History of Antwerp, NY


On April 6, 1810, an act of the legislature divided the town of Le Ray, and taking therefrom 61,018 acres off the east side, created a new town by the name of Antwerp; so called in allusion to the Antwerp company of capitalists, who at one time owned a greater part of great lot No. 4, of the Macomb purchase. As the story is told in an earlier chapter, Constable, the agent of Macomb, sold in London to Charles Michael De Wolf, of the city of Antwerp, tract No. 4, for 300,000 forms (equal to $125,356). This was done April 12, 1793, and in June following, De Wolf sold the tract to the Antwerp company for 680,000 florins. Governeur Morris was the first agent of the company in America, and to him in that trust capacity a deed was executed by Constable, on behalf of the company, carrying title to 220,000 acres of the tract, and including the present town of Antwerp. On Dec. 23, 1804, Morris, the agent, sold to Lewis R. Morris 49,280 acres of land within the bounds of the town, and the latter subsequently sold to Silvius Hoard 41 lots in the west part, adjoining Theresa. This was afterward known as the Cooper tract, in allusion to the interest acquired therein in 1817 by Abraham Cooper, of Trenton, N. J. The remaining lands of the town, excepting three ranges of lots on the southeast side, were sold in 1808 by Morris to David Parish. This tract contained 29,033 acres and was settled under agents of the Parish estate. Parish was an influential and wealthy banker of Hamburg, and by various purchases became possesseci of vast tracts of land in northern New York. His first agent tc sell and settle the lands was John Jenison, succeeded by Silvius Hoard, and the latter, in 1824, by William McAllaster.

The geographical and topographical features of this large and splen. did jurisdiction are not remarkable (except, perhaps, in the locality known as pulpit rock), but in geographical formation the town has strong distinguishing characteristics. Antwerp is the extreme easterr town of the county, and is bounded north by St. Lawrence and east by Lewis county. in the north and east portions the land surface is broken by low, rocky ridges which are parallel with Indian river. The westerly part is more level. The soil in the valleys is chiefly a clayey loam, and is very fertile, yielding abundantly in all agricultural products, especially in grass and hay. It is an historical fact that forty and more years ago the town produced more and better butter than any division of the county, and in 1855, with a single exception, had the greatest number of cows of any town in the state. The ridges are composed of masses of gneiss, a product which was an early source of business and profit to the inhabitants, for between the years 1805 and 1828 about one hundred pairs of millstones were manufactured from that rock in the town. Another geological peculiarity is a local deposit of white crystalline limestone, which was found especially valuable for lime, and also was much used as a "flux" for the iron ores produced in the region. A rich sandstone also prevails in certain localities, furnishing excellent material for building purposes, and was formerly much used as a lining for the furnaces. However, between the gneiss and sandstone was found several of the richest iron ores in the state, the presence and discovery of which resulted in the most important commercial industry in the history of the town, and one which during the period of its active operation furnished employment to hundreds of men and brought comfort and wealth to many families. Among the iron mines of early days those which appear to possess historic interest were the Sterling mine, about three miles north of Antwerp village; the Keene mine, on the St. Lawrence county border; the Parish mine, in the same vicinity, and still others of more recent discovery and developments, which are further mentioned on later pages of this chapter, but which have been an important element in the progress of the town. Bog ore was found in considerable quantities near Ox Bow, a region which for the richness and abundance of its mineral specimens has seldom been equalled. One or two sulphur springs were also discovered in the town but were of minor importance in comparison with the other mineral deposits.

The principal watercourse of Antwerp is the Indian river, a stream of considerable magnitude, which enters the town from Wilna, on the south border; thence flows an exceedingly devious though generally north course to a point about three miles east of Antwerp village; then turns abruptly to the west and south and courses into Philadelphia. The Oswegatchie river enters the town from St. Lawrence county, and flows about three miles in the form of a bow (hence the name Ox Bow), then turns north from the town, crossing the boundary less than one and one half miles west from the point of entrance. Vrooman and Sherman lakes are small bodies of water south of Ox Bow, both of which are tributaries of the Oswegatchie, although between them, and into whiôh both discharge, is a creek, the source of which is Moon lake, chiefly in Theresa.

Settlement in Antwerp was begun in 1803, while the territory formed a part of Brownville. In that year Captain William Lee and Peter Vrooman came and built log houses on the route of travel between the long falls on Black river (Carthage) and St. Lawrence county. Captam Lee located on the line of the state road, on lot No. 657, while Vrooman made his improvement at the Ox Bow, within the limits of the village now so called. Both were squatters, claiming no title, but each opened his house as a tavern to accommodate the settlers journeying into localities further north. Each of these worthies was quieted in his possession by the agent of the proprietary, for the public houses opened by them were a great convenience. Lee took title to his tract in 1805, but sold out after a few years, removing further nprth, and was succeeded as landlord by Mordecai F. Cook.

The old Cook tavern on lot 657 became a somewhat famous resort in later years. It was centrally located, therefore early town meetings were frequently held there. Here also were held general trainings in the old militia days, when the farmer and the mechanic alike would abandon toil and attend the muster to eat Yankee gingerbread and enjoy a day of jollification. During the embargo days, this was a resort for smugglers, for the old Qswegatchie road was a noted thoroughfare for the transportation of goods to the river; and it occasionally hap pened that both smugglers and custom officers were at the same time sheltered under landlord Cook's hospitable roof. Peter Vrooman, whose tavern was at the Ox Bow, purchased the land in 1806, and thus was his title confirmed.

The Oswegatchie road, on the line of which these pioneers settled, was first opened for travel in 1801, and was built by public subscriptions from the land proprietors. It was the first traveled road north of Black river, and owed its existence to the efforts of Judge Nathan Ford the pioneer of Ogdensburgh. It extended from the east branch of Oswegatchie river to the Ox Bow, a distance of 26 miles; thence to Indian river, 13 miles; thence to the long falls of Black river (Carthage), 13 miles; thence to Shaler's (Turin). The road, however, was only cut through and opened by the proprietors, and, if the journal kept by agent James Constable was correct, it was an exceedingly uncomfortable thoroughfare of travel. Under the lottery act of April 0, 1804, a sum of money was raised for improving the road from the head of long falls to the mills of Judge Ford, at Oswegatchie. It was to be regularly opened six rods wide, and Judge Ford, J. Turner and Joseph Edsell were commissioners to supervise the work. The improved road was substantially completed in 1805.

