Dwight H. (Dwight Hall) Bruce.

Onondaga's centennial. Gleanings of a century online

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it easy for a large volume of trade to seek other points.

The population of Van Buren at different dates has been follows :
In 1830! 2,890; 1835, 2,963; 1840, 3,031; 1845, 3,057; 1850, 3,878; 1855, 3,085; 1860,
3,037; 1865, 3,031; 1870, 3,038; 1875, 3,074; 1880, 3,091; 1890, 3,444; 1892, 3,575.



In the twenty -five original townships of the Military Tract, No. 1 was
called Lysander. It included what are now the civil towns of Granby
and Hannibal in the county of Oswego. The erection of that county
took away from Lysander thirty-three of its lots, numbered from one
to thirty-three, leaving sixty-seven, numbered from thirty-four to one
hundred. In the drawing of these lots for military service in the Revo-
lution, they fell to the following persons, excepting numbers 34 and 35 ;
the names of the grantees of these are not accessible :

36, Jonathan Palmore (Palmer) ; ' 37, John Space ; 38, Chapman Davis ; 39, Adam
Armstrong; 40, Lieutenant Christopher Hutton; 41, Abraham Dickerson ; 42, John
Stagg; 43, John Clarke; 44, John Campbell ; 45, Richard Robinson; 46, Michael Har-
rin ; 47, Solomon Meeker ; 48, Captain Edward Dunscomb ; 49, Samuel Abby ; 50, Joseph
Clift; 51, Christopher Leach; 52, Captain James Stewart; 53, John Stockbridge; 54,
Captain Jonathan Titus ; 55, Thomas Taber ; 56, Thomas Cannon ; 57, Joshua Bishop ;
58, William Boyd; 59, Lieutenant Benjamin Gilbert; 60, John Cronck; 61, Nicholas
Schuyler, surgeon ; 62, Zacheus Kilburn ; 63, Joseph Carman ; 64, Captain Joseph
Thomas; 65, Samuel Streel; 66, Reserved for Gospel, etc. ; 67, Lieutenant John Burn-
side; 68, Robert Daily; 69, Ensign Samuel Dodge; 70, Captain George Sytez;71,
Captain Charles Newkerk ; 72, Lieutenant Francis Brindley ; 73, George Rider ; 74,
Henry Hawkey ; 75, Lieutenant Levi Stockwell ; 76, Colonel Philip Van Cortlandt ;
77, Captain Dirck Hansen ; 78, Captain D. P. Ten Eyck ; 79, Captain Jonathan Titus ;
80, Ricljard Davis; 81, Captain Charles Parsons; 82, Nicholas Keltz; 83, Captain
Dirck Hansen ; 84, John Laflure ; 85, Pete Scriber ; 86, Reserved for Gospel, etc. ; 87
General James Clinton; 88, Lieutenant- Col. Marinus Willet; 89, John Van After; 90,
Timothy Bennet; 91, Joseph Evans; 92, Gen. Alexander McDougall; 93, David Smith;
94, Henry Ash; 95, William Benson; 96, Henry Spring; 97, James Robertson ; 98,
Thomas Jackson ; 99-100, Reserved for Gospel, etc.

The situation of these lots and the shape of some of them are peculiar
owing to the long and winding river line of the eastern and southern
boundary of the town. The surface of the town is generally level or
slightly rolling, and the soil is a fertile sandy or gravelly loam. The
beautiful Seneca River, which for many miles forms the town bound-

' These names are spelled as they appear in the records. Many of them are obviously wrong.


ary, has a fall of about nine feet at Baldwinsville, constituting a very-
valuable water power, which has been largely utilized from the first
settlement to the present time. Cross Lake borders the southwestern
part of the town, the town line passing through it, and the small Beaver
or Mud Lake, with an area of 300 acres, is on lots 65 and 65. A few
small streams exist in the northern and western parts, which in early
years supplied power for saw mills ; but they are now nearly dry in
summer months.

With the erection of Onondaga county in 1794, Lysander kept its
classical name and was given a large additional area of territory, in-
cluding not only what are now Hannibal and Granby, but also what now
constitute the civil towns of Cicero and Clay. The former of these was
set off in 1807 and included the territory of Clay, which was not erected
until 1827.

