George Knapp Collins.

Spafford, Onondaga County, New York online

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Esseltyne, Hooker Brothers, Mr. Stevens, Mr. Posthill, Mr.
Weeks Mr. Holden, and several others whose names are not
known to the writer.

Skaneateles Lake has been recently appropriated as a
water supply for the City of Syracuse ; what the effect may
be upon this beautiful sheet of water as a place of resort
and for summer homes is yet to be determined. The
matter of cottage building has been one of great importance
to the town of Spafford and has added very much to its
material wealth and prosperity. Its revenue from that
source has been a constant and increasing one, from the
time the first building was erected within its limits, and
barring the effect of this appropriation of the lake as a
water supply, its future revenue from that source looks
better than ever before. The facilities for reaching and
enjoying Skaneateles Lake were never in the past what they


are to-day, and certainly, in salubrity and attractiveness,
this beautiful sheet of water has no equal in Central New


Within the last fifty or sixty years there have been great
material changes in the welfare of the world, and especially
in the United States. The most noticeable of these have
occurred in our great cities and along our routes of com-
merce; and yet even an isolated country section, like the
town of Spaff ord, has been affected by this current of passing
events, which has marked the progress of nations. The
discovery and application of steam, and electricity as motive
powers, and the invention of the telegraph and telephone,
have had the effect, to a greater or less extent, of annihilat-
ing time and space; while the invention of a multitude of
modern labor saving devices has revolutionized the ordinary
methods of man, and the manner of obtaining his daily
bread; even his tastes and habits have changed. It would
seem as if the country farmer would be the last to be affected
by these modern innovations, and yet a careful study of the
situation shows, that even he has succumbed to the force
of modem ideas. These changes are unregretable, because
they are the logical sequence of current events, so it is not
our purpose to speak of them farther than to note the fact,
without expressions of regret; but of other changes we
desire to speak :


Fifty years ago the ordinary sweet used in a farmer's
family, for domestic purposes, was made from the sap of a
maple tree, and a farm without a " sugar-bush " was in-
complete. Maple groves were preserved and protected, with
all the care and attention of an apple or fruit orchard.
Early in Spring the sap buckets were taken from their
storing place, repaired, hoops tightened, and the buckets
carefully washed, soaked and put in readiness to catch the
first sap run of the season. The boiling was generally done
in long copper pans, set in brick arches covered by rough
wooden sheds, to protect them. from, the inclement weather
of Spring. The sugar season, always a short one, some-
times required a day and night service of the attendant.


Sug-ar making was always a happy service for young people,
who generally attended the " sugar off," and delighted to
make the hot sugar into wax, by dropping it on a panful of
clean snow or a cake of ice. In olden times it was not an
unusual thing, to behold in an early Spring evening, the
fire light from half a dozen sugar bushes from the village
of Spafford Comers. The early farmers, in this town, not
only made sugar for themselves, but had a surplus to sell
to people in their localities. Muscovado, or a crude sugar
made from Southern sugar cane, never was a very desir-
able sweet,' and the clarified and granulated article is a
matter of com.paratively recent origin. The making of
maple sugar, in this locality, is growing less and less every
year, and will soon be a lost art; there are even now very
few maple groves worth the tapping. A cake of maple
sugar will soon be a curiosity, and maple syrup on pan-
cakes a luxury that the Vv^ealthy only can indulge in.


Another noticeable and very regretable matter, which
has occurred within the last fifty years, and which naturally
affects the physical aspect of this town, is the destruction
of nearly all the fine groves of trees, which once existed in
close proximity to the villages and residences of the people.
From appearances, the people who have possessed the land
had an antipathy against both trees and shrubs, and have
wielded the axe with an unsparing hand. With the trees
have gone the Spring flowers and native birds, and all that
feasted the eye and stirred the soul of man to higher aims
and brighter thoughts. There is some satisfaction, however,
in knowing there are some places in town so steep and
rugged as to stay the course of the Avoodman's axe, and
where there is still a retreat for trees, birds and flowers.
There are a few shade trees along the waysides, particularly
in the tv/o villages, but even these are a memory of fifty
years ago. Very few, if any, fruit trees have been planted
in a half century. We are very glad, however, to note that
along the lake shore, where the summer residents have a
foothold, there is a reaction from this general tendency to
destruction and decay; here Nature, aided by sympathetic
hands, is fast restoring the land to its primitive charms.
We trust that the coming generation will catch some in-


spiration from the Lakers, that will result in restoring the
lands in this picturesque town from the vandalism of the
last fifty years.


