THE TOWN OF POTSDAM - ORGANIZED IN 1806.
POTSDAM was the seventh town erected by an Act of the Legislature passed February 21, 1806, formerly attached
to Madrid. It was one of the original ten townships, No. 3, and is said to have been named thus by the commissioners
on the discovery by the surveyors of a bed of redish sandstone resembling the Potsdam sandstone in the town of
that name in Germany. The original land titles will be found on pages 82 to 85, patented to Macomb, etc.
The first town meeting in Potsdam was held at the house of Benja.min Raymond, April 4, 1806, where the following
officers were chosen:
Supervisor, Benjamin Raymond; town clerk, Gurdon Smith; commissioners of highways, Bester Pierce, David French,
and Gurdon Smith; assessors, Giles Parmelee, Horace Garfield and Benjamin Bailey; overseers of the poor, Jabez
Healey and David French; pound masters, William Smith and Oliver Boyden; overseers of highways, Benjamin Raymond,
Benjamin Stewart, Levi Swift, Abner Royce, jr., Archibald Royce and Isaac Buck; fence viewers, Levi West, Bester
Pierce and Benjamin Stewart.
On November 18, 1802, a large portion of this township was conveyed to Levinus, and John C. Clarkson (see Clarkson
family, Part II), Herrnon Le Roy, Nicholas Fisk, Garret Van horn, and William Bayard, who took steps to open the
way for settlers. They employed as their land agent, Benjamin Raymond, who had assisted the original commis sioners
in subdividing the townships. Mr. Raymond, with six men, a set of mill-irons, provisions, and all necessary implements
required to commence a settlement in the wilderness, left Fort Stanwix (Rome) in May, 1803, in a bateau, and proceeded
by the old route of Wood Creek, Oneida Lake, Oswego River, and down Lake Ontario, the River St. Lawrence, and to
Point Iroquois above Waddington. Here they left part of their load and proceeded on foot with packs on their backs
through the woods, reaching Raquette River about half a mile below the present village of Potsdam, thus becoming
the first settlers in the town. They built a raft and ascended to the falls, where they erected a hut on the west
bank of the river. In the mean time they had the remainder of their goods hauled over with ox team on "travois."
They commenced the erection of a darn and saw mill, which was put into operation that fall. Mr. Raymond was satisfied
that the river and falls were sufficient to afford abundant power, and that was the proper place to commence a
village; therefore, during the summer he surveyed roads in different directions leading to Hopkinton, Canton and
Madrid. He had them bushed out and worked sufficiently for teams to pass, and in the mean time he opened a land
office in a log shanty. During the summer several persons came to town and purchased lands. Ebenezer Patterson
and wife were said to have been the first white family that moved into town The following are the names of those
who took contracts of land that year: Christopher Wilson, Jabez Healey, John Fobes, Moses Patterson, Elihu Knights,
Asa Knapp, Elias Champion, Gurdon Smith, Joshua Conkey, Francis Whitney, John Delance, Benjamin Stewart, Giles
Parmele, Sylvanus Eaton, Archibald Royce, William Smith, Chester Dewey Nathaniel Bailey, David French, Esau Rich,
Reuben Ames, Barnabas Ames, Benjamin Bailey, Howard J. Pierce, Newell B. Smith, Ansel Bailey, Ebenezer Hubbard,
and Ebenezer Patterson. Two of these took deeds during that year-Benjamin Stewart and William Smith. Mr. Stewart's
was the first deed given to a settler of this town and was dated July 9, 1803; it covered the northwest part of
lot 42. Mr. Smith's deed bore date September 19, 1803, and covered 320 acres, the north half of lot 26, the purchase
price being $800.
Jabez Healey and John Fobes came in from Vermont, making the journey from Lake Champlain on horseback, After a
few weeks, during which they made contracts for land, they returned. In the fall of the 'same year Healey and his
eighteen year old son came back to Potsdam with small packs of supplies to prepare for the advent of the families.
They built a log house and cut the timber from a few acres of land. They then again returned to Vermont, and in
the spring of 1804 Mr. Healey came on to his settlement with his wife and eight or ten children, three horses and
some cattle. Mr. Smith and Mr. Fobes also brought their families in the spring of 1804, and others who are known
to have arrived in that year were Christopher Wilson, Benjamill Bailey, Howard J. Pierce, Benjamin Stewart, John
Delance, Joseph Bailey and his sons Nathaniel and AnseL Mr. Raymond also brought his family that spring.
Gurdon Smith located at "West Potsdam," which was long known as Smith's Corners." He had been chief
of a corps of surveyors under Benjamin Wright, and had surveyed a large part of Macomb's purchase
During the year 1804 other settlers came, among whom were Ebenezer Parkhurst, jr., William Ames, Barnabas Hogle,
Thomas Bowker, David Carey, Jehiel Slafter, Joseph Wright, Lebbeus Johnson, Bester Pierce, Roswell Parkhurst, Alvin
Mills, Reuben Field. John Bowker, Spalding Waterman, Ezra Crary, William Bullard, and several associates. Mr. Bullard,
while in New England, drew articles of an agreement and a constitution in which each member of the company to be
formed was to share according to the amount qf property or labor invested. All things relating to the association
were to be decided by a majority vote, strictly democratic, although their religious or political views were not
to be criticized. An account was to be kept with each member of the amount of stock invested and the days' work
performed, when a settlement was to be made at the annual meeting in January of each year. About a dozen signed
the agreement when William Bullard, the projector, was made agent and John Borroughs, secretary. The party, with
their families, came in as above stated, and on the 28th of November, 1804, purchased a tract of 2,427 acres, about
two miles north of the present village, at a cost of $8,656, and commenced the settlement. After a couple of years
several of the members withdrew and others were taken in, when, in the month of May, 1807, they formed an association
on the same basis, which was styled "The Union." The names of the male members were William Bullard,
John Borroughs, Manassa Smith, Nathan Howe, Ammi, Thomas and William Currier, Isaac Ellis, Alba Durkee, and John
McAllaster. The "Union" prospered fairly, but in 1810 dissolved by mutual agreement, the land was divided,
and most of them continued to reside on their farms. It is said that the energetic women objected to continue the
union, as their more indolent sisters were receiving the benefit of their labor, although they continued to be
friendly with each other.
Mr. Raymond, having gone south with his family to stay with their friends during the winter of 1804-5, and when
returning in the spring, accompanied by his family, his brother in law. Wright and his family, and his cousin,
Sewail Raymond, all in sleighs, they were completely deserted by the snow at the Ox Bow, on the Oswegatchie River,
in the edge of Jefferson county. Mr. Raymond immediately directed the construction of a raft out of about thirty
pine logs, on which the sleighs, goods and families were placed, and on which they proceeded down the swollen stream
to Cooper's Falls in De Kaib. The horses were sent over land in charge of Sewall Raymond, and from Cooper's Falls
there was enough snow to serve the party to Potsdam. About thirty settlers came in and took up land that season.
