THE TOWN OF LYME.
After settlement north of Black river was fairly begun, and after the intelligence
had spread throughout the east that the lands bordering on the St. Lawrence were equally productive with those
of the Black river tract, the tide of immigration set strongly in that direction. The region forming the town of
Lyme, as originally created (except Point Peninsula, which formed a part of the Chassanis tract) was a part of
old historic lot number four of the Macomb purchase, and of that part thereof which ultimately passed into the
hands of James D. Le Ray, under whose direction it was settled and developed by the pioneers. This work was begun
in 1801, but in the course of a few years much sickness prevailed throughout the region, thus retarding its growth.
About the same time the squatters on Penet's square began to arrive, and as well the lumber thieves, whose depredations
extended all along the river and this special locality was not exempt from their work. The country bounded by the
square, the river, and Chaumont Bay, was in a measure cut off from the other portions of Mr. Le Ray's vast tract,
and he had not the same opportunity of looking to its protection and settlement as in localities farther east.
General Brown, then living at Brownville, had a partial supervision over the territory, but was so occupied with
his own affairs on the Black river border, that it appears as if interests farther north and west were in a measure
In 1801 Le Ray engaged Jonas Smith and Henry A. Delamater to undertake the sale and settlement of lands west of
Penet's square. They came from Ulster county in the year mentioned, accompanied with several companions, among
whom were Richard M. Esseistyn, of Claverack (afterward one of the foremost men of the county), Peter Pratt, T.
Wheeler, James, David, Timothy Soper, and perhaps a few others whose names are not recalled. These pioneers came
to the region in a boat by way of Oswego, with a supply of provisions and utensils. They entered Chaumont bay,
and by direction from Le Ray, sailed up Chaumont river two and one-half miles, where they landed and founded one
of the first settlements north of Black river. They built a large double log house and also a frame building, the
former being used as a store and dwelling. A short distance above the place was the head of boat navigation on
Chaumont river at the time, and from that point there was a well marked trail leading to French creek (Clayton)
about twelve miles distant.
At that time the place chosen by the pioneer party was supposed to be the most suitable for a settlement. The entire
season was passed in making the improvements mentioned, and in preparing the way for future arrivals, after which
the party returned east to spend the winter. On returning in the spring of 1802, it was found that their location
was unfortunate, for the sluggish waters of the river set back over considerable territory of low land and was
the occasion of much sickness in the colony, hence they soon abandoned the improvements and selected a site whereon
is now built up the pleasant little village of Chaumont. Here they established themselves early in 1802, surveying
and laying out a village plat. The same year agents Smith and Delamater built a saw mill on the site of the Copley
mill of later years. This was substantially the beginning of civilization in Lyme, and the founding in fact of
Chaumont village. During the season a tavern and a store, kept by Henry Thomas, was built, and a few more settlers
from Ulster county were added to the colony. Settlement, however, was slow. In 1802 agent Delamater cleared a tract
of land on Point Salubrious, and there Henry Horton (one account says James), from Delaware county, took up his
home in 1806, while about the same time (probably in 1805), Daniel and John Tremper came to the locality. Mr. Horton
was nevertheless regarded as the pioneer of the point, and was, indeed, one of its most worthy settlers. The lands
on the point do not appear to have been visited with the same malarious atmosphere that prevailed elsewhere, hence
were regarded as the most desirable place for settlement at the time. The name Point Salubrious is said to have
been applied to this locality by Mr. Le Ray, and so called from the uniformity of its temperature. Among the other
early settlers here were David and Joseph Ryder, Stephen Fisher and Silas Taft, all of whom were in some manner
identified with the town in its later history.
According to the narrative of the Tremper family,John M.,the pioneer, came to the point in 1805, and lived in the
town. until 1873, when he died. He was a soldier in the war of 1812. Henry Horton also served in the war, and died
in the town at the age of 84 years. He was the ancestor of an afterward prominent family in the county. Joseph
Ryder died at the age of 90 years. There were also Ralph Rogers, who came about 1820, and the Johnson family, of
whom Levi A. Johnson, of Watertown, is a descendant. Recalling briefly the names of still other early settlers,
mention may be made of a Mr. Mills, whose christian name is lost; also, without regard to exact location, William
Blodgett, who is said to have originally settled in Watertown, on the site of the Arcade building, where he had
a fifteen acre farm; Zimri Dauley, a veteran of 1812; Clark Northrup, from Johnstown; Isaac Wells, from Sackets
Harbor; Volkert Getman, from Montgomery county; John Knapp, from Brownville; Frederick Crossehnan, whose sons were
Richard, Joseph and Frederick; John Wilcox, who came in 1812, and later on removed to Ohio; Nathaniel Warner, a
soldier of 1812; Almond Blodgett, a revolutionary survivor; George H. Barnes, from Cooperstown; Clark Northrup,
who came in 1819; Capt. Joshua Maine, whom the older residents still remember, and P. P. Gaige, who built the Gaige
mansion. Pomeroy was another substantial surname in Lyrne. There were also a host of other settlers who came principally
during the years following the war of 1812, while possibly the names of some who were here before that time have
been forgotten. Indeed, the early settlement of Lyme was peculiar in many respects, and families came and departed
almost as regularly as did the seasons. Those who came first to the settlement founded by the agents generally
reached the place by way of Brownville, while many traveled along the waters of the lake and bays, passing between
Point Peninsula and Pillar Point. These localities afforded home sites equal to Point Salubrious, and while Pillar
Point was settled comparatively early, the lands cn the other peninsula were not taken until some years later.
