Clinton County New York
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1860 G AZETTEER   -  C LINTON C OUNTY

 

Source: "Historical and Statistical Gazetteer of New York State", by J. H. French, LL.D., R. P. Smith, Publisher, 8 Sth. Salina Street, Syracuse. 1860; pp. 232-240.
This county was formed from Washington, March 7, 1788.1 Essex was taken off in 1799. St. Lawrence was provisionally annexed in 1801, and taken off in 1802; a portion of Oneida was annexed in 1801; and Franklin was taken off in 1808. It lies upon Lake Champlain, and is the N.E. corner co. of the State. It is centrally distant 143 mi. From Albany, and contains 1,092 sq. me. The surface is generally hilly and broken, and in some parts mountainous. The Au Sable Range enters the S.W. corner from Essex co. and extends in spurs and broken ranges through more than one-half of the W. part of the co. The highest peaks, along the W. border, are 3,000 to 4,000 feet above tide. These mountains have the same general characteristics as those further S. They are wild and broken, and their declivities and summits are so covered with ragged ledges of rocks that they can produce but a scanty crop of timber and are almost inaccessible. The uplands decline toward the N.; and along the N. line of the co. is a wide tract nearly level. Along the lake shore the surface is level or moderately uneven; and from this tract it rises gradually but unevenly to the summits of the ridges in the interior. A large share of the central and W. portions of the co is covered by the original forests, and is too rough to ever admit of profitable cultivation. The mountainous region in the S.W., comprising about one-third of the co., is underlaid by gneiss, granite, and other primary rocks. A belt of Potsdam sandstone extends in a great curve around the primary region and occupies more than one-half of the remaining part of the co. On the N. it extends nearly to Canada, but toward the S. it gradually diminished, and on the S. line it is but a few miles wide. Surrounding this, and lying next above it, is a narrow belt of calciferous sand rock, outcropping on the surface, along the lake shore, between Au Sable and Salmon Rivers. The limestones next appear, occupying the N.E. corner of the co. and outcropping along the lake from Salmon River to Rouses Point. Tertiary clay is found in a few places along the lake; and drift deposits are abundant in the N. and E. parts. Peat bogs are numerous in the N.E. part. The primitive region is exceedingly rich in minerals. Magnetic iron ore is found in inexhaustible quantities, and of a quality equal to the best in the world.2

Au Sable River forms most of the S. boundary. North of this are Little Sable, Salmon, Saranac, Little Chazy, and Great Chazy or Champlain Rivers, all flowing into Lake Champlain. English River flows N. into Canada. Upon all these streams are numerous falls, furnishing an immense amount of water-power. In the western wilderness are numerous small lakes, the principal of which are Chateaugay and Chazy Lakes, and Sampson, Taylor, and Slush Ponds. The soil along the lake is clayey, and in the interior and W. a sandy loam, best adapted to pasturage.

The people are principally engaged in stock raising, dairying, lumbering,3 mining, and in the manufacture of iron4 and starch. A large business is carried on in peltries, the wilderness still furnishing numerous valuable fur-bearing animals.5 Fish are abundant in the mountain streams and lakes, although the salmon, once so abundant, have now nearly disappeared.6 The Northern (Ogdensburgh) R.R. extends W. from Rouses Point, on Lake Champlain, through Champlain, Mooers, Altona, Ellenburgh, and Clinton. The Plattsburgh & Montreal R.R. extends N. through Plattsburgh, Beekmantown, Chazy, and Mooers.

The co. seat is located at the village of Plattsburgh, on Lake Champlain.7 The courthouse is a substantial brick building, with a stone basement, fronting the public square and the river. The jail, a stone building in the rear of the courthouse, affords no accommodations for the classification of prisoners, and is destitute of means of ventilation. The clerk's office is a fireproof building on an adjacent lot. The poorhouse is located in Beekmantown, 4 mi. N. of Plattsburgh. It has an average of 65 inmates, supported at a weekly cost of $1.00 each. The farm - 90 acres - yields a revenue of $800.8 Four weekly newspapers are published in the co.9

