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brothers, both residents of Syracuse, dealt quite ex-
tensively in real estate in those days. They sold the
property May 10, 1854, for $2,700 to Anstis Slattery,


a woman who made "her mark " on the deed recording
the sale of the property. The next owner of this


historic residence was Jefferson Phillips, a blacksmith,
who purchased it April 7, 1856, for $2,700. He sold
it to Huldah Bradley, wife of Christopher C. Bradley,
April 5, 1857, for the consideration of $2,800.

Mr. Bradley settled in Syracuse about 1822, and
for many years he was the head of a thriving foundry
business. He held the office of Village Trustee,
County Treasurer and other responsible positions.
His sons, Christopher C. and Waterman C, founded
the business of Bradley & Company, manufacturers of
power hammers and carriages. The Bradley family
in those early days lived on the lot directly west of
the stone building erected by James Webb, the place
till recently being occupied by the wholesale hardware
store of Robert McCarthy & Son. At that time the
south side of West Water street was occupied by
residences and was considered a desirable location.
The stone building was sold July 1, 18(32, to Wheeler
Armstrong, a large iron manufacturer of Rome, the
price of the property being $2,000. Mr. Bradley was
the agent for the property till September 13, 1865,
when the next and the present owner became Eliza
Smith, wife of Alexander Smith. The property was
sold for $2,500.

For many years prior to 1851-52 this old stone
building was used as a recruiting station. The massive


strength of its walls, unusually strong for a residence,
made it especially well adapted for this soldier-like
occupation. The building was a two-story one with
a strongly built cellar, which could on occasion be
used as a guard room for refractory soldiers ; and the
walls, nearly two feet thick, offered an excellent defence
should it so happen that they were to be put to that
use. It is remembered by the old residents of this city
that this building was used by the government as a
recruiting station as far back as the Mexican war and
even prior thereto, probably as early as 1835, after
Mr. Wyman had sold the property to Mr. Irving.
Among those graduates of West Point who were
placed in command of this recruiting station were
Captain John C. Robinson of the Eighth U. S. Infantry,
who became a Brigadier General in the army, com-
manding the third brigade of the first division of the
first corps, and who eventually became Lieutenant
Governor of this State. Lieutenant Christopher C.
Auger was another officer in charge ; and he became
distinguished in the army, rising to the rank of a
Major General. Lieutenant ''Bonny" Phillips was an-
other officer in charge. He was removed to Texas and
died in New Orleans. Lieutenant Russell, afterwards
a General in the army, was another officer remembered
as one of those who had charge of this recruiting
station. Lieutenant Kirby Smith, afterwards a Colonel
in the Mexican war, was another officer in charge of
this station.


George Murray, now deceased, rented this building
in 1851-52, and he used it as a dye house, to which
use it was ever afterwards put. In the spring of 1861,
Mr. Murray sold out his business to Alexander Smith,
who rented the building until September 13, 18G5,
when his wife purchased the property. Mrs. Smith
says that one day Mr. Bradley, the agent for Mr.
Armstrong of Rome, told her husband that he would
give him just one hour in which to decide whether to
purchase the property or not. By purchasing the
property Mrs. Smith became possessed of the first
stone building erected in the village of Syracuse, an
old and historic landmark, and a valuable piece of

Col. John M. Strong, Canal Collector, says that
he well remembers James Webb as a fine-looking,
well-built man, six feet in height and a man of means
and prominence in the early history of Syracuse.
Judge Webb owned a farm in Onondaga Hill. His
brother, Jabez Webb, who was a Supervisor, owned
an adjoining farm; and he was killed at the raising
of a mill on his farm. Jabez Webb had two sons,
John and Ezra, the former locating in Cicero, where
his descendants are now living, and the latter locating
in the western part of the State. James Webb's two
daughters, mention of whom has already been made,
were attractive, beautiful young ladies, the belles of
Onondaga Hill. Mr. Webb became clerk of the


Board of Supervisors when he came to Syracuse, an
important position which he held for some years
thereafter. He removed to Alton, 111., with his son-
in-law, George T. M. Davis, who became member of
Congress from that district. Mr. Webb sold his farm
to Rodger Billings, who gave Billings Park to the
city ; and Mr. Billings sold the farm to Judge Oliver
R. Strong. In 1842, after the old Webb farm had
been owned by Judge Strong two years, Judge Webb
returned to Syracuse for a visit, and then went back
to Alton, 111., where he died.

