History of Moira, New York
FROM: HISTORICAL SKETCHES OF FRANKLIN COUNTY
AND ITS SEVERAL TOWNS
BY: FREDERICK J. SEAVER
PUBLISHED BY J. B. LYON COMPANY, ALBANY, NY 1918

CHAPTER XIX
MOIRA

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 so called.

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 years ago.

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.

Return to [ NY History ] [ History at Rays Place ] [ Rays Place ]


NY Counties - Albany - Allegany - Broome - Cayuga - Chatauqua - Chenango - Clinton - Columbia - Cortland - Dutchess - Erie - Essex - Franklin - Fulton - Genesee - Herkimer - Jefferson - Lewis - Livingston - Madison - Montgomery - Niagara - Oneida - Onondaga - Ontario - Orange - Orleans - Oswego - Putnam - Queens - Rensselaer - Richmond - Rockland - St. Lawrence - Saratoga - Schenectady - Steuben - Suffolk - Tioga - Tompkins - Tryone - Ulster - Washington - Wayne - Yates


All pages copyright 2003-2012. All items on this site are copyrighted by their author(s). These pages may be linked to but not used on another web site. Anyone may copy and use the information provided here freely for personal use only. Privacy Policy