Civil War Veterans of the South Jefferson Area
Adams, settled April, 16, 1800, is in the southern part of Jefferson County, NY. It is one of the eleven towns south of Black River then known as the Black River Tract, and was set off from Mexico in 1802. It was a favorite Indian hunting ground before the coming of the white man. Fur traders and missionaries in 1654 and 1721 had made friends with Indians along the lake shore. A treaty with the Six Nations at Fort Stanwix (ROME) in 1784, and one with the Oneidas in 1787, and confirmed with Governor Clinton and the Onondagas in 1788, plus the surrender of Fort Niagara in 1796, made it seem safe to open the area to settlers.
By an Act of Legislature in 1786 the Office of Land Commissioners was created. Alexander Macomb was appointed agent. He chose as his committee Daniel McCormick, fur trader, and William Constable, former aide to General Layfayette in the Revolutionary War. The Macomb Purchase of 1791 took in nearly all of northern New York at 8 pence per acre. Their ParisPlan for sales in Europe was curtailed proceeding the French Revolution and through failure of speculations Macomb went bankrupt. A New York banking firm took over and empowered Constable to sell and convey lans of the Black River tract.
Benjamin Wright surveyed the boundaries of the towns in 1796. The land was mortgaged that year to William Constable at $1.00 per acre by 4 men, Henderson, Low, Harrison and Hoffman, who planned to resell to settlers. In the subdivision of towns No. 2, Watertown, No. 7, Adams, which then included Rodman, and No. 11, Lowville, fell by lot by Nicholas Low. Benjamin Wright divided Adams into 56 lots varying in size from 240 acres to 676 acres for a total of 26,505 acres and measuring six miles from east to west and nearly seven miles from north to south. He made a note in his field book of the possible mill sites, clear springs, the hard timber of many kinds, generally fertile and level land with little waste and under laid with limestone.
Constable sold 3,000 acres to Marvel Ellis who started a settlement at Ellisburg in 1797. A few settlers managed to survive the severe winter of 1798 there. In early 1799 nine men followed the creek into Adams and Rodman area. Nicholas Salisbury was so impressed with the apparent value to settlers of what he saw, that he made the long trip to New York that fall and bargained for a home in the wilderness.
On April 16, 1800, Nicholas Salisbury (1762-1833) and his family and goods, with the help of Solomon Smith and son, as hired hands, arrived by oxen and sled and settled one mile west of the present village of Adams. The perilous journey from Western, New York, by way of Lowville and on through virgin forest had taken twenty-six days. The cabin they built was the first dwelling in town.
According to the field book of Nicholas Low, twenty men purchased land
in 1799. They were: Stephen
Shippey, Enon Salisbury, D'Estaing Salisbury (1778 - 1813), Nicholas Salisbury,
Alexander Salisbury (1780 - 1801), Solomon Smith, Daniel Comstock, David Smith (1771 -
1844), Abram Ripley, Jonathan Cable,
Eliphalet Edmonds, Alexander
Dewey, George Cooper, Jehoida Page, Solomon
Truman, John W. Smith,
Francis McKee, Robert Myrick, Squire Read, Daniel Fox (1771 - 1873), and
Zaccheus Walworth (1771 - 1825).
Terms to settlers were:
acre, a dwelling built and two acres
of land cleared within a specified
usually two years. David Smith had
taken up 500 acres along the creek
banks and arrived in 1800. He and his father
built a log cabin on a terrace on
bank of Sandy Creek in the southern
Because of the scarcity of lumber, many small dwellings had been put up with slab cuts and the place was sometimes called 'Slab City." It was also called 'Smith's Mills' because of the sign on the mill, until 1808 when it was officially named Adams, in honor of President John Adams. On Simeoun DeWitt's map in his Atlas of 1802 it was called "Aleppo'.
Francis McKee and his family arrived from Vermont in 1800 and began settlement on land he had selected in November 1799, in Sandy Creek valley (in the area later known as Lisk settlement). His land was on both sides of the creek and on the west of the State Road marked in 1799 would be passing through it. On the east it reached to the Rodman town line. There he gave land for a cemetery and the Thompson on the other side also gave land joining it doubling the size of the plot. There Francis McKee and some members and descendent of both families lie buried (this became known as the Patrick-Thompson Cemetery, and is located on Patrick Rd. at the Adams-Rodman town line). Bradford Lisk soon arrived and built opposite the crossing where a bridge was soon built. Frances McKee and his six sons had built a dam and he and Bradford Lisk had a tannery in operation by 1812. Soon a blacksmith and Munn's tavern were also located at Lisk Settlement.
The Fox brothers arrived in 1800 and Samuel settled east of the creek on the Rodman road. In May and June of that year his was the first acre cleared in town. There he lived to eight(y) years of age and he and his wife reared a family of eleven children. Daniel Fox settled west of the creek toward the village where he reared a family of six children. He lived there to the advanced age of 102 years. Jacob Kellogg (1755-1855) arrived in 1801 and settled north of Francis McKee and the first religious meeting was held that year at this home to give thanks for safe arrival. The John Coles family settled north of Jacob Kellogg.
Eliphalet Edmonds left High Falls (now Copenhagen) in a boat he made in 1798 and started down Black River. At the fall near Beebee's Island his boat got away and left him to travel as best he could. He followed the river and bay to Ellisburg and up the creek to Lisk Settlement and settled about a mile of Lisk Settlement. His farm became one of the best cultivated and admired farm in town. The first town meeting was held at his (Eliphalet Edmonds) house on March 1, 1803. At this meeting Nicholas Salisbury was elected first supervisor. Other offices filled were: Phineas Keith, Clerk; D'Estaing Salisbury, John W. Smith, David Grommon, Thomas White assessors; Isaac Baker, Collector; Thomas White and David Comstock, overseers of the poor; Paul Stickney, Jacob Kellogg, Simeon Hunt, Commissioners of Highways; Isaac Baker & Anson Moody, constables; David Comstock, David Smith, George H. Thomas, George Cooper, fenceviewers; Abraham Ripley, James Enon Slisburg, John Cowles, Consider Law, Solomon Robbings, Hezekiah Tiffany, Thomas White, Daniel Mansfield, Asa Davis, Squire Read, Abel Palmer, overseers of highways; David Comstock and Simeon Hunt, deer-reeves.
