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This town was organized from Mexico, by the same act that created Champion, and other towns. March 14, 1800, the first town meeting being directed at the house of Asher Miller, who resided near what is now the centre of the town of Rutland. In the general statute describing the several towns of the state, passed April 7, 1801, we find the following:
Leyden. “And all that part of the said county of Oneida, bounded easterly by Remsen, southerly by Steuben, and westerly by Camden, Turin, Lowville, Champion, Watertown, and the west bounds of the state; and northerly by the county of Clinton, shall be and continue a town by the name of Leyden.” (This would embrace the present town of Leyden, with the whole of Lewis County, east of Black River, and all of Jefferson County, north of the same.)
Watertown. “And all that part of the said county of Oneida, known and distinguished by townships, Nos. 1, 2, and 3, in a tract of land belonging to Henry Champion, and others, which said townships are bounded northerly by the Black River, westerly by Hungry Bay, so called, and southerly by townships Nos. 6, 7, *, and 9, and easterly by township No. 4, all in the same tract, shall be and continue a town by the name of Watertown.”
The name of the town was, doubtless, suggested by the extraordinary amount and convenience of its water power, for which it will compare favorably with any place in the state. To this cause may be mainly attributed its early and rapid growth, and the superiority in wealth and business which it enjoys, far beyond any other place in the county.
By the erection of Rutland and Houndsfield, the original limits of the town have been reduced to their present. A fire, which consumed the early records of the town, has prevented us from obtaining many interesting facts, which the town book is said to have contained. The following list of supervisors is taken in part from the records of the board, which begin with the organization of the county in 1805.
Supervisors. -- 1805-8, Corlis Hinds; 1809-10, Tilley Richardson; 1811, Wm. Smith; 1812-9, Egbert Ten Eyck; 1820-6, Titus Ives; 1827, Jabez Foster; 1828, Titus Ives; 1829, Daniel Lee; 1830-4, Henry H. Coffeen; 1835-7, Orville Hungerford; 1838-40, Joel Woodworth; 1841-2, O. Hungerford; 1843-5; (sic); John Winslow; 1846-7, Orville V. Brainard; 1848, Geo. C. Sherman; 1849, Adviel Ely; 1850, Kilborn Hannahs; 1851, O. Hungerford; 1852, Robert Lansing; 1853, David D. Otis.
This town was surveyed by Benjamin Wright, in 1796, into fifty-two lots, of from 450 to 625 acres, having a total area of 26,485 acres. A subsequent survey by Robert McDowell gave 26,667 acres. In 1801 it was subdivided by Joseph Crary, under the direction of Silas Stow. A mortgage upon this town, in common with Low and Company’s Purchase, was canceled by William and Ann Constable, and the President and Directors of the Bank of New-York, March 18, 1802. Upon the division of these towns, this, with Adams and Lowville, fell to the share of Nicholas Low, under whom it has been settled.
The first agent employed was Silas Stow, who was followed in 1804 by M. S. Miller, and in March, 1806, the latter was succeeded by Isaac W. Bostwick, Esq., all of Lowville. The lands in this town have long since been sold out, and nearly or quite settled up and conveyed, as freeholds. It will be interesting to notice the remarks of Wm. Wright on the survey of this town into lots, which are given with more detail in his general report, from having surveyed the boundaries of the towns only, and which we have given on page 65.
“Township No. 2, on Black River, is situated about three miles from the mouth of the river. This river is navigable for bateaux about one-and-three-quarter miles, but yet with considerable difficulty, it may be ascended two-and-a-half miles. The soil of this township is excellent in general, and, indeed, there is very little but what might be truly called first quality. Timber--maple, beach, bass, elm, ash, butternut, and some pine, of excellent quality.
There are excellent mill seats along Black River, where they are noted on the map, and many more, which it is impossible to note with certainty, as the river the whole distance on the town is very rapid, except at the north-east corner, for about three-quarters of a mile. The river is very rocky along the whole distance, and appears to be a bed of limestone rocks. Along the banks of Black River, opposite No. 2 township, is cedar and hemlock, and, in some places, white pine, for about twenty or thirty rods, and from thence it rises to very handsome land, and timbered with maple, bas, beech, &c.
At the north-west corner is some flat rock, which lies about eight inches under the surface, and which is full of large cracks, open about ten or twelve inches.”
Of the lots upon which the village of Watertown has been built, he remarked:
7. “This is a very good lot, and has excellent millseats on the river, without expensive dams, and with the greatest safety to the mills.
8. This is a very good lot, and is well timbered; has fine mill seats, and land of the first quality; some few stone and some timber.
9. (Above village.) This is an excellent lot, some beautiful land along the east line, and some pine timber on the south; some maple, beech, bass, elm, and iron wood.
10. (Corner lot.) This is an excellent lot; has a fine flat along the beach, which is very fine soil.”
Settlements commenced in Watertown, in March, 1800, at which time Henry Coffeen,* (* A native of Vermont, but for several years a resident of Schuyler, Oneida County.) and Zachariah Butterfield, having the fall previous visited the town and purchased arms, removed with their families from Schuyler, Oneida County, and began improvements on the site of Watertown Village. Coffeen was the first to arrive, having penetrated from Lowville through the woods, with his family and household goods drawn on an ox sled. He had purchased parts of lots 2,3, 13, 21, and 165 acres on the westerly part of lot No. 7, now covered by Watertown Village.
He erected his hut on the ground just west of the Iron Block, and Butterfield settled on the spot now covered by the Merchants’ Exchange, newly erected on the corner of Washington Street and Public Square. Oliver Bartholomew† († Deacon Bartholomew was born in Connecticut, October 20, 1757; served through the Revolution; settled in Oneida County in 1794, and died in Watertown, June 18, 1850. In 1803 he assisted in forming one of the first Baptist Churches in the County.) arrived in town, in March, 1800, and settled one and a half miles from the present village of Brownville. Simeon and Benjamin Woodruff, and others visited the town, with the view of settlement, and in the ensuing winter but three families wintered in town, viz: Coffeen, Bartholomew, and Butterfield. The land books of Mr. Low show the following list of purchasers, of which there may be some who were not actual settlers.
1799, May 16, John Whitney, 450 acres on lot 8, At $2.50 per acre; this probably reverted. In Oct. E. Allen, Silas Alden, S. and B. Woodruff, Jas. Rogers, O. Bartholomew, Thos. Delano, Elish Gustin, Z. Butterfield. In 1800, Heman Pellit, Thos. and John Sawyer, John Blevan, Abram Fisk, Wm. Lampson, Joseph Tuttle, N. Jewett, J. Wait, Abram Jewett, Hart Massey, Joseph Wadley, Jonathan Bentley, J. Sikes, S. Norris, Chas. Galloway, Jonathan Talcott, Josiah Bentley, Frend (sic) Dayton, John Patrick, David Bent, Luther Demming, Ephraim Edwards, Tilson Burrows, Thomas Butterfield, J. and L. Stebbins, Asaph Mather, ___ Stanley, James Glass, Ira Brown, W. P. and N. Crandall, Calvin Brown, Aaron Bacon, Bennet Rice, Thos. H. Biddlecom.
During the following season, many of these persons, who were mostly from Oneida County, settled, and in 1802, Jonathan Cowen‡ (‡ Cowen was a mill wright, and an uncle of Judge Eseck Cowen, of Saratoga County. He died near Evans’ Mills, November 27, 1840, at the age of 80.) began the erection of a grist mill, at the bridge that crosses to Beebe’s Island. The extraordinary water power which this place presented, afforded ground for the expectation, that it would become the centre of a great amount of business. The first deeds were given August 20, 1802, to Elijah Allen, Jotham Ives, David Bent, Ezra Parker, William Parker, Joseph Tuttle, and Joseph Moors.
During the first summer of the settlement, it being entirely impossible to procure grinding at any mills, nearer than Canada, a stump standing on the Public Square, a few rods east of the American Hotel, had been formed into a mortar, and with a spring pole and pestle attached, served the purpose of a grain mill to the settlement. This primitive implement, suggestive of rustic life, and the privations of a new colony, relieved the pioneers, in some degree, from the necessity of long journeys to mill, through a pathless forest. The hardships of this early period had a tendency to create a unity of feeling and sympathy from the strong sense of mutual dependence which it engendered, emotions of gratitude, for the manifest mercies of Providence. These hardy adventures were mostly poor. They possessed few of the comforts of life, yet they had few wants. The needful articles of the household were mostly made by their own hands, and artificial grades of society were unknown. The first death of the settlement is thus described by J. P. Fitch, in the preface of the first village directory, published in 1840:
“Late at the close of a still sultry day, in summer, Mrs. I. Thornton, the wife of one of the young settlers, gave the alarm that her husband had not returned from the forest, whither he had gone in the afternoon, to procure a piece of timber. Immediately every man in the settlement answered to the call, and hastened to the place designated for meeting, to concert a plan for search. Here all armed themselves with torches of lighted pine knots, or birch bark, and calling every gun in the place into use for firing alarms, and signals, started out in small companies into the of rest, in all directions. After a search of several hours, the preconcerted signal gun announced that the “lost was found.” All hurried to the spot, and upon the ground where now stands the Black River Institute, crushed beneath a tree which he had felled, lay the lifeless body of their companion. He was laid upon a bier hastily prepared for the occasion, and conveyed through the gloom of midnight, by the light of their torches, back to his house. What must have been the emotion of the bereaved young widow, when the mangled corpse of her husband, so suddenly fallen a victim to death, was brought in and laid before her! She did not, however, mourn alone. As the remains were borne to their lst resting place--the first grave that was opened in Trinity Churchyard--it needed no sable emblems of mourning to tell of the grief that hung dark around every heart. Each one of the little company, as he returned from performing the last duties to his departed companion, felt as if from his own family one had been taken. A similar incident occurred a short time after, in the death of a child which was killed by the falling of a tree, on the present site of the court-house; thus designating with blood, as one can imagine, the location of the halls of Justice, and Science, in our village, and consecrating the ground of each by a human sacrifice.”
In 1802 an inn was opened by Dr. Isaiah Massey, and settlers began to locate in every part of the town, which, in September of that year, numbered 70 or 80 families. A dam was built by Cowan in 1802, and in 1803, he got in operation a small grist mill. During two or three succeeding years, John Paddock, Chauncey Calhoun, Philo Johnson, Jesse Doolittle, William Smith, Medad Canfield, Aaron Keyes, Wm. Hungtinton,* (*Died at Watertown May 11, 1842, aged 85. He was a native of Tolland, Ct. In 1784 he removed to N. H., and in 1804, to Watertown.) John Hathaway, Seth Bailey, Gershon Tuttle, and others, several of whom were mechanics, joined the settlement, and at a very early day, a school house was built on the site of the Universalist Church, which served also as a place of religious meetings. In 1805, John Paddock and William Smith opened the first store in the place, their goods being brought from Utica in wagons. An idea may be had of the hardships of that period, compared with modern facilities, from the fact that in March, 1807, seventeen sleighs, laden with goods for Smith and Paddock, were 23 days in getting from Oneida County to Watertown, by way of Redfield. The snows were in some places seven feet deep, and the valleys almost impassable, from wild torrents resulting from the melting of snows. The winter had been remarkable for its severity, and the destructive spring floods.
Many incidents connected with the early settlement of this town, have been published in the Jeffersonian, over the signature of A LINK IN THE CHAIN, which were written by Mr. Solon Massey, whose father, Hart Massey, we have frequent occasion to mention as a pioneer and prominent citizen of the county. We regret our inability to publish more extended extracts from these interesting articles, but take the liberty of using the following, which will give some idea of the perils that surround the first settlers of a new country.
Lost in the Woods. -- To any person who realises what a dense howling wilderness this country was, at the time of its first occupation by our fathers, it will not be surprising that there were instances, rather frequent, of persons being lost in the woods.
The natural divisions of hill and dale, or upland and lowland, in this comparative level country, afforded but a few landmarks to the unlucky wight who happened to get at fault in his reckonings, and even those who were best acquainted with the natural scenery of the trackless forest, immediately surrounding our settlement, were sometimes compelled to experience the startling reality of being lost in the woods; which was indicated by finding themselves following a circle---coming round and round and round again, to the same starting point, in spite of all their efforts to follow out a continuous straight course.
This liability to be lost was so well understood, that whenever any member of the family was longer away in the forest than was expected, the alarm was given, and a rally made of all the men and boys n the difference settlements in the vicinity, and a general and systematic search instituted with preconcerted signals.
