History of Marcellus, 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


MARCELLUS, as laid out in 1794, was one of the eleven original towns of the county, and comprised all the townships of Marcellus and Carnillus and all of the Onondaga Salt Springs Reservation west of the Onondaga Creek and Lake. A part of Onondaga was taken off in 1798; Camillus in 1799; a part of Otisco in 1806 ; and Skaneateles in 1830. A part of Sempronius, Cayuga County, was annexed in 1804, and a part of Spafford in 1840. The town at present contains but about thirty lots of the original township, No. 9 of the Military Tract, or about one-tenth of the original town as first set off upon the organization of the county.

The surface of this town is a rolling upland, broken by the deep valley of the Nine Mile Creek, which extends north and south through the center. The declivities bordering upon this creek are steep, and rise from two to five hundred feet in altitude. The falls, of which there are several, furnish a large amount of water power. Lime and gypsum are abundant. The soil is generally a deep, black loam, formed by the decomposition of the Marcellus shales, intermixed to some extent with clay, and is among the richest and most valuable for agricultural purposes.

Nine Mile Creek is the principal and only stream of note in the town. It is the outlet of Otisco Lake, and passes through this town from south to north. It received its name from the fact that it is nine miles from Onondaga Hollow which at the time the first settlements were made at the Creek was the nearest settlement on the east. It was also nine miles to Buck's, the nearest settlement on the west.


William Cobb appears to have been the first white settler in the town, on the East Hill, east of Nine Mile Creek, in 1794. The same year Cyrus Holcomb settled on the West Hill, and Samuel Tyler at Tyler Hollow. The families of Conklins, Bowens and Codys became residents of the town about the same time, and a Mr. Curtis and family settled temporarily on Nine Mile Creek. The first permanent settlers here were Dan Bradley and Samuel Rice in the fall of 1795, and Dr. Elnathan Beach the following winter. The latter, in 1796, erected the first frame house in the town, near the dwelling house of Curtis Moses, of a later day. The second frame house was erected by Judge Bradley, and the third by Deacon Rice. In 1806 there were nine dwellings in the village.

From this time settlements grew rapidly in different parts of the town.

Among those who settled on the West Hill were Nathan Kelsey, Thomas Miller, and Col. Bigelow Lawrence. The latter had eight sons who settled in sight of one another on the east and west hills, viz: Joab, Peter, Bigelow, Rufus, Calvin, Jepthah, Levi and Dorastus Lawrence. Martin Cossit settled in the village in 1798, and Samuel Wheadon on South Hill in 1800. He was followed, in the same neighborhood, by Josiah Frost, Philo Goddard, Nathan Healy and Enoch Cowles. Caleb Todd, Nathaniel Hillyer, Richard May, Martin Goddard, Terrence Edson, Reuben Dorchester and William F. Bangs, were early settlers on the East Hill at a later day.

James C. Miller and sons were the first permanent settlers in the northeast portion of the town. Mr. Miller had six sons, all except one of whom, and himself, died within a short time after their settlement. Settlement at the falls (Union Village) was begun in 1806. A paper mill was erected there in 1807 and grist and saw mills in 1808.

Most of the early settlers of Marcellus were from Massachusetts. Some were from Connecticut and Vermont. They paid a high regard to religious duties and great attention to the training of their children in moral and intellectual pursuits. The establishment of schools was therefore early a matter of public attention. The first school was established in 1796, and was taught in a log school house during the summer by Miss Asenath Lawrence, daughter of Col. Bigelow Lawrence. During the two successive winters the school was taught by Dan Bradley, afterwards Judge Bradley, who, on account of his interest in the education of the young, volunteered his services. He was the first male teacher in the town. A frame school house was soon after erected on nearly the same ground, and was occupied till 1807; after which school houses were erected in the village and on the West Hill.

The first mill of any description erected in the town was a saw mill on Nine-Mile Creek. It was built by Samuel Rice and Judge Bradley in the fall and winter of 1795-6, and stood a short distance above the stone mill of Mr. Talbot. The inhabitants were so few at the time that the proprietors had to get help from Camillus to assist in raising their mill. Before the grist mill was built in 1800, the inhabitants had to go to Manlius, fifteen miles, or to Seneca Falls, twenty-five miles west, which usually took two or three days. The first grist mill was built near the saw mill in 1800 by Mr. May and Mr. Sayles. For several years it was a great relief to the inhabitants, for it did all the custom work for the town and part of Onondaga and Camillus.

