History of Ostico, 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


OSTICO was formed from Pompey, Marcellus and Tully, March 21, 1806. It is an interior town, lying southwest of the center of the county. Its surface is principally occupied by the high ridge between the valleys of Onondaga Creek and Otisco Lake. The declivities of the hills are generally steep, and the summits rolling and elevated from eight hundred to a thousand feet above the valleys, and from 1,600 to 1,700 feet above the ocean. Otisco Lake is 772 feet above tide. It lies upon the west border of the town, in a valley 1,000 feet below the summits of the hills. Bear Mountain, named from the great number of bears which infested it when the country was first settled, is one of the principal elevations. It is in the northeast part, and overhangs the valley of the Onondaga Creek. The soil is generally a sandy and gravelly loani, mixed with clay and well adapted to wheat and grazing.

In the year 1798 Oliver Tuttle and his son Daniel, (and possibly his son William) came on horseback from Cincinnatus, in what is now Cortland county, and made the first improvement by underbrushing for a small clearing on Lot 97, near the head of Otisco Lake. While thus engaged the father was taken very sick and was taken care of by Daniel till able to sit on his horse when they returned through the woods, there being no roads, to Cincinnatus, the first house on the route being at Homer, fifteen miles from the lake.

It was four years before they returned to Otisco, and they then found several families of settlers. Oliver Tuttle built the first frame house in 1804. Mr. Tyler Frisbie, who had the statement directly from the sons of Daniel Tuttle, and also from the sons of Mr. Alpheus Bouttelle, who settled in Otisco in 1804, from the town of Pompey, has no doubt but Mr. Tuttle was the first settler of the town.

Chauncey Rust, said by Mr. Clark to have been the first settler, moved his family from LaFayette in April, 1801. Mr. Rust was from Northampton, Mass. During this year and the following a large number of settlers arrived, principally from Massachusetts and Connecticut, and the whole town filled up rapidly.

Among the first settlers were Jonathan B. Nichols, Charles and Benoni Merriman, Solomon Judd and Lemon Gaylord, in 1801. ; Otis Baker, Noah Parsons, Nathaniel Loomis, Amos and Isaac Cowles, in 1802; and Benjamin Cowles, Josiah Clark, Daniel Bennett, Elias and Jared Thayer, Henry Elethrop, Samuel, Ebenezer and Luther French, Jared and Noah Parsons, and Erastus Clapp, soon after.

Lucy Cowles, afterwards wife of Rev. Geo. Colton taught the first school in 1802. The first white child born in the town was Timothy Rust, son of Chauncey Rust, March 22, 1802; and the first death that of Nathaniel Dady, Jr., killed by the falling of a tree, July, 1802. Daniel Bennett kept the first tavern in 1802 ; Michael Johnson, the first store in 1808; and Charles Merriman built the first grist mill in 1806. Jesse Swan and Josiah Everett were also among the first merchants, and Benoni Merriman kept a log tavern near Otisco Center in 1804.

The first practicing physician who settled in town was Dr. Jonathan S. Judd, in 1806. Dr. Luther French, in 1818. Thomas Judd was the first, and it is supposed the only lawyer in town he remained but a short time, and removed to Cortland.

The first town meeting was held at the house of Daniel Bennett, April 1, 1806. Dan Bradley, of Marcellus, was chairman. Judah Hopkins was chosen Supervisor, Josephus Barker, Town Clerk, and Noah Parsons, Lemon Gaylord and Josephus Barker, Assessors. An extra town meeting was held in the month of August following, at the school house near Daniel Bennett's tavern, at which a committee of three was chosen to ascertain the center of the town, in order to centrally locate the public buildings.

A postoffice was established here in 1814, Dr. Luther French, Postmaster.

This town is noted for being the birthplace and residence of several persons of distinguished literary reputation. Willis Gaylord, widely known as the editor of the Genesee Farmer and Albany Cultivator, and as a refined and graceful contributor to the scientific and magazine literature of his day, came into the town with his father from Bristol, Connecticut, in 1801. He was then nine years of age, and he resided here until a few years before his death, which occurred in 1844.