The first white man that ever visited this co. was Samuel Champlain, in 1609, under the auspices of the French. From that time until the final surrender of Canada in1760, the French claimed and held this region of country, and the lands were mostly occupied by parties holding title under French grants.10

At the close of the war in 1760, settlement rapidly spread down the lake shore. By the terms of the treaty between England and France, the French settlers were to be secured in their rights; but the Government of New York made conflicting grants, which gave rise to controversies and quarrels and seriously retarded the progress of settlement. A few families were scattered along the shore previous to the Revolution; but the expedition of Burgoyne in 1777 broke up every settlement in the co. An important naval engagement took place Sept. 11, 1776, in the strait between Valcour Island and the W. shore, between the British and American forces, without any decisive results. The conflict was renewed on the 13th, and the American vessels were nearly all run ashore on the Vt. side and burned.11

Settlements were made at all the principal places bordering upon the lake within 10 years after the close of the Revolution. Point Au Fer was occupied by the British until 1796, when, in common with several other posts along the N. frontier, it was surrendered to the Americans.12 During the same year the St. Regis Indians ceded their claims to the State. The embargo of 1808 was openly violated, and many severe encounters took place between the revenue officers and organised bands of smugglers.13 Several attempts were made by lawless bands to seize the collectors and revenue officers, but without success. During the last war with Great Britain this co. was the seat of important military transactions, and along its frontiers and upon the adjacent waters of the lake many skirmishes and engagements took place.14

In the summer of 1814, Sir Geo. Provost, Gov. of Canada, made extensive preparations for an invasion of the country along Lake Champlain. Toward the last of Aug. a land force of 14,000 men assembled on the frontier and commenced their march, supported by a formidable fleet under Commodore Downie. Gen. Macomb, who commanded the Americans, had a force of less than 3,000; but as the invading army drew nigh, he was continually re-inforced by volunteers and militia.15 The American fleet, under the command of Commodore MacDonough, took position in Cumberland Bay, awaiting the attack of the British. On Sunday morning, Sept. 11, a simultaneous attack was made by the British land and naval forces, and a bloody and desperate battle ensued. At the end of 2 hours Commodore Downie's flag struck, and nearly the whole British fleet fell into the hands of the Americans.16 The cannonade was continued upon the shore until night, when the British slowly and sullenly retreated and in a few days returned to Canada.17 These engagements were justly considered among the most brilliant that occurred during the war, and they served to partially obliterate the disgrace that attached to most of the movements that were planned and executed along the N. frontier. The immense sums of money expended within the co. during the war greatly stimulated its industry; and although Plattsburgh was twice in the hands of the enemy and partly burned, still business prospered. At the close of the war the excitement subsided, and a commercial re-action followed that entirely prostrated business. Upon the completion of the Champlain Canal in 1823, business again revived; and a new impulse has again been given to it by the railroads and plank roads since constructed. In 1838-40 the co. shared the intense excitement attending the "Patriot Wars," and several encounters between the insurgents and the military authorities took place in the neighboring parts of Canada.

The lands in this co. were mostly granted in comparatively small patents. The W. portion embraces 4 townships of the Old Military Tract. A tract of 231,540 acres in the N.E. and central parts of the co. was included in the lands granted by the Legislature of New York to the refugees from Canada and Nova Scotia at the close of the Revolution.18 These lands were divided into 80 and 420 acre lots, except 5,000 acres, which was divided into 15 equal parts, which were granted to the officers and privates among these refugees. Considerable land lying along the lake was granted in small tracts to English officers who served during the French War. Among the principal remaining patents were Platt's, Livingston's, Beekman's, Duerville, Dean's, and Graves.

 

ALTONA - was formed from Chazy, Dec. 2, 1857. It is an interior town, lying N. of the center of the co. Its surface is a rolling upland, with a slight inclination toward the N.E. The W. half is underlaid by Potsdam sandstone, and hundreds of acres are covered with the naked rock. Great Chazy River is the principal stream. The soil is light and sandy, and a large share of it is unfit for cultivation. A few settlements are scattered through the town, and the people are mostly engaged in lumbering. There is no village or p.o. in town. Chazy, in the N. part, is a station on the N.R.R. Ellenburgh Depot lies on the W. line. The first settler was Simeon Wood, who located in town in 1800.19 The town embraces parts of the Refugee Tract and Duerville Patent. The first church (French Bap.) was formed Jan. 1, 1856.