Mr Raymond commenced work on a frame grist mill at the village in 1804, which was put in operation the next year,
and also erected a frame building for dwelling, store and office.
The first child born in Potsdam was Orpha Maria Smith, daughter of William Smith, on the 20th of April, 1804. The
marriage of John Delance and Nancy Healey was celebrated in the summer of 1804; this was probably the first marriage
in the town. The first death of a settler was that of James Chadwick, from Massachusetts, who was killed by a limb
falling from a tree in July, 1805.
It is worthy of note that John Smith, an uncle of the famous Joseph Smith, the Mormon leader, was a very early
settler in this town. He accompanied "Joe" to Utah and became a high priest in the Mormon church. He
was succeeded at his death by his son, George A. Smith, who was also a native of Potsdam.
The first post office was established in town, April 21, 1807, with Dr. Pierce Shepard as postmaster. He was also
the first physician to settle in the town.
The early settlers found Indians camping in the town, but they were, as a rule, very friendly when sober. They
assumed the right, however, to enter the dwellings of settlers at any time and with very little warning. The Indians
obtained considerable money from the sale of furs, and were almost the only source at first whence the settlers
could get cash, which they did by trading the Indians produce or rum.
David Barnum came to the town in 1807, and Sinleon T)art in 1808, the latter settling at Smith's Corners (West
Potsdarn). Timothy Shepard came about the same time and settled at the falls on the east side. Josiah Fuller came
in 1808, bringing, as one of his family, L. W. Fuller when two years old. He was a tanner, and subsequently built
a small tannery, with vats on the outside of the building on ground afterwards occupied by the Richards flouring
mill. Mr. Fuller contracted for the triangular tract of land between the river, Market and Raymond streets, and
cleared away the thicket Oil the east shore. He built a one and a half story house on the Market street side of
his lot, and there kept for some years a good public house. It was afterwards kept by Samuel Pease.
Down to the year 1809 a ferry was maintained across the river for those who came to the mills and others who wished
to cross; but in that year a bridge was built on the present bridge site, which endured until 1830. The next one
was in use to about the close of the last war.
Liberty Knowles came to the town in 1809 and was admitted to the bar in the next year. A brief sketch of his life
will be found in another department of this volume,
Settlements continued to increase, and in 1810 the town had a population of 928, and was the fourth town in the
county in that respect. In i8io the village consisted of only seven buildings; these were small frame structures,
all those outside of the immediate settlement being of logs. There was no church, but Judge Raymond habitually
held religious services in his house on Sundays, and they were soon attended by many of his neighbors. When the
attendance began to overcrowd his rooms he built a house that will be described further Ofl. The only schools at
that time were private ones, there being no school organization until 1813, when Benjamin Raymond, Gurdon Smith
arid Howard J. Pierce were chosen commissioners of common schools. It is probable that Mr. Pierce was the first
teacher in the town. A fulling mill was built in 1811 on the island.
Calls for militia to serve along the St. Lawrence River were followed by enlistments, with their attendant anxieties
and foreboding in the War of 1812. Ansel Paine served thus for eight months in a company enlisted in Potsdam, Madrid
and Massena. The first captain was Bester Pierce, of Potsdam, and the company served near Waddington, at Ogdensburg,
and finally at Sackctt's Harbor. In a general way the effect of the war was to stimulate business and growth in
Potsdam and other interior towns, as large quantities of army supplies passed through the town and markets were
unusually active. The old American Hotel building, which became a land mark, was erected in 1813. Most of the turnpike
through Potsdam, Hopkinton and Parishville was constructed during the war period. These roads cost from two to
three dollars per rod. The first distillery in town was built in 1813 by the land proprietors. Previous to the
war the one store kept by Judge Raymond sufficed for the community, but in 1813 Sewall Raymond, a cousin of the
judge and father of George Raymond, who came into the town with the judge in 1805, when he was nineteen years old,
built and opened a store on the east side of the river, where L. D. Andrews now is located, corner of Main and
Market streets. For many years Sewall Raymond continued in business and was a prominent citizen. In early years
he was clerk in the land office for Judge Raymond, learning surveying, and did a great deal of that work in this
section. He was one of the original board of trustees of the academy and was clerk of the board until his death
on July 1, 1866. Dr. Robert McChesney, who came to the town about the beginning of the war, continued a large practice
to about the time of his death in 1824. Horatio S. Munson, long a prominent citizen, started a nail factory on
the island as early as 1818, cutting the nails from plates and heading them by hand.
There were many prominent men came into the town during the influx caused by the war and settled in business. At
the close of the conflict there were six stores in the village and twenty-five or tilirty houses. But when the
channel of trade was opened on the St. Lawrence River, all the east side merchants failed except Mr. Raymond. There
was neither a hotel nor a store in the town outside of the village. John Raymond, a brother of Sewall, employed
as clerk (nineteen years old), came to the village in 1815, and it is related of him, as indicating how like a
wilderness this whole section remained, that he thought he had indeed reached a wild country when he ran across
a panther on Sunday evening just at dusk in the middle of Elm street, sitting on its haunches like a dog, a short
distance before him. As he advanced, the animal leaped over a ditch to the side of the road, when lie discovered
it was a panther, and probably was the mate to the one that had been killed near by a few days before. The next
moment he leaped back into the road and watched the boy for a short time, who stood his ground considering what
it was best to do, when the panther again leaped over the ditch and crept behind a stump, where Raymond could see
his fierce eyes peering out on one side and his tail swinging angrily to and fro on the other. The lad hastened
to the nearest house and informed the occupant, who took his rifle, and the two returned to the spot, but the panther
had fled, Several sheep had recently been killed in the neighborhood, and it was determined to destroy the beast.
The whole country around was notified and promptly turned out, surrounded a large tract of some twenty miles, and
gradually closed in together. While two bears, a large number of deer, and a quantity of smaller game was secured,
the panther escaped.
About the year 1821 the first building of much importance was erected in the village, of the now extensively used
sandstone. It was the store still standing on the southeast corner of Market and Elm streets, and was built by
Liberty Knowles, Sewali Raymond and Charles Partridge. It was an experiment on their part, to ascertain if the
stone was suitable for such a purpose; the results are well known. About 1822-3 Mr. Knowles built a tannery, to
be operated by Azel Lyman, and Mr. Partridge a distillery, of the same stone. Aside from the mills and shops, these
were among the prominent early manufacturing industries. In 1823-4 Mr. Partridge built also a three story stone
structure known as the "Aqueduct Buildings," in which water was raised to supply the tannery and distillery.
Pump logs were laid to various parts of the village and the citizens were supplied with water at five dollars each
per year. The prevailing temperance agitation of a few years later led Mr. Partridge to close his distillery, and
it was not reopened. David French, who purchased land in the town in 1803, came a few years later and settled about
midway between Potsdam village and Canton, where he was a successful farmer, and kept a public house from 1819
for more than thirty years. He died November 15, 1854.
