An act of the Legislature in 1808, to become effective April 1, 1809, created the town of Dickinson from Malone.
It then included all of what is now Bangor, Brandon. Moira, Santa Clara, Altamont and Waverly and a part of Harrietstown
- a tract approximating twelve miles in width by fifty-odd miles in length, or nearly a half million acres as shown
by the assessment rolls of the towns named. When erected there was probably not a single white inhabitant in all
of this vast area outside of the townships Bangor and Moira; and its entire assessed valuation was only $267,903,
and the town tax was $661.06 - of which $175 was for wolf bounties, $360.56 for roads and bridges, and all of the
remainder, $125.50, for compensation of town officials, who worked cheap twenty years later, if not from the first.
In 1828 the commissioners of highways, the inspectors of common schools and. the fence viewers received but seventy-five
cents per day each.
Jonathan Dayton, of New Jersey, who was Speaker of the House of Representatives from 1795 to 1799, and United States
Senator from the latter year until 1805, was interested in the Macomb purchase, and in the partition of lands among
the members of the syndicate became the owner of several tracts, including Dickinson, in the western part of the
county. This township, number seven, was called Annastown, after a daughter of William Constable, but Hough attributes
the origin of the name as applied to the town to a gentleman of that name in New Jersey - a statement easily credited
in view of Mr. Dayton's own residence and his proprietorship of the township. The Dickinson in question was undoubtedly
General Philemon, who took an active part in the war of the revolution, and hazarded his ample fortune as well
as his life in the struggle to establish his country's independence. In the memorable battle of Monmouth, at the
head of the New Jersey militia, he exhibited special gallantry, was afterward a member of Congress, and died at
Trenton in. 1809. It seems a reasonable assumption that it was because of the Dayton and Dickinson association
in Congress that the former gave his friend's name to the town.
The first town meeting was held at the hamlet now known as Brushton, and it is worthy of remark that as long as
Bangor and Moira remained a part of Dickinson one or the other always furnished the supervisor, and that it was
not until 1828 that any resident within the limits of the present town ever held the ofilce.
Dickinson as now constituted. embraces oniy 27,753 assessed acres, or little more than a twentieth of its original
area, so badly has it been shorn from time to time for the formation of new towns. Its population in 1810 (when
Bangor and Moira were both included) was 411, and ten years later (with Moira still a part) only 495. In 1830,
with Moira then. set off, it had fallen to 446, but in the ensuing decade it jumped to 1,005, and practically doubled
again in the next twenty years. The greatest number of inhabitants that it ever had was 2,022 in 1875, and the
number in 1915 is 1,514, of whom 24 are aliens. At least a part of the loss here indicated was due to the partition
of the town to form Waverly in 1880, the decrease since then having been. 150.
Only a comparatively small part of Dickinson is really good farming land, while the remainder, though mostly tillable,
is rough and rocky. The surface is broken by many hills. Deer river winds tortuously across the town from east
to west a little south of the center, and, while not a large stream, has so steady a flow that at a number of points
it affords excellent power for small mills. The town is watered also by a number of brooks. An improved highway
leads from Moira southerly through Dickinson. and it also has one line of railway - built in 1883 to facilitate
lumbering operations farther south, but now a link in the New York Central system, and extending from Tupper Lake
Like all of our older towns, Dickinson was settled principally from Vermont, and the pioneers were particularly
rugged and determined men. It is apparent from the census figures already cited. that settlement was insignificant
prior to 1820, and continued small up to 1840. The first. highway traversing the town was the St. Lawrence turnpike,
which entered from the west at a point about three miles south from the Moira line, and took a diagonal course
to the extreme northeast corner at East Dickinson. The Port Kent and Hopkinton turnpike was not built until some
years later, and passed through a rougher section, south of the center of the township. Naturally, then, it was
along the St. Lawrence turnpike that the first corners located. Hough makes William Thomas from Hopkinton the ver
first. but adds that he remained for only a short time. Apparently the first permanent settlers came about 1810,
and made their abodes in the vicinity of East Dickinson. These included Jesse and Jotham Rice, Jesse and Enoch
Irish, Solomon Ross (who was a soldier in the war of 1812), and Reuben. Cady. Elder Spooner must have arrived five
or six years afterward, as he is credited with having been the leader in organizing the Christian church here in
1815, and Andrew, Colvin, Ira and Orson Potter came before 1812. Without attempting to fix definitely the years
of subsequent arrivals, it is perhaps enough, and all that it is quite safe, to say that Erastus Hutchins, Benjamin
Heath and Samuel Foster (the latter having been a Moira pioneer) were here in 1822 or 1823, and that Zina and Norman
Roys, Niah Wood, Simeon C. Harwood, Loderick Butterfield, Alexander Dawson, Samuel Niles, Jeremiah Sampson, Major
Baker, Peter, Job and Artemas Whitney, William C. and Solomon Clark, Thomas Meacham, Warren Ives, and Eben and
David. Parks must have come at about the same time or a little later; for from 1828 their names recur often in
the town records as officials. Then. these records carry somewhat later such names as Josiah Bailey, who was town
clerk for nearly half a century, George Page, Moses A. Dustin, Jonathan Saunders, Patrick Fleming, John Ramsdell,
William Mosier and Hardy, Harvey and Harrison Hazen, Danforth Briggs and Richard Parks, most of whom were as self-reliant,
resolute and capable men within their several walks of life as it ever was the good fortune of any community to
possess. Not brilliant, having only such education as their limited opportunities had permitted them to acquire,
and many of them rough and some even a bit wild at times, they were yet so sound of judgment, so practical and
so faithful and conscientious in discharging the trusts that their townsmen committed to them that Dickinson came
to be particularly respected, and. to be regarded as a model of what a well governed town should be. Descendants
of most of the pioneers still reside in Dickinson, and follow worthily in the footsteps of their forebears.
