Gurney S Strong.

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the company, and had a large wheat field, extending
from the First Methodist church west, nearly on the
line of Jefferson street, to his house. Between the
house and village, a small brook, called Yellow
Brook, ran from the swamp and emptied into the old
mill pond. The passage of water through this brook
had cut a ravine over fifteen feet deep where it
crossed Salina street. Previous to 1824, there was a
bridge across this brook, on Salina street, but by
means of a sluice, the ravine had been partly filled up,
and the bridge removed.

All south of the wheat field was a young unclaimed
forest, thickly overgrown with underbrush.

Zophar H. Adams manufactured brick in 1824,


on the west side of Salina street, a little south of the
farm house. I think Dr. Westcott's residence stands
on the ground then used as a brick-yard.

South Salina street was then full six feet higher
than at the present day, and very irregular, passing
over a series of mounds or hillocks, the whole
distance, making a bad road to travel with a loaded

That portion of our city now known as Onondaga
street, or Cinder road, was in 1824 a cedar swamp,
with any quantity of old logs, stumps and trunks of
fallen trees, slowly going to decay, and filling the air
with noxious vapors. Wherever the land was
sufficiently firm and dry to afford a suitable soil, there
a very luxuriant growth of blackberry bushes had
sprung up, yielding innumerable quarts of that
delicious fruit.

This swamp was also a great resort for game, and
has been the scene of many hunting and blackberry-
ing adventures to the children of a larger growth, as
well as to the youth of Syracuse and vicinity. The
swamp extended from the pond as far as Colonel
Johnson's present residence.

That year, the proprietor of Mickles' Furnace gen-
erously appropriated the cinders formed by his furnace,
to the filling up of the road through the swamp. A
cart with two horses, driven tandem, and a man to
load, drive and deposit the cinders, was furnished by


the Syracuse Company, and the drawing of cinders
was continued until a coat of them had been placed
on the road a foot and a half thick. This gave it the
name of Cinder road, which it has ever since retained.

A man named Finch lived in a small log house
near the reservoir on the Cinder road. This man was
very dissipated, and finally died in that house.

Thurlow Weed's father lived, previous to 1824, on
the Cinder road near Colonel Johnson's, in a small
log house.

The canal basin, between Salina and Clinton streets,
was not as large in 1824 as at the present time. It
was so narrow as scarcely to afford turning room for
even the small boats used in those days. When an
extra amount of water was let into the canal the banks
of this basin were frequently overflowed, and the cel-
lars in the vicinitv filled with water.

A small foot bridge, with stairs on each end, spanned
the canal several yards east of the present Clinton
street bridge. At the foot of this bridge on the south-
east side, Deacon Chamberlain, father-in-law of ex-
Mayor Stevens, kept a meat market in a small frame
building painted yellow.

Hiram Hyde kept two store houses adjoining each
other on the ground now occupied by the old Raynor
block, a little west of Clinton street bridge. Mr. Hyde
was a son-in-law of Joshua Forman, and a man of
enterprise and integrity. He died in 1825 of con-

170 Cheney's reminiscences

There were no other buildings on the north side of
Water street, between Salina street and Onondaga

LeGrand and William Crowfoot carried on the man-
ufacture of brick on the ground at present occupied
by Greenway's Malt House on West Water street.

In the spring of 1824, Kasson & Heermans carried
on the hardware business in a small wooden building-
standing on the corner of Salina and Water streets.
During the summer they tore down the wooden build-
ing and erected a three-story brick block seventy feet
deep. The building was afterwards occupied by Hor-
ace and Charles A. Wheaton as a hardware store, and
in 1810 it was destroyed by fire, together with a long
row of small wooden buildings, extending nearly to
the Townsend block.

Wieting block and hall was erected and finished
during the years 1849-50. On the 5th of January,
1856, one of the coldest days during the winter, this
beautiful block was burned to the ground. Dr. Wiet-
ing at once took measures for the erection of a new
block if possible larger, better and more beautiful
than the former one.