 

AU SABLE20 - was formed from Peru, March 29, 1839. It is the S.E. corner town in the co. Its surface is nearly level in the E., rolling in the center, and hilly in the W. The highest summits are 500 to 600 ft. above the lake. Au Sable River forms the S. boundary, and the Little Au Sable flows N.E. through the W. part. The soil is generally a light, sandy load, moderately fertile in the E. and center and nearly unfit for cultivation in the W. Upon the Au Sable where it breaks through the Potsdam sandstone is a beautiful cascade known as Birmingham Falls.21 Iron ore of an excellent quality is found in abundance.22 Keeseville,23 (p.v.,) upon the Au Sable, 5 mi. from the lake, contains 7 churches, the Keeseville Academy, 2 extensive rolling mills, 3 nail factories, a machine shop, an ax and edge tool factory, a cupola furnace, an axletree factory, a horseshoe factory, a planing mill, 2 gristmills, and a nail keg factory.24 Pop. 2,569, - of whom 1,999 are in Au Sable and 570 are in Essex co. Clintonville, (p.v.,) upon the Au Sable, in the W. part of the town, was incorp. April 11, 1825. It contains 2 churches and an extensive iron manufactory.25 Pop. 855. New Sweden, (p.v.,) upon the Au Sable, in the S.W. corner of the town, contains 2 forges and 150 inhabitants. Birmingham Falls, at the head of the rapids upon the Au Sable, contains 20 houses. The Union is a hamlet, on the line of Peru, and contains two Quaker meetinghouses. Edward Everett located upon the site of The Union in 1786.26 The first religious society (Friends) was organized in 1799.27

 

BEEKMANTOWN28 - was formed from Plattsburgh, Feb. 25, 1820. Dannemora was taken off in 1854. It lies upon Lake Champlain, near the center of the E. border of the co. The surface is level in the E. and moderately hilly in the W. Its streams are small creeks and brooks. St Armands Bay extends into the S.E. corner. Point au Roche and Rams Head are capes upon the lake. The soil is a clay loam in the center and E., and a light sand in the W. A spring emitting sulphuretted hydrogen and carbonic acid gases is found in town. Beekmantown (p.o.) and East Beekmantown (p.o.) are hamlets. The first settlers were Maj. Benj. Mooers and 7 associates, who located at Point au Roche Aug. 10, 1783.29 The British passed through the town in 1814, and on the 6th of Sept. a slight skirmish took place, in which several were killed.30 The census reports 4 churches; 3 M.E. and 1 Presb.

 

BLACK BROOK31 - was formed from Peru, March 29, 1839. It is the S.W. corner town in the co. Its surface is a rocky and mountainous upland, the highest summits being 1,500 to 2,500 ft. above the lake. Among the mountains are several nearly level table lands 200 to 300 ft. above the general level. Ledges, crags, and boulders cover a large share of the surface. The forest trees are thinly scattered, and nearly the whole town is too rough and poor for cultivation. Saranac River flows across the N.W. corner, and the Au Sable forms a portion of the S. boundary. Great Black Brook and Little Black Brook, tributaries of the Au Sable, drain the central parts of the town. In the mountainous region are several small lakes or ponds, the principal of which are Mud, Sampson, Taylors, Slush, and Military Ponds. The soil is cold, wet, and unproductive. Extensive beds of iron ore are scattered through the town.32 The people are principally engaged in the manufacture of iron33 and charcoal, and in lumbering.34 Au Sable Forks, (p.v.,) on the Au Sable, in the S.E. part of the town, is mostly on the S. bank of the river, in Essex co. Black Brook, (p.v.,) near the S. border, contains extensive iron works, several sawmills, and about 85 houses. Clayburgh, on the Saranac, in the N. part, lies partly in the town of Saranac. It contains iron works and 30 houses.35 Union Falls (p.o.) and Garlick Falls, (p.o.,) both on the Saranac, are hamlets and lumber stations. The first settler was Zephaniah Palmer, who located at Au Sable Forks about 1825.36 The census reports one church (R.C.)

