected at Spafford Corners.

MILLS, DISTILLERIES AND FURNACES.

The first necessity of the early settler was a grist mill
to grind his wheat and corn, a saw-mill to saw his lumber,
and a carding and fulling mill to card his wool and prepare
his cloth for domestic use. When he first penetrated the
wilderness which enshrrouded these Spafford Hills, the
brooks and streams, which to-day seem too insignificant
to be of any practical use, were full and powerful and cap-
able of turning the machinery necessary for the use of the
wheelwright, the sawyer and the clothier. Nearly as soon
as the woodman's axe had made a clearing in the dense
forests, then covering the land, and the early settler had
erected his rude log cabin for the reception of his family,
these useful conservators to his comfort and happiness
sprang up along the principal brooks and streams; but as
time progressed and the requirements of the people changed,
these mills, once so useful, became no longer a necessity and
went rapidly into decay. To-day the existence of most of
them is unknown to the present occupants of the land.

About the year 1805, Amos Miner built a factory on the
west side of the Skaneateles and Homer Road, in what has
since been known as " Factory Gulf,' for the manufacture
of wheel-heads, used by farmers' wives in spinning woolen
yarn. The water for this mill was conducted from a pond,
well up stream, in a raceway along the northern bank of
the gulf, to an overshot wheel at the factory building.



60 ONONDAGA HISTORICAL ASSOCIATION

standing just west of the highway. Here Miner, in addi-
tion to wheel^heads, made wooden pails, wooden bowls, half
bushel and peck measures, and various other wooden articles
useful for farmers and their wives. Four or five years after
the factory was in successful operation. Miner sold out his
interest in the wheelhead business, which was moved else-
where, and the factory building was ultimately converted
into a carding mill and clothing works.

Among the persons who subsequently carried on business
here as clothiers were Edmund C. Weston and William
Patten, tv/o of the son-in-laws of James Rathbun, who
cleared and improved the land where the factory stood.
There are many persons still living, who in their boyhood
days carried wool to this mill to be carded into rolls, for
their mothers to spin into woolen yarn ; and probably still
more who have worn garments made from' fulled cloth, pre-
pared or manufactured in these works. After a period of
usefulness this mill, like all others of its kind, went into
decline, finally suspended operation, and the building years
ago was converted into a cider mill.

In this connection it seems proper to observe, that the
women folks in olden times spun yarn from the wool shorn
from their own sheep, wove it into cloth, and in many
instances cut and made it into garments for the use of the
major portion of the hosueohld. In these matters they
were very proficient and often displayed much delicacy and
skill. The bedding in use in those times was a matter
which received the especial consideration of the female
portion of the household. The linen sheets, woolen blankets
and coverlids made by these old dames of a hundred years
ago, have challenged the admiration of all women folks
that have succeeded them, and will continue to do so for
years yet to come. Such rich blues, and such vivid and
lasting colors. Probably very few of those who look upon
and admire these remaining specimens of feminine art of
olden times, have any personal knowledge of the manner
of obtaining these beautiful colors, or of the old time dye
tub, once so familiar an object, standing in a corner of the
living room. In those times a spinning wheel, a reel, a
pair of swifts, a loom, and a dye tub were deemed a very
necessary pai-t of the outfit of any household; and as the
women manufactured cloth and made the garments of the



SPAFFOID, ONONDAGA COUNTY, NEW YORK 61

household, Miner's Patent Wheelhead and the carding
machine were two very useful inventions in lightening her
labors.

In about the year 1814, Oliver Hyde, a soldier of the
Revolution, bililt a sawmill in Factory Gulf, on Lot 69,
Marcellus, above Miner's Pond, which supplied water for
his wheelhead factory.

When Amos Miner sold out his interests in Factory Gulf,
he moved to Lot 76, Marcellus, where he erecter a grist mill
at the head of the Gulf, leading from near the center of
said lot easterly to Otisco Lake, as has been before fully
described in a paragraph relating to Miner under the head
of " Early Settlers." This mill has been continued in one
form or another until the present day.Near this mill was
erected, at a very early date, a sawmill which was in opera-
tion at a comparatively recent date.