Cheney & Wilcox obtained the contract for per-
forming the mason work on the building. Under
their combined efforts and the superintending eyes of
Dr. Wieting and H. N. White, the architect, the
building rose like a phoenix from the ashes, larger,


better and more substantial and beautiful than the
former splendid block. The hall is one of the best in
the State, and is not excelled out of New York in
point of convenience and beauty. The Doctor deserves
great credit for his unremitted exertions and lavish
expenditure of money. The new hall was dedicated
on the 9th of December, 1856, eleven months from the
date of the destruction of the former building.

During the summer of 1824, William Malcolm put
up a frame building on the ground now forming the
centre of the Wieting block on Water street. He
occupied this building the following spring as a hard-
ware store. Mr. Malcolm also built a dwelling house
on the present site of the Malcolm block. The Syra-
cuse Company put up three or four small wooden
buildings west of Malcolm's, which they let to different
persons as stores and groceries.

Moses D. Burnet occupied a small frame building-
standing a little frest of the Syracuse Company's store,
as an office. A large hickory tree stood in front of his
office, affording a fine shade. Major Burnet was an
energetic, enterprising man, and in the spring of 1824
was appointed the agent of the Syracuse Company.
He has since occupied several offices of profit and trust
with ability and success. He was once elected Mayor
of the city, but refused to serve. The Major is a
whole-souled man, and is now quietly enjoying the
rewards of his early labors.


Ambrose Kasson lived in a small frame house
standing a little west of Major Burnet's office. John
Durnford occupied a dwelling next west of Mr. Kas-
son's. These two houses had very pretty yards in
front, filled with flower beds and shrubbery.

Dr. M. Williams came to this place in 1824, and
established himself in the practice of medicine. The
Doctor for some months kept his office in the front
room over General Granger's store, and boarded with
him. He then moved to the south side of the canal,
and occupied a part of Judge Forman's office, and
boarded in his family. He subsequently became the
son-in-law of Judge Forman.

The Doctor was a hard-working, go-ahead man,
and by his influence contributed greatly to the pros-
perity of the embryo city. The village was known
throughout the country as a most unhealthy locality.
The Doctor combatted the idea with all his powers,
claiming that the day was not far distant when the
village would be a " city of refuge" for consumption
patients. The prediction, to our knowledge, has
proven true in a large number of cases, and we can
safely claim that Syracuse is one of the most healthy
localities in the State. Dr. Williams of to-day is the
Dr. Williams of 1824, in dress and personal appear-
ance. He does not appear to change or grow old in
the least.

Clinton street was not passable for teams in 1824.


Judge Joshua Forman moved to this place in the fall
of 1819, and occupied as a dwelling the house now
standing next west of the " Climax House " on Water
street. In 1821 he was still living inthe same house,
and had a large garden extending from Clinton street
down Water street to Franklin street, and back to
Fayette street. The garden was well stocked with
fruit, and was tended by a Protestant Irishman, named
Montgomery, a very intelligent, faithful man. The
Judge was the father of the canal and of Syracuse.

Colonel Stone, formerly editor of the New York
Commercial Advertiser, in giving an account of a
western journey, compares Syracuse in 1820 with
Syracuse in 1810 in the following language: "Mr.
Forman was in one sense the father of the canal.
That is, being a member of the Legislature in 1807,
he moved the first resolution of inquiry upon the sub-
ject of opening a channel of artificial navigation from
the Hudson river to the great lakes. And from that
day to the completion of the stupendous work, in 1825,
his exertions were unremitting and powerful in the
cause. Passing as the canal does, close by the head
of Onondaga lake, within a toss of a biscuit of some
of the salt springs, and within two miles of the prin-
cipal and strongest fountain at Salina, Mr. Forman
saw the immense advantages which the site of this
place presented for a town; with the completion of
the middle section of the canal, Syracuse was begun.

174 chexey's reminiscences

At the period of my first visit, but a few scattered and
indifferent wooden houses had been erected amid the
stumps of the recently felled trees. I lodged for a
night at a miserable tavern, thronged by a company of
salt boilers from Saiina, forming a group of about as
rough looking specimens of humanity as I had ever
seen. Their wild visages, beards thick and long,
matted hair, even now rise up in dark, distant and
picturesque perspective before me. J passed a restless
night, disturbed by strange fancies, as I yet well
remember. It was in October and a flurry of snow
during the night had rendered the morning aspect of
the country more dreary than the evening before.
The few houses I have already described, standing
upon low and almost marshy ground, and surrounded
by trees and entangled thickets, presented a very un-
inviting scene. 'Mr. Forman,' said I, 'do you call
this a village ? It would make an owl weep to fly over
it.' ' Never mind,' said he in reply, ' you will live to
see it a city yet.'