This old landmark was destroyed on the night of
December 8, 1893. A fire had started in one of the
adjoining buildings, causing a large brick wall to fall
upon it. Little was saved from the ruins excepting
the eastern wall. Another building, similar in design,
was erected in the course of a few months.


THE ALVORD BUILDING.— From a recent photograph.



As a reminder of the important part which the
village of Salina once took in the prosperity of New
York State, greater comparatively than the part now
taken by the city of Syracuse, the student of that
early history finds a lasting monument in the old
Alvord building, now standing on the northeasterly
corner of North Salina and Exchange streets. When
this building was erected in 1808 by Elisha Alvord
and his brother Dioclesian, it stood on the corner of
Free street, through which the Oswego canal now
passes, and Canal street, which is now called North
Salina street. It is the first brick building erected
within the present limits of Syracuse and one of the
oldest landmarks in this part of the State. Ex-Lieut-
Gov. Thomas G. Alvord, son of Elisha Alvord who
settled at Salt Point in 1794, says that this old build-
ing to-day is the strongest and most durable building
in Syracuse, as its walls are two feet thick up to the
first story and eighteen inches thick from there to the



roof, while the joist and other parts of the woodwork
are still in an excellent condition. The building, built
upon honor, cost a small sum as compared with the
prices now paid for similar structures, because of the
low price then paid for labor and material, about
fifty per centum less than at the present day. The
brick were made by David Marshall on the banks of
the Yellow Brook, near where it crossed South Salina
street, between Jefferson and Onondaga streets; and
the stone in the cellar were quarried in the line of
what is now Center street, in the First ward.

The Alvord brothers kept a hotel in this building
till 1813, when they dissolved partnership, the building
coming into the possession of Elisha Alvord. The next
occupant was Major Ryder, commonly called Bull
Ryder, who kept a hotel there till the building was
sold to William Clark in the early 20's. Mr. Clark
not only bought this building, but also considerable
land in front of it, including what is now Exchange
street and the lot directly oj^posite, where the State salt
building was afterwards erected, the purchase price
being $12,000. When Exchange street was opened in
1828 the appraisers valued "the interest of William
Clark in said street at $27!)," and further appraised
" the value of the land in front of William Clark at

Mr. Clark was one of the most prominent merchants
at that early day, keeping a store of general merchan-


dise and dealing largely in salt. In 1828 lie built an
addition to the building, extending it to the canal.
He afterwards rented part of the building on Exchange
street as a drug store to Dr. Proctor C. Sampson and
Dr. Lyman Clary, two celebrated physicians. Dr.
Clary's son, 0. Ware Clary, recently kept a rubber
store in South Salina street, between Washington and
Fayette streets. This drug store was conducted from
1832 till nearly 1840, when the store was absorbed in
Mr. Clark's general store. Mr. Clark at one time took
into partnership, under the firm name of William
Clark & Company, Lis brother-in-law, James Beards-
ley, who afterwards returned to New Orleans, where he
became the editor of the New Orleans Bee. Ex-Lieut-
Gov. Alvord, oftentimes called "Old Salt," for the
great service he rendered Syracuse in protecting the
salt industry, occupied an office in this old building,
over the drug store, from 1833 to 1846, excepting three
years, during which he occupied an office in the State
building, directly opposite, in partnership with Gen.
Enos D. Hopping, brother-in-law of Dean Richmond.
William Clark sold out his business in 1841 to
Myles W. Bennett and Noadiah M. Childs, who carried
on the business for five years under the firm name of
Bennett & Childs. Mr. Childs was the active business
partner, while Mr. Bennett continued as cashier of the
Bank of Salina, which stood at the corner of North
Salina and Wolf streets. Mr. Bennett was succeeded


by Thomas Earll, son of Judge Nehemiah H. Earll,
who was member of Congress for two terms from
Onondaga Hill. Their firm, Childs & Earll, remained
in business from 1846 till 1849, when Mr. Childs con-
tinued alone in the old Alvord building till 1856. Mr.
Childs bought the building from William Clark in
1853, the purchase price being $4,500.