During the years 1803-06 James Constable made extended tours of observation and exploration in this part of the state, and in the course of his investigations became pretty well acquainted with the Oswegatchie road and the settlers along its route. He occasionally stopped at both the Lee and Vrooman taverns, and, like the veteran travelers of later years, wrote complainingly of lodgings and fare. However, from his diary of daily experiences it is learned that in 1804 there were not more than three settlers on the lands now forming this town, two of whom were landlords Lee and Vrooman. In 1805 Constable again journeyed over the road, and on August 1 once more "put up" at Lee's hostlery. At this time there were no more settlers, but he learned that General Lewis R. Morris, who had purchased the lands in 1804, had been over the road to arrange for immediate settlement, but was then in Vermont. In this year Daniel Sterling made a settlement in the town, a mile north of Indian river, on the farm more recently owned by Bradford Sterling. Samuel G. Sterling, son of the pioneer, was the first white child born within the limits of the town. Daniel was also the father of James Sterling, who was so prominently connected with the iron-producing industry of the town. Indeed, from the time of this settlement some member of the Sterling family has ever since been associated with the history and development of Antwerp.

Proprietor Morris was evidently energetic in his efforts to induce settlement, for in 1800 he brought to the town several pioneer families, among them the Fosters (Edward, Edward, jr., John C., Hopestill), also John Bethel, Peter Raven, and Silas Ward. In the next year came Asa Hunt, Lyman Colburn, William Randall, Henry Adams and Allen Thompson. In 1808 the arrivals included Clark Lewis, Salmon White, Thadeus Park and Amos Kieth. In 1809 Amos and Warren Streeter and Caleb Cheeney came and settled in the locality, near the families previously mentioned, all of whom were in that part of the town northeast of where Daniel Sterling made the first improvement. Moses and Reuben Nott, with their widowed mother, came soon afterward. On the road leading to the long falls (Carthage), Samuel Hubbard made the first settlement in 1805, followed soon afterward, and before the town was set off from Le Ray, by Dexter and Sherebiah Gibbs, Henry C. Baldwin, Amasa Sartwell, Almon Beecher and William Fletcher.

Among the other early settlers, the first place of residence of whom is uncertain, may be mentioned James Parker, John Jenison, Daniel Heald, John Robinson, Zopher Holden (on Indian river), and Benajah Randall, in 1806; Samuel Griswold, David Coffeen and Zebulon Rockwell, in 1807; David Gill and Alfred Walker, in 1808; Richard McAllaster, Francis MeAllaster, Isaac L. Hitchcock, Jonathan Marble, Jesse Jackson, John Pease, Daniel Heald and Timothy Ruggles, in 1809; Solomon Pepper, Jeduthan Kingsbury and Harrison Moseley, in 1810; Anson Cummings, Levi Wheelock, Benjamin Cook (on lot 690), John White and William MeAllaster, in 1811; Asher Seymour. Willis Harris, Elkanah Pattridge, Ira Ward, Roswell Wilder, Elliot Lynde, Benj. Goodwin, Silas Brooks, Ezra Church, S. Beckwith and James Briggs, in or about the year 1812. Other settlers of the same period, and all believed to have been in the town previous to the war, were Silvius Hoard, the land agent and proprietor, Matthew Brooks, Samel Hendricks, James Chase, Oliver Stowell and Sylvanus Hall.

There were still other early residents who were factors in local history more than half a century ago, though not perhaps entitled to be mentioned among the pioneers or early settlers, for when they came the foundation of the town's institutions had been laid, the hardships and privations of pioneer life were passed, and the resources of the locality were fairly well developed. In this connection may be recalled the Seaver family; also Oliver Webster and Ira Hinsdale, who were here in 1818; James Whitmore and the Gleason and Gillett families, as early as 1820; the Taylor (at Ox Bow) and Clark families about 1822; the Eggleston's In 1826; the Lamb and Rogers families about 1828, followed soon afterward by Ira Beaman, William Wilson, James Scott and Clark Willard and their families, until settlement was lost in later rapid growth and development.

Indeed, from what has been stated, and from the many names of settlers thus recalled, it must be seen that proprietors Morris, Hoard and Parish were active in the disposition of their lands. In the very early years of the century it had been reported that the lands north of Black river were undesirable as a place of abode, but the rapid manner in which farm tracts were taken and occupied by permanent and substantial setters would seem to indicate that the proprietors had effectually refuted these damaging reports, for in no part of Jefferson county were the lands more quickly taken and worked with better results than in remote Antwerp. It is true that now in the eastern part of the town is a considerable area of undeveloped territory, but notwithstanding that, and all the other disadvantages of locality and adverse reports concerning the character of the land, more than half a century ago Antwerp ranked first among the agricultural towns of the county, and to-day the inhabitants contend that it still maintains that elevated and desirable position.

It has been estimated that in 1810 there were 75 settlers in the town, nearly all of whom were heads of families, and at the same time the total number of inhabitants was about 250. This was the result of five years of development, and it was not surprising that a people so active in all personal concerns in life should seek the creation of a separate town in that portion of the large county in which they lived.

Organization.- The act of creating the town from Le Ray was passed by the legislature April 5, 1810, and the territory then set off was of the same extent in area as at the present time. In 1813 the boundaries were accurately defined, and will be found in a general chapter of this work. The first town meeting in Antwerp was held at the house of Francis McAllaster (then occupied by William Fletcher, an inn-keeper) on March 5, 1811, when officers were elected as follows:

Daniel Heald, supervisor; Samuel Randall, town clerk; John Jenison, Zopher Holden and Silas Ward, assessors; Francis McAllaster, Oliver Stowell and Elkanah Pattridge. commissioners of highways; William Fletcher and John C. Foster, overseers of the poor; Daniel Sterling, Jeduthan Kingsbury, Salmon White, Matthew Brooks and Samuel Hendricks, overseers of highways; Elkanah Pattridge, constable and collector.

