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 Town of Morristown
From Child's Gazetteer of St. Lawrence County


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MORRISTOWN(1) was formed from Oswegatchie March 27, 1821(2).  A part of Hammond was taken off March 30, 1827; and a part of Macomb, April 3, 1841.  It lies upon the St. Lawrence, between that river and Black Lake, and contains 27,573 acres.  The surface is gently rolling and declines from the center on either side.  Chippewa Creek, which flows through the center is the principal stream.  The soil is a gravelly loam, underlaid by Potsdam sandstone, and is generally fertile.  The growth of the town has been retarded by its deficiency in water power, which in many of the towns in this town is so abundant.  Its need of railroad communication is soon to be met by the B. R. & M. R. R. now in process of construction.  Its population in 1870 was 1,954, of whom 1,624 were native, 330, foreign, and all except one, white.

During the year ending Sept 30, 1872, the town contained sixteen school districts and employed sixteen teachers.  The number of children of school age was 702; the number attending school, 546; the average attendance 258; the amount expended for school purposes, $3,690.17; and the value of the school houses and sites, $4,810.

MORRISTOWN(3) (p.v.) situated on the St. Lawrence, opposite Brockville, and eleven miles above Ogdensburg, is a village of about 250 inhabitants.

EDWARDSVILLE(4) (p.o.) is situated on the Black Lake, six miles south-east of Morristown.  A ferry is established at this point, which is locally known as the Narrows

BRIER HILL (p.o.) is a hamlet situated south-west of the center, four miles south of Morristown.  The cheese factory located here and owned by F. Franklin has been in operation three years.  During the season of 1872, the milk of 550 cows was used, and 133,550 pounds of cheese made, being an average of one pound of cheese to ten pounds of milk.

A survey of the town was made preliminary to its settlement in 1799, and its settlement was commenced a few years later, by Col. David Ford, a native of New Jersey, and brother of Nathan Ford, the pioneer of Oswegatchie, as agent for the proprietor, G. Morris(5).  He located on the site of Morristown village, and built there the first house in town.  Arnold Smith and Thomas Hill settled on the site of the village about the same time as Mr. Ford.  The former kept the first inn.  John Canfield, John Hooker and Henry Hooker, son of the latter, were early settlers in the vicinity of the village.  Mr. Canfield built the first store house there, and in 1817 he built a wharf.  John K. Thurber was the first to settle on Black Lake in the limits of the town.  He came previous to 1810, in which year Henry Ellenwood located there, and Henry Harrison, Ephraim Story, Benj. Tubbs and Benj. Goodwin settled about the same time in its vicinity (6).  Other settlers along the lake were Henry Bogardus, Norman Tyler, Dr. Powell Davis, Capt. Wm. Lee, Thomas Coats and John, Jonas, Abel, and William Parker.  Arnold Smith erected the first tavern on the site of Edwardsville; and Henry Ellenwood established the first ferry there.

Much suffering was experienced by the inhabitants of this town in consequence of the cold seasons of 1815, ’16, and ’17, which were unfavorable for cereals of any kind.  They were reduced almost to the verge of starvation.  During the year 1818, and until the time of harvest in 1819, almost fabulous prices were offered for grain and flour by those who were so fortunate as to possess the means.  Many lived to a great extent upon esculent roots, and one family is said to have lived almost entirely on turnips for more than a week, when they were relieved by a grist from the new wheat of that year, which was threshed and sent to mill almost as it was cut.  Mr. A. Wheeler Church, son of Daniel W. Church, says that during this trying period he was asked to take supper on one occasion, and the only edibles which graced the table, or which the family possessed, were pumpkins and milk.  In a few years, says Mr. Church, the yield of wheat was so abundant that the merchants at Morristown refused to receive it in exchange for gods at any price.  It was not until this period that the settlements in town assumed much importance.  Within two or three years after, great numbers came in and took up lands, so that within four years the erection of a separate town was deemed expedient and effected.  About the year 1817 a village lot in Morristown was offered to mechanics who would settle there, pursue their trade five years, and within a limited time erect a house of specified dimensions, with a view to promoting the growth of the village.  Several lots were taken up under this offer, but, except in one or two instances, none of the occupants complied with the conditions in such a manner as to acquire a title.

