History of Spafford, 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


SPAFFORD lies upon Skaneateles Lake and is the western town on the south line of the county. It was erected from portions of the townships of Sempronius, Marcellus and Tully, April 8, 1811, and the boundaries have since been materially altered. Parts of Marcellus and Skaneateles were taken off in 1840. At present it comprises eight lots lying east of Skaneateles Lake, being part of the original township of Sempronius; sixteen lots of the northwest part of the township of Tully, and thirteen lots of the south part of the township of Marcellus. It is about ten miles long by three broad, running from northwest to southeast, in lines nearly parallel with the lakes between which it lies - Otisco Lake on the northeast, forming a portion of its central boundary, and Skaneateles, on the southwest, along its entire line. The lake front of this town, as well as the scenery in the opposite direction, over-looking the Otisco, is most beautiful and picturesque. The surface consists principally of a high ridge between the two lakes, somewhat - abruptly descending to the valleys on each side and gradually declining towards the north. The highest summit, Ripley Hill, is also the highest point in the county, being 1,982 feet above tide water, and 1,122 feet higher than Skaneateles Lake. The Otisco inlet is a small stream flowing through the valley which extends south from Otisco Lake. The soil is chiefly a sandy and gravelly loam, productive, and under a high state of cultivation.

This town received its name from Horatio Gates Spafford, LL. D., author of a Gazetteer of New York. It was first settled by Gilbert Palmer, who located on Lot 76, township of Marcellus, in the fall of 1794. Mr. Palmer was a Revolutionary soldier, and served for the lot on which he settled. He came from somewhere in Southern New York, Dutchess or Westchester County, and lived in Spafford till his death, about 1839.

Clark, in his Onondaga, vol. 2d, page 348, relates the following affecting experience of this pioneer and his son:

"In the fall of the year 1794, soon after his arrival, Mr. Palmer and his son, a youth of some sixteen years of age, went into the woods to chopping, for the purpose of making a clearing. Sometime in the afternoon they felled a tree, and as it struck the ground it bounded, swung around and caught the young man under it. The father at once mounted the log, cut it off, rolled it over and liberated his son. Upon examination one of his lower limbs was found to be badly crushed and mangled. He thereupon carried the youth to his log hut, close at hand, and with all possible diligence made haste to his nearest neighbors, some three or four miles distant, desiring them to go and minister to his son's necessities, while he should go to Whitestown for Dr. White. The neighbors sallied forth with such comfortable things as they thought might be acceptable in such a case; but amidst the confusion, the dense forest and the darkness of night which had just set in, they missed their way, and after wandering about for a long time, gave over the pursuit and returned home, leaving the poor sufferer alone to his fate. Early the next morning all hands again rallied, and in due time found the young man suffering the most extreme anguish from his mangled limb, and greatly benumbed with cold. They built a fire, made him comfortable with such paliatives as could be procured in the wilderness, and waited in patience the return of the parent. In the meantime he had proceeded rapidly on his journey on foot, and found Dr. White at Clinton. Here he engaged an Oneida Indian to pilot them through the woods by a nearer route than to follow the windings of the old road. Dr. White and Mr. Palmer were at sundry times fearful the Indian would lose the way; and upon every expression of doubt on their part, the Indian would exclaim, 'me know;' and told them he would bring them out at a certain log which lay across the outlet at the foot of Otisco Lake. The Indian took the lead, and within forty-eight hours after the accident had happened, the Indian had brought them exactly to the log, exclaiming triumphantly 'me know.' Here Mr. Palmer arrived on familiar ground, and at once proceeded to the cabin where he had left his son, whom he found greatly prostrated and writhing under the most intense suffering. No time was lost. The case was thought desperate-the limb was amputated at once, half way from the knee to the thigh. The youth bore the pain with heroic fortitude, recovered and lived many years afterward, always speaking in the highest terms and praise of Dr. White."

