Gurney S Strong.

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school-house to our worthy citizen, D. B. Bickford.

A tavern was kept there by John C. Brown,
brother-in-law to Harvey Baldwin.

Onondaga East Hill was then a place well
adapted and frequently used as a rendezvous for regi-
ments of soidiers passing from the Eastern States to
the Niagara frontier.

Fragments of regiments and companies of British
prisoners generally camped there for the night by the
side of a small stream, while on their way to and
from the different places of detention or exchange.

I well remember going one fall in a wagon with
my father, to Salina, after a load of salt. We went
through Onondaga Hollow by the way of Mickles'
Furnace, to what was then called the "Corners,"
now Syracuse. At that time there was no road
where the present Tully Plank Road now runs ; that
part of the country was still in its natural state.

We stopped at a tavern on the present site of 'the
Empire block, kept by Mr. Bogardus, an old
Revolutionary soldier. The house was a small one,
and was, I should judge, about twenty by thirty feet
square, and a story and a half high. I do not recollect


of seeing any other houses, though there may have
been two or three small ones.

I well recollect that it was a cedar swamp from
the Corners to Lodi, and a corduroy road where the
Genesee turnpike now runs. The road was covered
with an arch of cedars, and it looked very much like
an arched railroad tunnel a mile in length. The Cor-
ners, at that time, comprised the whole of Syracuse.

At that time nearly all of the first settlers of this
county were alive, and as a boy I knew them.

I was well acquainted with General Asa Dan-
f orth, and used to visit him frequently to listen to his
stories about the Revolution and partake of the
delicious musk melons with which he bountifully
supplied me.

I was at that time but six years old, and he must
have been over seventy-five. I well remember the
feelings of sorrow and regret I experienced as I saw
him borne to his grave. He was buried on the knoll,
next north of the old stone arsenal, and was removed
from that place to the family burial ground of Thad-
deus M. Wood, and a few years ago his remains were
again removed and placed in the cemetery at Onon-
daga Hollow.

Arthur Patterson and Dr. Needham of Onondaga
Hollow are the only persons now living who acted as
pall bearers on that mournful occasion.

General Danf orth came to this county in the year


1788, and settled in Onondaga Hollow, with the per-
mission of the Indians.

At that time there were fnll five hundred Indians
belonging to the Onondaga tribe. Many of their old
men were engaged in the Revolution. They fought
for his majesty, George III, against the American

They had also fought against General Sullivan
soon after the Revolution, in three small battles in
this valley. Two of those battles were fought within
the corporate limits of this city.

General Sullivan came up the Susquehanna with
a large force, landed near Elmira and crossed over
the country west of this place, until he reached
Onondaga Lake. He passed round the lake until he
reached the ground now occupied by the Salt Springs
Pump House, which used to be Henry Young's sand
bed. At this point he fought a severe battle with the
Onondagas and defeated them. The Indians retreated
to the foot of the hill, where the Water Works
reservoir is now located, and encamped. In the
morning General Sullivan sent out his scouts, who
discovered and captured a couple of Indian spies in a
large tree. From these two Indians they obtained
information in regard to the camping place of the

The General formed his army in the form of a
crescent and advanced over the hill, completely tak-


ing the Indians by surprise, while busily engaged in
cooking breakfast, and shutting off every avenue of
escape. At that time the flats near the foot of the
Mil were covered with water at all seasons of the

The Indians, discovering their situation, fought like
savages while any hope was left, and then wildly
plunged into the creek and escaped by swimming.
Large numbers of them were killed in the water.
General Sullivan rapidly followed up his advantage,
and completely destroyed the castle and the largest
portion of the village.

In the village they found a negro lock-smith
engaged in repairing the locks of the Indians' guns.
He was immediately seized by the infuriated army
and hung and quartered in less than fifteen minutes.

The young chief, Anteauga, was engaged in both
of these battles, and distinguished himself by his
great bravery. He was presented by General Wash-
ington with an oblong silver medal, which he always
wore afterwards, as a token of friendship and fidelity
to this Government. The medal is probably still in
the possession of his relatives on this Reservation.

The Onondagas were nearly destroyed by this
incursion of General Sullivan into their country.
They shortly afterwards came to terms, and were
thenceforth allies of the American Government.

