Moira was erected from Dickinson April 15, 1828, and consists of a single township. At the date of its erection
there were but few inhabitants in all of the other seven townships to the south of it, comprising the remainder
of Dickinson, and it would thus seem to have been entitled fairly to assume the parental name had the people so
chosen, but the township had been designated as Moira (for the Earl of Moira, in Ireland), and the new town was
The first settlers were Appleton Foote and Benjamin Seeley, who came from Middlebury, Vermont, in 1803. The former
was the resident land agent of the then owners of the township, viz., Robert Gilchrist and Theodorus Fowler, who
afterward disposed of their holdings to Luther Bradish, Robert Watts and Peter Kean. Jonathan Lawrence arid Joseph
Plumb came the same year with Foote and Seeley, but did not bring their families until 1804. Samuel Foster, Isaiah
and Rufus Tilden, Jason Pierce, Captain Thomas Spencer and David Bates came at about the same time, or a year or
two later. Mr. Foote and Mr. Seeley did not remain long, the former removing to Malone. Mr. Seeley and Mr. Plumb
removed to Bangor, and Mr. Foster to Dickinson, Mr. Seeley locating a little later in Malone. Mr. Foster succeeded
Mr. Foote for a time as agent for the proprietors. Philip Kearney, father of the one-armed general of the same
name, as gallant an officer as ever lived and the idol of his men until he was killed in 1862, also represented
the owners at one time, and lived in the town. Upon Mr. Kearney's removal Jonathan Lawrence became the agent, and
with his son, Hon. Sidney Lawrence, sold most of the Gilchrist and Fowler lands that were disposed of to actual
settlers, and thus contributed most to bringing new blood and additional people into the town. In a word, Moira
was long a Lawrence town, this family having had a larger part than any other in the town's development, and having
made the greatest impress upon it. Jonathan Lawrence had been a revolutionary soldier, and took an active part
in preparing for the defense of Franklin county against a possible British invasion in 1812. He conducted the first
hotel after Benjamin Seeley in Moira, held many town offices. and always took an active and useful part in all
of the general affairs of the community. He died in 1851 at the ripe age of ninety years.
Rufus Tilden became prominent in business, and was a militia captain in active service in the war of 1812, with
higher rank after peace was restored. Captain Spencer was a man of forceful character, and removed to the west
in middle age.
Settlement was slow until about the time of the war of 1812, and even as late as 1830 the whole number of people
in the town was barely eight hundred. Thirty years later the number had more than doubled, and, in 1875 the population
reached its maximum, 2,512. Since then it has fluctuated, but not more than a hundred or two either way between
census periods, the number reported by the enumeration of 1915 being 2,413, of which one-half or more are in the
two hamlets Moira and Brushton. The enumeration of the former, treating the electric light district as coequal
with the hamlet, gave it four hundred inhabitants, while Brushton claims to have at least twice that number. But
if the latter be the larger, Moira may perhaps be reconciled by the fact that a grand jury inquiry in 1859 established
that it had imported by rail during the year 1858 nearly two hundred barrels of whiskey while Brushton had received
in the same way during the same time only sixty-two barrels.
Agriculturally Moira is one of the good towns of the county, and used to be called the very best for corn, though
it is told that the crop having failed there in one year some of the people had to go over into Bangor for their
supply, and that thus a section of Moira came to he called Canaan, while the part of Bangor which relieved their
wants has since been known as Egypt.
The first school house was built in 1807 near the present hamlet of Moira. Provision for the support of the common
schools was one of the first acts of the town after its erection, and always since has been generous. Interest
in educational matters has continuously been marked, and both Moira and Brushton have high schools of exceptional
excellence and superior facilities considering the size of the places. Both do work of an academic grade, have
fine school buildings and are at pains to have a high class of teachers - of whom there are nine employed at Brushton
and five at Moira.
The Northern Railroad (afterward known for many, years as the Ogdensburg and Lake Champlain Railroad, and now as
the Ogdensburg division of the Rutland Railroad) passes through the town near its center. It was completed in 1850,
and has a station at Moira and another at Brushton, which was formerly called Brush's Mills. The improved shipping
facilities thus afforded gave a decided impetus to the business of the town and to its growth in population, so
that the latter increased thirty-four per cent. in the ensuing ten years. In 1883 the undertaking of lumbering
operations in Waverly and Santa Clara upon a scale never before known in the East led to the construction of the
Northern Adirondack Railroad from Moira to St. Regis Falls, with extension afterward to Santa Clara, Brandon or
Buck Mountain and Tupper Lake, and in 1889 to the building of a railroad by Ernest G. Reynolds of Bombay, in association
with the Central Vermont Railroad, north from Moira to Bombay, where it made a connection with the Grand Trunk
system. The latter proposition proved to be very unprofitable, and was wholly abandoned and the rails taken up
in 1896. Still later, when the Northern Adirondack Railroad and its, extensions had been acquired by New York Central
interests, a new line, bearing west and north from Moira, was built to and across the St. Lawrence river at a point
just west of St. Regis, and carried thence to Ottawa.