And yet the liability to get lost did not deter or prevent frequent intercourse with the woods. The forest was the “long pasture” where the cows lived in summer, and where they had to be hunted over long ranges of upland, or of swale and beaver meadow, as their fancy or necessity led them to forage for themselves. It was the botanic garden where a long list of medicinal plants were found, which were relied upon as preventives of the diseases that were incident to our new country, or as sovereign balm for every wound with which we might be afflicted for the time being. It was the place for berrying for a great variety of fruits and berries in their season--the great range from which we hunted out our natural crooked scythe snaths, our crotched trees for harrows and cart tongues, our axe helves, ox yoke and ox bow timer, broom sticks, &c., &c.; and, finally, it was the great hunting ground for a variety of wild game, with which to supply our tables with meat, in the absence of domestic animals, for food. Woods was the rule, clearings the exceptions.
One incident among a great many others, connected with being lost in the woods, may be transcribed from the earliest traditional history of our town, and which is something as follows:
Capt. James Parker owned and occupied a large body of land (now a farm) on the Brownville road, at present occupied in part by his son James. He had a large family of sturdy boys, the oldest of whom, at the time our tradition dates, was fourteen to sixteen years of age. The old gentleman, like many others of our enterprising settlers, was clearing up a large farm, and, for the purpose of making the most out of his ashes, had small potash works, where he worked them into potash or black salts.
In the process of manufacture, it seems he wanted some hemlock gum, and at the same time wanted some groceries from the little place ycleped (sic) a store here in the village. So handing the hero of our story a silver dollar, he bid him take his axe and a bag, and on his way to or from the store to procure some gum. With this errand and equipment he started, after dinner, on his way to this place; he proceeded as far as the foot of the Folts Hill ( H. H. Coffeen’s late residence), where stretching away to the south was an abundance of hemlock timber, and intent on performing the hardest and most difficult part of his task first, and not wishing to risk losing the dollar, he struck his axe into a large tree and loosening a chip he carefully deposited the coin in the cavity between the loosened chip and the body of the tree for safe keeping, intending on coming back to that starting point with his axe and bag, and leave them ere in their turn, while he run up to the store and back.
Well, after a while he found himself sufficiently provided with gum, and started off at a kind of Indian lope for the place where he had left the dollar, passing in his way a spring of water, upon the surface of which was a thick yellow scum, resembling iron rust. On, on, on he traveled, sweating under his load, and with the lurking suspicion that something was wrong, he didn’t know what. After a good while, however, and when he knew he must have traveled more than any distance that could possibly have been between the last gum tree and the one containing his dollar, he made a full halt for the purpose of a reckoning. One thing was very certain--that he had traveled faster coming back than when going, and had been longer about it. That had a bad look! then he thought it curious there should have been three of those iron ore springs, looking so nearly alike! And finally, the more he soliloquized the more he satisfied himself that he was lost.
What added not a little to his perplexity was, that twilight was already spreading her mantle upon the forest. It would therefore be necessary for him to select where he would spend the night, so far as there was any choice of a sheltered place in the woods. He was not long in finding a large standing tree that afforded just the nook he wanted, between two roots that stood well out on either side, and having ensconced himself in a sitting posture, with his back against the tree, and the axe between his knees, he prepared to face any danger that might offer, and to sleep away the long hours of night. He would have telegraphed the folks at home that he was safe, if he could. He hoped they would not be much alarmed. But there were though, and after sunset the old gentleman got uneasy and started out the way that he should come, just to meet him--if he was safe--but with a kind of presentiment to succor him if in trouble.
He kept on, occasionally stopping to listen, and sweating with apprehension, and imagining a whole catalogue of mishaps that might have befallen him--whether he had lost his way--or had maimed himself with the axe--or a tree had fallen upon him--or, what was certainly possible, some ravenous wild beast had devoured him--all was a matter of painful doubt, feat, and uncertainty.
It was not, however, until after he had reached the village, and found by enquiry that his boy had not been there, that his fearful forebodings of some horrid evil were confirmed.
Giving the alarm here, and begging of the good people to rally quick and meet such persons as he should succeed in obtaining from Brownville, he hastened home in such a state of mind as can be better imagined than described.
Until his arrival home, the family had not partaken very much of his own alarm, but now, what a sad and sorrowful company are they, as hurriedly they make the necessary preparation, with pine knots and birch bark for torches, home and guns for signals, and refreshments for the missing boy if he should be found, and for the kind neighbors who were in all probability to be in the woods all night.
In due time, a large company of men and boys were assembled, and having organized into bands, with preconcerted signals, they struck off into the forest, while the mother and sisters of the missing boy sat in the open door of their lonely tenement to await the slow and tedious result, and so as to be in a situation to catch the first sound of any signal guns announcing the fate of him they loved.
Thus passed the first half of the night. The hunt proceeded with great fidelity, so that every rod of the ground was inspected, the horns sounding at regular intervals of time, so as to preserve the line of march, or to catch the ear of the boy if peradventure he was alive.
The party had proceeded on carefully, until within a few rods of where the hero of the play kept his night vigil, before his dreams were disturbed and he sufficiently awake to know that it was for his benefit that the horns were sounded; but when fairly awake, he was not long in vacating his quiet retreat, and arresting the further progress of the search, by presenting himself in propria personæ, with his axe on his shoulder and gun bag under his arm, before the satisfied cavalcade.
Bang! bang! BANG! run out in quick succession upon the night air, reverberating to each extremity of the long line of weary hunters, the preconcerted signal, which notified the quick ear of the listening mother and sisters that Ellick was safe. There was more joy manifested that night over the boy that was found than over all them that went not astray.
A Link in the Chain.
A Man shot by his Friend. -- In the fall of 1801, there was a man, whose name was Dayton, who obtained a contract for a piece of land, lying south of the road to Brownville, as you climb the Folts Hill. He built a small log house in the woods, near the present road, and was keeping bachelor’s hall, through the months of September and October of that year, with no other companion than a young man who was brother to his wife. He was intending to remove his family here in the spring, but, as it turned out, he lacked the fortitude and courage which were requisite for pioneer life.
While thus living, an event occurred, which, for the time being, quickened the pulses of the entire community, and which seemed more like tragedy than any previous occurrence in our brief history. There
There was a project for a squirrel hunt, among the scattered inhabitants of the several neighborhoods, and Dayton and his brother-in-law were expecting to participate in the general war against the squirrels and other vermin, who were likely to get more than a fair proportion of the first corn crop ever cultivated in these wilds--though they themselves had no cornfields. And here we remark by the way, how unselfish men become, as soon as they get beyond the old settlements. Mutual dependence soon exerts a softening influence upon the human heart, and the sympathies flow out without stint as often as the sufferings present themselves for aid or sympathy. This, probably, is the clue to that proverbial happiness, which in all ages and in all countries, dates back to the pioneer settlements in a new country.
With the purpose of having his gun in readiness for the approaching hunt, Mr. Dayton took it down one evening, from its place over-head, and sitting down before the blazing fire, laid it across his knees, preparatory to taking off the lock and oiling its pinions, so as to insure a smart motion of the hammer spring. He was not aware that it contained a full charge of powder and shot, or that it was loaded at all; but carelessly held the muzzle towards his friend, who was sitting in the other corner of the fire-place, keeping up a cheerful light, by timely contributions of light, dry combustibles, to the open fire. It is probable that he pulled the trigger without thought or motive; but what was his horror and amazement, when his piece discharged, with a report that was almost deafening, filling the room with smoke, and when he heard his companion fall to the floor, exclaiming “I am shot! I am shot!”
They had no light but the open fire, and the smoke was so thick and suffocating that no examination could be made. It was all uncertain, what the extent of the injury might be; but knowing that Doctor Isaiah Massey had recently arrived from Vermont to share our fortunes with us, and that he was boarding at our village tavern, it was agreed that Dayton should find his way through the dark pine woods which intervened, and bring the doctor.
My father had some corn collected from his field, and with the male members of his family--kind men and boarders--doctor included, was in the house (log barn), husking; and my mother was keeping her night vigils alone in the house, when her ear detected the quick, hurried step of Mr. Dayton, as he rushed into the door, exclaiming, “I have killed my brother, and want the doctor!” As soon as he was sufficiently composed to state his case understandingly, he was directed to the husking party, for the doctor, while my mother, as if by instinct, set herself about preparing some clean linen rags, for bandages and lint, and some tallow candles for lights, with which our young Esculapius was soon on his way, on horseback and along, to answer to the first case of surgery and gun shot wounds which had presented itself in his pioneer practice.
He was evidently a good deal flurried, as he struck into the woods in advance of his guide, to endeavor to thread his dubious way; and he was frequently heard to say, afterwards, that it was the greatest trial his nerves had ever endured.
For aught he knew (and in the circumstances of the case, as narrated by the affrighted Dayton, a thing quite probable), his patient was already dead, and stiffened in his gore, an object frightful enough, to be visited alone, by broad day light; how much more, in the dim light of any embers which might be left in that lonely house in the woods.
His near approach to the house, which he after a while succeeded in finding, did not alleviate his feelings much; for now, the case must be met, whatever may be its developments. The idea of stumbling over a dead man, in his efforts to strike a light, or of groping about the room in search of a mutilated human being, was all his nerves would bear, and he trembled in his stirrups.
He however grew ashamed of his fear, and after listening a moment at the door, tapped gently for admittance; there was no answer. He lifted the latch and pressed his weight against the door, but it was fastened on the inside. He knocked again. “Who is there?” said the young man. “The doctor.” “Wait a minute and I will open the door,” said he, as he crawled off his couch and proceeded to take away the barricade with which he had fastened the door. He apologized for the delay, by saying that he had heard that wolves were attracted by the smell of blood, and that finding himself bleeding pretty profusely, he had thought it prudent to fasten himself in.”
It proved to be a case of no imminent danger, after all. The charge of shot from the gun had penetrated the fleshy part of the thigh of the young man, and after a proper dressing, for which the forethought of my mother had amply provided them, the young doctor mounted his horse and returned to the village, where he soon succeeded in allaying the fears of the community, by his professional opinion that he would recover, with proper care.
A Link in the Chain.
A Wolf Story of Early Times.--In the brief history that I wrote out for your paper two or three weeks ago, from the early traditions of our town, describing a scene, which was almost a tragedy, between a Mr. Dayton and his brother-in-law, at the foot of the Folts Hill, on the Brownville road, I stated, that the wounded man had taken the precaution to fasten his door on the inside, so as to prevent the ingress of wolves who might be attracted by the smell of blood, while Mr. Dayton was after the doctor.
I know it is somewhat difficult for the present generation in comprehend the situation of peril in which scattering families were placed at the early day, or that there was any real and positive danger of molestation by the wolves; and, therefore, I shall transcribe another incident, in the traditions of early men and early times, which will tend to correct any doubts upon that subject.
The late Hon. Jotham Ives was among the early emigrants into this town. He arrived here in 1801, and located his home, where he lived to amass a large landed property, and where he died, recently, near the place called Field Settlement.
In the fall of 1802, he had a number of hogs fattened, and at killing time he employed a Mr. Knowlton, an old, white-haired man of sixty years or more, who was somewhat skilled in butchering, to assist him. Knowlton lived about three-fourths of a mile from Mr. Ives, in the near neighborhood of the present resident of Mr. James Brintnall, where he had a little clearing, or what was perhaps more appropriately called, in backwoods phrase, a chopping, and which was surrounded by a temporary brush fence. Between himself and Mr. Ives there was no road; and nothing but a line of marked trees to designate the little footpath which meandered through the deep, dark, and in many places tangled forest, which stretched off almost interminably as either hand.
The butchering over, and supper disposed of, it was agreed that there was time to cut up the pork, and Mr. Knowlton consented to stay and assist in doing so. At a late hour, the whole work was finally completed, and Mr. Knowlton was generously compensated for his valued services, in addition to which he was made welcome to a couple of the hogs’ plucks, to carry home to his family.
But as he was about to leave for home, Mrs. Ives suggested the hazard of passing through the woods, at that late hour, with the smell of blood upon his clothes, and invited him to stay all night; to which Knowlton answered, that he could not think of being away from his family all night, as they would be alarmed for his safety, being unable to account for his absence; that, as for the wolves, though they might prowl around his path, they would not dare to molest him.
Now Mr. Ives was a man of great muscular power, and would not fear a regiment of wolves himself, and though he assured Mr. Knowlton that he might stay in welcome, yet he scouted the idea of danger from the sneaking cowardly wolves; he advised him, however, that in case he should be followed by them, to leave the plucks for them to quarrel over, while he should hurry on home.
