Town of Dewitt

Submitted by Kathy Crowell

On May 3 and May 14, 1901, Monroe P. Worden dictated the following tavern memoirs.  (a story about these taverns also appears in the March 10, 1935 "Post Standard").   Prior  to the spring of 1835, the town of Dewitt was part of the town of Manlius.  Worden's reminiscences are a rich source of some aspects of early tavern life:

Within the last few years I have frequently made the statement, that when I was a boy there were eleven taverns between the village of Fayetteville and the  village of Syracuse, and that there was now no person living except myself who could verify that fact.

Fayetteville (present town of Manlius) also seems to have had quite a record for taverns, for as early as 1824 it was called the village of "Four Taverns and no Church," while now it is  called the "Village of Churches."  It was not then called Fayetteville but "Manlius Four  Corners."  It was also called the "Forty Thieves."

First:  The first of the eleven taverns west of the village was the David Otis tavern, on the farm which he sold to Ambrose Smith, the father of Henry and Platt Smith of this village.

Second:  The Captain Samuel Wilcox tavern was located on the forks of the road leading  to High Bridge and to Fayetteville (Lyndon).  The tavern was torn down many years ago  and a house erected on the site by James J. Hurd and now occupied by George Adcook, Jr.

Captain Samuel Wilcox was the grandfather of Asel F. Wilcox, now deceased.  He was a soldier of the Revolution and died about 1822 (Wilcox was born in 1740 and died in 1827) and was buried in the Orville Cemetery (Dewitt Cemetery) by the order of Masons, the remains being carried on a bier by relays of bearers.

Third:  The Amasa Parks tavern was located on the south side of Genesee St., directly  opposite the residence of Hiram Edwards, deceased.  Mr. Parks was an uncle of mine, having married Hanna Worden, father's sister.  After the death of Aunt Hanna the place was rented till about 1832 or 4, when it was purchased by Timothy Graham, who used the west part for a wagon shop and the east for a residence.

Fourth:  The Jesse Prindle tavern was located about eight rods east of father's house and  about ten rods west of the residence of Hiram Edwards, deceased, on the north side of  Genesee Street.  He had three sons, Jesse, Tracy and Michael and two girls Eliza and Sophia.  As I recollect it was called the Prindle tavern, but my father and mother state that in 1817 Uncle Jonathan Worden kept it and they related this incident in connection, with a great deal of gusto.

In the fall of 1817, Governor Dewitt Clinton was making a tour of the state with his  family and retinue and put up for the night at Uncle Jonathan's.  At that time father came in and said, "Jesse, I want to get some of that nice honey of yours, there is a man that has put up at my house, that judging from his appearance and equipage I should say might be smart enough to be the Governor of the State of New York, understand me."**  In the course of the evening it became know that he was the Governor and the next morning about fifty male citizens in the vicinity had assembled to greet him, and there on
the steps of that little one story, weather beaten country tavern, the great Governor Clinton made them a speech.

Fifth:  The Rowling Allen tavern was located on the north side of Genesee Street just  west of the old turnpike toll gate and is now standing there and was occupied for many, many years as a tenement house and the surroundings are all changed.   Mr. Allen was quite ambitious to draw trade that in the early days was passing over Genesee turnpike, and in addition to an open shed and large barn east of the house, he had a large yard enclosed with a stone wall north of the shed and a barn and a roof extended from the wall, about fifteen feet over the yard, all around the outside of the yard.

At that time the great freight teams, consisting of three, five and seven horses were doing a large freighting business between Buffalo and Albany.  The teams that stayed at Allen's  over night were driven into the yard between house and shed, then on and around the yard to the southeast corner and east of the barn, then unhitch and take care of the horses.  The next to stop would drive around to the rear of the first and so on for all that put up there, and were well protected from storms.

Mr. Allen also carried on the blacksmith business.  He erected a large shop on the south  side of the street, directly opposite his house, had four forges in it and kept from four to five workmen, doing general work, such as repairing, horse shoeing and setting tires on the great freight wagons.  To get the right width of tire (7 or 8 inches) it required three tires of the ordinary width to a wheel, and it required experts to get them on all right.  Now it can be done with one tire of right width.  There were four sons in the Allen family:  Augustus, Samuel, John and Henry.

Sixth:  The John Young tavern was located on the south side of Genesee street on the top of the hill above the plank road and feeder (canal) bridges and directly opposite the  residence of the late Dr. George S. Lommis (Loomis?)  It was one and a half stories high, stood broadside to the road and had a veranda across the entire front.  It has been gone many years.

Seventh:  The James Norris tavern was located on the north side of Genesee street and  corner of a road leading north in the rear of the old Presbyterian church, now Methodist.  It was a two-story house, stood broadside to the street and had wide steps across the entire front.  On the corner of the road, leading north was a wide open shed and barn in the rear.

