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Town of Hounsfield
This township, or Number 1, of the Black River Tract, was formed from Watertown, February 17, 1806, the first town meeting being held at the house of Joseph Landon.
A proposition for the formation of a new town from Watertown and Adams had been previously discussed, which was designed to take three ranges of lots from the north side of Number 7, and annex to Number 1, the new town to be called Newport. A special meeting was called in Adams, to take the matter under consideration, on the 10th of November, 1803, and a vote against the division was passed, but the meeting united in a petition for the erection of Number 8 into a separate town, which was done at the next session of the legislature, under the name of Harrison, since changed to Rodman.
At the first town meeting held by notification of Amasa Fox, at the house of Ambrose Pease and from thence adjourned to the house of Joseph Landon, March 4, 1806, Augustus Sacket was chosen supervisor; William Waring, clerk; Amasa Fox, William Baker, Samuel Bates, Jr., Theron Hinman, assessors; Ambrose Pease, Robert Robbins, commissioner highways; Jotham Wilder, John Patrick, overseers of poor; Jeremiah Goodrich, collector; J. Goodrich, William Galloway, John Root, constables.
Supervisors.-1806-08, Augustus Sacket; 1808 (special meeting), Elisha Camp; 1809-18, E. Camp; 1819 Hiram Steele; 182O-23, E. Camp; 1824, Daniel Hall, Jr.; 1825, E. Camp; (special meeting to fill vacancy), William Baker; 1826-27, Daniel Hall, Jr.; 1828, E. Camp; 1829-41, Daniel Hall; 1842, Seth P. Newell, Jr.; 1843, Benjamin Maxon; 1844, D. Hall; 1845, Augustus Ford; 1846-47, B. Maxon; 1848-50, Jesse C. Dann; 1851, Samuel T. Hooker; 1852, J. C. Dann; 1853, Edgar B. Camp.
1806. "Resolved, That the inhabitants of this town, who shall hunt any wolf or panther in this town (though he should kill such wolf or panther in any other town), shall be entitled to $10.00 bounty."
Resolved, That three delegates be appointed by this town to attend a general meeting of the county to nominate a suitable candidate for the legislature, at their own expense." Theron Hinman, Augustus Sacket, and Amasa Fox, appointed.
At a special meeting called for the purpose, January 10, 1807, A. Sacket, John Patrick and Elisha Camp, were chosen to represent the town at a meeting of delegates from other towns, at Watertown, to take into consideration the military situation of the county. They were intrusted to protest against any undue influences that might be exercised in the meeting.
1807. $10.00 voted as bounty for every wolf or panther which shall be killed by any inhabitant of the town, which wolf, or panther shall be started by such inhabitant within this town A bounty of $25.00 voted for the greatest quantity of hemp, above five hundred weight. Elisha Camp appointed surveyor to the town.
1808. Voted not to accept the state road as a town road. 1812. Canada thistles to be destroyed, under a penalty of $1.00; the fines to go towards rewarding such as might discover some method of destroying them. "Resolved, that hogs be free cormmoners, if yoked, the yokes to be 24 inches long by 15, and small hogs in proportion." 1815. The poor masters authorized to build a poor house for transient poor, if they thought necessary. 1824 At a special meeting, voted against the poor house system, and a remonstrance to the legislature voted. The wolf and panther bounties were continued till 1816. In 1822, 1823, 1831, a fox bounty of 50 cents was offered. In 1828, the highway commissioners, were directed to offer as stock, the half of the cost of the bridge at Dexter, to the plank road leading from thence to Bagg's Corners, on the W. & S. H. P. R., and if refused, to petition that the bridge be made a toll bridge.
This town derives its name from Ezra Houndsfield, a native of Sheffield, in England, who, about 1800, came to New York as agent for his brothers, John and Bartholomew Houndsfield, manufacturers and merchants of Sheffield. He engaged in the hardware trade, and in company with Peter Kimball, purchased in common the south half of township Number 1, or the present town of Houndsfield. This purchase was made of Harrison and Hoffman, March 10, 1801, and subsequently other and smaller purchases were made. Mr. Houndsfield was a bachelor, and died in New York, about 1817. By his will, dated April 7, 1812, he appointed David A. Ogden, Edward Lynde, John Day and Thomas L. Ogden, his executors, who advertised a sale at auction of the remaining interest of the estate in town at Sackets Harbor, August 1, 1817. The executors bought in the property and afterwards conveyed it to Bartholomew, the father of George Houndsfield, the present heir of the family, living in Sheffield.
The town is said to have been named through the influence of Mr. Augustus Sacket, who was an acquaintance of Mr. Houndsfield. The latter was accustomed to spend his summers in town.
From an early period of the purchase, the waters of Black River Bay were regarded as an eligible place for a commercial point, and in Voyage dans In Haute Pensylvanie, et dana 1'Etat de New York, par un membre adoptif de la Nation Oneida. Vol.111' p.408, published in Paris in 1801, the following description of it is given. under the name of Niahoure. "At the bottom of this gulf Black River empties, forming a harbor sheltered from the winds and surges of the lake, which, during the prevalence of the south-west winds, roll like those of the ocean. The land on the right or south of this bay, is extremely fertile, and is a grove more fresh than can elsewhere be seen. That on the left, i.e. the country that extends to the north of the bay of Niahoure, as far as the St. Lawrence, and east to the Oswegatchie, is not less fertile, and the colonists begin to vie in settling it." This bay is elsewhere in the work described as comprising all the waters within Six Town Point, and Point Peninsula, which on ancient maps was named La·Famine, by the French, and Hungry Bay, by the English. On some maps this term is applied to what is now known as Henderson Bay, and in others to Chaumont Bay. The origin of the name is unknown, unless perhaps it may have been derived from the misfortunes of De La Barre in 1684.
