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this was the grand hotel of the village, where all distin-
guished strangei-s stopped, where all conventions were held,
and where everybody met everybody else.

In 1830 the AVelland can:d was opened, and the same
year saw an upward movement of the long-dormant milling
business. Two mills with six run of stone each were built :
one by Henry Fitzhugh and one by Gerrit Smith and Rich-
ard L. De Zeng. Messrs. Smith and Fitzhugh, who were
brothers-in-law, both became largely interested in Oswego
property ; the latter remaining till his death one of the
leading citizens of the place, and Mr. Smith, though not a
resident, always manifesting a deep interest in its welfare.

By the census of the last-named year the population of
the village was about two thousand two hundred ; having
more than doubled within two years. The increase was the
most rapid on the east side, which had now risen to about
a third of the total population.

These were the times of hot warfare regarding Masonry.
Masonry itself had suspended operations in this county,
but anti-Masonry had also reached its climax, and was de-
clining in power. At the spring election for the town of
Oswego, the Democratic party, which was still sometimes
called by its old Jeffersonian name of " Republican," had
a majority of about sixty over the anti-Masons. Matthew
McNair was elected supervisor, and among the five assessors
were ex-congressman Rudolph Bunner and ex senator
Alvin Bronson. One of the three inspectors of schools
was William F. Alien, a young lawyer of twenty-two, who
had only the year before been admitted to the bar. Mat-
thew McNair, Samuel Carter, and Edward Bronson were
the " commissioners of gospel lots," — ofiicers having charge
of the land set apart for religious purposes in each township
of the Military tract.

On the 1st of August, 1830, the little schooner " Erie"
came down the lake to Oswego. A great crowd greeted its
arrival with the most exuberant manifestiitions of joy, and
its oflBcers and passengers were entertained at a gi-and ban-
quet at the Welland House, where the wildest predictions
were made regarding the results to flow from the coming of
that little schooner. The reason of all this excitement was
that the " Erie" was the first^comer from the lake whose
name it bore, — the first vessel to pass through the Welland

One of the severest of the early fires in Oswego occurred
on the 1st of October, 1830. All the buildings on the
west side of West First street, from Gemini (Cayuga)
street to Taurus (Seneca) street, and thence along Taurus
to the corner of Second street, were reduced to ashes. That
locality was then in the heart of the business portion of the
village, and the list of losers included the names of F. T
Carrington, D. P. Brewster, E. & T. Wentworth, R. L. De
Zeng, Bronson & Doming, L. B. Crocker, George Fisher,
J. I. Fort, A. Richardson, Dr. W. G. Adkins, and others
of the " heavy men" of that era. But the place was then
in the full tide of growth, and the scars of fire were quickly

The first church built on the east side was the First
Baptist, the society of that name having received permis-
sion in March, 1831, to erect an edifice -on the northwest
corner of the east square. The desire for higher education
than could be afforded by the district schools also began to
manifest itself, and in 1831 a number of the leading citi-
. zens associated themselves to found an academy. The
foundation of the building was laid that year on part of the
block originally intended for the east portion of the public
square and leased by the city, but hardly was the new
structure erected when jealousies arose on account of its
proximity to the district school, which was still the only one
in the place. So the trustees sold the new building and
purchased another on Taurus (Seneca) street, between
Third and Fourth. This was used for school purposes for
nearly twenty years.

Another proceeding which indicated the awakening of
the literary spirit was the opening of a reading-room by
Mr. John Carpenter, the proprietor of the l\illaditim,
where the principal periodicals of the country were kept on
file, and were submitted to the perusal of readers at a sub-
scription price of four dollars a year.

The loss of the new schooner " Henry Clay," belonging
to Mr. Fitzhugh, causing as it did the death of Captain
Duncan Campbell and a number of seamen, cast a temporary
gloom over the rising village, quickly dissipated by the
constantly broadening glow of material prosperity.

Early in 1832, rumors of the hitherto unknown destroyer,
cholera, began to alarm the people. In time the mysterious
miasma, wafted from the Atlantic coast, approached the
frontier village. Meetings of the citizens to devise pro-
tective measures against the deadly invader were held, and
in a short time the trustees appointed a board of health,
consisting of Joel Turrill, Rudolph Bunner, T. S. Morgan,
H. N. Walton, John Grant, Jr., G. II. McWhorter, Elisha
Moon, Joseph Grant, and Ambrose Morgan. Dr. W. G.
Adkins was appointed health ofiicer.

