The classic name "Marcellus," (1) was given to military township No. 9 of the Military Tract, which contained 100 lots of about 620 acres each. This original military township contained not only the present civil town of Marcellus, but nearly all of what is now Skaneateles, the north part of Spafford, and the northwest two-thirds of Otisco, including Otisco Lake and the site of Otisco village. The civil town of Marcellus was organized contemporaneously with the formation of Onondaga county (March 5, 1794), and contained besides the territory of the present Marcellus, all of Camillus, Elbridge, Van Buren, Skaneateles, Geddes, and a part of Onondaga; in other words, all of the territory of Onondaga county south of the Seneca River, west of Onondaga Lake and Creek, and north of the southern end of Otisco Lake, including even the western half of what is now the city of Syracuse. On March 9, 1798, the western part of Onondaga, including Geddes, was taken off; on March 3, 1799, nearly all of the present Camillus and the whole of what are now Elbridge and Van Buren were erected into military township No. 5, called Camillus; and on March 21, 1806, the Marcellus L was set off to form a part of Otisco. In the mean time, in 1804, a part of Sempronius, Cayuga county, forming the extreme south or southwest end of Skaneateles, was annexed. April 8, 1811, Spafford was erected, taking another section from Marcellus, and on February 26, 1830, Skaneateles was taken out of its territory. In 1840 small portions of Spafford and Otisco were reannexed, leaving the present town of Marcellus with about one-tenth of its original area and consisting of but thirty-two out of the 100 military lots. These are numbered respectively 6, 7, 8, 9, 14, 15, 16, 17, 23, 24, 25, 26, 31, 32, 33, 34, 40, 41, 42, 43, 46, 47, 48, 49, 53, 54, 55, 56, 61, 62, 63, and 64.
The persons who drew these lots for service in the Revolutionary war were as follows:
6, John Ernest Pier; 7, Joseph Cleggle; 8, John Spears; 9, Charles John F. Brown; 14, John Dubois; 15, Isaac Wheeler; 16, Zacharias Halzzapple; 17, Luke Bowman; 23, Moses Smith; 24, Abraham Tompkins; 25, William Dunbar; 26, Lieut. Azariah Tuthill; 31, Albert Ryan; 32, Capt. George Sypez; 33, Capt. Nathan Strong; 34, John Galashy; 40, Lieut. James Bradford; 41, Capt. Leonard Bleecker; 42, Reserved for gospel, schools, etc.; 43, Samuel Townsend, paymaster; 46, Eph. Martin Nestle; 47, Richard Wheeler; 48, Hugh Polley; 49, Maj. Gen. Alexander McDougall; 53, John Honeywell; 54, William Grite; 55, John Mason chaplain; 56, Edward McGarriche; 61, William Dickens; 62, Reserved for gospel, schools, etc.; 63, John Burgess; 64, Lieut. Prentice Bowen.
The lots for gospel and school purposes were subsequently sold and the income from the fund thus created was used for a time for the purpose indicated. Of the above named grantees not more than two or three became actual settlers of their lands, yet the family names of many others are found among the early immigrants to the town. Almost all of the grantees disposed of their claims, in common with those of other parts of the Military Tract, generally for trifling returns, and in many cases to speculative buyers. The lands in the Military Tract generally were held in very light esteem by the grantees, partly because of the obstacles to immigration and settlement, and partly because of the forbidding character of many portions of the great wilderness. Dr. Israel Parsons, in his admirable "Centennial History," relates the story of Abraham Tompkins, the owner of lot 24, on which a part of Marcellus village is now situated, coming into the locality to study the advantages of his possession before the town contained any inhabitants. Approaching it from the west he viewed "the wilderness and darkness of the scenery" with disgust, and retiring sold his claim to the first purchaser. Dr. Parsons gives another story of a child wandering from the Tyler Hollow settlement, and of a wild man long afterwards being seen by several prominent citizens, among them his father, Dr. Levi Parsons.
The surface is generally rolling, and broken by the deep and picturesque valley of Nine Mile Creek, originally called Otisco Creek, which extends northerly through the center of the town. This stream, the only one of importance, is the outlet of Otisco Lake, and flowing northeasterly through Camillus empties into Onondaga Lake, affording along its entire course numerous valuable mill privileges. It is an important feeder to the Erie Canal, at a point north of Camillus. Its adjacent uplands rise from 200 to 500 feet in height. The early settlers found the territory under consideration a dense wilderness, with heavy timber, and very little undergrowth on the uplands, where they first hewed out their habitations. In the valley of the creek, however, were hemlock forests, with underbrush, wild grape vines, etc., rendering it difficult to clear the land for cultivation. But when once cleared the soil, consisting of a deep, black loam, formed by the decomposition of the Marcellus shales, intermixed with more or less clay, proved to be among the richest and most valuable for agricultural purposes in Central New York.
In 1794, the year the town was erected and the county organized, the first permanent settlement was made within the present limits of Marcellus by William Cobb and Joab and Rufus Lawrence, who located on the East hill. The former came from Shaftsbury, Vt., settled on the place now occupied by Chauncey P. Cornish, and was the grandfather of the late Rev. Stephen Cobb. His daughter was the first white child born in town. The same year Cyrus Holcomb took up his residence on the Skaneateles road, on the West hill, on the place now owned by Thomas F. Walsh, and Samuel Tyler settled at "Tyler Hollow," which was named from him. The latter was the first justice of the peace, appointed about 1798. The families of Bowen and Cody located at Clintonville also in 1794, and a Mr. Conklin probably came in with his family at this time and settled with one or two others in the southern part of the town. Joseph Cody built and kept the first tavern at Clintonville as early as 1806, and as early as 1815 Manasseh Eaton was a merchant at this point. In this year (1794) the proceedings of the first Board of Supervisors represent the assessed valuation of Marcellus at 1,203 pounds, and the proportion of tax at 16 pounds 10s. 11d.
In the fall of 1795 Hon. Dan Bradley and Deacon Samuel Rice became the first permanent settlers where Marcellus village now stands, and upon their arrival they found a family of squatters named Curtis, who had built a hut on the site of the present residence of Dr. Israel Parsons, but who soon afterward removed farther west. Mr. Bradley was born in Hamden, Conn., June 10, 1767, was graduated from Yale College September 9, 1789, was licensed to preach in October, 1790, and ordained as pastor of the church at Whitestown on January 11, 1792, where he remained three years, when he came to Marcellus, arriving September 6, 1795. Here his son, Dan Bradley, jr., was born July 18, 1804. Mr. Bradley was married twice, first to Eunice Beach, who died July 19, 1804, and second to Nancy Rose. He relinquished the ministry, became an influential agriculturist, and was made a magistrate and in 1807 a judge of the County Court, an office he held several years. He was one of the most eminent farmers in Central New York, and was elected president of the first Onondaga County Agricultural Society in 1819. To him is largely due the wholesome development of rural interests in those early days, and the results of his zeal and intelligence is felt even at the present time throughout a large section. He owned about 200 acres, just south of and including a part of the present village site, and erected the second frame house in town, which is still standing between the dwellings of Thomas Rhodes and Mrs. Wells, and which was long known as the Sophia Ball house. Judge Bradley died here September 19, 1838. Dan Bradley, jr., was graduated from the College of Physicians and Surgeons of New York city and in 1835 becomes a prominent missionary to Siam, where he also practiced medicine in the noblest families of the realm, compiled a dictionary of the Siamese language, and died in 1873. Isaac Bradley, another son of Judge Bradley, is now the oldest resident in Marcellus.
Deacon Rice first erected a log dwelling in the rear of the subsequent site of the Judge Humphrey Green house (the residence of the late Justus North, now of George Brown), in which he opened the first tavern in Marcellus. Later he built the third frame house in town, which he kept as a hotel many years. It stood on the corner now occupied by St. Francis Xavier's church, and was last owned and used by that society as a place of worship. As a tavern it was one of the most popular between Syracuse and Auburn. Deacon and Mrs. Rice were the grandparents of Dr. Israel Parsons. Dr. Parsons aptly illustrates the inconveniences and humor of pioneer days in the story he tells of a man who accompanied Judge Bradley and Deacon Rice in this section. This man one night made his bed in the hollow of a huge hemlock bark, and awoke in the morning to find himself firmly enclosed, the heat from his body having warped it together. The settlers sometimes made shelves of good slabs of bark, and often found their crockery, etc., similarly imprisoned and not infrequently broken.