Thus was the town organization made complete, and thus was created and began to make separate history one of the most interesting civil divisions of Jefferson county. At that time the entire population was devoted to the peaceful arts of lumbering, potash making and general agriculture, the established pursuits of the whole county, for even the county seat was then a hamlet. But it so happened at the time that our country was on the verge of a second war with Great Britain, and in carrying out the necessary provisions of law by the general government, it became necessary to enact and put in operation the somewhat injurious restrictions of the embargo laws, which during the period seemed to have a peculiarly distressing effect on the inhabitants of this part of the county. It was not that the smuggling operations were carried on here to a greater extent than elsewhere in the region, but the old Oswegatchie road was about the only recognized thoroughfare of travel and traffic connecting the upper Black river country with the frontier, and being thus remote from the established military centers, it afforded a ready and for a time safe means of communication with the St. Lawrence and Canada. To stop this traffic the government sent Captain Timothy Tamblin with a company of militia to occupy the town. This was in 1808. The force was stationed at the forks of the two principal roads leading through the north part of the town into St. Lawrence county, their camp being a mile north of Antwerp village. Of course the presence of this armed force was opposed by the inhabitants, and various minor incidents of the period are preserved showing the feeling and resentment occasioned thereby. War was soon afterward declared, the troops were withdrawn to the border, and the people united in the common defense of their liberties and property.

With the beginning of hostilities the Oswegatchie road again drew attention. Ogdensbourgh was a poorly defended American post, and an Indian invasion from that quarter was greatly feared. On July 2, 1812, a special town meeting was assembled, and it was resolved to build a fort 20 x 36 feet in size on the ground, the second story being 20 x 40 feet. It was also resolved to build the fort north of the "Indian river 30 rods, in front of Sylvius Hoard's house," John Howe, Silas Ward and Oliver Hoard were appointed a building committee to superintend the construction, and were authorized to allow fifty cents per day for work, "to be paid by tax." On July 17 following, another meeting was called to devise "a proper method for our defense through a tragedy of war which is now beginning action between the United States and Great Britain," but at the meeting nothing was done except to require the persons working on the fort at fifty cents per day to "board themselves." However, the period passed without invasion of the territory, and without more serious results than temporary delay in local growth and the loss of a few of the timid settlers.

A majority of the early settlers in Antwerp were Vermonters, sturdy and determined Yankees, who were drawn to the region by the representations of General Morris, who came from Springfield, in that state, a locality noted for the grandeur of its hills and mountains. In 1806 he employed Silas Ward to build a saw mill at Antwerp village, then amid for many years afterward known as Indian River. General Morris had disposed of his lands to settlers by giving deeds and taking mortgages for the unpaid portions of the purchase price, while David Parish (who had become a proprietor in 180S by purchasing from Morris nearly 30,000 acres of land in the town) sold to settlers on contracts and gave deeds when payments were completed. This was of course fair enough, but through malice or wantonness some person circulated among the purchasers from Parish a report that they were in the hands of a tyrant, who would exact from them the last penny of his due, without mercy or leniency. This had an embarrassing effect, but the settlers were soon reassured by the personal pledges of Mr. Parish himself. The custom of reserving minerals to the proprietor also operated to retard settlement in certain localities, though there was no attempt to develop the mining resources of the town until later years.

In spite of all the embarrassments of early years the lands were settied rapidly, and in 1814, four years after the town was created, the inhabitants numbered 303; and the succeeding five years witnessed a four-fold increase. However, as best indicating the growth in population, reference is had to the census reports, from which it is learned that in 1820 the inhabitants numbered 1,319; 1825, 2,557; 1830, 2,412; 1835, 2,615; 1840, 3,109; 1845, 3,380; 1850, 3,665; 1855, 3,763; 1860, 3,313; 1865, 3,162; 1870, 3,310; 1875, 3,355; 1880, 3,414; 1890, 3,095; 1892, 2,903.

From this is seen that the present population of Antwerp is less than at any time since about 1840. It is not within the province of this work to account for this decrease, yet various causes have contributed to that result, chief among which has been the practical abandonment of iron mining as an established industry in the town.

The early proprietors were acquainted with the fact that in certain localities of Antwerp there existed valuable mineral deposits, but their full extent was not known until a later generation of enterprising residents began to develop this most valuable of its resources. David Parish was shrewd enough to see future possibilities in this direction, and therefore inserted a clause in his contracts with settlers reserving all mineral rights on the lands contracted to be sold by him. Yet it is not thought this worthy proprietor ever profited by this reservation. So far as now known, the first attempt to develop this special industry was made in 1816, when Mr. Parish caused a forge and furnace to be built on Indian river, about a mile above Antwerp village. It was operated a few years, but with no material profit to its founder. The ores were also used at the furnace and forge at Carthage, but not until 1836 did the business begin in earnest in the town. In that year a superior quality of red hematite ore was discovered in a swamp on the farm of Hopestill Foster, but the mineral rights here had been reserved to Parish. He attached no importance to the discovery and soon sold his interest in the bed to James Sterling (after whom the mine was named) for the most nominal consideration of $200. In the fall of that year ore from the mine was made into il-on at the furnace at Sterlingyule, in Philadelphia. The mine was worked to a considerable depth and produced a superior quality of magnetic ore. After nassing through various ownerships the mines became the property of the Jefferson iron company, which was incorporated Feb. 17, 1869 (capital $100,000), by Kellogg H. Loomis, Hiram W. Moore and Edward B. Bulkley. The company was in active existence for a period of about twenty years, and was one of the important institutions of the town. Its controlling spirit was Mr. Bulkley, one of the prominent figures in Antwerp history until a quite recent date.

