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found against Mr. Allen by the Grand jury of Onon-
daga county, but the prisoner was discharged by Judge
Nelson before whom the trial came, on the ground
that he had acted under the United States laws.

In answer to a call, signed by 800 citizens of


Onondaga county, a meeting of those who "respected
law and order " was held in the City Hall, October 25,
1851. The meeting was called to order by Harvey
Baldwin, and Moses D. Burnet was elected the presiding
officer. The following vice-presidents were elected :
B. Davis Noxon, Johnson Hall, Phares Gould, Miles
W. Bennett, James Lynch, Lewis H. Redfield, Israel's.
Spencer, Harvey Looniis, J. Stanford, John G. Forbes,
Thomas Spencer, Rufus Stanton, Otis Bigelow, Hervey
Rhoades, Daniel Kellogg and E. S. Phillips. The
following secretaries were elected: W. H. Watson,
Stephen D. Dillaye, Cornelius L. Alvord, Benjamin
L. Higgins and E. C. Adams. The following com-
mittee on ordinances was appointed :• George F. Corn-
stock, John F. Wyman, W. M. Watress, Stephen D.
Dillaye and Thomas T. Davis.

The resolutions adopted stated that the "citizens
of Syracuse and of the county of Onondaga deeply
regret the commission of the outrage upon the law,
and would express our unqualified abhorrence of the
monstrous transactions," and "we repel the accusation
that any number of the citizens of Onondaga were
engaged in the affair." This meeting was all the
"law and order" people did to prove their strength in

For eight or ten years thereafter, on the first of
October, there was held in this city a celebration of
the Jerry Rescue. At first these celebrations were


largely attended ; but year by year the interest in
them died out and they were discontinued. In the
speeches delivered on those occasions, Syracuse was
declared the leader in the cause of resistance to
"oppression and unconstitutional slave law ;" and
ever since the civil war, Syracusans have been wont to
ascribe to the Jerry Rescue the beginning of effective
resistance to slavery in the North.

There was not another attempt made to execute the
Fugitive Slave Law in this part of the State. There
was perfect safety here for fugitive slaves. And
furthermore, the strength of the anti-slavery party
was increased not only here but far outside, by the
successful outcome of the affair. Syracuse was almost
the only city of any size in the North, where the
leaders of the anti-slavery faction had in their ranks
many of the leading business men, lawyers, physicians
and clergymen. But the distinguishing characteristic
of the " Jerry Rescue " is that the leaders carried
through the rescue, even in spite of the likely
acquital of Jerry ; because they wished to work a
moral effect upon the community. It was the work
of enthusiasts in the cause of " freedom to the negro,"
rather than of sympathizers with a negro about to be
returned to slavery.



As one approaches the city from Onondaga lake,
coming along North Salina street, he is reminded by
the old-fashioned buildings, now almost deserted, that
a village which once gave prosperity to many enter-
prising merchants has almost passed away. The most
picturesque of these old landmarks and the one that
affects the imagination most vividly in portraying the
commercial importance of Salina, when that village
contained most of the wealth within the present limits
of Syracuse, is the one lo.-ated in the middle of
Exchange street, between North Salina and Park
streets, and now adorned by a sign which shows that
it was once used as a brewery by Dalton & Fleming.

This building was erected close to the Oswego
canal, a short branch of which runs directly in the
rear of the building, and then passes through an
underground outlet into the canal, a short distance
away. The construction of the building, which is
made of brick, three stories high and containing three


THE WILLIAMS BUILDING.— From a recent photograph.



stores, shows that it was admirably adapted for
carrying on a mercantile business. From the many
signs painted on the north side, facing the canal, it is
evident that grape wine was once manufactured there.

