History of Bombay, New York
FROM: HISTORICAL SKETCHES OF FRANKLIN COUNTY
AND ITS SEVERAL TOWNS
BY: FREDERICK J. SEAVER
PUBLISHED BY J. B. LYON COMPANY, ALBANY, NY 1918


CHAPTER VII
BOMBAY

The town of Bombay, comprising township Number One of Macomb's purchase and. all of the St. Regis reservation on the American side of the boundary, was erected from Fort Covington by an act of the Legislature passed March 30, 1833, to be effective on the first of May following. Its name was chosen by Michael Hogan in compliment to Mrs. Hogan, who was a native of Bombay, India. Mr. Hogan himself was a merchant in New York city, and so continued for a number of years after his first investment in lands in Bombay (then a part of Constable) in 1807, when he purchased 10,168 acres from Alexander Macomb for $15,250. In 1809 he bought 9,949 acres additional from John McVickar for $19,899.80, which gave him all of the township originally called Macomb. A few years later he conveyed this entire tract to John Oliver, of Baltimore, Maryland, afterward repurchased it, mortgaged it to Oliver for $42,000, and the year following again conveyed it to Oliver, for whose estate and heirs William Hogan (son of Michael) acted as agent in the sale of Bombay lands for many years. Asa Hascall and William A. Wheeler were subsequently agents for the Olivers. In all of the instruments recorded in Franklin county to which Michael Hogan was a party his residence is given as New York city, and in an act passed by the Legislature in 1824 as Waterford. So far as I am able to ascertain, he never resided at Bombay for any length of time, though it is altogether probable that he visited the place occasionally, and for a time kept in touch with matters there, as Hough refers to building operations which he caused to be undertaken in 1811 and 1818. The first of these was the erection of a mill (probably a saw mill) in the eastern part of the town, and the second a grist mill at Hogansburgh. In 1817 Mr. Hogan leased from the Indians one hundred and forty-four acres of land and water at the point where the hamlet of Hogansburgh now is, agreeing to establish and maintain a ferry there and to pay an annual rental of three hundred and five dollars therefor. The term of the lease was for ten years, with the privilege of perpetual renewals. A couple of years later this lease was assigned to William Hogan for three thousand dollars, and the land itself was ceded in 1824 by the Indians to the State of New York for one dollar and an annuity in perpetuity of three hundred and five dollars. The younger Mr. Hogan then acquired the fee from the State.

The earliest recorded deed given to or by William Hogan is dated 1821, and his residence is stated therein to be Fort Covington. Until 1836 all subsequent deeds in which be appears as grantor or grantee state his residence as Fort Covingtou or Hogansburgb, and after that as New York city. Mr. Hogan was born in 1792, lived in South Africa in his youth, studied the Dutch language there, and upon his return to this country entered Columbia College, New York, was graduated from it, studied law and was admitted to the bar. He served both the towns of Fort Covington and Bombay as supervisor, was elected to the Assembly in 1822, became one of the judges of the court of common pleas for Franklin county in 1829, and was elected to Congress in 1830. As a candidate for re-election in 1832 he was defeated. In 1850 he was appointed a clerk in the department of State at Washington, and held the position until 1866 or later. He died in Washington in. 1875. In his younger years he was an intense partisan of the Andrew Jackson school of Democrats. The Franklin Telegraph said of him during his Congressional canvass that his bearing was "offensively aristocratic," that he was a free-trader, and that in sentiment he was a Southerner. But in a letter of the week following to the Telegraph Mr. Hogan declared himself a protectionist, and in a letter to the Malone Palladium in 1861, written from Washington, avowed himself vigorously a Union man, and declared it to be the duty of all good citizens to stand strongly against secession.

Michael Hogan was born in Ireland in 1765. Hough's history says that he was for several years consul general of the United. States at Valparaiso, Chile, and that he "was distinguished throughout various reverses of fortune by his enterprise, intelligence and probity, as well as by his hospitable and liberal disposition, and the urbanity of his manners." He died in Washington, D. C., in 1833. A further reference to him appears in the first chapter.

It was doubtless due to the nativity of the Hogans, father and son, that Irish settlers began to swarm into Bombay about the year 1825, generally coming by steamship to Montreal directly from Ireland, and thence overland or up the St. Lawrence. Mr. Hogan the younger is said to have received these with great kindliness, and to have located them upon what was then regarded as the very best lands in the town, which location came to be known as the "Irish ridge." These lands to-day are very far from the best in Bombay, but in early times the bottoms and intervals were too wet to be worked, and thus the uplands alone were available for farming. These settlers, as Mr. Reed says in his story of "Life on the Border," were apparently delighted to have an "Illegant Irishman" for their boss, notwithstanding they found him invariably an exacting creditor and master, though not unjust.

