The Town of Sandy Creek-Early History 

Source:  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. 

Part II      Dr. S. J. Crockett

      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. 

Dr. J. Lyman Bulkley

      The town 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. 

      The decade 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. 
      In the 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. Volunters. 

Oren Earl
      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. 

     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. 

      The Sandy 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.

      The first 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. 

      The town 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. 

      Drilling 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

      An article 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. 

      The brick 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. 

      About the 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. 

      The history 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. 

      Although 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. 

      Oren 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. 

      Among the 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 under control. 

    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. 

     The system 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. 

      Lacona prior 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. 

      The post 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. 

      Among the 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. 

      Mason 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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