In the winter of 1795-96 Dr. Elnathan Beach, the pioneer physician, arrived from Cheshire, Conn., where he was born and educated, and very soon afterward erected the first frame house in town, near the site of the present residence of James Sarr. He continued the practice of medicine over a wide territory until his death, when he was succeeded by his brother, Dr. Bildad Beach, a man of wit, an enthusiastic farmer, and a surgeon of the war of 1812, who followed his profession until about 1820. Dr. Elnathan Beach opened the first store in Marcellus village, and when the post-office was established in 1799 he was appointed the first postmaster. He was an active man, and on March 21, 1799, was appointed sheriff of Onondaga county, holding this position and the postmastership and continuing mercantile business until his death in 1801, at the age of forty years.
These settlements in different sections of the town at the same time, remote as they were from each other, were in a measure bound together by ties which only pioneers can appreciate, and formed centers around which other immigrants located. The first indication of rivalry existed between the East and West hills, but soon the good natured spirit of supremacy was transferred to other points, with Marcellus village in the lead. The East and West hills, situated on either side of Nine Mile Creek and the site of the present village, were early the most desirable places for homes, affording freedom from the miasmic influences of the lowlands, while the soil was more easily fitted for cultivation. The settlers already mentioned, as well as those who came in during the next decade or two, were men of character, individuality and thrift, and left their impress on the subsequent growth of the town. Many of the pioneers were possessed of considerable means, and paid for their farms, resulting in a healthy financial community. They were largely from Massachusetts, Connecticut and Vermont, and very early gave practical attention to education and religion and the training of their children in moral and intellectual pursuits.
During the winter of 1795-96 Judge Bradley and Deacon Rice erected a saw mill--the first mill of any description in town--on the same side of Nine Mile Creek and a little south of the ruins of the old stone mill in Marcellus village. When the frame was raised the county was scoured for miles around for help sufficient for the task. It was about this time that Col. Bigelow Lawrence became an actual settler, following two or three of his sons, previously mentioned, and locating on the West hill, where J. D. Share now lives. He came from Shaftsbury, Vt., and was a man of prominence and considerable influence. He had eight sons: Joab, Peter, Rufus, and Levi, who located on the East hill, and Calvin, Bigelow, jr., Dorastus, and Jephtha, who settled on the West hill, all within sight of one another. At this period the village was called Nine Mile Creek, but very soon after the establishment of the post-office in 1799 the name was changed to Marcellus. Col. Lawrence owned upwards of 1,000 acres on the two hills, yet at the present time not an acre is held in the family name. Former writers have stated that his daughter, Miss Asenath Lawrence, taught the first school in Marcellus, in the summer of 1796, in a log house, and that she was followed during the next two winters by Judge Bradley, the first male teacher, who generously volunteered his services. Dr. Parsons, however, reverses the order of these pioneer educators, giving the chief honor to Judge Bradley, which is probably correct, as the latter was the earliest and long the foremost promoter and supporter of education in Marcellus.
The first death in town was that of a traveler from Saratoga county, named Jones, aged twenty-one, which occurred in May or June, 1797, at the tavern of Deacon Rice. His remains were buried on the lot now occupied by the residence of Isaac Bradley, which was the first place selected for public burials, and where about twenty persons were subsequently interred. It was abandoned as a burying ground about 1804 and the bodies were removed to a new site.
Soon after 1798 Valentine Rathbone became a settler of the town. He was born in Stonington, Conn., December 23, 1724, located in Pittsfield, Mass., in 1768, and as local preacher formed a Baptist church there in 1772. In 1776 he was elected a delegate to the General Court and member of the Council of Safety, and during the Revolution was prominent in affairs of state. In 1802 he purchased 300 acres, including lot 54, in Marcellus, and died there in February, 1814, leaving three sons, Saxton, Benjamin and James.
Major Martin Cossit, a Revolutionary soldier, settled in the village in 1798. In March, 1799, the settlement of Thorn Hill was commenced by David Earll, Eleazer Burns, John Wiltsie, and Nathan Turner, who came hither from Washington county on sleighs drawn by horse teams and oxen. Mr. Earll died upon his original farm and was succeeded by his son, William, who, upon his death, was followed by his son, Shepard. This is one of the very few instances in Marcellus of perpetuity of title and actual residence. Thorn Hill, situated in the southwest corner of the town, was named from Obadiah Thorn, a later comer, who was instrumental in establishing the post-office and mail route, and who was for many years a highly respected citizen and widely known as an extensive wool buyer. He subsequently removed to the Baldwin farm, near Skaneateles.
As early as 1800 Samuel Wheadon became the first settler on South hill, on a portion of the farm subsequently owned by James Merrill and now occupied by Andrew Merrill. In the same neighborhood Deacon Josiah Frost located on the Armstrong place, Philo Godard on the John McNally farm, Enoch Cowles on the Woodford place, and Nathan Healy on the Wylie homestead, all in a very early day. Among other pioneers were Nathan Kelsey and Thomas Miller on the West hill, and Caleb Todd, Nathaniel Hillyer (father of Chester), Richard May (great-uncle of R. B. May), Capt. Martin Godard and nine sons, Terrence Edson, Reuben Dorchester (grandfather of Robert E.), and William F. Bangs (father of the late Dr. Bangs) on the East hill. Richard May was from Rhode Island and settled where A. G. Weaver now resides, and Captain Godard located on the Henry Coville place. Reuben Dorchester, who took up his residence where N. B. Crysler now lives, had a harness shop for many years near D. F. Mosier's place, and was succeeded by his son, Eliakim, who continued the business a long time and of whom Thomas Kelly, his successor, learned the trade.
The earliest settlers in the northwest corner of Marcellus and adjoining neighborhood were Henry S. Platt, Solomon S. Steele, Simon Pells, Thomas North, sr. (grandfather of the late Justus North) and his sons, John Shepard and kindred (from whom Shepard Settlement was named), and the Dodge family. The first permanent settlers in the northeast part of the town were James C. Miller and his five sons, who were soon followed by Seth Dunbar, grandfather of Mrs. C. L. Rich, and Robert McCullough, who located where the Finlon brick house now stands. Mr. Miller and four of his sons died soon after of typhus fever. In the southwest portion of the town, on the old turnpike, Parley E. Howe, from Rhode Island, settled on the John Mulroy place, where the present house was built by his son Dean; Samuel Hayes located on the farm now owned by P. S. Thornton, but in 1806 removed west and was succeeded by Dr. Elisha Chapman, father of Lincoln and Simeon B. Chapman; and William and Job Tyler were early comers. In the Henry Armstrong district, south of the village, Capt. Russell Taylor and Messrs. Whitney and Burnett were pioneers. In this connection it is a noteworthy fact that of the families of Capt. Martin Godard, Deacon Samuel Rice, and Martin Cossit no representatives remain in town. Isaac Mills, father of Timothy, came from Stillwater, N.Y., in May, 1803, and settled on lot 61.
During the decade following the years 1796 and 1797 the territory filled up rapidly with a class of sturdy settlers. At the fourth annual session of the Onondaga Board of Supervisors, which convened on May 30, 1797, at the house of John Richardson, in the village of Auburn, to canvass the votes for members of assembly, resulting in certificates being given to Comfort Tyler, of Manlius, and Silas Halsey, of Ovid, it was found that Marcellus had cast seventy-eight for the former and sixty-five for the latter. This is the first canvass on record authenticating the election of assemblymen from Onondaga county, and after finishing its work the board adjourned to the house of Moses Carpenter in Camillus, about one mile east of Elbridge, on August 14. Mr. Carpenter was at this time county treasurer and Samuel Tyler supervisor from Marcellus. The first town meeting was held at Mr. Carpenter's house, as were also the meetings of 1795 and 1796, but in the latter year the voters of Marcellus, knowing they outnumbered those in Camillus, rallied their forces and carried the next public gathering to the inn of Deacon Rice in the spring of 1797. Unfortunately the town records prior to 1830 were destroyed, probably by fire, which as near as can be ascertained, burned a store building on the site of the present Sarr store about 1829 or 1830, and it is impossible, therefore, to give but little of the earlier officers and proceedings. It is learned, however, that William Stevens was supervisor or Marcellus in 1794, 1795, and 1796, Samuel Tyler in 1797, and Winston Day in 1798.
