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During the spring and early summer of 1796, Benjamin Wright and his assistants made a survey and division into
townships of all the Black river tract, or eleven towns, as otherwise called. The town now known as Henderson surveyor
Wright called No. 6, and pronounced it a “pretty good town,” with a good harbor, plenty of desirable timber in
the interior and fine mill seats below the pond, but none above. He also referred to Stony creek as the largest
stream of the township, and mentioned particularly the pond and the cranberry marsh about it, describing the latter
as comprising some 400 acres.
But, somewhat strangely, the veteran surveyor in his journals, or in his other reports ON the township, made not
the slightest allusion to the old fortification on Six Town Point, nor to the ancient portage from the head of
Henderson bay to Stony creek, with its curved enbankment, or wharf, of stone, leading out into the waters of the
bay at least 100 rods, and so firmly constructed that it has withstood the wear of time and the waves even to the
present day. The old fortification on the point was unquestionably of French construction, hut when or by whom
built we have not the means to determine. So far as past writers have discussed the subject it is believed that
the stone wharf or embankment above mentioned was of Indian origin, and was built to make the portage, or carrying
place, more easily accessible. From time immemorial the lake off Stony Point has been exceedingly rough for the
passage of small boats, and the Indian canoe must have been at the same peril as the flat-bottomed craft of the
white pioneer of later years. The first European to traverse the region was probably Champlain, who in 1615, with
a war party of French and Indians, is believed to have crossed over from Canada and entered the mouth of Stony
creek. Here the boats were concealed, and the invaders proceeded thence by land into the heart of the Iroquois
country, where a battle was fought and the allied French and Indian forces were defeated. On the retreat the former
route of travel was pursued (reversed), Champlain being wounded and carried by his companions. It is fair to assume,
however, that the so-called Indian wharf was not built until a more recent period than the time of the Champlain
invasion, and not until about or after De la Barre’s time and visit to the soil of our county. This was in 1684,
but the present writer has no theory regarding the erection of this peculiar structure.
The date of the construction of the old fort on Six Town Point is also uncertain, but it was so manifestly of French
origin that its erection must be traced to some period of the prolonged French and English wars, and probably between
De Ia Barre’s time and the year 1760. De Ia Barre re-established the port at Kingston in 1684, and immediately
afterward the French waged aggressive warfare against the English and Iroquois. However, the weight of opinion
inclines to establish the fact that the fort in question was built by De Villiers (by order of Montcalm) in 1756,
when the daring Frenchman was preparing to attack Oswego. The officer mentioned made his rendezvous at what is
now called Henderson Bay, but which was known to the French as the “ Bay of Niaoure.” This point was for some time
an established headquarters for military operations.
This bay is mentioned by French historians as the place where Montcalm camped, although other writers have located
the camp elsewhere. The Pouchot map, and also the Guy Johnson map (1771), describes what we now know as Henderson
bay as Niaoure bay. However, the subject is not of vital importance, but oniy shows something of the interesting
early history of the town previous to the advent of the American pioneer. The accompanying diagram furnishes a
fair outline of the old fortification as it stood an hundred years ago, but of which all traces long ago disappeared.
During the pioneer period, many traces and relics of the Indian and French occupancy were also discovered. Near
an ancient trench enclosure there is said to have been found a golden cross, about two inches long, which probably
was once the property of a Jesuit priest.
However, passing over this period of temporary occupancy, let us refer briefly to the early history of the town
under peaceful and civilized white dominion, and then trace something of its subsequent development and growth.
After Benjamin Wright had finished the survey of the Black River tract the territory was divided among its owners
(Nicholas Low, William Henderson, Richard Harrison and Josiah Ogden Hoffman) by ballot; and in that division (August
5, 1796), Nos. 3, 6 and 9 (or Rutland, Henderson and Pinckney), with 649 acres of what is now Worth, fell to William
Henderson. As is elsewhere stated at length, those proprietors had purchased the tract from Constable, the title
of the latter having come from Alexander Macomb, the patentee of the state of the largest grant of land ever made
to an individual.
In 1801 this township was surveyed and subdivided into lots, and about the same time Asher Miller, of Rutland,
was appointed Henderson’s agent to effect their sale and settlement. The land office books show that sales began
in the fall of 1801, but no permanent settlement was made until the next year. From all indications the lands along
the lake shore appear to have attracted the attention of colonists from New England, for between the years 1801
and 1804 all of a score of sturdy Yankees had made purchases and many of them had considerable improvements.
