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The township of LeRay borders the towns of Orleans and Pamelia on its north-south line and on the northeast side it joins Theresa and Philadelphia. The southeast border is formed partially by Wilna but mostly by the Black River. A small part of LeRay was included in the Chassanis Tract, its north line running from Great Bend N. 87 degrees West and being also the south line of LeRay's purchase, which gave the town its name. To encourage rapid settlement, LeRay offered the lands at prices from $1 - $3 per acre, based upon the quality and location of the land but he also gave seven years in which to complete the payment-purchase of the lands. A condition of purchase was that the settler had to clear, on an annual basis, four acres out of every 100 acres purchased and needed to build a log dwelling of a certain size within a specified time. Lands were advertised extensively in Albany and other central points touting the favorable terms, the climate and location, and great fertility that only required an ax and plow to turn the land into productive farms.
The earliest settlers were Benjamin Brown, who was a brother of General Jacob Brown. When he explored the area in the fall of 1801, he chose a spot on the banks of Pleasant Creek, where the present LeRaysville was later situated. Not only did he work on clearing the land but he made preparations for the construction of a dam across the stream. Winter slowed the work to a stop so Brown and his labor party spent the winter in Brownsville and waited for spring. In April he returned to his labors under the lead of his brother, Jacob, who preceded the group with a compass to plot their course; Benjamin and the others followed and cut a track as they progressed. It was a short journey but brought hardships; the provision train which was expected to follow closely did not catch up until the second day, when they reached their destination.
Workmen built a log house and even though Benjamin was a bachelor at the time, he made provisions for the possibility of a Mrs. Brown. She did arrive in July, the first white woman to set foot in the now present town of LeRay. Between April and July, progress had been made in the construction of a sawmill on the creek, one of the reasons Brown chose the spot. When the frame was raised, men came from long distances mainly to participate in the festivities of the occasion which included venison and spirits. Before winter came again, the mill was completed.
Several new settlers came in 1803 and 1804. Those who arrived in 1803 were: Joseph Child with his three sons, Daniel, Samuel and Moses from Pennsylvania; Thomas Ward; Daniel Coffeen, John Petty and Robert Sixbury. The Childs settled in the area which still bears their name, southwest from LeRaysville and Ward located where Joseph Bichet later resided which was between LeRaysville and Evans' Mills. In the following year, Ward and Samuel Child, employees of Cadwallader Child, made the first clearing in the later town of Philadelphia. Coffeen settled where B. Steinhilber's farm was eventually, about a mile southeast of Evans' Mills but Coffeen moved the next year to a location near Sterlingville. Sixbury, one of the surveying party, accompanied Cadwallader Child to Alexandria Bay in 1804 and back to Great Bend. In that same year, Sixbury with John Hoover, who came from Herkimer County, purchased the improvement of D. Coffeen who moved to Philadelphia. Sixbury later moved to a farm which was two miles north of Evans' Mills where he made permanent settlement. His skills as a hunter were well known. He died in LeRay in the fall of 1875 having marked 112 years. John Petty moved in the fall of 1804 to Philadelphia, and became one of the first settlers in that town.
Guillaume Coupart also known in LeRay as William Cooper or "French Cooper", was one of the first to arrive in 1803. Born in Normandy, France on 24 June 1773, he fled his native country 20 years later to avoid conscription. His travels took him to Newfoundland where he was taken prisoner and transported to Halifax. He escaped and went to Connecticut where he remained for a time. In 1798 he journeyed to the Black River Country and located at Pamelia. In 1803 he was at LeRay and settled west of LeRaysville, south of Ingerson's Corners. He did become a large landowner and died there on 19 January 1851. A son, Victor Cooper, lived at Sanford's Corners Station.
Roswell Woodruff, who was the father of Norris M. Woodruff of Watertown, settled in 1801 at a location later called Jewett's Corners, after Captain Ezekiel Jewett, to whom Woodruff later sold the property. Woodruff moved to New Hartford in Oneida County after he sold the property and lived there for the rest of his life. Benjamin Kirkbride was another 1804 settler, about one mile southeast of Evans' Mills, on a tract later owned by Ezekiel Steinhilber.