This brick block was erected in 1828, by Williams
& Company, a mercantile firm composed of Coddington,
Gordon and Frank Williams, the first two being
brothers and the latter a cousin, who occupied the
middle store. The store nearest North Salina street
was occupied by Williams & Allen, and the one
nearest Park street was occupied by Richmond,
Marsh & Clark, composed of Thomas Richmond,
George Marsh and Elijah Clark. Ira H. Williams, a
brother of Frank, clerked for Williams & Company,
and subsequently bought out the firm. He afterwards
took into partnership John P. Babcock, the firm name
being Williams & Babcock. This firm afterwards
moved into Wolf street, where Ira H. Williams
carried on business till about 1S78, when he died ;
John P. Babcock naving died some years previously.
Williams & Allen went out of business in the early
'40's, and they were succeeded by another mercantile
firm composed of John O'Sullivan Lynch and his
brother James, who continued in business for about
ten years. Richmond, Marsh & Clark went out of
business about the same time with Williams & Allen,
and their store remained vacant for a number of years.

It should be stated that in 1825, when the middle


section of the canal was opened and when the cutting
of the lateral canal to the salt works in the same year
gave still further stimulus to the community, Free
street, between North Salina and Park streets, which
contained almost all the large mercantile houses in
the village of Salina, was entirely destroyed by the
cutting through of the Oswego canal. After the matter
had been discussed in the village a few years, a meeting
was held, April 28, 1828, and it was resolved to lay
out Exchange street, between Canal (now North
Salina) street, and Salt (now Park) street, fifty feet
wide and twenty-four rods long. William H. Beach,
Mathew VanVleck and John G. Forbes were appointed
appraisers. The street was named Exchange street,
as it was an exchange for the business portion of Free
street, which street extended from Lodi to Wadsworth
(now Seventh North) street.

This portion of Free street was simply placed nearer
to Wolf street, and parallel with Wolf street, so that
the business houses might be on the south side of the
canal. Exchange street then became the principal
thoroughfare for the village of Salina.

The only business of any importance at that time
not located in Exchange street was that conducted by
Thomas McCarthy, father of the late State Senator
Dennis McCarthy, who settled in Salina in 1808, and
won the foremost position as a merchant and salt
manufacturer. That store was located at the corner


of Free and Park streets, the canal having made a
slight bend to the north before reaching it, thus leaving
it on the south side of the canal.

Dean Richmond, who eventually became one of
the leading railroad presidents in the country, was a
merchant in Exchange street. Ichabod Brackett, who
came to Salina about 1800 and who died in 1832, built
a dwelling and store combined on the corner of
Exchange and Park streets. Samuel P. Smith was a
cabinet maker, probably the first of any prominence
in Salina, and his store was also in this street and
near Salina street.

Some of the other merchants were Noah Wood,
whose son, Marshall Wood, continues to keep a store
in Wolf street, Hezekiah Barnes, Jeremiah Stevens,
Hunter Crane, Felt & Barlow and Crane & Risley.
Almost all these merchants dealt in groceries, dry
goods, boots and shoes, hardware, etc., such as are
generally found in country stores; and nearly all of
them were interested in the manufacture of salt. It
will be remembered by all the old Salt Pointers, who
were always ready for a fight and rather liked it than
not, that Frederick Ganier kept a very fine restau-
rant in this street, in the golden days when Salt Point
contained many rich young men.

Noadiah M. Childs, who is still living, was a mer-
chant, prior to 1841, in the old block, built by Williams
& Company. He was afterwards, when occupying the


Alvord building, in partnership with Miles W.Bennett,
the firm name being Bennett & Childs. Aimer Pierce,
now living in Park street, was a merchant in the
Williams building in the 'GO's. In 1869 the building
was used as a brewery by William Kearney and John
Fleming, under the firm style of Kearney & Fleming.
That firm continued in business about two years,
when Mr. Kearney sold out his interest to Richard
Dalton. The firm of Dalton & Fleming continued the
brewery business some three or four years. Dr. J. H.
Turk, at one time the keeper of the pest house, was
the next occupant of the building, he using it for
making grape wine. H. A. Moyer, the wagon man-
ufacturer, afterwards used the building, which had
been purchased in 1876 by John Green way for $2,600,
as a storehouse. The two western stores were occu-
pied in 1885 by D. H. Gowing, who continues there
his business of manufacturing Rennet's extract used
in the making of cheese.

