Town of Onondaga

Richard R. Slocum's Valuable History of Its Schools and Churches.

Published in the Syracuse Journal.

It has been said by a celebrated historian, "that a people which take no pride in the noble achievements of their ancestors, will never achieve anything worthy to be remembered with pride by their descendants."  In mankind there is an instinct that becomes intensified with age, to lay aside at times, the affairs of an active busy life, and dwell on the memories, traditions, and history of the past.  In our historical researches we find much in this land of ours for congratulation, and little for disappointment.  We learn the settlement of this country was not confined to one race, creed, or religion.  That the dominant factor that called to this land the noble sons and daughters of our mother country that welcomed from the low lands of Holland and the higher ones of Switzerland; from the land of the shamrock and the thistle, from the vine-clad hills of France and Germany, was the inherent love of civil and religious liberty.  We find it required long years of patient labor and wise counsel to establish a republican form of government, demonstrating to the world that a people made up of all nationalities cannot long retain their peculiar views and prejudices.

We see this exemplified in the committee selected to draft the first constitution of the State of New York, consisting of thirteen members; representing the lineage of seven nationalities.  There was an affiliation all through the eighteenth century of religion and education; church and school; minister and teacher; each laboring in their respective organizations for the successful establishment of a free and independent republic.

In 1795 the Legislature of the State of New York passed the first "act for the instruction of the children of the inhabitants, in the English language, and such other branches of knowledge as are most useful and necessary to complete a good English education."

They also provided that twenty thousand pounds annually be appropriated to carry out the provisions of this law for the term of five years.  In 1798 Leonard Bacon and Sieur Curtiss were elected school committee.

The first school house in Onondaga Hollow was built of logs in 1795 in the rear of the present Presbyterian church.  Gordon Needham, then fifteen years old, who recently came to the Hollow for the purpose of studying medicine with his brother, Dr. William Needham (who located here two years previous) was employed to teach the school.  In this log school house meetings were held of a social and religious nature as often as the occasion required until 1807.

By this time the inhabitants felt the need of a larger and better school building to meet the requirements of this now rapidly growing embryo village.  In 1803 a Masonic lodge was instituted in the "Comfort Tyler Tavern," and at this date was in a very flourishing condition, composing the most enterprising men in Central New York.  This Masonic fraternity were in need of a hall for holding their meetings.  July 15th, 1807, negotiations were made for a plot of land for a site (with Joshua Forman and Gordon Needham) for a school building and Masonic hall.  This structure was erected nearly opposite the Presbyterian church; the Free Masons building their hall and the first story for school purposes built by contributions received from the following persons:  Charles Danforth, John Gridley, George Hall, Lebbius Foster, Joseph Swan, William H. Sabine, Samuel P. Hawley; Samuel Beebe, Richard Wells, Joel Barber, Nicholas Mickles, Polaski King, Thaddeus M. Wood, Cornelius Longstreet and Jasper Hopper.  January 13th, 1813 the contributors for the erection of this school building assigned their right, title and interest subject to the rights of the Free Masons to the trustees of the Onondaga academy, which had organized and applied for a charter.  From this time to the completion of the academy building the academic department used the Masonic hall and the common school with its Lancastrian attachment the lower room.  In 1812 an act was passed by the Legislature for the election of commissioners of schools and the formation of school districts.  On the 6th of April 1813 Thaddeus M. Wood, John Ellis and Daniel Moseley, were elected commissioners for the town of Onondaga.  The Onondaga Hollow school district they bounded on the north by the towns of Camillus and Salina; on the east by Manlius and Pompey; on the south by the Indian Reservation; and west by the brow of he west hill, containing many thousand acres of land.  About the year 1814 Joshua Forman decided to built a grist mill in Onondaga Hollow.

In making the survey for conducting the water from the Onondaga creek to the mill site, it was necessary to remove this building to its present location, where it has been used for a town hall for a quarter of a century.  In 1820 a school district was formed from the original school district comprising that portion lying east of the Onondaga creek not already appropriate by other districts.  The union of these two districts with the Onondaga academy was made by a special act of the Legislature in 1866, and is now known as the "Onondaga Academy and Union Free School District No. 1, town of Onondaga."


It was on the fifteenth day of August, 1812, that the inhabitants of Onondaga Hollow and vicinity met at the Presbyterian church in Onondaga Hollow, for the purpose of discussing and adopting plans for the building of an academy.

A subscription paper was presented and accepted, subject to the following conditions, viz:-

First - The site to be not more than one hundred rods distant from the Seneca turnpike.

Second - The subscription not to be binding unless four thousand dollars were subscribed; and to be paid in three equal annual payments.