The records of this town prior to 1830, were destroyed by fire, so that the names of the first town officers cannot be obtained. It appears, however, by the act of 1794, that the first town meeting was ordered to be held at the house of Moses Carpenter, about a mile east of the present village of Elbridge, and it was probably so held. The record of the Board of Supervisors shows that William Stevens was Supervisor from 1794 to 1797; Samuel Tyler, in 1797, and Winston Day in 1798. The voters of Marcellus had at first to go down to Camillus to poll their votes. This they considered a hardship, and in 1796 mustered all their forces, out-voted the Cainillus people, and carried the next town meeting up to Marcellus ; so that the first town meeting in Marcellus proper was held in 1797 at the house of Samuel Rice. The log house at which this election was held stood nearly opposite the house afterwards belonging to William Leonard, now owned by the widow of Justice North.

Samuel Bishop opened the first law office in the town, in 1801, and B. Davis Noxon, the next in 1808.

HON. DAN BRADLEY.- We have already referred to Hon. Dan Bradley in our notes upon the early settlers. He was one of the most distinguished citizens of Marcellus. Born in Haddam, Conn., on the ioth of June, 1767, he graduated with distinguished honors at Yale College in September, 1789, and received the degree of M. A., at the age of twenty-three. In October, 1790, he was licensed as a preacher of the Gospel, and was pastor of the church in Whitestown, (New Hartford,) till 1795, in September of which year he settled in Marcellus. His business was that of a farmer, and he reduced farming to a science, both practically and theoretically. It has been said that the improvement of agriculture in the County of Onondaga and in this whole section of the country, was due more to his influence than to that of any other man. As a patron and advocate of agricultural societies he was among the first, and to his opinions and influence many of the prominent advantages derived by the State from the law of 1819 was unquestionably owing. He was elected President of the first Onondaga County Agricultural Society, in 1819. His numerous articles published in the volumes of the State Agricultural Reports and his contributions to most of the agricultural journals of the day, established conclusively the interest he felt in his favorite pursuit and the zeal and intelligence he brought to its support. He was appointed a Judge of Onondaga County Courts in 1801, and first Judge of the County in 1808, which office he filled with great credit till he resigned and was succeeded by Judge Forman in 1813.

Judge Bradley died at his residence in Marcellus, September 19, 1838, aged 71 years.

Mention ought here to be made of Rachel Baker, whose experience in devotional somniurn, so called, in this town, from 1812 to 1816, furnishes the most remarkable case of the kind on record. A full history of her case may be found in the Transactions of the Physico-Medical Society of New. york, vol. i, page 395. See also Clark's Onondaga, vol. ii, page 294. This lady was subject to nightly paroxysms or trances, lasting usually about threequarters of an hour, in which, with body and limbs as rigid and motionless as those of a statue, and in a state entirely unconscious to herself, she pronounced sermons or religious discourses of a high devotional character. These discourses were preceded by prayers, her face turned upward to heaven. The only motion the spectator could perceive was that of the organs of speech. "She began with a text, and proceeded with an even course to the end, embellishing her discourse with fine metaphors, vivid descriptions and poetical quotations." She usually passed from her trance state into that of regular and natural sleep, and awoke in the morning without any knowledge or consciousness of what had transpired.

She was born at Peiham, Mass., May 29, 1794. At the age of nine her parents removed with her to Marcellus. She was finally cured by Dr. Spears, in 1816.


The first store in the village was opened by Dr. Elnathan Beach in 1796. He kept dry goods, groceries and medicines, and continued in business till his death in 1801. Lemuel Johnson succeeded him, and built a new store.

Deacon Samuel Rice kept the first tavern; then General Hurnphreys and William Goodwin. In 1799 the first postoffice was established at the village, Dr. Elnathan Beach, Postmaster. Samuel Tyler was the first Justice of the Peace, appointed as early as 1798 or 1799.

