EARLY SETTLERS AND DEVELOPMENT OF THE TOWN OF DEWITT

EARLY SETTLERS AND DEVELOPMENT OF THE TOWN OF DEWITT

Submitted by Kathy Crowell

Source:  Onondaga's Centennial by Dwight H. Bruce (ed.).  Boston History Co., 1896, Vol. II, pp. 1017-1037.


"This town was named in honor of Major Moses De Witt, whose remains are buried near Jamesville...His residence was on lot 3, Pompey (now in the northeast corner of LaFayette), which was drawn by his uncle, Gen. James Clinton.  Near his grave is that of his brother Egbert, and the now weather-beaten tombstone bears the following inscriptions:  'Moses De Witt, Major of Militia and Judge of the County Courts; one of the first, most active and useful settlers of the county.  He was born of the 15th of October 1766, and died on the 15th day of August, 1794.'  'Also of his brother, Egbert De Witt, born 25th of April, 1768, died 30th of May, 1793.'  The latter's was the first white death in the town.

Benjamin Morehouse was the first white settler within Dewitt territory, where he arrived with his wife and three children on the 26th of April, 1789, a little less than one year after Asa Danforth and Comfort Tyler came to Onondaga Valley.  Morehouse built a log cabin on the flats about two miles east of Jamesville and there in 1790 opened the first tavern in the county.  This was the house where so many meetings of various kinds were held in early years and which has necessarily been so often mentioned in these pages.  It was rudely but commodiously constructed to accommodate 'man and beast,' a sign read.  He possessed all the elements of a popular landlord, and from his general intelligence and his dignified manner became well know as 'The Governor.'  He was first quite alone in the wilderness of that locality.  It was seven miles to Danforth's, his nearest neighbor, and privations and difficulties were his daily experience.  Clark is authority for this anecdote, which spreads some light on early experiences:  'In 1781 he carried a plowshare on his back to Westmoreland (now in Oneida county), and leaving it there to be sharpened proceeded to Herkimer, where he purchased thirty pounds of flour.  He returned on foot with both articles.  The flour lasted about a year and was the first introduced into his family after their arrival.  Like other pioneers he resorted to the stump mortar or mill for his meal.'  Morehouse came from Fredericksburg, Dutchess county, and followed the Indian trail from Oneida to what was then called by the Indians Kasoongkta flats, where he settled.  His daughter, Sarah, born February 16, 1790, was the first white child born in this town.

Between 1790 and 1800 Morehouse was joined by Dr. David A. Holbrook, Jeremiah Jackson, Roger Merrill, William Bends, Stephen Angel, James and Jeremiah Gould, Stephen Hungerford, Caleb Northrup, Oliver Owen, Benjamin Sanford, Daniel Keeler, Joseph Purdy, Matthew Dumfrie, and others, all of whom settled in or near Jamesville.  Dr. Holbrook, the pioneer physician, first located on the Morehouse flats in 1792, but about 1800 removed to the village of Jamesville where he continued in practice until his death in November, 1832.  He presided at the first public meeting held in this part of the country, at Morehouse's tavern, for the purpose of taking measures for dividing the county of Herkimer.  Jeremiah Jackson was a prominent pioneer.  The first saw mill in the town as well as the first in this country was that of Asa Danforth, on Butternut Creek, in 1792, in which year he temporarily moved to his newly acquired land on lot 81, a little northwest of Jamesville.  The mill was originally covered with bark and the saw was brought by Danforth from Fort Schuyler on his back.  Near by in 1793 he built a grist mill, the master builder being Abel Myrick.  In order to raise the frame white men and Indians were gathered from Whitestown, Utica, and elsewhere to the number of sixty-four.  The site of these primitive enterprises has long been known as Dunlop's Mills.  In 1795 Oliver Owen erected a saw mill near where Josiah N. Holbrook's blacksmith shop now stands in Jamesville village, and in 1798 Matthew Dumfrie built a distillery, malt-house, and brewery on the east side of the creek, where portions of the old walls are still standing.  He manufactured the first beer and some of the first whisky made in the county.  In 1797 Jeremiah Jackson erected the first frame dwelling in Jamesville and about the same time Joseph Purdy started the first blacksmith shop.

On the 29th of December, 1795, several residents of the old towns of Manlius and Pompey met at the house of Daniel Keeler and organized the 'First Presbyterian or Church of Bloomingdale,' with Daniel Keeler, Comfort Tyler, Jeremiah Gould, Capt. Joseph Smith, William Haskin, and John Young, trustees.  Jeremiah Jackson presided.  It does not appear that this society ever erected a house of worship.

By the year 1800 quite a settlement had sprung into existence in and around Jamesville, which for some inscrutable reason was called 'Sinai.'  In 1802 John Post, from Utica, started a store on the Morehouse flats, but his efforts to establish a trading center there proved futile.  Business operations naturally flowed towards the already developed water-power, which promised brilliant achievements at this time, and there, on the site of the present village of Jamesville, a Mr. Trowbridge opened the first tavern in 1804.  Two years later he was succeeded by David Olmsted and under him it was popularly considered the best hostelry west of Utica.  About 1804 Benjamin Sanford erected a flouring mill, Stephen Hungerford started a clothing works, and Robbins & Callighan opened a store.  These various enterprises gave the place a decided impetus.  Sanford's mill was subsequently run by John B. Ives, George M. and William Richardson, Charles Butts, Conrad Hotaling, and Garrett H. Hotaling, who sold the establishment in 1868 to E. B. Alvord.  The latter converted it into a lime, plaster and cement mill, and was succeeded by E. B. Alvord & Co., who for many years carried on an extensive business.