Here lay about six or seven square miles of fertile land for all agricultural purposes, almost wholly surrounded
with water, yet few pioneers had the hardihood to attempt its settlement previous to the war. From the center of
trade in the town this locality is distant about fifteen miles by traveled road, and about five miles across the
bay. The waters of the lake off Pillar Point were rough during certain seasons of the year, thus rendering boat
navigation somewhat hazardous. Several vessels went to pieces in that locality.
Among the earliest settlers on Point Peninsula was William Wilcox, a former resident at Sackets Harbor, and a drummer
in the service during the war of 1812. He with either George H. Barnes or Brittle Minor went over to the point
in 1817, and were among its pioneers, although it is said that Nathan Persons was there as early as 1812, and Nathaniel
Warner in 1814. Soon after William Wilcox made an improvement his brother, Oliver Wilcox, came, and also William
and Lebbeus Hewitt. George A. and Daniel Barnes were sons of George H. Barnes the pioneer. Another early corner
was "Squire" Daniel Holbrook, whose son Daniel still lives on the point. David W. Angel came later, lie
was father of Lester and Windsor Angel, who still live in the town. The Collins family came about 1822. Lester
and Linus Collins were sons of the pioneer of the family. There was also the Getman family, of which Henry and
Frederick Getman are substantial representatives. Elizur Watkins is the son of R. D. Watkins, who settled on the
point many years ago. On the isthmus the early settlers were the Hayes and Selter families. The Kiocks and Bairds
came about or soon after 1825, as near as now known. Thus it is seen that even in this remote part of the town
settlement was begun as soon as conditions permitted, and rapidly increased until all the lands were taken and
cleared, and fine farms appeared in place of the forests of previous years.
Before leaving this branch of our subject, however, we may with propriety recall and mention the names of other
early residents in the town at large, though the exact year, and place of location, may be unknown to present occupants.
In addition to those already noted may be recalled Roe Minor, who came about 1822; William Mayhew, Isaac Wells,
John Knapp, Samuel Fish, James Cooley, Ira Inman, John Mount, Elezer Fenton, William Mayhew, Christopher Fox, Jacob
P. Empey (or Empie), James Kingsley, Charles Wilcox, Cornelius Becker and Ransom Watkins, all of whom are believed
to have settled in Lyme as early as 1835, and some of them several years previous to that date.
They, with others of perhaps later date, were in some way identified with the history of development and progress
in the region and are therefore entitled to at least a passing mention in these annals.
From what has been stated it must be seen that notwithstanding the obstacles of pioneer life in this region, settlement
was accomplished rapidly, and became firmly established. Such indeed was the fact, and the records show that in
1820, two years after Lyme was set off from Brownville, the then constituted territory of the town contained more
than 1,700 inhabitants. This was the result of hardly more than five years of actual development on the part of
the proprietary, for during the six or eight years preceding the close of the war of 1812-15, there was little
effort and still less accomplished in this direction. From 1807 to 1815 the entire border on the lake and river
was in a state of constant turmoil growing out of the embargo period and the war which followed, and during that
time many families left the region for more safe and quiet places of abode.
Organization.- The act creating
the town was passed by the legislature March 6, 1818, and was in part as follows:
Be it enacted, etc., that all that part of the town of Brownville, beginning in the center of French or Dumas creek,
where the west line of Penet's square intersects it, thence south along the west line of said square to the southwest
corner thereof; thence along the northeast line of lot No. 455 in great lot No. 4 of the Macomb purchase to the
east corner thereof; thence along the southeast line of lot number 455 to the northeast line of lot number 339:
thence along the same to the east corner thereof; thence along the southeast line of lots numbers 339, 340, 358,
359, 447 and 440 to the south corner of lot number 446; thence northwest to an arm of Chaumont bay; thence through
the waters of said bay to the waters of lake Ontario; thence through the waters of said lake to the waters of the
river St. Lawrence; thence down the same to the mouth of Dumas' creek; thence UI) through the center of the same
to the place of beginning; including within said line Cherry island, the peninsula, Fox island, Grenadier island,
Canton island and such other small islands as are now known to be within the limits of the United States, between
Canton island and French creek aforesaid; shall be and the same is hereby created into a separate town by the name
of Lyme; and that the first town meeting in the town of Lyme shall be held at the house of Luther Britton in said
town on the first Tuesday of May next.
As may be seen from this description, the town as originally created contained all the territory between the west
line of Penet's square and a line drawn from the southwest corner of the square to Guffin's bay, so as to include
the lots above mentioned within the new jurisdiction, However, in 1833 Clayton was created and took from Lyme a
triangular tract of land west of Penet's square; and in 1849 another act of the legislature created Cape Vincent
wholly from Lyme, taking therefor 34,022 acres of land. Within its boundaries as now constituted, Lyme contains
32,521 acres, or a little less than 50 square miles of land.
The geographical features of Lyme are peculiar, yet not wholly unlike those of other bay and lake front towns of
the county. Chaumont bay lies wholly within the town, and is a considerable body of water, being about six miles
long and having an average width of a little more than one mile. Guflin's bay is east of Chaumont bay. Cherry island
lies between these waters, and is about half a mile off Point Salubrious. It contains about 108 acres. Fox island
(257.5 acres) is in the lake about one mile from the mainland, west of the isthmus connecting Point Peninsula with
the body of the town. Other than Chaumont and Guffin's bays and Lake Ontario the principal waterways of Lyrne are
Chaumont river and Horse creek, both of which discharge into Chaumont bay, and several smaller streams which empty
into Guffin's bay and Three Mile bay.