A wolf bounty of $5 was set for 1804 and was doubled in 1810 and raised to $15 in 1815. Hogs were not to run loose unless yoked. One historian makes special mention of Piam Thompson (1781 - 1868), Myron Cooper, Elijah Fox and Appleton McKee (1760 - 1832) as having become prominent citizens who came to Lisk Settlement before 1802.
Thomas Settlement derives its names from the four energetic Thomas brothers, William, Benjamin, Ira (1779-1858) and Ezra (1763-1860), who came from Halifax, Vermont in 1800 and made clearings. Their mothers and two younger brothers, Elihu (1799-1881) and Joel (1786-1876), arrived the following year. Their drum corps provided stirring music for many gatherings. They went to defend their country in the War of 1812 and doubtless, soldiers marched to their martial music. Captain Martin Barneybuilt an inn at the corners, he added a stock of goods and kept a store in connection with it until Adams became quite a trading post about 1810. Nearby on the road O. Salibury kept another inn. William A. Gilbert from Vermont was an early settler who soon moved to Adams and became one of its leading citizens, as a lawyer and banker, he also served in the Legislature in 1830 and in congress in 1850.
On August 20, 1802 the first deeds in town went to Peter Doxtater, George Houseman, Robert Myrick, Franklin and David Smith. Peter Doxtater was dutch and had come from the Mohawk Valley most of the way by water and in from the lake shore. He was a hardy veteran of the Revolutionary War. In the French and Indian War during an Indian raid he had been taken prisoner when only four years old and was held for three years and then released unharmed. He had learned the Indian language which helped him during the Revolutionary War as a scout and interpreter. He settled north of the village around Doxtater Street and Doxtater Hill. His old home in the village is still on North Main Street near the water tower. For many years he kept a store on Main Street. He received a government pension from 1834 until his death in 1842.
Wright Settlement was started in 1804 about halfway between Lisk Settlement and Institute Hill. It is said that some thirty-eight Wrights, relatives and friends from Massachusetts came in 1801 to settle around Wright Street. They were families of Westwood Wright (1757-1826), with a family eight; Carmi Wright (1753-1832) and family of twelve: John Wright and wife; Eli Wright (1784-1878); Rufus Nims; Lemuel Arms and his sons, Richard, Luman, Hiram, and John Arms. The Arms family later settled in Adams Center. Many took part in the War of 1812.
There was an influx of settlers from 1800 to 1806 which tapered off in 1825 when the Erie Canal was opened and settlers were beckoned farther west. Trails were changing to paths and paths to roads. The State Road marked in 1799 was opened in 1804 and many settlers followed it and settled along the way. That section was called East Adams (now Honeyville). Some of the pioneers who came between 1801 and 1805 were David and Stephen Grommons, Abel Loveland, Solomon Truman, and the Heath family.
At the intersection where Adams Center road joins the State Road the FirstBaptist Church of Adams was erected in 1838 replacing one too small to accommodate the growing membership. A cemetery had been donated to the Honeyville community in 1824.
Daniel Talcott built a log cabin in the Kellogg Hill area which he soon
replaced with a frame house.
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
chimney. As the entertainment
was about to start, the floor gave
plummeting the bricks, players, company and
all to the cellar. An infant
killed and some the people hurt.
That house later burned and Daniel
Talcott built the
stone tavern at Talcott's falls in
1824. He had built a saw
mill at the falls in 1813 and a very profitable grist mill
in 1815. Later he added a
The tavern was for many years a rest
stop on the
When the War of 1812 threatened, Daniel Talcott, at his own expense, outfitted and drilled a company of the 55th Regiment Infantry of Militia. By the close of the war he was promoted to Major. In the War of 1812 the 1200 soldiers and 1300 sailors on their way to aid Sackets Harbor widened and improved the State Road for cannon and troops to pass over it.
Smithville was named for the 1st settler, Jesse Smith. In 1803
Chauncey Mills arrived and built
mill in the western part of town.
Daniel Hardy came in 1804 and had
tavern in operation before 1810. By
1805 the families of Abel Myrick,
Henry Knapp (1782-1869), Samuel McNitt, Andrew McNitt and others were there.
Kendall and Powell built a dam and
a saw mill. Jesse Smith
arrived and bought the improvements made by the
others and started more. He
cleared land and sold potash. He started
the first store, a tavern,
distillery, two saw mills, a huge potash and lumber shipping business, and a cooper shop that employed many
men. His energy and
The North Adams, or Read Settlement, was started when the families of Roger Reed (1768-1832), Albert Rice (d. 1871) and Samuel Cook arrived in 1806. Heman Colton (1787-1878) and Benjamin Sweet soon followed. By 1812 it was a thriving settlement with a corn grinder and turning mill doing a profitable business. In time several profitable mills were built on Sandy Creek. The 'North Adams Pioneer Mills' with three runs of stone were well known. A good class of industrious farmers added to the prosperity. In 1809 after meeting in homes for a time the Second Congregational Church of Adams was built and drew a large membership but as travel improved and churches closer to the outside members were built, membership diminished and regular services were discontinued in 1856.
The Greene's from Rensselaer County, New York started Greene Settlement in 1810. Charles Green, a veteran of the Revolutionary War, influenced relatives and friends to settle in Jefferson County. By 1815 Greene Settlement had a blacksmith shop and a school. More Greene's arrived from Berlin, New York, in 1817, and some who had settled other places in New York, resettled here. Charles Greene and Samuel Crosby built a sawmill in 1835. The Seventh Day Baptists met in the school house. When Five Corners (now Adams Center) started, many moved there, and by 1878 over 200 Greene's lived in Adams Center.