Meanwhile other portions of the town were settled or being settled by the same sturdy class of pioneers.  About 1790 John Young, a Revolutionary soldier, came from Saratoga county and located on lot 62, at Orville, his nearest neighbors being at Morehouse flats and Onondaga Hollow.  His family consisted of six sons and three daughters, who, attaining maturity, settled around him, and the place came to be known as 'Youngsville.'  He opened and kept the first tavern in the vicinity, built the first frame house there, and was appointed the first justice of the peace of the town of Manlius, an office he held many years.  He was largely instrumental in organizing a Methodist church there, in 1811, the result of meetings held in his house.  He gave the land for a church lot and contributed generously to the erection of a chapel.  His son, Rev. Seth Young, became one of the earlier preachers, died aged fifty years, and was buried in the family burial ground, where five generations of the pioneer's descendants sleep side by side.  The old homestead built by Rev. Seth Young more than eighty years ago still stands and is owned by one of his relatives.  John Young died in 1834, aged eighty-two, and was buried in the plot set aside by him.  In 1814 a post-office was established under the name of Orville and the place dropped its old designations of Youngsville and Hull's Landing, the latter name arising from the fact that on the canal feeder half a mile south of the turnpike stood Daniel Hull's grist mill in connection with a landing and shipping place for goods carried by canal, and accessible to canal boats.  To this point products were brought for shipment to Albany from the eastern and central part of the county, and distribution of goods bought with such products was made from this point, even into what is now Cortland county.  Vast quantities of potash were shipped from this point, and not a few of the earlier settlers landed here.  Several quarries were located in the vicinity, together with some water lime kilns, which gave employment to boatmen.

When the town of Manlius was divided in 1835 Orville was in turn changed to Dewitt, which name it has since borne, yet the former name still clings to it to some extent, though the railroad station at East Syracuse bears this name.

The church in Dewitt mentioned above was organized under the ministrations of Rev. Dan Barnes and took the name of 'the Youngs Society,' the first trustees being John Young, sr., John Young, jr., Benjamin Booth, Peter G. Van Slyke, and Zephaniah Lathrop, who with John and Freelove Russell, Seth and Elizabeth Young, John and Mary Scott, and Daniel Knapp constituted the first class.  In May, 1826, the church was reorganized and incorporated as the Methodist Episcopal Youngs Society of Orville.  The original edifice, built in 1819, was occupied until 1863, when it was conveyed to the school district.  The Presbyterians, having disbanded, then turned over their building to the Methodists, who repaired it at an expense of some $1,200.

John Young was soon followed by Benjamin Booth, Zephaniah Lathrop, Peter G. Van Slyke, John Russell, Jonas Scott, Daniel Knapp, and others.  These settlers and the north branch of the Seneca, or the Genesee turnpike, which passed through Orville, as it was then called, contributed to make the hamlet a place of considerable activity for many years.  By 1835 the hamlet contained several stores, a tavern, and about thirty dwellings, and George S. Lewis was postmaster.  A special act of the Legislature passed April 17, 1815, gave Isaac Osgood and Benjamin Booth authority to build a dam across Butternut Creek at or near this point.

Other residents of the territory now embraced in this town prior to 1820 were William Edgar, who at an early period opened a law office at Morehouse flats, where he had Moses D. Rose and Luther Badger as students.  In 1798 Capt. Samuel Wilcox, an officer and a prisoner in the Revolutionary war, came from Peru, Mass. (where he was born January 2, 1744), and located on 640 acres at what is now Lyndon, west of and near Fayetteville, where he died June 28, 1827.  Of his six children, Asel, born in Peru, Mass., April 8, 1784, became one of the largest landowners in the county and was long a prominent business man.  He volunteered in the war of 1812, and during that conflict had a contract to furnish parties in Albany with 2,000 tons of plaster in the rock, at the quarry, for $2 per ton.  This plaster bed he opened on the Wilcox homestead about 1812; he was succeeded by his son, Asel F., who was born here in 1823 and became prominent in civil affairs.  The bed, covering about eighty acres, is now operated by H. H. Lansing.  Asel Wilcox had flouring, plaster, cement, and saw mills at High Bridge, now Elkhorn, in Manlius, and was also extensively engaged in boating.

But very few families in this country have a longer or more honorable record than the Kinne family, the ancestry of which is traced back to Henry Kinne, who, it is believed, was born in 1624 at Norfolk, England, where his father, Sir Thomas Kinne, lived, and settled at Salem, Mass., in 1653.  Cyrus, the progenitor of the family in this county, was born in Voluntown, Conn., August 11, 1746, being one of six children, and removed in 1779 to Rensselaer county, this State.  In 1791, while at Troy, he heard of a sale of State lands in Onondaga county, and after examining the map made a journey to examine them, and bought several lots situated in the town of Manlius.  Returning home he quickly closed his business, and in the month of March, 1792, he started with his four sons, Ezra, Zachariah, Prentice, and Ethel, and one horse, a yoke of oxen, and a sled laden with some utensils and supplies to occupy his purchase.  West of Utica they had to cut much of their road and ford every stream, for there were no bridges.  They reached what is now Fayetteville early in the following April.  In June he returned and brought the remainder of his family to the log cabin which had been built.  The nearest grist mill at that date was at Oneida, and Albany the nearest market, and salmon were caught with pitchforks.  Pigs and sheep had to be housed at night to save them from the wolves.  Cyrus Kinne was the first blacksmith in the town.  He was a prominent man among the early settlers, was one of the first justices of the peace and supporters of religious worship, and died where he had lived since coming to the county, August 8, 1808.  His children were Ezra, who married Mary Young and had twelve children; Zachariah, who married Diadama Barnes and had ten children; Prentice, who married Elizabeth Kinne and had eleven children; Ethel, who married a Miss Eaton and had five children; Zebulon, who married Lucy Markham and had eight children; Moses, who married Betsey Williams and reared eight children; Joshua, who married Melinda Leach and also had eight children; Cyrus, jr., who married Asenath Warner and had four children; Japhet, who married Temperance Palmer and had four children; Palmer, who married Polly Carr and reared six children; Rachel, who married William Williams and had four children; and Comfort, who married Jerry Springsted and had six children.  The ten sons each received 100-acre farms.  Of these Zachariah, Ezra, and Prentice were settled by their father in what is now the town of Dewitt.  Ethel, born April 3, 1775, moved to Cicero and died there January 30, 1857, leaving sons, Parsons, Palmer, Jackson, and Harry, and one daughter, Abulah, wife of Jonathan Emmons.  Zebulon and Moses, twins, were born January 12, 1780; the former located on a farm of 180 acres where the village of East Syracuse now stands, and died in August, 1865, being the father of James and Rufus R. (who died in 1880).  Moses settled in Cicero, and died in Euclid on September 20, 1855; of his children Abigail married Ephraim Soule, of 'Sovereign Palm Pill' fame; Moses, jr., born August 15, 1805, was a farmer in Clay, and died July 5, 1852; Albern, born October 17, 1807, married Phoebe Breed, settled in Clay, had children Allen B. and Julia, and died at Woodard, May 12, 1879; Harriet married Samuel Lounsbury; Almira (Mrs. Way) was born October 17, 1813, and died in 1868; Jerome and Ora located in Oswego county; and Julia and Frank moved to Michigan.  Moses Kinne was a member of the Legislature in 1825, and also served his town as supervisor and justice of the peace.  Joshua Kinne was born August 31, 1782, moved to Cicero, became a prominent minister of the gospel, and died in Le Roy, N. Y., October 17, 1858, leaving among his children two sons, Niles and Alfred B., who followed their father's profession.  Cyrus, jr., remained upon the homestead and died in 1824.  Japhet settled in Cicero in 1810, subsequently lived in Cayuga and Oswego counties, and died in Michigan in 1873.  Palmer Kinne also located in Cicero, but in 1835 removed to Illinois, where he died in 1869.  William Williams, who wedded Rachel Kinne, settled just east of Manlius Center, where both died; their son, Kinne, moved to Cicero, where Comfort Kinne and her husband, Jacob Springsted, also located.