This town, having been conveyed through Macomb and Constable to Harrison, Hoffman, Low, and Henderson, as related in our history of the titles, fell to the share of Harrison and Hoffman on division, and the north part was conveyed June 13th, 1797, for $58,333.33 to Champion and Storrs, amounting to 11,134 and 1/2 acres, with the town of Champion (25,708 acres). On the 14th of November, 1798, Champion and Storrs sold a portion of the above to Loomis and Tillinghast, receiving two notes of $6,000.00 each, which, with a mortgage upon the premises, not paid, the tract was sold by a decree of chancery, at the Tontine Coffee Houae in New York, June 20th, 1801, and bid off by Augustus Sacket of that city, who received a conveyance from Champion, and the assignees of Loomis and Tillinghast. While the sale was pending, Mr. Sacket having heard of the location and inclining to engage in its purchase, made a journey early in 1801 to the place, and was so struck with the great advantages for a port which the place presented, that he hastened back, and having secured the purchase, returned ~ few men to commence improvements. In the second and third year, he erected an ample and convenient dwelling, and the little colony received the accession of mechanics and others. Other parts of the town began to settle quite as early as the village, especially towards Brownville, near which place Amasa Fox is said to have made the first improvement in town. In September, 1802 a traveler reported about 30 families living in township Number 1. The south part of the town, sold to Kemble and Houndsfield, was first placed in the hands of Silas Stow, of Lowville, as agent, and in an advertisement in the Columbian Gazette, of Utica, June 11th, 1804, the land is represented as excellent, and "the flourishing state of Mr. Sacket's village, its advantages of water carriage and its valuable fishery, renders it one of the most inviting objects to an industrious settler."
In 1805, several English families settled at Sackets Harbor, among whom were Samuel Luff~ and sons, Edmund, Samuel, Jr., Joseph and Jesse; David Merritt, William Ashby, John Roots, Henry Metcalf, and George Slowman. Besides these, John and William Evans, Squire Reed, Amasa Hollibut, Charles Barrie, Uriah Roulison, Azariah P. Sherwin, and others. Dr. William Baker settled in 1803, and was the first physician. Ambrose Pease, and Stephen Simmons, were early innkeepers, and Loren Buss, and Hezekiah Doolittle, merchants.
The place was at an early day very healthy, and from February, 1805, till January, 1809, it was remarkable that but one case of death occurred (except that of infants), and this was from an accidental discharge of a pistol by one of the men employed in preventing intercourse with Canada during the embargo. The victim of the accident was one McBride, who was killed by Julius Torrey, a negro, with whom he had been a companion for several years on a desolate island, in the South Seas, and whom for a long time he had not seen, and the accident was felt with great severity by him. Late in 1808, typhus fever began to appear among the citizens and a detachment of United States troops, originating with the latter, and of this sickness many died.
On the 5th of March, 1809, Sacket conveyed 1700 acres, the present village of Sackets Harbor, to Cornelius Ray, William Bayard, and Michael Hogan for $30,000 in trust, and a few days after Ezra Houndsfield, and Peter Kemble, conveyed to the same parties their interest in the tract. In a declaration of trust subsequently made, the parties concerned in this purchase appear to have been C. Ray, W. Bayard, M. Hogan, Herman Le Roy, James McEvers, Joshua Waddington, James Lenox, William Maitland, William Ogden, __ McLeod, Benjamin W. Rogers, Duncan P. Campbell, Samuel Boyd, Abraham Ogden, David A. Ogden, and Thomas L. Ogden, each owning 1/15 th part, except D. A. & T. L. Ogden, who together owned a 1/15 th part. The first three named were trustees of the others, and Mr. Elisha Camp, a brother-in-law of Mr. Sacket, who settled in the village in 1804, and has since remained a leading citizen, was appointed the resident agent, under whom the estate was sold, the last of the business being closed up about 1848 or 49. As these proprietors were mostly extensive capitalists of New York, it is to be presumed that their influence was exerted in securing from the general government some portion, at least, of that attention which this place has received, during and since the war as a military and naval depot, but which can scarcely be said to have conferred a lasting benefit upon it. The expenditure of several millions of dollars for labor and materials, would, in the opinion of most people, be sufficient to impart a visible impulse to the prosperity of a place, but from causes which it might be improper or foreign to our purpose to investigate, such has not been the case here.
About 1807, there occurred in this town, about 6 miles south from the harbor in the Price settlements, one of those incidents peculiar to a new country, and which seldom fail to excite the sympathies of a whole community, whose common wants, and mutual dependence, lead to a bond of union less observable in an old settled district. The following sketch was written by Mr. David Merritt, one of the English families, who located here in February, 1805; the occasion was the loss of a child in the woods.
"The parents of the child had recently settled in the woods, a mile from any other dwelling. It was of a Lord's day evening, about sunset; the father set out to visit his nearest neighbor, and, unobserved by him, his son, a child of four years, followed him.
The father tarried an hour or two, and returned, not having little wanderer. The mother anxiously enquired for her child, supposing her husband had taken him with him; their anxiety was great, and immediate though fruitless search was made for the little fugitive. Several of the nearest neighbors were alarmed, and the night was spent to no purpose in searching for the child. On Monday a more extensive search was made by increased numbers, but in vain; and the distressed parents were almost frantic with grief and fearful apprehensions for the child's safety.