Among the purchasers and settlers may be recalled the names of Samuel Stewart, Thomas Clark, Philip Crumett, John
Stafford, Peter Cramer, Moses Barrett, Daniel Spencer, William Petty, Capt. John Bishop and his sons Calvin, Asa,
Luther and Sylvester, Jedediah and James McCumber, Samuel Hubbard, Elijah Williams, Levi Scofield, William Johnson,
David Bronson, John and Marvel Danley, Luman Peck, Robert Alexander, Andrew Dairymple, George W. Clark, Jonathan
Crapo, Anthony Sprague, Thomas Drury, Daniel Forbes and Emory Osgood, who with others whose names have not been
preserved, were the pioneers of Henderson and are entitled to be mentioned as such on the pages of local history.
The pioneer of the town, according to undoubted authority, was David Bronson, a trapper, and one of the New England
colonists, who came in advance of his companions and built a log cabin near the center of the town. Bronson cleared
about an acre of land, sowed it with turnip seed and also seeded it with “herdgrass,” but high water flooded his
improvement and cabin, whereupon he removed further east in the town and located on what is now known as Bishop
street. In this location pioneer Bronson planted the first orchard in the entire region.
No sooner had these Yankees made a favorable beginning than there came to the town a colony of Scotchmen, who made
a settlement on the bay about three miles northeast of Henderson Harbor village. They came between the years 1803
and ‘7, and were nearly all from Perthshire, Scotland. The colony comprised John and Duncan Druminond, Charles
and Peter Barrie, Thomas Bell, Duncan Campbell, James Crawe, Daniel Scott and John McCraull, and their families.
They were poor in purse but rich in physical strength, and were well calculated by nature to withstand all the
hardships and privations of pioneer life in an undeveloped country. As a result of their persevering efforts the
lands were cleared and well cultivated farms appeared all along the bay shore in the northern part of the town.
No less industrious and no less successful were the Yankees in the other parts, and the result of their united
efforts was to establish ths as one of the richest and best civil divisions of Jefferson county, even as early
as 1810; and while the region was seriously exposed to hostile depredations during the war which followed, it is
nevertheless the fact that in Henderson there was less actual suffering than in many of the interior towns of the
In 1806 Abel Shepard was added to the settlers in the Scotch locality and was a worthy developer. About the same
time Dr. Elias Skinner came and began to practice medicine, and was followed in 1807 by Dr. David Barney (died
May 19, 1828). As evidence of early rapid growth it may be stated that during the winter of 1803—4, only ten remained
in the town, but in 1806 the population included seventy families, nearly all of whom were young and middle-aged
persons, strong and vigorous and determined to build up for their own and their children’s comfort in later years.
The names of all or even a majority of them cannot be recalled at this time, but in 1809, in addition to those
already mentioned, there were living within the limits of the town these settlers:
Alfred Forbes (who is said to have taught the first winter school), A. Jones, R. Favel, Jeremiah Harris, Horace
Heath, Samuel McNitt, Amos Hart, Daniel Hardy, Benjamin Hammond, Samuel Jones, Daniel McNiel, Martin T. Morseman,
Appleton Skinner, Asa and Ira Smith, Samuel Foster, William Waring, William White, Daniel Pierce, John B. Carpenter,
Luther S. Kullinger, Lodowick Salisbury, T. Hunsden, White and Thomas Bull.
If all these settlers not one now lives to tell the story of early life, but the sons of many of them, and the
grandchildren of still more, are still in the region and among them may be found some of the most successful and
enterprising men of the present time. Indeed, it seems that Henderson was a most fortunate place for settlement
in the early history of the county, and that the quality and character of its land became known all through the
region, as the year 1807 found the town to contain 128 legal voters possessing requisite property qualifications.
This condition proves that Asher Miller was an energetic salesman and land developer, but in this work Jesse Hopkins
is entitled to a full share of credit, he having succeeded to the agency April 8, 1805, continuing in that capacity
many years. In 1807 Dr. Isaac Bronson became owner of a considerable tract of land in the town, which was sold
and settled under a separate agency.