Prentice Kinne and Elizabeth Kinne, whose grandfathers were brothers, were married n Plainfield, Conn., January 16, 1800, and very soon afterward commenced housekeeping on a farm in this town.  He was born October 16, 1773.  He held a major's commission in the war of 1812, and twice went with his regiment to the defense of the Canadian frontier.  He died July 19, 1830.  His first wife died November 5, 1820, and in 1821 he married Eunice Jones, who died July 19, 1830, and by whom he had one son, George N., born January 24, 1829; died November 8, 1856.  His children by his first marriage were Julius C., born October 19, 1802; Emerson, born February 16, 1804; Marvin, born in 1806, died in 1813; Eunice, born October 22, 1807; Mason Prentice, born November 30, 1808; Elbridge, born May 26, 1810; N. Hildreth, born March 20, 1812; Emily (Mrs. Curran Elms), born December 4, 1813; Salome (Mrs. De Witt C. Peck), born May 8, 1815; Atlas, born May 27, 1817; and Ansel, born May 17, 1820.  Julius C. Kinne married Mrs. Rachel Willard, served in the State Legislature in 1845 and 1846, and died August 5, 1857, leaving two sons, Howard A. and Edward D., of whom the latter became a prominent lawyer and mayor of Ann Arbor, Mich.  Emerson Kinne settled in Dewitt, became colonel of militia, and was for many years an active and influential citizen.  He was married in 1833 to Janet Luddington.  Eunice Kinne, the eldest daughter of Prentice, married, in 1833, Wesley Bailey.  He was born in Vermont in 1808, and taught school at Dewitt just previous to his marriage.  They had six children, the eldest of whom was E. Prentice Bailey, born August 15, 1834, in the town of Manlius.  At the age of nineteen, in 1853, the latter entered the office of the Utica Daily Observer, with which journal he has since remained, in later years being its principal editor and owner.  He is now (1896) serving his second term as postmaster at Utica.  Mrs. Wesley Bailey died July 9, 1860.  Mason P. Kinne, another and a gifted son of Prentice, married Mary Jane Spaulding, remained on a part of the homestead, and died February 2, 1890.  One son, Charles Mason Kinne, born in 1841, rose to the rank of captain and assistant adjutant-general in the Civil war, while another son, Dr. A. B. Kinne, is a prominent and highly successful physician in Syracuse.  Dr. Porter S., another son, is also a physician; he has an extensive practice at Paterson, New Jersey.  Elbridge Kinne married Sophronia, youngest daughter of Rev. Seth Young in 1837, and died where he had always lived, December 12, 1895.  He was officially connected with the Orville M. E. church for upwards of sixty years.  Of his children Theodore Y. became assistant surgeon in the Rebellion, and afterward a physician in Paterson, N.J.; E. Olin adopted the same profession, and is now a prominent physician in Syracuse; Elizabeth M. married Rev. B. F. Barker, of East Onondaga; S. Janet became the wife of W. H. Peck, of Dewitt.  N. Hildreth Kinne removed to Oswego county and later to Michigan.  Atlas married Renette Palmer, of Fayetteville, and died in 1845.  Ansel E. spent most of his life as a teacher.  He married Emma Merrick, of Syracuse, and was the father of Charles W., Lucius M., Mary A., Kittie E., and Chlobelle.

Ezra Kinne died in 1829; the death of his wife, Mary Young, occurred in 1824.  Of their children Hannah married James Van Slyke, and died in 1823; Aaron became first a jeweler, and later a Universalist clergyman, and died in 1846, leaving a son, Thomas Jefferson, who held the commissions of captain and colonel in the Rebellion, and became a prominent officer in the revenue department; Elizabeth married James Breed, and died in 1840.

Zachariah Kinne died July 1, 1850.  Of his children Diana married Cromwell Cook, settled in Salina, and died in 1840; Rite married Polly Strong, located in Dewitt, and died in 1865; Phineas also settled in Dewitt, was a miller, and died in Manlius in 1865; Esop married Lydia Beebe, located on a farm in Salina, now a part of the First ward of Syracuse, and died in 1871.

It is doubtful if another family which can be termed of Onondaga county growth has a more numerous and respected progeny than has that of Cyrus Kinne, the original founder.  His descendants are related by blood or marriage to a very large number of the county's present inhabitants, and for more than one hundred years have been closely identified with every branch of local development.  They have occupied responsible and influential positions in the social, civil, educational, and religious life of many communities, especially in Manlius, Dewitt, and Cicero, where the first of that name acquired extensive landed properties, which, in some instances, have been handed down from father to son to the present generation.

David S. Miller, born in Ulster county in 1796, located at an early day on a farm near Messina Springs, and for nine years was proprietor of a hotel in the vicinity of Merrill's mill.  He was the father of John, Clark S., Henry J., Chandler S. and Edward F. Miller.

