Crisfield. cn Johnson.

... History of Oswego County, New York online

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Geo. W. DuBols, Slst Inf. Enlisted Sept., 1861; died June 15, 1862.
James Ratican, 84th Inf. Killed at Gettysburg.
Samuel Burrus, 4th H. Art. Died in Salisbury prison.
Wm. Martin, 147th Inf. Enlisted Aug., 1862; killed at Gettysburg.
Julius Grantier, 24th Inf. Enlisted May, 1861 ; died June 19, 1862.
6. R. Jones, 147th Inf. Enlisted Sept., 1862; died Feb. 8, 1863.
L. P. Hines, 9th H. Art. Enl'd Dec, 1862 ; killed In Shenandoah

Valley, Oct., 1864.
Jas. McDermon, 2d H. Art. Enl'd Jan., 1864; died Sept. 1864, in

Salisbury prison.
Nicholas Cormer, 2d H. Art. Enl'd Jan., 1864 ; killed at Petersburg.
Francis Boguett, 110th Art. Enl'd Aug., 1862; died at N. 0., Apr.

24, 1863.
John Boguett, Slst Art. Enlisted Aug., 1862; died June 14, 1864.


This town was the seat of one of the earliest and most
flourisliing settlements in Oswego County. In flict, so early
did the very first emigrants locate there that they and their
children have all passed away, and there is not a single per-
son who can tell with absolute certainty when the first man
swung his axe and built his cabin on the banks of Salmon
river. The survivor whose memory goes back the flirthest
of any one that has lived in that town (and probably of
any one in the county) is the venerable Jlrs. Mary Porter,
widow of Ashbel Porter, now a resident of the village of
Orwell. She was brought by her father, Eli Strong, from
Connecticut, in jMarch, 1798. She was then four years
old, and well remembers how she and her still younger
brother were carried on the ice down Salmon river, from
the residence of Captain Nathan Sage, near the present
village of Redfield Square, to the location selected by her
father for his new home, the two children being transported
on the backs of the captain's black servant and white hired

Captain Sage was afterwards well known in the county
as Judge Sage, and after removing to Oswego was post-
master and collector there many years. He was a Connec-
ticut sea-captain, and was the leading pioneer of Redfield.
He and a few other Connecticut men had located there
between the spring of 1795 and the autumn of 1797, and
had sent back glowing accounts of the fine, level flats on
the Salmon river, — the virgin soil of which then appeared
extremely fertile, — of the vigorous growth of timber, and,
above all, of the pure, clear water everywhere to be found.

Among those who came during the three years previous
to 1798, besides Sage, were Deacon Amos Kent, James
Drake, Benj. Thrall, Josiah Lyon, Samuel Brooks, Eliakim
Simons, and Isham Simons. The two latter are reported
by tradition to have built the first barn in town, and to have
raised it themselves. If so, they must have been the first
settlers. Samuel Brooks, an unmarried man of twenty-
eight, came in 1797.

A considerable immigration came in the spring of 1798,
and in the course of that year we find the first authentic
written record regarding Redfield. The territory which
now bears that name was then townships Nos. 7 and 12 of
the " Boylston tract." No. 7, constituting the north part
of the present town, was then called Acadia, and was
entirely unsettled. No. 12 had, as a survey-township,
received the appellation of Redfield in honor of Dr. Fred-
erick Redfield, who bought a large tract of land there very
early, and visited the locality, but died on his return to
Connecticut to make arrangements for a permanent removal.

Both these survey-townships, together with all the rest
of Oswego County east of Oswego river, and a large tract
lying eastward and northward, had been included in the town

of Mexico, when it was re-organized by the law of 179G,
and the authentic document before referred to is the as-
sessment-roll of that town for the year 1798, more fully
described in the general history. The assessed owners of
property in " No. 12," in that year, were Samuel Brooks,
Phincas Corey, Nathan Cook, Ebenezer Chamberlain, Jos.
Clark, Taylor Chapman, Roger Cooke, Jame^Drake, John
Edwards, Nathaniel Eels, Titus Meacham, Amos Kent,
Joseph Overton, Joel Overton, Sihis Phelps, John Pruyn,
Nathan Sage, Eli Strong, Jedediah Smith, Obadiah Smith,
Samuel Smith, Josiah Tryon, Joseph Strickland, George
Seymour, Benjamin Thrall, Jonathan Worth, Jos. Wick-
ham, Thomas Wells, Luke Winchell, Charles Webster,
Daniel Wilcox, and Jonathan Waldo, making thirty-two in
all, while there were only twenty-six assessed in all the rest
of Oswego County east of the Oswego river.

