History of Clifton, NY


THIS is the thirtieth town erected, which was authorized by an act of the Board of Supervisors on April 21, 1868. It was taken from the town of Pierrepont, and embraces the township of Clifton and Chaumont, containing 61,930 acres. Its surface is largely forest covered, and is a popular resort for the sportsman and health-seeker. It is watered by the Oswegatchie and Grass Rivers, which with their tributaries, fed by numerous springs, are famed for trout, while Star Lake in the western part has several hotels near its shores, which are filled with guests in summer.

The first town meeting was held in a school house owned by the Clifton Iron Company, in accordance with the provision of the act, on the first Tuesday in June, 1868, and the following officers elected: Justice, Eneas Ingerson; assessor and collector, John Negus; constables, John Baker and Alexander Ellwood; poormaster, Wm. R. Bishop; inspectors of election, Walter Robb, P. H. Kennedy, and Wm. R. Bishop.

On account of a tie vote.a full board of officers was not elected, and on June 30, 1868, a meeting was held for the appointment of the remaining officers. The following justices were present at the meeting: Benjamin Smith and Wm. E. Boyd, of Russell; and Eneas Ingerson, of Clifton. They appointed the following officers: Charles C. Snell, supervisor; Hugh M. Gordon, town clerk; Charles C. Snell, Wm. D. Murray, and Chas. R. Brundage, justices; John Lalancett and Chas. R. Brundage, commissioners of highways.

The first white settlers in the town were brought in by the Clifton Iron Company in 1866, to work their iron mines The first to take up farms were Joseph Carlyle and Charles Gotham in 1866, and the first frame house was built in that year. The first saw mill was also built in that year on Grass River near the furnace, having fifty feet head and fall. The first iron furnace was built by the Clifton Iron Company in 1866, and was operated until 1870, when it was shut down on account of business depression. The operations of the company were confined largely to the production of iron from the ore which is found in large quantities on or near the surface of the ground of the magnetic character.

In the mean time a large quantity of iron was made. The company built a wooden railroad from East De Kalb to their mines, which was completed in 1865, but proved a failure. There is a small village at the furnace called Clarksboro, from which the post-office is named. The first stores were kept by H. M. Gordon (who now keeps a hotel), Hubbard & Snell, and Charles R. Thompson & Co. The first hotel was kept by Guy Dunham. The first blacksmith shop was built by the Myres Steel and Wire Company. The first physician was Dr. L. B. Baker. There has always been a good school kept most of the years since the district was organized.

The plant passed to the Clifton Mining Company, and within the past five years extensive operations have gone forward for the production of iron at what are known as Benson’s mines, from the name of the proprietors. The business has been carried on by the Magnetic Iron Ore Company. Just at the present time operations here are suspended, but it is believed they will be resumed. Around the mines a little hamlet has sprung up, which is situated on the line of the Carthage and Adirondack Railroad; this road has in 1893 passed into control of the New York Central. A post-office named “Benson’s Mines” exists, with H. E. Esler as postmaster. Charles Bellinger and the Iron Company have stores here and a hotel is kept. There are also two saw mills, operated by James Rhodes and William Humes. The only other ilamlet in the town is Clarksborough, which is a post-office. Alva Allen is postmaster and a merchant, and Charles Burt conducts a hotel. There is no organized church of any kind, but religious services are frequently held in the school house by the Methodists, and occasionally by others.

The supervisors of the town from its organization to the present, with years of service, are as follows:
Frank S. Bond, 1819; C. R. Thompson, 1870; James Sheridan, 1871—82; Charles R. Brundage, 1883—86; James Sheridan, 1888—91; Charles R. Brundage, 1892—93; James L. Humes, 1894.

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