History of Colton, NY


Local Histories

THIS was the twenty- seventh town erected by an act of the Legislature passed April 12, 1843, formerly under the jurisdiction of Parishviile, and embraces Matildaville, Granshue, Harewood and Sherwood townships, the territory extending from the southern line of the county with unvarying width to the Parisville line. In November, 1851, that part of Parishviile known as Mile Squares 1, 6, and 12, was taken from that town and annexed to Colton ; and in February, 1876, townships of Hollywood, Jamestown and Oakham were taken from the town of Hopkinton and annexed to Colton, making it the largest town in the county and embracing 220,084 acres. The first town meeting was directed to be held at the tavern nearest the post-office in Matildaviii, which act was to take effect February 1, 1844, and Paine Converse was appointed to preside at the said meeting where the following officers were elected : Supervisor, Paine Converse; town clerk, James H. Bridge ; justices, Zina Hepburn, Silas Hawley, Hiram Pierce; inspectors of election, S. Hawley, J. C. Higicy; assessors, J. C. Higley, J. S. Ellis, C. D. Norris; superintendent of schools, J. C. Higley; commissioners of highways, Israel C. Draper, Pliney Hepburn, H. Gibbiiis overseers of poor, Zina Hepburn, Hiram Pierce; constable and collector, Hiram Leonard; sealer of weights and measures, Wait Perry.

In the southern part of the town lies Cranberry Lake, into and out of which flows the Oswegatchie River. Around and near this body of water considerable improvements have been made with a view of rendering it a popular summer resort, as before explained. The Raquette River flows across the eastern part of the town. While the northern part of the town is quite well adapted to grazing, by far the largest portion is sandy, hilly arid rocky, much of it covered with forest, and very sparsely settled. Abel Brown and his son James were the first settlers in the town, corning in from Parishvilie in March, 1824; they located in the township of Matildaville about a mile above what is now the village of Colton, on the west side of the Raquette River. Asahel Lyman, from Vermont, came soon afterward and settled on the east side of the river. A little later William Bullard came in from Potsdam. Pliny Hepburn settled in the town in April, 1825, and his brother, Zina, came about the same time and located near by. He was the father of Hon. A. B. Hepburn and Hawley S. Hepburn, prominent citizens of the town. Jesse Colton Higley was another pioneer of 1824 and another was Abial Smith. Hiram Pierce came in 1826 and became prominent in the town. Paine Converse was another early settler who was prominent. Silas Hawley settled here in 1832, as a blacksmith. He was a magistrate for a number of years, supervisor and a charter member of the lodge and was buried with Masonic honors when he died, being in his ninetieth year. Ezekiel French was a pioneer at South Colton, locating on Cold Brook in 1836, Silas Wait, R. C. Miles, Simon D. Butler and Hiram Leonard were all comparatively early settlers and leaders in the affairs of the town.

The principal industries of the town at the present time are lumbering and dairying. There is one cheese and one butter factory now in operation. Other industries of the past are noticed further on.

Following is a list of the supervisors of the town from the first with the years of their service:
Paine Converse, 1844; James S. Ellis, 1845, '46 '47' James H. Bridge, 1848-49; Silas Hawley, 1850-51; L. Chamberlain, 1852-53; H. Averell, 1854-55; M. F. Collins, 1856; J. F. Bugbee, 1857, '58, '59; E. H. Butler, 1860-61; ; George T. Stuart, 1862,'63, '64, '65; William N. Jaquis, 1866-67 ; E. H. Butler, 1868, '69, '70; Silas Hawley, 1871-72; C. B. Fisher, 1873-70. 1877-82, Morell D. Beckwith; 1883-84, Joseph A. Ayres; 1885-86, James Spears; 1887-88, Frank F. Flint; 1889-93, Morris B. Hawley; 1893-94, C. P. Ferris.

