Some of the finest old homes, rich in antiquity, ease of living, and once historically valuable to to their builders or owners, have been torn down of burnt. Illustrations of these can be found in the "History of Jefferson County" published 1797-1878. What follows is information presented at a meeting by Mildred M. Tait, and includes some updates for 2003.
The J. C. Cooper residence - formally located on the southeast corner of South Park Street and East Church, was known to many as the Tolman home.
The villa of General Solon D. Hungerford, formerly located on the northeast corner of North Park and E. Church Street, where Rod's Big M was once located.
The home of Miss L. J. Bullock was located at East Church Street (next to what was the former Historical Association of South Jefferson*), and later became the site of the Grand Union.
The J. M. Cleveland residence formally located on the corner of High and Prospect Street.
Little or nothing has been done to document some of the homes in our area for their historic and architectural value. There is some dissension as to the oldest standing home in Adams, NY. The Doxtater home on North Main Street, the Ripley Homestead on Liberty Street or the Whitcomb House at South Main Street and Grove Street, now a church parsonage.
The Doxtator home contained the only two opening center well and center fireplace in this area, and at last report was still in use. And the Ripley house now abandoned is believed to have its original log structure enclosed within its walls.
(Many houses described above are not or were not recognized by officials from the town and village of Adams, NY for their historic worth. In 1969, when this information was originally written there was no historian available to preserve and protect the history of the community of Adams according to the author, Mildred Tait.)
THE DAVID SMITH HOUSE IN ADAMS, NY
The present village of Adams was one time called Slab City. It is more recognized that it was once known as Smith's Mills and its confines were 500 acres of David Smith's lands. It got its nickname, Slab City, because many of its early structures were of slabs that had come from Smith's sawmill, which Smith built in 1800. Two years later he also had in operation a grist mill to further supply the wants and needs of the new small community.BASIC STREETS IN ADAMS
Nicholas Salisbury, who came from Western, NY, April 16, 1800, and immediately built a log cabin, is said to have been the first settler of Adams. But David Smith had bought lands there from Nicholas Low of New York City, October 29, 1799, and came to Adams in 1800 to build his cabin, a sawmill, and settle.
David Smith was an aggressive promoter of the settlement and within a few years had a thriving community established, the start of the present Adams. Smith prospered and by 1807 had replaced his cabin with this large of house of some 18 rooms and 8 fireplaces including one for cooking, equipped with a bake oven. It was for many years a two family house. One side of the residence was occupied by Miss Allen's parents and the Hunt's resides in the other.
The house, with some modifications and expansions but still with its fine front doorway with rectangular transom and side lights, is now the home of Don Rounds American Legion, Post 856. Upon the death of David Smith's second wife, which occurred only two months and three days after his own death in 1844; it was deeded to his daughters, Clarissa and Elizabeth (Betsy).
Clarissa was married in 1845 to Ward W. Hunt, a 26 year old school teacher, a graduate of Hamilton College in 1843. Clarissa died in 1848. That year, Ward W. Hunt entered the Methodist ministry. He had inherited Clarissa's half interest in the house and had purchased Betsy's portion the year before.
Ward married Betsy and they had four sons and a daughter. One of the son's being Edward S. Hunt, Sr., the second grandson of William Hunt of Westmoreland. Edward S. Hunt Sr. and Issac L. Hunt Jr., both resided in Adams and became lawyers.
Under the will of his father, the Reverend Ward W. Hunt, the house passed pointly to Edward S. Hunt, Sr. and his sister, Frances E. Hunt. In November of 1945, the house was sold to its present owner. In October of 1946 it was dedicated as Post headquarters. The Post was formed in 1920.
I'm very pleased to bring to you tonight an enlargement of a drawing few of you, if any have seen - - It was published in its original size in 1841. The first known drawing of Adams, and prior to two later fires. The Doxtater house is in full view on North Main Hill, also notice the Lecture Hall Cupola and the Presbyterian Church Spires.
