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Crisfield. cn Johnson.

... History of Oswego County, New York online

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" Be it remembered, that on the eighth day of June, in
the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and
ninety-seven, Abraham Van Valkenburgh, of the town of
Mexico, in the county aforesaid, innholder, came before one
John Meyer, Esq., one of the justices assigned to keep the
peace in and for said county, and acknowledged himself to
be indebted unto the people of this State in the sum of fifty
pounds lawful money of the said State, to be levied on his
goods and chattels, lands and tenements, to the use of the
people of said State, in case default shall be made, in the
condition following; The condition of this recognizance is
such that if the above-bounden Abraham Van Valken-
burgh, during the time he shall keep an inn or tavern,
shall not keep a disorderly inn or tavern, or suffer or per-
mit any cock-fighting, gaming, or playing with cards or
dice, or keep any billiard-table or other gaming-table, or
shuffle-board, within the inn or tavern by him to be kept,
or within any out-house, yard, or garden thereunto belong-
ing, then this recognizance to be void, otherwise to remain
in full force and virtue.

" Acknowledged before me June 8, 1797.

" John Meyer, Justice of the peace."

Mr. Meyer, who resided at Rotterdam (now Constantia),
was the first supervisor of the town of Mexico, and was the
first justice of the peace in what is now Oswego County.




noisT. lo^'weXjXj j-omrsoisr.



TuE subject of this sketch, from all that can be gathered from
his associates in life, stood far up the scale in all that pertains to
true manhood, respected and honored by all who knew him.
Judicious counsel to his fellow-men, a friend to the destitute, self-
reliant, a modest ambition, and although a peer in society, yet
gentlemanly in all his ways.

Lovwell was the eldest son of Isaac and Dinah Johnson, and
was born in Gill, Franklin county, Massachusetts, February 25,
1783; was a lineal descendant in the eighth generation of Wil-
liam Johnson, who emigrated from the city of London, England,
very soon after the landing of the Pilgrims at Plymouth, 1620,
and settled in Charlestown, Massachusetts. lie was one of a
family of twelve children, and as in the early days of the country's
history means for procuring an education were very limited, he
only received little instruction from books while a boy ; but the
father and mother, by care and judicious use of the means at
hand, secured to their children well-grounded moral habits, and
laid the foundation fur lives of culture and usefulness.

So much did the desire for knowledge increase with the eldest
son, that, while working on the anvil and at the forge, his book
was before him, and this earnestness of purpose and self-depend-
ence characterized his whole life.

While quite a young man he acquired sufficient education to
teach school, and going to Hoosick, New York, engaged in teach-
ing, and during liis leisure hours began the study of law, which
afterward became his favorite theme.

In the year 1819 he came to Oswego County, and after teach-
ing one term of school at Mexico, bought a farm in the town of
Volney (now Palermo), and commenced farming, and at the same
time practiced as an attorney at the bar. He was admitted to
the bar of the Supreme Court of the State of New York in 1829.

As a lawyer he manifested clearness of perception, sound com-
mon sense, and indefatigable perseverance, lie would no doubt
have obtained a wide celebrity as a lawyer had not his increasing



prosperity demanded his principal attention. Was simple in his
habits, abhorred laziness, and was intolerant of fraud ; energetic
in business, prompt and remarkably exact in the performance
of his slightest promises.

Never seeking a public office, yet he held severally the offices
of County Superintendent of the Poor, Justice of the Peace, Super-
visor, and Associate Judge of the Court of Common Pleas. Was
the first postmaster appointed in the town of Palermo, and held
the office until he removed to Fulton, in the year 1839.

