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sermon was preached over her, being the first ever delivered
in town, unless one was preached at the burial of Eunice

Mrs. Robbins remembers the noticeable circumstance that
in June of each of three successive years there was a death
in the locality, and no others occurred within her knowl-
edge. That of Mrs. Knickerbocker was in 1806, that of
Mrs. Elias Howe in 1807, and that of a Mr. Brown in
1808. On each of these occasions a funeral sermon was
preached, and these were all the sermons heard in town
during that time. Aft€r that Elder Osgood, a Baptist,
Elder Bishop, a Methodist, and other itinerant preachers,
visited the locality at long intervals.

The first marriage in the present town took place in the
Meacham neighborhood in 1806, between Henry Patterson

and Lucy Meacham. In that year, also, Mr. Simon
Meacham opened the first tavern in town, and kept u few
goods, which constituted the first similitude of a store.

The first school was taught by Mrs. Bobbins' sister,
Manirie Harding, in the winter of 180G and 1807. There
was no school-house, and she taught in a room of iier
father's house. The next fall (that of 1807) a log school-
house was built at Lacona, and Mrs. Robbitis mentions that
she, and her children, and her grandchildren, have all
attended at a house on the same site.

Simon Hadley and Clark Wilder, both young, unmarried
men, came in 1806, and opened clearings on the creek road
west of the village ; and doubtless there were many others
in various parts of the town, whose names have been wa.shed
away by the tides of time. Jabez Baldwin settled three
miles west of the village in 1809. John Pierce and Daniel
Ackerman came to the same locality about the same time.
Amasa Carpenter, who came about the same period, was
one of the early schoolmasters. His brother Asa, who
came a little later, located two or three miles southeast of
the village. He has been for nearly half a century the
clerk of the Congregational church at Sandy Creek, and
still takes an active interest in its welfare.

P. T. Titus came in 1810, by way of Orwell, and settled
about three miles southeast of the village. He helped build
tlie " Ridge road," and soon after located upon it, where
his daughter, Mrs. Jotham Newton, now resides. Clearings
were now being made on every side. Among others who
came before the war of 1812 were John Darling, Mr.
Broadway, John Snyder, Samuel Goodrich, Amos Jackson,
and John and Abel Bentley.

In 1812, Samuel Hadley settled in the locality still oc-
cupied by his descendants, northwest of the village, where
it was then an unbroken wilderness. With him came his
son, Jesse F. Hadley, then ten years old, now seventy-five,
who gives a good description of that part of the town at
that time. There was a road down the creek from the vil-
lage, and another near the Ellisburg line, but in what is now
Sandy Creek. Between those two roads was nothing but
woods. On the northern road there was quite a number
of settlers, — Pickett, Winters, Harris, Sheeley, Harmon
Ehle, John Spalsbury, Peter Combs, and finally Stephen
Lindsay, — nearly to the pond. A little log school-house
stood near John Spalsbury's. James Hiuman was then
keeping a tavern, part log and part frame, at the creek
settlement, and there were already two or three frame
houses in the vicinity, — landmarks of advancing civilization.

When the war of 1812 broke out, the people of Sandy
Creek, being on the immediate frontier, were kept in a
continual tremor. From the lake-shore they could see the
enemy's ves.sels sweeping over the adjoining waters, now
driving the American craft into their harbors, now in turn
pursued by Chauncey's increased fleet. Mrs. Robbins re-
counts the exciting scene which occurred one summer Sab-
bath, when the people had gathered at Mr. Hinman's to
hear the go.spel preached by some wayfaring minister.
Suddenly a nie.s.senger came galloping up, crying out, " The
British have landed !" and designating tlie point assailed.
Immediately all was confusion, men hurrying away to get
their arms, children crying, and women shuddering with


terror at the thought of the Indians, whose presence was
always taken for granted when British troops appeared at
that time.

