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ADAMS, NY HISTORY
AND GENEALOGY
Thank you for visiting the new home of Adams, NY History and Genealogy.  This web site offers vital records, newspaper transcriptions, biographies, DAR records, links, and much more for Adams, and south Jefferson County, NY.
Locations include, but are not limited to:

ADAMS   ADAMS CENTER   BELLEVILLE   ELLISBURG   HENDERSON   HENDERSON HARBOR   HONEYVILLE    LORRAINE    MANNSVILLE    NORTH ADAMS    RODMAN     SANDY CREEK    SMITHVILLE   WORTH
AND SOUTH JEFFERSON COUNTY, NY

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HISTORY OF THE TOWN OF ADAMS
By Marjorie Haskin Berry
 Published in the Jefferson County Journal August 10, 1955.
Re-published in the Jefferson County Journal in 2000.
Permission to transcribe and reproduce this article granted by Karl Fowler
of the Jefferson County Journal in Adams, NY.  Thank you Karl!


North of Adams Center, near the Watertown line, Daniel Talcott built a tavern at an early day, dedicating it to good cheer by enclosing in demi-john of good whiskey in the gable of the house.  It was used as a tavern and lodging house for many years.  It is now the home of Mr. and Mrs. A. E. Greene.

Smithville Village, which was founded by Jesse Smith, is partly in Henderson.  The portion lying in Adams is on lots 9 and 17, on Stony Creek.  The main road divides the two towns, with that on the east side in Adams.

Settlement was begun there in 1804 by Daniel Hardy, although a little east of this point Chauncey Mills, from Connecticut, took up land in 1803.  In 1805 he built a sawmill on Stony Creek, the first in the west part of town.

Soon after a couple of young men, named Kendall and Powell, built a dam across the creek, and put up a small sawmill.  This mill and all the improvements made by them was purchased by Jesse Smith, from whose settlement at this place dates its real history.

A Mr. Sprague built a tannery and later it was turned into a wagon shop.  Several other wheelwrights located there.

A carding-mill was operated there about 1830 by Samuel Eaton, and later by D. Hardy and Willard Dodge.

Jesse Smith had a large cooper shop which employed a number of men.

Fire seems to have played a large part in the early business life of the community, many shops and building having bee consumed by it.

The first tavern was kept by Daniel Hardy, prior by 1810.  He was succeeded by Brooks Harrington, who erected a frame house for this purpose.  In 1828 he built a large brick house on the Henderson side, which still stands.  It is the property of Mr. and Mrs. Frank Higgs.

The post office was established at an early day with Brooks Harrington, postmaster.

When Ellisburg and Sackets Harbor railroad was in operation, it passed near the village and has a station on the Henderson side.

It was the excellent water power afforded by Stony Creek that influenced the early settlers to lay out a village here, unique in its division between two towns.

The aforementioned villages and settlements surround the village of Adams and it is here that they come for their banking needs, as well as a wider assortment of merchandise.

Worthy of note is the military history of Adams.  A number of men served in the war of American Independence:  Peter Doxtater, who was a child, was taken prisoner by the Mohawk Indians and kept three years during the French and Indian War, served as a scout in the Revolution and received a pension from Congress in 1834.  Others on the pension roll were John Merriam, Abel Bassett, Danforth Doty, Lucy Thompson, and Cynthia White.  Paul Stickney was a sailor under John Paul Jones, and preserved Redway was one of Washington's bodyguards.  He was also present as a corporal of the guard, at General Burgoyne's surrender.

Many of the citizens served in the War of 1812 and a company of "Silver Gray's" composed of men not liable to military service, among them several Revolutionary patriots, was formed in town, and once or twice repaired to Sackets Harbor, but was never mustered into the regular Army of the government.

The Civil war called many citizens.  A ready response was given to the first calls, and when 30,000 more were asked to enroll themselves, the tow showed willingness to share the burden by voting a bounty.  A special meeting was called December 16, 1863, and of the 258 votes cast, but seven were against paying a $300 bounty.  Aid was also voted to the volunteers February 11, 1864, March 21, 1864; and on August 12, 1864 a meeting was held authorizing the town board to issue bonds and pay volunteers $1000; 129 persons pledged themselves in favor of this measure and four against.

