History of Clay, NY
FROM: History of Onondaga County, New York
With Illistrations and Biographical Sketches.
By: Professor W. W. Clayton
Published By D. Mason & Co., Syracust NY 1878


CLAY was formed from Cicero April 16, 1827, and named in honor of the distinguished statesman, Henry Clay. It is the central town upon the northern border of the county. Its surface is quite flat, but little elevated above the level of Oneida Lake. Oneida River forms the northern, and Seneca River the western boundary. The soil is chiefly clay and light, sandy loam, with the exception of the swampy portion, which is covered with decayed vegetable matter and peat beds, the latter being to a considerable extent worked for fuel. (See Geology of the County.)

Much of the early history of this town is comprehended in the town of Cicero. At the time of its separate organization it contained less than seven hundred inhabitants, The first white settler in the town (then included in Lysander,) was Patrick McGee, at Three River Point, in 1793. In 1798 Adam Coon settled in the northeast corner of the town; Sinieon Baker on the Seneca River, in 1799; John Lynn near the center of the town, in 1808. Since that the town has settled somewhat rapidly. Joshua Kinne and family settled in the town in 1807; Elijah Pinckney and others the same year.

In 1793, Patrick McGee erected a log cabin, (the first house in town,) at Three River Point. The place had been selected by him in 1780, while a prisoner in the hands of the British, and on his way to Canada. They camped here all night, and Mr. McGee was very much charmed by the beauty of the place. It is said that he selected it while tied to a tree, for so the British had secured their prisoners. After the Revolutionary war he came here and spent his life, and was buried on the spot. When Mr. McGee first visited this place in 1780, there was a clearing without a shrub or tree, handsomely covered with grass, for a distance of more than a mile along the banks of the rivers. The spot had often been appropriated to the great councils of the Iroquois Confederacy, and here Dekanissora, Sadekanaghte and Garangula often addressed the braves of the Hurons, Adirondacks and Abenaquis, and the French and English met in these distinguished chiefs, orators and diplomatists equal to themselves in all that pertained to sagacity and skill.

Jacob I. Young, Ira Sheffield and his brother, now respectively aged eighty-five to eighty-seven years, were among the early settlers of the town, in 1814.

The first settlers, previous to clearing the lands, procured their breadstuffs from Jackson's mills, near Jamesville. After they had been successful in raising their own grain, they went there to mill, till the mills were erected at Syracuse. It was customary for men to carry a grist of a bushel or a bushel and a half on their backs a distance of twelve or fourteen miles through the woods to these mills, guided only by blazed trees, and they would occupy two or three days in the performance of the journey. After roads were cut through, a neighbor would take the grists of a whole neighborhood upon an ox sled or Cart and carry them to the mills. By general arrangement and common consent this service was performed by rotation throughout the whole settlement. It never required less than two days to go to mill and back.

Onondaga Hollow was then the postoffice at which letters were received and delivered, and persons visiting the postoffice brought the mail matter for all the neighbors.

The first postoffice was established in the west part of the town and was called "West Cicero," about the year 1825, and Nathan Teall was appointed Postmaster. He was suceeded by William Hale and James Little. Since the organization of the town it has been named "Clay."

The first and most important article of trade was salt barrels, which were manufactured in large quantities and taken to the salt works. They brought a fair profit and in many instances proved a source of individual wealth. Of late years Clay has greatly improved in agricultural and horticultural development, and may be regarded as one of the richest farming sections of the county.

A log school house, the first in the town, was built at Clay Corners, now Euclid, about 1808, and a teacher named Hall taught the first school. At Clay, near the river, a log school house was erected in 1809, and a frame one in 1812. Moses Kinne taught here, having previously kept a school in his own house.

The first physician in town was Dr. Olcott; the second, Dr. Church ; afterwards Dr. Sterling and Dr. Soule.

The first town meeting for Clay was held in April, 1827. Andrew Johnson was chosen the first Supervisor, and Jacob Terrill, Town Clerk.