In the town the land surface is decidedly level. The soil is principally clay, strong and durable, and yields bountifully
under thorough cultivation. The growth and production of garden and other seeds is rapidly becoming a staple industry
with farmers, and is the source of much revenue to the persons engaged in it. Lyme is also noted for its limestone
productions, in which respect it ranks among the first towns of the county. This prominence has been enjoyed for
more than half a century, and much of the output found its way into large public buildings, piers, docks and canal
locks. The same product was also used in the construction of the long stone bridge across Chaumont river. Extensive
operations in these quarries were begun in 1825, and have been maintained to the present day.
Such was the character of the territory forming the town in 1801, when agents Smith and Delamater with their pioneer
companions made the first improvement on Chaumont river. History and tradition infoimus that this party of town
builders was obliged to abandon the first village site through the unhealthy conditions of the vicinity, and that
they then established themselves farther down the river, where Chaumont village now stands. Soon after that time
the settlers came and began to clear and develop the lands of the town in general, first opening the beautiful
and healthful promontory to which Mr. Le Ray gave the name of Point Salubrious, and later on working back to the
north and west until the lands were all sold and occupied. In the mean time, and during the same period, the settlers
on Pillar Point and at Sackets Harbor became acquainted with the value and fertility of the lands on Point Peninsula,
and after the close of the war their sale and settlement was accomplished with almost remarkable rapidity. With
the progress and prosperity of the period thus prevailing on every hand, it is not surprising that the creation
of a new town should be asked, and Lyme was the result. The name was selected by Eber Kelsey, who was a native
of Lyme, in Connecticut, from which state there came many early settlers in this part of Jefferson county. Mr.
Kelsey lived in that part of the towil which was afterward set off to Cape Vincent.
As provided in the creating act, the first town meeting was held at the house (tavern) kept by Luther Britton,
(where Chaumont now stands) March 3, 1818, at which time officers were elected as follows: Supervisor, Richard
M. Esseistyn; town clerk. John Dayan; assessors, John B. Esseistyn, Luther Britton, Benj. Estis; school commissioners,
Richard M. Esseistyn, James M. Craw. Benj. T. Bliss; overseers of the poor, J. B. Esseistyn, Luther Britton; fence
viewers and poundmasters, John M. Tremper, Eber Kelsey, Thaddeus Smith; highway commissioners, Elnathan Judd, John
Dayan. Joseph Ryder; constables, Alexander Gage, Daniel Robbins.
As has been mentioned, there were not more than a dozen families in this town previous to the outbreak of the war
of 1812-15, but they formed a determined and loyal colony of pioneers, many of whom had served in the American
army during the revolution. All seem to have been fired with patriotic zeal and filled with memories of the old
struggle for national freedom, and it was only natural that they should eelebrate independence day in a becoming
manner. This was done at the Chaumont settlement, July 4, 1802, and is said to have been the first event of the
kind in the county.
In 1800 one of the members of the Coffeen family had begun the erection of a stone house at the settlement, but
the structure was not finished at the outbreak of the war. The uncertainty of the period preceding the war had
a depressing effect upon all interests and there was little growth in any direction. In June, 1812, under the advice
of Gen. Brown, the inhabitants began the erection of a stone fort or block house in front of the stone house started
by Coffeen, which was intended for offensive and defensive operations. It stood on the north shore of the bay.
The fort was armed with an old cannon, the relic of some previous period, which had been found on the isthmus off
Point Peninsula, and which Jonas Smith had purchased for two gallons of rum.
During the summer of 1812, the British visited the town and assured the inhabitants that in case of invasion their
property would be tinharmed, whereupon they were persuaded to demolish the fort. The old cannon was later purchased
by a Mr. Camp, of Sackets Harbor for eight dollars, and after one or two ineffectual attempts was removed across
the bay. It was afterward taken to Ogdensburgh and was finally captured by the British.
The mention of the discovery of this old cannon on the isthmus suggests a previous occupancy of the region by some
war party or expedition. Indeed, that part of Lyme may fairly be looked upon as historic ground, for along the
lake washed shores of the town it is known tile French troops traveled during the period of the closing French
and English wars. The old fort on Carlton island was built as early as 1758, and it is not impossible that the
operations of the French in seeking to defend their alleged possessions may have extended even to Point Peninsula.
The vicinity of Chaumont bay was explored by the venturous Frenchmen, and on the old maps of the region that body
of water was variously called Niahoure Niaoeure, Niaoure and Nivernois. It has also been mistakenly designated
as Bay Ia Famine, in allusion to the unfortunate expedition of De la Barre into the Onondaga country in 1684. Both
latter terms were used to designate all the locality within Point Peninsula and Six Town Point. The name Nivernois
was undoubtedly given in allusion to Duke de Nivernois, a French nobleman.
There are also evidences tending to show that Marquis de Champlain may have touched this point in his voyage of
exploration and invasion into the Onondaga territory in 1615, although we have no positive proof that Point Peninsula
lay within his route of voyage. He did, however, sail from Stony island south and at some point landed and concealed
his boats and canoes on the shore. De La Barre sailed over about the same course in 1684, and had a conference
with the Iroquois near the mouth of Sandy creek, in Ellisburgh, and to the stream from the inland was given the
name River la Famine. This subject is fully treated in an earlier chapter, and is only recalled here from the fact
Chaumont bay has been called Hungry bay by some previous writers of cotemporary history. The name Chaumont bay
was given to that body of water in reference to the native place of James D. Le Ray.