Jotham and Jesse Rice, brothers, and Zina and Norman Boys were originally all from one stock, though adopting three
separate ways of spelling the name. Edward I., a high-class man, a son of Jotham, was a lieutenant in the Civil
War. Leonard S., merchant at Brushton, and Mrs. William M. Clark of Malone and Mrs. Elliston Barse of Dickinson
are his surviving children. Willard B., formerly a merchant at Bangor, and supervisor of the town (who writes his
name "Royce"), is also a grandson of Jotham. Jesse had one son, Anson, whose daughter, Mrs. Hiram Fish,
lives at Massena. Zina and. Norman Roys, brothers, located near Dickinson Center about 1828 or 1829. Wellington,
son of Zina, moved from Dickinson to Malone a few years ago, and is now engaged in farming in the latter town.
Mrs. George Lamson of Dickinson is a daughter, and Sidney Roys of Bangor a son of Norman. Solomon Boss arrived
before 1812, as he served in a Franklin county command in the war of that period. Milton, a son, is a merchant
at Lawrenceville. Family tradition is that Andrew Potter (the father) and Colvin, Orson, Sylvester, Ira and Levi,
his sons, all came in 1817, hut I find on the payroll of Captain Rufus Tilden's company that Levi served in that
company at Fort Covington between July 8, 1812, and January 13, 1813, and. that Ira was a corporal under Captain
Tilden on the march to Plattsburgh in 1814, which would make them earlier corners by at least five years than does
the family tradition. Levi settled at West Bangor, and the hamlet was called Pottersville in his honor. Mrs. J.
V. H. Bowles of Bangor is his daughter. Ira moved from Dickinson to Fort Covington after a year or so, and Sylvester
located at Brush±on. E. H. Potter, merchant at Brushton, is the son of Colvin. Marvin, son of Orson, was
a captain in the Civil War, and two brothers were in the service with him.
Reuben Cady, who had. been a soldier in the war of 1812, and served the town as supervisor, kept a stage-line hotel
at a very early day near East Dickinson, at which town meeting was often held after 1828, and where the local militia
used to assemble occasionally for "general training." He had five sons, Orlen, Almon, Edwin A., William
and Wallace, all deceased. Edwin and William alone have descendants residing in the county. Mrs. Thomas Trumbull
of Bangor is the daughter of Edwin, and Orlen of Moira. and Clinton W., insurance agent in Malone, are sons of
William. Two other sons, Amos and Hartwell, reside in Dakota.
Samuel Foster had a hotel a short distance west of Cady's. At one time he owed Colvin Potter six dollars, which
the latter wanted to use in buying a pair of steers. Mr. Foster promised payment after the next "training
day" if the weather then should he fair, and, surely enough, he settled in midafternoon. Inasmuch as liquor
then sold at three cents a glass, we may guess how abstemious the soldiers were on such occasions. Myron Foster
of Bangor is a grandson of Samuel.
Enoch Irish served as a member of a local militia company in the war of 1812, and therefore must have been one
of the earliest settlers. He removed to the West about eighty years ago. None of his descendants are known to be
living. Jesse, a brother of Enoch, had six sons, viz., Jesse, Abel, Jonas, Fletcher, Henry and Sidney. Jesse and
Sidney are still living in Dickinson, Henry in Moira, and Fletcher in New England. Mrs. Charles Whitney of Malone
is the only descendant of Sidney now living in Franklin county. Mrs. Eldon Skiff of Dickinson is a daughter of
Thomas Meacham must have arrived at least as early as 1808, as he appears in the proceedings of the board of supervisors
of that year as having been paid fifty dollars as bounties for wolves killed. He first settled in Hopkinton, moving
afterward into what is now the town ofWaverly, and at one time lived in Dickinson on the Port Kent and Hopkinion
turnpike. In. his old age he returned to Hopkinton, and died there or just across the town line in Waverly in 1849.
He was not identified at all conspicuously with public affairs, but was notable as a hunter and trapper. His earnings
in bounties for noxious animals in the forty years of his activities must have aggregated thousands of dollars,
as his obituary, written by a townsman, states that he kept accurate account of the number of the larger animals
trapped or shot by him, and that the totals were: Wolves, 214; bears, 210; catamounts, 77; and deer, 2,550. Bounties
were payable for all of these except deer, and if we average the amount at only ten dollars each, his revenue from
this source would be over five thousand dollars. Once he trapped or shot three wolves in a single day, for which
he received one hundred and eighty dollars - the bounty at that time having been sixty dollars per head. It was
he who gave the name to Lake Meacham.
Jonathan Saunders first located with his father, Green or Greenleaf, in Moira before the war of 1812, as at the
age of sixteen years he served on one expedition in that conflict, acting as a substitute for Barnabas Barnum of
Bangor. When he began life for himself he settled in the northern part of Dickinson. He was the father of Dexter
and Julius C., deceased, and of Willard J., attorney, of Dickinson, and of Oscar of Moira. Amy Shufelt, deceased,
of Malone, Mrs. George Davidson, and Mrs. Curtis Clark, residing in Nebraska, were his daughters. Leslie M. Saunders,
lawyer, at St. Regis Falls, is a grandson.
It is doubtful if half a dozen persons now living remember Loderick Butterfield, and even his name scarcely remains
a memory in the town, though he must have been in his time a man of local importance. He was the first merchant
in Dickinson, his store having been the stand since occupied by Sumner Sweet, Abel Irish & Andrew Wood, Harrison
Barse, Aaron G. Perry, Luther Perry & Melvin Sowles, Joseph Jessmer, Ernest Tebo and Louis Peets. He was supervisor
for a number of years, beginning with 1828, and was postmaster for a long time. Eventually he went to Michigan,
where he died. One daughter married Eli Gale of Moira, and another Calostin Crooks of Bangor. A son, Hinman, died
at East Dickinson sixty years ago.
