History of Crown Point, New York (Part 1)
FROM:HISTORY OF ESSEX COUNTY
EDITED BY: H. P. SMITH
PUBLISHED BY D. MASON & CO. PUBLISHERS, SYRACUSE, NY 1885



CHAPTER XXVII.

THE territory within the limits of Essex county was originally a part of Albany county formed in 1683 and then embracing all the northeastern part of the State. Albany county was divided in 1772 and the northern section, embracing both sides of Lake Champlain, was organized into a new county and named Charlotte. In 1784 the name of Charlotte county was changed to Washington and the subsequent settlement of the Vermont controversy (1791) limited its territory in the Champlain Valley to the western side of the lake. In 1788 Clinton county was formed from Washington, and embraced the territory which now constitutes the counties of Essex, Clinton and the eastern portion of Franklin. This large county was divided into four towns, Champlain, Plattsburg, Crown Point and Willsborough; these towns were formed at the same time of the organization of Clinton county. Essex county was formed from Clinton on the 1st of March, 1799; its boundaries have not since been changed except the taking off of a corner in the formation of Franklin county in 1808. When Essex county was formed it comprised the town of Crown Point, as then constituted, and the greater part of Willisborough as then constituted; the latter town then embraced three of the present towns of Clinton county. Crown Point being, therefore, the oldest town in Essex county (aside from the portion of Willsborough just mentioned), we shall give it the first place in the succession of town histories, following with the others in chronological order as far as possible.

HISTORY OF CROWN POINT.

THE town of Crown Point was formed on the 23d of March, 1788, as a part of Clinton county, and received its name from the old French fortress situated on a point of land extending into the lake in the northeastern corner of the town. In its original limits it embraced the present town of that name, with the present towns of Ticonderoga (taken off in 1804), Moriah (1808), Westport (from Elizabethtown 1815), Elizabethtown (1798), Schroon (1804), Minerva (from Schroon 1817), Newcomb (from Minerva and Moriah 1828), North Hudson (from Moriah 1848), and a part of Keene.

Crown Point lies upon the shore of Lake Champlain southeast of the center of the county. The central part of the town is broken, the hills gradually rising into the mountainous district in the western part. A strip of nearly level, highly cultivated and productive land extends along the lake shore. The principal stream is Putnam’s creek which rises in the ponds among the mountains. In its course are numerous falls and it furnishes considerable water power at several points. The soil on the lake shore is a deep, rich, clayey loam; in the interior it is of a light character. The town abounds in rich iron ore and mining has been extensively developed. There are also beds of natural phosphate of lime, and graphite and colored marble are found in abundance and are profitably worked. About a mile and a half from the shore of the lake is a mineral spring.

The “Point,” which gives the town its name and which has formed such a conspicuous landmark in the early history of the county,’ is a beautiful and fertile peninsula formed by Buiwagga bay, which extends southward out of the lake, thus directing the head of the peninsula northward. In earlier pages of this work we have referred to the strong probability that previous to or early in the period of French occupation, a large and busy village stood upon this peninsula where to-day not even a hamlet exists. While the inference has not been clearly proven, we are warranted in the belief that previous to the French occupation the place had assumed considerable importance as a settlement and trading post between the French, English, Dutch and Indians; and it is known that an important traffic existed between the French and English possessions previous to the Revolution, the great highway for the transaction of which was Lake Champlain. In any event, it is certain that long anterior to the Revolution Crown Point was the site of a thriving village. This fact is revealed by evidences of a street extending from near the fort towards the mainland and sidewalks which still exist. Ruins of cellars on each side of this street are also visible, in such proximity to each other as to indicate close settlement; while the narrowness of the street strongly suggests similar avenues in ancient French-Canadian villages. Along the margin of the bay "the ground has," in the opinion of Mr. Watson, “been graded and formed into an artificial slope,” and the shores improved for the landing of bateaux and canoes. Fragments of walls and fruit trees indicating inclosed gardens and orchards are still to be seen. Plum trees of varieties now rare except in Canada, still bear fruit from year to year. During the French occupation large tracts of land were cleared between Crown Point and Ticonderoga, which has since largely grown up with a second forest; and traces of buildings, of burial grounds (one near the garrison and one about three miles south), and other less prominent indications, point unmistakably to the conclusion that this region was once numerously populated. Mr. Watson has recorded the fact that “Nathan Beaman, the youthful guide of Ethan Allen, informed Mr. Sheldon that he recollected several stores transacting business at Crown Point previous to 1775.” Rogers, the ranger, refers in his journal to the growing crops on the fields of Crown Point and to settlements on the east side of the lake,’ here not much more than one-fourth of a mile wide, one of which was two miles from the fort, and speaks of the presence of “three hundred men, chiefly inhabitants of the adjacent villages.” He also alludes to the firing of the village itself at Crown Point.

The ruins of the fortifications at Crown Point, as well as at Ticonderoga, still indicate their former strength and magnitude. At Crown Point indistinct landmarks are left of the original fortress of St. Frederic, while the remains of the magnificent works erected at so much expense by Amherst are in such a state of preservation that the fort might be restored in its original form. The form of the extensive stone barracks which enclosed the esplanade is distinguishable, although one side has been demolished and another partially removed, a desecration that was carried on for the purpose of transporting the building materials elsewhere. The walls of two of the barracks, 192 and 216 feet in length respectively, still stand bare, roofless, without floors, their beams charred by fire, mutely attesting their former greatness. The whole circuit, measuring along the line of the original ramparts, was a little less than half a mile. Around the ramparts was a broad ditch cut in the solid limestone, from which the massive barracks were constructed. A well was dug also in the solid rock within the inclosure to a depth of ninety feet, with a diameter of about ñfteen feet. The interesting ruins of this historic fortress are now saved from further destruction by the purchase of the site of the ruins by the State. The Crown Point Iron Company owns the adjoining lands and holds a lease of the State’s purchase, but the ruined fort cannot be further molested.