Adams Center, or Five Corners, where five roads came together, was later in starting because of the difficulty of clearing the hard timber, with the crude tools of that day. In 1816 Luman and Hiram Arms started a farm just north of the village site. Near the corners from 1810 to 1817 they had kept an inn to serve soldiers of the War of 1812. Some who came to help remained to make homes after the war. Hiram Arms had a wagon shop by 1822 and in 1823 a blacksmith shop opened. The Arms brothers built a tow story tavern in 1827. Jonathan Davis started a store in 1830 and Calvin Green had a store soon after, as did Joseph Dewey, father of Melvil Dewey, founder of the Dewey Decimal Library system. The first physicians were Dr. Dickinson and Dr. A. K. Hale. A school was built in 1826 and soon three hotels were busy.
The Seventh Day Baptists from Greene Settlement organized in 1822 and built a church in 1837. Differences of opinion on church doctrine caused withdrawals of membership in 1852 and 1853, but after 1862 many returned to the fold and the Seventh Day Baptist Church continued as at first. In 1868 the church was raised eight feet and a lecture room made in the basement. Eighteen feet were added to the rear to enlarge the main session room to seat 400. Later other improvements were made. The church has continued with an active Sabbath school and church membership.
Fifty Adams Baptist Church members helped to organize the Adams Center Baptist Church in 1853 and a church was built the following summer with thirty-two members. By the 1890's themembership had increased to 150 with an active Sunday school.
In 1818 there were abut 500 residents and many pleasant homes on tree lined streets. 'Five Corners' had become Adams Center. The place became quite famous for its Cornet band which took first place at the Jefferson County Fair in 1876. A post office was there at an early dated and in 1962 a modern brick post office was built.
The O.D. Greene Sash and Blind Company operated a factor there from 1868 to 1900 when it burned, and the company moved to Adams on the site of the William Wheeler mill (on South Park Street).
Adams village grew steadily while other settlements were starting. Improvements made by David Smith and the
potential water power of Big Sandy
Creek attracted settlers of
both moral and physical stamina.
The first death in town was that
Salisbury in 1800 while trying to cross the creek in a scow in a
freshet. The first bridge spanned Big Sandy
Creek in 1802 and more buildings
up. Main street crossed the bridge
from north to south and streets
began to extend to the east and west.
Every spring brought tax levies
repairs and three times bridges were swept away before the strong arched stone
bridge was erected 1863. The
stone bridge underwent extensive
in the 1970's. A bridge connecting Spring street and Factory Street was
built in 1854 and was swept away in 1865.
Finally in 1893 a strong
iron bridge was built. Lisk
Bridge had several wooden bridges
before a covered one
was constructed in 1854. In 1894
In 1804 Rodman was set off from Adams, and many new settlers came to Adams. Titus Bassett, a felt hatter, Lyman Munson, a lawyer and a Dr. Greene all came to Adams village in 1804. Dr. Eli Eastman had a practice in the village from 1809 to 1844. At least eighteen other loved and respected physicians followed these two.
Abel Hart started the first hotel in 1803. Adams needed about three hotels in the early days. Jesse Hale had the first store in one room of his home in 1804. M.V.V. Rosa was another early storekeeper who kept store over thirty years.
A few Baptists were meeting in homes about that time and the first
sermon was preached by an inter
minister in 1802. A Congregational Society
was formed in 1804 by Joshua
Jacob Kellogg, David Comstock, Agram Griswold, Betsy Griswold and Asenath
Cooper. By 1811 they had a resident pastor. The Congregationalists
stared services and the Presbyterians worshipped with them. A church
was built in 1818 and many revivals
took place with a great increase
membership. Charles Finney and Orson Parker were among the converts and
they later became famous evangelists.
The Methodists organized in 1827 and bought the building outgrown by the Presbyterians in 1828. That church burned in 1852 and another was built in 1853 and occupied until it also burned in 1922. A new brick church replaced it in 1925. The three congregations worshipped together in the Baptist church under the Methodist minister from 1922 to 1925.
The Baptists had formed a society in 1837 and met at first in homes and in the school house until the built a church in 1847. In 1871 that church was moved to Main Street and a fine large brick church erected on the site. The hundredth anniversary was celebrated in 1972.
An early interest was manifested in education too. In 1802 a fair sized two story house was built near the first mill. The three R's were taught that year in the first school district in the county and until an elementary school was built in 1876, eat of the Institute, on the corner now occupied by W. S. Rice Factory.
The first mail reached Adams in 1805 and a Post Office was established in 1806. A mail route from Utica through Adams to Sackets Harbor began service in 1810. That year there were fifteen houses in the village. In 1814 the Salt Point Road from Salina (Syracuse) reached and joined the State Road and by 1820 one could reach Syracuse in a day.
Seth Gaylord had the first tannery in town in 1806 followed by several others soon after. During the Civil War there was one operating in the village. That may have been Weaver's tannery built in 1850. It had 27 vats and did a thousand hides per year.
David Smith replaced his log cabin with an eighteen room house in 1807. It had eight fireplaces, fine woodwork and could accommodate two families. Descendants of the Smiths lived in this house until it was sold in 1945 to the Don Rounds American Legion Post.
Spafford's Gazetteer of 1812 lists for Smith's Mills that year:
saw mills, one grist mill, 1
fulling mill, one
small air furnace, a carding machine,
2 distilleries and a convenient
variety of artisans. In the northern
part of town:
For the year 1821 Spafford's Gazetteer of 1824 lists for Adams village: about 400 residents, 45 dwellings, 1 church, 1 school house, and several stores, 3 grist mills, 5 saw mills, 2 fulling mills, 1 carding machine, 4 distilleries, 13 asheries, 1 boot and shoe factory, 2 flouring mills, 1 woolen mill, 1 candle factory and leather works.