Dr. Elnathan Beach came to the town as a practicing physician in 1795. A year or two after he erected the first frame house. He came from Cheshire, Connecticut, where he was born and educated. He was an active and prominent citizen ; entered considerably into public life; was Sheriff of the county in 1799 and held the office till his death, in 1801.


At an election held June 4th, 1853, at the house of John Carpenter, it was decided by a vote of forty-one to ten to incorporate the present village of Marcellus. At the first charter election, held July 23, 1853, the following officers were elected: President, Wm. J. Machan ; Trustees, Elijah Rowley, Isaac N. Soules, Isaac Bradley, Daniel G. Coon; Assessors, A. H. Cowles, Chester Moses, and J. Taylor; Clerk, H. T. Kennedy; Collector, Joseph Taylor; Treasurer, G. N. Kennedy; Pound-Master, Avery Wilison. In 1854, Edmund Akin was elected President, Isaac N. Soules, Vice-President, and I Bradley, J. G. B. White, Nathan G. Hoyt, Trustees.

The following is a list of the Presidents of the village of Marcellus from 1855 to 1877: Luke I. Tefft, 1855; Stephen Cobb, 1856-'57; Daniel G. Coon, 1858; Cornell Crysler, 1859; William Wellington, 1860; Chester Moses, 1861; John H. Cowles, 1862-'63; E. R. Howe, 1864; Chester Moses, 1865-'66; Ira Bush, 1867; Chester Moses, 1868; Thomas Rhoades, 1869-'70 ;Oscar J. Brown, 1871-'72; Newton G. Case, 1873; D. G. Coon, 1874; Isaac N. Sherman, 1875-' 76. The officers for 1877 are as follows: President, Isaac N. Sherman ; Trustees, James C. Sayre, James Axten, and Albert Curtis; Treasurer, William B. White; Collector, James Johnson; Clerk, Thomas Walker.


EAGLE PAPER MILLS, H. J. Lawless & Co.- These mills were erected in 1844, by Messrs. Reed & Case, who sold the property to John F. Jones. In 1875, the present firm was organized, and have since conducted the manufacture of Rag Wrapping Paper and Print Wrappers. The mills are located at Marcellus Falls, and are among the leading paper manufacturing establishments in this section of the State.

Lucius MOSES, Woolen Mills, Marcellus. Established by William J. Machan and Chester Moses in 1849. Brick buildings erected in 1849, 1864 and 1871. The mills are run by water-power, and have four sets of cards. The capital is $60,000, and 75 hands are employed. Office 329 and 331 Broadway, New York.

MARCELLUS STONE MILLS, S. M. Bronson, proprietor. These mills do both merchant and custom work. The first mill was built in 1827. The present mills have a capacity of about forty barrels per day, besides custom grinding, the business àf the present proprietor dating from 1875. The waterpower is a fine one.

SHERMAN BR0's, Paper Mills, established in 1865. Manufacture Straw Wrapping Paper. The mill is the first on the creek below Marcellus village, and employs nine hands.

MARCELLUS FALLS FLOURING MILLS, Rollin & Rathbon, proprietors. Built in 1875, with four run of stones, on the site of the old mill. These mills manufacture merchant and custom flour- capacity fifty barrels of the former per day, and four hands employed.

PHOENIX PAPER MILL, A. Robinson, proprietor. Established in 1873. Capacity two tons per day, Straw Wrapping Paper. Buildings erected in 1872. This paper mill employs twelve hands.

EDWARD JOHNSON, of Fayetteville, has a Pearl Barley Mill at Marcellus Falls.


Morning Star Lodge No. 524, Marcellus, N. Y., instituted in 1862. Charter officers, E. P. Howe, W. M.; Henry C. Sarr, S. W.; John E. North, J..W. Officers for 1878: I. N. Sherman, W. M. ; R. E. Dorchester, S. W.; Augustus Austin, J. W.; Seth D. Gilbert, Sec.