In 1845 the town voted, by a small majority, to erect a town house in the village, for which purpose, under a legislative
act, a tax of $1,200 was imposed in two annual installments. The tax money was anticipated by loans, and the building
was erected the same year, on the west side of the public square, by William Sweet, under direction of Henry L.
Knowles, Samuel Partridge, Havel Smith and William W. Goulding.
Amos Blood settled at West Potsdanl in 1835, and there were then several houses and a blacksmith shop there. At
about the same time Barnabas Yale and his sons, John and Lloyd C., settled a mile west of West Potsdam, where a
saw mill was already in operation, to which a run of stone was added by Alexander Bailey. Other settlers followed
the Yales and led to the founding of the hamlet known as Yaleville. About the same time Edward Crary built a grist
mill, which was the first at the point known as Crary's Mills, in the extreme southwest corner of the town, A small
tannery was also built there and a few settlers gathered about. Buck's Bridge had also become of some importance,
and on the 30th of March, 1836, a post-office was established there with Owen Buck in charge.
In the financial crisis of 1837-8 the village of Potsdam felt the depressing influences to some extent, but the
thriving agricultural district near at hand prevented any general stagnation of business. In 1849 Dr. Henry Hewitt,
of Potsdatn, became convinced that by making certain improvements in the channel of the river, logs in great quantities
could be floated down from the great wilderness at very little expense, sawed into lumber at Potsdam, and made
a source of profit to the community. He convinced others of the feasibility of his project, and circulated a petition
to the Legislature asking an appropriation of $10,000. The work was accomplished, and, as expected, produced splendid
results in this town.
In 1851 the United States Mutual Insurance Company was organized in West Potsdam, the directorship embracing many
prominent men but it was a little ahead of its time, and closed its business after a few years.
In 1857 the old town house was burned, and after considerable agitation a small majority voted to build the second
one, which was done in 1858, at a cost of $5,000.
The principal features of the War of the Rebellion as they related to St. Lawrence county, have been described
in Chapter XV of this work; consequently a brief allusion to it here is all that is necessary. There was only one
draft held in the county, under which the quota of Potsdarn was one hundred and eighty-six men. On this the town
was entitled to a credit of ninety-three. The quotas under the other several calls were all filled, the bounties
ranging from the first one paid by the general government and the State, up to $1,000, which was the gross sum
paid to those who enlisted under the call of July 18, 1864. So efficient was the work of the men having in charge
the filling of the two quotas of 1864, that at the close of the war this town could have stood a call for sixty
men and filled it without a draft. The town fur.nished between 900 and 1,000 men.
The history of the town during its last decade is largely embodied in the account of the various industries and
institutions of the villages. During that period manufacturing operations, as will be seen, have at least kept
pace with the growth of the town in other directions.
In 1875 measures were inaugurated for building a new town house, the old one having become inadequate for the public
need. A resolution providing for a new structure was adopted at the annual town meeting in February, 1875, the
appropriation being $20,000. The movement met with fierce opposition, but the resolution was adopted by ten majority.
The passage of the necessary act by the Legislature was also actively opposed, but it went through in April, and
William H. Barnum, William Mathews and Norman Swift were appointed a committee to build the new structure. The
tax was anticipated by a loan of $20,000, payable in five equal annual installments, which the supervisors were
authorized to levy. The old building was demolished in the same spring, additional land was purchased, and during
the summer the new building was erected, of Potsdarn sandstone. It is ninety by sixty-eight feet in size, with
basement and mansard roof. The upper part is devoted to a public hail or theatre, with balcony and commodious stage.
THE VILLAGE OF POTSDAM
The act of incorporation for the village of Potsdam was passed March 3, 1831. The act provided for the election
of a board of five trustees, to be elected annually on the first Monday in May, who were to elect one of their
number as president of the board, and appoint a clerk, a treasurer, a collector, a constable and a pound master,
who should hold their offices for one year, unless sooner removed by the trustees. The following officers were
Trustees, Jabez Willes, Horatio G. Munson, Sewall Raymond, Samuel Partridge and Frederick C. Powell; president
(elected by the board), H. G. Munson ; treasurer, Jesse Davison; clerk, Justus Smith.
Following is a list of the presidents of the village up to date (1893):
1831, H. G. Munson; 1832, Jabez Willes; 1833, Justus Smith; 1834-5, Samuel Partridge; 1836, Theoddre Clark; 1837,
Sewall Raymond; 1838, H. G. Munson; 1839, Jabez Willes; 1840, Samuel Partridge; 1841, Benjamin G. Baldwin; 1842,
George Wilkins; 1843-45, Sewall Raymond; 1846-7, Theodore Clark; 1848-50, Noah Pertine; 1851, Chas. T. Bosweil;
1852, Joshua Blaisdell; 1853, H. H. Peck; 1854. Theodore Clark; 1855, J. H. Sanford; 1856, Noble S. Elderkin; 1857,
Amos Brown; 1858-59, Seth Benson; 1860-62. Win. H. Wallace; 1863-4, A. X. Parker; 1865-6, H. H. Peck; 1867-9, A.
X. Parker; 1870, Milton Heath; 1871-3, B. Usher; 1874-5, Milton Heath; 1876, H. L. Knowles; 1877, Milton Heath;
1878-80, A. X. Parker; 1881-87, Hosea Bicknell; 1888-89, Luther E. Wadleigh; 1890, A. X. Parker; 1891, John G.
McIntyre 1892, O. G. Howe; 1893, L. B Wadleigh.
At a meeting held May 3, 1832, a village seal was adopted, having for its device a ti-ce under the word Potsdam.
On the 3d of July, 1832, Zenàs Clark. George Wilkinson and Justus Smith were appointed a board of health,
and John Parmelee, health officer. This action was taken in anticipation of possible danger from cholera, which
was then prevalent in most parts of the country.
The village charter was amended April 10, 1841, by which the boundaries of the village were enlarged, additional
powers were conferred, upon the trustees relating to the purchase and holding of real estate, building of sidewalks,
construction of sewers, reservoirs, etc.
Fire Department.- The means for extinguishing fires in Potsdam has passed through the usual evolution from
a few buckets and ladders to the modern steam fire engine and water works. The burning of all the early village
records leaves us with very little data of early conditions in this respect. A fire company was organized here
soon after 1820, but it became almost useless through disorganization. In 1853 the village owned two hand engines,
and the department was regularly organized in 1857, with J. R. Jackson as chief engineer. The organization included
the IPotsdam Engine Company No. i, and Frontier Hose Company No. 1, Among those who have since held the office
of chief engineer are J. B Lombard, A. X. Parker, J. L. Brown, C. E. Haywood, and T. H. Swift, who occupied the
position more than ten years. The present chief is Julius Palmer.
Early in 1889 a steam fire engine was purchased at a cost of $4,000. This, with three hose companies and a hook
and ladder company, supplemented with hydrants connected with the water mains, constitute an efficient equipment.
