The History of New York State
Book VI, Chapter II

Editor, Dr. James Sullivan

Online Edition by Holice, Deb & Pam




In bygone years a State Senator once stigmatized the county of Franklin as "the Siberia of New York," thereby showing the same lack of knowledge concerning this district that so delayed its settlement. So unfavorably was this section regarded, that when the State set aside thousands of acres for the Revolutionary soldiers, still called "The Old Military tract," not one acre was taken up. The county is large, having an area of 10678 square miles, and is not populous, the census of 1920 crediting it with 43,541 inhabitants. But when it is realized that as late as 100 years age there were only about 4,000 people in the whole section, and that the passing of some of the ignorance concerning this region only began some fifty years ago, it shows the vitality of the county that has grown and ranks with the few agricultural counties that are more then holding their own in this industry.

Franklin lies in the extreme northern part of the State, with Canada bounding it in that direction, the St. Lawrence River touching a few miles of one corner, and the counties of St Lawrence, Essex, Hamilton and Clinton making up the other sides of its borders. Most of the territory was one great pine forest, with intermingled hard and soft woods, when first settled. Lumbering, early potash making, fires have denuded great areas, but there are still thousands of acres of virgin timber; and with the protection of the newly made Adirondack park Commission, it seems likely that this will become a great pleasure, health and sanatorium resort.

The surface of the county is greatly broken. Hills, mountains, lakes, swamps, with many fertile intervals, are found. Many of the lakes are famous, such as the Saranacs, and rest on elevations above 1,500 feet. Iron and minor minerals are in the hills, but probably will never be utilized. Much of the land from which the pine has been cleared is too poor for paying agriculture, but the more fertile sections are being intelligently handled. Grains, hay and staples are the principal crops, Potatoes do well, and there are good markets for the vegetable at the resorts. Dairying has been the main interest, but with changing conditions has become less profitable.

The ancestral line of Franklin County may be indicated thuswise: Albany County, which included all the north part of Maine and all of Vermont; Washington; Clinton, an offshoot, in 1788; Franklin, March 11, 1808. The separation from Clinton came about when it proved irksome to go great distances to Plattsburgh for all legal and some other business. Malone was chosen the county seat and court sessions were held in the "Academy." A new courthouse was erected the next year, which was also the jail and a house of worship; and the present one was built in 1885 at an expense of some $35,000.

Certain curiosities of history are attached to the story of Franklin. Like other counties of this part of the State they have a "purchase" to which all deeds fro land must be traced. In this case it is the "Macomb" and "The Old Military Tract." The latter has already been mentioned. When the soldiers for whom it was set aside failed to take it, the State sold the land to speculators fro about nine pence an acre. Macomb bought about 4,000,000 acres in 1791, including a great area in Franklin. The Arsenal Green of Malone is an example of a bit of land, fifty-one acres deeded in perpetuity to the State in 1812 by Cone Williams for a "public parade grounds." Only by an act of the State legislature, in 1917, after many years filled with legal difficulties, was it transferred to Malone.

Franklin was one of the principal counties through which the "Underground Railroad" ramified previous to the Civil War, Malone being one of the main stations. In the "Fenian Raids" of 18766 and 1870 Franklin was one of the Rendezvous. However, none left the county in the advance into Canada of 1866. In the 1870 invasion, Malone, Chateaguy, Fort Covington and Hogansburg were the principal places where arms were assembled. On May 25 of the above year the Fenians penetrated the enemy's country (Canada) to a distance of three miles and two days later met the enemy and promptly retreated in great disorder. Casualties in the war: Canada, none; Fenians, three (slightly wounded).

Franklin is subdivided into twenty towns, with a total population (1920) 43, 541. A brief account of the history and present development of these sections follows:

Altamontws taken from Waverly in 1890, the last town to be erected. Formerly a wilderness, somewhat denuded by the saw mill operations, which have continued since early days, it is now a region of multiplying summer camps and private parks. Tupper is the business village, with nine factories, principally engaged in some form of wood working. Population, 4,927.

