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Was erected as Malta from Mexico, by an act passed March 24th, 1804, but it being found inconvenient to have two towns of the same name in the state, and there being then a Malta in Saratoga County, the name was changed to the present, April 6th, 1808, together with many others having duplicate names.
By the first act of incorporation, this town was made to include its present limits with those of Worth, or townships one and two, of the Boylston Tract, and the first town meeting was directed to be held at the house of John Alger, Williamstown in Oswego County, and Harrison now Rodman, in this, were formed by the same act. At the annual town meeting, legally warned, and held March 5th, 1805, at the dwelling house of John Alger, the following town officers were elected. Asa Brown, supervisor; William Hosford, clerk; Clark Allen, Ormond Butler, Warner Flowers, assessors; O. Butler, constable and collector; William Hunter, C. Allen, poor masters; William Hosford, Michael Foost (sic), Asa Sweet, commissioners highways; William Lanfear, Joseph Case, Elijah Fox, fence viewers; James McKee, John Griswold, pound masters.
When the country was new, deer were very common in this region, and of course wolves, which led to the offering of bounties for their destruction for many years. Wolf bounties* (*It has been said, that on a certain occasion, one or more wolves were driven from Lewis County into the town, and killed, to secure the bounty. If so, the transaction was far more upright than the varied schemes practiced in some of the towns of Franklin County, at an early period, to procure the reward offered.) of $5 were offered in 1809, 10, 12, 13, 14, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20; of $10 in 1806, 11. Panther bounties of $5 in 1810, 17, 19, 20; of $10 in 1811. Fox bounties of $0.50 (sic) in 1816. In 1806, voted, that there be a pair of stocks erected in the town near John Alger’s. We can not learn that this salutary instrument of justice was ever erected. At the same town meeting voted, that swine be yoked, and ringed, and shut-up in pens. In 1812 voted, that each person, allowing Canada thistles to grow, after being notified, pay the sum of $2; that the informer shew the owner where said thistles are; that the money go to support the poor. In 1813 this law was again passed.
Supervisors. -- 1805-6, Asa Brown; 1807, Clark Allen; 1814, Elihu Gillet; 1815-24, Clark Allen; 1825-29, John Boyden; 1830-31, Jared Gleason; 1821-35, J. Boyden; 1836-37, Loren Bushnell; 1838-39, Elisha Allen; 1840, L. Bushnell; 1841, E. Allen; 1842-43, James Gifford; 1844, J. Boyden; 1845, E. Allen; 1846, J. Boyden; 1847, David J. Redway; 1848-51, Moses Brown; 1852, James Gifford; 1853, Willard W. Huson.
The first settlement in this town was made in November 1802, by James McKee and Elijah Fox, the latter a single man. During the following winter and spring several families moved in, among whom were Comfort Stancliff, Benjamin Gates, ___ Cutler, ____ Balcom, John Alger and others. Cutler built mills about 1804. The first locations were made along the line of the state road from Rome to Brownville, and being easily accessible, was soon settled. A mail route was established at an early period; the first carrier being Simeon Parkhurst. Benjamin Gates was the first postmaster.
This town was settled under the agency of Benjamin Wright, and others; the unsettled interests being owned by the Hon. William C. Pierrepont, of Pierrepont Manor. There were, Sept. 1, 1806, 128 settlers in this town, who had acquired evidences of title or long credit to pay for it.
In quoting from the journal of James Constable, in our account of Ellisburgh, we alluded to the practice of issuing certificates to settlers. Of these the same journal remarks, August 10, 1805:
“Town No. 1 was settling very fast, and indeed all that part of the country watered by Sandy Creek had got a name, that brought settlers in great numbers. We find the practice of giving certificates to those people, allowing them a certain time after exploring to go for their families, before they take contracts for their lots, has been productive of speculation, and must not be continued. A Mr. Salisbury, who had formerly taken a contract, sold it to another, and bought, or procured, one of these certificates, came to us, apparently to ask indulgence, as to the time of payment, but really with a view to ascertain what our intentions were in respect to such instruments, when we explained to him that they were given to assist the first real settlers, and by no means to be transferable to second or third parties, as that led to speculation, upon the persons who ought to have indulgence, not to the speculators, who profited to the disadvantage of both the proprietors and actual settlers. We of course would oppose all such attempts, and as he had seen fit to change his situation from holding a contract under us, to speculating in certificates, which he must have known were intended only as an accommodation to the first parties, we could not treat with him, as the indulgence intended to them could not be transferred. Upon conversation with Mr. Wright, we found the certificates had already occasioned some mischief, and we discovered from others that some of the holders of them had caused it to be believed that all the best part of the town was taken up, so that new comers were obliged to apply to them, or go to some other town. Mr. Wright had no books or accounts here, but supposed that about half of the town was sold, either by contract or conditional agreement, and would average $3, though the sales were begun, and a good deal sold at $2. The lowest price now was $3, and it might at once be raised to $4, for the whole, from the great immigration to this quarter. He gave it as his opinion that it was not for our interest to hurry sales, as this town would speedily settle, and the price might be raised. We told him he should have our determination on our return from St. Lawrence County. When we were at Smith’s Mills we had an application from Mr. Frost, whose mill on No. 1, has been carried away by the freshet in April, at the rising of Sandy Creek, who stated that his loss by that event had disabled him from building another mill, and he intends, after paying for his lot, to sell to David Smith, who would engage to build a mill on the same site the next season. Having told him that we wanted to see Mr. Wright at his house (Drake’s) to-day, he promised to be there and settle his contract, but he did not come, and we find by Mr. Wright that Smith, who already holds a quantity of land in No. 1, and is the owner of the mills on No. 7, would be an improper person to hold that mill seat, unless bound to build a mill immediately, because the settlers would be obliged to come to his present mills from a great distance. We accordingly left directions with Mr. Wright to settle with Frost, so that the mill seat did not pass to one who would not erect a mill for the accommodation of settlers. Smith owns a large property, and is a moneyed man. He is supposed to be on the look out for such opportunities, and perhaps possessed of some of the certificates just alluded to, it is therefore advisable to be cautious of such people. Mr. Wright having information from Mr. Hunter of the probability of iron ore on lot No. (blank) on town 7, we went this afternoon to the spot, Drake, who is a blacksmith, accompanying us. We found the place designated by Hunter, which was under the roots of a large tree, blown up in a swampy place, where were some collections of a hard substance, not unlike the dung of sheep, and those on the surface of the ground. We digged with stakes, but found nothing different, and after a trial by fire at Drake’s house of what we brought there, the result was an appearance of the cinders of coal rather than iron, so that we concluded Hunter was deceived by appearances.* (*This was the black oxyde of manganese, common in this section in swamps.--F.B.H.) We afterwards went to see the remains of a beaver meadow, and were much entertained at it, being of large extent, and the work of these animals is surprising.”
