Town History of Champion
From Child’s Gazetteer of Jefferson County, N. Y.
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CHAMPION was formed from Mexico, March 14, 1800. A part of Harrisburgh was taken off in 1803. It is the central town on the southeast border of the county. The surface is broken and hilly. The most elevated portions are the hills in the south angle (known as the “peak”), which are about 1,700 feet above tide water. From their summits the land descends in a series of broken and irregular terraces to Black River. The north part is more level. The soil is generally a clay loam, but near the river in some places it is sandy. The town was No. 4, or “Howard,” of the eleven towns. It fell to the share of Harrison and Hoffman, and by then was sold to Gen. Henry Champion, of Colchester, Conn., in whose honor it was named, and Lemuel Storrs. It is bounded on the north and east by Black River, which separates it from the town of Wilna and Le Ray, southeast by Lewis County, and west by Rutland. It is watered by numerous small streams, the principal ones being Townsend and Deer Lick creeks, the former of which is in the western part of the town and the latter in the central part, both emptying into Black River. In the south part of the town is Pleasant Lake, the outlet of which empties into Black River just south of West Carthage village. The town was surveyed in 1797 by Moses and Benjamin Wright, the former subdividing and the latter surveying around it.
The town was organized and the first town meeting held April 1, 1800, at which the following officers were elected: Noadiah Hubbard, supervisor; Eli Church, clerk; Timothy Pool, David Coffeen, and William Hadsall, assessors; Ephraim Chamberlain, constable and collector; John Ward and Reuben Rockwood, overseers of the poor; Solomon Ward, Amaziah Parker, and Elihu Jones, commissioners of highways; Daniel Coffeen, William Crowell, Timothy Pool, and Moses Goodrich, overseers of highways; Levi Barns, fence viewer; Bela Hubbard, poundmaster.
In 1810 the town had 210 families and 1,471 inhabitants. There were 53 framed houses, 157 log houses, 79 framed barns, three stores, two distilleries, nine school-houses, one clothier’s works, a carding machine, four grist-mills, eight saw-mills, and a brewery. A write of 1813 says: “The inhabitants are very industrious and thriving; * * * in no country so recently settled have I ever seen such a spirit of improvement, or more of sober and persevering industry, with so good roads--the veins and arteries of public and private prosperity.”
Spafford’s Gazetteer, published in 1824, says of this town in 1820: --
“There’s a small village at the head of Long Falls, opposite Carthage, of Wilna, where there is a bridge over the Black River; and near the center of the town of Champion village, where are a few dwellings, a church, two stores, a school-house, and the postoffice, 77 miles north of Utica. Population, 2,080; taxable property, $146,358; school districts, 11; electors, 387; 2,442 cattle, 555 horses, 4,562 sheep; 21,179 yards of cloth made in families in 1821; six grist-mills, five saw-mills, four fulling-mills, three carding machines, four distilleries, and two asheries.”
In 1880 Champion had a population of 2,259. The town is located in the second school district of Jefferson County, and in 1889 had 16 school districts, of which three were joint, in which 18 teachers were employed 28 weeks or more. There were 482 scholars attending school, and the aggregate days attendance during the year was 45,104. The total value of school buildings and sites was $9,280, while the assessed valuation of all the districts was $1,197,344. The whole amount received for school purposes was $4,867.17, $2,653.55 of which was received by local tax. Truman C. Gray was school commissioner.
WEST CARTHAGE is a village situated in the extreme western part of the town, on Black River. This village was incorporated March 18, 1889, and the following were the officers elected: Marcus P. Mason, president; L. W. Babcock, Philip Hull, and S. G. Van Pelt, trustees; Charles A. Beyer, treasurer; Charles Jones, collector; W. B. Van Allen, clerk; Pierre De Peyster, street commissioner. The village now contains one pulp-mill, a sash and blind factory, two tub and pail factories, one furniture manufactory, one tannery, grist-mill, saw-mill, wood turning shop and planing-mill, one hotel (temperance), one church (Congregational), a district school with three departments, a wagon and blacksmith shop, one drug and grocery store, a grocery and notion store, a general store, two greenhouses, a meat market, photograph gallery, and about 1,000 inhabitants. A knitting factory was in operation here until the spring of 1889, when it was discontinued. It did a prosperous business with a pay-roll aggregating $1,200 per month.
CHAMPION (p. o.) village, located in the central part of the town, contains one hotel, a general store, three churches (Episcopal, Congregational, and Methodist Episcopal), a cheese factory, blacksmith shop, telegraph, telephone, and express offices, and a population of about 200.
