Peterboro Walking Tour
Peterboro, NY - A Walking Tour
1. The Land Office was built c. 1804. Over 100,000 acres of land in 54 counties of New York State and surrounding
states were sold from here by Peter Smith and his son, Gerrit. This Federal style building was placed on the New York State and
National Historic registers in 1984. It is of unusual interior construction with stone piers which support 8" by 8" hewn beams
overlain with 1" wood planks which are then covered by brick flooring.
2. Foundation of the Smith family mansion, which was also built around 1804 and remodeled between 1852-1854.
The focal point on a large estate of some 30 buildings, the mansion burned in 1936. Note: Walk to the right and north toward
Oneida Creek to view No. 3.
3. The "Cottage Across the Brook" was built in 1840 in Federal style with 6/6 windows. It was purchased by Gerrit
Smith Miller in 1867 for his bride, Susan Hunt Dixwell. Miller established the first registered Holstein herd in the U.S. and was
captain of the first organized soccer club of America. He was recognized by the Soccer Hall of Fame in 1993.
4. "The Little Homestead" was built c. 1815. It is also a Federal style house with Peterboro glass in some
windows. Near this site, in 1795, a group of surveyors was attacked by members of the Pagan party of the Oneida Indians, who
were unhappy about the acquisition of their land by Peter Smith. This house was remodeled for Gerrit Smith Miller after the Mansion
5. The "Baptist" Cemetery was laid out about 1805. It is the burial place of several people who died during the
Epedemic of 1813, including the three Downing sisters. Their beautifully carved triple headstone can be seen on the west side
of the cemetery. A Baptist church stood next to the cemetery from about 1820 to the late 1800s.
6. The "James Caleb Jackson" house was the home of this prominent New York State abolitionist from 1838 to
1842. He was secretary of the American Anti-Slavery Society in 1840 and published several abolitionist newspapers. Jackson
later established a popular water cure at Dansville, New York.
7. The Downer/Packwood house is an early Victorian, Gothic Revival cottage. it was the home of Emmon Downer,
who was born in the village in 1805. One of the windows is etched with the names and birthdates of two of the Downer sisters.
The house is owned by descendants of the Downer family.
8. This house was first occupied in 1924. The doors, staircase, and other woodwork were taken from the old Hill
Top Tavern near Cortland and used to convert what was originally a barn into a home. The original house on this site burned in
1919. It was a hotel and later the residence of John N. Woodbury, Madison County Clerk in 1878 and 1879. In 1823, Woodbury
wrote a sketch, "Peterboro Village of Long Years Ago," which provided a history of many of the early dwellings in the
9. Asa Raymond built this house about 1850. A village merchant, he conducted a general store on the east side of
the building. Gerrit Smith's daughter, Elizabeth Miller, lived here prior to moving to Geneva. She created the bloomer costume
and was active in the women's rights movement.
10. The first Civil War soldier's monument in Madison County was dedicated on July 4, 1893. It was presented to the Town
of Smithfield by a native son, Aaron T. Bliss. He served as Govenor of Michigan from 1900-1904.
11. Elisha Carrington, an agent for window glass, built this Federal style house in 1826. That year is etched in one of the
windows, which are made of Peterboro glass. Carrington sold the house to Nehemiah Huntington, the first lawyer in town. One of
his Dartmouth classmates, Daniel Webster, is said to have visited here.
12. This Greek revival residence was built between 1830-1840. James Barnett Sr., who served as a State Senator in 1865,
lived here at one time. His son, James Barnett Jr., was mortally wounded at the Battle of Antietam in 1862, and his funeral was held on
village green. According to John N. Woodbury, an earlier house on this site was owned by an African American minister, George
13. Built around 1800 by Jasper Aylesworth, this house was the first frame dwelling in the town. Peter Smith's borther-in-law,
James Livingston, originally operated a tavern here in 1801. In 1808, the first newspaper in Madison County, the Madison Freeholder,
began publication in this building. The Indian girl, Mary Antone, spent her last night here in 1814. Found guilty of murdering another
girl out of jealousy, Mary was hung at Peterboro, the only woman ever executed in Madison County.
14. This home was built around 1847 as Gerrit Smith's Free Church, which he established as The Church of Peterboro in
1843. Over the threshold of this building have passed such notables as William Lloyd Garrison, John Brown, Elizabeth Cady Stanton,
Susan B. Anthony, and Frederick Douglass. The church was extensively remodeled for a dwelling.
15. This building was constructed in 1899 as the schoolhouse of the "Home for Destitute Children of Madison County." That
structure (torn down in 1939), originally stood on this site. The "schoolhouse" has served as a museum for the Peterboro Area
Historical Society since 1975. The museum is open on Sundays in the summer from 2 to 4 p.m.
Early Picures |
Family Snipets |
Glass Houses |
Pleasant Valley |
Postal History |