Not only during the early wars was this a frequented region, but also during the
revolutionary struggle, when the southern shore of the lake and the eastern border of the river St. Lawrence was
a convenient thoroughfare of travel for British troops and their allied Canadian savages; and it is more than probable
that the old cannon found on the isthmus was some abandoned or lost relic of that period. However, let us turn
from this digression to the subject of the town's history.
The early settlers were much inconvenienced by the insufficient character of the roads leading to the county seat
and other settled portions of the county. The most easily reached grist mill was at Sackets Harbor, but the difficulty
in passing Pillar Point in rough weather was such that small boats were occasionally delayed several days. In 1807
the settlement was short of flour and meal and the persons who set sail to the harbor to replenish the supply were
delayed almost a week by rough water, which event occasioned considerable suffering among the inhabitants.
Among the other misfortunes of the period which worked against the prosperity of the inhabitants was the failure
of Smith and Delamater in 1806, added to which was the almost ever prevailing miasmatic atmosphere that caused
several deaths in the settlement. The first death, however, was that of pioneer Soper, who was drowned in 1802.
For the purpose of supplying better accommodations for travel a road was laid out in 1803 from Brownville to Port
Putnam (now Millen's Bay), but the work of construction was so poorly done that the road was well nigh impassable
in heavy weather. In 1815 the legislature authorized Mr. Le Ray to build a turnpike from Cape Vincent to Perch
river, the same to be laid out under the direction of Elisha Camp, Musgrove Evans and Robert McDowell. On April
12, of the next year, another act authorized the proprietor to extend the turnpike to Brownville. Under this authorization
the road was built, the crossing at Chaumont being a ferry until 1823, when Vincent Le Ray and others procured
an act authorizing a toll bridge, at least 16 feet wide, provided with a draw to admit the passage of boats, and
to be built "in a substantial and workmanlike manner." The work was to be completed before December 24,
1824, and if the structure should be damaged by floods or ice, it was to be restored at the proprietors' expense.
The work was not done under this act and the limit of completion was extended 20 years by an act passed May 6,
1835. Then the work (partially completed) reverted to the state, the proprietors not having fully complied with
prescribed requirements. On April 11, 1849, the coinmissioners of highways of the town were authorized to borrow
$5,000 for the purpose of rebuilding the bridge. With the fund thus created the stone bridge was built and proved
to be one of the most permanent structures of its kind in the county. The turnpike was maintained under the proprietary
until 1831, and was then surrendered to the public and laid out in road districts. In this connection, and as a
matter of historic interest, it may be stated that the old post route from Harrisburgh to Cape Vincent, by way
of Champion, Watertown, Brownville and Chaumont, was established in pursuance of an act of congress, passed April
28, 1810; and that the similar route from Brown yule to Cape Vincent, touching intermediate points in Lyme, was
authorized April 30, 1816. Post-offices at Chaumont and Three Mile Bay were established soon after the act last
mentioned, and that at Point Peninsula some years later, and between 1840 and '45.
A railroad was first suggested for this part of tile county soon after it was proposed to build the old Watertown
and Rome road, and on May 13, 1836, an act was passed to incorporate the Watertown and Cape Vincent railroad company,
with $150,000 capital, to build within four years thereafter a railroad between the points mentioned. The commissioners
to receive subscriptions to the stock were Jerre Carrier, Henry Ainsworth, Roswell T. Lee, Samuel Lockwood, Edmund
Kirby, George C. Sherman, Isaac H. Bronson and John Williams. The route was surveyed but nothing further was done
by this company, and it remained for the old re-incorporated Watertown and Rome corporation to carry the enterprise
to completion and success. The road was completed to Chaumont in November, 1851, and to Cape Vincent in April of
the next year.
In the meantime, however, on the same day (April 17, 1832), on which the Watertown
and Rome company was chartered, the Black river company was also incorporated, "for the purpose of connecting
by railroads or canals, the Erie canal (at or near Rome or Herkimer, or between them) with waters flowing into
the St. Lawrence at Ogdensburgh, which are or may be rendered navigable with the St. Lawrence at Cape Vincent,
and with lake Ontario at Sackets Harbor." This project was never carried to completion.
Returning again briefly to the subject of early life and history in Lyme, it may be said that the settlers of the
region came for the purpose of clearing the lands and opening farms, but by force of circumstances many of them
were turned into other persuits. Those who dwelt on the shores of the bay and lake became fishermen, and for a
period of fifty or more years Chaumont bay was noted as one of the best fishing grounds in the state, and its product
in this respect brought comfort to hundreds of early families in its vicinity. It is difficult to say just when
this industry began, but from the earliest history of the region to a recent time fishing has been an established
occupation, although in later years has not been carried on to a large extent. One of the first seines used was
brought here by Daniel Tremper, and his example was followed by others until seine fishing superseded other occupations
and resulted in far more profit. According to the statements of old residents, between the years 1816 and 1855
the annual catch of herring (ciscoes) and white fish (which was packed and shipped to market) amounted to about
10,000 barrels. Gill nets were first used here about 1845. So great indeed did this business become that in 1817,
under an act of the legislature, the office of fish inspector was created. The first local appointee in the office
was Calvin Lincoln, June11, 1817; the second, M. Evans, March 19, 1818, and Benjamin P. Bliss a little later, serving
on Point Salubrious, then the most productive locality on the bay.