Soon after the declaration of war, the following document was forwarded to General Brown:
Lorraine, July 21, 1812.
“Dear Sir: Viewing our country in danger, and feeling a willingness to defend the same, sixty men assembled in this place and made choice of Joseph Wilcox, as captain; James Perry, lieutenant; Ebenezer Brown, Jr., ensign. This is therefore to desire your honor to furnish us with arms and ammunition, while you may have the assurance we shall be ready on an invasion within the county of Jefferson, at a moment’s warning to defend the same. The above men met at the house of John Alger, on the 16th inst., and may be considered as Silver Grays, that is men who are exempted by law from military duty. We wish you, sir, to forward the arms to this place as soon as possible, and be assured we are, with respect, your humble servants.”
JOSEPH WILCOX, Capt.; JAS. PERRY, Lt.; E. BROWN, JR, Ens.
This company frequently met for review and exercise, and on the occasion of the attack upon Sackets Harbor, marched for the scene of the engagement, but not in time to take part in it.
The town is elevated, very uneven, and underlaid by shales, which occur here so finely developed, that the term Lorraine Shales has been applied to the formation. Being composed of alternate hard and soft strata, that yield with great facility to the disintegrating agencies of frost, atmospheric action, and running water, the streams that traverse the town have worn deep gulfs, in most places impassable, and causing great inconvenience in the location of roads and building of bridges. To the lover of nature, the quiet grandeur and ever-changing beauty of these romantic chasms, afford attractions, that will repay the labor of a visit. The gulf on the south branch of Sandy Creek, is perhaps as deserving of notice as any in town. Its depth varies from one to two hundred feet, and its breadth from four to ten rods. The bottom, and in many places the sides, are overgrown with timber, and the stream wanders alternately from right to left, affording wherever it washes the base, a cliff, nearly vertical precipices, and of imposing grandeur. As the visitor follows the sinuous channel which the stream, through a long lapse of ages has quietly wrought deep into the bowels of the earth, the scenery constantly changes, affording an endless succession of beauties. Were it not for the gentle murmur of the brook, and the occasional trickling of the tiny stream down the mossy precipice to break the stillness of the scene, the beautiful stanza of Beattie, would be admirably appropriate:
“Thy shades, thy silence, now be mine,
Thy charms my only theme,
My haunt the hollow cliff, whose pine
Waves o’er the gloomy stream,
Whence the sacred owl, with pinious gray,
Breaks from the rustling bough,
And down the lone vale sails away,
To more profound repose.”
The Rural Cemetery Association of the village of Lorraine, was formed Jan. 8, 1852, by John Boyden, Aaron Brown, John Bentley, Eben Brown, Knapp Macumber, Joseph Grimshaw, Allen Pitkin, Lorenzo Reed, John Hancock, Moses Brown, Elihu Gillet, Augustus L. Baker, Sardis Abbey; Peter Hanson, Leonard A. Parker, Joel Buel, Luther Lanfear, Parley Brown. The association is managed by nine trustees.
Religious Societies. -- The Baptist Church of Lorraine was formed in 1806, of thirteen members, under the Rev. Amos Lamson, who was ordained Oct. 7, 1806, and was succeeded in 1815, by Solomon Johnson. In 1819 Benjamin W. Capron was employed, and in May 1824, Parley Brown was ordained, and labored until 1830, when he was succeeded by John F. Bishop, who labored one year. Charles B. Taylor was next employed three years. In 1838, Henry Ward commenced preaching here, was ordained Feb. 1837, and remained three years. In 1840 Elisha Robbins was employed, and in one year after, Luther Humphrey, who in July, 1842 was ordained, and continued three years. In 1845, O. L. Crittenden commenced and labored one year. In 1850, J. F. Bishop, in 1852, Philander Persons, the present pastor, was employed.
In 1830, a church edifice was built, at a cost of $1,200. The society had been formed Dec. 23, 1829, with Aaron Brown, Jr., John Fassett, Benjamin Fletcher, Jr., and James Gifford, Jr., trustees. A small Baptist Church, in the south part of the town, has since been united with the church in Mannsville.
The First Congregational Society in Lorraine was formed Dec. 3, 1829, with Silas Lyman, Wm. Carruth, and Alfred Webb, trustees. A small church was erected in 1830, which has since been sold to the Methodists.Return to Index of Hough Articles & Map Return to Shirley Farone's Homepage