In the spring of 1804 the State Road to Rome, via Redfield, was opened, and ten years later, the State Road from Salina, now Syracuse, to Adams where it intersected the Rome Road.  It was long called "Salt Point Road."

Liberal appropriations were voted for the improvements of roads and the building of bridges in 1850 and 1851.  In 1853, $100 was voted for this purpose and two succeeding years $1500.  In 1860 $4000 was voted to be paid in four installments.  A stone bridge at Adams village was completed in 1863.

A certificate of organization of the "Adams and Ellisburg Plank-Road Co." was recorded February 14, 1849.  among those interested in this road were Judge Skinner and others.  The planks, being hemlock, soon rotted away, and the road was abandoned about 1855.

The "Rome" Washington and Ogdensburgh" Railroad was built through Adams in 1851.

In 1850 O'Reilly's Merchants Telegraph Line was erected along the state road and an office opened.

The importance of Henderson Harbor as a pale-port, and the necessity of having a railroad leading through northern New York and the New England States, which is not subject to snow blockades, add at the same time, affords local traffic by passing through fertile country, let to the formation of the "Boston and Henderson Harbor Railroad Co." at Adams, in 1872.  The articles of specification called for a route from Henderson Harbor, through Jefferson, Lewis, and Oneida Counties, into Herkimer, to Salisbury, there to intersect with a road leading to Boston.  The land was surveyed and found favorable and a corporation was formed with General s. D. Hungerford as president.  Measures were about to taken to raise the required capital when the financial crash of 1873 intervened and the work was abandoned.

In the matter of fire protection for the village of Adams, the village was divided into three fire wards and rules adopted to insure its safety from fire.  April 23, 1852, an appropriation of $650, was voted to purchase a fire engine.  A short time after, a Button machine was purchased, and on May 24, 1853, the Tempest Fire Company" was formed with 44 men.

In 1853 two reservoirs, of 500 barrels capacity each, were constructed in the northern and southern parts of the village.  The following year a brick building on the south side of Sandy Creek was purchased for an engine-house and village jail, at the end of which was erected a tower for the fire bell.  However, a fire company had been formed by Adams about 1836, and a small crank-engine purchased by volunteer subscriptions.

Due to the condition of the roads and lack of other means of transportation and communications as we know it today, each of the small villages or hamlets surrounding Adams in its early days were thriving places, boasting of numerous carriage shops, mills, and a wide variety of stores.

The village of Adams contained a number of manufacturing plants in the early days, such as tanneries, distilleries, furniture factory, wood and iron works, as well as numerous hotels.

An amusing incident recorded by S. T. Thompson in 
the County Centennial:

"Among the early industries that sprung up here were the distilleries.  At one time at least four were maintained in Adams.  The writer, while talking with one of the pioneers some years ago, suggested that so many of these institutions could hardly have been Conducive to the good of the community, but he defended their existence by saying, "In those days almost our only crop was corn and there was no for it except these distilleries and in the state of the country roads it was almost impossible to deliver it to outside markets.  The only way we had of getting money was to sell our corn to the distilleries.  They could pay us cash for it."  "But," said I, "your wants were few.  Your clothes were homespun and homemade.  Your provisions were grown upon your farms; your lands cost your very little.  What did you do with your money?"    "Well," he said, a genial smile overspreading his aged face, "we spent the most of it for whiskey."
The first Jefferson County Bank was located in Adams June 20, 1817 as a compromise between Watertown and Brownville since both aspired to the honor.  A fine, substantial brick house was erected for its use on Church Street.  It was moved to Watertown in 1824 and the building was used for a school, finally becoming a dwelling.  It is the home of C. A. Whittier.  Mr., Whittier, coming to Adams many years ago, engaged with the late Ross C. Scott in the furniture and undertaking business.  His home if filled with antiques and relics of many lands and many eras and would put many museums to shame with the extent of its collections.  Very little has been done to change the interior of the house since it was used as a bank.  Six of its seven fireplaces have been sealed up.  Mr. Whittier continues to use the one in his bedroom occasionally.

The First National Bank of Adams was established August 27, 1863 with a capital of $75,000, and Solon D. Hungerford as president and  R. H. Huntington as cashier.