Subject to these conditions the following persons and amounts were pledged:

Joshua Forman
Thaddues M. Wood
Nicholas Mickles
John Adams
Joseph Forman
Rev. Dirck C. Lansing
Jasper Hopper
Joseph Swan
Judson Webb
George Hall
William H. Sabine
Cornelius Longstreet
Gideon Seeley
P. J. Rimball
Oliver R. Strong
Polaski King
Thaddeus Patchin
John Gridley
M. Schull
James Hutchinson
Elijah Rust
Jonas C. Baldwin
M. Hickok
Cyprian Hibbard
Lebbius Foster
Samuel P. Hawley
Joel Phelps
Joel Thayer
Aaron Bellows
D.r J. D. Bissell
Dr. Gordon Needham
Joel Barber
Ephraim Webster
Total amount subscribed

Endowment Fund.

A second paper was presented at this meeting, the object being to obtain for the academy an endowment fund; this subscription not to be binding unless three thousand dollars were subscribed.  The following amounts were subscribed:

Joshua Forman
Thaddues M. Wood
Nicholas Mickles
John Adams
Joseph Forman
Rev. D. C. Lansing
Jasper Hopper
Joseph Swan
Judson Webb
Cornelius Longstreet
George Hall
William H. Sabine
Gideon Seeley
P. J. Rimball
Oliver R. Strong
Thaddeus Patchin
Polaski King
John Gridley
Total amount subscribed

An adjourned meeting was held and the following persons were selected trustees:  Rev. Caleb Alexander, Jasper Hopper, Joseph Forman, Rev. D. C. Lansing, William H. Sabine, Joseph Swan, Thaddeus M. Wood, Gordon Needham, Jacobus Depuy, Cornelius Longstreet, Judson Webb, George Hall, Oliver R. Strong, Daniel Bradley, Nicholas Mickles and John Adams.

An application was made to the Regents of the university for a charter of incorporation and on the tenth of April, 1813, was granted.

On the twenty-fourth of April a meeting of the trustees named in the charter was held, and the following officers elected:-

President, Caleb Alexander; secretary, Jasper Hopper; treasurer, Joseph Swan.

Rev. Caleb Alexander was chosen principal of the academy May 7th, 1813.  The trustees called a meeting of the subscribers to the building fund for the selection of a site for the academy building, each subscriber voting by shares of $25 each.  At this meeting Deacon Joseph Forman donated about three acres for the building and grounds, which was accepted, and an article of conveyance given.  A deed was not executed until 1835, twenty-two years later.  During this time Deacon Forman died, and William H. Sabine purchased his farm and gave to the trustees of the academy a warranty deed.

A building committee was appointed, and directed to proceed without delay to erect a building for the academy according to the plan accepted by the board of trustees, said building to be of stone, seventy-four feet in length, thirty-four feet in width, and three stories high, exclusive of the cellar story, which shall be at least four feet above the ground.  The contractors for building were Moses and Aaron Warner, two brothers.  The building was not ready for use until the spring of 1815, and not completed until 1816.  In the basement was a kitchen, a pantry, dining hall, cellar and a laboratory, in the north end.  The second floor contained a chapel in the south end, two large rooms and two bedrooms for the use of the family in the north end.  The third and fourth stories contained nine rooms each for the accommodation of students.  These rooms were each furnished with a stove, table, chairs and a closet.  The cost of the building was $6,250.  In 1845 the trustees purchase of Joseph and William Sabine, the Joshua Forman residence opposite the Presbyterian church for the use of the female department of this institution and was known as the Brick Seminary.  In 1850 the trustees sold this building, and in 1853 built an addition to the academy building at a cost of $5,550, and in 1891 $10,000 additions were made.  April 11th, 1857, the maple trees which now adorn the academy grounds were taken from a farm on Onondaga Hill and planted.

The principals of the academy and terms of service:-

Rev. Caleb Alexander, from 1813, four years.
Ely Burchard, from 1817, one year.
Rev. Samuel T. Mills, from 1818, two years.
Samuel B. Woolworth, from 1820, eleven years.
Rev. Edward Fairchild, from 1831, one year.
John L. Hendrick, from 1832, twelve years.
Samuel S. Stebbins, from 1844, two terms.
Rev. George W. Thompson, from 1844, three years.
John H. Kellom, from 1847, one year.
Rev. Clinton Clark, from 1848, one year.
James M. Burt, from 1849, two years.
John Dunlap, from 1851, four years.
D. L. Lindsley, from 1855, one year.
Rev. B. F. Barker, from 1856, two years.
Jacob Barnes, from 1858, two years.
Theodore D. Camp, from 1860, four years.
Jacob Wilson, from 1864, two years.
William P. Goodelle, from 1866, two years.
Wheaton A. Welch, from 1868, three years.
A. G. Harrington, from 1871, one year.
O. W. Sturdevant, from 1872, sixteen years.
E. D. Niles, from 1888, four years.
A. W. Emerson, from 1892, one year.
David H. Cook, from 1893.