One event of the cholera period is worthy of especial
notice. Money was deemed necessary to drain unhealthy
localities and to take other precautions, and the trustees
had no power to pledge the village for that purpose. They
therefore resolved to raise, and did raise, a thousand dollars
by their personal notes, trusting to the legislature to au-
thorize the necessary tax. The cholera came and many fell
before it, but one can learn little on the subject by consulting
contemporary records. People were very shy of saying
much, for fear of increasing the panic. As for the news-
papers of 1832, one couldn't learn from them that there
had been any cholera within a thousand miles.

At this period the remains of old Fort Oswego were still
to be seen at the foot of the hill on the west side. Tra-
dition asserted that when the fort was taken by the French
(or, as the people generally misunderstood it, when it was
taken by the English from the French) a large amount of
specie was hidden in the old well within the inclosure, and
still remained in concealment. Numerous searches had
been made, water-witches and "sorcerers" had been (m-
ployod, but the seekers had not been able to find even il o
well, much les.s the money. But in the latter part of lt32
a man named Scripture, from Sandy Creek, wliile rummaging



round within the old wall, and near where the liberty-pole
then stood, found the long-abandoned well. If he found
any specie he said nothing to any one about it, and the next
morning he left the village, his discovery being marked only
by the presence of numerous cartridge-boxes, bullets, etc.,
thrown out by the finder. The well was about sixteen feet
deep and four feet across, and was well walled up. It was
a focus of curiosity for a few days, but people were too
busy then to devote much time to inve.stigating the relics
of the past.

Each succeeding month saw an increase of population
and of wealth. The then immense sum of a thousand
dollars was raised by general tax, and after the cholera had
passed by all sorts of improvements were the order of the

The remainder of the eastern third of the public square
and of the market ground, on the west side, were disposed of,
and the avails applied to improving the western section of
the village. The lot on the northeast corner of the market
ground was sold for eleven hundred and fifty dollars, subject
to a yearly rent of ninety dollars to the village. Mr. Van
Buren laid out a portion of Military lot No. G into streets
and lots, and these streets were soon opened by the author-
ities as far as the village bounds extended.

Abraham Varick, a wealthy capitalist, had the Varick
canal constructed, for hydraulic purposes, under the man-
agement of R. L. De Zeng, on the west bank of the river.
The wall between it and the river was built ten feet thick
at bottom, about four feet thick at the top, sixteen feet high,
and three thousand feet long ; the canal being sixty-two
feet wide and seven feet deep, with a fall of nineteen feet
deep, and costing, when completed two years later, seventy-
five thousand dollars.

Politics also were hot. There was a Bronson and a
Turrill section of the Democratic party, under the leadership
of Hon. Alvin Bronson and Hon. Joel Turrill, and between
that party and its opponents, now rapidly taking the name
of Whig, the fight was as lively as could well be desired.
General Peter Sken Smith, a brother of Gerrit Smith, and
a lawyer, residing on the east side of the river, was a leader
of the opposition ; the FaUadhim was the organ of the
Democrats, the Free Press and afterwards the Democrat
were the champions of the Whigs, and the wordy wars,
frequently enlivened with libel suits, were even more fierce
than at the present day.

There was but a single school district on the west side of
the river up to 1834. In that year a new one was formed,
bounded by Gemini (Cayuga), Third, and Scorpio (Albany)
streets and the river, being district No. 12 of the town of
Oswego. In fact, people hardly had time to attend to
such little things as schools. By 1835 everybody was get-
ting rich at forty knots an hour. The Oswego bank turned
out money in unlimited quantities, and the next year the
Commercial bank was equally liberal. The lovers of inflation
had everything their own way. A fire which burned up
Fitzhugh's grist-mill, Bronson & Morgan's grist-mill, and
fifteen or twenty other large buildings, was hardly noticed.
There was plenty of money to build more.