The first saw mill was erected in the northeast part of the town by Abraham Young, on a small stream which affords sufficient water only in spring and fall. There are no streams in the town of sufficient capacity or fall to afford permanent waterpower, except on the Oneida river, which forms the northern boundary, which has two good waterpowers-one at Caughdenoy and one at Oak Orchard. The former of these places has been noted for the fish taken there, especially eels in great abundance and superior quality.

At Oak Orchard Reefs, near the bank of the Oneida River, are evidences of an extensive Indian burying ground. These reefs were a common fording place for the Indians and formerly were much resorted to by them for fishing. During the Revolution or the French War, there was a massacre of the Indians at this place. We are informed by a resident of the town, that in 1843 he had a conversation with an aged Indian who used to visit this burial-place of his ancestors and sit long there in musing silence, and that this Indian related to him the tradition of the massacre of a large number of his tribe. The same gentleman has seen scores of Indian skulls exhumed, many of which were pierced with bullet-holes and marked with sabre-cuts. The Indian graves here have been desecrated and multitudes of relics found and removed.

Hosea Crandall became a resident of the town of Clay in 1822. At a family reunion held at his house on the fourth of September, 1872, many old settlers were present, and some interesting facts were elicited which are worth preserving in our history.

"Ezra Crandall, of Sherburne, Chenango county, N. Y., brother of Hosea, was the oldest of his relatives present, aged eighty-four. The oldest invited guest, not a member of the family, was Jabez Harrison, aged eighty-six.

"The following are the names of residents of Clay, with their respective ages, over fifty, and their time of residing in town:
Resident 32 years, Dr. Jas. F. Johnson, age 84.
Resident 59 years, Jacob I. Young, age 81.
Resident 52 years, Samuel N. Burleigh, ageo 80.
Resident 38 years, John Lints, age 58.
Resident 22 years, Tobias Shaver, age 52.
Resident 4 years, William Verplank, age 65.
Resident 40 years,o A. J. Soule, age 54.
Resident 51 years, Cornelius Mogg, age 51.
Resident 44 years, James Little, age 73.
Resident 50 years, Hial Crandall, age 57.
Resident 57 years, Harlow Eno, age 76.

"The following are the names of those who were not residents of Clay:
Judge John L. Stevens, age 71.
Resident of Cicero, N. Y., Wm. Gregor, age 51.
Resident of Otsego, N. Y., C. C. Warner, age 54.
Resident of Onondaga, Rev. J. C. Seward, age 70.
Resident of Lysander, P. I. Quackenbush, age 63.
Resident of Baldwinsville, Ira Gilchriss, age 82.

"George Crandall, grandfather of Hosea Crandall, was 103 years old when he died. He had two sons that were over 100 years at the time of their death, and one daughter who lived to be 116 years old. Hosea Crandall's mother, sister of the above, was 101 years and six months when she died. Laban Crandall, father of Hosea, came to this State about ninety years ago, and married Esther Crandall. Their children living are Ezra, aged eighty years, Hosea, eighty-three years, Ira, eighty-four years, George, seventy-seven years, Olive, seventy-five years, Tacy, seventy-one years, Sarah, sixty-nine years. Hosea Crandall's posterity numbered (all told) at the time of the first death in the family fifty-two persons. The first death was about ten years ago. Hosea Crandall is the father of eight children, five daughters and three sons. Through industry and economy he became the owner of three hundred acres of land, all of which he gave to his children, except the homestead."


This village is situated a little west of the center of the town of Clay; distant from Syracuse eleven miles, six miles from Baldwinsville, and two and a half miles from Clay Station, on the Syracuse Northern Railroad. Among the old settlers still residing here are Hosea Crandall, John Patrie, John Ainsley and Gideon Palmer.