To-day portions of the cleared and improved tract on the “Point” which awaited the triumph of the Americans in the Revolution, are forest-covered again and give little outward indication to the casual observer, that cultivated crops and orchards smiled upon the producers more than a hundred years ago; that a thickly-settled community dwelt where now but a few isolated farmhouses stand, to be driven away and their possessions left to return to their original wildness by the devastating hand of war.

The military and other history of this town has already been fully detailed in these pages - history that will forever present. Crown Point as one of the most prominent landmarks in the continued struggles that ended only when freedom and independence were secured for America. With the end of the Revolutionary struggle emigration followed quickly in the wake of peace, and the Champlain Valley was among the first destined localities to feel its beneficent influence. The embarrassments caused by conflicting land claims were largely ended; Gilliland's colony to the north, although its fortunes as far as he was concerned were about to decline, had become numerous and prosperous; the natural attractiveness of the region could not be excelled, and therefore a hardy and industrious population came up from the northward or crossed the lake from the east and made permanent settlements which formed the foundation of the present prosperity of this and other towns.

The first town meeting of Crown Point was held in December, 1788. At that time, when a town often embraced more territory than now constitutes many counties, the local offices were filled by methods different from those that prevail at the present time. It was commonly admitted that the town officers should be appointed to the various prominent settlements. These localtities held primary meetings at which persons were designated for the specified offices which the respective localities were entitled to. These nominations were sent to the general town meeting, where they were, as a rule, confirmed. The general election occupied three days. A half day from the first two days the polls were opened at four different points, and the third day at some central or more populous settlement. When a town was twenty or thirty miles in extent, this method facilitated the election and was, indeed, about the only one by which it could be hoped the people at large would be fully represented. In the little history of Crown Point published by Samuel S. Spaulding in 1873, he says, under date of 1806: "I remember well when the sheriff brought a ballot box and some votes to my father and told him that he was appointed, with Samuel Foot and Alexander McKenzie, to travel the regions of Crown Point all over and collect every legal vote that could be found in town, and to meet at McKenzie's on a set day and count them, etc. This was accordingly done, and forty-four votes were all that could be obtained."

The settlers that came in, not only to this town but throughout the county, were almost wholly of New England origin. In this growing population was sufficient of the leaven of intelligence and morality to lay the foundations of the later high social standard of the various communities. At the same time there came in, as is always the case in new settlements, a large element of discord, dissipation and immorality of one kind or another. This element was increased and rendered more active through the baneful influences of the Revolutionary War, and the state of society was for a few years deplorable; there was little restraints of government upon the naturally lawless and in too many cases, might was considered right. Of this state of society Mr. C. Fenton observed to Mr. Watson, as recorded in his work on this county, "When an individual wished to secure a piece of land, he erected upon it a cabin, and repelled others by physical force; if unsuccessful or absent, his cabin was prostrated, and the last aggressor took possession of the coveted premises arid claimed the title. The parties with their partisans and a supply of whisky met on the soil and 'tried their wager of battle.' The victor maintained the possession." The venerable S. L. Herrick, now of Iowa, writing in 1883 of the town half a century previous, said: "I learned that- there was a very good reason why there should be a lack of improvement on farms in some portions of the town. The right of soil could not be obtained. People bought and sold merely the possession. Large sections were owned by persons or their heirs in England, to whom the British government had given patents before the Revolution. Their claims were good and the possessors might be driven off at any moment. When the right of soil could finally be obtained, which was after 1830, there was more encouragement to make improvement by cultivation and building."

To correct these evils an association was formed and a system adopted which required a person desiring to occupy a lot to perfect a survey of the premises and to file a transcript with the secretary of the society. The title thus established was held sacred for the purpose of that community.

Law courts were then of the .most primitive character - more or less of a burlesque upon justice. They were held as a rule in taverns, the landlord often being the justice, and the numerous petty suits born of neighborhood wrangles of no consequence except to the disputants, and of very little to them, were more influential in bringing patronage to the bar-room of the justice than in promoting the welfare of the community.

This condition of society was not at all peculiar to this town, but prevailed throughout the county; and, as we have said, there was sufficient of a better element among the earlier settlers to rapidly turn the tide in favor of order and morality and blot out the influences of the war. Industry in the clearing of the forest-covered lands increased and with it grew a spirit of frugality that was soon apparent in all of the settlements; and the good work was advanced by the early establishment of schools and religious organizations.

The author just quoted (Mr. Herrick) says: "As I go back to 1826 and call up the faces of the people as pictured on the tablet of my memory, I see but little fault in any of them. As a whole the people were kind, generous, friendly and desirous of deserving and maintaining a respectable position in society. The exceptions were so few as to render them scarcely worthy of notice. The solitary hoodlum went about as a lonely wanderer, respected by no one and despised even by himself. Such are my present impressions."

It is well known, however, that a very different social code existed in those early days relative to intemperance and the general use of spirits than prevails at the present time. Whisky was then almost universally used, not only by those without church organizations, but also by a large proportion of church members, and even in many cases by preachers themselves; and the habit was not looked upon as necessarily carrying with it that tinge of social disrespect now attaching to it. Few public occasions passed without being surrounded by the aroma of whisky; town meetings and public meetings of all kinds, "bees," as they were called, where neighbor assisted neighbor in some arduous task, "raisings" (even the raising of church frames), all were carried on amid the stimulus of ardent spirits. This state of social affairs could not but contribute to the general feeling of free license towards outlawry of one kind or another. But this general indulgence in a dangerous agent gradually passed away. Temperance organizations of various kinds sprang up and aided in the general reform. Mr. Herrick notes the announcements that Judge Murdock's only daughter would be married without the provision of wine on the occasion, and that Dr. Hale's barn would be raised without appeal to the "elevating" influence of whisky, as conspicuous events in the gradually growing determination of the community to consume less liquor.