Previous to 1800 the settlers were compelled to go to Manlius, twenty miles, or to Seneca Falls, twenty-five miles, to a grist mill, a hardship which ceased in that year by the erection of a rude grinding mill near the Bradley and Rice saw mill by Major May and his father in-law, Mr. Sayles. It was the first grist mill built in this section, and for several years did all the custom grinding for a considerable territory. Neither of these sites is now occupied.
During all this period immigrants came in and travel was maintained principally over the great Indian trail which extended east and west through Marcellus village, and which soon afterwards became the famous Seneca turnpike. Stages ran over this route as early as 1797, and a little later the State commenced improving it. In 1800 the Seneca Road Company was first chartered and the highway was gradually improved down to about 1810. At an early date the Skaneateles and Hamilton turnpike, intersecting the Seneca thoroughfare at Skaneateles village, passing the foot of Otisco Lake, and running thence southeastwardly, was opened. This gave existence to the present hamlet of Clintonville, which was formerly quite a busy place, consisting of a post-office and a few country establishments. The office, however, was discontinued soon after 1836. One of the earliest roads ran north and south along Nine Mile Creek. In the town clerk's office is a book containing the "Boundaries of Highway Districts in the town of Marcellus as established by Bildad Beach, Richard Robinson, and Samuel Smith, commissioners of highways in said town, 1830." It describes thirty-five road districts, and among the names attached to the various surveys are Orlando Beach, Warne H. Welch, Philo Godard, Silas Crane, Edmund Lawrence, Josiah Welch, Ira Bishop, Schuyler Moore, Zebina Moses, John Wiltsie 2d, L. Mason, Simeon B. Chapman, and Apollos Gilbert. It also contains the road surveys from that time to the present. There are now forty-nine road districts in the town.
In the days of stages Marcellus village was the scene of constant activity. Two coaches and sometimes more were run each way every day, fare five cents a mile, and the most noted magnates among the proprietors were Isaac Sherwood and his son, John Milton Sherwood (his successor), of Skaneateles. Of the old-time drivers Adolphus Newton, who began driving in 1819, is perhaps the best remembered. The memorable stage period entirely ceased here in December, 1838, when the Syracuse and Auburn Railroad was opened. The favorite mode of travel for the masses was on horseback, and many were the long journeys the incoming settlers made. Mrs. Cody, grandmother of Hiram Reed, came all the way from Massachusetts alone in this manner about 1800, and finally purchased 640 acres immediately northeast of Clintonville.
As early as 1801 measures were taken to establish regular religious services in town, and for several years Skaneateles and Marcellus united in maintaining stated worship. The first settlers were mainly adherents of the Congregational and Presbyterian faiths, and in 1800 enjoyed the missionary labors of Rev. Seth Williston. Later, Rev. Caleb Alexander came, and on October 13, 1801, officiated in organizing the "Church of Christ." On May 4, 1802, the "Eastern Religious Society of Marcellus" was formed with Dan Bradley, Martin Cossit, James C. Miller, Martin Goddard, Nathan Kelsey, and Thomas North, trustees. Among the other original members were Asahel, Mary, Lucy and Hannah North, Thomas North, jr., Sarah Miller, Eunice Bradley, Caleb Todd, Samuel and Hannah Rice, Olive Cossit, Samuel and Phebe Wheadon, and Thomas Cathcart. Mr. Miller was the first clerk and served for five years, dying in March, 1807. The first regular services were held in the tavern of Deacon Rice. In 1803 a church edifice was erected, the first in Onondaga county, and at that time "the only meeting house between New Hartford, Oneida county, and the Pacific Ocean." It cost $1,500, and in 1814 was enlarged at an expense of $4,500. In 1851 it was torn down, and on October 13, of that year a new structure was dedicated on the original site. This latter edifice is still standing, having been last repaired in 1893. The first settled pastor of this church, and the second in this whole region (Pompey having one a little earlier), was Rev. Levi Parsons (2), father of the respected Dr. Israel Parsons, of Marcellus. Rev. John Tompkins, the next pastor served from August, 1841, to August, 1866, when he died. Rev. William Sheldon Franklin was pastor three years, then Rev. Dwight Scovel from 1871 to 1880, and Rev. A. H. Cameron, incumbent, since October, 1887. In this year, while Rev. Alexander McA. Thorburn was ministering to the society, the church perfected its present Presbyterian form of government by the election of Lauren Beach, W. J. Meachan, Dr. Israel Parsons, A. H. Armstrong, J. A. Merrill, and William Russell, ruling elders.
Soon after 1800 the Seneca turnpike, previously mentioned, was first laid out through Marcellus. This important thoroughfare was really obtained for a "mess of pottage." The commissioners had passed westward through Camillus without exciting any special interest, but upon their return the people of this town tendered them a sumptuous dinner, together with an ovation, which resulted in locating the route here. Another incident, however, proved disastrous to the village. The officials were laying the road out eastwardly through the valley, where it should have gone, when a colonel, living back on the hill three miles east of Marcellus, graciously saluted them, invited them to dinner, and expressed a desire that the turnpike run nearer his residence. Milo Hickok stated that a barrel of whisky and thirty days' work were also given. The route was altered as desired, and for years teams were driven over probably the highest elevation along the entire route.
In 1801 Lemuel Johnson succeeded Dr. Elnathan Beach as a merchant at Marcellus and erected a new store, which was subsequently occupied by Guy Humphrey, who conducted business until his death in 1807, when he was followed by William Goodwin, father of Miles. This building was afterward converted into a dwelling, was subsequently enlarged, and is now occupied as a dwelling and hardware store by Sidney Slocomb. Samuel Bishop opened the first law office in town in 1801 and B. Davis Noxon the second in 1808. In 1806 the village contained nine dwellings. In the fall of that year settlement was commenced at what is now Marcellus Falls, then and for several years called "Union Village," and from this time onward manufacturing formed an important and at times the leading industry of the town. A sketch of the various concerns is best given by following the stream from its source to the northern limits of the territory under consideration.
Nine Mile Creek has always afforded many of the principal water powers of the county, and from first to last no less than twenty-five mill sites along the banks have been profitably utilized. At the present time there are in operation, or capable of being operated, about fifteen mills and factories; in 1823 there were nineteen mills and one furnace; thirteen years later (1836) the town contained three grist mills, ten sawmills, two fulling mills, two carding machines, two woolen factories, one iron works, a distillery, an ashery, and three tanneries.
The roller flouring mill of Rathbun Brothers, at Marietta, at the head of Nine Mile Creek, was originally built by Lester Mills over forty years ago, and was transformed into a roller mill by F. A. Rathbun. Near it S. Dady and a Mr. Beebe erected a saw mill in 1861, which is now used as a shed. The settlement which had congregated in this neighborhood, together with the natural advantages of the place, gave existence not only to these mills but to a few other business establishments, a post-office, etc. Further down are the saw and feed mill of William Nightingale, the saw and cider mill lately operated by Henry Cornwall, and the flax mill--the only one of the kind in town--of William Russell, which was originally a saw mill. The feed and cider mill of William Nightingale, jr., occupies the site on which Lincoln Chapman and Walter Bradley early built and for many years conducted a large tannery, which was latterly continued by Mr. Chapman until it burned.
In Marcellus the first saw mill and grist mill have already been noticed. For a few years Charles Hopper conducted a furniture factory in the building now used by Gallup Brothers as a teasel warehouse. On the opposite side of the stream Robert Baker has a saw and feed mill. The old stone grist mill, now in ruins, was built by Edward Talbot and Joseph Taylor in 1827-28, and at that time was one of the finest structures in the place. They were succeeded by Edward Talbot, father-in-law of Newton G. Case, who sold it to Beach Brothers, of Rochester, but soon took it back. Several proprietors followed, one being N. R. Shepard. It was burned in May, 1889. On the east side of the stream, below the bridge, Daniel Hutchinson had a distillery at an early day, and on the same side John R. Kellogg later built a larger one. On the west side was another distillery, and also a brewery operated by William Meachan, and here Isaac Benham was the principal manager for many years.
The first establishment erected on the site of the upper Marcellus or
Crown Woolen mill was built by Robert and Thomas Dyer about 1812.
They made woolens and carded and dressed cloth, and four years later sold
to John Rhodes (father of Thomas) (3) and Bishop N. Parsons.