Latin Soule, grandfather of Harvey L. Soule, of the Platt House, in this village, was one of the first settlers. He was the father of Judge Nathan Soule, who came here from Montgomery County in 1831 and was one of the most prominent men for many years. Judge Soule had been Member of Congress from the Montgomery District, Judge of the County Court, and Representative in the Legislature. He represented this county in the Legislature and was Associate Judge of the Court of Common Pleas. He died in 1858.

A postoffice was established at Euclid in 1827. Andrew Thompson was Postmaster till 1832, and was succeeded by Nathan Soule. Jefferson Freeman was the first merchant in 1831, and did the principal mercantile business till 1860, when he removed to Syracuse, where he died about 1868. He was succeeded by his brother, Levi Freeman, for years Supervisor and a leading man in the town. He removed to Syracuse and died about 1870. Other early merchants were E. L. Soule, Blossom & Dyckeman, Stone & Daniels.

The first school at the village was taught by Jared Baker in the old school house south of the hotel. It was the only place of worship at an early day. A Union School has lately been organized by the consolidation of Districts Nos. 4and 17 of Clay, Principal, Mrs. Botsford. A new building is soon to be erected on the site of the old school house.

J. H. Barrus, Justice of the Peace at Euclid, has held the office for eight years. Cornelius Mogg, Cyrus C. Warner, Andrew Johnson, Wm. Warner, J apheth Kinne and Moses Kinne, were also Justices, the last mentioned one of the first in the town.

Euclid contains two Churches-Baptist and Methodist Episcopal; a cheese factory, one hotel, three blacksmith shops, two stores, a steam mill, union school and postoffice.

J. W. Coughtry, present Supervisor of the town, resides at Cigarville, or Clay Station, where he is Postmaster.

METHODIST EPISCOPAL CHURCH, EUCLID.- The church edifice was originally built by the Christians or Unitarians about forty years ago. Dr. E. L. Soule, Hosea Crandall, Judge Nathan Soule, Moses Kinne and others being the builders. The church was used as a place of worship for other denominations till about 1850, w.hen the Methodist society purchased it. Rev. William Morse was the first regular pastor and was succeeded by Rev. Mr. Adkins, Rev. J. D. Adams. under whose preaching the church became prosperous, and has grown into a large and influential organization. Among the prominent members were the late Daniel Schoolcraft, Jacob Siterley, John Flagler, Cornelius Cronkhite, and, during the latter years of his life, Judge Nathan Soule.

Present pastor, Rev. McKendree Shaw.

There is also connected with the Euclid charge a M. E. Church at Morgan Settlement, three miles south on the Liverpool road. It was founded about 1835, the principal founder being Rev. Abram Morgan. They have a good church edifice and regular services.

BAPTIST CHURCH AT EUCLID.- Buiit in 1868, at a cost of about $3,000. The society was organized about 1845 by Rev. Horatio Warner, and subsequently held service in different school houses and at the Unitarian Church, until they erected their house of worship. Deacon Elijah Carter, Francis Carter, Hiram Leonard, W. H. Eckert, L. Patchin, and others, were among the early members. There is a parsonage connected with the church. Among the recent pastors have been Rev. S. A. Beman, Rev. Mr. Smith. Dr. James F. Johnson was a prominent member in the early organization.

The church at present is being supplied from Syracuse by Rev. J. W. Taggart.


The bridge across the Seneca River at this point was first built by the Sodus Bay and Westmoreland Turnpike Company, erected but not completed in 1824. The turnpike was not made, and Colonel J. L. Voorhees obtained a charter in his own name, and finished the bridge, which was a toll bridge till 1843, when it was rebuilt as a free bridge. The State Legislature appropriated $850 towards defraying the expense, and the towns of Lysander and Clay each $1,000, the whole cost being $2,850.