Closely following upon the desolated farms and homes in the track of the Revolutionary War came the pioneers. The first judge of Clinton county (organized 1788) was Charles Platt, and William McAuley, so frequently mentioned in Gilliland's journal, was a side judge. Plattsburg was the county seat.

It is probable that there was but one road then leading northward from Ticonderoga to Split Rock, and that of the most primitive character. Previous to the year 1800 the interior of the town was but very little known to settlers, possibly not at all to any who subsequently located there. Hunters and trappers had reported a tract of excellent land for occupation about ten miles square and embracing Putnam's creek and its tributaries. West of this inviting section, it was said, rose the mountain peaks that overtopped the sources of the Hudson. When intelligence of the locality reached the New England States, men and their families who met for social intercourse discussed the advisability of migrating to the "promised land," just as in later years families in New York State consulted over plans of" going west." These discussions and consultations were the prime cause that started the pioneers of 1800 and subseçuent years for the western shores of Lake Champlain, a number of whom found future homes in this town. One of the first to arrive was Stephen Spaulding (father of Samuel Spaulding mentioned on a preceding page). He lived in Salisbury, Vt., and caught the "New York fever," as it was termed. With several others he started in September, 1800. to make an exploration of the interior district of Crown Point. They purposed ascending every hill or mountain until they should find one that overtopped all the rest, whence they could, like the great man of the Bible, see the land "flowing with milk and honey," and of which, unlike him, they could take possession. On the third day of their expedition, late in the afternoon, they were on the summit of Rhodes's Hill. From this eminence they obtained the fine view which they desired of the lands surrounding, with Lake Champlain and the hills of Vermont in the distance. Upon their return they pronounced the country, to use their own language, "splendid to behold."1 They returned to Vermont the next day.

In June, 1801, Mr. Spaulding, in company with Abner Newton and Soloomon Chase, returned to "the wilds of Crowh Point," built a woods camp and worked together until they had cleared each a fallow of about three acres, when they again returned to their homes. In September they again crossed the lake to their clearings. By this time a few others had followed in the track of the pioneers and made similar clearings. All now united their labors, burned off their fallows and soon had each his log cabin ready for the reception of his family.

In the following February Mr. Spaulding moved his family, then consisting of himself, his wife and three children, the youngest, Samuel, being but two months old. From that time emigration to the town was quite continuous and rapid, and with the lapse of two years about forty families had located in the interior of the town. These lands had not then, as far as known to the settlers, been surveyed or claimed by any one. In 1805 William Cockburn and Goldsbrow (Goldsboro?) Bangor came from Kingston, Ulster county, laid claim to the lands, surveyed them and sold them to the settlers at prices ranging from three to four dollars per acre. Mr. Spaulding writes: "My father's lot proved to be No.47 in Cockburn's patent, now (1873) owned by Edwin Floyd."

Among these first settlers were Israel Douglass, Abner Newton, Solomon Chase, John Eastman, John Sisson, Joseph Lockwood, Ephraim Towner, Daniel Bascom, Elisha Rhoades, Levi Rhoades, Wm. Barrows, Josiah Converse, Simon Hart, Abijah Nichols, Asa Nichols, Elder Lamson, Amos Lamson, Enos Lamson, Joseph Searles, John Chillis and Thomas Scott. During the same period the following families are named by Mr. Spaulding as having located in the eastern and central parts of the town: Robert Walker, Aaron Townsend, George and Alexander Trimble, the Barnetts, Murdocks and Brookses, James Morrow, Samuel Foot, Dennis Meagher, Andrew Hardy, the Heustis, Crossman, Bigelow, Drake, Davis, Rogers, Hildreth, Newell, Stanton, Strong and King families, John Renne, Elijah Grosvenor, Rodolphus Field (the first physician) and perhaps others. The point of settlement of many of these and others, will be given a little farther on.

Before the energetic labors of these men and their families forests were felled, lands cleared, buildings erected, mills built, shops started and schools and religious meetings established, and soon the new town began to take on the aspects of civilized happiness and prosperity.

Elisha Rhoades opened a small store - merely a little stock of household necessaries - in the same room in which he lived, and supplied the pioneers as well as he could. At the same time he bought ashes from all who brought them, which he manufactured into potash and exchanged again for his goods. This was a very important source of revenue for pioneers in all parts of the country; indeed it was almost the only one at a time when it was nearly impossible to get cash from any quarter or for any article. The pioneers found little difficulty in hoarding large quantities of ashes, which they were forced to make in clearing their lands and they were always marketable, for the demand for potash was constant.

The first school, an institution that has always closely followed the settlement of pioneers in a new country, was opened about this time (1805 or '6), which was also kept in the same room where Mr. Rhoades had his store and his living accommodations, and was tañght by his wife. She had five scholars, who were seated on the flat (would that we might also write the "soft") side of a pine slab in which Were stuck pieces of round limbs for legs. That was the extent of the school furniture.