In that part of the town taken from Tully, Jonathan Berry was the first settler, a short distance south of Borodino, in March, 1803, and in April, of the same year, a settlement was made by Archibald Farr on the southwest corner of Lot No. 11. Mr. Farr was assisted in arriving at his place of destination by Mr. Berry, who sent his team and men to open a road. This is believed to have been the first road of any kind made within the limits of the present town. It is the same that now leads from Spafford Corners to Borodino. In 1804 Isaac Hall settled on the farm since owned by Asahel Roundy, Esq., near Spafford Postoffice. The road was cleared out from Farr's lot to the Corners, or Spafford Postoffice, in 1804, and in 1805, Elisha Sabins and John Babcock, from Scott, cleared out a road from that town to the Corners, and moved in their goods on sleds. In 1806 several families scattered themselves over different parts of the town. Peter Knapp, Isaac HaIl, John Babcock, Samuel Smith, Elisha Sabins, Otis Legg, Moses Legg, Archibald Farr, Jethro Bailey, Elias Davis, Abel Amadown, Job Lewis, Daniel Tinckham, John Hullibut, and others, were among the first settlers on the road from Borodino to the town of Scott. In other parts of the town were Levi Foster, Benjamin Homer, James Williamson. Cornelius Williamson, Benjamin Stanton and John Woodward.

In September, 1806, Isaac Hall drove a wagon from Spafford Corners to Scott Corners for a load of boards, which was the first wagon that ever passed over that road. The Corners were first settled in 1807 by Asahel Roundy and James Bacon. Elias Davis, an old settler near the center of the town, made his way thither from Skaneateles up the lake in a skiff.

The following are names of persons who settled in Spafford previous to the war of 1812 and who have died in the town since 1845: Samuel Prindle, a Revolutionary soldier; Hon. Joseph Prindle, Elijah Knapp, Peter Knapp, Capt. Asahel Roundy, soldier of 1812; Cornelius Williamson, soldier of 1812; Samuel G. Seeley, soldier of 1812; Kelly Case, soldier of 1812 ; Jabez Melvin, soldier of 1812; William Dedrick, soldier of 1812 ; Russel Tinkham, soldier of 1812; Silas Randall, soldier of 1812; Stephen Applebee, soldier of 1812 ; Samuel Gale, soldier of 1812: Samuel Parker, soldier of 1812; Jonathan Ripley, Joseph Enos, Elias Davis, Lewis C. Davis, Leonard Melvin, Miss Melinda Melvin, John Grout, Eberiezer Grout.

The following still living in the town, became residents from 1812 to 1818:
Daniel Wallace, Joseph Enos, Uriah Roundy, W. W. Legg, Hiram Seeley, Rathbun Barber, Geo. W. Crane, Seymour Grinnell, J. L. Mason, Harvey Barnes, John L. Ripley, S. H. Stanton, Mrs. Bridget McDaniels, Mrs. Clara Weston, Mrs. Maria Mason, Miss Semantha Melvin, Allen J. Stanton, Reuben Palmer, Wm. Churchill, A. M. Churchill, Alanson E. Colton and Nelson Berry.

The first frame dwelling was erected by Samuel Conkling in 1807, on Lot number seventy-six, Marcellus. The first Religious Society was organized in the Marcellus portion of the town in 1800. The first school house was built of logs on the northwest corner of Lot number seventy-six, Marcellus, in 1803. Miss Sally Packard was the first teacher. The first school at Spafford Corners was kept in a log house in 1808, by Miss Hannah Weston, (afterwards Mrs. Roundy,) who used to ride out on horseback from Skaneateles, and return in the same manner at the close of her school each day. There was no wagon road then from the Corners to Skaneateles.

Dr. Archibald Farr, in 1808, erected the first grist mill in town. The first saw mill was built in 1810 by Josiah Walker; the next by Judge Walter Wood in 1811. These mills, if we mistake not, were on Cold Brook, the largest tributary of Otisco Lake. Jared Babcock and Lanson Hotchkiss were the first merchants - the first in 1809, and the second in 1810. Dr. Archibald Farr was the first practicing physician, and kept the first tavern on lot number eleven, Tully, in 1808. Other physicians were Jeremiah B. Whiting, Zachariah Derby, John Collins and others.

The first town meeting was held at the house of Elisha Sabins, in 1812. John Babcock was chosen Supervisor; Sylvester Wheaton, Town Clerk; Benjamin Stanton, Asahel Roundy and Elijah Knapp, Assessors ; Asahel Roundy, Adolphus French and Jonathan Berry, Commissioners of Highways. The second town meeting was held at the same place, April 13, 1813. Asahel Roundy, Supervisor, and Asa Terry, Town Clerk.

A postoffice was established at Spafford Corners in 1814. Asahel Roundy, Postmaster. He was succeeded by James Knapp, Joseph R. Berry, Thomas B. Anderson and Dr. Collins, in the order named. The mail was first carried through the town in a wagon in 1827. James H. Fargo had the contract for the route from Jordan to Homer, Cortland County. Previously the mails had been carried on horseback.