GREAT BEND (p. o.) is a hamlet in the northern part of the town, on Black River. It contains a paper-mill where wall paper is manufactured, a general store, two hotels (one being in Le Ray), the usual complement of shops, two churches (Methodist Episcopal and Episcopal), telegraph, telephone, and express offices, and about 300 inhabitants.
SOUTH CHAMPION (p. o.), is a small hamlet in the southern part of the town.
The Great Bend Paper and Pulp Company, whose establishment is located on the south bank of the Black River at Great Bend, was incorporated in 1868, with George W. Clark as its president. Its stockholders at the time of incorporation were George W. Clark, Herman Burr, and Lewis H. Mills. The purpose for which it was organized was the manufacture of straw-board, but after a lapse of five years Mr. Clark and Mr. Mills purchased Mr. Burr’s interest, when they manufactured what is termed “brown hanging paper,” which was composed largely of straw at first, but subsequently the straw was discarded and rags substituted. In April, 1887, Mr. Clark died and the property passed into the hands of Mr. Mills, who continued the business until February, 1888, when the mill was sold to F. A. Fletcher, of Watertown. Its present owners are F. A. Fletcher, Ida A. Fletcher, F. X. Zaph, and E. H. Thompson. The capital stock of the company is $50,000. It gives employment to 26 hands, and manufactures about four tons of paper and three tons of pulp per day.
The Champion village cheese factory, William E. Bellinger, proprietor, was built in 1864 by George C. Freeman. It has the patronage of 450 cows, receives about 1,080,000 pounds of milk for the season, from which is made 108,000 pounds of cheese valued at $9,720.
The McNitt cheese factory, situated on the Copenhagen and Watertown road, in the southern part of the town, two and a-half miles from Copenhagen, was built by the McNitt Brothers in 1870. It received the milk from 300 cows, and makes 80,000 pounds of cheese annually, which is valued at about $7,200.
The G. Searl cheese factory was built by Nathaniel Whitney in 1864, and is located at South Champion. It received the milk from 300 cows and makes about 97,750 pounds of cheese annually, valued at $8,793.
The Hadsall & Moore cheese factory, situated three miles north of Champion, is one of the oldest in the county, being built by William P. Babcock in 1862. It has the patronage of 400 cows, receives about 1,320,000 pounds of milk during the season, from which is made 132,000 pounds of cheese valued at $11,180. Mrs. (sic) E. M. Greenfield has made the cheese ever since the factory was built.
O. K. cheese factory was built in 1889, by E. H. Olmstead and F. A. Knapp. It receives the milk from 500 cows, and manufactures from 10 to 12 cheese per day.
Carthage roller mill, located at West Carthage, was built in 1872, with four runs of stones. In 1885 it was changed to a roller mill, with 10 sets of rolls, with a capacity of 10 barrels per day. It has two runs of stones for feed, gives employment to five men, and does a business of $100,000 per year. The present proprietors are William Hutchinson and C. J. Clark.
Henry D. Farrar’s woodenware manufactory, at West Carthage, was established in 1856 by the present proprietor. It has been destroyed by fire and rebuilt three times. About 10 men are employed in the manufacture of butter tubs, of which 20,000 are turned out each year.
S. E. Rice’s butter tub manufactory, located at West Carthage, employs four men and manufactures from $3,000 to $5,000 worth of tubs per year.
Meyer, Ross & Co’s furniture manufactory, at West Carthage, was established about 1878. It furnishes employment to 12 men and does a business of about $18,000 per annum.
E. C. & J. G. Lovejoy’s carriage manufactory, located at West Carthage, was built in 1886. The establishment turns out about $4,000 worth of fine carriages annually.
West Carthage pulp works, at West Carthage village, were established by Defendorf & Plank in 1888. About four men are employed, and from three to four tons of pulp are manufactured a day. M. R. Defendorf is the present proprietor.
Gibb’s door, sash, and blind factory, at West Carthage, gives employment to six men and manufactures about $8,000 worth of goods per annum.
West Carthage saw-mill, I. S. Normander, proprietor, has the capacity for sawing 5,000 feet of lumber per day, giving employment to four men. Shingles are also manufactured here.
Earl’s saw-mill was built about 1860 by Lewis Earl. It has the capacity for sawing 1,500 feet of lumber daily.