The post office at Adams was established about 1806.  That year a mail route was established from Rome, through Redfield via Adams to Sackets Harbor.  On April 28, 1810, a new route was established from Utica via Camden and Adams to Brownville; and on March 3, 1825, from Watertown via Adams to Sandy Creek.  A postal money-order office was established in 1872.  The amount of the orders for the year ending October 1, 1877 was $7,697.

The Censor, an anti-Masonic sheet, by Theron Parsons, was the first paper published in Adams on July 1, 1828.
It was moved to Watertown in 1829.

The Jefferson County Democrat was next, under the direction of J. C. Hatch, and appeared June 27, 1844.  It was a four-page, 24 column sheet, 24 by 36 inches in size.  In June 1855, it was named the Jefferson County News, under new management.  Next it became the Adams Visitor.  In 1866 the office was destroyed by fire.  On April 15, 1869, after having changed hands several times, it was issued by the Good Templar's and became an eight-page publication named The Northern Temperance Journal.  In continued as such until October 20, 1871, when Pratt and DeLong changed the name to the Jefferson County Journal and made it an independent sheet.  On March 30, 1871, William J. Allen, purchased Pratt's interests, and four months later, S. W. Hatch purchased DeLong's, and the new firm became Hatch and Allen.  Later Mr. Allen purchased the interest of Mr. Hatch.

The roads were dirt-mud a great deal of the time, and the sidewalks were first wooden with each house properly fenced since sine were allowed to run loose in the streets.  The wooden walks gave way to those of tar.  The last wooden walk on Main Street was in front of S. T. Thompson's hardware store.  One of the last  tar walks was on upper Church Street on the property now owned by Mr. and Mrs. George Denney.

Church, from Wright Street corner to the railroad, was often turned into a race track, when there was a dispute among owners of fine horse flesh over the time or ability of these steeds.  This was usually for "road" horses, or the light breeds which were used on carriages and buggies.

The forerunner of the plow was the old iron hog kettle.  During the long winter months when the tracks wore down to the point that the center ridge became to high, the kettle was drawn up and down the road to pack down the snow.

Harry Tyler, great-grandfather of the late Dr. Harry Tyler, was a weave by trade and with the help of his son, Elman, made his own looms and wove the famous coverlets.  Their shop was located at Butterville, near Smithville, in the town of Adams.  They were made of homespun wool in either navy or red and white.  Each bore the name of the person it was woven for and the date.  Some are of English lion design, but the later ones carry the American eagle.

The first church society to be established in the village of Adams was that of the Presbyterians in 1804, with six members, four males and two females.  In 1814 the first church edifice was erected on  Church Street and used until 1825 when it was moved away and the larger building erected.  Among its members were Peter Doxtater of Revolutionary fame; Charles G. Phinney, the great revivalist and college president, Samuel Boad, Perley D. Stone and DeAlton Dwight.  The membership was recently dissolved and the property is now owned by the Masonic Order.

The first Baptist church was formed at the house of David Grommon, in September, 1802.  In June 1806, Elder Timothy Heath was employed and meetings were held at his house.  In December, 1824, a society was formed with Daniel Talcott, Jacob Heath and Asa Lewis as trustees.  In the same year a church was built one mile from Adams Center on the State Road, and in 1838 their present church was erected at a cost of about $3000.  This is at Honeyville, on Adams Center - Rodman Road.

The Baptist church and society of Adams village was organized March 30, 1837, with Jesse Wright, Hannibal Miller and Spencer Woodward as trustees.  Meetings were held at the school house until 1847 when a frame church was erected costing $3500.  This was used until 1871 when it was moved to Main Street and now housed the Fredenburg Hardware store.  The same year A. J. Brown, H. O. Kenyon and A. W. Ingraham were appointed building committee.  The large brick structure now in use was erected at a cost of $25,000.  It was dedicated October 10, 1871 by Dr. Patton of New York and Dr. Bridgeman of albany.