This industry, with that of ship building which followed it, together with the development of the stone producing
and agricultural resources of the town, had the effect to establish a permanent and healthful population, and Lyme
was early nunibered among the best towns of the county. Then followed the material reductions in her territory
in the creation of other towns, and of the old staple interests of half a century and more ago. Only the agricultural
and stone producing now remain. Notwithstanding this, the town is by no means lacking in enterprise and progressiveness,
but circumstances and the natural events of business life have worked adversely to her best interests. Let us note
the effect of these things as indicated in the census reports, as the population of the town at stated intervals
is in a measure an index of its prosperity.
The number of inhabitants in 1820 was 1,724; 1825, 2,563; 1830, 2,872; 1835, 3,816; 1840, 5,472; 1845, 6.018; 1850
(Cape Vincent having been set off in 1849) 2,925; 1855, 2,563; 1860,2,702; 1865, 2377; 1870, 2,465; 1875, 2,241;
1880,2,277; 1890, 2175; 1892, 2,299.
In 1845 Lyme contained 6,018. inhabitants, but the creation of Cape Vincent in 1849 took from her territory 34,022
acres and 3,044 of her population. Since 1850 the number has decreased about 600, a result of the same causes that
has worked a like reduction in nearly all interior towns, an explanation of which is not necessary in this place.
The town still contains a population sufficient for its area, and all
present interests appear substantial and permanent. The product of its quarries is abundant and of as good quality
as in former years, and the hay, grain, butter and cheese raised and made within its boundaries are as good as
produced elsewhere in the county. The town has large and productive farms, and farmers as thrifty and progressive
as can be found in the region. It is certainly pleasing to note the results achieved by such husbandmen as Rogers
Brothers, Isaac Van Doren, Abram Van Doren, Jacob Fox, A. J. Dillenback, J. J. Dillenback, A. L. Pomeroy, James
P. Rector, Leonard and Norris Lance, George Barnes, Fred Vincent, Addison Seeley, M. A. Barnes and a host of others
perhaps equally worthy of mention did space permit. It has been through the efforts of such men, their predecessors
and contem poraries that Lyme has taken a place among the producing towns of Jefferson county. Wm. Dewey's plantation-Ashland
farm-was one of the almost historic localities of Lyme, and was developed from a swamp into one of the best farms
of the county. It is now owned by J. P. Douglas. John Dingman was one of the characters of the town half a century
and more ago. He died aged 105 years, and after he had passed his hundredth year he frequently visited Watertown
and peddled fish.
Chaumont.- This interesting village
was founded in the spring of 1802, by agents Jonas Smith and Henry A. Delamater and their companions, when they
opened a log tavern and warehouse and built a saw mill. In that year about a dozen persons came to the settlement,
several of whom were mechanics, while still others were deserters from the British post at Kingston. Those who
were without a regular avocation maintained themselves by fishing in the bay, and even at that early day this vicinity
supplied the less favored regions with fresh and packed fish, and a good share of the product being sent by boat
to the large villages farther south and east. In 1806 Smith & Delamater met with business reverses, the result
of which was injurious to all local interests, not alone in the settlement but throughout Point Salubrious, for
the entire region depended largely upon Chaumont for its food supply. At that same time there was much suffering
on account of constantly prevailing fevers, but after the lands were cleared the warm summer sun destroyed the
noxious germs to a great extent. In 1828 there was another recurrence of malignant fever, with seriously fatal
results, but as years passed the locality became more healthful as a place of abode. The last visitation of this
kind was in 1875, during which year about fifty deaths resulted from an epidemic of diphtheria and typhoid pneumonia.
While these objectional features retarded the rapid growth of the hamlet and its vicinity, there was nevertheless
a gradual increase in all interests, and as early as 1830 Chaumont had become a place of considerable importance
from a business point of view. The fishing interests were then at their height, and five years previously (1825),
the important quarries had been opened, and annually thereafter large quantities of building and dimension stone
were shipped to market. It is estimated that at least 200 persons were then engaged in these industries in the
neighborhood of the village, the latter being the center of operations.
The ship building industry, which was the source of much benefit to Chaumont and
its inhabitants, and furnished employment to many persons for a period of about thirty years, began in 1832, and
was in a measure the outgrowth of the fishing and quarrying interests of the town.
William Clark seems to have been the pioneer vessel builder, and in that year built and launched the Stephen Girard,
a 60 ton boat. The Allegan, 100 tons, was built in 1835, by Robert Masters; the R. C. Smead, 75 tons, in 1839 by
S. & A. Davis. In 1847 Copley & Main built the Rip Van Winkle, a large boat of 235 tons. Other boats built
by the same firm were the Oxford, 244 tons, and the Palmyra, 180 tons, both in 1848; the A. L. Hazelton, 230 tons,
in 1851; the Mary Copley, 275 tons, in 1873, owned by Hiram Copley, Asa Wilcox and J. Gilmore. The Watertown, 309
tons, was launched in June, 1874, and was built and owned by Mr. Copley, Folger Bros., and W. W. Enos. In October
following, Copley, Enos and A. J. Dewey launched the A J. Dewey, 270 tons. In the same year the little steamer.
Edith Sewell was built by Pluche Brothers.
