Search billions of records on Ancestry.com
   

You have arrived on Shirley Farone’s Website possibly via the link from Nan Dixon's pages. The index presenting all the towns written about by Hough can be accessed  here. My homepage contains an index to many, many other interesting features.

PHILADELPHIA.

pp. 217 - 228

This town was erected from Le Ray, April 3, 1821, with its present limits; the first town meeting being held at the house of Harvey Hamblin. The name of Elizabethtown had been chosen for this, but there being one already in the state, the present one was selected by citizens, who had lived in or near the city of Philadelphia. Some proposed to name the town Benezet, after the benevolent Quaker of that name. Orleans and Alexandria were created by the same act.

The first town officers were, Alden Bucklin, supervisor; A. Bucklin, Thos. Bones, Abial Shurtliff, assessors; John Strickland, Jr., clerk; Wm. Bones, collector; John Townsend, J. Strickland, Jr., poor masters; J. Townsend, Cadwallader Child, Abiel Shurtliff, commissioners highways; Wm. Bones, constable; James Bones, C. Child, J. R. Taylor, inspectors schools. There being but very few inhabitants with property qualifications sufficient for voting and holding office, an act was procured, March 29, 1822, reducing these qualifications to the possession of a contract for lands, and property or improvement worth $150; the customary oath of officers, concerning freehold, was to be omitted.

Supervisors--1822, Alden Bucklin; 1823-26, Harvey Hamblin; 1827, John R. Taylor; 1829-31, Benjamin Jackman; 1821, Hiram Hinsman; 1833, Henry W. Marshall; 1834-36, Jesse Smith; 1837, Miles Strickland; 1838, Wm. Skinner; 1839, M. Strickland; 1840, Geo. Walton; 1841, Jesse Smith; 1842, M. Strickland; 1843, John F. Latimore; 1844-46, Azel W. Danforth; 1847, Lyman Wilson; 1848-9, Smith Bockus; 1850, Geo. Frasier; 1850-51, Wm. Skinner; 1852-53, Alden Adams.

The circumstances of the first settlement of this town, are interesting from their peculiarity, and will be given more in detail, as they form the only instance in our local history, of an attempt to convey lands by leases, in perpetuity, and illustrate in a small way, the evils growing out of the system.

In 1802, Jacob Brown, then residing in Brownville Village, as the agent of Mr. Le Ray, communicated with his former friends and neighbors, in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, on the Delaware River and near the locality of Penn’s Manor, a description of the country, its soil, climate, and advantages. Early in the summer of 1803, Joseph Child, Sen., with Moses Moon, and his son James Moon, came from Bucks County, explored the territory, now embraced in Le Ray and Philadelphia, and the former made a definite selection of about twelve hundred acres, immediately south-west of where Le Raysville now is, at which place Benjamin Brown and family were then residing. The favorable report which these pioneers carried back, induced several of their neighbors to resolve upon trying their fortunes in the “new country,” and led the way to the formation of a company, and the following associated purchase.

The lots were to be sold in sixteen shares, according to the number affixed to each subscriber’s name, at the rate of $3 per acre, payable in five installments, with six per cent interest, and ten per cent deducted for ready pay. The lands were to be of as good quality as lots 629 to 632, in all 1760 acres, previously bought by Joseph Child, and Moses Comfort, and if they should not be found as good in the opinion of Jacob Brown, Jonas Smith, and Richard Coxe, an additional quantity was to be given. Le Ray agreed before the next December to make a wagon road from the Post Road (at Champion) through the said tract to the St. Lawrence. The parties purchasing were to divide the tract between themselves before the 25th of next April. On the 1st of May 1804, a deed, * (*Oneida deeds, Book G, p. 25) conveying lot No. 611, was executed to the persons above named, in trust “for the promotion of religion and learning, that is to say, for the purpose of erecting thereon and supporting a meeting house, for the society of the people called Quakers, and a school or schools for the education of children, in useful learning, to be under the care and direction of the said society, and of a monthly meeting of said people, when such meeting shall be there established, and for such other useful purposes, as the said meeting may direct.”

