Information was obtained from the “History of Oswego County, NY,” 1789 – 1877, published by Everett & Ferriss, 1878.  Many thanks to Jan Turner, a frequent volunteer, who transcribed the following information on Phoenix. 


The early history of Phoenix (formerly called Three-River Rifts) presents many features of interest.  We are enabled, through the kindness of Mr. Thomas R. Hawley, ---a gentleman well qualified to impart important historical information, ---to present many facts relative to Phoenix not generally known.


The present site of the village is included in George Scriba’s patent.  Right here it may be of importance to mention the manner in which Scriba became possessed of his patent.  We quote from the “Documentary History of New York”: “George Scriba, a German by birth, and a merchant in the city of New York, purchased of the Roosevelt brothers, delinquent contractors with the government of the State, five hundred thousand acres, for which he paid eighty thousand dollars, in 1791.”  The first white settler since 1800 was Abram Paddock, who erected a log cabin, near Hosea B. Russ’ mill, in 1801.  He suffered the usual privations incident to pioneer life.  The Indians were very troublesome to him, and often threatened to shoot him if he did not desist from shooting their bears (he was known as Bear-hunter Paddock).  In 1812 a great number of Onondagas, on their way to Oswego, encamped near Mr. Paddock’s.  Four of them went into his house and demanded food.  On being refused, one of them, in broken English, addressed him: “Good ‘Merican man, we go to Osw-wa-kee; fight British like h___l!”  During their stay, Mr. Paddock and family, in fear of them, crossed the river, and took refuge in a thicket below the point, at Three-River bar, and the Indians dispersed, and he and his family returned.  Aaron Paddock (no connection to the Paddock spoken of above), familiarly known as Eel-butcher Paddock, settled at that place, across the street east from the residence of the late Joseph Gilbert, in 1822.  He was succeeded by Simeon S. Chapin, who built an addition to the house, and opened the first tavern in the place.

A man known familiarly as “Tory” Foster settled near A. W. Sweet’s residence, and built a log house in 1823.  He soon afterwards removed, but returned in 1833, and lived in a shanty east of C. W. Candee’s present residence, and died there in 1834.  An incident is related of him, in Clark’s “History of Onondaga,” which we subjoin.

“He one day went into the blacksmith-shop of Judge Towsley, at Manlius, and commenced narrating his cruelties and exploits against the Americans in the Revolutionary war.  The judge, then at the anvil, sledge-hammer in hand, listened patiently for some time, and at length, his patience becoming exhausted, he seized a heavy bar of iron, and struck at Foster with his full strength.  As luck would have it, the force of the blow was arrested by the iron striking a beam overhead.  The miscreant instantly left the shop, not caring to continue his favorite theme in the presence of American patriots, contented with escaping with his life.”  This and similar circumstances in the life of Foster are authenticated by Thomas R. Hawley, Esq., who knew him well.

The first frame building was the addition made to the old log house of Aaron Paddock, by Simeon S. Chapin, in 1825.

The first store was kept by Walter Peck, in 1828, in the old building now owned by H.B. Russ, which has undergone such extensive improvements since as to almost lose its original identity.

The first saw-mill on the east side of the river was also built by Walter Peck, in 1827-28.

The first saw-mill on the west side of the river was erected by John Wall, in 1829.

The first grist-mill was built by S. W. Burke, Esq., for Alexander Phoenix, whose agent he was, in 1829-30.  This was destroyed by fire a few years since, and was rebuilt by the present proprietors, Glass, Breed & Co.  This was the old “red mill”, known as such far and wide.

The first blacksmith was Seth W. Burke, who established himself in that business at Phoenix, in 1828.

The first school-house was erected in 1827, and stood on Main street, a little south of Dr. Smith’s office.  The first teacher in it was Elvira Knapp, afterwards the wife of Thomas R. Hawley, who died in March, 1856.

The first bridge across the river at Phoenix was built in 1836, by a company, and was a toll-bridge.  The present bridge was built by the counties of Onondaga and Oswego.  It is a fine iron structure, supported by stone piers.

The first birth was that of Jane, daughter of Aaron Paddock, in 1820.

The first marriage was that of James Miles, and Miriam, daughter of Aaron Paddock, in 1824.

The first death was that of Abram Paddock, in 1821.