"These words were prophetical. The contrast be-
tween the appearance of the town then and now is
wonderful. A city it now is in extent, and the mag-
nitude and durability of its dwellings.

' ' As I glanced upward and around, upon splendid
hotels, rows of massive buildings in all directions, and
the lofty spires of churches glittering in the sun, and
traversed the extended and well built streets, thronged


"with people full of life and activity — the canal basins
crowded with boats lading and unlading at the large
and lofty stone warehouses upon the wharves — the
change seemed like one of enchantment."

Judge Forman went to Washington to see Thomas
Jefferson in regard to the canal, but did not meet with
success, that great statesman remarking: " You are
a hundred years too soon with your project." The
Judge met and overcame all obstacles in his project
of building a city at this point, and so long as Syra-
cuse preserves a place in the list of cities, Joshua For-
man will be known and honored by its inhabitants.

Judge Webb built the stone house lately used as a
United States recruiting office, on Water street, in
1824, and occupied it as a dwelling house.

The first burying ground in Syracuse comprised a
little knoll on Fayette street, near its junction with
Clinton street. Fifteen or twenty persons were buried
there, and their bodies have never been removed.
Thousands are constantly passing over the ground,
wholly unconscious that they are passing over the last
resting place of those who once as proudly trod the
soil of Syracuse.

The old burying ground on Water and Franklin
streets was laid out in 1819 by John Wilkinson and
Owen Forman, at the same time they laid out the
" Walton Tract " into village lots. The first person
buried there was the wife of Deacon Spencer, sister of

176 cheney's reminiscences

G. B. Fish, of this city. The second person buried
there was a Mr. West, a circus rider, who was killed
by a fall in the old circus house.

The old log dam across the creek on Water street
was removed in 1824, and a large stone one erected in
its place. The dam stood where Water street bridge
now crosses the creek. The pond extended over a
great extent of country, running up to the then new
cemetery, up Fayette street to the old cemetery and
up Clinton street to the Cinder road. In 1849, this
pond was filled up by earth conveyed from Prospect
Hill, and the great cause of sickness and death in our
city was effectually removed. The ground thus made
is now partly occupied by the freight depot and works
of the Binghamton railroad, the coal yards of Messrs.
Cobb and Hatch, Rush & Company, the residence of
Jason C. Woodruff and a number of other buildings.

An old saw mill, pretty much used up, stood a
little east of the stone mill, and was run by Maron
Lee as sawyer.

The stone mill was built in 1825 by Samuel Booth
for the Syracuse Company.

A man named Clapp, familiarly known as " Old
Sandy," lived in the swamp on the ground at present
covered by the round house of the Central Railroad
Company. He was a very eccentric man.

The rest of the country west of the creek was a
swamp full of rotten logs, stumps, brush, etc., the
fear of all the inhabitants.


James Pease came here in 1824, from Lyons, by
the canal, and brought a small frame house on a boat,
which he put upon the ground now occupied by the
Mechanics' Bank. In this house, Mr. Pease manufac-
tured and sold boots and shoes for a great many years.
He was a very exemplary man, and was liked and
respected by the whole village.

In 1824, an alley was, by common consent, left open
between Kasson & Company's hardware store, on the
corner and Mr. Pease's shop, for the purpose of allow-
ing teams to pass to the rear of the stores fronting on
Water street. This alley was to remain open forever,
but it is now covered by one of Dr. Wieting's splendid

In 1824, Theodore Ashley bought out a man named
Kneeland, who kept a chair factory next south of
James Pease's shoe shop. Mr. Ashley entered into
the manufacture of chairs and cabinet ware, and con-
tinued in the same branch of business until the time
of his death in 1855. Mr. Ashley was a prompt busi-
ness man, and fair in all his dealings. He was for
several years City Sexton and died regretted by a large
circle of friends and accpiaintances.