On the 16th of February, 1804, James D. Le Ray, then living in Burlington, N. J., and being personally acquainted with several of the parties, executed an agreement, with Mordecai Taylor,* (Of Montgomery county, Pa.) Robert Comfort,† (Of Philadelphia county, Pa.) Thomas and John Townsend,† (Of Philadelphia county, Pa.) Abraham Stockton,‡ (Of Burlington, N. J.) Charles Ellis, ‡ (Of Burlington, N. J.) Cadwallader Child,§ (Of Bucks county, Pa.) Moses Comfort, § (Of Bucks county, Pa.) Israel Knight,† (Of Philadelphia county, Pa.) Benjamin Rowland, † (Of Philadelphia county, Pa.) John Jones, Jason Merrick, § (Of Bucks county, Pa.) and David Evans, all but Merrick being Quakers, to sell eixteen lots in great tract No. Iv, of 440 acres each, viz: 529, 540, 542, 543, 574, 575, 576, 578, 579, 644, 643, 647, 646, 674, 675, 677, 678, and “for the encouragement of religion and learning,” gave to the parties above named, lot No. 611, of 440 acres, to support a meeting house and school.

In pursuance of the above agreement, twenty-five lots, or five ranges of five lots each, which lay together, in a rectangular tract, the central lot being at the present village of Philadelphia, the whole of which, with the water power of the place being upon it. The situation of these lots is shown in the annexed plan, which which G is lot 611, given, S, the sixteen lots sold, and R, the eight lots reserved. It will be seen that the lots sold were in the corners of the tract, and it was doubtless the intention of the proprietor to receive an advanced price on them, sufficient to cover the value of the central lot.

 

S

S

R

S

S

S

S

R

S

S

R

R

G

R

R

S

S

R

S

S

S

S

R

S

S

 

 

When the bargain was completed, in May, 1804, Mordecai Taylor and Cadwallader Child,¦¦ (Mr. Child was born in Plummsted Pa., August 18, 1776; was employed in teaching seven years previous to 1804; acted many years as a surveyor for Mr. Le Ray, and died in this town April 3, 1851.) two of the purchasers, with Samuel Evans, came north, traveling from Albany on horseback, crossing Black River near the present village of Felt’s Mills, and Mr. Childs, by agreement with Le Ray, repaired to Brownville to consult with Jacob Brown in respect to the surveys to be made for roads. With the requisite party to assist, he returned to Le Raysville, and from the hill north of that village, not far from where the stone Methodist Meeting House formerly stood, he followed a line of lots of Brodhead’s survey, to the south corner of the centre lot, and down Black Creek to its junction with Indian River, then called the West Branch of the Oswegatchie.

It was now in the month of June. One of the purchasers, only, was upon the tract, with four assistants, as chainmen, axemen, and packman, among whom were Michael Coffeen and Solomon Parker. Their first encampment was near the present grist mill. The first line for a roadpassed south-west of Theresa Falls, striking the St. Lawrence some distance above the present village of Alexandria Bay, where their provisions being exhuasted, they purchased from a Canada raft that was passing a sufficient supply. After examining the shore, they selected the site for the present village at the Bay, and on their return located whatr has since been known as the Alexandria Road, crossing Indian River at the present lower bridge at Theresa Village. A road was continued to the Black River, at the Great Bend. The summer was mostly consumed in these surveys, and in the fall, with the aid of Thomas Ward and Samuel Child, Mr. C. Child began a clearing rupon his lot (No. 644), and erected a cabin south of the small creek, and west of the Alexandria Road, the first spot cleared in town. Late in the same fall, John Petty began his improvements, on the opposite side of the road from where John T. Strickland now resides, having previously lived a year or two in Le Ray. The two Townsends, J. Merrick* (*Mr. M., died in town August 3, 1846 (?), aged 78.) and R. Comfort, came on the same years, or the next. Of the other trustees of the central lot, Knight, Taylor, M. Comfort, and Rowland, came on, but did not take up their permanent residence here, and Jones, Ellis, Stockton and Evans never came. It was doubtless the intention of both the grantor and grantees, that the centre lot should be for the benefit of all who should at any time thereafter reside on any or all of the twenty-five lots. The sixteen lots subscribed were drawn by ballot, when each entered into an agreement by himself for the lots drawn.