About the year 1813, William Marsh erected a carding
mill and clothing works, west of the highway and north of
the stream at the head of the Pudding Mill Gulf, on Lot 76,
Marcellus, near Miner's Grist Mill. Among the names of
those who have been interested in this mill and works
besides Mr. Marsh, are Eleazer Hillebert, Charles Richards,
Jr., Richard S. Eggleston, William D. Potter, Roger Tolls,
Jonathan S. Niles, Ichabod Sheldon and Ebenezer Failing.
These works went to pieces many years ago and very few
persons, if any now living, have any personal knowledge
in reference to them.

On the east side of the same highway, and north of the
Pudding Mill Gulf, was erected before 1819, by Alexander
Webster, a distillery. Dr. Jonathan Kneeland, in speaking
of this distillery said, " it did not last very long, as its owner
soon boiled himself to death in his o\^^l mash tub." The
widow, Barbara Webster, conveyed away the lands on which
the distillery stood in 1825.

At a very early date the little huddle about Miner's mill
gave promise of something more than it is at the present
date. Eleazer Hillebert had a blacksmith shop there, David
T. Lyon had a shoe shop, and there undoubtedly were other
industries at that place. Borodino Village ultimately
absorbed all that at one time seemed to give it promise of a
better future.

Amasa Kneeland, at a very early date, carried on business



62 ONONDAGA HISTORICAL ASSOCIATION

as a tanner and currier, on the northwest corner of this
same Lot 76,, Marcellus, near the Borodino and Thorn Hill
road. David T. Lyon, also, in after years, carried on this
same business at Spafford Corners; whether he carried on
this business while residing at the Pudding Mill huddle is
not known.

Seventy-five or a hundred years ago public sentiment, in
reference to the use of intoxicating liquors, was different
from what it is at the present, and distilleries were deemed
more of a necessity at that time, when the custom was to
drink whiskey instead of beer. There were no restrictions
in those times on the manufacture of whiskey ; consequently
it was very cheap, three cents a glass, and pure, as there
was no object in its adulteration; and distilleries for its
manufacture were everywhere. Before the year 1819,
Jonathan Berry erected a distillery, in what was then known
as the Stone Gulf, below the Little Falls, and a short dis-
tance east of School House No. 1, in the Nunnery neighbor-
hood. This was apparently run by a man named Ephraim
Colby. Mr. Berry subsequently conveyed away the lands
where the distillery stood to John K. Stone, in the year 1832,
and nothing more is known of these works. In one of the
deeds of the surrounding lands appears the following
reservation, being a description of the distillery lands.
" Reserving distillery land as follows : Beginning at the
head of Little Falls and running thence westerly along the
brink to the south bank of said Gulf to the Narrows —
thence across the narrows to the brink of the north bank —
thence easterly along said brink of north bank to the round
rock — thence to the head of the Falls — and thence to the
place of beginning. Also a log house standing on the brink
of the Gulf (lately occupied by Ephraim Colby) ; also a
road to pass and repass from said distillery in a north-
easterly direction without interruption."

April 19, 1806, Dr. Archibald Farr purchased fifty acres
of land on Lot 12, Tully, at the foot of the Bucktail Gulf,
on the west side of Spafford Hollow, of Judge William
Cooper, the father of James Fenimore Cooper, the great
American novelist, and author of the Leather Stocking
Tales, for the expressed consideration of one hundred silver
dollars. At the foot of the lower Falls Dr. Farr, on this
purchase, erected the same year a grist mill ; being the first



SPAFFORD, ONONDAGA COUNTY, NEW YORK 63

of its kind in the original town of Spafford. This mill
went out of existence soon after its erection, probaby
destroyed by a Spring- freshet. Uriah Roundy, born in
Spafford July 24, 1819, in speaking of this mill says : " The
Archibald Farr mill was built and out of existence before
I can rem.ember. A man by the name of Earl Barrows built
a second mill at the lower end of the Bucktail Gulf about
1848, or 1850. This was a feed mill only, and was destroyed
by a Spring freshet."

In a deed dated May 11, 1844, by Mathew Morse (Moss)
of Spafford, to Ebenezer Morse of Homer, mention is made
of a furnace once existing on the Dr. Farr land, at the foot
of the lower Falls, at the mouth of the Bucktail Gulf. Uriah
Round}'- says this furnace was out of existence before he
had any m.emory on the subject; and no one seems to be
able to tell who ran it, if not Dr. Farr, on whose land it
was built.

