From the early history of
this place we know that the Holland Land Co., sold the lands tn this vicinity
in farms, principally to New Englanders; that there were a good many settlers
from Connecticut, and mechanics among them, who naturally developed the
water power of Chittenango Creek. Thus we read in the early years
of the nineteenth century of the gristmill and sawmill near Mill Street
and just below the grist-mill was the clothier works of Deacon Munson,
whose water right was defined in his deeds as having the first right to
144 square inches of water. During the writer's recollection, the
following establishments had power from the Mill Street dam: The
grist mill of W. Burton & Son, the machine shop of A. Van Riper, where
town clocks were made, S. Coin's threshing machine works, M.W. and J. Shapley's
machine shop, and J. Chubbuck's furnace and on the south side of the dam,
the saw mill of Burton & Son. Going northward on the left bank
of the creek, was the brewery of S. Twist and the steam power furnace and
stove works of Elisha Allis. On the right bank, the steam power distillery
of J. & H. Hearsey, which was a great market for corn, barley and wood,
and of the product whiskey, it may be truthfully said that there was no
logwood or strychnine in it, only a little burnt sugar to give it the fashionable
color. On the left bank below Albany Street, J. Williams & Son's
woolen mill was situated, whose principal products were satinet and Farmer's
cassimere. These were exchanged for wool at Mr. William's store,
where G.E. Loomis & Co. are now. Adjacent to the woolen mill was a
Morocco factory. On the right bank was the Linseed Oil mill of E.
Knowlton and the printing office of Henry Hitchcock & Co., publishers
of Sander's Series of Readers and Spellers. On the next power, on
the site of O'Connell's Electric light plant, was Deacon Sweetland's paper
mill, where writing, print, news, book and wrapping paper were made.
Henry Johnson was the foreman and Sewall Stone distributed the products
and brought in rags. Wood pulp was unknown. On the next power
at Cedar Grove was the five set woolen mill of R. & C. Jackson, whose
products were plain and fancy cassimeres - also a saw mill and cheese box
factory of Orrin Chandler's. R. & C. Jackson's store was where
the post-office is now located. On this power John Hearsey formerly
ground his grain for distilling. On the fifth power was the tannery
of Rufus Allen & Sons, who also carried on a shoe store and currier
's shop on the south side of Albany Street. On the sixth power Mr.
Ledyard Lincklaen had erected a substantial manufacturing building occupied
on the lower floor by Melancthon Nichols, as a machine shop. S. L.
Greenwood had a threshing machine works there afterward and T. W. Thayer
& Co. now occupy the same site for their extensive steam and water
power sash and door factory. On the seventh power was the Shelter
Valley four story woolen mill of Williams, Ledyard & Stebbins, destroyed
by fire in December 1869, rebuilt by them and occupied since 1881 by the
Cazenovia Woolen and Felt Co., of Green Bros. and again burned down, Dec.
8th, 1900. On this location there was formerly a saw mill and a fulling
mill where on account of deficient power at his village mill, Mr. J. Williams
sent cloth to be fulled and dressed by Calvin Weaver. On the line
of the now abandoned turnpike and just below the "Gate" was the saw mill
of Henry & Jackson and later the Rope walk of K. N. Guiteau.
This was the ninth power, the eighth being the only one unimproved.
At Bingley, W. Atkinson occupied the 10th power with his Grist and Flouring
mills, and the Messrs. Gibbs had a chair factory, and Titus Bacon a wool
carding and cloth dressing works, on the east side of the creek.
Bacon's mill was driven by the Munger Brook, and S. Worlock & Son had
a saw mill and plaster mill on the same stream. The water powers
on Chittenango Creek were unoccupied with the exception of Nourse's saw
mill, to Chittenango Falls. Here a fall of 136 feet would afford
a grand power. From the above narration, it will be seen that from
Cazenovia Lake to the Falls, and below that to Chittenango, there is every
few rods a grand water power, which, if the situation were in New England,
would all be utilized. The Lehigh Valley R.R. occupies the right
bank of the creek to the Falls, and an excellent turnpike road, the left
bank. Mr. Henry Ten Eyck had a woolen factory south of Atwell's Corners
in Pompey Hollow, and afterward purchased the Cedar Grove mills here.
At Mechanicsville (now Rippleton) there was the Billings' saw mill, wagon
and blacksmith shop, and Ward's horse-power and thresher factory, where
deClereq's cider mill now stands. Until 1854 all these powers were
dependant upon the mills at Cazenovia for their abundant supply of water.
When these mills shut down at 6 p.m., the water in dry weather simply ran
back to storage in Cazenovia Lake, whose area is about 1400 acres, so that
the mills had double the quantity of water for 12 hours, that they would
ordinarily have for 24 hours. Storm waters were also stored until
the lake was full. In 1854 the state of New York appropriated the
waters of Cazenovia Lake and arranged gates and dams so as to fill and
draw it four and one half feet. They also built the Erieville Reservoir
with an area of about 400 acres and 40 feet deep. The Chittenango Creek,
which drains a very large district independent of the Erieville reservoir
and Cazenovia Lake basins, can be turned into the latter by an ingenious
arrangement of gates at the Mill Street dam, devised by the late B. W.
Taber. These gates also regulate the flow of water so that Chaphe's
mill can use the water, or it will steadily flow in its own channel.
In the small dam above the junction of Chittenango Creek and the lake outlet
is an automatic gate, originally put in by the writer, and hinged on the
top and opening towards the lake so that storage for storm waters is afforded
until the lake is full. It will be seen that the Erieville and Cazenovia
Lake reservoirs with the basin of Chittenango Creek between them, belong
to a valuable system of storage for the Erie Canal. Intelligent management
of their gates with control at Cazenovia should benefit the state and the
water powers alike. Before its appropriation by the state, the Mill
Street dam was six inches higher than in 1854. Messrs. Parsons and
Chaphe consented to such reduction rather than encounter threatened expensive
litigation by owners of lake property.
For the increased demands for water by the proposed Barge Canal, the state engineers have recently estimated the cost of raising the Cazenovia lake two feet, which would benefit the water powers immensely.
From the above review it will be seen that a restoration of the manufacturing interest in Cazenovia, in part at least, is possible where the freights would be comparatively light and the cost of the product mainly in labor. No more beautiful or healthful locality for manufacturing population can be found, and with the railroad and turnpike adjacent to the stream, conditions are unusually favorable and inviting.
At Cazenovia village the manufacture of fine furniture, of boots and shoes, of saleratus and potash, of proprietary medicines, of figured goods and carpets was carried on, with many carpenter and blacksmith shops, etc. Mr. Henry Ten Eyck had a woolen factory near Atwell's Corners and afterward purchased the Cedar Grove (Jackson's) factory here. In the village there were seven general stores and some of them handled produce, such as butter, cheese, dressed hogs, wool, feathers, etc., which were forwarded to market for account of customers, the proceeds being placed to their credit. The Erie Canal and Central R. R. at Chittenango approached by the plank road built in 1848, gave reasonable access to market. We burned stove wood and were happy. The Madison County Bank furnished the working capital for all the manufacturing and farming interests in this vicinity. Although general business conditions have changed, it is believed that with united efforts, our community may be greatly benefitted.