Many other vessels of smaller tonnage were also built and launched at Chaumont during the palmy days of the industry,
but during the last twenty-five years few indeed but small boats, launches and skiffs have been constructed at
the old shipyards. Whatever has been done in this industry during recent years has been the work chiefly of Dyer
C. Reed and Eugene Bastian. They built the Jesse Bain about 1890, and in 1805 built a small ferry steamer. Mr.
Reed now builds skiffs, sailboats and yachts. During the period now passed, W. W. Enos, Hiram Copley and Asa Wilcox
were conspicuous in all that appertained to the business progress of the village and were important factors in
its building up and growth. Both lived to witness the passing of the old and the accession of a new line of industry
in their village.
At one time Alexander Copley, who came to the region in 1833, was a very extensive land holder and operator, owning
in the county nearly 20,000 acres in scattered parcels. He was an enterprising operator and in all respects an
upright and worthy citizen. Of his sons, Alexander and Eugene went to Antwerp, but Hiram always lived in Lyme.
George W. and Allen E. Copley are sons of Hiram, and are among the prominent business men of the town.
As a result of these old-time industries, together with the quarrying interests which have survived to the present
day, Chaurnont village enjoyed a rapid and healthful development and growth. In 1853 it contained 50 dwellings,
5 stores, several warehouses and shops, 4 saw mills (two of which used steam power), one grist mill, two schools,
a Presbyterian church and a railroad station. As elsewhere stated, the railroad was opened as far as Chaumont,
Nov. 20, 1851, and to Cape Vincent in the next spring. But notwithstanding the decline and eventual passing away
of the old industries, the village continued to grow in population, and soon after 1870 the people sought to establish
an incorporated condition. This was done May 16, 1874, and on June 4, at the first village election the following
officers were chosen:
J. E. Phelps, president; A. J. Dewey, W. W. Enos and Daniel Fish, trustees; William Dillenbeck, treasurer; William
Shall, collector. The officers appointed by the board were 0. S. Wilcox, clerk; John W. Horton, street commissioner;
William H. Main, police justice.
The village presidents have been as follows: J. E. Phelps, 1874; R. E. Horton, 1875; Hiram Copley, 1876; A. J.
Dewey, 1877; W. W. Enos, 1878; R. W. Higgins, 1879; G. P. Swind, 1880; Ira Inman, 1881; F. C. Dewey, 1882; J. F.
George, 1883; A. J. Dillenbeck, 1884; Hector Adams, 1885; George W. Copley, 1886; A. E. Copley, 1887 (failed to
qualify and John F. Delaney appointed); John F. Delaney, 1888; S. W. Schemerhorn, 1889; J. F. George, 1890; R.
E. Horton, 1891; A. J. Shepard, 1892; S. W. Schemerhorn, 1893-94; A. E. Copley, 1895; Daniel W. Fisher, 1896-97.
The first school opened in the town was that taught by Nancy Smith in the house of her father, Jonas Smith, the
pioneer. After the locality had acquired sufficient population the school commissioners of Brownyule exercised
authority over the region as a part of that jurisdiction, and maintained a district school; and after Lyme was
created a new system was established, and the Chaumont district was provided with a good school under local supervision.
From that time a school has been regularly maintained in the village. In 1880 the present comfortable frame schoolhouse
was erected. The union free school district was established November 5, 1897, the board of education comprising
Henry L. George, president; R. E. Horton, secretary; Dr. A. A. Getman and W. M. Van Doren. About 130 pupils are
on the roll. The principal is C. D. Pitcher.
Chaumont lodge No. 172, F. & A. M., was chartered June 26, 1850, with eleven charter members. From that time
the lodge has maintained a healthful existence. The membership is 62; A. James Shepard, master, and J. J. Dillenbeck,
The past masters have been Frederick Bell, P. P. Gaige, George W. Pennock, Joshua Main, James Yoran, Jonathan E.
Phelps, William O. Thompson, Solomon M. Byam, Christopher Getman, Henry Haas, William H. Main, Riley B. Horton,
Dyer D. Reed and A. James Shepard.
The quarrying interests of the village and vicinity are numerous, and indeed a reasonably good quality of stone
can be found on almost any tract of land. The quarries are opened as the requirements of trade suggest, and the
contractors, who in fact control the business, purchase from owners according to the orders to be filled. This
branch of local industry is now represented by the firm of Adams, Duford & Co., and the Chaumont company, both
of which also operate two lime kilns. The Chaumont company was incorporated March 2, 1894, as the Chaumont lime
and stone company, but on June 1, 1896, the name was changed to Chaumont company. The incorporators were Allen
E., George W. and Hiram Copley. The growth and production of market garden seed has become an established and profitable
industry of the locality. Rogers Brothers are extensive producers in this line, and have a large packing house
in the village, furnishing employment to about 50 persons. The Chaumont dairying company was incorporated March
19, 1807, for the purpose of manufacturing and dealing in cheese, butter, cream, milk and dairy products generally.
The corporators were J. J. Dillenbeck, Charles Combs, Hector Adams, Freeman T. Daniels and W. B, Getman. The regular
mercantile interests are represented about as follows: Eugene Jacquay and Daniels & Haas, general stores; A.
James Shepard, grocer and baker; E.
J. Seeber, grocery, provisions, flour and feed; Lyman Foster, grocer and clothier; W. N. Van Doren, groceries and
boots and shoes; George Bros., hardware; Geo. Wilson and O. P. Read, meats. The hotels are the Peck house, R. J.
Saxe, prop., and the National hotel, Geo. Devendorf, propr. The old grist and saw mills, which were owned by Crumb
& Benninger, were burned in 1882.