On the top of the upper Falls, in the Bucktail Gulf, Capt.
Asahel Roundy built a sawmill about 1840 ; a few feet south
of this mill, Dr. Zachariah Derbyshire, at an earlier date
erected and carried on a furnace; and a hundred rods or
more further up stream, near the upper end of the Bucktail
Gulf and road, Capt. Asahel Roundy, before 1828, erected
a carding mill and clothing works. The latter is the same
mill from which the machinery was stolen and carried away,
as related in a prior paragraph of this work, under the title,
"Early Settlers." Uriah Roundy, in a letter dated January
9, 1899, in speaking of this carding mill, furnace and saw-
mill says : " The carding mill at the top of the Bucktail
must have been built about 1820. I helped tear it down
and move the building to Spafford Corners before I was
married, and that was fifty-six years ago. I remember
when it was doing business, I have carried wool and cloth
there to be finished. Somev/here betv/een 1828 and 1830 a
man by the name of Worthington ran it. " The Furnace
above the upper Falls of the Bucktail was built soon after
the carding mill ; I have nothing to show when it was built.
I think Dr. Derbyshire built it. I remember that John
Beeler, a one-legged soldier, had a cannon cast there to
celebrate the Fourth of July ; I was probably eight or nine
years old at the time. It was loaded on the morning of
the Fourth of July, and William Bell, a boy living with



64 ONONDAGA HISTORICAL ASSOCIATION

Sumner Allen, touched it off; it burst and broke his arm,
and killed a cow for James Knapp. This must have been
in 1828 or 1830. I have no recollection of having been to
the furnace when in operation. About the furnace at the
foot of the Bucktail Gulf, I know nothing, except I have
been told there was one there. There was a grist mill built
there since I can remember ; a man by the name of Barrows
built it, but it did not run long ; it was only a feed mill.

"The sawmill at the upper Falls on the Bucktail was
built by my father, Asahel Roundy, about 1840. My
brother Charles and myself did most of the blasting of
rocks, necessary to fix a place for the mill and flume. This
was in 1840 just before Charles left home. Father owned
the land where the sawmill, furnace and carding mill stood,
ever since I can remember."

This saw mill, like all the other early mills in town, had
an upright saw, standing in a wooden frame, which was
raised up or down when sawing a log or board, the power
came from an undershot wheel, which in this instance was
suspended at the mouth of the flume, several feet down and
over the edge of the Falls, which were seventy-five or more
feet in height. The process of sawing was not a very rapid
one and there was much waste of power; it required a
freshet to make the mill an available one. This mill went
out of use when the writer was a small boy; he can re-
member it when in operation, a man by the name of Darius
Plummer acted as sawyer at that time.

In 1810 Josiah Walker built a sawmill in Cold Brook, on
the cross road running east from the main road, north ol
the school house. It was in the mill pond to this mill that
Franklin Weston, Orange Norton and Lucius Pease, three
small boys aged respectively 14, 13 and 9 years, were
drowned June 24th, 1816. Franklin Weston was the
youngest brother of Mrs. Asahel Roundy; and after the
accident, was brought home to the residence of Mrs. Roundy,
on horsebaick by her husband ; Orange Norton was an older
brother of Seymour Norton, who recently died at Spafford
Comers at great age ; and Lucius Pease was the oldest son
of Horace Pease, one of the early settlers in Cold Brook.
This accident at the time caused a profound sensation,
which has been more enduring than the mill itself, which



SPAFFORD, ONONDAGA COUNTY, NEW YORK 6i

would have been long ago forgotten but for this terrible
calamity.

The next sawmill erected on the Cold Brook stream was
built in 1826 by Peter Picket, about a mile south of Walker's
Mill, on a cross road leading east from the main road, just
south of the Cold Brook M. E. Church and Cemtery. This
mill, very soon after its erection, was transferred to Beza-
lel Taft, and ever since has been known as Taft's Mill. The
upright saw, formerly in use years ago, has been replaced
by a circular one, and the mill is now, or was at a very
recent date, in use, whenever it could find anything to do.

