Gurney S Strong.

Early landmarks of Syracuse online

. (page 13 of 22)
Online LibraryGurney S StrongEarly landmarks of Syracuse → online text (page 13 of 22)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


It was soon afterwards purchased by Dennis McCar-
thy for a dry goods store.

The old church edifice was torn down in April,
1850, and just as the last timbers were removed the
venerable and beloved Dr. Adams passed from earth.
The church society removed to Market Hall, April 7,
1850, while the new edifice was being built.

The Rev. Charles McHarg, of Cooperstown, N. Y.,
received a call to become pastor of this church in
June, 1850; he began his pastorate in September and
was installed December 18. In October, 1851, Mr.
McHarg resigned; his pastoral relations were dis-
solved November 24, and his labors with the church
were closed December 8. His resignation was reluct-
antly accepted by the church, for his character, fine
culture and commanding abilities had rendered him
a favorite with the congregation and the community.

From December, 1851, to May, 1851, the church
was without a settled pastor. A call was extended
February 27, 1854, to the Rev. Sherman Bond Can-



DR. SHERMAN BOND CANFIELD 221

field, which was accepted by hiiri. On May 1, 185-4,
Mr. Canfield began his pastorate ; and September 26
he was installed. His resignation, made in October,
1870, ill health impelling to this action, was accepted
October 22. His death, March 5, 1871, occurred in
St. Louis, Mo., and his funeral services were held in
the church of which he had been pastor for over six-
teen years. Dr. Canfield was highly educated, a man
of great logical power, sturdy in his opinions, inclined
to be conservative, and at times very eloquent; he
was of reserved and somewhat cold exterior, but in
private circles genial and warm-hearted, especially to
young men.

In May, 1861, the meeting of the General Assem-
bly of the New School Presbyterian Church of the
United States was held in this church, the Rev. Dr.
J. B. Condit being moderator. On January 26, 1870,
a petition was made by some of the members to leave
the church and organize the Fourth Presbyterian
Church. This organization was perfected that same
year, about sixty members joining the new society,
among them being E. T. Hayden, who had served
continuously since July, 1833, as Deacon or Elder.
From October, 1870, to November, 1872, the pulpit
was supplied by the Rev. Dr. J. B. Condit and the
Rev. Dr. E. A. Huntington, both of Auburn Theolog-
ical Seminary, and others.

The Rev. Dr. Nelson Millard, of Peekskill, N. Y.,



222 FIRST PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH

was called to this pastorate May 17, 1872; and lie was
installed November 19, following. During that sum-
mer the church had been thoroughly repaired, and
the main auditorium and Sabbath school room elab-
orately frescoed. Dr. Millard was an eloquent, forci-
ble, fearless preacher, and he was greatly respected by
his congregation. In December, 1883, he received a
call from Norwich, Conn. He is now pastor of a
leading church in Rochester. Three meetings of the
church society were held expressive of the desire of
the church to retain the pastor; but the call to Nor-
wich was accepted by Dr. Millard January 13, 1881,
on which date the pastor officiated for the last time.
From that time to September, 1885, the pulpit was
supplied mainly by the Rev. Dr. Wellesly P. Cod-
dington of the Syracuse University. During July
and September of 1881, extensive repairs were made
to the edifice and the organ. A call to the pastorate
was extended to the Rev. Dr. George B. Spalding,
of Manchester, N. H., June 29, 1885, which was ac-
cepted, September 1, following; and the new pastor
was installed, October 1, 1885. Dr. Spalding continues
as pastor of this church, and he is a worthy successor
of the eminent divines who preceded him.




■4&



%





THE STATE ARSENAL.— From a recent photograph.



CHAPTER XIV



THE OLD STATE ARSENAL



The old State arsenal, located in Onondaga Hollow
(now called Onondaga Valley), is one of the most im-
portant historic landmarks of this county ; and it is
fast mouldering into decay, through neglect and
abandonment. It was erected on the hill, half a mile
east of Onondaga Valley, at the side of the old Seneca
turnpike road, leading from Onondaga to Manlius.
It is a stone structure, originally of imposing appear-
ance, two stories and a half high, upon whose roof there
rested, some fifty years ago, two huge wooden cannon
which indicated the purpose to which the building-
had been dedicated. But one of the cannon fell to
decay, and it was followed by the other emblem of
war. The roof and parts of the walls have also suf-
fered from neglect and the lapse of many years.