In 1833 Mr. John L. Hendrick, principal, issued the following circular:  "This school is now under the superintendence of John L. Hendrick, A. B., who is teacher of the classical and literary department.  With him is associated, Mr. J. M. Barrows, late adjunct professor in the Rensselaer school at Troy as teacher and lecturer in the scientific department.  The instruction in this department will be conducted entirely on the 'Rensselaer plan,' in which the student first hears a lecture from his teacher on the science he is purusing, and afterwards prepares and delivers a lecture himself on the same subject."  Board in the family of the instructor, nine shillings per week, with washing 10 shillings, and with lodgings 12 shillings.


Was organized by the students of the Onondaga academy soon after a charter was received, and named in honor of its worthy president of the board of trustees, Rev. Caleb Alexander.  The by-laws required the prompt and punctual attendance of all its members at a stated hour; that they should participate in the weekly discussions of questions previously submitted, and furnish essays when called for.  The officers were elected the first Tuesday in each month and on that occasion the president was required to deliver an inaugural address.  One of the first resolutions adopted was, directing the treasurer to "purchase 2 candlesticks, one part of snuffers and a candlebox as soon and as cheap as possible."  Among the members I find the names in 1813 of John Van Pelt, Zeriah H. Colvin, Daniel W. Forman, Richard Adams, Joes Phelps, Jeremiah Parsons, Asher Tyler, John H. Newcomb, James Sheldon, Thaddeus M. Wood, jr., John Wilkinson, Lovell G. Mickles, Dewitt Rose; 1814, Alanson Edwards, T. C. Gould; 1815, Harvey Baldwin, the Formans and Tylers; 1816, the Earlls, Horace Wheaton, Augustus Kellogg; 1817, John J. Hopper, J. V. H. Clark, Isaac W. Brewster; 1818, George R. Huntington, Rufus Cossitt, Henry Raynor, M. M. McLouren; 1819, Sanford C. Parker, Norman Green; 1820, Chester Williams, David Montgomery, Levi Willard, Philo House; 1821, Denison Robinson, Isaac Baldwin, Oliver West, Richard Woolworth; 1822, Wheeler Truesdale, George Geddes, Hamilton A. Redfield and later students, Silas F. Smith, John G. Jackson, Col. John M. Strong, Mrs. Daniel T. Jones, Mrs. Elise Canfield Allen, John McCarthy, Thomas M. Dorwin, W. W. Newman, Norman Hine, William T. Hamilton, Davis Cossitt, William and Joseph Sabine, George D. Cowles, Dennis McCarthy.

Time will not permit me to mention the distinguished sons and daughters who have gone forth from Onondaga academy to fill places of honor and responsibility.

Their voices have been heard in the halls of Congress; on the field of battle; in the institutions of learning, among all the professions in church or State.

In literature but few rank higher than Willis and Lewis Gaylord Clark, twin brothers, born in the town of Otisco in 1810, and cousins of Willis Gaylord.

After receiving his academic education Willis Gaylord Clark was employed by John Durnford of the Syracuse Gazette, and Lewis entered the office of Lewis H. Redfield, then publisher and editor of the Onondaga Register, in Onondaga Hollow.  Willis removed from Syracuse to Philadelphia, Pa., and became the editor of the Philadelphia Gazette.  While connected with this paper, he wrote many articles for the Knickerbocker Magazine, published in New York, and were signed Ollapod, and since his death in 1841, were gathered and published in book form by his brother, under the title of Ollapodians.  Washington Irving, in a letter to his brother, soon after his death, says, "he has left behind him writings which will make us love his memory and lament his loss."

Lewis Gaylord Clark, after leaving Mr. Redfield, went to New York and became the editor of the Knickerbocker Magazine, which position he held for twenty-five years, until his death, in 1873.  I will here relate an incident that occurred when they were small boys, which I have never seen in print, but for the truth will vouch for.  Their father, Capt. Eliakim Clark, a soldier of the Revolution, was a very pious Presbyterian of the Connecticut stripe, and the boys were required to attend church every Sabbath, and all the services of the day.  One Sabbath morning they all prepared for church and left the house together for a walk.  The boys went to the horse barn, saying to the father, we will soon overtake you.  The father traveled on for a while, but no boys were in sight, he concluded to return for them.  As he approached the barn he heard their voices inside, and looking through a knot hole found they had made a small box and, as they appeared to be very much interested in their work, he concluded to await developments.

He soon solved the problem.  They had killed a rat and were prepared for its funeral.

The rat was placed in the box and one of the boys remarked to the other, "you be the minister and I will be the mourner."  Upon this agreement one mounted the half-bushel measure and said, let us sing the hymn "Broad is the road that leads to death, and thousands walk together there."  After singing the following text was selected for the occasion; "A rat is born of a rat, his days are few and full of trouble."  After a solemn warning to all rats to forsake their wicked ways, the services were concluded by singing that good old Methodist hymn, "Farewell Vain World, I'm Going Home."  I give this little episode to show the makeup of the boys.  It is needless to say the father and the boys were a little late that morning attending church service.