Another afflictive and sleepless night passed away, and the second morning beamed upon the disconsolate family, the child not found, and by this time (Tuesday), reports were in circulation of a panther's having been seen recently in the woods by some one. This circumstance gave a pungency to the grief and feelings of every sympathetic heart unknown before; and the timid and credulous were ready to abandon any further efforts to recover the child, and give the distressed parents up to despair.
It was however concluded to alarm a still more extensive circle, and engage fresh volunteers in a work that must interest and arouse even the unfeeling on common occasions. A messenger dispatched to Sackets Harbor, a distance of six miles; it was an irresistible appeal to every feeling heart. To feel, was to act.
Messrs. Luff, Ashby, Merritt, and others immediately mounted their horses, and repaired to the scene of painful anxiety; this was about eleven o'clock in the forenoon of Tuesday. When they arrived at the spot, the number present, that had collected from all quarters, was about five hundred men. A small number was immediately chosen as a committee to direct the best method of search, and they were formed in a line, extending to the right and left of the house, a mile each way. They were placed so far apart as, for every foot of ground they passed in their search, to come under their observation; and when they had marched such a given distance from the house, the left or right wing were to wheel in such a way, as would, by pursuing the same plan, have effectually searched every spot within several miles of the house, before evening. The order of the day was, that no person should fire a gun, sound a horn, halloo, or make any needless noise, whatever; but with vigilance, and a sense of duty to the distressed parents, use every effort to recover the child. If the child was found alive, every person, that had a gun, was to fire, and every one that has a horn to sound it; on the contrary, if the child was found dead, one gun only should he fired, as a signal to the remote line to cease searching.
In this way, in silence, they had marched about two miles, when a distant gun sounded; it was an anxious moment. "Is the child alive?" was a thought that ran through every mind; a moment more and the hope was confirmed, for the air and forests rang with guns and horns of every description.
The lines were immediately broken up, and each ran, anxious to see the little lost sheep. The dear little fellow was presented to his now overjoyed parents; a scene that overcame all present.
When the little boy was found, he was sitting on a small mossy hillock, in the middle of a swamp, surrounded by shallow water. When the man, who first approached him, extended his arms and stooped to take him up, he shrunk from him, appeared frightened, and showed a disposition to get from him. But he was much exhausted, and seized eagerly an apple that was held to him. Had he not been rescued from his situation, he probably would have died at that spot.
The first mercantile operation at Sackets Harbor on an extensive scale, was by Samuel F. Hooker, who in 1808 commenced with a stock of $20,000 worth of goods, and in 50 days had sold $17,500 worth. The business that then opened with the brightest prospects, was the trade of potash, to Montreal, where Astor and other heavy capitalists, had placed money in the hands of agents, for its purchase. The embargo of 1808, by withholding those along our frontier from a career in which they were highly prosperous, naturally led to a spirit of evasion of the laws, and the difficulty of exporting this great staple of commerce, directly from the Atlantic ports to Europe, led to extensive and systematic measures for forwarding to the lake and river, from the interior and southern counties of the state, and even from New York, large quantities of potash. This sometimes vanished in the night, or was shipped with due formality to Ogdensburgh, where it disappeared, and sometimes an open course of defiance of law was attempted. In whatever way it may have escaped, it was sure of reappearing in Montreal, where it commanded the enormous sums of $200.00 to $320.00 per ton, and from whence there was no obstacle to its export to England. To check this contraband trade, two companies of regulars were stationed at Ogdensburgh, and Capt. William P. Bennett, with a part of a company of artillery, and Lieutenant Cross, with a few infantry, was stationed here in 1808 and a part of 1809.
On the declaration of war, the United States possessed almost no means, whatever, for defensive operations on this frontier. The brig Oneida, under Lieutenant Woolsey, with an armament of 16 guns, a heavy 36 pound iron cannon, and a few smaller ones, some of which belonged to the state militia, constituted the sum of our means of defence. The British, it was well known, had been preparing for the event, one or two years at Kingston, and when the news of war arrived, had the means afloat at that place, not only of commanding the lake, but of landing whatever force they might possess, at such points as they might select, without a reasonable prospect of resistance. Col. Christopher P. Bellinger, with a body of drafted militia, had been stationed at this place, and an artillery company, under Capt. Elisha Camp, had been formed, and had offered their services for a short time, which had been accepted by General Brown. As ordnance and military stores were of first importance for the defence of the place, a meeting was called to press upon the governor the importance of an immediate attention to these wants, of which the following is a copy of the proceedings:
Sackets Harbor, July 11, 1812
His Ex. Gov. Tompkins, Respected Sir: - The undersigned, a committee appointed en the part of the officers stationed at Sackets Harbor, villagers, for the purpose of adopting measures of defence for this place, beg leave to address you on this subect. We would earnestly solicit your attention to the exposed situation of this place, its liability to attack, and to the most expeditious means of resisting with effect any offensive operations. This place, it will be known, is the station or port from whence, the brig Oneida derives all her supplies, and the almost only harbor she can with safety resort to from the bad weather of the lake. It is a village respectable for size and population, and is the easiest of access to any hostile naval force upon the lake. The English have a disposable effective naval force of at least sixty eight guns, while all our defence consists of 18 guns, on board the Oneida, and 2 nine pounders on shore, less than one third of what may be made to bear upon us. Under these circumstances, according to the established usages of war, it would be bordering upon insanity for us not to expect that an attack will be made upon us, the troops stationed here driven from their encampment, a landing effected under the cover of naval artillery, and the village demolished, with a large amount of property, and loss of life. And in fact we have it credibly reported, that it is the intention of our enemies to capture Captain Woolsey, and destroy the navigation on our side of the lake. Having two schooner prizes in port, besides other craft, we of course must daily expect a visit. Under this point of view, we have for some time considered the subject, and have been awaiting with anxious expectation the arrival of cannon and ammunition. It is far from the wish of the citizens of this place to retire from it with their families and effects and thereby scatter alarm and dismay throughout the country at large, but we assure you honored sir, that every consideration of prudence and self preservation would dictate the measure, did not reinforcements of artillery soon arrive. We have a very well disciplined company of artillery, of citizens belonging to this place, who can he rallied at a very short notice, and would in conjunction with the soldiers be competent to the management of a number of heavy pieces of ordnance besides the two 9 pounders already here. We should therefore respectfully solicit, that the two 9 pounders, and two sixes and other ordnance at the Rome Arsenal, might with suitable fixed and other ammunition be forwarded with all possible expedition, and if 10 or 12 nines, twelves, or eighteen pounders, could be forwarded, we should consider the troops, the village and the brig Oneida, when here, as secure from attack, or if attacked would be able to give a good account of our adversaries. This place would then be a safe retreat to the Oneida, should she meet with a reverse of fortune, as well as a safe place of refuge for the navigation of the lakes, no harbor being easily of access, or naturally more secure. At present, there is no place to which the Oneida can resort with safety, in case of attack with a superior force.