Orrin Lawrence, a son of Jonathan, was sheriff of the county in 1830. Clark Lawrence, also son of Jonathan, and
father of Clark J., of Malone, was the town's first real merchant, an innkeeper, and for thirty years postmaster.
With his brother, Orrin, he commenced in 1824 the erection of the "Tavern House" on the corner now occupied
by Enright, and took over the property alone in 1829. He operated also for a number of years one of the most important
asheries in the county. Darius W. Lawrence (son of Orrin) and Clark J. Lawrence were prosperous merchants for many
years, making more money there than they ever made afterward in Malone. The former was active and influential for
a long period in local Democratic politics. He was elected to the Assembly in 1851 and 1852, and the respect in
which he was held and the wide popularity which he enjoyed caused him, even against his inclination, to be drafted
many times in after years as a candidate for one or another county office in times when the Democracy was particularly
anxious to poll a heavy vote. Clark J. Lawrence, though as pronounced as any member of the family in his political
preferences and faith, never cared for the activities of politics, and never sought public office. In business
enterprises his part has been large and varied, and no one has enjoyed a higher reputation for acumen and soundness
of judgment and integrity. He and Darius W. removed to Malone in 1867, three or four years after the organization
of the Farmers National Bank, to become associated in its management. Further reference to them' will he found
in the chapter of biographical sketches.
Sidney Lawrence was a justice of the peace continuously for more than half a century, supervisor and assessor a
number of times, surrogate of the county from 1837 to 1843, State Senator in 1843 and 1844, member of Assembly
in 1846, and representative in Congress in 1847 and 1848. He was an intimate friend of Silas Wright, who more than
once urged him to be a candidate for Governor. My inference from references 'to him found in local newspaper files
between 1840 and 1855 is that lie was not especially interested or initially active in the minutiae of politics
or in manipulating nominations, but that managers and candidates had to make their peace with him when it came
to a question of the principles or policies for which they were to stand in a campaign. Pilgrimages to Moira for
this purpose appear to have been usual almost every year, and it was not often 'that a candidate failed upon such
an occasion to give in his adherence to "the Moira platform." To Mr. Lawrence certainly they all did
claim to stand upon it, or else they failed to command his support; and it is to his credit that he counted principle
higher than mere success. At times shifty candidates were understood to have professed in Moira a faith which they
disavowed in Chateaugay, Fort Covington and elsewhere. But they all had to "knuckle" to Judge Lawrence
in one way or another if they hoped to win. Had he so chosen he might undoubtedly have continued in office, but
he became disgusted with political methods, and absorbed in business affairs, in which he accumulated a considerable
fortune. He was for a number of years president of the National Bank of Malone.
It has been my privilege recently to examine an account book kept by Clark Lawrence as postmaster at Moira for
a part of the terms that he served in that office. Starting in 1840, it runs to 1847, and apparently about every
person who sent or received mail at Moira in this entire period is charged for postage thereon. In one of these
years a hundred and thirty-three persons had such accounts some of them for single separate items at various dates,
and others with larger correspondence having a continued running account for perhaps three or four months between
settlements. The rate of postage then was determinable by the number of sheets or pieces of paper contained in
a letter and also by the distance that it was carried. The postage was payable at the office of origin or of destination
at the option of the sender. Thus I find in this book one letter from California charged at twenty-seven cents,
a number from nearer points in the West and in the South at twenty-five cents each, Vermont letters at twelve and
a half cents each, other New England letters, as well as those from Albany, New York and Washington, at eighteen
and three-quarters cents each, those to or from Clinton or St. Lawrence county, and Duane, Fort Covington, Franklin
and Hogansburgh, at ten cents each, while to and from Bangor, Malone and Chateaugay the rate was six cents. On
one letter to Washington the postage was fifty-six cents, so that it must have consisted of three separate sheets
or pieces. In 1845 rates were reduced; Boston, New York and the West and South to ten cents, and to all places
in Northern New York and Vermont to five cents. To England and Ireland it was twelve cents. Luther Bradish, Henry
N. Brush, Robert• Watts and Sidney Lawrence (the latter a brother of the postmaster) had the most frequent charges,
and the largest in amount. The latter's account continued without a payment for several years, and totaled about
sixty-two dollars. Of course the postmaster must have had to report and remit to Washington at stated times, while
his collections evidently had to wait upon the pleasure or convenience of the patrons of 'the office. It is improbable
that many other postmasters of that time had the accommodating spirit or possessed the means thus to advance the
funds for the postage bills of the customers of their offices generally, so 'that it is not presumable that Mr.