Peter Whitney, as one who knew him characterizes him, was "an oldfashioned gentleman," a man of exceptional
parts, the Methodist class leader, held many town offices, and was a natural leader of men. As with most others
of his contemporary townsmen, he had. to live without luxuries and endure hardships, but nevertheless his children
fared. far better than he himself in his boyhood, for he never had a pair of boots or shoes until old enough to
earn the money with which to buy them. He used to tell that as a child, even in the winter, he always went barefooted
to school, a mile distant from his Vermont home. Before starting he would heat large hard-wood chips, and after
running in the snow until the cold became unbearable would put down the chips and stand on them until he could
go on again. He was the father of Barney, who became one of the best known and most highly esteemed educators in
Northern New York, having been principal of Lawrenceville Academy, school commissioner for twelve years of one
of the St. Lawrence county districts, and for a long time superintendent of Ogdensburg's city schools; of Cyrus
P., now of Malone, who was school commissioner in Franklin county from 1864 to 1870, and is a surveyor, probably
more familiar with wilderness landmarks and old surveyors' lines than any one else in this section; and of Byron
A., the music dealer in Malone. Cyrus P. has been the surveyor for A. B. Parmelee & Son for more than twenty
years. Job and Artemas Whitney settled in the southern part of the town, and were only distantly related to Peter.
Simeon C. Harwood was for years town clerk and justice of the peace, and the locality of his residence is still
known as Harwood's Corners, which, by the way, suggests the entering of a protest against a practice that is becoming
too common of bestowing new locality names when a property changes ownership. A name once given to a stream, a
hill or a corners should be continued indefinitely unless some exceptionally good reason arises for changing it.
There was formerly a postoffice at Harwood's Corners, called Dickinson, with three or four farm residences close
by. Mr. Harwood finally removed to Moira, and his three sons, J. Nelson, Simeon C. and Asaph L., to Malone.
John Ramsdell came about 1825. His son, Nelson, was born in Dickinson eighty-odd years ago, and is now living with
a son at St. Regis Falls. He was a leading and consistent member of the Free Will Baptist church, for which he
served as preacher in 1865 and again about twenty-five years later. Herbert N.. and Melvin B., sons of Nelson,
represented Dickinson and Waverly respectively on the board of supervisors in 1915 and 1916, and are men of standing
and usefulness in the western part of the county. The former is in trade at Dickinson Center, and the latter at
St. Regis Falls. Fred, another son of Nelson, resides at St. Regis Falls.
There were three Hazen brothers, Hardy, Harvey and Runey, who came respectively in 1828, 1831 and 1841. Harrison,
Safford and Sumner were sons of Hardy, and George and Horace, both living in Dickinson, of Harvey, and Glenn, Dwight,
Hoilis and Holland, all of Dickinson, and Earl of Malone, grandsons. Millard, a son of Safford, resides in Dickinson,
and Reuben, another son, in Lawrence. Seward and Anson, who lived in Malone for a good many years, were sons of
Harrison. Seward now resides in Lawrence, and Anson is a merchant in Pennsylvania.
Benjamin Heath came in 1824, and established a stage-line hotel in the western part of the town. His son, Milton,
became a militia colonel, was an unsuccessful candidate for sheriff in 1842, and afterward resided for a time in
Malone, and then at Potsdam. A daughter of Benjamin married Dr. Petit, who died in the army during the Civil War,
leaving a son, Frederick, who was adopted by Colonel Heath. The Heath hotel burned in 1870.
Erastus Hutchins settled in 1822. He was the father of Claudius and Anson, both of whom served as supervisor,
and were active and influential generally in town matters. Claudius was a militia colonel, and was county clerk
from 1862 to 1868 continuing thereafter to make Malone his home. Melburn W. was the son of Claudius, and came to
be one of the best known men in the county. For years he was a justice of the peace, clerk of the board of supervisors,
surrogate's clerk, deputy county clerk, and president of the board of education of the village school district
of Malone. In 1898 he was appointed an examiner of State banks, and removed to New York - becoming the head of
the examining force. His boyhood friends will remember him as the best billiard player and the best ball player
in the county, and as surpassing them all in every form of athletic sports. He died in 1911.
Alexander Dawson was a prominent figure for a long time, and was the father of William, who was for a number of
years supervisor, a farmer and a lumberman on a large scale for his day. Alson and John were also sons of Alexander.
Guy H., a merchant at the 'Center, and respected citizen, and Alexander, a farmer, are sons of William, and Mrs.
George W. Dustin of Malone is a daughter. Homer, another son, deceased, was landlord for a time of the old ilustin
hotel at the Center. Joseph B., the present landlord there, is a son of John.
Warren Ives, accompanied by his brother, John, came from Vermont in 1829, with an ox team from Ticonderoga, having
lost one of his horses through the ice in crossing Lake Champlain, and traded the other for the oxen. They were
ten days making the journey from Ticonderoga, camping wherever night overtook them, and often their camp-fire showing
wolves prowling near. They located at first in the southern part of the town, where Warren kept a hotel for a couple
of years, and then built the first house at what is now the Center. John Thomas, a son of the old Connecticut clock-maker,
who was a cousin of the Ives brothers, came with them, or followed soon afterward, and from him the place took
the name Thomasville, by which it was so long known. Warren Ives and Mr. Thomas built the first grist mill in the
town, which was not much of a success, and after a year or two the latter and John Thomas moved on farther west.
Warren Ives remained, and attained a good deal of local prominence. He surveyed many of the town's roads, was a
lawyer, and served as supervisor for a number of years. He and Abial Chamberlain built the first sawmill at the
Center, on the site now occupied by the Orcutt lower mill, which was used exclusively for custom work, as no lumber
was then made there for market. Chamberlain was a man of eccentricities, gruff and grumpy, and liked by nobody.
He believed in witchcraft, and boys were his particular aversion - which meant, of course, that the boys delighted
in annoying him and playing tricks upon him. They would set the mill running at night, and then send him letters
suggesting that the witches had done it, and advising him to consult a fortune teller who lived in the vicinity,
and who confirmed the boys' representation, and directed that he burn the saws to exorcise the witches. He followed
the advice, and presumably spoiled the saws, whatever may have happened to the witches. Martin V. B. and H. L.
Ives of Potsdam are sons of Warren. The former has represented his district in the Assembly. Another son, Gideon
S., has been twice Lieutenant-Governor of Minnesota.