After the fire of 1856, which destroyed some six or
seven acres of buildings and residences, mostly located
in the block inclosed by Exchange, North Salina, .
Wolf and Park streets, though there were some build-
ings destroyed on Wolf and North Salina streets,
notably the Bank of Salina and the Eagle Hotel, the
latter being located where E. J. Eddy's store is now
located, N. M. Childs removed to the Crippen block,
corner of Park and Wolf streets, which is now occupied
by H. A. Moyer, the wagon manufacturer. Mr.
Childs continued in business till 1881. He is now the
agent for the Dillaye estate, residing at 406 To'wnsend
street, hale and hearty at the age of 87 years. He
and ex-Lieut-Gov. Thomas G. Alvord, still in vigor-
ous health at the age of 84 years, a salt manufacturer,
residing at 514 Turtle street, are the only survivors
of the old inhabitants mentioned above.

The upper floor of the old Alvord building, consist-
ing of three stories, was used as a public ball room,
where much dancing was enjoyed in those early days,
but it was not so used when Mr. Clark occupied the


building. When N. M. Childs was President of the
Board of Education in 1858, this upper floor was used
for a winter school, during the close of canal naviga-
tion. The young fellows who worked in the salt
yards and along the canal in those early days — the
"Salt Pointers," as they were called — enjoyed the
well-earned reputation of being rather tough, and it
was a difficult matter to find a school teacher who was
capable of preserving order. Mr. Childs says that
Henry A. Barnum, who was afterwards distinguished
as a General in the civil war, then 25 years old, was
the teacher in that winter school for one or two
winters, and that young Barnum proved that he had
plenty of pluck, and succeeded in governing the
school, notorious for its being decidedly tough.

After Mr. Childs moved into the Crippen block in
1856, the old Alvord building was rented for various
purposes, though it was mostly vacant. In 1873, the
building was sold to Albert Freeman and his son,
Hoyt H. Freeman, then doing business as A. & H.
H. Freeman, the purchase price being $3,500. That
firm carried on a pork packing business and dealt in
flour and feed for dairy purposes, besides owning five
canal boats. In 1878, the firm dissolved. Hoyt H.
Freeman carried on business alone at the corner of
Wolf and North Salina streets, where the Bank of
Salina was formerly located and where the Freeman
block now stands. Albert Freeman took into part-


nership his other son, Horace P. Freeman, under the
firm name of A. & H. P. Freeman, who conducted a
salt and feed mill and broom manufactury till 1886,
when Albert Freeman died. The business was con-
tinued a year or two afterwards by Horace P. Free-
man. Hoyt H. Freeman purchased the building,
after his father's death, and he now uses it as a store
house, he being of the firm of Freeman & Loomis
(H. H. Loomis,) manufacturers of willow clothes
baskets. In 1880 or 1881, Albert Freeman rented a
portion of the building for an oil stone manufactory
to Allan H. Gillett, father of William A. Gillett, and
who is now agent for an oil stone firm in New York
city. The building was also occupied by a man
named Billings, a peddler, who kept a rag and tin
store, and who sold out his business to a man named
Ay res.

The history of this old Alvord building, now
known as the Freeman building, reveals the history
of Salina, well known throughout the State as Salt
Point. Prior to the opening of the Oswego canal,
Free street was the great business thoroughfare of
the village. The farmers would come from different
parts of the State — from Oswego and Ogdensburg,
two important towns on the north, and from Buffalo,
another equally important town in the west — mostly
in the winter time; and they would barter their
provisions for salt. The old people, who lived in those


early days, and who are now living, can remember
the time when Free street, from Park to Canal (now
North Salina) street, was filled with the farmers'
sleighs. At that early day, the society of Salt Point
was of a refined, intellectual and literary character.
After the Oswego canal was opened in 1825, the
business thoroughfare was moved to Exchange street,
and most of the business was carried on by canal
navigation. The early merchants of Salina rented
the large island at Oswego, covering several acres of
land, and would use it for storing their salt to be
shipped westward on the lakes. As the surrounding
country became more thickly settled, the business
thoroughfare, after the destructive fire of 1856, was
moved to Wolf street, because of the building of the
plank road to Central Square.

