History of The Village of Norwood - Potsdam, NY


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The early settlement of Raquetteville, which is now the thriving vil.lage of Norwood, has already been described. It is situated in the northeastern part of the town of Potsdam, on the Raquette River, at the junction of what was formerly the Northern Railroad (afterwards the Vermont Central) and the Rome, Watertown & Ogdensburg Railroad.

The building of the Northern Railroad, which ran through the northern part of this town, between 1847 and 1850 (see page 177) marked a new era in this section. The railroad at one point crossed the Raquette River on the farm of Benjamin G. Baldwin, and there Mr. Baldwin donated to the company fifteen acres of land with a right of way across his farm. From this action a station was founded. In 1850 Mr. Baldwin built a tavern, which was burned in March of the next year, and in 1851 two other taverns and several dwellings were erected. In 1852 a substantial dam, with a fall of eight feet, was constructed across the river, affording a valuable water power. A highway bridge was built a little below the dam. The lands were laid out into village lots and streets, houses multiplied and mills were erected. A post-office having been established in January, 1847, the village was incorporated in 1872, and the name changed to Potsdam Junction; also, in 1875, to Norwood.

In 1878 there were in the place one general store, four dry goods stores, seven groceries, two of which were large ones, two hardware stores, two drug stores, one jewelry store, one furniture store, and numerous other minor places of business and shops. There was also a steam grist mill of H. S. Martin & Son, which was started in 1874, and now discontinued; a hub factory operated by the same firm; the flouring mill of Hiram Rodee, a substantial stone structure with five run of stone, run by water, built by parties in Potsdam village, has since been burned; the Davis threshing machine factory, now discontinued; Pearson’s broom handle and hoop factory, recently burned; Beam & Waidron’s tannery, built in 1877, now discontinued, and the Norwood Lumber Company.

This destructive fire alluded to occurred in 1871, which also destroyed a large portion of the business establishments of the village on the main street, which are now covered almost wholly by handsome brick structures. There are now for fighting fire three good hand engines, with two organized fire companies, hose carts and other equipments. Music Hall was erected in 1889 by the village and the town sharing equally in the expense. It is an attractive brick structure, which cost $6,500, and is used for public meetings and entertainments; for the latter purpose a stage and scenery, were fitted up. The village and a small part of the town of Norfolk are embraced in the Union School District No. i. It was organized as a graded school in the spring of 1870, the school comprising four grades, academic, senior, junior and primary. The school building in use at the time the graded school was established was erected eight years earlier. This was supplanted in 1884 by a new brick structure which cost with its furnishings about $15,000. Seven teachers, including one for music, are now employed in the school, with E. F. McDonald as principal. The present officers of the village (i 893) are as follows : Henry Ashley, president; trustees, M. F. Bartlett, William Smith, T. N. Murphy; treasurer, George F. Clark; collector, E. I. Wait; clerk, George Harris.

The manufacturing operations of Norwood are now almost wholly under control of the Norwood Manufacturing Company, which was organized in 1875. The officers are L. R. Ashley, president; H. H. Day, superintendent; I. B. Hosley, managing trustee and superintendent; William McEchron and F. L. Day, the last two men being of Glens Falls. They operate what was formerly the Reynolds saw mill, built many years ago by Amos Bicknell; a structure built at the same time for a starch factory, and afterwards changed to a shingle mill and a door and sash factory;. the mill originally built by James Morgan & Co., which passed through several ownerships to Lovelace & Fonda, who erected a steam mill and transferred the whole to the Norwood Lumber Company. All of these various properties are now in the hands of the company, which have been extensively enlarged and im proved. Their product consists of spruce and pine lumber, which is manufactured and sold, box shooks, butter tubs, lath, shingles, doors and sash, etc. The capital of the company is $8o,ooo.

State Bank of Norwood.— This institution was organized in 1887, with a capital of $25.000 paid up. The officers from the beginning have been as follows: president, C. P. Vedder; vice-president, L. R. Ashley; cashier, F. L. Smith. The bank has been prosperous and now has a surplus of about $6,ooo, and average deposits of $125,000.

Newspaper.— The Norwood News was started in 1877 by E. D. Parker, who conducted it for about five years, when it was purchased by F. R. Smith and F. R. Martin. The paper is Republican in politics, is ably edited, and has a large cifculation.

Cyclone.— A destructive wind storm passed over Norwood, coming from the southwest, about five o’clock in the afternoon of August 12, 1885. Some twenty minutes previous to its arrival, a dark blue cloud was noticed coming up from the horizon, which was preceded by an ominous calm that settled over every visible thing. The trees stood motionless, birds ceased chirping, men and women were silently hurrying for places of shelter, and all seetned to have a premonition of danger at hand. As the cloud drew nearer, a roaring, hissing sound was plainly heard at a distance of five or six miles, which increased to a wild crash as it struck. Hailstones as large as walnuts added to the din, while the air was filled with all kinds of missiles, such as boards, shingles, hen-coops and dirt. Persons who were caught out were dashed to the ground and pummeled along before the wind like a football. Several houses were demolished, while some others were tossed about like toys. Trees were wrenched from the ground and scattered in all directions, houses unroofed, chimneys blown off, and about every window light exposed to the storm in the village was broken. The railroad bridge, a truss structure some 250 feet long, was lifted from its foundation, wrenching it from the bed ties, and was carried some thirty or forty feet down stream and dropped into the river. Two persons were killed outright, Mrs. David Fitzgibbons and Michael McMartin, by falling timbers of a house and barn, and several others were more or less badly injured. It was estimated that $150,000 damage was done in Norwood and vicinity.