In 1890 a lot on the west side of Market street was purchased by the village, of Harvey M. Story, for $1,000. On
this a brick engine house was erected, with a lock-up in the rear and a hail on the second floor. The building
is twenty-seven by fifty-five feet, and cost about $2,500. In this building are kept the steamer and Hose Company
No. 3. Hose Company No. 1, and the Hook and Ladder Company are located in Firemen's Hall, and No. 2 is on the west
side of the river.
Potsdam Water Works- The works consist principally of a stone building thirty-four feet square and two
stories high. The works were constructed in 1871, the original cost being about $50,000, for which the village
authorities issued bonds. The water is pumped from a filtering pier on the Holly system, by water power, with the
exception of an auxiliary steam pump, which was added in 1890, at a cost of $2,500. Improvements have also been
made in the original pumps. The entire cost of the works to the present time (1893) is nearly $60,000; but the
cost of the late improvements noted was paid from the village funds. The bonds, in a sum of $40,000 issued in 1871,
and $10,000 issued in 1872, had twenty years to run at seven per cent. interest. Of this amount $37,000 of the
first issue became due April 1, 1891, and were refunded at four per cent., payable $2,000 annually; and on April
i, 1892, the $10,000 were refunded in like manner, payable $500 annually.
The original commission chosen to procure plans, specifications, etc., were William H. Wallace, Samuel B. Gordon,
E. A. Merritt, Bloomfield Usher and E. W. Foster. About four miles of mains were originally laid, which have been
extended to nearly or quite six miles.
Photo E. A. Mettitt
Sewerage.- It is an evidence of the enterprise of the people of Potsdam that they appreciate the great importance
of perfect drainage to the health and growth of the village. On the 6th of May, 1886, the first meeting of citizens
was held for the consideration of this subject. A law was procured from the Legislature giving authority to bond
the village for $25,000, and a coirirnission composed of Thomas S. Clarkson, Hosea Bicknell, D. F. Ellis, William
H. Walling and Charles L. Brackett was appointed. Under this action about seven miles of sewers have been laid,
giving the village almost a perfect system of drainage. For $20,000 of the cost notes were made which were taken
by the Potsdam National Bank, arid these have been taken up by payments made from taxes collected for the purpose.
Electric Lights- In the fall of 1886 a contract was entered into with the Thompson-Houston Company, under
which the village was lighted for a time. Their interests were taken by a company called the Potsdam Electric Light
Company, which continued only a short time, when a corporation under the name of the Potsdatn Electric Light and
Power Company was formed in 1888, and since that time has given the village efficient service in this respect.
The streets are lighted with nearly eighty arc lights, and incandescent lamps are extensively used by individuals
and firms. The officers of the company are as follows: Thomas S. Clarkson, president; W. Y. Henry, vice-president;
Hosea Bicknell, treasurer.
Hotels.- Some of the early public houses of Potsdam have been alluded to in the history of the town. Probably
the first of these was the one built and kept by Josiah Fuller, father of L. W. Fuller, in the first years of the
century. The old American Hotel is now doing duty in a small way as a public house. The St. Lawrence Hotel was
a noted public house for many years, and the building in which it originated still stands on the corner of Market
and Main streets. What is now the Windsor House was built by Noble S. Elderkin, and has been used since as a hotel
and kept by various persons. It is now (1893) kept by Sheridan & Cameron. Henry W. Knapp kept Knapp's Hotel
on Main street for some years. The original building, now occupied by the Albion Hotel, was built by M. V. B. Ives,
to which A. J. & C. R. Holmes have since made two additions, the first in 1884 and the last in 1888. They have
kept the house about twelve years and have made it very popular with the traveling public.
Capital crime.- John Donnovan was legally executed at Canton, April 16, 1852, for murdering James Rowley
in Potsdam village, January 23, 1852. They had been drinking freely and quarreled over their beer and exchanged
blows, but had apparently become reconciled and parted friends. Donnovan; however, followed Rowley and inflicted
several wounds with a jack knife which proved fatal.
Plank Roads is under the head of Internal Improvements, see page 167.
Agricultural Societies.- See page 216.
Bay Side Cemetery.- For many years before the establishment of the present burial ground in Potsdam it was felt
that a more desirable place should be selected for the remains of those called away by death than the former one.
A meeting was held on the 14th of October, 1865, over which Rev. H. C. Riggs presided, H. N. Redway acting as secretary,
at which the Bay Side Cemetery Association was organized The present name was adopted and twelve trustees were
appointed as follows: Bloomfield Usher, William W. Morgan, John H. Seeley, T. Sreatfield Clarkson, Edward Crary,
E. D. Brooks, George Richards, Edward Hitchings, Aaron M. Deming, Harvey M. Story, H. C. Riggs, and Hiram H. Peck.
The association being organized, a second meeting was called October 23. Bloomfield Usher was chosen president
of the Board of Trustees; H. C. Riggs, vice-president; T. S. Clarkson, treasurer; Edward Crary, secretary. A constitution
and by-laws were provided and an executive committee appointed. Twenty one acres of land, situated on the west
side of the river, were purchased of Mr. Usher, and arrangements made for surveying and laying out the ground.
The consecration ceremonies took place October 6, 1866, when addresses were made by William A. Dart, Rev. H. C.
Riggs and others. In 1867 fifteen acres of land were added to the ground, and with improvements since made, the
many well kept lots and handsome monuments, the cemetery is now a Spot to which the mourner may turn with sadness
tempered by the beautiful surroundings.
Potsdam Red Sandstone Company.- This is the name of a company of quite recent organization, but the inception of
the business carried on by them dates far back in the past. The value of what has long been known to geologists
as Potsdam red sandstone for building purposes has been locally known to some extent for many years; but it was
left for enterprising men of more recent times to fully demonstrate this value and bring the stone into extensive
use. During the early years of this town the sandstone was quarried in a primitive manner by almost anybody to
use in buildings, walls, etc. Among the earliest to work in the quarries now controlled by the company, of which
we are writing, were members of the Parmeter family, who continued it many years. The present company is composed
of Edwin A. Merritt, jr., and Ogden H. Tappan. They succeeded a company of the same name composed of E A. Merritt,
jr, James W. Barker, George Z. Erwin and W. R. Weed. The quarry in which that company operated is not now used,
better and more convenient workings having been opened. The present company took the business in 1889, and since
that time have probably done more to extend a knowledge of the stone and prove its great value, as well as its
sale, than all the others who proceeded them in the business. The owners of the quarries have secured the skill
of the most eminent scientists in the country, among them Professor J. S. Newberry, of the School of Mines, Columbia
College, in analyzing and testing the stone, from which has been built up a wealth of evidence that is absolutely
incontestable as to its great value in every respect. Professor Newberry has written of the stone as follows: "It
is stronger than any granite and much more durable, since granites are composed of quartz, feldspar, mica and hornblende,
all of which, except quartz, are liable to decomposition on exposure. From this danger this stone is free; composed
as it is of pure silica, it will bid defiance to the tooth of time, and had the obelisk now standing in Central
Park been composed of as dense and homogeneous stone as Potsdam sandstone, it would to-day be as perfect as when
erected at Tanis, 1500 years B. C."