The following list of settlers and pioneers of the old town of Manlius, including Dewitt, between 1795 and 1825, was preserved by Lewis H. Redfield, editor of the old Onondaga Register, and is worthy of preservation here:

Nicholas P. Randall, Samuel L. Edwards, Alvin Marsh, Dr. H. L. Granger, Dr. William Taylor, Nathan Williams, Azariah Smith, James O. Wattles, Elijah Rhoades, Abijah Yelverton, Henry C. Van Schaick, Sylvanus Tousley, Colonel Sanford, Luther Badger, Colonel Olmsted, Elijah Rust, Dr. Holbrook, William Eager, William Barker, Thurlow Weed, Moses De Witt, Jacob R. De Witt, Leonard Kellogg, Charles B. Bristol, Colonel Phillips, Harvey Edwards, Aaron Wood, Dr. Timothy Teall, the Kinne family, Aaron Burt, Oliver Teall, Elias Gumaer, Benjamin Morehouse, Daniel Keeler, Charles Moseley, Elijah Phillips, Samuel Ward, and Joshua V. H. Clark, the historian.

Many of these resided in what is now the town of Manlius, but one and all contributed materially by their sterling worth and enterprise to the growth and development of this section.

The first town meeting for the town of Dewitt was held at the tavern of George F. Grinnell in Orville on April 7 and 8, 1835; Elijah C. Rust, justice of the peace for the old town of Manlius, presided and William Eager acted as clerk, and $250 were voted for the support of common schools.  The following officers were elected:

Zebulon Ostrom, supervisor; William Eager, town clerk; David G. Wilkins, and Adam Harroun, justices of the peace; Jacob I. Low, Joseph Yarrington, and Aaron Chapin, assessors; William Wheeler and John Furbeck, commissioner of highways; Vliet Carpenter, Edmund D. Cobb, and George Richardson, commissioners of common schools; William Barker, Smith Ostrom, and Hiram Holbrook, inspectors of common schools; James Van Slyke, collector; James Sisson, overseer of the poor; Josiah Millard, Charles Lewis, and William Barker, trustees of town lot; Calvin C. Palmer, sealer of weights and measures; and twenty-seven overseers of highways.

Among these names will be recognized many prominent settler not previously mentioned, but to them may appropriately be added the following list:

Colby Dibble, John and Michael Laden, Enos and Lyman Burk, David A. Sherwood, Benjamin L. Gregory, Alva and Hiram Church, James Norris, David Merrill, Travis Swan, George S. Loomis, James H. King, Valentine Gifford, Ambrose Smith, Charles and Harvey Annable, Jesse Worden, Joseph Thompson (long the town clerk), Thomas Green, Henry P. Bogardus (justice of the peace for several years), Dennis Peck, Joseph W. Bostwick, Newton Otis, William Hare, Silas Chesbro, Selah Strong, William Richardson, Thomas Blanchard, Thomas Sherwood, Egbert Judson, Joseph Breed, Franklin Hibbard, Jacob I. Marsh, Gordon Adams, William and Adam Ainslie, Alva Trowbridge, Clinton Love, John Ostrander, John Reals, Jacob and William Hadley, Benjamin Scott, Lyman W. Higby, Wareham Campbell, Joseph Edwards, Archibald Britton, William and Thomas Shull, Aaron Miller, Joseph and Philander Eaton, William Hotchkin, Larkin Bates, James A. Keeler, John S. Coonley, William Clark, and Gideon Bogardus.

Among other settlers prior to 1850 were:

George H. Alexander, William B. Sims, Josiah Millard, Edmund H. Bunnell, Jared and Liberty Ludington, George L. Marshall, James Tallman, Hosea Ludington, Philo Eaton, John Putnam, Abram and Richard Sparling, Harvey Spencer, Jeremiah Barnum, De Witt Peck, Jacob Reals, David Potter, Nathan Bunnell, Anthony Ward, Ephraim Bailey, John Wright, Peter Rust, David H. Leonard, John Pinney, Horace B. and Joshua B. Gates, Daniel Hall, John I. Devoe, Nelson and Joseph Yarrington, Oliver C. Gilson, Peter Mosher, Job Slocum, Samuel Wheeler, David Dodge, Addison Sherwood; Henry G. Hotaling, Levi J. Higley, the family of Holbrooks, Loomis Marshall, William Burrell, Gershom and Jacob S. Hungerford, William Loucks, Moses Chapman, Ebenezer Perry, Peter and Jacob Hausenfrats, Solon Foster, Henry C. Goodelle (town clerk most of the time from 1847 to 1871), Elias B. Gumaer, William S. Smith, Emulus Green, Daniel Gifford, Peter D. Quintard, Stephen Wickham, John Rowley, George Terrill, Solomon Jones, Daniel Hull, Abram Lane, William Hodgkin, Alson Gates, James Hamilton, Martin Smith, Archibald Fuller, Thomas Wands, James Warner, Abram Fillmore, John F. Blodgett, Philip P. Midler, Milo K. Knapp, M. P. Worden, Peter W. Harroun, James M. Barton, Franklin Bronson, George Stevenson, Uriah Phelps, Henry Shattuck, Nelson Butts, Henry L. Pixley, William and Cadmus Clark, Lewis Moss, James Terwilliger, William L. Crossett, Lester Avery, Warren Gannett, Frederick Reals.

Jacob L. Sherwood, Charles Annable, H. P. Bogardus, and E. D. Cobb were prominent as early justices of the peace.  In 1835 seven licenses were granted to sell spirituous liquors, viz.:  to Washington Hamilton, Joseph Thompson, George F. Grinnell, George W. Holbrook, John N. De Groff, James Norris, and Nathaniel Snell.  Of the fourteen licenses issued in 1840 eleven were for taverns and three for groceries, and besides the above, permits to sell liquor licenses were granted between 1835 and 1850 to the following tavernkeepers:  David Merrill, David S. Miller, Ephraim Hull, Liberty G. Ludington, Alexander Miller, Henry Shattuck, Bevil G. Wiborn, Amos Bronson, John I. Devo, Nelson Haight, Oliver O. Gilson, Robert Ward, Philip Morris, Solon Foster, Jacob Folk, Walker Knapp, and Thomas Burns.