I will briefly sketch the first trustees of the Onondaga Academy.  Of the sixteen members, six are known to have college diplomas, possibly three others.  First we are largely indebted for the institution to the


Was born in Northfield, Mass., July 20, 1755.  His great grandfather John Alexander, came from Scotland in 1653, and settled at Hartford, Conn.  Caleb Alexander graduated from Yale college, class of 1777, and from Brown university in 1789, and began preaching at Groton, Conn.  In 1801 he was appointed missionary for Western New York, under the auspices of the Massachusetts Missionary society to aid in the establishment of churches, and the organization of religious societies.

October 13th, 1801, he organized a religious society composed of Presbyterians, Congregationalists and Baptists in the town of Marcellus, under the title of the "Trustees of the Eastern Society of Marcellus," all agreeing to worship together for a period of twenty years, and in 1803 this society built a church, the first in Onondaga county.  In 1803 he settled in Fairfield, Herkimer county, N.Y., and organized the Fairfield academy, and through his influence large school buildings were erected with a view of founding a college, but later changed his plan and in 1812 organized one at Hamilton; and was elected its first President, but declined the honor.  He was a bright scholar and his life was a busy one.  He was the author of several publications among which was the Columbian Dictionary.  A Grammatical System of the Latin and Greek Languages; English Grammar, and a Complete System of Arithmetic.  In the fall of 1812, removed to Onondaga Hollow and purchased a farm adjoining one owned by Rev. D. C. Lansing.  Here he lived until his death, April 12th, 1828, aged 72.  Buried in the Valley cemetery.

It is said of Alexander during one of his missionary visits to this county in the early part of this century, he rode up to a farm house, the resident of which was a strong Universalist, and asked entertainment for himself and hay for his horse.  Certainly, the farmer replied, now I have three kinds of hay; Presbyterian, Episcopal and Universalist.  The Presbyterian hay is rather dray and musty; the Episcopal is a little better, but my Universalist hay is as nice as you saw.  Which shall I give him?  Says Alexander, "I am a Presbyterian, but my horse is an out and out Universalist.  You may give him sone of the Universalist hay."


Gordon Needham came to Onondaga Hollow in 1795, for the purpose of studying medicine with his brother, Dr. William Needham, who two years previous located on the east side of the Hollow, opposite the "Comfort Tyler Tavern."  With the advent of this young medical student, came a proposition to the inhabitants to teach a school provided a suitable room could be secured.  This offer was accepted, and a log school house was built in the rear of the Presbyterian church.  Here he taught for one year and at the same time was pursuing his medical studies.  The year 1796 he spent at a medical college, returning to Onondaga Hollow in 1797, with his medical diploma in his pocket, and only seventeen years of age.  He immediately commenced the practice of his profession and had an extensive field for the display of his medical skill.  We find him in 1800 an officer in General Asa Danforth's brigade.  In 1803, June 4th, the Onondaga lodge, No. 98, Free and Accepted Masons, was instituted in Comfort Tyler's ball room.  His name is enrolled among the members also as master of a chapter of Royal Arch Masons, founded in 1807.  In 1806 the Onondaga County Medical association was organized by his selection as vice-president.  In 1814 he received the nomination for State Senator, but proved to be the unsuccessful candidate.  At an early day he purchased real estate and with Joshua Forman deeded to the inhabitants of Onondaga Hollow (July 15, 1807,) a park lying on the north side of Seneca turnpike.  In 1816 he purchased of William H. Sabine the brick store known as the Rosencrants house, and for many years occupied it as a general variety store.

Dr. Needham was not only an enterprising citizen, but contributed liberally for every worthy object presented to him.  In later years he became involved in his speculations and lost his property.  He died in 1864, aged 84 years.  By some misunderstanding there was no clergyman present at the appointed time for burial service.  Fortunately, an old Mason, Hon. John F. Clark, was present, and read the Masonic burial service, after which the body was taken to the Onondaga Valley cemetery, followed by many friends and few relatives and at the grave a few sprigs of acacia was dropped by Judge Oliver R. Strong, Arthur Pattison and others on the box that contained the body of Dr. Gordon Needham.


Came from Orange county, N.Y., in 1805 and was appointed treasurer of Onondaga county.

In 1809 he was a member of Assembly, and again in 1810.  He was a charter member of Pompey academy and one of the first trustees of Onondaga academy.


Was appointed surrogate of Onondaga county in 1800, and settled on the east side of the Hollow near the foot of the hills, and soon after formed the law firm of "Wood and Hall" which continued in business about twenty years.  In 1811 he was reelected surrogate.  He was appointed postmaster in 1802.  He was elected to Congress in 1818 and received all the votes cast in the Congressional district but 49, and was reelected to Congress in 1821.  At an earlier date received the nomination for State Senator but was defeated.  He was a contributor for the building of both the Presbyterian church and the academy and one of the first trustees of the academy.