This was published in a book ¹ now in a Syracuse vault . . . the only known volume in this area and the original drawing was purchased through Kennedy Galleries² in New York City by Charles Clark of Adams. It is 3" x 5" at most and is in his possession. He was generous enough to let me display his own framed photo enlargement here. He feels quite pleased to understand it, that no one had bought it before him, just for its charm, having no personal interest in Adams, but admiring it utter simplicity.
We are also indebted to him for our map tonight, made in 1857 by Richard Clark. Richard Clark also collaborated with Stone for the Atlas 1864 I've use. Another copy of our map is owned and framed by Ralph West*.
Before I go on with individual houses, I'd like to point out the first developed streets for those of us not a native, and unfamiliar with Adams' basic development. Main Street, Railroad Street (now West Church Street), Church Street, Park Street, Factory Street (now South Park Street), Doxtater Street, Wright Street, Clay Street, Phelps Street, and Cemetery Street.
A few other streets are shown by 1857, but unnamed. Also by 1857, two at least had disappeared or fallen into disuse and never reclaimed, so to speak.
BRICK APARTMENTS ON EAST CHURCH STREET OR WHITTIER HOUSE
One of the nicest apartment houses in Adams, this building contains five dwellings.
In researching this, a claim of being build in 1816 is established in David Lanes series #158 for the Watertown Times "Old Houses of the North Country" published July 21, 1945.
I t is still being renovated (it's present owners; Mr. and Mrs. Otis J. Edgar of Rodman and Lorraine). IN 1845 the owner and resident was Mr. Clarence A. Whittier, former Mayor of Adams, a merchant farmer and distant relative of John Greenleaf Whittier. The building was the first bank building of the Jefferson County Bank, the first bank Jefferson County ever had.
Located on the south side of East Church Street, which is referred to in old deeds as, "meeting house square" (due to the number of churches in its locale) this fine building is in a most historic neighborhood.
It was also used by Jason Marsh in 1829 as a school for young men and in 1856 by the Rev. M. C. Manning, a Baptist Minister, as a select school, the Philomatic Institute. Between those dates, it was the home of Robert B. Doxtater, merchant and first superintendent of the Watertown Rome railroad, son of pioneer William Doxtater. William Doxtater was the first to receive a deed of land in the town of Adams, referring again to the Lane series.
Later, Eli J. Seeber, father-in-law of aforementioned Clarence Whittier, friend of Theodore Roosevelt, assemblyman from this county's 2nd district in 1883 - 1884, owned and resided there. As a point of interest, I. L. Hunt, also a friend of Theodore Roosevelt, also assemblyman, 1881 - 1883 resided near I. L. Hunts; house (being on the corner of South Park and East Church Street). It is presently owned by Robert Rhodes, editor and owner of the Jefferson County Journal, richly historic and award winning popular weekly newspaper. Diagonally resided General Solon D. Hungerford.
In 1819 the bank sold the house to William Hart as trustee for those who had contributed to the construction of the building.
In 1833 it was sold into the Doxtater family: William using it as a tenement building for a time, finally remodeling it as a residence for his son, Robert, upon his marriage in 1837. Robert eventually moved to Rome (NY) and in 1852 the house was sold to William Nellis. Past owners have also been; Philander Smith and Mrs. Susan Maxon. At present, two of our members have apartments there --- Mrs. Ralph Johnson and Mr. and Mrs. John Jones.
Believed to have been built in 1833, this house on South Park Street is currently occupied by the Stephen Misczuk family. The structure included a fine library and outstanding construction features. These features included a landscaped terrace knoll from lower to upper level, parquet flooring, and a kitchen with wood fired ovens.
PARSONAGE ON PARK STREET
Miss Edna Allen lives in one of the four houses shown on the east side of North Park Street. The carpenter for this square roofed home was David Gaylord. Miss Allen's home is the Park Street parsonage mentioned in old county books, having been purchased by her father. Fleming Res. #13, Allen's #15, Jeselyn #17, Drakes #19 are the present family of these four properties.