Identified among the earliest pioneers in LeRay were: Michael Coffeen, Ruel Kimball, James Anthony, Captain Richardson Avery, William Barber, S. Brownell, Alfred Comins, Eli Davis, Sylvanus Evans, Amos Broughton, David Burhans, Perley Fuller, Oliver Fuller, William H. Granger, Peter Hoover, Thomas Huston, John Huston (a weaver), William Huston, Isaac Ingerson, Ezra Ingerson, Silas Ward, Lee Woodward, Francis Trevalier, Joseph Taggart, Reuben Treat, Elisha Steele, Abiel Shurtliff, Elisha Scofield, Alvah Scofield, Amaziah Parker, Solomon Parker, Barnhart Minick, Elias Minick, Arnold Miller, Alanson Lyon, Thomas Hurlbut, Joel W. Hurlbut, Lyman Holbrook and Ivah Holbrook. Other early settlers were: Alvin Clark, David M. Caldwell, Dr. Horatio Orvis who was the first physician in LeRay, Willard Barrett, Fred H. Bellinger, Adam. P. Bellinger, Peter Bellinger, Levi Butterfield, Asa Barnes, David M. Caldwell, Jotham Goodale, Alfred Vebber, Alvin Herrick, Fayette Herrick, Solomon Hawkins, John Ingerson, Ansel Winslow, Gilbert Taylor, Stephen D. Sloan, Edwin Hungerford, Peter Slack, Jesse Smith, Samuel Stewart, John V. and Patrick S. Stewart, Levi Reed, William Palmer, Isaac Palmer, Joseph J. Petrie, Oliver Pierce, Abraham Jewett, Ezekiel Jewett, James J. Murphy, Herman Millard, John Macomber, Stephen Macomber, Chauncey Morse, Samuel C. Kanady, Sylvester Kelsey, Benjamin Henry, Elom Henry, Stephen and Nathan Ingerson, Andrew Roberts and Obey Roberts.
The town of LeRay was erected on 17 February 1806 and encompassed all that part of Brownville, lying east of the east line of Penet Square, to the Black River. Its limits then included presents towns of Antwerp and Philadelphia as well as part of Wilna and Alexandria. By an act of 4 April 1806, additional territory was acquired from the town of Leyden. It was decreased by the creation of Antwerp on 5 April 1806, of Wilna on 2 April 1813, and of Alexandria and Philadelphia on 3 April 1821.
At the first town meeting on 3 March 1807, at Abiel Shurtliff's house, the following officers were elected: James Shurtliff, supervisor; Thomas Ward, town clerk; Ruel Kimball, John B. Bossnet and Richardson Avery assessors; Daniel Child, Daniel Sterling and Lyman Holbrook commissioners of highways; Thomas Thurston as constable and collector.
Supervisors beginning in 1807 were: James Shurtliff, Ruel Kimball, Ethni Evans, Alvin Herrick, Dr. Horatio Orvis, William Palmer, John Macomber, Stephen D. Sloan, Lybeus Hastings, Ira A. Smith, Daniel d. Sloan, Joel Haworth, Elisha Potter, Hezekiah L. Granger, Alfred Vebber, Joseph Boyer, William G. Comstock, Alonzo M. Van Ostrand, Joseph Wager, William S. Phelps, Octave Blane, Samuel G. Slocum, Cleanthus P. Granger, Emmer K. Gardner, Frederic Waddingham and F. E. Croissant.
Named for Ethni Evans who came from Hinsdale, New Hampshire, the village is situated at the confluence of West and Pleasant Creeks. Ethni Evans came into Jefferson Count in 1802 as an employee of Jacob Brown of Brownville. Observing the water power on Pleasant Creek, and being a millwright, he purchased a tract of land on both sides of the stream for the purpose of erecting mills. The tract contained 192 acres and covered the present site of the village; he paid three dollars per acre on 9 July 1804. None of the tract had been cleared but he made a clearing, built a log house and began dam construction across the creek. Those who worked for him and in preparation of timber for the mills were: Robert Sixbury and Solomon Parker, after their work with Cadwallader Child was completed in surveying the road route from Alexandria Bay to Great Bend. Both a sawmill and grist mill were built during 1805-1806. In 1807-08 a store and public house were opened by Jenison Clark at the corner of Main and Noble Streets.