In the forepart of the nineteenth century every man and
boy was a marksman, and possessed a rifle or a firing iron
of some description. Fox hunting, hunting for black and
gray squirrels, partridges, pigeons, rabbits, and other small
animals and birds, afforded abundant sport for those who
were so minded. Others found pleasure and profit in trap-
ping fur bearing animals and in hunting for bee trees.
All these pastimes are now practically a memory of the past ;
and perhaps it is well it is so, for certainly it has always
been a question whether the companionship of these birds
and small anmals has not always been of more value to the
people, than the temporary pleasure of the few who prac-
ticed the art of killing them.

There are a few who will remember when flocks of wild
pigeons darkened the air with their Spring and Fall migra-
tions ; now, not a bird is left to tell the story ; a few bobo-
links still frequent our meadows in Summer time, and
enliven our labors with their sweet warbling song ; but, like
the pigeons, their days will soon be numbered and their song
cease in the land.

With the rapid flow of current events have also passed the
old time quilting bees, paring bees, husking bees, and the
old fashioned singing school; possibly there has something
succeeded to take their place, but in innocent fun and
generous sociability, we doubt if there will ever be a sub-
stitute for these old time gatherings.


(From The Syracuse Herald of February 26, 1898.)
" Elliott Anthony, one of the most illustrious sons of Onon-
daga County, died on Thursday night, February 20, 1898,
at Evanston, Illinois. For twelve years he was Judge of
the Superior Court of Illinois, and one of the leading author-
ities on law in the Middle West. He was born in Spafford
on June 10th, 1827, of Quaker ancestors. His father, Isaac
Anthony, married Pamelia Phelps of Vermont, and to them
were bom sons and daughters. The sons were educated in


the academy at Homer. In the autumn of 1847, Elliott
entered Hamilton College at Clinton, as sophomore. He
was graduated in 1850 with high honors.

" In the following year, he and his classmate, Joseph I.
Hubbard, had charge of the Clinton Academy, in which
Grover Cleveland was then a pupil. Anthony's first experi-
ence at the school showed his character and determination.
The school had the reputation of being hard to control,
and had, previous to Mr. Anthony's advent, sent away in
quick succession five or six teachers. When he entered the
school-room on the first morning and called for order, there
was a violent slamming of books and slates on the desks.
He repeated the order, and a like demonstration followed.
Without a word he walked through the center aisle to the
back of the room, took two of the largest boys by their
collars and dragged them to the front, where he knocked
their heads together, and sent the lads to separate comers
of the room. He again issued his command for order and
it was obeyed. From that day on he had no further trouble
with his school. A gray-haired man came into his Court
room, where he was a Judge on the Chicago bench, and
thanked the jurist for that trouncing, saying that he had
learned more in that one day than he had in all his previous

"Young Anthony pursued a course in law under Prof.
Theodore W. Dwight, and was admitted to the bar at
Oswego at 24 years. A year later, and after pleading his
first case into a Court of Record in Sterling, 111., he returned
to the East, married Mary, the sister of Professor Dwight,
and a grand-daughter of President Dwight of Yale College,
on July 14th, 1852. Returning West he went to Chicago,
celebrating his first year of married life by compiling "A
digest of the Illinois Reports," which was received with
great favor by the legal profession. In 1858 he was elected
City Attorney of Chicago, during which administration he
became the means of establishing many new points in law,
such as, that special assessments cannot be enjoined by a
Court of Chancery, and that the City of Chicago cannot be
garnisheed to collect salaries or wages of those employed
by it.