The colloquy being ended, Knowlton finally took his leave with a pluck in each hand, and struck into the woods, to endeavor to follow out his little foot path. He had not proceeded far, however, before a sharp, and startling sound, a fearful howl, rang out upon the night air, evidently betokening the near neighborhood of a prowling wolf on his right, which was answered from another quarter, and then another, in quick succession, until the path, that he had traveled but a moment before, seemed to be alive with hungry seekers after blood.
He had yet no fears for his personal safety, and had no thought of cowardice; but yet he confessed that there was something dismal in the thought of being alone and entirely unarmed, at such a time, and in such a place, groping and feeling his dubious way in such close proximity to a pack of ravenous wild beasts; and he soon found himself quickening his pace, while ever and anon he (instinctively cast a wistful eye over his shoulder, and into the recesses of the thick woods on either hand.
It was not long, however, that any doubt remained about his being the object of their pursuit, as his quick ear detected the galloping movement of a troop of pattering feet on his track, and it was becoming more and more a question of interest with him how the chase would terminate.
He hoped, when he reflected that he was nearing his own habitation every moment, and his path was becoming plainer, and he was able to make better progress. But the odds was with them, for they were lighter of foot, and could see a great deal better than he could in the gloom of the forest; but, more than all, they were so many, and were mad with hunger, and were becoming more and more desperate every moment. On, on, on, the old man strode, resolutely, and with a strength and speed which would have surprised him at any other time, even by daylight, but which seemed slow enough, now in the time of his extremity.
If he could but keep them at bay a little longer, and until he could clear the dark woods and get the benefit of the comparatively open light of his chopping, or lay his hand upon some strong hand spike, or sled stake, or billet of wood, he might still hope to defend himself successfully, or escape from their hungry jaws. Straining every nerve, he bounded onward with such agility as only desperation and love of life afford; but the distance between him and his pursuers are not lessened by all his efforts; and before he reached the brush fence that surrounded his peaceful home, he felt that his time had nearly come, when he bethought himself of the parting advice of his friend Ives.
He acted upon the suggestion, and immediately hurled one of the plucks into their midst; in the next moment he was on the home side of his brush fence, and they were fighting over the paltry price with which he had purchase his own safety. It may be safely assumed that he did not wait to witness the result of the civil war which he had occasioned, but that as soon as possible he found himself on the inside of his rude domicil (sic), with the door fastened on the inside.
Mr. Knowlton lived many years after the event, which I have narrated, and died a natural death; and the woods which were the scene of our story have long since been cleared away, and the wolves are only known as figuring in the history of the olden time.
A Link in the Chain.
In 1803, a bridge was built below the village near the court house, by Henry Coffeen and Andrew Edmunds, over which the state road afterwards passed, and in 1805 the dam was built below the bridge, at which, the same year, a saw mill was built on the north side, and in 1806 a grist mill by Seth Bailey and Gershom Tuttle. A saw mill was built on the Watertown side by R. & T. Potter, a little below, and a saw and grist mill soon after by H. H. Coffeen, since which time many mills have been erected along the river.
It is a singular fact that the village of Watertown, in common with the whole county of Jefferson, while it vies in wealth and enterprise with the most favored portions of the state, owes very little if any thing to imported capital. In most instances the wealth now existing has been acquired on the spot, by those who at an early period were thrown upon their own immediate exertions for support, and from the ashes of the timber that covered the land, and the first crops which the virgin soil yielded in kind profusion, they received that first impulse which, seconded by industry, prudence, and sagacity, has not failed in bringing its reward. With a strong conviction that the place would at a future time become an important village, Jonathan Cowen, Henry Coffeen, Zechariah Butterfield, Jesse Doolittle, Medad Canfield, Aaron Keyes, Hart Massey and Isaiah Massey, who owned property adjoining the present public square and Washington street in Watertown, held, early in 1805, an informal meeting, and agreed to give forever to the public for a public mall a piece of land twelve rods wide, and twenty-eight long, and another running south at right angles to this, nine rods wide, and about thirty-two long. They then directed to be made by John Simons, a surveyor, a map of the premises, which was done, and deposited in the town clerk’s office, but this was afterwards lost. An attempt was subsequently made to resume the title, and sell portions of the public square, but the question having come into the courts, was decided by Judge Nathan Williams in favor of the public, as Mr. Cowen, the claimant, had acknowledged its existence, by bounding certain conveyances upon it.* (*See Paige’s Chancery Reports, iv., p. 510. ) In the same year, the site of the court house was determined by the commissioners appointed by the governor for that purpose, not without the most active influences being used at Brownville, and it is said to have been located in its present site, at some distance below the business portion of the village, by way of compromise.
Burrville, on a branch of Sandy Creek, derives its name from John Burr, and several sons,† (†Theodore Burr, a celebrated bridge builder, was a son of John Burr.) who first settled here about 1802. The place was considered very valuable for its water power, and here the first mills in Watertown were erected in accordance with an agreement between Silas Stow, agent for Low, the proprietor, and Hart Massey, dated June 1st, 1801, by which they were to build during that season, a saw mill, and corn mill, to be owned equally between them. The latter was to furnish three acres of land and erect the mills, and the former to furnish provisions, irons, mill stones, and expenses generally, the expenses to be equalized at the end of the building. They were accordingly built that summer, and soon sold to Mr. Burr. They proved lightly useful to the surrounding country, whose settlement they greatly promoted. The frame of the grist mill is still used.
Field’s Settlement, in the west part of the town, adjoining Houndsfield, derives its name from Elijah Fields, from Woodstock, Vermont, who with a family of nine sons and three daughters, mostly of mature years, and some of them with families, settled here in 1805. Jotham, Titus*, (Dr. Titus Ives died February 12th, 1847, of apoplexy, aged 60. Jotham Ives settled in 1800, and is said to have raised the first crop of wheat in town.) and Joel Ives, three brothers, had located in the vicinity four years previous. Near the centre of the town, Major Allen, Aaron Brown, Corlis Hinds, Tilley Richardson, Reuben Scott, James and Eli Rogers, Benjamin Green, and others, and near Burrville, the Hungerford families, Caleb and Nathaniel Burnham and many more.
An act of 1808, directed 500 stand of arms to be deposited at Champion, the destination of which was by an act of March 27th, 1809, changed to Watertown, and an arsenal erected in that year. The arsenal was built under the direction of Hart Massey, Esq., collector of the district of Sackets Harbor, at an expense of $1,940.99. It has given its name to the street on which it stands, which was previously called Columbia Street, and was maintained by the state, as an arsenal, until sold under the act of April 9th, 1850. The brick of which it was built were furnished by Abraham Jewett, at a cost of $339.63; the stone were cut by Thaddeus Smith and Joseph Cook, at a cost of $110.80, and the lime by David Stafford and Benjamin Goodale, at 22 cents per bushel.
In Watertown, as in other sections, the manufacture of potash formed the first means of realizing cash, and many paid in whole or in part for their lands by this means. In 1806, $3,500; in 1807, $6,000; and in 1808, $9000 worth of this staple were exchanged, the market being at that time in Montreal. In 1810, the firm of Paddock and Smith purchased 1800 barrels, averaging $40 per barrel, making for that period the enormous aggregate of $112,000. The embargo which preceded the war did not prevent but rather increased the trade, by the high prices that it created, but the declaration of war entirely prostrated that, and every other energy of the country, except that the military operations of that period required large supplies of provisions and forage for the armies on this frontier. At Watertown, bodies of troops were stationed for short periods, and the sick were often sent thither for that attendance which could not be secured at Sackets Harbor. In 1811, the citizens had adopted measures for securing the benefits of an academy, and erected on the site of the First Presbyterian Church, a brick building for that purpose, which will be again mentioned in our account of academies. This building was used as a hospital for a considerable time.
Soon after the war, there occurred in this village an event which excited extraordinary interest throughout the country, and of which many accounts have been published, more or less approximating to the truth, but none to our knowledge giving the full and correct details. Had the subject depended upon us alone, to give it publicity, it might have been properly passed over, as one of those events that should be forgotten, in charity to the memory of the dead, and feelings of surviving relatives, but as it has been so often repeated that we do not imagine it in our power to give it wider notoriety, and knowing that the public would expect a notice of the event, we have labored to procure a correct version. The narrative may effect a useful purpose, by exhibiting the extent to which one error leading to another will betray one, at the same time serving as an instructive lesson to war against any deviation from the path of honor, or the listening to suggestions that compromise principle.
Samuel Whittlesey, originally from Tollant, Ct., had removed about 1807, to Watertown, and engaged in business as a lawyer. On the 12th of February, 1811, he received the appointment of district-attorney for the territory compromised in Lewis, Jefferson and St. Lawrence counties, and on the 9th of February, 1813, he was superseded by the appointment of Amos Benedict, who had preceded him. Events connected with this, led to some sympathy for him, and the office of brigade-paymaster, which had been tendered to Mr. Jason Fairbanks, was by him declined in favor of Whittlesey, and he, with Perley Keyes, became security for the honest discharge of the duties of the office. At the close of the war, a large amount of money being due to the drafted militia, for services on the frontier, Whittlesey went to New York, accompanied by his wife, to obtain the money, and received at the Mechanics’ Bank in that city, $30,000, in one, two, three, five and ten dollar bills, with which he started to return. At Schenectady, as was afterwards learned, his wife*
(*This vicious woman had got her husband embroiled in repeated difficulties in Connecticut, and for these he had been compelled to remove. During the war, Lieut. Col. Tuttle, being taken sick at Sackets Harbor, was sent to Watertown and placed in Whittlesey’s family for nursing. He grew worse, and died very soon after, under suspicious circumstances, and although he was supposed to have large sums of money, none was found. Mrs. Whittlesey, not long after, had money to let. Numerous anecdotes are related which prove her to have been exceedingly vain, penurious and vicious. With decided abilities, and a good education, she possessed a moral depravity, and evinced the absence of those virtues that adorn the sex, to a degree that has been seldom equalled. Her treatment to a domestic had been so barbarous as to call for the interference of the humane; her ostentatious airs disgusted whoever came into her presence, and her licentious tongue embroiled her neighborhood in quarrels.)
reported themselved (sic) robbed of $8,700, an occurrence which greatly distressed and alarmed him, but she advised him not to make it public at that moment, as they might otherwise better take steps that might lead to its recovery, and on the way home, she in an artful and gradual manner persuaded him, that if they should report the robbery of a part of the money, no one would believe it, as a thief would have taken the whole, if any. In short (to use a homely proverb), she urged that they might as well “die, for an old sheep as a lamb,”and keep the rest, as they would inevitably be accused of taking a part. Her artifice, enforced by the necessities of the case, took effect, and he suffered himself to become the dupe of his wife, who was doubtless the chief contriver of the movements which followed. Accordingly, on his reaching home he gave out word that his money had been procured, and would be paid over as soon as the necessary papers and pay-roll could be prepared. In a few days, having settled his arrangements, he started for Trenton, on horseback, with his postmanteaus filled, stopping at various places on his way, to announce that on a given day he would return, to pay to those entitled their dues, and in several instances evinced a carelessness about the custody of his baggage, that excited remark from inn-keepers and others. On arriving at Billings’ tavern, at Trenton, he assembled several persons to whom money was due, and proceeded to pay them, but upon opening his portmanteau, he, to the dismay of himself and others, found that they had been ripped open, and that the money was gone! With a pitiable lamentation and well-affected sorrow he bewailed this robbery, instantly despatched messengers in quest of the thief, offered $2,000 reward for his apprehension, and advertised in staring handbills throughout the country, in hopes of gaining some clue that would enable him to recover his treasure. In this anxiety he was joined by hundreds of others, who had been thus indefinitely delayed in the receipt of their needed and rightful dues, but although there was no lack of zeal in these efforts, yet nothing occurred upon which to settle suspicion, and with a heavy heart, and many a sigh and tear, he returned home, and related to his family and friends, his ruin. As a natural consequence, the event became at once the absorbing theme of the country, for great numbers were effected in their pecuniary concerns by it, and none more than the two endorsers to the securities of Whittlesey. These gentlemen, who were shrewd, practical, and very observing men, immediately began to interrogate him, singly and alone, into the circumstances of the journey and the robbery, and Fairbanks in particular, whose trade as a saddler led him to be minutely observant of the qualities and appearances of leather, made a careful examination of the incisions in the portmanteau, of which there were two, tracing upon paper their exact size and shape, and, upon close inspection, noticed pin holes in the margin, as if they had been mended up. Upon comparing the accounts which each had separately obtained in a long and searching conversation, these men became convinced that the money had not been stolen in the manner alleged, but that it was still in the possession of Whittlesey and his wife. To get possession of this money was their next care, and, after long consultation, it was agreed that the only way to do this, was to gain the confidence of the family, and defend them manfully against the insinuations that come from all quarters, that the money was still in town. In this they succeeded admirably, and from the declarations which they made in public and in private, which found their way directly back to the family, the latter were convinced that, although the whole world were against them in their misfortunes, yet they had the satisfaction to know that the two men who were the most interested, were still by their side. To gain some fact that would lead, to a knowledge of the place of deposit, Messrs. Fairbanks and Keyes agreed to listen at the window of the sleeping room of those suspected, which was in a chamber, and overlooked the roof of a piazza. Accordingly, after dark one would call upon the family, and detain them in conversation, while the other mounted a ladder and placed himself where he could overhear what was said within, and although they thus became convinced that the money was still in their possession, no opinion could be formed about the hiding place. Security upon their real estate was demanded, and readily given.
