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twenty miles around. The noise of the explosion
having ceased, all was still for a moment, and then
the most heart-rending groans were distinctly heard.
Everything was in total darkness. All was confusion.
Although the sight of the dead and the dying was
horrible, it was scarcely less than that of the living
inquiring for their relatives — parents for their chil-
dren, and wives, almost frantic with despair, for their
husbands.



150 cheney's reminiscences

[On Saturday the village was shrouded in niourn-
ing. The stores were all closed. Business was out
of the question. Hundreds of people from the
country towns came hurrying in, on learning the
awful intelligence, to see the spot so fruitful with
distress, and to know the jDarticulars of the sad affair.
Sunday was a busy day in entombing the dead.
Early in the day the funeral procession commenced
from different directions, and from the several
churches ; and there was one continual succession of
corpses passing to the lonely sepulchre. The several
churches were crowded. The clergymen were most
solemn and impassioned in their addresses. A deeper
sadness never pervaded so large congregations.

[Parley Bassett, the Coroner, summoned the
following persons to form a jury of inquest: Johnson
Hall, as foreman; Pliny Dickinson, Lewis H. Red-
field, D. S. Colvin, William A. Cook, Thomas T.
Davis, Samuel Larned, Rial Wright, Philo D.
Mickles, Harmon W. Van Buren, Daniel Elliott,
Ashbel Kellogg, Thomas G. Alvord, Elijah W.
Curtis, Jared H. Parker, Amos P. Granger. The
Coroner's jury closed its business on Monday evening,
August 23. The report showed that Hugh T. Gib-
son, Ezra H. Hough, Thomas Betts, Elijah Jones,
Zebina Dwight, William Conklin, Benjamin F.
Johnson, Elisha Ladd, George W. Burdick, Isaac
Stanton, William B. Close, George Gorman, Horace



THE POWDER EXPLOSION 151

T. Goings, Charles A. Moffit, Loren L. Cheney,
Horatio N. Cheney, John Dnrnford, jr., Hanson
Maynard, Noah Hoyt, Joel Kohlharner, Matthew
Smelt, James M. Barker, Charles Miller, Benjamin
T. Barker, Charles Austin — twenty-five in number —
came to their deaths by the explosion of 27 or 28 kegs
of gunpowder in a carpenter and joiner's shop, then
on fire. In the belief of the jury, the shop was set on
fire by some person or persons unknown to the
jurors. The powder was the property of William
Malcolm and Albert A. Hudson, and was secretly
stored in the shop by Mr. Hudson and Charles
Goings, with the knowledge and consent of Mr.
Malcolm, contrary to the published and known
ordinances of the village, and without the cognizance
or consent of the village Trustees.

[A public meeting was held Monday evening, pre-
sided over by Hiram Putnam, President of the village.
D. D. Hillis was made Secretary. A committee was
appointed to obtain subscriptions and to afford relief
to those families who needed aid in their sudden
bereavement. The committee from Syracuse was
composed of Daniel Dana, M. D. Burnet, A. P.
Granger, Charles L. Lynds, and Wing Russell; from
Salina, Ashbel Kellogg and Colonel E. D. Hopping.
At the meeting, about $1,800 was subscribed, of which
amount the firm of Malcolm & Hudson subscribed
$500, and William Malcolm $500.]



152 cheney's reminiscences

On the south side of the Erie canal and on the
corner now occupied by Stone & Ball, jewelers, and
Sabey & Weaver, hatters, there stood in 1824, a two-
story frame building, known as the "Coffin Block."
The name was given to the block on account of its
fancied resemblance to that receptacle for the dead.
The first and second stories on the extreme corner
were then occupied by John Durnford as a book
store, lottery ticket and printing office.

From this corner the first number of the Onon-
daga Gazette, the first paper ever issued in this city,
was printed by John Durnford, our present worthy
Justice of the Peace. The first number was issued
Wednesday morning, April 2, 1823. In his
"address " to the public, the publisher lays down the
following views and principles :

" Notwithstanding it may be said the State already
abounds with newspapers, yet the rapid growth of
the country, and the happy location of this village, in
connection with its other advantages, are sufficient to
warrant the belief that ere long Syracuse and its
vicinity will afford an adequate support to this estab-
lishment, and raise up a monumental trophy of the
wisdom and enterprise of the canal projectors."