A few months ago an application was made to the court somewhere by a man named Hogan to have his name changed, and the incident brought out the statement that all Hogans are the descendants of Irish kings, and that in ancient times they had a fortified residence at Ardcromy and another at Ballylusky. Assuming this to be true, the statement of the Telegraph regarding Mr. Hogan's aristocratic bearing may readily be believed to have been correctly descriptive. No descendant of the Bombay Hogans is known to be living, and the only evidences of the family remaining in Bombay are the buildings which they erected and a skeleton of a coach which was in its day an elegant equipage, richly upholstered, fitted with lamps, and painted and gilded to be fit for royalty itself. It was imported from England, used for a time in New York, and finally sent to Hogansburgh for storage. It was of great weight, and required four horses to haul it even on fairly good roads. On such roads as the county then possessed it could hardly be used at all. Though moth-eaten, dismantled and a wreck, it is still preserved at Hogansburgh, and a few years ago it was not uncommon to bring it out on a Fourth of July, and drive it up and down the street. The dwelling house built by William Hogan in Hogansburgh still stands, and is in a remarkably good state of preservation.

There remains in Bombay scarcely one even of the group of men who were of the generation next after the earliest settlers, and. records of their time or data concerning them seem not to have been kept. The first white settler in the town, one Hadley, a hunter, is said to have located in 1803, and to have been followed by Samuel Sanborn and family in 1805; but immigration did not begin in any volume until about 1822, and was at first largely from Vermont and. New Hampshire. Ten or twelve years later nearly all of the original settlers had removed to Michigan, Ohio, Indiana and Illinois, selling out to other arrivals, mostly from Vermont, and at about this time a good many Irishmen also came.

Among the first merchants in the eastern section of the town, at Bombay Corners, were James Luther and Jesse A. Clark, the former having established a store there in 1824, and the latter having followed in 1826. Early hotel keepers were John Diggins and William P. Moseley, and later Mortimer Russell. Benjamin Reynolds came from Vermont in 1824, and his son Jacob G. followed in 1831. The latter, after engaging in farming for several years, became the principal merchant and business man at the Corners, and one of the moneyed men of the town. William McRoberts settled in 1821, taught school for one term, and with his brother, James, built a tannery south of the Ccfrners in 1823. He afterwards engaged in farming. Joseph Elliott, Jr., located in 1819, Amasa and Rufus Townsend, farmers, about 1825, Moses B. Effiott in 1826, John McCabe in 1831, Pearson Rolfe in 1832, Jonathan Wiggins and George H. Russell in 1833, Charles Russell in 1835 or earlier, Elvin K. Smith, a physician, in 1835, Alanson Donaldson in 1837, Preserved Ware in 1839, and Mortimer Russell in 1844. Benjamin Bolfe was a resident as early as 1825, and was the third or possibly the fourth school teacher in the town - having been preceded by Jacob Travis, who taught in a log barn a mile west of the Corners, in which at least a cord of wood was burned daily to keep the pupils from freezing; also by Wilson Randall, and probably by William McRoberts. Either Randall or Rolfe was the first to preside in a real school house, which was finished in 1824 or 1825, near the Corners. A considerable number of the boys and girls in attendance were men and women grown. Sylvester Parr was pedagogue a couple of years after Rolfe, and later became a Baptist minister. Then, in 1828, came Amos Emerson, a superior type, and also an ardent believer in the virtue and efficacy of the blue beech.

There is little to be told of life in the town in its early days, the story differing in no essential particulars from that of any other frontier settlement of the period. Forests were converted into fruitful fields by dint of hard labor, privation prevailed and was endured as a matter of course and without especial realization of hardship, schools were provided as soon as might be, religious services supplied a little later, with the hotels and their bars keeping up a regular devil's side show or chapel (rather worse here than in most similar communities), and men and women lived and loved and died as is the law of the universe.