 

CHAMPLAIN - was formed March 7, 1788. Chatequgay (Franklin co.) was taken off in 1799, and Mooers and Chazy in 1804. It lies upon Lake Champlain, in the N.E. corner of the co. Its surface is generally level, with a gentle slope toward the lake. The crest of a swell of land between Champlain Village and Rouses Point is about 200 feet above the lake. Great Chazy or Champlain River flows in a tortuous course through the town and discharges its waters into Kings Bay. It is navigable to near Champlain Village. Corbeau Creed, its tributary, is the other principal stream. Point au Fer37 and Stony Point are two capes projecting into the lake. The soil is a clay or clayey loam. Peat is found in numerous localities. Champlain, (p.v.,) upon the Chazy, near the N. line of the town, contains the Champlain Academy, 3 churches, w founderies, a linen factory, planing mill, and carriage factory.38 Pop. 1,473. Perrys Mills39 (p.o.) is a lumber station upon the Chazy, in the N.W. corner of the town. Rouses Point,40 (p.v.,) upon the lake, is the N.E. corner of the town, contains 3 churches, a brewery, newspaper office, and extensive depôts and repair shops belonging to the Northern R.R. Co. It is divided into the Upper and Lower Villages, the latter being about twice as large as the former. Pop. 1,769. Coopersville,41 or Corbeau, is a village upon Chazy River, opposite the mouth of Corbeau Creek. It contains 1 church and 40 houses. The first settlers were Canadian and Nova Scotia refugees, who located in town soon after the Revolution. The first English settler was Pliny Moore, who came in to reside in 1789.42 The census reports 4 churches in town.43

 

CHAZY44 - was formed from Champlain, March 20, 1804. Altona was taken off in 1857. It lies upon Lake Champlain, N. of the center of the co. Its surface is rolling and has a gentle inclination toward the E. The principal stream is the Little Chazy, flowing N.E. through near the center. Corbeau Creek flows through the N. border. Potsdam sandstone underlies the W. part, and Chazy and Trenton limestone the E. Tertiary clay extends along the lake shore. The soil is clayey and productive in the central and E. parts, but sandy in the W. Chazy, (p.v.,) upon Little Chazy River, contains 2 churches and a saw and grist mill. Pop. 326. West Chazy, (p.v.,) upon Little Chazy River, in the S.W. part of the town, contains 2 churches, a saw and grist mill, and starch factory. Pop. 280. It is a station on the P. & M.R.R. Sciota (p.v.) is a station on the P. & M.R.R., in the N.W. corner of the town. Chazy Landing is a hamlet on the lake shore. Ingraham is a p.o. in the S.E. corner. The first settler was John La Trombois,45 who came in town in 1763. After the revolution the first settlers were refugees from Canada and Nova Scotia. Of these, Lieutenant Murdock McPherson was the first one that could speak English.46 The census reports 5 churches in town.47

 

CLINTON - was formed from Ellenburgh, May 14, 1845. It is the N.W. corner town in the co. Its surface is generally level, with a gentle inclination toward the N.W. The highest points along its S. border are about 1,050 feet above Lake Champlain. A portion of the surface is undulating. It is nearly all underlaid by Potsdam sandstone, which here is remarkably white. The streams are small brooks. More than three-fourths of the town is yet a wilderness. The soil is a light, sandy loam, capable of supporting but a thin growth of forest trees. A large part of the land is owned by capitalists and speculators. Cherubusco, (p.o.,) the summit station upon the O.R.R., The Frontiers, (Frontier p.o.,) and Wrightsville, upon the W. border, are hamlets. This town lies within No. 6 of the Old Military Tract. The first settlers located upon the Old Military Road and near The Frontiers.48 A M.E. church has lately been organised.

