Town of Parishville
From Child's Gazeteer of St. Lawrence County
Parishville(1) was formed from Hopkinton, April 15, 1818(2). Colton was taken off April 12, 1843, and another small portion was annexed to that town Nov 18, 1851. It lies principally between the Racket and St. Regis rivers, east of the center of the county, and contains 60,660 acres. The surface in the northern and central parts is quite level and has a moderate slope toward the north, but the south part is broken and hilly and nearly covered with forests. The soil is a deep, rich loam in the north, but in the south it is light and sandy, and unfit for cultivation. The principal streams are Racket and St. Regis rivers.
The population of the town in 1870 was 2,241, of whom 1,976 were native, 265 foreign, and all, except one, white.
During the school year ending Sept 30, 1872, the town contained fifteen school districts and employed 15 teachers. The number of children of school age was 659; the number attending school, 522; the average attendance 283; the amount expended for school purposes, $2,771.36; and the value of school houses and sites, $5,870.
PARISHVILLE, (p.v.) situated on the St. Regis River, in the north-east part, contains three churches (Baptist, M. E. and Presbyterian), four stores, a flouring mill, an eave spout manufactory, a starch factory, saw mill, butter tub factory, black smith shops, etc., and had in 1870, 312 inhabitants. The river at this points falls about 125 feet within one mile and afford an abundant water power. A short distance below the bridge on the principal street in the village, the river contracted by its rocky banks into a deep and narrow channel, not more than ten feet wide, and plunges twenty-five feet into a narrow gorge worn in the primitive rock, through which its dark and turbulent waters rush to a broad and placid basin below.
Magnetic iron ore has been found a mile west of the village.
The Parishville Co-operative Union was organized April 6, 1871, with a capital of $7,000. It consists of twenty-seven members, and its affairs are managed by seven directors, a president, vice-president and secretary. Its business, that of general merchants, is large and increasing, and is so conducted as to win public approval and patronage.
Amber Lodge of Free Masons, No. 395, was organized with seven members, June 25, 1856, (Masonic year 5856) and at present has sixty members(3).
A lodge of Good Templars was organized with forty-six members, June 26, 1867. It now has 160 members and meets Friday night of each week.
PARISHVILLE CENTER (p.o.) is a hamlet in the north part, six miles south of Potsdam.
Settlement was commenced under Daniel Hoard, a native of Springfield, Vt., as agent for David Parish, who purchased the town from J. D. LaRay de Chaumont, Dec. 2, 1808. In the fall of 1809 Mr. Hoard surveyed and cut a road from the line of Potsdam to the site of the village of Parishville, and in April 1810, he came in company with Luke Brown, Isaac Tower and Hartwell Shattuck from Springfield, Vt., and Levi Sawyer from Massachusetts, and chopped about seventy acres and cleared forty on the site of the village. A Mr. Whitmore and wife came to board the choppers during the summer, and this lady was the first woman who came into the town to reside. They returned towards spring. A saw mill was built and got in operation this season by two brothers named Barnes from Oneida county, and was used during the winter. Luke Brown moved his family into the town March 31, 1811, and settled two and one-half miles from the line of Potsdam, on a farm he had previously purchased and improved. This was the first family to make a permanent settlement in the town. J. Foster Brownell, Richard Newton, Ira Collins, Joel Hawkins, Wm. Thomas, Peter Gilbert, Reuben Thomas, Abijah Abbot, George A. Flower, ____ Champlin and ____ Daggett, several of them with families, came in soon after. During this year a turnpike from the Black River country was opened through the town; a grist mill was built by Daniel W> Church for the proprietor; and a distillery was erected by Daniel Hoard, which was got in operation the following year. In the summer of 1812, Mr. Church also erected for Mr. Parish, a tavern which cost $12,000. It is still standing, in good repair, and is the only hotel ever built in Parishville. In this year the first birth in the town occurred, (Parish Brown) in the family of Luke Brown. Asa Newton was born the same day as Parish Brown. In 1812 the town sustained an abnormal growth in consequence of the war. Many fled from the frontier settlements and sought a more secure retreat in the interior towns. This influx of settlers produced a transitory business activity, and during this and the following year extensive improvements were made and projected, which subsequent events did not warrant. The first school was taught in the summer of 1813, by Miss Harriet Bronson, in the barn of Daniel Hoard. Dr. Francis Parker, who came from Peru, Clinton Co., in July 1819, was the first physician in town. He was a native of Vermont.
