THE TOWN OF CAPE VINCENT.
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In many respects the history of Cape Vincent is unlike that of any other town
of the county, for within its territorial boundaries is one of the most interesting localities from a purely historic
point of view to be found in northern New York. Carleton island is the particular locality referred to. There exists
evidence tending to show that almost three hundred years ago the daring French explorer Champlain, voyaged quite
near if indeed he did not touch this island when he crossed over the river and invaded the Iroquois country in
1615 In 1684 Marquis de la Barre, governor general of the Canadas, followed nearly the same course when he sailed
to the south side of the lake and held a treaty with the Indians at Bay le Famine, in the present town of Ellisburgh.
From historical accounts of that period there is reason to believe that De Ia Barre knew of the existence of what
we now call Carleton island, if indeed he did not actually occupy it for temporary purposes. A few years later,
in 1696, Count Frontenac in organizing and executing his historic expedition 1 against the Iroquois in the province
of New York certainly became fully conversant with the famous islands at the foot of the lake, for even then they
were regarded as points of importance in the warlike events of the period. We have no positive proof. that Frontenac
occupied Carleton or any other island within the jurisdiction of this town, yet there is evidence tending to that
conclusion. The island is first definitely mentioned in the Charlevoix letter of 1721 (see an earlier chapter),
when that noted Jesuit missionary priest was at Bay le Famine and there wrote a letter to the Duchess de Lesdiguires.
He mentioned Carleton island as "Isle aux Chevreuils." which has been translated as "Isle of Roe
Father Charlevoix visited the island first in 1720, and described it as "a pretty port that can receive large
barques," Among the early French explorers it was a favorite stopping place and camping ground, and the practice
of utilizing it for this purpose was prolonged throughout the colonial period. In alluding to it a contemporary
writer says: But what renders this island of more historical interest than the many other islands of the group
are the remains of a strong military work, which was built upon it during the latter part of the last century,
crowning the brink of the bluff at the head of the island, overlooking the "pretty port" and commanding
the American channel of the great river. This fortification has generally been known as Fort Carleton, but in regard
to its origin and date of construction there was much conjecture, and not a little controversy among students of
history until the doubt was removed by Major Durham's researches. (See note.) Until within the last score of years
it was supposed that the fort was built by the French between 1758 and 1760, or during the last French and English
struggle for supremacy on this side of the Atlantic, while some writers haveascribed it to a still more ancient
origin, dating back in some cases almost to Champlain's time. As a matter of fact the fort on Carleton island was
built by the English during the years 1778-79, and was heavily equipped with cannon and other necessary munitions
However, the advocates of the earlier date of construction were not wholly without foundation for their claims,
for as early as 1758 the plans of French defenses along the Canadian border contemplated the costruction of a fort
on Isle aux Chevereaux, but the work was not done under the French governor-general, nor until after the overthrow
of that power in America. The accompanying diagram gives an idea of the outlines of this historic fortification
although the elements and the ever destroying hand of man have reduced the work almost to a pile of debris.
Fort Carleton stands immediately on the brow of a high bluff overlooking the little peninsula and two harbors below,
and commands both channels of the river lying south of Wolf island. The gorge, or rear wall, was chiefly formed
by the high cliffs at its base, forming a natural defense, and in addition is an artificial wall of stone, although
now a pile of ruins, while its accompanying stockade has entirely disappeared. The length of the gorge wall line
is about 800 feet, and about in its middle is a gateway leading out to what was evidently the magazine. The fort,
looking toward the mainland of the island, was defended by an irregular line of works, with a solid parapet having
three faces, and each strengthened by a bastion. Outside of the parapet was a ditch excavated in the rock to a
depth of six feet, and having a width of about 22 feet. The stone from the ditch was used in constructing the irregular
wall which run along the entire front and about 30 feet distant therefrom. There were two main sally-ports, one
at the north and the other at the south extremity of the fort, and each connected with a road leading to a landing.
The fort, including the ditch, covered an area of about eight or ten acres, and could accommodate a garrison of
about 500 men. It was one of the most substantial fortifications on the frontier, and must have cost an immense
sum of money. The relics found in and around the fort consist of coins, buttons, tomahawks, flints, &c., and
indicate French, English and Indian occupancy of the region. Nearby and on the plain east of the works, was a burial
ground, but little if any of this spot is now visible.
Such, in brief, is a description of one of the most noted localities in Jefferson county, yet during the period
of its history we have no account of an important conflict at arms on the island. This indeed was the key to the
outlet of the take and the value of Carleton island as a strategic point wasundoubted, yet the circumstances of
war decreed that it should not be the scene of any sanguinary engagement. The island and the fort were held as
a British port until 1812, when Abner Hubbard and a few companions took it upon themselves to capture it in the
cause of the Americans. Three invalid men and two women were the fruits of this conquest. The movable contents
of the fort were soon afterward transferred to the mainland and the buildings were burned and destroyed.
Carleton island also had an interesting civil history, and was, so far as we have any definite knowledge, the first
occupied portion of the territory now constituting this county. After the close of the revolution William Richardson
was granted a bounty or land warrant in compensation for services in the army. This he sold to Matthew Watson and
William Guilland, who, on Oct. 2, 1786, located the same on Carleton island generally. This action was approved
by the land commissioner, but the transaction was to be void if the island proved to be within Canadian territory.
Guilland sold his interest in the warrant to Watson, and the latter died, leaving three children, John, Margaret
and Jane, two of whom (John and Jane) subsequently died without issue. Margaret married with Jacob Ten Broeck,
and they sold the right to Charles Smyth. In the meantime the island was in possession of the British, and Smyth
was thus unable to locate his claim or occupy any portion of the land, hence had recourse to the legislature in
1821, which resulted in an act to the effect that the title should not be prejudiced by the lapse of time between
the location of the claim and the application for patent. At the same time Smyth also applied for a patent for
the remaining lands of the island (its area is about 1,300 acres), and the legislative committee, to whom the applications
were referred, learning that the lands were then occupied by about a dozen squatters who were making serious inroads
on the timber lands, advised a compliance with the petition. An act was therefore passed (March 2, 1821) directing
the issue of a patent for 500 acres on the west end of the island, but subsequently Smyth became possessed of the
In 1823 F. R. Hasler, a mathematician of note, and who for many years had charge of coast survey work, was employed
to survey Carleton island, and reported it to contain 1,279 acres. He found about 30 acres of land near the south
shore which had previously been im proved, and which was known as the "king's garden." At that time the
island also contained 8 log houses and 2 cabins, and about 197 acres of land under cultivation. This, of course,
was the work of squatters. These improvements are said to have begun in 1822, when Avery Smith and Abijah Lewis
began lumbering operations, and in the course of a few years the island possessed a post-office and a school; James
Estes had a tavern, and four dwellings were built in the vicinity of the old chimneys on the site of Fort Carleton.