Soon after Hopkins came into the agency he, with the approval of Wrn. Henderson, his principal, caused a twenty-five
acre tract to be cleared at the harbor, where it was proposed to establish a village. The locality possessed one
of the prettiest, safest and most easily improved harbor sites on the lake or river, and while Mr. Henderson hoped
to establish its importance from a commercial point of view, he earnestly opposed any warlike operations, hence
Sackets Harbor was made the principal scene of events during the war of 1812—15, while in later years Henderson
Harbor was a lake port of only minor importance. To this place Mr. Henderson gave the name Naples, and caused a
complete village plot to be surveyed and in part laid out. In the near vicinity agent Hopkins built a house, established
a land office, opened a store (in 1807) and otherwise endeavored to build up the settlement, but in vain. Through
his influence Henderson procured an act authorizing the construction of a state road from Lowville to Henderson
Harbor, but the work was never fully completed. In 1809 he caused a dam and saw mill to be built on Stony creek,
near the head of navigation, but the breaking of the dam swept both of them away. Both were rebuilt the next year,
but at very heavy expense. Then he endeavored to sell his remaining interest in the town to General Matoon, but
the doubtful termination of the then threatened war defeated the project. This was in 1811, and after the negotiations
for the sale had ceased Mr. Hopkins built a large school house at the harbor, which also served as a place of religious
worship. He established a ship yard, and between the years 1812 and 1814 built several schooners, all in the earnest
effort to make Naples a seat of business operations; but the attempt was in vain, and although Mr. Hopkins tried
various other schemes to build up the village during the succeeding ten or twelve years, his endeavors were not
rewarded with the success they deserved.
While all these enterprises were a burden of expense to the proprietor, the people were greatly benefited by them,
and through the liberality of both proprietor and agent the people prospered and were afforded all the conveniences
and many of the comforts of life not enjoyed in other towns. One of Henderson’s proposed enterprises was a woolen
manufacturing company, for which in 1814 (May 25), a company was organized, comprising (as its first trustees)
Allen Kirby, Hezekiah Doolittle, Joseph Dickey, Tilley F. Smead and Chester Norton, all of whom were persons prominently
known in early county history. The company, however, never went into full operation with its milling enterprise
although a considerable sum of money was expended in preliminary work and improvements.
In the meantime, while Henderson and Hopkins were striving to found a village and establish a prosperous condition
of things, the lands of the town were being sold and other settlers were rapidly adding to the local population.
Among those who came during this period were several men and families who afterward became prominent figures in
local history, hence we may with propriety recall the names of some of them: Roswell Davis’ came soon after 1804,
and was the first tavern keeper in the town. He served during the war, and helped carry the “cable” from Sandy
creek to Sackets Harbor. Luman Peck was a settler in 1805, as also was Asa Smith and his family. Anthony Sprague,
Stephen Whitney and George Penney, whose surnames in the town have survived, came in 1806. Amos Lawrence and Dr.
Daniel Barney came in 1807. (Dr. Lowrey Barney of later years, was the son of Daniel Barney, and was one of the
noted physicians of the county in his time. It was through him that Gen. Thomas J. Jackson (Stonewall Jackson)
was persuaded to come to Henderson for medical treatment several years before the outbreak of the war of 1861—65.)
Jason Crittenton was a settler here in 1808, and is recalled as a patriot of the revolution. His family name has
ever been prominent in local history.
Among the early families to be mentioned in the same connection were those of Elisha Brown, Adonijah Montague (a
revolutionary soldier), James S. White (a noted lake sailor and at one time employed in agent Hopkins’ store),
Samuel, Simeon, Luther, Ezra, Leonard and John Nutting (the progenitors of numerous and highly respected families
in later county history), Charles Carter, Stephen Reed, Joseph Hawkins (who settled in Henderson about 1810, and
was one of the county’s distinguished men. In 1828 he was elected to congress, defeating Perley Keyes. Through
his efforts, March 2, 1831, congress passed an act abolishing custom house fees, and establishing a salaried office
for the collector. For many years Mr. Hawkins was one of the judges of the old. Common Pleas court. He died in
Henderson, April 20, 1832), Amasa Hungerford (who settled southeast of Henderson bay about 1810, on the site of
an original settlement made by one Hart, who built a log cabin. The Hungerford farm furnished the early county
fairs some of their best exhibits), Orrin and Uriah Hungerford (who settled near Hungerford’s corners in 1810),
and Sylvester Finney (who settled on the lake shore, south of Sackets Harbor previous to the war of 1812. He was
the father of Rev. Chas. G. Finney, the afterward noted Congregational evangelist, and of George W. Finney, the
famous temperance advocate).