The town of Lysander came into being under somewhat untoward
circumstances. The same causes, especially its comparative remote-
ness from the great east and west line of pioneer travel, which had pre-
vented it from being a dwelling place or even a favorite resort for the
Indians, contributed to postpone its settlement, while a period of ex-
treme unhealthfulness in early years, caused some settlers to shun its
borders. The Seneca and Oswego Rivers were often traveled by the
Indians' canoes, and hunting parties of Onondagas and Cayugas came up
into this region in summer months, but there is no evidence of their
remaining here with any permanence. This part of the county escaped
the distressing Indian wars, chiefly also on account of its situation, and
after the arrival of settlers such Indians as were seen were generally
friendly. The pioneers had to battle only with the wild animals, par-
ticularly wolves, which were very numerous and in many instances
ferocious. The dense forests of pine and other trees abounded with
game and the Seneca River with fish, both of which helped to supply
the tables of the early settlers, and the fishing in the river became a
source of considerable revenue.

Almost nothing was accomplished toward settlement in Lysander
until about the beginning of the present century. Major Rial Bing-
ham, who had settled near Fort Brewerton in 1791, went to Three River
Point in 1793, but he can scarcely be considered a permanent settler of
this town, for he removed to Salina not later than 1796, where he was the
first justice of the peace and was identified with early salt making.
Upon the erection of the civil town of Lysander, when the county was


formed, the first town meeting was ordered held at the house of Rial
Bingham ; but this was not done, and at the first town meeting in Onon-
daga Hollow the town was not represented. Neither was it at an ad-
journed meeting held at the house of Othniel Palmer, in the town of
Onondaga on the 19th of August, 1794, but the board in its proceedings
established the value of taxable property in the town at 400 pounds and
assessed the tax at five pounds. вАҐ The following resoulution was adopted :
Resolved, That the clerk of the board notify the town of Lysander to organize
themselves before the next session of the Court of Common Pleas to be held in and
for the county of Onondaga on the last day of December, 1794. otherwise they may
be deprived of the privilege of their sister towns, or perhaps the rigor of the law en-
forced upon them.

The next meeting was held at the house of Asa Phillips in the town
of Scipio, on the first day of December, 1794, and again the town
was not represented. The board thereupon ordered "the town to
organize, on or before the next annual meeting agreeable to law,
otherwise the penalty of the law shall be required of them. " With-
out the fear of the law before their eyes the few settlers in the
town still for a few years neglected to organize and sent no representa-
tive to the supervisors' meetings. On the 30th of May, 1797, a census
was taken which showed the number of inhabitants in the then great
town to be only fifteen and the taxable property with a value of $1,500.
In the next year (1798) Asa Rice, who had settled at Union Village, a
few miles west of Oswego, in 1797, was elected supervisor, but if he
attended any meeting of the board the records do not show it. The
earliest records of this town of which there is any knowledge are for
the year 1808, when Elijah Snow was elected supervisor; he was father
of Elijah Snow, jr., who was uncle of Wallace Tappan. In the mean
time the town of Hannibal was set off in 1806, and in the following
year all the territory east of the Seneca River was taken off to form the
town of Cicero. By this time settlement had considerably progressed.

Aside from Rial Bingham, before mentioned, it is probable that
Jonathan Palmer was about the first settler in what is now the town of
Lysander. He was a Revolutionary soldier, as were his six brothers,
and drew lot 36 on which a part of the little village of Jacksonville
stands. The early settlement at this point was given the name
"Palmertown," afterward called Jacksonville, which name it retained
until the post-office at Little Utica was removed there in the adminis-
tration of James K. Polk, when it was named " Polkville." The post-
office was removed back to Little Utica during the last administration


of President Lincoln, where it now remains. Descendants of Jonathan
Palmer still live in the vicinity. Nathaniel Palmer, one of the brothers
of Jonathan, was an early settler in the same locality; as also the
Bogarduses, Fanchers, and Bakers, of which family Ezra Baker was a
physician and had an extensive practice; several of their descendants
now reside there. Later on it became the residence of Dr. Andrew
P. Hamil, a prominent man in town matters and a skillful practitioner
in his profession.

Between the date of Jonathan Palmer's settlement and the year 1800
a few other pioneers located in the town, among them Col. Thomas
Farrington, Adam and Peter Emerick, Elijah and Solomon Hall, Abner
and Manly Vickery, Job Loomis, John P. Schuyler, Ebenezer Wells,
James Cowan, Elijah. Mann. Of most of these little is known. The
first ten years of the present century saw large accessions to the popu-
lation of the town.