One very marked feature of his life was the interest he al-
ways took in securing the proper titles to lands to those who
were about to lose them from some defect or other in their deeds
from chartered companies. A Jeffersonian Democrat in politics,
alwa3's firm in the suppoi-t of the constitution and laws, yet differ-
ing with some of his party on the subject of masters relative to
their slaves. He was very active as a politician, yet regarding
principles as sacred and unyielding, but men changeable. In
middle life he united with the Methodist Episcopal church, aTid
continued a member of that body until his death, which took
place August 12, 1859. Ilis house being always open to strangers,
he gave liberally for both church and school interest, and assisted
others to obtain, through competent teachers, what he secured
only by labor and privation. His counsels were much sought by
all who knew him, and in the village where he spent the meridian
and eve of life was very highly respected.

He accumulated a large property by careful management, and
at his death left it with his children, desiring only a plain slab of
marble erected over his grave. He was twice married, both
wives being of New England origin. By the first he had three
children, viz. : Lovwell, Sherman, and Rebecca. By the second,
who was a lineal descendant of Edward Rawson, who was born
in Dorsetshire, England, 1615, he had seven children, all dying
in infancy except Augusta and Willard Johnson. Accompanying
will be found a biography of the son.




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I



Ecoisr. -v^iXjL^i^id cromrsoisr.



The subject of this sketch is of New England parentage, his
father, Lovwell Johnson, having been a native of the State of
Massachusetts. He was born in the town of Volney, Oswego
County, on the 16th day of May, 1820. He attended common
school at an early age, and subsequently was a student at Mexico
Academy, Oswego County, and concluded his studies at Cazo-
novia Seminary at the age of fifteen years.

In the year 1852 he engaged in the lake and canal transporta-
tion business, residing at Fulton, New York, and continued it
for about twelve years. Afterward he became a contractor, and
completed several important works for the State and national
governments, among which may be mentioned the improvement
of the Mississippi River at Rock Island, and the construction of
a lock in the Illinois River, which is probably the largest in the
world, being three hundred and fifty feet long, seventy-five feet
wide, and thirty feet high, and capable of accommodating twelve
ordinary canal boats at once. He has successfully completed
contracts which amount in the aggregate to fully five million of
dollars.

Mr. Johnson has always been a Democrat of the old school,
and for many years he has been prominent in the councils of that
party.

During the rebellion he was classed as a War Democrat, and
gave his influence and means freely to the cause of the Union.

In 1862 he was elected to the Assembly without opposition,
and co-operated heartily in all measures designed to sustain the
national government in the contest which it was then waging
against armed treason. Subsequently he served two years on the
War Committee of Oswego County. He was also a member of
the Board of Supervisors in the years 1861 and 1862. In 1860



he was a delegate to the memorable Charleston Convention, and
was afterward also a delegate to the National Democratic Con-
vention at Chicago, in 1864, in New York in 1868, and in Balti-
more in 1872. During the five war years he was a member of
the State Committee. It will thus be seen that Mr. John.son's
political experience is extensive and varied, and there are really
few men in central New York whose counsel is held in greater
estimation.

He still holds to the political creed of his earlier years, and is
very popular among thg Democrats of Oswego, and indeed among
men of both parties.

Mr. Johnson is a man of modest, unassuming deportment,
and seldom ever addresses the house, believing in action rather
than words.

He was successively elected a member of the State Legislature
for the Second District of Oswego County for the years 1873,
1874, and 1875.

His large experience, ripe judgment, and active mind are of
great value in the practical work of legislation, and his scat is
seldom unoccupied during the session.

He was married September 9, 1847, at the age of twenty-
seven, to Miss JIary Gasper, daughter of Colonel John Gasper,
of New England jiarentage. To Mr. and Mrs. Johnson were
born four children, viz. : Willard Rawson, Mary Pauline, John
Lovwell, and Mary Augusta Johnson. Of these, the eldest son
lived to the age of fourteen years, and died March 20, 1864 ; the
eldest daughter only lived three yeare, and died December 6,
1855 ; the second .son, John Lovwell, and the youngest daughter,
Miss Mary Augusta, live at home, in Fulton, New York. Mrs.
Johnson died November 22, 1870.



