Gurney S Strong.

Early landmarks of Syracuse online

. (page 8 of 22)
Online LibraryGurney S StrongEarly landmarks of Syracuse → online text (page 8 of 22)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


ness of the hour; and at sunrise a national salute was
fired from Prospect Hill, on the north side of the vil-
lage. As the spiring columns of the cannon's smoke
disappeared, the star spangled banner of our country
was then seen floating majestically in the air from the
top of a towering staff erected on the summit of this
hill for the occasion. At about twelve o'clock, a pro-
cession was formed in front of Mr. Williston's hotel,
under the direction of Colonel A. P. Granger, marshal
of the day. An escort, consisting of Captain Rossi-
ter's company of Light Horse, an artillery company
under the command of Lieutenant J. D. Rose, and
Captain H. W. Durnford's company of riflemen, with
their music swelling and banners flying, preceded the
procession which moved to the new meeting house
(the old Baptist church). Here the usual exercises
took place, and an oration was pronounced by J. R.
Sutermeister, which was received by the large assem-
bly with a universal burst of approbation. The pro-
cession then formed again and moved through the
village to the summit of Prospect Hill, where, under
a bower, a numerous company partook of a cold col-
lation prepared by Mr. Williston, landlord of the
Mansion House.



FIRST CELEBRATION OF INDEPENDENCE DAY 133

"It was a truly interesting sight to see among our
fellow citizens who participated in the festivities of
this day, about thirty of the remnant of that gallant
band of patriots who fought in the Revolution. These
spared monuments of our country's boast honored the
company with their presence throughout the day,
giving a zest to the festivities rarely to be found in
common celebrations of this national anniversary."

The principal object of attraction on that day was
the Rifle Company, composed of the young men of the
county, and commanded by Captain H. W. Durnford,
Lieutenant James H. Luther and Orderly Zophar H.
Adams. They were dressed in red Scotch plaid frocks
and pants, trimmed on the bottoms and sides with a
bright red fringe. They wore leather caps with long
red feathers, and carried the long Indian rifle, with
powder horns and bullet pouches. As they marched
through the streets, they presented a gay and impos-
ing appearance.

Prospect Hill was then fully forty feet higher than
at present. The trees and bushes were removed from
its summit for the purpose of the celebration.

The aged veterans fast disappeared, and at the
next celebration only about half the members were
present. The second year following, they were still
fewer in number; and finally all sank into honored
graves, amid the regrets of many true patriots. In
1824, the thirty veterans who were present walked in



134 CHENEY'S REMINISCENCES

the procession, but in the succeeding years time had
made so great inroads on their ranks and constitu-
tions that carriages were provided for their accom-
modation.

A little Irishman named John Dunn had a black-
smithing and horse shoeing shop next east of Captain
Parsons' house, on the corner of Genesee and Mill
streets. He was a jolly, whiskey-loving fellow, and
afforded a great deal of amusement to his customers.

East of David Stafford's house, there stood a large
yellow painted carriage factory, carried on by a Mr.
Martin. Between the factory and Stafford's house,
there was standing in 1824 a large pine tree.

The old yellow stores, now Taylor & Company's
saleratus factory, were erected in 1824. Samuel
Booth had the contract for and performed the mason
work of the building. Daniel Elliott, of Auburn,
performed the carpenter work.

Matthew L. Davis occupied the store on the corner
of Genesee and Clinton streets, as a dry goods store.

Heman and Chester Walbridge occupied the store
next to him, as a dry goods and general assortment
store.

A man from New York kept a bookstore in the
same block, in the store next to the canal. The store
on Genesee street was occupied by Samuel Hicks as a
hat store.

A one and a half story wooden store, between the



CLINTON SQUARE 135

Eagle tavern and Hicks' hat shop, was occupied by
Matthew L. Davis, previous to his going into the cor-
ner of the then new block.

Before the new stores were completed, the Wal-
bridges occupied the old store formerly standing on
the corner of Clinton alley.

B. B. Batchelder occupied a store next to him, and
kept a general assortment of all descriptions of goods.

A. Root occupied the third store from the corner,
as a boot and shoe store.

These old buildings were all removed last summer
to make room for the new Court House.

Clinton Square, the famous resort for our wood
dealers from the country, was then a large green,
upon which many a game of base ball was played by
the young men of the village. The packet boats used
to land their passengers on the towpath, and they
would cross the green to the old Mansion House.