" Five years after his election he was chosen general
solicitor of the greatest railway corporation then in the


Northwest, the Galena and Chicago Union Railroad Com-
pany. He was with it when the great fight over its con-
solidation with the Chicago and North Western was on,
and led the minority stockholders, in one of the most stub-
bornly contested cases in railway law, and enlisted some of
the most eminent capitalists of the country, among them
Samuel J. Tilden. All the contentions of Mr. Anthony's
brief were sustained, and the parties patched up their diffi-
culties. Out of this brief grew " The Law Pertaining to
the Consolidation of Railroads," which still remains a
standard work on that important subject.

" He was one of the leaders of the two great constitutional
conventions held in Illinois in 1862 and 1870. In the second
he v/as chairman of the executive committee, and also served
upon the committee on judiciary and railroads.

" Mr. Anthony was one of the founders of the Republican
party in Illinois, and was a delegate to the first Republican
Convention in Cook County. In 1880, when the conflict
over the third term idea came up, he was elected chairman
of the Cook Countj^ Convention, and delegate to the State
Convention, where he became contesting delegate to the
National Convention, where, in a stormy debate, he
answered Green B. Baum, General Logan and Emory Storrs,
and was finally admitted to the Convention which nomi-
nated General Garfield for President.

In the following Autumn he was elected to the bench of
the Supeiior Court, vv^here he sat for twelve years. While
on the bench Mr. Anthony devoted much time to the com-
pilation of legal treatises, v/hich included a work entitled
" Lavf of Self Defense," " The Trial by Jury in Criminal
Cases," and " New Trials in Criminal Cases." His sketches
of the Courts of England, published in "The Legal Adviser"
attracted much attention about this time, as also did his
treatise on " The Law of Arrest in Civil Cases."

" In 1889 Mr. Anthony was honored by the degree of
LL.L., conferred upon him by his Alma Mater, Hamilton

" Among other v/orks that have come from his pen are :
" The Constitutional History of Illinois," " The Stoiy of
the Empire State," " Sanitation and Navigation," a series
of articles published in the Western Magazine of History
on "Old Virginia."


Mr. Anthony's first wife died in 1862, and eight years
later he married her younger sister. For forty-five years
he lived in Chicago, but for the last four years he made his
home with his son, Charles E. Anthony, at Evanston. He
is survived by two other sons, State Senator George D.
Anthony, and Dr. Henry G. Anthony, making three in all."


The following is an abridged extract, taken from Prof.
Edward Smith's History of Syracuse Schools:

" Silas M. Betts was born in Borodino in 1828. When
a child he moved with his parents to Memphis, in this
county, where he attended the public school. He also
attended school at Warners, Onondaga Academy, and Homer
Academy when Samuel Woolworth was principal. His first
teaching was at Belle Isle in the winter of 1844-5. After
this he attended the Normal School at Albany and graduated
in 1849.

Soon after, he became principal of School Number Nine
in this city. In 1851 he was principal of Number Eleven,
where he remained until his transfer to School Number
Seven, in 1855. He taught in the latter school until his
appointment as principal of a High School at Niles, Michi-
gan, in 1859 ; and was instrumental in making the schools
free in that State. While teaching in Michigan he held
teachers' institutes in that State during vacation time. His
health being impaired by overwork, he resigned the prin-
cipalship of the Niles High School about 1860. After a
rest for about a year, he accepted the Vice Principalship of
the Normal School in the State of New Jersey. He con-
tinued in this work for about three years, and then resigned
to accept the Presidency of the American Guernsey Cattle
Club at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Writing Mr. Smith
from that Club, he said : " I have lived to see the schools
made free in the State of New York, Michigan and New
Jersey, and I trust they have all been made better by my
labors. My most pleasant memories are connected with
the schools of Syracuse."