Willis and Lewis Gaylord Clark, twin brothers, were born in this town April, 1808. The former is known as a poet, the author of "Ollipodiana," and as the editor of the Philadelphia Gazette, and the latter has obtained a national reputation as the editor of the Knickerbocker Magazine, a position which he held for many years. Willis died in 1841. Their father was Eliakim Clark, an officer in the Revolution, and their mother a sister to Willis Gaylord. Rev. George Colton, father of Owen Colton, author of a series of Greek text-books, and of George H. Colton, founder and editor of the American Review, was many years a resident of this town.


OSTICO.- As early as 1832 a class was organized at the Seeley School House, consisting of twentyeight members, by Percy Case, a class-leader and local preacher. This was at that time part of the Cardiff charge presided over by three preachers and consisting of six congregations. Among the prominent members at that time were Folly Case, Solomon Robinson, Nancy Robinson, Matilda Lewis, Louisa Jarvis, Charlotte Jarvis, Nathaniel Hudson, Nancy Hudson, Jonathan Balls, Abraham Hudson, Hannah Mervin, Sophia Williams, Jesse Leverich. This class continued to hold meetings every Sunday until 1850 in the school house, when they erected the present church at a cost of $800, the site being donated by Amos Abbott. On the 27th of February, 1850, the society was duly incorporated, Warner Abbott, John Case and Lewis Peckett, Trustees.

The church was erected under the pastorate of Rev. Z. D. Paddock, who was instrumental in awakening a deep religious feeling and adding largely to its membership. About 1870, Rev. B. F. Andrews came and labored three years with success. Rev. L. Northway is the present pastor of this and of the Cardiff M. E. Church. The present membership is fifty; attendance at the Sabbath School, forty.

The church was rebuilt and rededicated in 1876. The present Trustees are : Royal Burt, Erastus Miller and V. L. King; Class-leaders, C. M. Robinson and John C. Case. The church is situated in the northeast corner of Otisco, four miles west of Cardiff.

AMBER RELIGIOUS SOCIETY.- On the 18th of August, 1824, at a meeting of the citizens of Amber at the Lake House, then kept by David Moore, the Amber Religious Society was organized. And on the 5th of September following another meeting was held, and the Building Committee, consisting of Miles Bishop, Barber Kenyon and Samuel Kenyon, were empowered to select a site and erect a church. In addition to the Building Committee, Robert Kenyon and Isaac Briggs were elected Trustees, and the society was incorporated. The committee then proceeded to erect the church edifice at a cost of $1,300, and it was dedicated "to the true worship of God," by Revs. Messrs. Wilcox, Selkirk and Worden. The society is cornposed of different denominations and the house is open and free to all ; the Methodists only keeping up regular services. This and the society at Navarino form one charge. The church was rebuilt in 1866 at a cost of $1,450. E. Jarvis, pastor.

ST. PATRICK'S CHURCH, Otisco.- Meetings were held at the residences of the different parishioners as early as 1853 and holy mass celebrated by Father Hackett of Salina. In the year 1870 they erected a church in Otisco village under the auspices of Rev. F. J. Purcell, of Skaneateles, he presiding over this as a joint mission, and also officiating occasionally at Marcellus. After him came Rev. J. J. Hayden, who was succeeded by the present pastor, Rev. B. J. McDonough, who has this and Marcellus as one mission.

Among the original members were John Flanagan, George Fitzgerald, John Kinney, William Tobin, William Gauntley, John Leroy, Michael Ryan and Thomas Larkin. Their church is a beautiful frame edifice, costing $6,000, and the society is strong and healthy with over two hundred communicants.

Prior to the crection of the church in 1866, the society purchased the present site and occupied a frame house for four years under the pastorate of Rev. William McCallian, who organized the Jordan, Marcellus and Skaneateles societies.