This is strong testimony and need not be amplified here, for all who are interested will receive from the company,
upon application, a great amount of detail regarding the qualities of the stone, which would be out of place in
these pages. It may, however, be added that there are buildings of this material now standing in the village of
Potsdam which are from fifty to seventy-five years old, and which bear to the ordinary observer every appearance
of having been erected within a decade. Among these is a dwelling erected by Gardiner Cox in 1838; the residence
of Judge C. O. Tappan, which is sixty years old, built by the late Judge Allen; the Usher residence, General E.
A. Merritt's residence and others. In a concise description of this sandstone we find the following: "It is
a fine-grained sandstone cemented with silica and weighing more than any other sandstone, over 160 pounds to the
square foot. The cementing material is so unaffected by acids that the stone can be boiled in pure nitric acid
for hours without injury. It is capable of withstanding crushing strains of 42,000 pounds per inch. It is so nearly
fire proof that it has been used in the vicinity to line cupola furnaces. For lining bank vaults it is superior
to any other material except steel. In color the stone is an ideal red, being deep, rich and brilliant, and retaining
its freshness unimpaired by any condition of climate or situation."
Very many important and costly buildings have been erected of this stone, and stand to-day as monuments of its
beauty and durability. Among these may be mentioned the Houses of Parliament at Ottawa, which cost over $4,000,000;
All Saints Cathedral, Albany, now in process of construction, costing about $2,000,000, and many others. The stone
is now shipped to all parts of the country, a recent order going to Washington, D. C.
The quarries now in process of working expose seventy feet in thickness, and the output is very extensive, while
something like 100,000 cubic feet is carried in stock. The quarries are known by numbers, reaching from one to
four, the color varying more or less in all. Water power is used for the propulsion of the machinery used in pumping,
etc. rwo hundred acres of land on both sides of the Raquette River are owned and controlled by the company, where
extensive buildings have been erected.
The Clarkson Saudsione Quarries are situated about three miles south of the village of Potsdam, and are owned by
Thomas S. Clarkson. The quality and color is the same as the old quarry and used for the same purpose in building.
This quarry was opened and worked in 1877, and nOW about fifty men on the average are employed. The clarkson Manufacturing
Plant was founded by Claricson & Brown in 1886, for the manufacture of butter firkins and tubs, which is now
carried on alone by Mr. Clarkson, who also turns out a large quantity of shingles on Fall Island.
The Watkins and Turner Lumber company.- Henry A. Watkins came to the village about the year 1842, and died on March
29, 1891. He was also for many years one of the principal operators of the large mills on the west side of the
river, which are now owned by the Watkins & Turner Lumber Company. The mill is one of those that were originally
built soon after 1850, in the period when advancement in this direction was rapid, by Elderkin, Clark & Co.
There were several early changes in its ownership, and in 1863 it was owned by Watkins & Burnham. and later
by Watkins, Lester & Co. Eventually the Raquette River Lumber Company was formed, of which Mr. Watkins was
a member; that was in 1884, and it was succeeded by the Watkins Lumber Company, and that by the Watkins, Turner
& Co., which was formed in February, 1891, and the following are the officers: C. H. Turner, president; H.
A. Watkins, vice president; B. Turner, secretary; H. E. Barnard, treasurer. The last two are residents of Plattsburg.
The capital of the company is $100,000. The mill now contains two circular saws, two gangs, a planing mill, and
has a capacity of 100,000 feet per day. The company owns about 35,000 acres of timber lands in the forests south
of Potsdani. This mill occupies substantially the site of the old mill of 1803, mentioned in earlier pages.
The same company carries on a kindling wood factory, which was started in the spring of 1893, with a capacity of
10,000 bundles daily. The factory is near the depot, and is equipped with machinery for its purpose.
The A. Sherman Lumber Company.- The little hamlet called Sissonville, a few miles below Potsdam village,
owes its existence to a mill put in operation there between 1840 and 1850 by persons from the east. It was burned
in 1852. Pomeroy & Pearson built a mill on the site, which they operated a few years only. In 1866 George W.
Sisson settled there, and in partnership with Alfred H. Griswold erected a new mill with six gangs of saws, which
produced about 65,000 feet of lumber a day. In 1875 Augustus Sherman, of Glens Falls, became a partner in the mill,
when the firm name of the A. Sherman Lumber Company was adopted. This arrangement continued until 1885. In 1886,
after the death of Mr. Sherman, William R. and Frederick A. Weed, grandSons of Mr. Sherman, came into the business
as partners, and the mill has been operated by them and Mr. Sisson since. The capacity of the mill is upwards of
100,000 feet per day, and it has also machinery for cutting slabs into lath; a shingle mill with a capacity of
25,000 per day; a planing mill with capacity of 60,000 feet per day, and a box factory from which a carload can
be turned out daily. Logs for the mill come from the south woods down the river, as far as fifty miles away. The
firm owns 40,000 acres of timber land tributary to the Raquette River. About 150 hands are employed by them. In
1881 the saw mill was burned, with 2,000,000 feet of lumber and twenty dwellings. The mill was rebuilt, and other
property restored as far as possible.
Photo William R. Weed
Photo George W. Sisson
Sash, Door and Blind Factory- In 1853 Seth C. Ellis & Co. built a sash factory on the island. In 1855 George
B. Swan acquired an interest in the business, and soon afterward became the sole proprietor, and for many years
before he died carried on a large business. In 1885 Thos. S. Clarkson purchased the property and continued the
business until April 4, 1888, when the property was destroyed by fire. D. A. & W. A. Moore purchased the premises
formerly occupied by George B. Swan, who used it until 1884 as a door, sash and blind factory. In the last named
year the Moores purchased the business, and have since conducted it on a large scale in the manufacture of doors,
sash, blind, screens, finished lumber, interior finish, lath, shingles, etc.
Foundry and Machine Shop.- The foundry was built by Judge Jabez Willes not long after 1820. He was succeeded
by Knowles & Watkins. C. W. Leete in 1851 acquired an interest in the foundry, when a machine shop was added.
The former went out of the business in a few years, and Mr. Watkins in 1872. Since that time it has been carried
on by Mr. Leete, chiefly in the manufacture and repairs of mill machinery.
A second machine shop was started August 1, 1884, by M. Hughes and Son, where they do a general line of machine
work and repairing.