The settlers of the first year returned back to winter, and on the 2d of February, 1805, a meeting was held, all but four being present, who, by a written agreement, named Robert Comfort, Cadwallader Child, Thomas and John Townsend, and Jason Merrick, as trustees of the lot in trust, a part of which they directed to be laid out in ten acre lots, and leased gratuitously for ten years, to any person who would settle and clear the same, and build a log or framed home, eighteen feet square, within four years.

Daniel Coffeen settled, about 1804, near and south of the four corners, near Sterlingville, and in 1805, several of the purchasers came on, and Mr. C. Child spent the summer in surveys of roads and farms. During the summer he had cleared the land where the present residence of Alden Adams and the post office stand, and in the fall sold the improvement to Josiah Walton, who erected, on the site of the post office, a small frame barn, the first frame erected in town. The same spring Thomas Townsend came on, bringing with him Josiah Walton, Daniel Roberts, Thomas Coxe, and Thomas Gilbert, and during the summer erected a bridge over Indian River, about twenty-five rods below the present one, cleared land about the grist mill, extending up the river, and north of the Antwerp road, built himself a block house on the south side of the brick house erected by the late Edmund Tucker, and a log house for John Townsend, on the site of the Samuel Case tavern, now opened by James Kirkbride. T. Townsend and Gilbert returned to Pennsylvania to winter. John Townsend and Robert Comfort had removed with their families in the fall of 1805, arriving in September, and with J. Walton and Daniel Roberts, were the first families to remain through the winter at the Friend’s Settlement. In the fall of 1805, John Townsend sowed the first winter wheat. Thomas Townsend removed his family in the spring of 1806, accompanied by Benjamin Gilbert, Stephen Roberts and family. Robert Comfort built near the bank of Indian River, below Dr. Carpenter’s house, and kept the first house of entertainment.

In 1807, a fever prevailed in the settlement. Two daughters of Robert Comfort and a son of Jason Merrick died, being the first buried at the present burying ground.

John Strickland, Junior, came on it the fall of 1807, viewed the country, returned south, and moved his family upon the farm now occupied by John Townsend. In the spring of 1808, Joseph Bolton and family had joined the settlement, Robert Comfort removing to his farm in 1807. In April, 1809, Ezra Comley moved upon the farm now occupied by Seth Strickland, and soon after, the same year, John Strickland, Senior, arrived, purchased the mills and improvements of Thomas and John Townsend. John moving to his own farm, Thomas purchased, built and moved on the farm now owned by Wm. Allis.

The first school kept at the settlement was in the chamber of the house of John Strickland, Senior (purchased of Thomas Townsend), Anna Comstock, teacher. The Society of Friends erected their first meeting house in 1810, yet standing and occupied as a dwelling house. For seventeen years it served the purpose of school and meeting house.

As the given name of individuals is, among the Society of Friends, prominently regarded, it may afford an interest to give those of the wives of the pioneer settlers of this place, the most of whom were of that denomination: The wife of Robert Comfort was Mary; of John Townsend, Asenath; of Thomas Townsend, Elizabeth; of Jason Merrick, Elizabeth; of John Strickland, Jr., Rachel; of Ezra Comley, Sarah; of Joseph Bolton, Jane; of Stephen Roberts, Jane; of John Strickland, sen., Margaret.

A feat of female visiting in this town, that occurred in the summoer of 1806, may be worthy of record, as illustrating the enterprise of the age, and by way of contrast with the present day. Mrs. Elizabeth and Asenath Townsend, and Mrs. Jane Roberts, on this occasion, their husbands being busy at their farms, made a visit on foot, to friends in the town of Le Ray, by way of the pine plains, a distance of eleven miles through a thick forest, and with scarcely a trace of road, and that more traversed by wild beasts than human beings. A faithful dog was their vigilant escort in the lonely journey. In returning, they were conveyed in the wagon of Joseph Child, at whose house they had visited.