The year of 1813 was marred by a fever epidemic. The year 1844 witnessed a horrible epidemic which caused great pain and swelling and sometimes paralysis of the extremities with possible death within 48 hours. It baffled the physicians and took the lives of David Smith, his wife Elizabeth, a step daughter and a daughter-in-law, Hannah Wager Smith, wife of Willard Smith. As summer came it disappeared. A malignant form of Diphtheria struck in 1881 causing 45 deaths within the village of Adams. With these exceptions the town has been considered a healthful place to live.
The year of 1816 witnessed crop failures due to volcanic ash fallout from an unknown source. It blanketed the area preventing plant growth from lack of sunlight. The winter was severe and the summer had some snow. Another calamity came in 1877 when a terrific hail and windstorm swept over the town doing widespread damage to crops, stripping fruit from trees and smashing glass windows and other damage.
In a brick house on East Church Street in Adams the first bank in Jefferson County started in 1817, but it was moved to Watertown in 1824. In 1829 Jason March has a young men's school there and Rev. M. C. Manning had a select school in 1856. Otherwise it has been a residence.
Also in 1817 Brown's Furniture Factory was built near the bridge. S. Bond ran it the first year and the second year Perley Stone became a partner and Bond and Stone ran it 45 years without keeping books on each other. 1817 was also the year the Jefferson County Agricultural Society was formed, aided by Adams men.
In 1825 Willard Smith, son of David Smith, constructed a three story mill on the site of the first mill. It was equipped with modern machinery and turbine and its four run of stones ground 60,000 bushels of grain per year. In 1975 a new building housing the Rescue Squad was built on the site. The old mill stones were laid to rest behind the laundromat on the creek bank.
David Smith gave an acre of land back of his house in 1818 for the Rural Cemetery. Soon donations increased acreage to 10 1/2 acres. An association was formed in 1848 with 33 members with Peter Doxtater, 2nd as president. Bodies from the first cemetery by the Presbyterian Church were interred there.
Judge Crittenden started a female seminary in 1825 which was in operation to 1838 with the help of the Universalists and donations.
In 1826 a small fire company purchased a hand pumper which may still be seen at the Historical Association of South Jefferson in Adams. In 1836 a fire company had a small crank engine which was purchased by voluntary subscription. An appropriation of $650 purchased a fire engine and equipment in 1852. The Tempest Fire Company was formed in 1853 with 33 members. A damaging fire in 1860 took all the buildings on the west side of Main Street. One in 1866 burned all the buildings on the east side of MainStreet from the mill north to the corner. Better buildings replaced those burned, resulting in village improvement.
Temperance Agitation began in earnest in 1846 with a special town meeting voted out the liquor license and with much agitation through the 1870's it was voted out most of the time until Prohibition. In later years a strong thirst could be quenched at the 'shack' just over the town line but that was labeled 'disgraceful' by most folks.
The eventful years of the 1850's and 60's brought new businesses,
employment and prosperity to many,
and also public spirited men
The big event in 1851 was the completion of the R. W. & O. Railroad through Adams to Watertown. A tireless worker in bringing it to reality was Orville Hungerford who had been with the first Jefferson County Bank in Adams and who became its president. He also became president of that first railroad. Robert Doxtater was the first supervisor of the R. W. & O. Railroad.
James M. Cleveland, born 1820, grew up on a farm and was educated for
farming, was a successful farmer
whose clear thinking and observation proved this area especially good for
raising crops such as peas and beans. In 1851 he started a seed business,
the first of its kind in northern New
York which mushroomed to a 15,000
yearly product. In 1875 sales
to wholesale dealers came to
$50,7000, one firm alone ordering $10,000 worth.
Some 200 farmers contracted to raise the seed and many hands were employed cleaning and packing seed for shipment. Mr. Cleveland's examplewas successfully followed by others. T. V. Maxson four years later had aseed business putting out 14,000 bushels annually. Mr. Cleveland gave time and money to every worthy cause. The Cleveland business was in Adams over twenty years. Mr. Cleveland loved the beauty and nature and in 1867 gave the Elmwood Cemetery to the community. He had landscaped it and planted trees and shrubs.
John Cowles Cooper, born in 1801, son of pioneer Miles Cooper, became a farmer who sold sheep and wool and made delivery over the ice to Kingston in winter. Farmers throughout the county benefited by his introduction of Wood's Reaper and Mower in the 1850's, with his partner Philander Smith. He helped to start the Jefferson County Agricultural Insurance Company in 1853 and was its president until his death in 1877. He was supporter of temperance and one of the founders of the Thousand Island Park as a religious camp ground. He was an active member of the Methodist Church and was an incessant worker in promoting the railroad to reality and a director of it for years.
General Solon D. Hungerford (1808-1884) learned business discipline by working in a store for four years, a year as a bookkeeper in a bank, eight years as teller and two years as cashier. He had his own bank from 1845 to 1853 and headed one successful banking business after another, each one greater than that preceding it, being president of at least five of them. He promoted the Rome and Watertown Railroad and was director of it and of the R. W. & O. Railroad later.
General Hungerford as early as 1835 had training in the militia and waspromoted to giving training, and in 1859 was promoted to Brigadier General and he commanded the Sixteenth Brigade of Infantry in 1861 in the Civil War. Having been interested in agriculture, General Hungerford was identified with the Jefferson County and the State Agricultural Societies. He was on the board of the latter for sixteen years and finally became its president. On his Valley Park farm he kept thoroughbred herds of cattle, sheep and swine. He had a fairground with a half mile race track. Everyone was free to bring animals to exhibit at fairs held there.
As public benefactor General Hungerford's greatest achievement was helping to bring Adams an educational
institution of high quality.