The price of the paper was $2 per year, payable
half yearly, when received from the office or sent to
mail subscribers; but when sent to village subscribers
it was 82.50. The Gazette was a weekly paper,



THE FIRST POSTMASTER 153

published on a 12 by 17 sheet, four pages, with five
columns to the page. On the 31st of March, 1824,
the paper appeared under the name of the Syracuse
Gazette.

The Syracuse Gazette was published by Mr. D urn-
ford until 1829, when Lewis H. Bedfield of the
Onondaga Register, then published at Onondaga
Hollow, came to Syracuse, bought out Mr. Durnford
and united the two papers under the name of The
Syracuse Gazette and Onondaga Register. He con-
tinued to publish this paper until 1831, when it was
transferred to other hands.

In 1824, Henry W. Durnford occupied the first
store east of the Syracuse Gazette office, as a drug
store. He also kept an assortment of groceries,
crockery and liquors, and transacted a large and
profitable business.

That year it was deemed necessary, for the con-
venience of the public, to remove the post-office, then
under the charge of John Wilkinson, to some more
convenient location than General Granger's store.
Mr. Wilkinson made selection of Mr. Durnford's
store as the location for the new post-office, and con-
sulted with him in regard to the matter. Mr. Durn-
ford raised the objection of a lack of room for all the
purposes of the post-office. Mr. Wilkinson thought
different, and to convince the incredulous storekeeper,
crossed the canal and returned, bearing the whole



154 cheney's reminiscences

post-office, boxes, mail bags, mail matter, and all the
appurtenances on Ms shoulders. This feat convinced
Mr. Durnford that he had plenty of room, in which
to accommodate the post-office.

The first store east of the drug store was occupied
by John Rodgers & Company, as a dry goods store.
Mr. Rodgers was an energetic, enterprising man, and
is now one of the millionaires of Chicago, and visits
the scene of his early prosperity yearly.

Between the store of Mr. Rodgers and the drug
store, there was a wide hall-like entrance leading to
the printing office in the second story, and the rooms
occupied as a dwelling by Mr. Van Velzer.

GeneralJonas Mann began in 1824 to build a store
on the corner now occupied by the bookstore of Peck
& Rudd. He also commenced to build as a dwelling
house the present famous "Cook's Coffee House."
He moved his family here the next season, and
during the summer finished both buildings.

Henry Newton occupied the first store east of Mr.
Mann's building as a grocery and general assortment
store. Mr. Newton afterwards formed a partnership
with A. Root, in the boot and shoe business, on the
north. side of the canal.

Joseph Slocum carried on the dry goods business,
and also kept a general assortment of wares and
merchandise, next east of Mr. Newton's grocery.

A. N. Van Patten carried on the dry goods,



THE GREAT FIRE OF 1834 155

grocery and provision business in the first store east
of Mr. Slocurn's grocery.

Over the store a man by the name of Thompson
kept a billiard table during the fall and winter.

Deacon Phelps kept a stove store and grocery on
the first floor, and a tin shop in the second story of
the first building east of Mr. Van Patten's store.
Between the tin shop and Warren street, there were a
series of vacant lots. These lots were subsequently
occupied by fine blocks of stores. In 1834, they were
all reduced to a heap of smouldering ruins. The
burning of these two blocks, comprising ten buildings
of different dimensions, with eleven buildings on the
north side of the canal, was the first great calamity
that ever befell the embryo city. This fire occurred
Friday night, March 15, 1834. The fire broke out in
the store of B. F. Rodgers, nearly opposite the
Syracuse House. The Syracuse House was saved by
the greatest exertions. The east wing, containing the
Onondaga County Bank, was several times on fire.
The loss caused by the fire was about $75,000, of
which one-half was insured.

On the corner now occupied by Murphy, McCarthy
& Company, hardware dealers, John Rodgers carried
on in 1824, the storage, forwarding and commission
business, in connection with his dry goods store.
The building was burned down afterwards.

White & Clark occupied the first store east, and



156 cheney's reminiscences

dealt in all descriptions of merchandise and produce.
They were also engaged in the storage and commis-
sion business in the building then standing next east
of their store.