Oswego, Sodus, and Genesee River, she cannot enter with her guns aboard, and Niagara is too much exposed. We would further take the liberty of suggesting the propriety of some engineer being ordered on with instructions to erect suitable temporary batteries to he thrown up by the troops for such pieces of ordnance as may he stationed here. Any communication that your honor may think proper to make through Captain L. Buss, the bearer, to the keeper of the arsenal at Rome or otherwise, we have no doubt will be executed with fidelity and dispatch."
The committee who drafted the above were Colonel Bellinger, Major Dill, Captain E. Camp, F. White, and W. Warring.
During the war, Sackets Harbor became the theatre of military and naval operations on an extensive scale, the details of which will be given in our chapter on that subject. It was twice attacked by the British, without success, and it was the station from which were fitted out the expeditions against Toronto, Fort George, and etc., and the unfortunate enterprise under General Wilkinson, in the fall of 1813. From its being the center of operations so extensive, and the rendezvous of great numbers of sailors and soldiers, many incidents occurred that possess much interest, and scenes of vice and misery inseparable from camps, became familiar to the citizens.
At this station about a dozen military executions were performed during the war, for repeated desertion, with the view of striking terror into the minds of the disaffected, but with the effect of increasing the evil. These cases were many of them young men from New England, of respectable families, who in the heat of political excitement had enlisted in the army, and who found themselves the victims of the wanton barbarity of officers, exposed to the severest hardships of the camp, and often ill clad, and worse fed, sometimes without shelter, and always without sympathy. Was it unnatural that under these circumstances the memories of home, with all its comforts, and the thoughts of mothers, sisters, wives, and children, and the thousand associations that cluster around the domestic fireside, should come freshly to mind with a force that was irresistible? Several of these cases excited much sympathy, among which was that of a boy of sixteen years of age, who had been bribed with a gold watch, to open a prison door at Greenbush, and who was here arrested and convicted. Many officers and citizens made strenuous efforts to obtain reprieve, which were enforced by the appeals of a mother, but without effect; the agonized parent followed her child to the gallows, and the sympathizing tears of the spectators bespoke the feeling which this rigid exercise of the iron rule of war had occasioned.
To the condemned, opportunity was always given to make remarks in which some admitted the justice of their fate, others plead the entreaties of their comrades, or the urgent necessities of home; and others, while they acknowledged their crime, supplicated mercy with all the eloquence which the occasion could command. Others treated their fate with indifference, or openly preferred it to a life under the circumstances. On one occasion, the·convict, on approaching the scaffold, scrutinized its construction with the eye of a carpenter, leaped upon the platform, pushed off the hangman, and jumped off himself; but a reprieve arrived the instant after, and he was restored. The place of execution was generally in the rear of the village, where the graves were dug, and the convicts were marched to the spot, surrounded by a guard, and after kneeling by their coffins, were dispatched by the shots of several muskets, a part of which only were loaded with ball. There were commonly eight men detailed for this purpose. The brutality of officers was in some instances excessive; the most extreme corporeal punishment being inflicted from the slightest causes, or from mere caprice; and such was sometimes the bitterness of men towards officers, that in one case it is said a captain darest not lead his company in an action, for fear of being shot by his own men.
Nor were there wanting incidents of a ludicrous kind, which enlivened the monotony of the camp, and showed the lights, as well as the shades of the soldier's life. Abuses will sometimes work their own reform, as was illustrated in an amusing instance at this station during the war. A mess of militia soldiers had received, for their rations, a hog's head, an article of diet not altogether available, or susceptible of fair and equal division among them. They accordingly, upon representation of the facts, procured at other messes in the cantonment, a contribution in kind, to supply their wants for the coming week, and after the morning review, having placed upon a bier, borne on the shoulders of four men, their ration of pork, they marched through the village with muffled drum, and notes of the death march, to the cemetery, where it was solemnly buried with military honors. On the next occasion, they received from the commissary store a supply of edible meat, and the occasion for a similar parade did not afterwards occur.
Soon after the battle of May, 1813, a breastwork of logs and earth was built around the village, one end touching the bay about half way between the harbor and Horse Island, and the other at the site of Madison Barracks, No opportunity was afforded subsequently for the use of these defences. The village contained at the close of the war, several block houses and cantonments, a considerable quantity of military stores, and a large fleet of vessels that were laid up at this place; but these have gradually disappeared, until little now remains - one block house, the hull of a frigate of 120 guns, and the remains of one breast-work.