A Mr. Shumway taught the school, and also served as justice of the peace to settle any differences which might
arise among the settlers; and if local tradition be true, the worthy pedagogue dispensed justice with the same
firmness with which he wielded the rod in the school room. Among the other denizens of the locality were David
Briggs, who made shoes, and also James Wood and a Mr. Shaw, who kept stores. Abijah Lewis also kept store, and
after he and Smith dissolved partnership, each carried on the lumber business alone until the island was practically
stripped of its primitive forest growth. This having in due time been accomplished, the business importance of
the island passed away, and where once was the semblance of a hamlet only the old smoke colored chimneys survived
to mark the historic spot. Subsequently the island was divided into farm tracts, and has since been devoted chiefly
to agricultural pursuits, except as non-resident persons have secured small parcels in the most attractive localities
and turned them into summer resorts.' The permanent occupants of the island do not number more than half a dozen
Another historical locality within the jurisdiction of the town is that known as Grenadier island," which
lies southwest of the mainland of Cape Vincent. It contains 1,290 acres of excellent lands, but from a purely historic
point of view does not possess the interest which ever seems to be associated with Carleton island and its old
ruins. Grenadier island was patented to Hezekiah B. Pierrepont, Joshua Waddington and Thomas L. Ogden, Oct. 1,
1824, and on the 10th of November following the title became vested in Pierrepont. He sold the island (and also
Cherry island, of which he became possessed at the same time) to William and Gerardus Post, of New York, Feb. 19,
1825, for $7,000, and by them it was sold to settlers, although in the meantime it had become populated with squatters,
who were very reluctant to to yield up their improvements. Previous to this time, however, and as early as 1803
Samuel English and Hezekiah Barrett had petitioned the legislature for a patent for Grenadier island, but it was
then uncertain whether it was within the jurisdiction of this state, hence the request could not be granted. The
line dividing the province and New York was established in 1819, and in 1824 the patent to Pierrepont and others
was issued as above stated.
By reference to the early chapters of this work it will be seen that Grenadier island was known to the early French
explorers who voyaged up the St. Lawrence to Lake Ontario. Champlain, La Salle and Frontenac undoubtedly made this
a temporary stopping place, as did other navigators and explorers who followed after them, yet the island itself
did not become in any way noted previous to the war of 1812- 15. In the year first mentioned the family of Richard
M. Esseistyn was sent by lake to Sackets Harbor, and stopped over night on the island. In those days, when settlers
were pouring rapidly into the region, and when still others were leaving the vicinity on account of the uncertainties
of the war then impending, this water route was a common thoroughfare between Cape Vincent and the lower St. Lawrence
country, and also between Cape Vincent, Sackets Harbor and Oswego. During the embargo period Grenadier island was
the frequent resort of smugglers, but gained its greatest prominence in the fall of 1813, when it was made the
rendezvous for Wilkinson's army preliminary to his disastrous expedition down the St. Lawrence in the vain hope
of capturing Montreal. At the time the October weather proved true to itself, and as a result of the ill-timed
expedition, Wilkinson's whole fleet of boats was at the mercy of wind and waves. It was four days before the army
reached Basin harbor, a safe refuge from the elements at the east end of the island where the lake currents threw
up beaches in such manner as to form ample bays.
The pioneer of Grenadier island is supposed to have been John Mitchell, a squatter, who built a cabin and made
an improvement soon after the war. He was followed by others, and before tbe proprietor came to assert his title
and ownership, at least fourteen families were living here, engaged in lumbering, farming in a small way, and in
fishing. For many years fishing was an established industry in this part of the lake, and many thousands of barrels
of fish were annually taken with seines and nets off the shore of Grenadier island. This prominence the island
has ever since enjoyed, although the extensive fisheries are now a thing of the past. It is a frequented spot for
pleasure fishermen, and also enjoys considerable prominence as a summer resort.
Fox island is also within the jurisdiction of the town, and is a small body of 257.5 acres of land situate between
Grenadier island and the isthmus connecting Point Peninsula with the mainland of the town of Lyme. It is a pleasantly
located tract, a frequent resort for pleasure and fishing parties during the warm months, yet in the history of
the town at large is of comparatively little importance.
Having thus referred at some length to the islands which form an important Part of this town, at least one of which
began to make history. before the mainland itself, let us now turn our attention to the history of the town at
large. Among the civil divisions of the county Cape Vincent is the youngest town, having been created from Lyme,
April 10, 1849, yet as is told on preceding pages, within its present boundaries was made the first white settlement
both in the county and in northern New York. Lyme, the mother town, was formed from Brownville in 1818, and the
latter was created from Leyden (Oneida county) in 1802, and included all this county north of Black river. The
territory of Cape Vincent, except its islands, lay wholly within great lot number four of the Macomb purchase,
the history of which will be found in an earlier chapter of this work. When erected from Lyme, this town embraced
all the territory of the county "west of a line running from the mouth of Little Fox creek, on Lake Ontario,
N. 48.75 degrees E., 646 chains; thence N. 57 degrees E., 235.56 chains, to the line of the town of Clayton."
The town was named in honor of Vincent Le Ray, son of James D. Le Ray, the land proprietor.
The town contains 34,022 acres of land, of as good quality as is found along the lake and river border of the county.
The surface is generally level, or slightly undulating, and the soil is a clayey loam, heavy and fertile, and produces
abundantly under proper care and cultivation. It is devoted chiefly to general agricultural pursuits, yet yields
most profitably in hay and market garden seeds.
The pioneer of the town was Captain Abijah Putnam, who came from Rome in 1801, and settled four miles below Cape
Vincent village, at a point named for him Port Putnam, but which in later years became known as Millen's bay. The
pioneer established a ferry between the port and Wolf island, on the Canadian side, and also projected a village
site, making surveys and plans to that end, but in 1804, before any considerable settlement had been made, he sold
his interest to John Macomb and Peter Sternberg, and then left the locality. The new proprietors prosecuted the
village scheme on a plan still more elaborate than that of the founder, and laid out the t act in the form of a
parallelogram, with a central public square of some five or six acres, and also a reserved space for public buildings
on the upper side of the tract, facing the river. The streets running parallel with the river were named from First
to Seventh, in regular order, and intersecting them at right angles where Green, Montgomery, Herkimer, Washington,
Jefferson, Clinton and Hancock streets. From this it is seen that the worthy proprietors were thoroughly patriotic
and must have descended from revolutionary stock. Pleasant street was laid out on two sides of the square, but
notwithstanding all the laudable endeavors of the owners, the village never attracted more than a dozen or fifteen
families, and about 1811 it was abandoned in favor of the new settlement two miles up the river, where James Le
Ray founded a settlement at "Gravelly Point," which he named Cape Vincent in honor of his son.
However, during the period of its history, Port Putnam attracted a number of worthy families to its vicinity, and
the construction of the state road (in 1803-4) to this point from Brownville was an important factor in drawing
settlers to this part of the town. Among those who came (the same years in which the road was built) were Jonathan
Cummings, Daniel Spinning, Elnathan Judd, Norman Wadsworth and John B. Esselstyn. Mr. Esseistyn came in 1803, and
was the head of a family which has ever since been prominently associated with Jefferson county history. Richard
M. Esselstyn, one of the best early representatives of the same surname, came to Chaumont in 1801 as a surveyor,
and in 1806 removed to a point near his brother (John B.) a short distance below Port Putnam. Other early settlers
along the river, nearly all of whom came by the state road route, were Eddy Cole, Caleb Lobdeli, Avery Smith, Wm.