WILLIS A. WAITE HOUSEA gothic type house located at 59 East Church Street is presently owned by Terence Solan and family. It is shown on an 1857 map of Adams as belonging to Julan K. Bartlett. Past owners then included Norman Wood, Daniel Lockwood, and in 1868 Willis A. Waite purchased it.
The home remained in the Willia A. Waite family for over three quarters of a century, the last member being Mrs. Earl A. Averill, his daughter. Mr. and Mrs. Charles Park sold this property after living there to the Solan's. The lot the house is situated on is deep, extending to the banks of Sandy Creek. This was the first house on East Church Street to border the creek. The house has a winding stairway in the front, and an attractive corner fireplace.
OTHER PROPERTIES ON EAST CHURCH STREET
Located next to the Willis Waite house is the house presently belonging to the O'Neills. The Karl Fowler family lives on the other site of the Waite house. These three homes were all owned by members of the Waite-Averill family, The O'Neill home occupied by the elder Waite's, followed by their grandson, Herbert, Robert, daughter Bertha, and then Mrs. Waite Averill.
The present home of Ralph West (now occupied by his daughter-in-law) is the beautifully restored home depicted on historic maps as the Patrick House. It is now occupied by two branches of the West family. Ralph West's son Charlie and his family live in the single level wing, and Ralph and Mildred West live in the two story main structure. Ralph has done much of the restoration himself, enjoying it as a hobby. At one time the fireplaces had been bricked over, and when Ralph opened them it exposed a built in colonnade. These renovations also uncovered many interesting structural characteristics and ways of life through the years.
ANDREW BLACKSTONE HOUSE
Just exactly how old this house is, is not certain, but it is estimated to have been over a century ago for a mortgage given by Andrew Blackstone. A mortgage given by Andrew Blackstone on the premises in 1850 declares that Blackstone resided there for several years.
Andrew and his brother Manning were amount the earliest settlers here. Manning died in 1834, but Andrew lived to a ripe old age and celebrated his golden anniversary with his wife Sally in 1887. His residence is on Church Street next to the Hungerford Villa (at one time a supermarket site).
In 1885 Andrew and Sally Blackstone conveyed this property with its Church Street frontage of over 112 feet, to their son, William E. Blackstone formerly of Adams, but at the time of Oak Park, IL. In 1909 William E. transferred it to his sister, Mrs. Lorany D. Saunders, wife of Attorney Thomas P. Saunders, another leading citizen of Adams. An agreement in 1912 stated the property would not be disposed of in her lifetime, and was signed by Wlliam E. Blackstone, Mrs. Saunders and the Saunders "foster" daughter Renea P. Saunders.
When Mr. Saunders died in 1911 he gave all of his estate to Lorany with the stipulation that after her death it would go to Rena Saunders Baumgras. The property was then sold in 1918 to Mr. and Mrs. Daniel F. Griggs and remained their home until their deaths. It was then sold to its present owners Mr. and Mrs. Frank Macy.
JOHN C. COOPER HOUSE
Just outside the village, between Lisk Bridge and Spring Street is a grove called Lawrence's Grove, where the Lawrence family home is located. This home was in the family for many years. It stands by itself on a quiet road and is a Georgian farm house. The doorway, in its original condition, is just one of the outstanding features of this house. The house was built for John C. Cooper; son of Miles Cooper, and elder brother of George C. Miles' father erected the first frame house in the village in 1811.
John C. Cooper was born in 1800 coming to Adams with his parents from Durham, Connecticut. The property owned by George C. stands at the intersection of the John C. Cooper property, and is presently owned by the Thomas family.
At the age of 14 John C. Cooper heard the battle cannon booming the the Big Sandy conflict and ran to the scene. At age 20, he and a cousin walked to the Mississippi, returning in April 1824. He bought 66 1/4 acres of the nucleus of what became a 143 acre farm from Charles and Nelson Wentworth, and soon began construction of the farm house.
On September of that same year, John C. Cooper married Elvira Fox, daughter of Daniel Fox (pictured below). He was a successful farmer and sheep raiser, selling wool in the Kingston, Ontario market. He introduced Wood's mower and reaper in this country. A promoter o the Watertown-Rome Railroad Company, he became one of its early directors.