A horrible tragedy occurred in this town on the morning of Wednesday, Oct. 25, 1812. A Mrs. Miller, while in the act of rising from bed, was left by her husband, who went to a neighbor's some distance from the home to get fire. On his return his wife's absence from the house attracted his attention, but as portions of her clothing were there he concluded she was not far distant. Her protracted absence however alarmed him and a search, which became general, was instituted and continued several days, but without revealing any trace of the missing woman. This mystery was supplemented the following Friday night by another, as several houses and barns were burned in such a manner that the origin of the fire could only be attributed to an incendiary. Among the barns burned was one owned by Daniel Herrington, which was used by many who did not possess that accommodation to store their grain. The following spring Wolcott Moss, while engaged in logging near the St. Regis, about four miles above Parishville, gained the summit of a large boulder to obtain a more extended view of the surrounding country and to better enable him to discover the cattle which he had turned out to browse. His attention was attracted by some clothing, which to his surprise, contained a human skull. Other human remains were also discovered, which, upon examination, were recognized as those of Mrs. Miller. Suspicion pointed strongly to a desperate character living near the line of Stockholm, who in June 1812, had been convicted of a crime, mainly upon the evidence of Mrs. Miller, and confined in the Ogdensburg jail, as the author of this crime. He threatened vengeance upon the community which witnessed his guilt and especially upon the victim of this atrocity. He was seen to cross the bridge over Racket river near the line of Pierrepont on the Monday preceding the day on which the even above narrated transpired, and to recross it the following Saturday. He was followed and arrested at Carthage, having in his possession a stolen rifle, for which, as the evidence of his complicity in the crime of murder was only circumstantial and insufficient to convict him, he was tried, convicted of theft and sent to State prison, where he died.
Religious meetings were held as early as 1812, and subsequently by traveling preachers, but the first stated ministry was established by the Wesleyan Methodists in July, 1818, at the house of L. Brown. The Baptists also held religious services at an early day. They were conducted by an Elder Johnson from Jefferson County.
The Congregational Church was organized Aug. 7, 1823, with eleven members, by a council consisting of delegates from several towns in the county, and erected a stone edifice in 1834, at a cost of $3,000.
The Baptist Church was organized with about thirteen members, in October, 1823(4).
The Methodist Church was organized March 10, 1828, and reorganized Aug. 23, 1833 and again Oct. 26, 1846. A church edifice worth $1000 was built in 1846-7.
The Free Will Baptist Church was organized with twenty-six members Sept. 4, 1859, by Rev. Benj. Bundy, the first pastor. Their house of worship is situated in the south-west part of the town; will seat 275 persons; and was erected in 1859 at a cost of $2,000. The present number of members is forty-two. The pastor is Rev. Geo. Chappell. The church property is valued at $3,000.
(1) Named from David and Geo. Parish who owned large tracts of land in this county, and who endeared themselves to their tenants and those with whom they came in contact by uniform courtesy, tender sympathy, kind indulgence and enlightened liberality. It originally embraced the townships of Sherwood, Harewood, Granshuck, Matildavale, Wick, Cookham and the west third of Catharineville, in Great Lot No. II of Macomb's Purchase.
(2) The first town meeting was held at the house of Thomas C. Colbun, April 5, 1814, and Daniel W. Church was elected Supervisor; Abijah Abbott, Town Clerk; Stephen Goodman, Ira Ransom and Daniel Rockwell, Assessors; Ephraim Smith, Collector; Abel Brown, Peter Mahew, and Elisha Brooks, Commissioners of Highways and Fence Viewers; Ephraim Smith and Matthew Wallace, Constables; Jonathan M. Derby and Stephen Paddock, Poor Masters; and Russell Foot, Pound Keeper.
(3) Its first officers were Levit Hatch, Master; Samuel T. Lincoln, Sen. Warden; and E. C. Culver, Jun. Warden.
(4) A few years after the erection of this church a fire, originating from a brush heap upon a farm about a mile south of Parishville village, communicated with the intervening woods under the influence of a strong south wind which prevailed at the time, and spread rapidly in the direction of the village. This building was soon in flames. Great exertion was made to save the church and prevent the spreading of the fire, but in vain. In a short time, the Baptist church and the sheds attached to both churches were on fire and all were burned to the ground.