Hollenbeck, Charles Gillette, Orison and Ziruri Butterfield, Daniel Nichol, Abner and Barrett Hubbard, Samuel Britton
and others named Soper, Smith and Phelps, but to reliably locate all of them on their original farms in the town
is now impossible. Mr. Soper lived on the line of the state road and kept house for the entertainment of travelers.
The old thoroughfare was often well-nigh impassable, and as many as ten or more hours were at times required to
make the journey from Chaumont to Port Putnam.
In addition to the names of pioneers and early settlers already mentioned, still others may be recalled, though
the absence of reliable record makes it impossible to give the year of their arrival or the exact place of settlement.
In this connection mention may be made of Michael Van Schaick, Willard Ainsworth, John Vincent, Joseph Cross, Dr.
Sackett, Dr. Brewster, Captain Caton, Benjamin Estes, Captain Merritt (who sailed from Port Putnam on the "Appollonia,"
and when oft the coast of Mexico bay the ship was suddenly struck and wrecked by lightning, and her crew barely
escaped to shore with their lives), Ira Hadley, James Borland, James Buckley, Abner Rogers, Oliver Pool, Jacob
Bedford, Abner and Philip Gaige, and also other heads of families whose surnames are remembered as Fuller, Green,
Hasler, Converse, Holmes, Pigsley, Marshall, Van Husen, Hoff, Lee and others. All were good and worthy settlers,
and had a share in developing the resources of the town in its early history, while its territory formed a part
of the ancestor town of Brownville. It is undoubtedly true that when Lyrne was created a majority of inhabitants
in the proposed new jurisdiction lived in the part afterward set off to Cape Vincent; and when in 1849 this town
was formed from Lyme, the latter surrendered more than half her population and area.
Continuing the roll of settlers and developers still further, there may also be recalled the names of Highland
Millen, for whom Millen's bay received its name. He married the daughter of Abner Hubbard, and their children were
Abner, John and Jane. By a second marriage Millen had ten more children. There were also Thomas Dodge, Elisha P.
Dodge, Henry Ainsworth (an old revolutionary patriot), Joseph Peo, James Robbins, John Laniger, Jeremiah Carrier
(a prominent figure in county history), Terrence Connell, Joseph Mays, James C. Irvine, Alex. Armstrong, Alfred
Vautrin, John Laird, Simon Cornaire, Euger Aubertine, Jerome Aubertine, John F. Bourcey, John Branch, John Cornaire,
Joseph Willey, James Burnett, Francis Merchant, John Stewart (who served in the war of 1812), Elias F. Powell,
John Stumpf, Raney P. Dezengremel, Eli L. Dunning (war of 1812 survivor), John B. Rosseau, Jacob Fraley. David
C. Schuler, Adam A. Gray, Peter. Reff, John Nilles, Samuel Gardner, Luther Stedman, Leander Rice, Lawrence Constance,
John Humphrey, Herman Shaffer, Fidelis Berringer, Andrew Radley and perhaps others equally worthy of mention, all
of whom are believed to have been in the town previous to its creation from Lymo.
Glancing over preceding papers, the reader must notice the frequency of foreign names-at least many not of English
origin and pronunciation. This fact naturally leads to the conclusion that the continent in Europe furnished many
settlers to this part of the Macomb purchase. Such indeed was the case, and the famous French settlement, which
has for many years been an important element of Cape Vincent history, is worthy of special mention in this chapter.
The central portion of the town of Cape Vincent, which for many years has been the abiding place of a number of
thrifty French and German families, was originally settled by the same class of American pioneers who occupied
the region contiguous to the river. Among the earliest settlers there may be recalled the names and families of
Jacob Van Nostrand, Samuel F. Mills, Aaron Whitcomb, Asahel and Phineas Powers, Thomas Shaw and a few others, who
opened farms and prepared the way for later corners. About 1815 and '16, through the influence and patronage of
Mr. Le Ray, the French and German immigrants began to arrive and continued coming at irregular intervals until
a considerable settlement was made in the central region of the town as now constituted. Nearly all of these foreigners
were poor in purse, but rich in health and possessed a commendable determination to built up and establish for
their families a comfortable condition of life. Many of them received substantial aid from Le Ray, who seemed to
take more than ordinary interest in their welfare. In the course of time, as the colony increased, the American
settlers sold their improvements to the new element of population, and previous to 1840 the entire eastern region
of the town, almost from its north to its south boundary. became thickly peopled with the French and German settlers.
The hamlet localities known as Rosiere and French settlement were the resuit of this unusual tide of immigration,
and both have endured to the present time, although the descendants of the settlers who established them have now
scattered throughout the town. These settlers were Catholics and established churches in which the services were
conducted both in French and German, according to the nationality of the congregation.
Mr. Le Ray was also instrumental in bringing a considerable contingent of French nobility, who had become involved
in political intrigues on account of their fealty to Napoleon the First, and as a consequence were compelled to
flee from their country and find refuge in America. Le Ray happened to be in full sympathy with their cause and
readily induced them to take up homes on his vast domain in northern New York. Their first arrival began in 1811,
and among their leaders was Count Francis Peter Real, who enjoyed the celebrity of having been chief of police
under Napoleon. In this colony were also the son-in-law of the count, General Rolland, Camille Arrand, Jermaux
and Pigeon, the latter being secretary to Real, and an astronomer of more than passing note. For about two years
the count occupied a rented house, and then built a residence of peculiar architecture at the head of Gouvello
street. To this domicile was given the name of" cup and saucer," from its resemblance to those articles
of table ware. The "cup and saucer" residence had no remarkable historic associations, yet had the designs
of the owner been fully carried out it would have been one of the famous houses of America, for the count and his
associates were fully determined to rescue Napoleon from the island of St. Helena, bear him away to this country
and find for him a safe refuge within this house. The attempt, however, was not made, as Napoleon died in 1821,
after which amnesty was granted the political exiles, and a number of them returned to France. Others remained
and became lifelong residents of the town, furnishing a desirable element of its population and adding much to
its worth and history in the county.
Among the prominent characters in this distinguished colony was Louis Peugnet, a former officer in the Napoleonic
army and a person of excellent abilities both as a soldier and citizen. His surname was preserved in the town many
years, and its representatives were among the enterprising families of the village. Peugnet was the friend and
adviser of the great Napoleon and his descendants still retain several choice mementoes which were presented to
their ancestor by the famous warrior. Pigeon, the secretary, was also a notable personage, and drew much attention
from the fact that during Napoleon's imprisonment at St. Helena he (Pigeon), in accordance with a vow to that effect,
was not known to wear a hat or other covering for his head. Nevertheless the secretary was a strong character in
Cape Vincent history for several years, and was esteemed for his scholarly attainments.