Afterwards it was owned by Samuel Godard, Austin Godard, Ansel Kellogg,
William J. Meachan, (4) Joseph Taylor, and Meachan &
Parsons, in whose possession it was burned in 1847. Mr. Meachan rebuilt
the brick or west part of the present structure in 1848. It was finally
purchased by a company and converted into a linen factory, which proved
a failure, and in 1855 it passed to Chester Moses, who turned it back into
a woolen mill. He died May 13, 1870, and Moses & Co., and later
Lucius Moses, conducted the establishment. In 1886 the Marcellus
Woolen Mills Company was incorporated, with Lucius Moses, president; Howard
Soule, vice-president; Joseph Willetts, secretary; and G. N. Case, treasurer.
In 1890 they sold to the Crown Mills Company, of which S. W. Barker is
president; Lucius Moses, vice-president; and Arthur T. Sullivan, treasurer.
This mill consumes about 400,000 pounds of wool annually and employs from
seventy-five to 100 hands. It was enlarged in 1895. On the
site of the lower Crown Mill was an early saw mill built by a Mr. Deming,
which passed successively to Myron L. Mills, Jesse Harroun, and Deacon
Lauren Beach, who carried on an extensive lumber business, and who, about
1847, erected the present Cobb dwelling. The mill subsequently passed
to Joel Dunbar, and was finally washed away. In 1877 J. C. Sayre
purchased the site and the next year J. C. Sayre & Co. erected the
present mill, which was started in 1880. On May 17, 1881, it was
sold on assignment to James Fitten for $24,000, but he surrendered his
purchase, and it soon passed to S. W. Barker for $16,000. Through
him the Crown Mills Company was organized, the first superintendent being
Robert Waugh, who died in 1883. In January, 1884, Edward Moir, the
present efficient superintendent, assumed charge, and since then the plant
has been materially enlarged, its annual consumption aggregating about
550,000 pounds of wool. These two mills constitute the principal
life of the village.
The site now occupied by the Marcellus Powder Company was first utilized about 1825 by a linseed oil mill, which was owned by John, Seba, and David Bonta, brothers. A little later it was converted into a distillery by David Bonta and Myron L. Mills, and soon afterward it passed to Arthur Meachan, who failed. The late William J. Meachan then conducted it as agent. In May, 1841, Daniel G. Coon (5) came here from Jefferson county, N.Y., moved his family into what is now a part of the powder office, and finally, with John D. Horton and William B. Olney (as Norton, Coon & Olney), leased and later bought the property. They kept large numbers of stock, and in one year lost 500 hogs from cholera. In 1853 Mr. Coon purchased the place where his family now live, and where he died. The property was sold to John F. Jones, who converted it into a paper mill machine shop, and it afterward burned. April 30, 1875, it was sold at auction to Joel G. Northrup, who in 1887 erected some of the present buildings and made some powder. In 1879 John D. Griswold leased and two years later bought it, and in 1881 sold it to the Marcellus Powder Company. In the fall of that year the Duponts purchased Mr. Griswold's interest and a little later became sole owners. Thanksgiving day, 1879, quite an explosion occurred, and afterward some of the buildings were burned. The capacity is two tons of powder daily, but for the past fifteen years the plant has been operated only part of the time. H. P. Tefft has served as resident superintendent since December 15, 1881. This is the shipping station for powder for Central New York.
On the site of the Sherman mill the first powder mill on the creek was built by Jeptha Cossit about 1812, and it is claimed that some of the powder used in the war with Great Britain was made here. Afterward it was converted into a linseed oil mill, which was owned at one time by John Herring, who sold to Robert F. Vantine and John Reynolds, who erected the present main building for a grist mill, the timber of which was hewed by John Steele, father of Henry, who came to Marcellus in 1819. They also put in a threshing machine. Finally it was made over into a paper mill by Absalom Herring, who sold to George W. Ryan, who is said to have made the paper on which the Mormon Bible was printed. The next owner was Plato B. Moore, who in 1865 sold to Isaac N. and Lorenzo D. Sherman. S. D. Tompkins acquired a half interest, and the capacity was doubled. Sherman Brothers continued it successfully from about 1870 till the death of Lorenzo D. in September, 1893, since when Isaac N. has been proprietor. The capacity is about two and a half tons of paper daily.
North of this is what is called the old boarding house, and near it is a storehouse. These were built about 1833 by Philip L. Smith of Amber, for a clock factory, and formerly stood on the east side of the road, nearly opposite the brick mill. His log dam was constructed by the late Stephen Cobb several rods about the present dam, and he did a prosperous business manufacturing wooden and brass clocks and metal and horn buttons, until the panic of 1837 wrought his failure. On the building was a great belfry and a large bell, which in size and power rivaled anything of the kind for miles around, and during the interim when the building was unused the bell mysteriously disappeared. In 1852 George Reed and Sanford Dalliba erected a brick paper mill and a new dam, and the next year N. G. Case joined the firm as George Reed & Co. They manufactured white print and book paper, and the establishment was considered one of the best paper mills in the State, supplying many of the leading dailies of the country. In 1854 the firm became Reed & Case, and about this time the old clock factory was cut in two and removed. About 1861 the mill was purchased by Benjamin H. Culver, who put in machinery to bleach straw for manufacturing print paper, a new process at that time. He also made wall paper and colored wrapping paper, and finally sold to John F. Jones. In 1874 it was purchased by Lawless & Tierney, the present proprietors, who gave it the name of Eagle Mill. Its capacity is from three to four tons of heavy paper per day.
On the Herring mill site, nearly opposite T. J. Herring's dwelling, was built the first paper mill on Nine Mile Creek and one of the earliest in the State. It was probably erected by a Mr. Cone in 1806. In 1816 John Herring (6) arrived from Rutland, Vt., and purchased it of Simeon Chapman, and for many years it was an interesting landmark. Writing, print, and wrapping paper was made here by hand from rags sorted on the premises. In 1832 the first machine on the stream was placed in this mill by G. W. Ryan, and on February 4, 1852, it was burned, together with Anson Tinkham's old tavern. The site passed to John F. Jones, who in 1874 built the walls now standing, with the view of erecting another paper mill. The work never got beyond the foundation.
About 1808 a crude saw mill was erected on the site of the present flouring
mills at Marcellus Falls, and among its early proprietors were Dr. Bildad
Beach and Henry S. Pratt. In 1824 the first grist mill here was built
by Silas Crane and Joseph Pratt, under John Reynolds as boss carpenter
and millwright. Composed of heavy rock-elm timbers, its frame was
a huge affair, and when ready for raising a man, standing on the north
plate with bottle in hand, cried out:
A wag responded: "The Pride of Algiers" ("Algiers" was then a nickname for the place), and such it was christened. Tradition has it that Erastus Lawrence stood on his head on the ridge-pole, and that Crane & Platt, having cows, sent their men for the milk and also for a quantity of whisky, and making milk punch gave the crowd a jolly time. Later owners of this mill were Zerah Shepard, Sandford C. Parker, George Talbot, Leonard Mason & Co., Osmond & Gibbs, Reuben Parsons, Elijah Weston, Deacon Isaac Hill, Joel Lee, William Osmond, Samuel Gilley, Goodell & Hibbard, William F. Gere, Fisher & Burnett, John F. Jones, and Johnson & Doe. It was burned November 5, 1877, with Truman Eggleston's blacksmith and machine shop, a woolen factory, and the Hiram Eggleston dwelling. The mill was rebuilt by Byron C. Johnson, was remodeled at a cost of $10,000 in 1881, and since then has had several proprietors, prominent among them being H. C. Smith & Co. Its capacity is 200 barrels of flour every twenty-four hours.
Near here a grist mill was built about 1810, and among its early owners were Henry S. Platt, his son Joseph, and Silas Crane. About 1820 a distillery existed in the basement, and was subsequently operated by Isaac Benham and Arthur Meachan. Large numbers of hogs were always kept around these distilleries, and many an interesting tale is told of this place. The refuse sometimes contained alcohol and accidentally liquor would escape into the yard, and on such occasions the swine would get ridiculously drunk, affording amusement to crowds of people. The mill and distillery were burned in 1829 under the ownership of Zerah Shepard and Joseph Platt, and about 1831 a saw mill was erected on the site by Wiard & Sands, which did an extensive business. Soon after the fire Salmon C. Norton built a two-story machine shop where the old walls now stand, near the bridge, and made washing machines, etc., for a few years. Near this was a small pocket furnace. The machine shop and saw mill finally passed to Jonathan Eggleston, who, with his sons, Albert, Truman, and Hiram, successfully continued them for some time. He rebuilt the saw mill and added a blacksmith shop to his machine establishment. The saw mill was burned July 5, 1861, and on the site he erected another machine shop, into which he put a planing mill, forge, turning lathes, etc., manufacturing lath, bedsteads, straw cutters, and rolls for the salt works. Both shops were destroyed by fire in 1874. He rebuilt the first machine shop, and carried on business until 1880, when he was again burned out.