The Sterling mine was on lot No. 689, and next south of it was the White ore bed, on lot No. 688, which was opened in 1848 by Mr. Parish. The ores produced here had not the superior quality of those in the Sterling mine, hence were not as extensively worked. The Ward mine was opened in 1852 on the farm of Nathan W. Ward, and afterward yielded a large quantity of good quality of ore. This bed was on the line between lots Nos. 686 and 687, and like the Sterling and other mines of the town was perhaps most extensively worked by the Jefferson iron company, although other proprietors had a part in its operation. Between the Ward and White mines was the Dickson, which was also opened under lease from Parish, by A. P. Sterling and Edgar Peckham, in 1870. At that time these producers also built a forge on Indian river, above Sterlingburgh. This mineral right with that of the Ward mine, was soon sold to George F. Paddock & Co., of Watertown, and the latter interest was sold at forced sale in 1876 to A. F. Barker. Both mines soon afterward passed into the control of the Jefferson iron company. Under the Paddock & Co., and the Northern New York iron mining company operation, a branch railroad was built from Antwerp village to the White and Ward ore beds, a distance of about a mile and one-half, but was afterward extended by the Jefferson iron company to the old Sterling beds. The Colburn mine was opened still later but was not so extensive as the older beds. Soon after 1870 all the unsold reserved mineral rights owned by the Parish estate were sold in bulk to one Ario Pardee, of Hazelton, Penn., by whom another bed was also opened above the Sterling. The enterprise was not successful, hence was discontinued after a short time.

When this general transfer was made, the opinion became current that the Antwerp ore beds were about to be developed to their fullest extent, and that a period of great prosperity was in store for all the people. But disappointment followed, and even then mining in the town had passed its height. Previous to the construction of the railroad (1S55) it was no uncommon event to count daily two hundred wagon loaded with ores on the way from the mines to the furnaces at Philadelphia, Carthage, and also at Rossie in St. Lawrence county, and to still other points in Lewis county. Even the north part of the town enjoyed a prominence in ore producing, for the old and noted Keene beds lay only a few rods from the county line. The bed was discovered by Col. Hiram B. Keene while plowing land for winter wheat. His right was sold to Caleb Essington, of Sterlingville, and Mr. Munson, of Utica, and was by them opened in 1838. The Fuller bed was opened soon afterward in the same vicinity. A branch railroad was built from Keene station to the beds, which were most extensively worked by the Rossie iron mining company, a St. Lawrence county corporation which operated in this county and vicinity. Other mines of less note have also been opened and worked in Antwerp, and other operators and companies have also been in the field during the fifty years of this special industry. The business began in fact in 1836 and ended about 1890. It was at its height between 1845 and 1865, and the subsequent decline was not due to the exhaustion of the ore, but rather to the competition of new and more easily worked fields in other states, and the cheaper rates of transportation granted them, both in the shipment of raw material and its products. Since 1889 and 1890 there has been little attempt at ore producing in this town.

At one time stone quarrying was an established industry in Antwerp. The pioneers in this work were David Coffeen and James Parker, who about 1806 opened the Parker ledge on the state road, between Lee's tavern and Ox Bow. It was from this quarry that a hundred pair of millstones, previously mentioned in this chapter, were manufactured, but in addition the old Church mill at Antwerp village was also built with the product of the Parker ledge. The stone of the town is of the Potsdam sandstone quality, especially valuable for buildihg purposes. Among the principal quarries of the past (for the industry has not been kept up), were the Parker, the Render Bros., two miles north of the village, and another on the Jasper Robinson farm.

Antwerp Village.- On the site where now stands a prosperous village of one thousand inhabitants, General Morris, the proprietor, in 1805 employed Samuel Hubbard to build a darn across Indian river, and in the next year Silas Ward began the erection of a saw mill. Sometime during these early years the settlement took the name of Indian River,' and thus was founded a village which has endured to the present time. Ward also built a small frame house on the site of the Proctor house, which Gershom Mattoon opened as a tavern. Later landlords of the old hostelry were Jeduthan Kingsbury, William Fletcher and Francis McAilaster. In 1807 John Jenison became agent for the Morris proprietary, and was continued in that capacity under David Parish, who purchased from Morris. He established a land office at the settlement, the building being in the south part of the village, nearly opposite the George D. McAllaster residence. Jenison was succeeded by Silvius Hoard, and the latter by William McAllaster, under whom the proprietary was closed. These agents were of course active in disposing of the lands, but at the same time they gave some attention to building up the hamlet. In 1808 Dr. Samuel Randall, the first physician of the toWn, came and began his career, and in the next year was appointed the first postmaster of the village. The office was kept in his house, about opposite the Congregational church. In 1810 Ezra Church built a grist mill (using grinding stones of the old Parker quarry), for Mr. Parish, and while this old industry was owned by Parish until 1839, it was more commonly known as the Church mill. About 1812 Church also built a carding and cloth mill at the south end of the darn (where the Bethel planing mills afterward stood), and was its proprietor until 1828, when Ezra and Thomas Wait succeeded him. Afterwards new buildings were erected and the cloth mills were an industry of the village until about the time of the war of 1861-65. The Waits, Milo Shattuck, Reuben Wilmot, Elijah Fulton and the Church brothers were connected with their operation.

The first tannery was built about 1812, by Isaac L. Hitchcock, but was sold to Luther Conklin in 1815. The building was burned many years ago. Near the tannery stood the distillery built about 1S20 by Emmons & Bissell. Both of these industries stood nearly opposite the head of Depot street. The first village merchant was Zebulon H. Cooper, who opened the "yellow store" in 1810. The second store was opened by Dr. Randall, and the third by Orrin Bush, both before 1815. At this time the owners of these interests lived in the village, and they, with the Frenchman, Bordeau (who kept a boarding house) and Major John Howe, together with the employees of the mills, comprised about all there was of the hamlet. The old fort or blockhouse, built in 1812, stood opposite Foster's hotel of later years, but it was never used for defensive purposes, therefore was torn down. Near the hotel site the first school house was built in 1813, on the north side of Main street, but in 1816 a new school building was erected in a more suitable locality on the hill. In 1816-17 proprietor Parish generously built a large brick meeting house for the free occupancy of all denomi. nations. It was placed in charge of a committee comprising Major Howe, Silvius Hoard and Dr. Randall. This is said to have been the second church edifice in the county, and was the first brick structure in Antwerp. It is now the Catholic thurch edifice.