When it is known that many deer roam the forests of the Adirondacks at the present day, it will readily be conceived that, when the pioneers settled Crown Point and meat was not available except at the muzzle of the hunter's gun, many famous Nimrods dwelt among the settlers, while there were few who could not amply provide for their families in this respect. Mr. Spaulding mentions one of the "mighty hunters," named Comfort Towner, "whose name is still familiar to the oldest inhabitants." He made his home with Stephen Spaulding for a year or more, and he asserted that he killed the first year more than forty deer within a mile of Mr. Spaulding's clearing. Fish were plenty, also, Putnam's creek abounding with trout. Mr. Spaulding says: "My brother Miles, who was some five years my senior, would go with the neighboring boys and take me with them. We would go about a mile from our place in a southwest direction, by the aid of marked trees, to the high falls on Put's creek, now known as Penfield's grist-mill, and fish down stream as far as Rhoades's, the distance of about a mile, and would generally capture about thirty pounds of the speckled beauties, weighing from one-fourth to one and one-half pounds each."

The military spirit engendered by the Revolutionary War was still abroad, and the people of separate localities were annually (or oftener) called on for military duty in the form of drills and practice in the manual. In 1806 the inhabitants of Crown Point, with those of Schroon, Moriah and Ticonderoga, were called for this purpose. The entire force mustered numbered less than eighty men. They went through a crude drill exercise, marching about among the stumps and brush-heaps that still encumbered the fields.

Mr. Spaulding chronicles his memory (probably in the first decade of the century) of riding with his parents from the top of "Amy Hill" to the lake, when there was but one house from that place to Hammond's Corners (Crown Point village), and not one from there to the lake; all a forest of pine until they neared the lake, when "the timber dwindled down to scrub oak bushes and small pines;" this was doubtless second growth timber.

Lake Champlain itself at that time could boast very little of its present activity. There were, perhaps, half a dozen small sloops and a few schooners, which sufficed for its entire commerce and not a "wharf or a ware-house, from Essex to Whitehall."

As early as 1807 Elisha Rhoades built a tavern and dancing hail. It still stands at "Buck Hollow" and is known as "The Old Rookery." He finished the structure in time to dedicate it with a New Year's ball. A large party assembled, coming with ox teams or on foot, and the affair was a pronounced Success. It was not exactly a modern dancing party in high society, but it sufficed just as well and was, doubtless, just as much enjoyed by the participants as are the more elaborate social events of modern days.

Almost the first necessity of the pioneer is milling facilities. The impulse given to a new community when it becomes known that grain can be ground and boards obtained near by home, can scarcely be comprehended. Therefore, it is not surprising that James Morrow, who must have been a man of enterprise, built a mill at Crown Point Center. He also established the first tavern and store there, both about the year 1800. In 1810 Allen Penfield, a young man of some means and a good deal of energy, built a grist and sawmill at what is now Ironville. To his property there he made subsequent extensive additions and retained it until his death, when he had reached the venerable age of eighty seven years. In the next year (1811) Ebenezer Hopkins built a saw and grist-mill a mile farther down the stream at Buck Hollow, as it is called. So it will be seen that the early settlers in this town were much better supplied with milling facilities than was often the case in new communities.

The people of this town were frequently agitated early in the troubles of 1812 and reports often reached them that a formidable force was on the way from Canada to devastate their homes. In September, 1814, an alarm came that stirred every heart in the town. It was in the evening, and the warning flew from house to house that the enemy were approaching and that every man who could bear arms must appear at the rendezvous the next morning. These orders were transmitted to all the settlements of the county. The gathering the next morning must have made an exciting and picturesque scene. Mr. Spaulding says: "Here were men and women of all ages and conditions, from the old frosty head of eighty winters down to the infant in its mother's arms. Here were men and women assembled together, all one common family and one common cause. Here was borrowing and lending of guns, hats, coats, boots and money-anything to help or facilitate the march. One old man named McAuley, a cripple from birth, lent his hat and coat and offered to loan his crutches!

It must, indeed, have been a motley army that started about ten o'clock for Plattsburg. For the next few days exciting rumors reached the town, and there was much anxiety. The battle was fought on Sunday, the r i th of September, and on the following Tuesday Captain Archibald Smith, of Whitehall, sailed his sloop up the lake and spread the news of the victory. Congratulations and general rejoicing succeeded, as the welcome intelligence spread over the town.

From this time on the "grizzled front of war" was not seen nor feared in Crown Point, and the inhabitants returned to their ill-paid avocations of clearing land, burning trees and making potash, or manufacturing during the winter seasons lumber, shingles, staves, brooms, baskets, etc., by the sale of which they could earn a little money or secure what was a good equivalent, household goods. Large quantities of maple sugar were made annually for many years after the settlement, and, according to Mr. Spaulding, tons of it were transported on men's backs to Vermont, where it found a market. In the same laudable desire to provide for their families and better their situations generally, many of the men made a practice for many years of going across to Vermont to help the farmers through their haying and harvesting.

About the year 1813 the inhabitants of the town derived some temporary benefit from what constituted one of the first commercial incidents on the lake. A considerable number of troops were stationed at Skenesborough (now Whitehall), and some fortunate individual conceived the idea of shipping the surplus products of the community to the encampment for sale to the soldiery. Samuel Renne then had a ferry across the lake here; a scow was hired from him by a dozen or more of the inhabitants and loaded with a cargo of potatoes, onions, squashes, melons, butter, honey, etc. The contributors to the cargo all went along, so the crew was a large one, considering the size of the boat. Blankets were hoisted for sails, and before a good breeze this early commercial venture sailed away for Whitehall about the first of October. The cargo was sold out to good advantage and all returned in safety.