William Mosier was another of the early settlers, and had several Sons - John, James, Noble and William, all now
dead. Watson, a clergyman, but now connected with rapid transit lines and a dealer in real estate in New Jersey,
is a son of John; and Alfred Mosier and Mrs. Fred Hale of Dickinson and Judson and Elbert of Malone are children
of William, 2d.
Moses A. Dustin, a man of fine character, originally a Vermonter, had been a school teacher in Ohio for twenty
years before establishing himself in Dickinson, where he also taught. His Sons were Moses Atwood, Ezra T., William
Dana, George W. and Alonzo. The latter went West when a young man, and is supposed to have been murdered and robbed.
Communication between different parts of the country was not as easy then as it is now, and the exact facts could
never be learned with certainty. The other sons all became prominent in Dickinson, and George W. was for years
a county personage of consequence and popularity. He served in the Sixth Heavy Artillery in. the Civil War, and
afterward was connected for some time with the quartermaster department of the regular army, and for a year or
two was private secretary to Chief Bushyhead, an. Indian. He was sheriff of Franklin county from 1889 to 1892,
and afterward was in business at Brushton. Moses A., Jr., was proprietor of a hotel on the Port Kent and Hopkinton
turnpike, and then for a good many years of the house at Dickinson Center, and was a genial landlord. George W.
of Malone is a son of Moses A., Jr., and was county clerk from 1880 to 1886. He is at present in the real estate
business - one of the squarest and most estimable citizens the county ever had. Mrs. George H. Oliver and Mrs.
John H. Dullea of Malone, Mrs. Seth Johnson of Burlington, Vt., and Mrs. James H. Putnam, now living in Mississippi,
are daughters of Moses A., Jr., and E. Dana Dustin, now in New York city, and Mrs. Aloney Rust of Malone, Mrs.
James Moore of Oneida, and Nita F. Dustin, a teacher at Batavia, are children of George W., 1st.
William C. and Solomon Clark came about 1840. William M. of Malone is a son of the former, and George C., the fruit
dealer, and Mrs. Ira Haskell are grandchildren. Harlan P. and Melvin B. of Brushton are sons of Solomon, and Mrs.
John W. Genaway of Malone a granddaughter.
George Page was the father of Homer, deceased, and of Watson. The latter is distinguished for having a personality
that enabled him whenever a candidate for office as a Democrat to carry a town which was good ordinarily for two
or three hundred Republican majority. He lived for a number of years at St. Regis Falls. George S. and Burt of
Dickinson and Robert of Tupper Lake are sons of Homer. Another son, Edwin, lives in Missouri.
Eldred taker, popularly known as Major Baker, came about 1840. I think that he had lived previously in Bangor or
Brandon. He kept a hotel on the Port Kent and Hopkinton turnpike for a dozen or fifteen years, about a mile east
of its intersection with the road leading from Dickinson Center to St. Regis Falls. During this period there was
a good deal of teaming past this hotel, the produce of the region which was shipped out going mostly by this route
to Black Brook, and the supplies that were brought in all coming over the same road from Lake Champlain. Mr. Baker
removed about 1854 to Dickinson Center, and there kept the hotel, the American House, which used to stand near
where the Orcutt store and office now is. He had several children, all of whom except two are now dead. These reside
in California. Harrison G. Baker, who at one time had a hotel at Brandon, and was well known throughout the western
part of the county, was a son of Eldred.
Denison S. Smith came with his parents to Hopkinton in 1833, and for years thereafter his life was full of hardship
and privation - his clothes in winter being wholly of cotton, and work in the woods even in childhood being required
of him. Indeed, his people were so poor that the boy's shoes were made by his father from old boot legs, and his
stockings from shreds of wool picked up a bit at a time from bushes and fence corners where a neighbor's sheep
had shed it, and cleansed, carded by hand and spun and k-nit by his mother. Even his summer hats were braided by
his mother winter evenings from straw gathered by her at harvest time. Mr. Smith's years from about 1843 to 1852
were spent in New England and in California. The story of his life during this period was graphically written by
himself, and is intensely interesting, but as it does not bear at all upon Franklin county only very brief extracts
from it are given. His trip from New York to California - by sea to a Texan port, thence overland into and across
Mexico, and thence by boat to San Francisco -was crowded with hardship and thrilling adventure. He reached San
Francisco with barely sixty-two cents of his money remaining, hut finally managed to journey to the mines, where
the cost of living was incredibly high - meals of the most ordinary sort two dollars each, and sleeping accommodations
proportionately dear. Flour sold at a dollar and a quarter per pound (equivalent to two hundred and forty-five
dollars per barrel), and most other eatables at a dollar per pound. At one time when suffering with scurvy, and
vegetables being necessary to save his life, Mr. Smith paid half a dollar apiece for a half bushel of onions not
larger than English walnuts. Cigars sold at twenty-five cents each, and drinks at one dollar. Mr. Smith did some
prospecting for gold, hut for most of the time worked for wages at whatever he could find to do. He returned home
in 1852, and soon afterward took up his residence in Dickinson, where he lived respected and usefully until his
death, a year or two ago. He held various town offices, and during the Civil War was enrolling officer for the
town of Dickinson, preparatory for a draft, under Colonel S. C. F. Thorndike, and afterward was deputy provost
marshal. Later he was assistant United. States assessor of internal revenue under U. D. Meeker. Before this he
had been a deputy sheriff, and as such was assigned to pass the last night of the life of Madison Bickford (who
had shot Secor in the town of Franklin, as told in Chapter XVI) in the cell with him against a possible attempt
at suicide by the prisoner. Bickford had left a prayer meeting in Dickinson to follow Secor and murder him. Mr.
Smith speaks of Bickford, who was only nineteen years of age, as "a young man of more than ordinary ability,
and. a favorite with the young people." Bickford visited pleasantly with Mr. Smith until two o'clock in the
morning, saying, among other things, that he would not change his fate for ten years in prison, and then slept
soundly until morning. At Bickford's funeral, held in Dickinson, the officiating clergyman declared that he had
died a martyr, and Bickford's father characterized the execution as "Franklin county's murder." Justus
D. Smith of Dickinson is Denison's only child. He was for twenty years the private secretary of William H. Russell,
of New York, who built a Swiss chalet on the Zina Roys brook in Dickinson for a slimmer home.
