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THE EARLY DAYS OF LAKE
CHAMPLAIN AND CHAZY LANDING
 

By Miss Viola Currie

History tells us that in l609, 117 years after the landing of Columbus, Samuel Champlain, then Governor of Canada, discovered and was the first white man to traverse Lake Champlain.

The curtain which had been lifted was again lowered and we bear nothing of this region until 1665, fifty-six years later, when Sieur La Motte, an officer in the French built a fort known as Fort St. Anne, situated near the northern extremity of Isle La Motte.

The same year this fort was built, an event occurred, which has given to Chazy an ancient and honored name.

Lieut. De Chazy, belonging to Carignan's regiment and situated at this post, while hunting on the main and not more than a mile and a half directly west of the fort, accompanied by Capt. Traversy and others, were attacked by a party of Mohawk Indians. De Chazy and Traversy were killed and the others taken prisoners. The exact, spot where it occurred is said to be near the mouth of the river, which in memory of that event was named the Chazy river, now called the Little Chazy. The name appears on a map as early as 1732, 166 years ago.

When the town was formed in 1804, it assumed the name of this river.

In 1777, 112 years after the death of De Chazy, Burgoyn swept through the wilderness on the west side of the lake with an army of 7,390 men and 1,500 horses.

He occupied the fortified sites, Points Au Fer and Isle La Motte, and built a cross-way of logs over the impassable flats southward on the share from the mouth of the river to where is now Chazy Landing. Traces of that road remained over seventy-five years.

This was the first settlement and business center in town.

Seth Gregory, father of Henry Gregory, was one of the first American born citizens in town, settling there in l795.

Prudence Douglas, grandmother of Henry Gregory, was the first person buried at the Landing, in the oldest cemetery in town. Some of the first settlers are also buried there-Timothy Sullivan, Jabez Ransom, Horace Morgan, Francis Chantonett, William Lawrence of West Chazy, Capt. Ladd, John Douglas and Nathaniel Douglas, most of whom settled there previous to the year 1800. Timothy Sullivan kept the first Store in town. The first hotel was in a log house kept by John Douglas, Esq.. He was succeeded by Francis Chantonett and Horace Morgan.

The first frame house in town was built in 1800 by Capt. Ladd of Isle La Motte, and is still standing.

In that house Putnam Lawrence, of West Chazy, had the honor of being the first male child born in the town, of which there is any record or tradition. This was in 1801. The house originally stood near the big poplar tree, which still stands at the north end of Saxes' stone store. Lengthy additions were subsequently made, which were destroyed by fire about 1844. But the original building had been previously removed about fifty rods south on the farm now owned by W. J. Ladd. In old times it served as school house, church, town hall, etc.

At this time the chief means of transportation was the bateau, a large flat row boat, manned by six, eight, or more oarsmen.

When the neighborhood extending along the shore from the Landing to Monty's Bay decided to "go to mill" the grist was collected and put on board the bateau and a company would start on a rowing voyage for Whitehall, that being the nearest mill.

In 1802, William Lawrence built a crude wharf and constructed the first tannery in town.

In 1807, he put on considerable style and built a two-story house, first in the town. The nails for this house were made by hand, from rods bought of Esq. Forbes, of Canaan, Conn., a noted manufacturer of anchors and nail rods in those days. The house is now occupied by Louis Mayo.

In 1807, five families, the heads being Septa Filmore (cousin to Millard Filmore), Seth Graves, Levi Hazen, Eliazer Graves and John Bronson, moved up to the "Five Nations," now Chazy village.

Judge Matthew Saxe settled tit the Landing in 1808, and built a new wharf a few rods south of the one built by Lawrence.

Saxe's landing was the extreme northern landing in the country for the old steamer Vermont, built in Burlington, Vt., in the year 1808, the first steamboat on the lake and the second in the world. June, 180!), she made her first trip. Capt. Hirum Ferriss, of Chazy,, was her pilot in 181 0. In 1815, she met with an accident, three miles below Fort Montgomery, and sank.

September, 1814, Esquire Hubbell was permitted to go on board the British fleet, lying at Saxe's landing a few days before the battle. Our fleet had lain there a portion of the summer and sailed away a short time before. He had frequently been on board and witnessed the drill, and had thus a fair opportunity for forming an opinion of the qualities of the two naval forces. The British officers knew it and asked him what he thought of the probable results of the battle. He told them they would be defeated, and gave as his reason that the Americans could manage their guns with the greatest facility, which was fully demonstrated in the engagement, the Americans firing three times to the British twice. On the morning of the 11th of September, as soon as Mr. Ilubbell had learned positively that the fleet lad sailed for Plattsburgh, he hitched up his horse and started for Cumberland Head, then inside the British lines. Riding with considerable speed, he arrived at the lake shore, on what is now the Hagar place, just as the British vessels rounded Cumberland Head. From this point he witnessed the naval engagement. His position, directly opposite the line of battle, and right between the two squadrons, was such as to enable him to see distinctly the movements of both, and observe the effects of the firing. Immediately after the surrender he took a skiff, and rowing to the American flag-ship was the first citizen to board her after the engagement. He it was of whom history speaks, that in congratulating Commodore McDonough on the victory, received the reply that the honor all belonged to God, an incident illustrating the Commodore's deep piety.

June 9. 1816, there was a heavy fall of snow and sleighing was good from "the city" to the five Nations. Seth Graves came out with his big covered sleigh, drawn by, four horses, and with Rev. Mr. Boyington, Deacon Wells, Deacon Ransom and others, reined up to Francis Chantonett's Inn, in grand style.

The oldest inhabitant left at the Landing is Julius Adams, son of Amasa Adams, who settled there in 1808 or 1809.

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last edited 10 Sep 2018

 

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