Thus were established the infant institutions of the village, upon which later generations have built and enlarged. Of the early structures few indeed now remain except the old Catholic and Congregational church edifices, the brick school house and perhaps some of the old dwellings, but of all the old occupants none now survive. It is not assumed that in this brief sketch there has been recalled the names of all the factors, or even all the old time buildings in Antwerp village history, for such a record would be well-nigh impossible at this late day. However, some of the more prominent of the intermediate interests may be recalled, ill order that our narrative may be as complete as possible.

During the years 1841-42, Isaiah Bailey built what has long been known as the Augsbury grist mill. It stood on the site of the old Church mill, the property having passed to Bailey from Pratt & Taylor, in 1839. It was burned two years later. Bailey sold about 1850 to Stebbins & Tomlinson, and they to Morgan Augsbury, in 1868. In 1884 it became known as the Antwerp roller fiouring mill, when roller process machinery replaced the old stones. This mill is now operated by W. S. & Frank A. Augsbury, sons of Morgan, who, with their abundant power, pump the village supply of water to the stand-pipe, and also operate the machinery which supplies the corporation with electric lights.

Edward Metcalf's planing mill was another of the old industries, and stood below the grist mill. It was burned and not rebuilt. The Isaac Westcott & Son cheese box factory stood near the Westcott mill, but that, too, is now gone. There were also the old Monroe saw mills, on the site of the still older Morris mill built in 1806. This power was long used for saw mill purposes and by many proprietors before it was abandoned. Bethel's planing mill and the Hogan foundry were built on the site where Ezra Church started the cloth mill about 1812. Both these industries survive. The foundry was started about 1857 by Joseph Newton, and was sold to D. & W. Hogan in 1873. The Crosby tannery, for many years an important local industry, but which now stands idle, was built by Josiah Drake and David McAllaster about 1834. Among its many later proprietors were Lewis and James Hamblin, Fuller & Martin, James White, Mr. Snell and others previous to the ownership of G. N. Crosby & Co. Under the latter a business failure occurred and operation ceased.

One of the early and commendable institutions of the village was the Antwerp Delphic library, established March 13, 1832, through the efforts of Charles B. Hoard, William McAllaster, R. N. Randall, Samuel Gaines and Levi Miller, who were also its first trustees. The library was the source of much good in the early history of the village, but after the district school libraries were established its usefulness became impaired and the society dissolved.

The Bank of Antwerp has been one of the permanent and successful business enterprises of the village. It was established in 1872, by C. M. Coolidge. John D. Ellis became owner in 1874 and has since managed its affairs. Throughout the period of its existence Albert Hoyt has filled the position of cashier.

Incorporation. - In 1853, when all the resources of the town were being developed and operated to almost their fullest extent, the inhabitants of the village petitioned the court of sessions of the county for an order of incorporation. The special election required to determine the question was held at Stoweli & Taylor's hotel on July 30, and the proposition was carried by a vote of fifty-three for and three against the measure. The first survey included 660 acres of land, but a re-survey made by Henry L. Scott in 1875 gave the village an area of 661.15 acres. The first village officers (elected Aug. 27, 1853) were Jonas S. Conkey, Solomon J. Childs and Edward L. Proctor, trustees; Publius D. Foster, village clerk. Mr. Conkey was chosen president of the board. In October following, William D. Carpenter and George W. Brown were also elected trustees, thus increasing the number to five. In 1871, under the provisions of the general act of 1870, the village was reincorporated, with enlarged municipal powers.

As then established, Antwerp was an enterprising and attractive village of about 1,000 inhabitants, having resources as great as those of any similar municipality in the county, and men with means, energy and public spirit to successfully and safely conduct its business and internal affairs. However, twenty-five years have witnessed many changes in local history, and of the old structures and institutions of early days few now remain. At least twice during its history the village has been visited with serious conflagrations, and by other occasional fires many of the old buildings have been destroyed. Yet, among them all the most destructive fire was that of February 3, 1889, by which many valuable properties were burned, causing a loss of about $50,000. At that time the fire department was a wholly informal organization, and the means for extinguishing fires was limited to the hose and pumping system owned by the tannery proprietors.

The village fire department was regularly organized in 1895, in pursuance of a resolution passed by the trustees in September of that year. It comprises a hose company and a hook and ladder company, each well equipped with sufficient apparatus. The department was incorporated December 5, 1895.

The organization of the fire department was in a measure the outgrowth of the water supply system, established and put in operation in 1894. To accomplish this end the village bonded to the amount of $19,000, while the plant complete cost $20,000. A large stand-pipe was erected in an elevated part of the village, and from it main pipes were laid through the principal streets. Water is taken from Indian river, and pumped from the Augsbury mill to the stand-pipe, and thence distributed. The system is controlled by a commission comprising Roy H. Bent (pres.), G. W. Hall (secy.), J. D. Radigan and W. R. Smith. Supt., James Quackenbush.

The Antwerp village hail, a commodious and attractive brick and stone building, was erected at the public expense during the years 1896-97. It cost $20,000, bonds being issued for $15,000.

The soldiers' monument, a beautiful granite structure, was erected in 1893, and attests the public spiritedness and generosity of the people of the village.

The lves Seminary is one of the most notable and praiseworthy institutions of the village and town, and one which during the period of its history has been an instrument for good. It had its inception in the Antwerp liberal literary institute created under provisional charter, February 1, 1856. The charter was soon afterward extended to February 1, 1860, and in that year, the conditions having been fulfilled, was made absolute.

The first trustees were John H. Conklin, Jonas S. Conkey, Charles B. Pond, Wm. Gill, Publius D. Foster, Ira Beaman, A. P. Sterling, Luther H. Bailey, Horace W. Seymour, A. H. McAllaster, E. G. Taylor, Almon Buell, Alvin Coolidge, Hiram B. Keene, Thomas Taite. James White, Solomon J. Childs and Chandler D. Waite.