A son of the family held a commission in the navy, and was on the point of sailing for the Mediterranean, and it was suspected that the money might thus have been sent off; to ascertain which, Mr. Fairbanks, under pretext of taking a criminal to the state prison, went to New York, made inquiries which satisfied him that the son was innocent of any knowledge of the affair, and ascertained at the bank the size of the packages taken. He had been told by Whittlesey, that these had not been opened when stolen, and by making experiments with blocks of wood of the same dimensions, they readily ascertained that bundles of that size could not be got through an aperture of the size reported, and that instead of a seven it required a nineteen inch slit in the leather to allow of their being extracted. Some facts were gleaned at Albany, that shed further light, among which it was noticed that Mrs. W. at her late visits (although generally very penurious in her trades) had been very profuse in her expenses. After a ten-days’ absence, Mr. F. returned; his partner having listened nights meanwhile, and the intelligence gained by eave dropping, although it failed to disclose the locality of the lost money, confirmed their suspicions. As goods were being boxed up at Whittlesey’s house at a late hour in the night, and the daughters had already been sent on to Sackets Harbor, it was feared that the family would soon leave; decisive measures were resolved upon to recover the money, the ingenuity and boldness of which evince the sagacity and energy of the parties. Some method to decoy Whittlesey from home, and frighten him by threats, mutilation or torture, into a confession, was discussed, but as the latter might cause an uncontrollable hemorrhage, it was resolved to try the effect of drowning. Some experiments were made, on their own persons, of the effect of submersion of the head, and Dr. Sherwood, a physician of the village, was consulted on the time life would remain under water. Having agreed upon a plan, on the evening before its execution, they repaired to a lonely place about a miles south of the village, screened from the sight of houses by a gentle rise of ground, and where a spring issued from the bank and flowed off through a miry slough, in which, a little below, they built a dam of turf, that formed a shallow pool. It was arranged that Mr. Fairbanks should call upon Whittlesey, to confer with him on some means of removing the suspicions which the public had settled upon him, by obtaining certificates of character from leading citizens, and officers of the army; and that the two were to repair to Mr. Keyes’s house, which was not far from the spring. Mr. Keyes was to be absent repairing his fence, and to leave word with his wife, that if any one enquired for him, to send them into the field where he was at work. Neither had made confidants in their suspicions or their plans, except that Mr. Keyes thought it necessary to reveal them to his son, P. Gardner Keyes, then seventeen years of age, whose assistance he might need, in keeping up appearances, and in whose assistance he might need, in keeping up appearances, and in whose sagacity, and fidelity in keeping a secret he could rely.
Accordingly, on the morning of July 17 (1815), Mr. Keyes, telling his wife that the cattle had broken into his grain, shouldered his axe, and went out to repair the fence which was thrown down, and Mr. Fairbanks called upon Whittlesey, engaged him in conversation as usual, and without exciting the slightest suspicion, induced him to go up to see his partner, whom they found in a distant part of the field at work. Calling him to them, they repaired as if casually to the spring, where, after some trifling remark, they explicitly charged him with the robbery, gave their reasons for thinking so, and told him that if he did not instantly disclose the locality of the money, the pool before him should be his grave. This sudden and unexpected charge frightened their victim; but with a look of innocence he exclaimed, “I know nothing of the matter.” This was no sooner said, than he was rudely seized by Mr. Keyes and plunged head foremost into the pool, and after some seconds withdrawn. Being again interrogated, and assured that if the money were restored, no legal proceedings would be instituted; he again tested his innocence, and was a second time plunged in, held under several moments, and again withdrawn, but this time insensible, and for one or two minutes it was doubtful whether their threats had not been executed; but he soon evinced signs of life, and so far recovered as to be able to sit up and to speak. Perhaps nothing but the certain knowledge of his guilt, which they possessed, would have induced them to proceed further; but they were men of firmness, and resolved to exhaust their resource of expedients, rightly judging that a guilty conscience could not long hold out against the prospect of speedy death. He was accordingly addressed by Mr. Keyes in tones and emphasis of sober earnest, and exhorted for the last time, to save himself from being hurried before the tribunal of heaven, laden with guilt--to disclose at once In feeble tones he reasserted his innocence, and was again collared and plunged in, but this time his body only was immersed. It had been agreed in his hearing, that Fairbanks (being without a family) should remain to accomplish the work, by treading him into the bottom of the slough) while Keyes was to retire, so that neither could be a witness of murder if apprehended; and that on a given day they were to meet in Kingston. Keyes paid over about ninety dollars to bear expenses of travel, and was about to leave, when the wretched man, seeing these serious arrangements, and at length believing them to be an awful reality, exclaimed, “I’ll tell you all I know about it!” Upon this, he was withdrawn, and when a little recovered, he confessed, that all but about $9,000 (which he now, for the first time, stated to have been stolen at Schenectady) would be found either under a hearth, at his house, or quilted into a pair of drawers in his wife’s possession. Mr. Keyes, leaving their prisoner in charge of his associate, started for the house, and was seen by his wife, coming across the fields, covered with mud, and, to use the words of the latter, “Looking like a murdered;” and although, in feeble health, and scarcely able to walk, she met him at the door, and enquired with alarm, “What have you been doing?” He briefly replied, “We have had the old fellow under water, and made him own where the money is;” and hastily proceeding to the village, related in few words to his friends, Dr. Paul Hutchinson, and John M. Canfield, the facts, and with him repaired to the house of Whittlesey. Seeing them approach, Mrs. Whittlesey fled to her chamber; and on their knocking for admission, she replied, that she was changing her dress, and would meet them shortly. As it was not the time or place for the observance of etiquette, Mr. Keyes rudely burst open the door, and entering, found her reclining on the bed. Disregarding her expostulations of impropriety, he rudely proceeded to search, and soon found between the straw and feather bed, upon which she lay, a quilted garment, when she exclaimed, “You’ve got it! My God, have I come to this!” The drawers bore the initials of Col. Tuttle, who had died at that house, under very suspicious circumstances; were fitted with two sets of buttons, for either the husband or wife to wear, and contained about thirty parcels of bills, labeled: “For my dear son C_____, 150 of 5;” “For my dear daughter E_____, 150 of 3;” &c., amounting to $15,000 to her five children; the remainder being reserved for her own use. The garment also contained a most extraordinary document, which might be called her Will, and about which she expressed the most urgent solicitude, imploring that it might be destroyed, by the earnest appeal that, “You have children as well as me!” It was soon after published in the papers, and was as follows:
“I is my last and dying request, that my children shall have all the money that is contained in the papers which have their names on, which is three thousand dollars for each; and let there be pains and caution, and a great length of time taken to exchange it in. God and my own heart knows the misery I have suffered in consequence of it, and that it was much against my will that it should be done. I have put all that is in the same bank by it, that I had from prudence, and a great number of years been gathering up; and when I used to meet with bills on that bank in your posses, or when I could, I used to exchange others for them, as I supposed it was the best, and would be the most permanent bank. You know the reason of your taking this was, that we supposed that from the lock of the small trunk being broken, and the large one being all loose, and the nails out, that we were robbed on the road of $8,700. You know that I always told you, that I believed it was done in the yard, where you, as I told you then, put the wagon imprudently in Schenectady. Oh! how much misery am I born to see, through all your improper conduct, which I am forced to conceal from the view of the world, for the sake of my beloved offsprings’ credit, and whereby I have got enemies undeservedly, while the public opinion was in your favor! But it fully evinces what false judgments the world makes. Oh! the God who tries the hearts, and searches the reins of the children of men, knows, that the kind of misery which I have suffered, and which has riled and soured my temper, and has made me appear cross and morose to the public eye, has all proceeded from you, and fixed in my countenance the mark of an ill-natured disposition, which was naturally formed for loves, friendships, and all other refined sensations. How have I falsified the truth, that you might appear to every advantage, at the risk and ill-opinion of the sensible world towards myself; when my conscience was telling me I was doing wrong; and which, with everything else that I have suffered since I have been a married woman, has worn me down and kept me out of health; and now, oh! now, this last act is bringing me to my grave fast. I consented, because you had placed me in the situation you did. In the first place you were delinquent in the payment to government of eighteen or nineteen hundred dollars. Then, this almost $9,000 missing, I found when you come to settle, that you never could make it good without sacrificing me and my children, was the reason I consented to the proposal. I did you the justice to believe that if the last sum had not been missing, that you would not have done as you did; but I am miserable! God grant that my dear children may ne’er fall into the like error, that their father has, and their poor unfortunate mother consented to! May the Almighty forgive us both, for I freely forgive you all you have made me suffer.”
The money being counted, and to their surprise found to embrace a part of the sum supposedly stolen, Mr. Keyes went back to release Whittlesey. The latter, meanwhile, had related the circumstances of the robbery, and anxiously enquired whether, if the whole was not found, that would still execute their purpose; to which Mr. Fairbanks replied in a manner truly characteristic, “that will depend on circumstances.” No one was more surprised than Whittlesey himself, to learn that most of the money was found, and that he had been robbed at Schenectady by his own wife. He begged hard to be released on the spot, but it was feared he would commit suicide, and he was told that he must be delivered up to the public as sound as he was taken, and was led home. The fame of this discovery soon spread, and it was with difficulty that the villagers were restrained from evincing their joy by the discharge of cannon. Mr. Whittlesey was led home, and placed with guard in the room with his wife, until further search; and here the most bitter criminations were exchanged, each charging the other with the crime, and the wife upbraiding the husband with cowardice, in revealing the secret. The guard being withdrawn in the confusion that ensued, Mrs. Whittlesey passed from the house, and was seen by a person at a distance, to cross the cemetery, of Trinity church, where on passing the grave of a son, she paused, faltered, and fell back, overwhelmed with awful emotion; but a moment after, gathering new energy, she hastened on, rushed down the high bank near the ice cave, and plunged into the river. Her body was found floating near the lower bridge, and efforts were made to recover life, but it was extinct!
With a remarkable familiarity with death, she had years before prepared her own shroud, and chosen the text* (*II Corinthians, v, 1.) and psalm she wished to have used at her funeral; but the Rev. Mr. Banks, who officiated on the occasion, not deeming these applicable to the case, selected the sixth commandment, for a text, and a hymn in Watt’s Collection, commencing with,
“Death, ‘tis a melancholy day.”
She was buried beside her son, and near Colonel Tuttle, whom she is supposed to have poisoned. Her husband remained in town nearly a year, and then removed to Indiana, where he afterwards became a justice, and a county judge, and by an exemplary life won the respect of community; and although the details of this affair followed him, yet the censure of opinion rested upon the wife. He has been dead many years. The sympathies of the public were not withheld from the children of this family, who were thus cast penniless and disgraced upon the world. Many details connected with the affair we have not given; among which were several attempts to throw suspicion upon innocent parties by depositing money on their premises, writing anonymous letters, &c., which serve but to aggravate the crime, by betraying the existence of a depravity on the part of the chief contriver in the scheme, which has seldom or never been equaled. The marked bills, amounting to $400, had been dropped on the road to Sackets Harbor, and were found by Mr. Gale, who prudently carried them to a witness, counted and sealed them, and after the disclosure brought them forward. Mr. Whittlesey stated that he expected some one would find and use the money, when he could swear to the marks, and implicate the finder. Mr. Gale, upon hearing this, was affected to tears, and exclaimed: “Mr. Whittlesey, is it possible, you would have been so wicked as to have sworn me to state prison for being honest!”