Lawrence's practice in this regard was usual. But even as an exceptional case it is so radically at yariance with
modern methods, and would be so utterly impossible in the present, 'that it possesses a unique interest, and is
illuminative of old conditions.
Luther Bradish came to Moira from New York in 1826, and quickly became an important figure in the life of the town
and county. He continued to reside there for about fifteen years, and loomed large. A sketch of his life is given
in another chapter.
Henry N. Brush located at Brush's Mills (now Brushton) in 1835. He was a man of finished education, an engaging
public speaker, and a man of strong parts. He disputed primacy in the town with Sidney Lawrence, and if less prominent
it was in part at least because he was a Whig, while the town was strongly Democratic. His holdings of land were
large, and the business and industrial development of the eastern part of Moira were due largely to his activities.
He died in 1872.
As the men of Moira who have been prominent in politics and in business pass in mind the Stevenses, the Petits,
the Dickinsons. the Farnsworths, the Mannings, the Burnhams, the Russells, the Perrys, the Bucklands, the Harrises,
the Bowens, Mr. Dewey, and too many others even to mention - one is impressed 'that in point of native ability
and good citizenship the quality of Moira's people has averaged high. But further detailed individual sketches
are impracticable within the limits assigned to this chapter, except that it must be added that the town has been
especially fortunate in having had always an exceptionally fine class of physicians - men of skill and character,
whose mere presence in a stricken home carried hope and reassurance, and whose sympathetic kindness and interest
bound their patients to them in affectionate regard. Among these were Dana H. Stevens, who was also the county's
first superintendent of common schools in 1843; Frederick Petit, the first school commissioner in the second district
in 1850, and who died in the army in 1863; and also Luther A. Burnhani and Elisha A. Rust. Though lacking the education
and special training which these enjoyed, Samuel Barnum must be included in the list. He was a follower of the
Thompsonian school, whose teachings were against the use of mineral medicaments, and whose disciples held that
the tendency of vegetation being 'to spring 'up from the earth, therefore vegetable remedies upheld man from the
grave. More simply, Mr. Barnum was an herb doctor. Nominally his home was at Moira, but his habit was to tramp
from place to place through Vermont and Northern New York, and at one time at least he was absent from Moira for
years. Like the famed Johnny Appleseed, he had a passion for planting - only he ran to the herbs used by him in
treating the sick instead of to apple trees, and all through this section he set out mint, tansy and carroway.
There were far fewer physicians, both actually and relatively, in his day than there are now, and in his humble
way he was useful.
The industrial enterprises of Moira were never numerous or large. The community is distinctively agricultural,
but with two small unincorporated villages - Brushton and Moira. Each is a station on the Rutland Railroad, and
each is on an improved trunk-line highway. Almost with the first settlement in the town, Appleton Foote, as the
agent of Gilchrist and Fowler, erected a saw mill at what is now Brushton, and a grist mill there in the year following,
which was displaced by the present stone mill in 1823, built by Robert Watts, and later improved and enlarged by
Henry N. Brush. Latterly it was operated by Irving Peck, but has been acquired recently by Neilson Brush. The saw
mill was rebuilt by Mr. Brush, but went into disuse and was torn down long ago. Mr. Brush had also a second saw
mill in the northwestern part of the town. Another saw mill, north of Brushton, was built by Phillips and Bowen,
and owned later by B. F. Harris, and then by B.. C. Martin and C. A. Arnold, after which it became J. S. Hill's
chair factory, and is now owned and operated as a steam mill by Conger Brothers. J. S. Hill and Julius Tryon built
a small saw mill in 1871 south and west of Brushton, ran it for seven years, and then dismantled it. Asahel Green
also has a steam saw mill near Brushton, and both he and Conger Brothers are sawing hard timber almost exclusively.