 

DANNEMORA49 - was formed from Beekmantown, Dec. 14, 1854. It is the central town upon the W. border of the co. Its surface is mostly a wild, mountainous upland, covered with a sandy soil and light growth of forest trees. Chazy Lake, near the center, 3½ miles long by 1¼ wide, discharges its waters E. into Chazy River. Upper Chateaugay Lake, on the W. border, 5 mi long by 1½ broad, discharges its waters W. into Chateaugay River. The few settlements in town are confined to the S.E. corner. Dannemora (p.v.) is a small village grown up around the Clinton Prison. This prison was located here in 1845, for the purpose of employing convicts in the mining and manufacture of iron, so that their labor would not come so directly in competition with the other mechanical trades.50 The first permanent settler was Thomas Hooker, who came to reside in 1838. The census reports 1 religious society (Presb.) in town.

 

ELLENBURGH51 - was formed from Mooers, April 17, 1830. Clinton was taken off in 1845. It lies upon the W. border of the co., N. of the center. Its surface is an upland, mountainous in the S. and rolling in the N., with an inclination toward the N.E. English River flows E. across the N. border. The soil is generally sandy; but in many places the sand is covered with a rich vegetable mold. The settlements are principally confined to the valley. Potatoes are raised in large quantities. Lumbering is extensively carried on. Ellenburgh (p.v.) contains 3 churches, a sawmill, tannery, and 125 inhabitants. Ellenburgh Center (p.v.) contains a church, saw and grist mill, 2 starch factories, a machine shop, and 15 dwellings. Ellenburgh Depot is a hamlet on the line of Altona. James Hanchett came to this town in 1796, but left soon after. The first permanent settler was Abner Pomeroy, from Vt., about 1800.52 There are 4 churches in town.53

 

MOOERS54 - was formed from Champlain, March 20, 1804. Ellenburgh was taken off in 1830. Its surface is generally level, with a gentle inclination to the N.E. The principal streams are Great Chazy and English Rivers. The surface is entirely underlaid by Potsdam sandstone, and is covered with a light, sandy soil. Along the N. border are several small swamps. Upon the Canada line, in the N.W. corner, is a remarkable chasm in the rocks, called The Gulf.55 Centerville, (Mooers Forks p.o.,) upon the Chazy, contains 2 churches, a sawmill, stave factory, and 30 houses. It is a station on the N.R.R. Mooers, (p.v.,) upon the Chay, in the E. part, contains 2 churches and 40 houses. It is near the junction of the O. and P. & M.R.R's. Angellville, upon Corbeau Creek, in the S.E. corner, is a hamlet. The first settler was Joshua C. Bosworth, who located in town in 1796.56 The first preacher was Rev. Andrew Blackman, in 1800; and the first settled minister was Rev. Martin Powell, in 1807.57

 

PERU58 - was formed from Plattsburgh and Willsborough, (Essex co.,) Dec. 28, 1792. A part was annexed to Willsborough in 1799, and Au Sable and Black Brook were taken off in 1839. It lies upon the lake, S. of the center of the co. The surface in the center and E. is rolling and slightly inclined toward the lake, and in the W. broken and mountainous. The Au Sable flows across the S.E. corner, and along its course are extensive swamps. Little Sable drains the greater part of the remaining portions of the town. The principal body of water is Military Pond, on the W. line. A strip of land 2 mi. wide, extending along the lake, has a soil composed of clay and clay loam. West of this is a plain 4 mi. wide, covered with sand and interspersed with swamps. In the W. the soil is a light, sandy loam. Peru, (p.v.) on the Little Sable, near the center of the town, contains 2 churches, a gristmill, starch factory, and tannery. Pop. 504. Laphams Mills, 2 mi. below Peru, contains a large flouring mill, a plaster mill, forge, and 15 dwellings; Peasleville, on Salmon River, in the N.W. corner, a forge and 25 dwellings. Port Jackson, (Valcour p.o.,) on the lake, opposite Valcour Island, is a hamlet containing a church. Peru Landing is a hamlet, N. of the mouth of the Little Sable. The first settler was Wm. Hay, a Scotchman, who located upon Steward's Patent in 1772.59 The census reports 4 churches in town.60

 