The following regarding the commencement of settlements in the town of Champion is an extract from a letter written by Noadiah Hubbard to Dr. F. B. Hough, in June, 1853, and published in Hough’s History of Jefferson County, page 121: --
“Dr. F. B. HOUGH, Dear Sir: As you requested some months since, I now transmit to you a few of my recollections of the early settlement of this county. * * * I have not very many records of those early days, * * * yet some I have, and when I give you dates at all they are from memoranda made at the time.
“I first came to this town, Champion, in the year 1797, with Lemuel Storrs, a large landholder, when he came on for the first time to view his purchase. I was then residing in Steuben, in what is now Oneida County, but then, or shortly before, Herkimer. Mr. Storrs then hired several packmen, whose business it was to carry the necessary provisions for the expedition on their backs. This was late in autumn. We traveled on foot by what was called the French road to the High Falls on Black River. This road had been cut for the accommodation of the French refugees who had made a settlement at High Falls, and had then a log city. Many of these French belonged to the nobility of France, who were obliged to abandon their country during the revolution in 1793, but who were afterwards permitted to return when the star of the empire, rose upon the Bonapartes. Their settlement was made upon what was called the French tract, on the north side and east side of Black River, and extending a great distance. From the High Falls we descended the river in a boat to the rapids, called Long Falls, now known as Carthage. Here we landed, and in two days explored the township, then an unbroken wilderness. On our way down Silas Stow, then a young man, and afterwards known as Judge Stow, of Lowville, joined us. On the third day we re-embarked and proceeded up the river, and it was two days hard rowing to get back again to the High Falls. As I believe I before mentioned, it was late in November, and the night we were obliged to be out we encountered a severe snow storm. To protect ourselves in some measure we made a shanty by setting up some crotchets, and laying on poles, and covering them with hemlock boughs. * * *
“In due time we arrived safe and well in Steuben, where I passed the winter. Mr. Storrs offered me very liberal inducements to come on here and commence a settlement; so liberal that I determined to accept them, though I may say in passing, and then dismiss the subject forever, that he failed to fulfill his liberal offers. But in consideration of those offers I left my home in Steuben the 1st of June, 1798, and started for this place, accompanied by Salmon Ward and David Starr, with 15 head of cattle. We traveled again upon the French road as far as it availed us. This township had been surveyed the year before by Benjamin and Moses Wright and this year Mr. Storrs had engaged Benjamin Wright to survey Hounsfield, and on his way there he was to mark a road to this place, and to precede me. I met the surveyors agreeably to appointment at a Mr. Hoadley’s, and from there we came on to what is called Turin Four Corners. There was only one log house there then. From there we went west about 30 or 40 rods to Zeccheus Higby’s. There we laid down our maps and consulted them, and came to the conclusion to take from thence a north course. This led us up on to the top of a hill, now known as Tug Hill. We were entirely ignorant of the face of the country, and of the most eligible route to pursue, and therefore took the one which seemed the most direct, not knowing the obstacles to be encountered. We had before come down by water, and on this route there was not even a marked tree. It was the duty of the surveyors to precede us, mark a road, and chain it. Mr. Wright started in advance of us for this purpose. It was a beautiful, clear morning and we followed on, progressing finely until the middle of the afternoon, when we came to a great gulf, and an abundance of marked trees. We went over the gulf, but could find no more trees marked. We then made a fire and took out the stoppings from our bells, and suffered our cattle to feed around the fire, while we set ourselves to search for marked trees, over the gulfs and up and down, but could find no place to cross, or marks by which to determine what course the surveyors had taken. In this predicament we prepared to construct a shelter for the night of hemlock bough, &c.
“The next morning the sun came up clear and bright, and I called a council. I told the men how much damage it would be to me to return, how great a loss not to proceed, and asked them if they were willing to come on. David Starr replied that he would go to h--l if I would. Though no way desirous of going to the latter place, even in good company, I determined to come on, if such a thing were possible, without a compass or guide. We then set ourselves to work, and felled trees, with which we made an enclosure, into which we drove our cattle, and then shoved them down the precipice, one after another; they went up slantingly on the other side, and much better than we got them down, so that finally they were all safely over, after much toil and trouble. I then agreed to pilot the company down, took off the ox-bell and carried it in my hand, leading the way, and steered a north course by the sun and watch. We had the advantage of a bright sunshine. We had to cross a number of gulfs and one windfall, which was the worst of all. We continued to travel upon the summit of the hill, where we found much fine table-land. The cattle would travel as fast as I could lead the way. One man drove them, and another followed, axe in hand, to mark the trees, and leave traces behind us, so that if we could not advance we could retrace our steps.