A duel was fought with muskets near Madison Barracks, June 13, 1818, between two corporals of the 2nd Regiment, U.S. Infantry, by which one of them was instantly killed. The surviving party was arrested and imprisoned, but the result we have not earned. During the war several duels were said to be fought here, but they did not attract particular attention with the public, by whom these acts were then differently regarded from the present. The state of society left here after the war was necessarily corrupt, from the numbers of dissolute soldiers, and others, who remained, and the malign influence of vicious examples, of which a state of war and a military cantonment invariably furnish too many instances, could not fail of leaving their pollution, which years of effort on the part of well disposed citizens could not effectually remove. The place being continued both as a naval and a military station, gave employment to many laborers on the public works, among too many of whom intemperance was a common habit, which was followed by all the vices of which it is the prolific parent. Among most of the officers stationed here after the war, was a high appreciation of morality and good order, and to them in no small degree is due the first efficient efforts towards the formation of religious societies, and the maintenance of regular religious services on the sabbath.
A short distance from the village, and forming three sides of a square that is open to the bay, are Madison Barracks, which were built between August, 1816, and October, 1819, under the direction of Thomas Tupper, D. Q. M. G., of the 2nd Infantry, at a cost of $85,000.00; the plan of the buildings was drawn by William Smith. Considerable irregularity occurred in the issue of due bills, for labor done on these works, which was in part remedied by an act passed in 1836, "for the relief of Jesse Smith and others." It would be as inexpedient, as to numbers still living unnecessary, to particularize instances of corruption and fraud in the expenditure of funds at this place, during the war, of which the government never had cognizance, but of which the public could not fail of being witness, and it may admit of question, whether the names of certain villains should he allowed to rot, or held up to the execration of honest men for all coming time.
President Monroe, soon after his induction into office, undertook a tour through the northern section of the Union, to observe the condition of the frontier, and make such arrangements for its military security, as might be deemed necessary. Having reached Ogdensburgh, on the 1st of August, 1817, he was met by Major General Brown, and attended to Rossie, and Antwerp, where he was met by Mr. Le Ray, and conducted to Le Raysville. On the 3rd he was waited upon by the committee of arrangements, and escorted thence by three troops of horse, under Captains Loomis, Fairbanks, and White, to the house of Isaac Lee, in Watertown, where he received a concise though flattering address from the citizens. He then proceeded to Brownville, and on the 4th to Sackets Harbor. Upon arriving at the bridge, at the bounds of the village, he was saluted with nineteen guns. The bridge was tastefully fitted up with nineteen arches, on which were inscribed the names of the several Presidents; the first arch being surmounted by a living American Eagle. At its extremity, the chairman of the committee introduced to the President a number of veteran officers and soldiers of the revolution, by whom he was thus addressed:
"Sir - It is with pleasure that we, a few of the survivors of the revolution, residing in this part of the country, welcome the arrival of the chief magistrate of the Union. It is with increased satisfaction that we recognize in him one of the number engaged in the arduous struggle of establishing the independence of the country. We have lived, sir, to see the fruits of our toils and struggles amply realized, in the happiness and prosperity of our country; and, we have the fullest confidence, that under your administration, they will be handed down to our posterity, unimpaired. Like your immortal predecessor the illustrious Washington, may you be honored by the present and future generations, and finally receive the rich reward with him in realms above."
The President received this address with expressions of cordiality and esteem, highly cheering and satisfactory to the veteran soldiers, in several of whom he recognized his former associates in arms, in the revolutionary war. Upon passing Fort Pike, a national salute was fired, and at the hotel, to which he was conducted by Capt. King, chief marshal of the day, an address was read to him by the chairman of a committee of citizens. Commodore Woolsey then presented the officers of the navy, attached to his command. The public works were inspected, the troops reviewed, and in the evening the village was tastefully illuminated. The events of the late war had given importance to this place, and it became a subject of interest, to determine what works should be erected for its protection. In this the President was aided by Major Totten, a military engineer, who had been ordered to join the suite at Burlington.
On the 6th, the President embarked on board the U. S. brig Jones, under a national salute, and sailed in company with the Lady of the Lake to Niagara.
For nearly ten years after the close of the war, Colonel Hugh Brady was stationed at the harbor, where he organized the 2nd regiment of United States Infantry. He was subsequently assigned the command of the station at the Sault St. Mary, and died, at Detroit, about two years since.
Captain Alden Patridge, of Middletown, Ct., the celebrated teacher of a military school at that place, in the summer of 1828, proposed to establish a military and scientific school at Madison Barracks, and Peter B. Porter, then secretary of war, on the 3rd of July, announced in a letter to the citizens of Sackets Harbor, the consent of the President, to the loan of the premises, for a term of years to the trustees, who might have it in charge. This was confirmed by a joint resolution of Congress, of May 2, 1828, but nothing further was done toward effecting this object.
While Colonel Brady had command of this station, the remains of most of the officers, who had fallen in the field, or died of sickness, on the frontier, were collected and buried together, within the pickets of Madison Barracks, doubtless with the intention that at a future time they should be honored with a monument, worthy of the memories of American Citizens, who fell in the defence of the American Rights, and the vindication of our national sovereignty and honor.
