History of Hopkinton, NY


Local Histories

HOPKINTON, the fifth town erected by an Act of the Legislature passed March 2, 1805. It comprised a very large territory bordering on Franklin county, and was taken from the southerly portion of Massena and included Islington, Catharineville, and so much of Chesterfield as had been annexed to Massena. Parishville, Lawrence and Colton were taken from it later on. At the first town meeting,held at the house of Eliakim Seeley, March 4, 1806, the following officers were elected: Supervisor, Roswell Hopkins; clerk, Henry McLaughlin; assessors, Amasa Blanchard, Joseph Armstrong, Reuben Post; overseers of poor, A. Blanchard, Seth Abbott; constable and collector, Abraham Sheldon; commissioners of highways, A. Sheldon, R. Post, H. McLaughlin; fence viewers, Eli Squire, Oliver Sheldon; pound keeper, Oliver Sheldon. The town was settled by Roswell Hopkins (from whom it was named), who came in May, 1802, from Vermont. He had bought a part of Islington, and was accompanied by Samuel Goodale, B. W. Hopkins (son of Roswell), Jared Dewey, Eliphalet Branch, and Joel Goodale. They were guided most of the way by blazed trees (see Chapter IX). In March, 1803, Judge Hopkins, Abraham Sheldon, Eli and Ashbel Squire moved their families to the town, who came on foot and on horses' backs part of the way. In that year Mr. Hopkins built the first grist mill on Lyd Brook, near the site of. Hopkinton village. Other settlers, who came in during 1804 and 1805, were Thomas Remington, Gaius Sheldon, Reuben Post, Eliakim Seeley, Henry McLaughlin, Thaddeus McLaughlin, Horace Train, Jasper Armstrong and Seth Abbott. In 1807 the town contained forty-eight voters, according to the qualifications required. Dr. Stephen Langworthy was the first physician, and Dr. Gideon Sprague, who came in 1811, the second. In 1824 Isaac R. Hopkins built a saw mill on the St. Regis River, about one mill north of Hopkinton village, and when the mill was raised it was christened "Fort Jackson," a name which the settlement still bears. The early settlers at this point were Noah Post, F. Kellogg, John Witherill, F. Davis, R. Lawrence, C. Sheldon, Samuel Crook, and others. A woolen factory was established here and operated by various persons, and replaced by a grist mill, built about 1855, by Francis Davis. This was burned and the present mill erected by F. W. Davis, and now operated by him. The saw mill is operated by M. L. Clifford. A starch factory has been in operation about twenty years. A shingle mill was built by George Wells in 1870 and a butter tub factory by Samuel Cook in 1873, both of which are in operation. Kellogg & Wright, the first merchants of account, opened a store in 1847. In 1872 Mr. Kellogg built a block and there the post-office was established in 1873, with Frank Kellogg postmaster. Miller & Ober and M. L. Clifford have stores at present. A. E. Ober is postmaster.

The little village of Hopkinton is on Lyd Brook, a little south of the St. Regis River. There Roswell Hopkins built the first grist mill in 1803; the mill near this site is now run by Benjamin Collins. A tannery was established here early, and in recent years changed to a butter factory, now operated by R. J. Sanford. There were at one time three starch factories in the town besides the one before mentioned. A carding mill was formerly operated by Truman H. Lyman. Shingles were largely manufactured at one time, but most of this has been given up. B. W. Hopkins was the first merchant. V. A. Chittenden was in trade in 1857, and is now postmaster. J. H. Chittenden is now the only merchant. Cornelius Murphy is the landlord and was preceded for many years by Thomas L. Howe.

A large section of St. Lawrence county, embracing parts of the towns of Pitcairn, Russell, Fine, Clifton, Clare, Colton, and Hopkinton, is still a wilderness, large tracts of which are now almost in their primeval state. This section of country, approximating thirty miles in either direction in extent, is locally known as the "South Woods," and is a part of the great wilderness of Nothern New York, which has for many years been the ideal resort for the lover of the beautiful and grand solitudes of nature, as well as for the sportsman and the artist. It has also been, and still is, in far too great a measure, the field of spoils for the lumberman. Its fame has been spread from one end of this country to another by the written and spoken eloquence of hundreds of enthusiasts, and its wilderness depths are annually invaded by sportsmen, artists, lovers of nature, and invalids in quest of health, from all quarters of the country. This section of the wilderness embraced in St. Lawrence county, while not so grand and majestic in its mountainous aspects as other parts of the great region, still includes some of the most beautiful and picturesque scenery in the Eastern States. Here in the untrodden solitudes are numberless of the purest lakes and ponds; innumerable streams that wind and tumble among the rugged fastnesses or peacefully flow along level woodlands; quiet forest depths haunted by the wild deer and birds of curious and melodious voice; and battlements of rock and mountain-all contributing to complete some of nature's most entrancing handiwork.