Adams Collegiate Institute was
by the Regents in 1855. General Hungerford was offered to give $10,000 if the
community would match the endowment
to start the school in a building that had come into his hands,
the unfinished Basswood
Hotel. School started in 1864 with 160 students,
but burned in 1868. With the
insurance money and more donations and the
offer of a site on the hill of the
name were changed to Hungerford Collegiate Institute, a fine brick building was
built there and school began in 1870.
Under Principal Watkins and vice Principal Orlo Rhodes and a fine staff
of teachers, 60 boarding and 200
students were well trained and the school was noted for its discipline and
scholarship. The building was sold
for debt in 1882. Through
generosity of Mr. and Mrs. D. A. Dwight, the
The 1850's and 1860's saw much building and business growth. The Episcopalians met and formed plans in 1849 for a church. It was started in 1850 and finished and services held the same year.
An enterprising citizen, Thomas P. Saunders, born in 1821, came to
in 1834. He studies law and
was admitted to the bar in 1850. While
practicing his profession he also
attention to the erection of both public and private buildings. The total cost of
these buildings was $150,000
and increase the growth,
prosperity and beauty of Adams. He was ten
times elected president of the
village of Adams and during his administration
about twelve miles of concrete
sidewalks were laid, and the waterworks in 1885 and electric light plant in 1889 were
established. In 1851he
the first public hall on the
fourth floor of a building 45' by 75', which burned
in one of the fires shortly
after. In 1866 he built the Cooper House block
with a public hall on the third
floor with seating room for 1,000. Though he
William Wheeler came to Adams in 1860 and had a planting mill and sash and blind factory. He built a dam for water power and employed ten men. Some of the finest specimens of architecture in Adams, Watertown and the county are known as his handiwork.
The Masonic Order that started in 1806 but disbanded in 1827 because of Anti-Masonic sentiment, started again in 1851 and had a large building erected. In this era of much building Rufus P. White had a large brick slate roofed malt house erected by the railroad and started a malting business in 1855. This had a capacity of 80,000 bushels and two drying kilns. Waite and Kenyon bought in 1877. A. D. Stanley raised hops and increased acreage from 5 1/2 acres to 17 acres for the malting business.
Rufus P. White, like General Hungerford, was interested in livestock. He had pure bred horses on his Maple Grove Stock farm which started in 1859. Mr. White was considered to be one of the best horsemen in the state. One horse sold for $5,500, four for $3,500 each and four mares for $6,000 each. J. D. Snell and H. C. Averill of Adams Center also engaged in horse breeding.
Previous to the Civil War, Adams was a stop on the underground railroad and gave food and overnight hiding places to many fleeing slaves. During the Civil War the town did its bit with one accord. At the first call many enlisted. Aid was given to families of enlistees.
Money may have been scare in the 1860's but business still seemed to meet needs. Five wagon and carriage shops, several general stores, a boot and shoe shop, a clothing and dry goods store, a hoe and fork factory, an iron manufactory, and several machine shops were busy. R. P. Redway started a book store and sold many newspapers to carry the war news to homefolks. He took D. A. Dwight as partner in 1862. The next year Dwight and Eddy ran it and continued into the 1890's.
There had been several attempts to start a newspaper from 1814 to 1844. From 1844 to the present there has been one continuous publication. In 1871 Mr. W. J. Allen bought half interest and in 1872 he attained full ownership in the paper that he published until his death in 1926. His daughter, Miss Edna Allen, then became editor and publisher until 1956 when Robert Rhodes purchased the business. He purchased the vacant Marine Midland Bank building and moved the business to Main Street. The Jefferson County Journal still carries the hometown news far and wide.
Projects didn't seem to be slowed down by the effects of the Civil War and the Panic of 1873. The Institute started up again, and the Cathedral-like Baptist Church was erected in 1872. It is said that Asa Lyon, head mason, kept his watchful eye on the brick laying, and not being satisfied with the work on one wall, had it taken down and rebuilt to his satisfaction.
In 1874 the Mendell Block was converted into a carriage shop and the Dodge Carriage works was also started. In 1876 Saunders and Wright built a sawmill in the western part of the village. In 1878 on the 1809 site of Abel Hart's inn a new hotel was erected and the Lockwood and Cooper House were still busy taverns.
Adams Grange No. 391 was organized in 1876. A Grange Hall was built in 1900. The first Junior Grange in the county was formed in 1906 in Adams. After the hall was built, River Street became Grange Avenue. The Adams Center Grange No 590 started in 1889 and soon built a Grange Hall.
An Elementary School building that could accommodate 200 pupils was constructed on the site of the present W. S. Rice Factory in 1876. In 1877 the building had an enrollment of 180. The school house that was built in 1802 was sold and converted into a furniture factory.
The Adams Waterworks was completed in 1885 with 50 horse power engines, high pressure pumps, two reservoirs, each with 500 bbl. capacity and pipes capable of taking the high pressure of 400 to 600 gallons per minute.
Adams Furnishing Factory was located near the railroad in 1888 and made painted furniture. D. A. Dwight was one of the founders and its first president. In the 1860's there had also been a furniture making operation in connection with the Ripley Boot and Shoe store.
F. L. Webster in 1889 operated a canning factory west of the railroad and employed over 60 people. Dandelion greens and spinach were specialties with about 250,000 cans an annual production.
In 1887 in a three story factory on Grand Ave. Dr. Hale's Household Ointment Co. was producing an ointment which sold readily in stores and by salesmen. Later owners have been Kenyon and Thomas, H. O. Kenyon and Son and Donald Kenyon, after the death of his father. In 1965 Mrs. Edward Henry bought the patent and continued the manufacture and sales, mostly in drugstores and by mail order.
