Onondaga or Reminiscences of Earlier and Later Times, Vol. II, by Joshua V.
H. Clark, A.M., Published by Stoddard and Babcock, Syracuse, N.Y., 1849, pp.
is like a vision, an enchantment to the many who lived to witness, in so
short a time, the wonderful transition."
SYRACUSE - The ground upon which the city of Syracuse now stands, was
originally a part of the Salt Springs Reservation, and at the time the
county was organized, in 1794, with all that part of the reservation east of
Onondaga Creek and Lake, was included in the town of Manlius.
locality which received a name within the limits of the present city of
Syracuse, was called Webster’s Landing, from Ephraim Webster, who kept a few
goods for the Indian trade, on the bank of the creek, a little south of its
outlet. Mr. Webster was succeeded by Benjamin Newkirk, in 1793; at which
time, there was quite a number of Indian cabins, ranging along the west bank
of the creek, enough to form a respectable Indian village. The dark, gloomy
and almost impenetrable swamp, now occupied by the city, was then a favorite
resort for wolves, bears, wild-cats, mud-turtles, and swamp rattlesnakes.
The western portion of the valley about Syracuse, was originally timbered
with hemlock, birch and soft maple; the eastern portion with cedar and pine.
west bank of the creek, was an extensive Indian burying-ground, where
skeletons have frequently been disinterred, and are occasionaly to this day
-- two having been exhumed during the past year. At the time the west locks
were constructed at Syracuse, in 1819, over one hundred were taken up. In
excavating the canal for the red mill, on the east bank of the creek,
several skeletons were found. In 1843, one of extraordinary size was
disinterred; one of the lower bones of the leg being set beside the limb of
a tall man, reached far above his knee. The skull was comparatively large,
and the jaws were surrounded with a full set of double teeth, all around.
They were perfectly sound, covered with a beautiful enamel of the most
perfect whiteness. Such occurrences are not uncommon, at the several Indian
burying grounds throughout the county. In one grave was found a large
skeleton, on each side of which was a gun, with flints in the locks, having
the appearance of being loaded at the time they were buried. In this grave
was also a brass kettle, two pairs of shears, three razors, a tomahawk, and
a number of bullets. A large pine tree had recently been cut, which had
grown over the grave. In 1842, Mr. Henry Young discovered a paint box, seven
inches square, around which clay and gravel had firmly cemented, some four
inches in thickness; with it was a brush. The box contained a red pigment,
which from the description, must have been vermilion. The gravel had become
firmly attached, and a portion of the box petrified. In 1808, while Mr.
Young and others were cutting a large hemlock tree, over four feet in
diameter, for hewing-timber, after cutting in about a foot and a half, they
found near a hundred bullets, which had been deposited in a box, cut in the
tree. The number of concentric circles from the bark to the bullets, was one
hundred and fifty two; which, taken from 1808, leaves the time at which they
were deposited, 1656, at which time the French had established colonies and
missionaries at Onondaga.
In 1795, a
feud broke out between a clan of the Onondagas and another of the Cayugas,
which raged violently for a long period, during which, at sundry times,
several individuals of both nations were killed. The last one who fell in
this deadly strife, was an Onondaga, called Handsome Harry. He had been
followed by a party of Cayugas, from Tuscarora and back, and was overtaken
at the sand bank now owned by Mr. Henry Young, not far from the Syracuse
pump house. When he found his pursuers hard upon him, he made no effort to
escape, but quietly kneeled down, bared his bosom, and was instantly shot
dead with an arrow. He was counted the handsomest man in the nation. He was
buried on the spot where he fell, and two favorite sisters for a long time
daily visited the spot, and mourned the death of their brother with the
In 1804, an
act was passed directing the sale of two hundred and fifty acres of land, of
the Salt Springs Reservation, the avails of which were to be expended in
laying out and improving a road running from lot forty-nine, Manlius, to lot
thirty-eight, Onondaga, east and west through the reservation. Simeon De
Witt, the Surveyor General, directed James Geddes, Esq., to locate and lay
out the land, and he did so. The land was advertised for sale, with the
announcement that upon it was a good mill site. Mr. Geddes having
ascertained that fact, laid out the land in reference to it. The lot was
laid out in rather an irregular form,* and the reason assigned for so
doing, was that as much dry land might be secured as possible. But
notwithstanding all the precaution of Mr. Geddes, he found it impossible to
locate the ground in such a manner as to avoid entirely the swamp, some
considerable portion of which was covered with water most of the year; a
doleful place indeed, for the site of a future city.
subject of this land sale was under discussion, certain persons at Onondaga
Hollow, and at Salina, denied the possibility of a water power, and so
influenced the Surveyor General, that he put a spirit level into his gig and
came out from Albany, expressly to examine the premises. He, assisted by Mr.
Geddes, took a level of the creek, and found the power even better than had
been represented, as made by the imperfect instrument Mr. G. had used in
taking the first level.
sometimes curious to see how simple circumstances and events, trifling in
themselves, will operate to direct a man’s whole life. The knowledge
acquired by Mr. Geddes, in the use of this instrument in leveling this mill
power, was the inciting cause by which he became qualified to make the
survey and levels on the Erie Canal.
hundred and fifty acres laid out and advertised, were sold at auction in
June 1804, and bid off by Mr. Abraham Walton, for the sum of six thousand
five hundred and fifty dollars, or about twenty-six dollars twenty cents per
acre,* and the lot was thereafter called the Walton Tract.