The village is situated on both sides of the Seneca River. There were only four dwelling houses here in 1827. In 1848, there were twenty-eight, and one hundred and sixty inhabitants, three dry goods stores, four grocery and provision stores, two hotels, three blacksmith shops, one tailor and one shoe shop, and the famous "Oriental Balm Pill" manufactory, which employed a great part of the year from thirty to fifty persons. James Little's was the only family in 1828 on the Lysander side, but others settled there about that time, viz, Henry S. McMechan, Oliver Bigsbee, Sylvanus Bigsbee, Garnett C. Sweet, Rev. Wm. M. Willett, a son of Col. Marinus Willett, of Revolutionary renown, who occupied a lot drawn by his father, which was afterwards transferred to John Stevens and others. Dr. Adams had a store here in 1838, and Phillip Farrington in 1831. The first frame building was the Toll House on the east side of the river, erected in 1825. Japheth Kinne erected the first dwelling house in 1825 ; James Little, the second in 1829. The first school kept here was by Perry Eno in 1827. The first merchant was Martin Luther, in 1828. Sylvanus Bigsbee & Co., also opened a stock of goods in 1828 ; Jonas C. Brewster, in 1829, and James Little in 1830. The Wesleyan Methodist Society erected their house of worship here in 1832. The early physicians were Dr. A. P. Adams, Dr. Hays McKinley, Dr. James V. Kendall, Dr. Daniel W. Bailey, Botanic physician. The village, we believe, has never had a lawyer.

It has a Union Free School, formed in 1849 from District, No. 10, in Lysander, and No. 11 in Clay; one dry goods and grocery store, two blacksmith shops, one wagon shop, one hotel, one harness shop, grocery and postoffice.

Hon. James Little, who represented this county in the Assembly in 1848-'50, settled here in 1830. He was for many years Justice of the Peace, member of the Board of Supervisors, and was several times elected Justice of Sessions. He died Jan. 22, 1877.

THE EVANGELICAL LUTHERAN CHURCH, (English,) is located near the eastern center of the town of Clay, about one mile north of Clay Station, about a quarter of a mile from Young P. 0. It is the oldest church in the town. It was organized as early as 1826, in this same neighborhood. The following are a few of the original members, viz: Jacob I. Young, who is still living, eighty-seven years old; Jacob Ottman, Richard Hiller, John Sammers, John Ainslie, also still living; John Becker, Henry Becker and others.

The church was reorganized in 1832, by Rev. Wm. Ottman, and the house of worship built and dedicated between 1832 and '34. The present valuation of the property is about $3,000.

Pastors-Rev. William Ottman, Rev. Benjamin Diefendorf, Rev. William Ottman, Rev. G. W. Hemperly, Rev. Levi Schell, Rev. D. W. Lawrence.

The present membership is ninety-three; attendance at Sunday School one hundred eighteen.

The church was very neatly and tastefully repaired, with modern internal improvements, and is is now one of the neatest and most comfortable country churches in this part of the county.

During the last four years, forty-eight have been added to the membership, and the church is now in a flourishing condition. During two years, between 1866 and 1874, the pulpit was supplied by Rev. Mr. Emmons, of Syracuse.


This village is pleasantly situated on the plank road between Syracuse and Cicero. Part of it is in the town of Cicero and part in Clay. The first settler was Eli Myers about 1826. The next was Alfred Tilley, in 1827. John Slosson, now a resident of the First Ward of Syracuse, settled between this place and the Cicero Corners, in 1814.

James Millard settled on the plains west of here in 1810, and burnt tar of pine knots and roots.

Asa H. Stearns kept tho "old red hotel" for ten or twelve years. Charles Cotton was also one of the earliest hotel keepers. There are now two hotels in the place-Centreville Hotel, kept by J. H. Miles, and the Clarendon House, by D. Hollenbeck. The place contains two churches, two general stores, three wagon shops, two blacksmith shops and one physician-Dr. C. H. Whiting. Its first physician was L. B. Skinner, M. D. It has also a lodge of free and accepted Masons, a Union Graded School, and a neatly kept rural cemetery. The ground for the cemetery was given by Peter Weaver, and a man by the name of Blewe was the first buried there.

Peter Weaver built the "old red tavern." The postoffice was originally kept at the "Dean Tavern ;" James Wallen was the first Postmaster.