At this point we will introduce the assessors' roll of the town for the year 1818, which undoubtedly gives the names of a large majority of those who permanently located here previous to that date. It is as follows, the spelling of the names being given as they appear on the records : -

Jewit Armstrong,

Abijah Chilcott,

Alexander Griswoold,

Benjamin Allen,

Thomas Cummings,

Barney Hews,

George Adkins,

Justine Chapin,

Leonard Hildreth,

Abraham Amy,

Zebade Cooper,

Benjamin B. Hustice,

Rodman Austin,

Calvin Chapman,

Timothy Huestice,

Levi Adams,

Abraham Chellis,

James Hildreth,

Seth Adkins,

Elijah Converse,

Stephen Hunter,

David Allen,

Jonas Cutter,

Ebenezer Hopkins,

John Amy,

Edmond B. Chapin,

Jeremiah Hildreth,

Obed Abbot,

John Chellis,

Wm. B. Hustice,

John Bigelow,

Josiah Converse,

Joshua Holden,

Eben Bigelow,

Amos Cole,

Joshua Holden,

Stephen Butterfield,

Amos Cram,

Jeremiah Jenks,

William L. Burrows,

Abraham Clark,

John King,

Daniel Brooks,

John Crossman,

Sylvester Kellog,

Simon Bradford,

Ira Crossman,

O. P. Kenk,

Daniel Bascom,

Eliiah Crossman,

Stephen Lamson,

James H. Barnett,

John B. Catlin,

Wm. Livingstone,

Nathan Barrit,

James Dudey,

Jesse Lyon,

Joel Boyington,

David Drake,

Horace Lamson,

Asa W. Barnett,

Joseph Drake,

James Lewis,

Lewis L. Bennet,

Elijah Davis,

Ezekiel Lamson,

Israel Burdet,

John Dibble,

Elder Lamson,

Amos Bigelow,

Hammond Davis,

Henry G. Lane,

Levi Bigelow,

David Drake,

Joseph Lockwood,

John F. Bishop,

David Drake,

Berny Magowan,

Jonathan Brooks,

Horace Dunlap,

John Magennis,

Ethan Bouge,

Daniel R. Davis,

Samuel Murdock,

John Blackman,

Willard Davis,

Joseph Meritt,

Allen Breed,

Stephen Edmund,

Robert Makenzie,

George Balou,

Joseph Fuller,

Royal Munroe,

Reuben Barrit,

Thomas Farnsaworth,.....

Susan McAlly,

Samuel Barrows,

Jesseniah Farewell,

Spaulding Miles,

Wilder Butterfield,

Samuel J. Foot,

Abner Maynard,

Jesse Burrows,

Franklin M. Foster,

Heman Maynard,

Moses Bartlet,

Aron Fuller,

Moses McIntyre,

Samuel Barker,

Samuel Foot,

Benjamin Morse,

Amos Chilcott,

Rodophus Field,

Andrew Nichols,

Charles Coburn,

John Gedding,

Wm. Newel,

Aaron Chapin,

Jonas B. Griswoold,

Wm. Nelson,

Justice Chapin,

Elijah Grosvenor,

Seth Newel,

John Chilcott,

Thomas Glidding,

Joshua Newel,

Asa Nichols,

John Rogers,

Thomas Scoot,

Zadock Nichols,

Elisha Rhoads,

Reuben Smith,

Amasa Nichols,

John Renne,

James Smith,

Aaron Nichols,

Wm. Russel,

Samuel Smith,

Rufus Nims,

Nehemiah Russel,

Thomas Turner,

Asa Nichols, 2d,

Henry Rowley,

Timothy Taft,

Albe Nichols,

Hiram Rowley,

Amos Thompson,

John Nichols,

Benjamin Reed,

Ephraim Towner,

Aaron Nichols(SugarHill) P.,.....

Nathan Simond,

Aaron Townsend,

Israel Ober,

Royal Stowel,

C. A. Trimble,

Benjamin Ober,

Samuel Shattuck,

Harvey Tuttle,

Samuel Ober,

Benjamin -Stratten,

Joseph Town,

John Ober,

Perly Seaver,

Ira Town,

Wm. Perkins,

John J. Sisson,

Silas Town,

Amaziah Phillips,

Benjamin Smith,

William Treadway,

Clark Phipin,

Asa Stowel,

James Walker,

Amos Pulcifer,

David Stowel,

Roswell Ward,

W. John Pickett,

Nathan Sprague,

E. Aaron Wheeler,

Reuben Phillips,

Joseph Searl,

Asa Wilcox,

Martin Quantemas,

John Sisson,

Phineas Wilcox,

Levi Rhoads,

Ephraim Sawyer,

Daniel Wilder,

George Reed,

Jabes Stratton,

Isaac Wilkins,

Daniel Rogers,

Isaac Scoot,

Thomas Witherbee.


The assessed valuation of the town was then $81,155 on real estate, and $20,062 on personal.

Of these men, according to the authority of Foster Breed, who came to the town in 1815 and is now one of the oldest residents, Jewit Armstrong, George Adkins, Israel and Benjamin Ober, Josiah Converse, Amos Pulcifer, Jesse Lyon, Henry G. Lane, Timothy Taft, Moses McIntyre and Benjamin Reed lived in the western part of the town. John and Eben Bigalow, Joel Boyington, Nathan Sprague, and William Treadway lived in the "Upper Hollow" and immediate vicinity. James Walker, Benjamin and Timothy Huestis (the latter still living at about ninety years of age), Abraham Clark, Asa W. Barnet (of whom Foster Breed bought his farm), Samuel Shattuck and a few others located on "Sugar Hill." Daniel Brooks, on the "Vineyard road." John Chellis in the "white meeting-house" neighborhood. Asa and David Stowell, David Drake, Aaron Fuller, William and Nehemiah Russel, Alexander Griswold, located on the road from the lake to and along Buiwagga mountain and in that immediate vicinity. Seth and Joshua Newel located near the "white meeting-house." Heman Maynard, the Lamsons, and Reuben Phillips, on the road leading to Port Henry. John and Abijah Chilcott, Samuel Murdock, and Thomas Turner on the lake road. Samuel Foote at Long Point, John and Ira Crossman on the south side of Sugar Hill, or between that eminence and the lake. Some others we have been unable to definitely locate.