commissioners to receive and disburse the money arising from the sale of
this tract, were James Geddes, Moses Carpenter and John Young. Mr. Geddes
was appointed treasurer, and being absent from home during the construction
of the road, Mrs. Geddes became the acting treasurer, and paid out the
money, upon the order of the individual who built it. Although the avails of
this sale were to be appropriated towards the laying out and improving a
road, there was a stipulation in the terms of sale, that the purchaser
should, within a specified time, erect or cause to be erected a suitable
building for a tavern, or house of entertainment, for the accommodation of
travelers. The same season, Mr. Walton laid out lots for a village, and,
agreeably to the stipulation, sold to Henry Bogardus, for the consideration
of three hundred dollars, half an acre of ground, binding him, within a
reasonable time to erect a suitable house for a tavern, and to keep or cause
one to be kept. His house was erected 1808. It was two stories high, and
thirty-five by forty-five feet on the ground, and stood on the site of the
present Empire Block. Mr. Bogardus was succeeded by Mr. Burlingham, in 1808;
Joseph Langdon, in 1810; James Ingalls, in 1812; and by Sterling Cossit, in
At the time
of this laying out of a village, it was called, “South Salina,” and
the tavern the “South Salina Hotel.” A Mr. Merrill erected a small
frame house the same year that Mr. Bogardus built his hotel, nearly
opposite, east, but there was so much sickness in the neighborhood, that he
became discouraged, pulled it down and carried it away. Before this purchase
was made by Mr. Walton, several persons had erected log cabins in the
vicinity of the spot where Mr. Bogardus put up his hotel. The names given of
some of them are, Mr. Hopkins, in 1797; Mr. Butler, in 1799. These were
located a little west of the Oswego bridge, north of General Granger’s
residence, near a spring of fresh water.
spring of 1800, Mr. Calvin Jackson came to this place, who lived in a small
log house a little south of where the rail-road crosses Genesee street, and
there was born Albion Jackson, on the 28th of December, 1800, supposed to be
the first white child born within the limits of the city of Syracuse, out of
that part heretofore known as Salina. Mr. Jackson is still living, near the
Indian Reservation, and is a grandson of Jeremiah Jackson. William Lee and
Aaron Cole, blacksmiths, opened a shop in 1805. In 1805, Amos Stanton,
father of Rufus Stanton, and Mrs. Wales, now residents of Syracuse, located
near the Salina Bridge. Dr. Swan put up a small frame house in 1807.
Jonathan Fay settled near the Court-House in 1808. Rufus Stanton kept a
tavern near the Salina bridge in 1811 -- building now standing, and occupied
as a public house.
were erected in 1805, by Mr. Walton, James Sayles being the master builder.
The first dam was erected where the Seneca Turnpike bridge crosses the
creek, and the road at this time passed over it. The dam stood only about a
year, when it was swept away by a heavy spring freshet. It was re-built
several rods further up the stream, but has recently been torn away on
account of the supposed unhealthiness of the mill pond.
South Salina, was not received with general approbation, and after a time it
was changed to “Milan.” This name it bore for several years, and
marriages, deaths, and other incidents were announced in the “Manlius
Times,” then the only paper in the county, as having taken place at
Tract, was a portion of it sold to Michael Hogan and Charles Walton, and
they, with the original proprietor, held it in common. After some
unimportant changes, it was transferred to Forman, Wilson & Co., in 1814,
for about nine thousand dollars. From these proprietors, it passed into the
hands of Daniel Kellogg and Wm. H. Sabin, in 1818, who sold it in 1828 to
Henry Eckford, Esq., the celebrated ship-builder of New-York. In May, 1824,
the Walton Tract was transferred to the Syracuse Company, for the
consideration of thirty thousand dollars, which Company consisted of Messrs.
William James, Isaiah and John Townsend, and James McBride. The same was
deeded in trust to Messrs. Moses D. Burnet and Gideon Hawley, since which,
village lots have been extensively sold.
At the time
the purchase was made by Forman, Wilson & Co., they erected a large
slaughter house in a pine grove, a little in rear of Gen. Granger’s
dwelling, north of Church street. They continued the business of packing
beef and pork on a large scale, till 1817, having had during the war a heavy
transfer of the Walton estate to Messrs. Kellogg and Sabin, Judge Forman was
appointed agent for them, and had sole management of affairs.
spring of 1819, Mr. Owen Forman, a younger brother of the Judge, and John
Wilkinson, Esq., then a young lawyer, came down from Onondaga Hollow, under
the direction of Judge Forman, to lay out the Walton Tract into village
lots. The old survey of a village by Mr. Walton was thrown aside and
disregarded. These young men proceeded to the work in the month of June, and
such was the indefinite position of the ancient land marks, that it was with
the greatest difficulty that they could ascertain with any degree of
certainty, the starting point. Although in possession of an excellent
description, made by Judge Geddes, but for a certain wild plumb tree therein
mentioned, it is thought doubtful whether the precise lines as originally
run could have been traced. After near a fortnight of hard labor, the
village was again laid out, so far as related to the Walton Tract; and what
was not included in the village, was laid out into farm lots of from five to
ten acres each.
survey was completed, Judge Forman named the village “Corinth,” the
name of Milan having been relinquished in consequence of an ineffectual
attempt to obtain a Post Office, there already one of that name in the
State. For several years the place went by the name of “Cossit’s Corners,”
after Mr. Sterling Cossit, who succeeded Mr. Ingalls in the South Salina
Hotel. Mr. Cossit kept the house from 1815 to 1825, after which it was kept
for some time by Mr. Williston.