In the month of June, 1876, seven young men of Marcellus met and started a Sunday afternoon prayer meeting in a room over Irving Moses' store. The meetings were regularly attended with gratifying success. The increase of their numbers and the good influences arising from their holy work induced them to organize themselves into a permanent body for the purpose of accomplishing greater results. Accordingly, a Young Men's Christian Association was formed, on the 11th of February, 1876, at the Session Room of the Presbyterian Church of Marcellus, with a membership of twentytwo persons. A constitution was adopted on the i8th of February, and a meeting appointed on the 21st of February for the election of officers. At the annual meeting of the Association, February, 7, 1877, there were forty-three active members.

The work of the Association consists in holding gospel meetings, at different places in the town, and in Sunday School work. A Sunday morning Prayer Meeting is held at 9:30 A. M., which is doing noble work.

FIRST CHURCH OF MARCELLUS.- This church has been from its organization Presbyterian in its ecclesiastical relations, and at the same time Congregational in its internal policy and arrangement, having for the management of its affairs a standing committee instead of a regular church session. Its membership has been made up of different denominations, but chiefly of Presbyterians and Congregationalists, who constituted the controlling religious element in the early settlement of Marcellus. There were a few Baptists and people of other religious proclivities among them; but at the time of the first settlement, and for twenty years afterwards, they were sufficiently united practically to combine their strength and resources in providing for a common religious worship; and on the 13th of October, 1801, they formed a church under the simple yet comprehensive title, "Church of Christ." A society was also formed under the name and style of the "Trustees of the Eastern Religious Society of Marcellus" in May, 1802, of which Dan Bradley, Martin Cossit, James C. Miller, Martin Goddard, Thomas North and Nathaniel Kelsey were Trustees.

Materials for a house of worship were set up at auction, and among the bidders were nearly all the inhabitants of the town at that time. The edifice was completed in 1803, and was the first church building in the County of Onondaga. "By way of renown it was then remarked that it was the only meeting house between New Hartford, Oneida County, and the Pacific Ocean, which was literally the fact."

Rev. Seth Williston was missionary here in 1800, and subsequently Rev. Caleb Alexander, who officiated in organizing the society.

Among the original members of the church were the following named persons: Thomas, Mary, Lucy, Asahel and Hannah North, Thomas North, Jr., Samuel and Hannah Rice, James C. and Sarah Miller, Martin and Olive Cossit, Dan and Eunice Bradley, Samuel and Phebe Wheadon, Caleb Todd, and Thomas Cathcart.

Before the erection of the church edifice services were regularly held in Deacon Samuel Rice's tavern. At whatever inconvenience to themselves and to the throng of travelers stopping with them, Deacon and Mrs. Rice would have their large upper room made ready every Sabbath for the worship of God. And though the good Deacon could not write a sermon himself, he could read one with more eloquence of heart and voice than many a minister.

James C. Miller was the first clerk, and served the church for five years. To show his frank and honest Christian character, we insert the following passage entire from his records: -

"Whereas, I did sometime in the month of April last suffer a few of the young people of my neighborhood to dance a short time at my house, which I now believe was, under existing circumstances, wrong and inconsistent with my engagement with this church; I do therefore request my brethren charitably to believe that the offense was unpremeditated, that it took place under circumstances not affording much opportunity for reflection, and that I had not the least intention to wound the feelings of any of my Christian friends, or to offend against the rules of the church. I now sincerely, and, I hope, humbly, confess that I have done wrong, have given occasion of offense to my brethren of this church and have dishonored my Christian profession. I ask the forgiveness of this church and all my Christian friends, and for the future will endeavor to be more circumspect in my walk.
[signed,] JAS. C. MILLER."

Mr. Miller died in March, 1807, from an attack of typhus fever.

Of the eighteen original members only three ever removed their connection with the church. One of these died under 50 years of age, four between 60 and 70, and four over 80. Within the last seven years only ten members have died; of these, eight were over 80 and one 73 years of age.

Pastors.- Rev. Levi Parsons, the first pastor, was born in North Hampton, Mass, in 1779, and graduated at Williams College in 1801. He studied theology with Dr. Hyde, of Lee, Mass., and was licensed to preach at Stockbridge, Mass., in 1806. As Missionary of the Berkshire Missionary Society, he visited the new settlements westward as far as Niagara, and settled at Marcellus in September, 1806. He was the second pastor in this whole region of country-Pompey having one (Rev. Mr. Wallace) a little earlier. He preached at Marcellus thirty-three years, except an interval of two years spent in Otisco. He died, widely known and respected, November 20, 1864, aged 85 years.