This city was known from 1806 to 1809 as

118 cheney's reminiscences

"Bogardus' Corners;" from 1809 to 1812 as "Mil-
an;" from 1812 to 1811 as "South Salina;" from
1814 to 1817 as "Cossit's Corners;" from 1817 to
1820 as "Corinth;" and from that time it has ever
been known as Syracuse, the name given it by John
Wilkinson, he being the first postmaster.

Mr. Cheney came here to reside in March, 1824.
He boarded on Church street, and used to cross "the
green" where the old Baptist church (now the
National theatre) stands, on his way to work.

One morning in the spring as he was going to his
work, the thought came across his mind that he might
live to see the time when the " Corners " would be-
come a large and flourishing place, and that when
that time did arrive it would be pleasant to look back
to the year 1824 and be able to tell how many houses
were then erected.

From where he stood every house in the village
could be distinctly seen. He counted them and found
there were but twenty-three finished houses and six
or seven under way.

How few there are, if placed in the same circum-
stances with Mr. Cheney, would have conceived and
carried out such an idea ? And yet that wild dream
of the future has come to pass. " The Corners " have
grown until now they fill the vast boundaries of Syra-
cuse—the " City of Salt" and " Isms."

At that time it was thought the " Old Red Mill "


would be the business centre of the future city.
What citizen of Syracuse during the past ten years
does not remember the old Red Mill ? We, the com-
piler, well remember its old walls. In our more youth-
ful days it was one of our favorite places of resort.
We remember the feelings of awe and wonder we
were wont to experience as we watched the great
wooden water-wheel turn, turn, with a uniform mo-
tion, as if striving to get rid of the great weight of
water let fall upon its time-worn frame from the
moss-covered flume. We remember curiously watch-
ing the tin boxes of the elevator as they wound rap-
idly upward, bearing their burdens of grain or flour ;
of listening to the ceaseless bur-r-r-r of its different
run of stone, and the clatter of the hopper as it sup-
plied their greedy mouths. We remember the great
bolter and the wooden spout from which issued a
great dusty stream of bran or shorts ; the huge box,
into which was emptied the farmers' bags of grain to
be weighed and then let down into a bin below, through
a square hole in the bottom. And we do not forget
the dark frown that would overshadow that fat, jovial
face of the miller as we, boy-fashion, dipped our un-
resisting hand into the wheat bin and commenced that
great delight of boys, making gum.

We remember still later, when the old mill had
been abandoned, and the great wheel had ceased to turn
the complicated machinery, of crawling burglar-like

120 cheney's reminiscences

into one of its back windows and playing "hide
and seek " within its deserted walls ; of trembling and
turning pale as we were startled by the noise made
by some ancient rat as it clattered across the floor ; of
starting noiselessly down the stairs as the declining
sun threw a dim and dismal light through its mil-
dewed windows, looking right and left, expecting
every instant to behold some ghost or other frightful
apparition ; until we reached the street, when, drawing
a deep sigh of relief and casting a sidelong glance at
the old mill, we would start on the homeward track ;
and we remember the old wooden bridge across the
creek and race, from which we first witnessed the
ordinance of baptism.

Excuse us, kind reader, for indulging in these sweet,
sad memories of the past. At times we delight to
revel in the shades of other days, and the old Red Mill
and rickety wooden bridge, with many pleasant asso-
ciations, hold a prominent place in our memories.

The old Red Mill was built in 1805, and set in oper-
ation the following year by Mr. Walton of the famous
"Walton Tract." It was situated on the east bank
of the Onondaga Creek, near the present substantial
bridge spanning the creek on West Genesee street.
In 1850 the old mill with its ancient companion, the
wooden bridge, was removed to make room for the
present artistic super-structure. The motive power
was furnished by a mill race, leading from the old


mill pond, now Jefferson Park. The mill dam stood
where the present Water street "bridge has been erected,
and the pond extended as far south as Cinder road
bridge. The waste water from the mill ran directly
into Onondaga Creek.

The old mill contained two run of stone, and Henry
Young was miller in 1824.

When it became necessary to remove the old mill
dam, the Syracuse Company employed Mr. Young to
make a pond west of the salt office, to be filled by the
waste water from the canal, and to dig a race from
the pond to the mill.