The Mansion House stood on the ground now occu-
pied by the stately Empire block. It was built in
1805 by Henry Bogardus, and kept by him as a
tavern for several years. Back of the house, Mr.
Bogardus erected his barns and out-houses. He also
set out a large orchard of apples and other fruit.
Some of the old apple trees are still standing and bear
a very excellent variety of fruit. Mr. Bogardus had
no regular bar in his tavern, and was accustomed to
set his liquors and glasses out upon a large table.



136 CHENEY'S REMINISCENCES

The proprietorship of the Mansion House changed
hands several times during its existence. In the
spring of 1824, Sterling Cossit was the landlord.
That spring the house was enlarged and renovated,
and O. H. Williston assumed the proprietorship.

The Mansion House was a shabby, patched up old
concern, requiring additions and alterations every
year, until it looked like a relic of other days. It
was the scene of many a hard "Salt Point spree,"
and had its old walls been gifted with the power of
speech, they could have told many a strange tale of
hard fought, strongly contested battles between the
sturdy residents of Salina and Syracuse. The greatest
rivalry existed between the two places in 1824, which
manifested itself in "free fights" every time the resi-
dents of either town crossed the boundary line. That
year the Salt Pointers strained every nerve as far as
building and business were concerned, to outstrip the
rapid growth of Syracuse ; but every exertion proved
unavailing. Syracuse shot ahead like a race horse,
and has ever since maintained the ascendancy.

In 1845, the old Mansion House and attending
buildings were removed to make room for the Empire
block. The Empire block was commenced in 1845
by John H. Tomlinson and Stephen W. Cadwell of
Syracuse and John Thomas of Albany. The building
was finished in 1 S4 i , when John H. Tomlinson became
sole owner. Mr. Tomlinson was killed by a railroad



THE EMPIRE HOUSE 137

accident at Little Falls in the summer of 1848. He
was an active, energetic, enterprising man, and car-
ried on more business than ten ordinary men could
well accomplish. He was a native of this county,
and died deeply regretted by a very extensive
acquaintance throughout the State.

In the fall of 1848, the Empire was sold under the
hammer to John Taylor of Newark, New Jersey. It
was afterwards purchased by James L. Voorhees and
John D. Norton. In 1850, Colonel Voorhees became
sole owner, and during the summer of 1856 he made
large and important additions and improvements on
the original building, until it is now one of the
largest, best built and arranged blocks in the city.

Colonel Voorhees came to this county in the win-
ter of 1812-13. He settled in Lysander, about 20
miles from this city. The Colonel was then eighteen
years of age. He started in life with an axe, and has
hewn himself into a position of great wealth and
influence. In his early days, the Colonel passed under
the familiar nickname of the ' ' Dutchman " and ' ' the
tall pine of Lysander." He has been engaged since
his boyhood in the lumber business in all its depart-
ments, from the office of "chopper" to the position
of the extensive landed proprietor. In the years
1844-45 and '46, he was engaged in the construction of
the extensive Atlantic docks, in the port of New
York. He is now sixty-two years of age, and



138 Cheney's reminiscences

appears as hale and hearty as a man of forty, and even
now transacts an amount of business that would
require the time and energies of three or four common
men to accomplish.

In 1824, the people used a peculiar kind of hay
scales. A load of hay was drawn under a roof, four
chains were lowered and attached to the hubs of the
wagon, and by means of pulleys and a windlass the
load of hay was hoisted into the air, and the weight
determined by a huge pair of steelyards in the loft of
the building. Such an inconvenient contrivance for
weighing hay stood a little north of the Mansion
House.

The house now standing in the northeast corner of
Clinton alley and Clinton street, now occupied by
George B. Parker, was built in 1821 by Asa Marvin.
The house next east of it was built by John Wall for
the Syracuse Company.

The present residence of J. D. Dana, on the corner
of Church street and Clinton alley, was built that
year by a Mr. Denslow. The old canal stables on
Clinton alley were in full blast in 1821. They were
owned by John A. Green, father of our well known
grocery merchant of that name, and ars now a part
of the new Court House lot.