Again and again the militia was called out to repel an
attack on Sackett's Harbor. There was probably not a man
in the town of sufiBcient age who did not perform consid-
erable military service during the two years and a half that
the war lasted. Smith Dunlap was captain of the militia
company from that section, Nicholas Gurley was lieutenant,
Samuel Dunlap ensign, and Reuben Hadloy orderly ser-

Late in April, 1814, Colonel Mitchell, with a small body
of regular infantry, came marching along the old Salt road
on their way to defend Oswego from a threatened attack.
A few days later came the news that the defense had been
unsuccessful and Oswego had been captured. For a while
rumors flew thick and fast. On the 29th of May the
dwellers in the western part of the town saw the curious
spectacle of a body of Oneida Indians, in their war-paint
and feathers, and accompanied by a few soldiers, marching
along the shore of Little Sandy pond, while those who
looked out upon the lake descried nearly twenty large and
heavy-laden boats, carrying the American flag and impelled
northward by hundreds of stalwart oarsmen. It was Wool-
sey's flotilla, bearing cannon and stores for Commodore
ChauDcoy's new ship, " Superior," as related in the general

The next morning messengers came hurrying through
the country, informing every one that Woolsey had run up
Big Sandy creek, in Ellisburg, that the British were about
to follow, and urging all to come to the rescue. The militia
were speedily mustered and hastened to the scene of the
expected conflict, but ere any of them arrived the thunder
of cannon startled the whole town from the shore of the
lake to the slopes of the Boylston hills, and in the northern
part the rattle of small arms could be distinctly heard. The
militia, on their arrival, found that every man of the assail-
ing force had been killed or captured. There was no
fighting to be done, but some of the Sandy Creek men took
part in the celebrated feat of carrying to Sackett's Harbor [
on their shoulders the great cable of the "Superior," *
weighing nearly five tons. When that vessel had been
equipped and sent to sea the British commander was willing
to take a retired po.sition, and the Americans along the lake
felt less anxiety about a hostile incursion.

After the war immigration set in with redoubled force, i
Reuben, Rufus, Nathan, and Daniel Salisbury all came
within a short time. In fact, the immigrants were so nu-
merous as to prevent naming any but those connected with
some marked profession or business.

Dr. James A. Thompson located at the little settlement
on the creek in 1815, being the first physician who became .
a permanent practitioner in town, though there had been a
Dr. Porter there for a short time. Dr. Thompson practiced j
till his death, forty-four years later. Yet this long profes- j
sional career was certainly not the result of an easy life.
The labors of a country physician in those early days were
arduous almost beyond the conception of their successors.
Dr. Thompson's rides, says his son, often extended over
twenty miles. They were not buggy rides either, but were

invariably performed on horseback, over roads which lan-
guage could but poorly portray. Sometimes, after making
one of these long circuits, on coming along the shore of the
great pond to the mouth of Sandy creek, after dark, he
would find it at the top of its banks. Taking off" his clothes
and holding them aloft with one hand while clinging to the
horse's tail with the other, he would make the passage of
the torrent ; then dress, remount and ride home, fortunate
if he had a few dry threads upon him on his arrival. Be-
fore leaving this point it may be proper to notice that Dr.
A. G. Thompson, the son of the gentleman just mentioned,
has also practiced in Sandy Creek and vicinity forty-three
years ; so that there has been no time since the close of the
war of 1812 when one of that family has not been min-
istering to the needs of the people of that locality.

Another doctor of long practice was John G. Ayer, who
came in 1 822, and remained the greater part of the time
(though absent several years) till his death a few years ago.

Turning from the medical to the spritual department, we
find the first church in town (the First Congregational) or-
ganized on the 23d of July, 1817. The first settled min-
ister was Rev. Oliver Ayer, father of Dr. John G. Ayer,
who was installed over that church in 1822. There had,
however, been a Methodist " class" organized as early as

Meanwhile, improvements were going on in all directions.
For a few years Smith Dunlap kept a store at the creek
settlement, then a cluster of houses without any particular
name. There, too, about 1817, a carding-machine and
fulling-mill were built by Anson Maltby, to the great con-
venience of the people, for whom " fulled cloth" was then
the principal wear. In 1821 it was bought by J. M.
Hooker, who carried on the business for no less than thirty-
seven years, and survives in a vigorous old age to tell the
story of his early experience. He says that when he came,
in 1820, the store at the settlements had been temporarily
abandoned. There was one hotel, kept by Nathan Salis-
bury, and five or six houses, mostly frames.

The farming population had increased much more rapidly,
for Jotham Newton, who came only a year or so later, says
there were nearly as many houses on the Ridge road as there
are now, though they were all of logs, and were surrounded
by comparatively small clearings.