In 1840, a salt company was formed by Dean
Richmond, Ashbell Kellogg, Hamilton White, Horace
White, Thomas T. Davis, Henry Davis, Lewis H.
Redfield, John Wilkinson, Frank Williams, Gordon
Williams and Coddington B. Williams. The purpose
of this company, composed of these influential and
rich men, was to form a monopoly and control the
entire salt industry. The company started by giving
fourteen cents a bushel for the salt, when the market


price was eight or nine cents; and it took the entire
product. The plan was to ship the salt to the West,
and sell it at large prices in the rapidly growing States,
far removed from the sea coast. The western head-
quarters was Columbus, Ohio ; and the company was
there represented by Dean Richmond. The salt was
shipped west and exchanged for wheat, which was
shipped to the eastern market. But the company lost
heavily on the salt and on the wheat. The country
had not recovered from the disastrous panic of 1837;
and there was a great stringency in the money market
Among the principal creditors of this salt syndicate
were the directors of the Bank of Pontiac in Pontiac,
Mich. Those were times when " wild cat " banks and
" wild cat " business ventures prevailed extensively in
the western States. The great depression in money
matters caused all the banks in Michigan to fail. The
Bank of Pontiac had as its principal asset the Pontiac
railroad, which is now called the Detroit, Pontiac and
Milwaukee railroad. The State of Michigan had
loaned its credit in building this railroad. The salt
company took the railroad in payment for its salt sold
in that State. These heavy losses in the west wiped
out the entire capital of the salt syndicate ; for not
only did the banks in Michigan fail, but also in
Indiana and Illinois and the surrounding States. The
State Bank of Indiana was the only bank that stood
up under the financial depression, though the State


Bank of Illinois had an existence, with large discounts
on its money.

As the men who composed this salt syndicate of
Salina were stockholders and directors in the Onondaga
County Bank, the Bank of Salina and the Bank of
Syracuse, the failure of this salt syndicate came near
causing the failure of these earliest three banks.
Thomas G. Alvord, acting as attorney for the three
banks, spent the winter of 1841-42 in Lansing, Mich.,
and negotiated with the Legislature of that State for
the purchase of the Pontiac railroad. The State had
loaned a large part of its stocks to build the road,
when the "wildcat" banks collapsed. Mr. Alvord
succeeded in buying the railroad, which had cost
813(3,000, for $33,000. The road was then leased to
Gordon Williams, and it was afterwards sold to him.
It might be added that Dean Richmond afterwards
went to Buffalo and engaged in the commission
business; and that, like John Wilkinson, he eventually
became a railroad king.

THE STATE SALT BUILDING.— From a recent photograph.



The old State building, located on the southeastern
corner of North Salina and Exchange streets, and
occupied for many years by the Superintendent of the
Onondaga Salt Springs, is by far the most important
landmark in the city of Syracuse ; for it was in that
building the State government exercised parental
control over the salt industry, to which this city owes
its beginning and much of its prosperity and from
which came a revenue that more than paid half the
cost of the whole undertaking of building the Erie
and Champlain canals.

The building was .erected by the State government
in 1828, when Exchange street was opened. The Salt
Superintendent's office was in the extreme corner of
North Salina and Exchange streets, and the Salt
Inspector's office was in the southwestern corner of
the building, opening into North Salina street. The
Oswego Canal Collector had his office directly over
the Superintendent's office, the entrance being in



Exchange street. There was another office on the
ground floor, to which entrance was had from
Exchange street, and was occupied by the Salt
Inspector, but afterwards by Enos T. Hopping and
Thomas G. Alvord as a law office.

This office was occupied by Mr. Hopping from
1830 till 1840. The partnership extended from 1835
till 1838. Mr. Hopping was appointed Brigadier-
General of Volunteers by President Polk at the
outbreak of the Mexican war. He died in 1844, in
the Camp of Instruction at Mier on the Rio Grande,
and his remains were brought to Salina, where they
were buried with great honor. Mr. Alvord, who
continues in the manufacture of salt and who is widely
known as "Old Salt " for the great services he has
rendered in protecting this industry, became Lieu-
tenant-Governor of this State.

