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... History of Oswego County, New York online

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The fortunes of this gentleman were for forty years so
closely connected with those of Oswego County and city,
and he is so often mentioned in other parts of this work,
that all which is needful in this sketch is to give some per-
sonal details, and advert to some circumstances not set forth
in the general history.

Alvin Bronson was born in Waterbury, Connecticut, May
19, 1783. After spending his boyhood on a farm, and his
youth as a clerk, he became a merchant at the age of
eighteen, and has been engaged in some department of the
mercantile business ever since ; that is to say, during a
period of seventy-six years ! After nine years of successful
merchandising, during which he built two vessels and made
several voyages by sea, Mr. Bronson came to Oswego in
1810, and engaged in the lake trade as one of the firm of
Bronson, Townsend & Co. Of his connection with the
early commerce of Oswego, and of the part he took in the
war of 1812, sufficient has been said in the general history
of the county and city.

In October, 1815, Mr. Bronson married Mary, the
youngest daughter of Captain Edward O'Connor, also promi-
nent in the early history of Oswego. By that lady, now
deceased, he had one son and two daughters. After carry-
ing on a large part of the commerce of the lakes for seven
years after the war, the firm of Bronson, Townsend & Co.
was dissolved in 1822. That year Mr. Bronson was elected
to the State senate, and drew a term of two years. We



have mentioned in the general history the exertions he
made in behalf of the Oswego canal, and his connection
with the celebrated " seventeen," of whom, and of the senate
of that day, he is now the sole survivor ; the late Heman J.
Redfield, who died a few weeks since, having been the last
preceding one. Mr. Bronson was also conspicuous as an
advocate of free-trade views, which were then very un-
popular.

In 1829 he was again elected to the senate, where he
served four years as chairman of one of the most important
committees, — that of finance. Many able reports written
by him attest his ability, though he was never a seeker after
popularity, and was frequently in a small minority. About
1830, Mr. Bronson went into partnership with the late
Lemuel B. Crocker, in the forwarding business, and the
firm of Bronson & Crocker continued for twenty-five years,
weathering all the storms which at times swept over the
commercial world. Mr. Bronson was the first president of
the Oswego board of trade, in 18-18. Since then he has
confined himself mostly to his private business, though he
has occasionally found time to write an able article in aid of
the commercial interests oi" the city of his choice. The
firm of Alvin Bronson & Co. still exists, though Mr. Bron-
son has gradually given up the management of its business
to others, as well he may, considering that over ninety-four
years have passed over the head of this honored patriarch
of Oswejro.




SYLVESTER DOOLITTLE



was born at Whitestown, now Whitesboro', Oneida county,
State of New York, on the 11th of January, 1800. His
parents were from Connecticut. He learned the business
of ship-carpenter at Sodus Point, Wayne county. New
York. In 1822 he removed to Rochester, and there built
the first boat that went through the canal to Albany. From
there he removed to Utica, and was engaged in building
packets for the Erie canal before the railroads were con-
structed. Here he built and took to New York the first
lake-boat ever made, and laid the foundation of the through
freight trade by canal-boats to that city. After the railroads
were built and the packet business destroyed, through the in-
fluence of Abram Varick, Mr. Doolittle removed to Oswego,
New York, in the fall of 1830. Here he built three or four
vessels and improved the carrying capacity of the lake craft.
Having learned of the new invention of Mr. Ericsson, in
adapting the screw to the propulsion of vessels, and because
side-wheel steamers could not go through the Welland
canal, Mr. D. constructed, by the consent of Mr. Ericsson,
the first screw propeller ever used for transportation of
freight and passengers, thus establishing the feasibility



of the screw as a motive power in marine architecture. He
also built one of the first large mills in Oswego, introducing
many improvements in handling grain and making flour,
assisting by these improvements the reputation of the Os-
wego mills and character of the flour manufactured at that
place.

Having given up ship-building, he engaged in the busi-
ness of forwarding from New York to the west, and in
milling. About this time he built the block known as the
Doolittle block, and Doolittle hall, the chief place for exhi-
bitions in the city. While engaged in deepening the chan-
nel of the river a mineral spring was discovered boiling up
through the rock on the then dry bottom of the river. He
traced the stream ashore on his property, and after a large
expense, with much labor, he secured what is now known as
the Deep Rock spring. Over this he built the Doolittle
House, one of the largest and handsomest hotels in western
New York.

