Town of Sandy Creek-Early History
T. T. DAVIES
Centennial Souvenir History 1825 - 1925 of the Town of Sandy Creek, Oswego
County, New York, Commemorating the One Hundredth Anniversary of the Founding
of the Town July 2-3-4-5, 1925. Compiled by T. T. Davies, Historian.
The medical profession was represented by a Dr. Porter, who was
the first physician in town. He was followed in 1815 by Dr. James A.
Thompson, who for forty-four years acted the part of the doctor of
the old school, as graphically portrayed by Ian Maclaren in "Beside the
Bonnie Brier Bush." "He did his best for the need of every man, woman and
child in the wild, struggling district where he lived, year in, and year
out, in the snow and in the heat, in the dark and in the light, without
rest and without holiday for forty-four years." Dr. A. G. Thompson,
a son of the first resident practitioner in town, practiced in Sandy Creek
and vicinity for forty-three years, thus father and son gave nearly a century
of professional service to this community. Another doctor who practiced
in town was John G. Ayer, who came in 1822, and remained here till
his death, several years ago. Other early physicians were Dr. Douglas
and his son, Dr. Solomon J. Douglas, Dr. Lyman Buckley and later
Dr. J. L. Bulkley, Dr. F. Austen, Dr. Crockett, Dr. N. Cook, Dr. Lounsbury,
Dr. L. F. Hollis, Dr. Harwood L. Hollis, Dr. J. R. Allen and others.
that we now call Sandy Creek became legally so in 1825. From 1807 down
to the date just mentioned it was an appendage of the town of Richland,
but at the beginning of the year 1825, the popu- lation of the north part
of Richland was deemed sufficient for a separate municipal organization,
and on the 24th day or March, in that year, the town of Sandy Creek was
formed, with its present boundaries by an act of the legislature. The first
town meeting was held on the first Tuesday in May of the same year. It
was also suggested that the village be called Washingtonville, but the
name never became popular. It was finally abandoned, and the name by which
the village is known at present became fully established.
between 1820 and 1830 marked real progress in the life of the community.
The log house with its small windows and rough interior and scanty furniture
had to give place to more pretentious dwellings. Homes, commodious and
comfortable, were erected on farms and in the village. Roads were surveyed
and travel became easier, which brought the people in closer touch with
the outside world. Among the new comers of the decade were Jotham Newton,
father of Pitt M. Newton, who was born on the Ridge Road in 1825;
Leman Baldwin, Miles Blodgett, William H. Bellinger, Herman M. Stevens,
Leander Tifft, John Wilder and others. Mr. Blodgett conducted
a tannery in the southeast corner of the town, for fifty years.
The men who
played a conspicuous part between 1840 and 1850 were Hon. Oren R. Earl,
William Bishop, Nathan Davis, William McConnell, Simon Pruyn, Henry Wright
and their associates. Mr. Earl came here from Ellisburg in 1844, at the
age of 31. He was a man of vision and believed in the future of his new
home. He was vice-president of the Syracuse Northern Railroad, represented
his town on the Board of Supervisors, conceived the idea of the Sandy Creek
Agricultural Society, and the Sandy Creek Fair, so prosperous and popular
in these latter days. He was honored by being elected to the Assembly,
and instituted a private banking establishment, which he conducted till
his death. Other names might be mentioned as belonging to this period,
such as Ebenezer and Nathaniel Jacobs, Abel Rice, Samuel and
Jacob Hadley, Calvin Sargent, father of Edmund H. and
grandfather of Fred E., Peter Coon, the Gurley family, George
and Sidney Baldwin, Jabin Cole, John Tuttle, Azariah Wart, Joseph
and Newman Tuttle, Lucius A. Warriner, Danforth E. Ainsworth
and his father Henry, Ezra Corse, Richard M. Knollen, Wm. T. Tifft,
Hamilton E. Root, Luther C. Sargent, Enos and Rufus Salisbury,
Charles Alton, Andrew C. Earl, William Hale, Elias Hadley, Calvin Seeley,
Barnabus Monroe, Elijah and James Upton, Solomon Harding, great-grandfather
of Tad W. Harding, who was among the early settlers, and owned some
of the best land on the Ridge Road. Ezra Corse, father of Rev.