“We descended the hill before reaching Deer River. The latter we struck and crossed above the falls, --not far from where the village of Copenhagen now stands, --and, coming on, we succeeded in finding the town line, which was identified by marked trees. * * * We then changed our course, following the line to the Black River, at Long Falls, where we arrived before night. We there found Mr. Wright and his men. They had not arrived more than an hour before us. When seeing us Mr. Wright exclaimed, ’How, in the name of God, have you got here?’ I replied, ‘You scoundrel! You ought to be burnt for leaving us so!’ It was a most rascally piece of business, their leaving us as they did. But I suppose the truth was, they thought it impossible for us ever to get through with our cattle. * * *
“My boat, which I had dispatched from High Falls, soon after arrived with my provisions yokes, chains, cooking utensils, &c, &c. The next day we left one to watch our effects, while the others were searching for a desirable location. In a few days I selected the farm upon which I now live, principally for the reason that it was the center of the township, rather than for any peculiar advantages it possessed over other portions of the town. * * * Not one tree had been cut here for the purpose of making a settlement, nor was there a white man settled in what is now the county of Jefferson, when I came here. I was the first white settler in the county. I remained here through the summer, and until October, engaged in making a clearing. We then returned to Steuben, where my family was, to spend the winter.
“During the summer some families had come into Lowville, and Mr. Storrs had caused a road to be marked for there to the Long Falls, and by that we returned, driving our cattle home again. * * * I found a living spring of pure water, a few rods before where the public house in this place now stands, which had its influence in deciding my location. Near it I built my first house, and there I kept ‘bachelor’s hall’ two summers, being myself ‘chief cook.’ My first habitation was a cabin, erected in a few hours’ time, with the aid of my men. It was a rude structure, but served our purpose. * * *
“Early in the spring, 1799, I sent on two men to make sugar, before I came on myself. They commenced making sugar, and one day went out hunting, leaving their sugar boiling. The consequences was, the house took fire and burned down, with all of the little it contained. During the winter the Indians had stolen all the cooking utensils I had left, and the potatoes which I had raised and buried the autumn before. I came on soon after. This spring Esquire Mix and family came on; John and Thomas Ward, Ephraim Chamberlain, Samuel and David Starr, Jotham Mitchell, Salmon Ward, Bela Hubbard, David Miller, and Boutin, a Frenchman, came to Carthage. The above were all young unmarried men, save Mix. We continued our labors through the summer of 1799, but not with that spirit which we should have done, had not a rumor reached us of the failure of Mr. Storrs, and the probability that we should lose, not only all our labor, but the money which I had advanced for my land. But I will not enter into particulars here--let it suffice that I could not afford to lose all I had done and paid, and consequently entered into a compromise with him to save a moity of what was justly mine---of not only what I had actually paid for, but of what I was to have had, for leading the way in this first settlement of a new country, and subjecting myself again to all its discomforts and inconveniences. Consequently, in view of making this my permanent home, I moved my family here in the autumn of 1799. We had a very unfavorable time to come. There had been a snow-storm in which about six inches of snow had fallen. We were obliged to travel on horseback, the horses’ feet balled badly: we had sloughs to go through, and altogether it was very uncomfortable traveling in that manner, with children. We arrived at Mr. Hoadley’s the first night, and our ox-teams and goods the next day. From there we came to the High Falls, where I had a boat awaiting us, which I had caused to be built for my own use. Here we embarked with all our goods and chattels, of all kinds, loading the boat to its utmost capacity, so that when all were in it was only about four inches out of water. We spent one night at the Lowville landing, where a family were living. * * *
“We arrived at the Long Falls about noon the second day from our embarkation. The weather had by this time become warm and pleasant. Our oxen arrived soon after by land, we unloaded our boat, put our wagon together, loaded it with some of our effects, set off, and before night reached our “wilderness home.” My wife said, in view of the difficulties in getting here, that, if she had anything as good as a cave to live in, she would not return in one year at least. She, of choice, walked from the Falls here, a distance of four miles through the forest. We arrived on the 17th of November, 1799. The weather continued pleasant until the 27th, when it commenced snowing. * * * I kept 15 head of cattle, through the winter by browsing them, and they wintered well. Isolated though we were, yet I never passed a more comfortable winter. We had a plenty of provisions; my wheat I had raised here, a very fine crop from seed sown in the autumn of 1798, and my pork, &c, was fatted in Oneida County, and brought here by boat. And, take it altogether, I perhaps settled this country as easy as any one ever settled a new country. * * * In the spring of 1800 people began to flock into the country by hundreds, and, as my log house afforded the only accommodations for wayfaring men, *we were obliged to keep them, whether we would or no.