Continuing the list still further, we may in the same manner recall the names of John Ivory, Ebenezer Sawyer, Abraham
Wilkinson, Thomas Dobson, David Fales, Samuel Griggs (frequently called “Uncle Sam "), John H. Farman, Joel
Overton, Salmon Aspinwall, George Moody. Russell M. Jones, Capt. Henry R. Warner, Frisby Abbott, Asa Seaton, Truman
Rich, James Dodge and others whose names are now lost, but all of whom were in some manner identified with the
of this interesting jurisdiction.
Abraham Wilkinson, above mentioned, settled on Stony Island in 1806, and was undoubtedly its pioneer. He was accompanied
by his wife and six children. After three years he removed to Galloup Island, and thence, in 1812, to Henderson.
Jesse Hopkins, the land agent of Henderson, was one of the most prominent characters of the town during its earlier
history, and was, withal, one of the best developers and colonizers in the Black river country, although in his
work in this town Mr. Hopkins was frequently embarrassed by the somewhat arbitrary directions of his principal.
He was born in Waterbury, Conn., and was the fourth son of Joseph Hopkins, the latter the friend and companion
of Washington and La Fayette. During one of the visits of these distinguished generals to the Hopkins residence,
La Fayette was so well pleased with the appearance of Jesse that he made him one of his aids during certain military
movements in that region. In later years young Hopkins developed into a man of education and integrity. He was
also an author of considerable note, and a poet of rare ability had he applied himself to that work. He engaged
in manufacturing pursuits, but after the death of his wife he traveled somewhat extensively, but in 1805 became
agent for the Henderson lands, as we have stated. A repetition of his acts in developing this town is needless,
but the gravest error committed by him was his unswerving fealty to the federalist party preceding and during the
war of 1812—15. He would not permit any ‘military or naval operations at Naples (Henderson Harbor), hence deprived
that locality of the offered opportunity to enjoy a prominence equal to Sackets Harbor. In later years Mr. Hopkins
did much for the welfare of the town, but he became involved in a dispute with Henderson and was dismissed from
the agency in 1822. He died in Henderson in 1836.
Organization.— It is a well known
historical fact that the region now comprising this town was, previous to the creation of Jefferson county, a part
of Mexico, Oneida county. After the lands along the lake had been opened for settlement so rapid was the influx
of pioneers and operators that the proper exercise of gevernmental authority demanded frequent divisions of, the
territory into town organizations. On February 22, 1803, an act of the legislature erected a new town from Mexico
and gave it the name of Ellisburgh. Then settlement increased still more rapidly, and in three short years it became
necessary to subdivide this jurisdiction, the legislature taking therefrom old No. 6 and erecting it into a separate
town by the name of Henderson. The creating act was passed February 17, 1806, from which time Henderson has been
regarded as one of the important towns of Jefferson county. It contains 25,091 acres of land, as good for general
agricultural purposes as the county can boast, while along the bay front the soil is especially adapted to the
growth of melons, berries, etc. The land surface is rolling, and the shore along the lake is deeply indented with
Henderson bay, formed by the long rocky projection known as Six Town Point, to which reference has been made. In
the town are two small lakes (or large ponds, neither of which are important factors in its commercial history)
and several marshes. The principal streams are Stony and Little Stony creeks. Extending around the northern central
part of the town, is an extensive sand ridge, which, with the marshes, comprise the waste lands. These, however,
are not vast areas, and are occasionally utilized to some good purpose.
As was provided in the creating act the first town meeting was held at the house of Reuben Putnam, March 11, 1806,
at which time officers were elected as follows: Jesse Hopkins, supervisor; Mark Hopkins, town clerk; Lodowick Salisbury,
Daniel Skinner and Emory Osgood, assessors; Elijah Williams, collector and constable; John B. Carpenter and Samuel
Hubbard, overseers of the poor; Marvel Danley, Asa Smith and Anthony Sprague, highway commissioners; George W.
Clark, Willis Fellows and Jedediah McCumber, fence viewers; Reuben Putnam, poundmaster; Israel Thomas, James Barney,
Levi Scofield, Thomas Drury, Calvin Bishop. Robert Farrell, Benjamin Barney, John B. Carpenter, William White and
Simeon Porter, pathmasters.