Albert E. Corse and grandfather of F. Dudley Corse, Editor and
Publisher of the Sandy Creek News, was born in Vermont in 1803. He settled
on a .farm midway between the lake and the village, near the farm he owned
at the time of his death.
decade which followed, mention should be made of John Edwards, and
his son, Alfred, Hon. Andrew S. Warner, William H. Cottrell,
Joel Morey, Ira Oyer, William Stevens, Newton M. Thompson and Col.
Thomas S. Meacham, who were boosters among their fellow townsmen. Hon.
Andrew S. Warner was a true leader, and identified himself with every movement
that meant progress. Twice elected member of the Assembly, and later became
State Senator, and during the Civil War was Colonel of the 147th N. Y.
One of the factors
that materially contributed to the prosperity of the town was the entrance
of the Rome and Watertown Railroad through the village of Lacona. The work
being completed in May, 1851. With better facilities of transportation,
new enterprises were encouraged and helpful industries were introduced.
Twenty years later the Syracuse Northern Railroad connected with Lacona
by way of Pulaski but was discontinued upon the removal of the junction
to Richland. The town assumed a debt of $80,000 to assist in the construction
of this line. The last bond was paid several years ago. A town hall was
fitted in the village of Sandy Creek in 1851 at a cost of $250.00.
Creek Union School was organized in 1871, the two districts, No.9 and 10
being consolidated. The Hon. Oren R. Earl giving land upon which
the present imposing brick building was erected at a cost of $8,000. The
school has won distinction for scholarship and efficiency, and the influx
of students from adjoining towns made it necessary to erect an additional
building for their accommodation.
plot of land for burial purposes was bought in 1820 an4 deeded to the Presbyterian
church. In 1866 the Union Cemetery Association was effected, with the following
trustees: Almon Chapin and Henry L. Howe, three years; Benjamin
G. Robbins and George, S. Buell, two years and Pitt M. Newton
and Oren R. Earl, one year. Almon Chapin was chosen president;
B. G. Robbins vice-president; P. M. Newton, secretary; and
Oren R. Earl, treasurer. Five, acres of adjoining land was added
to the original plot and additional land has been acquired within recent
years, making the cemetery a touching and beautiful place, where burial
plots, mounded graves and, sculptured and inscribed monuments, tell with
pathetic silence the history of the past. The present trustees are: President,
F. D. Corse; Vice-President, Gardner Snyder; Treasurer, H.
L. Wallace; Secretary, M. D. Herriman; Trustees, Dr. L. F.
Hollis, Benj. D. Jones.
In times of war
and peril the fire of patriotism never smoldered in the hearts of our citizens,
as evinced in the response they gave to the call of their country's need
in 1812, 1861, 1898 and 1917. During the Civil War, 220 of our sons joined
the Union Army and Navy, and the town contributed in excess of $35,000
for bounties to volunteers and during the World War, the town contributed
men and money, and otherwise assisted the government in the prosecution
of that war. It is therefore fitting, that a monument is to be presented
by the Citizens of Sandy Creek, in honor of the men who participated in
the several wars, to be dedicated during the Centennial celebration.
has from its earliest history been devoted to agriculture, and the soil
is well adapted to raise bountiful crops of grain, hay, corn, potatoes
and fruit, the land east having an elevation of 500 feet above the waters
of the lake. The clearing of the forest furnished employ ment, and the
manufacture of potash and the sawing of lumber became a source of income.