Joseph Slocum occupied the first building east of
White & Clark's storehouse, and carried on a general
storage and commission business. There was but one
other building then standing between Mr. Slocum's
storehouse and the old canal basin. It was a little,
low frame building, standing on the bank of the
basin, partly hid by the bushes that grew in great
profusion in that region. Joseph Thompson kept a
small grocery in the building and derived most of his
custom from the canal boatmen by furnishing them
with "supplies." In 1824, the present site of the
weigh-lock, market hall, hay market and public
square, as far south as the railroad, there formed
what was known as the canal basin. It was a
miserable, nasty hole and was the dread of all the
inhabitants, because it tainted and infected the whole
atmosphere with disease. A small barn stood on the
south side of this basin, with a path on one side
leading into it, which was used as a watering place
for cattle and horses.

In 1824, Parley Howlett and Barent Filkins built
a slaughter house on the ground, and the same house
is at present occupied by Joe Tasker's well known
cottage.



FAYETTE PARK IN 1824 157

Water street, east of the basin, had been laid off
as a street, but had not been worked to any extent.
A few trees and a quantity of underbrush had been
cut and a few rails laid in the worst miring places,
so that by [dint of hard work and hard swearing a
team could be got through to old Mr. Russell's pot-
tery. This pottery stood on the ground now occupied
by James L. if Greenman, storage and commission
house. It was carried on by an old man named Rus-
sell, who manufactured jars, jugs, mugs, milk pans
and all other articles commonly made at such estab-
lishments. He resided in a small frame house a little
south of his pottery.

Mulberry street was almost impassible for teams
in 1824, the ground being very low and marshy in
that section.

The^ State owned a small frame house on the heel-
path side of the old first lock, which was known and
used as a lock house. The building is now standing
and forms part of Hatch, Rust & Randall's lumber
and coal office.

In 1824 all that portion of our city lying between
Mulberry street and Lodi on the south side of the
canal was an unreclaimed cedar swamp. The present
Fayette Park with the splendid residences of our
merchants and business men was then a favorite
resort for foxes, rabbits and wild fowl, forming a
capital shooting ground. North and east of the park



158 CHENEY'S REMINISCENCES

the sonorous croakings of the bull frog served to
enliven the otherwise dismal scenery.

This swamp was full of rotten logs and stumps
from which issued a deadly miasma containing the
whole list of fevers, from the fever and ague to the
typhoid and brain fever. The Genesee turnpike
passed through this swamp and consisted of an ill
laid corduroy road that tested the strength of horses
and wagons and the skill and moral training of all
teamsters having occasion to pass it.

Captain Oliver Teall owned and run two small saw
mills on the north side of the Erie canal, near the Lodi
locks. He obtained the water which moved his mills
by tapping the canal. He was then Canal Superin-
tendent under Henry Seymour, Canal Commissioner,
and obtained the right to use the water for running
his mills from the State.

It was this successful tapping of the great " Clin-
ton Ditch " that gave the well known captain such a
decided partiality to cold water over all other fluids.
It was this very tapping of the Erie which led him to
conceive and carry out the grand idea of tapping
mother earth, filling a huge reservoir with the crystal
nectar, and forcing it through great iron arteries and
veins to the very heart and extremities of our flour-
ishing city.

The captain lived in a small house built by the
State for a lock house. There were about a dozen



TAVERN KEPT BY JOHN H. LATHROP 159

little houses scattered about the locks, and occupied
by the employes on the locks and the canal.

John H. Lathrop kept a tavern in a medium-sized
house, standing on the block lying southeast of the
orphan asylum on the Genesee turnpike. He had a
fine well on his premises affording the best water in
the country. People coming from the east to trade or
barter in Syracuse would stop with Mr. Lathrop, and
from his house they would go to the village and trade
during the day, returning as the shades of evening
fell on the gloomy swamp to his house for food and
lodging. They did this in preference to putting up
at one of the village taverns and running the risk of
the ague.

At that time Syracuse was considered as the most
unhealthy spot in the valley, and people were inclined
to believe that the city would be built on the Lodi
hills in preference to the middle of a cedar swamp.
But the projectors and proprietors of the embryo city
did not waver even for an instant in their choice of a
location for the village. The present large, flourish-
ing, healthy, wealthy city is the reward of their judg-
ment and faith.

The " Holden House" stood nearly opposite of Mr.
Lathrop's tavern, and was then used as a dwelling.

At the foot of the hill, near the swamp, on the
Genesee turnpike, Lemuel J. Benton commenced in
lS'io to manufacture brick.



1G0 CHENEY S REMINISCENCES

Henry Shattuck, the present policeman, and Abner
Chapman, Supervisor from Onondaga, worked as
moulders in this brick yard.