Colton Village.- This thriving little place is situated on the Raquette River ten miles south of Potsdani, in the northwest corner of the town, in which vicinity many of the early settlers mentioned located. The river has a fall of about sixty feet at this point in forty rods and is said to have 200 feet within a mile, supplying excellent water power. James Brown built the first frame house here at the west end of the bridge; Hiram Pierce built the second one on the opposite side of the river. In 1825 Horace Garfield; from Potsdam, purchased the land at the Falls on the west side of the river, laid it out into lots and built a saw mill. In 1828 Jonathan Culver erected the first grist mill, which long ago disappeared. Samuel Partridge, also from Potsdam, built a forge at the head of the falls in 1828, with two fires. Hiram Pierce purchased it in 1829, and it was operated until 1840, chiefly in the production of bar iron from magnetic ore. In 1844 Mr. Pierce started the first potato starch factory in the State, which he operated a few years, producing about thirty tons annually. Another factory was started about 1875 by non-residents. The business has been abandoned. With the opening of the Northern Railroad active development of the lumber interest began. In 1850 a gang mill with seventy saws was built on the east bank of the river, and two years later a similar one was started on the west side; the latter was burned and the former long ago stopped. In 1852 a gang mill was built two miles above the village; this is also abandoned. The lumbering business finally decreased largely on account of the long distance which the manufactured lumber had to be hauled. A large tanning interest was established by Col. _____ Hall, who built one of the largest tanneries then in the State, with a capacity of 40,000 hides of sole leather per year: It was successfully carried on for some years, but finally passed into the hands of a receiver for the benefit of creditors. The second grist mill erected has been operated by D. J. Richards, and burned in the winter of 1892-93. It is to be rebuilt. A veneer mill has been in operation some ten years and is now in the hands of Mrs. S. D. Goodwin. In the spring of the present year (1893) the Raquette River Pulp Company started a pulp mill with a capacity of thirty tons daily, which promises to add materially to the productions of the town. M. B. Hawley carries on the manufacture of furniture, which he has done for the past thirty years. He was a supervisor of the town and a son of one of the early settlers. George Bicknell operates a saw mill on the west side of the river.

There has always been considerable mercantile business done at Colton and many different persons have been engaged in the business. At the present time E. H. Harvey, S. J. Hosley, Spears Bros., Frederick Wilson, L. S. Currier, Frank Potter, William Eacutt, Olmstead & Co., and M. B. Hawley sell the various kinds of goods and provisions needed. Pliny V. Hepburn is postmaster.

South Colton.- This is a hamlet situated about five miles above Colton village on the Raquette River. The village site was first purchased by Christopher Ripley. In 1837 Edward Crary, from Pierrepont, built the first saw mill. Nelson Gurley was the first school teacher about 1841, and J. C. & J. Irish built and kept the first store, in which was located the post-office, with Thomas Magary as postmaster. Scott S. Irish is the present postmaster, and also keeps one of the stores. Other stores are conducted by Henry Close, L. L. Robinson, W. J. Horton, L. L. Mattie. and George Snell. There are now two saw mills at South Colton, one on each side of the river, Irish Delosh operating the one on the west side, and Lindsay & Young on the east side, Another mill about three miles above is operated by J. W. Bruce.


The first religious meetings held in town is said to be by the "Christian" sect at the house of Ashel Lyman. At an early day a Mormon missionary held meetings in the town and baptized several converts.

The first church organized at Colton was a Universalist, in December, 1851, with Alonzo Squires, E. H. Butler, and J. S. Ellis, trustees. In 1852 the society built a church, but its numbers decreased and services were discontinued and the building sold.

About the year 1852 a Methodist society was formed, and in that year a house of worship was erected, costing about $2,000, in connection with the Parishville circuit. In July, 1856, the two separated, when the membership was about seventy. Rev, Alfred E. Page is the present pastor. The membership is 116. A Methodist society was organized some years ago at South Colton, and a building was erected as a Union church. Services are now held there by Mr. Page.

The Baptist church at Colton was organized in February, 1860, with J. H. Dorothy. Abel Turney, and J. Reynolds, Jr., trustees, and fifteen members. A church edifice was built in 1870 at a cost of $2,500. The society is practically out of existence.

St. Patrick's Roman Catholic church was organized with 144 members in October, 1864. The society purchased the church of the Universalists, arid since that tithe has grown in prosperity. The present priest in charge is Father Plunkett.

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