Flouring Mill- The old mill, previously mentioned, in which was combined not only a grist mill, but a saw
mill and cloth factory, stood about 150 feet east of the present building. This site carries with it the monopoly
of grist grain grinding in the town. The present stone structure was erected in 1830 by members of the Clarkson
family, and two years later passed to Rodee and McCarthy. About the year 1856 it was sold to Brockins and Hitchings,
and they were soon afterward joined by D. K. Brown. After Mr. Brockins's withdrawal from the firm Brown & Hitchings
operated the mill until about 1872, when they were forced to assign. S C. Crane, as assignee, conducted the mill
a short time, when it was sold to Watkins, Foster & Rodee, who conducted it to about 1876. It was then sold
to Hitchings. & Conlon, who operated it only about ten months, when in the fall of 1877 it was purchased by
Robert Wood, the present proprietor. It was changed by him in 1885 to a roller mill of seventy five barrels capacity.
The Raquette River Paper Company.- The organization of this company was effected in February, 1891, with
a paid up capital of $50,000, and the following officers: George W. Sisson, president; Carlton E. Sanford, vice
president; F. T. Flint, secretary and treasurer; James A. Outterson, superintendent. Other stockholders are Fred.
L. Dewey and Flora E Snell The mill stands on the east side of the Raquette River, on an old saw mill site below
Potsdam village. The old buildings on this property were removed to make way for the paper mill plant. for which
two large structures were erected. The power is fur nished by five large water wheels, and the product is now about
eight tons per day. A sulphite department was added to the plant in the fall of 1893.
Tanneries- At an early day tanning was carried on in a small way by L W. Fuller, but was soon given up.
Another early tannery, situated at the foot of Raymond street, was built by Davis & Sayles, who operated the
tannery a few years, when Davis purchased his partner's interest. In 1858 the property was sold to Duff Barnes,
who operated it five years. After several changes were made, the property, in 1880, was sold to A. Sherman, who
remodeled the old tannery into a planing mill and furniture factory.
Cabnet Shop- Previous to 1841 almost all the furniture used in this section of the country was made by hand.
In that year Benjamin T. Batchelder established a factory for making furniture by machinery. It was situated on
Fall Island, but in different localities in the village at several different periods. Three times the factory has
been totally destroyed by fire, once by a freshet, and once partly burned. It is worthy of mention that on all
of these occasions the fire started elsewhere and communicated to Mr. Batchelder's building. In 1869 he was joined
by his SOfl, Henry C. l3atchelder, and in 1874 a younger son, Charles E., came into the firm. In 1874 they opened
a wareroom in the village in connection with their manufactory. The elder Mr. Batchelder died in 1882, but the
firm name has been retained and the business is carried on by the brothers.
Wait & Sons, manufacturers of fine cabinet ware, stair builders and general jobbers in wood work, established
their business in 1878. They have all the necessary machinery for carrying on a successful business.
Picture Studio.- N. L. Stone & Son carry on a business in a three story building fronting ninety four feet
on Market street, which consists in part of the copying and enlarging of photographs. In this business Mr. N. L.
Stone was one of the first to commence, and the first one in Potsdam, where he settled in 1870 and began business
in 1872. The firm now makes seven grades of crayon pictures, six of ink work, two of pastel, and three of water-colors
and one in oil This firm has introduced every facility that skill can devise, aside from the employment of artists
or specialists, in their particular line, Competent men are employed to solicit orders throughout the United States
and Canada. About 15,000 portraits are now made annually.
The Thatcher Manufacturing Company.- This company was organized in 1879, consisting of H. D. Thatcher and
H. P. Barnhart, for the manufacture of "Orange Butter Color." Mr. Thatcher began in 1862 experimenting,
and continued his researches until the object was obtained and the company formed. Other inventions in the line
of dairy implements have since been perfected, such as a cream and milk protector, a milk can measurer, bottle,
etc. In 1887 Dr. Thatcher sold his interest in the manufacturing company to H. P. and S. L. Barnhart.
In December, 1889, a stock company was formed with a capital stock of $60,000. The officers were as follows: Thomas
S. Clarkson, president; George Z. Erwin, vice-president; Carleton E. Sanford, W. R. Weed, Louis E. Ransom (of New
York), H. J. Sanford (of Parishville), with H. P. Barnhart, and S. L. Barnhart, the first being treasurer and the
latter secretary. The active management of the company rests with the two Barnhart brothers. After the formation
of the stock company they erected a plant on Depot street, in Potsdam village, with a brick building thirty by
one hundred feet. The basement is occupied by the machinery and the compounding of the butter color. The packing
is done on the third floor, while the main floor is used for the offices and the labeling of goods.
A new invention of the managers is attracting attention, consisting of a machine for printing and cutting the milk
jar caps simultaneously. Attached to this machine is a device for paraffining the caps as they come from the press.
They have also perfected a cheese color for which there is a large demand.
The Potsdarn Milk-Sugar Company.- This company was organized January 1, 1893. for the manufacture of milk
products, including butter, fancy French cheese and milk sugar. Thomas S. Clarkson is president; Henry S. Wilson,
vice-president; D. F. Ellis, secretary and treasurer. The capital is $25,000. The buildings are on the site of
the door, sash and blind factory formerly operated by Mr. Clarkson, and which burned down in 1887. The stone building
formerly occupied by the D. F. Ellis Butter Company, which began business April 1, 1890, is also used by The Milk-Sugar
Company. The business of this company is rapidly assuming large proportions, employing as they do men who have
given years to the business and who can make as fine goods as the markets afford. Their products are sold largely
in this State, although quite an amount of their butter and fancy cheese find sale in New Jersey and Connecticut.
The milk-sugar finds ready sale among manufacturing chemists and for baby foods, and is pronounced by experts to
be the finest product of this nature manufactured in this country.
A very destructive flood occurred in the village in May, 1871. Heavy rains swelled the volume of water and the
reservoir dam gave way, bringing down toward the village a terrible flood, carrying along the wreck of the Ellsworth
mill1 a quantity of logs, etc. This was on a Saturday, and all night long the inhabitants remained up to watch
the expected catastrophe. At noon on the following Sunday a bulkhead above the island was crushed, and the torrent
poured through, carrying away part of the Batchelder furniture factory and taking the east part of the building
of Watkins & Leete's shop. The upper part of Sparrow & Swan's shop was carried off and the floor on which
was the heavy machinery was left. The booms at Sissonville, with their logs, were carried down, and at Hewittville
parts of the darn and the bridge and the booms filled with logs went down with the flood. Most of the property
was recovered at Norwood, where the booms withstood the torrent.
A destructive fire occurred on the 17th of January, 1890, which burned all of the property between the old American
House and Raymond street, causing a loss of $20,000 on buildings and about $50,000 on goods, etc. But the burned
district has been rebuilt and with a far better class of buildings.
The Potsdam Savings and Loan and Building Association was organized in May, 1890, with Hosea Bicknell, president;
Hollis Snell, vicepresident; B. T. Scott, secretary; F. M. Peck, treasurer. It is a prosperous institution.