The construction of the canal through the place, in December, 1828, gave an impetus to its growth and prosperity long felt by the community.  Some years subsequent boat-building was quite extensively carried on at the village, which about 1850 had assumed large and interesting proportions.  In fact, the most prosperous epoch in the history of Phoenix was included in the period embraced between the years 1850 and 1873.  In the latter year the general financial depression of the country began to be felt in boat-building circles, and the business commenced to decline, until, from four large establishments, employing an aggregate of over one hundred hands, not one of them is now in existence.  The depreciation in freight tariffs, and the consequent inability of boatmen to meet their financial obligations, caused a general suspension of ship building at this point, and a corresponding depression in business.  A good dry-dock, owned by J. S. Pierce, is in operation, and a fair share of the boat-repairing of the canal is done by him.


 Phoenix received corporate honors in 1848, the first election for village officers having been held in March of that year.  We are unable to give the proceedings of the first election, as the records were destroyed by fire.  The presidents and clerks of the village since 1863 (the date of the earliest record now in existence) have been as follows:
Presidents: --- Wm. Waite, Adonirum Hart, Hiram Fox, Saml. Avery, Rufus Diefendorf (two years), Niles Streever, Henry H. Smith, Rufus Diefendorf, Niles Streever, J. E. Hamill, E. J. Vickery, John E. Hamill, Martin Wandell, John E. Hamill.
Clerks: --- William H. Shumway (two years), M. M. Cartter, H.W. Weeden, Henry A. Brainard, L. F. Bennett (two years), F. T. Gilbert, Bonville Fuller, W. H. H. Allen, F. T. Gilbert, C. W. Avery, R. G. Barnes, W. H. H. Allen, Adel P. Hart.


In the past, ship-building constituted the principal industry of Phoenix.  No extensive manufacturing establishments have existed in the place, notwithstanding the fact that it possesses one of the best water-powers on the Oswego river.

Among the establishments that have been successfully operated for the past fifty-eight years is the grist-mill, which before its destruction by fire in 1867, was known as the “old red mill”.  It was erected by Seth W. Burke, for Alexander Phoenix, whose agent he was, in 1829-30.  It was conducted on a small scale by the original proprietor until 1835, when it was purchased by Hezekiah Barnes.  The proprietors since that date, with the time of their possession (or part possession, for it was pretty much divided up at times), have been as follows: Job C. Conger, November 14, 1837; Wm. Conger, one-half interest, in 1841; Rensselaer Northrup, one-quarter interest, in 1843; Solomon Judd, same portion, same year; Oliver Breed, half interest, in 1853; Joseph Breed, one-third, in 1856; William Sprague, same in 1858. Joseph G. Glass purchased Sprague’s interest, in 1860; Edwin P. Hopkins J. Breeds’s interest, in 1863; Charles J. Glass Hopkins interest, in 1867.  The present style of the firm is Breed, Glass & Co.  In the fall of 1867 the mill was burnt, and rebuilt immediately and commenced operations in 1860. (Sic).  It has five run of stones, and Johnson’s reacting cast-iron wheels.  The business from May 1, 1876, to May 1, 1877, was as follows: merchant, twenty-one thousand barrels; custom, ten thousand bushels.

The grist-mill of Amasa P. Hart & Co. was erected by  Pliny F. Conger in 1858.  Immediately after its completion E. Merry entered into partnership, and subsequently G. G. Breed purchased an interest in it.  The mill was operated by the above firm until 1866, when it was sold to H. Wetherbee & Co., and the following year was destroyed by fire.  It was rebuilt and the business conducted by H. W. & Co. Until July, 1876, when they made an assignment, and Captain Amasa P. Hart rented the property of the assignee, under the style of A. P. Hart & Co.  The business transacted for the year ending July 31, 1877, was as follows: merchant, thirteen thousand barrels; custom, five thousand bushels.

OSWEGO  RIVER  CHEESE-FACTORY was erected by Ira Gould in 1863, and operated by him until 1868, when it passed into the possession of Hart & Carrier, by whom it was conducted until the spring of 1875.  In the latter year Kimball & Martin, its present proprietors, purchase the concern.  In 1877 they manufactured one hundred and thirty thousand pounds of cheese, valued at thirteen thousand two hundred dollars.  This factory has a total of six hundred cows.