last survey was made, there was but a small clearing in the village of
Corinth. The extent of it was from the canal, near Clinton street, south to
Fayette street, and east to Warren street. On the north side of the canal,
the clearing extended as far back as Church street, and east to Warren
street. The rest of the dry ground was a pine grove interspersed with oak
burying ground in Syracuse was on Fayette street, very near where Clinton
street crosses it, if any thing a little west. At this spot were buried some
fifteen or twenty persons, whose remains have never been removed, and
hundreds daily pass over them unconscious that in so public a place lie the
remains of individuals who were once as active in life as any now upon the
stage. The old burying ground near the west Rail-Road Depot, was laid out by
Owen Forman and John Wilkinson, at the time they laid out the village.
were now somewhat rapidly made, and the business of clearing went vigorously
on. Very much of the present city was, however, a dreary waste of swamp,
approached only by means of “corduroy” and “gridiron” roads. All along where
now is located the beautiful park, was then a famous shooting ground for
partridges and rabits, and further back, were plenty of wood-cock, snipe,
owls and mud-turtles.
the water did not usually subside sufficiently to allow people to pass with
any degree of comfort, till late in May or June, and those going from
Onondaga to Salina, were obliged to pass around on the high ground east of
Syracuse, over by-roads, which were cut in every direction through the
reservation, for the purpose of collecting wood in winter for the salt
works. A person passing over the present improved roads, can have no
conception of their impassable condition in spring and autumn, at that
period. In fact the only time when they were endurable was in winter, when
perfectly frozen and covered with a good body of snow.
In the fall
of 1819, Judge Forman removed to Syracuse with his family, and occupied a
house a little west of the Townsend Block. At this time there but two frame
houses in the village, besides the tavern. Log houses, and plank, and slab
cabins, were scattered over the dry ground, most of which latter had been
tenanted by laborers on the canal. The pasture of the Judge ran back some
fifty rods and east to Salina street; most of it was pine grove. Another lot
of twenty acres commenced where the Syracuse House now stands, and there was
a set of bars and passage-way to this lot, where the western front door of
that building opens to the street. In 1816, Rufus Stanton raised on this
ground an abundant crop of rye. It was afterwards occupied as a pasture
until 1820. So dense was the forest about Syracuse in 1819, that two young
ladies, the present Mrs. E. W. Leavenworth and Mrs. M. D. Burnet, in taking
a morning stroll over “Prospect Hill,” became bewildered among the thick
brushwood, and finally rambled about till the day was far spent, when they
found themselves in the vicinity of the Lodi Locks, greatly fatigued with
their labors, and not a little rejoiced at the prospect of deliverance from
the terrors of passing a gloomy night in the wilderness. Here they
recognized familiar ground, and returned home in safety, after a day of much
anxiety and no little inquietude of mind.
the arrival of Judge Forman, Sidney Dole and Milan C. Taylor, owned and
occupied the mill, and kept a store next west of where the late William
Malcolm first kept; this was in 1814. They were the first merchants in
Syracuse. Northrup and Dexter had a job on the Erie Canal in 1817, and set
up a store in place of Dole and Taylor, and conducted business till 1821. In
1821, General Amos P. Granger came down from Onondaga Hill, and set up as a
dry goods merchant, on the north-east corner, by the present Salina street
bridge. At the this time there was no other store in Syracuse, except two or
three small groceries. Mr. Henry Newton opened a store in 1822; Mr. Archy
Kasson opened a hardware store in 1822; Kasson and Heermans, dry goods,
groceries and hardware in 1823; Mr. G. M. Towle, opened a commission and
forwarding store in April, 1823; Geo. Davis & Co., in July, 1823; Henry W.
Durnford, groceries, drugs and medicine, 1823; John Rogers & Co., from
New-York, November, 1823; William Malcolm, 1823; Haskell & Walbridge,
saddlers and furnishers for the trade, 1824. In 1824, J. Vanderheyden, Mead
& Davis, A. N. Van Patten, and H. & W. Dowd, established themselves as
merchants at Syracuse. Hiram Judson, watch maker and jeweller, 1824; H. Hyde
& Co., established themselves as forwarding merchants in 1824. Since this
period merchants have become so numerous it is impossible to follow their
history with precision.
Buell & Safford bought the lot where the Syracuse House now stands, and
commenced the erection of the “Syracuse Hotel.” While the building was in
progress of erection, Mr. Safford fell from a scaffold, and was killed by
the fall; after which, the property passed into the hands of Mr. Eckford,
who completed the Syracuse Hotel in 1822. It was three stories high, and the
first brick building of any considerable dimensions, erected in town. It was
kept several years by Mr. James Mann. After the Syracuse Company came in
possession of the premises, the house was rebuilt, and has since been
enlarged and improved to its present ample dimensions and style. It was at
the time of rebuilding named the “Syracuse House.” after which, it was kept
by Mr. George Rust; afterwards by Daniel Comstock and H. T. Gibson; and for
a long period thereafter, it was kept by P. N. Rust, Esq. He was succeeded
by Gillett & Knickerbocker, in 1848.
Syracuse had not more than two hundred and fifty inhabitants, and no place
of worship; the whole church-going community was only from thirty to forty;
no school-house, only two taverns, and the stores before mentioned.
physician was Dr. Swan, who located at Syracuse about the year 1807.
was the physician during the building of the canal, and did a vast amount of
medical business; for, almost every man engaged on the canal was sick. Eye
witnesses observe, that the scenes of suffering and distress at that period,
were beyond conception. Dr. Colvin succeeded Dr. Basset, and still resides
at Syracuse. Dr. Day came in afterwards, and died of Cholera, in 1832. Dr.
M. Williams, and other physicians, came in soon after, and the number has
become so numerous, that it would be difficult to trace them.
Wilkinson, Esq., in 1819, was the first lawyer who established himself in
Syracuse. He erected an office on the corner where the Globe Buildings now
stand, and was heartily ridiculed for setting his office out in the fields.
