Gurney S Strong.

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was then engaged. The old homestead on the old
Cinder road has been the scene of many entertain-
ments given to the Indians by Cohongoronto. Mr.
Baldwin studied law in the office of Elisha Williams
and Judge Miller of Oneida county and of Thaddeus
M. Wood of Onondaga Valley. He was admitted to
the bar February 28, 1820. He practiced law at
Onondaga Valley till 182G, when, in company with
his law partner, Schuyler Strong, he removed to



22 THE FIRST MAYOR OF SYRACUSE

Syracuse, opening an office in the east wing of the
Syracuse House. The remarkable foresight which
distinguished Mr. Baldwin is shown in this removal
from Onondaga Valley, at that time considered of
far more importance than the village of Syracuse.
But the grand canal celebration, given in honor of
Governor Clinton and suite on their first passage
down the canal, Nov. 1, 1825, convinced the young
man that Syracuse was destined to become the princi-
pal city. And he was soon followed by Elias W.
Leavenworth, B. Davis Noxon, James R. Lawrence
and other men prominent among the early settlers,
some of whom came with the removal of the Court
House in 1829.

The event in Harvey Baldwin's life which will
always keep his memory green was his celebrated
"hanging-garden speech," which made him the first
mayor of Syracuse. This speech* — the most sanguine,
hopeful, confident, regarding the future of Syracuse
that was ever delivered — subjected its author to un-
bounded ridicule and caused him to be looked upon
as a fool. But subsequent events have proven that
the man, who had traveled extensively through
Europe and this country, was wiser than his day and
generation. The speech was delivered in 1840, when
Syracuse had so wonderfully increased in size and
population that the subject of securing for it a city
charter began seriously to be discussed. There was




HAEVEY BALDWIN.— From a recent photo, of an old-fashioned ambro-type.



THE "HANGING-GARDEN SPEECH" 23

considerable difference of opinion among the inhabi-
tants as to the extent of territory that should be
embraced. Some were for including the whole origi-
nal Salt Springs Reservation, while others advocated
only the village of Syracuse. The matter finally
resulted in the grant of a charter in 1848 including
the villages of Syracuse and Salina, with the name
of Syracuse. In the following year the census showed
that the city's population was 16,000.

An attempt was made when Mr. Baldwin was the
Democratic candidate for Congress to stem this tide
of ridicule by saying : ' ' The description of the destiny •
of Syracuse, whether reality or vision, is a proud
dream. To some extent it may be visionary ; but it
is no more visionary than would have been twenty
years ago a description of Syracuse as she now really
is. He came here when there were but five or six
hundred inhabitants settled down in the midst of a
swamp." The speech is in part as follows :

' ' Were we permitted to indulge in visions of the
future, I would present a view of our village or city,
as it is to appear hereafter, when all of us who are
now on the busy stage of life shall be slumbering with
our fathers. It is a remarkable fact that everybody
away from our village,- foreign travelers and all, pre-
dict for us a higher destiny than we claim for our-
selves. It is universally conceded that we are to
become the great inland town of the State, and next



24 THE FIRST MAYOR OF SYRACUSE

in size and importance to New York and Buffalo —
that we are to go on by rapid strides, increasing in
population, until we shall number from 100,000 to
200,000. If past experience will throw any light upon
the subject, then may we fairly claim that the short
space of fifty years will give us a population of more
than 100,000 souls. Let us, sir, for a moment con-
template the city of Syracuse as she will then appear.
Immense structures of compact buildings will in every
direction cover this delightful plain, and every hill,
knoll and swell of ground be occupied by some stately
mansion or neat cottage.

"All bordering territory will have been brought
into a high and perfect state of cultivation, and our
beautiful lake, on all its beautiful shores and borders,
will present a view of one continuous villa, ornamented
with its shady groves and hanging gardens, and con-
nected by a wide and splendid avenue that shall
encircle its entire waters, and furnish a delightful
drive to the gay and prosperous citizens of the town,
who will, toward the close of each summer's day,
throng it for pleasure, relaxation or the improvement
of health. In every salt manufactory that studs its
shores will be seen the ponderous steam engine,
breathing forth its heated vapor, and by the same
power drawing rich treasure from the bowels of the
earth, and converting it into an article indispensable
to the human family ; while it drives a thousand



THE "HANGING-GARDEN SPEECH" 25

wheels and propels cotton, woolen and flouring mills,
and all the varied machinery known to man or that
may be by man's ingenuity designed and adopted to
his necessities and wants.