Congress, on the 11th of January, 1821, passed an act directing the secretary of treasury to cancel and surrender the bond given by Whittlesey; and endorsed by Fairbanks & Keyes, on condition of the latter giving another, payable with interest in two years.
To give interest to this account, we offer the portrait of one of the parties, engraved from a recent deguerreotype; and in the appendix will insert some anecdotes illustrative of the peculiar characteristics of Mr. Fairbanks, whose public life and prominent business operations have made him extensively known.
The village of Watertown was incorporated April 5, 1816. The act provided for the election of five trustees, who were to possess the powers and immunities usually vested in similar corporations. These extended to the formation of a fire department, the construction of water works, regulation of markets, streets,
&c., the building of hay scales, supervision of weights and measures, and whatever related to the preservation of health, or the suppression of nuisances. Three assessors, a treasurer, collector, and five fire wardens were to be also elected. Fines, not exceeding $25, might be imposed. The annual election was to occur on the first Monday of May, and the trustees were to choose one of their number for president, and some proper person for clerk. The president, with the advice of the trustees, was to appoint a company, not exceeding twenty, of firemen, and to enforce, in the name of the trustees, the ordinances and regulations which they might establish. The village of Watertown was constituted one road district, and exempted from the jurisdiction of the town commissioners.
On the 7th of April, 1820, an act was passed altering the bounds of the village, and amending the charter; and on the 17th of April, 1826, and 26th of April, 1831, the charter was still further amended. On the 22d of March, 1832, the trustees were empowered, by an act, to borrow a sum not exceeding $2,000, to improve the fire department of the village, and supply it with water to be used in fires, and April 21, 1832, the doings at an election were confirmed. An act was passed April 23, 1835, granting additional powers to the trustees, repealing former provisions of the charter, and authorizing the erection of a market. The village charter was amended by an act of April 16, 1852, by which its bounds were increased, the district included directed (sic) to be divided into from five to seven wards. A president, three assessors, a clerk, treasurer, collector, and two police constables, were to be elected annually, and one trustee to each ward, of which there are five. Elections are held on the first Monday of March, and the powers and duties of the trustees were much extended.
The first village election was held at the house of Isaac Lee, in May, 1816, David Bucklin, Esq., presiding, and the following officers were chosen: Timothy Burr, Egbert Ten Eyck, Olney Pearce, Marianas W. Gilbert, and Norris M. Woodruff, trustees; Reuben Goodale, William Smith, Orville Hungerford, assessors; Micah Sterling, treasurer; Seth Otis, collector; Jabez Foster, Samuel Watson, Jr., Rufus Backus, William Fletcher, Joseph Henry, fire wardens.
Trustees of the village of Watertown since its incorporation.
(The one elected president is placed in Italics.)
1816, Timothy Burr, Egbert Ten Eyck, Olney Pearce, Marianus W. Gilbert, Norris M. Woodruff.
1817, Isaac Lee, Silas Marvin, Wm. Tanner, Andrew Newell, Jason Fairbanks.
1818, Orin Stone, Wm. Smith, Chauncey Calhoun, Reuben Goodale, Dyer Huntington.
1819, William Smith, Orin Stone, Chauncey Calhoun, Reuben Goodale, Dyer Huntington.
1820, Egbert Ten Eyck, Marianus W. Gilbert,* (*Appointed December 1, 1820, in place of Ten Eyuck, resigned.) David W. Bucklin, Andrew Newell, N. M. Woodruff.
1821, Olney Pearce, Andrew Newell, James Q. Adams, Charles E. Clarke, David W. Bucklin.
1822, David W. Bucklin, Calvin McKnight, Marianus W. Gilbert, Dyer Huntington, Adriel Ely.
1823, Orville Hungerford, Dyer Huntin,gton John Sigourney, James Q. Adams, Loveland Paddock.
1824, Olney Pearce, Dyer Huntington, Silas Marvin, John Sigourney, Norris M. Woodruff.
1825, Olney Pearce, Noah W. Kiniston, Marianus W. Gilbert, Andrew Newell, John Safford.
1826, Olney Pearce, Noah W. Kiniston, Marianus W. Gilbert, Andrew Newell, John Safford.
1827, Norris M. Woodruff, Marianus W. Gilbert, Orin Stone, William D. Ford, Chauncey Calhoun.
1828, Norris M. Woodruff, Chauncey Calhoun, Loveland Paddock, Jeremiah Holt, John Sigourney.
1829, Norris M. Woodruff, Dyer Huntington, John Sigourney, Robert Lansing, Isaac H. Bronson.
1829, Norris M. Woodruff, Dyer Huntington, John Sigourney, Robert Lansing, Isaac H. Bronson.
1830, Norris M. Woodruff, Dyer Huntington, John Sigourney, Robert Lansing, Isaac H. Bronson.
1831, Jason Fairbanks, Dyer Huntington, Nathaniel Wiley, Otis Colwell, Rufus Sherman.
1832, Orville Hungerford, Alanson Tubbs, Isaac H. Bronson, Milton Carpenter, Marianus W. Gilbert.
1833, Orville Hungerford, Marianus W. Gilbert, John Clarke, Philo C. Walton, Henry H. Coffeen.
1834, Orville Hungerford, Henry H. Cofeen, Marianus W. Gilbert, Nathaniel Wiley, Luther G. Hoyt.
1835, Orville Hungerford, Henry H. Coffeen, Marianus W. Gilbert, Nathaniel Wiley, David D. Otis.
1836, Jason Fairbanks, Hiram Holcomb, Frederick W. White, Robert Lansing, Marianus W. Gilbert.
1837, Dyer Huntington, Marianus W. Gilbert, Daniel Lee, Reuben Goodale, Lewis R. Sandiforth.
1838, Dyer Huntington, Reuben Goodale, Daniel Lee, Marianus W. Gilbert, John C. Lasher.
1839, David D. Otis, Freeman Murray, Marianus W. Gilbert, Otis Colwell, William H. Robinson.
1840, George C. Sherman, Orville Hungerford, Otis Colwell, William H. Robinson, Freeman Murray.
1841, William Wood, George Burt, Orville Hungerford, Stephen Boon, Jr., William Ragan.
1842, William H. Robinson, Loveland Paddock, Calvin Wright, Kilborn Hannahs, Peter S. Howk.
1843, William H. Robinson, Daniel Lee, John D. Crowner, Loveland Paddock, Nathaniel Wiley.
1844, Benjamin Cory, Daniel Lee, Dyer Huntington, David D. Otis, Winslow Partridge.
1845, Dyer Huntington, G. C. Torry, George Burr, C. Colwell, Orville V. Brainard.
1846, Orville V. Brainard, C. Colwell, Horace W. Woodruff, F. W. Hubbard, John F. Hutchinson.
1847, Stephen Boon, John Sigourney, Gilbert Woodruff, H. W. Woodruff, L. Munson.
1848, Peter S. Howk, John C. Lasher, Nehemiah Van Ness, H. W. Woodruff, Stephen Boon.
1849, David D. Otis, Nathaniel Farnham, Calvin Auborn, J. H. Napier, Peter Haas.
1850, David D. Otis, C. Colwell, Pierson Mundy, N. Farnham, Marcus Hungerford.
1851, Joshua Moore, Jr., Peter Horr, K. Hannahs, John H. Napier, Isaac H. Fisk.
1852, Kilborn Hannahs, C. H. Wright, O. V. Brainard, L. Munson, J. M. Clark.
1853, Joseph Mullin, president; William A. Loomis, Benjamin Cory, Abner Baker, Charles Clarke, Philo L. Scovil, trustees.
The trustees, at their first meeting, divided the village into five wards, to each of which a fire warden was to be assigned, and each was to be supplied with four ladders. A series of regulations providing against fires and making provisions for the several objects named in the charter was also adopted. A fire company was organized May 28th, 1817, and at a meeting of freeholders called for the purpose on the 10th of June, the sum of $200 was voted for the purchase of a fire engine. February 6th, 1818, $400 voted to assist in building a bridge near Newel’s brewery. May 4th, 1818, a committee of three appointed to confer with the supervisors concerning the purchase of a bell for the court house. On the 22d of May, 1821, a plan of supplying the village with water was discussed, and on subsequent occasions action was taken towards the erection of reservoirs near the factory, but this measure finally failed. On the 27th of October, 1823, a plan for a cemetery, previously purchased of H. Massey, was accepted, and on the 6th of December, 1825, the lots, one rod square each, were balloted for, each taxable resident being entitled to one share. To non residents, lots might be sold, the proceeds to be applied to the building of a tomb. Four lots were to be drawn, one for each of the clergy of the village. A hook and ladder company was voted to be formed, in May, 1826. June 14th, 1828, $150 voted for improving the public square, and $50 for boring for water in the public well. On the 31th of December following, $50 were appropriated to aid in digging for water on Factory Square. At the annual meeting in 1829 the proceeds of licenses in the 1st ward were applied towards procuring water for the village. On the 21st of May, $200 were voted for boring water. In pursuance of this object, an Artesian well was commenced on the public square, and had been sunk many feet, when the work was stopped by the maliciously dropping of a drill into the hole with the steel point upwards.
At a meeting held November 24th, 1831, the inhabitants advised the trustees to purchase a new fire engine, and the sum of $50 was directed to be drawn out of the village treasury, and presented to Messrs. Barrett & Parker, for their prompt and efficient exertions with their new engine at the late fire In the village. A fire company to be attached to the engine, belonging to the Jefferson Cotton Mills, was formed August 6th, 1832. Dyer Huntington was at the same time appointed chief engineer, and Adriel Ely assistant engineer of the fire department.
On the 19th of June, 1832, a special meeting of trustees was held to adopt measures to prevent the spread of the Asiatic cholera, which was at that time spreading terror throughout the country. Sobriety, regularity, temperance, and cleanliness were recommended as the most efficient preventives of the disease. One trustee, one fire warden, one physician, and three citizens, were appointed in each ward to take efficient measures for enforcing sanitary regulations. A special meeting of citizens convened at Parson’s Hotel, on the next day, and after the reading of several papers from Albany, Ogdensburgh, and Prescott, a “committee of health,” consisting of twelve persons, was appointed, and Drs. Trowbridge, Crawe, Wright, Green, Goodale, Sykes, Bagg, and Safford, were named as a committee to consult with the health committee. The state and national legislatures were petitioned for a law preventing the landing of foreigners, and for powers similar to those given to cities. The surrounding towns and villages were invited to cooperate in the adoption of sanitary measures. Three days after the passage of the act of June 22d, for the preservation of the public health, the following persons, viz: Marianus W. Gilbert, Levi Beebee, John Sigourney, Orville Hungerford, William Smith, Norris M. Woodruff, and Peleg Burchard, were appointed a board of health, and Dr. I. B. Crawe, was elected health officer.
On the 3d of May, 1833, a board of health was again appointed, consisting of William Smith, Levi Beebee, P. Burchard, N. M. Woodruff, and John Sigourney; Dr. I. B. Crawe, health officer.
On intelligence being received from Montreal of the reappearance of the cholera, a special meeting of trustees was called, August 1st, 1834, and a new board of health appointed.
A census of Watertown, taken in April 1827, gave 1098 males, and 941 females, a gain of 500 in two years. There were 321 buildings, of which 224 were dwellings; 3 stone churches (Methodist, Universalist, and Presbyterian); court house, and jail; clerk’s office; arsenal; 1 cotton factory with 1300 spindles, another (Beebee’s) then building; 1 woolen factory; 3 paper mills; 3 large tanneries; 3 flouring mills; 1 furnace; 1 nail factory; 2 machine shops; 2 fulling mills; 3 carding machines; 2 distilleries; 1 ashery; 2 pail factories; 1 sash factory; 2 chair factories; 1 hat factory; 4 wagon shops; 2 paint shops; 4 cabinet and joiner shops; 8 blacksmiths; 4 tailor shops; 7 shoe shops; 3 saddle and harness shops; 8 taverns; 15 dry good stores; 2 hardware stores; 2 hat stores; 2 book stores; 2 leather stores; 1 paint store; 2 druggists; 2 jewelers; 2 weekly papers; 7 public schools; 6 physicians, and 10 lawyers.
In 1829, an association was formed for boring for water on Factory Square, and a hole two and a half inches in diameter was drilled to the depth of 127 feet, when water was obtained that rose to the surface, and having been tubed, has since discharged (except in very dry seasons, when it requires pumping) a copious volume of water, slightly charged with sulphur and iron. The cost of the work was about $800. On Sewall’s Island, a similar well was bored, which at eight feet discharged water and inflammable gas; but upon being sunk further, these were both lost.