Some of these (including the two Overtons) had come
in the spring of 1798, others, as before mentioned, during
the three years previous, and still others had merely acquired
title to their lands, and had not yet become permanent resi-
dents. This was the case with Phineas Corey, whose son,
John H. Corey, now probably the oldest resident of Red-
field, states that his fiither came thither in 1796, bought
and paid for a tract of land, and then returned east, not
making a permanent location on his purchase until 1800,
when he, John, was three years old.

Other settlers continued to come during and immediately
after 1798, among whom were Erastus Hoskins, Benjamin
Austin, and Elihu Ingraham. David and Jonathan Har-
mon were also very early settlers, and probably came before
1798. Farms were speedily opened along the river, above
and below the present village of R3dfield Square. Cap-
tain Sage was the agent of the proprietors. The only
route by which the locality could be reached ran from
Rome through the present town of Florence, Oneida
county, and even that route wa:5 almost impassable for
wagons. The road now called the State road was laid out
at this period by the State from Rome, running through*
Redfield and the northeast part of Boylston to Sackett's
Harbor, but w;is not entirely opened for travel until two or
three years later.

Snows of four, five, and even six feet in depth blockaded
the settlers in wintiT, but still the level land, the fine tim-
ber, and the clear water attracted new-comers. It is said
of Eli Strong and others that they could have bought good
land in the valley of the Mohawk, within a short distance
of Utica, as cheaply as at Redfield, but they did not fancy
the water, and pressed on to the sparkling springs and
purling rills of Redfield.

By the beginning of 1800 it was con.sidered that
there were inhabitants enough to form a separate town.




Application was accordingly made to the legislature, and
on the I4th day of March, 1800, a town was formed which
corresponded in size to the survey-township of Redfield
(No. 12), and retained the same name. It is said that
there was considerable disposition to call the town " Strick-
land," after another large land-holder, but about the time of
its organization he ran away with another man's wife, and
so the good people reverted to Redfield, on the ground that
the doctor was dead and couldn't possibly commit a similar
offense. It was a very small town for those days, and made
a mere notch in the side of far-spreading Mexico, but the
Salmon river settlement constituted a Connecticut world by
itself, separated by rocky hills and dense forests from other
communities, and its boundaries were intended to include
only these sons and daughters of the land of steady habits.

On the fipt day of April, 1800, the voters met at the
house of Josiah Tryon (the son-in-law of Captain Sage),
and organized the town by electing the following oflScers :
Supervisor, Luke Winchell ; Town Clerk, Eli Strong; As-
sessors, Erastus Hoskins, James Drake, and Benjamin
Austin ; Collector, Benjamin Thrall ; Overseers of the Poor,
Amos Kent and Jonathan Harmon ; Commissioners of
Highways, Samuel Brooks, Daniel Wilcox, and Eliakim
Simons ; Constable, Nathan Cook ; Path-masters, Eben-
ezer Chamberlain, David Harmon, and Elihu Ingraham ;
Fence-viewers, Titus Meacham, Isham Simons, and Nathan
Sage ; Pound-master, David Harmon.

This last oifice was no sinecure. Plenty of evidence is
to be found in the town-book of the interest taken by the
people in that good old New England institution, the pound.
At the very first town-meeting a vote was passed that a
pound should be erected " as near the forks of the road, by
David Harmon's, as can be found convenient," and that it
should be composed of round timber, laid up forty feet by

That summer the proprietors gave fifteen acres of land
to the young town for public purposes, and at a special
town-meeting held in September following, it was voted to
accept the gift. It was laid out as a public square, the
name of Centre Square was given to the locality, and the
early settlers all called their embryo village by that name.
They soon, however, abbreviated it to " the Square," and it
is now generally known as Redfield Square, many of the
residents having, apparently, never heard of the original

At the same meeting a penalty of five dollars was voted
•for felling trees into the Salmon river, unless they were
immediately afterwards cut out. A bounty of five dollars
was also voted for each wolf killed in the town.

The same year, 1800, Elihu Ingraham built the first saw-
mill in town, and connected with it a run of stone, making
also the first grist-mill, though a very inferior concern. It
was run a few years, and then abandoned ; the inhabitants
being afterwards compelled to go to Rome for their grinding,
as they had done previous to its erection, or else resort to
the primitive stump-mortar, so often mentioned in this

Phineas Corey came in 1800, as before stated. David
Butler came the same year, and in that year or the next
opened the first tavern in town. It was a log building

(situated near the northeast corner of the Square), but that
edifice was soon replaced by a frame one.