The property whereon this building stands was
deeded to the State of New York by Cornelius Long-
street, father of Cornelius T. Longstreet, in 1809.
The building was erected in 1810, and it was occupied

(223)



226 THE OLD STATE ARSENAL

in Elmwood Park. During the war of 1812, Mr.
Mickles was employed by the Government to cast shot
and shell for the army and navy. Elisha and Diocle-
sian Alvord were the consignees of this shot and shell,
and they shipped the ammunition to Oswego and
Sacket's Harbor, where the Government forts were
located.

An account of this old arsenal would not be
complete without some reference to the celebrated
order of sending an armed vessel from Oswego to
Onondaga Hollow. As the accounts of different
authorities differ, it is safe to say that the most
reliable account is that given by Joshua V. H. Clark
in his history entitled "Clark's Onondaga." This
history was published in 1849, and it is the basis of
all the other histories ot this county, so abundantly
rich in the history of the Indians, the pioneers and
the early settlers.

Mr. Clark says: "It was with regard to the
Government property at this place, that Secretary of
War Armstrong committed a most laughable mistake,
which was noticed at the time in most of the public
prints in the Union. A large amount of shot and
shell was lying at the Onondaga Furnace which was
wanted by the fleet on Lake Ontario. Secretary
Armstrong directed one of the Naval Commanders
then at Oswego, to proceed forthwith with one armed
ves>el via the Oswego river, to Onondaga Hollow,



CAPTAIN BENJAMIN BRANCH 227

and remove the Government property from that
place to Oswego. The obstructions at Oswego Falls
were found to be quite too formidable to allow of the
execution of the Secretary's order, and the project
was abandoned. The joke was too good to be kept a
secret, and its publication created much merriment at
the Honorable Secretary's expense."

An effort has been repeatedly made by the Onon-
daga Historical Association to have what remains of
this old building preserved and put in proper condi-
tion, as the sole relic of early war history in this
locality. But nothing has so far been done in the
matter, though steps are now being taken which will
doubtless be successful.

A few years ago, William Kirkpatrick and Major
Theodore L. Poole, in behalf of the Onondaga Histor-
ical Association, started a project to erect a
monument to the memory of Captain Benjamin
Branch, who was buried, in 1814, on the south side of
the old Seneca turnpike road, at the top of the hill
above Hopper's Glen. But the monument has never
been erected. A letter from the Adjutant-General's
office in Washington, dated July 9, 1889, and written
to Major Poole, gives this account of Captain Branch :
"The records of the office show that Captain Benja-
min Branch, United States Light Artillery, died
October 14, 1814, at Onondaga Hollow, N. Y. Cap-
tain Arthur W. Thornton, United States Light



228 THE OLD STATE ARSENAL

Artillery, was at that time absent from the company,
sick, at the same place; but he died in 1836, in
Florida. There is no record of the death of any
other man of the United States Light Artillery in
October, 1814, when a detachment of the company
passed through Onondaga. From the data furnished
it cannot be determined who the other deceased
soldier, herein referred to, is."

The burial plot for this soldier was purchased by
Captain Arthur W. Thornton from Amasa Cole, the
same day that Captain Branch died. It is a beautiful
. site, overlooking the whole valley. The company of
Light Artillery was encamped on the green at Onon-
daga Hill. Captain Branch came from an old
Virginian family, some members of which are still
living in Virginia.




THE ONONDAGA ACADEMY. From a recent photograph.



CHAPTER XV



THE ONONDAGA ACADEMY



The Onondaga Academy, occupying a beautiful
and picturesque location in Onondaga Valley, has a
history which is clearly identified with the earliest
history of Syracuse; and this academy has always
been ranked among the best in the State, graduating
a long list of young men and women who afterwards
attained distinction and honor. It was intended to
be a rival of Hamilton College, and it was founded
by the same man who obtained the charter for
Hamilton College. But through continual lack of
funds, a disadvantage which it encountered from its
very beginning, it never rose above the rank of an
academy. Its first Principal and the President of
its first Board of Trustees, was the Rev. Caleb Alex-
ander, a Presbyterian Clergyman, who was an able,
cultivated, ambitious man, but one who failed to
retain the full confidence of his associates.

In 1801, when Mr. Alexander was forty-six years
old, he was appointed as a missionary for Western

(229)



230 THE ONONDAGA ACADEMY

New York, under the auspices of the Massachusetts
Missionary Society. It was his duty to visit the
churches and the Indians and to labor among them.
But he continued in the work for a short time only,
for in 1803 he organized the Fairfield Academy, at
Fairfield, Herkimer county, of which he became
Principal, a school that prospered and one that is
to-day of considerable influence. When that academy
was seven or eight years old, the people of Fairfield
wished to broaden its basis, in order that it might be
made a college.