An act passed April 10, 1826, incorporating the Watertown Water Company, but nothing was effected.
An act was again passed April 11, 1845, by which L. Paddock, Timothy Dewey, F. W. Hubbard, N. M. Woodruff, and O. Hungerford, and their associates, were incorporated as the Watertown Water Works Company, but these did not attempt the erection of water works.
On the 22d of March, 1853, Loveland Paddock, George C. Sherman, Isaac H. Fisk, William H. Angel, and Howell Cooper, were incorporated as the Water Commissioners of the Village of Watertown; who were to be divided into classes, so that one should be annually elected, commencing on the first Monday of June, 1856. Before entering upon their duties, they were to give a joint bond of $60,000, and were empowered to borrow, on the credit of the village, a sum not exceeding $50,000 for a term of not less than twenty, nor more than thirty years, payable in five installments, with seven per cent interest, for the purpose of erecting water works in the village. The above commissioners, soon after their appointment, contracted with J. C. Wells for a pump house and reservoir; the latter to be 150, by 250 feet, at the water line, and 12 feet deep; to be lined with clay, covered with gravel, and divided by two walls six feet apart; the vacancy being filled with layers of gravel and sand, through which the water is filtered in passing from the receiving to the distributing side of the reservoir. The pump house, located on the Black River, near the cotton factory, in the upper part of the village, was to be 28 by 40 feet, and 17 feet high, entirely fire proof. The machinery was contracted for by Hoard & Bradford; and the pipes, from the pumps to the reservoir, and the main distributing pipes, were furnished and laid by J. Ball & Co., of New York. They are of sheet iron, lined and coated with cement, and warranted to last five years. For the reservoir, the commissioners purchased of John C. Sterling, a lot of six acres, about a mile south-east of the village, on the brow of a limestone ridge, 180 feet above the public square. The site is beautiful and commanding, and when the improvements contemplated here are completed, the place will become one of great resort from the village. A lot, of twenty acres, has, with characteristic liberality, been presented to the village by Mr. Sterling, adjoining the reservoir, and designed for a public park. It was coupled with no condition, except that it should, within a given time, be enclosed and laid out as a public ground. This, the village authorities have engaged to do; and should the future growth of the place be such as present prospects warrant, the premises will, ere long, become an attractive appendage to what must soon be the City of Watertown.
The extraordinary prices to which cotton fabrics had arisen, led to the formation of the Black River Cotton and Works Manufacturing Company, which was formed December 28, 1813, with a capital of $100,000, in 1000 shares. The following persons signed the original articles; the first four being trustees. Hart Massey was named a trustee, but was not a subscriber to the articles:
William Smith, Jabez Foster, Marinus W. Gilbert, John Paddock, Egbert Ten Eyck, Amos Benedict, William Tanner, Jason Fairbanks, Perley Keyes.
This company purchased, for $250, the right of way for a road from the public square to the present site of Factory Village; and of Ezekiel Jewett, for $10,000, a tract of 400 acres, with the adjacent water power; and here, during the summer of 1814, they erected a dam, and stone building (still standing) for a cotton factory, which was stocked with machinery, mostly made in Hudson, and commenced spinning in November. There was, at this time, in the country, considerable prejudice against the use of machinery, in place of hard labor; and Spafford, in the Gazetteer of New York, speaking of these, says: “The automation habits, and the immoral tendencies of these establishments, will be better understood fifty years hence.” This period has not quite elapsed, but the revolution which mechanical improvements have since wrought in the cheapness, elegance, and comfort which their products diffuse among the humbler classes, is a triumphant vindication of the useful arts. The cost of this factory amounted to $72,000. The principal care of erecting, and setting it in operation, was entrusted to Mr. Smith; and in three years the company stopped work. It was afterwards hired, and run three years longer; and subsequently sold for $7,000; and has since passed through several hands.
Perhaps no private enterprise ever gave a stronger impulse to the growth of Watertown, that the erection of the Jefferson County Cotton Mills, and no single calamity was felt more severely than their loss. They were erected by Levi Beebee, from Cooperstown, a native of Canaan, Connecticut, who came into the county in March, 1827, to select a location for a factory, and had some idea of locating at Brownville, having at that place received proposals for the sale of the hydraulic privileges on the south side of the river. While this subject was pending, he became acquainted with the rare natural facilities for manufacturing purposes which Cowen’s Island,* (*Since called Beebee’s Island. It formed a part of Jonathan Cowen’s purchase, and is said to have been offered by him to Jonathan Baker at an early period for $10. The latter offered $5, but being unable to agree, the bargain failed. They little dreamed that the little island would, within a so short a period, be worth more than their united fortunes. (Link in the Chain, by Solon Massey.) in the village of Watertown afforded, and the limitation of his offers at Brownville having expired, he effected, through the agency of William Smith, Esq., of Watertown, the purchase of the small properties which comprised most of the island, and from Mr. Le Ray, 120 acre on the north bank of the river opposite, for the nominal sum of $1500. Early in the spring he commenced the erection of a large and substantial stone building, which was completed and the water wheels and shafting inserted under the superintendence of Mr. Smith, before December of the same year. The building was 150 by 65 feet, three stories high, besides a high basement with a projection before and behind, and connected with this were several offices and store rooms, and in the vicinity two large and massive stone buildings for boarding houses. Under the main building, two wheel pits, each 24 by 32 feet and 24 feet deep were blasted in the rock, and a canal 10 feet wide, 6 deep, and 250 long, was made, which furnished water from the smaller or south branch of the river. It was intended for 10,000 spindles, of which 3000 were got in operation. A legal company was formed April 14th, 1829, under the style of the “Jefferson Cotton Mills,” having for its nominal trustees, Levi Beebee, W. T. Beebee, L. S. Beebee, E. Faunda, and Horace Hunt, it being generally understood that the first named was the real efficient party in the business. To secure the exemption from taxation which the statutes afford in certain cases, Mr. Beebee obtained, April 7th, 1830, an act of incorporation, in which himself and sons Levi S. and Washington T. were constituted a company, with a capital of $250,000 in shares of $50, and under the management of three trustees. On Sunday, July 7th, 1833, the premises were discovered on fire, and such progress had been made before discovered, that no effort was attempted further than to protect surrounding buildings. Circumstances render the conclusion inevitable, that the fire was set by an incendiary--that several gallons of varnish were used to assist in his designs, and that it was done in revenge for a real or supposed injury from the owner. The loss was estimated at $200,00, of which $25,000 were insured. Mr. Beebee subsequently removed to Maumee in Ohio, and with the remains of his property purchased a large tract in that town, and commenced building a hotel on a magnificent scale, but the walls being too slight, fell before finished, and thus completed his ruin. He died at Cleveland, September 19th, 1838, of a lingering illness, terminating in dropsy on the brain, at the age of 60. Few men among us have evinced more sagacity, industry, and perseverance, than Mr. Beebee. In early life he had been a school teacher in Herkimer County, and afterwards engaged as a merchant in Hartwick, Otsego County. In 1812, he became agent for the Hope Factory, and continued in that capacity till 1827, when he removed to Watertown. As agent, his business led him on frequent journeys to the south and west, and for several seasons he resided in New Orleans.
The crumbling walls of the factory still recall sad recollections of cheerful prospects blighted, and form a picture of desolation inconsistent with the busy and progressive spirit, every where apparent around them. The site of this factory is one of the most eligible in the state for hydraulic purposes.
The Watertown Cotton Mills Company, with $100,000 capital, was formed January 10th, 1834, with Isaac H. Bronson, James Fairbanks, Samuel F. Bates, John Sigourney, and Joseph Kimball, trustees.
This association is believed to have continued several years, and is now replaced by the Watertown Cotton Company, capital $12,000, formed January 7th, 1846, with E. T. Throop Martin, Daniel Lee, S. Newton Dexter, Hiram Holcomb, and John Collins, trustees. Their mill at Factory Village in Watertown, contains fifty looms, with a proportionate amount of machinery, and the premises occupied are the same that were erected for a cotton factory in 1814.
On the 10th of February, 1835, an association with a capital of $50,000 was formed by Henry D. Sewall, George Goulding, John C. Lashar, Simeon Boynton, and John Goulding, styled the Hamilton Woolen Mills. On the 10th of March of the same year, new articles were drawn up by the same parties, under the name of Hamilton Manufacturing Company, and with a capital of $100,000. During the same year, a dam and factory were built, under the agency of Mr. Sewall, a short distance above the village, which went into operation in the spring of 1836. The factory was designed for five sets of cards, with the necessary machinery. In May, 1842, it was bought by the Black River Woolen Company, which had been formed November 7th, 1836, with a capital of $50,000, the parties being Isaac H. Bronson, S. N. Dexter, O. Hungerford, John Williams, Hiram Holcomb, and Daniel Lee. These erected a factory at Factory Village, which, after it had been in successful operation several years, was burned December 22d, 1841, with a loss of from $33,000 to $36,000, of which about one-third was insured. By this fire thirty hands were thrown out of employment, and two or three narrowly escaped from the flames.
This factory is now run upon contract, by Loomis & Co., the company furnishing the mill and wool, and the contractors, the labor, dye stuffs, oil, &c., used in the manufacture. It gives employment to seventy hands.
Mr. Sewall, the founder of this factory, had in early life been engaged in trade in Boston, and subsequently, in company with Arthur Tappan, in Montreal. On the occurrence of the war, he received summary notice to leave the province, within sixty days, and he returned to Boston. He died at Watertown, June 8th, 1846, aged 59.
The Watertown Woolen Company was formed with $100,000 capital, February 4th, 1834, with I. H. Bronson, John A. Rodgers, John Williams, S. Newton Dexter, and Hiram Holcomb, trustees. A company styled the Watertown Woolen Manufacturing Company, was formed December 24th, 1835, with J. Williams, I. H. Bronson, H. Holcomb, D. Lee, and Silas Clark, trustees, and a capital of $25,000. We have not been able to learn what was effected by these, neither of which now exist.
The Williams Woolen Company was formed November 7th, 1836, with a capital of $10,000, and was for some time engaged in manufacturing negro clothes, and other coarse goods. I. H. Bronson, S. N. Dexter, J. Williams, H. Holbomb, and Charles Weber, were the parties concerned at the time of organization. The premises have been since changed to a tannery for sheep skins. The latter business has for several years been conducted by two or three establishments at Factory Village, to a considerable extent.
The first tannery on an extensive scale, was erected here by Jason Fairbanks, in 1823, which, having been burnt, was rebuilt in 1833.
In 1808, a paper mill was built above Cowen’s Mill by Gordon Caswell from Oneida County, and in 1816 sold to Holbrook and Fessenden, of Brattleboro. Other paper mills were built above, and in 1824, the firm of Knowlton & Rice commenced this business, which they have since continued. In 1832 they introduced the first machinery for making paper in the county, and have made from $30,000 to $35,000 worth of paper annually. Their works have been repeatedly burned.
The manufacture of iron into castings and machinery has for many years been carried on to a considerable extent in Watertown, the first machine shop being built by N. Wiley about 1820, and the first foundry by R. Bingham.
In 1823, G. Goulding, and in 1825, William Smith commenced the manufacture, and have since carried it on. The former of these has been engaged on Norton’s Island in making mill gearings, factory machinery, and to a less extent steam engines, and is now under the firm of Goulding, Bagley & Sewall, to a considerable extent employed in building machinery and tools for working iron. Mr. Smith has been heavily engaged in making mill gearings and castings, stoves, hollow ware, and agricultural implements. His foundry is on Beebee’s Island. In 1841, the firm of Cooper & Woodruff built, in Pamelia, opposite the site of Beebee’s factory, a foundry and machine shop, and had, after being employed upon factory machinery, mill irons, steam engines, &c., become largely engaged in the building of rail road cars. These premises were burned July 22d, 1853, occasioning a serious loss, not only to the enterprising proprietor, but to the public at large. The machine shop was 130 by 30 feet, two stories high on the ground, and three on the river. The furnace 40 by 80, the pattern and store room 40 by 50, and two stories high. They were situated directly opposite the cascade on the river. The firm of Hoard & Bradford have had, for two or three years, near the premises of the latter, a machine shop, principally for the manufacture of portable steam engines, for which their works have become quite celebrated.
Our space will not admit of the details of the different branches of industry at this place. Black River, within the numerous establishments, but at none of them in the full amount of water power used. The facility with which dams can be constructed, and the security that can be given to buildings erected upon them, from the bed of the river being solid rock, gives additional value to these privileges. The four dams were built in 1803, 1805, 1814, and 1835, and none of them have been impaired by the spring floods.