While he was engaged in digging the race he re-
moved an old pine stump standing in front of the
dwelling of E. F. Wallace, measuring four feet in
diameter. At the foot of this stump among the roots
he found the bones of a large Indian, a tomahawk,
beads, knives and a rude earthen pot containing black
and red paint. The paint was as fresh and perfect as
though mixed the day before. Mr. Young claimed
that the bones of this Indian, with the tomahawk,
knives and pot of paint, had lain there for two hun-
dred years. He had known the spot of ground for
forty years, and the tree had been cut before he saw
the place. The tomahawk found with the Indian is
now in the possession of Mr. Cheney." It is a small
iron hatchet with a pipe bowl for a head. The handle
of this instrument was too much decayed to be

122 Cheney's reminiscences

preserved. This hatchet must have been brought here
with the French Jesuits in 1656, and was obtained
froni them by this Indian, who, to judge from the
quantity of trinkets and ornaments buried with him,
must have been a very rich man.

A little southwest of the old Red Mill, on the race
leading from the dam, Captain Rufus Parsons built a
mill for the purpose of making linseed oil. In 1824
it was in full operation.

Southeast of the old mill, on the same side of the
race, there stood a saw mill. It was built in 1805.
In 1824 it was run by Frederick Horner.

That year pine lumber sold at the mill for four
dollars per thousand, and hemlock for two dollars
and fifty cents. Even at these prices, "store pay"
had to be taken.

Mr. Hickox built a tannery that year on the
present site of Walters' sheep-skin factory. Part of
the old building is now standing. Mr. Hickox also
built the house on the corner of Mill and Mechanic

In 1824 that portion of our city now occupied by
the Syracuse Pump House, was covered with a dense
growth of small trees and bushes. Among these
trees, near the present sand bed, stood a grave stone
which had been erected a great many years before to
the memory of a poor Indian trader who was mur-
dered on that spot by the Onondagas. The inscrip-


tion on the grave stone recorded the name of "Ben-
jamin Newkirk, 1783." With Newkirk came Ephraim
Webster. By reason of some act on their part dis-
pleasing to the natives, a council was held, at which
it was agreed to kill them. Newkirk they imme-
diately dispatched with a tomahawk. Webster's time
had to all appearances come ; he was escorted by two
Indians to the place of execution. Arrived at the
spot, he told his conductors that he wanted to drink
once more before he died. The request was granted;
whereupon he took his cup and drank the health of
the Chiefs in a flattering speech. The speech capti-
vated an old man so greatly that he exclaimed: "No
kill'm." After some parley he was released and adop-
ted into the tribe.

Soon afterwards he was married to a squaw. She
did not live long. He married another, with the
understanding that she was to remain his wife as long
as she kept sober. He lived with her near twenty
years, although he contrived many plots to get her
intoxicated, that he might get rid of her and marry
a white woman, as the whites became numerous. At
the end of this period, with the aid of milk punch,
he succeeded in his cruel attempts. The morning
following her disgrace, she arose and without speak-
ing a word, proceeded to gather together her personal
effects, and left for her friends, no more the wife of
Webster. Of a sensitive mind, and possessing a large

124 cheney's reminiscences

share of self-respect, grief so preyed upon her that
she died in a short time after the separation. One of
her sons is now the principal Chief of the Onondagas,
and is a man of unblemished character. After his
second wife left him, Webster married Catharine
Danks, a daughter of one of the early settlers of this

Webster was very serviceable in the war of 1812
in commanding the Indians, and acting in the capa-
city of a spy for General Brown. He was a perfect
Indian in manners ; could speak all the dialects of the
American and Canadian tribes, and was a very
shrewd and sagacious man. He used to make jour-
neys into Canada, and, pretending to be intoxicated,
lie around the fort at Kingston, for the purpose of
obtaining information to communicate to the General
at Sachet's Harbor. In order to get over the St. Law-
rence, he would steal a boat, which upon landing on
the other side he would set adrift ; and on returning
he would repeat the theft. The General and he were
in close communion, and the nature of their inter-
views was known only to themselves. When on these
Canadian expeditions, he would disguise himself with
a coloring substance, that gave him the exact appear-
ance of an Indian, and that could not be washed off
from the skin by any ordinary process. He always
pretended that his errand among the red coats was to
obtain food or whiskey, and among the officers of


recent importation h,e rnet with uniform kindness;
but the old ones, who knew him well, usually sent
him away with a kick or a curse.

