Town of Boylston  
Oswego Co., NY

1860 Gazetteer
Early history of Boylston
Landmarks of Oswego Co.,  NY, History of Boylston in 1895    
Town Officials 
1867 Topographical Atlas of Boylston North & South

William Wart
Francis Earl Brandon, Boylston, Oswego Co., NY

North Boylston Cemetery
Moore Family Cemetery - Boylston
Phelps District Cemetery - Boylston 
Wells Family Cemetery, Boylston, NY

Citizens of Boylston - Lots of names with personal statistics. 

Boylston Civil War Soldiers


Town Historian
  Rita Rombach
  906 N. Church Road
  Lacona, NY   13083
  (315) 387-5471 (H)

10/02New Link: I have recently started a rootsweb freepage of Central New York Families. Included on that page is a descendants chart of the Mead Family of Orwell and Boylston areas of Oswego County.  This is all documented research (years of research). 
Thank you, Sheila Hoffman.

Information was obtained from the Historical & Statistical Gazetteer of New York State, R. P. Smith, Publisher, Syr., 1860, by J. H. French

BOYLSTON----was formed from Orwell, Feb 7, 1828.  It lies upon the N. border of the co., E. of the center.  Its surface is rolling in the center and E., and moderately hilly in the W.  It has a westerly inclination, and its highest points are 700 to 800 feet above tide.  The soil in the N. and W. parts is a productive, gravelly loam, the underlying rock being the Lorraine shale.  The S. E. corner of the town extends into the gray limestone region, and the soil is light and thin.  Boylston (p. o.) is in the N. W. part. 

The first settlement was made in 1810, on Lots 2 and 3, by John WORT and Michael SWEETMAN, both from Canajoharie.

Named by Thos. BOYLSTON, who held, for a few hours, the title of a tract since known as the Boylston Purchase.  He never owned the tract; the conveyance was simply a trust, and quickly passed into other hands.

Among the first settlers were David WEBB, in 1810; R STREETER, in 1814; Peter and Samuel WELLS, in 1815

First birth was that of Phebe Ann WOOD

First marriage, that of Samuel WELLS and Elizabeth GORDON

First death, that of an infant child of Mr. WARD

Reuben SNYDER built the first sawmill, in 1822

First school was taught by Polly ALLPORT, in 1817 

Meetings for religious worship are held in the town by the Episcopal Methodists and the Wesleyan Methodists 

Source: "History of Oswego County, N. Y., 1789 – 1877, published by Everett & Ferriss,
1878.  Many thanks to Dianne Thomas for transcribing this history.


It was not until the spring of 1812 that the forests of Boylston rang with the woodman’s axe, it being the last town in the county to be settled, except Albion, which was occupied the same year.  The first pioneers of Boylston were John Wart, of Cherry valley, and Michael Sweetman, of Montgomery county, who, unknown to each other, both came, by the inevitable ox-sled conveyance of that era, about the same time.  Mr. Wart, however, arrived two days the earliest, and was consequently the very first settler of Boylston.  Though he was already a married man, he is still living, and remembers well the events of that period, and it is from his lips that we have received a large part of the early history of the town.

Wart and Sweetman both located in the northwestern part of the present town of Boylston, which was then a part of Richland.  It was more particularly designated as survey-township No.6, of the Boylston tract, and on the survey maps it was also called Campania.  Mr. Sweetman built his cabin close by the site of the present residence of William Wart, and Mr. Wart established himself have a mile farther east.  Up into Lorraine it was two miles to another house, and a like distance west into Ellisburg.  To the southward nearly ten miles of forest frowned between the two hardy pioneers and the settlements of Orwell, while on the east the oaks and hemlocks stretched in an unbroken mass to the distant valley of Black river.

The war of 1812 broke out immediately after the arrival of the pioneers, immigration ceased, and for two years the two families remained alone in the wilderness, with the exception of a man named Gordon, who lived a part of the time in the vicinity.  Mr. Wart’s oldest son, -Alonzo,- born on the 12th of December, 1812, was the first child born in town, and as he only survived until February, 1814, he had also the unfortunate celebrity of being the earliest victim of death.

Mr. Wart and Mr. Sweetman both hastened down to Ellis village at the time of the capture of the British force near there, as related in the general history, and both turned out in arms for the defense of Sackett’s Harbor; so it can be truly said that the whole adult male population of Boylston served as soldiers in the war of 1812.  In 1814 one more citizen was added, by the name of Rhodes Streeter.