While Father Parsons was preaching in Otisco, Rev. Levi Griswold supplied his place.

The second settled pastor was Rev. John Tomp. kins, who served the church twenty-five years. What was to have been his quarter-centennial anniversary was suddenly and mysteriously changed to his funeral service.

His successor, Rev. W. S. Franklin, of Syracuse, was pastor during a period of three years, and was succeeded by the present pastor, Rev. Dwight Scovel, who is now (1878) in the seventh year of his pastorate.

The original church edifice, erected in 1803, cost $1,500, including, perhaps, painting three years afterwards. In 1814 another bent was added and a steeple, and the house was newly painted at an expense of $4,500, raised by selling the pews. In 1858, it was frescoed and painted; and immediately preceding the 75th anniversary, in October, 1876, it received a tin roof, was painted without and newly frescoed which, with a new pulpit and furniture and the liquidation of all debts, cost $1,600. - In 1845 the church numbered 162; in 1857, it was reduced by deaths and removals to 130; the revivals of 1858-'59, increased the membership to 170, the highest number ever attained. It fell afterwards to 144, and now (1878) numbers 149.

The Sunday School was organized June 14, 1818, and soon numbered 146 scholars. It was among the first Sunday Schools in the United States, a few only having been previously formed in New England. From the first it was carried on with deep interest, especially in memorizing Scripture; several scholars committed in one year 1,000 verses each, and Dr. Franklin Bangs 3,000. The present number of scholars is 178 ; teachers, 19.

The church has furnished two missionaries to foreign countries, viz: Rev. Dan Bradley, Jr., for many years a missionary to Siam, and Rev. Geo. Todd, a returned missionary and now pastor at Arkport, N. Y. Also, as home ministers, Rev. Levi Parsons, D. D., son of the first pastor, settled at Mt. Morris, N. Y.; Rev. J. Edward Close, of Jordan, and Rev. James S. Baker, of Onondaga.

FIRST BAPTIST RELIGIOUS SOCIETY OF MARCELLUS- Located at Thorn Hill. At the time the church was organized it was called South Marcellus. The date of organization was September 1, 1815, at which 101 members constituted the Society. John Kneeland and Nathan Thompson, Deacons. Among the leading members were Samuel Conklin, Amasa Kneeland, Daniel Cody, Joshua Chandler, Amasa Sissons, Luther Manley, Salmon Hunt, John Hunt and David Fitzgerald. The first meeting-house was built in 1816, and stood a few rods southwest of the present edifice. The present edifice was completed in 1849-cost about $1,500. The following have been pastors of the church: Rev. Elias Harman, 1808-'16; Rev. Salmon Morton, 1816-'19; Rev. J. B. Worden, 1810-'35; Rev. B. W. Capron, 1835-'40; Rev. Thos. Brown, 1840-'48; Rev. - Palmer, 1848-'50; Rev. Sylvester Gardner, 1850-'51 ; Rev. William Wilkins, 1851-'52; Rev. J. Baldwin, 1853-'54; Rev. A. Milen, 1855-'56; Rev. Hiram Powers, 1856-'59; Rev. Mr. Bowen, one month - died here, 1859 ; Rev. J. Suley, 1859-'60; Rev. Wm. Roney, 1860-'64; Rev. E. B. Hatch, 1864-'69; Rev. Wm. L. Goodspeed, 1870-'74 ; Rev. Wm. Haw, 1874-'76; Rev. P. Perry, 1877, present pastor.

Membership, 94; Sunday School, 112.