Was born in the city of New York in 1752 and removed to Pleasant Valley, Dutchess county, N.Y., about the year 1776; afterwards removed to Troy, N.Y., and entered the mercantile business.  In 1803 he came to Onondaga Hollow where his son, Joshua Forman had settled three years previous and in 1805 purchased from Ephraim Webster 395 acres of land, a part of the Webster mile square on the south side of Seneca st., extending from the Onondaga creek to the west boundary of said tract.  He was the father of Joshua, Samuel, John, Ward and Owen Forman, all of whom settled in the Hollow soon after 1800.

He donated the grounds for the academy and the Presbyterian church also contributed for their erection.  Was elected an elder at the organization of the Presbyterian church, and one of the first trustees of Onondaga academy.  Died January 15th, 1824, aged 72 years, buried in Onondaga Valley cemetery.


Born in Haddam, Connectucit, June 10th, 1767.  Graduated from Yale college class of 1789, was pastor of the church in Whitestown for three years, afterward removing with his family to the town of Marcellus, purchasing a farm, and for many years was one of the most active and influential agriculturists of the country and in 1819 was elected president of the first agricultural society in Onondaga county.

He was appointed judge of Onondaga county court in 1801 and again in 1808, which office he held until his resignation in 1813.  He was one of the petitioners for a charter for Pompey academy and one of the first trustees of Onondaga academy.  He died in Marcellus, September 19, 1838, aged 71 years.


Was born in New Jersey in 1777, and came to Onondaga Hill in 1802 and opened a store.  In 1805 he married Deborah, daughter of Comfort Tyler, and in 1808 moved to Onondaga Hollow and purchased the Comfort Tyler property.  He deeded the land for the arsenal to the State of New York in 1809.  He was one of the first trustees of Onondaga academy and aided in building and supporting the institution.  He died December 17th, 1814, aged 37 years, and is buried in the Onondaga Valley cemetery.


Was a resident of Onondaga Hollow as early as 1803.  He first located on the east side, and commenced the practice of law with his brother-in-law, Joshua Forman, under the firm name of Forman & Sabine.  He soon had a large law practice, mostly ejectment suits, for which he had the reputation of being an expert.  He was one of the incorporators of the Onondaga County bank in 1830.  He was an active member in the Presbyterian church, and its first Sabbath school superintendent.  When Joshua Forman removed to Syracuse he bought his residence and lived there until his death in 1842, aged 63.


For many years was the owner and proprietor of the "Stage House," so favorably known from Albany to Buffalo, and located at the west side of the Hollow, near the foot of the hill.  In his ball room was held the celebrated ordination ball in 1810, in honor of the first pastor of the Presbyterian church, the Rev. D. C. Lansing.  About the year 1814 he sold this property and bought the Lansing farm and erected at the Dorwin Springs a carding machine and Fulling mill.  Died July 17th, 1825, aged 64, and was buried with masonic service.

Rev. Mr. Evans preached the funeral sermon.


Was the great grandson of Abraham Jacob Lansing, the original patron of Lensingburg, Rensselaer county, N.Y., who came from Holland in 1620, and settled in Lansingburg.  He was induced to come into this county, I have no doubt, through the influence of his brother-in-law, Elisha Alvord (father of ex-Governor Thomas G. Alvord) who settled in Salina in1793.  He purchased at an early day the Dorwin Springs farm and resided there for several years.  Four years he was the pastor of the Presbyterian church at Onondaga Hill, commencing in 1806, and in 1810 became the pastor of the Presbyterian society in the Hollow, and remained here four years.  He then sold his farm and removed to Auburn.  In 1826 the first Presbyterian church of Syracuse was dedicated.  Rev. D. C. Lansing at that time of Auburn, preached the sermon.  In 1839 he became the pastor of the First Congregational church of Syracuse, here he preached two years.  At an early day he preached in Salina.  He was a  tall, fine looking gentleman; kept his carriages, fine horses and a driver and was considered wealthy in his day.


Jasper Hopper was born in the city of New York June 10, 1770.  His grandfather was a native of Holland and emigrated to this country in 1620 and purchased a farm on the Island of Manhattan.  Jasper received his education in the city of New York, early developing penmanship that attracted the attention of his friends who obtained for him, when eighteen years of age, the appointment of copying clerk in the office of Secretary of State at Albany, N.Y.