Rowland Stafford, who died of cholera at Watertown in 1832, was one of the first settlers.

PLANKROAD BAPTIST CHURCH, Clay.- Meetings were held at the residence of Jabez Grodavent by Elder William H. Delano as early as 1844, and for three years he continued holding meetings in residences, barns and taverns, until 1847, when the covenant was adopted and society organized which comprised the following named persons: Earl P. Saulsbury, James Pierce, Mary C. Smith, Nancy Slocum, Clarissa Delano, Kilburn Ives and Laura Ives.

The church has been under the following pastors

Rev. William H. Delano, Rev. Cyrus Negus, Rev. Abner Maynard, Rev. Myron Newell, Rev. A. Graham, Rev. S. S. Bidwell; then for some time they were supplied by W. C. Phillips and Rev. I. H. Beman of Clay; then Revs. H. A. Sizer and J. W. Putnam supplied until 1875, when the present pastor Rev. William Steiger was called.

The church edifice was erected in 1855 at a cost of $1,500, a neat frame building.

The present membership is sixty. Sabbath School attendance one hundred sixteeen. Superintendent of Sabbath School, C. N. Taylor.

The church was thoroughly rebuilt in 1876, at an additional expense of $700, and now they are the occupants of a neat, commodious church. Trustees, John Redhead, C. N. .Taylor and Homer Dunham.

CENTREVILLE LODGE No. 648, F. & A. M.- This lodge was first organized and worked under a dispensation, from January, 1866, to July, 1867, when a charter was received. The charter officers were Isaac Baum, W. M. ; C. H. Carpenter, S. W.; Joseph Palmer. J. W. Regular meetings are held in the second story of the building situated on the corner of Plank Road and Church Street, every Saturday evening.

Present officers: L. Harris Brown, W. M.; George Stevens, S. W. ; Ambrose Howard, J. W.; Hiram W. Bailey, S. D.; Henry D. Randall, J. D.; Hermon Graham, Secretary; Dr. M. H. Blynn, Treasurer; Newton B. Randall, Tyler.

CENTREVILLE UNION SCHOOL, District No. 12, comprising several districts in Clay and part in Cicero, was organized as a Union Graded School, in 1869, upon the completion of the present school building, a frame two-story building erected at a cost of three thousand dollars. There are two departments with an enrollment of ninety-five scholars. Present School Board are A. H. Lawrence, Samuel Fergeson and Stephen Van Heusen-the latter has been Trustee ever since the organization of the Union School. Charles E. Jewell is Principal.



The subject of this sketch was born at Albany, N. Y., April 2d, 1800, of Scotch-Irish parentage, his father, Hugh Scott, being one of the many Protestant exiles from the vicinity of Londonderry, who sought religious freedom on the soil of America at the close of the last century. Stewart received such educational advantages as the select schools of those days afforded, aided by his parents who had enjoyed superior educational advantages. He early developed an aptitude for mathematics and the sciences, and at the age of sixteen commenced practical engineering and surveying. With his parents he removed to Westerloo, Albany Co., where he married Catherine VanDerwerken, and continued his residence there until 1830, when he removed to Clay, Onondaga County, where he purchased a piece of the wilderness of those days, and by unremitting toil reared a home for himself and family. Although comparatively poor, his home was always supplied with the best and most useful books and periodicals within his reach, and he continued his studies to the time of his death. Methodical in business and study, he was one of the best read men of his day. Being possessed of a strong will and fine constitution he could devote himself to study during the evening without visibly impairing his health. In politics he was an earnest Whig, but never sought place or office. In social intercourse he was affable and generous, in his religious views he was stern and uncompromising; in work or business he "knew no such word as fail." His sympathies were always on the side of right; and while his hospitable home was open to all who sought it, none were so welcome there as the Ministers of the Gospel and others engaged in the advancement of intelligence and morality. But no one was keener than he to detect insincerity or ignorance, and he who mistook his calling always found a cold reception. Incessant labor and study caused an early breaking down in health, and after a brief illness he died at his home in Clay at the age of fifty. His widow continued her residence upon their farm until her death which occurred in 1877.