The preceding paragraph brings to mind the names of early settlers in the town who are not previously mentioned,
and indeed as our narrative progresses the names of still others will be brought forward until, it is hoped, all
who were in any manner identified with the town in its early history will in some manner be recalled, and their
names preserved for future use and reference.
Notwithstanding the fact that in 1807 the town contained 1’28 qualified voters, and at least 1,000 inhabitants,
it appears that the people were greatly annoyed by the depredations of wolves and panthers. To end the nuisance,
if possible, the town in that year voted a bounty of $10 for each wolf killed, and continued the payment until
1809, when the bounty was reduced to $5 for each wolf, wildcat or panther killed. In 1810 the bounty was raised
to $10 and was continued until 1815. It seems, too, that the settlers were much annoyed with the increasing growth
of Canada thistles, whereupon in 1811—12 the inhabitants voted that this noxious weed “be mowed in the old of the
moon in June, July and August,” and if not so mowed the owner of land on which thistles were found growing was
subject to a fine of $5.
The early town records abound in interesting and occasionally amusing reminiscences of the pioneer period, all
of which tend to show the customs of the period and the zealous care with which the settlers looked to their interests.
In Henderson, unlike many other towns in the county, the early settlement period was fraught with danger as well
as the ordinary vicissitudes of pioneer life. It so happened that the little settlement on the bay was hardly more
than an hour’s journey by land or water from the chief seat of military or naval operations during both embargo
period and the serious war which followed. The strictures of the embargo laws of course worked adversely to all
interests in the town, and so embarrassed the land agency that Jesse Hopkins was in a measure pardonable in his
strong federalistic tendencies, though his extreme views regarding the war measures (in which he was seconded by
his principal) probably cost him the value of Naples, or Henderson Harbor, as a strategic military and naval station.
They resolutely refused to allow warlike operations to be conducted from this point, hence lost an opportunity
to obtain large prices for the land. Sackets Harbor was the chosen central point and the proximity of this town
caused a constant feeling of unrest throughout the war period.
But whatever may have been the views of the proprietary regarding the war, they evidently were not shared to any
considerable extent by the settlers in general, and if it was possible to here reproduce the names of Henderson
men who fought with the Americans at Sackets Harbor, Sandy creek or elsewhere along the frontier, the list would
contain the names of almost every able-bodied man within the jurisdiction. The town had its company of “Silver
Grays,” comprising old and exempt men, but they were none the less willing to go forth to battle in defense of
home and family; and they went at times when their presence was needed in the town to defend their wives, children
and property against threatened Indian depredations. On one occasion during the war, when the men were nearly all
away, the women, who had taken a position on the brow of a bill below Henderson Harbor near where the Warner house
now stands, saw several Englishmen and skulking Indians on the shore preparing for a raid. These faithful and brave
women were armed. with guns, and hiding their children among the leaves and bushes fearlessly went down through
the woods and opened fire so vigorously that the invaders hastily took to their boats and left the vicinity.
Henderson, from its exposed position on the frontier was constantly liable to hostile invasions during the war,
but its proximity to the chief seat of operations in a measure protected the territory from actual invasion. The
period had fts incidents and occasional misfortunes to affect local interests, yet after it passed the men returned
from the army and resumed their accustomed pursuits on the farm. During the next score or so of years nearly all
the available lands were taken and improved, and as rapidly as the commissioners of highways laid out new roads,
just so rapidly did new buildings and farms appear. Peace and plenty seemed to prevail on every hand, and the year
1840 witnessed the greatest population in the town in all its history.
However, as an index of growth, let us have recourse to the census reports and note the fluctuations in population
from 1810 to the last enumeration, in 1892. The records show that in 1810 the number of inhabitants was 1,338;
1814, 1,402; 1820, 1,919; 1825, 2,074: 1830, 2,428; 1835, 2,270; 1840, 2480; 1845, 2,345; 1850, 2,239; 1855, 2,139;
1860, 2,419; 1865, 1,962; 1870, 1,926; 1875, 1,815; 1880, 1,842; 1890, 1,688; 1892, 1,665.