David and Ebenezer Parks, brothers, and Rev. Richard Parks, Sylvanus Niles, Patrick Fleming and Jeremiah J.
Sampson were all an. excellent type of citizens. The Parks brothers were comparatively early arrivals. Ebenezer
had a son and a daughter, but the family is now extinct, while David's descendants are numerous. He had six Sons
and three daughters, of whom John, William, Mrs. John McNeil and Mrs. Silas Crocker are dead - all leaving children
By John, Fred, Walter, Hazel and Newton, the latter of whom lives at Utica; by William, Joseph and Earl, of Worcester,
Mass., and Sadie; by Mrs. Orocker, Edith Wylie of Boston; by Mrs. McNeil, Mrs. Ernest LaBounty and Mrs. Roy Harris
of Montpelier, Vt. Descendants of the others named are: Of Frank, Claude, Leo, Vernon, Anna and Lenna; of George,
Kyle and Daniel; of Thomas, Edward, Howard, Beatrice, Nellie, Bessie of Carthage, Grace of Newton Falls, and William
and Burt of rIupper Lake; of Ira, John of Dickinson, and Mrs. A. S. Smith of Saranac Lake. All live at St. Regis
Falls except as otherwise noted.
Rev. Richard Parks was of another family, and did not come to Dickinson until about 1860, when he was called to
the pastorate of the Free Will Baptist church, which, first and last, he served faithfully and acceptably for a
good many years. He preached also in Burke and at a number of other places in Franklin and St. Lawrence counties,
and was everywhere esteemed. a high-class man. He had three sons, George and Nelson, both dead, and Ovett, who
resides in the West. Ovett E., now living in Potsdam, and Frank, a teacher in the school at Dickinson Center, are
sons of George. Nelson had no children.
Mr. Niles came about 1838, and was a blacksmith for fifty years. A sister was the wife of Denison S. Smith, and
Samuel is a half brother, still living in Dickinson. Sylvanus's sons were Noble, Jay and Sylvester, all now residing
in Dickinson, and his daughters were Nrs. Almeda Spears, living in Essex county, Mrs. Cora Winters of Dickinson,
and Mrs. Nettie Day of Lake Ozonia.
Patrick Fleming was of the highest character, and remarkably capable. He was town clerk for a number of years,
and two or three times supervisor. He kept the first store at Dickinson Center. His sons, Silas P. and William
Alyn, were at one time well known figures in the town. The former was in trade and also built, and for a short
time kept, a hotel, the Centennial, at Dickinson Center. He was a fun-loving, rollicking fellow, never contented
unless engaged in some prank that outraged the sense of propriety of the sober-minded. William Alyn became a lawyer,
practiced at Brushton and Malone, and removed to Minnesota, where he was elected a member of the Legislature.
Mr. Sampson located about 1850, and was a millwright. He had thirteen children, none of whom was born in Dickinson.
All are now dead except Mrs. Anna Kingley, who resides at Racine, Wis., and Esquire, who lives at Dickinson Center.
Joseph Bailey, one of the most gehial and most accommodating of men, came about 1845 or possibly a little earlier,
and was a farmer, a tanner, a shoemaker and a cooper - turning his hand also to many other things if thereby he
could help a neighbor or a friend. He was town clerk for most of the time for half a century, and served as postmaster
at Dickinson. Center during the Civil War. A daughter married John Dawson, and still lives in the town. Joseph
B. Dawson is his grandson.
A resident of a different sort was Alonzo Clark, born in 1843. At the age of forty-six, twenty years of his life
had been passed in prison, and later he served at least one more term - all for horse stealing. He seemed to have
a passion for that sort of thievery. In 1889 he was credited with having stolen no less than 120 horses, and boasted
that not one had been the property of a townsman. His operations extended all over Northern New York and through
the middle West. Upon his release from prison in 1898 he announced a reformation, and I think stole no more. But
he had no penitence, and reformed only because he was getting old and had found that stealing did not "pay."
In 1898 he claimed that he had stolen 370 horses in all. He died in 1910.
Dickinson contains no village, and only one hamlet, though there are two or three neighborhoods rather more closely
settled than the average of farming sections - each of which has its distinctive name. East Dickinson lies in the
extreme northeastern part of the town, and here there are a store, a church and a few scattered farm houses. Formerly
the place had two starch factories, one of which was burned, and the other has been converted into a feed mill.
Some four miles to the west, and on the northern border, is Alhurgh (the name indicating plainly that the people
there were originally Vermonters), and at this point there are a store, a blacksmith shop, a creamery and eight
or ten families. Years ago there was a Methodist chapel near by. Dickinson or Harwood's Corners is on the direct
road from Moira to Diekingon Center, and has a store, a creamery aiid five or six families resident in the immediate
vicinity. Dickinson Center, the hamlet referred to, is south of the center of the township. Deer river flows through
it. It contains four or five stores, two churches, a Grange hail (which used to be a Second Adventist church),
a school house and town house, a railroad station, two grist mills, two saw mills and a creamery. Its population
is between four and five hundred.
Dickinson has been the scene of two tragedies of melancholy interest. The dwelling house of Esek Hawkins burned
September 3, 1852, and Mrs. Hawkins and a daughter, aged seven years, perished in the flames. In 1865 Henry Meacham,
believing his wife unfaithful, shot her through the heart and cut her throat as she was clasping her infant child
to her breast, and then shot himself through the brain. Mrs. Meacham was a sister of Cook, the accomplice of Bickford
in the murder of Secor.
The list of those who have been merchants at Dickinson Center includes Patrick Fleming, Thomas Leonard, Theophilus
Olena. Luther Hurlhurt, Tuttle & Peck, S. P. Fleming, Tuttle & Conger, George W. Dustin, Alfred H. Olena,
S. & Lannis Wilcox, L. M. Stowe, Richard P. Lindsay, Harvey Harrington, H. G. Baker, Watson Page, George Chase
& Co., Lyndon Young, W. D. Dustin, Fred L. Conger, F. L. Curtis, B. L. Orcutt, Rev. A. F. Bigelow and C. A.