S. Farnsworth formerly had a carding mill north of Brushton, and the place has also had four tanneries and a distillery.
The earliest of the tanneries were one built prior to 1835 by Merritt Crandall for Robert Watts, and another, probably
still earlier, on the road leading south from the railroad crossing just west of Brushton, on the Stevens brook,
by Samuel Stevens. This was a small and primitive affair, with the bark mill run by horse power, the horse hitched
to a sweep or beam connected to a revolving post, and the horse traveling continuously in a circle. The vats were
simply holes dug in the ground, and walled up with plank so as to be watertight. The skins or hides were put into
the vats, usually in the autumn, which were then banked over with earth. In some cases the contents remained in
the vats for a year or longer. Mr. Stevens used to tell that at the time he began operations there were only three
families (Lawrence, Bradish and Watts) who killed their own beeves, and that the first year of his operation of
the tannery he had only three hides to tan. He afterward turned out all kinds of leather, from that used in harnesses
and in soleing boots to fine stuff for women's shoes, and also sheepskins with the wool on, which farmers formerly
used so commonly as wagon cushions. Mr. Stevens died in 188.5, but long before that the tannery had disappeared.
Another tannery, built by Henry N. Brush, was afterward owned by D. W. Lawrence and Martin Bushnell. Webster Brothers
of Malone operated it forty-odd years ago. It was burned during their occupancy, rebuilt by them, and again burned.
A fourth tannery, on practically the lines of that built by Mr. Stevens, was located north of Moira Corners, and
was run by Mason Wilcox, who afterward lived on the Duane road south of Malone village. The distillery was a Brush
enterprise, with Richard Tryon and James Pickering in charge, but, of course, it has long been out of existence.
B. F. Harris engaged thirty years or more ago extensively in the manufacture of sash, doors and trim at Brushton,
but his establishment was burned, and not rebuilt. Until corn drove the potato product out of the market there
were several starch factories. The. first of these, and one of the first in the county, was built in 1851, and
operated by Colonel Christopher A. Stone, from Plattsburgh, and Captain William R. Tupper, from Burlington, Vt.
Its foundation walls are still to be seen at the Farrington brook just west of Brushton, at the point that used
to be called Tupperville. Colonel Stone removed to Geneseo, Ill., and Captain Tupper located at Chateaugay Lake,
where he ran a small steamboat for a number of years. At a later date D. W. and C. J. Lawrence had two starch factories,
one in the northern part of the town, just south of South Bombay, and the other in the western section; and Dexter
B. Lewis, and then George Farrington, ran the Stone-Tupper mill. D. D. D. Dewey was also a manufacturer of starch
at one time. Forty years ago and more A. C. Slater & Son had a saw mill northwest of Moira, and D. D. D. Dewey
and N. C. Bowen had a steam saw mill and planing mill at Moira, which was destroyed by fire; and in the years when
'the large lumber output at St. Regis Falls, Santa Clara and Brandon (now Bay Pond) all had to find outlet via
Moira a planing mill at the latter place, operated first by Patrick A. Ducey, later by William W. Wheeler, and
still later by Wm. S. Lawrence, did a considerable business, but is now idle. John J. Tomb had a carding and spinning
mill as early as 1828, and is understood to have been induced to undertake the business there by Philip Kearney,
who was active in persuading skilled artisans to establish themselves in the town.
O. H. P. Fancher, who is said to have been the father of the Rarey system of horse training, operated a brickyard
near the Farrington brook for a few years after 1877. Before coming to Brushton he was said to have been tied to
a stake three times by Indians, and fire kindled for the torture.
The modern tendency to consolidation and the competition created by condensaries and milk shipping stations have
operated in Moira, as everywhere else, to diminish the number of creameries. One south of Moira Corners, owned
by Edward Barnett, has become a skimming station for a creamery at Alburgh, and another, north of Moira (built
by George Elwood on the site of one owned by W. J. Congdon, that was burned) is now owned by F. L. Richards, and
is similarly used in connection with the latter's creamery at Brushton. Four creameries are now in operation, viz.:
Stiles & Erwin's, west of Moira Corners; F. L. Richards's at Brushton; James O'Connor's, north of Moira; and
Clayton Tryon's, also north of Moira. Others that are now out of existence include one owned by J. H. Griflin in
the Wangum district; one that used to be in the old Methodist church building, burned, and which was run by George
Whitman and Melburn Demo; and A. C. Slater's and H. F. Keeler's. The Borden Condensed Milk Co.'s milk shipping
station at Brushton manufactures cheese whenever the demand for milk in New York city is not equal to the supply,
and there is also a shipping station at Moira, owned by the Levy Dairy Co. Besides the many thousands of pounds
of milk which these two concerns send. to the metropolis by the regular milk ttain, large quantities of cream go
from the town daily by express 'to New England points.