Two years later he was appointed Deputy Secretary of State, which office he held until 1802, when he removed to Onondaga Hollow, receiving the appointment of Clerk of Onondaga county, which office he held with the exception of one year until 1818.  In 1803 he was appointed postmaster of Onondaga Hollow and continued in office 19 years.  He was appointed Supreme court commissioner in 1803.  He was elected the first Master of the Masonic lodge instituted in the Hollow in 1803.  In 1810 he was appointed United States marshal.  He was the member of Assembly from this county in 1806, and again in 1811.  In 1812 he was appointed keeper of the arsenal at Onondaga Hollow.  He was a charter member of the Onondaga academy, and its first secretary, contributing for building both the academy and Presbyterian church.  At an early day he was appointed a commissioner to expend a State appropriation for the improvement of the roads and bridges in this county.  He died at his residence near Hopper's Glen June 30, 1848, aged 79 years and was buried in the Onondaga Valley cemetery.


Was born in Lebanon, Con., August 5th, 1781 and came to Onondaga Hill in 1802, and commenced teaching school in the log school house which stood near the old Court house.  He was the first school teacher in that locality and taught for the modest sum of five dollars per month and board.  Three years later he was deputy sheriff of the county, which office he held for 21 years.  About 1812 he was engaged in the mercantile trade at the Hill.  In 1827 he was appointed one of the commissioners for the construction of the county buildings at the Hill.  Was one of the incorporators of the Onondaga County bank.  In 1834 he was elected member of the Assembly and declined a second nomination.  In 1838 he was elected Judge of Onondaga county and held the office for several years.  Died October 3, 1872, aged 91 years.

In 1812 Secretary of War Armstrong ordered Lieutenant Woolsey, U.S. Navy, with his brig of war Oneida at Oswego, to proceed to Onondaga Hollow and load with a cargo of cannon balls for Forst Oswego.  Doubtless the order was countermanded.


Was born in Germany September 6th, 1770, and when 26 years of age came to this county and settled in the town of Elbridge.  Here he resided three years and in 1799 moved to Onondaga Hollow and established the Onondaga foundry, the only one west of Oneida county.  This building was of stone, located in the village of Elmwood on the west side of the road at a point where the road leading from Syracuse to Onondaga Hill, crosses the one from Onondaga Valley to Geddes.

The office and warehouse occupied the site of the present hotel.  His business was not confined to this locality, the manufacture of salt kettles, etc.; but extended from Canada to Pennsylvania, also received orders from the United States government for the casting of cannon balls and shells.  The furnace fires were not allowed to die down for six months or more from the time they were lighted, but were banked with religious scrupulousness Saturday night.  The following insertion is found in the Onondaga Register, published in 1817, by Lewis H. Redfield:-


The subscriber respectfully informs the above mentioned class of people that they will confer a favor on him by omitting to visit his works on that day.

                                                                                                                                N. MICKLES.

Onondaga Furnace.

He was one of the founders of the academy and Presbyterian church and contributing to the erection of each.  He died August 17th, 1827, and buried in the Onondaga Valley cemetery, aged 57.


Was born near the city of New London, Conn., in 1776.  In 1781 Benedict Arnold, with an army of Britons, burned this city and captured Fort Griswold.  Joseph, then being five years of age, had a clear and vivid remembrance of hearing the guns of the fort, and with his mother and other children went into the house cellar to avoid British bullets.

In his twentieth year he went to sea and served several years as a common sailor, first and second mate and three years as captain, with commissions under Presidents John Adams and Thomas Jefferson.  In 1798 he suffered a very distressing shipwreck in midocean and after intense suffering almost entirely without food or drink for sixteen days was rescued by a ship driven that way by adverse winds.  In 1799 he was captured by a Spanish privateer and taken to Angostura, a province of Venezuela, South America, and detained as a prisoner for three months.

In 1803 he came to Onondaga Hollow and built a house at the foot of the hill on the east side near the arsenal.  This building is still standing and is now occupied by John Butler.  He built a chair factory opposite his dwelling and made good honest chairs, some of which are still in use.  Soon after the completion of the Erie Canal he was captain of the packet boat Water Witch, which ran from Syracuse to Utica, an honor as great as to hold the same position today on an ocean steamer.  He was one of the nine members that organized the Presbyterian church in 1809, and held the clerkship of that society forty-four years, until his removal from the Hollow.  He was one of the charter members of the Onondaga academy and its first treasurer.

In 1854 his wife died, having lived with her fifty years and in the same house.  After the death of his wife he made his home with his son, General Lansing B. Swan of Rochester, N.Y., until his son's death in 1861.  He then removed to Battle Creek, Mich., to live with his daughter, Mrs. Brooks.  His last and farewell visit to Onondaga Hollow was in 1869, and after his return I received a letter from his giving a short history of his life and the old church so dear to him.  Among other things mentioned that he was chorister in the church for thirty years.  He died in Battle Creek, Mich., November 27th, 1870, aged 94 years and was buried in Onondaga Valley cemetery.  They beautiful words of Goldsmith seem so appropriate to his life that I here give them:-

"In all my wanderings round this world of care,
In all my griefs and God has given my share,
I still had hopes my latest hours to crown,
Amid those humble bowers to lay me down;
To husband out life's taper to its close,
And keep the flame from wasting by repose,
Around my fire an evening group to draw,
And tell of all I felt and all I saw;
And, as a hare, whom hounds and horns pursue,
Pants to the place from whence at first he flew,
I, still had hopes, my long vacations past,
Here to return and die at home at last.