*It is not understood that Mr. Hubbard intended to convey the idea that his house was then the only accommodation in the town, but the only one where Champion village now is. At this time Mr. Mix kept a tavern at Long Falls, on the west side of the river, and Mr. Boutin on the east side, in Wilna. --EDITOR.
* * * This rush continued two or three years, and was full of incident and interest. * * * The town settled rapidly, with an intelligent and energetic class of people. Perhaps there was never a more intelligent and interesting people congregated together in an obscure little inland town, than in this within a few years from its first settlement. * * * We were once honored by having in our midst such men as Egbert Ten Eyck, afterwards first judge of the court, who was then a young lawyer, and married here to one of our beautiful maidens; Olney Pearce and wife, Hubbel and wife, Judge Moss Kent; Henry R. Storrs, who opened an office here, and afterwards became one of the most distinguished lawyers of the state; Dr. Baudry, a Frenchman; Drs. Durkee and Farlie, and many others, too numerous to mention, as well as many ladies of grace and beauty, whom it would be invidious now to particularize. Religious meetings were held on the Sabbath, after old Deacon Carter came into the town, and in very few years, I think as early as 1805, the Rev. Nathaniel Dutton came. He was sent out by some missionary society in the East, to form churches in this western world, and coming to this place was invited to remain, which he did, and continued here until the close of his valuable life, in September, 1852, and for the greater part of that time was the pastor of the Congregational Church, which flourished under his ministrations and enjoyed many powerful revivals of religion.
“A house was built at a very early day, on the hill west of the village, which combined the double purpose of a church and school-house. It was an expensive house for the times and community. In a few years, it was burned to the ground. The next school-house was also a large one, located across the gulf, on the road to the Great Bend. This was also used as a meeting-house. * * *
“Yours, &c, NOADIAH HUBBARD.”
The following interesting local history was written many years ago by James Mix, son of the pioneer Joel, and is taken from a diary now in the possession of one of his descendants. It contains many interesting incidents pertaining to the early settlers at West Carthage: --
“In 1798 Joel Mix, from Connecticut, came to the High Falls and assisted in surveying there. He came down Black River, explored Champion, and returned to Connecticut in the fall. Encouraged by General Henry Champion and Colonel Lemuel Storrs, who then owned the land in Champion, in the winter of 1799 he moved to High Falls. Nathaniel Merriam moved him. He then had four children. He left the children with Hannah Merriam, his wife’s sister, and with his wife came down the river (then the only highway) with a ‘one-horse pung,’ to West Long Falls, where Daniel and David Miller, two young men who came with him from Connecticut as workmen, and Auer Terrel had been building a shanty on the bank of the river. On the 13th day of April he went up the river on the ice to High Falls, 42 miles, on foot, stayed the 14th, and on the 15th the ice in the river was broken up, and on the 16th he set out for the Long Falls with a scow loaded with some of his household goods, with his wife’s sister, Hannah Merriam, and his four children, Sylvester, James, Electa, and Sally, and two hired men. They set out in the morning behind the ice (there was no dam, but rapid falls). As night was coming on the scow went more rapidly than they were aware of, and they soon found the scow changing ends and being drawn rapidly in towards the falls. The two hired men were so terrified that their strength deserted them and they were of no use to help manage the boat. But Joel Mix was not the one to shrink from duty in the hour of danger, and while the boat was darting rapidly down toward the foaming falls he caught the chain of the boat in one hand, and as the boat swung around he saw the top of a tree which hung over the river some feet from the boat. With a great effort, he sprang from the boat and caught with one hand the limb of the tree, and with the other held fast to the chain, his body dangling between the boat and the tree. About the same time that they saw their danger, Hannah Merriam called at the top of her voice for help, and was heard on the bank by Mrs. Mix, who was at the shanty, where were also Daniel and David Miller and Auer Terrel, who ran to the river, but could not assist as there was no boat on that side of the river. But they had heard the cry on the other side of the river, where one or two French families had settled, among whom was Joanna Ward and husband and Peter Belmont, and one or two others. All except Ward came speedily across the river and rescued Mr. Mix from his perilous position, where he had hung party in the ice and water until he was nearly exhausted. They succeeded in landing the boat about nine o’clock that night, about 15 rods below Lake Creek, at the head of the falls.