Prominent among other early residents of the town of Dewitt should also be recorded the names of James L. Willard, J. Henry Smith, Jonathan Hotaling, Lawrence Van Valkenburgh, Sheldon Sweeney, Josiah P. Wheeler, John B. and Lemuel Hawley, Abram M. Black, Samuel O. Walker, Henry Winne, Abram Hilton, James D. Kent, John W. Beebe, Benjamin P. Baker, Archibald M. Stephenson, Peter Combs, Gideon C. Ferris, Henry G. Dixon, George W. Murray, Sidney Lewis, Joseph Y. Miller, Isaac K. Reed, Joseph Livingston, Hubbard Hymes, Francis F. Allen, Edwin a. Knapp, Edwin Schuyler, Harrison T. Abbott, Leonard P. Mosher, Chapman W. Avery, and Matthew M. Conklin.

Returning to the village of Jamesville we find that it continued to grow rapidly during the first quarter of the century.  A little east a school, the first in the town, had been established in a building erected for the purpose in 1796, by Polly Hibbard, who was succeeded by Susan Ward.  In 1806 a school was opened in the village and three years later (1809) a post-office was established with Thomas Rose as postmaster.  He was followed by Moses D. Rose.  In 1809 the 'Jamesville Iron and Woolen Factory' was incorporated, and from the legislative act creating this concern the place derived its name, which was first published and proclaimed in a great Fourth of July celebration held there in 1810.  Since then it has been known as Jamesville.  Meantime religion had received a marked impulse in the vicinity, the Union Congregational Society being organized in September, 1805.  Soon afterward, between 1806 and 1809, a church was built on the Daniel B. Marsh farm, now owned by Daniel Marsh, about one mile east of Jamesville.  After about 1829 the edifice was used as a barn and some fifteen years ago it was burned.  Among the early members were Deacons Messenger, Barnum, Levett, and Hezekiah Weston.  Daniel B. Marsh was one of the first preachers.  In 1827 the society began holding meetings in Jamesville and in 1828, under the pastorate of Rev. Seth J. Porter, a church was built, which was burned about 1882.  In 1892 a new edifice was erected at a cost of $2,000.  At the time of the removal the society had 247 members, prominent among them being Isaac W. Brewster, David Smith, Horace B. Gates, Amos Sherwood, and Leonard Hawley.  In December, 1843, the society adopted the Presbyterian form of government and in March, 1870, the name was changed to the First Presbyterian church of Jamesville.  In 1832 several members seceded from this society and organized a Dutch Reformed church, which survived only five or six years.

In 1821 William M. King built a grist, plaster, and cement mill on the creek about one and one-half miles north of Jamesville, and carried on an extensive business for some time.  In 1869 A. B. King became proprietor and rebuilt the establishment.

The opening of the Erie Canal in 1825 marked an important epoch in the history of Dewitt which had now become largely divested of its primitive conditions.  During the first quarter of this century the Seneca (south) and Genesee (through Orville) turnpikes were busy thoroughfares of travel.  Taverns, country stores, and other enterprises flourished and increased in numbers.  Mills and manufacturing interests contributed to the general prosperity, while agriculture advanced in proportion as the forests receded.  The canal, accessible to Orville by a 'side-cut,' afforded thenceforward a better route of transportation and had a wholesome influence upon the town at large.

The north part of Dewitt seems to have remained open for later settlers, among whom were Isaac Carhart, James and Walter Wright, Abraham Delamater, the Britton family, Erastus B. Perkins, Nathaniel Teall, and others.  These located in the vicinity of Collamer, which was early known as Britton Settlement.  In 1828 an M. E. church was organized there with Rev. Austin Briggs (first pastor), Adam Harrower, Erastus B. Perkins, Walter and James Wright, John Rowe, Abraham Delamater, and Isaac Carhart, as trustees, all members of a class over which Rev. Seth Young had previously ministered.  In 1830 a house of worship was built and about 1841 the society was reorganized by Rev. A. E. Munson.  In 1857 the church was repaired and rededicated as the First M. E. church of Collamer.  A post-office was established there before 1835, in which year Nathaniel Teall was post-master; more recently James E. Stewart served in that capacity.  Meanwhile the Presbyterians of this part of the town had instituted services of their denomination, and in October, 1842, the First Presbyterian church of Collamer was organized at the 'Britton Settlement School House' with seventeen members, among them being John and Deborah Furbeck (parents of John I. Furbeck, prominent in his lifetime), Deacons Dwight Baker and Andrew Fuller, Sarah Baker, Prudence Smith, and Elders Porter Baker, Orlando Spencer, Samuel Baker, and John Powlesland.  The first pastor was Rev. Amos W. Seeley, who was followed by Revs. A. C. Lathrop, B. Ladd, Marcus Smith, J. M. Chrysler, John M. Perkins, and others.  An edifice was erected in 1843 at a cost of $600.  Collamer grew into a hamlet of considerable importance.

Before 1840 two more churches had sprung into existence in Jamesville.  As early as June 6, 1825, Episcopal services were held at the house of Elijah C. Rust, and on July 13, 1831, St. Mark's Protestant Episcopal church was organized there with the following members:

John Millen, Hiram P. and Mary Ann Holbrook, John Crankshaw, Mrs. John P. Ives, Mrs. Colby Dibble, Harriet Gillespie, Helen Post, Phebe Wales, Abigail Salmon, Catherine Littlefield, Mrs. Reed, and others.  The first rector, Rev. Seth W. Beardsley, served from 1831 to 1836, and after him came, among others, Revs. Marshall Whiting, James Selkrig, Charles W. Hayes, Julius S. Townsend, H. H. Loring, M. L. Kern, J. L. Gay, J. E. Barr, J. H. Bowman, Dr. Babcock, and J. E. Pratt.

In 1832 a church was erected just east of the Kortright House near the railroad.  It was remodeled in 1874 at an expense of about $2,500, and burned in October, 1877.  Another frame edifice costing $2,000 was built and consecrated about 1880.  The Methodists had for several years maintained class meetings in Jamesville and vicinity.  In 1832 they organized a church, known as the 'Fourth Society of the M. E. Church in Manlius,' with Egbert Coleman, Moses Chapman, Darius Sweet, Abraham Van Schaak, and Cornelius Cool as trustees.  Soon afterward the present edifice was erected.  Among the early prominent members were Harry Avery, Jonathan Hotaling, and Martin Connell.