In the year 1829 Mr. Doolittle married Miss Catherine
Gould, of Utica, daughter of Samuel Gould, Esq. There



no issue from this



marriaKC.



HISTORY OF OSWEGO COUNTY, NKW YORK.



143



think that I didirt know wliere lie boardod. and I didn't
know but you did."

" AVeli, no, I don't," said the old j;cntlenian. " Ho hasn't
been here but a little while, you know, and I have had no
particular business with him. I presume, however, you
will have no difficulty in ascertaining his place of abode."

" Oh, certainly not ; excuse my troubling you. Good-
morning, judge."

"No trouble at all; good-morning;" and the two men
went on their separate ways, the judge wondering as he
walked at the sudden interest manifested in " young Stevens,
the hatter." Sixty rods farther along he saw another
young man, just turning off from the ruad towards the river,
with a fish-jKile in his hand.

" Good-morning, judge."

'•Good-morning," responded Sage; " the fish are bound
to suffer now, I suppose."

" Well, yes, I think it is a pretty good day for fishing ;
and if it should rain a little it would do no hurt. By the
by, judge," hastily continued the speaker, stepping back a
few paces out of the underbrush, '' do you happen to know
the boarding-place of young Stevens, the hatter?"

A light suddenly broke on the mind of the puzzled
oiEcial.

" You infernal rascal !" he roared, shakiirg his cane at the
offender, " if I had you here I would teach you to play
your jokes on a man of my age and position. This is all
that rascal Coe's work. I know him ; I'd like to break this
cane over his head." And the judge strode rapidly towards
the village, muttering anathemas on all the impertinent
young scamps in Oswego, and especially on Dr. Coe, whom
he rightly concluded to be the chief engineer of this elabo-
rate jest.

He was just entering the village when a steady-going old
ship-captain came out of his house, who was in a quandary
as to the proper action to be taken regarding some goods
which he was about to ship.

" Guod-morning, judge," he exclaimed at sight of the col-
lector, " glad to see you ; I wanted to ask you a question.
Can you tell me "

" Oh, you're another of the scoundrels, are you ?" shrieked
the judge, his anger now at white heat, hurling his cane at
the astonished son of Neptune, and then rushing towards
him with clenched fists, while the latter hastily beat a
retreat within his domicile. " I'll teach you to impose on
me in this way. I'll break your rascally head for you, if I
have to wait half a day for you to come out."

It was only through the intervention of his wife that the
seaman finally made it manifest that his question was a
legitimate one, and had nothing to do with the whereabouts
of " young Stevens, the hatter."

For many weeks the conspirators, and especially Dr Coe,
wisely kept out of reach of the judge's cane, but at length
his wrath was placated, being only occasionally renewed
when some saucy boy would inquire, in his hearing, of a
comrade, if the latter could tell where " young Stevens, the
hatter, took his meals."

Time pas.sed on, and even the boys ceased to bother the
judge. The war of 1812, with its years of excitement and
terror, blotted from most men's minds the memory of less



important events. Some time after its close the people of
Oswego, still debarred from the more exciting kinds of
amusement, determined on a grand concert, to be held one
winter afternoon and evening at the school-house, to which
the people from all the country round should be invited. A
good leader was provided, and all the best singers of the
vicinity were duly drilled in the good old tunes of those
early days.

No one entered more heartily into the project than Dr.
Coe, then a rising physician, with an interesting family.
Those of the country people who had acquaintances in the
viHagc generally received invitations to pass the night with
some friendly family. Deacon Mann, howciver, who had lately
settled on the river, several miles up, was almost entirely un-
acquainted in Oswego. Two or three days before the con-
cert he received a polite note from Dr. Coe, whom he had
never met, saying that he, the doctor, was aware that the
deacon was a stranger in Oswego, and might be embarnisscd
in finding accommodations on the night of the concert. He
was, however, continued the note, well known to the writer
by reputation, and the latter, therefore, took the liberty of
inviting Mr. and Mrs. Mann and family to make their
home at his house the day and evening of the concert ; com-
ing to dinner and staying overnight.

The worthy deacon was well pleased with this courtesy,
and on the appointed day hitched his oxen to his sled, took
his family on board, drove down to Oswego, and stopped at
Dr. Coe's house. Making himself known to the doctor, he
said, —

" I received your letter, doctor, and am very gla



Online LibraryCrisfield. cn Johnson... History of Oswego County, New York → online text (page 37 of 120)