Dr. John Collins came to Spafford Corners from Brook-
field, Madison County, New York, where he was bom, about


1830. His father and mother were of New England origin
and came from Stonington, Connecticut, on or before 1796.
He was educated in Hamilton Academy (now Colgate Uni-
versity) , and in the Medical College in Castleton, Vermont,
where he graduated in 1829. He came to Spafford Comers
the next year, joined the Onondaga Medical Society, June
14, 1831, and remained here in active practice of his pro-
fession until about the time of his decease, August 15, 1853;
he was buried in Spafford Cemetery. He first opened an
office in Roundy's Tavern, where he boarded, but soon pur-
chased a lot adjoining the hotel property on the south,
where he erected an office. In 1831 he married Miss Mary
Ann Roundy, daughter of Captain Asahel Roundy, and
soon after remodeled his office into a dwelling house, where
three of his first children, including the author of this
sketch, were born. He then purchased a farm of fifty
acres on the opposite side of the highway, which, prior to
that, had successively been owned by Peleg Babcock, John
Babcock, Silas Cox and Joseph Cole. He continued to
reside on this farm until a short time before his decease,
when he moved into a new house built by him just south,
and adjoining the Union Meeting House lot; this he sold
to a Dr. Davidson, preliminary to moving to Syracuse, but
died prior to the transfer of his family to the latter place.

In Bruce's History of Onondaga County appears the
following : " Dr. John Collins came to Spafford about 1830,
and practiced medicine until his decease, August 15, 1853.
He was a descendant of Henry Collins, starchmaker, who
came to America from Stepney Parish, London, England,
in 1635, and settled in Lynn, Mass. Dr. Collins was of the
seventh generation, in an unbroken line of Johns from
Henry his emigrant ancestor. He was graduated from
Castleton, Vermont Mediacl College in 1829, settled first in
Madison County, but soon removed to this town, where he
acquired a wide professional business. He was one of the
leading physicians in the County during his career, and a
prominent member of the County Medical Society. He was
a fine botanist, knew the medical properties of almost all
varieties of plants, held several important town offices, and
was one of the first to espouse the cause of temperance.

" Owing to the interaiarriage of his ancestors with well
known families of Washington County, Rhode Island, a full


account of his lineage would involve the recital ot nearly
every tradition, and nearly every early transaction of the
State of Rhode Island, which is not within the province of
this ai-ticle ; but of him it can be truthfully said, every drop
of blood in his veins was English, pure and simple, in the
strictest sense of the word. His boyhood was spent on the
farm of his father in Brookfield, and was subject to all
the hardships and deprivations of pioneer life; yet, with
indomitable pluck and perseverance, he was able to acquire
an excellent education for his time, and far above the
average of the community in which he lived. Like many
other young men he taught school several winters, to obtain
the means to meet the expenses for a higher education.
Soon after settling in Spafford he acquired an extensive
practice in his chosen profession of medicine, and ever led
an active life; commanding respect from all, and by merit
alone was able to retain possession of his chosen field of
labor, against the encroachment of all new comers. He was
never an aspirant for office, yet for several years acted as
School Commissioner and Postmaster, because the first was
congenial to his tastes, and the latter involved no part of
his personal attention, its duties being performed by his
wife. He was one of the founders of the Methodist Epis-
copal Church at Spafford, and generally supported any good
and worthy cause, which he believed would advance the
moral interests and material welfare of his townspeople.

" On the 4th day of April, 1831, he was united in mar-
riage with Mary Ann Roundy, daughter of Captain Asahel
Roundy, and sister of Prof. Charles 0. Roundy, first prin-
cipal of the Syracuse High School, and by her had eight
children ; two only of whom are still surviving. One of his
sons. Captain George Knapp Collins, is a prominent attorney
and counselor at law, in practice in the City of Syracuse,
and during the War of the Rebellion served as Captain in
the 149th New York Volunteers Infantry, with distinction.
Dr. Collins was generally respected by his brethren of the
medical profession, for his social and professional attain-
ments. After a lapse of near half a century since his
decease, his memory is treasured in nearly every household
embraced with the scope of his labors, with affectionate



Captain George K. Collins, author of this work, and son
of Dr. John Collins and Mary Ann Roundy, his wife, was
bom at Spafford Corners, April 15, 1837. As President of
the Collins Family Re-Union, which holds its annual meet-
ings in Madison County, New York, Captain Collins in 1901
prepared and published a short genealogy of his branch of
that family, by which it appears that his ancestors were
originally Rhode Island Quakers, descended from Henry
Collins, who came to this country in 1635, from Stepney
Parish, London, England, and settled in Lynn, Mass. On
both sides his family are of New England origin and
patriotic stock; all four of his great grand-fathers havmg
served in the patriot cause in the War of the Revolution,
and his grandfather, on his mother's side, having com-
manded a Company as Captain, during a tour of duty in the
War of 1812 ; it was only following natural impulses of the
blood that flowed in his veins, that he gave his services to
the cause of his country, in the great War of the Rebellion.