" Then, too, will be seen the magnificent steamers
of the ocean and of our inland seas arriving and
departing or lying at our extended wharves, receiv-
ing and discharging their heavy aud well assorted
cargoes ; and everywhere will be heard the hum of
its busy, thrifty and happy people. On yonder hill
will be seen the gilded dome of the stately and
massive capitol ; and pinnacles and spires towering
from the plain in every direction, pointing their
tall shafts towards heaven, as emblems of those
who worship beneath. What a beautiful view will
here burst upon the delighted traveler as he treads
the lofty deck of the ocean or lake steamer just
emerging from the slackened water and deepened
channel of the Oswego into our beautiful lake, or as
he is whirled with locomotive power and speed along
the numerous railways that on the east and west,
the north and south, approach the town. The ex-
tended city, with its hundred spires, pinnacles and
domes, its ascending smoke, vapor and dust, lies before
him. On the east and west, the sloping hills, which,
by an easy and gentle gradation from the south, drop
here to the level of the valley, are studded with
splendid mansions and neat cottages ; and southward



26 THE FIRST MAYOR OF SYRACUSE

still, rising in magnificent gradation, are seen in tlie
dim distance the blue and folding hills of Onondaga,
Lafayette and Pompey, whose sides and summits are
chequered by neat farms, carved out from the forest,
and these again chequered and colored by all the
various crops of the husbandman, with innumerable
flocks and herds feeding upon their green and rich
pastures, or basking in the genial rays of the sun that
warms its fertile soil — while at the north our beautiful
lake lies like a gem in the lap of the extended valley,
which, unbroken, sweeps away towards the mighty
Ontario, whose waters wash the northern shores of
our Republic, and whose centre channel defines our
northern boundary.

"In short, sir, everything is clustered here calcu-
lated to invite and gladden the heart of man — every-
thing which the lover of the world, the man of pleas-
ure or business, the Christian, the philanthropist or
the admirer of nature can desire, and which, collec-
tively, make up the beautiful landscape. Deem me
not extravagant, sir. I speak of things that are and
are to be. This is not a fancy sketch, but a slight
pencilling, an imperfect and dim shadowing forth of
the future."

It is needless to say that Mr. Baldwin advocated
the measure — indeed, he made the motion — to include
not onlyGeddes and Liverpool, but the entire reser-
vation. And his unbounded faith in the future



HIS PUBLIC SERVICES 27

prosperity of the town took a substantial form. He
purchased property in every part of the city ; so that a
railroad could not pass through the city nor a manu-
facturing concern locate here without coming to him
for the purchase of land. And he was a strong
public spirited citizen. He took a prominent and
active part in the construction of plank roads and
bridges and in the organization of every railroad con-
structed in the early days. The very first winter that
he came to Syracuse he organized a Mechanics'
Library ; he started a Lyceum ; he was one of the
originators of an Association Library ; he contrib-
uted aid liberally to the building of every church in
the city ; he was one of the fathers of the State Agri-
cultural Society, the sole founder of the Onondaga
County Agricultural Society and one of the origin-
ators of the present common school system; a fast
friend of the free school system, and active in the in-
ternal improvement of both the city and the county ;
and acting in all merely as a private citizen. He
brought into the county and distributed a great variety
of foreign and other valuable seed, and was the first
to introduce the Durham and Berkshire stock and
good breeds of sheep. He was at one time Chief of
the old Volunteer Fire Department. He was the
counsel and legal adviser in the organization of the
old Onondaga County Bank, the first institution of
the kind in the county, and continued its attorney



•28 THE FIRST MAYOR OF SYRACUSE

for many years. He was appointed not only the
agent, but the legal adviser of the Syracuse Company,
which formerly owned almost all of Syracuse. He
was the principal originator and the first President of
the Syracuse Savings Institution, which was the first
of the kind in this section of the State.

The bar of Onondaga County paid a fitting tribute
to his memory at the time of his death, saying that
" the high and extensive culture, polished manners,
great integrity and persuasive eloquence which he
brought to the performance of his professional duties,
rendered him justly eminent among the lawyers of
this county." The Common Council also passed reso-
lutions, saying : "Mr. Baldwin has been foremost
in promoting all measures of public utility, and in
advancing by his personal efforts and by pecuniary
sacrifices the interests of the community in which he
lived."