The settlers who came from the Mohawk Valley became alarmed at the opening of the War of 1812. A strong blockhouse was begun to serve as a general shelter and defense against the attacks which they thought were probable. It was, however, never used or completed.
Eighteen years after the first commencement, Evans' Mills had grown to be a place of considerable importance. In 1822, the following business were established: the mills built by Evans, the sawmill ran day and night, the sawyers were Pierce Macomber and Omred Evans, son of the proprietor. The gristmill constantly at work with Stearns, father of Rev. John G. Stearns, as miller. A fulling mill and clothiery stood adjoining the gristmill and operated by George Oaks, probably built in 1810-11. John Macomber's small tannery stood on a spot later occupied by the stone house of Edwin Chamberlain. John Hoover's potashery, begun about 15 years earlier, stood where E. Hungerford's house stood later and another of the same type was owned by William Palmer, just west of the railroad station. Where W. S. Cooper's store stood, Ziba Henry's distillery had occupied that spot and that distillery was built some years previously by Jesse Smith. William H. Granger and Captain Sanderson had a distillery near a small stream at the south end of the village. They sold it to Millard & Palmer. Sackett Comstock had his blacksmith shop on ground later occupied by a brick hotel. Near the Railroad House, Sewell Hill, another blacksmith was in business and made hoes, axes and other steel tools. Farrington Stiles manufactured spinning wheels, both large and small, looms, warping bars and all equipment for the home manufacture of cloth. Harry Weed had a wagon shop and Joseph Pryor (a Quaker) had a cabinet shop. The local store was kept by William Palmer in a building that had been the tavern of Jenison Clark, where Capt. Hoover built a brick hotel six years later. Heman Millard and Hiram Becker were in the whiskey business at the corner of Noble and Main Streets.
Evans' Mills boasted two public houses then; the older was the stone tavern across West Creek built about 1816 by Adam and Peter Bellinger; the other was a stone tavern occupied by Capt. John Hoover. That site later became the store of A. M. Cook and the harness and saddlery shop of F. Waddingham. Begun in 1821, the stone was quarried mainly on a farm later owned by H. N. Eddy, but some being brought from the Ox Bow area. Josiah Fuller was the stone mason and the carpenter-joiner was William Delaware. Landlords who occupied it after Hoover when it was a public house, were Daniel Thomas, George Oaks, Parker Rulison, Elisha Root, Alexander Lappon, Nelson Clarke and Benjamin Jackman. The Bellinger tavern ceased to exist as a public house but had landlords of Elias Holbrook, David Kilburn, Oliver Pierce, Edwin Hungerford, Henry Lawton and Jacob Davis. The first public house opened at the Mills was done by Jenison Clark and had landlords of William H. Granger and John Hoover, later in its existence.
The first physician, Dr. Ira A. Smith, was there in 1822 and remained there to practice as he was greatly popular. At times, he had other physicians in partnership, and Dr. William G. Comstock was one of these. Dr. Henry Munson, who died in Texas, was a student and partner of Dr. Smith; another of his students was Dr. Isaac Munson of Watertown.
In 1823, Peter H. Ryther moved to the Mills and began blacksmithing; he built a stone shop on the corner of Church and LeRay Streets and a dwelling house where a Mr. Clifford later lived. Around 1826-27 he started a scythe, ax and hoe manufactory, with a trip hammer worked by water power; it was done in a two-story stone building just below the dam and on the south side of the creek. It was later destroyed by fire. In 1825, Ryther started a wagon shop on Church street nearly opposite the Presbyterian church and in 1827 moved it to the shop that he had built on the creek. Later that building was in the area of W. S. Cooper's store and occupied by a Mr. Zimmerman as a horse rake manufactory.
The saw mill was rebuilt by Judge Evans in 1822-23, and later operated by Charles Holbrook, a grandson of Ivah Holbrook. Evans also built a gristmill in 1822.