The river is crossed by three bridges, of which the lower one was first erected. Soon after the beginning at Factory Village, one was erected there; and one over the cascade, near the ruins of Beebee’s Factory, in the summer of 1836. This consisted of a single arch of timbers, and was built by Hiram Merrill, for the two towns it connects, at a cost of %764. In the fall of 1853, the present elegant bridge was erected, the old one having decayed so as to render its use unsafe.
The business of the place early centered around the Public Square, especially at its west end, and on Court and Washington streets; and in 1815, John Paddock erected a three story block, forming a part of the buildings shown in the annexed cut, which was the first edifice of its size and class in town. The corner of Washington and Arsenal streets became, at an early day, the site of a two story wooden tavern,
and was occupied until 1827, when an association of citizens desiring to have a hotel in the place that should compare with those of the first class in cities, was formed under the name of the Watertown Hotel Company, having a capital of $20,000. In the same year they erected the American Hotel, represented in the engraving, and this establishment continued to be owned by the company until burned in 1849, when the site was sold for $10,000, and the present building of the same name was erected on its site by individual enterprise.
Watertown has been repeatedly devastated by fires, some of which produced a decided check to its prosperity, while others acted beneficially, by removing rubbish that would, otherwise, have disfigured the village for time indefinite, and from which the place recovered with an elastic energy, characteristic of a progressive age and people.
On the 7th of February, 1833, a fire occurred, which burned the extensive tannery and oil mill of Mr. J. Fairbanks; the paper mill and printing office of Knowlton & Rice, and a morocco factory and dwelling of Kitts & Carpenter; loss about $30,000.
The destruction of Beebee’s factory, July 7, 1833, has been above noticed.
On the 22d of December, 1841, the Black River Woolen Mills in Factory Village were burned; also elsewhere mentioned.
On the 21st of March, 1848, at 3 o’clock A. M., a fire occurred in an old stone shop, in the rear of the Union Mills, and a little above, which spread rapidly to the buildings on the island opposite, and to others above, which, with the bridge, were rapidly consumed; and two men, named Leonard Wright, and Levi Palmer, perished in the flames, having entered a woolen mill for the purpose of rescuing property. Among the buildings burned, were the paper mill of Knowlton & Rice, the satinet factory of Mr. Patridge, occupied by W. Conkey, a row of mechanics’ shops on the island, &c.. This fire threw many laborers and mechanics out of employment, and was seriously felt by the public. Contributions for the sufferers were raised in the village, and early $1,100 were distributed among them.
Early in the morning of May 13, 1849, a fire occurred in the rear of the American Hotel, corner of Arsenal and Washington streets, which swept over a considerable portion of the business part of the village, and consumed an immense amount of property. The American Hotel, and out buildings, Paddock’s Block, Woodruff’s Iron Block, and all the buildings on both sides of Court Street, as far down as the clerk’s office, were burned. The Episcopal Church, three printing offices, about thirty extensive stores, the post office, Black River Bank, Wooster Sherman’s Bank, Henry Keep’s Bank, town clerk’s office, Young Men’s Association, surrogate’s office, and many dwelling houses, were in the burnt district. This was by far the most disastrous fire that has occurred in the county, and nothing more fully proves the enterprise of the place than the quickness with which it recovered from the disaster. While the flames were still raging, preparations for rebuilding were made, by purchasing materials, and laborers were seen pulling the bricks, still hot, from the smouldering ruins, and laying the foundations of new and larger buildings on the site of the former. The sites of the burnt buildings were, in many instances, sold for a greater sum than the same, with the buildings on them, would have previously bought.
During the ensuing summer, the village exhibited an industry, among masons and carpenters, which had never been equaled, and the external appearance of the village has been decidedly improved.
On the 24th of September, 1850, a fire occurred on Sterling street, from which the burning shingles were wafted to the steeple of the Universalist Church, and when first noticed, had kindled a flame not larger than that of a candle; but before the place could be reached, it had enveloped the spire in flames, beyond hope of arresting it, and the building was consumed. With the utmost exertions of the firemen and citizens of the village, the fire was prevented from extending further.
On the 27th of January, 1851, Perkins’ Hotel, on the site of the Merchants’ Exchange, was burned, with a large block on Washington street, adjacent. The loss was estimated at about $25,000.
On the 16th of October, 1852, a fire occurred on the opposite, or west side of Washington street, which consumed all the buildings south of Paddock’s Block, viz: Hungerford’s Block, Citizen’s Bank, and Sherman’s Block. The loss was estimated at about $14,000, of which the greater part was insured.
Mechanics’ Row, below the Union Mills, was burned November 5, 1852; loss about $20,000, of which, between $6,000 and $7,000 were insured. From fifty to sixty mechanics were thrown out of employment; and one young man, Hudson Haddock, aged nineteen, perished in the flames while endeavoring to rescue property.
On the evening of July 23, 1853, a fire broke out in the extensive foundry, car factory and machine shop of Horace W. Woodruff, Esq., on the north bank of the river, opposite Beebee’s Island, which, with all its contents was rapidly consumed. About seventy men were thrown out of employment by this calamity, which was felt by great numbers, indirectly concerned in the works, and by the public generally.
On the night of December 11, 1853, a fire consumed the building erected for a tannery, but used as a sash and butter tub factory, on the south side of Beebee’s Island, adjoining the bridge, and owned by Messrs. Farnham & Button.
Soon after the fire of 1849, Norris M. Woodruff erected the spacious and elegant hotel, that adorns the north side of the square, and there arose, simultaneous, from the ashes of the former, a range of buildings, extending down Court Street, and on Washington Street, fronting upon the public mall, that for architectural beauty have few superiors. Prominent among these are the Paddock Buildings, including the Arcade,-- which, from its containing the post office, telegraph office, &c., has become a point of much importance. This building extends from Washington to Arcade Street, is roofed with glass, and contains, on each side, both on the ground floor and a gallery, a range of stores and offices, the whole of which are airy and well lighted. At all seasons this affords a dry and comfortable promenade, and is a place of much resort.
The engraving represents the blocks owned by L. Paddock, R. E. Hungerford, O. C. Utley, William H. Angel, and G. C. Sherman. The new Masonic Hall is represented in the last building but one, with arched windows.
The plans of these buildings, represented in the engraving, were drawn by Mr. Otis L. Wheelock, an artist resident in the village, by whom most of the new buildings, that adorn the streets of Watertown, were planned. The general features of these edifices are shown by the annexed engravings, and have, for their object, to unite an elegant exterior, with a commodious internal arrangement, and where placed in continuous blocks,
as on the Public Square and Court Street, the effect produced is very fine.
The Merchants’ Exchange, erected during the summer of 1853, by G. and W. N. Woodruff, will compare, in architectural taste and splendor, with any edifice of the class in the state. It is situated on the corner of Washington Street and the Public Square, having a front of 117½ feet on the former, and 85 feet on the latter, with a height of 60 feet. The first story is devoted to stores, the second to offices, and the third to a saloon, which, for size, convenience of arrangement, and beauty of decorations, is unsurpassed by any, except in our largest cities. This room is 65 by 85, and 30 feet high, adapted in its arrangements for concerns, theatrical exhibitions, balls, and public meetings; and its walls and ceiling are adorned by elegant fresco paintings, executed with much taste and ability, by E. H. Whitaker, of Boston. This building was erected under the plans of Mr. Wheelock, at a cost of about $25,000.
The taste which has been exhibited within two or three years, in the erection of private dwellings, can not fail of being noticed and admired by strangers; and this, if continued, will
soon render the village as conspicuous among the inland towns of the state, for the classic elegance of its private as well as its public buildings, as it already has become for the immensity of its water power, and the extraordinary combination of facilities for manufacturing purposes which it possesses.
The enterprise which has led to the erection of water works, during the past season, has been already noticed. On the 23d of November, 1853, the pumps were set in operation, and, after working about thirty minutes, the water made its appearance in the reservoir, at an elevation of nearly two hundred feet, and distance of a mile from the village. An experiment made with a hydrant, with an inch pipe, showed that water could be thrown over the liberty pole on Factory Square, about 120 feet high, and the question appears to be settled beyond doubt that these valuable works will answer the end for which they were erected, and that the village will henceforth possess the means of controlling fires, which have so often in times past laid waste the most flourishing portions of the place.
A part of this improvement is to consist of a fountain, in the centre of the public square, on each side of which an oval park is to be laid out, and enclosed and planted with trees. The basin of the fountain is forty feet in diameter, and made of cut stone, and the jets will be supplied from a reservoir, one hundred and eighty feet above this level.
Early in 1852, measures were taken for supplying the village with gas light. Messrs. Walworth, Nason and Guild, had, by a village ordinance passed September 9, 1851, secured the exclusive privilege of supplying the village with rosin gas for ten years, and on the 28th of Feb., 1852, an association, styled the
Watertown Gas Light Company, was organized, with a capital of $20,000. In the same year the principal buildings in the business portion of the village were supplied, and during the summer of 1853, pipes were laid through many of the principal streets and to private houses. A proportionate addition was made to the manufactory, and these improvements will be extended as the wants of the public demand.
Several social libraries have been formed in this town, the first of which was the Watertown Social Library, May 14, 1805; Wm. Huntington, Corlis Hinds, Hart Massey, Henry Jewett, and Daniel Brainard, trustees. The Farmer’s Instructor, was a library company, formed June 8, 1813, with Wm. Parkinson, Davis Doty, Cyrenus Woodworth, Cyrus Butterfield, Simeon Woodruff, and Ira Delano, trustees. It was located near the line of Rutland. The Watertown Franklin Library, formed Feb. 12, 1829, with Chas. E. Clarke, Ralph Clapp, John Sigourney, Daniel Lee, Isaac H. Bronson, Clarke Rice, Otis Colwell, Henry L. Harvey, Baker Massey, Alvin Hunt, Ira Brewster, and Wm. Smith, trustees, had formed a collection of books, that were sold in February, 1834, when the society disbanded.
The Young Men’s Association, was formed by the appointment of officers, Dec. 3, `840, and the adoption of a constitution, which provided for the annual election of a president, two vice presidents, a recording and a corresponding secretary, a treasurer and eleven managers, who were to constitute together, an executive committee, appoint a librarian, and have the general charge and supervision of the interests of the association. Citizens of Watertown, between the ages of sixteen and forty, might become members, by paying $1 admission fee, and $2 annually.
On the 17th of April, 1841, an act of incorporation was passed, by which D. D. Otis, O. V. Brainard, S. S. Cady, Abraham Reamer, J. M. Clark, George R. Fairbanks, and Samuel Fairbanks, were constituted a body corporate, under the name of The Young Men’s Association, for Mutual Improvement, in the Village of Watertown, with the usual liabilities and immunities, and power to hold real and personal estate, to an amount not exceeding $10,000.
The introductory address was delivered by the Hon. Joseph Mullin, Dec. 17, 1800, and weekly lectures and debates were continued during the winter seasons. A library with about four hundred volumes, was opened, April 3, 1841, and had increased to nearly two thousand volumes, when the premises occupied by the association, were destroyed in the great fire of May 13, 1849, and no further efforts were made to revive it.
The first officers elected, were D. D. Otis, president; Orville V. Brainard, first vice president; Ithamer B. Crawe, second vice president; Joseph Mullin, corresponding secretary; W. Genet, treasurer; Geo. W. Hungerford, S. Fairbanks, James F. Starbuck, A. M. Corss, R. Barnes, J. H. Dutton, J. C. Patridge, F. W. Hubbard, K. Hannahs, M. Beebee, and T. H. Camp, managers.
Religious Societies. -- Meetings for religious worship were held by missionaries from New England, almost as soon as the town began to settle; and in 1802, there were three work shipping assemblies in this town and Rutland. On the 3d of June, 1803, a Congregational Church was formed by the Rev. Ebenezer Lazelle, at the barn of Caleb Burnham, at Burrville, consisting at first of fifteen members. Gershom Tuttle and William Fellows were appointed first deacons; and in the same summer stated meetings were held at the house of John Blevin. Missionaries sent out from the New Hampshire and Connecticut Missionary Societies, occasionally supplied the church with preaching; among whom were the Rev. B. Tyler, N. Dutton, and others. On the 25th of October, 1815, the Rev. Daniel Banks was ordained and installed the pastor of this church, and Rutland, by an ecclesiastical council convened for the purpose; the sermon being preached by the Rev. Isaac Clinton, of Lowville, and the charges given by the Rev. Enos Bliss.