“After all had safely arrived at the shanty, it being dark and the ice running in the river, those who came over to the rescue thought it not prudent to return that night, and they all stayed in the shanty.
“Mr. Mix cut down the first trees on a small piece and commenced building a house. The boards used in its construction, and all his provisions, were brought down the river by boat. After his house was completed he commenced the erection of a saw-mill, which was put in operation late in the fall in that year. Some few individuals came to Long Falls that summer (1799), among them being Elihu Jones, Samuel Starr, and Noadiah Hubbard, the last named of whom settled in the center of the town, had built a log cabin in 1798, where Champion village now is, and was the principal man of that settlement.
“In 1800 the settlement of the town of Champion was rapidly advancing. In 1801 Joel Mix built a grist-mill on the site of the present grist-mill, which was afterwards called the Coffeen mill. The millwright was Ethni Evans, who afterwards settled and built mills in the locality known as Evans Mills, in the town of Le Ray. Joel Mix was the principal man of business on the west side of the river, John Bossant on the east side, and Noadiah Hubbard in the center of town. Stephen Hubbard was also a prominent man in the center of town. He died a few years after settlement here. The first town meeting was held at Joel Mix’s house in 1801.
“In 1802, the population increased rapidly. Joel Mix kept a ‘settlers’ house of entertainment,’ a few groceries, and the most necessary farming tools, such as axes, hoes, and sickles. He also built and put in operation a distillery. At this time no one thought it a sin to distill and drink moderately, and no one was troubled with delirium tremens.
“The woods were alive with wild animals, and hogs were frequently killed by bears. On one occasion a bear killed a sow near the old mill, in open day, and the settlers immediately instituted a bear hunt and soon succeeded in dispatching bruin.
“The Indians were in great numbers and were very expert in their bark canoes on the rivers. About this time two were occupying a shanty together up the river after the tribe had gone to St. Regis. They had visited the settlement at the falls and were seen to go up the river in a canoe. One of the Indians was subsequently found dead on a flat rock in the river near the ferrying-place, which was afterwards known to the inhabitants as ‘Indian Rock.’ (It was out of water for most part of the year before the dam was built.) Mr. Mix was justice of the peace and acted as coroner under the appointment of Oneida County. He summoned a jury, and their verdict was that ‘the other Indian was the cause of his death.’ Mr. Mix issued a warrant which was placed in the hands of Philo Taylor, an athletic and courageous man, and he arrested the Indian. Mr. Taylor thought he could take charge of the prisoner safely during one night, but the Indian succeeded in making his escape and went to St. Regis, where he told the members of his tribe that his comrade had been murdered by the white men at Long Falls on the Black River, and was found in the river with two bullet holes through his head. At this report the Indians were greatly exasperated, and their chief, with 12 warriors, were preparing to go and massacre the settlers at Long Falls. But a friendly Indian, who had been acquainted at the falls, and had received some special kindness, felt that he could not have it so, and went to Judge Ford, at Ford’s Settlement (now Ogdensburg), and told him the design of the Indians, and expressed such great anxiety that the Judge felt that he would be sure to do anything he could to prevent the crime. The Judge wrote to Mix, who had visited Ford’s Settlement, and told him of the contemplated action of the Indians, and advised that they must use their best judgment. The Indian took the letter and said he would deliver it before he slept. He did so, and immediately disappeared. Mr. Mix consulted with Mr. Bossant, and they thought best to go and meet the Indians. Early the next morning they set out and met them between Long Falls and Indian River. Most of the Indians were known to Mix and Bossant, and the Indians recognized them. After a friendly interview they told the Indians that they were glad to see them, and wanted them to go to Long Falls and find out all they could about one of their tribe who was found dead on a rock in the river. They came with them, a part staying with Mix and the others with Bossant. The next morning they dug up the murdered Indian and found no bullet holes in his head. Mix then told them the decision of the jury, and the chief, after the examination, said, ‘White man no kill him. He kill him,’ pointing to the accused Indian, who was one of the party. They bound him on the spot, promised the murderer would not live two days, and went away satisfied. By the faithfulness of one poor Indian the inhabitants of the settlement were saved from an awful death.
“Jean Baptiste Bossant owned the farm now owned by Philip Hull. He built a potashery on the small creek (then much larger than now) above the road opposite where the barn is now located. This was a great convenience to the pioneers, and a source of considerable revenue to the owners.
