Anyone who has lived in Adams and South Jefferson County, NY is familiar with the "Jefferson County Journal."  Many of the histories and information you will read throughout this website are courtesy of Adams, NY's own paper located at 7 Main Street.  Words of appreciation are not enough for Karl Fowler who very kindly and willing granted permission to reproduce information from the newspaper on the Adams, NY History and Genealogy web site.  The "Jefferson County Journal" was established and has been serving Jefferson County, NY since 1844.  To subscribe to the "JEFFERSON COUNTY JOURNAL", please contact the JOURNAL PUBLISHING COMPANY, INC. at 315-232-2141.  Thank you Karl!


The following article is reproduced courtesy of the Jefferson County Journal
Vol. 156, No. 28        March 15, 2000

In preparation for the 200th anniversary celebration of the first settlement in Adams, New York, which occurred in April 1800, we (The Jefferson County Journal) will be running a series of articles that describe Adams in the past.

(that is 1890's) by Harry E. Ripley

After looking at pictures of the village board of 1909 recently, my mind took a whirl back to the early nineties when I lived, a child, on Spring Street, in house now owned by John Berry.  The lot, now part of the Bernard Finnegan house, was part of the old Lewis place.  this was for years the home of John Lewis, founder of the old tannery that used to be on the creek bank on lots now owned by Mrs. C. B. Grimshaw and her brother, Ezra VanBrocklin.

Many days I have played around the old vats, where hides were soaked in a solution with hemlock bark, and those large piles of bark that had filled the yard in front of the tannery made good places for us youngsters to play hide and seek around.

The old red house of John Ward, recently razed to make room for Harold Cote's new residence, was a landmark at that time, and occupied by Mr. Steven and his nephew, Arthur Wheeler.  Only two more houses at that time were on lower Spring Street, Daniel Corey's and Mike Burn's.  An old house sat back of Shelmidine-Moore's showroom, on the bank of the creek, and was occupied by Mrs. McKee.

Daniel Corey was for years sexton of Rural Cemetery, and died in January, 1894.  The vacancy was filled by my father, Edward Ripley, who also had charge for many years.

Well I remember running errands for Eunice Corey, Daniel's daughter, and she always gave me pennies, so on my way I could stop at Jim Coit's store on the corner of Main and Spring Streets, now occupied by William's Auto Supply Co., and get candy.  The candy was Jackson balls with pretty stripes on them, also stick candy of the same nature and that old fashioned Black Jack gum.

They used to tell us kids about the gum pickers from Lorraine, who used to haul wood and lumber with horses, and always stabled them at Orlando Wright's farmer's sheds and to to Coit's old long table to get their fill on crackers and his famous cheese.  We kids were always peeking behind their ears for that cud of old spruce cum we had heard so much about.

Mrs. Corey and daughter Eunice for years made vests for E. E. Averill and later for F. A. Stell, after Mr. Averill was deceased.  Mary Groves, Mrs. Frank Bunday and Fred Stell also worked in his shop.  I spent one summer there.  Fred and I are all that are living and time had put many marks on us.

Mary Groves married Frank Garvin, who at that time ran a grocery, where Mark Steele has the light office.

Rufus VanWormer had a blacksmith shop where Shelmidine-Moore's showroom now stands.  He owned and lived in the house where Bill McGregor lives, and which later belonged to his daughter, Mrs. Bayard Taylor.  We also used to play around his shop.  I well remember a horseshoe he  had fored and laid on the floor to cool.  But believe me it hadn't cooled.

George Carpenter also had a paint and repair shop for wagons and buggies where Greenley's storehouse and coal business office now stands.  He lived in the house occupied by George Belchor.  He had two children, May and Frank.  May was once the wife of Rich Dennice, a veterinary and horse trainer of those days, and we all knew Frank, who for years conducted a barber parlor in town most successfully.  May later married Irvin Brooks and now resides in Glendale, California.

Philo Corey and Lucretia Lee filled out the corner to Cemetery St.  Philo Corey and his wife Loretta were house father and mother in the old Franklin St. Orphanage in Watertown back in the 1880's, and moved to Adams at their retirement.  They both the house now owned by Dell Greenley.

Morris Hodge ran a harness shop in the old Lockwood Block, long gone to his reward.  Mr. Gilbert and his son, Homer, are recalled.  John Owens and Elam Lyman were lovers of fast horses and trained many of them those days on the old track at Valley Park Farm, now Ernest Bowman's potato farm.  I think before my day I have heard they also held fairs on this place.

David Lyman and Mr. Atwater built the house where Jennie Main now resides.  Aunt Fannie Jones owned the house next door with Isaac L. Hunt, Sr. on the hill.  He was Howard Reynold's grandfather grandfather.  He was clergyman of the Methodist Conference for years, but retired at that time.