In 1821, General A. P. Granger was the proprietor
of a store containing a general assortment of all
descriptions of wares and merchandise, on the present



GENERAL AMOS P. GRANGER 139

site of the Star buildings. Hiram Deming was his
clerk. His store was a long, two story building,
fronting on &alina street. The building stood back
from the street a few feet, and had a green fence of
posts and cross bars between the street and house, to
which his customers fastened their teams when they
came to trade. The south end was occupied by the
store, and the north end of the house and the second
story the General occupied as a dwelling house.
Between the fence and the house a considerable
quantity of shrubbery had been set out, forming a
miniature flower garden. The General was one of
the principal men of the village, and on the occasion
of LaFayette's passage through Syracuse (June 8,
1825), during his last visit to this country, he was
made the orator of the day.

The General performed the duties of the office to
the entire satisfaction of every person present on
that occasion by making an excellent and appropriate
speech to the assembled citizens, from the deck of a
canal boat, in honor of the distinguished visitor.

At the time of LaFayette's visit to this place,
there lived at Onondaga Hollow a large, athletic man
named Moore, familiarly known under the appella-
tion of " Donakeedee." This man was engaged in the
Revolution, and served as a private in LaFayette's
regiment. While in the army he had been nick-
named, on account of his extremely large head,



140 CHENEY'S REMINISCENCES

"Cabbage Head." LaFayette came from the west
by the way of Marcelhis, Onondaga Hill and Onon-
daga Hollow. While passing through the Hollow,
Moore was brought before him, and he was asked
who it was. LaFayette regarded the man a moment,
and then exclaimed: "Why, it's Cabbage Head."
This story will serve to show the remarkable memory
of the great LaFayette. He had not seen "Cabbage
Head " for forty-two years, and yet his memory of
the man was perfect.

A few moments after LaFayette had made his
final bow to the assembled citizens, and retired to the
cabin of the boat in which he was then traveling, a
large scow boat loaded down with men, women and
children, arrived from Geddes to see the great and
illustrious companion of Washington. LaFayette
being informed of their arrival, again ascended to the
deck, amid the prolonged cheers of the multitude,
said a few words to his Geddes visitants, and, bow-
ing, proceeded on his way to Utica.

LaFayette was a man of medium height, well
proportioned, and stood very erect for a man of his
age. He had a large head, full features, a rough,
swarthy skin and beard cut smooth. He wore a very
curly, light brown wig, rather inclined to red, and
was dressed in a straight bodied black coat, black silk
vest, Nankeen pants and calf skin shoes. He was
very polite and pleasing in his address, in fact a most
perfect and polished gentleman in every respect.



THE OLD SALINA STREET BRIDGE 141

*

LaFayette's son, George Washington LaFayette,
acconipanied hini on his last visit to this country.
He was a larger man than his father. The top of his
head was bald, what little hair he possessed being
brown. He was a very good looking man, free and
easy in his manners, and dressed in black.

In 1821, Salina street bridge consisted of one single
stone arch, barely high enough to admit of the pas-
sage of the small boats used in those days. A stone
wall was raised about three feet above the level of the
roadway on each side of the bridge, and was covered
with flag coping full three feet broad. This wall
formed a favorite lounging place for the lazy people
of Syracuse. They could lie on the coping and
watch the boats as they passed up and down the
canal, and at the same time witness all that transpired
in the village. Occasionally one of the numerous
loafers would go to sleep and roll off into the canal,
thus furnishing food for the gossiping tongues of the
villagers for many a day and week.

In 1824, Stephen W. Cadwell and Paschal Thurber
bought out a man by the name of Cunimings, who
kept a lot of pet bears, wolves, monkeys and other
wild animals on the ground now occupied by Cadwell
and the Doran brothers on James street. This Cum-
mings was a miserable old fellow, and everybody was
glad to get rid of him.

Between Cadwell's and Granger's corner there were



142 CHENEY'S REMINISCENCES

three or four old rookeries standing, occupied by dif-
ferent persons, who derived the principal part of their
trade from the canal boatmen.

East of Cadwell's, a man named Brockway occu-
pied a little shop as a meat market. Next to the meat
market, there stood a large frame building painted
red, a miserable old shell at best. East of this red
house, on the corner now occupied as a grocery by
B. C. Lathrop, a store house was kept by E. L. Clark
in a large wooden building, since burned.

In 1824, that portion of James street styled " Rob-
bers' Row " had been surveyed and laid out as a street,
but had not been worked. The trees and brush had
been cleared off and the passage of teams had made
considerable of a trail. Stores and houses on the
south side of the street had their front entrances open-
ing on the towing path. The gable ends and back
yards of the houses were on James street.