Members of the Methodist faith lived in the town at an early age, and classes were formed in different localities prior to 1828, but in that year they were formed into a circuit and thereafter supplied with a regular preachers.  The first society of the Methodist Episcopal Church in Adams was formed October 24, 1828.  The old Presbyterian church was secured as a place of worship and located across the road.  It was destroyed by fire.  In 1852 a new edifice, 40 by 84, of frame construction, was erected at the cost of $6000.  The same year a parsonage was built on the adjoining lot at a cost of $2000.  In 1875 several thousand dollars were expended in renovating the church and again in 1885 between four and five thousand were expended, including a new bell.  The following year a new parsonage costing $4000 was built.  This church was destroyed in 1922 and replaced by the present cream brick structure.

A proposition to organize an Episcopal church having been made to Bishop Delancey, his consent was secured January 22, 1849 and on the fourth of February the notice was read by H. B. Whipple, lay leader.  The church was formed with the Rev. J. M. Bartlett the first rector.  The cornerstone was laid October 8, 1849.  It is the original building, the only one among the early established churches in the village still in use.  It is on Church Street next to the Methodist parsonage.

The autumn of 1903 witnessed the building of St. Cecilia's Roman Catholic Church on South Main Street.  previous to this the members had met in various homes.  The first priest to celebrate Mass in the new building was the Rev. T. J. Mahoney.

The first streets in the village followed Sandy Creek.  An examination of the house, known as the Dr. Nicholson house of West Church Street, and now occupied by Mr. and Mrs. Floyd Hammond, shows that the front was originally the back of the house, with the entrance facing the creek bank.  This points to the fact that the street was near the waters edge.

Granges were established in Adams, Adams Center and Smithville and all three have fire departments.  Masonic Orders ere instituted in Adams with Eastern Star Chapters in both Adams and Adams Center.  The I.O.O.F. was founded at an early date in Adams and later dissolved, only to rise again stronger than ever with a Rebekah Lodge now 55 years old.

"The old order changeth, giving way to new."  But one is forced to decide whether all the changes are for the better.  For instance, what a thrill it was for the young boy to hear the sound of the tin horn of the stage coach driver as he reached the outskirts of the village of Adams.  To see the driver gather the reins in his trained hands, and with a flourish of the long lash with its silken cracker, flick the leader's ears, and swing up to the exchange with military precision.  It was the dream of many a boy to be a stage coach driver.

Along these lines it is fitting to reminisce about the mail carriers of those other days.  Outstanding in this group was John Looker, a soldier of 1812, who served his country at Sackets Harbor.  After his Army experience of 25 years, Mr. Looker served his country as a mail carrier.  He carried the mails over mountains of snow and through valleys of mud.  Once the government fined him six-pence for not arriving at the terminus on scheduled time.  He was also express messenger and carried many valuables in his strong box.  This was his inside pocket.  According to a contract found later in his family he received the sum of $175 a year for carrying the mail from Adams to Ellisburg, he furnishing his entire outfit.

As early as 1802 a school was taught at Smiths Mills, which was attended by pupils living several miles around the place.  A fair-sized two -story frame house was erected an early day, and was used for school purposes.  This was located near the present railroad station.  In 1876 the site of the school house was changed to the present site of Rice's Truss factory.  A commodious structure was erected at a cost of $4000, containing four well-arranged rooms, accommodating 200 pupils. The attendance in 1971 (? 1871??) was 180 and 39 weeks of school were taught by C. D. Larkins and three assistants.  Mr. Larkins later became principal of a large Manual Arts High School in Brooklyn.

A "select school" was taught in the old bank building, previously referred to by M. C. Manning, who afterwards became a distinguished Baptist clergyman.

The Adams Library was formed April 12, 1831, with Cyrus Eddy, William Chittenden, Walter Webb, Forester Dexter and Wells Benton, trustees.  Wells Benton was appointed the librarian.  The society had accumulated about 600 volumes of standard books and the library was successfully maintained about fifteen years, when the interest in the project has so much diminished that the annual dues of the members remained unpaid, and the property passed into the hands of private parties.

The library as it is known today was established at a much later date in rooms on the second floor of the Dwight Block (Transcribers Note:  Some may know this location as the second floor of the former Ring's Variety Store) on the corner of Main and West Church Street.  This had its beginning from a large gift of books from Mr. and Mrs. Brenton Babcock of Ohio.  This public library was sponsored by the Adams Study Club.