The first religious movement in the vicinity of the Corners was Congregational, a minister having been engaged at a salary of four hundred dollars a year, but he remained only a twelvemonth, after which the organization went to pieces, and has never been revived. Rev. Nathaniel Colver, then stationed at Fort Covington, seized upon the opportunity presented by abandonment of the field by the Congregationalists, and was quickly successful in developing an interest in the Baptist faith and in winning converts. He was a man of aggressive energy and force, but in 1827, though formerly himself a Mason, became an open assailant of the order, lecturing and inveighing bitterly against it, and thus antagonized and alienated. a number of his leading parishioners. That breach and scandalous conduct on the part of two or three prominent members of the Church discredited the society and led to its disruption. Mr. Calver had no successor of his denomination in Bombay, and so died the effort to found and maintain a Baptist Church there. But Methodism was becoming a power in the world, and its zealous and tireless circuit riders were aheady disputing even this little field with Mr. Colver before the latter's ministrations failed, and were holding services alternately with him on Sundays in the school house. This denomination is the only one that succeeded in maintaining itself in the eastern part of the town from early times to the present. Its first pastor or preacher was Luther Lee, in 1828, who was then stationed at Malone, and of whom the story runs that at the age of eighteen he was without education, but that, marrying a woman of superior mind and acquirements, was taught by her to read, and influenced to study. Mr. Lee served in Bombay once a month for a year. He afterward became an eloquent divine and a fiery anti-slavery crusader. Who were his immediate successors the records fail to show, but in 1832 "The Bombay Society of the Methodist Episcopal Church" was incorporated, and was associated with churches at South Bombay, Helena and Brasher, a single pastor serving all of these points. From 1877 to 1901 it was joined with Fort Covington. The first church edifice was erected in 1836 or 1837, and was rebuilt and enlarged in 1867. A fine parsonage was built recently.

There is also a Methodist Church at South Bombay, which has been an out appointment of Bombay since 1904. The church edifice here was erected in 1891, though services by clergy of this denomination had been held more or less regularly in the school house from a very early time.

Notwithstanding the number of Roman Catholics in the eastern part of the town had not been inconsiderable from early times, their privilege of worship according to the rites of their faith until recent years, except as mass was said irregularly and infrequently in the hotel or at a private residence, was enjoyed only by journeying to Fort Covington or Hogansburgh. About 1905, however, services began to be held at Bombay with some approach to regularity by priests from Fort Covington, and were so continued until 1912, when the Church ceased to be a mission, and was given a resident rector, the Rev. James E. Duffy, who continued in charge until 1918, when he became a chaplain in the army. A church building was erected in 1905, and. is clear of debt. A rectory was built in 1913. The parish is small.

The Roman Catholic Church at Hogansburgh was founded in. 1827, soon after a visit to the, place by Bishop Dubois of New York, of which diocese it was then a part. The bishop's counsel to the people of his faith there was given at a meeting held in a barn, and proceedings for building a church edifice and for incorporation of a church society followed in due course. Incorporation was had by residents of Bombay, Brasher and Fort Oovington,. November 7, 1834, as the "Roman Catholic Church of St. Patrick at Hogansburgh," and the first trustees, besides the bishop of the diocese and two men from Brasher, were David O'Neil and James Murphy of Bombay and Patrick Feely and Lantry Adams of Hogansburgh. The meeting for incorporating was held at Mr. Feeley's house, and the certificate recites that, a chapel being then in course of construction, steps were taken at the meeting to assure its early completion. Between 1827 and 1833 or 1834 services were held only irregularly, and were conducted by priests from neighboring localities, but mainly by Rev. Father Marcoux, the rector of the Roman Catholic Church for the Indians at St. Regis. In 1829 or 1830 Bishop Dubois again visited the parishes in his see in Franklin county, journeying by sledge drawn by dogs, and stifi again in 1835, when he was accompanied by Rev. Father Hughes, who afterward became archbishop. Upon his return to New York from one or the other of these later visits, probably the first of them, he assigned Rev. John McNulty to the Hogansburgh charge. Some authorities place the beginning of this rectorship in 1833, and others in 1836. Hogansburgh was the mother church of the Romish faith in Franklin county, and it included as parts of its parish Massena, Fort Covington, Brasher, Brushton, Trout River, C6nstable, Malone, Chateaugay and Cherubusco. Father McNulty was a man of ftne presence and broad attainments, and an indefatigable worker. The church edifice at Hogansburgh, which he found unfinished, was completed during his rectorship, and the work of organizing churches throughout the district was prosecuted with great energy. A scandalous charge was brought against him by one of his parishioners in. Malone (claimed by him and his friends to have been a conspiracy between disaffected Catholics and Protestants); the case went to the courts, with a verdict against the priest, who was incarcerated in the jail at Malone. He escaped and fled to Canada, where he continued to 'reside until his death. While in service at Hogansburgh Father McNulty conducted a spirited discussion. with Rev. Ashbel Parmelee of Malone concerning Romanism, the letters being published in. the Malone Palladium. Great ability and learning were displayed by both of the controversialists. After the departure of Father McNulty the church at Hogansburgh was without a settled rector until 1843, the people having been attended in. the interval by the priest at St. Regis and by Father Moore of Huntingdon, Que. Since then it has had rectors of its own continuously. The original church edifice was of stone, and served the needs of the parish until 1876, when a new structure was erected, which was burned in 1905. A year later it was replaced by a handsome brick edifice, finely finished within, and costing about fifty thousand dollars. The original church building was given over in 1878 to the uses of a convent school until 1880. From 1880 to August, 1915, when its roof and. interior were burned, it was used as a parochial hail. Rev. Father Michael J. Brown, a Malone boy, who was a student at Franklin Academy fifty years ago, became the rector of St. Patrick's in 1879, and' so continued until his death in 1917. In his interesting book, "History of the Diocese of Ogdensburg," Rev. John Talbot Smith says of the people of this parish that they are "unaffected by the indifference and scepticism of the Champlain and Black river portions of the diocese, simple in their customs and style of living, and comfortably situated. Their children are growing up like their fathers, and the future of the parish spiritually and financially is well assured." The parish contains about two hundred families. In 1849 all of its then several charges except Massena, Brasher, Fort Covington and Constable were set off from it, becoming independent parishes, or included in the then newly created district of Malone. The exceptions noted are now independent also.