The last will of Harvey Baldwin, dated May 27,
1863, contains this eccentric clause.: "And regarding
the use of tobacco in any form whatever as an un-
gentlemanly, filthy and pernicious practice, and
wishing to express my dislike and abhorrence of it, I
hereby declare that any of my children who shall
offend in the premises after the publication of this,
my last will and testament, and before the distribu-
tion and final settlement of my estate, shall have his
or her share as the case may be, charged with the sum



HIS DESCENDANTS 29

of $1,000, to be deducted from such share or shares,
and the amount thereof shall be distributed equally
among the surviving children who shall not so offend."
When Mr. Baldwin died his estate possessed consider-
able property in Syracuse and Onondaga county,
besides very large tracts of land in Louisiana and
Texas.

An account of the life of Harvey Baldwin would
be incomplete without some mention being made of
his accomplished children. At the time of his death
his minor children were Cora, Grace, Sarah, Burnet
T., and Irving D. His other children who were liv-
ing at that time were Laura, who married Washing-
ton Morton, of New York, and whose wedding was
the first one in this city to which tickets of admission
were issued — this being made necessary on account
of the numerous friends of the family ; Harvey ;
Julia ; and Mary, who married Edward Renshaw
Jones, a wealthy gentleman of New York city, now
deceased. The daughters were considered the most
beautiful and accomplished young ladies in the city,
and they were the recipients of much favorable atten-
tion in the best social circles of Europe, to which their
father's social standing admitted them. The surviv-
ing children are living in or near New York city.



CHAPTER II



A FAMOUS COFFEE HOUSE



The coffee house which formerly stood on the cor-
ner of Washington and Warren streets, where the Van-
derbilt House now stands, was a very famous eating
house in its day, being favorably known throughout
the entire State and exceedingly popular with the
people who then resided in Syracuse. The erection
of the building, as a two-story wooden dwelling house,
was begun in 1824 by Gen. Jonas Mann, who moved
in his family the next season and during the summer
finished the work. After a couple of years the
house was occupied by Col. Elijah Phillips, who was
for many years agent of the great line of stages of
Thorpe & Sprague from Albany to Buffalo. The wife
of Col. Phillips was the daughter of Asa Danforth,
jr., the first white child born in Onondaga county
and the mother of Mrs. Peter Outwater, who was the
mother-in-law of Andrew D. White, Ex-President of
Cornell University.

In later years the place was rented by Andrew
(30)




COOK'S COFFEE HOUSE.— From an old stereoscopic view.



A GREAT RIOT 31

Leinhart as a German tavern and boarding house.
The place was afterwards run as a saloon by a Ger-
man named Seigle. The bar was made very attrac-
tive by means of mirrors and bird cages. And among
the many birds there was an old and wicked parrot,
well informed in bar-room etiquette, who would call
in the most deliberate manner for the different kinds
of drinks. The place was fitted up in a better style
than was usual for those days, and it was a popular
place of resort, especially among the Germans. But
that which distinguished it most was in being the
scene of one of the greatest riots that ever occurred in
the village of Syracuse.

On the night of the first of January, 18-44, while a
New Year's ball was in progress in that house, several
roughs from Salt Point, as Salina was then called,
entered the bar room. "William Blake, who had been
celebrating the day beyond his powers of endurance,
smashed his glass on the bar. This was in accordance
with a prearranged plan, for the Salt Pointers were
on mischief bent. A war of words ensued with the
woman who was dispensing the drinks. The woman,
against whom some insulting remark had been made,
called for assistance. Her husband, Mr. Seigle, there-
upon promptly shot, but did not kill Blake. Then
the fight became terrific, for in those days the boys,
especially the Salt Pointers, were fighters. Several
of the participants were shot. It was fortunate that



32 A FAMOUS COFFEE HOUSE

Captain Timothy H.TealPs cadets, whose quarters were
in the Granger Block, directly opposite, had just re-
turned from their drill. Lieutenant William B. Olm-
sted called together the departing members of the
Syracuse Cadets, and, surrounding the house, cap-
tured Seigle and several others and marched their
prisoners to the old jail. When the cadets had de-
parted the mob ransacked the house and made a bon-
fire of all the furniture. The cadets returned in time
to save the building from being burned. The prison-
ers were tried the next day before Major William A.
Cook, Justice of the Peace, and they were acquitted.
Several of those who attacked the house were put
under bonds to keep the peace. The German land-
lord, besides having his furniture totally demolished,
mourned the loss of $300, which had been stolen from
him. And after that he had no peace. He retired
early every night, locked himself securely in, and
stationed a guard at his door. He Avas glad to sell
out his business the following April to Eliphalet
Welch; and then he departed for Milwaukee.

