Dwight H. (Dwight Hall) Bruce.

Onondaga's centennial. Gleanings of a century online

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a distillery. Moses was the father of John Holland Johnson, who
owned a large tract of land on West Onondaga street and died in 1?68.
Recent merchants are Thomas Mansfield and Charles N. Bryant, a
grandson of Ezra Bryant, Simeon West built the present hotel.

In and around the valley village lived John F. Clark, Allen Searles,
Henry Huntington, " Pijest" Pomeroy, Bates King, Josiah ,Hines, and
Charles Hudson, allfarmers. In 1851 John Wells builtthe brick houseuow
owned by Francis E. E veringham. The post-office for many years alter-
nated between the east and west sides. The old ' ' Tyler" stand, for many
years one of the leading taverns between Ufica and Auburn, and still
standing, was erected about the beginning of this century, the timbers
used in its construction being partly hewn and partly sawed at Dan-
forth's mill on Butternut Creek. It was remodeled in 1895. The First
M. E. church of Onondaga Valley had its inception in about the year
1816 when Rev. George Densmore came here and began preaching.
A society was formed by Arthur Pattison, Clark W. Brownell, Ezra
and Ada Hoyt, Moses Hoyt, Ruth and Keeler Hoyt, Caleb and Bishop
White, Benjamin Gardner, Nelson Palmer, Jonathan and Sylvester
Nott, Nathaniel Root, Sally Rich, Phebe Vroman, Alonzo Webster and


others. The early pastors were Revs. George Densmore, Manley
Tooker and Eben L. North. About 1825 an edifice was erected, which
was replaced by the present structure in 1885, the latter being dedicated
November 16.

During the first quarter of this century the villages of Onondaga Hill
and Hollow were thrifty and prosperous centers of activity. Each had
its important interests, and while there existed a spirit of good natured
rivalry between their inhabitants, there was never that feeling of bit-
terness, even before or during the location of the county seat, which
has been ascribed by some writers. Many prominent citizens were
financially as well as socially interested in the welfare of both places.
When Judge Forman first became interested in the Erie Canal it is said
that he endeavored to interest the people of the Valley with the view
of turning the course of that ditch through their village, but, like the
inhabitants of Salina,' they met the scheme with ridicule, and forever
lost the one grand opportunity of becoming a city. After the comple-
tion of the canal, and the incorporation of Syracuse village in 1825, the
two villages waned, and thenceforward never regained their former
prestige nor commercial importance. The removal of the county seat
to Syracuse in 1829 blasted every ambition which the Hill may have
entertained. Then followed a general exodus of professional and busi-
ness men to the future city, leaving the original shire town of the
county shorn of its prospects, of its once promising features, and of its
proud distinction. The Hill suffered more from this event than its
sister village in the valley, yet the latter soon experienced a gradual
decline, although it had the academy to give ;t prominence. The canal
had less influence upon the farming sections of this town than upon
those of other towns in the county.

In 1835 the Hill contained two churches, the old court house and
clerk's office, two taverns, four stores, and about forty-five dwellings,
while the Hollow comprised two churches, a grist and saw mill, the
academy, three taverns, one store and about sixty dwellings.

Attention is now directed to the south and west parts of Onondaga,
which had become prosperous localities even before many of the pre-
ceding events took shape. In the vicinity of South Onondaga, known
in early days as South Onondaga Hollow, were such pioneers as Gideon
Seeley, Phineas Sparks, Ebenezer Conklin, Turner Fenner, Gilbert
Pinckney, Amasa Chapman, Obadiah Nichols, John Clark, Henry
Frost, John Carpenter, John F. Clark (member of assembly in 1851),