The brick hotel at the corner of Main and Noble Streets, was begun by Capt. John Hoover in 1827. Benjamin Barnes of Theresa was the brick manufacturer and brick layer. His kiln was on the northeast area of the village on the opposite side of Pleasant Creek. Alfred Vebber was the carpenter and joiner on the hotel. It was finished and opened by Reuben Wilmot and John Hoover on 1 Nov. 1827, within days of the election that sent Andrew Jackson to the presidency. After the Wilmot-Hoover management, others who were proprietors: R. H. Tozer, Thomas Bones, Henry R. Morey, Thomas Bejamin, John Morris, S. J. Bingham, Benjamin Jackman, Willard Spalding, L. Biddlecom, William Brown, Fayette Grander, Roland S. Lawton, Jacob Davis, N. J. Mackey, S. & J. Burtis, J. D. Burtis, E. Vebber and William Forbes.
About 1827 Benjamin Collins opened a pubic house where Henry Walradt later lived. It was an inn for about two years. The Railroad Hotel was opened by A. Beebe in the house of Sewell Hill.
In 1824, the post office of Evans Mills was established; its first postmaster was William Palmer who held the position for years. He had kept the office at his store in the old tavern building of Jenison Clark. Later he built the store that was occupied by E. O. Hungerford, where the post office was moved to, and in 1846 the name of the office was changed to Evansville, but five years later was under the original name again.
The Watertown and Potsdam railroad was completed and opened to Evans' Mills in the autumn of 1854. The first agent of the company at Evans' Mills was Lewis W. Sanderfurth, who was succeeded in September 1863 by George Ives.
On Pleasant Creek, a short distance above Evans' Mills, was the saw mill and cheese box factory of James M. Henry, which had its roots in the building of a sawmill by Asa Hall about 1821 on a site he bought of Sylvanus Evans. Hall's successor was George Oaks who rebuilt the dam in about 1830, rebuilt the saw mill and added a clothiery works. Albert Grander and Stutley Miller were his successors and under their ownership the place was destroyed by fire. Miller withdrew but Granger rebuilt the saw mill.
Clifford's Brewery on LeRay Street was begun by Martin Boos and Carleton Clifford followed him.
Evans' Mills became incorporated as a village in 1874.
Four years after Benjamin Brown selected the site for his mill, Dr. Baudry, a Frenchman sent by LeRay, arrived to select a location for his residence and land office. After he made his selection, work began for the building of the LeRay house.
Timber was felled in the fall of 1806 with the actual sawing done at Brown's Mill in the winter and spring. By early 1807, the frame was ready and raised by superintendent Ethni Evans who more than likely was the master carpenter on the job. Although not quite finished, LeRay took possession in 1808 while smoke of burning log heaps was still in the air. The site was covered with a heavy growth of maple and elm trees. In the thinning process, the elms were eliminated and the maples and beeches were left. Workmen created a broad opening cut from the main entrance of the house along the plateau to the brow of the hill that overlooked the pond. A view of the valley of Pleasant Creek could be seen.
Moss Kent, a brother of the chancellor, was the first agent in charge of the land office at LeRaysville. When M. LeRay returned to France in 1810, temporarily, he left his son, Vincent, in charge of affairs. Kent not only remained to assist in management but resided in the household of his patron. By 1816 he had retired from the agency and was followed by Samuel C Kanady until his death in 1835. LeRay returned from France in 1816 and brought his daughter, Theresa and her husband, the Marquis de Gouvello. They had recently married so their visit to LeRaysville was prolonged to about a year. LeRay lived on in his house for many years.
A post office opened at LeRaysville in the spring of 1818 when the first mail route from Denmark to Wilna via the village was established. The first postmaster was Samuel C. Kanday who lived in the village but was employed in the land office at the villa until his death. Other postmasters were Whipple, William Phelps, Ennis Mosher, Horace Grover, Albert Mosher and William S. Phelps. The first physician was Dr. Horatio Orvis and his father who located where J. J. Kinney later lived.
The first public house in the village was the LeRaysville Hotel, opened about 1810. Amasa Barber was an early proprietor. Curtis Mann opened another hotel on the far side of the creek and successors were Marvin Kingsbury and Stephen Macomber. LeRay owned the only store in the village and employed a clerk by the name of Devereaux; around 1820 it was Martin Hubbard and then S. C. Kanady.