Sanatoria are many in this day, here and elsewhere, but it will doubtless surprise all except the oldest readers
that there was announcement fifty-odd years ago of the opening of one near Brushton by Dr. H. G. Parker. The advertisement
indicated a really pretentious establishment, called a retreat for the afflicted, located at the farm of Coomer
Brown, control of which Parker had acquired; and. it emphasized that there were two medicinal springs in the vicinity
- one of which was, perhaps, the Brush spring, while conjecture suggests that the second may have been the sulphur
spring in Westville. Dr. Parker advertised to be in attendance personally at Brushton three days in each week,
one day at Duddee, Que., and the remainder of the time at Cote St. George, and to cure consumption, asthma, heart
disease, cancer, rheumatism and other ailments. I understand that the sanatorium had few patients, if any at all,
so that it did no one any good, nor any one except Mr. Brown any harm. Parker was a negro or mulatto.
A chalybeate spring was discovered at Brushton by Henry N. Brush through having stepped into it and afterward observing
that his boot was covered with iron rust. The spring was walled in, and for years its waters were used by many
visitors for its curative properties. It was believed to be beneficial in cases of scrofula, erysipelas and nervous
ailments. Latterly it has been little frequented, though occasionally people in the vicinity still drive there,
and take the water home. It will not bear long keeping, however, as when bottled a sediment forms, and the curative
properties are lost. A curious feature in connection with it is that hardly more than a step from it is a spring
that flows perfectly pure water, without even a trace of any mineral impregnation.
An agricultural society was formed in 1872, and held annual exhibitions for seven years. The grounds were south
of the railroad station at Brushton, and included a race track. The address in 1875 was by "Brick" Pomeroy,
and in 1876 by Theodore Tilton. Both lashed the farmers unmercifully for their lack of business methods and for
failure to cultivate their lands intelligently and scientifically. The enterprise did not prove a success financially,
and no fairs were held after 1878.
Two murders have been committed in Moira. On January 10, 1839, while Oliver Pierce and his son, William, were at
work in the woods, an altercation arose between them over the son's request to be permitted to take a horse to
drive to an entertainment in the evening. Upon denial of his request the son became sullen, and failed to obey
directions given by the father concerning the work,, whereupon the father struck him in chastisement. In a paroxysm
of rage the son then buried the blade of his axe in the father's breast, and death ensued after a day or two. The
son was convicted of murder in the first degree, and was sentenced to be hung; but Governor Seward visited him
in the jail at Malone, and afterward commuted the sentence to life imprisonment, which was subsequently modified
to imprisonment for forty-nine years, four months and six days. The term expired in December, 1888, but Pierce
had become insane, and upon his release was turned over to Superintendent of the Poor Henry A. Miller, who had
him 'transferred to the Wifiard Asylum at Ovid, where he died.
In the evening of May 28, 1903, J. E. Brady, a respected and popular merchant at Brushton, closed his store at
the usual hour, and started for home on his bicycle. He was assaulted, and his skull crushed, though he was able
after regaining consciousness to make his way alone to his residence. A part of a sum of money that was known to
have been on his person when he left the store was missing upon his arrival at his home. He died from his injuries
June 13th. Local opinion to some extent held that the murder was the work of local characters, but Mr. Steenberge,
who was sheriff at the time, and dug into the matter as deeply as possible, believes that the assailants were tramps.
A fire at Moira May 9, 1900, burned the stores of A. L. Sayles, J. B. Crandall and J. H. Enright, and Dodge &
Burnap's meat market. The losses aggregated $30,000.
W. W. W. Belknapp founded and for a few years published the North Star at Brushton. He was burned out in 1884.
Charles H. Smith established the Brushton Facts and Fallacies in 1899, and still continues the publication. Mr.
Belknapp re-entered the newspaper business as publisher of the Brushtonian, which was continued for only a few
months - Mr. Smith buying it and consolidating it with Facts and Fallacies. Miora also had a newspaper, called
the Northern Adirondack, for a short time in 1887. It was started by W. E. Clark, and was published later by V.
L. Clark and W. E. Pratt.
The First National Bank of Brushton, a well managed and prospering institution, commenced business January 24,
1910, with a capital of $25,000. Its resources in September, 1917, aggregated $286,533.76, and it had accumulated
in less than eight years a surplus of $20,659.55. Its deposits amounted at the same date to $216,159.21. Its deposits
more than doubled in the two years from 1915, and its resources increased in the same time by $109,000.
As already stated, the first hotels in the town were those of Appleton Foote at Brushton and of Benjamin Seeley
and Jonathan Lawrence at Moira. But these were hardly public houses, inasmuch as they were only the homes of the
gentlemen named thrown open to accommodate and entertain the few who sought a meal or lodging. Then followed the
really public inn of Clark Lawrence at Moira, which Mr. Lawrence himself kept until about 1840. From that date
until the house burned in 1883 it changed ownership a number of times, and had many landlords, among whom were
Wilbur Austin, A. Green Pierce, Horace Salisbury, Ambrose Hosford, Julius Pierce, George W. Dustin, Thomas Murray,
James Humphrey, Stillman Burnap and Henry Clark. It was during the latter's occupancy that the building burned,
and Mr. Clark then bought a house near the Adirondack Railroad which he converted into a hotel under the name "Adirondack."