A naval engagement between the Julia of the United States navy and the Earl of Moira of the British navy, took place opposite Morristown in July, 1812, in which they latter was worsted.


The Presbyterian Church, at Morristown, was organized with ten members, May 31, 1822, by Rev. Wm. Smart, its first pastor.  A church edifice was erected in 1837, at a cost of $2,000, and is still occupied by the Society.  It will seat 250 persons.  There are sixty members, under the pastoral care of Rev. Robert McKinsie.  The Church property is valued at $5,000.(7)

The Chippewa Street Congregational Church, was organized with nine members in 1827, by Rev. Hiram Johnson of Canton.  Their church edifice was erected in 1850, at a cost of $1,000, and will seat 225 persons.  The first pastor was Rev. James Taylor; the present one is Rev. Samuel Young.  The Society numbers 76 members.  Its property is valued at $2,200.(8)

Black Lake Church (Lutheran) was organized with fourteen members, Aug 19, 1841, by Rev. C. Francisco its first pastor.  The house in which the Society worships was completed Oct 20, 1853, at a cost $1,500, and will seat 200 persons.  There are seventy members.  The present pastor is Rev. S. W. Young.  The property of the Church is valued at $3,500.(9)

The First Universalist Church at Brier Hill, was organized Feb 14, 1859, by Rev. H. H. Baker, the first pastor, and erected a place of worship in 1859, at a cost of $1,250, the one it still occupies.  The church will seat 250 persons.  The Society numbers 75 members.  Its pastor is Rev. D. L. R. Libby.  Its property is valued at $2,500.(10)

The Union Church at Brier Hill was built in the summer of 1859, by the joint effrorts of the Baptist, Lutheran, and Wesleyan Methodist societies and residents outside of these churches, each contributing one-fourth towards defraying the expense and each retaining one-fourth interest in it.  Its management is entrusted to nine trustees, two from each of the religious societies and three from those outside.  Revs. Reuben Jones, Baptist, C. Francisco, Lutheran, and M. Johnson, Wesleyan, were the first ministers of the respective denominations who preached in the church.  It is now occupied and regular appointments are held by Revs. Samuel Young, Congregationalist, Silas W. Young, Lutheran, M. Delarme, Wesleyan, and C. M. Arnold, Episcopal Methodist.  Two services are held each Sabbath.(11)



(1) Named from Gouverneur Morris, the former proprietor.  It originally embraced No. 9, or Hague, of the Ten Townships. 

(2) The first town officers were, David Ford, Supervisor; David Hill, Town Clerk; John Canfield, Paschal Miller and Horace Aldrich, Assessors; Henry Hooker, Collector; John Hooker, Daniel W. Church, and John K. Thurber, Overseers of the Poor; Wm. Swain, Alex. B. Miller and Wm. R. Ward, Commissioners of Highways; Powel Davis and James Burnham, School Commissioners; Erastus Northum, John Grannis and Alex R. Miller, School Inspectors.

(3) This name is a slight modification of the one originally assigned (Morrisville) in 1799, when the town was surveyed and a village plat laid out on the site of the present village, by Jacob Brown.

(4) Named from Jonathan S. Edwards, the first post master.  The name originally assigned when the village plat was laid out in 1799 was Marysburgh, by which name it is distinguished on early maps.

(5) Dr. Hough says David Ford, “First made an actual settlement about 1808”.

(6) Mr. Michael Cooper, who was bound out to Mr. Alex Miller, a Presbyterian minister, in 1814, and is still a resident of the town, says that Henry Ellenwood became a resident of the town in 1806, and Henry Harrison and Ephraim Story, previous to that year.  The date given in the text is obtained from Hough’s History of St. Lawrence and Franklin Counties.  The care and accuracy that work evinces in other particulars incline us to adhere to it.

(7) Information furnished by Joseph Cooper.

(8) Information furnished by J. E. Ingham, deacon.

(9) Information furnished by Rev. S. W. Young

(10) Information furnished by Seward Ackerman

(11) Information furnished by W. R. Fitch