Another interesting though not specially historic locality is that commonly known as Jibbett's Point, in the extreme
western part of the town, at the head of the St. Lawrence. It was called after Capt. John Jibbett, of Troy, who
in 1790 became the owner of 600 acres of land in the vicinity, but who is not mentioned among the settlers in the
town. On January 25, 1827, the United States acquired title to about three acres of land on Jibbett's Point, and
in that year built the light house. The second was built in 1854, and was substantially repaired in 1870. This
is a purely agricultural region and contains many excellent farms. It is at the extreme foot of the lake and affords
many interesting views both on land and water.
On the old state road leading from Point Putnam to Chaumont, about three miles southeast from the former place,
is a fanning locality which for many years has been known as the Warren settlement. The first improvement here
were begun in 1825, when three brothers, Sheparci, James and Asa Warren made a clearing and opened a farm. Soon
afterward Edwin Tuttle, Joel Torry and John Howard setttled in the vicinity, and with those who preceded them developed
this part of the town and opened it for still further improvements by later corners.
Still further east, and three miles distant from the river, is a locality now known as St. Lawrence, but which
was originally called St. Oars' Corners, and later Lawrenceville. Among the settlers here (and in this part of
the town) were Jacob St. Oars, Silas Mosier, Eli Wethey, Horatio Humphrey, Hamilton Wallace, Samuel Dillon, Jerome
Wethey, Daniel Corse, Charles Cummings, Dyer Pierce and other families whose surnames were Curtis, Wheeler, Campbell
and Carpenter. In the course of years a settlement sprung up and was named as has been stated, but when James Rogers
came and opened a tavern the event was of such importance that the cross roads was named Rogers' Corners. Still
later names were Gotham's Corners and Crane's Corners, but in 1848 a post station was established here under the
name of Lawrenceville, in allusion to a Miss Lawrence, of New York, a large land owner in the locality.
In Cape Vincent, unlike nearly all other towns of the county, early settlement was accomplished and all the institutions
and interests were established previous to the time of organization. Indeed, in this town the most interesting
events of early history took place while the territory formed a part of Brownville, and the greatest strides in
settlement and development were made while the town was a part of Lyme. One of the most exciting periods of history
in the town was that of the war of 1812-15, which came upon the scattered inhabitants almost suddenly, causing
many of them to temporarily abandon their possessions and seek safety in a more protected locality.1 In June, 1812,
on the recommendation of Gen. Brown, Col. Bellinger and a detachment of troops were sent to defend the St. Lawrence
border in the vicinity of Port Putnam. John B. Esseistyn (afterwards Col. Esselstyn) was placed in command of the
militia at a later period, and during the war the frontier in this town was defended by a troop of Mohawk county
militia, a detachment of light artillery and dragoons, and also a body of riflemen, the latter under the command
of Capt. Benj. Forsyth. At the time this was considered an important locality, and nearer, perhaps, to Kingston
than any other American port. In the absence of the troops a line of sentinels was always maintained, and all precautions
were taken to guard against surprise from this quarter.
Any allusion to the line of sentries always recalls one of the humorous incidents of the period. As the story goes,
a soldier of our army while off duty went over to Wolf island, where he fell in with a young lady named Button,
They were married, and in due season returned to this side. The news spread among the troops, and that night a
soldier in the line of sentinels broke the stillness of solitude by crying out, "Button, button, who has got
the button?" His comrade next in line answered loudly: "Corporal Dean," whereupon the cry was at
once taken up and carried along the entire line, fourteen miles in length.
For the maintenance of the troops stationed in the town at various times a barracks was built, which stood at the
corner of Broadway and James streets in Cape Vincent village, while on the site of the school house on Murray street
was the hospital. Occasionally the village and vicinity were visited by the British, and as a result of their incursions
the barracks, Henry Ainsworth's store, J. B. & R. M. Esseistyn's store, Major Esselstyn's house (below Port
Putnam), several barns, a quantity of lumber and two or three small schooners were burned. The Indians also made
depredatory incursions, and on one occasion set fire to Dr. Avery Ainsworth's house and barn in the Pleasant valley
neighborhood. Wilkinson's troops were here for a time, and in cooking messes and providing warmth for their quarters
burned a large quantity of staves belonging to the Esselstyns. This was a wanton destruction of property, and was
only partially compensated by congress in later years.
During the later months of the war, in the summer of 1813, a man named Draper, who served as "express"
between this point and Sackets Harbor, learned that a party of Indians were lurking about Wolf island, whereupon
he obtained permission to organize a force of volunteers to dislodge them. This was quickly accomplished, a gunboat
under Captain Hawkins taking the troops over to the island. The expedition, however, cost Draper his life, as he
carelessly exposed himself within range of the Indians' muskets, and was killed.
Previous to the war lumbering was the chief business of the river border, while the Esselstyns, who have been mentioned,
were extensive manufacturers of staves, and perhaps the largest operators in this part of the county. The war temporarily
stopped all industries, but when peace was restored business was resumed, and the country back from the river was
rapidly taken up and developed. New roads were opened, and the quality and cheapness of the land was such as to
draw settlers to the locality. It was about this time that Le Ray induced settlements by the French and German
elements of population, and nearly all of those who came and purchased land brought large families to the town.
During the fifteen years next following 1820, the population of Lyme increased from 1,724 to 3,816, and by far
the greater portion of this growth was in that part of the town afterward set off to Cape Vincent.
The war of 1837-40, otherwise known as the Patriot war, was another brief period of interest to the inhabitants
of the town, and in the early part of 1838 two companies of militia were called out and stationed at Cape Vincent
to prevent the lawless acts which the patriots were charged with committing, and particularly to prevent any force
of patriots from invading Canada. In November following the army of patriots designed for the subjugation of Canada
was augmented by ten or a dozen recruits from Cape Vincent, who took passage on the steamer United States, or her
convoys, and had a part in the affair at Windmill Point. The cause had many sympathizers in this part of the county,
and while in this town there was no special interest or demonstration, the mass meeting held in the village December
18, 1838, showed the sentiment of the townsfolk to be largely with the patriots. However, the period passed without
injury to local interests, and events soon resunied their natural channels. In succeeding yeais the growth of the
town in every direction was almost remarkable. In 1845 it had a population of more than 6,000, and then being the
most populous town in the county, the subject of a division of the territory began to be discussed, although four
more years passed before the erecting act was passed.
Organization.- As is stated on
another page, Cape Vincent was formed from Lyme, the act being passed by the legislature April 10, 1849. The first
town meeting was directed to be held at the home of Jacob Berringer, tavern keeper, on May 15, at which time the
following officers were elected:
Supervisor, Frederick A. Folger; town clerk, John W. Little; superintendent of schools, W. H. Webb; justices of
the peace, Jacob Barringer, Augustus Aubertine, Barney W. Payne assessors, John Lawton, Adam Gray; commissioner
of highways, Buefl Fuller; overseer of the poor, Francis A. Cross.
From that time to the present, history of Cape Vincent has been a record of growth and progress, and few indeed
have been the events which have disturbed the peace and harmony of the inhabitants. In a greater degree perhaps
than is found in any other town in the county. Cape Vincent has a mixed population, the descendants of the Americans,
the Germans, the French, and lastly of the Irish settlers who made homes in this locality during the early years
of the century. But notwithstanding the variety of nationalities so strongly represented, the town has ever been
prosperous, the people thrifty, and evidence of comfort prevail in every quarter of the town.