Spafford is well watered by springs and small brooks. Excellent blue limestone, suitable for building purposes, is quarried in the town, at the highest elevation on which building stone is found in the county.


The village of Borodino is situated in the northern part of the town of Spafford. It contains fortytwo dwelling houses and a population of some two hundred. It contains one M. E. Church, town hail, postoffice, two dry goods stores, proprietors Messrs. Churchill & Eadie, and Grinnell & Howe; one hardware store, C. M. Rich; one clothing store, Wm. Quick & Son; one wagon shop, Cyrus Streeter; two blacksmith shops, O. F. Eddy and A. Griffin ; one cabinet shop,E. Eldrige. Stephen Huffman is proprietor of the hotel. There is a shoe shop kept by A. Manley & Son; tin shop, C. M. Rich & Son ; carpenters and joiners, Charles Nichols. Albert Applebee, Miles Brott and J. L. Maynard. W. W. Legg is Postmaster, and Dr. Van Dyke Tripp. physician.

TRUE REFORM LODGE, No. 664, I. O. of G. T., at Borodino, was organized May 29, 1877, with twenty-six members.

The present officers are-Albert Applebee, W. C. T.; Mrs. W. H. Bunnell, W. V. T.; Frank Harvey, W. S.; W. H. Bunnell, W. C.; Elenor Stanton, W. F. S.; Eva Bass. W. T.; George Goodrich, W. M.; Lilian Milkins, W. I. G.; George Tripp, W. O. G.; S. A. Wallace, W. A. S.; Eva Olmsted, W. A. M.: Emma Sweet, R. H. S.; Mary Streeter, L. H. S.; Otis Cross, L. D.

M. E. CHURCH, Borodino.- The first meetings of this society were held in the house of John C. Hillibot; the organization was effected in 1809. The first church edifice was built at Skaneateles and subsequently removed to Borodino. The church numbers twenty-five members. Sunday School part of the time; attendance about twenty.

Present pastor - Rev. William H. Bunnell. Trustees-A. Grinnell, President; Otis Cross, O. K. Morton, William T. Wilbur. Isaac Eglin, E. P. Grinnell, Van Dyke Tripp, William Bass and Geo. Crane. Ansel Grinnell, Class-leader.


Spafford Corners, in the southern part of the town, has a population of about two hundred. It contains a postoffice, Uriah Roundy, Postmaster. Roundy & McDaniels, and James Churchill, merchants ; C. B. Lyon, shoemaker: George Hazard and Alex. Green, blacksmiths. The place has one Church-Methodist Episcopal, and one practicing physician, H. D. Hunt, M. D. The only hotel in the place is kept by G. H. Anthony.

LAKE VIEW LODGE, No. 659, I. O. of G. T., was instituted by John Lorton, in May, 1877, with thirty-one charter members. H. D. Hunt, W. C. T.; P. A. Norton, W. S. The lodge is in a flourishing condition.

UNION CHURCH, Spafford Corners. - Religious services by the Baptists and Methodists were first held in this vicinity in school houses prior to the erection of the church in 1838. At the latter date the Union society was formed, James Woodworth, (class-leader,) Samuel Seeley, Edvin S. Edwards, Hiram Seeley, Dr. John Collins, Sylvanus Eddy and wife, David Coon and wife, were among the original members.

The church edifice cost about $ 1,200 and is supplied with a bell and a cabinet organ.

Present membership, thirty-five; Sunday School sixty-five. Present pastor, Rev. Wm. H. Bunnell. who also supplies the M. E. Church at Borodino.

Present Trustees-Uriah Roundy, President and Secretary; Edwin S. Edwards, Millard Doty, Joseph Cole and Seymour Norton.

Luke Miller came from Connecticut and built the first house on Cold Brook, (a log cabin,) about seventy years ago, or in 1808. David Norton came from Connecticut in 1814.

There is a grist mill on Cold Brook owned by John P. Taft, with one run of stones. A mill was built here in 1830, by Dr. David Mellen, from Hudson, N. Y. It was burned in 1852, and rebuilt by the present proprietor in 1863.

Mr. Wm. H. Lawrence has a saw mill on Cold Brook. The mill was first built in December 1828, by Peter Picket. It was operated till 1848 by B. W. Taft. The mill was rebuilt in 1872. In connection with the same mill Mr. Lawrence also operates a flax mill. The flax is broken into what is known as "green tow" and is shipped in that form to market.