General progress was the rule throughout the town until the year 1816, when the people were afflicted by what has ever since been known as "the cold summer." An event of that character might occur at the present day when the country is thickly settled and every community possesses the wealth necessary to bring to its doors by the aid of railroad and steamboat from distant localities, supplies of the necessaries of life ample to tide over any transient famine; but in those days, when everybody was living, to use a homely phrase, "from hand to mouth;" when extreme scarcity of crops in one section was aggravated by the facts that there was little money in frontier communities with which to purchase in older towns, and inadequate means of transportation from distant points, then such a season as that of 1816 meant almost if not positive starvation to many who had little or nothing laid by for time of need.

That summer was a remarkable phenomenon and its like has not been experinced in this country since. The sun seemed to give out but little of its accustomed heat; ice formed in some localities in every month of the year; flurries of snow were frequent; in this town half an inch, or more, fell on the 8th day of June; crops could not grow and ripen, except in the most favored localities, and the people felt the necessity of saving for seed in the next season. When that time arrived, starvation was near the doors of many pioneers. It is at such times that the inborn natures of men come to the surface; and while there were many instances of the noblest unselfishness on the part of those who had food, towards those who had not, there were, on the other hand, many who refused the aid it was in their power to render, except upon the most exorbitant terms. If it is asked how the people lived; the answer is, that they depended on their limited number of cows, the fish and game of the streams and forests, and the wild berries. While extreme cases of suffering were not general or numerous, wide-spread want prevailed. An interesting instance of the privations and hardships of the time has been related by the late John Ober of this town, which Mr. Spaulding gives in his own language as follows: -

"I got completely up a stump. I heard that Col. Howe, of Shoreham, had some flour to sell, I took 96 lbs., of potash in a bag, and my father took 45 lbs., in another, and we started for Shoreham 12 miles distant, about sun rise, and when we got within about three miles of Col's., my father gave out, and I took his load in addition to my own, and carried it the rest of the way, we sold our potash, bought our flour and started for home again; I had the flour of two bushels of wheat, and ten pounds of coarse flour of my own, and father had what flour his potash came to, and we had not got more than half-way home, before my father gave out again, then I took his load in addition to my own and carried it home, arriving after midnight. I tell you, the next day we were pretty tired and sore."

It was about this period that a young man left his home in Pittsford, Vt., for an extended business and prospecting tour in what was then the "far west;" but not finding in that section sufficiently attractive prospects to induce him to permanently locate there, he returned to his eastern home, which he reached in May, 1822. He had been as far west as St. Louis. This young man's name was Charles F. Hammond. He carried with him the following letter: -

"PITTSFORD, April 10th, 1817.


"To whom it may concern -
"Mr. Charles F. Hammond, the bearer hereof, a son of Hon. Thomas Hammond, esquire, etc., of a very respectable family, in affluence in this town, who is about to journey into the State of New York and elsewhere, partly on account of his health, and with a view to establish himself in business corresponding with his taste, and having been bred with us and we being personally acquainted with his reputation, feel happy in commending him as a young gentleman of good moral character, possessing a good mind and disposition and of strict integrity and worthy of the attention of the virtuous and good part of the community, and to such we are happy to recommend him as deserving all encouragement, civility and attention that a young man of such reputation justly merits. Respectfully, we are,

"GORDON NEWELL,

"AMOS KELLOGG, Justice of the Peace.

"CALEB HENDEE, JR., Justice of the Peace.

"ANDREW LEACH, Selectman

"ISAAC WHEATON, Selectman

Charles F. Hammond and his future sons were destined to exercise a mighty influence upon the fortunes of Crown Point, whither he came soon after he returned from the West. Arriving here he hired out to Colonel Job L. Howe at one dollar per day to oversee the clearing of timber land and building a dam at" the Overshot." He first camped out in a shanty, but afterwards built a log house to live in. Colonel Howe employed about fifty men, keeping a small store from which he largely paid his help in goods. A good chopper was then content to work for sixty-two and one-half cents a day, and a man with an ox team was paid only one dollar a day. Yet cotton sheeting and calico cost thirty-seven and one-half cents a yard and other goods in proportion - a vivid contrast with the wages and prices of the present day. The consequences of the prevailing figures of those days were, the people cultivated simpler tastes; they wore less sheeting, calico and other goods.

Mr. Spaulding, whose reminiscences we have often quoted, worked for Colonel Howe on his dam and thus quaintly speaks of the enterprise: "We sometimes thought the colonel rather steep in his prices, as he only had to go to Middlebury for his goods, but I suppose it was about as well as he could do by us; at any rate it was as well as we could do; there was no striking in those days for higher wages or better times, the men were glad to find a chance to work on almost any terms. It was my fortune at that time to drive an ox team for six weeks, drawing logs and timber for that dam; the colonel subsequently built several other mills which were supplied by this dam, which were in operation for several years, to his advantage and the commonwealth of Crown Point and vicinity."

The nearest road was three miles from them and they were obliged to back all of their provisions in there. When cold weather came on and the men could no longer work to advantage, Mr. Hammond returned to Pittsford declaring that he was through with Crown Point. Soon afterward he received an offer of a position as clerk in Colonel Howe's store. This store1 stood near the present "Hammond Corners:" the young man accepted the offer.