Silas Field (father of Leonard P.), John Hitchings (father of Horace,
who died in 1870), Thomas Fowler (father of Moses, a soldier of 1812,
whose sons were Maxwell T. , Gideon D. and Moses, jr.), Abner Chap-
man, Daniel Chafee, Joseph Warner, Oliver Cummings and Isaac Par-
mater. Abner Chapman was a captain in the State militia, nearly
thirty years a justice of the peace, member of assembly in 1861, and
died June 18, 1873, aged seventy-five. The settlement of these and
others gave existence to the hamlet of South Onondaga, which in 1835
contained a Presbyterian church, about thirty-five dwellings and the
following business interests: Oliver Jones, tavern; A. H. Bradley and
Elijah Lawrence, merchants; Elijah Welch, miller; Orlando Fuller,
cloth manufacturer; Stephen Betts, tanner; Amasa Chapman, sr., brick
manufacturer; Allen Rice and Stephen Field, blacksmiths; Himas
Wood, tailor ; Dr. Samuel Kingsley, physician and postmaster ; Olmsted
Quick, shoemaker; Amasa Chapman, jr., mason; Ira Rue, wagon-
maker ; Leonard Hodgkins and Volney Ring, cabinet makers ; Abner
Chapman, justice and school teacher; Alanson West, constable, and E.
L. North, M. E. preacher. In 1845 the place contained two meeting
houses, two grist mills, two saw mills, clothing works, post-office, etc.
The old Presbyterian church is now used as a public hall, and the grist
mills are operated by Martin Mason and Adelbert Hulbert. Day
Brothers and Lyman P. Judson are merchants. The M. E. church was
organized about 1816, and among its early members were Wilson
Newman, Voliiey and Salina King, Phebe Bradley, Joseph O. Seeley,
Francis Hamilton, Roswell Kenyon and Sterling Cole. In 1827 an edi-
fice was erected by the united efforts of citizens, and some ten years
later the Methodists built a brick church of their own. A temperance
society was organized here about 1836 and continued in existence for
more than forty years, one of its leading members and long-time presi-
dent being Abner Chapman. Daniel Pinckney, Indian agent, W W.
Newman, a prominent educator, and Dr. Jonathan Kneeland, almost
the oldest physician in the county, are prominent among the citizen-
ship of to-day.

In the southwest part of the town a little rural hamlet sprung up
through the manufacture of grain cradles, which gave it the name of
Cradleville. Here members of the Chafee family made that popular
and useful implement for many years. This family has been numerous
and prominent in Onondaga history. There were David, sr., David,
jr., Ralph, Abner, Comfort T., Guy, George, William H., Joshua,


another George, Byron R., another David, and Daniel, who settled on
lot 199 in 1800. Cradleville was originally called East Navarino. The
Onondaga Baptist church of this place was organized in the bam of
Ephraim Hall, at Hall's Corners (Navarino), in June, 1812, with twenty-
four members, Silas Church and Sylvester Olney being the first dea-
cons. Among the early pastors were Elders Elkannah Comstock,
Israel Hodge, Solomon Gardner, D. D. Chittenden, E. P. Dye and
William Powers. An edifice was built in 1832-33 and is still in use,
having been remodeled in 1871. The parsonage was erected in 1834.

The site of Navarino was settled in 1799 by Shubael and Sarah Hall,
who built their log house about one-half mile south of the comers.
They owned 350 acres of land, upon which their sons, Shubael, jr. , and
George, afterward lived. Here the old State road and the road from
Marcellus to Amber intersected, and the cross-roads hamlet early took
the name of Hall's Corners. In 1835 it contained these business enter-
prises: Freeman North, tavern; Andrew Cummings, merchant; Morris
Wells, tailor; Jehiel Hall & Son, foundry; Clark Bentley, shoemaker;
William Weed, gunsmith ; George Andrews, blacksmith ; George Enney,
harnessmaker ; Bradley Curtis, broom factory; Dr. A. B. Edwards,
physician; Oren Hall, postmaster. William Briggs was long a promi-
nent citizen here, and "Uncle" Joshua Chafee labored assiduously to
secure a passable road over the "Hogback" hill, so earnestly in fact
that it was popularly termed his "hobby." The broom factory has
been operated many years, and more recently there were three or four
shops, an M. E. church, a saw and cider mill and the stores of Mark
H. Fellows and Martin L. Gardner. Lee A. Cummings succeeded
Byron C. Grinnell as postmaster. Before these Theophilus Hall held
the office.