Adams Electric Light Co. Ltd. started operation in 1889 at a location north of the Dairymen's League plant.  Power for the generator was supplied by a 35-horsepower Ames slow-speed (100 rpm) steam engine and a 50 H. p. boiler.  Service was limited to street lighting in the village, which consisted of 13 arc lamps, a few commercial customers and one residential, Dr. W. H. Nicholson, secretary of the company.  The original primary lines were 1,100 volts.  The term "candlepower" was used instead of watts for lamps, a 16 candlepower being equivalent of a 60 watt lamp.  Street lighting was accomplished by carbon arc lamps.

In early days of the company service was available only until 11 pm, except by special order.  About seven or eight nights a year the moonlight was of such intensity that the Light Company was ordered by the Village Board to leave the street lights off.  In 1891 the plant moved to a location near the present O.D. Greene Lumber Company, in order to take advantage of water power available.  At about the turn of the century, R. F. Steele bought out the company.  He was the father of the late Mark Steele.

At an early date Adams village established a fine water works system which has continued to be improved as the years went by.

The Adams Seminary was established about 1838.  Judge Thomas Chittenden was one of the prime movers in this project.  The school opened for ladies only, but subsequently it was opened to both sexes.

As was the case in the other small communities, Adams had a wide and varied assortment of manufacturing in the early years.  These included mills of both grist and wood, tanneries, wagon shops, distilleries, planning mills and a furniture factory.

In the building of anything of importance, which will withstand the ravages of time, it is the work of the many that accomplishes the task.  This is as true of Adams as of anything else.  It is therefore difficult to name any as specifically responsible for its success.  However, there are a few, who by virtue of their personal abilities as well as their financial position, have left their mark here.

Outstanding among these is General Solon Dexter Hungerford for his contributions to Adams and to Jefferson County.  His genealogy, traceable to the parish of Sheford, England, shows that Thomas Hungerford came to Harford, Connecticut, before 1639.  Solon Hungerford's mother was Marietta Burr, a descendant of Aaron Burr.  Her children's early childhood was spent on a farm near Watertown.

He started in business as a clerk of Adriel Ely in a dry goods store in Watertown at the age of 15, later going into the Jefferson County Bank, where he advanced rapidly.  On advice of his friend he founded the Hungerford Bank of Adams in 1854 with a capital of $50,000.  This was done under the general banking law of 1838.  This was successful until 1853 when the capital was increased to $125,000, with the same name, and under a board of directors of which he was president.

The title of General came after a brilliant military career which began in 1835.  When quite a young man he was commissioned aide-de-camp to the Brigadier General of the 55th Brigade of Infantry.  He was subsequently inspector of the Twelfth Division of Infantry.  In 1852 he became Captain of the Infantry of the 38th Regiment and Brigadier General of the 18th Regiment of the Fourth Division of New York State Militia in 1859.

In 1861, when the Rebellion broke out, General Hungerford, commanding the 16th Brigade, and also commissioned to inspect volunteer companies, was loyal to his trust and untiring in his efforts to cooperate with the government.

His home was the beautiful villa, now the home of Mr. and Mrs. Howard Reynolds.  His Valley Park Farm, now that of Bowman and Cool on North Park Street, was one of the most beautiful in the State.  He was one of the foremost breeders of improved livestock.

In 1853 he began his importation's of the best strains of Ayrshire blood and from which nearly all the thoroughbred and grad Ayrshire animals in Jefferson County originated.  The importations were from Scotland direct, and consisted of 'Kilburn,' 'Mary Grey,' Ayrshire Lass,' 'White Lily,' and 'Queen of Ayr.'  These were followed, in 1854, by 'Lady Ayr,' 'Cherry Blossom,' and 'Challenge.'  From these General Hungerford had bred many fine animals.  His herd sire, 'Scottish Chief,' was outstanding.

A herd of short-horns was also imported in 1854, but the Ayreshires claimed his attention.  Many of the senior citizens of the town will remember or have heard reference to his prize cow, 'Old Creamer,' believed to be the champion milk cow of the world. She gave as proof of this title the yeled in three days of 302 pounds of good milk.  She gave 2820 1/2 pounds of milk in the month of June, and average of over 94 pounds a day.  A day's milk generally makes four pound of butter.  This was done in 1878, when she was nine years old.