From a small beginning in 1889 the Adams Electric Light and Power Co. developed. It was located at first north of the Dairylea Plant. D. A. Dwight was president, W. H. Nicholson, secretary, W. J. Allen, treasurer and W. J. Gilman, managing director. Generating power was supplied by 35 horse power slow speed steam engines and a 50 horse power boiler. Service was limited the village of Adams, which had 13 arc lamps, a few commercial customers and one residential customer, Dr. W. H. Nicholson. In 1891 the Company moved the creek bank back of the present O. D. Green Co. for water power for the 125 horse power then installed. In 1912-13 a 13 mile transmission line was connected with the Northern New York Utilities eliminating the local plant and making 24 hour service available. Three generations of the Steele family have been closely connected with the company; Reuben Steele, president in 1896, followed by Mark B. Steele from 1908 to 1948 who brought about the connection with the N. N. Y. Utilities. R. Frank Steele was president following his father from 1948 until the merger with the Niagara Mohawk Company in 1967.
After the Dwights turned the A. C. I. building over to the Board of Trustees, it was rented for a High School. Adams was voted a Union Free School District and was absorbed into the New York State Public School System. Adams High School started in 1899 with R. H. Snyder as principal. A Teachers' Training Class was added in 1900. The first High School graduation came in June, 1901. Elementary pupils were transferred to the High school building and the elementary building was sold to W. S. Rice in 1903. Later a combination Auditorium-Gymnasium was added. Walls weakened by adding extra windows gave way during a wind storm and in 1939 the building was taken down and a new brick building was erected. In 1962 the Adams Center Adams Central School was organized. The General Bruce C. Clarke Building was erected in 1965 to house the high school and Junior High Schoolstudents. With the addition of the Mannsville district in 1968 the South Jefferson Central School was formed. Adams Center, Adams, and Mannsville each have an Elementary School.
In 1890 the village population was 1,500. Overton and Fish had a Furniture Factory, there were 6 groceries, Haskin's Laundry, 4 doctors, 1 veterinary, 1 optometrist, 2 dentists, 1 real estate agent, 3 photographers, 3 telegraph operators, 2 printers, 2 piano tuners, 9 dressmakers, 9 painters and paper hangers, 4 building contractors, 1 tinsmith, 2 horse-trainers, 1 ammunition dealer, 1 upholsterer, 1 windmill dealer, 1 wood dealer, 3 dry goods stores, 3 drug stores, 2 hardware stores, 1 grist and flouring mill, 3 flour and feed dealers, 2 musical instrument and sewing machine dealers, manufacturers of singles, stoves, tinware, spring beds and ointment, 1 plumber, 1 jeweler, 1 milliner, 13 blacksmiths, 3 hotels and NO LIQUOR LICENSE!
Adams was fortunate in having several businesses locate in town bringing employment. The W. S. Rice Co., Inc. has been an outstanding business for over 75 years. It was started in 1886, an outgrowth of the Captain Collins truss business. In 1898 it was moved to Adams on North Main Street by W. S. Rice. After pupils were transferred from the Elementary School to the High School building, Mr. Rice bought that building and moved the business there in 1903. At first only trusses were made but later foundation garments were also made. Adams became a First Class Post Office at one time due to the large mail order sales. At that time there were 160 employees. In 1944 there were 90 employed. C. Kent Rice managed the business after his father died and William Kent Rice followed him.
Arthur L. Rice invented a paint without oil in 1898 and won a silver medal atthe Buffalo Exposition. He started the A. L. Rice Powder Paint Co. and moved it to Adams in 1903. The business was started on the upper floor of the W. S. Rice Truss Factory and there carried on until the building burned in 1920. It was started again west of the railroad. Assisted by his son, CarlRice, and a work force of about 30 employees, and extensive mail order business was resumed. In 1925 spray paint was invented and the patent was sold to Roy Simpson in 1933. Later an investment company bought the remainder of the business.
The Lally Manufacturing Corp., makers of thermal weight underwear and other specialties, came to Adams in February, 1974, and rented space in the W. S. Rice Co., Factory. They purchased the building that fall, and at that time employed about 80 people.
The Adams Free Library was started in 1900 by the efforts of the women of the community. A library had been started April 12, 1831 and lasted about 15 years and then closed due to lack of funds. The second effort was started in two rooms on the second floor of the Dwight building with Mrs. Bell, librarian. Later it was in the Community Building and when the new Community Building was built in 1965, it was moved there. Mrs. O. B. Rhodes served as librarian for many years.
A mission church dedicated to St. Cecilia was erected on south Main Street in Adams on July 16, 1903. As early as 1853 Mass had been offered at the John Kelly house on South Main Street and in 1893 in a chapel built in the James Kane house on Clay Street. In 1935 Rev. T. Walter Cleary was the first resident pastor. The first rectory was added to the Church in 1937. The Convent was dedicated December 10, 1950. A new church was dedicated April 29, 1959 on Grove Street. A new rectory was occupied November 16, 1963. The old church was sold in 1964. The Parish Center was started November 24, 1967, and opened October, 1968 and dedicated June 15, 1969 with Rev. John Downs, pastor.
The Emmanuel Episcopal Church was erected in 1849 on East Church Street. It was remodeled and repaired and a new rectory added in 1875. It was again remodeled in 1975.
The Rosemary Creamery Co., said to have been established in 1898 did a big business shipping milk and cheese and butter made from milk produced by nearby dairies. A picture taken in 1905 shows the factory with its 78 employees. With the invention of the process of making powdered milk, it became one of the first 2 firms in the state to fulfill a demand for the product. After World War I the Farmer's Cooperative, followed by the Dairymen's League, ran the business. It later became the Dairylea Corporation, Inc. and employed about 100 workers. It manufactured 10 million pounds of cheese per year and shipped ice cream and various kinds of cheese and also had a local sales outlet store at the plant. It had a condensing and wholesale packing system by which 97% of the whey was made into powder for animal feed.