The hamlet of Cedarvale is of later existence, its chief features being
a large roller flour and feed mill owned by John Balcomb and the store
of William Hull. The M. E. church here was organized and built about
1840. Among its early mem'bers were Ezra' Lounsbury, Volney King,
John Evans and wife, the Kenyon family, and Alexander Browning.

E. F. Lounsbury was appointed postmaster May 13, 1873; others
are Willis G. Hull and Miss R. A. Lounsbury.

Howlett Hill became a post-office prior to 1835, in which year B. H.
Case was postmaster. Here in January, 1804, was org-anized the first
Baptist church in the town under the name of the First Baptist church
of Onondaga. It commenced with six male and seven female members


and Samuel Stone and Jacob Lawrence as deacons. Soon afterward
Elder Ebenezer Harrington became the pastor. In 1814 Elder Joseph
Moore was settled over the church and remained in charge for thirteen
years at an annual salary of $100. In 1821 an edifice was built and
dedicated, and about 1848 the society moved to Camillus village. In
1830 and again in 1833 members were dismissed to form Baptist churches
at Belle Isle and Onondaga Hill respectively. The lot on which this
church stood was deeded to the society by Leonard Caton upon the
condition that it revert to him or his heirs when they abandoned it.
After the removal he redeeded the property to the Universalists, who
had formed an organization with John T. Robinson, president; Wheeler
Truesdell, secretary; John and B. H. Case, J. Q. and David Robinson,
Eliphas and Giles Case, Charles Land, Eusephus Lawrence, and others.
Rev. Nelson Brown was the first pastor.

At a comparatively early day Eleazer Loomis settled upon and gave
his name to Loomis hill, in the west part of the town, where about 1845
he built an M. E. church, on the spire of which was placed a life-sized
figure of an angel, in brass. The whole was an enterpri.se of the founder.
Meanwhile an M. E. society had been formed at Reservation hill as
early as 1830 by Aaron Preston, a local preacher, among the first mem-
bers being Aaron Cornell, Thorn Dubois, Benjamin Snow, Cornelius
Miller, and John Woodward and their wives, and Mrs. Mary Barnum.
In 1847 a meeting house was erected at a cost of about $1,600.

Among other residents of the town may be mentioned Cypean Heb-
ard, who died September 38, 1863, aged seventy-eight; L. Wiard-
Marsh, son of Capt. Elisha Marsh, a captain in the war of 1812, and
the father of Prof. Grove L. Marsh, of Syracuse ; he was born at On-
ondaga Hill on May 4, 1831, and died November 6, 1895; Henry Card,
postmaster at the Valley ; Benjamin F. Churchill, a merchant there;
John Q. Fellows, son of Chester, who was born on the Fellows home-
stead in 1841 and is both farmer and surveyor ; Ezekiel Newman, father
of William Wilson Newman, and for nearly forty years class-leader in
the South Onondaga M. E. church; William Carpenter, father of Judge
Charles ; Dr. George T. Clark, son of Levi Clark and Martha, daughter
of Capt. Turner Fenner, his wife; Elias B. Bradley, who died in 1858;
Theophilus Hall, grandson of Azariah and son of Oren; Jeremiah
Everringham, father of Mrs. Abner Chapman and five other children ;
Jared W. Parsons, son of Jared and Electa; A. G. Wyckoff, son of Jon-
athan, of Skaneateles; and Dea. Jerathmael Hunt, son of John. Levi


Clark made the first "grapevine" cradle ever used, and for many years
he and his sons manufactured this article of husbandry.