Some reserved lots on the river and outward harbor, be-
longing to the State, were sold at auction. Competitors

came from New York, Albany, and other places, anxious
to make their fortunes out of Oswego land. One large
lot of about three acres sold for a hundred and eight
thousand dollars. Twelve small ones brought about forty-
eight thousand. No one doubted that all the property then
bought would be sold for much larger amounts. It was
asserted that the State had then received three hundred
thousand dollars for property in 0.swego, and had still a
large amount left.

The collections at the custom-house felt the astonishing
impetus of business. For the third quarter of 1835 they
were over twenty-one thousand dollars, and it was announced
that the collections for the second and third quarters of that
year were thirtt/ times as much as they had been for the
corresponding quarters in 1834. A gentleman came from
the east and bought the old "Oswego House," occupying
somewhat less ground than the present " Fitzhugh," for a
hundred thousand dollars. He paid ten thousand dollars
down, and that was the end of it.

The year 1836 opened with still more glowing prospects.
In March there were thiity-five vessels building at once,
averaging a hundred tons each. Property continued to rise.
A block between Sixth and Seventh streets, which had been
purchased the summer before for two thousand dollars, was
now sold for sixteen thousand I

There were at this time on the two hydraulic canals six
grist-mills, two cotton-factories, three machine-factories, a
stone-polishing mill, a tobacco-factory, three extensive tan-
neries, four saw-mills, a cedar-cutting mill, a large foundry,
and extensive iron-works.

Besides these, there were in the village a Presbyterian,
an Episcopal, a JMethodist, a Baptist, a Congregational, and
a Catholic church ; an academy, two banks, seven taverns,
twenty-one general stores, two weekly newspapers, and about
six hundred dwellings, containing in the neighborhood of
five thousand inhabitants. Any one who should then have
denied that Oswego would soon be one of the first cities on
the continent would have been considered a lunatic and a

But in the latter part of 1836 the trouble began. In-
flation had been carried to its utmost possible extent, and
when the reaction set in, the vast volume of the practically
irredeemable paper-money shriveled up befoi-e the hot breath
of the panic, involving the whole country in financial dis-
aster which has never since been approached.

The Oswego people could not at first believe that their
high hopes were so completely blasted, and for a while en-
deavored to breast the tide. But all through 1837 prices
continued to sink, and money, of late so plentiful, became
scarce beyond conception. Both banks broke. Millions
of imaginary wealth disappeared. Nearly every business
man became bankrupt. The firm of Bronson & Crocker
struggled through almost alone. Building ceased, and for
years Oswego lay commercially supine under the weight of
the terrible " hard times."

On the 1st of March, 1837, a new and complete code of
village laws was enacted by the trustees, all previous ordi-
nances having been repealed. Regarding the usual provisions
regulating the market, forbidding the running at large of
animals, etc., little need be said here, but there were two



sections regarding the streets wliich are of nineh inter-

The people had become thorouglily weary of tlie celestial
street-names selected by old Simeon De Witt. The use of
these had now been extended as far south as the south line
of the old State reservation, near the present Ohio street.
To the mind of the ordinary, common-sense citizens, there
was something outlandish in such names as Aries, Taurus,
Cancer, Scorpio, Caprieornus, and Sagittarius ; and if he
kTiew enough of Latin to tran.slate those appellations into
Ham street. Bull street, Crab street, etc., it did not materi-
ally help the matter.

So in 1837 the trustees, responding to the general wish,
changed the name of all the old streets in the village run-
ning east and west. Auriga street was transformed into
De Witt, A(|uila to Mitchell, Lj-ra to Van Buren, Aries to
Schuyler, Taurus to Seneca, Gemini to Cayuga, Cancer to
Bridge, Leo to Oneida, Virgo to Mohawk, Libra to Utica,
Scorpio to Albany, Sagittarius to Erie, Caprieornus to Nia-
gara, and Afjuarius to Ohio street. A street running north
and south, which had previously borne the name of Van
Buren, was changed to Eighth street.

