Town of Edwards
From Child's Gazeteer of St. Lawrence County
Edwards(1) was formed from Fowler April 7, 1827(2). A part of Hermon was taken off April 17, 1830, and a part of that town annexed Nov 17, 1852. It is an interior town, lying near the south border of the county, and contains 32,583 acres. Its surface is broken by ridges of primitive rock, separated by narrow valleys. It is watered by the Oswegatchie, which flows diagonally through near the center, and numerous small streams tributary to it. It is dotted with several small sheets of water, especially in the south part, the principal of which are Cedar Lake on the north line, and Bonner, Beaver, Clear and Mud lakes in the south-west. The soil is generally a light, sandy loam, and in the valleys is very productive. It is best adapted to grazing. The town is sparsely settled, the principal settlements being in the east and central parts. The population in 1870 was 1076, of whom 961 were native, 115 foreign, and all white.
During the year ending Sept. 30, 1872, the town contained nine school districts and employed nine teachers. The number of children of school age was 418; the number attending school was 357; the average attendance, 172; the amount expended for school purposes, $1,971.87; and the value of school houses and sites, $2,650.
Edwards, (p.v.) situated on the Oswegatchie, in the north-east part, is a small but thriving village of about 500 inhabitants. It contains one church, (Union) one of the largest hotels in the county, six stores, one tannery, two blacksmith shops, one carriage shop, one flouring and grist mill and one saw mill.
South Edwards(3) (p.o.) situated five miles above Edwards on the Oswegatchie, in the south-east part, contains one hotel, two stores, a grist mill, saw mill, starch factory (potato), shoe shop and blacksmith shop, and possesses an almost unlimited water-power.
Freemansburgh(4), on the Oswegatchie, is a hamlet in the west part.
Settlement was commenced in January, 1812, by Asa Brayton, who came with his family and located on the St. Lawrence turnpike, which was finished this year. Joseph M. Bonner, John Britton, Samuel and Elijah Jones, Guy Earl, and several families named Johnson came in that year and the following winter - 1812-13. The first birth occurred in the first year of settlement and in the family of the first settler. The child was John B. Brayton. We are advised that the first death was that of a Mr. Shipman, in 1811, but as this was a year prior to the settlement there is doubt as to the accuracy of the information. It is not impossible, however, that this is the fact, as the St. Lawrence turnpike was in construction from 1810-12. Mr. Shipman may have been engaged in this service, although our information is silent upon this point. French, in his Gazetteer of New York, and Hough, in his History of St. Lawrence and Franklin Counties, each agree that the first death was that of ____ Partridge, who was accidentally killed in 1813. A grist mill was built in 1814, by Orra Shead, from Russell, who was the first supervisor of this town. Mr. Shead also built the first saw mill five years later. Robert Brown, Alexander Noble, Alexander Kerr, Robert Watson, John Laidlow, James Greives, John Whitehead, Wm., Andrew and Thomas Cleland and James Wilson, Scotch emigrants, settled in the town in 1819(5). The first six had families, who came with them; the remainder were single. The first marriage is believed to have been contracted by George Allen and Sally Chapin, in 1821. Job Winslow came from Potsdam in the fall of 1824 and commenced the settlement at South Edwards, on a farm lying around the falls, purchased the year previous, where he erected a saw mill and house. The following year he built a grist mill. In this year Elijah and Noah Shaw settled in the vicinity of South Edwards.
The first religious meeting was held in 1819, by Rev. Elijah Morgan, a local preacher of the M. E. Church.
(1) Named from Edward McCormick, brother of Daniel McCormick, the patentee of Great Lots Nos. I and II of Macomb's Purchase.
(2) The first town meeting was held at the house of Wm. Martin. The officers elected were, Orra Shead, Supervisor; John C. Haile, Town Clerk; J. C. Haile, Asa Brayton, Jr., and Wm. Teall, Assessors; Roswell Lillie, Arba Collisier and Peleg Haile, Commissioners of Highways; J. C. Haile, Asa Phelps and Wilkes Richardson, Commissioners of Schools; Warren Streeter and Guy Earl, Overseers of the Poor; J. C. Haile, George Allen and Wm. Teall, Inspectors of Schools.
(3) Formerly known as Shawville, which name it derived from Elijah Shaw, who settled in this vicinity in March, 1825, and was the first merchant.
(4) Named from A. Freeman, who erected a furnace here in 1830, which was burned in 1847.
(5) Hough says these emigrants came in 1817