This locality at that time, was quite out of town; but circumstances, and
the advancing prosperity of the place, have brought it into the centre of
Northam, Esq., established himself as a lawyer at Syracuse, in 1824. Messrs.
Harvey Baldwin and Schuyler Strong, were the next lawyers who located in
1826, and were soon followed by Messrs. Wheaton and Davis, E. W.
Leavenworth, Esq., B. D. Noxon, Esq., James R. Lawrence, Esq., and others,
some of whom came with the removal of the Court House from the Hill.
Durnford, established the first printing press at Syracuse. He was induced
to locate at Syracuse, from representations made to him of the growing
importance of the village. He issued the first number of the “ONONDAGA
GAZETTE,” 2d of April, 1823; it was of the Clintonian school of politics.
The first number contained but one merchant’s advertisement, viz.; Kasson &
Heerman’s. Other advertisements were of “Lee’s Billious Pills.” “Pomeroy’s
Razor Strop,” “Clark’s Commentary,” and “Morse’s Geography.” The name of the
paper was changed after the first year, to “SYRACUSE GAZETTE, AND GENERAL
ADVERTISER,” and was continued by Mr. Durnford until 1829, when Lewis H.
Redfield moved to Syracuse from Onondaga Hollow, bought out Mr. D., and
united the “ONONDAGA REGISTER” to it, under the name of “THE SYRACUSE
GAZETTE AND ONONDAGA REGISTER.” Mr. Redfield continued the publication of
the “Gazette and Register” until the close of 1831, when it was transferred
to Messrs. J. H. Clark and J. de Blois Sherman; Mr. R. having had charge of
the “Register” at Onondaga Hollow afterwards, “Gazette and Register,” at
Syracuse, for a period of eighteen years; during which time, D. D. Spencer
editor of the “Ithaca Chronicle,” Lewis Gaylord Clark, Editor of the
Knickerbocker, and E. Russell Webb, of New-York, served their several terms
of apprenticeship in the “Register” office; all of whom occupy distinguished
positions in their respective occupations. Messrs. Clark and Sherman,
changed the name of the paper to the “THE SYRACUSE ARGUS,” and gave the
“Jackson party” a warm support for a short time, when it was finally
Messrs. ---- Barnum and John F. Wyman established the ‘SYRACUSE ADVERTISER,’
a “Jackson” paper. Mr. Barnum, however, soon withdrew, and was succeeded in
his interest by Mr. Norman Rawson. Messrs. Rawson & Wyman, continued the
“Advertiser” until the autumn og ‘26, when Mr. Wyman, who continued alone in
the publication of it, until the spring of 1829. The “ONONDAGA JOURNAL,”
published at Onondaga Hill, by Mr. V. W. Smith, was then united with the
Advertiser, under the name of “THE ONONDAGA STANDARD,” and published by
Wyman and Smith. The Standard has since been continued by V. W. & T. A.
Smith, Wm. L. Crandall and A. L. Smith; A. L. Smith and Marcellus Farmer; A.
L. Smith and P. Agan; and is now published by P. Agan and Moses Summers. The
“MORNING POST,” the first daily established in Syracuse, was issued from the
Standard office, about four months in 1835.
In 1830, the
“ONONDAGA REPUBLICAN,” an Anti-Masonic paper, was established by Mr. W. S.
Campbell, and was continued about three years. “THE SYRACUSE AMERICAN” ---
National Republican --- was established in 1831, by Mr. ----- Adams;
continued through the campaign of 1832, and then discontinued.
Messrs. Clark & Patterson, commenced the publication of “THE CONSTITUTIONA-
LIST,” a Whig paper, which was continued about two years. This was succeeded
by “THE SYRACUSE WHIG,” edited by John K. Barlow, who continued it about two
years, when it was merged into a new paper, the “WESTERN STATE JOURNAL,” by
V. W. & S. F. Smith; the latter of whom, in 1846, commenced THE SYRACUSE
DAILY JOURNAL,” in connection with it. In the spring of 1847, these papers
passed into the hands of Henry Barns, Augustus S. Smith, and Edward Cooper,
by whom they were continued until the destruction of the establishment by
fire, 6th of January, 1849. The Daily and Weekly Journal are now continued
by Marcellus Farmer, Vivus W. Smith and Seth Haight.
“THE ONONDAGA CHIEF,” by Miller and Burdick, was commenced and continued
about two years. The Chief was succeeded by the “EMPIRE STATE DEMOCRAT,” by
Hiram Cummings; afterwards by the “FREEMAN,” Abolition, by Tucker & Kinney.
The “SYRACUSE DAILY STAR,” neutral, succeeded the Freeman, by the same
publishers in 1845, who soon after commenced the publication of the “WEEKLY
STAR.” Both papers are now continued by Kinney & Masters. The “RELIGIOUS
RECORDER” was established by Terry & Platt, in 1844.
On the first
of January, 1849, the following entitled papers were published in the city
of Syracuse, viz: Syracuse Journal, daily and weekly; Star, daily and
weekly; Standard, weekly; Democrat, weekly; Religious Recorder, weekly;
Reveille, daily; and Onondaga Sentinel, weekly; and in March, 1849, was
established the “CENTRAL CITY,” by an association of Printers.*
at different periods, been started, but their existence has been short.
foundry was established by Messrs. Baker & Tiernan, from Philadelphia, March
religious society organized in Syracuse, was of the Baptist denomination. At
first, a Conference was organized in the winter of 1819-20, by Elder John G.