There was standing in 1824, on the ground now cov-
ered by the Syracuse City Bank, an old frame build-
ing occupied for various purposes. In 1828, Grove
Lawrence removed this old building and erected in its
stead a fine brick block.

lTs Cheney's reminiscences

In 1819, John Wilkinson, in company with Owen
Forman, a brother of the Judge, came here from Onon-
daga Hollow, and under the direction of Judge For-
man proceeded to lay out the Walton Tract into
village lots. This survey was not accomplished with-
out the severest labor. The old lines and marks of
the tract were nearly obliterated, and it was with the
greatest difficulty that they found with any degree of
certainty the starting point of the original survey.
The survey was completed after several weeks of hard
labor. Part of the Walton Tract was laid out into
village lots, and the remainder into farm lots of from
five to ten acres. After the completion of the survey,
Mr. Wilkinson built an office on the corner now occu-
pied by the Globe Hotel, and commenced the practice
of law. The office was a small one, being but twelve
by fourteen, and Mr. Wilkinson was heartily ridiculed
for putting his office out in the fields. That location
now forming the business centre of our flourishing
city was then out of town.

In February, 1820, a post-office was established in
Syracuse, and Mr. Wilkinson was appointed postmas-
ter. In May, 1 S "2 -t , when the first election for village
officers was held, Mr. Wilkinson was elected clerk.

Mr. Wilkinson has since held several offices of
profit and trust, with honor and distinction. When
railroads were first successfully put in operation, Mr.

Wilkinson closely investigated their workings and


principles, and his gigantic mind comprehending on
the instant their immense advantages and ultimate
supersedence over the common post roads, he entered
at once largely into railroad affairs, and is now em-
phatically a railroad king. He was for several years
President of the Syracuse and Utica railroad, and by
his influence succeeded in having the work shops of
that road built at Syracuse, thus adding the hardy
population of the Fifth ward to our city. He is now
the President of the Michigan Southern road, and
under his skillful management that road is now one
of the best in the Union. Mr. Wilkinson is a great
favorite with the traveling public, and is loved and
respected by all railroad men, who would do anything
for him.

In 1824, Mr. Wilkinson built a residence a little
southwest of his office, where he resided a number of
years. He now lives in one of the most beautiful
palaces on James street. Mr. Heermans built a house
a little south of Mr. Wilkinson's, which he occupied
as a dwelling for a number of years.

The Syracuse Company built a frame house in
1824, on the ground at present covered by D. McCar-
thy & Company's mammoth stores.

Kirk's Tavern was built by John Garrison in 1824.
The house is now standing, and is kept by E. G.
Smith. At the time it was built, the mud on Salina
street was hardly wadeable. Overshoes were of no


account in those clays, and boots were hardly a
protection against the mud and water. Mechanics at
work in the village refused to board there, giving as
a reason that the house was so far out from the main
village, and the street was so muddy they could not
get to their meals. Mr. Kirk came here in 1826, and
opened the house as a tavern. He was for a number
of years the sole proprietor, and enjoyed the reputa-
tion of being a first-rate landlord. He was a favorite
with the country people, and his house was always
filled with them. He retired from active life several
years ago, and is now quietly enjoying his well-
earned riches. None know him but to love and
respect him.

A man named White built a small frame house on
the ground now occupied by the gothic house a little
south of the Pike block. There were no other
buildings on the south side of the canal in 1824.

Salina street, from the canal to Fayette street,was
then from three to four feet lower than at the present
day, and during the spring and fall was nearly
impassable from the great depth of mud. There were
no sidewalks, and pedestrians were comj)elled to pick
their way along the street as best they could. Teams
frequently would get set in the mud, and require
great exertions to extricate them. This portion of
the street has since been filled up, and the southern
portion been cut down to its present level.


The land west of Salina street was then covered
with scattered pine trees, oak underbrush, fallen
logs and old stumps, down to the creek and pond,
which have all long since bowed their heads to the
dust and given place to the stately stores and resi-
dences of our merchants and business men.

Game of all kinds then abounded in great profu-
sion in the valley, and the crack of the sportsman's
rifle was heard where now are our most populous
streets. What was in 1820 designated as a place
which would cause "an owl to weep" when flying
over its broad territory, has now become a large,
prosperous, growing city, whose name is known
throughout the length and breadth of the land. A
Syracusan can now be found in every corner of the
earth, and the exclamation: "I hail from Syracuse,"
is almost as common as "There goes a Yankee."
" Syracuse salt " and " Syracuse isms " are spoken of
in every place in the Union.