All this time we have been talking about " Sandy Creek"
and " the town," as a convenient designation for the terri-
toi'y included in the present town of that name, feeling as-
sured that our readers would understand that it was all
Richland from the time when that town was set off" from
Williamstown, in 18U7, until they should be notified of the
formation of a change in the municipal arrangements.

But about 1824 and 182.5 the people began to get their
ideas up. It was thought desirable to have a local name
for the little settlement where the Salt road crossed Sandy
creek. Dr. Ayer and Anson Maltby proposed the some-
what pretentious one of Washingtonville. It was assented
to by the inhabitants, but it never stuck very close. A
single word of four syllables is a little too much for an
American village to carry, notwithstanding the example of

By the beginning of 1825 the population of the north




part of Richland was deemed sufficient for a separatti mu-
nicipal organization, and on the 24th day of Marcli, in that
year, the town of Sandy Creek was formed with its present
boundarifcs by an act of the legislature. The first Utwn-
meeting was held on the fii-st Tuesday in May, 1825, when
the following officers were elected :

Supervisor, Simon Meacham ; Town Clerk, Edwin C.
Hart ; Assessors, Anson Maltby, Thomas S. Meacham, and
Amasa Carpenter; Commissioners of Highways, Barnabas
Munroe, Amasa Carpenter, Ellery Crandall, and Simon
Hadley ; Overseers of the Poor, Geo. Read and Truman
Hawley ; Collector, John Pierce ; Constables, John Pierce,
Peter Hinnian, and Nathan Salisbury ; Commissioners of
Schools, Asa Carpenter, Alden Crandall, and Charles Alton ;
Inspectors of Schools, John G. Ayer, Oliver Ayer, Jr., and
Joseph M. Hooker ; Fence-viewers, Cornelius Hadley,
Amrai Case, and Andrew Place ; Pouiid-inastor, Luther

In addition to the election of officers the meeting voted
to raise double the amount of school-money received from
the State ; to allow commissioners fifty cents per day for
their services ; to levy two hundred and fifty dollars for
roads and bridges ; to allow cattle to be free commoners ;
and to require a lawful fence to be five feet high.

The next year it was resolved that each path-master
should be a fence-viewer, and it seems that there were then
thirty-two road districts in town. In 1828 the number of
constables was reduced to two, which is the lowest number
we have observed recorded in any town. Nearly all the
early town-meetings were held at the house of Nathan

In 1831 it was resolved that cattle might go at large
from the opening of spring to the first of November each
year ; and the height of a lawful fence was reduced from
five to four and a half feet, when built of good rails or
stone, but if logs or brush were used it must be five feet
high. That year a bounty of twelve and a half cents was
offered by the town on all crows killed within its limits.
Speaking of bounties, one would infer that the people of
Sandy Creek could not have been much troubled by wolves
after the formation of the town, as no bounties for that
animal are to be found on its records. The crow-bounty
was raised to fifty cents in 1834.

The amounts raised for the support of the poor varied
from fifty to a hundred dollars a year ; those for roads and
bridges were generally about two hundred and fifty dollars.

Though there were few so poor as to need aid from the
town, there were plenty who struggled along in their con-
flict with the wilderness, submitting with true American
pride and grit to the severest pressure of fortune rather
than call on others for assistance. There was generally
something to eat, and every farmer's family calculated to
make their own clothing, but money was scarcer than peo-
ple can well comprehend at the present day, even in the
hardest of hard times.

" Your taxes are seventy-five cents," said the collector to
a Sandy Creek farmer in the early days.

" Bless my soul, sir, I haven't got seventy-five cents in
the world, and I don't know where I can get it, nor when I
Ciin get it."

"Well, now, that's bad," replied the official, "but
you'll have to manage it some way. We have got to have
the taxes, sure."