From this it is seen that the present population of Henderson is nearly 1,000 less than half a century ago, while
the area of the town is unchanged. This decrease, however marked, is not peculiar to Henderson alone, yet is perhaps
greater here than in many other divisions of the county. Henderson is one of the practically remote towns of the
county, having neither railroad nor manufactures, and is devoted solely to agricultural and kindred pursuits. The
principal villages are Henderson and Smithville (a greater portion of the latter being in Adams) while whatever
importance Henderson Harbor enjoyed as a lake port was seriously lessened by fire in the spring of 1898. Having
no business center of importance, and nothing in the way of entertainment, together with widespread claim that
farming is impossible, the later generations of men and women have in many cases left the farms for the easier
means of livelihood and the attractions and pleasures of life in larger villages and cities. But, regardless of
this condition of things, Henderson is among the substantial towns of the county, and to-day is as prosperous as
its neighboring towns. It has some of the best and most fertile lands on the lake, while the gradually increasing
number of summer visitors require much of the best farm productions for their temporary enjoyment and support.
Henderson Harbor, to which frequent
reference has been made in this chapter, is one of the most beautifully situated hamlets on the lake and river
border of the county. It was here that proprietor Henderson and agent Hopkins attempted to build up a village previous
to the war of 1812. As has been stated, Naples was the name of the proposed village, and was so called in allusion
to the charming city of Naples, in Italy. When the village tract was laid out a four-acre lot in the center was
donated for a public square, and on this lot Jesse Hopkins built a large frame school and meeting house in 1812.
(Previous to this time Dr. Elias Skinner opened a little school in one end of his house). In 1812 Samuel Cole started
a tannery (also did shoemaking), and later on associated in business with one Dye, the latter being eventually
succeeded by Benjamin Andrus. In 1817 Cole removed to the Drury farm and thence emigrated to Wisconsin. In March,
1813, William Warner, who had located on Galloup island in 1811, removed to the harbor, and in company with Jesse
Hopkins built the 40 ton schooner Henderson, which was immediately impressed into the American service, and was
sailed by Mr. Warner. The vessel went down the river with the unfortunate Wilkinson expedition, and was burned
near Ogdensburgh to prevent her capture by the British. Captain Warner built the Lily in 1814 and sailed her for
a few months. He (Warner) was one of the prominent figures in early village life, and was a highly respected cit.
izen. He died in 1817, and in the same year his son, Capt. John S. Warner, began sailing and followed the lake
and river for forty-four years; hut in the meantime (1850) he purchased a dwelling and remodeled it into the famous
Frontier house, one of the best hostelries of the town. In 1816 the house was leased to Capt. Edward White.
Previous to about 1870 Henderson Harbor (the name Naples having been dropped soon after 1820) was a lake port of
considerable importance and a vast amount of business was done here in buying and shipping stock and grain, nearly
all of which went to Kingston. The first wheat shipped from the port was taken out by Capt. John S. Warner, on
the schooner Richard M., and taken to Rochester. In 1842 Capt. Warner commanded the small steamer John Marshall,
plying between this port and Kingston. The steamer J. F. Dayan, Capt. Reuben Warner. run between Henderson and
Sackets Harbor in 1876 and ‘77. Of the many vessels sailing from the harbor in years passed several were built
here, but their names cannot now be recalled with accuracy. About the last boat of any consequence to be built
here was the Jennie White, 350 tons.
After the prosperous period of navigation had passed, all local interests naturally suffered from the loss of
accustomed business. To a greater or less extent fishing was an established industry, but even that is of little
importance as a business feature of the place. The old docks and landings were kept up for the accommodation of
such trade as caine to the harbor, and a few stores have been maintained. In the spring of 1898 a fire swept away
several of the remaining interests, and now the once busy village is of little consequence in local annals. However,
during the last ten or twelve years the harbor has become a summer resort of considerable prominence. During this
time the Gill, Warner and Tyler houses have been fitted up and are regularly opened for summer visitors. The Frontier
house is a regular commercial hotel. The region abounds in excellent fishing grounds, and its fame attracts many
sportsmen and notables. John W. Foster, secretary of state under President Harrison, has a summer cottage near
the village. The Highland and Paradise parks, with their accompanying commodious hotels, were important adjuncts
of the village although on the west side of the harbor from the village. The Van Dyne house was situated about
a mile westerly from Henderson Harbor at the head of a small bay. It was burned several years ago, but the fame
of the locality has ever survived. Indeed, Henderson bay, of which Henderson harbor is the head, is one of the
safest and largest bodies of water on the county’s western border, but, as we have mentioned, circumstances operated
against its early prominence as a lake port. It has a deep mud bottom, almost entirely free from dangerous obstructions,
and requires no dredging to keep its channel open for navigation.