Soon after the sale of the Taft mill, as above stated,
Peter Picket built another sawmill higher up stream,
between the Walker and Taft locations, on a cross road
leading east from the school house. This mill was after-
wards owned and known as the Orren Gary's Mill; this,
like the Walker mill, went out of existence years ago.

About 1830 Dr. David Mellen built a grist mill, a few
rods south and down stream from Taft's saw mill; this
was burned in 1852 and a feed mill was erected in its place
by John P. Taft in 1863. The latter mill is still in opera-
tion and owned by the builder.

At an early date David Carver built a saw mill in Spafford
Hollow on lot 34, Tully; this was afterwards operated by
Lorenzo Boutell; on the same stream, leading into Otisco
Lake, near the northern line of said lot 34, as early as 1822,
was a carding mill and clothing works, supposed to have
been built by Samuel Draper ; and still further down stream
at the first cross roads leading easterly across the Hollow,
was a saw mill, at one time operated by Frank Smith, son
of Ira Smith. These mills and works have long passed out
of existence, and even the memory of them is confined to
a very few of the older inhabitants of the town. At Brom-
ley, in the town of Tully, a little huddle formerly known as
Shawville, near the Spafford line, there was a grist mill
and saw mill at a very early date ; these were in operation
in recent years, as well as a sawmill on Lot 13, Tully, in
the town of Otisco, just over the Spafford line, on a cross
road leading easterly from the Bucktail road. Of late years
there has been very little use for these mills, once so flour-
ishing and so necessary to the early settler.



66 ONONDAGA HISTORICAL ASSOCIATION

TAVERNS, STORES, SHOPS, POTASHIRES,

TANNERIES.

The first merchant at Spafford Corners was Jared Bab-
cock, who came first to Scott, Cortland County, N. Y., in
1804, probably from Leyden, Mass., where most of the
Babcocks in that place came from, and from there to Spaf-
ford, where he opend a general store, in 1809. The building
occupied by him is supposed to have been located on a half
acre of ground owned by John Babcock, also from Scott,
situate on the west side of the Skaneateles and Homer road,
between the present blacksmith shop of John Pendergast
and the residence lately occupied by Parmenus Norton, Mr.
Babcock conducted this store for a short time, sold out to
Anthony Mason, and moved to Homer, N. Y.

Mr. Mason conveyed his interest in this store property,
December 12, 1822, to Isaac Knapp, who in connection with
his brother, James D. Knapp, carried on a general mer-
chandise business at the same place until about 1827 or

1828, when they failed and were sold out by Sheriff. The
store property was conveyed by that officer January 16,

1829, at which time Joseph R. Berry was in occupation as
a general merchant at that place. From that time forward
Mr. Berry carried on business there, until his new store
was in readiness for occupation, which was erected by him
on the northeast corner of the cross roads at the "Corners"
in 1831. The old building then went into decline and was
not occupied for mercantile purposes afterwards. At the
raising of the frame of the new store building it was christ-
ened, according to the custom of the times, " The Proud
Farmers' Ruin." The new building has been occupied sub-
sequent to Mr. Joseph R. Berry by the following merchants :
Nelson Berry, Zach. Berry, Thomas B. Anderson, Levi Hurl-
but, Asahel M. Roundy, James Churchell, T. Maxson Foster,
and John G. Van Benschoten, the present occupant.

Lauren Hotchkiss, a brother-in-law of Captam Asahel
Roundy, opened a store for the sale of general merchandise
on the southwest corner of the same cross roads at the
Comers, in 1810. The land on which this store stood was
subsequently occupied after 1840 by the Baptist Church;
but before it went into occupation of that society, and sub-
sequently to Mr. Hotchkiss, these lands were owned by Dr.



SPAFFORD, ONONDAGA COUNTY, NEW YORK 67

Ashbel Searl (subsequently of Otisco), Thomas Stevens,
John Evans and Nelson Berry; but whether any of them
had a store there is not known.

About 1867, after the Baptist Society became extinct,
Uriah Roundy purchased the church site and converted the
church building- into a store for the sale of general mer-
chandise, for which purpose it has been in use ever since.
The mrchants who have occupied this reconstructed church
building for store purposes since 1867 are : Uriah Roundy,
Benjamin McDaniels, George King, Caleb E. King and
Andrew Lieber a^d son, the present occupants.

