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

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PITCAIRN(1) was formed from Fowler, March 29, 1836(2). It lies upon the south border, west of the center of the county, and contains 35,386 acres. The surface is broken by ridges, separated by swamps, lakes and fertile intervales. The soil is principally light and sandy, with a few alluvial flats along the streams, the principal of which is the west branch of the Oswegatchie. Iron and lead ores and marble occur in the town. The former has been worked and unprofitable attempts have been made to work the lead mines.

The town is sparsely settled and has no villages. Its population in 1870 was 667, of whom 635 were native, 32, foreign and all, except one, white.

During the year ending Sept 30, 1872, the town contained seven school districts and employed seven teachers. The number of children of school age was 255; the number attending school, 201; the average attendance, 107; the amount expended for school purposes $1,699.95; and the value of the school houses and sites, $2,912.

PITCAIRN and EAST PITCAIRN are post-offices, the former near the south line and the latter in the north-east part.

Settlement was commenced in 1823 by Constant Wells. In the fall of 1824 Nathaniel C. Scovill, Levi W. Gleason, Nathan Dickinson and Nathan, Justin, Anson, Leonard and Hubbard, sons of the latter, came in to select lands and most of them commenced the erection of log houses. In December, Justin Dickinson moved his family in, and the following February was joined by others. James Streeter(3) and Jonathan Paine settled in 1826. The former had previously made a clearing, which is said to have been the first made in the town. The latter was a Baptist clergyman and conducted the first religious exercises in the town. Geo. P. Burdick, Aaron Geer, Joseph and Elisha Lamphear, Samuel Augustin, Joshua Sloper, Samuel Walling and Freeman Anderson settled in 1827. Stephen Seabury came in the following year. Sylvanus Scovill, son of N. C. Scovill, was the first child born in the town, and was born in June 1825. The first death was the wife of Daniel Woodcock, in 1828; in which year the first school was taught by Miss L. Griffin, and the first saw mill erected by P. Jenny. The first marriage was contracted by Aaron Bingham and Miss Caroline Dickinson, in 1830.


(1) Named from Joseph Pitcairn, a native of Scotland, who in early life came to the United States, and subsequently for several years resided in the West Indies. He held the office of U. S. Consul at Paris, from which he was removed by Jefferson. Most of his life was spent in mercantile pursuits at Hamburgh, Germany. In 1817 he acquired the title to the unsold lands in St. Lawrence and Jefferson counties of Daniel McCormick, and occupied himself in their settlement. He died in New York in June, 1844.

The town embraces the township of Portaferry, of Great Lot No. III. of Macomb's Purchase, except a small triangular portion in the west part which was retained by Fowler in the erection of the town.

(2) At the first town meeting, held at the house of David Brown, John Sloper was elected Supervisor; Stephen Seabury, Town Clerk; Levi W. Gleason, Sylvester Bacon, and Aaron Geer, Justices; Almond Howard, Samuel Gustin, and Robert Leach, Assessors; John Williams, Geo. P. Burdick and Levi W. Gleason, Commissioners of Highways; Constant Wells, Jonathan Paine, and Elijah Anderson, Commissioners of Common Schools; Sylvester Bacon, J. Paine and David Brown, Inspectors of Schools; Almond Howard and Geo. P. Burdick, Overseers of the Poor; Matthew M. Geer, Collector; M. M. Geer and Constant Wells, Constable.

(3) It is related of James Streeter that while living in Fowler, before the settlement of this town was begun, he was deer hunting one winter, when the ground was covered with a light snow to the depth of three feet, and on arriving at Portaferry Creek he discovered the track of five panthers which had crossed the creek on the ice. These tracks led to a place embedded in the snow which indicated that they had spent the previous night there, and a short distance further on he overtook a large male panther which he treed and killed with a single shot. A few rods further and a young panther was treed and wounded and despatched with a second shot, and shortly after another young one was chased to a spruce tree and killed with a single shot. He cut off the heads of the three and returned with them, and the following morning, in company with another, he renewed the chase. A female panther was killed and a large male treed and with much difficulty despatched, several shots being required to complete the work. As the bounty on the panthers was then $25 each, this proved a profitable day's work.