In 1815 there was a heavy immigration, consisting of four families: those of Peter Wells, Martin Lillie, John F. Dean, and Asa B. Copeland.  These settled near where Boylston church (Methodist Protestant) now stands.  Of all their members, Mrs. Lillie is the sole survivor now in Boylston; she lives close to the spot where she came with her young husband over sixty-two years ago, and near the stream the waters of which flowed over their ox-sled as they made their way to their home in the wilderness.  Morris Wart, a young brother of John, came in 1816, living with him a while, and then located in the same neighborhood.  He, too, has survived till 1877 the perils and toils of pioneer and farmer life.

In most of the towns we have not given the names of early settles subsequent to the war of 1812, but Boylston was settled so late that the pioneer era extended far past that time.  Among those who located in the town from 1816 to 1822 were Andrew Bortles, George Huffstater, Joseph Shoecraft, Matthew Shoecraft, Peter Barga, Jacob Wiedrich, Peter Huffstater, Jesse Blue, and Jacob, Reuben, Henry, Jonathan and Abram Snyder.  It is easy to see from their names that they were of German descent, and they were mostly substantial farmers from the valley of the Mohawk.  Those first named settled near the site of the Methodist Protestant church, and thence southward.  The Snyders were still farther south towards Orwell.  Elisha Stevens also settled in the Snyder neighborhood as early as 1822.

As soon as 1817 the half-dozen families then in town determined to have a school-house.  They built a log one, and covered it with bark, near the site of the church before referred to.  Teachers were then paid principally by the parents of the pupils.  There were not enough of these to support a teacher, but the unmarried men of the settlement agreed to contribute for the families they ought to have had, and thus a sufficient amount was raised to hire Polly Allport to teach the first school in Boylston.

In that year, also, township No.6, which had previously been a part of Richland, was set off into Orwell on the formation of that town.  Mr. Wart was appointed one of the justices of Orwell the same year, being the first who held that office in the present town of Boylston.  As such he married the first couple wedded in town, viz., Jonathan Snyder and a Miss Stevens.  There had previously, however, been a Boylston couple (Samuel Wells and Betsey Gordon) united in the silken bonds of matrimony, but they went east to have the knot tied.

In 1822, Reuben Snyder built the first saw-mill in Boylston.  It was on Sandy creek, near the west line of the town.

By 1824 there was a fringe of settlement all along the west side, but the central and eastern portions of the town were still a dense forest, where the bear and the deer roamed at will, frequently visiting the neighborhood of the settlers’ cabins.  Our venerable friend, Mr. Wart, recounts how, when out in the woods, one day, with a dog but without a gun, he came on the track of a big buck.  Following it up in the deep snow, he soon brought the animal to bay.  The dog ran back to the protection of his master.  The latter struck the buck over the head with a stick, which broke with the blow.  Wart sprang upon the deer and attempted to hold him down in the snow, while calling to John F. Dean, who was near, to come and cut the animal’s throat.

But the buck reached up a hind leg and struck Wart on the head, cutting him to the bone and knocking him several feet away.  The deer made a few bounds, but soon stuck fast in the snow again.  With the blood streaming over his face from his wound, the mark of which he still carries, Wart sprang astride his wearied opponent and held him until Dean came and cut his throat.

But the most noticeable event in the hunting line of which the veteran pioneer has to tell occurred when, in one of those early summers, the labors of the hay-field were diversified by the slaughter of three bears in a single afternoon.  A man drove them into trees near where Mr. Wart was at work.  A little crowd quickly gathered.  Two of the animals were speedily shot from the trees in which they had taken refuge.  The third, ensconced in the thick bushes, evaded the marksman’s bullet; so the tree was felled, and the poor fellow was pounded and dogged to death as soon as he struck the ground.

Notwithstanding the primitive nature of the country, the people thought they could afford a new town.  Accordingly, on application to the legislature that body passed an act on the 7th of February, 1828, forming the town of Boylston with the same boundaries as the old survey-township No. 6, otherwise called Campania. The following were the first officers elected:

Supervisor, John Wart; Town Clerk, Joseph Shoecraft; Assessors, Jesse Colman, Matthew Shoecraft, Barnabas Porter; Commissioners of Highways, Daniel Chase, Peter Wells, Zaben Cole; Overseers of the Poor, Thomas Dutcher, Martin Lillie; Collector, Henry D. Pruyn; Constables, Henry D. Pruyn, Philip A. Bortles; Commissioners of Common Schools, John Wart, John Dunbar, Jr., Reuben Snyder; Inspectors of Common Schools, Miller R. Larmouth, Peter Wells, Phillip A. Bortles.