The erection of institute buildings in Antwerp village was begun in 1857, but was not completed until 1861, the dedication ceremony taking place May 9. The cost of the entire property (site and buildings) was $13,000, of which $7,000 was raised by general cash subscription, and $3,000 by town bonds, leaving a debt of $3,000, a charge against the institution. This amount the state loaned (and afterward donated) to the trustees. The itistitution was opened for pupils May 20, 1861, J. M. Manning, principal, and two assistants. During the year, 120 pupils were received. The school was prudently managed, yet for some cause the tuition money failed to pay the expenses. In 1863, the management, being somewhat discouraged, offered the instistution to the state for a Normal school, but nothing was done. Again, in 1865, it was proposed to, resolve the institute into a graded school, but this was not done. In 1868 the property was offered to the Protestant Episcopal society, but the conditions of the offer were not accepted. About this time, however, Rev. L. Clark, on behalf of the Black River Methodist Episcopal conference, submitted a proposition to the board of trustees under which the institution should pass into control of that society. At a meeting held July 25, 1868, the trustees accepted the offer, and at the next session of the legislature the Black river conference seminary, with its accompanying management, superseded the old institution.

The new officiary at once set about to place the seminary on a secure basis, and to establish a denominational school equal to any of its kind in this part of the state. In 1870-72, at an expense of $16,000 the boarding hall was erected, and in 1873 an effort was made to create a fund of $30,000 to pay debts and establish an interest bearing reserve, This attempt was substantially successful, though more than five years passed before the fund was secured. Of the amount Williard Ives, of Watertown, generously contributed $8,000, and in recognition of his unselfish liberality on April 21, 1874, the name of the institution was changed to Ives seminary. In his will, Mr. Ives also made a substantial bequest to the institution, but the validity of the instrument was questioned, and a contest followed which has not yet been determined. The principals of the seminary with period of service of each, have been as follows: J. M. Manning, 1861-66; Rev. J. Winslow, 1866-68; Rev. G. G. Dains, 1868-69; E. C. Bruce, 1869-71; S. M. Coon, 1871-72; J. R. Gordon, 1872-73; G. G. Dams, 1873-75; M. A. Veeder, 1875-78; 0. G. Dams, 1878-80; C. B. Hawkins, 1880-85; J. B, Ensign, 1885-86; J. D. Stay, 1886-87; E. M. Wheeler, 1887-91; S.C. Kimm, 1891-93; F. B. Arthur, 1893-97; Erwin H. Schuyler, 1897-. The presidents of the board of trustees have been Jonas A. Conkey, 1855-57; John P. Ellis, 1857-61; J. H. Conklin, 1861-62; Almon Buell, 1862-67; G. S. Sawens, 1867- 70; Rev. J. S. Dewey, 1870-73; Rev. I. S. Biugham, 1873-74; Willard Ives, 1874-96; Rev. J. B. Hammond, 1896-.

The present trustees are J. B. Hammond, president; L. S. Rogers, vice-president; G. W. Hall, treasurer; and W. D. Marsh, T. D. Hall, G. H. Wood, C. B. Hawkins, O. J. Bishop, S. O. Barnes, C. W. Brooks, C. M. Smith and C. C. Townsend. Secretary of the board, Rev. W. H. Kanoff.

In the history of the village the Ives seminary has been an important factor for more than forty years. Its patronage has been drawn from the northern part of the state and largely from this and surround. ing towns. In more recent years the boarding and ladies' hall has been used by the public school officials of the district. Indeed the presence of the seminary and the advantages offered by its course of study has in a measure retarded other educational interests in the village, and this department of municipal life has not kept even step with growth in other directions. There has not been a village school more advanced than the district system, but the welfare of the youth has not been in any sense neglected. The old brick school house on the hill is still in use. In the village schools five competent teachers are annually employed. The present trustees are G. W. Hall, William Carpenter and Mrs. Alexander Copley.

In writing of the institutions of Antwerp, a brief reference to the old burial ground is appropriate. The first cemetery plat was the old grounds on the hillside, in the northeast part of the village, but when it was first laid out for burial purposes is not definitely known. The land was donated by David Parish. Among the earliest burials here were those of Richard McAllaster and his wife, the latter January 23, and he February 11, 1813. Hillside cemetery, the present "silent city" of the village dead was laid out in 1859, by the Antwerp rural cemetery association (incorporated).

Queen of Sheba lodge, F. & A. M., the first fraternal body of the town was instituted at Antwerp soon after 1820, but during the antimasonic period suspended, and was not revived; nor were its records preserved so far as now known. Antwerp lodge, No. 226, F. & A. M. was instituted in 1847, and has since maintained a healthful existence. The present members number 139 master masons, Fred Dixon Hall, master; J. H. Faichney, secretary.

Tuscarora lodge, No. 250, I. O. O. F., was organized in the village about 1846, but was dissolved in the course of the next twenty years. It was followed by Antwerp lodge, No. 477, a healthful organization having seventy-five members. J. A. Faichney, grand, Fred Hoiller, secretary.

Notwithstanding the fact that during the last score of years there have been several business reverses which operated against general interests of the locality, the village has ever been progressive and enjoyed a steady growth. Serious fires have destroyed much valuable property, yet generally the old structures were replaced with others more substantial and modern in appearance. Progress appears to have been the watchword of the people, and its results are seen on almost every hand. All business interests are well represented, and there is little evidence of over competition. The mercantile buildings are large and well stocked, and all the staples and many of the luxuries of domestic life are easily secured. The village stores draw trade from one of the best agricultural regions of the county, and while there may be a noticeable lack in number of manufacturing enterprises, those in operation afford employment to the laboring classes. In addition to the interests of the past noted on preceding pages, a mention may here be made of the Antwerp chair company whose large factory building now stands unoccupied. The company was incorporated May 17, 1894, with $20,000 capital, and its stock was taken by almost every business man in the locality. Its period of operation was short, and business misfortunes resulted in a receivership. The F. X. Beaumont cheese factory, one of the largest in the county, was started in 1889, and receives milk from nearly all the farms within a radius of five miles. Incidental to it is the milk sugar factory of Hayne & Whittaker, started in 1891, a novel industry, producing sugar from the whey of the cheese factory.

The other manufacturing interests of the village are the Hogan Brothers' foundry, J. G. Bethel's sash, door and blind works, the Augsbury roller flour mill, the electric light plant, the small repair shops and works usual to all villages, while in the near vicinity arc the extensive Copley mills and the Paddock excelsior factory.