On the barley mill site was originally a tannery, shoe shop and bark mill, which was built by Henry S. Platt about 1817, and which was afterward conducted by Henry S. Platt, jr., and Platt & Botsford. About 1821 the upper part of the building was converted into a carding and cloth-dressing mill, and later Mr. Platt and John Rhodes manufactured cloth until 1826, when the latter died, aged sixty-six. Subsequent proprietors were William Rhodes and Casper C. Wet, Thomas Rhodes, Robert Rhodes, James Edes, and Robert Rhodes alone until his death in 1855. Later came William Brown, and still later William J. Bright, under whom it was burned about 1860. He rebuilt the plant and made also knit goods, army socks, etc., and built a shoddy picker near the saw mill site. After the machinery was taken out the property passed to John F. Jones, who converted it into a paper mill. It was burned in 1874 and the site sold for $400 to B. C. Johnson, and built the south part of the present barley mill. His successor, Edward Johnson, erected the north part, successfully manufactured pearl barley, and finally sold to G. L. Wells for $13,000. The mill was enlarged, a new raceway constructed, and Smith & Wells continued the business until their failure in 1892, their sales running as high as $50,000 annually. Below this and the bridge, near the west bank of the stream, was one of the pioneer cloth-dressing and carding establishments in this section. It was built about 1812, and was operated for several years by Maj. Lyman Cook. A dam was constructed just below the wooden bridge, and after the mill was abandoned its timbers were put into the dwelling house on the hill.
Where the Phoenix paper mill now stands was first built a mill for sawing
stone by a Mr. Tuttle about 1828, the stone being obtained from Split Rock.
The mill was equipped with four gangs of saw; it used water and sand in
sawing, and cut out stone door and window caps, sills, gravestones, etc.,
doing a large business for several years. The American Hotel
in Jordan and many other buildings were trimmed with the product of this
mill. Mr. Tuttle was followed by Isaac Godfrey, whose sons Arnold
and Hiram carried on the works for a time. Afterward Leonard and
Merritt Mason enlarged and converted the building into a distillery and
failed in 1842. George W. Ryan succeeded and made it over into a
paper mill, and soon took George Reed as partner until about 1848.
On November 11, 1851, it was burned, but Mr. Ryan rebuilt and continued
until about 1857, when he failed. A freshet subsequently undermined
the structure, and it finally passed to the Culvers, who manufactured straw
board and print paper from straw, and who sold to John F. Jones.
It was destroyed by fire in April, 1868, after which Mr. Jones erected
the buildings which were burned in January, 1895, under the proprietorship
of Michael J. Lawless.
Below this privilege was formerly a small wooden bowl factory, operated by one Smith, better known as "Thousand Legged" Smith, from his very crooked legs. It was started before 1820, but soon ceased business. The property had several owners, one of whom, Warren S. Walker, built a dam and a plaster mill about 1856, procuring his gypsum mainly from Rose Hill, and making from ten to fifteen tons of plaster daily. About 1840 he had a small lead pipe manufactory near by and also made hand rakes and other wooden ware. About 1845 he erected another building in which he continued to draw lead pipe and manufacture cider and peppermint oil. Some ten years later he began burning lime here. The plaster mill has been almost continuously in the Walker family.
These manufacturing concerns, furnishing employment to scores of workmen, and distributing annually thousands of dollars among the inhabitants of the town, gave existence from time to time to a number of other business establishments, and contributed in large measure to the growth and development of every contiguous community. The numerous industries carried on at Marcellus Falls, where the water power becomes the most valuable, early gave rise to several interests, such as stores, shops, a tavern, post-office, etc. In 1835 the place contained about fifteen dwellings.
In 1805, or earlier, a Baptist church was organized at Thorn Hill, then known as South Marcellus, and from that date to 1816 Rev. Elias Harmon served as pastor. Rev. Jesse B. Worden served in the same capacity from 1818 to 1835 and was also a captain of volunteers during the war of 1812. Services were held in school houses, etc., until 1816, when a meeting house was built. In 1848 the present structure was erected at a cost of $1,500. The Rev. A. R. Palmer, the oldest living Baptist pastor in Onondaga county, was ordained in the same year. Among the early members were Amasa Sessions, Amasa and John Kneeland, Jesse and John Manley, Warren Kneeland, Chauncey Denning, Nathan Thompson, and Joshua Chandler. Thorn Hill has been a celebrated center of agricultural attainments, and for many years fostered a flourishing farmer's society, which held successful fairs. A number of the sons and daughters of that section have acquired prominence in the literary field, while among those who became eminent as statesmen were Daniel Baxter, Sidney and Lewis Smith, and S. S. Kneeland.
The reader will be interested at this point in the following list of names which were signed to a contract dated January 27, 1807, with the view of securing the services of Rev. Levi Parsons as pastor of the church in Marcellus village; this paper is printed in Dr. Parson's history of 1876, and opposite each name is the amount the subscriber agrees to pay annually for the support of the gospel:
Asahel, Thomas, and Josiah North, Herman and Abram Dodge, Job and Alvin Barber, Caleb Todd, William Graves, Peter Lawrence, Thomas North, jr., Samuel Rice, Elisha Chapman, Bigelow Lawrence, Dan Bradley, Jonathan, Bildad, and Erastus Barber, Festus Butts, Moses Norton, Israel Curtis, Joseph Olmstead, Reuben and Erastus Humphrey, William Mechan, Reuben Dorchester, Terrence Edson, R. C. Adams, Henry S. Platt, Solomon G. Steele, Daniel Briggs, Samuel Millen, Nathan Healy, Robert McCulloch, Seth Dunbar, William F. Bangs, Seymour Dodge, John North, Reuben West, Chauncey Hickok, Cyrus Holcomb, Nathan Kelsey, Abel Prouty, Samuel Johnson, George McCulloch, Charles Mullon, Amos Millen, Solomon Curtis, Dorastus and Lois Lawrence, Ansel Kellogg, Philo Godard, Enoch Cowles, Ezekiel and Benjamin Baker, Joab Lawrence, B. Barber, Joseph Baker, Ebenezer Bird, Bradford Norton, Russell and Simeon Taylor, Daniel Hutchinson, Nathan Leonard, Eli Cora, Martin Cossit, Josiah Frost, Frances Platt, Samuel Wheadon, Heman Holcomb, Caleb Bunda, Roswell Briggs, Lewis Kennedy, Samuel Bacheler, Dennis and Samuel Whitney, Henry Williams, William Goodwin, Rufus Rose, Giles Sanford, Jeptha Cossitt, Marquis Cossit, Joseph Taylor, Henry Horton, William Chrystler, Philip Wilmon, Lyman Cook, Samuel Parker, Martin Pees, Roxana Holcomb, Elijah Loomis, Bigelow Lawrence, jr., Reuben Humphrey, jr., Asahel Dodge, Ephraim Talmage, Elisha Alvord, Eben Rice.
These names, representing settlers in Marcellus, and in all or nearly all of the present adjoining towns, will revive many interesting reminiscences of the olden time. In the year 1807 typhus fever prevailed as an epidemic throughout the town, sweeping away a large number of victims in its fearful ravages.
According to a credible story Marcellus village was once nicknamed "Pucker Street." Mrs. Chloe Thomas, when a young woman, boarded at Rufus Lawrence's, and one day accompanied Adam Baker to town on horseback. Finishing her errands she mounted her horse to return, but her escort was nowhere in sight, and she lustily called out "Ad-a-m!" At home she expressed her mortification of having to shout for Adam "right in the middle of Pucker Street," a term which so pleased the four Lawrence brothers that they mounted their horses and riding through the village shouted "Hurrah for Pucker Street!"
