JEFFERSON COUNTY, NEW YORK

HISTORY of the TOWN of ALEXLANDRIA

Visited by S. W. Durant & H. B. Peirce in 1878


Alexandria after the War of 1812:

After the War of 1812, lands were put on the market and permanent settlers began to come into the area. The first contracts were made payable in seven years and required the settlers within one year to build a house equal to a log house 18 feet square and to clear one-twenty fifth part of the land contracted in a farmer-like manner. Land prices began at three dollars an acre and after 1829 mineral reservations were inserted in contracts and deeds.

Among the early purchasers and settlers were: James Carnagie, Samuel Young, William Martin, Moses George, Leicester Hoadly, Elijah Root, John W. Fuller and Jerry Carrier. Charles Rundlet, the oldest living pioneer in the town, in point of settlement, came from Vermont in 1817 and settled near Clear Lake. He later moved to his farm near Plessis.

John Spaulsbury, father of Francis, William and John Spaulsbury, and other family members came from Sandy Creek, Oswego County in 1819 and settled on the place where Francis and his son resided.

Austin Martin, Nathaniel Goodell, Martin T. Morseman, George Patterson, Reuben Hinman, Alexander McAllister, Horatio Hubbard; Jabez, Charles and John Birdsley, Ephraim Marvel, Jabez Peoples, Silas Morse, Samuel Morse, Joseph Huntington, Thomas Stickney, David and Clark Briggs, Solomon Makepeace, Elder Stowe, Jason Clark, John D. Davidson, Abraham Newman (father of A. D. Newman), William Carter, Daniel Wherry, Peter Lutz, ___Patten, Ephraim Hogert, and George Rappole. The last seven were soldiers in the Revolutionary War.

Abraham Newman, the only one of the Revolutionary War patriots, who had any direct descendants residing in the town, was born in Stafford, CT. He entered the Rev. War army in 1776 and served three years. He settled in Otsego Co., NY in 1789 and came to Alexandria, Jefferson Co., in 1820 where he died on 19 June 1841 at 82 years.

In 1819 Jairus Rich had a remarkable encounter with a panther, near Hyde Lake, about three miles from Plessis. Having set his traps for wolves, he discovered a panther in one, and it ran with the trap attached to one of its hind legs. His shot missed the mark and the panther escaped. When he returned with a hunting dog, he spotted a panther head which he shot, but soon discovered it was not the panther with the trapped leg. The hunting dog engaged the trapped panther and due to the rain, Rich could not reload his rifle, so he threw down his gun and using his hatchet began the struggle with the panther. The panther managed to get the hatchet out of Rich's hand and he had to resort to a pocket knife to cut the panther's throat. Rich was seriously injured but crawled to the nearest house where he recovered after several weeks.


Alexandria Bay:

The village site was selected by Cadwallader Child in 1804, while surveying a road from the Friends' settlement to the St. Lawrence, as an eligible place for a port, and accordingly a reservation of a mile square was made by LeRay for a village which was surveyed out for that purposed by Edmund Tucker in about 1818. LeRay built a tavern and warehouse and for many years the village had a thriving lumber trade.

Earliest settlers of the village were Jerre Carrier, John W. Fuller, David Hunter, Samuel Bingham, all prior to 1820; Ira Beckwith, ___Tilltoson, Henry Westcott, Chauncey Westcott, before 1825; Azariah Walton in 1828.

The first log house was built by John W. Fuller in 1818 and the first frame house by Dr. Jerre Carrier in 1820. The first store was built by Jerre Carrier and John W. Fuller and stood on the Point, where the later site of Centennial Ice-Cream Saloon stood. The first school, a log structure, was built in 1821. It was on the lot later occupied by the Reformed Church. The first church building was that of the Reformed Protestant Dutch Church, erected in 1848 and opened for public worship in 1851.

In 1848 Mr. C. Crossman kept a hotel at the Bay and in 1872 the rush to the Bay began led by well-known tourists.

The islands in the Bay vicinity include Wells Island, which contains upwards of 8,000 acres; it is eight miles long and from three to four in width. The International Camp Ground and Westminster Park are on the island. Hart's Island, opposite and near Alexandria is where, it is claimed, Thomas Moore wrote his "Canadian Boat Song".

The 1850 census of the village noted 27 dwellings, 30 families and 164 inhabitants. There were three general stores, one grocery store, one millinery store, a harness shop, two blacksmithies, one wagon shop, steam saw and plaster mill, two grand hotels - The Thousand Island House and the Crossmon House, two churches, a public school, a post office, telegraph office, a steamer line which ran between Clayton and the Bay, several boat houses, steam yachts, ice cream parlors, photography studios and other resort and fashionable establishments.

Sunken Rock lighthouse at the front of the port was built in 1846 but not used until 1847.


Information transcribed and contributed by volunteer M. Sapienza. © 2015.



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