The First Congregational church of Antwerp was organized in July, 1819, by Rev. Isaac Clinton, a Presbyterian, then principal of old Lowville academy. It appears that a majority of the inhabitants who constituted the original society were New England Congregationalists, and preferred to be governed by the rules of the church, but as Mr. Clinton was a strict Presbyterian, the society established was hardly in accordance with the actual forms of either church. It was agreed that the minister employed should be of either faith, as chance suggested. The constituent members were William Randall, Percival Hawley, Edward Foster, Elijah Hoyt, Hosea Hough, Mrs. Hawley, Mrs. Foster, Mrs. Eaton and Polly Copeland. However, a Presbyterian form of government was maintained generally until June 3, 1854, when the members voted to adopt Congregational rules, thus terminating a period of strife which at one time threatened disruption to the society. During this time the pulpit was irregularly supplied, and the society was excluded from the meeting house by Mr. Parish on account of dissensions. In 1831 a small frame church edifice was begun by Japhet Chapin, and in 1852 the second edifice, commonly mentioned as the "old Congregational church," was erected at a cost of $6,000. The present edifice, the beautiful stone building, was erected in 1876, and cost $20,000. The society celebrated its seventy-fifth anniversary December 28, 1894. The First Congregational church, as commonly known, is one of the strongest and most influential religious bodies in northern Jefferson county. Its present membership is 117 persons. Pastor, Rev. Duncan McGregor.

The Antwerp village Baptist society was organized in 1824, and ineluded among its members David Coolidge, Jerome Woodbury, Eli Whitford and wife, Walter Colton, Obadiab Chamberlain and Richard Huntley. The early meetings were held in the old school house on the hill, but afterward the society purchased the old '' Jubilee " building, erected by Dr. Randall for a dwelling, which they fitted up as a meeting house. In 1843 a church edifice was erected on the hill, the same which was occupied by the Methodist Protestant society. The Baptist society dissolved about 1865.

St. Michael's Roman Catholic church at Antwerp was founded in 1849 as a mission, and in that year purchased the old meeting house built in 1816 by David Parish. St. Michael's parish includes all the Catholic families in the central part of the town. The priest in charge is Rev. 0. L. Beadle.

St. Paul's church (Episcopal) of Antwerp, was established in 1866, although regular services were held in the village for ten or more years previous to that time. The first rector was the Rev. J. Winslow. The church edifice was built in 1871-72, and cost $5,500. St. Paul's has now 56 communicants. The rector is Rev. Joseph H. Brown; wardens, A. L. Hilton and Charles Hocker.

The Methodist Episcopal church of Antwerp was organized in July, 1863, with about 20 members, under the pastoral charge of Rev. Darius Simmons. A brick house of worship was completed and dedicated in January, 1872, but was burned January 5, 1877. A second brick edifice was built on the same site, and was dedicated December 4, 1877. This society, numerically, is the strongest in the town, numbering 160 members and 10 probationers. The pastor is W. H. Kanoff.

The Antwerp Methodist Protestant society, to which reference has been made, has no present abiding place in the village. However, in 1868 three classes of this denomination were formed in the town, one at Flail's corners, another in the Hoard neighborhood, and the third at Rockwell creek, all being under charge of Rev. T. D. White. In 1876 the Hail and Hoard classes united, and for ten or more years held meetings in the old Baptist meeting house in the village. The remaining members of this churdh in the town now hold meetings in the school house at Nauvoo.

Ox Bow.- In 1803 Peter Vrooman came from Johnstown and opened a small log tavern in the south part of what is now the village tract, on the line of the old Oswegatchie road. Pioneer Vrooman's selection for a site was fortunate, as the physical features of the surrounding region made this a natural center. Soon after this beginning Gen. Morris made his vast purchase of land from the Antwerp company, and a report was circulated to the effect that he proposed to erect a dwelling for his own occupancy. This, however, was never done, although the proprieor did build a log house at the place. Soon after this the village site was sold as a part of the 18,000 acre tract purchased by Silvius Hoaed, and in 1817 it formed a part of the Cooper tract, bought by Abraham Cooper, who was the founder in fact of the settlement. He came here in 1817 and opened the "yellow store" on the main village street, but in the next year built the stone store building which afterward became the Methodist meeting house. In this year Dr. Abner Benton, the first physician, came to the settlement, About 1820 Mr. Cooper also built a combined meeting and school house, which he gave for the public, use for ten years, but in 1830 sold it to the Presbyterian society. Mr. Cooper also built a tavern, more pretentious than that kept by pioneer Vroornan, and made Solomon Loomis its landlord. Later proprietors of this famous hostelry were Lucas Gillet, John Pierce, Enos Brainard, Chas. S. Grem, George W. Wheeler, John Dodge and Ransom Howe.

In 1819 Ox Bow was made a post-office, Dr. Benton (postmaster) keeping the office in Cooper's store. It was afterward removed to the King & Gillett store, opened in 1825 by Rufus Fl, King and John J. Gillett, Cooper's former clerks. The village green or square was donated to the public by Mr. Cooper. The great drawback, however, to the village location was the lack of sufficient water power for either saw or grist mills, therefore it never attained any special importance among the settled localities of the county. The first saw mill of the vicinity was that built at Vrooman's lake by Roswell Payne in 1850. This has always been regarded as a local industry. The only other important industry of the hamlet is the Spraker cheese factory.

From the earliest settlement several stores have been maintained at Ox Bow, together with the shops and other adjuncts of rural villages. There has been nothing in the history of the place to attract business other than being a convenient trading center in a productive agricultural region. The present interests comprise the Payne steam saw mill, the Spraker cheese factory, Clark's and Culbutson's general stores, Win. Risdell's grocery (he also being postmaster), Cooper's hardware store, Felt's drug store, and Cory's hotel. The public buildings comprise the district school and the Presbyterian and Methodist Episcopal churches. The old cemetery at Ox Bow was laid out and donated to the public by Mr. Cooper in 1822, in which year his father, John Cooper, was buried there. The new cemetery was laid out in 1874, on lands purchased by Ira Hinsdale.