His team of dapple grays, each weighing 1800, 18 hands high, were full brothers, were three-fourths Messenger and one-fourth Clyde and trotted half a mile in two minutes.  The team was exhibited at the Entennial Exposition and received recognition.

The Union Agricultural Society of Adams, Rodman and Lorraine was formed about 1857, among the chief promoters being Solon D. Hungerford, Rufus P. White, T. V. Maxson, Albert Webb and Hugh Huestis.

Very successful exhibitions were held for many years on the Valley Park Farm but later the interest was not sufficient to hold the fair.  The property boasted a fine race track and together with the commodious barns made an excellent location for it.

ADAMS, NY HISTORY AND GENEALOGY
TABLE OF CONTENTS


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1849 MARRIAGE RECORDS

1884 DOWNTOWN ADAMS FIRE
ADAMS, NY HISTORY

ALLEN FAMILY


ADAMS, NY PHOTO SLIDESHOW

ADAMS, NY ARCHIVAL IMAGES
From the New York State
TUG HILL COMMISSION

ADAMS, NY ARCHIVAL IMAGES PAGE 2
From the New York State
TUG HILL COMMISSION
BELLOFF FAMILY
GENERAL
BRUCE C. CLARKE
BOLDT CASTLE

DEBORAH CHAMPION
CHAPTER OF THE DAUGHTERS
OF THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION
NATIONAL CHAPTER NO. 438
ADAMS, NY


DR. LOIS GANNETT



GENEALOGY
AND HISTORY LINKS
To New York State Resources,
Jefferson County Histories,
10th Mountain Division,
and much more.


HISTORIC FACTS OF
JEFFERSON COUNTY,
NEW YORK

HISTORICAL ASSOCIATION
OF SOUTH JEFFERSON, NY

HISTORIC WRITINGS
BY ADAMS, NY RESIDENTS
HISTORY OF HOMES
AND LAND IN ADAMS, NY

HISTORY OF ADAMS AND
JEFFERSON COUNTY, NY
TOWN AND VILLAGE NAMING ORIGINS
JEFFERSON COUNTY JOURNAL
TRANSCRIPTIONS

Tuesday, March 10, 1896

Tuesday, March 31, 1896

June 16, 1896

Wednesday, April 18, 1945

Wednesday, March 15, 2000
Adams, NY Celebrates 200 Years!

Permission to reproduce
these archival papers granted
by The Jefferson County Journal
MEMORIES OF
THE OLD HOMESTEAD
BY HENRY LYMAN

NORTH ADAMS CHURCH
OFFICIAL RECORDS
Membership records,
births, deaths, baptisms,
excummunications,
burial locations

PATRICK - THOMPSON
CEMETERY RECORDS
Patrick Road, Adams, NY
This cemetery sits on the town line
for Adams and Rodman.  The majority
of the cemetery is in the town of Adams.

POTTER'S OF
JEFFERSON
AND ONEIDA COUNTIES
RECORDS:  LAND & DEEDS REMINISCENSES OF ADAMS, NY
RING FAMILY RING' STORE HISTORY;
INCLUDING COOPER AND
DWIGHT BLOCK
VITAL RECORDS INFORMATION
FOR THE UNITED STATES
VILLAGE OF
ADAMS, NEW YORK SETTLED IN 1800

F. W. WOOLWORTH
OF RODMAN, NY

EVOLUTION OF THE DEPARTMENT STORE
Woolworth's, Watertown, NY,
Belk, Bloomingdale, Gimbel's, Harrod's,

Hudson, Macy's, Marshall Field, Wanamaker, Montgomery Ward


KING OF THE FIVE-AND-DIME

FRANK WINFIELD WOOLWORTH, 1852-1919

WATERTOWN, NY:
Concern for Woolworth Building Future

WOOLWORTH CLOSES ALL STORES

WOOLWORTH CLOSES VARIETY STORE ERA

WOOLWORTH VIRTUAL MUSEUM
YEARBOOK TRANSCRIPTIONS:
1923 ADAMS HIGH SCHOOL

1924 ADAMS HIGH SCHOOL

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