In 1850, one year after the town was set off and organized, the inhabitants numbered
3,044, as shown by the census reports. The subsequent fluctuations in population are best learned from the same
source, as follows: 1855, 3,375; 1860, 3,585; 1865, 3,479; 1870, 3,342; 1875, 3,180; 1880, 3,143; 1890, 3,014;
1892, 2,966. According to the above statement, the greatest population in the town's history was attained in 1860,
when the inhabitants numbered 3,585, and when, perhaps, the resources of the region were at the height of their
development. The subsequent decrease has been due to the causes which have in like manner reduced the population
of towns similarly situated, and not to lack of enterprise and public spirit on the part of the people.
During the period of its history, there have been built up within the limits of the town one incorporated village
and three hamlets or trading centers, known respectively as Cape Vincent, Rosiere, St. Lawrence and Millen's Bay
(River View post office), the latter the first established settlement in the town and one of the first in the St.
Lawrence river region. The original name of this hamlet was Port Putnam, and Abijah Putnam was its pioneer and
founder, as has been sufficiently stated on preceding pages. The locality prospered for a few years, but when Mr.
Le Ray determined to establish a village settlement at Gravelly Point, his influence prevailed with the people
and the site was abandoned about 1811. At various times in the later years a small store has been maintained here,
but aside from its early historic associations, its once important lumbering interests, and the several attempts
to profitably maintain a summer hotel, the hamlet is of little consequences in local annals. The present merchant
and postmaster is George White. A union meeting house was built here in 1869-71, at the joint expense of the Protestant
and Methodist Episcopalians, and is occupied by them on alternate Sundays. The Methodist services are supplied
from St. Lawrence, and the Protestant Episcopal from Cape Vincent.
St. Lawrence is a small hamlet in the extreme eastern portion of the town, in a fertile agricultural region. In
this locality Stephen Johnson opened a store about 1825 or '30, but as late as 1835 the settlement had not to exceed
a half dozen dwellings. As we have stated, the first name of the locality was St. Oars' Corners, hut in recognition
of the importance of James Rogers' tavern, which was built sometime after 1830, the name was changed to Rogers'
Corners. Still later it became Gotham Corners, then Crane's Corners, and Lawrenceville, and when the post-office
was established the permanent and appropriate name of St. Lawrence was adopted. From that time this has been an
established trading center, though its business interests have been confined to one or two stores, a hotel, a cheese
factory and one or two small shops. The present merchants are George Donaldson and Theodore Miller. The hotel is
kept by M. C. Rogers. The only public buildings are the district school and the M. E. church.
The first Methodist class in this part of the town was formed soon after 1840 through the good works of Morris
Connwell and wife, Christopher Treadwell and wife and Mrs. Jeremiah Newville. Preaching services were maintained
until Aug. 17, 1868, when the Second M. E. church of Cape Vincent was organized at St. Lawrence, and in the next
year the meeting house was built. From that time the society has enjoyed a healthful existence, the members numbering
about one hundred, including the Methodist worshippers 'at Miller's Bay and elsewhere in this part of the township.
The present pastor is Rev. H. L. Hastings.
Rosiere is a hamlet of about 100 inhabitants in the central part of the town, on the line of the Cape Vincent branch
of the R. W. & O. railroad. The road was built and completed in the early part of 1852, and a station was afterward
established to accommodate the inhabitants of the St. Lawrence vicinity as well as those in the central part of
the town. The hamlet was then built up in the center of the French and German population to whom previous reference
has been made. Their farms originally averaged about 25 acres each, and were in part devoted to market gardening,
and when Patrick S. Stewart (agent for the Le Ray estate) made his annual visit to Cape Vincent to collect interest,
the Frenchman would walk the entire distance to the old Fuller hotel in the village and make their payments. The
wives of these sturdy plod. ders also accompanied their husbands on their journeys, and carried along a tub full
of vegetables, which were sold or traded foi- goods. In this way, by persistent effort, many of these settlers
became wellto-do and secured fine large farms. Their descendants, the present occupants of the old farms, are likewise
thrifty and energetic, and have made profitable use of the lands left them by their ancestors. However, the little
village built up for the benefit of this part of the town has not progressed much beyond the condition attained
during the first ten years of its history. A saw and grist mill, a hotel and one or two stores have been maintained
here nearly all the time; and in addition to them are the district school and Roman Catholic church. The local
merchants are Lewis S. Dunlay and Charles Armstrong. The mills are owned by Peter Fraley.
St. Vincent de Paul's church at Rosiere, was founded in 1830 at the French settlement by Mr. Le Ray, who built
the large stone edifice at that point and also donated 100 acres of land. The parish was organized at the same
time, and then included twenty familier. In the course of time the edifice became unfit for further occupancy,
and as the center of population of the parish had changed, in 1879 the present church at Rosiere was erected. It
is now under charge of Father William S. Kelley, of Cape Vincent.
Cape Vincent Village.- Previous
to the completion of the railroad from Watertown to Cape Vincent, there had been but little attempt to build up
a commercial village with extensive mercantile and manufacturing interests. When, about 1870-73, the St. Lawrence
river and Thousand islands region became famous as a summer resort an effort was made to attract annual visitors
to this village, but with little more than indifferent results. The village is pleasantly situated and possesses
greater natural beauties than many localities farther down the river, yet Cape Vincent happens to be above the
Thousand islands proper and just too near the outlet of the lake to reap the annual harvest from tourists and visitors.
If old records and local traditions be correct, in 1815 there were but seven dwelling houses on the village site,
although Mr. Le Ray had begun to build up the settlement in 1811, and for that purpose had persuaded the denizens
of Port Putnam to abandon their improvements in favor of his more desirable location at Gravelly Point. However,
the war had intervened, and what the enemy did not burn, the half-cared for forces of General Wilkinson practically
destroyed and wasted. At that time occupancy of the settlement was attended with considerable danger, and a number
of the first settlers found safety foç their families in other localities. So far as we have definite knowledge,
among the earliest settlers in this part of Brownville were Holieb Phelps, Richard M. Esseistyn, John Matthews,
"Uncle" Nash, Eber Kelsey, Dr. Avery Ainsworth, Nathan Lake, and perhaps two or three others, all of
whom were here before the outbreak of the war.