In 1800 or 1801, also, came Amos and Joshua Johnson,
brothers, whose occupations would now be considered the
opposite of each other, but were not thus viewed at that
period, when deacons frequently kept tavern, and attended
sedulously to both the spirituous and .spiritual needs of their
customers. Amos, commonly called Colonel Johnson, kept
the second tavern in town, situated south of the creek, at
Centre Square, and Joshua, who lived with him, was the
first minister. He was of the Congregational denomination,
as were most of these early New England settlers.

At the same period (1800 or 1801) Dr. Enoch Alden
came from Rome and made his home in this secluded but
promising locality. His own family, however, furnished
the first occupant of the newly laid out grave-yard at Centre
Square, his infant son, Franklin, being buried there in 1801 .
This, however, was not the first death in town, as a young
daughter of Wells Kellogg had previously been buried
on the top of a hill on Captain Sage's farm, just west of
Centre Square.

It is said that aft^r the burial of Dr. Alden's child,
Katie, the daughter of " Priest Johnson," as he was com-
monly called, a girl just verging into womanhood, frequently
expressed a feeling of sadness at the thought of that little
infant lying there alone in the grave-yard. The same year
she, too, was stricken down by death, and the child was no
longer alone. Her tombstone still stands in the same grave-
yard, but scores lie buried all around to keep her company.

It is not certain whether it was quite the first, but one
of the first marriages was that of Samuel Brooks and
Lamenta Strong, daughter of Eli Strong, and sister of Mrs.
Porter, before mentioned, which took place in 1801. Of
that marriage Mrs. George McKinney was one of the off-

The first child born in town was a son of Ebenezer
Chamberlain, who received the name of Ezra L'Homme-
dieu Chamberlain, in honor of one of the great land-holders
of that section.

The first school of which any account can be obtained
was taught in the winter of 1801-2, by the Rev. Mr.
Johnson, though it seems probable that so large and intel-
ligent a community had had one before. It is certain,
however, that the first church (Congregational) was organ-
ized in 1802 by Mr. Johnson, with nineteen members, and
this was unquestionably the first church organization within
the present county of Oswego. It antedated by five years
the first formation of a church in Mexico, and preceded by
fourteen years a similar proceeding in Oswego village. In
1802, also, Captain Sage was appointed a judge of the court
of common pleas of Oneida county ; being the first official
above the rank of supervisor within the present county of

AUyn Seymour, father of the late Rodney Seymour,
came in 1802, and settled about a mile east of the Square.
An exciting incident of that year, remembered only by the
earliest settlers, was the burning of Benj. Austin's house,
where an infant a few months old was snatched from its
cradle by another child, only five or six years of age, who
barely succeeded in saving its life. The babe thus saved

James Petrie.

RES.of James FE.rffiz, l?iDriaD,Oswi:Go Co. N Y.



became in later years the Rev. Mr. Austin, a celebrated
Universalist minister.

Phineas Corey was appointed one of the earliest justices
of the peace, in 1802. His books as justice are still pre-
served by his son, John H. Corey, as are also his father's
account-books. The latter reach back to 1801, charges
being made in that year against Jacob Houscr, Dr. Alden,
and Aaron West. The last-named peraon was debited with
a hundred pounds of venison at three cents per pound, and
" two yards of tobacco" at three cents per yard. On in-
quiry regarding this curious entry, we were informed that
tobacco twisted into a long, slender rope was commonly
sold by the yard in those early days. The price charged
for a day's work with an ox-team, harrowing and logging,
was " nine shillings," — a dollar twelve and a half cents

It would appear that the pound, forty feet by thirty,
voted at the first town-meeting, was either not erected or
was not considered sufficiently styli-sh, for at a special meet-
ing held in August, 1802, it was decreed that a pound forty
feet square and eight feet high should be erected in the
public square. It was to be of hemlock timber, with sills
and plates on all sides ; to have three posts between each
corner ; the spaces between each pair of posts to be occu-
pied with seven bars of sawed timber, two by five inches
each, tenoned into the posts; the structure to be furnished
with a good gate, with lock and hinges.