Mr. Alexander went to Albany, in order to pro-
cure a charter for such an institution, but instead of
carrying it to Fairfield, he took it to Clinton, a
more promising town near Utica, and where the rival
Oneida Academy, munificently endowed by Dr.
Kirkland, was located. The Clinton people were
glad to get the charter; and thus Hamilton College
came into being. It was stipulated that Mr. Alexan-
der should be the first President of Hamilton College,
in return for obtaining the charter, but he failed in
his purpose. He was paid $5,000 as compensation for
his services to the Clinton people, though the Fair-
field people said it was the price of his treachery.
That was in 1812. The same year he went to
Onondaga Hollow, then a town of considerable im-
portance in the State, and began his plans to found
an institution that would outrank those with which
he had been recently connected.



THE REV. CALEB ALEXANDER 231

From Jasper Hopper's minutes of a preliminary
meeting, held in Onondaga Hollow, now known as
Onondaga Valley, August 15, 1812, it is learned that
upon application made by the Rev. Caleb Alexander,
subscription papers were prepared for establishing an
academy for the instruction of youth, to be located
not more than one hundred rods from the Seneca turn-
pike road. The subscriptions were in shares of $25
each, and were payable to John Adams and Joshua
Forman, in three yearly installments and not to be
binding unless 6-4,000 was subscribed for the purpose.

The sum of $2,000 was subscribed at that meeting,
Joshua Forman heading the paper with $500. A sim-
ilar paper pledged the subscriber to contribute to a
fund for the endowment of the academy, the aggre-
gate to be not less than $3,000. This contribution was
to be in money, in land or in mortgages upon land,
the interest to be paid annually. Shares in this fund
were to be twenty dollars each. Joshua Forman
headed the list with $750. At the close of the meeting
the endowment fund had reached $3,425.

The papers were circulated for some weeks subse-
quently, and each fund was increased to something
over $4,000, as appears in the application for the char-
ter. As these subscription papers were not preserved,
it is not known who were all of the contributors to the
academy funds. The charter names twenty-two trus-
tees as follows: Joshua Forman, John Adams,



232 THE ONONDAGA ACADEMY

Thaddeus M.Wood, Nicholas Mickles, Joseph Forman,
Joseph Swan, William H. Sabin, George Hall, Cor-
nelius Longstreet, Caleb Alexander, Dirck C. Lansing,
William J. Wilcox, Levi Parsons, Judson Webb,
Jasper Hopper, Gordon Needham, James Geddes,
Daniel Bradley, Benjamin Sanford, Jacob R. DeWitt,
Oliver R. Strong, Jacobus DePuy. More than one-
fourth of these original trustees were graduates of
eastern colleges.

A charter was applied for as soon as the funds
were subscribed, but it was not granted until April
20, 1813, after considerable correspondence between
the subscribers, the Board of Regents and Governor
Tompkins. The institution was endowed by the State
with a gift of land from the Literary Fund of the
Board of Regents. In the meantime the school had
been opened by Mr. Alexander in September, 1812, in
the Lancastrian school house which had been erected
in Onondaga Valley in 1809. That building is still
standing.

The courses of study arranged by Mr. Alexander
give evidence that the Onondaga Academy was desig-
nated for a high grade college. In addition to the
Lancastrian department, as it was called in those days
— which recp^ired the older and more capable pupils
to act as monitors in taking charge of the younger
ones, resulting in what is now known as the system
of monitorial government — there were to be the reg-






THE LANCASTRIAN SYSTEM 233

ular Freshman, Sophomore, Junior and Senior classes ;
and the studies prescribed for each class were closely-
modeled after the Yale College curriculum.

One of the important features of the Lancastrian
system of education was object teaching, as now used
in kindergarten schools; and another feature was
teaching the rudiments of handicraft, now known as
manual training, and in some instances teachers were
trained somewhat after the manner of the present
normal school methods. The kindergarten features
were dropped after two or three years, but the system
of governing through the agency of monitors, com-
monly called ' ' spies " by the pupils, was not entirely
extinct as late as 1862.

In October, 1813, orders were given for the erection
of an academy building, seventy-four by thirty-four
feet. Building operations were commenced that winter,
the contractors being two brothers, Moses and Aaron
Warner; but the house, which was made of stone,
was not ready for use until the spring of 1815, and
not entirely completed until the middle of 1816.