John Richards and Rev. Eugene Joy were our were our Methodist  clergymen at that time.  Rev. Peesley preceded them.  Well I remember those old days with our teacher, Mrs. Alice Hunt, and a large class of beginners.  Herbert Williams later became a doctor in Hamilton and Albert Lovelee an Episcopal minister.  Walter Lee, now of Corona, California, Charles Pierce, now of Buffalo, Charlie Waters, Theron Haight, Plat and Rugus Patten and myself.

I recall Newton Wardwell, once postmaster, and Jennie Gregg, for many years domestic at the Wardwell home, who later became the wife of Alonzo Hull.  Her brothers, John and Robert Gregg, both went to Los Angeles in 1894.

S. H. Pitcher, for years, had a feed business in the old Red Mill, now razed.  Mr. Pelsue conducted a drug counter where Carl's Auto Supply is now doing business, which was later taken over by Henry Fox and his son Bert.

Maloney Bros. were in the hardware store where Perch J. Parlow now is located on Main Street.  Shepard Bros. (Frank and Dewitt) were in a little home bakery.  Little did they know of patent bread mixers and modern wrappers of today, Mr. York was a shoe cobbler in the Old Washburn Block.

Our water system was young, only a few springs that came from behind the rock behind the old pump house.  City water service was a luxury.  Most of our neighbors came with a pail for drinking water at Wardwell's spring.  And we kids used to get a cold bath from a pail of that spring water once in a while when we all collected there at one time.  I threw a pail once on Katie McKee and her mother came right up with a horse whip.  But I saw her coming and made myself scarce around there.   Isaac Payne had charge of the pump house.  The fire alarm was a bell swung from the top of the old Hose House on Liberty Street.  Sirens then had never been thought of.  At the first toll of the bell, Mr. Payne would hurry and rake open his fire to make steam to start the pumps.

Ed Huestis came twice a day in summer with milk from his outer Church Street farm, and Mr. Spicer came each morning and carved off a piece of ice to fit our box.  Electric refrigeration and air coiling were yet to come.  But we all lived and weren't worried about T. B. or Bang's disease, and didn't bother if the milk tasted a little of the barn.  It wasn't produced with kid gloves and white suits with three legged metal stools and whitewashed walls.  It was just a barn in those days.  No milk inspectors or middlemen to take a hand out of the profits, and can't just recall but think it sold for six cents a quart.  Can recall my father-in-law, John Weaver, telling of drawing milk back in Cleveland's time to a cheese factory for 40 cents a hundred.

Jared Randall and his family resided on Spring Street.  George, his son, for years, was telegraph operator.  The old office was in the rear of the G. W. Williams' jewelry store on the corner of Church and Main Streets.  His daughter, Amelia Randall Clark, and her husband, Charlie Clark, ran the old Adams House where Belloff now is located.  D. A. Dwight books and stationary; L. L. Bullock with her millinery store; Helen McNeil; Arms & Hungerford (later D. E. Taylor & Co.) Dry Goods, were business places on Main Street.

I recall Robert Rich and his sister Lea.  Rob clerked for Arms when I was a child.  I had the pleasure of meeting Lea in California in 1930.  She died there in July, 1931.

Mr. Lamson with his meat market in the basement of W. E. Wright's grocery store on the creek bank, later owned by F. S. Lyman, and now by J. W. Hughes & Sons; Malitus Fox's repair shop; S. T. Thompson Hardware; Fish Bros., Blacksmiths: Luftus Landon also was a blacksmith and his wife was our most efficient cateress at that time.  Hurray!  for Mrs. Landon's roll's, homemade ice cream and those big old fashioned three-layer cakes.  No wonder we grew to 250 lbs.  Those church suppers and the G.A.R. dinners were fit for a king.   Aunt Jane Haight with her famous cooking contributed much to these functions.

Molly Salisbury was principal of the old grade school and many will remember those certain lectures she used to give us.  "As the twig is bent the tree inclines" and she sure tried hard to bend some of us.  God bless her as she rests!  Ada Myers, Angie Russell, Addie Poole and last, but no means least, our old primary teachers, Etta Oatman.  Mary Gilman and Mary Main were our untiring music teachers.

Tom Maxon had a seed business at the spruces on the Henderson road and well I recall Bert Bevens with his horse drawn bus and his dinner horn as he came each morning for the ladies, who went out there seed picking.

And well I remember the first pair of long pants I had which mother earned for me picking seed there for a few shillings a day.  Those memories are bringing tears to my eyes, so think I will close, hoping someone who is better qualified will pick this up and pay tribute to those faithful, God-fearing people, who made our town a brilliant farm center, and laid the stepping stone for this beautiful place to live in now.

Historical movies of Adams and South Jefferson County are now available.  Marion Steele, Mildred Carter, Earl Timmerman, Art Rice and Doris Larkin narrate the movies.  These wonderful documentation's of Adams history are part of a collection that was donated to the Historical Association of South Jefferson in hopes of preserving the past for future generations.

There are over 8 hours of movies on videotape and SJEA-TV will broadcast all the movies this school year (2000).  As a fund raiser the Historical Association of South Jefferson will be selling copies of the tapes.  For more information please call:  315-232-2616.

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