In 1845 the town contained 1,050 voters, 441 militia, 79 paupers
(poorhouse included), 1,324 school children, 30,898 acres of improved
land, five grist mills, eight saw mills, a fulling mill, one carding ma-
chine, a woolen factory, an iron foundry, two asheries, one tannery,
ten churches, eight taverns, eight stores, two groceries, 609 farmers,
139 mechanics, seven physicians, and two attorneys. The county poor
farm, located on lot 87, originally contained about 145 acres and was
purchased of Josiah Bronson in 1826. The poor house was built in
1827, the main building erected in 1854, and a stone structure for the
asylum put up in 1860 (replaced by another stone building in 1868).
Extensive improvements were added in 1866, 1867, 1871, 1873, and

During the war of the Rebellion (1861-65) the town of Onondaga
made a most brilliant record. A large number of her patriotic sons
enlisted in the Union army and navy, and served with both honor and
distinction. Many of them were killed in battle or died of disease, but
to one and all is due that gratitude which characterizes true American

The remaining history of Onondaga is brief. On December 21,
1874, the village of Danforth, so named in honor of Asa Danforth, was
incorporated with Edward Abeel, president; he was succeeded by
Truman K Fuller, and after five years the latter was followed by Ed-
ward P. Glass. The principal owners of this tract were Charles A.
Baker, George Raynor, and Mrs. Robert Furman. In February, 1887,
the village became a part of the city of Syracuse, as did also a portion
of Oakwood Cemetery.

In 1872 Rev. Dr. O'Hara purchased about forty acres of land near
Elmwood for burial purposes, and soon afterward St. Agnes Roman
Catholic cemetery was incorporated with Robert McCarthy as president.
In 1874 the First M. E. church and society of Onondaga Hill were
organized and a church built the same year, while about this time St.
Michael's Roman Catholic parish was instituted as an out mission from
Marcellus ; services are held in a building formerly occupied as a store.

The business of the Solvay Process Company led to the much more
extensive development of the old Split Rock quarries in the north part
of Onondaga. In June, 1888, the Split Rock Cable Road Company was
organized for the purpose of constructing a cable line to convey


stone from this point to the works, and since May, 1889, the line has
been in operation. This enterprise gave existence to quite a hamlet,
and in 1891 St. Peter's Roman Catholic parish, comprising about 500
communicants, was formed by Rev. William A. Ryan, of Camillus.
Prior to this mass had been said in a frame chapel, the site for which
was purchased as early as 1848. In May, 1892, the present church was
completed at a cost of about $3,500.

The town of Onondaga has some of the finest quarries of blue and
gray limestone in the world ; and just across its southern border, on the
Indian Reservation, is also an excellent quarry. All of the foundation
stone for buildings in Syracuse and the cut stone for the Onondaga
County Savings Bank building, the Government building, St. Paul's
Cathedral, and -several other fine buildings came from these quarries.

On the west bank of the creek and immediately south of the road
which crosses Onondaga Valley, the Syracuse Water Company, in 1888,
made an interesting discovery. The company drove some thirty tubes
six inches in diameter to varying depths of from thirty to forty feet,
until they entered and passed through a stratum of gravel some ten
feet in thickness. These wells were connected on the surface of the
ground and with powerful pumping machinery it was demonstrated to
the satisfaction of the company that there was a subteranean flow of
water from the south toward the north through a strip of land twelve
hundred feet wide at that point of twenty millions of gallons each
twenty-four hours. It was estimated that several times this quantity
flowed through the entire valley between the hills. The water stood
at a uniform temperature of 48 degrees, and was of extreme purity,
except that it was "hard." The investigation was mkde with the
view to a water supply for the city, but the project came to naught
because of the strong agitation in the city of the question of the munic-
ipal ownership of the water works, which, a little later, was accom-