John C. Cooper was a supervisor from Adams, and founded the Agricultural Insurance Company, and became director and then president from 1855 until his death in 1877.
Active in the Thousand Islands Park Association, he had a large cottage at the park. In 1860 he deeded the house and farm to his son Levi F., who eventually sold it to Betsy Stone. Stone sold it to David Hubbard, who in turn sold the property to Leander Lawrence. Leander started the Lawrence family ownership chain.
Leander Lawrence additional land to add to the property. After Leander's death the property was either willed, deeded, or title transferred to only a Lawrence family member, with his grandniece, Mrs. Ward A. (Alma) Hall being one of the owners. Alma Hall was 4 when her parents established there residence in the home. At the time of this presentation it is owned by the Roberts family.
SYMS A. MERRIAM HOUSE
Records indicate Syms Merriam purchased five acres of this land from Jeremiah Griswold, and the Merriam home is estimated as being established around 1851 on East Church Street.
In 1871 Merriam sold it to W. A. Gilbert, and on June 1, 1872 it was sold to Samuel Bond, merchant who had married Elizabeth Doxtater, daughter of Peter and Lorany Blackstone Doxtater. Retaining title only a few months, Samuel Bond and wife sold the property to Samuel Potter. Potter and his wife owned it until April 13, 1875 when it was sold to Joseph Langford Greene. It is the J. L. Greene residence pictured in the valuable history previously mentioned.
In 1835 Mr. Greene had purchased the farm (where Bob Smith presently resides) outside of Adams. He was successful in that venture and wanted to retire in the Adams house. In 1877 he sold the house to his son David Maxon Greene of Troy. David was a very distinguished professor, engineer and Naval officer, Navy academy professor, and director of numerous corporations. In 1855 David married Maria N. Skinner, daughter of Judge Calvin Skinner of Adams. In 1913, two months after the death of her husband, Maria sold the house to Mrs. Kathryn Brownell of New Bedford, MA, who was the wife of Charles E. Brownell. Charles Brownell died in 1933, but the home remained in the family, to include Mrs. Brownell deeding the property to herself and daughter Kathryn, wife of W. Karl Rice in the year 1917. W. Karl Rice was the son of Arthur L. Rice, Adams paint manufacturer. Mrs. Brownell resided in the house until her death at the age of 92 in 1958.
The house and grounds are maintained in attractive condition, minus the trees that once surrounded it, which much to the owners regret, had to be removed due to age and disease.
During the time of its restoration, the Syms A. Marriam house lost none of its early charm, and the restoration added to the charm. The Brownell's laid 3/4" oak floors throughout, put in electricity, additional baths, preserved the high ceilings, added a fireplace that was a replica of one in their home in MA, enlarged the living room by removing just one partition. When the electricity was added sliding doors to the living room became a necessity because the electric cables ran through the recesses. The home has a wealth of closets, each containing built in drawers and shelves. The house contains the Rice's main living area with extra rooms and rear apartment.
THE PHILANDER SMITH HOUSE
( Now the new home of the Historical Association of South Jefferson** )
The present home of Mr. and Mrs. Frank Steele, this lovely large square brick house on East Church Street was built by Philander Smith in 1854. Mr. Smith, one of the first trustees of Hungerford Collegiate institute as well as one of the original directors of the Hungerford Bank when it originated in 1853, was a son of David Smith, the founder of Smith's Mill's.
Philander Smith became one of the leading and most influential men in the village and during his lifetime was engaged in many real estate transactions, as witness our deeds to examine here tonight. The lot came to him by purchase from first Issac Baker in 1851. then in 1855 he acquired through purchasing the lots torching the A. Tarble on the west (The Tarble residence being on South Park Street and the present home of Aaron Belloff) and from William Nellis the old R. B. Doxtater house and lots of Hiram and Sarah Salisbury - - touching also the line of Seth Gaylord, and part of the Doxtater Garden.
You will notice on the map the extensive land holding that appears to extend to the creek bank north to the present Church Street.