The following persons have served as supervisors of the town
Benjamin Raymond, 1807; Charles Cox, 1808; Benjamin Raymond, 1809 ; Charles Cox, 1810-11; ; Benjamin Raymond, 1812
to 1817, inclusive; Gurdon Smith, 1818 to 1821, inclusive; Samuel Partridge, 1822 ; Gurdon Smith, 1823-1824 ; Samuel
Partridge, 1825; Horace Mien, 1826-27; Samuel Partridge, 1828-29; Zenas Clark, 1830 to 1834, inclusive; Ansel Bailey,
1835 to 1837, inclusive; Amos W. Brown, 1838; Ansel Bailey, 1839; Aaron T. Hopkins, 1840 to 1843, inclusive; Thomas
Swift. 1844-45 ; Isaac Parker, 1846-47; Charles Dart, 1848-49; Amos Blood, 1850-51; Isaac Parker, 1852 to 1854,
inclusive; Benjamin C. Baldwin, 1855; Aaron T. Hopkins, 1856 to 1860 inclusive; Edward W. Foster, 1861 to 1876
inclusive: Erasmus D. Brooks, 1877-81; John A. Vance, 1882-92; M. V. B. Ives, elected February, 1894.
National Bank of Potsdam.- This institution is the successor of the Frontier Bank, which began business
in Potsdam, May 1, 1851. Previous to that time the village had been without a bank. There were originally three
stockholders- H. P. Alexander, of Herkimer; J. C. Dann, of Sackett's Harbor; and Bloomfield Usher, of Potsdam.
The capital was $50,000. On the 1st day of May, 1854, it was reorganized under the State laws and its capital increased
to $100,000. The bank continued a successful career until October 28, 1866, when the Frontier Bank ceased to exist
under that name and the National Bank of Potsdam succeeded, with its capital increased to $162,000. The next increase
of capital was made March 1, 1871, when it was raised to $200,000. The stock of the institution has always been
largely held by the original proprietors of the Usher family, and the monopoly of banking business of this section
held by the bank for many years gave it great prosperity. It has now a surplus and profits of about $60,000. Bloomfield
Usher held the office of piesident from the beginning until January, 1890, when Luke Usher was elected president
and William Usher was made cashier. The present board of directors are as follows: Bloomfield Usher, Luke Usher,
George A. Hardin, William Usher, P. F. Bellinger. W. Y. Henry is teller and book keeper. The bank building was
erected in 1853.
The People's Bank of Potsdam.- This financial institution was organized on the 1st of May, 1889, with a
capital of $50,000. Its president and one of the principal promoters was, and still is, Carleton E. Sanford (see
biography in later pages). Its vice-president was William A. Herrick, who was succeeded by W. W. Weed, and he by
C. M. Peck, who is the present incumbent. The first cashier was William L. Pert, who was succeeded by Frank D.
Barry, the present cashier. F. M. Peck was the first teller. In the board of directors were C. E. Sanford, W. A.
Herrick, Theodore H, Swift, W. W. Weed, Hosea Bicknell, liollis Snell, John S. Thompson, George S. Wright and Royal
Newton. C. M. Peck succeeded to a directorship when Mr. Herrick died, and A. D. Heath, Frank F. Flint and Rufus
L. Sisson have succeeded Messrs. Weed, Snell and Wright. Under the progressive and liberal management of these
men the People's Bank has been especially prosperous and has already accumulated over $10,000 surplus. Its bank
offices are convenient and commodious, and contain a large and secure vault, with Yale time locks, built especially
for it. It has the entire confidence and liberal support of the community.
The Press.- Tlie first paper in the town was The Potsdam Gazette, started January 13, 1816, by Frederick
Powell. It was a small sheet, eighteen by twenty-two inches, and neutral in politics. It was a weekly, had four
columns to the page, and survived to April, 1823. In January, 1824, Mr. Powell began the issue of another paper
similar in character, a little larger, and called The Potsdam American. It was later published by the firm of Powell
& Redington, and lived until April, 1829. In May, 1829, Elias Williams issued from the same press an anti Masonic
weekly called The Herald; it was discontinued in August the same year. In April, 1830, William Hughes published
on the same press The Patriot, another anti-Masonic sheet; it was continued to early in 1831, when the press was
removed to Ogdensburg by W. B. Rogers, and used in the publication of The Northern Light
On the 11th of April, 1844, Mr. Charles Boynton began the publication at Canton of the Enquirer and Tariff Advocate,
a campaign paper, devoted to Whig politics; it was stopped in November following. From the same office was issued
the Democratic sheet called The Northern Cabinet and Literary Repository, started by Mr. Boynton January 2, 1843.
The latter became unpopular with the Democratic party, and was removed at the close of the second year to Potsdam,
where it con-. tinued on its former plan one year, when the literary department of the paper was issued semi-monthly,
in octavo form and in covers, given up almost wholly to literary matter, and its name changed to The Repository;
the first number of this was dated July 20, 1846. At the end of the fourth volume The Cabinet was sold to William
L. Knowles, and thenceforth issued under the name The St. Lawrence Mercury. Mr. Knowles continued it two years,
when he sold out to Wm. H. Wallace, who continued it about two years longer under the same name. In June, 1851,
he sold to H. C. Fay, who changed the name to The St. Lawrence Journal. In July, 1852, he consolidated the paper
with The Potsdam Courier, under the name of The Courier and Journal. The latter journal was started by Vernon Harrington
in the fall of 1851, and was neutral in politics. The union of these two papers under the very able and intelligent
management and editorship of Mr. Fay at once made an impression upon the reading public of Northern New York. About
the year 1858 The Northern Freeman was started by Doty and Greenleaf in Canton. O. D. Baker succeeded Greenleaf,
and the paper was removed to Potsdam, where in 1861 it was united with The Courier and Journal, and the name made
The Courier and Freeman, by the firm of Fay, Baker & Co. In 1862 Baker & Fay succeeded, and after one or
two other unimportant changes in the firm the establishment came into the sole ownership of Elliott Pay, who conducted
the business until May 13, 1891, when he associated with himself his son, Ernest A. Fay, under the style of Elliott
Fay & Son. The paper is now a large ninecolumn folio, and is devoted to Republican politics.
The St. Lawrence Herald.- This paper was started in January, 1878, by William M. Hawkins & Son (Watson
S. Hawkins), as a temperance advocate. It was soon afterward changed in character to a local Republican journal,
and in October, 1881, was sold to Rollin E. Sumner. He has conducted the business and edited the paper ever since,
and with gratifying success. Beginning with about 1,000 subscribers, it has steadily increased in circulation until
at present there are printed from 2,000 to 3,000 copies, while the editorial conduct has merited the respect of
The Potsdam Recorder.- This journal was established at Hermon, under the name of the Hermon Recorder, in
1886, by P. L. Doyle. After six years of successful publication in that village, the establishment was removed
to Potsdam in October, 1892, and the name changed to its present form. The business is now conducted by Mr. Doyle
and B. G. Parker, editor of the Gouverneur Free Press. The Recorder is a four page paper, twenty-eight by forty
four inches, and aims to be independent on all public questions.