A belfry was added at an additional cost of $30,
and the tin on its roof shone like silver, being visible
many miles distant. It became a favorite trysting place
for the students, and many names and initials are
carved upon its woodwork. The belfry was con-
structed to receive a bell which had been bought in
Albany and brought to Onondaga Valley on a freight



234 THE ONONDAGA ACADEMY

wagon. The bell was presented to the Academy by
Joshua Forman, and the same old bell is still in
service.

That belfry, which possesses many associations dear
to the graduates of this historic academy, came near
being fatal to the building, for one night it was found
to be in flames. Two young men, mischief-loving
fellows, boarded at the time with Lewis H. Redfield,
learning the printer's trade and attending school.
They saw the fire and heroically put it out. These
young men were Willis Gaylord Clark, the renowned
poet, and his brother, Lewis.

The first meeting of the Board of Trustees, after
the granting of the charter, was held in the old school
house April 24, 1813. Mr. Alexander was chosen
President. Joseph Swan was chosen Treasurer, and
he was the only one of the original twenty-two trustees
that remained in the Board continuously from that
time till the dissolution of the Board in 1866, and dur-
ing a large part of that time he held the office of
Treasurer, Secretary or President. Jasper Hopper
was the first Secretary. Thaddeus M. Wood, a re-
markably bright, though pugnacious, attorney, was
one of the most active of the Trustees, and his
aggressive personality impressed itself upon the policy
of the young academy. It might also be added that
much of the legal difficulties which hindered -the
progress of this academy in the early days, causing



STRICT RELIGIOUS OBSERVANCES 235

several of the principals to sue for their salaries, was
doubtless clue to Mr. Wood's fondness for indulging
in a law suit.

A committee was appointed at that first meeting,
consisting of Caleb Alexander, William H. Sabin and
Thaddeus M. Wood, to prepare a code of by-laws for
the government of the Board and of the school. The
rules are similar to those adopted by almost all the
early colleges in the country. They were A^ery rigid,
and the strictest religious observances were com-
manded from the students. But in spite of the mon-
itorial system of self-government there was very little
discipline, as the principal lived a mile away, man-
aging his farm (the Lemuel Clark place). Students
were detected in all sorts of offenses and brought to
trial. The first case recorded is that of Robert C.
Owen, whose offense was card playing. He was con-
victed and expelled. Who his accomplices were in
the game is not now known. It may be that Joseph
Smith, the founder of Mormonism, played with him ;
for Joseph was at that time living at the house of Wil-
liam H. Sabin, as a sort of choring boy, and he was
much given to card playing and kindred amusements.

The dormitory plan for rooming the students,
adopted in almost all colleges, prevailed in the young
academy. When Mr. Alexander had shown himself
a poor disciplinarian, his salary was cut down from
$500 to $350, and finally his resignation was accepted



230 THE ONONDAGA ACADEMY

by the Board of Trustees. This was probably in
August, 1817, but the Secretary unfortunately omitted
the date from the minutes in which the event was
recorded. Mr. Alexander was at the next meeting of
the Board, elected President as usual, but in 1818 he
was defeated, and he never again attended the Board's
meetings. His seat as a trustee was retained till 1825,
when it was declared vacant by non-attendance.

Mr. Alexander was born in Northfield, Mass., July
22, 1755. He was graduated at Yale College in 1777.
How it happened that he came to Onondaga Hollow
is not known. Possibly it was through the influence
of the Presbyterian pastor there, the Rev. Dirck C.
Lansing, who married his daughter. Mr. Alexander
died in 1828. His son, William H. Alexander, founded
the Alexander Iron Works of Syracuse, which busi-
ness was continued by his son, William H. Alexander,
under the firm name of Alexander, Bradley & Dun-
ning. That business is now carried on by William
D. Dunning.

Although the statement does not appear in the
records, possibly by design, there is abundant evidence
to show that the academy, as conceived by Mr. Alex-
ander, was intended for a boys' school.