As an example of the fluctuation in the price of
real estate in Salina, from those early days till now,
it might be noted that William B. Kirk, the father
of ex-Mayor William B. Kirk, sought at one time to
purchase the property where the Kearney brewery
now stands, at the corner of North Salina and Wolf
street; but he did not have sufficient money. And so
he purchased property at the corner of South Salina
and Fayette streets, then known as a popular tavern,
afterwards called the Kirk House, and now known
as one of the finest business blocks in the city,
called the Kirk block.



The large, old-fashioned brick house at the south-
western corner of West Onondaga street and South
avenue, which was occupied for many years by Vivus
W. Smith, who, as editor of the Syracuse Journal,
exerted a very great influence upon the early political
history of this State, is soon to be torn down by Oscar
F. Soule and to be replaced by a double dwelling
house for Mr. Soule and his son, Frank C. Soule.
This house is one of the earliest houses erected in this
city, and it is the place where political consultations
were held between Horace Greeley, editor of the New
York Tribune, Thurlow Weed, editor of the Albany
Journal, and Vivus W. Smith, editor of the Syracuse

The house was erected in a very substantial man-
ner in 1830, when the village of Syracuse had a
population of 2,500, by Zophar H. Adams, a builder,
who had a brick yard between his house and Onon-
daga creek. Mr. Adams did much of the early village


THE HOME OF VIVUS W. SMITH.— From a recent photograph.


jobbing, having teams, wagons and ploughs ; and he
made roads, carted off rubbish and cleaned the streets.
He is remembered as the man who made Warren
street from Jefferson street to Billings Park. His
was the only house at that time west of the creek. It
stood on the old Cinder road, built in 1827-28 on low
land running through a wooded territory, consisting
principally of oak and hickory, interspersed with
some hemlock.

The house was purchased in 1847 by Mr. Smith,
who lived there until he died in 1881. Its capacity
was very much enlarged, making it a very roomy and
pleasant dwelling house. It seemed at the time as
though Mr. Smith was going into the country, as all
the territory west of the creek was farm land up to
1860. -Philo N". Rust, the original landlord of the old
Syracuse House, who had a national reputation as the
most celebrated hotel keeper in central New York, had
a fine garden of fifty acres near by; and John Wilkin-
son's farm of 120 acres adjoined it on the west. The
house on the opposite side of the street was occupied
by the Rev. George H. Hulin, editor of the Religious
Recorder, afterwards occupied by General Henry W.
Slocum and now occupied by N. M. White.

Mr. Smith had moved from the house built by
Elias W. Leavenworth in East Fayette street, about
opposite where the Grand Opera House now stands.
He had formerly lived in Onondaga Hill, where he


removed in 1827 from Westfield, Mass. When the
Court House was removed from Onondaga Hill to
Syracuse in 1829, Mr. Smith moved to Syracuse and
lived in the house between the one built by Joshua
Form an, the founder of Syracuse, and the one built
by James Webb, afterwards known as the recruiting
station; and here it was, in West Water street, be-
tween South Clinton and Franklin streets, that Carroll
E. Smith, the present editor of the Syracuse Journal,
was born.

This old landmark, about to give way to modern
improvements, was a meeting place in the early days
for all the leading politicians, influential in the Whig
party in this State. In those early days, it was the
custom of the political leaders to make tours at least
once a year throughout the State and visit each
county seat, calling together their trusted leaders for
the purpose of discussing campaign issues. William
L. Marcy, Edward Crosswell, Martin Van Buren
and other men of national reputation made these
yearly tours. But it was with William H. Seward,
Horace Greeley and Thurlow Weed, the great news-
paper men, that Mr. Smith was most closely intimate.
They would sometimes come together, though more
frequently alone, just as one friend would visit

The most marked man of them all, and certainly
the most eccentric, was Greeley, whose white hat and


white coat, with pantaloons of one leg tucked inside
his boot leg, made him a noted character. Whether
he affected this peculiarity in his personal appearance
from design, or whether he was simply careless and
absent-minded, are matters of conjecture. Another
peculiarity of this noted man, and one which must
have caused his host considerable vexation, was his
insisting upon having a tub of cold water for a bath
every night, and then literally emptying the water
upon the carpet during his vigorous efforts to keep
himself spotlessly clean.