Benjamin Brown's saw mill passed to Curtis Mann and then to S. C. Kanady and later to William Phelps.
William Phelps settled in the village in 1814 and opened his cabinet making shop on the east side of the main street. And he built a stone shop on the west side. Curtis Mann set up a saw mill which he later sold to William Phelps. Leonard Fortune added an ax helve factory which was sold to Charles Mosher. Heman Wafel became the owner of the saw mill.
In 1825 the LeRay residence was in demolition to make room for a more elegant and luxurious house. Built of stone, it was smoothly plaster on the outside. The main building was bout 60 feet by 60 feet and attached was a wing large enough to be a mansion by itself. Four massive columns supported a lofty portico. No expense was spared on the interior - all the finishes were hand worked. Alfred Vebber of Evans' Mills was kept busy for months making doors of cherry wood and paneled with choice maple. When it was completed in 1827 it was said to be the most splendid establishment west of the Hudson. LeRay lived in the mansion for about five years before he returned to France in 1832. He spent a few months in LeRaysville in 1836 then made a final return to France where he died December 21, 1840 at 80 years.
Monsieur Le Ray de Chaumont was well respected by the residents of Jefferson County. He promoted public improvements in education and religion; he donated land for schools and churches supplemented with donations of materials and money. Most of the servants in his mansion were natives of LaBelle, France but a few were black skinned Americans. The land office remained at the manor until 1836 when it was finally moved to Carthage. Its last agent was Patrick Somerville Stewart who succeeded Kanady at his death. Jales R. Payen, a Frenchman, purchased a tract of 2,000 acres of the LeRay lands that included the manorhouse and where he died on 26 July 1862. His daughter, Mrs. William S. Phelps of LeRaysville, became the successive owner.
The place received its name from Caleb Slocum who was the son of Samuel G. Slocum. There was a saw mill, grist mill, store and woolen factory which was owned and operated by Caleb.
In 1813 under the patronage of LeRay, a powder mill was built by a young Frenchman named Desjardines, brought from France for that purpose. A pupil of the Polytechnic School of Paris, he was supposed to have discovered a new process of manufacturing the explosive. The powder proved to be of an inferior quality but was used for blasting purposes. The grist mill which was built about the same time contained the first burr stones in LeRay, having been sent from France for this specific purpose. It produced an excellent flour. Another Frenchman by the name of Bidrot, was the first miller and he, too, had been brought from France for that express purpose. The powder mill was converted into a potato starch manufactory but was only moderately successful. A clothing mill that was in operation many years before, became one that produced coarse woolens and was operated with some success.
Located between the towns of LeRay and Rutland but divided by the Black River, was a fine iron bridge that was built in 1875 as the previous bridge had been carried away by flooding. The LeRay portion of the village was within a tract of 150 acres which had been purchased around 1828 by Christopher Poor, who bought it from Alexander LeRay. He was the agent for the Chassanis tract. Poor was an early settler in Rutland but moved to his new purchase on Chrismas day of 1829. The house he built later became the home of J. T. Davenport. In the preceding summer with help from the other residents, a bridge across the river was built.
A. Horton had the first grist mill about 1836 on the river bank, a short distance above the bridge. It later became the property of Christopher and Peter Poor but was destroyed by fire in 1842-43. A flour mill which was known as the Lockport Mill, stood at the northerly end of the iron bridge and begun in 1845 by Oliver A. Ferguson. It was never completed and later taken by Matthew Poor, R. G. Vaughn and Henry Chapman, who completed it in 1849. It then passed to A. H. Herrick, then to the Jewett Brothers and on to Warren and Ingraham.
In 1831 the first saw mill was built jointly by Christopher Poor and Coburn and Hubbard. They sold it to William K. Butterfield and his brothers. It was burned at the same time that Poor's grist mill was destroyed and never rebuilt. On the river bank a second saw mill was built by Butterfield and destroyed by fire with the grist mill, which was adjacent. Joseph Fuller rebuilt it but it was carried away in a flood which destroyed the first iron bridge. A planing mill and woodworking machine shop was built by Peter Poor around 1848 and it passed to Andrew Poor. At one time it was a chair factory.