It is a little difificult to understand the object of this fine
institution, as at the same meeting it was voted that hogs
should be " free commoners." It was certainly curious if
cattle were shut up and hogs allowed to run at large. At
the same time it was voted that the highway commissioners
should open the "great road," from Allen Merrill's to the
bridge, with money to be raised by the town.

They were not as particular about fences as in some
towns, for at a later meeting it was decreed tliat they need
be only four feet high, the part under three feet to have but
six-inch spaces between the rails.

The first suit at law which 'can be found on record in
Esquire Corey's docket (though doubtless there were others
tried before) was in 1804, between Amos Kent, David
Butler, and Eli Strong, plaintiifs, and Isham Simons, then
of Rome, defendant. A judgment of twenty-two dollars
was rendered in favor of the plaintiff's.

Another record of that year was this very simple but
sufficient announcement : " Married by me, John Thomas,
of Sandy Creek, to Betsey Dobson, of this place. Phineas

Betsey Dobson had a brother, Thomas Dobson, a man of
great strength and daring. On one occasion, when in the
woods without a gun, he discovered a bear (probably a
young one) on the point of ascending a tree. Rushing up,
he seized the animal's paws in an iron grasp, and held his
legs around the tree until Dobson's shouts brought a mati
to his assistance, who dispatched the unfortunate Bruin.

Besides bears and wolves, the shriek of the savage pan-
ther was sometimes heard on the hills that overlooked the
valley of the Salmon. In 1803 or 180-i, Erastus Hoskins
and Luke Winchell had the honor of killing the first of these
ferocious animals ever slain in town. There have been but
two or three killed since.

In the winter of 1804-5 a strong effort was made to
organize a new county from Oneida, comprising the terri-
tory of the present counties of Lewis and Jefferson, and
the greater part of Oswego, with the county-seat at Red-
field. Instead of that, the two new counties of Lewis and
Jefferson were formed in March, 1805, leaving Redfield in

A hotly-contested suit, tried on the 10th of December,
1805, between Dr. Enoch Alden and Wells Kellogg, resulted
in a verdict of twelve and a half cents for the plaintiff.
The jury consisted of Jonathan Harmon, foreman ; .\raos
Kent, David Butler, David Harmon, Eljcnezcr ('haniberiain,
and Hezekiah Ford.

Soon afterwards Dr. Alden returned to Rome to reside,
and the little settlement was left without a physician. There
was no store, the miniature grist-mill built by Ingraham was
abandoned, and a long journey must be made ere one could
either live or die in accordance with the rules of civilized
society. At first Rome was the nearest resort, but at a
later period a store and other conveniences were to be found
at Florence, only eight miles distant.

Yet these secluded pioneers were an intelligent and relig-
ious community, and the school and church never ceased
to flourish. After Mr. Johnson, a Mr. Charles Owen taught
the school at the Square, and the Rev. William Stone, father
of the celebrated editor and author, William L. Stone, offi-
ciated as minister.

Very patriotic, too, were these .sons and dauL'htors of Con-
necticut. Nearly every recurring Fourth of July saw an
enthusiastic celebration, when bowers covered with bushes
were built in the public square, and long tables capable of
accommodating every man, woman, and child in the little
community were spread with the bounteous cheer produced
by the farms around. There the roast pig, standing on all-
fours, ruled over a wilderness of meats, game, fish, bread,
cake, pies, and all the savory results of the skill of New
England housewives.

For a rostrum an immense hemlock, standing on the
Square, was cut off" some twenty feet from the ground, and
a platform built on the lofty stump, capable of accommo-
dating all the officials of the day. From that commanding
and romantic elevation, on many an Independence day,
successive orators thundered forth their eulogies of Ameri-
can liberty, and their denunciations of despotism in every
form. There, too, after the feast had been disposed of, the
magnates assembled, of whom Captain Sage was the most
prominent, toasts were drank in New England rum, which
the morals of that day did not interdict, and the empty
bottles flung down to the ground amid the cheers of the
multitude below.

Though there wore no Indians residing close by, the
Oiieidiis went through the town every fall on their hunting
excui-sions. They were on good terms with the settlers,
but were as fond then as now of getting food or drink
without labor. Mrs. Porter relates that one Sunday in
autumn her fijther's family went to church, leaving her,
then only six years old, alone in the house. While sitting
in the kitchen she noticed the darkening of the open door-
way, and, looking up, saw a s

Online LibraryCrisfield. cn Johnson... History of Oswego County, New York → online text (page 112 of 120)