Mr. Lawrence has also the largest cidef mill in the town on Cold Brook, and ships largely of its product to Syracuse and New York.

METHODIST EPISCOPAL CHURCH, Cold Brook.- The society was organized over sixty years ago. Richard English and old Mr. Caleb Haight were among the earliest members. Rev. Isaac Puffer, a celebrated divine, was one of its first pastors. The early records of the church were lost. The present edifice of the church was built in 1852; a fine, commodious structure, seating capacity between two and three hundred. Cost about $1,200. Present pastor, Rev. C. D. Smith. Residence, Scott, Cortland county, N. V. Present membership twenty-five. Flourishing Sunday School, J. N. Knapp, Superintendent. Scholars in attendance, about thirty.

Trustees- J. Noxon, President; J. N. Knapp, Secretary; John P. Taft, H. E. Underwood, W. A. Lawrence, Lyman Churchill and Sylvester Churchill. Rev. O. N. Cuykendall, deceased, was in charge when the church was built.


Benjamin Stanton, father of the subject of this sketch, was born in Rhode Island, January 14th, 1780. When quite young his father moved from Rhode Island and settled in Bennington county, Vt. In 1802 Benjamin removed to New Berlin, Chenango county, N. Y,, where he married, August 15th, 1802, Sally Sheldon, by whom he had one child, viz: Sally S., who was brought up by her grand-parents from the death of her mother, which occurred about one year after marriage. January 12, 1806, Mr. S. was married to his second wife, Amy Perkins. In February of the same year, he purchased fifty acres of wood land in the town of Spafford, upon which he cut the first tree and erected a log house on the same spot where the fine farm residence of the subject of this sketch, now stands. Returning for his wife, the two commenced a pioneer's life in the woods. In July, 1806, he carried upon his back one bushel of corn to a mill twenty miles distant, situated on Onondaga Creek, within the limits of what is now the city of Syracuse. In the fall of the same year a mill was built, by Dr. Farr, at the head of Otisco Lake. They had children as follows: Sheldon P., born July 12, 1807, living in Alleghany county, N. Y.; Malenda, born March 2, 1808; Sherman H., born February 15, 1810, died April, 1813; Allen J., born February 15, 1812, a farmer living in Spafford: Juliana, born July 21, 1814, married to Sylvanus Grant, died March 9, 1849; John S., born February 7, 1817, physician, living in Madison, Wis.; Mary, born July 26, 1819, married to Samuel Sherman; Samuel H., subject of this sketch, born April 10, 1821; ; Rhoda, born April 26, 1823, wife of Delos W. Billings, living in Alleghany county, N. Y. Mr. Stanton, besides working on the farm, carried on the blacksmith trade. He was one of the first assessors of the town of Spafford. He died February 5, 1871. His wife survived him a little more than a year. Her death occurred March 31, 1872. Both are buried near the spot where they lived, a fine monument having been erected over their graves.

The subject of this sketch has always lived on the same place in Spafford where the father first settled; he coming into possession of the homestead. Receiving his education in the common schools of Spafford, when seventeen years of age he commenced teaching school, and taught three successive terms. He was united in marriage, October 9, 1844, to Sarah T. Patterson, daughter of Calvin and Sarah Patterson, who were among the pioneer settlers of of Spafford. Mrs. S. was born July 15, 1825 in Spafford. They have had ten children, as follows: Calvin P., born June 12, 1846, married to Emma Babcock, living in Luddington, Mason County, Michigan; Emmett E., born October 30 1849, married Josephine Burton, living in Spafford; Annette, born July 3, 1851, married F. W. Fairbanks, a farmer living in Mason County, Michigan; Frank, born February 15, 1855, died March 25, 1876: Laura, born September 17, 1857, living at home; Samuel, born November 8, 1858, died an infant; Mark, born March 1, 1859, living at home; Elmer E., born August 8, 1860, living at home; Alice, born May 23, 1862, married to John Purchase, living in Spafford; Benjamin, born September 28, 1866, died an infant.

Mr. Stanton has added to his lands until at the present time he is the owner of over three hundred acres. In politics he is Republican. He has filled the offices of Inspector of Election, Supervisor in 1870 and '71, Highway Commissioner in 1869, '75, '76 and '77, Assessor and Notary Public. In 1876 he rebuilt his house, which commands a fine view of the surrounding country, including the whole of Otisco Lake.

A view of his home, together with portraits of Mr. and Mrs. S., appear on another page of this work.

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