A little east of Newkirk's grave, myself and other
boys used to dig up the remains of Indians for the
purpose of getting possession of the beads, kettles,
knives and other implements of warfare, or an orna-
mental dress that had been buried with them — this
being the spot where the slain on both sides in the
first battle General Sullivan had with the Onondagas
were consigned to their final resting place.

Across the creek west of the old Red Mill there
were but few houses standing in 1824, and only two
or three more were built that year.

The house Hon. George F. Comstock now owns
and occupies, was occupied that year by John Wall.
He boarded the hands employed by Cyprian Hebbard,
step-father of George Stevens, of this city. Mr. Heb-
bard now resides in Onondaga Valley, and is a man
seventy-one years of age.

In 1824, Mr. Hebbard was engaged in building the
salt works on both sides of Genesee street, west of
the Onondaga creek.

A small yellow house then stood on the present
site of Allen Munroe's new house, and in 1824 was
occupied by Sterling Cossit, formerly landlord of the
old Mansion House.

The house now standing 1 on the corner of West


and Genesee streets, lately occupied by D. O. Salmon,
was built that year by Henry Young, the miller. His
brother, Andrew Young, built the second house
south of the corner on West street.

Old Mrs. Marble then lived on West street.
Christopher Hyde lived nearly opposite of her resi-
dence. A carpenter named Patterson lived a little
north of Mr. Hyde.

The house Joseph Savage has occupied so many
years, was built in 1823 and finished in 1824. It was
occupied that year by Calvin Mitchell, a contractor.
He obtained the contract for building the railroad
between Schenectady and Albany, one of the first
railroads ever built in this State.

These were the only houses then standing on the
west side of Onondaga creek and north of the canal.

The old house standing on the southeast corner of
Genesee and Mill streets, was built several years
before by Captain Rufus Parsons. The house now
standing near the northeast corner of Genesee and
Mill streets, was occupied by Frederick Horner.

Mr. Horner is now nearly eighty years of age, and
is the only man now living in this city that ever saw
George Washington.

About the time of the first invention of the grain
elevator, inventors experienced great difficulty and
expense in obtaining patent rights. Mr. Horner was
then engaged in tending mill in New Jersey, and one


of the newly invented elevators had been placed in
his mill, and as yet had not been patented ; though
the inventor was using every means in his power to
secure the desired protection of his skill. Washing-
ton, who was then President, was induced by the
invention to diverge from the direct route to the seat
of government at New York, and witness the per-
formance of the elevator. Thus was Mr. Horner
afforded the pleasure of exhibiting to the Father of
his Country one of the first grain elevators. This was
the only time Mr. Horner ever saw the great Wash-
ington, and he remembers him distinctly as he
appeared on that occasion.

A little north of Mr. Horner's residence, Andrew
Young lived in a small wooden house which is now

The house that David Stafford lives in on West
Genesee street, was built by his father in 1824. He
was a carpenter by trade, and assisted in building the
old Baptist church and several other edifices.

A Mr. Cook built the house next west of A. Mc-
Kinstry's present residence on Church street.

Mr. D. Canfield built the house next east of
Public School House No. 4, and that year it was
occupied by the Rev. Mr. Barlow, the Episcopalian

Samuel Booth was the principal master mason at
that time, and owned and lived in a wooden house a

128 cheney's reminiscences

little east of Public School House No. 4. He did the
mason work on the old Saleratus Factory, and was a
prominent, influential mechanic.

An old yellow painted house then stood on the
point formed by the junction of Genesee and Church
streets, and was occupied by Deacon Fellows. The
first house next west of the Baptist church was then

Elijah Bicknall built the old Baptist church that
year. Elder Gilbert was Pastor of the Church that
year, and when the carpenters got ready to raise the
building he mounted the timbers and made a long
prayer for the blessing and prosperity of their work.
Mr. Bicknall also built the small yellow house east of
the old church, fronting on Church street.