The reader has already been told in the history of Van Buren (Chap-
ter XXXIII) of the settlement of John McHarrie, probably in 1793
and certainly before 1794, on the south side of the river on the site
of Baldwinsville. There he built a cabin and found a little business
in helping ascending boats up the rapids as they passed by the lands
of Lysander in quest of more attractive fields farther west. The
place became known as " McHarrie's Rifts." Daniel Allen settled on
the river a little farther up in 1793. A road came from the south in a
northeasterly direction and ended at McHarrie's cabin, where a ford
crossed the river; this road was surveyed in 1814, but was soon after-
ward abandoned. The State road from Onondaga to Oswego, laid
out in 1806-7, crossed the river at these rifts, and was ordered im-
proved between the river and Oswego in 1811. In 1806 a mail route
was established between Onondaga and Oswego. This brings us to
the consideration of a very important event in the history of the

Among the heroes of the Revolution was Samuel Baldwin, son of a
Boston clergyman. He was distinguished as well for his piety and
benevolence as for gallantry in the army. He died at Windsor, Mass. ,
at an advanced age. Jonas C. Baldwin, son of Samuel, was born in
Windsor, June 3, 1768. He was educated at Williams College and
finished medical study in Albany, where he also practiced a short
time. While there he was appointed physician to the Inland Lock and
Navigation Company, whose large force of laborers was then building


the canal at Little Falls. There Dr. Baldwin remained until the work
was finished. Meanwhile he married and in 1797 started with his family
for Ovid, Seneca county, where he owned a military lot, on which he
settled and lived until 1801-2, when he removed to Onondaga East
Hill. Dr. Baldwin had bought and improved a comfortable home in
Little Falls, which Mrs. Baldwin left with regret; she was conciliated,
by her husband with a promise that he would purchase the first place
on their route westward which she might select. It may be believed
that they passed many beantiful spots in the wilderness along the Mo-
hawk, Wood Creek, Oneida Lake and River, and the Seneca; but none
presented to Mrs. Baldwin the loveliness of the scene at McHarrie's
Rifts as they rounded the bend into the beautiful bay just below the
village site on a bright autumnal morning. The lady was charmed
and remarked to her husband that if their propert}' was situated there
she would be content to dwell there for life, lonely and remote as it
seemed. They carefully explored the vicinity while getting their boats
over the rapids, both becoming still more pleased with the situation,
and lodged that night with Mr. McHarrie. Of him Dr. Baldwin
learned the name of the owner of the land, and in the following year
he went to Philadelphia and purchased it. Dr. Baldwin lived at Onon-
daga East Hill until 1807, when in the spring he received a memorial
signed by many of the settlers within a number of miles of McHarrie's
location, asking him to improve his valuable water power by the erec-
tion of much-needed mills. Previous to that time the nearest mills to
the residents north of the river were at Nine Mile Creek (now Camil-
lus. ) Although Dr. Baldwin intended to carry out this proposition at
some future time, he yielded to the request and promptly began work.
Gathering a force of workmen he proceeded to the proposed site of the
mills where he had already provided for the erection of the log cabins
for the workmen. On arriving he found nothing done but the erection
of the log cribs, which were without floors or roofs. These were soon
made habitable and were the first buildings in that part of the town.
It was his expectation that the small stream emptying into the river
there, with the addition of what water might be ^thrown into it by a
wing dam extending some distance into the river, would give him suffi-
cient power for a grist and saw mill. The work was vigorously prose-
cuted until in about the middle of August, when a most distressing
sickness prevailed among the workmen; this has since been designated
as "the sickly .season." Within one week every workman was attacked



with a malignant fever. Mr. and Mrs. Baldwin and a Revolutionary
soldier called "Uncle Bill Johnson" were the only persons not stricken
with the disease, and their whole time was devoted to caring for the
sick, and burying the dead. A new corps of workmen was engaged as
soon as possible, but they, too, were stricken down within a fortnight.
The season being now far
advanced the work was
postponed until the fol-
lowing spring, when it
was renewed with vigor,
and before the sickness
again came on the dam,
mill and raceway were
finished. Another diffi-
culty now appeared.
Through a mistake in
laying out the level it was
found that the water
would not flow into the
race, leaving only the
small stream as a source
of power. Dr. Baldwin
faced the trouble with
characteristic energy, and
irnmediately began the
extension of his dam clear
across the river; but be-
fore it was completed
the workmen were again
attacked by the sickness,
and it was not till in the
autumn that the work was accomplished and the mill supplied with plenty
of water. While it supplied a much-needed convenience to the settlers, it
had been a costly work in personal sacrifice ; and during several years the
same fatal disease prevailed, carrying many to their graves and seriously
retarding settlement. The Seneca was a public highway and constituted
a part of the Inland Navigation Company's system, on which account
Dr. Baldwin was forced to provide a passage for boats around his dam.
In 1808 he petitioned the Legislature for permission to build a canal