James street proper was at that time only an Indian
trail, leading over the hills to what was then Foot
Settlement, now the first gate. The eye of the lonely
wayfarer on that trail was not gladdened by the sight
of the lordly and palatial residences of the upper ten
that now give a grand and aristocratic appearance to
this beautiful street.

The only object on this trail which then served as
a resting place to eyes (if there ever were such, wearied
with continuous watching of swaying trees and



MAJOR MOSES D. BURNET 143

falling leaves in the dense forest where God speaks to
man through the rustling leaves, the sighing wind
and the joyous appearance of all nature, as with a
human voice) was the dwelling house of Major Bur-
net, erected that year by Rodney Sargents, of
Auburn. This house stood on a slight eminence now
occupied by the new residence of Major Burnet.
The house fronted the south, and had a path, or
rather, an impromptu road leading directly to the
towing path on the Erie canal. The house then stood
far out of town, and the only avenue of approach for
teams was by the tow path and the private road.
Persons on foot could reach the house by taking the
trail and beating through the underbrush.

The old collector's office stood between the bridges
spanning the junction of the Erie and Oswego canals.
A foundation of hewn timber was laid upon "Goose
Island," on the north side of the towing path, and
upon this was erected a small frame house which was
designated as the canal collector's office. Dr. Colvin
was the collector in 1824, and employed Benjamin C.
Lathrop and B. F. Colvin as clerks in his office. The
Doctor resided in a small frame house on Salina street,
a little north of Waggoner's corner.

The amount of produce cleared during the season
of 1824 from this office was 12,065 barrels of flour,
2,862 barrels provisions, 2,565 barrels ashes, 76,631
barrels salt, and 64,240 bushels of wheat. The amount



144 CHENEY'S REMINISCENCES

of toll received at the office during the season of 1824
was $18,491.58.

The old weigh lock was completed that year. It
was built upon an entirely different plan from the one
now followed ; the weight of the boat being determined
by measuring the quantity of water it displaced.

Deacon Spencer then owned and occupied the old
boat yard (now John Durston's) near the Oswego
canal. The boat yard was then considered out of
town, the easiest avenues of approach being by the
tow path.

Deacon Spencer lived in a small frame house ad-
joining, and west of the present "Greyhound Inn,"
on the corner of James and Warren streets.

Between Deacon Spencer's residence and Wag-
goner's corner there were two small edifices. The first
one was occupied and used as a blacksmith shop. The
other was the residence of Widow Cushing, who ob-
tained a scanty subsistence by retailing milk to those
needing this product of her only cow.

A little mercurial Frenchman, named Lewis, a
brother-in-law of Sterling Cossit, resided in the first
house north of Dr. Colvin's on Salina street.

James Sackett commenced building in 1824, a little
north of Dr. Colvin and the Frenchman. He was a
very eccentric man, and at times was feared and dis-
liked by all his neighbors, because he would persist
in indulging in the most eccentric habits.



AMOS STANTON 145

Dr. Colvin's, the Frenchman's and Mr. Sackett's
were the only houses on the block opposite of the
Empire in 1824.

A small frame house stood on the ground now oc-
cupied by the Noxon block. It was then occupied as
a dwelling by Isaac Stanton.

Amos Stanton, the father of Isaac and Rufus Stan-
ton, came here to reside in 1805. He engaged in the
manufacture, during the winter, of salt. That article
then sold for three dollars per barrel. In 181 G the
price had been reduced to two dollars per barrel, and
in 1824 it was sold for $1.50 per barrel.

Mr. Stanton then, in 1805, owned one square acre
of ground, including the land now occupied by the
old " Ogle Tavern," near the Oswego canal bridge on
Salina street. Mr. Stanton had this acre of land
cleared and converted into a wheat field. He also
hired a few acres southeast of his lot, and worked the
whole as a farm in the summer time.

When the Oswego canal was built, they cut diag-
onally through Mr. Stanton's acre.

The Ogle Tavern was occupied as a private dwell-
ing house in 1824.

Mr. Bogardus, of the Mansion House, built a small
frame house near the present site of Corinthian Hall,
which he occupied while building the Mansion House.
Paschal Thurber lived in it in 1824. The house stood
on the bank of a small natural creek, since arched



146 Cheney's reminiscences

and formed into a sluice way for the passage of the
surplus water of the new weigh lock.