“The land cleared, being new and out of hard winds, yielded an abundance of all kinds of grain. The corn, growing where the ground had previously been burnt over, needed no hoeing, and large crops were raised among the logs where the brush had been burnt out. In one instance Johnson Tift, residing on the lower side of the farm now owned by Philip Hull, trimmed out the brush on the flat, and among the logs raised over 300 bushels of shelled corn and more pumpkins than could be disposed of. David Miller raised 16 bushels of wheat from one bushel hoed in among the logs.
“Among the first settlers was a colored family from Connecticut, Benjamin and Dolly Buck and two children, Larry and Daniel. Benjamin was a butcher, and also a very expert performer on the violin. He was often called upon to furnish the music at the merry-makings. Dolly, his wife, was an excellent nurse, and was often called to attend the sick.
“About 1806 Joel Mix sold his grist and saw-mills to David Coffeen and Wolcott Hubbel. Mr. Hubbel also opened a small general store. These mills afterwards went by the name of the “Coffeen mills.”
“Henry Champion and Lemuel Storrs were the owners of the town of Champion. They offered great inducement to Joel Mix and Noadiah Hubbard (the first two settlers) to commence the settlement of the town. Both were well situated to assist in a speedy settlement, which they did. Mix commenced at the Long Falls, and Hubbard at the center of the town. Both were well situated to assist in a speedy settlement, which they did. Mix built mills, a potashery, and distillery, and kept tavern. Hubbard also kept a tavern, built an ashery, and kept some necessary farming tools, groceries, etc. He made early clearings, raised stock, and soon furnished seed grain for new comers. The town settled rapidly with a very industrious, intelligent, and energetic class of pioneers.
“It is due to Messrs. Champion and Storrs to say that they did not assist nor reward these men for their sacrifice and service. They had to pay for land for their roads, with compound interest if not paid punctually, and if they saw fit to renew a contract an additional charge was made. If one were fortunate enough to succeed in paying all these charges, and the principal, he then had to pay for a deed, and all the expense connected with it. To give every one their due, I have heard it said that Champion gave a piece of land for a meeting-house, and in some school districts a few feet for a school house. These proprietors came on in June every years, got all the money they could, and carried it away with them. They did nothing to assist or encourage the inhabitants, and held their land at a high price.”
Among the early settlers at Great Bend was Roswell Gates and Eli Watson. The latter had a grist-mill, hotel, and distillery. Daniel Potter kept the first store here, Nathan A. Carter was the first blacksmith, and Schamel Reed made the first chairs.
In the Champion Evergreen Cemetery, near where Orson Merrill now resides, two Revolutionary soldiers lie buried, one of whom was the grandfather of Abel P. Lewis, who resides at Black River.
Mr. Mosely and Rev. Mr. Dutton were well-known men of Champion in these early days. Champion village was a place of great expectations: it aspired to be the county seat of Jefferson County. There were two stores in the village, kept by Stephen Hubbard and Judge Hubbard. Judge Hubbard also owned a distillery, which was tended by Levi Tuttle, and the Judge was the proprietor of the first tavern.
The oldest person living in this town is Mrs. Rachel Loomis, widow of Otis Loomis, who is now 95 years of age. August 9, 1887, her 93rd birthday was celebrated, and 62 children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren were her guests, as was also a brother who resides in New York. Mrs. Loomis came to this town from Ilion, Herkimer County, in 1802, with her parents, Mr. and Mrs. Asa Harris, who were originally from Connecticut. (Mrs. Loomis died in the autumn of 1889.) The road on which Mr. Harris settled is the one leading from Champion to Watertown, about two miles west of the former place, where he died in 1854 and his wife in 1848.