The property on which this building was located
was originally purchased from the State by Elisha
and Dioclesian Alvord in 1807, about the time of the
laying out of Salina by James Geddes. In 1813 the
Alvord brothers made a division of their property,
and this property fell into the possession of Elisha,
father of ex-Lieutenant-Governor Alvord. Mr. Alvord
sold the property, which included the Alvord building,
and extending from what is now the Oswego canal,
along North Salina street, through Exchange street
and half through the next block towards Wolf street,


to William Clark in 1825. Mr. Clark conducted a
mercantile business in the Alvord building. He sold
to the village of Salina his interest in Exchange street,
when that street was opened in 1828, and sold to the
State, in the same year, the property where the State
building is now located. The building continues in
the possession of the State, but the Superintendent's
office has been removed to the stone building in North
Salina street, between Willow and Noxon streets.

In the upper part of this building on the third floor
there was a public hall. The celebrated Hunters'
Society, organized in 183G-37 for the purpose of aiding
the "Patriot" war in freeing Canada from Great
Britain and annexing it to the United States, for
which project there was much sympathy in those days,
held its meetings in that hall. About twenty-five or
thirty men from Salina joined in the Canadian rebel-
lion. The commanding officer of the regiment, which
had its beginning in Salina, was General Von Schultz,
and he was assisted by Colonel Martin Woodruff and
Captain Stephen Bulkley. The regiment proceeded
to Ogdensburg by the way of Oswego, crossed over
the St. Lawrence river and occcupied the windmill
just below Prescott as their fort. They were attacked
by the British army and defeated in the celebrated
Windmill battle. The officers were hung at Port
Henry in Kingston. Some of the " Patriot " soldiers
were pardoned, and some ran away and escaped.


The first Superintendent of the Onondaga Salt
Springs was William Stevens, whose appointment
dated from June 20, 1797. He remained in office till
his death in 1801, and was succeeded by Asa Danforth,
after whom the village of Danforth was named, who
was in office for five years. He was succeeded, April
8, 1800, by Dr. William Kirkpatrick, the father of
the present William Kirkpatrick, and he continued
in office till 1808, when, for the two following years,
he became a member of the Tenth Congress. Then
for one year each, 1808-10, T. H. Rawson, Nathan
Stewart and John Richardson held the office. Dr.
Kirkpatrick was reappointed Superintendent in 1811,
and continued in office till 1831, an unbroken term of
twenty years.

Then followed Nehemiah H. Earll till 1836; Dr.
Rial Wright, father of the present Chief of Police,
Charles R. Wright, till 1840; Thomas Spencer till
1843; Dr. Rial Wright for a second term till 1845;
Enoch Marks till 1848; Robert Gere, father-in-law
of Congressman James J. Belden, till 1852; Hervey
Rhoades till 1855. Vivus W. Smith, the father of
ex-Postmaster Carroll E. Smith, was made Superin-
tendent in 1855, and continued as such to and including
the year 1864.

It was during this period, in 1862, that the greatest
yield was had from the salt springs in any one year
in their history, the amount being 9,053,874 bushels.


It was also during this period that the superintendent's
office was removed to its present location. George
Geddes, son of James Geddes, after whom the village
of Geddes was named, was the next Superintendent,
continuing in office till 1871. Then came John M.
Strong, the present Canal Collector, till 1874; Archi-
bald C. Powell, with a temporary four months' occu-
pancy by Calvin G. Hinckley, till 1880; N. Stanton
Gere, the son of Robert Gere, till 1883. The present
incumbent, Peter J. Brumelkamp, was appointed
Superintendent in 1883.

Prior to 1797, the year in which the first Superin-
tendent was appointed, when the manufacture of salt
had reached 25,000 bushels, each person was a squatter,
planting his kettles at the place most convenient to
the shallow hole from which he first dipped, and
afterwards pumped by hand, his salt water. From
the very beginning of the use of salt water there had
been local strife and contention about " prior rights."
In order to settle these disputes, and at the same time
to encourage and promote the manufacture of salt at
the Onondaga Salt Springs, the first known sources
of salt in the United States away from the sea coast,
the State government created the office of Salt Super-

The salt springs, known as the Onondaga Salt
Springs Reservation, were purchased by the State from
the Onondaga Indians by the treaties of 1778 and 1795.


This reservation includes the greater part of the
present city of Syracuse ; and of this large amount of
land, conrprising about 10,000 acres, almost all of
which, excepting what is used in the manufacture of
salt, has been sold to individuals, the State continues
to reserve the right to any salt well which may be
found on the premises.