A Methodist Episcopal Church was established as an Indian mission in 1847, two Indians having visited the church at Brasher and entreated such action. Sectarian rancor was more prevalent then than now, as well as more virulent, and there was apprehension that the attempt to introduce Protestantism among the Indians might involve personal danger to the participants. Therefore, three or four wagon loads of the parishioners of the Brasher pastor, Rev. Ebenezer Arnold, accompanied him as a sort of protective guard to his first meeting, which was held in. the home of one of the Indians. However, though the movement was antagonized by the priest at St. Regis, and caution voiced to the Indians against attending the services, there was no violence offered, nor were the services even disturbed to any serious degree. The first meeting was attended by a couple of dozen Indians, and such interest was awakened that a few months later a band of them attended. a camp meeting at Canton, where they professed conversion. In the autumn of 1848 a house was leased as a place for worship, and the next year solicitation for funds for building a church and buying land for a cemetery was proseàuted throughout Northern New York. Bishop Janes also collected a few hundred dollars elsewhere. Land could not be had on the reservation itself, and therefore a site was bought next adjoining. A church building was erected and dedicated in. 1849, the bell for which was provided through Bishop Janes, who also caused a parsonage to be erected and furnished. Only devotion and a willingness to endure privation and isolation could induce clergymen to accept assignment to this charge, and continue their labors in it under difficulties and with results which, on the surface at least, carry no great degree of encouragement. The church counts as adherents about three hundred Indians, of whom something like sixty are members. For twenty years, from 1866 to 1886, Thomas LaFort, an Indian, was pastor of the church, the records of which note that his ministry was disorganizing and his influence hurtful to the cause.

As early as 1834 William Hogan provided for occasional services of the Episcopal Church at Hogansburgh, and erected a house there for worship. The structure was large enough for a much more populous community, and was never finished. It is now owned by Mr. Fulton, and used as a barn. In 1850 Eleazer Williams, either a son of an Indian or of the King of France, returned to St. Regis from his mission work in Wisconsin and from lobbying at Washington, and established an Episcopal mission at Hogansburgh. He had been there as a teacher and missionary in 1831, 1834 and 1836 also. Such services as he held were conducted usually in the homes of the few adherents of this faith, and rarely in the structure that Mr. Hogan had erected. From 1858, when Mr. Williams died, there was no Episcopal Church organization in the place until twelve or fifteen years later, when it was revived by Rev. J. C. Stewart, rector of St. Mark's, Malone. A neat church building was erected, largely through the liberality of the late Alfred Fulton, and services have since been held there more or less regularly - usually by divinity students from Montreal.