Bangor, erected from Dickinson in 1812, with a population of 1.927 , is one of the better farm district of Franklin. The main village, North Bangor, incorporated in 1914, is a milk center with creameries and condenseries.

Belmont, separated from Chateaugay in 1833, is mostly cut over forest country. Population 1,552.

Bombay, formerly a part of Fort Covington, was, in 1833, erected as a town. the village of the same name is noted fro its moccasins and Indian products. The American part of the St. Regis Indian ?Reservation is located within its boundaries. Population, exclusive of 1,016 Indians of the reservation, 1,251.

Brandon was taken from Bangor in 1828. Population, 728.

Brighton, from Duane 1858, is best known for Paul (Apollos) Smith, a name familiar for years to those who haunt the Adirondacks. The non-resident part is still in the wild state. Population, 684.

Burke, was a part of Chateaugay until 1844. In 1920 it had a population of 1,578.

Chateaugay, came from Champlain and Plattsburgh in a neighboring county in 1789. By reference to the chapter on the War of 1812, the important part it played may be appreciated. It was the first place settled, 1796, by Robust and Beman, in the county. Chateaugay village, incorporated in 1868, had the second creamery in the county, 1875. Bottled milk, pulp and paper are now its main productions. Population, (town), 2,856.

Constable, taken from Malone in 1807; population, 1,100; is one of the garden spots that supplies hotels of the mountains with vegetables.

Dickinson, also erected from Malone, but in 1809, is a farm district. Population, 1,312.

Duane, erected 1828. Population, 209; is a distinctly rural section.

Fort Covington, erected from Constable in 1817, is the third place to be settled and, if William Gray, an Indian prisoner, who leased from his captors the mile square on which the main village rests, is considered, this town was the first permanently settled in Franklin. The district as a hole was more important than Malone for a quarter of a century. Population, 1996. Village, Fort Covington, incorporated , 1889.

Franklin, erected from Belmont in 1836; population 1,280; is very large (105,000 acres), with many lakes, including Loon, and numerous settlements.

Harrietstown, taken from Duane in 1841, has slowly but steadily increased in population from 125, when formed, to 4,797 in 1920. Probably too remote for profitable limbering operations, it has had its reward in becoming one of the main sanatorium districts in the Adirondacks. Saranac lake and Dr. Trudeau, who located here in 1876, are names well known. The cottage settlement, begun by the doctor in the next year, for those with weak lungs, has increased to more than 150 houses, and thousand shave received the benefits of the mountain climate through the benevolence of those who support the institution.

Malone, the county seat and the principal town, was taken from Chateaugay in 1805. It is seven by fourteen miles in size, has valuable minerals in iron, paint ores and building stone. Industrial changes have taken place, so that while it has twenty-seven factories, mineral paints and stone are the only early exports which are still continued. Paper pulp is the main wood product; there is one foundry; but most the concerns re engaged in making articles of apparel. The principal employment is in the shops of the Central and Rutland railroads. Population, 10,830.

Moira, formed from Dickinson in 1828, is the best agricultural section of the county. Population, 2,264. Village, Brushton.

Santa Clara, was a part of Brandon until 1888. It is the second largest in size and the second smallest in population (541).

Waverly, taken from Dickinson in 1880, is a farm and forest region, with seed potatoes as one of the main crops. The village, St. Regis Falls, incorporated 1855, had one of the first saw mills in Franklin (1860). Wood products are still the main manufactures, including lumber, pulp and paper. Mica has been mined for years. Population, 1,695.

Westville, formed from Constable in 1829, was formerly an important iron town, but is now interested in agriculture, being one of the early vegetable areas that supplies Malone and the hotel districts. Population, 1.028.


The History of New York State, Lewis Historical Publishing Company, Inc., 1927

This book is owned by Pam Rietsch and is a part of the Mardos Memorial Library

Transcribed by Holice B. Young

HTML by Debbie Axtman

You are the Visitor to this USGenNet Safe-Site™ Since September 5, 2004.


[Index][Book Index][NY][AHGP]