Having briefly noticed a few events connected with the first settlement of this town, we will return to our account of the centre lot, to which allusion has been made. During fifteen years, about a quarter of the lot had been improved, under the short leases. In the summer of 1815, the Le Ray Monthly Meeting of Friends was formed, and it early became the wish of the five trustees to make this meeting the assignee of their trust, but this could not be done with an act of incorporation, which they refused to apply for. On the 11th of April, 1816, the monthly meeting appointed a committee of six, viz: Daniel Child, Richard Hallock, Joel Haworth, John Strickland, Jr., William Barber, and Joseph Child, Jr., to meet with and assist the trustees in the management of the lot, and they the same year reappointed four of the trustees, the fifth (Merrick) not being a member of their society, but continuing to act. R. Comfort and T. Townsend, quit claimed to C. Child, and J. Townsend, June 9th, 1823* (*Jefferson Deeds.) their interest in the centre lot, and at various periods between October 1st, 1823, and 1838, the whole 440 acres, had been leased out in about 40 lots, or parcels, at annual rents averaging less than $1 per acre forever. The society occasionally appointed committees to notice the trustees requests, and July 7th, 1825, named Edmund Tucker, Daniel Child, and J. Strickland, Jr., to procure quit claims from those named in the need of Le Ray. They afterwards found that these could not all be procured. Taylor refused to quit claim, and Stockton and Evans had died, leaving minor heirs. Ellis, M. Comfort, Jones, Rowland, and the heirs of Knight, did quit claim* (*Jefferson Deeds, A. 2, p. 121) to the committee above named. J. Townsend, Merrick and Child, declined to quit claim until the others could be obtained. In 1828, the Quakers here became divided by the doctrines of Elias Hicks, Tucker and Strickland on one side, and D. Child with the orthodox. C. Child, J. Townsend, and J. Merrick, trustees, being also with the orthodox. In 1837, D. Child quit claimed to J. Townsend and C. Child, his right. The orthodox sect have alone claimed and exercised the care of the centre lot. C. Child, J. Townsend, and J. Merrick, wishing to be relieved from the care of the trust, applied to the monthly meeting to have successors appointed, and March 9th, 1843, Samuel G. Slocum, of Le Ray, and Robert Townsend and Naylor Child, of Philadelphia, were named as trustees, who, August 5th, 1843, received a conveyance,† († Jefferson Deeds, X 3, p. 22.) and executed a declaration of trust. N. Child in 1844 made S. G. Slocum his attorney, but this was revoked May 1st, 1845‡ (‡ Jefferson Deeds, b. 77, p. 492). On the 9th of January, 1845, the Le Ray Monthly Meeting had directed the trustees to quit claim to most of the occupants on the centre lot, for $1,250 under which direction Slocum and Townsend, having subsequently quiut claimed most of the leased lots, N. Child not concurring. The meeting adopted this course in consequence of an anti-rent movement beginning as early as 1835, and resulting in combination on the part of the tenants to resist the payment of rents, claiming that after building and keeping up a meeting house, the balance was to go to support a school for the use of tenants; that they should have a voice in its management, and that they were the beneficiaries of the trust, with the power of dictating to the trustees.

The origin of the anti-rent movement at this place, may mainly be traced to the fact, that original leases had been sub-divided, subleased to several parties, and again conveyed repeatedly, and these transfers not being legally known to the trustees, the latter claimed the right, and in one or two instances attempted to distrain for rent the property of one of the teneants, to pay the arrears due on the lot which which he occupied but a part. This, in the view of the tenants, led to the dangerous principle that a man’s property was liable to be seized for his neighbor’s debts, and was followed by a spirit of resistance in which nearly every tenant participated. Meetings were held, articles of union were drawn up, in which they mutually pledged themselves to sustain legal measures until a final settlement, and Jesse Smith, John F. Latimore, and Samuel Rogers, were appointed a committee to represent their interests in the matter. There had been, moreover, an unwillingness on the part of the old trustees of the lot to submit an account of their expenditures, as they claimed that to them and them alone had been confided the care of the trust, and that they were amenable only to the meeting for its faithful execution. Several instances of apparent application of the rents to private purposes were produced, and specified in legal proceedings that ensued, and to such extent had these proceedings led, that the parties of the league professed their readiness to expend their fortunes in suits of law, rather than submit to the payment of rents. A few went farther, and threatened abuse and violence to the persons and property of Quakers, and their meeting house presented marks of depredation and pollution committed in the night time.

The society had in March, 1844, petitioned for a law authorizing the trustees to sell the centre lot, which was referred by the senate to the attorney general for an opinion, who decided* (*Senate Doc. 1844, No. 115, p. 3.) “that it is not competent for any court, or even the legislature itself, to add to or diminish from the estate thereby created, or to change the nature of the trust, or to confer authority upon the trustees to convey the legal estate discharged of this trust, thus annexed to it.” In consequence of this opinion the legislature declined acting, and so informed the petitioners. This opinion was sustained substantially by those of several eminent legal gentlemen.