Early in the forties, Jonathan F. Woodworth opened a
store at the " Center," in a building on the west side of the
road subsequently occupied by Samuel Purchase as a dwell-
mg house. Soon afterwards he erected a new store build-
ing on the east side of the road and just south of the hotel
at Spafford Corners, where he carried on a general mer-
cantile business for many years. Subsequent to Mr. Wood-
worth's occupation this latter building was owned and used
by Charles B. Lyon as a shoe shop.

According to tradition, Dr. Archibald Farr in 1803 set-
tled on the southwest corner of Lot 11, Tully, and the
following year Isaac Hall located at Spafford Corners ; and
each of these gentlemn threw open their log cabins as public
inns for the entertainment of guests. In the absence of
direct knowledge on the subject, we infer from circum-
stances, that this means no more than being the first settlers
in the southern portion of the town, they were obliged to
and did open their houses for the entertainment of the
numerous prospecting parties, seeking unoccupied lands for
purchase and settlement, and for which they very probably
received a compensation. Very little is known of these two
public houses, but it is probable they ceased to be such
as soon as the temporary demand for them passed away.
In the case of Dr. Farr we are unable to verify the date of
his reputed settlement, as his deed was never recorded, but
as to Mr. Hall, we find his deed is dated in 1805; he may,
however, have gone into occupation a year earlier under
contract.

Mr. Hall's log house stood in the garden connected with
the present hotel, just east of the horse barns. Mr. Hall
sold out his possessions at the " Corners ' in 1811, and was



68 ONONDAGA HISTORICAL ASSOCIATION

followed in occupation by John Williamson from Minden,
Montgomery County, N. Y., in 1814. The latter gentleman
sold to Captain Asahel Roundy in 1821, who erected that
year the presnt hotel building, then known as " Roundy's
Tavern." This has been the only public house at the
Comers since its erection. Mr. Roundy kept the place until
1843; then sold it to Col. William W. Legg, who has been
succeeded by Thomas Babcock, Amon J. Ripley, Dr. G.
Eugene Barker, John C. Van Benschoten, Andrew Lieber
and Thomas McAuliffe, present occupant.

About 1828, Elias Woodworth opened a house of enter-
tainment on the southwest corner of Lot 13, Sempronius,
east of the main highway near the Center; this was suc-
ceeded by a new tavern, supposed to have been built by
Thomas Babcock, just south of Woodworth's, and on Lot
14, Sempronius, known as " The Center House." This
house was subsequently owned by Isaiah BufRngton, Hop-
kins Perkins, Daniel Vail, Jr., Edward M. Allen, Amos
Austin, Willis S. Nelson, John C. Tinkham and William
Cowan. The building was destroyed by fire in the fifties
and has never been replaced.

It would be unprofitable to attempt to recall the names
of all who have worked at blacksmithing and wagon making,
in the original town of Spaff ord, since its settlement ; suffice
it to say, that in olden times there were those who worked
at one or both these trades at the Center, the Comers, Cold
Brook, East Side Hill, and in Spafford Hollow. Early in
the thirties Edward Baxter, Thomas Mitchell and Gershom
Lewis opened a wagon and blacksmith shop on the site of
the present Union Church at the " Corners " ; their interest
in this site was afterwards purchased by the Trustees of
that Church, July 7, 1838, and Gersham Lewis immediately
thereafter erected a new shop for the prosecution of the same
business, just south of the Baptist Church, where the late
Alexander Green subsequently resided; here he remained
until his decease about 1850. In wagon making Mr. Lewis
never had a successor at the " Corners " ; but in repairing of
wagons and farm implements and in smithing he had many ;
among whom are the following : Asa Wellington, Franklin
Roundy, Alexander Green, Perry Norton and John Pender-
gast. At an early date Anson Churchell did a very profit-



SPAFFORD, ONONDAGA COUNTY-, NEW YORK 69

able business for many years as blacksmith in the northern
end of the village ; he died in 1849.

Just south of Mr. Churchell's blacksmith shop Mr. Loami
W. Johnson had a cooper shop; he came from Cambridge,
in this State, and first settled north of Borodino. From