A. W. SWEET  &  CO., proprietors of the Phoenix Coffin and Casket works, which were established by A. W. Sweet in 1868.  In 1872 G. M. Sweet was admitted as a partner, and the title of the firm changed as at present.  The company manufacture the best class of cloth-covered burial cases, coffins and caskets, which find a ready market in various parts of the State.  They employ from fifteen to twenty hands, and have quite an extensive demand for their goods.

THE  PHOENIX  BANK was incorporated under the State banking law in 1869, by E. G. Hutchinson, Samuel Avery, M. T. Butts, Joseph Gilbert, Edmund Merry, H. T. Sweet, Moses Wood, Amasa P. Hart, G. G. Breed, S. A. Howard, E. C. Fitzgerald, Calvin Yeoman, Davis Conger, H. H. Smith, J. H. Loomis, E. Chesebro, J. H. I. Diefendorf, R. A. Prichard, R. Diefendorf, Adonirum Hart, Moses Melvin, E. S. Brooks, J. S. Pierce, Edson J. Vickery, J. L. Breed, N. P. Eno, Saml. Merry, M. Chesebro, Levi Carrier, S. M. Parson, Ira Betts, and Samuel Flynn.   The first officers were Samuel Avery, president; E. G. Hutchinson, vice-president; E. Merry, cashier.  These have continued the same except the president, who was succeeded by G. G. Breed.  The paid-in capital of the bank is one hundred thousand dollars; surplus, five thousand dollars; individual deposits, seventy-one thousand dollars.

The business interests of Phoenix are represented by five general, two grocery, two hardware, and two drug-stores, one clothing, one gents’ furnishing goods, and three millinery-stores, one furniture establishment, one bakery, two meat-markets, one tin-shop, three hotels, and two livery-stables.  It has two grist-mills and one saw-mill, one coffin and one cheese-factory, three blacksmith and two carriage and wagon shops.  There are in the place three churches, denominationally classified as Congregational, Methodist Episcopal, and Baptist; also an organized society of the Protestant Episcopal church, a union school, with which is connected a free academical department, a weekly newspaper, published by J. M. Williams, and a State bank.  It has a post-office, and a private telegraph-office connection with the main lines at Lamson’s station on the Oswego and Syracuse branch of the Delaware, Lackawanna and Western railroad, which is distant from Phoenix about three and one-half miles.  A stage also connects with all trains on that railroad.  The village is situated on the Oswego canal, and has a steamboat, which makes daily trips to Syracuse.  The location of Phoenix is admirably suitable to, and convenient for, manufacturing purposes, and as soon as proper railway communication can be secured the prosperity of the place as a manufacturing centre, a retiring locality, and a populous village will be assured.


By act of legislature passed April 19, 1865, the territory at that time known as school district No. 12, of the town of Schroeppel, and all territory at that time included in the village of Phoenix, and which should be thereafter added to said village, was organized as a free-school district, under the name of the Phoenix free-school district, and power was by that act granted to establish an academic department.  A board of education was by that act constituted, consisting of six trustees.  E. S. Brooks, Alfred Morton, J. N. Gillis, Edmund Merry, M. S. Cushman, and Goverseur M Sweet, with M. M. Carter as clerk, comprised the first board.  Wm. B. Howard was the first principal of the school under this organization, and served as such until April, 1868.  He was succeeded by B. F. Stanley, who taught only one term.  Mr. B. G. Clapp, the present principal of the school, was first employed in the fall term of 1868, and with the exception of a full term as school commissioner, has since that time occupied the position of principal.  While Professor Clapp was school commissioner W. B. Howard served as principal.  Carrie V. Hawthorn, Jane McKoon, Hattie J. Crane, Belle W. Taylor, Ella Richardson, Ella Warner, Mary Miller, Carrie Byington, Mary Cook, Gertie Conger, and Maggie Murphy are some of the lady teachers who have served longest as such.  Samuel C. Putnam was the first librarian, and since his death his widow has served in that capacity.  Wm. Turner has been janitor since the organization of the district.  M. M. Carter, J. H. Loomis, and Henry A. Brainard have been clerks of the board of education.  Mr. Brainard serving ten years, from 1867 to 1877, when he was succeeded by Mr. Carter.  The academic department was organized and accepted by the regents November 23, 1875, and is now in very successful operation.