When I was quite a small boy, a caravan stopped there and occupied the shed and out in the street enough to make a ring to exhibit the elephant, pony and monkey.  This was a  great day for us boys.  There were monkeys...and everything.  The pony had to go around  the ring at the crack of the ring master' whip, mounted by Jack monkey carrying a flag.  Gee whew didn't they go!  Then Mr. Elephant with his two long tusks took the ring, a great saddle howdah, - had seat and back and all around - was put on him, he was caused to kneel and six or eight girls got into the saddle howdah.  Then he got up and gave the girls a ride around the ring.  It was great fun for us boys.  Then Mr. Elephant humbled  himself again and the girls got down and the ringmaster took a seat across his tusks.  Mr. Elephant got on his feet and commenced to back around the ring, at the same time tossing up the ringmaster at every step from his tusks, I should say not less than five feet.  Thus ended the great show and caravan.

The tavern was burned nearly forty years ago, when Charles Candee occupied it and was not rebuilt.

Eighth:  The Thomas Rose tavern was located about four rods west of the James Norris tavern on the south side of the street.  It was two stories high, a  veranda about six feet wide across the front supported by four pillars, a large open shed to the east connected by  a large barn on the south for stabling, and entered from the shed by large double doors.

I remember a little rhyme that went the rounds in connection with Squire Thomas Rose.  He had engaged a man to help him kill hogs, who lived about half a mile south of the village, by the name of Ripley, who was a character and familiarly called Uncle Pell.  He  came early to the house, finding Squire Thomas still in bed and being somewhat of a rhymster, addressed him thus:  "Squire Thomas Rose, I do suppose I've come to work for you, Sir.  Get out of bed and shake your head and put on your shoe, Sir.  Step into the bar, hand out a cigar - it's only just in fun -, for Uncle Pell as true as h--- would like some bittered rum."

Later Squire Rose sold to George Grinnell, went to Syracuse and built a brick house on the north-east corner of Beech and Genesee St., lived and died there, also his son  William, later died there.  It was not far from sixty years ago that George Grinnell bought the Rose tavern and kept it for about thirty years, then sold to a friend of Esq. Edmund Cobb from Onondaga, who took down the old tavern and erected the present one in its stead.  The most notable thing about the Grinnell administration was his skill in making flip for which he became noted and Orville was known as Flipville for miles around.

Ninth:  The Daniel Torrey tavern was located two and a half or three miles west of  Orville, now owned by Charles Hiscock.  It originally stood broadside to the road.

Tenth:  The Bevel Wyborn tavern was located about six rods west of the toll gate on the north side of the street in the side hill.  The original building is still there.

(This last tavern is located in the City of Syracuse):  Eleventh:  The Lathrop tavern was located on the corner of Genesee and Walnut streets, directly north of Madison school house.

In the winter of 1824 and 1825 my uncle Wood (Weed) H. Worden by occupation a  fuller, his mill and home was about four miles north-west of Camillus  village.  He came  to the original town of Manlius with his family, Aunt Hanna and their two sons, Charles and Elam, to visit his mother, the widow of Captain Walter Worden, a Revolutionary  soldier, and one sister, Lucretia Halsted and eight brothers.  He came the latter part of December 1824 and stayed till late in February 1825.  Then father furnished him with a horse and cutter to take him and his family home.  The cutter was a square box, high back  seat, high dash board in front.  I went to drive the horse back.  The morning we started the weather was biting cold, Charles and I were set down in front with our backs to the horse.  Aunt Hanna carried Elam in her lap, Uncle Weed drove the horse and would occasionally touch her with the whip and say, "Take up your feet, Gin."

He stopped at the Lathrop tavern for us to get warm.  The horse was cared for under the  shed to the east of the house.  The house was one and a half stories high, stood broadside to the road, the sitting room was in the middle with narrow entrance into the barroom to the east.

The house was long on street with three doors in front.  It was nice and was warm when we stopped there with a real old fashioned wood fire.  Before we started Uncle Weed  went into the barroom and got a glass of brandy and sugar and brought it to us and we all had a taste of it, then we started on our journey.  At Camillus we stopped to warm but did not take any brandy, then on to Uncle Weed's home.  The house was surrounded by a great snow drift but we could run over it.  It did not take Uncle Weed long to get a fire started in the stove, then we went and took care of the horse.  It wasn't long before the house which was  small, was warm, and the little boys Charles and Elam were having a high time running around the stove, that stood out well in the room.

In due time Aunt Hanna had supper ready and I have no doubt we all did justice to it.

After breakfast the next morning, (the weather was milder) Uncle Weed gave me  directions and started us for home, which I have no doubt we reached in safety, and I can now say "Finis" to the story of the eleven taverns.

Submitted 25 January 1999
Updated 5 March 1999