IIISTOUV 01' ()8\VE(!() ('OrNTV, NKW YdltK.



Abiaiu Van Valkcnbui;.'li was elected a constiiblu of Mexico
in 1798, and appointed a justice of the peace for Fredericks-
buru'li iu 1810. After years of valuable service be died at
Salina.

The third settler of the town was John Van Buren (a
cousin of President Van Buren), who came from Kinder-
hook, and settled near Battle island in 1796. He at first
located on the west side of the falls, but soon after came to
this side, and built a house near where his grandson Vol-
kert now resides. Mr. Van Buren had five sons, viz., Peter,
John, Jr., Jacob, Volkert, and David.

The youngest, David, was born in this town in 179S,
is still living, and is now the oldest resident. Peter was
half-brother of the others, and was the father of John Van
Buren, who lives near Bundy's Crossing. He held office
before this town was formed, being a constable for Mexico
in 1803-4.

Jacob, the third son, married a daughter of Whitman
Church, who came into town in 1809. Miss Church used
to relate, in illustration of the difficulties attending the pur-
suit of pleasure in the early days, that the first dance she
ever attended was at Van Valkenburgh's, when the dancing
music was no more nor less than the melodious voice of a
colored woman, a servant of a neighbor named Peter Sharp.

Volkert, the fourth son, lived near the old homestead,
and many yeare ago owned a large tract of land, the grist-
mill at Battle island, and a saw-mill on Black creek, near by.

David, the youngest son, was born in the fall of 1798,
as before stated. His first going to school was at the foot
of Seneca hill, the teacher being Benjamin Robinson, who
began his laboi-s there as early as 1804. Young David
afterwards went to school one summer in Van Valken-
burgh's barn. A school-house was built a quarter of a
mile south of " Orchard Lock" in 1810. Mr. Robinson
was the teacher in both places, and in 1812 taught on the
other side of the river.

The fourth settler, John Waterhouse, located at the
"Lower Landing" in 1797, and died in 1799, his being
the first death in town. His children were Nathaniel,
John, Jr., Benjamin B., Artemisia, and Harriet.

The eldest son died in 1800, and the other two moved
to Indiana in 1837. In 1851, B. B. Waterhouse visited
his old home, and related that in 1797 there was no house
nor clearing on either side of the river between the falls
and Three Rivers point.

At this time there was a road or path from Van Valken-
burgh's to the falls on the east side. It was a very poor
one, as may well be supposed.

The fifth settler, Ebenezer Wright (before mentioned as
surveyor), located at the "Lower Landing" iu 1800, and
was a prominent man of that period. Ho was appointed a
justice of the peace for Mexico iu 1804, and for Fredericks-
burgh in 1809, and was the first and only supervisor of the
latter town while it retained its first name, as will be shown
hereafter. When the town was changed to Volney, in 181 1,
he was elected assessor at the first town-meeting. After
this he moved to the west, and died there.

Besides the settlers already named a man by the name
of Darley located near the falls, and one John Hooper
made his home in the vicinity prior to 1800. During this



year a man by the name of Eaton, a native of Scotland,
came hither in company with John Bakcman, and these
two were the first to occupy Stecn's location, their hut beinn
near the corner of First and Oneida streets, in the present
village of Fulton. They opened a (|uarry in the bank of
the river for the purpose of getting out furnace hearths,
but the quality of the rock not being well adapted for the
purpose, they opened another quarry on Harper's location,
which proved satisfactory. Underwood & Bronson built
a saw-mill the same year (1800) at the falls for Masters &
Goodell, which was the first in this locality.

In 1801 a blacksmith lived at the Lower Landing, by the
name of John Masters, who afterwards moved to Oswego.
Cornelius H. Miller came to Oswego Falls in 1806, and
settled on St



Online LibraryCrisfield. cn Johnson... History of Oswego County, New York → online text (page 60 of 120)