The woodworking shop and box factory of D. H. Scott & Son, stood on the river below Poor's and was built by Hinman & Middleton around 1860. D. Dexter & Son of Rutland purchased it and opened their chair manufacturing company. The Free Methodists of Black River used it for two years as a place of worship.
On the riverbank at the lower side of the iron bridge, a building was erected for an iron working machine shop by Isaac and Joseph Howe. After several successful years they sold it to Thomas Matthews who used it as a joiner's shop.
The first merchandiser in the LeRay section of the village was Robert H. Van Shaick who opened his store in 1832-33, near the bridge. P. Thurston became the owner around 1848; he transformed it into a hotel, the first and only public house of the village. S. L. Mott opened a second store in 1852 between the hotel and the head of the bridge. Matthew Poor became the proprietor in November of 1866.
In 1878 in Black River there was a schoolhouse, a church, a wagon shop, two blacksmith shops and about 250 inhabitants.
The old residents of LeRay said that this particular crossroads cluster of buildings should have been named Woodruff's Corners after Roswell Woodruff, its first settler who came in 1804. Later it was called Jewett's Corners, Jewett's Schoolhouse and Captain Jewett's after Ezekiel Jewett who purchased the Woodruff farm.
Sanford built a stone building with the intention of opening a store but that was never done. Oliver Pierce opened the brick hotel near the west of the railroad track around 1825 but it became a limburger cheese factory. Its post office was established in 1828 and kept in the brick tavern; Pierce was the first postmaster. The first school house in LeRay was built at Sanford's Corners.
That was the name given to a projected village by Lucien Murat in honor of his father, Joachim Murat, King of Naples and marshal of the empire under Napoleon, who claimed that Murat was the right arm of his defense and a Paladin in the field. He served at Waterloo. Joachim was on the Indian River near the town line of Philadelphia. Arnold Miller built a saw mill there in 1822 and it passed to Samuel Makepeace. The saw mill and the land were purchased by Murat who in 1834 rebuilt the mill with the intent of establishing a village. A gristmill was next and used for dancing parties and merrymaking. There was also a large hotel begun but never completed.
There were a number of small frame houses built rapidly. Murat's own residence was something of a protracted carnival when he was there. Using his credit in New York, he filled a very large store with an extensive amount of goods. Eventually, the creditors seized the remaining goods, store and whatever else they could find. The entire process of growth to end took about three years. Machinery from the flour mill was sold and moved to Salmon River. The store was remodeled into a dwelling house occupied by Isaac Sixbury. Another store, owned by Mr. Shattuck, was abandoned. Only the saw mill remained, and was owned and operated by Robert Sixbury, a grandson, whose grandfather bore the same name.
This neighborhood was about two miles southeast of Evans' Mills, named for Isaac Ingerson, the first settler at that point. Elisha Schofield settled nearby. It was originally proposed as a village site. A wagon shop and smithy were started by Aaron Rose who conducted quite a good amount of business. One of his apprentices was Harry Wood, who later established business at Evans' Mills, and Rose, too, moved there at a later time. Job Anthony and Alvin Clark built a saw mill in 1822 on the small stream that was there.
On the north side of Black River and opposite the village of Great Bend in Champion there was a hotel, built about 1833 by King Potter and kept for some years by Henry G. Potter; he started a distillery at the same location. Daniel Potter opened a store there at least by 1824 and it continued for several years. J. & G. Freeman became the owners of the hotel.
An island in the river was set off to Rutland in 1835 and it was on that island that John Felt constructed a tannery and other improvements. Thomas Ward was an early store keeper near the residence of Joseph Bichet on the road to Evans' Mills to LeRay. At Five Corners, a hotel was opened by Benjamin Butterfield which became the residence of Alvin Scofield.
H. C. Churchchill had a saw mill on Pleasant Creek below Slocumville. A mill was built half a century earlier by Alvin Clark on Gardner's Creek. Abraham Jewett built a grist mill about 1830 on West Creek, a mile from Sanford's Corners. Later it was used as a plaster mill and for manufacturing water lime. There was a very old grist mill built by Taylor near the house of M. Walts in the west part of the town. Benjamin Bentley built a saw mill in 1823 but it was finally abandoned.