As late as 1860 there were eleven saw mills and two shingle mills, and
other kindred establishments in active operation. Dairying has been conducted
on an extensive scale, as shown by the large number of cheese factories
built throughout the town. The raising of good cattle has engaged the attention
of the farmers of the community and some of the world's record Holstein-Friesian
cows originated here. Henry Stevens and sons made Sandy Creek known
throughout the land by reason of their famous cattle.
for natural gas began in 1888, and a vein was struck Feb. 1889 at a depth
of 500 feet. The boring was continued to depth of 1,240 feet. From that
day until now, there has been no lack of gas for heating and lighting purposes.
New wells are being sunk every year to supply the demand. The gas plant
is under the management of Dist. Atty. Don A. Colony.
written by George A. Earl, on the Banking House of Oren R. Earl,
tells us that Mr. Earl came to Sandy Creek in his early youth. He worked
for Nathan Salisbury, who kept the Salisbury House, for many years,
and whose daughter, Jeanette, he married in 1844. Mr. Earl took
a prominent part in the civic and political life of the town and community,
and it would be difficult to write a history of the town in which his name
was not well interwoven, with the events transpiring during the half century
from 1840 to 1890.
In the year
1870 Mr. Earl together with Pitt M. Newton, organized the
private banking house of Earl & Newton. This bank started business
in the old California block on the corner of South Main and Railroad streets,
with Matthew M. Earl, a nephew of Oren Earl, as manager and
cashier, a position which he held until the bank was discontinued at the
death of Oren Earl. Some of the men who were in buiness here at
the time the bank started were E. H. Sargent, and Willis Harding,
Mason Salisbury, Jerry King, Leman Baldwin, A. C. Skinkle, M. M. Tucker,
Luther Sargent, Frank Salisbury, Calvin Seeley, J. S. Robbins and G.
N. Harding, M. A. Pruyn, Ward Sprague, William T. Tifft, Lucius Warriner
and William Soule.
bank building (now occupied by Attorney Roscoe Sargent),
was built by Mr. Earl in 1871 and the bank was moved in upon its completion.
For a small country bank of that day, the building was well finished and
equipped. The construction of the vault is especially noteworthy. It would,
at that early date, have compared very favorably with the vaults in many
city banks. It has stood well the test of time and is now used by Mr. Sargent
in connection with his law and insurance business. Three attempts have
been made to burglar- ize the vault, none of which were successful.
time the bank moved into the brick building, Oren Earl purchased
the interest of Mr. Newton and thereafter conducted the business
as sole owner. The banking business was carried on in the front part of
the building and Mr. Earl had his private office in the rear. The upper
floor was used as a law office by Hon. Henry L. Howe and Hon.
D. E. Ainsworth, and later by Mr. Udelle Bartlett, who occupied
the rooms at the time of Mr. Earl's death.
of the bank is interwoven with the past business life of the town. For
years the merchants, business men and industrial concerns had accounts
there. The cheese and butter factories in the surrounding country transacted
their business at the bank. The pay roll of the local plate factory was
made up at the bank, and the institution enjoyed the confidence of the
community and did an excellent business for many years.
The writer recalls
two people who were employed in the bank for a number of years as assistant
to the cashier. The first was John Wheeler, who was a brother to
the Misses Minnie and Edith Wheeler; and the second, Miss Abbie
Brown, who married Dr. Clayton Davis of Pulaski. After Miss
Brown left, George Earl assisted his father, Matthew Earl in
the bank for several years, and there acquired a knowledge of the rudiments
of banking and business practice.
Oren Earl furnished the initiative and capital for con- ducting
the business, he had a very limited knowledge of the technic of banking.
For this he depended entirely on his nephew, Matthew Earl, to whose efficiency
and good business judgment the success of the igstitution was largely due.
Earl was urged at different times by Matthew Earl and by others
to incorporate his bank, or to organize it as a National bank; but this
he seemed unwilling to do, so that, with his death on January 11, 1901,
the bank ceased to exist. It is fair to suppose that, had this been done,
the bank might be doing business today.