The religious history of the village and vicinity is interesting and may also be briefly treated. A Sunday school
was opened on Point Salubrious soon after settlement was begun. The first church society also was formed there
Sept. 25, 1816, by delegates from other towns. It was Baptist in denominational preference, but did not maintain
a continuous existence.
During the summer of 1831 missionary clergymen visited the locality and looked over the field with a view to organizing
a Presbyterian church, and on September 22, of the same year, at the village schOol house, the society was formed
with eighteen members, of whom eleven bore the name of McPherson, but represented three distinct families. Wm.
McPherson was chosen ruling elder, and afterward Solon Massey was appointed second elder. The church organization
was perfected in November, 1835. The first regular pastor was Rev. Joseph A. Canfield, who came to live in Chaumont
in 1843, and by reason of his earnest work in this part of the county became known as the "Presbyterian bishop
of all north of Black river." Previous to 1843, meetings were held in the stone school house, but in that
year the erection of a church edifice was begun. It was completed and dedicated in September, 1845. The first trustees
of the society, which was legally formed in 1844, were Philip Beasom, Ozias Bandon and Jeremiah Bennett. Mr. Canfield's
pastorate in Chaumont covered a period of 21 years, anti in 1864 he was succeeded by Rev. Wm. Campbell. Under his
ministry the church became firmly established and has continued to the present time. The present members number
about 80 persons. The pastor is Rev. G. E. Jackson.
The Methodist Episcopal society of Chaumont was organized as a class, December 31, 1830, and for many years afterward
held meetings in the school house in connection with the Depanville charge. Still later meetings were held in tile
town hall, but in August, 1872, a house of worship was determined upon. At the same time a society was formed with
G. W. Pennock, Stephen Jacquay, Joshua Main, Jacob P. Horton and Chester O'Connor as trustees. The church edifice
was erected during the summer of 1874. It was burned in May, 1897, and was replaced during the following summer.
The present members of the church number 03 persons. The pastor is Rev. W. G Atwell.
All Saint's church, at Chaumont, is a Roman Catholic mission, under charge of Rev. John Corbett. The parish contains
about fifteen families.
Three Mile Ray is a village of about 250 population, situated at the head of the bay so called, and was named from
the fact of its distance west of the principal settlement at Chaumont. Previous to 1835 the place did not attract
any special attention, yet was a productive fishing locality even from the early history of the town. It was on
the line of the old turnpike, and nearly a mile south of the railroad built in 1851-2. Asa Wilcox founded the village
when in 1835 he built the schooners Florida and Elon Bronson. At his shipyard were also built the Pennsylvania
and Kentuckey, in 1836; the Missouri, in 1837; the Patriot, in 1838; the Asa Wilcox and Havana, in 1841; the D.
D. Calvin and Rocky Mountain, in 1849; the Cambridge, Neptune and brig Empire, in 1843; the Cuba, Oregon and brig
Ontario, in 1844; the Milan and brig Hampton, in 1845; the Champion, Rio Grande, propeller Clifton and brig Iroquois,
in 1846; the Palmetto, Seminole, Portland, Arcadia and brig H. R. Seymour, 1847; the brigs Saxton and Ocean, in
1848; the D. J. Schuyler, in 1849; the Meirose, in 1852; the three-master Hungarian. in 1853.
About this time the industry began to decline, as the railroad was then in full operation, but during his active
career Mr. Wilcox built a total of forty-eight vessels of all classes, at Three Mile Bay, Wilcoxyule and elsewhere.
Among the other ship builders at the bay were Sehuyler & Powers, who in 1843 built the Col. Powers. In the
same year William Combs built the Bogart. In 1845 E. Cline built Tile Rush, and Peter Estes built the Breeze. These
were the principal operators, though throughout the period of boat building, and extending almost to the present
time, small craft and skiffs have been constructed annually. Yet the industry as an element of business life at
the village has passed out of existence.
One of the earliest merchants at the Bay was Lewis Parker, who opened a store about the time ship building began.
Other early store keepers, about in the order of succession, were Lewis Lanfear, Farnham S. Corey, Corey &
Putnam, Daniel J. Schuyler, G. R. Wilcox (son of Asa, who was in trade until about ten years ago), Reuben and Russel
Day, T)ay, Cline & Wilcox, Charles W. McKinstry (the oldest present business man of the village), John L. Schuyler,
Wheeler & Main, Lucas Bros., George W. Ricketts and Wheeler & Hayes. The present mercantile interests are
represented in the general stores of C. W. McKinstry, Herbert H. Shaw and Dr. Vincent; A. D. Curtis' furniture
store; Empie's hardware store, and the Hopkins seed house. The quarriers are Adams & Fish and John J. Barron.
The Methodist Episcopal church at the bay is one of the oldest religious organizations, having been in existence
since 1838, when the class was formed. In 1846 the Three Mile Bay circuit was organized. The house of worship which
was occupied for a time both by the Methodist and Free Will Baptist societies, was built in 1845. The society has
never been strong in point of numbers, the present membership being 37, with 6 probationers. Pastor, Rev. S. M.
The Free Will Baptist society referred to in the preceding paragraph, was formed about 1827 as a Free Communion
society, and was changed to Free Will government in 1841. The society under the latter name was regularly organized
in 1843, and Charles Leonard, R. H. Bartlett, Henry Leonard, William Northrup and Charles Caswell were chosen trustees.