& C. E. Morehouse. Mr. Huriburt was a brother of former Congressman Calvin T. Hurlburt of Brasher, and A. H.
Olena, now a prosperous merchant in New York city, is a grandson of Jeremiah Sampson. Both were partners for a
time with George W. Dustin, ex-county clerk. Those who are at present in trade there are H. N. Ramsdell, H. H.
Briggs and Guy H. Dawson.
Hotels other than those of Reuben Cady, Samuel Foster, Benjamin Heath and Silas P. Fleming, already sufficiently
mentioned, were: One established by Warren Ives, and purchased about 1840 by Eldred Baker, on the Port Kent and
Hopkinton turnpike, about a mile east from its intersection with the highway leading from Dickinson Center to St.
Regis Falls, which was kept by him until about 1854, and from that date to about 1860 by Moses A. Dustin, Jr.;
one at Dickinson Center, next north of B. L. Orcutt & Sons' office, known as the American House (torn down
in 1882), which Henry N. Bickford, the father of James Madison, the murderer, kept for two or three years, though
he was more a pettifogger in justice's court than a landlord, and then for a number of years by Eldred Baker, and,
finally, until it burned, but not in a particularly attractive way, by a man named Cheney; and the present hotel
at Dickinson Center, the only one now in the town, which was a conversion of the office of Dr. Hiram N. Smith of
Nicholville into a tavern by Moses A. Dustin, Jr., and kept by him until his death in. 1894. It was next managed
by Steve Fosburg, then by Homer Dawson, deceased, and now by Joseph B. Dawson. The tavern on the turnpike where
Ives, Baker and Dustin presided still stands, but has not been used as a public house for half a century or more.
Of Mr. Bickford it is said that in manner and temperament he resembled the late Hon. John P. Badger, and he was
rated a man of considerable abilities. Before locating in Dickinson he had made his home in Moira.
The industries of Dickinson were never numerous nor of large importance. The local demand for manufactured products
was of course insignificant, the streams permitted no large power developments, and until about thirty years ago
all transportation had to be over poor roads, with a considerable haul to the railroad.
The original grist mill at the Center was almost directly across the river from the present Tuttle mill. It was
sold by Warren Ives in 1843 to Allen Lincoln of Fort Covington, and by him to Aipheus Conger of Moira in 1863.
Conger executed a contract of sale to E. N. Tuttle and L. M. Stowe, but before the conditions had been fulfilled
sold to Frank B. Peck of Hopkinton. While the mill was owned by Mr. Lincoln it was run by Elkanah Shaw, whose son,
Levi, was the last person tb operate it. After acquiring the property under their contract, Stowe and Tuttle built
a new mill on the opposite side of the stream, and the old mill eventually rotted down. Stowe sold. to Tuttle,
who afterward had as partners George Macomber, a.nd then William Downey. This mill is now owned and. operated.
by Everett Markham, better known, however, as Tuttle, he having been adopted by E. N. Tuttle. Upon retiring from
partnership with Tuttle, Downey built a new mill in 1907 a few rods down the stream, and continues to run it.
The town formerly had four starch factories. One at the Center was built by H. M. and Jeremiah J. Sampson about
1857, and was sold by them to Milton Heath and George B. Farrar. Rev. R. Parks and Dyer Ti. Merrill afterward operated
it, and Mark Page next owned it and ran it successfully for a long time. One at Alburgh was built by D. W. and
C. J. Lawrence and Ira Russell of Moira in 1856. H. H. Thompson of Malone bought it ten years later, and sold to
R. S. Brown and Tabor C. Meigs in 1867. It was next owned by Clark Dickinson and Thomas F. Mulholland of Bangor,
who in turn sold to Wells S. Dickinson and Fayette W. Lawrence. At East Dickinson there were two starch factories,
one of which was built by Leonard Fish, James Spooner and William Rice about 1855, sold by them in 1864 to Sumner
Sweet, bought in 1866 by R. S. Brown and Tabor C. Meigs, and by Horace A. Taylor in 1873. It still stands, but
has been converted into a feed mill by Horace Lincoln. The other, I think, was built by Charles Taylor, who sold
it in 1865 to A. G. Perry, and the latter to John V. Bowles in 1875. It burned in 1877, and was not rebuilt.
The first saw mill, as already stated, wa.s built by Warren Ives and Abial Chamberlain at the Center, practically
on the site now occupied by the lower Orcuft mill. Anson Hutchins bought it fifty years ago, and a few years later
he and L. W. Babcock ran it on an extensive scale until it burned in 1878. (Dr. Babcock removed to Minnesota, became
prominent in politics, and in 1903 was Speaker of the Assembly.) They had also a second mill up the stream, just
across the river from the present Orcutt steam mill. Benjamin T. Orcutt came to Dickinson from Massachusetts in
1875, and with his brother-in-law, William D. Dustin, operated for a time the William Dawson mill, east of the
Center. In 1879 he and Mr. Dustin bought the old Ives or Hutchins & Babcock mill property, the former soon
acquiring the latter's interest. Since then Mr. Orcutt and his sons, Fred and Harry B., have operated the mills,
doing a large business, and building up an enviable reputation as capable and straightforward men. At their lower
mill they have an electric power plant, which furnishes light to such of the people of the hamlet as choose to
At an early day Erastus Hutchins and Hardy Hazen built and ran a small saw mill in the vicinity of Alburgh, which
Anson Hutchins afterward owned, but upon engaging in business at the Center sold to Milton Lockwood. Alexander
Dawson, the elder, and then Jonathan Saunders, had a mill a mile farther south. Still another saw mill was built
about 1857 at the Center, near where the Downey grist mill now is, by H. M. and Jeremiah Sampson. This property
was, I think, owned and worked later by Anson Hutchins, and then by Stephen Dow and George L. Parks, J. W. Webb,
and finally by Webb and. Willard E. Seaver as a tub factory. Yet another saw mill was run by John and Alson Dawson
on the Zina Roys brook, at about the point where Fairladies, the show place of the town (a summer home built of
stone by Mrs. Kobbe, of New York, at great cost) is located. There was also a steam saw mill at East Dickinson
in the Bowles starch factory. The William Dawson mill, above referred to, was originally called the King mill,
and the timber tract and water privilege were acquired by Mr. Dawson about 1870. It shifted ownership between Mr.