In the early days of the salt industry, and for
many years thereafter, the pioneers, however hardy
and venturesome, were deterred from settling at ' ' Salt
Point " — the name by which Salina has always been
known — in consequence of the low, wet, marshy lands,
where the salt water was found, which were the hot
beds of the most deadly miasmatic diseases. To each
man brave- enough to settle at " Salt Point," the State
government gave for a term of years a salt lot, a store
and house lot, a seven acre pasture lot and a fifteen acre
marsh lot; and the manufacturer of salt was allowed
to cut his wood from any part of the dense forests on
the Reservation.

Most of the early settlers came from Connecticut ;
and they were either themselves soldiers of the Revo-
hit ion or the sons of Revolutionary sires. They were
as a rule, men of small means, unable to seek a market
fai from home. In return for the salt, they received
from the farmers all kinds of farm produce. In this
way almost every salt manufacturer became a country
merchant. Free street, and afterwards Exchange


street, where almost all the stores were located, would
become filled with farmer's sleighs; and the village
of Salina would frequently contain more strangers
than the taverns and private houses could well

On account of the marshy grounds and the poor
roads through the forests, transportation was mostly
confined to the winter months, when the snow would
allow of better traveling. But gradually, as the forests
became cleared and better roads were made, the trade
of the merchants extended also into the summer
months. As the salt industry increased and became
more prosperous, the natural water-ways through the
inland lakes and the numerous rivers afforded the
venturesome trader an excellent means of transporta-
tion in batteaux and river boats. As early as 1799,
salt was sold by Elisha Alvord in Detroit, while the
stockaded town was still in possession of the British.

The canal with its enlarged and greater reach of
territory, causing many thriving towns to grow up in
the wilderness, greatly benefitted the " Salt Pointers,"
who became rich merchants and built for themselves
beautiful homes on the fine elevated lands in Salina.
And now that the low lands have been improved by
drainage and cultivation, Salina will compare favor-
ably, as a healthy location, with any other portion of
the State. Then came the railroad, built shortly
before the civil war, which has superseded the canal


and batteaux, as they superseded the wagon and
sleigh; and to-day three-fourths of all salt sent to
market goes by rail.

The Salina steam pump house receives the brine
from the DeWolf and Marsh groups, and forces it up
into the tower, whence the brine is distributed to the
various manufacturers of fine and coarse salt. The
first settlers obtained the salt water by dipping it
from shallow pits. As the demand for salt increased,
the pits were made larger and deeper, and the pump
took the place of the dipper and the pail. A well,
curbed with wood, was built nearly opposite this State
pump house, just across the side-cut canal ; and it was
fourteen feet long, ten feet wide and twenty-five feet
deep. The salt boiler would climb a ladder to the
platform, elevated high enough to stand upon and
work with the handle of the pump, adjust his trough
and pump his required supply of salt water; and
returning to his work he would dip the brine from
his reservoir into his kettles. The hand pump was
followed by horse power, which has been followed by
steam power. The history of the progress of the
manufacture of salt may be read in the depth and
number of the wells which have been and now are on
the Reservation.

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The biographical sketch of Joshua Forman, which
appears in "Clark's Onondaga," is here reproduced in
its entirety, since it is probably the most authentic
account of this distinguished man's life and since the
valuable history written by Joshua V. H. Clark has
long since been out of print : —

Joshua Forman. — To give anything like a perfect
biographical notice of this distinguished individual,
would require a person more familiar with his public
acts, more intimate with occurrences which transpired
at the period in which he was most active, and one
who knew better the public worth and private excel-
lence of his character than the author. But as he, for
a period of more than a quarter of a century, was a
leader in the affairs of this county, and became
identified with all the majestic projects of State
policy, we cannot pass him by without an attempt to
do justice to his merits.

Joshua Forman was born at Pleasant Valley, in


the county of Duchess and State of New York, the
Oth of September, 1777. His parents were Joseph and
Hannah Fornian, who, previous to the Revolution,
resided in the city of New York. Upon the breaking
out of the war and the approach of the British to that
city, Joseph Forman with his family retired to

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Online LibraryGurney S StrongEarly landmarks of Syracuse → online text (page 17 of 22)