In the final settlement, about twenty-five quit claim deeds were given by the new trustees, two or three tenants, members of the meeting, declining to receive them. All arrears of rent were paid up to April 1, 1844. Whatever may be the legal force of these proceedings, they appear to be satisfactory to those most interested, and warranty deeds are freely given and received for the lands which quiet possession for the constitutional period will probably confirm. The first school was on the centre lot, and mostly supported by rents, and for several years it drew money as a school district. In 1838, dissensions having arisen from the rival claims of the district trustees and the Quakers, in the employment of teachers, a school house was built by the district, with a tax in the usual way. The income of rents formerly amounted to about $280, which made the schools free. This has now been reduced to from $50 to $60.

In 1805 it was agreed by the trustees of the centre lot, that J. and T. Townsend should have the use of a lot of fifteen or twenty acres of land covering the falls, free of rent, twenty years, on which to erect a mill for the benefit of the settlement. A saw and grist mill, under the same roof, was accordingly built in1805, James Parker being the millwright, for the two Townsend brothers, at this place. The village slowly increased in population, and in 1827 numbered seventeen families, and about a dozen houses. It now has two inns, three stores, two saw mills, one grist mill, three wagon shops, one machine shop, two shingle machines, one cabinet maker, one cooper, three blacksmiths, one tinner, and about fifty families. The village is six miles from Theresa, six from Antwerp, seven from Evans’ Mills, four from Sterlingville, and eleven from Ox Bow. The Potsdam and Watertown Rail Road at this place, is crossed by the surveyed lines of the Utica and Rome Rail Roads, and the fine water power which Indian River here presents, will afford an eligible point for the investment of manufacturing capital.

To the lover of romantic scenery, the falls and ravines below, present attractions of much interest, and in the spring floods, the scene becomes one of singular grandeur and beauty.

Cyrus Dodge, an innkeeper at the village, was instantly killed by the bursting of a cannon on the 4th of July, 1829. This melancholy accident, resulting from rashly charging the piece with stones and grass, checked the festivities of the occasion and spread a gloom through the settlement.

In 1807, a saw mill, known as the De Launey* (*From Mr. De L., a bookkeeper for Le Ray, since the firm of De Launey, Luyt and Burzee, of Havre.) Mills, was built for Le Ray, on Black Creek, a mile and a half above the present village of Sterlingville, and in 1824, a saw mill was erected at the latter place, for Edmund Tucker, by Hamblin and Crofoot, which was the first improvement here. About 1834, a second saw mill was built, adjacent to the present forge, and in 1836, there were but three dwellings in this vicinity.

In 1837, the iron mines in Antwerp, on the farm of Hopestill Foster, having been discovered, and sufficiently explored to warrant the belief of their permanence and value, Mr. James Sterling, who had previously been engaged in the Rosise (sic) furnace, and who had purchased an extensive interest in the mine, originated the project of establishing a furnace on Black Creek, aqnd organized a company, under the general act, Oct. 31, 1837, under the name of Sterling Iron Company, with a capital of $20,000, in shares of $100 each. The persons named in the articles of association, were Orville Hungerford, James Sterling, George Walton, Caleb Essington, and George C. Sherman. A quarter furnace was erected, early the same year, and in June, 1837, the first blast commenced, using cold air, and from inexperience in the management of the ore, not proving very successful. The first blast continued three months, and made twelve tons per week. The second continued five months, at about the same rate of yield, and the third blast, commencing Sept. 10, 1838, was protracted to a year and fifteen days, a length of time, without a parallel among the furnaces in this section of the state. At its close a public dinner was served up to the hands employed about the furnace, at the exense of the proprietors.

About 1838, an apparatus for heating the air was introduced, and continued about six years, since which the cold blast has been alone used, which is found to make an iron of a better quality, and one capable of being chilled,* (*A term, used to denote the property of becoming coarsely crystaline, white, and very hard, when cast in contact with a cold metallic surface.) that renders it admirably adapted to car wheels, for which it is mostly used. This company after continuing less than three years, was given up, and a new one, styled the Philadelphia Iron Company, with a capital of $15,000, was formed, under the same general act, May 19, 1840, with F. Van Ostrend, Ephraim Taylor, George Dickerson, William Skinner, and John Gates, the parties named in the articles of association. This company has also ceased to exist, but the business has been since continued, under different names, but always with James Sterling as the efficient mover, and it is now conducted by him and his associates, with much success.