Not proving profitable, it was abandoned as a hotel and made info a tenement, but in 1915 (the town having voted
in favor of license) it became a hotel again under the ownership of Edwin Ross, and with A. H. Plumadore as its
landlord. The Railroad Hotel, as it was known fifty or sixty years ago, and afterward as the Franklin House, is
now Hackett's Tavern. It was built about 1850 or 1851, and, as its original name implied, is near the station.
It has had as landlords Ransom Harrington, John R. Covey, Oscar Phipps, William W. Shedd, McKenzie Payne, Thomas
Murray and others. William Hackett bought the property thirty years ago or more, has greatly enlarged and improved
it, and manages the house himself. George Prespare recently acquired a saloon building near the railroad station,
made it over into a hotel, and conducted it under the name Moira House. Yet another hotel at Moira, built by W.
S. Lawrence in recent years, is modern in construction and fine in its appointments, but has been vacant for several
years. It is too good a property for promiscuous renting, and yet is not salable at its value because of the uncertainty
of obtaining a license for the sale of liquor. Seventy years ago or more Bradford Smith kept a hotel about a mile
east from Moira Corners, near the Julius Tryon (now Albion Drake) place. He committed suicide by hanging. Lieut-Gov.
Bradish boarded there about 1840.
The date of the opening of the first hotel at Brushton after that of Mr. Foote I have been unable to ascertain
definitely, but it was running at least as early as 1846. It was a two-story frame structure on the site of the
present Brushton House, and the building had been the dwelling house of Robert Watts, and afterward of Henry N.
Brush. When the latter moved to a new home on the east side of the river, it was converted into a hotel. Aaron
Peck kept it in 1852, and among its other landlords have been S. H. Lyon, Ira Marks, James Humphrey, James Lawrence,
Steven Gile, J. J. Mattheson, Woods Brothers, A. E. Barnett, Joel O. Allen, Jr., and Merchant 0. Phelps, the present
owner and manager. It was burned in 1877 during one of the terms when Mr. Gile occupied it, and again in 1911 under
Mr. Allen's ownership. It was rebuilt the last time, in 1914, by a stock company, which sold to Mr. Phelps.* Mr.
Lawrence's occupancy had some memorable incidents, in connection with one Salisbury, which give interest to the
statement that his son, Henry, is now the proprietor of the best hotel in Indianapolis, Ind., is a director in
one of the largest banks in that city, and is rated, as worth a million dollars. Friends and associates of the
writer in his younger years who may chance to read this sketch would deem it strange if special mention were not
made of "Steve's" management here, which made it one of the best country inns anywhere. Mrs. Gile was
a famous cook, and both husband and wife were hospitable and kind. Dance suppers were always fine, and so tempting
was the table generally that private parties from Malone and other places frequently drove there for broiled chicken
and other appetizing fare. When the number was large enough a dance usually followed the supper. The Giles finally
removed to the woods, and have now departed life. A son, known as "light," was an officer in the 98th
regiment during the civil war, and as a young man was something of a high roller. "light's" final years
were passed as a cook on a ranch in Arizona, where he was widely known as "Old Dad," and was popular.
He was killed twenty years ago or so in attempting to board a moving train at Flagstaff.
Another hotel at Brushton, called the Commercial House, but more often referred to now as the "brown hotel,"
was built by A. Green Pierce in 1870 on the opposite side of the street from 'the Brushton House. It had not been
quite completed when it was destroyed by fire, which was supposed to have originated by spontaneous combustion
of painters' rags. It was at once rebuilt, partly by donations of timber and labor by the people of the vicinity,
and was burned again in September, 1884 - the guests barely escaping with their lives. Mr. Pierce, W. W. W. Belknapp,
Tom Jellico, C. H. Freeman, Steven Gile, J. L. Fish and others were its landlords. The building was owned when
it burned the second time by Delong and Stearns, and occupied by Mr. Gile. The same fire destroyed also Belknapp's
printing office, the "novelty bazar," and E. A. Whitney's barn and residence. The hotel was not rebuilt.