Turning again to the prominent settlers of the town it is pertinent and add the names of John B. Ives, Amos Sherwood, Nathaniel Gillett, Dr. Smith, Dr. E. E. Knapp, Smith Hibbard, George W. Holbrook, B. S. Gregory, Joel Kinne, Thomas and Jacob L. Sherwood, Robert Dunlop, Enos K. Reed, John Jones, Gorton Nottingham (father of Jacob A. and Benjamin C., of Syracuse), Van Vleck Nottingham, Henry Nottingham, Charles Hiscock, Joel Knapp (died May 15, 1864, aged seventy-one), Dr. D. A. Sherwood (died in 1864 at the age of sixty-four), and Vliet Carpenter, son of Nehemiah, of Manlius.  Gorton Nottingham was born in Ulster county in 1809, settled on a farm in Dewitt in 1833, and died January 21, 1890.  Van Vleck Nottingham, son of Jacob and Eleanor Nottingham, was born in Dutchess county in 1814, came to this town in 1833, and died in Syracuse in January, 1896, universally respected and esteemed.  He left six children:  Henry D., of Pompey; Dr. John, Edwin, and William, of Syracuse; Frank, on the homestead; and Thomas W., of Syracuse.  He was the first president of the Dewitt Farmers' Club, which was organized January 12, 1861, served as president of the Onondaga County Farmers' Club and had been a loan commissioner for many years.  Robert Dunlop, son of Robert, a native of Ayrshire, Scotland, was born in Albany in1810, and came to Jamesville in 1833.  He founded the well known Dunlop mills, and was extensively engaged during his active life in milling and manufacturing cement, waterlime, plaster, etc., being succeeded by his son Robert Dunlop, jr., who owns five large lime kilns; the Lanark flouring mills built by Robert Richardson in 1823, and now using four runs of stone and four sets of rolls for grinding; and the old cement and plaster mills erected, one in 1836, the other in 1868.  These are all situated on Butternut Creek, north of the village of Jamesville, and on the same stream is also a barley mill erected in 1840.  South of the village are the Feeder mills, which were built by Robert Dunlop, sr., in 1847, at a cost of $10,000.  Robert Dunlop, sr., was for many years one of the leading and most enterprising men in this section.  He was one of the original directors of the Syracuse and Binghamton Railroad, was president of the old Syracuse and Jamesville Plank Road Company, supervisor of the town, and a trustee of St. John's School at Manlius.

In 1845 the town contained 267 militia men, 645 voters, 705 school children, 13,076 acres of improved land, three grist mills, two saw mills, a fulling mill, three carding machines, a tannery, five churches, fifteen common schools, six taverns, three stores, six groceries, 282 farmers, 110 mechanics, seven physicians, and two lawyers.  Of these and other enterprises Jamesville had three stores, two tailors, three blacksmiths, two wagonmakers, a harnessmaker, two hotels, three churches, two flouring mills, one lime and plaster works, a plaster mill, and one tannery.  The latter, operated by Jacob I. Low, was formerly conducted by Elisha C. Rust.  It was located east of the railroad and on the south side of the Seneca Turnpike, southeast of the hotel, and was finally converted into a plaster mill, which was run by Harlow C. Bryant.  Portions of the tannery are still standing.  Matthew Caldwell at an early date started a blast furnace and blacksmith shop in a stone building, the walls and ruins of which are still visible.  The power was utilized in 1892 by the pearl barley mill of Ryan Brothers.

Hiram P. Holbrook and Robert Fleming, partners, were early merchants in Jamesville on the site of Daniel Quinlan & Son's present store and later where the Avery block now stands.  Other merchants in that village were Alvin P. Gould, Samuel Hill, Reed & Conkling, Connell & Co., and Mr. Sanford.  Among the present merchants are Daniel Quinlan & Son, Elbert G. Avery, and Abram A Wright, who was preceded by Wright & Reed and they by Wright & Crofoot.  The postmasters since about 1830 have been Isaac W. Brewster, George M. Richardson, Lemuel Hawley, Isaac K. Reed, Dennis Quinlan, Abram A. Wright, and Dennis Quinlan again, incumbent.  Of blacksmiths there were Asa Cadogan, Charles Puffete, David Dodge, Mark Pixley, and John Perrett, and at the present time Josiah Holbrook, George W. White, Callaghan McCarthy, and Franklin J. Perrett.  Josiah G. Holbrook was born in Pompey on June 24, 1827, and came here in December, 1845.  He is a son of Adolphus W., who was born in that town in 1793 and died there in 1849, and a grandson of Josiah, jr., who came to Pompey with his father, Josiah Holbrook, sr., from Springfield, Mass., in 1792.  Josiah, sr., and Josiah, jr., died on the homestead, the former about 1799 and the latter in 1831; both were Revolutionary soldiers as were also Dr. David A. and Barach, two other sons of Josiah Holbrook, sr.  Josiah G. Holbrook was elected collector of Dewitt in 1855 and justice of the peace in 1856, served as assistant assessor of internal revenue from 1862 to 1868, supervisor in 1871-76, and member of assembly in 1878.

The old Holbrook tavern in Jamesville was built by a Mr. Hungerford on the site of the present Kortright House, and was rebuilt and kept by George W. Holbrook, son of Dr. David A., until 1852, after which it passed at various times into the hands of Thomas Kimber, Amos Sherwood, Gilbert Trass, Charles A. Chapman, Chapman W. Avery, and Jacob L. Kortright, the latter having been a hotel proprietor here since 1866, building the present structure in 1877-78.  The old Hamilton House, just west of the creek, was erected and kept by Washington Hamilton, who died about 1869.  Since then it has been leased, the present proprietor being George Goodfellow.  The village has had as harnessmakers B. J. Lowry, Wason Wyborn, and R. W. Bristol; as shoemakers Lemuel Hawley, Jehiel Thorn, Jacob L. Sherwood, and Thomas Moynahan; as wagonmakers Benjamin S. Gregory, Thomas D. Green, and the latter's sons, Emulus F. and Erasmus S.  G. W. Burhans & Son also have a sash and blind factory in operation.  Henry D. and Irving A. Weston started a machine shop a few years ago and later built up quite a business in manufacturing bicycle specialties.  Henry D. died January 1, 1893, and since then his widow and Irving A. Weston have carried on the establishment.  The building was formerly occupied by Colby Dibble as a chair factory.  On October 14, 1877, the business portion of the village was destroyed by fire, entailing a lot of $50,000.  The conflagration consumed the Kortright and Clark Hotels, four stores, four or five dwellings, a church and five barns.  The enterprising citizens soon recovered from this serious blow and rapidly restored nearly all the burned structures.