It will be seen that it was somewhat difficult to fill up the official list, as not less than four of the worthy citizens were required to occupy two offices each.  Even after the formation of the new town settlers frequently fastened a bag of grain to the yoke of their cattle and carried it to Sandy Creek to mill, and sometimes, in low water, nearly to Adams, Jefferson county.  About 1830 a small grist-mill was built in Boylston, but it was not very valuable nor very enduring.

At the town-meeting in 1830 the sum of forty dollars was voted for the support of the poor.  Cattle were declared free commoners, but horses, sheep, and hogs were denied the privileges involved in that appellation.  The height of a lawful fence was fixed at the very moderate elevation of four feet, - a demoralizing temptation even to the best regulated animals.  It was raised, however, two years later to four feet and a half.

Up to 1850 settlement was confined almost entirely to the western half of town, and even there progress was slow and painful.  But after the rough land was once thoroughly reduced to subjection it was found that some very good grazing farms could be made on the Boylston hills, and the population began to increase.  People sought the eastern portion.  After numerous saw-mills had devoured the timber, settlers resolutely opened farms there and renewed the scenes of pioneer life.  During the last twenty years more ground has probably been cleared up in Boylston than in any other town in the county.

In 1856 a Wesleyan church was erected near the line of Sandy Creek, south of the center of Boylston, and in 1869 the Methodist Protestants built one in the northwest part of the town.

A few years ago Abraham Snyder opened a store between the two churches, but it was subsequently discontinued.

Farming and lumbering constitute substantially the whole business of the town.  There is a large cheese-factory close to the Wesleyan Methodist church.  J.P. Smart & Son have a saw-mill near the centre of the town, and the locality is known as Smarts’ Mills.  Besides this, there are the stave-mill of Ira Service and the saw-mill of ___ Weaver, a mile northeast of the Snyder store, the saw- and shingle-mill of Ransom Tanner, two miles east of the Snyder store, and three large steam saw-mills in the northeast part of the town.

Even to this day Boylston possesses many characteristics of primeval times.  Though the deer have all been driven east of Black river, yet it is no very unusual thing for a bear to stray from the forests of Lewis county among the farms of Boylston.  This very summer of 1877 one made his leisurely way from the eastern line past the centre of town.  His presence being suspected, a spring gun was set for him.  Bruin seized the bait, and a bullet through his shoulder was the result.  Smarting and crippled, he trudged on westward, but the Philistines were on his track.  Men and boys gathered fast to the sport, and the fugitive was overtaken and slain just east of the main road, which runs north and south through the town, less than a mile from the line of Sandy Creek.

Yet looking from the road westward the traveler this same summer sees nothing to remind him of bears or wolves.  A finer prospect is rarely displayed beneath a cloudless sun.  The whole of the town of Sandy Creek, and parts of Ellisburg and Richland, are in sight at once, composed of hundreds of well-cultivated fields, dotted with white farm-houses, and relieved with gleaming groves.  Beyond, seeming hardly three miles away, but actually almost ten, the long, narrow, land-locked bay, known as Sandy Creek pond, sparkles brightly in the sunlight.  A dark, slender line separates it from the lake, which spreads far away into the distance, a mass of molten silver tipped with gold.  Distance lends enchantment to the view of both lake and land, and if beautiful prospects took precedence over corn and cheese, Boylston might outrank all the rest of the county.


The records are imperfect, but, as near as can be ascertained, this church was first organized in the year 1845.  For many years there was no settled pastor.  Daniel Calkins, Loomis Chase, Daniel Hillis, and James Francis officiated for brief periods at various times.  In 1856 a small church edifice was erected in Boylston, but only a few rods from the line of Sandy Creek.  Thenceforward the pulpit was most of the time regularly supplied.

In 1859, Matthew Presler was the pastor; in 1860-62, Edward Halsey; in 1863, Sybrant Nelson; in 1864, A.P. Burgess; in 1865, Alonzo Fassett; in 1866, R. Barton; in 1867-69. J.P. Pierce; in 1870-72, Elijah Gaylord; in 1873-75. J.M. Waite.  For a year there were no regular services.  The pulpit was then occupied by the present pastor, Rev. Harvey Barnes.

There are now seventy-one members of the church, and the Sabbath-school connected with it contains about the same number.  The present church officers are: Class leader, Ira Van Auken; Assistant Class leader, Ellery Crandall; Clerk, J.K. Crandall; Stewards, F.W. Slater, Mrs. F.W. Slater, A. Schermerhorn, Mrs. A. Schermerhorn, Hiram Getty, A.W. Miller, L.J. Baker; Trustees, John H. Hastings, S.E. Carpenter, Joseph Crosman, J.L. Bortles, Henry Lester.