Something like forty years ago, after an exasperating and financially disastrous attempt to establish and maintain an educational institution at Malone, the Sisters of Mercy founded a day and boarding school at Hogansburgh, occupying initially the old St. Patrick's Church building. Then, in 1880, the work having prospered, the Sisters purchased a tract of fifteen acres near the St. Regis river, and erected a three-story building, with basement, of their own. It is substantial, capacious, and attractive in appearance, and located in very pleasant grounds. Sister Frances McGarr was then the Mother Superior of the local chapter, and it speaks eloquently for her zeal and devotion that with her own hands she dipped in a preservative solution every brick that went into the structure. For years the institution was maintained as a parochial school, with a large attendance of white children and a few Indians. Something like fifteen years ago Sister Stanislaus McGarr persuaded Miss Katherine Drexel to visit Hogansburgh, and succeeded in interesting her in the school and its field for work among the St. Regis Indians. The institution was thereupon converted into the "Indian Girls' Industrial School," and cares for and educates fifty Indian girls. It is paid five thousand dollars per year theref or out of the income from the Drexel fund. Miss Drexel is the daughter of a Philadelphia banker, and inherited a fortune of millions of dollars. Reared in luxury, accomplished, a favorite in society, she nevertheless in 1889 renounced worldly pleasures and fortune, became a novitiate of the Sisters of Mercy, and devoted her inheritance to Christian and philanthropic work - a large part of it to the education of negroes and Indians. She is now the Mother Superior of the Order of the Blessed Sacrament. The school at Hogansburgh is supervised and conducted by six or seven Sisters, four of whom apply themselves to teaching. The girls in attendance are trained in household duties and domestic economy, so that when they return to their homes, and eventually become housewives themselves, they are equipped to do their work far better than could possibly be the case but for Sister Drexel's benefaction and the conscientious efforts of the Sisters who administer it.

Most of the pioneers - merchants, millers, farmers and teachers - were men of energy, enterprise and rugged character, and nearly every one named had a noteworthy part in the town's development and in administering its affairs. At least six of them served as supervisor, and. two (Charles Russell and John S. Eldredge) as Member of Assembly also. A son of Charles Russell (Horace A.) became an eminent lawyer and acquired wealth in New York city, was assistant district attorney there for a number of years, and. afterward a judge of the superior court and judge advocate on Governor Cornell's staff. Charles Russell and George Russell, the latter of whom removed to Malone, became merchants at the Corners, conducting what was known as the "union store," which was in its time the principal mercantile establishment there.

Another son of Bombay who has made a success in life is Daniel B. Murphy; born in the Cold Spring neighborhood in 1848, and educated in the district school, Fort Covington Academy (where he was a classmate of Hon. F. D. Kilburn and Charles A. Burke), and the Potsdam Normal. After teaching for three years in St. Lawrence county, he became principal of the Dunkirk high school in 1870, and in 1873 of the Brothers' Academy in Rochester. Two years later he associated himself with the wholesale and retail department store of Burke, FitzSimons & Hone in Rochester, acquired a financial interest in the business in 1886, and was admitted four years later to lull membership in the concern, which is one of the largest in Western New York. Mr. Murphy has never sought political preferment, but, on the contrary, has declined nomination for one of the highest city offices and for member of Congress at a time when election would have been certain. He has been for nineteen years one of the board of managers of the Craig Colony for Epileptics; a delegate annually for ten years past to the Mohonk Peace Conference; a prominent member of important business associations of national scbpe, the volume of business of one of them running into hundreds of millions of dollars; and standing so well at home as to be intrusted with consequential fiduciary assignments. In 1907 he was State president of the conference of charities and corrections, which includes all correctional institutions and all public and private hospitals.

Another Bombay man who has emphatically "made good" is John Daly, a grandson of one of the Irish pioneers of 1826. Mr. Daly was appointed on the New York city police force in 1886 as a patrolman - a not particularly agreeable rank - but, possessing ambition and the impulses and. manners of a gentleman, Mr. Daly determined early to win promotion. In five years he had become a sergeant; in another five a lieutenant, and in 1903 a captain, with assignment to a gambling district. The usual course at that time in such a precinct was to levy blackmail on such resorts, and undoubtedly Captain Daly had opportunity to become rich through graft; but he had already won designation as "honest John," and showed here that the characterization was deserved. In six months he effectually suppressed the dens. The reputation thus made gave him still more important assignments, and in 1909 he was promoted to an inspectorship. In 1918 he became chief inspector.