Was born in Lenox, Mass., March 9th, 1772.  When 18 years of age graduated from Dartmouth college, class of 1790.  He chose the legal profession and after four years of legal study and practice with Joseph Kirkland of Utica and Thomas R. Gould came to Onondaga Hollow and opened a law office, the first in Onondaga county.  In 1800 he lived until his death in 1836.  On the 2d of June, 1803, he was married to Patty Danforth, youngest daughter of Asa Danforth.  In 1801 he was appointed one of the commissioners to build the court house at Onondaga Hill.  He was nominated for member of Assembly in 1803, and again in 1818, and each time met with defeat.  In 1806 was nominated for Congress and met with the same fate.  In 1799 was appointed surrogate of Onondaga county.

He soon became distinguished for his legal ability and exercised a prominent influence through this and other counties as a military man.  He was Colonel of the First Regiment New York State Militia in 1809.  In 1812 he was Lieutenant-Colonel of the One and Forty-Seventh regiment and marched with his regiment to Oswego when threatened by British invasion, with only twenty-four hours' notice.  In 1814 he was at the head of his regiment on a march to Sacket's Harbor.  In 1818 he was promoted to brigadier-General and made a Major-General in 1820.  He was president of the canal and Fourth of July celebration held in Syracuse in 1820; and in 1825 was selected to welcome General Lafayette at Onondaga Hill on his trip from the West.  He was a very extensive land holder.  At one time he was the owner of all the real estate on Salina-st., between Syracuse and Onondaga Hollow with the exception of two farms, and they were small ones.  He was the owner of property in Salina, Liverpool, Manlius and Onondaga Hill.  He was interested in schools and churches and aided in their erection and support.

He died January 10th, 1836, aged 64 years, and was buried with military honors.  At this time the snow was very deep, and as the funeral services were to be held in the Presbyterian church, volunteers responded to the call to remove the snow from the roadway, and when completed it resembled a canal in appearance.  He was buried south of his residence in the family burying ground.  His remains, with others of the family have since been removed to the Onondaga Valley cemetery.


Born in Stamford, Conn., April 11th, 1775.  About the year 1800 removed to Lansingburg, N.Y., and commenced the manufacturing of boots and shoes.  In 1808 removed to Onondaga Hollow and kept a tavern on the west side of the Hollow.  He was captain in the State militia and went with his company to Oswego in 1812, when threatened by British invasion.  In 1835 removed to Syracuse and kept the Onondaga Temperance House, later a grocery store, corner Lock and Water-st.  Died January 24th, 1848, aged 73, buried in Valley cemetery.


This Presbyterian organization was effected November 8th, 1809, and recognized by the presbytery of Geneva, March 20th, 1810.  It had nine members and the following officers:  Elders, Joseph Forman, Joseph Swan, Jason Wright, Abel Cadwell and Peter Bogardus; deacons, Henry Bogardus and Aaron Bellows; trustees, John Adams, Aaron Bellows, Nicholas Mickles, Thaddeus M. Wood and Joshua Forman.


This paper is in the handwriting of Jasper Hopper, although written 88 years ago is still well preserved and I hope it may be read at the centennial exercises which will occur in twelve years from this time.  The paper reads as follows:-


October 17, 1809.

Whereas, Sundry inhabitants of the town of Onondaga convened at the school house in Onondaga Hollow on Saturday, the sixteenth day of September last, did.  Resolved; that a meeting house sixty feet long and forty-five feet broad upon the same plan with that of the Whitesborough meeting house, be erected on the south side of the turnpike road opposite the said school house, and that Joshua Forman, Thaddeus M. Wood and John Adams be trustees for that purpose.  No therefore, we, the subscribers, do severally promise and agree to pay to the said Joshua Forman, Thaddeus M. Wood and John Adams, the amount of the several shares of twenty-five dollars each by us respectively subscribed, one-third in cash or labor; two-thirds in provisions or materials for building in the manner mentioned by us opposite to our respective names.  One-third whereof payable by the first day of January next, and the residue in two equal yearly payments thereafter, and where any materials for building are subscribed the same shall be payable when needed for the building and required by the said trustees.  Which meeting house, when erected shall be held for the sole use of a Religious meeting house forever and subject to such disposition as a majority of the subscribers according to their shares, one vote for each share shall determine, and when the same shall be completed or whenever a majority of the subscribers shall determine (voting according to shares) the trustees shall proceed to sell the pews at public vendue to the highest bidder, subject to an annual rent for the support of the Gospel in said meeting house, to be apportioned on all the pews according to their relative situation by the trustees and according to the sum agreed to be raised, and shall permit the subscribers to bid for pews to the amount paid or received on their subscriptions, or refund to them a rateable proportion of the moneys raised from the sale of the pews according to their respective subscriptions.  And after the sale of said pews everything relating to said meeting house and raising a salary for the support of the Gospel in the same shall be regulated by the vote of the owners of such pews, having one vote for each pew and a majority of such pew holders shall have power to increase or decrease the amount of the salary from time to time, which shall be apportioned on the several pews according to the first apportionment of rent thereon.