This circuit was set off from the Boylston and Orwell circuit in 1868.  Previous to that time meetings had been held for a longtime at the school-house near the present church.  Rev. Messrs. Becker, Cook, Huff, and others officiated as pastors from time to time.  The circuit organized in 1868 consisted of one class in Boylston and one in Lorraine, Jefferson county.

In 1869 a small but well-appointed church edifice was erected in the northwest part of the town, the pulpit of which has since been regularly supplied.  The pastors of the circuit since its separate organization have been Charles Wiedrich, three years; Snell, one year; H.L. Bowen, one year; Peter Daley, one year; T. Prindle, one year; M.F. Cutler (the present pastor), two years.  There are now about fifty-six members of the Methodist Protestant church in this circuit within the town of Boylston.

The following are the present officials resident in that town: Stewards, Geo. W. Rudd, Nelson L. Williams, Calvin Williams, Leonard R. Huffstater; Trustees, N.L. Williams, John A. Oderkirk, Hiram D. Rudd, Tunis Gordon, Christopher J. Huffstater.

The Boylston and Orwell circuit of the same denomination has three classes in town, and two in Orwell.  Those in Boylston hold their meetings respectively at the Van Auken school-house, the “hemlock school-house,” and at Smart’s Mills.  They have no church edifice.  The present pastor of the circuit is the Rev. Mr. Gaskell, who resides at Smart’s Mills, but we have not been able to obtain any further data regarding it.

Town Officials

Supervisors of Boylston, with years of service. – John Wart, 1828-29; Joseph Shoecraft, 1830-35; Henry Snyder, 1836-37; Joseph Shoecraft, 1838; John Wart, 1839-40; Jacob V. Gordon, 1841-43; Joseph Shoecraft, 1844; Jacob V. Gordon, 1845; Daniel Shoecraft, 1846-48; James Lowery, 1849-50; Azariah Wart, 1851-52; Abraham Snyder, 1853-54; Azariah Wart, 1855-56; Joseph L. Bortles, 1857-58; Henry J. Snyder, 1859-60; James Lowry, 1861; Henry J. Snyder, 1862; Christopher J. Huffstater, 1863-64; Joseph S. Bortles, 1865-66; Henry Lester, 1867-70; David Hamer, 1871-72; Henry Lester, 1873; John Oderkirk, 1874-75; George W. Rudd, 1876-77.

Town Clerks of Boylston, with years of service. – Jos. Shoecraft, 1828-29; John Etheridge, 1830; Reuben Snyder, 1831; John Wart, 1832; Moses Snyder, 1833; Miller R. Larmouth, 1834; Henry Snyder, 1835; James Wart, 1836; Miller R. Larmouth, 1837; James Wart, 1838; Joseph Shoecraft, 1839-40; Daniel Williams, 1841-42; Jacob Coppernoll, 1843-45; Lyman Moore, 1846-47; Thurston Baxter, 1848; Turner Lillie, 1849; J.V. Gordon, 1850; Lyman Moore, 1852; Joseph L. Bortles, 1853-54; J.V. Gordon, 1855-56; Abraham Snyder, 1857-58; Lewis D. Cummings, 1859-60; Reuben Pruyn, 1861-62; Francis Shoecraft, 1863; Luther J. Baxter, 1864; Reuben Pruyn, 1865; Lyman J. Baker, 1866-67; Ira Cummings, 1868-70; Lewis D. Cummings, 1871; Ira Cummings, 1872; William A. Snyder, 1873-74; Adam Coppernoll, 1875-76; Lyman J. Baker, 1877.

The present officers of Boylston are as follows: Supervisor, Geo. W. Rudd; Town Clerk, Lyman J. Baker; Justices of the Peace, Aaron Fuller, Potter Soule, Orrin Stowell, John Phelps; Assessors, Wm. H. Presley, Norman Wart, David Brown; Commissioners of Highways, Ellery Crandall, Sylvester Hathaway, Elijah Rowe; Collector, Vincent Delong; Town Auditors, Abrah Snyder, J.L. Bortles, and William Keeney; Inspectors of Election, Frank W. Snyder, Barnum Ostrum, Jacob Oderkirk; Constables, Joseph Crandall, Wm. Cummings, Charles Fuller, Barnum Ostrum, Wm. Flanders; Game Constable, C.W. Smart, Commissioners of Excise, Solomon Finster, Ira Van Auken, Alfred Schermerhorn; Overseer of the Poor, Roswell Rudd.

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