The first attempt to improve the village tract was made in 1809 by Eber Kelsey, who came from Turin and cleared
a 50 acre tract of land for Mr. Le Ray. He also erected a wharf, a block, a dwelling house and tavern and a large
frame barn. In the same year Richard M. Esseistyn built a house and opened a stock of goods for trade, the owners
being J. B. & R. M. Esseistyn. Dr. Avery Ainsworth came here from Vermont, and began practicing medicine along
the river. Eber Kelsey established a ferry to the Canada side, and at that time in the history of the settlement
did an extensive business in carrying smugglers and goods across the border. Previous to this and as early as 1807
Peter Sternberg had secured an exclusive right to maintain a ferry between Carleton island and Long island for
ten years, and this, with the Kelsey ferry, was a popular and well patronized avenue of travel previous to the
appointment of a customs officer and sending a detachment of troops here to enforce the embargo laws. In 1809 the
firm of Es. seistyn & Murray began manufacturing staves from timber bought of Le Ray, and shipped their product
to market down the river. They gave employment to many men, and were the means of bringing several families to
the village. In 1810 local interests were increased by the importation of large quantities of staves from the western
part of the state, and it is estimated that 200,000 were brought here in this single year.. This led to a new industry,
that of building arks for transporting staves and other wares to Montreal. The Esselstyns were engaged in this
business in 1811, but in 1812 the embargo act again went into operation and put an end to the traffic. The war
soon followed, and the lumber left on hand was mostly burned by Wilkinson's army.
At this time, as we have stated, the village contained hardly more than half a dozen families, and the news of
war spread terror throughout the scattered settlements of the town. This point, being nearest Kingston, was deemed
of much importance, and Captain Farrar was stationed here with a company of militia to guard the frontier against
the enemy and violations of the embargo laws. Later on John B. Esseistyn, who had been commissioned major, assembled
a body of militia and defended the frontier until the arrival of Major Allen's forces. Still later Captain Getman
and a company of Mohawk militia were stationed at the village. A few days after war was declared the schooners
Niagara and Ontario came from the lake with cargoes of flour and potash for Brockville. They were at once seized
by deputy collector Elijah Fields, and were taken to Sackets Harbor, as has been mentioned on an earlier page.
Indeed, all through the period of the war this was an important point and many interesting incidents occurred in
the vicinity, but after the return of peace events resumed their natural channels and Cape Vincent became a civil
rather than a military settlement.
The Customs District.- On April
18, 1818, a custom house was established here and a district was organized with this as its seat of business. Previous
to this time Cape Vincent was only a port of entry, subordinate Sackets Harbor. It is now the chief office of the
district, Sackets Harbor having been consolidated with it March 3, 1803. John B. Esseistyn, the port collector,
served in that capacity more than four years before a salary was attached to the office. The business of the station
was comparatively small prior to the construction of the railroad, but almost at once afterward it increased to
large proportions. In the early seventies the business of the office was at its height (collections frequently
reached $100, 000 per year), but during the last twenty years there has been a gradual falling off in receipts.
In 1886 (year ending June 30) the collections amounted to about $50,000. The value of exports for that year was
$90,772, and of imports $219,816.36. For the current year ending June 30, 1897, the value of exports was $126,133,
and of imports $260,149. The total number of vessels entered and cleared for foreign ports in 1807 (fiscal year
ending June 30) was 2,087; coastwise vessels entered and cleared, 1,173.
The collectors of the districts have been as follows: John B. Esseistyn, 1818-29; Jerre Carrier, 1829-41; Judah
T.. Ainsworth, 1841-43; Peleg Burchard, 1843-49; G. S. Sacket, 1849-53; Alfred Fox, 1853-57; Theophilus Peugnet,
1857-61; John W. Ingalls, 1861-65; Wm. Huntington, acting collector a few months; John B. Carpenter, 1866-67; David
Owen, 1867-71; Sidney Cooper, 1871-79; George W. Warren, 1879-87; Horace B. Morse, 1887-91; G. Harrison Smith,
1891-94; Frank N. Potter, Sept. 6, 1894 (the present collector). Charles I. Gardner, upon whom devolves the onerous
duties of the office, has been deputy collector at Cape Vincent since June 1, 1807.
The year 1818 was an eventful one in Cape Vincent history, for in addition to the establishment of the customs
district, it witnessed the arrival of the colony of French refugees, who formed a small though distinguished element
of local population for several years, and whose presence added greatly to the social importance of the place.
During their stay Mr. Le Ray was a more frequent visitor than in former years, and on each of these occasions joy
and hospitality reigned supreme in the almost historic "cup and saucer" residence, and also in the house
hold of every member of the colony. After a few years nearly all returned to France, yet a few remained in the
town and formed a worthy and progressive element of population.
The early history of the village was largely of a commercial character, lumbering, stave making and ark building
being the chief industries until practically stopped by the war of 1812. In 1820 it was revived at Carleton island
and again gained something of a foothold on the mainland. But in the meantime a new and still more important industry
had been established; that of boat building, which began in 1819 and continued with more or less activity for a
period of almost sixty years. However, since 1877 but few vessels other than a tug or an occasional scow has been
built in the village or its near vicinity. From an old record we are able to furnish a reasonably complete list
of vessels built in the town, but the year of construction cannot be given with any accuracy.
The vessels were the schooners Henry V. Le Ray, La Fayette, Ainsworth, Hannah, O. F: Starkey, L. Goler, Victor,
Free Trader, Chief Justice Marshall, Crevolin, John B. Hunt, Napoleon, Merchant, Amelia, Roscoe, Potomac, Montgomery,
Troy, Allanwick, Globe, Charles Smith, Algomah, Silas Wright, Port Henry and T. H Camp; brigs, Merchant, Iowa,
Patrick Henry; sloops, Elizabeth Goler; propeller, St. Nicholas, and the steamer Walter Horton.
Several builders and firms were engaged in the construction of these vessels at Cape Vincent, but by whom each
of these named was built would be difficult to accurately determine at this time. The largest shipyard was near
the site of the present Burnham elevator, where the water was sufficiently deep to float the vessels without fear
Half a century or more ago the main business part of the village was near where is now the Davis coal office, but
at that time had begun to work toward the main street. In a preceding paragraph mention has been made of the earliest
merchants, hence their names need no repetition here. Among the old firms doing business was Esseistyn & Ainsworth,
who were succeeded by Ainsworth & Lee (Roswell T. Lee, father to Morris E. Lee). After Mr. Ainsworth's death
John B. Esselstyn became a partner with Mr. Lee in an extensive business in lumber, staves, potash, and also as
general merchants. 0. P. Starkey was a prominent early business man, and was village postmaster. His store was
about where the bank and Grappotte store now stand. His son-in-law, L. S. Hammond, was Starkey's clerk and afterward
partner, but eventually started a bank. The first and principal village hotel was also down near the coal office
location, and was kept by Mr. Cross, father to ex sheriff Francis A. Cross. Mr. Tabor was another early hotel keeper.
Above Starkey's store was a hat factory of Othniel Edwards, and near the factory there flowed down from the hill
a considerable stream. On Main street it was crossed by a small bridge, but lower down and across Morris E. Lee's
and the old Rathbun hotel lots the creek formed a pond several acres in extent. This was a favorite skating ground
in winter, but the low lands are now filled in and on the site are several comfortable residences.
Such was the situation and those whose names have been recalled were the business men of Cape Vincent more than
half a century ago. It cannot be claimed that the list is complete for at this late day that would be quite impossible.
Among the later factors in business life here were John Dwillard, of the firm of Dwillard & Bartlett, also
Henry Crevolin, Francis A. Cross, Theophilus Peugnet, Coleman Hinckley, Michael Meyers, Cross Hinckley and others.