Early merchants at Moira, besides Clark Lawrence, were Captain Rufus Tilden, Sidney and Orrin Lawrence, D. W. &
C. J. Lawrence, Warren L. Manning (afterward at Fort Covington, and then at Malone), Ira Russell and Baker and
Dana Stevens; and somewhat later M. V. B. Meeker, D. D. D. Dewey, 'Clark & Crandall, L. J. Dickinson, Horace
M. Stevens, Wm. E. Dawson and A. L. Sayles. The place now has six or eight mercantile establishments, all in the
immediate vicinity of the Corners with the exception of the wholesale and retail house of C. W. Brush, which is
near the railroad station. Clark Lawrence's day book as merchant from 1829 to 1840 is interesting. Not a few items
in it are for whiskey, sold to men who were pillars in society and in the church. In that day practically all merchants
sold liquor as a matter of course, and no one thought either the traffic or the drinking wrong. Even clergymen
used liquor commonly, and not infrequently to the extent that they became "mellow." Moreover, everybody
who can remember back to those times is pretty sure to include in his remarks concerning them the reflection that
though liquor was so cheap and so commonly used, it did not seem to induce disorder and riotous conduct as it does
now. One particularly suggestive item in Mr. Lawrence's day book is a charge which couples "one quart of whiskey
and four fishhooks," so that the "bait" peculiar to the sport of angling has been deemed essential
from a very early time. Lieutenant-Governors would doubtless enjoy procuring butter at the price that Luther Bradish
paid in 1829, when it cost him ten cents per pound, or eggs at about the same figure per dozen.
Early traders at Brushton included Henry N. Brush, V. Parsons Hill, James Farnsworth, _____ Case, B. F. Whipple,
and John S. Hill. Charles Durkee was there for a few months sixty-odd years ago as manager of a store opened by
Edwin L. Meigs of Malone. While Mr. Brush's name appears in the list I am informed that he engaged in trade for
a short time only, and less for profit than to accommodate the little community, so that residents might be spared
the expense and inconvenience of having to go elsewhere to satisfy their small requirements. Now Brushton has eighteen
or twenty stores of one kind, or another, or just about the same number that there were dwelling houses there sixty
At Moira there are a Congregational and Methodist Episcopal church, and at Brushton one each of the Methodist Episcopal,
the Christian, the Roman Catholic and the Protestant Episcopal.
The Congregational dates from 1823, when Rev. Reuben Armstrong, representing the Berkshire and Columbia Society,
and Rev. John Kennan visited Moira, held a meeting at the residence of Thomas Oakes, and formed the church with
nine members, viz., Thomas Beals and wife, Thomas Oakes and wife, Simeon Harwood and wife, Rachel Stickney, Abigail
Spencer and one other unknown, who "entered into covenant with each other, and were pronounced a church."
So far as the clerk's records show, preaching during the next four years occurred only about once in six months.
The membership in 1915 numbered about twenty-eight, and forty years previously was twice as large. Decrease in
the number continued steadily from 1915, and in 1917 the organization held .what it was thought would be its last
service, and was deemed practically extinct. The church enrolled with the Preshytery of Champlain in 1827, but
withdrew in 1866 to affiliate with the St. Lawrence Association. For a number of years following organization the
school house was used as a house of worship; the church edifice was erected in 1844, and was dedicated in 1845
by Rev. Ashbel Parmelee. It was remodeled in 1871. An examination of the church records discloses conditions very
like to those told in the story of Dickinson concerning the Free Will' Baptist church. A standing committee was
appointed early in the life of the society to inquire of all members who should become delinquent the reasons for
such delinquencies, and to have temporal watch and care over the brethren. In one case in 1829 a complaint was
made against both Mr. and Mrs. Beals. The committee reported that they had been visited more than once, and told
of their fault, but "they did not hear me," and "I now tell it 'to the church." As learned
from a source other than the record, their offense consisted in having walked one Sunday afternoon from their home
to a neighbor's to see a panther or "painter" that the latter had killed on Saturday, leaving it on exhibition
in his door yeardyard until Monday, when it was to be skinned and presented to the authorities for the bounty then
payable on those animals. Mr. and Mrs. Beals having refused to confess that they had done wrong and declined to
express penitence, the church, after many hearings and admonitions, excommunicated them. Complaint was made against
John Tomb for a number of offenses, one of which was the "manifestation of greater anxiety for his temporal
prosperity than for the prosperity of Zion," and another "neglect of prayer." He also was heard
many times, and finally excommunicated. Another member was rejected for instability and "inconsistency of
practice in running after other denominations, especially the Christians," and for neglect of family prayer.
Still another, who applied for a letter of recommendation in view of a contemplated union with the Free Will Baptists,
and who had been immersed, was refused; and yet another was suspended because it was shown that she had been re-baptized.