Coming west from the brick yard the mind's eye
found nothing to remember, nothing to describe, but
a low sickly cedar swamp and corduroy road, until you
reached what now forms a large part of the heart of
our city.

This swamp was the fear of all the inhabitants and
the dread of all in search of a location for a future
residence. But the art of man has reclaimed the
" Dismal Swamp," and it now forms one of the most
beautiful and healthy sections of the city.

Samuel Phelps kept a blacksmith shop on the lot
now occupied by the Home Association. The shop was
in a two-story building, with the front towards Gen-
esee street. The second story Mr. Phelps occupied as a
dwelling. The family reached their rooms by means of
an outside pair of stairs. The ground upon which the
shop stood was so low and marshy that the fall rains
made a large pond all around the building. In the
winter this pond formed a famous skating ground for
the boys of the village.

In 1824, the remains of a small log house, formerly
standing on the southwest corner of Genesee and Mont-
gomery streets, were visible. In this house Albion
Jackson was born about the year 1802. Mr. Jackson
was the first white child born within the limits of this



SITE FOR OLD ST. PAUL'S CHURCH 161

city. Shortly after his birth, Mr. Jackson's father
moved to Canada and was gone for some eighteen
years before he returned.

The ground upon which the Granger block now
stands was, in 1824, a fine little green meadow. That
year John Durnford, Archy Kasson and John Rodgers
were appointed a committee by the Episcopal Society,
authorized and empowered to select a site for a church
edifice.

Mr. Durnford advocated the selection of this
meadow as the proposed site. The other members of
the committee offered an objection to the lot "that it
was too far from the village," but finally coincided
with Mr. Durnford in his choice, and the committee
reported accordingly. The report was adopted, and
immediate measures taken to erect the necessary
building.

Deacon Wright obtained the contract for perform-
ing the carpenter work, and assumed the general su-
perintendence of putting up the building. The build-
ing was completed in the year 1825. It was used a
number of years by the Episcopalians, and then sold
to the Roman Catholics, who removed it to the corner
of Montgomery and Madison streets, where it is still
standing.

The millinery store of Mrs. Gillmore was erected
in 182-4 by John Rodgers, then one of the most
enterprising men in the village. The mason work



162 CHENEY'S REMINISCENCES

was performed by a man from Manlius, named
Dwinnelle.

On the ground now occupied by the Bastable
block, there stood, in 1824, a little frame house
occupied by a Mr. Walker. These were the only
buildings then standing on the block opposite the
Granger block.

A small, yellow building, was then standing next
east of "Cook's Coffee House," which has since been
moved back and a brick front built to it.

Henry Van Husen owned and occupied a black-
smith shop on the corner of Genesee and Warren
streets, where the Tremont House now stands. His
shop was a hard-looking concern, and was not much
of an ornament to the village, even in those primitive
days. The building stood about a foot and a half
below the level of the mud sidewalk. His customers
used to complain of the distance to be traveled and
the great depth of mud to be waded through before
his shop could be reached from the village. In rainy
weather it was almost impossible to reach his shop
on account of the mud.

The street and square was then some four feet
lower than at the present day, and formed one of the
worst roads for the passage of teams that can be
imagined. I have frequently seen teams with an
ordinary load get set in the deep mud, and remain for
some time before they could be extricated.



THE SYRACUSE HOUSE 163

Henry Durnford resided in a small white house on
the ground now occupied by Gay's Hotel. The house
fronted the south. He had a white fence around his
lot, and a beautiful flower garden in front of his
house. It was a very pretty, cozy, little dwelling.

About the year 1820, Buel & Safford purchased
the ground now occupied by the Syracuse House, and
commenced the erection of the Syracuse Hotel.
During the progress of the building, Mr. Safford fell
from the scaffolding and was killed. This accident
caused a temporary suspension of the work, until the
property went into the possession of Mr. Eckford,
who completed the building in 1822.

The building was of brick, three stories in height,
fifty feet scpiare, with a roof pitching north and south,
with brick battlements on the east and west ends, and
chimneys on the ends of the upper brake. The front
entrance was through the present shoe store of T.
Ryan.

The stables stood well back from Genesee street,
extending nearly to the present railroad depot. There
was a large yard attached to the house and stables,
in which stood a number of old dilapidated out-build-
ings. The entrance to the yard was through a large
gateway, then standing on the present site of Butler,
Townsend & Company's dry goods store.

After the premises fell into the hands of the Syra-
cuse Company they were rebuilt and named the



104 CHENEY'S REMINISCENCES

Syracuse House. The original building has since been
enlarged and improved, and is now one of the best
hotels in this region.