FIRST METHODIST EPISCOPAL CHURCH, MARCELLUS.- The earliest meetings were held in a school-house in Marcellus; afterwards, in the year 1816, in the house of Mr. David Holmes. The Society was not organized into a corporate body till Dec. 8, 1823, at the house of Stephen Cobb. The first class was formed in 1816 with sixteen members. The following persons were members of that class: David Holmes and wife, Temperance Holmes, Matilda Holmes, Susan Holmes, Thomas Pryor and wife, Joseph Gilson, Isaac B. Benham and wife, Polly Shepherd, Silas Bush and wife, John Rhoades and wife, and a Mrs. Hawley. The first church was built of stone, on the hill west of the village, the place now occupied by the Catholic Church as a cemetery. The second church was built of stone on the spot now occupied as a residence by Dr. Richards. The third church edifice was built of brick, in the year 1857, on the site of the present church. This edifice was burned January 25, 1877, and the present new and beautiful church was built the same year the former was destroyed by fire, at a cost of about $11,000, the stone of the old church forming the basement. This Society has been continuously served by good and devoted pastors. From 1875 to 1878, Rev. Wm. Jones was pastor.

The present membership is about 200. Sunday School has a membership of 150. Several members of this church have gone forth as ministers of the Gospel.

This Church was organized in 1823, under the name of "First Zion Society of Marcellus," while its members were Methodists, and the Society continued to regard itself-and was regarded by others as a Methodist Church.

The name of the corporation was changed in September, 1877, on application to Judge Riegel, from "The First Zion Society of Marcellus," to "The First Methodist Episcopal Church."

ST. FRANCIS XAVIER'S CHURCH, MARCELLUS.- In the year 1853, the first services of the Catholic Church in Marcellus, were held at the house of John McNally. The church was organized in 1854, and consisted of about twenty members, among whom were John McNally, John Glover, Patrick Mc Laughlin, John Kerwin, Michael Curtin, John Mc Donnell, Jeremiah Curtin and James McNally.

In 1853, Rev. Michael Haes, of Syracuse, was paster. The following have since officiated: Rev. Wm. McCallian, 1854; Rev. Father Butler, Syracuse, 1862 ; Rev. F. J. Purcell, Skaneateles, 1873; Rev. J. J. Hayden, resident pastor, 1874; Rev. B. J. McDonough, present pastor, (1878.)

The number of families is about one hundred and fifty, with an attendance of one hundred at the Sunday School.

The pastoral residence was purchased in 1873. The church from the first has experienced an encouraging and prosperous growth.

ST. JOHN'S CHURCH OF MARCELLUS.- The facts contained in the following brief sketch of this church, have been kindly furnished by Mr. John H. Lloyd, present assistant in charge.

This church was organized in the year 1824. Meetings were regularly held in the school house of the village of Marcellus until 1827, when Mr. White generously gave the society the lot upon which the present church building stands. The church was unfortunately burned down in the winter of 1867. Up to the year 1836, the society had no resident clergymen, but was in charge of St. James Church of Skaneateles.

The present church edifice was built under the charge of Rev. Robert M. Duff, Rector of St. James Church at Skaneateles, at a cost of $3,300. It is a plain wooden structure capable of seating comfortably about 250 persons, and has a fine organ valued at $600. The church is under the charge of St. Andrew's Associate Mission of Syracuse; Rev. C. P. Jennings, Dean of St. Andrews, Rector; Mr. John H. Lloyd, assistant in charge.

The present church officers are, viz: S. W., Newton G. Case; J. W., Lucius Moses; Vestrymen, Orlando Beach, Myron H. Whiting, Dan Moses, Storms M. Griffin, Willis Case, Thad. C. Beach, James C. Sayre and Edwin Whitney. The church numbers forty families, forty communicants, Sunday School scholars, thirty-four; teachers, six.

In connection with the history of the churches of Marcellus, we append the following brief sketch of the Methodist Chapel at Marcellus Falls.

The first Methodist class of the town of Marcellus was organized at Marcellus Falls. When the subject of building a church was agitated, the members at Marcellus Falls claimed that it should be located at Marcellus Falls, but the members residing at the village maintained that it ought to be built at M arcellus, because of its more central location. For some time there has not been a regular class. Services have, however, been held by the Methodist and Presbyterian ministers who preached alternately at least once a fortnight. A Sunday School and a prayer meeting have been regularly held and supported by the members of both Methodist and Presbyterian churches. A ladies sewing circle keeps in repair the commodious chapel and furnishes books for the Sunday School library and the choir, for which they have recently purchased a fine cabinet organ.

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