Sternes, who officiated as minister a portion of the time. Thomas Spencer,
Braddock Dart, David Johnson, James Wilson, Alvin Walker with their wives,
and Wyllys Brown, B. G. Avery and Mrs. Wales, were the members. Arrangements
were made with the Baptist Madison Theological Seminary, to send out every
Saturday, a young man to preach. The arrangement was not perfect, and
services were not regularly held. The people of all denominations at that
time attended the Baptist meeting in a little low school house, scarcely
capable of containing sixty persons.
Nathaniel J. Gilbert came to Syracuse as a missionary, 16th of February,
1821, and became the first stated preacher, in June, 1823. Rev. Mr. Gilbert,
united with the Church and became their regular pastor, in November, 1824.
He continued in the faithful and laborious performance of the duties of his
office, until July, 1832, when he was suddenly cut off by Asiatic Cholera,
deeply lamented by the whole community.
On the 29th
of August, 1833, Rev. Orsamus Allen became the pastor of the church, and so
continued until October 20, 1834. In November following, Rev. Stephen
Wilkins became the pastor, and continued until December 1st, 1837. He was
then succeeded by Rev. John Blain, who remained with the Church four years.
1841, Rev. Joseph W. Taggart was installed pastor, and remained until
August, 1847. He was succeeded by the present pastor, Rev. Robert R.
Raymond, who entered upon his duties on the first day of September, 1847.
house of worship, (being also the first erected in Syracuse,) was built in
1824, at a cost of two thousand three hundred dollars, and enlarged in 1839,
at a cost of two thousand three hundred dollars. In the spring of 1848, the
society made an exchange with Capt. Joel Cody, of their house and lot, for a
lot more eligible, situated a few rods east of their old location, and
erected on the new site, a brick edifice after the Roman Ionic order of
architecture. This building is one hundred and thirty-two feet long,
(including the porch in front and lecture room in rear,) by seventy feet in
width, estimated cost, about fifteen thousand dollars, making the whole
property worth about twenty thousand dollars.
First Presbyterian Society of Syracuse,” was organized December 14th,
1824, and the following persons elected trustees, vis: Moses D. Burnett,
Miles Seymour, Rufus Moss, Jonathon Day, Heman Walbridge, Joshua Forman and
Joseph Slocum. Their house of worship was built in the summer of 1825, and
dedicated in January, 1826. Rev. D. C. Lansing preached the dedication
sermon. The Church was organized with twenty-six members, on the 6th of
April, 1826. Elders, Frederick Phelps and Edward Chapman; Deacon, Pliny
Dickinson. On the 28th of June, 1826, Rev. John Watson Adams was ordained
and installed pastor over this church, and has continued so until the
present time, (1849) a rare instance of the true relation which should be
sustained between people and pastor. It is believed there is not another
instance of so long continuance of a minister with his congregation in
Western New-York. Previous to the erection of their house of worship,
meetings were held in the village school house.
Church” (second Presbyterian) was organized 1847, building completed
1848. Rev. W. W. Newell, pastor.
Paul’s Church” was organized 22d of May, 1826, Rev. John McCarty
presiding. At this time were chosen, John Durnford and Samuel Wright,
Wardens; Amos P. Granger, Archy Kasson, James Mann, Matthew W. Davis, Mather
Williams, Barent Filkins, Othniel Williston and Jabes Hawley, Vestrymen. In
1825, the Syracuse Company gave the Episcopal Society a lot of ground for a
church, and in September the frame was raised, and covered during the autumn
of that year, and in 1827, it was completed. It stood on the ground lately
occupied by the Granger Block, now in ruins. The church building was
subsequently sold to the Roman Catholic Society, who removed it. On the 12th
of July, 1841, the corner stone of the present St. Paul’s Church was laid,
and the building completed early the following year. Previous to the
erection of the first church edifice, services were held in the school
house, and occasionally in the Baptist house. Clergymen of the Protestant
Episcopal Church, who officiated previous to the organization of the
society, were Rev. Messrs. Lucius Smith, Wm. B. Thomas, ----- Wilcox, Wm. J.
Bulkley, Augustus L. Converse, and afterwards, Rev. Messrs, John McCarty,
William Barlow, Palmer Dyer, Richard Salmon, John Grigg, Francis Todrig,
Clement M. Butler, Charles H. Halsey, William Walton, Issac Swart, John B.
Gallagher and Henry Gregory. Dr. Gregory was succeeded in St. Paul’s by the
Rev. Wm. B. Ashley.
James Church,” (Protestant Episcopal,) was organized August, 1848.
Rector, Rev. Henry Gregory, D. D.
of the Messiah,” (First Unitarian Congregational Society of Syracuse,)
was organized 3d of September, 1838. First trustees, Hiram Putnam, Nathan
Flint and Charles F. Williston. Their first house of worship was a little
chapel on Genesee street, dedicated in December, 1838. The new edifice was
erected in 1843, and consecrated in December of that year. Clergymen have
been Rev. J. P. B. Storer, who commenced with the consecration, and
continued till within one week of his death, at which time he preached his
last sermon. He died 10th of March, 1844. Rev. Samuel J. May has officiated
since, to 1849.
Roman Catholic Church of Syracuse, was organized Christmas day, 1842. It
was purchased from the Protestant Episcopal Society, and fitted up for the
Roman Catholics. In 1848, it was considerably enlarged and improved. Rev.
Michael Haes, the only minister.
Methodist Episcopal Society” erected a substantial brick church in 1836.
Statistics from this society have not been furnished. It is, however, one of
the oldest in the city. A new society has recently been organized.