Jonas C. Baldwin.


and locks. The State having already transferred such rights to the
Navigation Company, could not grant his petition. He thereupon
bought of the company their rights in the waters between the outlet of
Oneida River and Cayuga Lake. In 1809 the State granted his petition
and the extensive improvements were effected. Dr. Baldwin was
given the right to levy certain tolls on passing boats for a period of
twenty years. This arrangement was abrogated when the State took
the system of internal improvement under its own control. The com-
pletion of the middle section of the Erie Canal cut off all revenue from
this source. In 1809 a heavy freshet carried away the dam and a new
one was constructed in the year following, and ere long Dr. Baldwin
had six saw mills in operation under one roof. The pine forests of the
town supplied these with logs, in turn giving the settlers ample lumber
for building their homes.

In 1809 Dr. Baldwin built a toll bridge on the site of the present
bridge. Baldwinsville, thus founded, soon became an active frontier
place. Soon after building the new dam Dr. Baldwin erected a new
and larger grist mill near the site of the subsequent woolen factory ;
this was afterwards converted into a woolen factory and burned. The
village continued prosperous until about 1830, when the diversion of
business to the Erie Canal temporarily checked its growth. Dr. Bald-
win continued until near his death the active and liberal promoter of
all public affairs.

There was a service which he rendered during the war of 1812 which ought not to
be overlooked. Baldwinsville being on the direct route to the frontier, and only
twenty-four miles distant, he, perceiving the great want of effective firearms, pro-
cured a loan from Governor Tompkins of several hundred stand, which he issued to
such as were not provided, and who were on their way to meet the enemy, who were
daily expected at Oswego, taking for each stand so delivered a receipt. This duty
he continued to discharge without pay, and at the close of the war returned the arms
to the government. He also built a large flotilla of boats, which were in the service
of the United States during most of the war. He commanded a company of soldiers
at the battle of Oswego, where he received a slight wound. '

In 1819-20 such parts of the village site as had not already been sold^
passed to Stephen W. and Harvey Baldwin, the two elder sons of Dr.
Baldwin, and from them to later owners. They made many important
improvements in the village, rebuilt the toll bridge, which stood until
about the close of the lyar; enlarged the canal and locks, rebuilt the
dam, purchased land on the south side of the river which they divided

I Clark's Onondaga, vol, II, p. 160,


into lots and sold ; built mills on that side and otherwise carried out
projects for the mutual advantage of the village as a whole. Dr. Bald-
win died at Onondaga Hill, whither he had gone on a visit, on the 3d
day of March, 1827. -

When Dr. Baldwin arrived in 1807 the place, what there was of it,
was called " Columbia," a name that clung to it until 1817, when a post-
office was established with the name, "Baldwin's Bridge." This soon
became shortened to the present name. Dr. Baldwin was the first post-
master, ' and among his early successors were Stephen W. Baldwin,
Otis Bigelow, Austin Baldwin, Dr. L. B. Hall, Dr. Daniel T. Jones,
E. B. Wigent, Irvin Williams, and David S. Wilkins. Prior to 1817
mail went through from Onondaga to Oswego, but any person visiting
Onondaga brought home mail for his neighbors. . Otis Bigelow related
that he used to get his mail in 1816 at Three River Point, where it was
left with a Mr. Sweet who then kept a tavern on the Lysander side.
After the establishment of the post-office stages began running to On-
ondaga or to Syracuse. Stephen W. Baldwin at one time ran a small
boat to and from Syracuse, by way of the river, the outlet and Onon-
daga Lake, carrying passengers.

The first apple trees that were set out in the town of Lysander were
planted on lot 67, about three and a half miles northwest of Baldwins-
ville, on the margin of Beaver Meadow. They were put out by John
McHarrie, about the year 1798. They stood where they were planted
until about 1886, and were then cut down. The first grass was cut in
Lysander on Beaver Meadow by John McHarrie in about 1796. It was
"wild grass," there being no other grass to be found in this section at
that period. The cured grass was drawn to Macksville through the
woods by ox teams, and afforded wild hay for cattle and sheep, instead
of brush fodder.