After much negotiation it was agreed that the collector
should take two bushels of rye and assume the taxes him-

The schoolmaster, of course, always boarded around at
that day, and his presence in a family was usually the signal
for the best effiarts of which they were capable in the way
of entertainment. One of the prosperous citizens of
Sandy Creek tells of the mortification his mother felt
when, on handing the teacher a piece of pie at dinner, he
laid it on the table, in default of a plate, to cut it into

Between 1825 and 1835 times began to improve, so that
frame houses generally took the place of log ones on the
principal roads. This is usually considered as marking the
transition from a pioneer settlement to a farming country.
The section of the town adjoining Richland was especially
devoted to dairying. This was before the age of cheese-
factories, but no small amount of butter and cheese were
produced by the personal labors of Sandy Creek house-
wives. The Meachams, who have been mentioned as early
settlers, were still the most prominent citizens of that

Colonel Thomas S. Meacham, one of the younger mem-
bers of the family, was a very enthusiastic personage, fond
of remarkable enterprises, — one of the kind of men who
are called great geniuses if they succeed, and great lunatics
if they fail. In the autumn of 1835, when speculation was
rife throughout the country, the colonel's farm, on the Salt
road, about a mile from the Richland line, presented a curi-
ous scene. An immense cheese-hoop and press had been
constructed, the milk of all the proprietor's hundred and
fifty cows was turned into curd, and for five successive days
it was piled into the great hoop. At first the projector had
intended to content himself with a cheese weighing half a
ton, but when it was completed it did not appear large
enough, and so he added to his hoop from time to time, till
he had an article weighing fourteen hundred pounds. It
was designed as a present to President Jackson.

When completed the colonel was determined to have it
sent forth on its travels in grand style. So he obtained
forty-eight gray horses, placed the cheese on a big wagon
covered with flags, and started for Port Ontario. John
Sage, now residing in the western part of Sandy Creek,
worked for Colonel Jleacham at the time, and, as he hap-
pened to have a gray team, he was called on to take part
in the display. All the farmers for miles around, even if
not blessed with gray teams, were invited to drive before
or after the monster cheese.

The procession, nearly a mile in length, moTcd to Pu-
laski, where a halt was made, and the hoop removed from
the large cheese, allowing the multitude gathered at that
rural hamlet to feast their eyes upon the monster cheese of
the world. They proceeded to the port, where the cheese
was shipped on the 15th of November, 1835. The boat
moved from the wharf amid the firing of cannon and the
applause of the vast concourse of people, who waved fare-
well to Colonel Meacham as he started on his tour.



Nevertheless, it was conveyed to Washington via Os-
wego, Syracuse, Erie canal, Albany, and New York, and
the entire trip was a series of ovations. That was a proud
day for Colonel Meacbam, when this cheese was uncovered
at the capital of the nation and formally presented to the
president of the United States in the name of the " gov-
ernor and people of the State of New York."

This was doubtless the largest gift (in one sense) ever
made to a president. General Jackson duly returned
thanks for both the honor and the cheese, and presented
Colonel Meacbam with a dozen bottles of wine as a compli-
mentary return.

Some men might have been at a loss in regard to the
manner of disposing of this mammoth production. Not
so Old Hickory. He kept it until the 22d of February,
and then directed that it be cut in pieces, and that an invi-
tation be extended to all the people in Washington to eat
cheese ! The following description of that scene was given
by an eye-witness:

"This is Washington's birthday. The president, the
departments, the senate, and we, the people, have celebrated
it by eating a big cheese! The president's house was thrown
open. The multitude swarmed in. The Senate of the
United States adjourned. The representatives of the various
departments turned out. Representatives in squadrons left
the capitol, — and all for the purpose of eating cheese !
Mr. Van Buren was there to eat cheese. Mr. Webster was
there to eat cheese. Mr. Woodbury, Colonel Benton, Mr.
Dickerson, and the gallant Colonel Trobridge were eating
cheese. The court, the fashion, the beauty of Washington
were all eating cheese. Officers in Washington, foreign
representatives, in stars and garters ; gay, joyous, dashing
and gorgeous women, in all the pride and panoply and
pomp of wealth, were there eating cheese. Clieese, cheese,
cheese was on everybody's lip and in everybody's mouth.
All you heard was cheese. All you saw was cheese. All
you smelt was cheese. It was cheese, cheese, cheese.
Streams of cheese were going up in the avenue in every-
body's fists. Balls of cheese were in a hundred pockets.
Every handkerchief smelt of cheese. The whole atmos-
phere for half a mile around was infected with cheese."

The enterprising colonel also sent off a number of cheeses
weighing seven hundred pounds each, — one to Vice-Presi-
dent Van Buren, one to Governor William L. Marcy, at
Albany, one to the mayor of New York, and one to the
mayor of Rochester. From the latter he received in return
an, immense barrel of flour, containing ten ordinary barrels,
and weighing, of course, nearly a ton.