In the extreme southeast corner of the county in the town of Hopkinton is found about half of Tupper Lake which extends into Franklin county. In the southern part of Clifton is Cranberry Lake (now used as a reservoir), a splendid sheet of water, whose vicinity has been made a popular resort, where several hostelries have been established for the accommodation of summer guests. Massawiepe Lake, in the southern part of Hopkinton, is the source of the south branch of Grass River, while the Oswegatchie River flows through Cranberry Lake. Farther north in Hopkinton is a lake whose waters flow into the romantic Raquette River. This latter stream, having its sources far down in Hamilton county, flows in a northwesterly direction across the region in question, receiving on its way the waters of scores of beautiful ponds and woodland streams; and the Oswegatchie takes a similar course across the more western part of the region in the towns of Clifton, Colton, Fine and Pitcairn. To the northward of the Oswegatchie are the three branches of the Grass River, also flowing in a northwest direction, in the towns of Colton, Clifton, Pierrepont and Russell. The rivers, lakes and ponds are more minutely described in Chapter X of this work. The principal mountainous elevations are Moosehead, Matumbla, Graves and Silver Lake mountains in Hopkinton; Bear, Cat and Wolf mountains in Colton. Further details of this remarkable section are shown on the map or plan accompanying this work and given in the sketches of the towns embraced within its boundaries in succeeding pages.

The pioneers of Hopkinton suffered the usual hardships and privations incident to all the venturesome of that period. Previous to the erection of the first grist mill the settlers were obliged to go through the woods, either on foot or horseback, to the Long Saut, a mill on the Canada shore. The first birth of a white child in town was in December, 1803. in the family of Mr. Shelden. In 1807 there had been twenty-six births in the town up to May of that year. The first death which occurred was that of an infant, in 1 807. For the first twenty years the town records show that wild beasts of prey were quite troublesome to the settlers, and bounties of from $1 to $15 were offered for wolves, panthers, bears and foxes, also $1 per hundred for mice. The various bounties offered made it an object for hunters to lay in wait for such game. Mr. Thomas Meacham kept a record of the game he captured, as follows: wolves, 214; panthers, 77; bears, 210; deer, 2,550. His traps were always out, and one day the game caught in his traps, and with what he shot, the bounties amounted to $185. In the War of 1812-15 the government had stored about three hundred barrels of flour in the barn of Judge Hopkins, on the passage of a detachment of the army through Hopkinton, on their way from French Mills to Sackett's Harbor; also had distributed several dozen muskets among the villagers for safe keeping. Judge Hopkins and others advised the commander of the detachment to carry the stores farther west to a place of greater safety, and offered their services to remove them, and take their pay in flour, but no one appeared to feel themselves authorized to order the removal. A party of British soldiers commanded by Major De Hering and Lieut. Carlton made an incursion to Malone, and had arrived at French Mills on the last day of February, 1814, and there learned from their guide, a citizen spy, of the government stores left at Hopkinton. The officer and about thirty British soldiers left French Mills in sleighs that evening, proceeded by the way of Moira, and arrived at Hopkinton, a distance of twenty seven miles, before the inhabitants were up the next morning. They placed a sentinel at the door of every house and proceeded to search for arms, and succeeded in obtaining about twenty. It is said that several muskets were saved by being hastily laid in beds which were occupied by them but a few moments previous, and thus eluded the search of the enemy. The British took about half of the flour, or all they had conveyance for, and began to destroy what remained, but being dissuaded by the inhabitants, they distributed the same among the citizens. During their short stay they conducted themselves with strict propriety, and respected private property of every kind.

At an early day a commendable interest was manifested in the location and improvement of roads and bridges. In 1810 an appropriation of $500 was voted to be given to the St. Lawrence Turnpike Company on condition that the road be located on a certain route. In 1811 the Legislature was petitioned to tax the town to aid the Northwest Bay road; also to authorize a lottery whereby the sum of $10,000 might be raised to repair roads. In 1827 the Port Kent road was located at Hopkinton. The road districts have been increased to thirty, and the principal highways of the town are now in a fair condition. The principal cemetery in town is located a little way out and north from the village of Hopkinton. In May, 1811. the town voted a sum of $200 to improve the lot, which is now kept in good condition.