The meeting house was built in 1844. The society is not now in existence.
The First Baptist church of Lyme, as now known, was, in fact, the third society of that denomination in the town.
The mother church was formed on Point Salubrious in 1816, from which a branch society was formed in the same part
of the town in July, 1824, and meetings were held thereafter on the point, and also at Chaumont, Point Peninsula,
North Shore and Three Mile Bay. In 1833 the various societies or branches took the general name of the United church
of Lyme. In 1834 eighteen members were dismissed to the branch on Point Peninsula, which then became an independent
organization. In the fall of same year, Nathan M. Kendall, Nathaniel Wells, Martha Woodruff, Ada Shaw, Anna Pratt
and Ahitabel Wells withdrew from the mother church and formed a new society at Three Mile Bay. This has been the
survivor of churches of this denomination in Lyme, and the only one to maintain a continued existence. Its present
members number 113 persons, but the church is at present without a pastor. The church edifice was erected in 1840,
and was rebuilt in 1874,
The Universalist church at Three Mile Bay was formed in 1850, and has since maintained a continuous existence.
The members are few and meetings have not been held regularly, as much of the time the society has been without
a pastoral head,
Wilcoxville, the post-office name for which is Point Peninsula, is a small hamlet on the east side of Point Peninsula,
and was named in allusion to William Wilcox, an early settler, who built here a large log house which was used
for tavern purposes. Mr. Wilcox kept the hotel several years and at length replaced it with the more comfortable
frame building which still stands. One of the first storekeepers was one of the Sackets, who established a branch
store, probably about 1820. Oliver Wilcox was clerk for Sacket. About the next merchant was Winslow M. Burdick
(who was probably the first postmaster), succeeded by Sheffield Burdick, F. C. Cline, Day, Cline & Wilcox,
Byron Harris and the Misses Clark, the latter being in trade at the present time. About 1875 Linus Collins opened
a store and was succeeded by Frank James, under whose ownership the property was burned.
Asa Wilcox began building schooners on the point about 1832, and was afterward connected with the same industry
on Pillar Point, Three Mile Bay, Chaumont and Sackets Harbor. The schooner New York was built on Point Peninsula
in 1832 by S. Howard. The William Buckley was built in 1834 by G. C. Rand; the Bancroft in 1836, and the G. C.
Rand in 1838, by the same builder. Other small boats were also built on the point, but after Mr. Wilcox removed
to the bay the business rapidly declined.
After the old.time interests were gone Wilcoxville became an unimportant hamlet in the town; but about 1872 and
'73 the inhabitants became possessed of the belief that underlying the land surface in their locality was a deposit
of petroleum oil. This belief resulted in the organization and incorporation, March 18, 1873, of the Point Peninsula
oil and mining company, with $5,000 capital, for the purpose of digging, boring and experimenting in the "search
for oil, ore, salt, coal and other minerals on Point Peninsula." The promoters of this enterprise were Daniel
C. Holbrook, Welcome Wilcox, James H. Wiggins, 0. S. Wilcox, George A. Barnes, Jacob Putnam, L. D. Collins, H.
M. Lepper and Nelson L. Enders. The undertaking, however, did not result in the discovery of mineral deposits of
any kind in quantities sufficient to justify a considerable outlay of capital, therefore the company soon passed
out of existence. However, one of the Collins' residences was for a long time lighted with natural gas from the
The present business interests of the hamlet comprise the store conducted by the Misses Clark, George Putnam's
hotel, a new cheese factory, and the shops usually found in small settlements. The public buildings are the district
school and the Methodist Episcopal church. The society of the M. E. church on Point Peninsula was formed in 1834
by Hiram Shepard and Freeman H. Stanton, and meetings were afterward regularly held, yet a church home was not
provided until 1880. The church membership is small, numbering at present 25 persons. The pastor is Rev. C. V.
Wood. The church property, including parsonage, is valued at $2,000.
Supervisors.- Richard M. Esselstyn,
1818-22; John B. Esselstyn, 1823; Willard Ainsworth, 1824; Jno. B. Esseistyn, elected at special town meeting,
Sept, 1824; Willard Ainsworth, 1825-32; Otis P. Starkey, 1833; Jerre Carrier, 1834-35; Wilmot Ingalls, 1836; Isaac
Wells, 1837; Philip P. Gaige, 1838; Roswell T. Lee, 1839; P. P. Gaige, 1840; Timothy Dewey, 1841; William Carlisle,
1842; Alexander Copley, 1843; W. 0. Howard, 1844; Theophilus Peugnet, 1845; Isaac Wells, 1846-47; Alex. Copley,
1848; P. P. Gaige, 1849; Henry Cline, 1850; Alex. Copley, 1851; Richard Ryder, 1852; Wm. Carlisle, 1853-54; Jacob
Putnam, 1855; Nelson Burdick, 1856; Wm. Dewey, 1857; Jacob Putnam, 1858-60; Francis C. Cline, 1861; Remos Wells,
1862-65; Wm. H. Main, 1866-67; Andrew J. Dewey, 1868-73; Charles M. Enipie, 1874-76; Adelbert A. Getman, 1877-78;
Waitsill Crumb, 1879-81; David M. Mount, 1882-83; W. W. Enos, 1884-85; John F. Delaney, 1886; Thaddeus 0. Peck,
1887; Waitsill Crumb, 1888; Jno. F. Delaney, 1889; Eli B. Johnson, 1890-95; A. Jatnes Shepard, 1896-99.