Another Cooperative, The GLF, a Grange Cooperative, started in 1932, and in 1964 became the Adams Agway. The Northern Milk Co., operated for several years in its plant on the creek bank east of the railroad with Clarence Brown a manager.
A fire in 1910 destroyed several buildings west of the railroad on West Church Street. The C. N. Snyder & sons, Inc. started a business with farm machinery and service where the Webster plant had been. In 1973 Mr. and Mrs. William Snyder bought out the other owners. Several residences have replaced the homes destroyed in the fire in 1910. Another fire in 1913 took buildings on the west side of Main Street and have been replaced by modern stores and a tavern.
The New York Canners started another canning company on High Street in 1923. They specialized in canning peas raised by nearby farmers. The Snyder Packing Co. replaced the New York Canners and continued the business in 1934.
Due to the efforts of Frank and Marian Steele and interested residents of Southern Jefferson County the Historical Association of South Jefferson County was formed in 1973, and a museum was started in the former Hungerford Bank building which was built in 1865. The well preserved structure has housed three former banking concerns, and had been the homes of three former physicians before Niagara Mohawk became the owner. The Farmers National Bank occupied it from 1889 to 1932 when it merges with the Citizen's Trust Company. The museum has many items of antique vintage related to the history of the section.
Service Organizations have included the Adams Rotary Club which started in 1926 with twenty members. The Lion's Cub started in 1950. The Veteran of Foreign Wars have a meeting house on Phelps Street. The Chamber of Commerce was started in 1975.
The change over from horse and buggy days was followed closely by improved roads which brought about a comparatively swift change in life style. From the turn of the century to the Bicentennial Days there are sharp contrasts. Adams in 1890 needed horses to get from one place to another and they had 13 blacksmiths, three liveries, two horse trainers and a carriage, wagon and sleigh shop, whereas in 1976 there were 6 gas and service stations and 5 auto businesses.
The history of Adams could be best understood by reading the biographies of many of its prominent citizens. Many who were born in Adams and whose life work took them elsewhere reflect honor on the town. Here listed are a few:
Enos Barton, born 1842, co-founder of Western Electric
Alvon E. Bovay, born 1836, founder of the Republican Party
J. Sterling Morton, founder of Arbor Day
Harry Tyler, weaver of the Tyler Coverlets
Melvil Dewey, developed the Dewey Decimal System
General Bruce C. Clare, Commander U. S. Ground Forces Europe
Hon. E. J. Seeber, Assemblyman
Hon. Issac L. Hunt, Assemblyman
John C. Cooper, a founder of the Thousand Islands Park
Truman P. Saunders, architect of many buildings in Adams
J. M. Cleveland, Seed business in 1851 - 1871, donor of Elmwood Cemetery
DeAlton Dwight, Adams Collegiate Institute, Electric Light Co.
General Solon D. Hungerford, banker an H. C. I. benefactor
W. J. Allen, Jefferson County Journal Editor
Orlo Rhodes, Principal of A. C. I.
For a copy of
this publication by the Historical Association of South Jefferson please
A special thanks to Debbie Quick; Historical Society of South Jefferson,
and Dr. Albert C. Reed for this information on the history of Adams, NY.
Ordinances of the Village of Adams - Published in the
Jefferson County Journal November 27, 1900
1. No person shall make any bonfire or burn any leaves or
material in the streets of
2. No person shall hitch any horse to any shade tree on any street of the village.
3. No person shall throw or permit his or her employees to throw
any stones, manure,
4. All person residing in the village and owning or possessing
shall cause the said
5. No person shall tie or hitch any horse, cow or other animal
grazing purposes in any
6. No person or persons shall ride, lead or drive any horse, team
of horses, or other
7. No person shall bathe in any of the waters within the
bounds of the village
8. No person shall construct or maintain any wooden
within one hundred
9. No person or persons shall coast on the hills of North and
Main Streets; provided,
Violation of the above ordinances results in a fine of "not less than
dollars nor more
10. Riding a bicycle, tricycle, or cart on South Main Street
Hotel Gardner and the
11. No cattle, horses, sheep or swine shall be permitted to run
large within the limits of
Early History of the Town of Adams and the
Village of Adams Center
DAYS OF THE INDIAN
Our town was once a part of the hunting ground of the Oneida and Onondaga Indians and many remains of this primitive people have been found here. Perhaps the most interesting of these is the remains of an old fortification near the Talcott stand, north of our village. It seems to have been the work of defense. It is on the brow of the upper terrace of Trenton limestone and overlooks a great extent of territory to the west and south. The bank has an average height of three and base of ten feet, with traces of an outside ditch of corresponding dimensions and there were evidently about seven gateways in the work, one side of which is bounded by an abrupt bank, about 30 feet high. On this bank and within the work, great trees are growing, so it must be hundred of years old.
Many small pits for concealing provisions have been found and quantities of parched corn, arrowheads, stone knives, broken pottery and other relics of the vanished Red man have been found here and several skeletons exhumed. These were all found buried in a sitting position and many of these skeletons showed a marked peculiarity; the skulls had a row of double teeth in each jaw.
After a time the domain of the Red man was invaded by an occasional
party of French from Canada,
headed by some Jesuit father, who, according to Kipling,
"prayed to be delivered from the
vengeance of the squaws." But these parties simply
over the greater part of Northern
New York, leaving no trace and no settlements.
The first settler came to town in the spring of 1800. His name was Nicholas Salisbury, and he came from Western, NY, a twenty-six days journey through the wilderness, bringing his family and goods by ox team and cutting their way through the wilderness as the came. They built a log house about a mile below where Adams village now stands and began to clear the land and kill off the wolves and panthers that harassed their cattle and hogs. Land could then be bought for $3 an acre. The same spring David Smith took up 500 acres of land where Adams village now stands and put up a very small gristmill on the creek there. For many years the settlement was called Smith's Mills. Soon other settlers came from Oneida county, and a little later from Berlin, NY and from Rhode Island. From then on the town filled up rapidly.