Onondaga Hollow, October 17th, 1908.
Joshua Forman, 20 shares, scantling and boards.
Thaddeus M. Wood, 20 shares, scantling, boards and sawing at mill.
John Adams, 14 shares, provisions and timber.
Joseph Forman, 20 shares, grain, provisions and labor.
Jasper Hopper, 6 shares, in cash.
John C. Brown, 3 shares, goods.
Gordon Needham, 12 shares, goods and materials.
Joseph Swan, 4 shares, work at painting and glazing.
John Gridley, 4 shares, in leather.
Nicholas Mickles, 12 shares, shingles, boards, etc.
George Hall, 10 shares, provisions and materials.
William H. Sabine, 10 shares, provisions and materials.
Morehous Hickok, 2 shares.
Thaddeus Patchin, 1 share, in smith work.
Jerry Stevens, 1 share, in joiner work.
David Grey, 1 share, in joiner work.
Judson Webb, 2 shares, in shoes.
John N. Harvey, 1 share.
Aaron Bellows, 3 shares, in work and provisions.
John Miller, 2 shares, in bay and grain.
David Jones, 2 shares, in provisions, work, etc.
William Colby, 1 share, in labor.
Samuel Colby, 1 share, in labor or in lumber.
Jonathan Conklin, 1 share, in provisions, etc.
John Haskins, 2 shares, in gain, provisions and materials.
John Haskins, 1 share, in salt.
Jebial Whiteman, 2 shares, in materials.
Jeremiah Keeler, 3 shares, in grain.
Jeremiah Keeler, 1 share, in cash.
Jonas C. Baldwin, 3 shares, in materials.
Lebbius Foster, 4 shares.
Caleb Northrop, 3 shares, in stone.
Trusdell & Hawley, 2 shares, in goods.
Michael Sckull, 3 shares, in labor.
Travas Swan, 1 share, in painting.
Calvin Finch, 1 share, in materials or labor.
Josiah Hunnigin, 1 share, work and materials.
Polaski King, 2 shares, in materials.
Payton R. Hulburt, 2 shares, in pine boards and labor.
Nathan Bronson, 1 share in pork or beef or grain or vegetables.
Strong & Moseley, 1 share, in goods or lumber.
Benjamin Carpenter, 1 share, in boards.
Philander Fobes, 2 shares, on condition that the porch in built in the form of that at Schenectady.
Whole number of shares, 193.
Total cost of shares, $4,825.

The corner stone was laid July 18th, 1810, with appropriate ceremonies, and Rev. D. C. Lansing installed pastor.  Spafford in his Gazetteer, published in 1813, mentions this church as an elegant meeting house.  The pastors of this church to the present time:  Rev. D. C. Lansing, Rev. Mr. Howell, Rev. Ebenezer J. Leavenworth, Rev. George H. Hulin, Rev. Samuel T. Mills, Rev. Ward, Rev. James Harvey Mills, Rev. Hyde, Rev. Washington Thatcher, Rev. Williams, Rev. Elizah Buck, Rev. E. R. Davis, Rev. Moses Ingalls, Rev. Joseph Rosecrants, Rev. Abel Cutter, Rev. L. R. Janes, Rev. Mr. Baker, Rev. Anson G. Chester, Rev. Mr. Yale, Rev. Mr. Higby, Rev. Mr. Payne, Rev. O. H. Seymour, Rev. Mr. Moon, Rev. Mr. Barnes, Rev. H. C. Hall, Rev. Mr. Turton, Rev. Mr. Skinner, Rev. Mr. Wing, Rev. Charles F. Janes.

The M.E. church was organized about 1816 by Rev. George Densmore, Arthur Pattison, Alonzo Webster and others, 1825, February 5th, purchased of William H. Sabine a site for a church building and erected one that year.  In 1885 purchased a site corner of Seneca and Mill-sts. (the old Redfield homestead) and built a church and dedicated it November 16th, 1885.  The former pastors were Rev. George Densmore, Manley Tooker, Eben L. North, George Taylor.

In fifteen years the first century of the Presbyterian church and the academy will be complete.  Their birth is distant enough to have become traditional and venerable; near enough for our memories to cherish, and commemorate their noble deeds, and reward with praise their generous benefactors.

Submitted 28 August 1998