One of the
enterprises that has put the town on the map is the Sandy Creek News, and
the present publishing establishment founded by F. Dudley Corse.
The first newspaper was published by F. E. Merritt in December,
1862, called Sandy Creek Times. Upon the removal of the editor in 1864
to Gouverneur, the paper was discontinued. One year later a job printing
office was opened by Edwin Soule, who, after conducting the business
for six years, became associated with Alvara F. Goodenough as partner.
The first number of the Sandy Creek News was published by the new firm
April, 1871. In six months thereafter, Goodenough sold his interest to
Henry Soule, father of Edwin, the firm becoming known as
Henry Soule and Son. After six years of publishing it was bought by F.
E. Mungor and C. V. Washburn, and later by Mungor alone. On
January 8, 1885, F. Dudley Corse became editor and proprietor, and
continues to this day. The business has increased a hundred fold, having
modern facilities that compare with printing establishments in the cities.
The Holstein-Friesian World is also printed by the Corse Press, with M.
S. Prescott, Editor. It has a large circulation and is considered one
of the best publications of its kind in the United States. The Corse Press
is synonomous with efficiency, good workmanship and economy.
older residents, the tannery, established by John B. Smith in 1826,
and destroyed by fire in 1883, which involved a loss of $150,000, is well
remembered. The tannery furnished employment to a large number of men,
and it was an irreparable loss to the community when its operations ceased.
Upon the site of the tannery, buildings were erected by the Sandy Creek
Wood Manufacturing Company, Ltd., for the manufacture of pie plates, hardwood
veneer and butter dishes. It commenced business Oct. 1, 1884. Upon the
death of W. P. Sandford its general manager, the buildmgs were dismantled
and erased with nothing as a reminder of its tall smoke stack, revolving
machinery and busy workers, save ruin and desolation.
The town has suffered
its share from disastrous fires, which has crippled its growth and thwarted
its progress. Most of the business section has been rebuilt on the ashes
of former buildings. The post-office block, Fox Grocery store and other
buildings occupying the same lot on South Main street, are erected on the
same site formerly occupied by Clark Hotel, E. D. Williams General store
and L. J. Jones Hardware establishment. The brick block erected by Dr.
J. Lyman Bulkley in 1882, on the same site, went up in flames in 1890,
and the buildings on the lot from Shaul's Drug Store to the O'Brien Mill,
met the same fate in 1884. The Salisbury Hotel was burned in 1884, which
stood on a little eminence opposite the old town hall. The Sherman block
in South Main street was burned in 1898. The fateful fire of Jan. 9, 1912,
when the California block with all the business places were destroyed which
occupied the site of the park, lingers fresh in the memories of those who
witnessed it. The snow and sleet, wind and flames, made it appear as if
the whole village was doomed. A worse storm could not be imagined, and
it was by heroic effort that the fire- men succeeded in getting the flames
The fire department,
organized in 1885, is known for its service and efficiency. It consists
of Ainsworth Hose Co. No. I, Frank Hadley, chief and Alert Hose
Co. No.2 Hugh Killam assistant chief. It has added to its equipment
a chemical apparatus which has minimzed the risk of fires.
of water works was constructed by the village corpora tion in 1891. Water
is taken from a spring on a farm owned by David Hamer, two miles
east of the village of Sandy Creek, who generously donated to the village
board the land surrounding the spring, and all riparian rights. Much credit
is due the Hon. D. E. Ainsworth, the late C. W. Colony and
A. E. Sherman for their interest in this enterprize, for it brought
untold blessings to the people of the community.