The Ox Bow Presbyterian society of Rossie and Antwerp was formed May 15, 1820, followed soon afterward by the organization of the church. Early meetings were held in the building erected by Mr. Cooper. The first pastor was Rev. James Sanford. In May, 1837, the church changed its name to "The Associate Reformed church of Antwerp and Rossie." At about the same time a virtual reorganization was effected, but later on a reunion with the Presbyterian general assembly was accomplished. In 1839 the stone edifice was erected, and was materially enlarged in 1861. This is one of the strong churches of the town, numbering about 120 members, The pastor is Rev. Mr. McIntosh.

The first Methodist Episcopal church of Ox Bow was organized in 1872, with 12 members, but since that time the number has increased to 62, with three probationers. The house of worship was built for other purposes, but in 1873 was remodeled for occupancy by the society. It is a stone building and presents a comfortable appearance. The present pastor is Rev. C. A. Miller.

Sterlingburgh. - In the day of its greatest prosperity, the population of this hamlet was not more than an hundred inhabitants, nor was there more than twenty dwellings within its limits, yet it was an important and historic locality in the history of the town, The water power here was much better than that at Antwerp, therefore in 1816 David Parish began the work of constructing a darn and building a forge. The latter was in use about four years, and was abandoned in 1820. In 1824 William McAllaster, agent for Parish, erected the famous distillery from which it is said 15,700 barrels of proof whiskey were manufactured, and more than 1,000 head of cattle were fattened from the refuse of the stills, during the thirteen years of its operation. In 1834 a grist mill was built near the distillery, both taking power from the darn. This industry has ever since been maintained, and with extensive saw mills, is now operated by Alexander Copley. In 1846 the water privilege, mill and distillery buildings were sold to James Sterling, for whom the settlement was named. He built and operated the furnace and foundcry, and it was not until 1858 that this industry was abandoned. Later on the old "still house" was occupied as a cheese factory. In 1859 all this property passed into the ownership of Alexander Copley, sr., who established the permanent and important milling industry afterwards carried on by his Sons, Alexander and Eugene Copley. The F. S. Paddock excelsior mill (above the Copley mills) is a more recent enterprise. All these industries are in a measure adjuncts of Antwerp village, although outside the corporation limits. About a mile above Sterlingburgh, on the site of the old Hoard saw mill, A. P. Sterling and Edgar Peckharn built a forge and furnace in 1870. The entire plant cost about $20,000, and for several years an extensive business was carried on, furnishing employment to about one hundred men. However, the enterprise failed and the property passed into the hands of A. & E. Copley, proprietors, of Sterlingburgh.

Spragueville, or as formerly known, Sprague's Corners, is a post hamlet located chiefly on the St. Lawrence county side, but extending into Antwerp. The place was named from Isaac Sprague, one of the earliest settlers in the vicinity. The first settlers (on the Antwerp side) were Moses and Robert Parkinson and William Vebber, who came from Massachusetts. The hamlet is a convenient trading point for a productive farming region, and in its gradual building up the church edifices, district school and Carpenter's store were erected. Keene's station, about half a mile west of the settlement, is the nearest railroad point.

The Methodist Episcopal Church at Spragueville was formed January 12, 1837, and in that year the society purchased from Moses Burge a building site on the Antwerp side. A meeting house was then built, which was occupied until replaced by a more substantial structure in 1873. The society is small and forms a joint charge with Summerville, under the pastoral care of Rev. T. H. McClenthen.

The Free Will Baptist Church of Sprague's Corners was formed about 1870, by a union of members of the Antwerp and Fowler Baptist societies, with members of a former Wesleyan Methodist society of the same locality. The Antwerp and Fowler society dated its organization to the year 1838, soon after which time a house of worship was built at Steele's Corners, near the county line. The Wesleyan society was organized September 1, 1845, by certain dissenting Methodists of the vicinity. Their meeting house was erected on the Antwerp road on lands donated by Allen Woodward, and was the same afterward occupied by the united societies. The Free Will Baptist organization has been continuously maintained, though the membership is small, and drawn chiefly from the St. Lawrence county side.

At the place called Steele's Corners, mentioned in the preceding paragraph, a hotel was built many years ago, and also a store, the owners being Ebenezer Gillet and William Skinner. However, all evidences of the little cross-roads settlement have now disappeared. Its location was about one mile southeast of Spragueville.

Nauvoo is a small hamlet of half a dozen dwellings on Indian river, in the southeast part of the town, in the locality where formerly stood a saw and shingle mill. These industries are now gone. The Metho. dist Protestants of this part of the town hold their occasional meetings in the Nauvoo district school.

Supervisors.- Dauiel Heald, 1811-17; Silvius Hoard, 1818-19; John Howe, 1820-22; Silvius Hoard, 1823-24; John Howe, 1825-26; Joseph H. Bagg, 1827; Ralph Rogers, 1828; Wm. Skinner, 1829; Rufus H. King, 1830-32; David McAllaster, 1833-34; Rufus H. King, 1835; Edward Fowler, 1836; Tilley R. Pratt, 1837-38; Rufus H. King, 1830; Wm. McAllaster, 1840; James White, 1841-42; Alanson Drake, 1843; Alden Adams, 1844-49; Joseph H. White, 1850-51; Josiah S. Conkey, 1852; John H. Conklin, 1853; Robert Ormiston, 1854; John H. Conklin, 1855-64; Levi Miller, 1865-66; Elijah Fulton, 1867; Levi Miller, 1868; Hiram B. Keene, 1869; John D. Ellis, 1870; Hiram B. Keene, 1871-72; Elijah Fulton, 1873-74; Alonzo Chapin, 1875-76; George D. McAllaster, 1877-78; H. H. Bent, 1879-83; D. W. Sprague. 1884; Edward B. Bulkley, 1885; Leonard A. Bacon, 1886-89; Dr. Gary H. Wood, 1890-99.

[an error occurred while processing this directive]

[an error occurred while processing this directive]

Return to [ NY History ] [ History at Rays Place ] [ Rays Place ]

NY Counties - Albany - Allegany - Broome - Cayuga - Chatauqua - Chenango - Clinton - Columbia - Cortland - 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