A temporary wooden monument of pine boards, the form, without the substance, of a testimonial to their memory, and perhaps emblematical of the empty and perishable honors, which our people are too wont to bestow upon those who deserve well of their country, was placed over the spot where these remains were buried, but which, from neglect, and the natural action of the elements, has tumbled down. From the panels, which were broken and defaced, we made out, with great difficulty, the following inscriptions:
NORTH SIDE.-"Brigadier General Covington, killed, Chrysler's Field, U. C., November 11, 1813." "Lieutenant Colonel E. Backus, Dragoons, killed at Sackets Harbor, 29 May, 1813."
EAST SIDE.-"Colonel Tuttle," "Lieutenant Colonel Dix," "Major Johnson," "Lieutenant Vandetenter."
SOUTH SIDE,-"Lientenant Colonel Mills, Volunteer, killed at Sacket, Harbor, 29 May, 1813," "Captain A. Spencer, 29th Infantry, aid-de-camp to Major General Brown, killed at Lundy's Lane, July 25, 1814."
WEST SIDE.-"Brigadier General Z. M. Pike, killed at York U. C. 27 April, 1813." "Captain Joseph Nicholson, 14th Infantry, killed at York U. C. 27 April, 1813."
A few years since, the remains of Colonel Mills were removed to Albany.
A prominent and attractive relic of the war at this p1ace, is the hull of the frigate New Orleans, which had a keel of 187 feet, beam 56 feet, hold 30 feet, and a measurement of 3200 tons. She was pierced for 110 guns, and could have carried 120. The British had got out the St. Lawrence, a three deck man-of-war, of 120 guns, and this rendered it necessary to produce some vessel to match the enemy, and led to the commencement of this undertaking. The vessel was never launched, and has been preserved at considerable expense by the government who have caused it to be covered by a house. She was to have been named the New Orleans. The Chippewa, a vessel quite as large, was building at Storr's Harbor, further up the bay, when the news of peace put a atop to the building, which had not advanced so far as the New Orleans. A house was built over this also, and it was preserved many years, but finally taken down for the iron it contained. Modern improvements in navigation, and especially in the use of steam, have rendered vessels of this class, especially on this water, entirely unavailable, and the question of keeping up this vessel may he regarded as one of doubtful expediency. There are but very few ports on the lake, where a vessel drawing water to a depth that this would require could enter.
About 1838, the political aspect of our northern frontier threatening collision with the English in Canada, a large number of heavy iron cannon, of modern construction, and suited for a naval armament, was sent to this place where they now remain.
Previous to the war, a flourishing commerce had sprung up on Lake Ontario, and the following vessels were engaged in trade, all of them having more or less business at Sacket's Harbor:
Genesee Packet, Capt. Obed Mayo, of Ogdensburgh; Diana, Capt. A. Montgomery; Fair Amercaan Capt. Augustus Ford; Collector, Capt. Samuel Dixon; Experiment Capt. C. Holmes; Charles and Ann, Capt. Pease; Dolphin, Capt. William Vaughan, and a few others whose names were not obtained. The Fair American is said to have been the first vessel built under the present government on this lake. She was launched at Oswego for the North Western Fur Company. Soon after the war, the schooners, Woolsey Rambler, Farmer's Daughter, 'Triumph, Commodore Perry, Doiphin, and etc., were advertised as running on regular lines as packets from this port. Ship building, during the war, was carried on under the supervision of Henry Eckford, who gained, and afterwards maintained, great eminence in this department. Noah Brown, and others, who began their career under him, subsequently became noted as ship builders. Ever since the war, the business of constructing trading vessels at this port has been more or less continued, but we have not been able to procure the details satisfactorily.
On the 2nd of March, 1799, Congress first enacted a law applying to the collection of duties on Lake Ontario, by establishing two districts, of which all east of Genesee River was included in Oswego, and all west in Niagara District.
On the 3rd of March, 1803, another act was passed, the third section of which read as follows: "And be it further enacted:
That it shall be lawful for the President of the United States, to establish, when it shall appear to him to be proper, in addition to the port of entry and delivery already established on Lake Ontario, one other port of entry and delivery on the said lake, or on the waters or rivers emptying therein, and to appoint a collector of customs, to reside and keep an office thereat."
In pursuance of this law, Sackets Harbor District was soon after established and has been since maintained, having been reduced in extent by the formation of Oswegatchie District, including St. Lawrence County, March 2nd, 1811, and Cape Vincent District, April 18th, 1818, comprising all below Point Peninsula inclusive. The collectors at this port have been:
Augustus Sacket, Hart Massay, Perley Keyes, John M. Canfield, Thomas Loomis, Danforth N. Barney, Leonard Dennison, John 0. Dickey, Otis M. Cole, Daniel McCullock and Abram Kromer.
Congress passed an appropriation of $3,000.00, May 20, 1826, for clearing out Sackets Harbor, and an equal sum May 23, 1828, for improving the same. On the 3rd of May, 1831, the sum of $4,000 was appropriated for a beacon. For improving the harbor at the mouth of Black River (Dexter) the following sums have been appropriated: July 4, 1836, $5,000.00; March 3, 1837, $10,000.00; July 7, 1838, $22,401.00.