St. Michael’s church (Roman Catholic) was built in 1889, and is supplied by priests from Watertown.
Smitliville is a busy little village
within the limits of the town, but several of its interests and a large proportion of its population are on the
Adams side of the line. The history of the village is fully written in the chapter relating to the town of Adams,
hence needs no repetition here.
Henderson Village is the only
corporate municipality in the town, and dates back in its history to about 1807, when Deacon Fellows built a saw
and grist mill on Stony creek, and thus prepared the way for future growth. The mills soon passed into the hands
of John Putnam and were sold by him to Lodowick Salisbury. He, in 1812, made extensive repairs to the property,
and about the same time (possibly in 1811) opened a store near the mills. Then the locality took the name of Salisbury’s
Mills, and was so known for many years, Lowery Barney, afterward the well known Dr. Barney, was clerk in the Salisbury
store, and when, about a year or two later, Williams & McCumber opened a store about three miles southeast
of the village, his services were transferred to the new firm. The latter were extensive lumbermen, but suffered
reverses through bad management and insolvent debtors.
In 1812 the village interests were greatly advanced by the erection and operation of the carding and fulling mill
started by Amos White and John Nash. They were succeeded by the “Henderson Woolen Manufacturing Company,” to which
reference is made on an earlier page, and which was formed May 25, 1814. After the expenditure of considerable
money, for which the owners received very little in return, the mill reverted to White & Nash, and was by them
sold to Valentine Parker, who removed the machinery and replaced it with a grist mill equipment. It was thereafter
run as a grist mill. Still another grist mill was that built by George Finney, who took as partner Alonzo Leffingwell,
the firm thereafter operating one of the best country mills in the county.
Another early structure was Deacon Fellows’ plank house, which he built about 1808 or ‘9, but soon afterward turned
it into a tavern. This property was sold to Putnam, and by him to Salisbury with the mills. Martin T. Morseman
became interested with Salisbury, but all their interests subsequently passed into other hands. The first distillery
in the village was built about 1810 or ‘11 by one Calkins, and was followed by the Henderson distillery, the latter
being managed by Nathan Goodeli, who took corn and grain as cash payments for land, and thus carried on an extensive
whiskey making business.
A post-office was established at Henderson Harbor just before the war of 1812, and Mark Hopkins was the postmaster.
In the course of a very few years the office was removed to Henderson village, and Rev. Holland Weeks, a Swedenborgian
preacher, was appointed postmaster.
Thus the village was founded and has since been maintained, with nearly all its institutions, to the present time.
At least three generations of factors and occupants have run their course during the intervening years, but other
than as one has followed another in the evolution of time and events, there has been little change in the condition
of things in the village life. The inhabitants now number 400, but during the last quarter of a century there has
been little material growth in any direction. The present business interests comprise the Overton & Forward
cheese factory, the Henderson grist mill, from six to eight stores and two hotels. The public buildings are the
district school (No. 8, Albert Hungerford and George R. Collins, trustees), and the Universalist, Baptist and Methodist
churches. For years Henderson village has been the winter home of many lake sailors, a number of whom are officers
on the boats on which they sail. During the winter they enjoy the quiet pastimes of the village, but with the opening
of navigation they depart, many of them to the western extremity of our great inland lake system.
In the winter of 1885—6 public interest in the village demanded a partial separation from the town, upon which
the necessary action was taken, and on April 16, 1886, Henderson became an incorporated village. The first election
was held May 14, and resulted as follows: L. B. Simmons, president; C. H. Sprague, Burton Penny and Frank Hadcock,
trustees; 0. F. Buel, clerk. The fire department apparatus comprises “Henderson Hook and Ladder Truck. “ No. 1,
which is manned by a company formed in the village.
The Henderson Social library was one of the early village institutions, and was formed Feb. 19, 1819, with Percival
Bullard, Peter N. Cushman, Chester Norton, Rufus Hatch, Thomas Forbes, Allen Kilby and Elijah Williams as trustees.
The organization was maintained until about 1830, when it dissolved.
Washington lodge, No. 256, F. & A. M., was organized at Henderson March 10, 1816, with Emory Osgood, master;
Noah Tubbs, S.W.; and Daniel Loring, J. W. In 1824 the lodge contributed half the fund with which the Baptist meeting
house was built, and occupied the second story as a place of meeting. About 1832 the masonic interest was sold
to the church society and soon afterward the lodge was discontinued.