It w;is also provided that the curb-stones of the side-
w;ilks on all streets from and including Second to the river
(and on Bridge street as far as Fourth), on the east side,
.should be placed nineteen feet from the street-line. In
West First, West Second, north of Mohawk, and in West
Seneca, east of Second, the curb-stones were to be twenty
feet from the street-lines ; while in all other streets a hun-
dred feet wide they were to be twenty-six feet from the

This, of course, left a wide space between the sidewalk
and street-Hue. It was further enacted that on the business
streets before mentioned, where the curb was nineteen or
twenty feet from the line, the owner might build a platform
seven feet wide into the street on which to display goods.
On the streets where the curb was twenty-six feet out
(except from Second street to the river), the inhabitants
were allowed to inclose seventeen feet of space with an
ornamental fence, to be removed on thirty days' notice from
the board of trustees.

This practically reduced the streets from a hundred to
sixty-six feet wide. The result has been to make Oswego
one of the shadiest and hand.somest cities in the country.
The owners of adjoining lots had no permission to build on
the seventeen feet, but they universally availed themselves
of the permission to inclose it. Consequently, throughout
almost all Oswego, the houses are invariably at least seven-
teen feet from the sidewalk ; the intervening space being
usually occupied by a handsome shaded yard, — a sight
hardly to be seen in any other city of its size in the world.

In the latter part of 1837 the financial depression was
variegated if not relieved by the excitement regarding the
celebrated " Patriot War," Oswego, on account of its
being the general gateway of communication with Canada,
was perhaps more infected with " patriot" sympathy than
any other town on the frontier. All through 1838 con-
tinued excitement prevailed, and men and means were sent
to the insurgents by the " Hunter" lodges formed along
the border. We have described some of the leading events

of this period in the general history of the county, in-
cluding the operations of the steamer " United Stiites," and
the publication of the Oswego Patriot ; but there was one
affair of a local nature, near the close of the disturbances,
which we will mention here.

On the 12th of January, 1839, two brass field-pieces,
which had been stolen from some State arsenal by the
patriots, were found concealed about a machine-shop just at
the east end of the bridge. On the 14th they were seized
by George H. MeWliortcr, United States marshal, and
placed in charge of a guard of regular soldiers. The next
day he prepared to remove them to a more secure place. A
crowd began to a.ssemble, who desired to prevent their
being put out of reach of the " patriots " The marshal
sent for a company of United States troops, which was
quartered in the United States hotel property, where the
noimal school now is. The company came down upon the
bridge, where they were immediately surrounded by an im-
mense crowd, so closely packed that the soldiers could
hardly have brought a musket to bear had they tried.

The mar.shal was unwilling to proceed to extremities.
Finally John Bunner, an ardent " sympathizer," remem-
bered that Colonel Runnill, of the New York State militia,
who was also the keeper of the jail, had orders to take posses-
sion of all arms bearing the State mark, as the two field-pieces
did. The colonel was hunted up, and demanded the guns
in the name of the State. As the claim was reasonable on
the face of it, the marshal decided to give them up to him,
though he was known to be in sympathy with the " pa-
triots," For this reason the crowd assented to the arrange-
ment. The cannon were dragged out, and under the
nominal charge of Colonel Runnill were paraded through
the principal streets, preceded by drum and fife, and sur-
rounded by the exultant sympathizers, who numbered
nearly all the people of the village. The cannon were
finally deposited in the jail-yard, on the site of the present
city hall, under the charge of the worthy colonel.

A short time afterwards a number of sympathizers took
possession of them without difiiculty, dragged them by a
roundabout road to the locality now called Minetto, and
concealed them under the floor of a barn, ready for
the next invasion of Canada. The United States troops,
which had been reinforced from Sackett's Harbor, got on
the track of the lost guns, and marched to the ueighborhcod
where they were concealed, but could not find them.
None of the people would betray wliat they considered the
cause of freedom. Colonel Runnill was afterwards court-
martialed for allowing the cannon to be taken from his
possession ; but the militia officers who tried him were
probably as friendly to the " patriots" as himself, and he
was speedily acquitted.

Among the results of the military excitement of the day
was the organization, in 1839, of the " Oswego Guards," the
first uniformed militia company in the village of which we
can find any account. Its first officers were Captain S. S.
Hulbert, Lieutenant J. AV. Ransom, and Ensign G. S.

Notwithstanding the hard times the trustees continued
to order the paving and improving of streets, and fifteen
hundred dollars were raised for general purposes in ISllS.