Returning to Crown Point on the 4th of December, 1822, Mr. Hammond entered into co-partnership with Job L. Howe, Eleazer Harwood and Allen Penfleld, under the firm name of C. F. Hammond & Co., for the purpose of carrying on mercantile business and for cutting and transporting lumber in the town. This was about the beginning of the active lumber trade in Crown Point In October, 1822, Mr. Hammond's father had presented him with a farm of seventy acres in Pittsford, but he had only between $300 and $400 in cash when he formed the co-partnership. The combined nominal capital was $9,000.

But there was that in the firm which was, perhaps, the very best substitute for money or land, persevering energy. The mill at the Overshot was finished and a small business begun in cutting lumber. From this grew up a great mercantile lumber and later an iron business, that for over fifty years has been the chief industry of the town and inured to its general prosperity to a degree that can scarcely be comprehended.

In a series of historical sketches written by a member of the Hammond family, he says of this period: "Before the days of railroads this section was exceptionally well situated as compared with the rest of northern New York. In a letter from his (Charles F. Hammond's) friend Judd, who lived at Massena, St. Lawrence county, dated 1832, we find the following: 'You know our local situation is such that we labor under many disadvantages." And again, a few years later, 1838: 'I expected to have been at your place during the winter with a load of grass seed, but the disturbance in Canada prevented my getting the seed.' Indeed, before the building of the Ogdensburg and Lake Champlain railroad the only outlet of that very large portion of the State was by Lake Champlain.

"Again, the dependence of another section which hardly ever visits Lake Champlain now for trade is shown by the following extract from a letter of Samuel Renne, who was at that time making a clearing in the heart of the Adirondacks:

"'LONG LAKE, June 17th, 1843.

"' I have one hand with me now, a full-blooded Indian,and a good chopper, works by the month - expect another just like him. I started for Crown Point last March with 446 pounds of trout, but a great snow storm came on so I could not get any further than Newcomb. We have not so much as one slice of pork, but we have trout and venison and venison and trout. We should like to swap a little for pork and no mistake.'

"All the back country from Long Lake out came here for trade and barter. For some time everything seemed to be in favor of the new concern and their business increased very fast, and finally in their lumber business and buying of timber land, the company purchased property that afterwards proved very rich in iron ore. After a few years Mr. Hammond was joined by his younger brother, John C., and in September, 1828, the latter bought out Colonel Howe's interest in the concern. Mr. Harwood died and in 1830 the other partners bought the interest of his heirs. The firm name thçn became Hammonds & Co., and there was no other change in its personnel until the death of John C. Hammond in January, 1858." The firm and later that of J. & T. Hammond became one of the most prominent in the county, and did more to advance the general interests of this town than any other, as will sufficiently appear further on.

One of the chief obstacles to growth and general advancement in new communities is the lack of transportation to more populous centers. Crown Point was not exempt from this situation until the construction of the Champlain Canal (described in preceding chapter on internal improvements), which was opened from near Cohoes to Whitehall in 1823; it was begun in 1818. This improvement gave not only this town, but all of this northern region, water communication from Lake Champlain to the Hudson River and developed commercial activity on the lake to a wonderful degree. The surplus produce of the town found a convenient outlet and, what was of still greater importance, placed a prospective value upon the forests of the Adirondacks and the immense deposits of iron ore by which it had already become known they were underlaid. Explorations for desirable sites for the manufacture of lumber, iron, etc., were stimulated to renewed activity.

In 1821 a prominent company was formed in this town for the prosecution of the lumber business in the mountains. It comprised the following named gentlemen: Deacon Allen Penfield, Deacon Phineas Wilcox, Deacon Ebenezer Hopkins and John Pressy, who was not a deacon. (He was a poor man in those days who could not sport at least one title, military, civil or otherwise.) They purchased a site and a quantity of pine lands on Paradox creek, at a point since known as the old Dudley mill. This point was then four miles in the forest depths. About a dozen men were employed, a site for the building was soon cleared, and in four weeks the hewn timbers were ready to "raise." Those "raisings" of olden times were events of no little importance and a source of unbounded enjoyment as well as good, practical work. As was the common custom a general invitation was sent to the inhabitants of the town and about forty assembled. The following quaint and graphic account of this raising is given in Mr. Spaulding's pamphlet, and will serve as an example of hundreds of other similar pioneer occurrences in the county: -

"They were elated with the thoughts of having something like business going on in their midst, where they could find employment near home at a specified time. About forty men turned out to raise that portion of the mill which was not finished the first day, consequently they must stay over night; well, there was enough to eat and drink; the reader must understand this occurred in days of yore, when bread was considered to be the staff of life, and whisky, life itself; when good fellows were plenty, but good templars rather scarce. The proprietors had furnished two or three large gallon jugs of whisky for the raising; it was understood that one was to be spared for the second day, the other was finished at a late hour the first night. The evening passed away pleasantly, each in turn telling stories, and singing such songs as were suitable on such an occasion, all then turned in for rest. The next morning found all on our feet, ready for a little whisky, but to our astonishment the jug was gone, whisky and all; some one had stolen and carried it away; here was a great dilemma and long faces by the dozen, everything as silent as the tomb, except the birds in the trees, which seemed to raise their notes higher than ever, and rejoice at our calamity; I suppose it was because they had no use for whisky. Still no one knew anything about the lost jug, but from some unmistakable signs suspicion rested on one of our number by the name of Parker, an old soldier; who was told very promptly to produce the jug or take the beach wythe; so he provided himself with a forked stick or mineral rod used in searching for minerals, and after lining and cross lining for some time the spot was centered and the jug found; here we were, every man, deacons and all, following the old soldier around searching in every nook for the lost treasure. There was another change, the whole company vociferously shouting, which was answered by the owls, every face as bright as the rising sun."