The following extract is taken from a recent publication
concerning the subject of this sketch: "Captain Collins
was mustered into the service of the United States, Septem-
ber 18, 1862, as First Lieutenant in Company I, 149th Regt.,
N. Y. Vol. Inft., in the War of 1861, served for a period of
near two years, and was brevetted Captain at the close of
the war for meritorious services. He participated in all
the battles, skirmishes and marches of the regiment, both
in the Army of the Potomac and the Army of the Cumber-
land, up to the time of his discharge, excepting the battle of
Ringgold, from which he v/as prevented by injuries received
in battle a few days previous. Among the engagements
and campaigns in which he saw service were Chancellors-
ville, Gettysburg, Wauhatchie, and Lookout Mountain. He
was twice wounded, first at Chancellorsville and again at
Lookout Mountain; the latter was the occasion of his dis-
charge, which occurred April 24, 1864. He was admitted
to the bar of the State of New York soon after his discharge
from the Army of the United States, and soon after to the
District Court of the United States and Department of the
Interior. He is now engaged in active practice of his pro-
fession at Syracuse, N. Y. He is Past Commander of Root


Post, G. A. R.; Past President of Central N. Y. Micro-
scopical Club; Member of the National Microscopical
Society; for fifteen or sixteen years he was Grand Treas-
urer of the Royal Arcanum for the State of New York;
he is a Companion of the Loyal Legion, New York Com-
mandery; he is the author of the history of his regiment,
entitled " Memoirs of the 149th Regt. N. Y. Vol. Inft., 3d
Brig., 2 Div., 12th and 20th A. C.;" is a member of the
Central New York Genealogical Society, and a member of
the Sons of the American Revolution.

" Captain Collins' father, who was a physician and sur-
geon, died while residing in Spafford, a small country
village, when the subject of this sketch was sixteen years
of age, and a country boy living on a farm. A few months
afterward Captain Collins, accompanied by his mother and
two infant brothers, moved to the City of Syarcuse, and
commenced the struggle of life under very discouraging
circumstances, working alternately at whatever he could
find to do, and going to school until the Spring of 1858,
when he was graduated from the Syracuse High School,
then considered an excellent educational institutinn. He
then entered the law ofRce of the well known firm of D.
and D. F. Gott, at Syracuse, as a student, but his labors
were soon interrupted by the event of the Civil War, and
his admission to the bar was delayed until about 1866. .
Whatever success the Captain may have achieved at the
bar, or otherwise, he owes to himself and the indomitable
pluck and perseverance inherited from an excellent father
and mother. He has never professed religion in the
general accepted interpretation of that term, still he has
generally attended the M. E. Church, of which his parents
were members, and among other church offices was at one
time Superintendent of the Sabbath School connected with
that society. In habits of mind in relation to religious
subjects. Captain Collins has a strong penchant to many of
the characteristic tenets believed in and adhered to by his
Quaker ancestors, for whom he cherishes a devout attach-

Captain Collins married early in life Catherine Sager,
daughter of Jacob Sager and Rebecca Groot his wife, a
member of a typical New York Knickerbocker family, by
whom he had seven children, five of whom survive: Kath-


arine Mary, Grace Virginia; Helen; Flora Belle, wife of
William W. Wiard, and Clara Bessie, wife of William S.
Teall, all of Syracuse, New York.


Ezra Babcock Knapp, son of Peter, Jr., was born in the
town of Scott, Cortland County, N. Y., February 26, 1830,
where he resided until three years of age. He then moved
with his parents to Spafford, where he was brought up a
farmer boy, on a farm near Spafford Corners, and received
a common school education. He then attended the Cortland
Academy at Homer and prepared himself for a teacher,
an occupation which he followed from 1848 for twenty-

Online LibraryGeorge Knapp CollinsSpafford, Onondaga County, New York → online text (page 9 of 32)