Reformed Society” was organized in 1848. The Rev. J. H. Cornell,
There is an
African Church, and several German societies, of different protestent
County Bank was incorporated in 1880; Salina Bank, 1832; Bank of Syracuse,
1838, under General Banking Law. Syracuse and Utica Rail-road went into
operation 3d July, 1839; Auburn and Syracuse, 1841; Oswego and Syracuse,
October, 1848. Telegraph from Albany to Syracuse established 1846. Townsend
Block was erected in 1842; The Granger Block in 1844 --- destroyed by fire
on 6th January, 1849; Empire Block erected 1845; Globe Building, 1846-7;
Malcolm Block, 1847; Market Hall, 1845.
packet-boat on the canal, named the Montezuma, arrived at Syracuse on the
21st of April, 1820. It was built and fitted up by a company of gentlemen at
Montezuma, from a model furnished by Comfort Tyler. It was seventy-six feet
long, and fourteen feet wide. Its arrival created great excitement; hundreds
of anxious spectators lined the banks of the canal, to witness this mighty
wonder. This practical illustration of the benefits of canal navigation was
not without its use. It hushed the hostility of canal opponents, and subdued
the fears of the more timorous; visionary theory yielded to simple fact, and
wild speculation to the test of experiment. The canal was now navigable from
Montezuma to Utica, ninety-four miles, and at once business received a new
and vigorous impulse.
The 4th of
July, 1820, was a glorious day for Syracuse. The canal was in practical
operation, the prospects of the future city began to brighten; a most
brilliant day dawned upon a land heretofore a swamp and bog. It was hailed
as a day of joy, festivity and rejoicing. Invitations had been extended to
the friends of the canal throughout the State, particular in the Western
District. Thousands of guests from the surrounding counties came in to
witness the novelty of canal navigation, and to celebrate the day. Some of
the most distinguished men in the State were present, among whom were Gov.
Clinton and suite, General Van Cortland, Myron Holley, Thomas J. Oakley, and
John C. Spencer. Judge Van Ness adjourned the circuit, then in session at
the Court-House, and the Court and Bar attended in a body. Thaddeus M. Wood,
Esq., presided on the occasion. The Declaration was read by N. P. Randall,
Esq., and the Oration delivered by Samuel Miles Hopkins, Esq., to more than
two thousand people. The numerous procession was formed in front of Mr.
Gossit’s tavern, escorted by the Salina Band. They proceeded to a pine grove
directly in rear of the Townsend Block. The platform on which were seated
the orator, reader and distinguished guests, was under a large spreading
pine, which has long ago bowed its towering head to make way for the rapid
and substantial improvements which have since been made. This was the first
celebration of our national independence at Syracuse, and those who were
present number it among her proudest days.
Office was established at Syracuse in February, 1820, and was thus announced
in the Onondaga Register --- "A new Post Office has been established at
Syracuse (formerly Corinth) in the town of Salina, and John Wilkinson, Esq.,
appointed Post Master. The name of this village was necessarily changed,
there being a Post Office of the name of Corinth previously established in
the State." The advertising list in 1823, at the time of the first
appearance of the Onondaga Gazette had increased to eight. The Post Office
for a time was kept in the store of Gen. Granger, but for the greater
convenience of the inhabitants of the village, it was thought advisable to
move it to the printing office of John Durnford, Esq. He at first objected
on account of the lack of room but finally consented. In due time Mr.
Wilkinson came on with the whole contents of the Post Office, mail matter,
letter bags, boxes --- the whole concern, on his shoulders, without having
occasion to go for a second load; upon which Mr. Durnford concluded he had
plenty of room to accommodate all the requisite wants of the department at
On the 9th
of June, 1825, the Marquis de La Fayette visited Syracuse. He was escorted
from Onondaga Hill, by a large body of citizens on horseback (by way of the
Hollow) to the Mansion House, where he received the cordial greetings of the
citizens of Syracuse and the surrounding country. Judge Forman, as President
of the village, addressed the war-worn veteran in behalf of his fellow
citizens, in an appropriate address, replete with generous affection,
tendering to the illustrious guest, the heartfelt hospitalities of a
grateful people. During the delivery of Judge For- man’s address, the
illustrious hero stood with his hat in hand leaning on his cane, with the
other on his hip, giving his undivided attention to what was said. The
gallant general responded in the following words:
(Rep. Onon. Reg.)
of Onondaga and Syracuse, in behalf of whose population you are pleased so
kindly to welcome me, recall to my mind at the same time, the wilderness
that, since the time I commanded on the northern frontier, has been
transformed into one of the most populous, well cultivated and enlightened
parts of the United States; and, the ancient Sicilian city, once the seat of
republican institutions, much inferior, however, to those which in American
Syracuse, are founded upon the plain investigation, the unalloyed
establishment of the rights of men, and upon the best representative forms
of government. No doubt sir, but among the co-operators of the Revolution,
the most sanguine of us could not fully anticipate the rapidity of the
improvements, which on a journey of many thousand miles (the last tour
alone, from Washington to this place, amounting to five thousand miles,)
have delighted me, and of which this part of the country offers a bright
example. Be pleased to accept my personal thanks, and in behalf of the
people of Onondaga and Syracuse, to receive the tribute of my sincere and
was received with the most rapturous applause. Salutations were exchanged, a
bountiful repast was furnished for the guests, and all passed off the
greatest gratification of every one present.
breakfast, the General and suite, together with the Onondaga committee of
escort, left Syracuse in the packet boat Rochester, for Utica, to which
place the committee accompanied him.
conclusion of the great work in which the people of Onondaga had borne so
prominent a part, was undoubtedly a primary cause of the improvement of
Syracuse. The village was incor- porated by Legislature enactment, 13th
April, 1825, with the usual powers granted to like incorporations. The
charter was amended in 1829 and in 1834, increasing the powers of village
officers regulating water works, fire department, &c.