Before or very soon after the middle of this century all of the old important stage routes were discontinued.  The canal nearly or quite superseded these lines running east and west, and the opening of the Syracuse and Utica Railroad on July 4, 1839, completely wiped them out of existence.  This railroad, passing through the town and the present village of East Syracuse, and forming the nucleus of what is now the great four-track route of the New York Central, gave a decided impetus to agricultural affairs, but injured permanently the then promising future of Jamesville and Orville (Dewitt), which had become centers of no little activity.  The former, while it never regained its old-time prestige, was benefited in a measure by the completion of the Syracuse and Binghamton Railroad, which was opened through the village October 23, 1854.  But an unexpected reaction turned the volume of trade into Syracuse and at the same time wrought permanent injury to nearly all manufacturing and commercial interests.

During the war of the Rebellion, from 1861 to 1865, the town made an honorable as well as a conspicuous record by contributing a large number of her patriotic sons to the Union cause.  The various quotas were filled with promptness, and quite every citizen took a creditable part in that perilous hour.

The village of East Syracuse is the growth of the last twenty-five years of less.  In October, 1872, the New York Central and Hudson River Railroad Company purchased from Rufus R. Kinne, Elijah Clark, Eugene Bogardus, and the Carpenter estate 150 acres of land upon which to locate freight yards, round houses, and shops, and there established a division termini station between Albany and Rochester.  Several miles of freight tracks were laid, and by the summer of 1873 the place had assumed considerable activity.  The inhabitants were largely railroad employees, many of whom erected comfortable and attractive homes for their families.  The settlement of the village was rapid.  Indeed, it sprang up almost as if by magic. Hotels, boarding houses, stores, shops, etc., came into existence, and within a short time a Railroad Y.M.C.A., with a library and reading room, was instituted, and ever since maintained.

The First Presbyterian Society of East Syracuse was organized in the district school house on March 8, 1875, under the direction of Edmund S. Walker, then a missionary of the Presbytery of Syracuse.  Elijah Clark was chairman of the meeting, J. Q. Baker acted as clerk, and five trustees were appointed, viz.:  John Jones, Eugene Bogardus, John A. Henry, E. J. Evans, and Vliet Carpenter.  In choosing a name for this pioneer religious organization in the place Mr. Clark insisted upon East Syracuse, which was adopted, not only for this body, but for the village.  During the following summer a church was built, the funds being raised through the efforts of E. S. Walker and John Jones.  The contract was given to John A. Henry for $875, but when completed and furnished the edifice cost about $2,000, the lot being donated by Ellis & Upton.  At this time the settlement contained but one highway, now Manlius street.  On January 27, 1876, the church was organized by a committee appointed by the Presbytery of Syracuse, consisting of Revs. E. G. Thurber, W. S. Franklin, and J. M. Chrysler, and Elders Schuyler Bradley, and E. S. Walker.  Three ruling elders were elected, viz.:  Edmund S. Walker, E. J. Evans, and John Jones, and on the same day the edifice was dedicated.  The first pastor was Rev. J. M. Chrysler from April, 1876, to September, 1878, and since November of the latter year Rev. Isaac Swift has been in charge.  A new church is now (1896) in process of erection.  St. Matthew's Roman Catholic church was built in 1880, under the pastorate of Rev. Michael Clune.  The Methodist Episcopal church was organized in 1881, and among its promoters were H. L. Lawrence, J. E. Richardson, William Powlesland, William Strong, and Alva Burnham.  Their church edifice was erected in 1882.  Both of these bodies are fourishing.  Emanuel Protestant Episcopal church was built in 1883, the expense being borne by the late William H. Vanderbilt, then president of the New York Central Railroad.  It has always been a missionary parish.

The Young Men's Christian Association was organized in May, 1881, through the efforts of Mr. Stowell, then secretary of the Syracuse railroad branch.  In August Charles E. Head was appointed the first regular secretary, the New York Central Railroad Company paying his salary of $600 a year.  His successors have been W. T. King, H. S. Parmalee,  B. F. Hodges, George J. Buck, S. Charles Greene, and Dana Conklin.  The building was erected in 1888, and dedicated April 2, 1889, the railroad company contributing $1,000, and Cornelius Vanderbilt at different times $1,000 more.

The first school house in what is now East Syracuse was built in the fall of 1832, the first teacher being John Carhart, and when the railroad yard was established the school numbered forty pupils.  In 1878 the building was enlarged, and in 1884 four more rooms were added, making eight in all.  In 1882 Prof. W. J. Jewell organized it into a graded school and continued in charge until June, 1886, when Prof. George E. Milliman was made principal.  In March, 1887, the present Union Free School was organized, the board of education being E. S. Walker, president; Alva Burnham, George M. Weaver, E. M. Wheeler, and Charles Manahan.  Prof. S. McK. Smith took charge of the new institution and continued to 1891, and was instrumental in organizing the academic department, which was placed under the Regents in November, 1887.  Mr. Walker was president of the board until September, 1893, and I. W. Allen served as a member from August, 1887, to August, 1894.  The present handsome school building, costing about $36,000, was erected in 1891, first occupied January 1, 1892, and completed and dedicated November 28, 1893.  The school now has an attendance of 600 scholars and eighteen teachers under Prof. E. H. Chase as principal.  A fine reference library for the school and a circulating library for inhabitants of the district, comprising more than 1,000 volumes, has been placed in the academic department at a cost of nearly $2,000.