CONGREGATIONAL CHURCH, Otisco.- The first religious meeting held in the town of Otisco was in September, 1801, at the residence of Mr. Chauncey Rust, and from thenceforward meetings were regularly maintained, and on the 9th of May, 1808, Rev. Hugh Wallis of Pompey, presiding, Charles Merriman, Rachel Merriman, Samuel French, Benjamin Cowles, Phineas Sparks, Oliver Tuttle, Abigail Tuttle, Ebenezer French, Jr., Amos Cowles, Luther French and Solcmon Judd, organized the Congregational Church of Otisco. During the first forty-seven years of the history of this church there were received into its communion seven hundred and forty-one persons, and in 1850 the church membership was two hundred and fortythree. In the autumn of 1805 Rev. George Colton, of Hartford, Conn., was called, but remained only a few months. December 7, 1807, Rev. Wm. J. Wilcox was called and remained until March 15, 1821, laboring very acceptably, and conducting two very earnest revivals-one in 1810, the other in 1817. In July, 1821, Rev. Charles Johnston was called, who immediately entered upon a revival productive of much good and many accessions; he remained until September 3, 1823. November 15, 1824, Rev. Richard S. Corning came, who conducted two interesting revivals-one in 1826, the other in 1831. May 1, 1834, Rev, Levi Parsons came and supplied the charge for one year, who was succeeded by Rev. Levi Griswold as a stated supply for one year and then he became a resident and remained two years longer.

April 1st, 1839, Rev. Sidney Mills was employed as stated supply and remained until May 3, 1841. In December following Rev. Thaddeus Pomeroy was obtained as the next minister for the term of two years. Then in April, 1844, Rev. Clement Lewis was engaged and continued to supply the pulpit until the spring of 1846. In June of 1846, Rev. Addison K. Strong was invited to supply, and afterwards became a regular resident pastor.

In 1858, Rev. Medad Pomeroy was called and remained five years ; he was succeeded by Rev. J. O. Betts, who remained until 1872; since which time there has been no regular pastor, the pulpit being supplied by transient ministers. The pres ent church, a large frame structure, was erected in 1820 at a cost of about $6,ooo. The present deacons are William N. Tuttle, I. T. Frisbie, S. M. Cowles, B. J. Cowles. Trustees-I. T. Frisbie, 0. W. Rice, W. S. Hurlburt, John N. Smith, Lester J udson and N. Rice. The present membership is eighty. Sabbath School attendance one hundred and twenty-five. The membership has of late years been greatly depleted by deaths and removals.


Otisco village is a hamlet of about twenty-five houses, containing one hotel, kept by Lyman K. Henderson, two stores, and two churches. It is situated on a high ridge of ground near the center of the town, about eight miles northwest of Tully Station, between which places a daily stage runs in connection with the trains on the S., B. & N. Y. R. R. As early as 1809, Jesse Swan opened a store and tavern about one mile south of the present village. About 1820, Mr. M. Johnson built and kept a tavern in the present village near the site of the Catholic Church.

The oldest man now living in the county resides a little north of this village-Charles Clark. He came to the farm on which he now lives in 1809, being then twenty-seven years of age; erected a saw mill, a fulling mill, and conducted his farm, all of which are under his personal supervision, although he is now ninety-six years of age.

There are two fiouring mills in this town-the Gamble mill, located in the southwestern part of the town, and the mills located near the foot of the Bucktail at the head of Otisco Lake.


This beautiful little hamlet has acquired, because of its location and scenery, quite a reputation as a resort for summer pleasure-seekers. The village consists of about forty dwellings, a church, two stores, one hotel and one planing mill. The village is situated in the northwest corner of the town at the foot of Oak Hill, on the bank of Otisco Lake. Among the most prominent citizens is Mr. A. J. Niles, the oldest merchant and one of the earliest settlers, who, by strict attention to his business and the wants of his customers, has attained a handsome competency. Mr. Alexander Bouttelle, proprietor of the Lake House, is one of the genial hosts who know how to add to the attractions of this romantic little hamlet. A daily stage carries the mails and passengers in connection with the N. Y. C.& H. R. R. R.

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