The courses of study, the rules and regulations,
the penalties, the absence of all allusions to sex and
the general sentiment of that day regarding the proper
sphere of woman all go to show that girls were not



CO-EDUCATION AS EARLY AS LSI 6 237

expected to share in the benefits of the Onondaga
Academy. Although the movement for the advanced
education of young women was not then thought of
in this country, yet here in this valley, as early as
1816, girls were admitted to study in an institution
modeled after Yale College and intended as a rival to
Hamilton College. Mr. Alexander, a rigid, old-school
teacher, opposed the project, and so strenuously that
a compromise was effected. On September 14, 1815,
a committee was appointed to purchase a lot and build
a female academy and boarding house adjacent to
Onondaga Academy. The sum of $2,000 was named
as the limit of cost, and Mr. Alexander was directed
to solicit funds for the purpose among the ' ' friends
of science," and he was to be relieved of a part of his
duties of instruction and allowed his traveling ex-
penses. Nothing more was recorded of this project
except an item some years afterwards to the effect
that Mr. Alexander had sued the board for his trav-
eling expenses and an allowance of $1.50 a day. The
first teacher employed in the female department was
Miss Otis of Troy; and she was succeeded by Miss
Ann Maria Tredwell, who afterwards became the wife
of Lewis H. Redfield. The distinction between the
male and female departments was retained till the
academy came under the control of the Presbytery of
Onondaga, but after the first twenty years it was
merely a nominal one.



238 THE ONONDAGA ACADEMY

After Mr. Alexander's resignation, the school was
managed temporarily by the usher, Philo Gridley,
who had been employed to reside in the building and
preserve order, until the Rev. Samuel T. Mills was
appointed principal. Then came Sylvanus Guernsey,
probably in 1821; the Rev. Jabez Porter, who taught
only a few months; and then, in 1824, Samuel B.
Woolworth was appointed principal. During the
principalship of Mr. Woolworth the courses of study
were greatly revised, the old puritanical, inquisitorial
code of government was set aside; and simple, sensible
rules were adopted. During his six years of service
he revived the reputation of the school in all parts of
the country, and brought in a class of students that
have made their mark in societj T .

The Rev. Edward Fairchild was the next principal
from 1830 till 1831; J. L. Hendrick from 1831 till
1815. Mr. Hendrick was a man of many traits, eccen-
tric, careless in his manners, good-natured, jolly,
quick-tempered. More anecdotes are remembered
of him than of any other of the principals. For
the first two or three years of his term he was
continually quarrelling with the trustees. There were
quarrels about stoves, quarrels about stove-pipes, about
the division of room rent fees, about his salary, about
a garden for the principal. But all these matters
were adjusted, and Mr. Hendrick became very pop-
ular. During his principalship the academy regained
much of its lapsed prestige.



TRANSFERRED TO THE FREE SCHOOL DISTRICT 239

The Rev. George Thompson was principal from
1845 till 1847. About this time the academy was
virtually passed over to the Presbytery of Onondaga,
under the agreement that all appointments to the
Board of Trustees or to the faculty should be made on
the nomination of the Presbytery. The next prin-
cipal was the Rev. Clinton Clark. The administration
of Mr. Clark was signalized by the complete reunion
of the male and female departments. James M. Burt
was the next principal in 1847. He had a stormy
term of three or four years, in which the whole com-
munity was scandalized by the rumor that some of
the students had indulged in dancing and music.
John Dunlap was the next principal in 1851.

Plans were made in 1852 for a new building, which
was completed in 1854. In that year Mr. Dunlap was
succeeded by Mr. Bennett; and then came in rapid
succession Mr. Lindsley, Mr. Kellham, Mr. Phelps and
Benjamin F. Barker, though probably not exactly in
this order, for the records are confusing. Theodore
D. Camp was principal from 1859 till 1864. He was
succeeded by Jacob Wilson, during wnose adminis-
tration the academy was transferred to the Onondaga
Free School District to be managed by a Board of
Education chosen by the people. This was in 1866.

The last meeting of the academy trustees was held
on the 12th of May, 1866, and the proposition to turn
over the property of the corporation to the new school



240 THE ONONDAGA ACADEMY

district on condition that the latter assume the debt
of 82,500 upon it was adopted unanimously. The
trustees were glad to be relieved of their duties.

William P. Goodelle was principal from 1866 to
1868, excepting about one month in 1867, when Isaac
Bridgman was principal; then came Wheaton A.
Welch from 1868 to 1874; Mr. Harrington in 1875;
O. W. Sturdevant from 1875 to 1887; E. D. Niles till
1892; and A. W. Emerson till 1803. The present
principal is David H. Cook.

The Onondaga Academy has graduated about 7,000
persons, a large portion of whom have led prosperous
and honored and eventful lives. A large number of
the residents of Syracuse received their early edu-
cation in this institution, and their commencement
exercises were for many years a great social event,


1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 13 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22

Online LibraryGurney S StrongEarly landmarks of Syracuse → online text (page 13 of 22)