The First Congregational Church of Champion was organized in 1801, and called its first pastor, Rev. Mr. Dutton, in 1805, who was not installed, however, until 1807. In 1819 its membership numbered nearly 400. Some two or more churches have been organized from this one, and, with removals and deaths, in 1876 the membership was only about 14. After being without any stated preaching for many years, in 1876 an effort was made to revive the old church. The services of Rev. I. M. H. Dow were secured, who served the church for about nine Sabbaths, when sickness compelled him to leave the field. The church suffered a severe blow by the sudden loss of Mr. Dow, as there was no more regular preaching until February 11, 1877, when the services of Rev. W. T. Osmun were secured through Rev. J. C. Holbrook, D. D. After preaching two Sabbaths the church and society gave Mr. Osmun an unanimous call to become its acting pastor, which position he held for one year, when Rev. Charles Fitfield became pastor. He remained with the church five years, since which time the church has had only occasional
The First Methodist Church of Champion, located at Great Bend village, was organized in 1826 by Nathaniel Salisbury and Gardner Baker. Their first house, a wooden structure, was built in 1826, about two miles from the present site. This whole territory was then called the “Black River Circuit.” Nathaniel Salisbury and Gardner Baker were colleagues upon the circuit when the first church was built, which would seat about 300 persons. The house stood upon one of the four corners known as “Francis and Babcock Corners,” was built of wood, plain, without steeple or belfry---no daub of paint was ever upon it inside or out, and no cushions were ever upon its seats, except one individual one. Jesse Penfield, Isaac Puffer, F. H. Stanton, and many others were among its pastors. As churches were built at Felt’s Mills and Champion village, the congregation here grew smaller, members died, and when it was decided to abandon the “old church” but few members remained. The church was dedicated at a watch-meeting held December 31, 1826, and the last benediction was pronounced January 1, 1887, when the new year was but just dawning. The present house of worship, also a wooden structure, was built in 1887, at a cost of $2,300, about its present value. It will seat about 200 persons, and was dedicated about four months after the old church was abandoned. Wilson Pennock, a local preacher, Jason Francis, Josiah Townsend, and Elijah Francis were the first trustees of the church. About two years after the organization of the church Nathan Francis was appointed class-leader, and has since served in that capacity without intermission. The present trustees are Emerson Peck, E. J. Pennock, and J. D. Pennock. The present church building is modern in style, with a tower 50 feet high, is nicely furnished and carpeted, and is heated by a furnace. It was dedicated free from debt, is in a flourishing condition, with a present membership of 54, and Henry Ernest is the present pastor. The Sunday-school has about 80 members, with Edwin Sweet, superintendent.
The First Congregational Church, of West Carthage, was organized by Rev. Mr. Dutton, the first pastor, March 31, 1835, with 12 members. Their house of worship, the present wooden structure, was built in 1852, will comfortably seat 200 persons, and is now valued, including grounds, at $3,000. The present membership is 83, with Rev. George B. Rowley, pastor. The Sunday-school has a membership of more than a 100, with an average attendance of about 60.
The Baptist Ecclesiastical Church, at Great Bend, was organized in 1842, of two societies, ---one at Champion village and one at Rutland, ---and at its organization consisted of 200 members. Rev. John Wilder was the first pastor. Their first house of worship, the present wooden building, was erected in 1844, at a cost of $1,500. It will comfortably seat 220 persons, and is valued, including grounds, at $1,200. The present membership is 69, with Rev. F. H. Richardson, pastor. The Sunday-school has a membership of 60 scholars and nine teachers, with O. F. Dodge, superintendent.
Trinity Chapel (Protestant Episcopal), located at Great Bend, was started as a mission in 1873 by Mrs. Mary Bradford Sterling Clark, acting under Rev. L. R. Brewer, now missionary bishop of Montana, who was the first rector. It has never been organized as a parish. Their house of worship, the present wood structure, was erected in 1875, at a cost of $2,500. It will comfortably seat 150 persons, and is now valued, including grounds, at $3,000. The mission has been operated from the first mainly by Mrs. Clark, above mentioned, as deaconess, with fortnightly services by the rector of Trinity Church, of Watertown. The chapel has 33 communicants, and Rev. Russell A. Olin, of Watertown, is the present rector.
Note: A biography for James Mix followed. However, that has been included in the Family Sketches presented on on Nan Dixon's NYGenWeb site for Jefferson County, N. Y.
A personal sketch for a resident of this town was found in the Appendix of this Volume. It is for Charles H. Wilcox, who was an artist and scenic painter:
Charles H. Wilcox, son of Heman, was born in Ogdensburg, October 28, 1833. In 1860 he married Savilla, daughter of N. F. Hunt, of Edwards, St. Lawrence County, and in 1870 located in West Carthage, where he has since resided. He is an artist and scenic painter, and evidences of his ability may be found in many cities and towns of the United States. He has four children, namely: Orra A., Jennie E. (Mrs. W. M. Vincent), J. Foster, and Don H. J. Foster Wilcox is a clerk in the clothing store of H. J. Radin, in Carthage, and is also chief templar of Jefferson County of the order of Good Templars.Return to Child's Town Histories Index Return to Shirley Farone's Homepage
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