The school building is a substantial one, of brick, three stories in height, standing in an elevated portion of the village.  The school-grounds consist of about two acres, neatly inclosed, finely shaded, and pleasant.  The rooms are warmed by two hot-air furnaces, situated in the basement.  The school and academy library together have about six hundred and fifty volumes, about half of which have recently been added.  The academic department has a good philosophical apparatus, of modern construction, and students are prepared for college or advanced in special lines of education.  Much credit is due to Professor Clapp, under whose direction every department has been thoroughly graded and arranged.  The usual attendance during winter is about four hundred pupils.

The present board of education consists of J. E. Hamill, president; C. W. Avery, G. G. Breed, A. R. Sweet, E. G. Hutchinson, and F. David; M. M. Cartter, clerk.

The attendance of students from abroad in the academic department is continually increasing; tuition is cheaper than usual in the academies, and its graduates stand higher than usual in the colleges and universities to which they pass.


Henry W. Weeden was admitted to the bar in April, 1853, and immediately afterwards opened an office in Phoenix, where he has continued to practice till the present time.

Francis David was admitted to the bar February 7, 1854, and came to Phoenix in autumn of the same year.

Lorenzo W. Robinson was admitted to the bar in 1861, since which time he has practiced at Parish for a short time, and at Phoenix, where he now resides.  He makes a specialty of pension and bounty claims.

Charles W. Avery was admitted to the bar in 1859, and located at Central Square, New York, where he enjoyed an extensive practice for ten years.  Coming to Phoenix in 1869, he has since that time been in practice here.  Mr. Avery has been admitted to practice in the United States courts.  He is an ardent advocate of public education, and for several years has been a member of the board of education of the Phoenix academy, for several years serving as president.

Henry A. Brainard began the study of law in the office of David & McKoon in Phoenix.  He enlisted in the army in 1864, and served till the close of the war, was admitted to the bar in April, 1866, and has been in constant practice of his profession, to which he unites that of engineer and surveyor, just for the love of it, since that time.  Mr. Brainard is at the present time special county judge of Oswego County.

James R. Shea studied law in the office of C. W. Avery, Esq., and was admitted in June, 1877.  He has opened an office in Phoenix.


Joseph R. Brown* came to Phoenix in 1834, and left in 1848.

Otis W. Randall* came in 1837, practiced several years, and then removed to Utica.

Ransom Howard* settled at Gilbert’s Mills, in 1838, where he practiced several years.

Nathan Williams* came to Phoenix in 1841, and in 1847 removed to Michigan.

Davis Conger began to practice in Phoenix in 1841, and after several years at his profession he, in company with Dr. C. M. Lee, opened the first drug-store in the place, in which business he still continues.

Those coming into the village and town since 1840 have been M. M. Cartter, Samuel Avery, William B. Coy, Andrew P. and John Hamill, John E. Hamill, T. D. Whyborn, William H. Rice, G. H. Whitcomb, and Garrett Smith, Homoeopathist.

* Deceased


Not strictly an Oswego County institution, yet so large a portion of its territory and so many of its members being of this county, it finds properly a place among the public societies of the town of Schroeppel.

It was organized February 6, 1873.  At the first election E. N. Carrier was elected president of the society, Joseph Somers, of Clay, and David Sutfin, of Lysander, vice-presidents; Henry A. Brainard, secretary; William H. Allen, corresponding secretary; E. Merry, treasurer.  The territory of the society comprises the town of Schroeppel, and also the towns of Clay and Lysander, in Onondaga county.  Persons residing in the counties of Oswego or Onondaga may compete for premiums.  The grounds of the society are known as “The Pendergast Driving Park”, of which the society has a lease, and are situated just across the river from the village of Phoenix.  The first fair was held in 1873, and the society has held an annual exhibition since that time, all of which have been very successful as exhibitions of stock, agricultural products, and largely attended.  They have erected a commodious building on their grounds, and the premiums paid since its organization amount in the aggregate to nearly five thousand dollars.  Dr. David Sutfin, of Lysander, is now president, and has held the office almost from the organization of the society.  Mr. Carrier having resigned early in 1873.  Henry A. Brainard is secretary and E. Merry Treasurer, both of whom have held the office since the organization of the society.  The business office of the society is located at Phoenix.