PLATTSBURGH - was first recognized as a town April 4, 1785. A part of Peru was taken off in 1792, Beekmantown in 1820, Saranac in 1824, and Schuyler Falls in 1848. It lies upon Lake Champlain, a little S. of the E. border of the co., and includes Valcour61 and Crab62 Islands in the lake. The surface is level in the E. and broken and hilly in the W. It is slightly included toward the E., its W. border being elevated about 500 feet above the lake. It is principally drained by Saranac River and its branches. In the E. part the soil is a clayey loam, underlaid by Trenton limestone; in the center, a sandy loam, underlaid by calciferous sandstone; and in the W. a light sand, underlaid by Potsdam sandstone. Cumberland Head is a peninsula extending into the lake and forming Cumberland Bay.63 Plattsburgh, (p.v.,) upon Cumberland Bay, at the mouth of Saranac River, was incorp. March 3, 1815. It has a safe and commodious harbor, and an excellent water-power, gibing it facilities for a large amount of both commerce and manufactures. Besides the co. buildings, it contains a town hall,64 customhouse,65 the Plattsburgh Academy, 6 churches, a foundery, planing mill, sawmill, gristmill, and 2 tanneries. Pop. 2,926. Upon a sandy plain, 1 mi. S. of the village and 90 feet above the lake, are situated extensive barracks belonging to the U.S. Government.66 Cadyville, (p.v.,) upon the Saranac, 10 mi. above Plattsburgh, contains a church, sawmill, and 25 houses. Elsinore, 1 mi. above Cadyville, contains a forge and a half dozen houses. Salmon River, (South Plattsburgh p.o.,) in the S. part, contains a church, sawmill, and 25 houses. West Plattsburgh is a p.o. The first settlement was made before the Revolution, by Chas. De Fredenburgh and several associates, under royal grants. During the war the settlers were driven off and the improvements were destroyed. In 1785 a tract 7 mi. square was granted to Zephaniah Platt and 32 associates, who had bought up military land warrants to that amount.67 The first 3 families who settled under this grant were those of Charles Platt, Chas. McCreedy, and Kinner Newcomb. Nathaniel Platt was the first surveyor and agent for the proprietors. A farm of 80 acres was offered to each of the first 10 settlers in town.68 Rev. Benj. Vaughan preached the first sermon, in 1787; and Rev. Frederick Halsey was the first settled minister, in 1795.69 There are 9 churches in town.70

 

SARANAC - was formed from Plattsburgh, March 29, 1824. It lies upon the W. border of the co., S. of the center. Its surface is a broken and mountainous upland. The highest summits, along the W. border, are 4,000 feet above the tide. Saranac River, flowing through the W.E. part, is the principal stream. Upon its course are several falls, affording an immense amount of water-power.71 The E. part, sloping toward the river, is covered with a light, sandy soil, and the river intervale with a sandy loam and alluvium. The soil among the mountains is sandy; but the whole W. region is too rough for cultivation. Saranac, (p.v.,) upon Saranac River, contains a church, sawmill, forge, and 50 houses. Redford, (p.v.,) on the Saranac, near the S. border, contains 3 churches, several sawmills, and 60 houses.72 Russia, 2 mi. above Saranac, contains 2 forges, and 20 houses. The first settlement was begun in 1802, by Russell Case and Ezekiel Pearce.73 The first preacher was Rev. Lambert Hopper, in 1805.74

 

SCHUYLER FALLS75 - was formed from Plattsburgh, April 4, 1848. It is an interior town, lying a little S.E. of the center of the co. Its surface is rolling in the E. and hilly in the W., with an inclination toward the E. The Saranac forms its N. boundary, and Salmon River flows along its S. border. The soil is a light, sandy loam. Schuyler Falls, (p.v.,) on Salmon River, near the S. line of the town, contains a church, gristmill, starch factory, and 50 dwellings. Morrisonville, (p.v.,) on the Saranac, lies partly in Plattsburgh. It contains 3 churches, a gristmill, sawmill, starch factory, foundery, machine shop, and 35 houses. Norrisville, upon Salmon River, 3 mi. W. of Schuyler Falls, contains a starch factory, 2 forges, and 15 dwellings. The first settler was Ezra Turner, who located upon Salmon River in 1797.76 The census reports 2 M.E. churches in town.77

 

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