James Mann was the landlord of the Syracuse
Hotel, which was then the headquarters of the differ-
ent lines of stages. In 1824 Jason C. Woodruff drove
stage between Elbridge and this place. He performed
the duties of his office with great dignity, and was
wont to wheel his favorite coach up to the door of the
Syracuse Hotel with an exhibition of great skill and
training. From the post of driver, Mr. Woodruff, by
his own unaided exertions, raised himself into the
position of proprietor of a line of stages, and has since
filled several offices of trust and honor in the county,
with credit to himself and satisfaction to his fellow
citizens.

Colonel Elijah Phillips had his stage office in an
east room of the Syracuse Hotel. The Colonel was
very prompt and exact in his business operations, and
for years a stage never drew up to his office without
finding him ready to give or receive the way bill. It
was a common expression in those days that "Time
and Colonel Phillips wait for no man."

Next east of the gate leading to the stables of the
Syracuse House, a man named Waterbury owned a
small frame building. On the first floor he kept a
little grocery. His stock in trade consisted of a
small quantity of poor whiskey, a few plugs of



HOUSES IN EAST GENESEE STREET 1G5

tobacco, a handful of pipes, and about eighty-eight
cents worth of comic valentines. His family lived in
the second story and reached their place of residence
by means of a flight of stairs built on the outside of
the building. That year Joel Owens bought out
Waterbury's establishment, and still remains in
possession of the property.

Next east of Waterbury's, there was standing a
two-story building, considerable larger than its
western neighbor. The first floor was occupied as a
dwelling house. The second story was occupied by
Jabez Hawley, as a chair factory. These old build-
ings were rather unprepossessing in their appearance,
being of a dirty wood color, from having never made
the improving acquaintance of a paint pot and brush.

A small house stood next east of Mr. Hawley's
shop, which was occupied by a person whose name is
forgotten, as a grocery and drinking house. It was
originally painted white, but the color had worn off,
and in 1824 the house had a forlorn and dingy appear-
ance. Between this house and the blacksmith shop
on the corner of "Warren and Genesee streets, the
ground was vacant.

Archy Kasson built a dwelling house in 182-4, on
the ground now occupied by the Central Railroad
company's ticket office.

The square upon which now stands the Onondaga
County Bank, Bank of Syracuse, . Dillaye block,



166 CHENEY'S REMINISCENCES

Episcopal church and St. Charles Hotel, was in 1824
a vacant lot, covered with a few scattered trees.

In 1825, " The First Presbyterian Society of Syra-
cuse" built a church on the ground now occupied by the
new and beautiful Dillaye block. The church was
finished in the fall and dedicated in January, 1826.
The original church was enlarged and improved
several years ago, but in 1819 the increasing demands
of the society rendered it necessary to build a new
edifice. It was accordingly sold, and the present
ornament to the city erected in 1850.

The Rev. Dr. John W. Adams was ordained and
installed pastor of the new church in June, 1826. Dr.
Adams continued to act in that capacity until death
claimed him as her own in 1850. Dr. Adams was a
very exemplary man. He centered and united the
affections of his whole flock about his great heart,
and died after a long life of usefulness and devotion
to his God, deeply mourned by all who ever had the
pleasure and profit of his acquaintance.

This entire square, with the exception of the
church lot, was afterwards offered to the county free
of charge, if the Supervisors would agree to build the
courthouse and jail upon it. After some deliberation
on the matter, the offer was refused by the Board.

A small unpainted house, with an L, stood nearly
on the opposite site of the Washington block. The
main part of this house was occupied by Widow



YELLOW BROOK 167

Stewart, and the L by a Mr. Wheeler. Mrs. Stewart is
the mother-in-law of John Hurst, our worthy Justice
of the Peace. She is now over eighty years of age,
straight and active as a girl of eighteen. She was
one of the early settlers of this county, and formerly
resided at Liverpool.

A farm house belonging to the Syracuse Company,
and occupied by Jacob Hausenfrats, stood on the
present site of Captain Thomas Wheeler's residence,
on what was then a little knoll. The barn stood on
the ground now occupied by the residence of William
B. Kirk, and a corn house stood a little east of the
dwelling.

Mr. Hausenfrats worked the farm on shares for


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Online LibraryGurney S StrongEarly landmarks of Syracuse → online text (page 9 of 22)