About 1823, a project was brought up for diverting a portion of the waters of Black River from the lower pond in Watertown, into Pleasant and ~Mill Creeks, to supply a water power to Sackets Harbor. The subject was referred by the legislature to the attorney general for his opinion, who decided, that private property had often been taken for private purposes; but from the opposition of H. H. Coffeen, 0. Stone, and others, through whose lands the canal would pass, with active influence at Brownville, the measure was then defeated. In 1825, the effort was renewed, an act passed April 20, 1825, which authorized Joseph Kimball, Amos Catlin, and Daniel Hall, Jr., to divert the surplus waters of the river into Pleasant and Stony Creeks, in Houndsfield, Adams, and Henderson, for hydraulic purposes. Damages to be assessed by Egbert Ten Eyck, Clark Allen, and Joseph Hawkins; and road and farm bridges were to be maintained by the company. The act was coupled with a proviso, that the waters should not be taken from any dam then existing, without the written consent of the owners; that effectually defeated the purpose, for this was next to impossible. Being still determined to prosecute the matte, a meeting was called at Sackets Harbor, February 13, 1826,at which strong resolutions urging their neccessities, and deprecating the proviso of the late law ,were passed. The annual loss and inconvenience to farmers for want of the privilege, was estimated at from $10.00 to $50.00 each, for those on the lake shore and its vicinity; and measures were resolved to get the obnoxious restriction removed by a new appeal to legislature. On the 17th of April, 1826, the act was amended, but still it was attended with difficulties that could not be surmounted.
The proposition was next discussed of making the proposed canal navigable, which it was estimated could be done at a cost of $200,000.00 from Carthage to Sackets Harbor, and that an annual revenue from tolls amounting to $l6,000.00 could be expected.
An act was accordingly procured, April 15, 1828, incorporating the Jefferson County Canal Company, with a capital of $300,000.00, in shares of $100.00 each, in which Vincent Le Ray, Philip Schuyler, Egbert Ten Eyck, Eliaha Camp, Jason Fairbanks, Levi Beebee, Arthur Bronson, John Felt and Joseph Kimball, were named the first partners. Nothing was done under this act. It being understood that Mr. Elisha Camp, of Sackets Harbor, was willing to assume, under certain conditions, the stock necessary for the construction of the work, a meeting was held at Watertown, December 30, 1829, at which a committee of three was appointed to confer on the propriety of the course, and learn what encouragement would be afforded in aid of the work.
By the act of April 28, 1829, a tax was imposed upon real estate within the village of Sackets Harbor, and on the mill sites on Pleasant Creek, amounting to $3000.00 in two years, to be assessed in proportion to the benefits to be received, and on 20th of April, l830, Elisha Camp was appointed a commissioner for this duty in place of Daniel Hall, resigned, and the act was extended till June of that year. A canal twenty feet wide at top and twelve at bottom, four feet deep, was made in 1830, from Huntington's Mills, two miles above the village of Watertown, to the Big Swamp, and in 1832 it was finished, supplying to the village of Sackets Harbor a valuable water power, upon which there was erected there a grist mill, two saw mills, plaster mill, paper mill, furnace, and etc.
The law was so framed, however, as to give rise to litigation. The greatest difficulty, however, encountered, was in maintaining the first half mile of the ditch, which was constructed along the margin of Black River, where it was liable to be washed away on one side, and filled by slides of clay and sand on the other. These difficulties finally led the work to be abandoned, after having been in use about ten years, to the pecuniary loss of all parties concerned.
On the 23rd of May, 1838, a paper mill of Col. Camp, at the Harbor, was burned with a loss of from $7,000.00 to $10,000.00. It had been in operation about a year.
A destructive fire occurred at Sackets Harbor on the morning of August 21, 1843, originating in a ware house on the wharf, as was supposed from the cinders of the steamer St. Lawrence, and spreading rapidly, consumed nine buildings on the north side of Main Street, and eight upon the south side. Passing up Bayard Street, it consumed several barns and dwellings, and from the violence of the wind the flakes of burning materials were wafted to the cupola of the Presbyterian Church, which was burned. Upon the alley or street in the rear of Main Street, a number of buildings and much property was burned. The whole number of buildings consumed was about forty; the loss over $35,000.00. Had this fire occurred in the night time, from its rapidity and violence, a loss of life could have scarcely been avoided. An ineffectual suit was instituted against the steam boat company. On several other occasions the village has suffered severely by fires.
The village of Sackets Harbor, comprising great lots number twenty-two and fifty-four, and subdivision lots one and two, in great lot number fifty-two, of Houndsfield, was incorporated April 15, 1814. Elections of seven trustees were to be held on the first Tuesday of June, annually. Not less than three, nor more than five assessors were to be elected annually, together with a collector, treasurer, and as many fire wardens as the trustees might direct. A president was to he chosen by the trustees from their number, and some proper person for a clerk.
The bounds of the village were curtailed April 18, 1831, by the detachment of all that portion north and east of the Pleasant, or Mill Creek, which were exempt from the operation of the former act.
On the 9th of May, 1840, the act was still further amended. A ferry was established across Black River Bay at an early day, and by an act of March 31, 1821, Charles Colburn and Samuel Folsom were licensed to keep it five years. On the 21st of January, 1826, Ezra C. Folsom was in like manner licensed for five years. The subject is now under the care of the courts.
About 1840, a union school house, two stories high, besides a basement, was built at Sackets Harbor, on a lot at the corner of Broad and Washington streets, given by Mr. Ogden for the purpose. The cost was about $2,000.00, and it is intended for three departments. It has been taught by from three to five teachers, is supplied with a set of plilosophical apparatus, and affords facilities equal to those enjoyed at most academies. Schools are maintained here four terms of eleven weeks each in the year. It is the only public school within the corporation. The head teacher has generally been a graduate from college.
The Gull, Snake, Great and Little Galloo, and Stony Islands lying in lake Ontario, west of this town, are considered as belonging to it, although they all are nearer the shore of Henderson. On Galloo island is a lighthouse.
The Muskelonge Burial Ground Association of Houndsfield was formed March 31, 1849, with Frederick M. Livermore, Samuel Wilder, Thomas W. Warren, Richard Hooper, John Hunt, Chauncey Smith, trustees.
