First Grist Mill, Cape Vincent, New York
From: Cape Vincent and Its History
Compiled by Nelie Horton Casler
Hungerford - Wolbrook Co.
Watertown, NY 1906


A flour and grain mill was of prime consequence to the settlers and ene of the first things looked after. John B. Esseistyn once carried a bushel of corn on his back to Chaumont, had ot ground, and brought the meal home in the same manner. This was not an uncommon feat when the road would not permit trip with a horse. The first mill in Cape Vincent was built on Kent’s Creek. Negotiations were begun for a site as early as 1803 by R. M. Esselstyn, who came as far as Chaumont river in 1801. In a letter written to Mr. Esseistyn by Mr. Le Ray, he was offered a “mill scat and twenty-five acres” of land at $4.00 per acre, unless during the year of erecting the mill, a town should spring up around it, when, added Le Ray, I should feel “at liberty to break the present bargain.” A mill was not built so early as this year or the next. The Esselstyn brothers and Henry Ainsworth were the only merchants here for many of the first years. Goods brought from New York in a month, so late as 1820, made a quick passage. Sometimes Mr. Esselstyn would go in a lumber wagon to Hudson, his wife accompanying him, and bring home such merchandise as had been transported for him to that point on a sloop, from the metropolis. During one of these overland trips be carried a heavy bag of specie under some straw on the bottom of his wagon. Whenever he stopped for the night he would carelessly throw his harness over the straw and bag—either to disarm suspicion or else to teach our generation that the former times were better than these. On another occasion he wrote home of his splendid ride on the Clermont of Robert Fulton, (140 feet keel and 16½ feet beam) the first steam packet that ever made a successful trip, in the universe.. This boat, wrote Mr. Esseistyn with enthusiasm, ran at the marvellous speed of four miles an hour directly against the wind. And it was marvellous, in contrast with those trips by the Hudson river sloops when passengers would spend a whole day, walking along the shore and picking berries to while away the time till the wind was favorable.

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