The Second Baptist church of Henderson, at the village, was organized January 1, 1820, and was the outgrowth of
a society formed in the town in 1806, but the members of which were so scattered as to necessitate two churches,
one at Smithville and the other at Henderson. Rev. Emory Osgood was the first pastor, his services beginning with
the parent society in 1806 and continuing until 1823. In 1824 the first meeting house and masonic lodge room were
built, and stood a little south of the village tract. The second house of. worship was built in 1853. The church
has always enjoyed a reasonably healthful existence and now numbers 45 members, under the pastoral care of Rev.
J. Fos. ter Wilcox.
The Henderson Universalist society was organized January 13, 1823, and was the outgrowth of the Universalist Charitable
society, which was formed February 5, 1819, with 13 members. The church organization began to take definite form
in 1822, under the direction of Rev. Pitt Morse. The edifice in the village was built in 1839, at a cost of $3,000.
The society numbers about 40 members, but has no present pastor.
The Methodist Episcopal church of Henderson village was organized April 9, 1844, with Harvey Crittenton, Amos White
and Sylvanus Ward as trustees. The meeting house was built during the next five years. This has grown to be one
of the strongest religious societies in the town, and numbers 106 members and 20 probationers. The pastor is Rev.
George Merritt. The parent Methodist society in the town was formed July 28, 1830, in the Bishop neighborhood,
Beebe Smith, Cyrus Hall, Amos White, Joseph J. Hatch and Calvin Bishop being the trustees. A house of worship was
soon afterward provided and regular services have always been held. The church is a joint charge with that at the
village, under the same pastorate.
A Swedenborgian society was formerly one of the religious institutions of the town, having been formed in Ellisburgh,
Dec. 25, 1825, by Rev. Holland Weeks, but drawing most of its members from Henderson. Mr. Weeks was the founder
of the society and as its minister held regular services in the school house in the village until a short time
before his death, July 24, 1843. Among the leading members of the flock were Mr. Weeks, Joseph Dickey, M. J. Lorseman,
Edmund Leslie, Jeremiah Sias, Charles Stearns, John B. Blanchard and wife, Alvin and Lydia Wood, Ann H. Adams,
Hannah Goodale and Harriet
The First Congregational church of Henderson was another early institution. It was organized July 17, 1810, and
included as members Willes and Sarah Fellows, Jonathan and Bartheba Alexander, Olivia and Rebecca Bates, Samuel
Parker, Thomas and Rebecca Drury, Zoriah Hawkins, Sarah Fletcher, Thankful Allen and Rachel Skinner. No records
of the church are known to be in existence, but it is believed the old meeting house was built sometime previous
to 1819. It was occupied by the society until about 1835, and was then sold, after which meetings were held in
the Whitney school house until about 1836, when the society was dissolved and its few members united with the church
Supervisors.— Jesse Hopkins, 1806—10;
James Henderson, 1811; Asa Smith, 1812; Mark Hopkins, 1813; Asa Smith, 1814—15; Mark Hopkins, 1816; John S. Porter,
1817; Noah Tubbs, 1818; Asa Smith, 1819; Noah Tubbs, 1820—24; Caleb Harris, 1825-26; Jonathan Bullard, 1827; Caleb
Harris, 1828—31; Peter N. Cushman, 1832; Caleb Harris, 1833—34; Peter N. Cushman, 1835-37; David Montague, 1838—40;
George Jeffers, 1841; John Carpenter, 1842—43; Joseph A. Montague, 1844; William McNiel, 1845: Henry Green, jr.,
1846—51; Washington Bullard, 1852; Henry Green, jr., 1853— 55; William P. Davis, 1856; Clark Auchard, 1857—58;
William Dobson, 1859—62; T. 0. Whitney, 1863; George G. Whitney, 1864-65; William Dobson, 1866; Adelbert A. Davis,
1867—68; L. B. Simmons, 1869; A. A. Davis, 1870; William Dobson, 1871; Leonard Seaton, 1872—75; John Chapman, 1876—78;
Luther Reed, 1879—82; H. E. Carpenter, 1883—84; J. W. Overton, 1885; H. E. Carpenter, 1886—89; Adelbert A. Scott,