East Syracuse was incorporated as a village on November 21, 1881, the first officers being Charles C. Bagg, president; George M. Weaver, Edward Fitzgerald, and Isaac E. Peters, trustees; Samuel Wills, treasurer; Edmund S. Walker, collector; Leonard Curtiss, clerk.  Among those who took an active part in the incorporation were Dr. E. L. Thomas, O. C. Hinman, Alva Burnham, Smith Rice, E. S. Walker, Edward Fitzgerald, Rev. Michael Clune, and A. R. Walker.  These were prominent residents, and contributed by their energy and enterprise to the material prosperity of the place.  Among others who have likewise aided in local advancement are:

Marlow B. Wells, Joseph Bloser, John L. Kyne, William Strong, H. G. Storer, Alvah Burnham, Melville W. Russell, William Wilcox, Joseph H. Damon, Rufus R. Kinne, E. F. Bussey, Ambrose Ames, Howard Ames, Perry H. Bagg, Andrew F. Behr, John Binning, jr., Frank and Thomas Burke, William W. Bush, Jesse W. Clark, Clinton L. Dean, Norris Eaton, Alexander D. Ellis, John W. Evans, Louis H. Ford, William Fry, George W. and Henry Goodfellow, John G. and Martin Guthman, Charles Hoard, Gerrit S. Horton, William B. Hudson, Henry Jones, Charles P. Manahan, Dr. Adelbert W. Marsh, Fred A. Marshall, Thomas McDermott, Victor Miller, Rev. Francis J. Quinn, Dr. Herbert E. Richardson, George Roberts, George Sink, Frank N. Snyder, Leroy E. Taber, William H. Temple, Henry Tiffany, Leonard B. Webb, Lewis H. Woodworth, William Worden, and Elijah Clark.

The East Syracuse News was established in December, 1884, by Edwin F. Bussey and John L. Kyne, under the firm name of Bussey & Kyne.  In August, 1887, Mr. Kyne became the sole owner, and has ever since continued in editorial charge, making the paper one of the brightest weeklies in the county.  He is a prominent citizen, active in all worthy enterprises, has diversified business interests, and has always taken keen interest n the advancement of the village.  In February, 1894, the East Syracuse News Company was incorporated with James E. Ratchford, president; A. E. Oberlander, vice-president; John L. Kyne, secretary, treasurer, editor, and manager, all of whom still retain their respective offices. On March 1, 1891, C. J. Sawdey began the publication of the Onondaga Gazette as editor for a stock company.  Afterward it passed to Hon. John A. Nichols, as owner, and Melville W. Russell as editor, and on December 1, 1895, John A. Nichols, jr., son of the above, purchased and still continues the well-edited and popular paper.

In 1886 the village contained one dry goods store, a furnishing store, two general stores, two drug stores, one hardware store, a news stand, one jeweler, a confectionery and tobacco store, one shoe store, three groceries, a meat market, one bakery, two milliners, four dressmakers, an undertaker, four shoe shops, four physicians, two coal yards, five hotels, eight boarding houses, two carriage shops, two blacksmith shops, a sewing machine dealer, one steam grist mill, four churches (Methodist Episcopal, Presbyterian, Emanuel Episcopal, and St. Matthew's Roman Catholic), and about 2,250 inhabitants.  The population of the village in 1880 was 1,009, and in 1890, 2,331.  The large sash, door, and blind factory, planing mill, and lumber yard of A. Ame's sons were started in 1886.  This was the first important manufacturing industry in the place.  East Syracuse derives its water supply from a reservoir near Jamesville, the mains supplying also the latter village with water for fire purposes.  The water system was constructed in 1893 at a cost of about $75,000.  The village fire department consists of two hoses companies, one engine company, and a hook and ladder company.

On February 12, 1873, the present Chenango branch of the West Shore (then the Chenango Valley) railroad was formally opened, giving a new impetus to the sparsely populated hamlet of Dewitt Center, through which it passes, as well as contributing to the resources of East Syracuse.  For many years Dewitt Center had been quite an important shipping point on the Erie Canal, especially for grain.  Stephen Headson, an enterprising citizen, engaged extensively in general merchandising and in buying grain and produce, and in 1870 built a substantial brick business block and warehouse.  In 1871 he became the first postmaster.

The recent extension of the Syracuse electric street railway system from James street in that city to East Syracuse village by way of Messina Springs has greatly enhanced the value of property along the route, and at the same time another road between the two places has given existence to the village of Eastwood, which was incorporated April 17, 1895, the first officers being J. L. Jones, president; John S. Gourley; James Simmons, and E. G. Whitney, trustees; Edward Smith, treasurer; and William Boysen, collector.

Messina Springs has never attained proportions beyond those of a small rural hamlet, yet it has acquired considerable popularity as a place for training trotting horses and for out-door sports.

Brief reference has been made in foregoing pages to the common schools of Dewitt, which in 1860 numbered fourteen, which were attended by 1,089 children.  In Jamesville a brick school house was built in 1845 on the site previously occupied by James Young's dwelling.  This building was replaced in 1893 by a brick and stone structure, which cost about $8,000.  At the same time a graded union school was organized.  The East Syracuse schools have kept pace with the growth of the village and the inhabitants now enjoy the union free school system.  The town contains thirteen school districts, the school buildings and sites being valued at about $58,225.

The supervisors of Dewitt have been as follows:

Zebulon Ostrom, 1835; Thomas Blanchard 1836-37; Zebulon Ostrom, 1838; Thomas Sherwood, 1839-42; Robert Dunlop, jr., 1843; Egbert Judson, 1844; Robert Dunlop jr., 1845; Joseph Thompson, 1846; Robert Dunlop, 1847-49; Joseph Breed, 1850; Emerson Kinne, 1851-53; Philip P. Midler, 1854-55; Liberty G. Ludington, 1856; Jared Ludington, 1857-58; Asel F. Wilcox, 1859-61; Elbridge Kinne, 1862-63; Lawrence Van Valkenburgh, 1864-65; Jared Ludington, 1866; J. Henry Smith, 1867; Gideon C. Ferris, 1868-70; Josiah G. Holbrook, 1871-73; Chapman W. Avery, 1874-76; Josiah G. Holbrook, 1877-78; Matthew M. Conklin, 1879-83; Charles C. Bagg, 1884-86; Charles Hiscock, 1887-88; John A. Nichols, 1889-91; Smith Rice, 1892; Charles C. Bagg, 1893; Charles Hiscock, 1894-96.

The population of Dewitt has been as follows:

In 1835, 2,716; 1840, 2,802; 1845, 2,876; 1850, 3,302; 1855, 2,985; 1860, 3,043; 1865, 3,001; 1870, 3,105; 1875, 3,129; 1880, 3,975; 1890, 4,560; 1892, 5,182."


Submitted 2 July 1998