But for several years thereafter it was very quiet in Os-
wego. About 1842 or 1843 the village began slowly to re-
cover from the previous depression. In the latter year the
Eagle and the Washington mills, each with five run of
stone, were erected, being the first since the panic. The
next year the Empire mill was built, new residences began
to rise, and commerce showed signs of improvement.

The Masons had been under the ban of public opinion in
all this section ever since the Morgan afi"air, but in 1845 a
new secret order made its appearance in Oswego. The first
lodge of Odd-Fellows, " Oswegatchie," was organized here
in May of that year.

Business and improvements continued to increase during
184G, but 1847 was the most remarkable j'ear which had
yet been known. No less than six large mills were built in
that single year, — the Atlas, Premium, Pearl, Seneca, Lake
Ontario, and Express, — having in all forty-two run of stone,
and being capable of making four thousand two hundred
barrels of flour per day. New business blocks, churches,
and residences arose on all sides, and people began to talk
railroad and city. Oswego lodge of Ma.sons was organized,
the first in the place since the outbreak of anti-Masonry.

The next year both city and railroad talk became accom-
plished facts. Application was duly made to the legis-
lature, and on the 24th of March an act was passed by that
body organizing the city of Oswego. It was divided into
four wards, each represented in the council by two alder-
men, who exercised the legislative power of the new body
politic, while the executive authority was confided to a

The first city election resulted in the choice of James
Piatt as mayor, and of Hunter Crane, Gilbert Mollison,
Stephen H. Lathrop, Robert Oliver, George S. Alvord,
John Brigeol, Samuel S. Taylor, and William S. Malcolm.
The council appointed J. M. Casey as the first city clerk.

The railroad from Syracuse was completed in October,
and this gave a new impetus to the business of the youthful

The same year another institution was established, which
has been almost as important to Oswego as the railroad or
the city government. This was the starch-factory erected
on the Varick canal by an Auburn joint-stock company, and
placed under the management of T. Kingsford & Son. A
full account of this important establishment will be found
elsewhere. Two more mills were built in 1848, — the
Crescent and the Huron.

In 1849 a wooden bridge was built across the river on
Utica street, at a cost of seven thousand dollars. Toll was
still exacted on the old one on Bridge street, but the new
one built by the city was free.

By 1850 the population had risen to twelve thousand
two hundred and five. Ships loaded with grain came down
from all the upper lakes by the score. That newly-invented
Yankee notion, the elevator, quickly transferred it to the
canal-boat or the mill, and it was speedily sent forward to
New York or transferred into flour. The old academy had
gone down, and there were only district schools in the new
city. To supply the defect iu higher education the Oswego
seminary was opened in the " United States hotel" building
in May, 1850, and for a while met with gratifving suecess.

In 1852 the city had advanced far enough, so it was
thought, to be lit by gas, and the Oswego gaslight factory
was incorporated. On the 11th of February the same
year, the Oswego orphan asylum was organized.

One of the first, as it was one of the most important,
events of 1853, was the organization of the schools of the
city in a compact system, controlled by a board of educa-
tion, in place of the ten or twelve disunited districts previ-
ously existing.

But by far the most startling and impressive event of the
year 1853, and probably of that whole decade, was the great
fire of July 5. All the mills and elevators on the east side
of the river were destroyed, and most of the buildings in
the second ward. But ere the ashes were cold the enter-
prising citizens began to rebuild. Six mills were rebuilt,
with increased capacity, during that and the succeeding
year, and no less than eight elevators. These, added to
those which had escaped the fire, made a total of seventeen
mills and ten elevators in operation at the end of 1854.

Other improvements were made at the same period.
The old wooden toll-bridge, erected in 1822, was replaced,
in 1855, by an iron one, built by the city at a cost of
forty-two thousand dollars.

That generous philanthropist, Gerrit Smith, who had
long had an interest in Oswego, in 1853 gave twenty-five
thousand dollars to establish a city library, then committing
its ipanagement to a board of trustees appointed by himself.
A large two-story brick for the use of the library, on the
corner of West Second and Oneida streets, was built in
1853 and 1854. A more full account of this important
institution is given separately farther on.

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