Mr. Welch had formerly been associated with
George Babcock, his nephew, in conducting a tem-
perance restaurant, called the Syracuse Lunch, in
the basement of the wooden building which was
located where the Onondaga County Savings Bank
building is now. Mr. Babcock had purchased that
lunching place from Elisha Ford, June 20, 183!); and



THE WELCH COFFEE HOUSE 33

considerable money had been made there, the trade
coming mostly from the Erie canal packet boats which
landed near by. It was thought at that time that
Mr. Welch had made a great mistake in moving to
the corner of Warren and Railroad streets, as that
location was considered too far removed from the
centre of trade. But Mr. Welch enlarged and im-
proved the building and made it a very desirable re-
sort for ladies and gentlemen. Welch's Coffee House,
as the place was called, soon acquired an excellent
reputation, and it was as well known throughout the
country as an eating house as was the old Syracuse
House, which had a national reputation. In those
days the depot stood in the centre of the street be-
tween Salina and Warren streets.

Mr. Welch was given a key to a door on the eastern
side of the depot, in consideration of his allowing an
extra track, which passed from a switch at Salina
street around the south side of the depot, to be placed
in front of his coffee house, there joining the main
track. In this way he was enabled to secure some of
the passengers for his eating house.

Much of the success of Welch's coffee house was
due to Mrs. Welch, who was an excellent pastry cook,
and to George Babcock, who was an excellent mana-
ger. But, on account of his wife's failing health,
Mr. Welch sold out his business, April 1, 1851, to
John L. Cook and Emilus Gay, and retired to his



34 A FAMOUS COFFEE HOUSE

farm of thirteen acres, located about where Cortland
avenue enters South Salina street. He died Septem-
ber 10, 1874, at the age of 78, and is remembered for
his gentlemanly manners and his kindhearted, gen-
erous disposition. His surviving children are Mrs.
Laurence W. Myers and Mrs. George H. Hosmer.
Elisha Ford, aged 85 years, and George Babcock,
aged 80 years, are still living. Cook & Gay con-
tinued the place for one year, and then Mr. Babcock
bought out Mr. Gay's interest, the firm continuing as
Cook & Babcock for three years. During that time
the business was so prosperous that the firm made a
yearly net profit of $7,000 above living expenses. Mr.
Babcock then sold out his interest to Mr. Cook, who
took into partnership his sons, John L., jr., and
Austin D., the place being then known as Cook &
Sons' Coffee House.

There is not a resident of this city, who lived here
a quarter of a century ago, who does not entertain
pleasant recollections of Cook's Coffee House. It was,
indeed, a famous eating house. So popular had the
place become, that the little two-story wooden build-
ing became altogether too small for the many cus-
tomers, and an additional building was added on Rail-
road street, which was reserved exclusively for ladies,
and an extension was made on Warren street for the
kitchen. There was also a large open shed built on
Warren street to accommodate the horses of the farm-




JOHN L. COOK.



THE DINING ROOM 35

ers. The main entrance was on Railroad street with
a side entrance on Warren street. The front part of
the room was reserved as a meeting place; and here
could be found, during some parts of the day, every
professional and business man in the city. Then came
the bar, which extended across the room, parallel
with Railroad street. Beyond that was the dining
room. A large table, extending east and west, was
surrounded by small tables, with two small private
rooms on the Warren street side. At noon time the
table was spread with an excellent twenty-five cent
dinner, each plate being ready for the customer, and
provided with a capital repast, kept warm by means
of heaters, placed upon the table. It was not an un-
usual occurrence for a customer to wait for a seat to
become vacant.