Though not a native of Bombay, nor even having been connected with it in any way except as a teacher of the Cold Spring district school during one winter, and afterward as an occasional visitor, Patrick Gavin Duffy is so associated in the local public mind with the town that reference to him seems to belong here. He was born in Ireland in 1835, and. came to New York at the age of twelve years. There he found employment in a livery stable for a year or two, when he went into the country to make his home with an uncle who was a priest, in order that he might receive the rudiments of an education while earning his keep as a chore boy. The priest, Rev. Father Thomas Callan, was soon transferred to missionary work in Northern New York, arid was located for a time at Malone. The lad Duffy accompanied him, became a student at Franklin Academy, and taught school in Bombay. He returned to New York, and became a teacher in the schools there - afterward studying law and winning admission to the bar in 1874. Even while teaching he manifested an interest and displayed such activity in politics that by the time he had become an attorney he had attracted the attention and gained the friendship of a number of Tammany leaders, and in 1875 he received appointment as a police justice - continuing in the office for nearly twenty years. Upon his retirement it was estimated that no less than a hundred and seventy thousand prisoners had. been arraigned before him. He was known always as " the Little Judge," and his quaint humor and individualistic methods made him known the world over. Often he would disregard the particular accusation preferred against a prisoner, and pronounce sentence for "impertinence" or for some other incident arising during the hearing or trial - as, for instance, when he sent a man to the penitentiary for having falsely given his name as John Kelly, who was particularly revered by Judge Duffy. As one of his obituary notices put it, he "coupled sentences with sound advice delivered in a Solomonesque way," and "dispensed justice as no one before or since has done." It was also said of him that there was "never a hint that he was venal, politically or personally biased, or other than decorous in private life." In the field. of politics he was almost a genius. He perfected a marvelously efficient organization in the ward of which he was the leader, aad his ambition and. aim were to carry it for the Democracy year after year by an almost unanimous vote. It is told that at some elections the whole number of votes cast against his candidates in the entire ward. did not number more than three or four. Mr. Duffy was a fluent and eloquent speaker, and his wit, geniality and kindness of heart made him a multitude of friends. He died in. 1895.

There have been four separate surveys of the township - by Church, Gill, Dawson and McDonald - and not improbably each numbered the lots differently, so that it is impossible to determine locations by deed descriptions with certainty; nor are there elderly residents who are familiar with the story of early industries. Thus the facts as to these must be in a measure somewhat conjectural. Daniel W. Church, surveyor, erected the first mill for Mr. Hogan in 1811 on the Little Salmon river near the center of the town, and it seems not improbable that it was the same, or at least on the same site, of the one subsequently owned and at various dates operated by Mortimer Russell, Jacob G. Reynolds, Charles and Orange Phelps, Thomas Donaldson, Daniel McCarthy, Ernest G. Reynolds, and Thomas A. Sears and W. B. Babcock. In 1849 it was known as Sylvester's mills, and a newspaper item of that date chronicled that Reed Niles, the elder, was killed there by the falling of a timber for a bridge that he was helping to build. There was also a comparatively early saw mill at Dog Hollow, owned by Amasa Townsend, which was built over into a flax mill by Alvin Russell, and converted later into a creamery. William McRoberts had a tannery more than ninety years ago on Little Salmon river about a half mile south of Bombay Corners, which was owned subsequently by Jacob G. Reynolds, and then by James Blood, and again by Mr. Reynolds. It was torn down about 1888 by Dr. H. S. Rockwood, and the material in it used to build a barn. There are a grist mill and a saw mill at South Bombay, the latter very old. The original grist mill was carried off by a flood, and its successor has been rebuilt or remodeled a number of times. Both of these mills were built originally, I think, by William W. Townsend, or possibly by George F. Burgess, and are now owned and. operated by George Russell, as they had been by his father before him. Something like half a mile north from the Russell properties Jonathan Wiggins had a saw mill fifty-odd years ago, which a freshet destroyed, and which was not rebuilt. Mr. Wiggins and James Dougherty at one time burned lime in the southern part of Bombay, and their output supplied all of the county south of their kilns and west of Malone. While no one recalls having even heard that there was ever an iron forge in the town, the deed of the Russell saw mill lot by Townsend to Burgess carries the privilege of maintaining a dam across the river at or near the site of the old forge, and, again, a deed from the Olivers to Elisha Barney of Swanton, Vt., in 1827, is for two acres of land and water at this same point, known as the "forge lot.". The record in the county clerk's office shows that the Olivers wiped Barney out by foreclosure in 1830. Though no discoverable record or local tradition tells more, the present owner of the premises, Mr. Russell, has found ore there which was plainly mined elsewhere. Only a mile to the west there is a deposit of bog ore, now owned by Ernest G. Reynolds, which is known to have been a source of supply for the Skinner works at Brasher, and the existence of which may easily he taken as the reason for the Barney venture at South Bombay, which must have been of brief duration. A starch mill was built on the Little Salmon a mile southeast of Bombay Corners by James Parr, and also one on Little Deer river, east of South Bombay, by Wilcox & Adams of Bangor. The former passed to the ownership of Oren Jenkins, and. Hazen K. Cross had an interest in it at one time. The other was sold to Newton Lawrence, and by him to James H. Sargent. It was torn down when the manufacture of potato starch became unprofitable. In this same vicinity there was still another saw mill, built by John Moore, and operated by him, and then by his son, Thomas, until it was carried off by a freshet.