The house and large grounds passed through sale to Olive Sturne in 1868; 12 years later to Rich H. Huntington, within a few weeks to Mrs. Arthur J. Brown and in 1884 she sold it to Mrs. Rufus (Vermeelya) E. Ripley. Since then it has been in the Ribley family. The present resident being the daughter of the later, Rufus W. and Carrie P. Ripley and great granddaughter of Vermeelya.
An interesting fact has come to light with the acquisition of a strip of property between the present Masonic Lodge building and the house; it is the site of the first cemetery in Adams, NY, being in existence even before Rural cemetery.
The house consists of twenty six (26) rooms and current residence include Mr. and Mrs. Steele, along with their daughter Mrs. Hunter, and her daughters Robin and Jackie Jo occupy one of the two apartments, with Mrs. Farr occupying occupying the second.
Located north of Adams Center on Route 11 is the lovely stone house situated on a four cornered intersection. The nearby Talcott's Falls is admired by constant local traffic and by those who may be strangers to the area.
Major Talcott was born at Windsor, Connecticut in 1771, great-grandson of Connecticut Governor Joseph Talcott. He came to this area in 1804. In 1805 he purchased acreage from Nicholas Low and built a log cabin a few rods north of the present stone structure.
Daniel Talcott built a log cabin in the Kellogg Hill area which he soon replaced with a frame house. He had built a saw mill at the falls in 1813 and a very profitable grist mill in 1815. Later he added a distillery. Before the house was finished, he gave permission for a school of entertainment to be held on the upper floor. A pile of bricks was stored there for the chimney. As the entertainment was about to start, the floor gave way, plummeting the bricks, players, company and all to the cellar. An infant was killed and some people hurt. That house later burned and Daniel Talcott built the stone tavern at Talcott's falls in 1824.
Talcott's Tavern was a friendly, roomy and picturesque inn that served those in the area as a stage stop for runs between Watertown and points south. Joseph Davis kept store nearby for some time. A post office named Union at first, renamed Appling in honor of an officer at Sackets Harbor in the War of 1812, was located there from 1827 to 1842.
Five year after building the tavern, Talcott deeded it to his son Nathan. Nathan sold it to John Metcalf, March 1873. In 1899 Metcalf heirs sold it to Edward S. Green. It has been in the Greene family ever since, as it then went to Arthur E. Greene who in 1969 is the present owner.
Long ago abandoned as a tavern - through the years its maintenance has left it in excellent condition.
The structure was built from native limestone and is in an artistic setting of fine old trees and graceful grounds. It's location is a few hundred feet south of the beautiful Talcott Falls and picnic area.
Plainly seen in the peak of the front gable is the place the bottle of whiskey stood. Daniel Talcott had the whiskey bottle cemented in the gable when the tavern was being constructed to represent the inn would not be without cheer for its guests. Unfortunately, the bottle is no longer intact due to it being the primary target during "shooting practice" by vandals.
Daniel Talcott raised and equipped the first uniformed light infantry in the 55th Militia regiment which fought in frontier defense in the War of 1812. Captain Talcott served several times at Sackets Harbor including the battle of May 20, 1813. After the war he was made a major.
¹ Historical Collections of the State of N. Y. by John W. Barber,
Henry Howe 1841 Adams pg. 200 in Historical Society.
² Kennedy Galleries.
* Ralph West is the uncle of Nancy (Ring) Kendrick through the maternal line of her family. Nancy's maternal grandfather, Gerald West, was the brother of Ralph West. Nancy is a former resident of Adams, NY and has memories of the framed piece described. She also remembers a historical book of information on Adams, NY her uncle Ralph had showing a track used for horse racing in the vicinity of Church Street, Park Street, Hungerford Avenue, and Roberts Street.
** In 2003, The Historical Association of South Jefferson moved from their downtown Adams location to the former Marion Steele home referred to above as the Philander Smith HousTHE ADAMS, NY HISTORY AND GENEALOGY WEB SITE © 2000 - 2008 by Nancy Kendrick
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