In those happy days, when a man could obtain a
glass of Hersey's whiskey, which was made in Caz-
enovia and which was celebrated throughout the
country, for three cents, and a pure Havana cigar for
three cents, it was customary for each customer, upon
paying for his dinner, to receive a cigar. And in
those good old times the stores did not close till nine
or ten o'clock. It was customary during the evenings
for the merchants and their clerks, the lawyers and
other professional men, to meet at Cook's Coffee
House for a light repast, a social glass and a fragrant
cigar. Mrs. Cook, who is still living, was celebrated



36 A FAMOUS COFFEE HOUSE

for her pastry, especially her lemon pie, which sold
for three cents. The fashionable ladies of the city
frequently took their meals in the room reserved for
them. Mr. Cook, an English gentleman of the old
school, greeted his guests with a happy remark or a
pleasant exchange of witticism, and did much by his
courteous manners to make his eating house popular,
though his success depended largely upon the excel-
lent management of his wife. Among the regular
customers was "Counselor" Orcutt, an attorney who
enjoyed the reputation of being an eccentric character.
Promptly at nine o'clock every evening, just as the
clock was striking the hour, the door would open and
the Counselor would enter the room. He was al-
ways dressed in an old-fashioned blue coat with brass
buttons, a ruffled shirt, a blue pair of pantaloons,
gaitors about his shoes and a silk hat. The bartender
would place a glass of beer upon the counter; and
"Counselor" Orcutt, with his crooked iron cane
hanging from his left arm, the glass of beer in one
hand and a stub of a cigar in the other, would walk
up and down the room, always ready for an argu-
ment, which he sustained with some ability as he was
well read, and never leaving the place till all the other
customers had departed.

In 1807 the old building was removed to its present
location, the northwestern corner of Montgomery
and Jackson streets. It was purchased by Isaac



THE VANDERBILT HOUSE 37

Manheiiner and used as a grocery ; and it is now occu-
pied by his son-in-law, Moses Lichtenberg, as a gro-
cery. It was succeeded by a larger building, which,
completely covered the former site. Mr. Cook named
his hotel The Vanderbilt in honor of Commodore Van-
derbilt, in order to give it the advantage of a world-
renowned name and thus add popularity to his hotel.
The Commodore was so well pleased with this honor
that he sent Mr. Cook a fine engraving of himself,
and the picture still hangs in the office of the hotel.
The Vanderbilt House was opened March 18, 1868,
Cook & Sons being the proprietors. It was the first
hotel in the city to be furnished with parlor mantles
and grate fires. Charles Dickens was the first guest.
When he came to Syracuse March 9, 1868, to give his
readings of "The Christmas Carol" and the Bardell-
Pickwick trial, at the Wieting Hall, he was allowed
to take the corner room directly over the parlor in
order that he might have a grate fire in his room,
even though the hotel was not ready for its guests.
When Cornelius Vanderbilt, or Commodore as he was
generally called, was married Saturday morning, Au-
gust 21, 1869, at London, Canada — Miss Frank Craw-
ford being the favored lady — he stayed at the hotel
which had been named after him. The Commodore
was then 73 years old, and that was his second mar-
riage. The bridal party reached Syracuse Saturday
evening, the special car stopping in front of the hotel.



38 A FAMOUS COFFEE HOUSE

The Commodore and his wife hastened to their apart-
ments, where they remained during their stay, their
meals being there served to them. But the waiters
had cause to remember the short stay, which ended
Sunday morning, as the venerable railroad king left
fifty dollars to be scattered among them.

Mr. Cook sold his hotel in 1879 to Daniel Candee,
Horace Candee and Earll B. Alvord. The place has
since been run as the Vanderbilt, and it is now one
of the leading hotels in the city. Mr. Cook died No-
vember 4, 1890, at the age of 83. He was survived
by his sons John L., jr., Austin D. and Major Abel
G. and his daughter, Mrs. Lyman B. Dickinson. His
daughter Mary Jane, who married Marsh C. Pierce,
died some years previous. His son Austin died in
March, 1891. Mr. Cook was a prominent man in his
day. He was the Democratic Alderman from the
Sixth Ward in 1858 and one of the original cpmmittee
by whom Oakwood cemetery was bought and laid
out in 1859. He was also elected Assessor.

In the old Cook Coffee House there were several
fine paintings by Sanford Thayer, a local artist of
widely recognized ability, who painted many valuable
pictures. But there was one picture which used to
hang in that famous eating house, and which now
hangs in the bar room of the Vanderbilt, that can
recall many pleasant recollections to the theatre goers
of thirty and forty years ago. A card on the picture



THE DENIN SISTERS 39


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Online LibraryGurney S StrongEarly landmarks of Syracuse → online text (page 2 of 22)