Joseph Olmstead had an early store on the site of the M. E. church, and also a potashery near where the new school house stands. On the lot occupied by the dwelling of Dr. Parsons was formerly a long store building erected by Sandford C. Parker, who was succeeded as a merchant by Henry J. Sherwood, Edwin Talbot & Ball, D. G. Coon, and others. As early as 1816 a store was kept between the mill and the N. G. Case house, one of its proprietors being Ralzemond Kellogg. The Sayre store was doubtless built by Sanford Dalliba, who traded there some time. Afterward Thomas Walker was a shoe merchant, and John Grimes, the veteran cobbler, worked for him some seventeen years. Other occupants were Alfred Rockwell, Sidney Slocomb, and John Blynn. The store owned by James Sarr was built by Curtis Moses in 1830 on the site of a wagon shop, and among his successors were Sherman Bosworth, Moses Brothers, and Benjamin Clark, who also had a yeast cake factory in the old "bee hive' building, which was erected by Addison Farnham for a butcher shop, and which was later used for a brewery by Smith Brothers. Other proprietors of the store were Frank and Irving Moses, James W. Reed, and John Bull and son, W. F. Bull. The old building owned by William B. White and standing just east of his house was erected about 1810. His father, J. G. B. White, came to this village from Elbridge in 1818, soon bought out Copeland & Moore, and carried on a hat store here until 1852. It was later occupied by Elijah Rowley, postmaster, as a shoe shop.
Two events occurred in the early history of this town which perceptibly affected and temporarily checked immigration. The first was the war of 1812-15, which drew considerably on the male population and afforded the settlers a glimpse of warfare, but the scenes of conflict were too remote to excite more than general interest. This was followed by the cold season of 1816, which caused much privation from want to provisions and feed for stock. At the same time the smallpox suddenly appeared and two pest-houses were fitted up, but fortunately the disease did not develop into an epidemic.
Passing through these eventful times, which practically closed the period of hardship, the pioneers entered on a new era of prosperity, and accumulated competencies as the result of their industry. In this connection it is worthy of note that quite a number of Revolutionary soldiers, not original grantees, took up their homes in this section and for many years manifested a patriotic interest in military affairs, and especially in Fourth of July celebrations, making them memorable by their presence and active participation. Down to 1845, annual trainings of militia companies and regiments occurred in the immediate neighborhood, and these occasions were signalized by young and old as notable events. Among the captains of the uniformed rifle company, in which the citizens took a laudable pride, were Myron L. Mills, Harvey Rhodes, and Sidney H. Cook, sr.
In the family of Robert Dyer is found the nucleus of Methodism in Marcellus. The first class was organized at the Falls in 1816, but as early as 1809 or 1810 Rev. Mr. Phillips preached in the old school house on the Presbyterian church premises in Marcellus village. Mr. Dyer, who came originally from Ireland about 1795, and settled here in 1812, was a local exhorter. A stone church was begun in 1824 on the site of the Catholic cemetery on West hill, long known as Methodist hill, the society having been organized at the house of Rev. Stephen Cobb (7), on December 8, 1823, with Stephen Cobb, Joseph Gilson, and William Newton, trustees. The organization bore the name of the 'First Zion Society of Marcellus," which was changed in September, 1877, to the First Methodist Episcopal church." The edifice was torn down about 1830, and a second stone structure erected on the site of the subsequent residence of Dr. Richards. On September 1, 1858, a third building was completed and dedicated. This was burned January 25, 1877, and the same year the present church was built at a cost of about $11,000, the corner stone being laid May 8, 1876, and the dedication occurring January 3, 1878. Rev. Benjamin Shove, the father of District Attorney Benjamin J. Shove, of Syracuse, was pastor of this society two years, and also presiding elder of the Auburn and Cazenovia districts. In 1817 this circuit included Marcellus, Scipio, Cayuga, Mentz, Elbridge, Jordan, Auburn, Owasco, Skaneateles, Spafford, Otisco, Onondaga, and Manlius.
From 1803 to 1816 there lived in this town a girl named Rachel Baker, whose experience in so called devotional somnium furnishes the most remarkable case of the kind on record, the history of which appears in the Transactions of the Physico-Medical Society of New York, vol. I, p. 395, and also in Clark's Onondaga, vol. II, p. 294. She was born in Pelham, Mass., May 29, 1794, and came to Marcellus with her parents at the age of nine years. From that time she claimed to have "strong convictions of the importance of eternal things, and the thoughts of God and eternity would make her tremble." Once every day, regularly, she was seized with somnium of a religious character, the paroxysms lasting from thirty-five to ninety-eight minutes, with body and limbs rigid, and in a state of entire unconsciousness. She pronounced sermons of a highly devotional nature, preceded by prayers, her face turned upward. "She begins with a text, and proceeds with an even course to the end, embellishing it sometimes with fine metaphors, vivid descriptions, and poetical quotations." From this she would pass into a sound and natural sleep, awakening in the morning totally ignorant of the scenes she had enacted. In September, 1816, she was cured by Dr. Spears.
In January, 1819, the Third Presbyterian church was formed on the State road, about five miles southeast of the village, being so named because it was the third society instituted in southeastern Onondaga. It expired about 1850.
In 1820 a Universalist society was organized as the "First Universalist Society of the town of Marcellus," with Dr. Bildad Beach, Samuel Johnson, and Chester Clark, trustees. How long it continued an active existence cannot be ascertained, but it never erected a house of worship.
By 1824 the Episcopalians had shown strength sufficient to form a body of worshipers by themselves, and on February 8 of that year St. John's Episcopal church was incorporated, with Harvey Andrews and Caleb Cowles, wardens, and Dr. Richard L. Davis, Leonard Blanchard, John Herring, Gad Curtis, Zebina Moses, David C. Earll, Zerah Shepard, and Austin Godard, vestrymen. This was an outgrowth of the Skaneateles parish. Rev. Amos Pardee was installed the first rector December 1, 1825. Services were held in the school house until 1833, when a church was built on the corner of Main street and Falls road, and consecrated September 2 of that year. This was burned in December 1866, and in 1869 the present edifice was erected at a cost of $3,300.
Meanwhile schools had not been neglected. The school house previously mentioned, which occupied the site in the rear of the Presbyterian church in Marcellus village, was finally removed to where the powder works now are, and on the old lot a new school building was erected by Edwin W. and Calvin Frost. This was subsequently remodeled into the Presbyterian parsonage. Among the early teachers here were Ansel Squires and Hiram Clift. Schools were established in other parts of the town as necessity demanded, and by 1835 there were 891 scholars attending the several places of learning. About 1846 a school house was built on Cherry street in the village. August 25, 1891, Marcellus Union Free School district No. 2, was organized by the consolidation of old districts No. 8 Marcellus and No. 2 Skaneateles. The first Board of Education consisted of James Sarr, president; R. M. Stone, G. L. Wells, E. V. Baker, Benjamin Marshfield, and L. N. Mogg (collector). The first principal was Matthew I. Hunt. In May, 1892, the sum of $13,000 in bonds was authorized, and the contract let for a new brick building. The structure cost, including lot and fixtures $14,375, and was formally opened December 3, 1892. The academic department was placed under the Regents June 21, 1893, and the same month the first class was graduated: Harriet T. Kennedy, Nellie E. Mattison, Gertrude C. Morton, Elizabeth C. Powell, Harriet M. Seeley, and Florence L. Ward.
The opening of the Erie Canal in 1825 inaugurated a new industrial era and added materially to the development of the town. At this period lumbering was at its height. As illustrating the volume of business carried on in the territory now in Marcellus, Skaneateles, and the north part of Spafford the following statistics are gleaned from the State Gazetteer of 1823:
Population, 6,503; farms, 1,044; mechanics, 267; traders, 10; slaves, 8; free blacks, 26; taxable property, $460,000; school districts, 33; children between five and fifteen, 2,181; cattle, 6,878; horses, 1,420; sheep, 16,628; acres of improved land, 26,894. The town contained thirteen grist mills, fifteen saw mills, three oil mills, ten fulling mills, three cotton and woolen factories, one trip hammer, twenty-four carding machines, nine distilleries, and three asheries. Marcellus village is credited with having forty dwellings.