Several years later Colonel Meacbam got another grand
idea in his head. He would build a fine agricultural hall
on his farm, on the Salt road, to be devoted to agricultural
and horticultural fairs, lectures on agriculture, etc. In this
case, as in that of the cheese, he kept adding to his origi-
nal design until he had a long, two-story frame building,
with the head of the great Rochester flour-barrel built into
its front, — a structure far beyond any possible wants of that
quiet neighborhood. " The hall," as it is still called, yet
stands where the colonel built it, but all idea of using it for
its original purposes has long since been abandoned.

Meanwhile Washingtonville grew very slowly. In 1837,-

when Oren R. Earl came there to live, there were two
public-houses, two small stores, and about a dozen frame

In 1840 Sandy Creek shared the general excitement over
the great log cabin campaign ; and the largest meeting ever
held in that part of the country was convened in the north-
west corner of that town. It was a joint meeting for
Oswego and Jefferson counties ; and the log cabin for the
occasion was built partly in Sandy Creek and partly in
Ellisburg, close where the Methodist church now stands.
The Whigs for forty miles around assembled almost en
masse, and some of the most distinguished orators of the
party poured forth their eloquence on the occasion, within
sound of the place where old Stephen Lindsay struck one
of the pioneer blows in the town of Sandy Creek.

For many years little occurred in Sandy Creek requiring
the notice of the historian. The progress of time showed
itself in improved buildings, better farms, finer carriages,
handsome school-houses, and all the usual indications of
prosperity. In 1851 the people at town-meeting voted two
hundred and fifty dollars to prcvide for a town-hall at
Washingtonville ; and a large room was accordingly fitted
up for the purpose.

But though the name of Washingtonville was still re-
tained on official documents and on published maps, yet it
was never a popular favorite. Washington might have
done very well, but Washingtonville was too heavy. The
place was more often called Sandy Creek, and at length the
quadro-.syllabic appellation was entirely dropped, leaving
Sandy Creek master of the field.

The town-hall was evidently provided for when the peo-
ple were getting their ideas worked up by the Watertown
and Rome railroad. That thoroughfare was opened through
Sandy Creek and as far as Pierrepont Manor in May, 1851.
It ran about three-fourths of a mile east of Sandy Creek
village ; consequently the idea soon arose of building an-
other village around the depot. After a few houses had
been erected the question of a name came up, and the very
convenient and euphonious one of Lacona was adopted.

In looking over the town records of Sandy Creek, one
cannot but notice an extraordinary growth of the poor
expenses almost coincident with the railroad and other
improvements. They rose from a hundred and ninety dol-
lars in 1854 to six hundred dollars in 1856, to thirteen
hundred dollars in 1864, and to seventeen hundred dollars
in 1870, besides large sums to pay indebtedness on the poor
account. This is certainly astonishing. For several years
the sum appropriated for that purpose has been a thousand

In the war for the Union, Sandy Creek took her full
share, as is shown by the list of her soldiers appended to
this sketch, and by the record, elsewhere given, of the regi-
ments to which they belonged.

At a special meeting held in August, 1S64, a resolution
was carried, by a vote of three hundred and one against
three, to raise the sum of fifteen thousand six hundred dol-
lars to pay bounties to volunteers. At a special meeting,
held on the 1st of January, 1865, it was resolved that
twenty-one thousand dollars should be raised by bonds to
pay bounties and fill the quota of the town ; the money to

(J^r-^ ^'g^


fffS of R EARL j>n DY^-^ccK OswceoCo N Y


bo used at the discretion of a committee consisting of 0.
R. Earl, W. T. Tift, P. M. Newton, H. E. Root, B. G.
Robbins, and Monroe Sargent.

Since the war the two villages of Sandy Creek and La-
cona have gone forward with rapid steps. The space of
three-quarters of a mile which formerly lay between thorn
has been almost entirely built up on the old street connect-
ing thorn, and several new avenues Iiave been laid out which
are already taking on quite a street^like appearance. No
other village in the county has shown so rapid a progress in
the same time. The population of Lacona and Sandy
Creek is about thirteen hundred. The following arc the

Online LibraryCrisfield. cn Johnson... History of Oswego County, New York → online text (page 100 of 120)