Thurlow Weed, for more than a quarter of a cen-
tury, came to Syracuse at least once a year ; and he
would quietly drive over the old Cinder road and
renew his acquaintances at Onondaga Valley, where
he lived when a boy. His father, Joel Weed, was a
laboring man at Nicholas Mickles' furnace, which
was located in what is now Elm wood Park; and
he was a very remarkable man, noted for his
strong sense and great fund of general information,
obtained mainly from his devouring the newspaper
exchanges in the office of Lewis H. Redfield, publisher
of the Onondaga Register at Onondaga Valley.

It was in that newspaper office that young Thur-
low first imbibed his liking for newspaper work.
When the son was twelve years old, he also worked
in Mickles' furnace. He afterwards became one of
the greatest men the country ever produced, being


called the Maker of Presidents, as Warwick of Eng-
land was called the Maker of Kings. His first silver
dollar was earned by selling to Joshua Forman a
fine salmon, which he caught in Onondaga creek,
formerly a fine stream of water and abounding in
salmon and trout.

Those four newspaper men, who were very close
friends, were possessed of broad information and great
knowledge of the world. Mr. Smith was naturally a
very reticent man and apparently cold, but when
among his friends he would be companionable, humor-
ous and an entertaining conversationalist. He was a
great student of various branches of knowledge, and
much given to scientific investigation. Greeley and
Weed had great confidence in him; so much so that
when they were absent on their European trips they
would entrust the editing of their papers to him ; and
Mr. Smith would edit the New York Tribune or the
Albany Journal, as the case might be. After the
break between Seward and Greeley in 1860, Smith
went with Seward and Weed. The characteristic of
Smith in his newspaper work was his clear, forcible
editorial expressions. He was a journalist for fifty
years, and he was recognized as one of the strongest
writers in the State.

In those days an editor would write from one to
three editorials a week, which would fill about as many
columns of his newspaper. The papers were all mod-



eled after the papers of Europe. There was very little
of local news in them, as a reference to the old files
will clearly show. The first paper to establish the
local column was the Syracuse Journal, the plan orig-
inating with Edward Cooper in 1846. when that paper
was published by Barnes. Smith ck: Cooper, consisting
of Henry Barnes. Augustus S. Smith (brother •: i ^'
W. Smith) and Edward Cooper. Mr. Weed of the
Albany Journal originated the short paragraph in
journalism, which is now the most effective weapon.
>ley of the Xew York Tribune effected the long
and elaborate editorial, which was very convincing in
its argument. He originated the "em" at the
commencement of each paragraph. And it m:.
added that while he was very careless in his dres- he
was exceedingly careful of his manuscript, though his
handwriting, to one unaccustomed to it. was very dif-
ficult to read. There were many italicised wr. Is used
in those days, but the modern:; - _ machines

have no italics. Seward was connected with Weed in
the Albany Journal, and he became distinguished
through his State papers while he was Secretary of
State under President Lincoln.

It has been noticed that this old hous
really a mansion, s a and roomy - . was

never painted. Some of the bricks were of the nat-
ural color, some were painted, some were mv
and some were those which had been in thv rig


part built by Mr. Adams. Mr. Smith was frequently
joked about the outside appearance of his house ; but
as he had no pride for outward show, he refused to
paint it, saying it was good enough for him, though
he sometimes threatened to paint it a sky blue, that it
might be different from other houses. His widow,
Theodora M. Smith, died in 1893. His newspaper,
through which he gained his great reputation as a
politician and journalist of the highest rank, is now
edited and managed by his son, Carroll E. Smith.

Vivus W. Smith, the most distinguished news-
paper writer of Syracuse, was born in Lanesborough,
Mass., January 27, 1804. After a short experience
in a newspaper office at Westfield, Mass., he came to
Onondaga Hill in 1827, and bought out the Onon-
daga Journal, which he published till 1829, when he
removed to Syracuse. In company with John F.
Wyman, who had established the Syracuse Advertiser
in 1825, he established the Onondaga Standard, the
two papers having been united, and the firm name
being Wyman & Smith. In 1837 he dissolved his
connection with the Democratic party and established
in 1838 a Whig paper, entitled the Western State
Journal. In 1841, he went to Columbus, Ohio, and
spent three years there editing the State Journal, a

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Online LibraryGurney S StrongEarly landmarks of Syracuse → online text (page 5 of 22)