It will be noticed that slavery existed here during the first quarter of this century. All slaves, however, were soon afterward freed by law. During the first three decades of settlement quantities of timber were burned and the ashes converted into "blacksalts" or potash, which formed an important source of revenue. It is also a noteworthy fact that large numbers of wild animals were a constant menace to the pioneers, but about this period their extermination had become nearly or quite complete. Farming and manufacturing were the two principal industries, with possibly the latter in the lead. The methods pursued in agriculture have given the town a wide reputation, and the interest manifested in local agricultural exhibits has been commendable indeed. Several fairs have been held with marked success, even within recent years. Sheep raising was long an important industry, while the growing of wheat, potatoes, and some fruit was extensively carried on. The wool market here was for some time a prominent feature, and dairying also constituted a lucrative occupation. These specialties have, however, within a quarter-century, been superseded by a system of mixed farming, except in the southern part of the town, where considerable tobacco is grown. The raising of teasels, which was introduced about 1835, eventually became an important branch of agriculture and for many years has been one of the chief industries.
Among the prominent settlers, beside those already noted, may be mentioned here the names of Orlando Beach, son of Dr. Bildad Beach, and grandson of Major Cossit, who was born in 1808, and died in 1894; Thomas Walker, for twenty years a justice of the peace, who died in 1891; Caleb N. Potter, who came to Skaneateles in 1815, settled at Clintonville in 1823, and died in 1865; John North, son of Daniel H., who was born near Half Way, came to Marcellus village in 1848, and died 1893, aged seventy-six; Samuel C. Hopper, born in England in 1819, who came in 1848 and soon afterward succeeded N. G. Hoyt as cabinet maker and undertaker, in which business he still continues; "Fathers" Rich and Jay, the first a farmer, the latter a Methodist preacher; Hon. Reuben Humphreys, appointed county judge in 1804, and State senator in 1811-14; Calvin Bingham, father of Kinsley, governor of Michigan and U. S. senator; Hon. Nathan K. Hall, son of Ira, who was born here in 1808 and became postmaster-general under president Fillmore, and subsequently a judge of the Supreme Court; Seth Dunbar, twelve of whose thirteen children lived to be seventy years of age; Andrew, Joseph, Edward and Hull Shepard, sons of John; Joseph Taylor, a marked character; Addison H. Armstrong, who died in 1891; Jason A. Merrill, a native of Otisco, who manufactured fanning mills, and died in 1891; Edward Bisdee, prominently identified with the improvement of sheep; and Amos Bogue and Hugh Haylor, the former for twenty-five years and the latter for over forty years sexton of the village cemetery.
Dr. Parsons, with admirable foresight, published in 1876 a list of the heads of families living in Marcellus village in 1825, and followed it with a list of those in 1850, both of which we quote as follows:
List of 1825: (8) James Bixbey, Mr. and Mrs. Richardson, Samuel Rice, Ebenezer Rice, Ansel Kellogg, Austin Godard, Mrs. Norton, Mrs. Pells, Dan Bradley, David Bonta, Mrs. Elisha Chapman, Samuel Wood, Mrs. Lois Rice, Beach Lawrence, Harvey Rhoades, Rhoderic Smith, Mrs. Goodwin, Dr. R. N. Davis, Daniel Ball, John R. Kellogg, Joseph Taylor, Edward Talbot, Theron Godard, Mrs. Jesse Kellogg, S. C. Parker, Ralsimon Kellogg, Curtis Moses, B. N. Parsons, Oliver Hill, Dr. Bildad Beach, Henry Chase, Samuel Ball, Mrs. Warren, John Curtis, Mrs. Dr. Pliny Godard, Cope More, Mrs. Martin Cossit, Caleb Gasper, Western Frost, Ann Leonard, Joseph Phillips, Joseph Olmstead.
List of 1850: Edmund Aiken, Dr. Bildad Beach, Alexander Mather, Elijah Rowley, Curtis Moses, John Sanford, Isaac Bradley, Myron L. Mills, Mrs. Susan Chase, J. R. Becker, Mrs. Newton, J. G. B. White, Rhoderic Smith, Dr. Alexander Cowles, John Plant, Luther Colton, Norman Todd, Alfred Rockwell, Dr. Israel parsons, Edwin Talbot, B. N. Parsons, George Brown, William J. Machan, John Curtis, Mrs. Margaret Casey, Edward Frost, Hezekiah Shepard, Mrs. Goodrich, Dan Moses, Ralsimon Kellogg, B. F. Moses, William Colton, Mrs. Sophia Ball, Samuel Ball, jr., Sanford Dalliba, Joseph Taylor, Edward Talbot, Mrs. Abbott, Timothy Lee, Worthy Rozier, Misses Amidon, Samuel Ball, sr., Thomas Walwork, Mrs. Pettibone, Medad Lawrence, Edward Wilder, Mrs. Betsey Taylor, Nathan G. Hoyt, John Carpenter, Chester Moses, Harry Kennedy, John Tompkins, John Landon, Addison Farnham, Mrs. Arthur Machan, Thomas Walker, Caleb Gasper, Amory Wilson, Guy Moses, Mrs. Caroline Buck, Joseph Phillips.
From 1834 to 1837 a number of the inhabitants emigrated to Michigan and other parts of the west. In 1835 the town contained 511 persons subject to militia duty, and the village had four stores and about eighty dwellings.
At this time there were 17,170 acres of improved land
against 15,558 in 1860, the assessed valuation for the two periods being
respectively $371,204 and $800,160. In 1835 the town had 3,989 cattle,
1,308 horses, 8,113 sheep, and 3,408 swine, while in 1860 it contained
2,107 cattle, 780 horses, 7,079 sheep, and 1,214 swine. In the latter
year the staple products aggregated 108,041 bushels of wheat, 2,737 tons
of hay, 18,220 bushels of potatoes, 35,395 bushels of apples, 95,150 pounds
of butter, and 13,073 pounds of cheese.
The opening of the Syracuse and Auburn Railroad in 1836 gave an active impetus to the whole town, but it seriously affected the prosperity of the village, which lost forever its once active stage business and also considerable local trade. Down to 1850 it waned, but during the third quarter of this century its various interests revived and flourished. Since the construction of the railroad it has enjoyed excellent stage accommodations to the nearest station, Marcellus, about three miles north, in the edge of Camillus. The Powell House, occupied by Bernard Powell as proprietor, was built by Harvey Rhodes about 1828 and used by him as a store. He was followed by Hugh Hutchinson, Dan Hutchinson, and others. Dr. Bildad Beach was at one time proprietor of the present Alvord House. About 1855 Calvin G. S. Warner, and R. Warren Alvord succeeded John Carpenter, and since 1875 R. W. Alvord has been its landlord. The Cash Store was erected about 1840 by Joseph Taylor and son George, the brick having been made on the premises now owned by Rev. W. R. Cobb. Before its completion the town committee used a portion of it for their Harrison-Tippecanoe headquarters, and there are people still living who well remember the huge canoe which was dug out and drawn to Syracuse by several yoke of oxen that fall; Ira Bishop, father of William, was captain of the procession.
Among the occupants of this store were: Taylor & Case, William Colton, N. G. Case, Edwin G. Talbot, Samuel R. Ball, and brother John, Hezekiah Shepard, James Chase, and brother John, Reed & Chase, Platt Brothers, M. E. Chase & Co. Other merchants and business men of the village have been Joseph Goodwin, Addison Farnham, S. M. Griffin, A. W. Beach, J. V. Palmer, Thomas J. Field, Bartlett, Bradley & Co., Isaac Bradley (who built the De Coudres store in 1844), Greenman & King, Caleb Cowles, jr., John North, Thomas De Couderes (who died in 1856) and sons, Henry and Fred, John Griffin, William H. Julia, J. W. Reed, W. H. Sarr, R. A. Julia, Hickman & Walsh, George Hickman, M. B. Van Vranken, F. A. Thompson, M. Sheehan, Marquisee Brothers, D. M. Fulmer, Mrs. A. Bicknell, Evans & Edwards, J. N. Stearns, J. Evans & Son, Edmund Aiken, Brown & Spencer, W. B. White, Harlow Ball, White & Smith, White & Matteson (oldest firm in town, in business since 1848), C. A. Peck, F. F. Sweet, Thomas Kelly, John Palmer, Polydore Thomas, Charles O'Grady, George Stocking, George Cornwell, and Hopper & Jones. Isaac Bradley carried on the insurance business for more than forty years and was succeeded in August, 1894, by C. A. Roe. There are now twelve stores in the village.
On July 4, 1853, Marcellus village was incorporated, and at the first charter election held July 25 of that year the following officers were elected:
President, William J. Meachan; trustees, Elijah Rowley, Isaac N. Soules, Isaac Bradley, Daniel G. Coon; assessors, A. H. Cowles, Chester Moses and J. Taylor; clerk, H. T. Kennedy; collector, Joseph Taylor; treasurer, G. N. Kennedy; post-master, Avery Willson.