South Bombay formerly had a hotel, which was the old homestead of Rufus Berry, built over by his son, Homer T., about 1869, and conducted by him for a time. It was leased later to Reed Niles, the younger, and was then kept by O. W. Berry. It has now been changed info a private residence again.

In 1877 the town was visited by a plague of grasshoppers. The pastures were stripped almost as bare as a floor; orchards were stripped of 'their leaves; corn was almost altogether destroyed, and the harvest of oats and barley was not more than a quarter of what the fields had earlier promised. The damage was estimated at not less than fifty thousand dollars.

In the western part of the town, comprising the Hogansburgh district (formerly known as St. Regis Mills, and still earlier as Gray's Mills) Rev. Father Anthony Gordon, who came from Caughnawaga to St. Regis with a band of Indians about 1760. is supposed to have erected a saw mill as early as 1762, and to have shipped rafts of lumber and timber thence to Montreal. This mill is said to have burned in 1807, and replaced. five or six years later by two Frenchmen. The place was Gray's Mills when Nichael Hogan leased lands there from Gray, who, made a captive in youth in Washington county, had grown up with the tribe, and became one of its most intelligent and influential leaders. The grist mill was built by Michael Hogan in 1818, and still stands. It and. the saw mill are now owned and operated in a small way by Maurice W. Lantry. Early merchants in Hogansburgh were John Clendenning in 1819, John S. Eldredge and Elisha Belding in 1825, Isaac Seymour and Sylvester Gilbert in 1826 or 1827, Gurdon S. Mills in 1824 (whose son bore the same name) and. Alfred Fulton about 1830. Mr. Eldredge was a Member of Assembly in 1840 and. 1841, removed to California in 1849, and. died there in 1854. Mr. Mills and Mr. Fulton each accumulated a handsome property, lived. useful lives, and died respected and lamented. They were as good citizens as any town ever had, though perhaps not as pushing and enterprising as a busier environment might have made them. A later corner, in 1854, who belonged in the same class with these, was Samuel Barlow, who died in California a few years ago. Other early settlers at Hogansburgh were Benjamin 0. Harrington, in 1828, who built a tannery there; Lemuel K. Warren, landlord in 1831, and John Connolly the same year; Alpha Burget in 1832; and Amherst K. Williams, a man of parts and prominent, in 1833. Philip Walsh had a saw mill at one time on the west side of the river. A son of Alfred. Fulton is still in trade at Hogansburgh, and another son (Louis) is a successful lawyer in New York city. Bombay is no more populous to-day than it was three-quarters of a century ago, notwithstanding a considerable part of its area is as fine farming land as there is in the county. (In 1835 it had. 1,357 inhabitants, and now has but 1,377). At the former date it was the fourth town in the county, only Chateaugay, Fort Covington and Malone being larger. In its western part the St. Regis reservation stands a bar to extension of farming or other enterprises, the original splendid forests of pine and other timber have disappeared. before the axe or fire, and the town has never enjoyed satisfactory transportation facilities. At one time small steamboats ascended the St. Regis river from the St. Lawrence to Hogansburgh, but the channel now lacks sufficient depth for even such navigation. Nor is there hardly a rowboat owned in the place. True, there is a branch of the Grand Trunk Railway through the town, but it affords access to American markets only by way of the west, the line town were understood to be largely in sympathy with the Southern cause, and I recall haviiig heard in my boyhood that a rebel flag had been raised there, which was probably not true, as later I have been told that the report originated from the fact that an irresponsible character in the town, acting only upon his own initiative and responsibility, did put out a nondescript emblem, which had quite a different significance.