L. A. Cheney purchased the lot fronting on the
corner of Franklin and Mechanic streets that year,
for two hundred and fifty dollars. It was then
considered one of the most desirable lots in the vil-
lage, on account of its being so near the centre of
business. He had his choice, and selected that in
preference to all others in the village, at the same
price. Few persons, if any, then thought that the
south side of the canal would ever be anything.

The old wooden house east of the foot bridge on
Franklin street was built that year by Matthew L.
Davis, and was kept the same year as a tavern by
William Hicks. Mr. Davis also built the present


residence of William L. Palmer on Genesee street.
While Mr. Palmer's family were engaged in cleaning
house last spring, they explored a large hole in one of
the numerous cupboards, and discovered the remains
of a linen pillow case marked "Matthew L. Davis."
This pillow case must have lain in that hole upwards
of thirty years. It was probably stolen by some
mischievous rat and deposited in that place.

A little east of Mr. Hicks' tavern, Mr. P. Clarke
occupied a small frame house.

The salt fields back of Church street were in full
operation that year.

The house Mr. Driscoll lived in between Church
street and the salt works, was built that year by Mr.
Ryder. He also built two small houses on Mill

Where Public School House No. 4 now stands,
there was. standing, in 1824, an unpainted frame
house, twentyrflve feet square, a story and a half high,
with a roof sloping four ways. This building con-
tained one room, very high between joints, which was
warmed by a large box stove. The room was fur-
nished with old-fashioned, inconvenient school-house
furniture, and in this room William K. Blair, for
five days and a half in each week, taught the young
ideas of Syracuse how to shoot.

The Universalists held regular meetings every Sab-
bath in this room.


The celebrated Orestes A. Brownson occasionally
preached Universalism in this school-house to the in-
habitants of Syracuse.

The house now occupied by Henry Fellows on West
Genesee street was occupied by Widow Creed (now
Mrs. M. D. Burnet) as a boarding house.

The house on the corner of Franklin and Genesee
streets, the present residence of George B. Walters,
was built that year by Henry Gilford. Mr. Gifford
cut some of the sleepers for his house from the ground
now occupied by the residence of John Crouse, on the
corner of Fayette and Mulberry streets.

D. Canfield lived in a small house next east of
Booth's on Church street.

B. Filkins lived next to him on the same side of
the street.

John Wall built a small house east of Filkins' for
the Syracuse Conrpany.

Miles Seymour built the house on the southwest
corner of Genesee and Franklin streets. He also built
and kept a blacksmith shop on the corner of Clinton
alley and Genesee street, the present site of the Dana

The Rev. Dr. Adams lived in a small wooden house
on Franklin street, between the canal and Genesee
street. The house was built in 1824 and occupied by
Dr. Adams in 1825.

Hiram Hyde built the house near the centre of the
block, between Clinton and Franklin streets.


Henry Newton lived in a small yellow house next
west of John Ritchie's new store.

The old Eagle Tavern, kept by Frederick Rhyne,
then stood on the present site of John Ritchie's store,
and did a large business.

Joel Cody owned and lived in a small wooden house
where the new Baptist church now stands. Attached
to the house he had a large, well-kept garden, stocked
with fruit trees and grapes, running back to Church
street. Mr. Cody was at that time captain of a packet
boat running between Utica and Rochester, and was
noted for his eccentricities and love of fun.

East of Mr. Cody's house two brothers by the name
of Woodward built a large frame house, which was
kept by them for a hotel for about a year. After-
wards, Mr. Gates, son-in-law of Sterling Cossit, kept
the house until it was accidentally burned.

The present residence of P. S. Stoddard was occu-
pied in 1824 by Squire Bacon. He kept his justice
office in the basement.

The present residence of Daniel Dana stood between
Woodward's tavern and a small house standing next
to Captain Cody's, occupied by a weak-minded man
named Cohen.

Deacon Dana came here in 1825, and worked in the
salt works, packing salt.

Monday, July 5, 1824, marks the date of the first
celebration of our National Independence ever held in


this city. The Syracuse Gazette of July 7, 1824, pub-
lished by Mr. Durnford, gives the following account
of the celebration :

" At the morn's early dawn, the day was ushered
in by the thunder of cannon bursting upon the still-

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Online LibraryGurney S StrongEarly landmarks of Syracuse → online text (page 7 of 22)