was organized April 27, 1863, by the election of the following trustees and officers: M. S. Cushman, president; D. D. McKoon, secretary; Oliver Breed, W. W. Candee, William Leslie, G. G. Breed, Amasa P. Hart, Edmund Merry, M. S. Cushman, G. M. Sweet, Davis Conger, William Hart, D. D. McKoon, and Samuel Avery, trustees.  The present trustees and officers are: G. C. Fitzgerald, president; Amasa P. Hart, vice-resident; Edmund Merry, secretary; Davis Conger, treasurer; A. N. Hart, G. M. Sweet, Oliver Breed, Samuel Flynn, G. G. Breed, Henry J. Sweet, C. W. Candee, and Jonathan Butts, trustees.  The burying-ground of the association is kept in a neat and tasty condition; and the remains of many of the most prominent and influential citizens of the village and vicinity are interred therein.


was organized in January, 1852.  The first chief was Thomas Freeborn; Fireman, T. J. Davis; First Assistant, O. H. Smith; Second Assistant, E. Conger; Secretary, Jerome Duke.


was organized in 1867 with six men, who were set off from the original fire company.  J. Goodwin was chosen foreman, and J. C. Spaulding assistant.  It was afterwards united with the Enterprise fire company, and the two now form one department, with the following officers: Chief, C. W. Tubbs; Assistant Chief, George D. Henderson; Foreman of Engine, A. Hopkins; First Assistant, C. E. Williams; Second Assistant, A. Chambo; Foreman of Hose, N. G. Spaulding; Assistant, William O. Dingman; Secretary of the Department, John A. Spaulding; Treasurer, Adel. P. Hart; number of members, twenty-six.

The secret and benevolent societies of the town are as follows, arranged according to date of institution:

GOLDEN RULE LODGE, No. 17, I.O.O.F., was instituted August 15, 1846, and the first officers were O.W. Randle, N.G.; D.D. Bachelor, V.G.; Dudley Fish, Quar. Sec.; Edward Baxter, Per. Sec.; William Conger, Treas.  The officers elected for 1877 are Albert Hopkins, N.G.; John Dada, V.G.; Wm. Dixon, Sec.; Adel P. Hart, Per. Sec.; D. D. Haynes, Treas.  Present number of members, eighty-two.

LODGE No. 369, F. A. M., was instituted June 30, 1855, with the following officers: A. B. Simons, W. M.; J. C. Fuller, S. W.; Ira Betts, J.W.; Samuel Allen, Sec.; H. B. Russ, Treas.  The present officers are C. W. Tubbs, W.M.; H.A. Brainard, S.W.; J. R. Shea, J.W.; M. .M. Cartter, Sec.; Wm Patrick, Treas.  Membership, one hundred and twenty.

OSWEGO  RIVER CHAPTER, No. 270, R. A. M., organized under a dispensation November 14, 1873.  The officers installed February 27, 1874, were W. B. Howard, H.P.; Ira Betts, K.; D. P. Stafford, S.; G. C. Withers, C. of H.; J. L. Breed, P.S.; S. B. Betts, R.A.C.; Moses Melvin, M. of Third V.; Nathan Perry, M. of Second V.; O.C. Breed, M. of First V.; J.C. Hutchinson, Sec.; S. O. Howard, Treas.; E. F. Richardson, Tyler.  The present officers are Wm. H. Rice, H.P.; B. G. Clapp, K.; J.C. Hutchinson, S.; Will Smith, C. of H.; J.L. Breed, P.S.; Jud. W. Loomis,, R.A.C.; Moses Melvin, M. of Third V.; Maynard Spencer, M. of Second V.; W. H. H. Allen, M. of First V.; H. C. Breed, Sec.; Wm. Patrick, Treas.

THE  PHOENIX  ASSOCIATION  OF  SCIENCE was organized in December, 1876, for the purpose of theoretical and practical advancement of scientific research.  It has a chemical laboratory and some other scientific apparatus, maintains a regular weekly course of lectures at its own rooms, with occasional public lectures.  Certain qualifications are required of its members, all of whom have thus far been enthusiastic in its support and welfare. Professor B. G. Clapp is president;  Dr. G. H. Whitcomb, vice-resident; and Charles F. Loomis, secretary, - though being now absent the duties of the office are performed by H. A. Brainard, Esq., pro tem..

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