Dawson and Albert Tebo two or three times, and was as often burned. It is now out of existence. There was also
a small saw mill near Barnes Corners, in the same neighborhood as the Dawson mill, built by Rodney Tyler, and owned
at one time by 0. W. and E. B. Bean. Nothing definite can be ascertained about the man King who first had a mill
in this locality. The mill itself had disappeared seventy years ago or more.
Dickinson had a tannery as early as 1835 and two in 1845, both small of course. The first of these was on the farm
now owned by Howard Davidson, and was operated by a man named Bishop Kingsley. The second was Josiah Bailey's,
and was near the Briggs drug store, on the north side of the river.
In 1887 Dickinson Center was led into the hope that it was to be given an industry which would contribute largely
to its growth and prosperity. Rev. C. A. Morehouse was at the time pastor of the Free Will Baptist Church, had
strong inclinations toward business undertakings, and had engaged with a brother in a mercantile venture there.
He then proposed to establish a chair factory which should give employment to eighty or a hundred men, obtained
the promise of financial backing by a Chenango county man, and was pledged four thousand dollars as a bonus by
the citizens of the town. Something like half of this bonus was actually paid over to him, but the remaining subscribers
insisted upon seeing the factory in operation, or at least fully equipped with the special machinery required,
before "making good" on their subscriptions. To this demand Mr. Morehouse pleaded that it was necessary
that he have the money that had been promised if he were to go on with the enterprise. A building was actually
erected and equipped as a saw mill, but the chair machinery was never supplied. As a saw mill the establishment
employed from ten to fifteen men, but was not a success under Mr. Morehouse. In 1892 Benjamin L. Orcutt bought
the property, and operated it in turning out hard-wood flooring and butter tubs until it burned in 1897.
The Christian church at East Dickinson was the first religious organization in the town, and was formed mainly
through the efforts of Elder James Spooner. with the co-operation of Jesse and Jotham Rice, Samuel Foster and Reuben
Cady. The date of organization is given as 1815. For a good many years it was a thriving body, but for nearly or
quite half a century now it has been inactive, and without a regular pastor. Its records are understood to have
been destroyed by fire a few years ago. The church edifice was erected in 1861.*
The second church organized was the Free Will Baptist, at Dickinson Center, in 1835, with Elder Charles Bowles
presiding, John Ramsdell first deacon, and Jesse Rice clerk. The records are complete from the date of organization
to the present, and the minutes of the early church meetings are extremely interesting in parts - particularly
where they reveal the watchfulness that the church undertook to exercise over the dai]y walk and conduct of individual
members. Any member was free not merely to complain of another, but apparently was expected to do it if cognizant
of any impropriety. Thus at meeting after meeting charges appear to have been threshed out, first against one offender,
and then against another. Upon one occasion the pastor himself was formally charged with falsehood, hut was exonerated.
Other delinquencies alleged were that the accused had failed to attend meetings regularly; had been guilty of improper
home conduct in having failed to he considerate and gentle with wife or children; had been quarre]sorne with neighbors;
had indulged in intemperate language or the use of "hard expressions"; had shown stubbornness; or even
had used ardent liquors; in a word, one had to walk with the utmost circumspection if he would escape rebuke and
discipline at the hands of the church. Such inquisitorial methods would not be tolerated to-day for an instant.
One resolution adopted. by the church provided that a member absenting himself from three consecutive meetings
should be considered "as no more of us," and another pledged abstention from intoxicating liquor except
upon a physician's prescription, and even then to use it "only for the glory of God." In 1S60 the society
determined to proceed to the erection of a house of worship, which was completed in. 1861 or 1862. The timber used
in its construction was given by Mr. Pierrepont, the then owner of such lands in the township as had not been sold
to settlers. Mr. Pierrepont gave the bell also. Seemingly there has always been a strong interest in the church
upon the part of its members, and it is seldom that it has been without a pastor for any considerable length of
time. Its membership is about one hundred, though not all are now resident in the town. Within a year or two it
has affiliated with the St. Lawrence Baptist Association, which is composed for the most part of regular Baptist
societies, the differences between which and the Free Will Baptists are in this day not wide. The former are Calvinists
and the latter Arminians. Then, too, the Baptists were formerly understood to be close-communionists, while the
Free Will Baptists have always been open-communionists - which distinction has now, however, been practically wiped
out. But since I am not expounding theology, but only telling a story, enough on this point.
A few words about Elder Charles Bowles, who organized the church, will not be uninteresting. A biographer says
that he was the son of a full-blooded negro who was a servant and of a daughter of Colonel Daniel Morgan of Virginia,
whose rangers in the revolutionary war were pronounced by General Burgoyne to be the finest regiment in the world,
and who was the hero of the brilliant victory by American arms at the battle of the Cowpens. rihe claimed descent
from Colonel Morgan is, however, erroneous, as that gentleman was not born until 1736, while Mr. Bowles was born
at Boston m 1761. He served throughout the revolutionary war as a soldier in the American army. A few years after
the war, all uneducated, and incapable of debating or expounding doctrine, but wonderfully familiar with the Bible,
fervent in faith, and moving in exhortation and in prayer, he became a Free Will Baptist exhorter, and then an
elder. For more than thirty years his field of work was in Vermont, and in 1835 was induced by his son, a Congregational
clergyman, to remove to Northern New York. His first work in this section, apart from stirring religious life among
the woodsmen with whom he came in contact on his way, was in Dickinson. Then he preached in Moira, in Hopkinton,
in Lawrence, in Malone, and in Constable - in school houses, in homes, in groves - wherever he could gather an
audience. He was full six feet in height, had a deep, heavy voice, and possessed a good deal of magnetism as a
speaker. He became blind, or nearly so. His last days were passed in Malone with a Mr. Fuller, in the northern.
part of the town, where he died in 1843. He is buried in Constable.