The village of Elmwood, incorporated recently, has sprung into ex-
istence within the past five years, largely through the energy and enter-
prise of its president, Enoch M. Chafee, who owns a grist mill, cradle
factory, and woodworking establishment. The postmaster is W. W.
Norris; merchants, Norris Brothers, George Mannering and others;
florist, Henry Morris. The park here has contributed materially to
the growth of the place, which is somewhat of a resort for Syracusans,
Hopper's Glen, in the valley, is also noted in this respect,


The centennial anniversary of the formation of Onondaga county
and the 106th anniversary of the settlement of this town by Asa Dan-
f orth were fittingly celebrated in May, 1894, by an immense assemblage
at the Valley. Descendants of pioneers, representative business and
professional men, and prominent citizens from all over Central New
York gathered to honor the occasion, and for one brief day the historic
Hollow contained more inhabitants than the two villages combined ever

The population of the town has been as follows :

In 1810, 3,745; 1830, 5,503; 1830, 5,668; 1835, 4,789; 1840, 5,663; 1845, 5,145; 1850,
5,694; 1855, 5,400; 1860, 5,118; 1865, 5,312; 1870, 5,580; 1875,. 6,193; 1880, 6,858;
1890, 5,135; 1892, 5,011.


The original township of Fabius was designated No. 15 of the Mili-
tary Tract, and embraced the present town of that name and nearly all
of the towns of Truxton and Cuyler in Cortland county. On the
formation of the county the whole of this territory, together with
Tully, Preble, Scott, and the southern parts of Otisco and Spafford,
forming the military township of Tully, No. 14, was included in the
civil town of Pompey, from which Fabius, including all of the towns
and parts of towns just mentioned, was set off b}' act of the Legislature
on March 9, 1798. On the 4th of April, 1803, Tully, including Scott
and Preble and portions of Spafford and Otisco, was erected into a
separate civil town, leaving the then civil town of Fabius with the ter-
ritory comprising the original military township of the same name.
The organization of Cortland county on April 8, 1808, left the present
Fabius with fifty lots, or the north half of township 15 of the Military

The town of Fabius, as now constituted, contains 32,000 acres, or
fifty square miles of land, and occupies the southeast corner of the
county of Onondaga, being bounded on the south by Cortland county,
on the east by Madison county, on the north by Pompey and La Fayette,
and on the west by Tully. It has a general elevation of from 1,000 to
1,300 feet above the Erie Can^l at Syracuse.


The old township of !Fabius, in common with other subdivisions of
the great Military Tract, was surveyed into 100 lots of about 600 acres
each, as described in a preceding chapter of this work, and those lying
within the present civil town are numbered from one to fifty inclusive.
These lots, with four exceptions, were drawn as bounty lands by soldiers
for services in the Revolutionary war, as follows:.

1, Willet Carman; 2, Lieut. William Strahan; 3, reserved for Gospel, school, etc. ;
4, Capt. Theodore Bliss; 5, Peter Osterhout; 6, Philip Lacey; 7, Maj. James Rose-
krans.; 8; Andrew Flim; 9, Garrit Cronck; 10, Andrew Bradley; 11, Philip Cotelle;
12, Patrick Wall; 13, Capt. Joseph Savage; 14, Nathan Reed; 15, Thomas Bunting;
16, John Ferdon ; 17, Lieut. Josiah Bagley ; 18, James Ferguson ; 19, Nicholas Schuyler,
surgeon ; 20, William Kynion ; 21, Charles Parsons, captain ; 22, Francis Courtney ; 23,
John Linnigar ; 24, Robert Bardin ; 25, John Craig ; 36, Martin Flick ; 27, Cornelius
Van Ness; 28, John Wheeler; 29, Lieut. Abraham Leggett; 30, Lieut. Thomas
Williams; 31, Lieut. John Burnett; 32, John Davis; 33, Ebenezer Slason ; 34, Jon-
athan Pmckney ; 35, Hunlock Woodruff, surgeon ; 36, reserved for Gospel, etc. ; 37,
Col. Goose Van Schaick ; 38, Lieut. John L. Hardenbergh ; 39, Lieut. Alender Dow ;
40, William Gilbert; 41,. reserved for Gospel, etc.; 42, Coral Rennee; 43, Lieut.
Henry Demlar ; 44, reserved for Gospel, etc. ; 45, Robert Ellison ; 46. David Fletcher ;
47, Lieut. Thomas Warner ; 48, Samuel Becannon ; 49, James Robinson ; 50, Henry