The village presidents have been: Edmund Aiken, 1854; Luke I. Tefft, 1855; Stephen Cobb, 1856-57; Daniel G. Coon, 1858; Cornell Crysler, 1859; William Wellington, 1860; Chester Moses, 1861; John H. Cowles, 1862-63; E. R. Howe, 1864; Chester Moses, 1865-66; Ira Bush, 1867; Chester Moses, 1868; Thomas Rhoades, 1869-70; Oscar J. Brown, 1871-72; Newton G. Case, 1873; D. G. Coon, 1874; Isaac N. Sherman, 1875-77; D. G. Coon, 1878-79; Isaac N. Sherman, 1880; N. G. Case, 1881-83 (in 1883 the new board failed to qualify, and the old officers held over); W. H. Gallup, 1884; Myron M. Whiting, 1885; W. H. Gallup, 1886; M. M. Whiting, 1887-88; Simon Dodd, jr., 1889; S. M. Bronson, 1890; W. H. Gallup, 1891; Edward Moir, 1892-93; John E. Griffin, 1894; Edmund Reed, 1895. J. B. Van Vranken was clerk from 1878 to 1880; J. M. Seymour, 1881-90; and C. A. Roe, 1890-93.
The year the village was incorporated Roman Catholic services were first held at the house of John McNally, and in 1854 St. Francis Xavier's church was organized with about twenty members. Services were held in the old tavern until 1867, when the present edifice was erected. In 1862 Morning Star Lodge, No. 524, F. & A. M., was instituted, with E. P. Howe, W. M.; Henry C. Sarr, S. W.; and John E. North, J. W.
During the war of the Rebellion, from 1861 to 1865, the town responded promptly to the various calls for troops and contributed her full share toward the support of the Union. Patriotism ran high. In 1876 the one hundredth anniversary of American independence was appropriately observed, and the occasion was signalized by the preparation and publication by Dr. Israel Parsons of the "Centennial History of the Town of Marcellus," which was delivered by him in the Presbyterian church on July 4, and to which we are indebted for many fact and incidents incorporated in this chapter. On the 17th of April, 1879, the first newspaper in town, the Marcellus Observer, was started in the village by Edmund Reed. It passed through several hands, among them Sykes & Rogers and A. De L. Rogers, and in March, 1887, came into the possession of the present proprietor, C. A. Roe, who enlarged it from four to eight pages. To the files of this paper, and especially to the recent articles on local history prepared by Rev. Andrew Roe, father of the editor, we also acknowledge our indebtedness.
Besides the events already noticed the last fifteen years are devoid
of any noteworthy incident. Mention should be made, however, of Rose
Hill post-office situated in the south part of the town, which was established
November 5, 1890, with Frank B. Mills as postmaster. Mr. Mills began
here a few years ago a seed farm which he has successfully developed into
an extensive business, extending throughout the country, and rivaling anything
of the kind in the east. The post-office, which was started for his
accommodation, is second in the volume of business transacted in the county,
and in June, 1892, William E. Mills, brother of Frank B., became postmaster.
In December, 1894, Mr. Mills started "Success with the Garden," an eight-page
monthly, devoted entirely to gardening. See his biography on another
page of this volume.
In Marcellus village Lodge No. 658, I.O.O.F., was instituted with nineteen members, February 7, 1893, with William McKenzie as N. G.
The first record of the town in existence begins with the year 1830 and gives these officers: Harvey Rhodes, supervisor; Curtis Moses, town clerk; Salmon C. Norton, Thaddeus Thompson, and Sandusky Miller, justices; Joseph North, Austin Godard and Lyman Cook, assessors; Joseph Taylor and Lemuel Barrons, overseers of the poor; Dr. Bildad Beach, Richard Robinson, and Samuel Smith, highway commissioners; Theron Godard, collector; Thaddeus Thompson, Hugh Humphreys, and L. I. Tefft, commissioners of common schools; John Bixby, Francis Burns, and David Tyler, inspectors of common schools; Eli Godard and John Sanford, trustees of school fund. Among the justices between 1830 and 1850 were Theron Godard, Zerah Shepard, Allen Cook, Burroughs Holmes, Myron L. Mills, John Burns, William Rhodes, Edmund Aiken, David Chaffee, John Sharp, Eliakim Dorchester, and J. G. B. White. The town superintendents of schools were Job Moses, 1844 and 1850; Norman Todd, 1845; Henry Platt, 1846 and 1849; Jabez Wilder, 1847; Edwin W. Phillips, 1848; Thomas H. Lamb, 1851; James F. Webster, 1852 and 1856; James S. Baker, 1854; William R. Brown, 1855. The last trustees of the school fund, in 1845, were Nathan Huley and William F. Bangs.
The supervisors of Marcellus since 1830 have been: Harvey Rhodes, 1830; John Sanford, 1831; Austin Godard, 1832; Chester Moses, 1833-34; Caleb Gasper, 1835-36; Lauren Beach, 1837-39; Theron Godard, 1840-42; Joseph Taylor, 1843-46; P. Dean Howe, 1847; Ira Bishop, 1848-50; Henry Fellows, 1851; William J. Oakley, 1852; Albert B. Lawrence, 1853; B. Humphrey Case, 1854; Ira Bishop, 1855-57; David Chaffee, 1858; Cornell Crysler, 1859-60; David Chaffee, 1861; B. F. Moses, 1862; Frederic A. Lyman, 1863-66; David Chaffee, 1867-69; Shepard Earll, 1870-72; Lewis Baker, 1873-74; Robert E. Dorchester, 1875-79; Philo S. Thornton, 1880-85; Robert E. Dorchester; 1886-87; Edmund Reed, 1888-89; Robert E. Dorchester, 1890-91; Edward V. Baker (9), 1892-95.
Population: 1830, 2,626; 1835, 2,436; 1840, 2,727; 1845, 2,649; 1850, 2,759; 1855, 2,547; 1860, 2,908; 1865, 2,577; 1870, 2,337; 1875, 2,498; 1880, 2,678; 1890, 2,739; 1892, 2,644.
1. Applied by Simeon De Witt, surveyor-general,
from Marcus Claudius Marcellus, a celebrated Roman general and statesman
who was slain 208 B.C. The name was borne by an illustrious Roman
plebeian family of the Claudia gens.
2. Rev. Mr. Parsons as born in Northampton, Mass., August 20, 1779, was graduated from Williams College in 1801, taught in the Academy at Cornwall, Conn., and at his alma mater, studied theology under Rev. Dr. Hyde, of Lee, Mass., and was licensed to preach at Stockbridge in 1806. He was ordained pastor of this church September 16, 1807. He married Almira, daughter of Deacon Samuel Rice, October 9, 1809, and continued his pastorate here, except two years (1833 and 1834), until 1841. The remainder of his ministry was spent at Tully, Otisco, Borodino, and the State road. He was one of the founders of Auburn Seminary, and continually a member of its board of trustees until his death November 20, 1864. He was also a school inspector for the town many years.
3. Thomas Rhodes, fourth son of John and Hester (Jackson) Rhodes, was born in Cambridge, N.Y., February 4, 1807, came to this town with his parents in 1816, and died April 4, 1895.
4. William J. Meachan, a native of Marcellus village, was a lifelong resident, and died July 22, 1892, aged eighty-five. He was trustee of the Presbyterian church about thirty-five years and served as assemblyman in 1855.
5. Daniel G. Coon, youngest of eleven children, was born in Hounsfield, N.Y., Sept. 5, 1814, came to Mottville in 1841, and died in Marcellus, March 4, 1893.
6. John Herring was born in Roxbury, Mass., July 21, 1778, and died July 20, 1862. Of his eight children, Thomas Jefferson Herring was born here in 1822.
7. Rev. Mr. Cobb was born here April 28, 1799, being the second male child born in town, and died in Marcellus, May 24, 1875.
8. Where "Mr." and "Mrs." are omitted it is understood that both husband and wife were living.
9. Edward V. Baker was born in the town of Onondaga May 4, 1841, served in the Civil war in the 122d N.Y. Vols., engaged in farming and later in blacksmithing, and was elected treasurer of Onondaga county in 1894. He was chairman of the Board of Supervisors in 1894.
Submitted 21 August 1998