to the building of the railroad in 1851 was not the thriving village it
is today. It had but few houses-with no future prospects in sight, but
the coming of the railroad through its domain transformed former conditions
and inspired its residents with a vision of better days. During the past
seventy years its growth has been remarkable and today it takes its place
among the lively and enter prising villages of the state. It has the advantage
of being the only railroad station in town, which has contributed to its
prosperity. A short distance east of the village the first farm in town
was cleared and the first home built by a white man. If the writer
is not mistaken the Robbins farm is a part of the original tract of land
bought by William Skinner, who arrived in town in 1803. Sandy Creek
being the older village, and the center of activities during the forepart
of the nineteenth century the church edifices were naturally erected by
its residents, who provided places of worship for the people. But these
churches and other institutions have been loyally supported by the citizens
of Lacona. The grist mill at present conducted by the Stevens Brothers
was moved from Hadley's Glen to Lacona by Deac. Reuben Salisbury.
After many changes it became the property of the late Gilbert N. Harding,
who built up an extensive business, and who was upon his death succeeded
by his son, Tad W. The mill at present is one of the best equipped
in the county. The first store was operated by Truman C. Harding,
the first drug store was conducted by Dr. Woodruff and Mann. Other
business men connected with the village were G. L. Hydorn and son,
L. Tilton, Nathan Davis, C. D. Rounds, C. R. Grant and Frank
C. Plummer. A tannery was built by B. F. Pond in 1876 and later
conducted by Miles Blodgett. The S. H. Barlow machine shop has been
in operation for many years-now owned by F. A. Montanye. The village
has had its full quota of fires. In the spring of 1880 the Tifft Block
which stood on the ground now occupied by Odd Fellows, Block was destroyed
by fire. On September 6, 1881, the freight house and residences of George
Wimple, W. J. Stevens, A. N. Harding, Frank Baker and
the big wood pile owned by the railroad company, burned. This is remembered
by some as the "red morning." The Fuller drug store and the Brown block,
the main business section of Lacona, were burned in March 1885; the Hunt
block, February 18, 1896; Rice's Brewery, in 1897; the store of Brainard
Tifft and Luther Tilton on July 4, 1885.
offices date back to 1865 with Julius S. Robbins appointed postmaster,
who continued in office nine years-the present postmaster is Thomas
W. Hamer. The postoffice was advanced to the rank of second class.
The village was incorporated in 1880 with the following officers elected
that year. Gilbert N. Harding, president; George T. Smith,
David Salisbury and Reuben W. Davis, trustees; Luther
Tilton, treasurer; Albert Powers, collector; Henry Wright,
street commissioner; Jay Mareness, Nathan Davis and William
McConnell, police constables. William B. Fuller was appointed
the first town clerk. The Lacona fire department was organized in November,
1885, and has been effective in combating fire and protecting property.
leading industries is the Blount Lumber Company, established in 1894. It
gives employment to a large number of men and handles millions of feet
of lumber in the course of a year. In 1908 it was organized as a stock
company, the directors being George R. Blount, Jessie M. Blount
and Walter D. Sprague, with H. Floyd and Howard P. Blount
added later to the firm. It is one of the extensive hardwood flooring plants
of the state and its product is unexcelled. The agriculture interests of
the community are well taken care of, the farmers owning and controlling
an up-to-date and well equipped milk plant on the railroad.
In the early
60's, J. Parmiter had a carriage shop which stood between the Austen
Garage and the house now occupied by Glen Colon and his mother.
Later Reuben Salisbury, father of Theodore Salisbury,
had a grist mill on the same site. Reuben Salisbury was living in
the south when the Civil War broke out and on account of his Union ideas,
had to come north.
Salisbury, father of Moreau Salisbury, used to toll the bell
for every person who died in the town, tolling the number of years of age
of the departed. When the bell seemed too heavy for the town hall building,
Oren R. Earle had it moved to the Baptist church. Alvin Thompson
has rung the old bell over 30 years. It still belongs to the town.
The Plank road
was laid in 1849. The old stage line went through from Syracuse to Watertown
passing through Sandy Creek twice a day carrying mail and passengers. They
drove four horses and changed three times on the route.
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