Deacon Daniel Dunham, the grandfather of Moseley Dunham, emigrated from Windham, Conn., in the year 1795, and established the clothiers' trade at the red mills in Manlius, about a mile south of Manlius Square; he also bought a wild lot of land of about one hundred and thirty acres, three miles southeast of Pompey Hill. Captain Samuel Dunham, his son, was born in Windham, Conn., in the year 1780. When he was seventeen years of age, his father sent him alone to work and clear up his new lot of land in Pompey. From where he boarded he went daily for two years by marked trees to his work, one mile south, clearing the land and putting up a log house. Then his two sisters came and kept house for him for five years longer. He then at the age of twenty-five married a Miss Parmarlee of Cazenovia; he continued to reside on his farm up to his death, at the age of sixty-nine years; his wife survived him, and he left a large family of children.

His son Moseley Dunham, was born on the old farm in Pompey, September 17, 1805, and lived with his father until he was twenty-five years of age, working the farm on shares after he was of age.

He then married Sarah Baker of Pompey, by whom they had three children, viz : Daniel Moseley, born November 10, 1831 ; died from being scalded, September 24, 1834. The other two, Horace S.. and Homer were twins, born June 24, 1833. They were reared upon their father's farm, and both married at the same time, March 7, 1855. Horace S. married William Weller's daughter, of Clay. She died October 6, 1872, leaving three sons, born as follows: Walter M., July 8, 7858; Spencer M., April 22, 1867; Albert H., March 72, 1872. On March 20, 1873, he again married Mary, daughter of Thomas Weller of Lysander. They have had one daughter, born November 14, 1874. Homer married Harriet Crane of Clay. She died May 4, 1870, leaving two children, born as follows Cora E., October 25, 1856; Milton A., December 13, 1864; died in February, 1865. On January 2, 1871, he was again married to Sarah, daughter of Asa Chapman.

Moseley Dunham lived for five years on the farm which was the birth-place of Grace Greenwood, and on March 10, 1835, moved to the town of Clay, about six miles north of Syracuse, where he now resides and owns a fine farm of two hundred and seventy acres, with residences for himself and sons, a view of which together with the portraits of himself and wife and twin sons, may be seen elsewhere in this work.

Mr. Dunham is a thorough farmer, a good citizen, and deservedly enjoys the esteem of all who know him.


Was born in Remsen, Oneida County, N. Y., on the twenty-fourth of September, 1811, and was a son of French and Anna [Hinckley] Fairchild. When four years old he moved with his mother to Herkimer County; he received a good common school education, and remained at home until twentyone years of age. On January 4, 1836, he married Mary Tanner, a daughter of William and Mary Tanner, of the town of Schuyler, Herkimer county, N. Y. She was born April 23, 1817, and has proved one of the best of help-meets. Mr. Fairchild attributes much of his success to her prudent and wise management. The fruit of their marriage was seven children, viz: William, Ransom and Newton, who were born in Herkimer county, and Hermon, George W., Mary A., and Hiram G., who were born in Onondaga County. All of the children are living and enjoying good health. After his marriage, Mr. Fairchild purchased a small farm in Herkimer county. In 1846 he sold it and removed tothetown of Salina, Onondage Co., Whare he settled on a farm of one hundred and fifty acres, formerly owned by his grandfather, Gorshorn Hinckley.

At the close of seven years' residence upon this farm, he sold it and removed to the town of Clay where he bought the farm of one hundred and fortyseven acres known as the Grover farm, upon which he now resides.

Mr. Fairchild has been a Republican since the formation of that party. In religious faith, he is a zealous Methodist, and has been for over forty years a staunch and liberal member of the M. E. Church. He is a quiet and unostentatious man, a good husband and father, and is respected by all who know him.

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