The first conference appointment of a resident minister to the Methodist Episcopal church was in 1850, and the
next year the society was reported as having one hundred and thirty-eight members. Of course these could not all
have been gained in a single year, but must have been mostly the fruits of labors when the place was served by
circuit riders, which Hurd's history of Clinton and Franklin counties says were begun there in 1831, at which date
Moira was in the Malone circuit, but was transferred to the Bangor circuit in 1835. Thus the locality would appear
to have had services with more or less regularity for nearly twenty years prior to becoming an independent charge;
and I have before me an account of a camp meeting held in the town in 1833 or 1834, written by a man who was present.
Rev. Jesse Peck was one of the preachers, and the number in attendance was large. Meetings of this character have
been held in Moira probably more often than in any other town in the county. Years ago they were held on the Irving
Peck farm in the western part of the town, and also at a point between Moira and Brushton. In more recent times,
and until 1914, when the camp-meeting custom was abandoned, they were held in the medicinal spring grove at Brushton.
where were erected stables, a preachers' stand, fifteen private cottages and a dining hail, with a large tent in
which to hold the services. Several of these buildings have been torn down, though some still remain. The pastor
informs me that the present church building at Moira was finished in 1869, and dedicated in 1870, and that at Brushton
in 1874, though it looks much older. The members of the Moira charge number one hundred and twenty-one, and of
Brushton one hundred and one. A single pastor serves both.
Hough's history, which was published in 1852 and is reliable, states that a Christian church was organized by James
Spooner in Moira in 1816, and that the next year it had seventeen members. It adds that "in connection with
the Methodists they have a church at Moira village." This edifice stood on the site of the present Methodist
church, and the description in a deed to other premises, as recorded in the county clerk's office, refers to the
lot as having been marked and conveyed by Jonathan Lawrence. The date of this other deed is 1833, which is the
nearest I can come to the time of the church's erection. In a letter to the Palladium in 1870 Warren L. Manning
stated that it was the first built in the county. No deed to the church lot is on record, but a copy of a lease
of it by Mr. Lawrence for "as long as the same shall be used for the purposes of a church" is on file
in the office of the town clerk. It was executed to the trustees of the Methodist Episcopal church and to the trustees
of the Christian church in 1845, and the consideration was one dollar. Though the lease denotes that the church
was of the "union" order, the fact is that it was used exclusively by the Methodists for a long time
previous to the building of the present church, and came to be known as the Methodist church. When the new building
was erected the old one was moved to a site a few rods east of the "Corners", and after a time was converted
into a creamery. It burned a few years ago.
Mr. Spooner, the organizer of the Christian church, came from New Hampshire, and though only a common laborer found
time and asserted the force to establish two churches in the county. The Christian church was removed to Brushton
probably about 1849. Its records are very incomplete, but it is known to have held its meetings in the school house
at Brushton until it erected a church building of its own in 1869. For sixty years or more it has maintained a
resident pastor, who sometimes officiated at East Dickinson also, and it continues to be an active organization.
St. Mary's Church at Brushton was a part of the Malone parish until 1850, when it became an independent charge.
The first mass here was said in the "old red store," since burned, hut which was on the main street,
on the east bank of the river. There were 'then only thirty Catholic families in the district. In 1855 a church
building was erected, and a parochial residence provided in 1870. Thirty years ago the church had three hundred
and fifty families in membership, and, though Bangor and West Bangor have since been set off from it, it nevertheless
now has over four hundred families. For a time a few years ago it had a parochial school, but abandoned it because
of lack of support.
St. Peter's 'Protestant Episcopal church at Brushton was organized in 1867, largely through the efforts of Mrs.
H. N. Brush, and a church building erected in 1869. For a part of the time since then it has been served by clergymen
from Malone, though generally it has had, and now has, a resident rector.
North Star Lodge, No. 107, F. and A. M., was organized at Lawrence April 8, 1846, removed to Moira January 31,
1855, and to Brushton February 9, 1887. It has a membership of ninety-two, and owns the building in which the lodge
room is situated. The first floor of the building is unoccupied except as the town leases it for a polling place.
Sidney Lawrence Lodge, No. 660, I. O. O. F., was formed February 24, 1893, and has forty-three members.
Brushton has a Grand Army post, organized in April, 1883, and its present membership numbers twenty-eight. Its
title is H. L. Aldrich post No. 363. In a number of years reunions or camp fires of the veterans of the civil war
were held in the chalybeate spring grove.
Brushton Grange, No. 901, organized January 28, 1901, is in a flourishing condition, with three hundred and sixty
members, and ownership of a substantial two-story building, the first floor of which is rented for commercial purposes.
Moira Tent Knights of Maccabees, No. 425, was established at Moira in March, 1896.
* This hotel was burned July 3, 1918, with an estimated loss of $20,000.