The Massena Springs and Fort Covington Railroad was built by the Grand Trunk Railway through the town in 1887. It connects at the former place with the New York Central system, and at the latter with the Grand Trunk. Bombay contributed nothing but the right of way to the enterprise. Two years later, Ernest G. Reynolds, in association with the Central Vermont Railroad. built a line from Moira to Bombay Corners. At Moira it had a connection with the then Northern Adirondack (now the New York and Ottawa) Railroad and with the Ogdensburg and Lake Champlain (now the Ogdensburg division of the Rutland Railroad). This line never did much business, and never paid. Efiort was made to sell it to the Grand Trunk, but the latter would not bu even at the value of the rails. The road was abandoned in 1896 and the rails taken up and sold. In 1891 a company was organized to build a railroad from Bombay Corners to the St. Lawrence, via Hogansburgh, but it never began operations.

Bombay ranks perhaps seventh among the towns of the county as a dairy district, and finds the industry more profitable than it used to be, for in 1843 an Eastern buyer purchased a large quantity of butter 'there at ten cents per pound, and ten years later a local operator contracted with the farmers for all of their June, July and August product at fourteen cents. A cheese factory was built by Mortimer and William Russell in 1872, which was burned three or four years later. In 1875 the farmers of the vicinity united to build a creamery, which Thomas A. Sears bought and enlarged, and in 1892 sold to William McKenna, who bought also and operated the Clark & Ross creamery at Dog Hollow. These two establishments are now owned by the Franklin 'County Condensar Company of Bangor, and the milk received at 'them is shipped to Fort Covingtou. Another co-operative creamery was located between Bombay and Hogansburgh, but friction between its patrons led to its sale to Bradley & Monaghan. Work in it has ceased, and the building is to be torn down. There is also a creamery at Hogansbnrgh, built by Henry Bowker, sold after his death to Michael Crowlev, and now owned and operated by Benjamin & Totman running into Canada six or eight miles to the east, and there is no competition.

The town has three small hamlets - Bombay, Hagansburgh and South Bombay. Bombay has a population of possibly five hundred. It has six stores, two churches, a town hail, a school employing five teachers, a railway station, the manufacturing establishment of Shields Bros., a feed and grist mill, and a moving picture hall and theatre. The Bombay Grange, which owns its building and has a considerable membership, is the only public organization in the place, except those of a religious character. Shields Bros. have built up an extensive business in the manufacture of moccasins, play suits of Indian, cowboy and cowgirl costumes, and baseball, military and boy scout uniforms. They make also burned leather and burned wood goods, and deal largely in Indian-made baskets of splint and sweet grass. They employ about fifty hands in the factory itself, and nearly as many more in the salesrooms and in outside work, and a large corps of selling agents represent them in far places.

Hogansburgh claims a population of about three hundred, and. has practically no business enterprises other than mercantile, though formerly it had a large toy and basket factory, operated by Dwyer and Lantry. The St. Regis river cuts the hamlet in two, and the parts are about as separate and distinct as if miles apart. The saw mill and grist mill do oniy a small business, and of wholly a custom character. Fire has scourged the place severely upon a number of occasions, especially on the west side of the river. A fire in August, 1915, wiped out the hotel there, all but two of the stores, and several dwellings, entailing a loss estimated at forty thousand dollars. A few weeks later the basket and toy factory building, which contained an electric lighting plant also, was burned. The village is electric lighted, has four or five stores, three churches (one an Indian mission) and the Indian Industrial School for Girls, conducted by the Sisters of Mercy.

South Bombay consists only of a church, a saw mill, a grist mill, and a few scattered houses.

In July, 1849, a forest fire swept over the central part of the township, destroying forty buildings, fences, crops and bridges, and burning to death large numbers of sheep.

In 1863, in order to escape a draft, the voters of the town authorized a bond issue to provide funds for bounties to be given for volunteers, but the supervisor refused to sign the bonds. Retribution came to him the next year, when he was defeated for re-election. The people of the

Return to [ NY History ] [ History at Rays Place ] [ Rays Place ]


NY Counties - Albany - Allegany - Broome - Cayuga - Chatauqua - Chenango - Clinton - Columbia - Cortland - Dutchess - Erie - Essex - Franklin - Fulton - Genesee - Herkimer - Jefferson - Lewis - Livingston - Madison - Montgomery - Niagara - Oneida - Onondaga - Ontario - Orange - Orleans - Oswego - Putnam - Queens - Rensselaer - Richmond - Rockland - St. Lawrence - Saratoga - Schenectady - Steuben - Suffolk - Tioga - Tompkins - Tryone - Ulster - Washington - Wayne - Yates


All pages copyright 2003-2012. All items on this site are copyrighted by their author(s). These pages may be linked to but not used on another web site. Anyone may copy and use the information provided here freely for personal use only. Privacy Policy