Four lots, Nos. 3, 36, 41, and M, were reserved by law for gospel and
school purposes, which left forty-six for grantees, of whom twelve be-
came actual settlers or residents, as will presently appear.

The territory here considered was for many years the abiding place
or hunting grounds of the Indians, principally the Onondagas, whose
central point of assemblage occupied the valley lying a short distance
northwest. It is adjacent, also, to the historic town of Pompey, where
numerous evidences of aboriginal habitation still exist, and in view of
these facts it is not surprising that antiquarians have here found a
fertile field for investigation. But the purpose of this chapter is to
record briefly the local growth and development from the earliest white
settlement to the present time.

The pioneers found this a most picturesque section, a locality richly
endowed with all the beauty of nature, and one that proved in after
years as productive as any in the State. As the pioneers coursed up
and down the rich valleys, seeking future homes, they felt an inspira-
tion more attractive, more enchanting, than usually falls to the lot of
man. Here on either hand stood, in all their grandeur and beauty, the
old hills in majestic silence where they, like sentinels, had kept watch
and ward for unnumbered ages. Broken into a series of ridges sepa-


rated by narrow valleys, and entirely canopied with billowy forests of
evergreen and deciduous trees, it presented to the observer an unusual
scene of primitive grandeur at once attractive and impressive. A por-
tion of the town forms a part of the great watershed which divides the
streams flowing north into the St. Lawrence from those emptying their
contents in the Susquehanna and other large rivers on the south. The
most important watercourse is a branch of the Tioughnioga River,
which flows southerly through the eastern center of Fabius. On the
Madison county line is the De Ruyter reservoir, while near the foot of
South Hill — one of the loftiest elevations in the county — near TuUy,
lies a small lake known as Labrador Pond. The timber which com-
prised the dense forests consisted mainly of beech, maple, hemlock,
elm, ash, and basswood, with a sprinkling of birch, pine, and oak. In
the more depressed portions of the valley near the center of the town
are swampy lands originally covered with valuable cedars. Nearly the
entire territory is susceptible of cultivation, the soil being a fine quality
of gravelly loam admixed with more or less clay and sand, and being
well watered, is peculiarly adapted to grass and pasturage.

Settlement in Fabius was nearly or quite contemporaneous with the
formation of Onondaga county. In the spring of 1794 Timothy Jerome
and Josiah Moore, from Stockbridge, Mass., moved in and erected log
cabins. During the same spring Simon Keeney, father of the late John
Keeney, came, and with the assistance of one man cleared land, erected
a log house, and planted corn and potatoes, preparatory to bringing his
family the following year. William Clark, father of the present Henry
H. Clark, and Col. Elijah St. John were among the pioneers. Timothy
Jerome settled on lot 5, in the northern part of the town. He was the
first supervisor, and the first and for many years the only justice of the
peace. He died May 9, 1803, and was buried in the open square in the
center of the village of Pompey, whence the remains were subsequently
removed to the cemetery on the high ground east of that village.
Josiah Moore settled on lot 15, on the old Chenango road. He sowed
the first wheat, brought the first farm implements into this section, be-
came the first town clerk, built the first frame house in 1800, and died
there April 39, 1803; he being the first one of the pioneers to cross to
the other shore. The remains were buried in the woods west of the
dwelling house, on the premises now owned by Hiram and Anson
Rowley. In the old burying ground back of the Baptist church stands a

Online LibraryDwight H. (Dwight Hall) BruceOnondaga's centennial. Gleanings of a century → online text (page 94 of 101)