Methodist church.— In the year 1855 the Methodist Church at Norwood was organized, though services had occasionally been held here in school-houses previous to that date. Various pastors served the church until 1861, when they joined with the Congregationalists in building a church. The two congregations remained in that connection for six years, when the Methodists withdrew according to the original agreement, and with the money received from the Congregationalists, and with a liberal subscription from their people, erected the present house of worship, a substantial brick building. The society a few years later built a parsonage. The church is in a prosperous condition and is under the pastoral charge of Rev. John W. Simpson, who is also pastor of a small congregation at Knapp’s Station. The membership is 138 and the trustees as follows: Harris Wilbur, George W. Drew, H. L. Collins, and W. H. Wells.

First Congregational Church of Norwood.— This church was organized March 4, 1858, with nineteen members, also with Norman Ashley, Robert McGill, and A. T. Holbrook as trustees, and under the pastoral charge of Rev. Dr. E. W. Plumb, of the St. Lawrence Academy, who preached about three years. The church building was erected in 1861 at a cost of $4,000, and was dedicated February 13, 1861, in connection with the Methodists. In 1868 the society bought the interest of the Methodists, and repaired the present house of worship at a cost of $1,200. The deacons of this church are 0. H. Hale and George F. Clark; the trustees, S. D. Leonard, George F. Clark and George Harris

St. Andrew’s Mission (Episcopal).— This mission was formed February 7, 1874. Services were held for a time in the Congregational church on the first and third Sundays of the month. Since May, 1892, Rev. E. R. Earle has been the pastor. A pretty brick church has been in process of construction a number of years and is just finished in 1892-93; its cost is about $5,000. The warden is M. Valley; treasurer, J. A. Valley; clerk, F. G. Partridge.

Church of Visitation.— This Catholic church was founded about the year 1878, and is an offshoot from the church in Potsdam. The first attendant pastor was Father Walsh, and the first resident priest is Father John Fitzgerald, who is at present over the church. Under his administration the land and property has been acquired. There are about ninety-eight families in the church.

Besides these churches in the villages of Potsdam and Norwood there is a Scotch Presbyterian organization which branched from the church of that section in the town of Madrid in 1852 and built a church edifice in the following year, about two miles northwesterly from Norwood. Services have been maintained most of the time since.

Buck’s Bridge.— This is a small hamlet in the western part of the town on the Grass River, and on the road leading from Madrid to Canton. The place derives its name from Isaac Buck, of Shoreham, Vt., who settled here about 1807. In 1809 he built a saw mill, cleared a tract of land, and about the same time opened a store. He traded some years, and from 1838 to 1848 Orrin Buck had a store Other former merchants were W. H. Wilcox, A. A. Simmons, and in 1867 Franklin Castle had a small store which was purchased in the next year by A. G. Buck, who has carried on the business ever since, and is now postmaster also. The old saw mill that has passed through the hands of various owners is now operated by James Spears, who purchased the property about two years ago.

In the year 1837 a separate Methodist charge was formed from the Canton Circuit, one of the classes being at Buck’s Bridge. There had been preaching, however, at this place in still earlier years. A frame church was erected about the same time, and has in later years been extensively repaired. The membership at the present time is about sixty, and the pastor is Rev. J. R. Kay.

A house of worship was built at Buck’s Bridge for the Second Adventists in 1856, and preaching was kept up for a number of years with considerable regularity; but there is no pastor at the present time and the membership is very small.

West Potsdarn.— This hamlet, formerly known as “ Smith’s Corners,” is in the northwestern part of the town, and received its former name from Gurdon Smith, the first settler. When the post-office was established it was given the name of West Potsdam. Philander Simmons is the present postmaster, and has kept a store and shoe shop there for nearly forty years. The first mercantile business at this point was carried on by A. M. & O. N. Skeels, beginning nearly or quite sixty years ago. Nathan Crary then had a store a few years in connection with a law office; he clbsed out and went to Potsdam. There is no manufacturing here except butter and cheese, in which William H. and Au gustus Lewis are engaged.

A small church was built at West Potsdam for the use of the Methodists and Free-Will Baptists in union in the year 1842. The Methodist Society was formed there in 1846, with John Wellwood, Erastus Robbins and William S. Horr, trustees. The Free Will Baptist Society was formed in 1841 by Elder D. F. Willis and thirty members. The society was incorporated June 29, 1843, with G. S. Hathaway, Horace Hathaway and B. Lane, trustees. A Congregational church in West Potsdam was incorporated July 8, 1842, with David Barnum, B. Hemingway and Henry Dayton, trustees. About the gear 1857 the church edifice which this society had erected was transferred to the Methodist Society (above described), and the old church built by the Methodists and Free-Will Baptists was abandoned. The present pastor of the Methodist church here is Rev. Robert Kay and the membership is small.

The early settlement of what has been known as Yaleville has been described. The principal business there at the present time is the grist mill operated by David Clark and owned by 0. E. Martin. Mr. Martin has also established there a pulp mill, which is located on the Norfolk side of the river (see Norfolk).

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