The family of John Savage was the first Irish
family that located in Syracuse. Mr. Savage was the
father of Richard Savage of this city. He was a
jovial, whole-souled man, and a general favorite in
the village.

The only colored family residing in Syracuse in
1824, was the family of Isaac Wales. " Uncle Ike"
came to Manlius from Maryland, as a slave of the
Fleming family, about the year 1810. He worked on


the canal while it was being dug, and soon accumu-
lated enough nioney to purchase his freedom. Eighty
dollars was the stipend and price which he paid for
himself. He married soon after obtaining his
liberty, and settled in this place, which has ever since
been his home.

Andrew Fesennieyer was the first German that
located in Syracuse.

Captain Jonathan Thayer came here in 1824:. He
was a very useful and humane man, and in nursing
the sick of the village he was always ready and willing
to grant his services. In 1832, when the cholera
prevailed here to such an alarming extent, he over-
taxed his constitution in taking care of Elder Gilbert,
Pastor of the First Baptist church, and others. The
last person he laid out was Dr. Day. He performed
this melancholy duty at 12 o'clock noon, and before
midnight he had gone to his final resting place,
mourned by all who knew him.

On the 1st of March, 1800, an act passed the
Legislature, creating the town of Salina. On the
•20th of March, 1809, the first town meeting under
this act was held at the house of Cornelius Schouten
in Salina village. Syracuse then formed part of the
town of Salina, and was not incorporated as a village
until the winter of 1824-25. Up to that time Syracuse
flourished under town laws, together with such rules
and regulations as were from time to time adopted by


mutual consent, and acknowledged as the established
regulations of the embryo city.

At a meeting of the freeholders and inhabitants of
the village of Syracuse, held pursuant to notice, at
the school house in said village, on Tuesday, the 3rd
day of May, 1825, the following officers were chosen
and proceedings had : Trustees, Joshua Forman, Amos
P. Granger, Moses D. Burnet, Heman Walbridge and
John Rodgers; Clerk, John Wilkinson; Treasurer,
John Durnf ord ; Pound Master, Henry Young; Con-
stables, Jesse D. Rose and Henry W. Durnf ord;
Overseers of Highways, First District, Henry Young;
Second District, John Garrison. This statement of
the meeting is certified to by Daniel Gilbert, Justice
of the Peace, Syracuse, May 3, 1825.

I stated in a former chapter of the "Reminiscences
of Syracuse" that Frederick Horner was the only man
now living in this city who had ever seen General
Washington. In casting my eye over the city at that
time, I did not thiuk of the venerable Major S. S.
Forman, although I had frequently conversed with
him about Washington, his dress and personal appear-
ance, and also about the evacuation of New York by
the British army. Major Forman did not tell me his
age, but he is a venerable man. His brothers were
officers in the American army during the Revolution.
They were stationed in New Jersey and were engaged
in the battle of Monmouth and several other severe

184 Cheney's reminiscences

engagements fought in that State. Major Forman is
a man of wealth, and has filled several public offices
in this 'State with honesty and ability, and has always
borne an unblemished character throughout a long
and useful life. He is one of the last of that indom-
itable race of men who lived during the Revolution,
and no history has yet recorded the names of their

I have been kindly furnished by Mrs. John O'Blen-
nis of Salina, with the following facts in regard to the
early settlement of that portion of our city. Mrs.
O'Blennis is now over seventy years of age, and her
memory in regard to the early settlement of Salina is
as perfect as though the occurrences which she relates
had taken place within a year. She is the daughter
of Isaac Van Vleck, one of the first settlers in Salina.

Mr. Van Vleck moved to Salina from New Gal way,
in Saratoga county, with a family of four children.
He arrived in Salina on the 2nd day of March, 1792.
Mr. Van Vleck's family was the sixth family that set-
tled in Salina. A Mr. Whitcomb came to Salina with
Mr. Van Vleck. They found at Salina a Mr. Hopkins,
engaged in the manufacture of salt in what were then
called " salt works."

These salt works consisted of an eight or ten-pail

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