About 1806, a man named R. Warriner, built a log house in our own village, where the home of Irving Whitford now stands, and in 1810 built the present frame house and moved back the log house for a barn. Here he kept a tavern for about seventeen years. Of course the house has been much changed, but the old fireplace and brick oven of early days still remain. The next house in the village was built by a man named Priest, who sold it to Luman Arms before it was finished. Then Adams Center was called Five Corners. Other little settlements sprang up through the town, Smithville, Green Settlement, the Lisk and Wright Settlements and Thomas Settlement.
Many of these early settlers were veterans of the Revolution. One of them had been a scout in Washington's army and had been taken prisoner by the Mohawk Indians and kept for three years. Another had been a sailor under John Paul Jones, and still another had been one of Washington's body guard and seen the surrender of Burgoyne. These early pioneers were made of sturdy stuff and they brought the same zeal and energy to the great task of making homes of of the wilderness that they had show in defending their country.
Many of us remember hearing the older people tell of the part our townspeople took in the War of 1812; when the British fleet was seen approaching Sackets Harbor, how messengers were sent out on horseback through all this region, and excited men dropped their work, grabbed their muskets and started for Sackets (Harbor). A company called the 'Silver Greys', which was made up largely of old Revolutionary soldiers, was formed in this town and two or three times marched in hot haste for Sackets Harbor when a rumor came of a British advance against the frontier. Adams furnished many men for the War of 1812.
About 1818, many more people came to Adams Center and four years later
a wagon shop was built by Hiram
and Luman Arms, and in 1827 they built the hotel that Mr.
now runs. The village did not
have a store 'till 1830, when Jonathan Davis built a store,
Bunce & Withington now stands.
FIRST CHURCHES AND PREACHERS
The first thought of the pioneer after he built his rude cabin, was to
erect a church in which to worship God,
and a school house, in which to
educate his children. The church
at the State Road was the first one
to be organized in the
town. It was formed at the home of David
Grummon in 1802. For several years
meetings were held at the home of Timothy Heath, who was
They did not erect a church
hearing Buchard preach. One night the preacher was staying at a hotel, when a cry arose among the half-tipsy loafers in the bar room that some one had stolen some money from another. All denied their guilt and at last the landlord called Burchard and laid the case before him. He only said, "Bring me a big kettle and a rooster." The kettle and the rooster were brought and Burchard turned the kettle upside down
and put the rooster underneath it. He then told the landlord to put out all the lights and have the men march in line around the kettle and each place a hand on it as the passed, and he promised that when the thief touched the kettle the rooster would begin to crow and they would learn who the culprit was. His directions were followed, but the rooster did not crow. The men were disappointed, for they fully
believed Jedidiah Burchard could do almost any wonderful thing. But he told them to stand quietly till lights were brought, then he suddenly shouted, "Hold up your hands!" Every man held them up and stepping to one man, whose hands were perfectly white, he said, "You are the thief!" and so he was. Burchard preached with great power and conviction of the wrath of God and an every-burning hell for
the sinner, and his scathing rebukes and merciless denunciations of the follies and evils of the time, stirred whole communities and roused all classes of people.
THE LOG SCHOOL HOUSE
After the church, the next care of the early settlers was for the school and as early as 1802, two years after the first families arrived in town, a little log school house was built, and very soon, wherever a few families were together, a rude school house was built and "readin', ritin' an rithmetic" were diligently taught by the aid of a stout hickory switch and a heavy ferule, to the rising generation. Those were the days of spellin' matches and though neither teacher nor pupil had ever heard of phonics, the children of that day learned to spell as no of our children can spell today.
The first school house in this village was a small plank building near the forks of the road, built eleven years after the war of 1812. A log school house had been built in Green Settlement nine years before. Later a stone school building was erected in this village and 54 years ago our present building was built. In the spring of 1804 the State road to Rome by way of Redfield was put through and ten years later, the Watertown road.
The railroad came through the town just sixty years ago and people came from far and near to see the first train that went by.
CIVIL WAR VETERANS:
ABBOTT, George Ambrose
BLAIR, Adam S.
CHURCH, Rollin C.
EGGLESTON, Charles D
1849 MARRIAGE RECORDS
|1884 DOWNTOWN ADAMS FIRE
||ADAMS, NY HISTORY
ADAMS, NY PHOTO SLIDESHOW
ADAMS, NY ARCHIVAL IMAGES
From the New York State
TUG HILL COMMISSION
BRUCE C. CLARKE
CHAPTER OF THE DAUGHTERS
OF THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION
NATIONAL CHAPTER NO. 438
DR. LOIS GANNETT
AND HISTORY LINKS
To New York State Resources,
Jefferson County Histories,
10th Mountain Division,
and much more.
HISTORIC FACTS OF
OF SOUTH JEFFERSON, NY
BY ADAMS, NY RESIDENTS
|HISTORY OF HOMES
AND LAND IN ADAMS, NY
|HISTORY OF ADAMS AND
JEFFERSON COUNTY, NY
TOWN AND VILLAGE NAMING ORIGINS
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
THE OLD HOMESTEAD
BY HENRY LYMAN
NORTH ADAMS CHURCH
births, deaths, baptisms,
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.
AND ONEIDA COUNTIES
|RECORDS: LAND & DEEDS||REMINISCENSES
OF ADAMS, NY
|RING FAMILY||RING' STORE
INCLUDING COOPER AND
FOR THE UNITED STATES
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
Concern for Woolworth Building Future
WOOLWORTH CLOSES ALL STORES
WOOLWORTH CLOSES VARIETY STORE ERA
WOOLWORTH VIRTUAL MUSEUM
1923 ADAMS HIGH SCHOOL
1924 ADAMS HIGH SCHOOL