On 13 January 1814, a meeting was held at Elisha Scofield's home at Ingerson's Corners, for the purpose of organizing a Congregational Church society. It was the first attempt made for any organization of any religious society in LeRay. Rev. Nathaniel Dutton of Champion presided over the meeting. Early members were: Elisha Scofield and wife Abigail; Ruel Kimball and wife, Hannah; Gersham Mattoon and wife, Nancy; Ezra Sayer and wife Elisabeth S.; Widow Mattoon; Mrs. Cheeseman who became the wife of Joseph Tuttle; Abner Cheeseman and Hannah Parker. Ruel Kimball was elected as deacon, standing moderator and clerk.
In 1828 the Hicksite schism divided the Quaker congregation as it had elsewhere. The Orthodox portion withdrew and in 1876 built a new frame house of worship in the Quaker style at LeRaysville. The Progressive Quakers met in the old house of 1816.
The M. E. Church at Evan's Mills dates to Nov. 20, 1824; its first trustees were: Henry Churchill, Parker Chase, John Y. Stewart, Daniel Smith, P. S. Stuart, James Ward, Wilson Pennock, Elijah Smith and William Taggart. The first building was begun in 1832.
A Methodist class existed at Sanford's Corners for more than half a century before 1878.
The Christian Church in LeRay was organized on March 12, 1823. Its members were: Elder Eli Denio, Edmund Allen, Elisha Allen, Ebenezer Dunton, Fayette Herrick, James Rogers and others of the area. The German Reformed Church was begun on July 13, 1822 with Alexander H. Van Brocklin, Peter Hoover, Richard Hoover and John C. Walradt as deacons and elders. St. Michael's Catholic Church services were held in residences at Evans' Mills by Rev. Father Guth soon after 1840.
The old burial ground at Evans' Mills was given to the public by Ethni Evans, the founder of that place. When the Main Street of the village was laid out, it cut the old graveyard in two and the remains from the southeastern part were moved to the opposite side but all were then transferred to the Evans' Mills Cemetery. The Quaker Burial Ground was in a lot adjacent to their meeting house. Members of the Child family and other early Quaker settlers were buried there. Another Quaker cemetery was taken from the farm of Stephen Roberts.
The Evans' Mills Cemetery was created on May 19, 1840 by Aaron Root and Betsey, his wife, when they conveyed by deed to trustees: S. D. Sloan, William Palmer, Lybeus Hastings and Elisha Steel Jr. The amount of land was two acres and priced at $40 per acre but Aaron Root allowed $34 for three burial lots reserved for his own use. The first burial was a child of Philander Miller who died by drowning and the second was that of Aaron Root. Eventually in 1866 more land was added by Joseph D. Grinnell and others.
The Hoover Burial Ground is about two miles north of Evans' Mills and was originally part of the Peter Hoover farm. J. Adam Walradt was the first burial on 27 February 1831. A quarter of an acre was sold to Alfred Vebber, Isaac Walradt and Alexander H. Van Brocklin the trustees for a public burial place. Peter Hoover's son, Simon P. Hoover, who was murdered on March 4, 1876 near the house of Alfred Vebber by Francis Grappot, was buried there.
The Caswell Graveyard was taken from the Caswell farm; he was an early settler and later moved to Felt's Mills. The Catholic Cemtery of St. Michael's was about two acres and purchased by them from Isaac Keller for $200. Mrs. Champaign was the first burial. Sanford's Corners Burial Ground was donated by LeRay de Chaumont about 1812. The first burials were those of Mr. and Mrs. Woodruff, grandparents of N. M. Woodruff of Watertown. Another cemetery plat was laid out by Isaac T. Fuller on land purchased by him from the farm of Charles Ryder. The Pine Plains Cemetery was never deeded to the public by LeRay, but remained a portion of the Payon estate and contained about three acres.
No authentic account of schools was found in LeRay before 1815 but teaching had begun in the town several years earlier. There was a small hip roof frame building on LeRay Street in Evans' Mills; in 1816-17 the teacher was Mrs. Treat, widow of Reuben Treat, one of the early settlers of the town.
This completes the early history and firsts of LeRay.
Information transcribed and contributed by volunteer M. Sapienza. © 2015.
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