The pioneer settlers showed their inteiest in their country by enlisting as soldiers in the War of 1812. That same interest was shown in the prosecution of the Civil War. At a special town meeting held December 15, 1863, a vote to levy a tax of $65,000 was passed, and the town clerk was authorized to issue certificates of $300 for each vol-. unteer required from the town. Hopkinton has made a good record- in the matter of schools. In 1814 a committee, consisting of B. A. Hopkins, A. Blanchard and S. Eastman, was appointed to form school districts arid make recommendations, In 1819 three times the amount of school money granted by the State was raised by a direct tax. There are fifteen school houses in town, one of brick, at Fort Jackson, cost $2,500. It has a mansard roof, surmounted by a cupola containing a 300 lb. bell; a stone house, which was the old church abandoned by the Congregationalists and Baptists. It was refitted in 1841 by a tax levied on the town for $250, and now used for school purposes. There are about thirty teachers employed during the school year, at an expense of upwards of $2,000, and about 600 scholars attend the schools.


A Congregational Church was formed at Hopkinton by the assistance of the missionary, Rev. John W. Church, with eleven members, July 6, 1808. They were incorporated September 3, 1814, with Amos Blanchard, Reuben Post and Isaac R. Hopkins, trustees. Rev. H. S. Johnson was their first pastor. In 1815 the society united with the Baptists and outsiders in building a stone church, which was also used for town purposes. In 1827 the society abandoned the stone church, and erected a wooden edifice at a cost of $2,800. It was repaired and refitted in 1873.

Baptist Society.- A few people of this faith were gathered for religious services occasionally by Elder Rowley at an early date, but the organization of a church was not effected until February 17, 1818, when Abijah Chandler, Jonah Sanford, Sylvanus C. Kersey and Samuel Eastman were elected trustees. In July, 1830, the name of the church was changed to Hopkinton and Lawrence church, at which time they held their meetings alternately at Hopkinton and Nicholville. On August 5, 1843, the word Hopkinton was dropped, and they have been since permanently located at Nicholville.

A catholic Church, "The Holy Cross," built of wood, 36 x 6o feet, in 1877, was begun July 4 of that year, which has been finished and occupied ever since.

A Methidist Society was formed in Hopkinton December 30, 1839, but became a separate charge and located at Fort Jackson in May, 1845, having built a fine stone church the year previous, costing $3,000. Rev. Josiah Arnold was their first pastor.

Free-will Baptist.- A church of this denomination was organized at Fort Jackson in 1844, with sixteen members. In 1847 they erected a commodious church and dedicated the same January 2, 1848. Elder John Sweat was their first pastor, who remained with them fourteen years. The house has been kept in good repair, and a parsonage has been built, which, together with the church, is valued at $4,000.

Following is a list of supervisors, with years of their service:
1806, R. Hopkins; 1807, B. W. Hopkins; 1808, Henry McLaughlin 1809, R. Hopkins; 1810, B. W. Hopkins; 1811-19, Isaac R. Hopkins; 1820-22, Thaddeus Laughlin; 1823-26, Jonah Sanford; 1827-29, Isaac H. Hopkins; 1830-32, Joseph Durfey; 1833, I. H. Hopkins; 1834-35, P. Laughlin; 1830, Phineas Durfey; 1837, Eliakim Seeley; 1838, P. Laughlin; 1839, I. H. Hopkins; 1840-41, Clark S. Chittenden; 1842-44, Elias Post; 1845, Gideon Sprague; 1846-47, Clark S. Chittenden; 1848-49, E. Post; 1850- 51, C. S. Chittenden; 1852-53, Joseph B. Durfey; 1854, Clark S. Chittenden; 1855, Roswell Hopkins; 1856-57, F. P. Sprague; 1858-59, Caleb Wright; 1860-61, David F. Henderson; 1862-63, George S. Wright; 1864, E. H. Sheldon; 1865-66, David F. Henderson; 1867-68, Frank Kellogg; 1869-73, Jonah Sanford; 1874-75, David F. Henderson; 1876-85, Jonah Sanford; 1886-87, J. S. Kellogg; 1888-93, K. S. Chittenden.

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