Dr. Baldwin opened a store at Baldwinsville in 1807 and continued
in trade until 1813. In the latter year Otis Bigelow opened a store and
continued in business until 1863. Otis Bigelow was a native of Wor-
cester, Mass., born Feb. 1, 1785. His father was Asahel Bigelow, a
Revolutionary soldier. At the breaking out of the war of- 1812 young
Bigelow joined the army and served a year at Sackett's Harbor. In
the spring of 1813 he settled at Baldwinsville and opened his store.
He was appointed justice of the peace in 1821; was appointed post-
master in 1828 and served twelve years. In 1828 he was appointed
judge of the Court of Common Pleas and held the office ten yeai-s. In


1831 he was elected to the Assembly. He was a man of sterling char-
acter, excellent business capacity, and acquired wealth. He married
in 1813 Mary Payne and they had ten children, among whom was the
late Payne Bigelow, long a leading citizen of Baldwinsville. Judge
Bigelow died June 21, 1861.

John Hamill opened a store in Baldwinsville in 1816 ; he was a prom-
inent citizen, was supervisor at the time of his death in 1837 and held
other public positions. Jonas C. Brewster was an early merchant, had
a store in 1821, and at one period carried on business on both sides of
the river.

Austin Baldwin, before mentioned, was a son of Dr. Jonas C, was
postmaster at one time, and went to California during the gold excite-
ment and was reported killed.

Reuben S. Orvis was the first lawyer to settle in Baldwinsville ; he
began practice in 1816, and his name appears in the list of Oswego
county officers at the date of the erection of that county, 1816. In
1814 Dr. Cyrus Baldwin established himself as a physician, and two
years later he was joined at the settlement by Dr. Silas Wallace.

During the period of growth enjoyed by Baldwinsville prior to the
opening of the Erie Canal (1819-20) many other pioneers came there or
settled in other parts of the town.

Jacobus De Puy arrived at Baldwinsville from Orange county in 1805,
and bought a large tract of land just east of the village, for which he
paid $1.25 per acre in cash; tradition says he had just half a bushel of
silver dollars left. He began clearing on the hill, known as the Cramer
farm, cleared fifty acres the first year and sowed it to wheat the second ;
this field he cut with a sickle. It is related, as indicating the number
and ferocity of wolves in those days, that Cobas and John, sons of the
pioneer, went one night from their home to Baldwinsville, and on their
return had to run for their lives from a pack of the ravenous animals.
The boy who gained the door first, threw his weight against it, broke
it in and fell his whole length on the floor with his brother on top of

Levi Calkins removed from Rutland county, Vt., in 1808 or 1809, and
settled on lot 89, where he built a log house. Many of his descendants
are resident in this section. In 1810 Jacob Dykeman settled on lot 90,
made a clearing and set two orchards. The remains of his old house
are still visible near the school house in district No. 20. Later he
moved to the farm now owned by Jonathan Peacock, where he died.


George White came in 1811 with his parents and several brothers and
settled on lot 86, where he came into possession of 200 acres of land
which he cleared, selling the wood on the bank of the river for 50 cents
a cord. Five generations of his family are still represented in this vicin-
ity. Eliphalet Frazee, grandfather of Eliphalet Z. Fjrazee, the present
tobacco dealer, became a settler prior to 1811 on the west side of the
river at New Bridge (Belgium). He came from Schoharie county,
whither he returned for his family and stock; but on his way to his new
home he stopped at Oneida Castle, where he met a Dr. Carson, who had
practiced along the Seneca River, and he advised Mr. Frazee to not
bring his family here. He accordingly rented a farm, and stopped
where he was for a period, but came later. Lyman McHuron came in
1817, and had been preceded by his father. He walked the journey
from Vermont, carrying his personal property in a bundle on his back.
He related that he reached Green Point with only a shilling in money,
with which he bought a card of gingerbread, and he slept in a salt
block. A few years later he owned the farm on which he lived and
died, leaving numerous descendents. His brother Hiram came to the
town at a little later date probably. Thomas Doolittle came with his
wife from Middlebury, Vt., before 1820 and located just west of the
Evans corners.

James Slausbn removed from the western part of the town in 1826
and settled on lot 89, where he built a log house a little west of the
residence of the late Lewis Calkins. He ultimately became the owner
of about 400 acres of land, most of which he cleared. What has been
known as Drake's Landing, east of Baldwinsville, was settled early, and

Online LibraryDwight H. (Dwight Hall) BruceOnondaga's centennial. Gleanings of a century → online text (page 81 of 101)