The old grist mill stood on the site of Sacket's boat house, on a piece of land deeded by Le Ray to Charles Wilson,
who erected the mill. The property passed through several ownerships and finally the building was burned.
Where now stands the United States fish hatchery, Antoine Dwillard built a four-story stone grist mill, one of
the most complete structures of its kind in the county. It proved too expensive to be profitable, hence was sold
to Bartlett & Dwillard, and was converted into a shingle and planing mill. It at last came into possession
of George Grant who, in 1895, sold the property to the government for a fish hatchery.
Soon after the railroad was completed a grain elevator was built. E. K. Burnham was employed in the building as
clerk, and in 1804, after the building was burned, he erected the large elevator building which still stands. Mr.
Burnham is still proprietor of the business, and is also the owner of a grist mill. Much of the grain used in the
large flouring mills at Watertown passes through the Burnham elevator at Cape Vincent.
The oldest present business men of the village are G. W. Warren and Lloyd 0. Woodruff, both of whom have seen all
of two-score mercantile proprietors come and depart with the natural course of events during the long period of
their operations here. They have also seen Cape Vincent when its importance as a place of business was far greater
than at the present time, yet it is doubtful if at any time there were more representatives of separate interests
than now. Recalling briefly the business houses as they now exist mention may be made of the general stores of
G. W. Warren, L. O. Woodruff, C. W. Horton, Parker Bros., Burdick & Armstrong and Wm. Anthony; the grocery
stores of Jos. C. Gregor, H. S. Spafford, J. H. Grappotte, D. L. Fitzgerald and R. J. J. Newman; the clothing store
of J. F. Constance; J. B. Roseboom's and O. J. McDermott's hardware stores, together with the usual number of other
interests, all of which combine to make this a thriving and prosperous municipality.
The village is supplied with three hotels, known as the New St. Lawrence, the Union house, and one other in course
of erection and not named. The mention of hotel interests in Cape Vincent suggests the former St. Lawrence hotel,
which was built in 1884 at a cost of about $60,000 and was one of the large hostelries of the river region. The
hotel stood at the corner of Broadway and Market streets. It was built by H. J. Crevolin, and was run by him a
few years after which it went into the hands of an incorporated company. The property was burned a few years ago,
but before its destruction the name of the hotel was changed from St. Lawrence to Algonquin. The Cape Vincent and
St. Lawrence hotel company, which for a time owned the hotel, was incorporated Jan. 26, 1886.
Another interest of considerable importance in local circles is the growth of market garden seeds. For many years
it had been known that this section of the county was especially adapted to the growth of seeds of various kinds,
but not until within the last fifteen years has this been made a distinct industry of the locality. The A. B. Cleveland
Seed company, which was established originally by Artie B. Cleveland, was incorporated January 29, 1885, and secured
for a house the Cross & Hinckley warehouse on the dock. The incorporators were Artie B. Cleveland, Henry T.
Hopkins, James M. Cleveland, Richard H. Huntington and Joseph Mullin. The present manager of the company is Seth
M. Pease. The Cape Vincent Seed company, whose large warehouse stands in a conspicuous location opposite the railroad
station, was incorporated July 16, 1890, with $20,000 capital. The incorporators were C. V. Sidell, J. C. Sidell,
J. F. Shelly, Chas. D. Ingersoll, J ames H. Howard and E. N. Jackson. The object of the company was the "growth
and marketing of peas, beans and seeds for the seed trade." Mann & Co. are also producers of fancy flower
seeds, and have succeeded in building up a considerable business.
The Bank of Cape Vincent was incorporated July 6, 1885, with $25,000 capital, and with Erastus K. Burnham, president,
and Francis A. Cross, cashier. From that time the bank has enjoyed a healthful existence, and has a present surplus
of $12,000. The present officers are E. K. Burnham, president, and S. S. Block, cashier. The directors comprise
the officers mentioned and George V. S. Camp. As has been incidentally noted on an earlier page the first banker
was Otis P. Starkey, who was succeeded by Lazarus S. Hammond, and was conducted by him as L. S. Hammond's bank.
The latter was forced to suspend during the panic of 1873, from which time until the Bank of Cape Vincent was organized
the village was without a financial institution of that character.
Cape Vincent lodge, No. 344, F. & A. M., was instituted July 10, 1822, by Isaac Lee.
The charter was granted upon the petition of John B. and Richard M. Esselstyn, Elnathan Judd, Zebulon Converse,
Elisha Johnson, Henry Ainsworth, James Buckley, Andrew Estes, Wm. Palmer, John Nash, Count Real, Joseph Cross,
S. P. Sheldon, Samuel i)oxsee, Willis Merritt and D. W. Slocum.
In 1836, during the anti-masonic period, the lodge was compelled to suspend, and when revived in 1853 many of the
jewels and properties of the old organization were found to have been preserved. The masters of the old lodge were
as follows: J. B. Esselstyn, 1822; Zebulon Converse, 1823-24; Philip P. Gaige, 1825; D. W. Slocum, 1820; G. S.
Sackett, 1827; L. Converse, 1828-29; C. Wright, 1830-31.
The lodge was revived July 28, 1853, under the old name, but with the number changed to 293. From that time its
history has been continuous and prosperous. Its present membership is sixty-eight. The past masters since 1853
have been as follows:
Zebulon Converse, 1853-58; A. J. Smith, 1859-61; Zebulon Converse, 1862-63; David B. Owens, 1864-65; Sidney Bickford,
1866-67; Henry A. House, 1868-72; Geo. R. Starkey, 1873-74; Lloyd 0. Woodruff, 1875-76; Geo. R. Starkey, 1877;
J. Albert Scobell, 1878; L. G. Kelsey, 1879; L. R. Dezengremel, 1880; Thomas Masson, 1881; L. C. Marks, 1882-83;
Lloyd 0. Woodruff, 1884-86; Thomas Masson, 1887; L. C. Marks, 1888-90; L. O. Woodruff, 1891-90; Charles B. Wood,
Rising Virtue chapter, No. 96, R. A. M., was chartered February 3, 1825, and the officers were installed by M.
E. H. P. Isaac Lee. The chapter continued work until 1830 and then suspended until July 3, 1851, when the charter
was restored. It has since maintained a healthful existence, and at this time numbers about forty active members.
Village Incorporation.- In the spring of 1853 the first steps were taken toward securing the incorporation of the
village. A preliminary survey of the proposed boundaries was made, and within them was found a population of 1,218
persons. On June 14 an application was made to the court of sessions upon the petition of Jerre Carrier, Samuel
Forsyth and Laban H. Ainsworth, and in due time the order was granted by Judge Wm. C. Thompson. On July 8 a special
election was held and the proposition to incorporate was carried by a vote of 80 for and 2 against.
The first village officers were Jere Carrier, Theophilus Peugnet, Judah T. Ainsworth, James L. Folger and Laban
H. Ainsworth, trustees; Wm. R. Saunders, clerk; Ward E. Ingall. Calvin Wright and Chas. Smith, assessors; Russell
Frary, treasurer, and John L. Gardner. collector. On February 28, 1871, at a special election the electors voted
to reincorporate under the provisions of the laws of 1870, and on the 23d of March (1871) regular by-laws and ordinances
for the village government were adopted Since that time three trustees have been elected.