The principal ore employed is the Sterling Iron Mine, in Antwerp, twelve miles distant, from whence it is drawn at a cost of $1 per ton. Bog ores from Wilna and Philadelphia, and a shaly lean ore from the Fuller and Shurtliff mines in this town, near the line of Theresa, have been used to some extent. The latter is still used from necessity, as a flux only, for which, from the lime contained, it is found to be well adapted.

In 1841 the furnace was rebuilt; in May 1949 it was burned, and it has been recently rebuilt. The size, when erected, was twenty-six feet square, thirty two feet high, with an inside diameter of seven feet, which has been since more or less varied. It has been lined with sandstone from Louisburgh, Antwerp, and Theresa.

The yield of Sterling ore is from forty to forty-five per cent, and the product of the furnace has now become from four to five tons daily. For several seasons, the furnace has been run upon contract, the proprietor furnishing the works and the ore, while the contractor supplies the labor and fuel.

A forge was erected at this village, about 1839, by Caleb Essington, and has been since more or less constantly used for refining, no ore being used.

The iron manufacture is the leading business of Sterlingville, which is a village of about sixty families, and has besides the furnace a forge, two taverns, two stores, two saw mills, and several mechanic shops. It is, by plank road seven and a half miles from Antwerp, and five from Great Bend; and by common roads, four miles from Philadelphia, five from Le Raysville, six from Evans’ Mills, fourteen from Watertown and ten from Carthage.

In the village of Sterlingville is a copious chalybeate spring, slightly sulphurous, and possessing, without a doubt, medicinal properties,; but it has never been brought to use. A post office was established here in February, 1839, with George Walton first post master. The other post offices in this town, are Philadelphia, Whitney’s Corners, on the plank road from Ox Bow to Evans’ Mills, and Pogeland, on the plant road between Antwerp and Sterlingville.

The Philadelphia Library was formed September 13, 1831, witih Edmund Tucker, Alvah Murdock, Henry W. Marshall, Joel Haworth, John F. Lattimore, Samuel Rogers, Azel Danforth, Weeden Mosher, and John R. Taylor, trustees.

Religious Societies. -- The Friends organized meetings here soon after their settlement: and in 1809, built on the centre lot a small frame meeting house, which in 1827, was set apart for a school, and the present meeting house was built, 30 by 50 feet, at a cost of $800, under the direction of Edmund Tucker, J. Strickland, Jr., J. Townsend, and C. Child. The Indian River Preparative, of the Le Ray Monthly Meeting, occupies this house.

The Baptist Church of Philadelphia was formed ty ten members November 5, 1840; since which the following ministers have been employed, viz: John Stephens, John Wilder, Charles H. Havens, S. L.Bulas, J. F. Bishop, and Henry Ward. A Society was fromed December 14, 1840, with Elias Roberts, Walter Colton, Jesse Smith, E. D. Woodward, and Henry York, trustees.

The Congregational Church of Philadelphia was formed of thirteen members by the Rev. N. Dutton, of Champion, in the winter of 1840-1, and continued to employ him for several years. The society of this church was formed February 8, 1841, with Nelson Ackert, Milo Shattuck, Abiah Ford, Peter Bethel, and Alvah Murdock, trustees. These two societies, in 1841, erected a Union church, each owning an equal share; cost, $1,600. A Methodist society was formed March 9, 1839, with William Powell, George Sim, Theodore Cross, Charles R. Sweet, and Stephen Post, trustees. They have a church at Philadelphia, built soon after the society was formed.

A second society of the Methodists was formed March 6,1844, with Sterling Graves, Richard Crabb, Benjamin Allen, and Nelson Chadwick, trustees, who have also a house of worship near the line of Antwerp.

St. Nicholas church (Catholic) was built, at Sterlingville, in 1838-39, at a cost of about $800; the site being given by La Farge. The priest resides at Carthage.

Return to Shirley Farone's Homepage

Index of Towns - Hough History - County Map