In 1835, the
bounds of the original village were considerably enlarged. (See Records.) In
1839-41, the charter was again amended so as to enable the Trustees to hold
real estate for the purposes of a village cemetery, which was subsequently
purchased, laid out and beautified. In 1842 and in 1845, the charter was
again amended for improvement of water works, to empower the Trustees to
borrow money on the credit of the corporation, to purchase a lot for a
market and other public buildings, and for other purposes.
meeting for the election of officers of the village of Syracuse, was held at
the School House in said village, 3d of May, 1825, at which Joshua Forman,
Amos P. Granger, Moses D. Burnet, Herman Walbridge and John Rogers were
elected Trustees, (Joshua Forman, President;) James Webb, Alfred Northum and
Thomas Spencer, Assessors; John Wilkinson, Clerk; John Durnford, Treasurer;
Daniel Gilbert, Justice Peace, presiding.
proceeded at once to lay out road districts, to organize a fire department,
and to purchase engines and apparatus, and other things for the welfare of
Board of Trustees was elected 3d of May, 1826. Only fifty-six votes were
polled. The Board consisted of M. D. Burnet, H. Gifford, Alfred Northum,
Andrew Van Patten and Henry Young (M. D. Burnet, second President;) Peter
Van Olinda, Clerk. For officers in succeeding years see village records.
The city of
Syracuse justly prides herself upon the superiority of her common schools,
which may be deemed the model schools of the county, and are scarcely
equalled by any in the State. Districts were formerly laid out when the
population was scanty and scholars few. Districts that once contained only a
small number of inhabitants, have recently become populous, and where the
school was attended by a score of children, it has, increased ten fold.
Within the memory of many, there was only a single square hopper-shaped roof
building, used for schools, religious meetings, town hall, and for almost
every public purpose.
exertions of Messrs. Harvey Baldwin, Oliver Teall, Aaron Burt, and some
others friendly to the cause of education, a charter was obtained for the
Syracuse Academy. Mr. Baldwin gave the lot, and under many discouraging
embarrassments, the building now occupied as the Orphan Asylum was erected
and completed for an Academy, which was supplied with competent teachers,
and supported by the benefactions of the before named individuals, and a few
others. After the Academy went into operation, the enterprise of the people
began to be aroused, jealousies in reference to the Academy being a
speculation, were awakened, and district school houses sprung up and were
patronized. The cause of education profited by the efforts of these first
actors, but the founders were, and continued to be losers, and finally the
Academy was abandoned, and the house designed by its originators to subserve
the cause of education, providentially became the home of the helpless
orphan, add the abode of charity.
evening of Friday, the 20th of August, 1841, occurred the ever memorable
EXPLOSION, at which time twenty-six of our fellow-citizens were launched
unwarned into eternity, and ten others dangerously, and forty-three others
severely wounded. A fire originated in joiners shop, on the towing path side
of the Oswego Canal. Here had been stored some twenty-five kegs of powder,
which exploded with the most terrible consequences. A gloom was cast over
the village and the county, which betokened sorrow, and mourning was
manifest upon every countenance; sadness pervaded every dwelling, and
melancholy every heart. The effects of this explosion were felt for more
than twenty miles around. A man upon the deck of a packet boat at Fulton,
twenty- six miles distant, heard the report. At De Witt and Jamesville, five
miles off, persons were started from their sleep, supposing their chimnies
had fallen down. At Manlius, ten miles distant, the earth trembled, and
crockery upon a merchant’s shelves rattled for the space of several seconds,
like the shock from a clap of thunder. At Camillus it was compared to the
crash of falling timber. At Onondaga it was supposed to be an earthquake.
Although the concussion was tremendous at Syracuse, the report was not so
loud as might have been supposed. Glass in the windows a hundred rods
distant, were broken. Papers in the County Clerk’s Office were thrown from
their places upon the floor, and several buildings were more or less
injured. The instant the explosion took place, the air was filled with
fragments of the building, bits of lumber, &c., which lighted up the heavens
with the brightness of day; but in a twinkling it was total darkness. The
explosion had extinguished every particle of fire. The scene at this moment
was horrible beyond description; men, women and children, screaming in
horror; none knew the extent of the calamity, and all were anxious to learn
the fate of their friends. Quickly some three thousand persons were
gathered, anxiously looking for those whom they most regarded. Very soon
lamps were brought, the wounded were carried off, filling the air with sighs
and groans. The dead were sought and found, many of them so much disfigured
that they could be recognized only by their clothes or the contents of their
pockets. For a long time clumps of persons could be seen with lights in all
directions, carrying either the dead or the wounded, to their homes. The
scenes of the fatal night will long be remembered by the citizens of
Syracuse and the county of Onondaga. The next day the village was shrouded
in mourning. The stores were all closed, and business was out of the
question. On Sunday the unfortunate victims were consigned to the tomb
admidst the sympathies and tears of the afflicted community. The Clergy were
most solemn and impassioned in their addresses, and the deepest sadness
prevailed, as the several processions wended their way to the lonely tomb.
year 1846, Syracuse had so wonderfully increased in size and population,
that the subject of securing for it a city charter, began seriously to be
discussed. Meetings were held during that and the following year, without
coming to any definite conclusion, till the winter of 1847-8, the matter was
brought before the Legislature. There was considerable difference of opinion
among the inhabitants, as to the extent of territory which should be
embraced. Some were for including the whole original Salt Springs
Reservation; others, for only the village of Syracuse. Some for more
territory, others for less. Several spirited meetings were held in reference
to the subject, which finally resulted in the grant of a charter, including
the villages of Syracuse and Salina, with the name of Syracuse. At the first
election of city officers, in May, 1848, Harvey Baldwin, Esq., was elected
Mayor; James Lynch and Elizur Clark, Aldermen for the first ward; Alexander
McKinstry and John B. Burnet, for the second; William H. Alexander and
Gardner Lawrence, for the third; and Henry W. Durnford and Robert Furman,
for the fourth.
returns of a census made for the city of Syracuse, first of January, 1849,
it contained a small fraction short of 16,000 inhabitants.