The village presidents have been as follows: Judah T. Ainsworth, 1853; Jerre Carrier, 1854; John H. Roseboom, 1855;
Otis P. Starkey, 1856; Zebulon Converse, 1861-64; A. F. Smith, 1865; J. H. Roseboom, 1866; Sidney W. Ainsworth,
1867; John B. Grappotte, 1868; Chas. Smith, 1869; Levi Anthony, 1870; G. W. Warren, 1871-72; J. H. Roseboom, 1873;
W. N. Johnson, 1874; J. B. Grappotte, 1875; no record, 1876-78; Philip Marks, 1879; J. A. Scobell, 1880; Frank
Dezengremel, 1881; A. B. Clevelaed, 1882; L. T. Kelsey, 1883-87; S. B. Hance, 1888-89; Warren Casler, 1890; Henry
Peo, 1891; D. L. Fitzgerald, 1892-93; Henry Peo, 1894; Willard Ainsworth, 1895; Henry Peo, 1896; E. K. Burnharn,
1897. In 1860 Morris E. Lee was appointed village clerk, and served in that capacity (except for one or two years)
The fire department is one of the interesting branches of local government, and while it was not formally organized
prior to 1884, it has been in existence nearly forty years, and in many respects is one of the most efficient fire-fighting
bodies in the county. Early in 1859 the subject of providing apparatus to extinguish fires was discussed, and it
was then voted to purchase buckets. Soon afterward the old chemical engine was purchased. It is still in use by
the village, and is perhaps the most effective piece of apparatus owned by the village, yet wholly crude both in
design and construction. The department comprises Hose companies Nos. 1 and 2, Engine companies 1 and 2, and Rescue
hook and ladder company. In 1884 Cape Vincent was visited with a most serious and sweeping fire, and immediately
thereafter the department was placed on its present basis. The headquarters was built in 1866, at a cost of $4,500,
and underneath the structure is a water storage tank with acapacity of 2,200 barrels. The fire apparatus is kept
on the ground floor, and above is a good entertainment hall and village lockup.
The educational history of the village is also interesting and may be briefly stated. As early as August 14, 1824,
a union library was formed, the purpose of which was to place before the inhabitants educational literary matter
not accessible to the people at large. The leading spirits of the society were Gideon S. Sackett, John B. Esselstyn,
Daniel Smith, Stockwell Osgood, Philip P. Gaige, Zebulon Converse and Roswell T. Lee. The library was maintained
several years and was then abandoned, but the beneficial effect was permanent. A good school has ever since been
supported in the village, and was a part of the system of the town at large until about 1870, when it was made
a three department graded school. The building was erected about 1879. In October, 1895, a union free school district
was established, thus elevating the local school to a standing equal to that of any village in the county. The
first board of education comprised W. A. Casler, J. R. Kilbourn and W. J. Grant. The ñiembers of the present
board are W. J. Grant, president; William A. Casler and Dr. E. M. Crabb. The enrollment of the district is 289
pupils, for whose instruction a principal and six assistant teachers are employed. The maintenance expense is about
The village also has an interesting ecclesiastical history, dating back to the early years of the country when
religions services were held at Richard M. Esseistyn's house. He read the Episcopal service, while Deacon Kindall,
a devout Baptist, followed and assisted with an extempore prayer. A Sunday school was established in July, 1820,
under the direction of J. B. Esseistyn, Buel Fuller, R. M. Esseistyn and Mr. Ellis. For the proper religious training
of the people there was also organized, previous to any church society, an "Auxiliary Female Missionary Society,"
whose membership included the wives of nearly all the leading men of the vicinity.
The First Presbyterian society of Cape Vincent was formally organized under that name, February 13, 1832, although
the informal society dates back to March 2, 1823, when Oliver and Matilda Lynch, Abraham Morrow, Jane and Mary
Forsyth, Cynthia Rogers, Hezekiah H. Smith, Jedediah and Amarillis Mills constituted the original membership from
which the church developed. Rev. Jedediah Burchard was the first minister, and began his labors in 1824, in a wheelwright
shop, there being no house of worship. The meeting house was begtin in 1832, on a lot given the society by Mr.
Le Ray, and was finally completed in 1840. It is a large and comfortable building, and is kept in good repair,
The church membership numbers about 75 persons. The present pastor, Rev. George H. Marsh, came to the church in
July, 1877, succeeding Rev. Alfred Fitzpatrick.
St. John's church (Episcopal) was organized January 25, 1841, although services of the church were held in the
village at a much earlier date. A lot was donated by Otis P. Starkey, and in the same year (1841) the church edifice
was erected. It was consecrated in June, 1842. The neat parsonage was built soon afterward. The first rector was
Rev. N. Watkins. St. John's now has 31 communicants, and a Sunday school of 22 pupils. The present rector is Rev.
Samuel W. Strowger. The wardens are Erastus K.. Burnham and J.. Albert Scobell.
The Methodist Episcopal church was organized at Cape Vincent village October 14, 1851, yet Methodism in the locality
dates back to about 1820 or '21, when a class was formed. Preaching was afterward regularly held by the various
"circuit riders" until the organization was perfected as above mentioned. There were 55 constituent members,
and in subsequent years the number has increased to about 100. The house of worship was built in 1853, and cost
$2,000. The structure has been frequently repaired and yet presents a comfortable appearance. The present pastor
is Rev. E. S. Cheeseman.
St. Vincent de Paul's church (Catholic) of Cape Vincent village was organized as a parish in 1850, by the priest
in charge of the older church in the central part of the town, and was in a manner the offshoot from that as the
mother society. The church edifice, a substantial stone structure, was built in 1850, The present priest in charge
is Rev. William S. Kelley, who also officiates at Rosiere.
A society of the Disciples of Christ formerly had an abiding place in the village, and was organized in tile fall
of 1833 by Elder Jason McKee. In the membership was included several of the substantial families of the vicinity,
among whom may be recalled Shepard Warren, Edwin Tuttle, Joel Torrey, Simeon Adams (and their wives), William and
F. O. Torrey and Addison Howard. Tile society never had a meeting house, and after an existence of about twenty-five
years was dissolved between 1856 and 1860.
Supervisors.- Frederick A. Folger,
1849; Robert C. Bartlett, 1850-51; Charles Smith, 1852; Otis P. Starkey, 1853-54; Calvin Fletcher, 1855-56; William
Estes, 1857; Charles Smith, 1858-61; William D. Fuller, 1862-63; William Van Nostrand, 1864; George F. Bartlett,
1865; John H. Roseboorn, 1866; George F. Bartlett, 1867-68; Henry A. House, 1869; Hugh MeCandie, 1870-71; Henry
A. House, 1872; Lloyd 0. Woodruff, 1873-81; J. A. Scobell, 1882-88; D. L. Fitzgerald, 1889-91; L. Gideon Kelsey,
1892-95; Lloyd O. Woodruff, 1896-97; Fred Stowell, 1898-99.