The Mormons began a proselyting campaign in Dickinson in. 1843. Joseph Smith, to whom the Book of Mormon was revealed,
and Apostle Joseph Meacham were relatives of the Dickinson Meachams, and it was doubtless this relationship that
directed the movement to this locality. The Mormon meetings were held in the old red school house on the road leading
from Nicholville to Dickinson Center, and occasioned a good deal of criticism and excitement. A number of converts
were made both among Dickinson and Hopkinton people, and these were persuaded to journey in. ox carts from the
locality to Nauvoo, Ill., which was then the Mormon headquarters. The glamour soon wore off with most of the proselytes,
however, and many would have returned gladly if they could. Report has it that the hierarchy was not disposed to
object seriously to the withdrawal of men, but that it held to the women with an iron grip. One man is said to
have attempted to steal away with his family, and to have been shot. Samuel Meacham did return, but came alone,
and always thereafter was a desolate and broken man, mourning for the family that remained at Nauvoo.
Definite information relative to the organization of the Baptist church at Alburgh is unobtainable, as the records
of the society can not be located. The proceedings of the St. Lawrence Baptist Association for 1848 show that it
was in existence in that year, but without giving any particulars regarding it. In 1853 these proceedings credit
it with twenty-nine members, and from this time until 1865 it appears to have had a pastor with the exception o.
three years, though sometimes in conjunction with Nicholville. Its own report to the association in 1857 declares
itself a small, weak body, and the largest membership it ever listed was thirty-five in 1864, from which time until
it was dropped from the association in 1873 it never had a pastor except in 1868. In 1877 the association advised
that it become a branch of the Lawrenceville church, or that its members individually unite with that society,
sell its church edifice and give the proceeds to Burke. In 1878 it reported that it was ready to deed its church
building to Lawrenceyule, but so far as the records in the county clerk's office show the transfer was never made.
The church was built or begun in 1860. Local understanding is that all of the people of the district, regardless
of denominational associations, were contributors to the fund, and the present impression of most of them is that
the building was to be for union services. The title, however, is in the Baptist organization.
In the cemetery across the road is a grave at which stands a tombstone inscribed with the name of Peter Demo, January
16, 1859, as the date of his death and 112 years his age. An old resident who remembers Demo well tells me that
he lived in Dickinson a number of years, and that it was known to a certainty that he was at least as old as the
stone represents, and was confidently believed to be older. He claimed to have been a soldier in Montcalm's command
when Wolfe wrested Quebec from the French in 1759, and afterward a trapper for the Hudson Bay Company. Doubtless
it was upon the reckoning that he could not have served as a soldier at an earlier age than twelve years that belief
in. his having been at least 112 years old was predicated.
The first recognition of Dickinson in the Methodist conference records was in 1851, when it was made a mission,
and Rev. J. Delarme assigned to it. It is presumable, however, that the place had earlier, though probably infrequent,
Methodist ministration, as Parishville had been the center of a circuit at least a quarter of a century before,
and "riders" from there had doubtless covered this territory. Potsdam is understood to have been the
parent charge. After Dickinson's organization as a mission it was at times subsidiary to Nicholville. Later it
was joined for a time with Duane, the two constituting a single parish, and in. 1887 St. Regis Falls was annexed.
The church building at Dickinson Center was erected in 1872, services having been held prior to that date in the
homes of members, at school houses and at the town house. Even before Dickinson was made a mission the St. Lawrence
French mission had been created by the conference (in 1849), and was continued for nearly twenty years. This mission
had stations at a number of points in Franklin and St. Lawrence counties, the movement having been designed with
the intent of attracting people of French nativity in this section to the Methodist denomination. The headquarters
of the mission for both counties was a short distance south of Alburgh, where there was a considerable French Protestant
population, and where a chapel was built in 1854 at a cost of four hundred dollars. Who served at this chapel first
I have failed to learn, but Rev. James Delarme (located at Nicholville) was assigned to it in 1851, and Rev. Michael
Taylor followed in 1854. Then Rev. A. Leclair was in charge for eight years. Rev. Allen Miller, Rev. Mr. Shaw and
Rev. A. F. Bigelow also preached there. The chapel was finally sold and converted into a dwelling house. As such
it is still in existence.
A Seventh Day Adventist church at the Center was incorporated in 1895, and a church edifice erected. The movement
originated in a visit to the place by propagandists of the faith, who held a series of tent meetings, and aroused
an interest which continued for a few years; but gradually the membership fell away, the society ceased to be active,
and the building and lot were sold for five hundred dollars.
There are no civic or other organizations in Dickinson with the exception of Adirondack Grange, Patrons of Husbandry,
No. 1,019, which has a membership of one hundred and twelve, and owns its lodge room, which was formerly the Seventh
Day Adventist church.
Formerly there was a Grand Army post, named in honor of Daniel Robbins, who was the Methodist Episcopal pastor
at Dickinson Center at the time the 142d regiment was recruited. He enlisted in that command, and, died in the
service. The post was organized in 1886, hut surrendered its charter in 1908, when there remained in the town but
few veterans, the large majority having responded to the last roll call for final "muster out." The highest
number of members that the post ever had was forty-two, and of these only four are now living. H. G. Waste is the
sole survivor of the charter members. The original officers were: Commander, R. P. Lindsay; S. V. Com., Luther
Maxam; J. V. Com., Lyndon Young; Officer of the Day, E. E. Bates; Adjutant, S. W. Gleason; Quartermaster, William
N. Tuttle; Surgeon, William Morrill.
* The church was opened again for worship in 1916, a minister of the Holiness Movement (Rev. Philip Guiler. residing
at Moira) officiating, and the attendance at meetings being surprisingly large, and the interest marked. Mr. Guiter
held services also in the old Baptist church near Alburgh.