In 1815 (September 13), the Union Library of Sackets Harbor was formed, with Justin Butterfield, Elisha Camp, Amos Holton, Duniel McGiven, James Goodhue, Andrew B. Cooke, and Samuel Bosworth, trustees, but was of short duration. It was succeeded by the Houndsfield Library, April 10, 1827, with Alexander W. Stow, John McMillan, Nathan Bridge, T. S. Hall, and Samuel Guthrie, trustees. About five hundred volumes were collected, but it has been long since sold. The Watertown and Houndsfield Library was formed January 11, 1831, with Eliphalet M. Howard, John C. Herrick, Chauncey D~ Morgan, Obsdiah Brainard, and Oliver Grow, trustees, which has also gone down.
The Young Men's Association for Mutual Improvement in the village of Sackets Harbor, was incorporated March 2, 1843. The persons named in the act were Augustus Ford, M. K. Stow, Walter Kimball, Edmund M. Luff, Jonathan W. Tuttle, John 0. Dickey, Edward S. Robbins, Roswell C. Bosworth, and William H. H. Davis. This association, after an existence of a few months, was dissolved.
Religious Societies. - The first regular meetings in this town were held by Edmund Luff, an English settler, who, at his own expense, erected a house, still standing, for religious services, and preached here many years without fee or reward. There being no other meetings in the place, these were generally attended by those of different religious faith. Mr. Luff was a Restorationist, approaching somewhat the doctrines of Universalists, and was a man very free from that narrow spirit of intolerance, that disgraces too much of what is too often denominated religion. His pulpit was opened to clergymen of other faiths, irrespective of name, and both Catholics and Protestants enjoyed, when occasion demanded, the freedom of his house. During the war the house was given up for public uses. Mr. Luff died at Sackets Harbor in 1822.
The Sackets Harbor Presbyterian Society, was formed February 12th, 1816, with Melancthon T. Woolsey, Samuel Bosworth, Samuel F. Hooker, Elisha Camp, and Enoch Ely, trustees. A site for a church was given by Thomas L. Ogden, September, 1817. In 1818, an effort was made to raise the means for building a church, which was built in this and the following year, and in the great fire of August 19th, 1843, it was burned. The Rev. Mr. Judd, and vestry of the Episcopal Church, soon after tendered the society the use of their church on Sunday afternoons, which was respectfully declined, and the session house fitted up until a new church could be built.
A brick church, 48 by 64, on the corner of Broad and Main streets, was built in 1846, at a cost of $6000.00. A parsonage has also been purchased. The Presbyterian Church, was formed by an effort of the officers of the army and navy, who were anxious to have religious privileges, although not members of a church. A minister was hired, and a church formed, February 6th, 1817, of which several of the army and navy became members. These, on removing, formed others in distant points, at Green Bay, Sault St. Marie, and etc. Rev. Samuel F. Snowden was first employed in 1816, and stayed till 1826. In December, 1826, Rev. J. Burchard was employed about a year, and December 11th, 1827, Rev. James L Boyd till 1830. Rev. J. Irvin, was employed in 1831, and January 5th, 1832, was installed. In 1836, Rev. _ Wilson was invited, and was employed. In 1839, Rev. _ Sturges, 1 year. In July, 1841, Rev. _ Payson; in October, 1841, Rev. _ Townsend, who in February, 1842, was invited to become a pastor, and remained several years. On the 29th October, 1849, Rev. Leicester A. Sawyer was called, and June 11th, 1850, was installed as pastor. The church has belonged to the Watertown Presbytery, since February 10th, 1819.
About 1822, a small society of Universalists was formed, which continued three or four years.
Christ's Church (Epiccopal) was legally organized, August 6th, 1821, with Henry Moore Shaw, rector; Zeno Allen, and Eliaha Camp, wardens; Robert M. Harrison, Samuel 0. Achmuty, William Kendall, John McCarty, Hiram Steele, Thomas J. Angel, Hiram Merril, and Thomas Y. Howe, vestrymen. A church organization was formed, September 29th, 1821, and the next year a subscription was circulated to obtain the means for erecting a church. The corner stone was laid, May 26th, 1823, but was not completed till after several years of delay. William Waring, Elisha Camp, William M. Robbins, S. F. Hooker, William M. Sands, S. O. Achmuty and R. M. Harrison, subscribed sums of $100.00 and upwards, for the erection of the church. The Rev. Messrs. M. Beardsley William L. Keese, A. C. Treadway, _ Noble, Benjamin Wright, Jr., Rufus D. Sterns, and G. Huntington, have been successively employed here as missionaries. In 1852, the church reported 44 families (79 adults, and 53 children) as belonging to the congregation, and 54 as belonging to the church. It receives a small stipend from Trinity Church, New York.
The Methodists formed a legal society here, May 9th, 1831, with Alvah Kinney, Hiram Steele, John H. McKee, William Francis, Elijah Field, Daniel Griffin, Samuel Whitby, and Samuel C. J. DeCamp, trustees. In 1835, it was reorganized, and in 1841, they erected a church at a coat of about $3000.00.
The Christian Church of Houndsfield was formed in 1820 of about forty members, under the Rev. Lebbeus Field. A division having occurred, a new organization was effected, and in 1843 they erected near Blanchard's Corners, four miles from Watertown Village, a church, at a cost of about $1100.00.
The Seventh Day Baptist Religious Society of the town of Houndsfield was formed December 26th, 2847, with Benjamin Maxson, Elias Frink, John Ulter, Nathan Truman, and John Witter, trustees. In 1853, they had 41 members, mostly near the line of Watertown.
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