1849, E. W. Leavenworth, Esq., was elected Mayor; Thomas Feagan, of the
first ward, Silas Titus, of the second, Amos Westcott, of the third, and
Edward B. Wicks of the fourth, Aldermen; --- Messrs. Lynch, McKinstry,
Lawrence, and Durnford, holding over.
of the canal in 1820, may be set down as the real commencement of the city
of Syracuse. From this time it began to be looked upon as a place inevitably
destined to become the grand emporium of the county. There was, however, one
continual drawback. During the build- ing of the canal from 1817 to 1820,
the sickness had been terrible. No estimate can be made of the fatality of
disease at that time. To the foreseeing mind of Judge Forman, something was
to be done to improve the health of the place, or his plans would fail;
accordingly, during the winter of 1821-22, he procured the passage of a law,
in connection with one authorizing the lowering of Onondaga Lake, by which
the Commissioners of the Land Office were to draw a map of the swamp and
marsh about the villages of Salina and Syracuse. This map was to designate
the route of several ditches or drains through the swamp and marsh lands,
with an accompanying estimate of the sum necessary to be raised to effect
such object. The judges of the county courts were authorized to appoint
three discreet freeholders of the county, who should assess the amount of
money necessary to be raised on the owners of the lands contiguous to the
drains, in proportion as they were supposed to be benefitted. In case of the
non-payment of any assessment, the lands could be sold, after being
advertised four weeks for the payment, and if not redeemed within six
months, with interest at ten per cent., with all costs, the sale was valid
were allowed to build their own ditches on their own lands, according to the
prescribed rules of the commissioners, and the plan laid down on the map. In
case they would not, commissioners were authorized themselves to build them,
and charge the owners with the cost, and cost of collection. This law at the
time, was considered highly arbitrary; but, it was the only feasible project
by which the lands could be drained.
summer of 1822, the lands were brought under subjection by draining, the
place assumed an air of healthfulness, disease and sickness kept at a
distance, a marked difference was manifest at once, confidence was placed in
the future, and the past was quickly forgotten. Since the draining of these
lands, they have been healthy as any in the country.
year, a considerable portion of the Onondaga Salt Springs Reservation was
sold under the direction of the Surveyor General. It was parcelled into
small lots and sold to individuals, several of which were taken by Messrs.
Kellogg & Sabin, which eventually passed into the hands of the Syracuse
Company. A large portion of the present site of the city, and which is now
covered with costly buildings, was included in these sales. Very much of
this land brought only nominal prices. For instance, the lots on which now
stand the stately mansions of Messrs. Lester, Colvin, Woolworth, Minard,
Coggswell, Sedgewick, Wilkinson, Burnet, Davis, Forbes, Leavenworth and
others, together with a large tract, including the cemetery, brought at the
sale, only from eighteen to thirty dollars per acre. The lands east of
Fayette Park, including L. H. Redfield’s and other lots, sold for six
dollars per acre.
Granger took several of the lots in the swamp, near Lodi, between the canal
and turnpike, at ten dollars fifty cents per acre. Citizens agreed not to
bid against him, on condition of his clearing the land immediately. This was
done at great expense, the same season, and put into a crop of wheat. Most
of this ground is now covered with fine buildings.
of State lands was made in 1828, embracing the lots in the vicinity of the
Court- House, and other portions of the reservation.
after this, roads were improved and made substantial and permanent, low
places were filled up, logs and stumps were removed, durable stores and
tasteful dwellings were erected, churches with their lofty spires glanced
upwards, magnificent hotels, and massive rows of buildings appeared in all
directions, canal basins were crowded with boats, lading and unlading, at
the spacious warehouses upon the wharves, and wheel carriages loaded with
agricultural products lined the extended and well paved streets. All these
places have within a very few years, become thronged with people full of
business, life and activity. The change is like a vision, an enchantment to
the many who lived to witness in so short a time, the wonderful transition.
But a few years ago, the wild flowers grew in spontaneous profusion, all
along where are now lofty stores and hotels, and wild berries were gathered
abundantly on grounds now occupied by the older churches of the city, and
the reaper, as he bound his yellow sheaves, little thought that so soon, his
stubble land would become the great thoroughfare of steam and electricity.
The time has been so short, that it is difficult to realize that so great a
change has been wrought. In less than a quarter of a century, a city has
sprung up from a loathsome swamp, where least of all, the traveler would
dream of such an event. There has never been anything like extra exertion to
increase the size of the town --- its growth has been steady, healthy and
uniform. Through all periods of pecuniary adversity, it has passed its
onward career, with a greater demand for dwellings. Its business, from year
to year, has increased with great regularity. As new stores were opened,
customers increased, and as trade extended itself, the country became more
dependant upon Syracuse as a market. Although this has been the course and
consequent increase of business and population for near twenty-five years,
the same characteristics still exist, and it is no unreasonable prediction
to remark, that the growth may be even more rapid for the succeeding
twenty-five years, than it has been for the last twenty-five. “Westward the
star of empire lies.” The Capitol of the Empire State, will undoubtedly,
within that period, be removed to the Central City, and there may be many
now living, who will witness the inauguration of Governors, and the
organization of Legislatures, in the city of Syracuse.