On the north side of the Oswego canal, the house
lately known as "Church's Grocery," then belonged
to the widow of Peter Wales, and was occupied by
her as a dwelling house.

The land north and east of Widow Waies' house
was covered by a young growth of trees and under-
brush, the only clearing being the patch of ground
near the old Centre House, upon which Harry Blake
had built himself a dwelling and commenced to farm
it.

There were no other dwellings between Syracuse
and Salina. It was then two miles between the two
places, and Salina street was a mere wagon track cut
through the timber and known as Cooper street. The
name was derived from the circumstance that several
coopers put up shanties and used all of the available
timber for the purpose of making salt barrels, about
the year 180G.

A little cluster of five or six cheaply built, white-
washed houses, known as White Hall, stood on the
first block north of the new Catholic church.

I think there were three or four salt blocks stand-
ing near the canal. They were built in the old fash-
ioned style, with the side towards the canal, a chim-
ney in the middle and a fire built at both ends of the
block. I think there were two or three little houses
near the blocks, occupied by the salt boilers.



CAPTAIN WILLIAM STEWART 147

With the exception of these few buildings and a
little patch of cleared land, formerly part of Stanton's
farm, all that portion of the city lying north of the
Erie and east of the Oswego canals, was covered with
a heavy growth of timber and underbrush, with num-
erous paths leading to the various spots where wood
had been cut for the purpose of making salt.

The first lock formerly stood but a few yards east
of Mulberry street bridge.

" Vinegar Hill " then, as now, consisted of several
shanties and old rookeries, erected there to catch the
trade of the passing boatmen.

In 1840, Captain Joel Cody finished his contract
for building the present first lock. The old one was
torn down and " Vinegar Hill " removed to its present
cpuarters.

In 18"24, a small boat, half the size of the common
boats of the present day, made regular trips every two
hours between Syracuse and Salina.

Augustus Spencer was the first captain of this boat.
He was succeeded by Captain William Stewart, the
present famous landlord of the Syracuse House. Cap-
tain Stewart commanded his boat with great dignity,
and treated his passengers with the utmost politeness
and attention. The gallant captain exhibited as much
pride while pacing the quarter deck of his small craft
as do the commanders of the ocean steamers of the
present day.



14:8 Cheney's reminiscences

The first circus that ever performed in Syra-
cuse occupied the vacant lot on the corner of Church
and Salina streets, at present occupied by the Onon-
daga Temperance House.

The first horse show was attended by nearly all
the citizens, and a full delegation of Onondaga Indians ;
and Syracuse immediately acquired a reputation as a
" good show town," which it has preserved even to
the present day.

The success of this circus led to the building of a
circus house in 1825 by Andrew N. Van Patten and
John Rodgers, on the ground now occupied by the
stables of the Onondaga Temperance House. This
circus house was subsequently turned into a livery
stable with a cooper's shop in the rear, and a long two
story building, owned and occupied by Mr. Goings
as a carpenter and joiner's shop, was erected on the
towing path in the rear of the circus building with an
alley of about twenty-five feet between the buildings.

On the evening of Friday, August 20, 1841, a fire
broke out in the carpenter's shop, which was occupied
by Charles Goings. The building was soon sur-
rounded by a crowd of firemen and citizens, using
their utmost efforts to extinguish the flames, when
suddenly a terrible explosion took place, filling the
air with Hying cinders, and scattering death and
destruction around. This catastrophe was one of the
most distressing events that ever occurred in the



THE POWDER EXPLOSION 149

history of this or any other city, and we have there-
fore given a very full description of the calamity,
copied from the files of papers of that year.

[A condensed report from the newspaper files re-
ferred to is as follows : The alarm of fire was given
at half past nine o'clock. The wooden building
situated on the tow path of the Oswego canal, nearly
in the rear of the County Clerk's office and occupied
as a joiner's shop by Charles Goings, was on fire.
The fire appeared to have commenced in the top of
the building. The cry of "Powder! Powder! There
is powder in the building ! " was heard. The im-
mense crowd rushed back, but the move was only
momentary. Most of those nearest the fire maintained
their position, and very few appeared to place any
credit in the report. Suddenly, a tremendous explo-
sion took place, completely extinguishing the fire and
demolishing the building. The explosion lasted some
three or four seconds, and its effects were felt for over


1 2 3 4 5 6 8 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22

Online LibraryGurney S StrongEarly landmarks of Syracuse → online text (page 8 of 22)