Samuel Buck and Abel Bailey came into the town early and began extensive lumbering operations. Mr. Bailey was son-in-law of Mr. Buck and the firm became Buck & Bailey. They bought large tracts of pine lands, built mills, and for about ten years manufactured and shipped large quantities. Hiram and Helon Buck became the owners of the property and subsequently sold out to engage in other business. Mr. Helon Buck still lives in the town.

Other individuals and firms who early engaged in lumbering in this town were Allen Breed, Ephraim Towner, M. & S. Spaulding, Wright & Pond, Wm. & H. Phelps, Jonathan Breed, and Messrs. Rhoades, Stratton and Brown, Penfield & Taft.

The Iron Interest.- Charles F. Hammond was the leading spirit in discovering and developing the iron interest of this town. He foresaw, apparently from the outset, its importance and the possibilities of turning it to profitable account. The writer of the sketches already alluded to says in quoting Mr. Hammond's own words: "I had analyses made of the ore and had it worked in a forge and the iron rolled into round and band iron, and also into nails and tested by the Peru Iron Company at Clintonville. Some of the bar iron I had made at Penfield's and some at Vergennes, Vt., where there were forges at the time. The foreman and his workmen at Clintonville said when rolling it that they never saw iron that would roll into thin 4d plate for 4d nails without cracks or fractures on the edge, before this; that their Peru iron was called the best, but it would not stand the test for strength and toughness by the side of mine. I then got out about twenty tons of the ore at great expense and trouble for the want of a road, being obliged to use oxen on a wood-shod sled to haul it to the Wooster place on bare ground, and from there I drew it to the wharf on a wagon. I shipped it to Greenbush and took it from there by rail to Stockbridge, Mass. It was there worked in a small charcoal furnace, yielding a very fine quality of pig iron. During all of the time John C. stood aloof and would not say anything in favor of what I was doing and not much against it, and finally came into the arrangement to build a furnace in 1845, after I had found and engaged a man to join us that had experience in building and running furnaces."

Such is Mr. Hammond's own account of his persevering determination to learn all there was to learn of the Crown Point iron ore and the first steps towards its manufacture. The man who joined the Messrs. Hammond to build the furnace, was Jonas Tower. His experience was ample for the undertaking. In the fall of 1844 C. F. Hammond, Mr. Tower and Allen Penfield went to locate the site for the furnace, and a tree was felled across the site of what is now known as the site of the "old furnace," and thus the clearing was Degun.

The first "Crown Point Iron Company" was organized and embraced C. F. Hammond, John C. Hammond, Allen Penfield and Jonas Tower. Preparations for building the furnace were made in 1845 and it was finished and the first iron turned out by January 1st, 1846. The iron produced immediately took the highest rank. It was made exclusively from the "Hammond ore," and the first steel made in this country under the Bessemer patents was made from this iron. In the fall of 1852 Mr. Tower sold his interest in the company to Wm. H. Dyke and E. S. Bogue. He subsequently went to Ironton, Wis., where he died. The company continued in existence until the organization of the second one of the same name which will be noticed further on.

What were known as the Irondale (Ironville) Iron Works had their beginning at what is now known as Ironville about 1828, where Penfield & Harwood (Allen Penfield and Mr. Harwood, father of A. P. H.) built a forge. The ore was taken from what is, or was known as the Penfield Bed.: This entire property finally passed to J. & T. Hammond and is now owned by the Crown Point Iron Company. The iron made by Penfleld & Harwood had an excellent reputation. Mr. Spaulding is authority for the statement that, owing to the excellent quality of this iron, the government in 1829 gave the company an order for a large quantity for use in making cables for the navy.

Samuel Renne discovered in 1818 what was later known as the Saxe bed in the central part of the town. He opened it about 1822 and it was afterwards worked by Jacob Saxe. The ore was mixed with other ore and worked to good advantage; but it was abandoned a number of years ago. John Renne had a small forge, the first in the town, near Crown Point Center in 1823. The ore worked by him came principally from the Cheever bed, in Moriah, with a little from the bed opened by Samuel Renne, until the discovery of the Penfield bed, after which he used that ore. All of these beds and the entire iron industry of the town is now controlled by the Crown Point Iron Company.

We have spoken of the "old furnace," referring thereby to the first one built by the original company. This was burned down in 1863, but was immediately rebuilt and operated successfully until 1870.

The brick store at Crown Point (Hammond's Corners) was built by the Messrs. Hammond in 1827, and in 1833 the brick portion of the Crown Point House was erected by them for use as a boarding-house for their numerous employees. On the corner where Chas. F. Hammond lived stood, in very early days, a tavern which was kept about 1816 by a Widow Willcox It stood out near to the street. This corner was subsequently bought by Mr. Hammond, the building moved away to later become the dwelling of C. L. Hammond, and the brick mansion erected.

Chas. F. Hammond died December 12th, 1873, the immediate cause being the shock of the death of his son Thomas, wife and children on the ill-fated steamer Ville du Haure, which went to the bottom of the Atlantic November 22d, 1873. His widow died August 28th, 1882. Of their ten children but three are living, General John Hammond and two daughters.

General John Hammond was born in 1827. When the Rebellion broke out he raised Company H, Fifth Cavalry and in the service soon rose to the command of the brigade. He was largely instrumental in the formation of the Crown Point Iron Company, and in advancing the railroad facilities of the town. He was president of the Iron Company from its formation until a recent date. He was elected to the Forty-sixth and Forty-seventh Congresses and declined a re-election. He now enjoys the unqualified respect and confidence of the people of his entire county. His ancestry were distinguished in connection with the early military history of the country. His grandfather was Thomas Hammond, who was an attendant upon an officer in the Revolutionary army and was present at the execution of Major Andre. His great grandfather was Daniel Hammond, who participated in the old French and English War, and was for a time stationed at Crown Point and Ticonderoga.

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