In January, 1821, the form of government was changed to Presbyterian; the first elders being Wm. Brown, James Stone, T. Redfield, J. Van Nest, John Sawyer, Hart Massey, Wm. Huntington, Asaph Horton, and Amasa Herrick. The first deacons were T. Redfield, and Hart Massey.
Mr. Banks remained the pastor of this church until February 28, 1821, when he left for Potsdam, where he subsequently resided as a pastor, and the principal of St. Lawrence Academy, until his death in 1827. On the 12th of April, 1821, the Rev. George S. Boardman was employed; and July 26, of the same year, he was installed over this church, where he remained until March 8, 1837, when he left, and was succeeded, May 20, 1837, by the Rev. Isaac Brayton who was ordained and installed, August 31st, of the same year, and has since remained the pastor.
Three churches have sprung from this; a Congregational one in 1830, since become extinct. The second Presbyterian Church of Watertown village, 1831, and a Congregational Church at Burrville, in 1836.
The first religious corporation, under the general statute, was formed February 11, 1811, under the name of the Religious Society of Watertown, of which the trustees of first elected were Tilley Richardson,* (* Mr. Richardson died January 14, 1852, aged 93 years. He was a soldier of the revolution, and emigrated from New Hampshire, in 1802.) John Sikes, Thos. Sawyer, Hart Massey, Amos Benedict, Aaron Brown, and Wm. Fellows, trustees; and a vote was taken to erect a meeting house as soon as practicable, but the war which followed prevented. The Watertown Ecclesiastical Society was formed May 25, 1814, with Jabez Foster, Hart Massey, and Orren Stone, trustees, which, however, effected nothing; and June 27, 1811, the Watertown and Rutland Union Society had been formed, which also failed to erect a church. The brick academy erected in 1811, on the site of the First Presbyterian Church, was, with the Court House, used for several years for meetings, until 1820, when a stone edifice, occupying the site of the present Presbyterian Church on Washington Street, was erected, and on the 1st of January 1821, it was dedicated by the pastor, the sermon being preached from Isaiah Ixiv, 11.
Early in 1850, it was decided to rebuild the stone church, and in May it was demolished, and the present elegant brick church erected at its site. It is sixty-three by one hundred feet, and can seat one thousand persons. It is built after the plans and designs of Mr. Otis L. Wheelock to whom the village is indebted for the plans of most of the new public buildings. The church was dedicated April 10, 1851, the sermon being preached by the pastor, from Psalms xcc, 1. The cost of the house was bout $20,000. The church now numbers about 338 communicants.
The Second Presbyterian Church was formed July 20, 1831, by the Rev. Abel L. Crandall, and Geo. S. Boardman, a committee, appointed for the purpose, by the Watertown Presbytery. It consisted at first of twenty-one members, dismissed for that purpose from the First Church, and four from the Congregational
Church; Lewis R. Sandiforth, was chosen Ruling Elder. Pastors, James R. Boyd, installed Sept. 7, 1832; Marcus Smith, Feb. 10, 1836; Wm. E. Knox, Feb. 14, 1844; and Peter Snyder, June 20, 1848. Their church, at the corner of Factory and Mechanic Streets, was built in 1831, at a cost of about $5,500, of which Mr. Beebee, proprietor of the Jefferson Cotton Mills, contributed about $3,000. This church has received nearly 700 members; present number (June 1853) 187. About 100 members fell off within two years, by removals and other causes, resulting from the burning of the cotton mills, in 1833. The society, connected with this church, was formed Oct. 10, 1831, with Josiah W. Baker, Henry Kitts, and Geo. W. Knowlton, trustees.
Trinity Church. The first Episcopal service was performed in the town of Watertown, early in 1812, at the old school house, on the site of the present Universalist Church, by the Rev. Daniel Nash, of Otsego County. In 1826, it was again performed by the late Bishop Hobart, in the Presbyterian Church, and the same year the Rev. William Lynn Keese, stationed at Brownville, preached occasionally, here and at Sackets Harbor. On the 31st of May, 1828, a legal organization was effected, under the Rev. Joshua M. Rogers, of Turin, of which Ira Wright, and Wm. D. Ford, were church wardens, and Wm. Cowen, Samuel McClure, Philo S. Johnson, Loveland Paddock, Forrester Dexter, Henry L. Harvey, Henry Bronson, Wm. McCullock, and Walter Woodward, were vestrymen. Mr. Rogers continued to attend every fourth Sunday for some time. In 1829, they engaged the pastoral labors of Rev. Hiram Adams, then a missionary of the united parishes of Watertown and Sackets Harbor, at which places he preached on alternate sabbaths. Services were at first held at the Court House. In 1829, a sunday (sic) school was opened, having at first sixteen scholars, and two teachers, and for four years, not more than twenty-five scholars were assembled.
In 1830, a subscription was circulated to obtain the means to erect a church, and a petition for aid was forwarded to Trinity Church, New York; but these efforts failed, and the parish was several months without religious services, except, occasionally, by the Rev. Mr. Gear, the successor of Mr. Keese, at Brownville. In the fall of 1831, the Rev. Mr. Salmon was hired six months, but remained a year and in February, 1832, the efforts to raise means for building a church were resumed with vigor. A lot was secured, but the sum was still short of that necessary, when Henry D. Sewall, engaged to build the house on the subscription, and take the sum to be received from the sale of pews to pay the balance. A wooden church was accordingly commenced in the spring of 1832, and finished externally the same year. In June 1833, Trinity Church, New York, gave $1,000, to the society, on condition that the edifice should be of stone, and, when done, free from debt. As the building was already up, the condition, prescribing the material, was modified. In 1833, Samuel Brown, of Brownville, raised $600, for this church, in New York, and G. C. Sherman contributed liberally towards its completion, by giving the building of a church in Ellisburgh, of which he had acquired the title, on condition that the church should be furnished with an organ and a bell; both of which were procured in August, of the same year. The church being completed, was consecrated on the 18th of September, 1833.
The frame of this building was 40 by 60 feet, with a square tower of 16 feet base, projecting 8 feet from the front, with a belfry formed by two parallelograms, crowning each other, with recessed corners, two feet square, above which arose an octagonal tinned spire, tapering to a point at 100 feet from the ground. The church had two windows in the front, and four on each side, with semicircular tops. The external design and details of the tower were modelled from a church in Cambridge, Mass. In 1834, Mr. Gear, of Brownville, was employed a part of the time, and in 1835, the Rev. ___ Hickox, of Rochester, was called, and the church prospered much under his labors. From May, 1837, till April, 1839, the Rev. Charles Ackley was employed, and in September of the latter year, the Rev. John F. Fish was engaged and remained until Sept. 22, 1844. During his ministry, the numbers of the church increased from 56 to 134; there were 94 confirmations, 127 baptisms, 142 marriages, and 55 burials.
In January, 1845, the Rev. Dr. Wm. M., Carmichael was employed and remained about a year, when he was succeeded in August 1846, by the Rev. Levi W. Norton, who continued the rector till the spring of 1853. On the 17th of July, 1853, the Rev. Geo. Morgan Hill was employed, and the parish is now in a very flourishing state, exhibiting in October, 1853, the following statistics: --
Families comprising the congregation, . . 170
Present number of communicants, . . 175
There is a flourishing Sunday School of 20 teachers and 80 pupils.
The church originally erected was burned in the memorable fire of May 13, 1849, and on the 14th of May 1850, the corner stone of the present edifice was laid, with religious services, by the Episcopal clergy of the county. The building is after the plans of Mr. R. Upjohn, of New York, and is purely gothic. The dimensions of the nave are 50 by 100 feet; those of the church, 25, by 21 feet. The tower which rises from an angle of the building, is 160 feet high, and the whole cost from $12,000 to $16000 (sic), and can accommodate 1,000 worshipers. It was consecrated by Bishop De Lancy, January 23, 1851.
The building committee were L. Paddock, R. G. Vaughan, B. Bagley, Joel Blood, and Hiram Merrill.
The building stands on the north side of Court-street, near the county clerk’s office. The society received towards its erection, $600 from Trinity Church, New York. We are indebted for most of the facts relating to the early organization of this church, to an Easter memorial, preached by the Rev. J. F. Fish, March 27, 1842, and published soon after in the Jeffersonian.
The Universalist Society was formed at the Court House, April 26, 1820, by a meeting assembled on the call of twelve citizens. Levi Buttefrield, Chauncey Calhoun, Henry Caswell, Simeon Scheeles, and Darius Doty, were chosen first trustees. A legal society was formed January 3, 1825, of which Joseph Sheldon, Reuben Goodale, Jehiel M. Howell, Jonathan Baker, and Eliot Makepeace, were the first trustees. This society in 1824, built a stone church on the site of the present one, at a cost of about $7,000, which was dedicated Nov. 10, 1824, and burned September 29, 1850. The present church was erected in 1851-2, at a cost of from $9,000 to $10,000, and dedicated November 4, 1852. A church organization was formed June 21, 1823, of 14 members, under Rev. Pitt Morse, the first clergyman, who remained until 1825, and after a year’s absence again sustained the charge of the society for many years. He was succeeded by Rev. Wm. H. Waggoner, who remained four years. Rev. H. Boynton was next employed, and has been succeeded by the Rev. John H. Stewart, the present clergyman. During the time that Mr. Boynton remained, the church organization was given up, and has not been resumed.
The church fronts upon the public square, near its south east corner, and is after the plans of O. L. Wheelock, of this village.
A Baptist church was formed in the town of Watertown, at a very early day. In 1809, it reported 38; in 1810, 59; in 1819, it numbered 121. The church at the village, is said to have been organized, under the supervision of Elder Norman Guiteau, May 29th, 1823, of seventeen members. The succession of pastors have been, Jacob Knapp, John Miller, Charles Clark, L. T. Ford, W. J. Crane, John A. Nash, and J. S. Holme, the present pastor. A society was formed, Oct. 13, 1827, in Factory Village, with Lemuel L. Grady, Caleb S. Henderson, and Harvey Farrington, trustees, who erected in 1828, the church now occupied by the Catholics. In 1837, having sold this, they erected a church of wood, at the east end of the Public Square, at the corner of State Street, which was dedicated January 10, 1838, and burned March 8, 1846. The present one was soon after erected on the same ground, and has recently been enlarged and much improved in internal organization.
The Methodist Episcopal denomination, at an early day, organized a class, and November 27, 1821, a society, with Jonathan Cowen, Titus Ives, John Collins, Thomas Potter, and Henry H. Coffeen, trustees. On the 9th of Dec. 1822, and Dec. 20, 1824, it was reorganized, and subsequently erected on Arsenal Street a stone church, since taken down; and, from the increase of numbers, the Methodists thought proper to form two new societies. The Society of the State Street Methodist Episcopal Church, of Watertown, was formed January 29, 1849, with Thomas Baker, A. J. Peck, H. Scovill, S. K. Carter, A. Cook, Geo. Porter, Edmond Davis, J. M. Sigourney, and I. Huckins, trustees, who the same year erected the elegant church, adjoining the Jefferson County Institute, and represented in our engraving of that seminary.
The present Arsenal Street Methodist Church, was built in the summer of 1851.
The Burrville Society in Watertown, was formed Oct. 14, 1833, Craft. P. Kemble, Geo. W. Jinks, and Elnathan Lucas, being trustees, and subsequently erected a union church, at a cost of about $l,500.
St. Mary’s Church, Watertown (Catholic), was purchased from the Baptists, and mass was first said in it, July 4, 1838, by Rev. Michael Gilbride, the first resident priest. He has been succeeded by Rev. Philip Gillick, Rev. R. O’Dowde, Rev. ___ McFarland, and Rev. ___ Fenniley, the present priest.
The United Baptist and Presbyterian Society of Watertown, was formed Dec. 1, 1823; Orni Stowell, Jason Richard, and Samuel F. Ballard, were chosen trustees.
The Second Orthodox Congregational Society in Watertown, was formed by citizens of Houndsfield, Adams and Watertown, Jan. 5, 1842, with S. F. Ballard, Chancey Read, and Elisha Read, trustees. Neither of these societies erected places of worship.
The First Wesleyan Methodist Church of Watertown, was formed Dec. 19, 1848, with Peter Baltuff, Charles Bostwick, Elim Holcomb, Richard Frayar, and Francis J. J. Blodget, trustees. This society occupies a part of the old stone building, erected by the trustees of the Watertown Academy.
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