Reading Room.- A movement was inaugurated in 1887 for the establishment of a free reading room and library
in Potsdam. Its direction was placed with Thomas S. Clarkson, Timothy O'Brien and George H. Sweet. After the preliminaries
were settled and a liberal fund secured by subscription, the two stores on the ground floor of the Albion Hotei
building were leased for a term of three years from March i, 1887, at $500 annually. The rooms were opened to the
public April 16, leading periodicals were provided, and the attendance was encouraging from the beginning. The
expenses for the first year were about $1,500. The institution continued with increasing attendance during the
second and third years and was so encouraging to those whose liberality had supported it. that the rooms were leased
for a second term of three years. The benefits conferred upon the community by this institution are incalculable,
and promise to be permanent.
Schools and Academy.- It is believed that, the first school taught in the town was by Howard J. Pierce,
on the North Canton road; Mr. Pierce was one of the early purchasers of land. In the summer of 1810 Judge Raymond
built a frame building, twenty-four by thirty. six feet, between what is now Main and Elm streets, a little east
of Market street, which he intended should be used for both church and school purposes. It had a porch and a small
bell, and as the question of having an academy here had by that time received some discussion, this building often
was called the academy. At that time no regular school organization existed in the town. This building was used
for private and district schools until the organization of the old academy. Acting under the law passed in 1812,
the electors of Potsdam assembled in special town meeting at the academy on the 1st day of September, 1813, and
chose Benjamin Raymond, Gurdon Smith and Howard J. Pierce as commissioners of common schools. At the same time
they elected four inspectors of common schools: James Johnson, Liberty Knowles, Thomas Swift and Sylvester Bacon.
Since the first division of the tcwn into school districts there have been many changes. There are now thirtythree
districts in the town. District No. 17 has the school building on Market street; No. 8 in the new building on Main
street, and No. 30 on the west side of the river. Other schools will be noticed in the account of Norwood.
The discussion of the project of having an academy in Potsdam, stimulated, doubtless, by the erection of the building
before mentioned, by Judge Raymond, at last bore fruit. When it was finally decided to make the effort a subscription
was started and a liberal sum secured during the War of 1812-14. Benjamin Raymond subscribed for a hundred shares
of ten dollars each, including the building he had already erected, with the lot on which it stood, and Liberty
Knowles, Asel Lyman, Samuel Pease, Robert McChesney, Benjamin Burton, Anthony Y. Elderkin, Joseph P. Reynolds,
William Smith, James Johnson, R. Taylor, Pierce Shepard, Lemuel Pinney, John Burroughs, Sewall Raymond, David Parish,
and Jacob Redington each took ten shares. Eighteen others took lesser amounts, making in all 312 shares -$3,120.
In the month of January, 1813, a petition was sent to the Legislature for an act of incorporation, but nothing
was accomplished at that time. The incorporation was effected in 1816, with the follow- ing as the trustees: Benjamin
Raymond, Liberty Knowles, Pierce Shepard, Asel Lyman, Joseph P. Reynolds, Sewall Raymond, Robert McChesney, David
Parish, Nathan Ford, Louis Hasbrouck, Roswell Hopkins. Russell Atwater, and Ebenezer Hulburd. Benjamin Raymond
was the first president of the board and held the office until 1819. He was succeeded by Liberty Knowles, who held
the office until his death in 1839.
By the act of incorporation the lands in Potsdam reserved for literary purposes were transferred to the trustees,
with power to lease, but not to sell them. At the first meeting of the trustees in September, 1816, they directed
the clerk to lease the land in lots of sixty acres or less for a term of fourteen years, for a peck of wheat per
acre, after the first two years. But even at this low rental it was almost impossible to find men who would clear
the land under those conditions. At the same meeting a precepter was employed at $428 a year, and prices of tuition
in the several branches were fixed Nathan Dixon, a graduate of Middlebury College, Vermont, was the first preceptor;
he began in the fall of 1816, but remained only one year. He and his successors for nine years taught in the building
erected and donated by Mr. Raymond. Mr. Dixon had forty-two students. After he left the school was closed two years,
when Levi S. Ives was employed and remained two years. He was succeeded by Charles Orvis, who remained one year,
and was followed by Rev. Daniel Banks. He was a successful teacher, and under his administration of about five
years the academy acquired a high reputation. In April, 1825, the Legislature appropriated $2,500 to the academy,
on condition that a brick or stone edifice should be erected on ground owned by the trustees. In the same month
the commissioners of highways were authorized to convey, and soon did so, a suitable lot to the trustees out of
land granted by the original proprietors to the town for public purp9ses. The trustees then proceeded to erect
a stone building facing the public square, and on the site of the present north wing of the Normal School building.
The corner stone was laid by Harmony Lodge of Masons, June 1, 1825. The building was of Potsdam sandstone, sixty-
eight by thirty-six feet in size, with three stories and a basement, a cupola and belfry. The cost was $4,000,
the surplus over the $2,500 given by the State being contributed by citizens. The building was erected by Samuel
Partridge, under direction of Liberty Knowles, John C. Smith, and Joseph P. Reynolds, and was finished the same
year. Soon afterward the old academy was sold to the Presbyteran church.
Rev. Mr. Banks died in 1827. and the school for the year was finished by his assistant, Joseph Hopkins. In the
following year the Legislature authorized the sale of the "literature lot," the proceeds to be invested
in a fund, the interest only of which was to be applied to the payment of teachers; this was accordingly done.
In the beginning of the same year Asa Brainerd, a graduate of the University of Vermont, was employed as principal,
and held the position until the summer of 1847, nearly twenty years. During this long period the school was exceedingly
prosperous, and in 1835 it was designated by the Regents of the University as one of the institutions to which
State aid should be given for the instruction of common school teachers. In consequence of this action the town
petitioned the Legislature for an act, which was passed, imposing on the town a tax of $500 in 1836, and the same
in 1837, to help in the construction of another building. The new structure was erected in 1836, near the other
and facing the square from the east, leaving the church between the two academy buildings. This building was seventy-six
by thirty-six feet and four stories high, and built of the Potsdam sandstone, and cost $5,200. The school continued
to prosper and was considerably extended, and thenceforward about one hundred teachers were fitted annually to
teach in the cornmon schools. Tn 1847 Mr. Brainerd resigned and was succeeded by William H. Parker, who remained
two years, and was followed by William F. Bascom. He remained until 1852, and was succeeded by Rev, E. W. Plumb,
D.D., who continued as principal until 1864, with the exception of one year, 1855, when H. B Bucknam acted in the
position. George H Sweet served as principal from 1865 to the closing of the academy. In 1867 the trustees conveyed
all the property to the State, in trust for the new Normal and Training School, and in the spring of 1868 the two
stone structures were removed to make a site for the new building. The academy, as a school, was removed across
the square to the old Methodist church, and continued until April, 1869, when the academic department of the Normal
School was established and the old historical institution went out of existence.
Centinues in 3 parts
State Nornal School of Potsdam
The Village of Norwood