JEFFERSON COUNTY, NEW YORK

HISTORY of the TOWN of LORRAINE

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


Originally Lorraine was Malta, erected from Mexico, NY by an act passed 24 March 1804. It was changed from Malta to Lorraine when it was learned that there was another Malta in Saratoga County NY. Worth was set off in 1848. The Boylston tract, part of the Macomb purchase, was conveyed by William Constable to Samuel Ward on 18 Dec. 1792; Ward sold it two days later to Thomas Boyleston of Boston for $20,000.

Lorraine was settled under the land agency of Benjamin Wright and some others. Unsettled interests were for some time controlled by the Hon. William C. Pierrepont of Pierrepont Manor. By 6 Sept. 1806 there were 128 settlers in the town who either had titles to their land or long term contracts in which to pay for them. There was a practice of issuing certificates and a tendency to speculation in those papers which was strongly opposed by the original owners who wanted actual settlement to occur. The first settlement in the town was made in November of 1802 by James McKee and Elijah Fox, who were brothers-in-law, but Elijah was not married at the time. Both were natives of Vermont but did not come to Jefferson from Vermont directly. They erected a log house on a 50 acre lot on the State Road, south of the village. After the winter, Fox sold his interest in the first lot to McKee, who returned to Oneida County and married; he came back in the spring to improve a tract of land that he had purchased and which became the Fox homestead. Eventually it became the residence of George A. Fox, son of Elijah. George was born on the homestead in 1814. Elijah died in 1862. McKee lived in Lorraine for several years, reared a large family with whom he removed to Canada.

In the winter and spring of 1803, several families, who had lived in Herkimer County, came and settled along the State Road from Rome to Brownville in the McKee-Fox neighborhood. Among the best known were:Comfort Stancliff, Seth Cutler, Benjamin Gates and John Alger. Alger built a house on the site of Lorraine in the summer of 1803. Some of them moved on after a few years of residing in Lorraine. Later in 1803, Clark Allen, a Connecticut native, sat down on Sandy Creek where he lived until his death in 1855; he was the father of five sons and two daughters. Son, Elisha, took over the old homestead. Alexander, another son, also became a citizen of the town. Clark Allen or General Allen, gained his title in the War of 1812.

In 1804 William and Isaac Lanfear came to Lorraine from Columbia County NY. Isaac Lanfear reared a large family, and his son, Lafayette, became a town representative. In 1878 Isaac's wife was still a resident of the town at close to 100 years. The Browns - Asa and Aaron-- who were not related to each other, came in as settlers. Asa served in some public offices but left the town several years later. Aaron Brown was a native of Connecticut but came to Lorraine from Washington County, a single man, and then married Betsey Burpee, a town school teacher. They enjoyed more than 60 years of marriage and left three sons: Moses, Levi H. and Henry M. Aaron Brown died in May 1870 and Betsey was still alive in 1878 having passed her fourscore years. Moses Brown, who became a prominent citizen, died in 1853. A son, Philo M. Brown, resided in Lorraine.

A partial list of names of those who came to Lorraine prior to 1808-1810: William Hosford, Ormond Butler, William Hunter, Asa Sweet, John Griswold, Calvin Clifford, James Perry, Elnathan Doane, Ebenezer Brown, Ozias Barton, Michael Risley, Thomas Stancliff, Allen Hills, Oliver Miller, Henry Voners, David Steadman, Nathan Gould, Charles Thomson, Hubbard Randal, John Cowles, Isaac Weston, Abner Baker, Timothy Heath, George Sampson, John Brewer, Joseph Studley and William Adams. One of the first frame barns was built by Isaac Lanfear, the work done by Rufus Larkins in about 1814.

The first pioneer tavern to offer entertainment to travelers and landhunters were McKee and Fox in 1802 although they did it as a matter of accommodation with no desire to engage in the business. John Alger was the first to open a regular inn in 1803. Later Michael Risley and Allen Pitkin, brothers-in-law, started a tavern on the old State Road, which was later occupied by A. Caulkins. Dr. Isaac Weston built a public house below Alger's in about 1807. Dr. Weston moved to Watertown in later years and Daniel Caulkins demolished the building in 1850 David Webb kept a tavern about 1816 on the State Road. Webb fell into the hearth fire and burned himself so severely that he lost some of his limbs. At the crossing on Sandy Creek, Elisha Allen SR. kept a place for 40 years.

In 1801 a Mr. Frost erected a sawmill in Lorraine and built a dam across Sandy Creek at Allendale. Water carried both away before he was able to collect on his labor. Because he did not have title to his land he could not sell the property for several years and he was unable to rebuild so nothing more was done until 1810 when Mabb and Aldrich built a mill which soon after became the property of Clark Allen. It was destroyed by fire during the War of 1812 but was rebuilt by Gen. Allen and operated until 1820 when he sold the property to Jared and Asa Gleason. They in turn, built a grist mill. The saw mill was taken away in 1976. Lafayette Caulkins became the owner of the property.

The first grist mill was built by Seth Cutler on Hull Creek, Lot 45, in about 1805. Thomas Stancliff built a saw mill in about 1805. He was killed within a year or two by a falling tree. That mill then became the property of Comfort Stancliff. John Alger built a saw mill early on Lot. 31 which passed to c. P. Totman and the mill was carried away by water. On lower Deer Creek on lots 42 and 53 there were small grist and saw mills known as Gillman's which rotted away; on lot 54 a small mill was built by S. Lyman and later owned by Henry Bartlett. On Lot98 were two more mills built about 1850 by Nelson Cox and J. O'Niel and later owned by William Standish. On upper Deer Creek at Waterville a small mill formerly known as Lepper's, was owned by C. H. Lyman. A chair factor, at the same place, was operated by S. Warner. And Nathan Gardner had built a small mill on lot 63 that became deserted.

On the brook in the southern part of town, Henry Brigham had a cheese box factory on Lot 81 where he died by falling on the saw. A small saw mill and cheese box factory was later operated by John Brigham. In the northern part of town, David Smith built a saw mill on Abijah Creek which was operated for 20 years by Eli Moore. Sylvanus Lockwood built a saw mill later known as Tole's. Daniel Wheeler built a mill which was operated by Newman Hawley.

As timber decreased and saw mills discontinued, there was a demand for another type of manufacturing. The cheese factories came into their own; the first in the town was the Maple Grove Factory built by a stock company in 1863. The bulk of the stock passed to Andrew Gillet and Montgomery Adams. The Lorraine Central Factory built in 1868 by Ira Page, was destroyed by fire in 1875 and not rebuilt. The G. A. Fox Factory built in 1870 used the milk of 175 cows. The Pitkin Factory built in 1865 by A. Webb and I. Pitkin used the milk of 200 cows. The Excelsior Factory was built in 1870 by Fred Barga and William Searls. In 1872 H. A. Gardner bought the property and operated the factory using milk from 400-500 cows. A. J. Bettinger Factory was built about 1863 by Bonford, Bettinger & Allen and used milk from 250 cows. The Tifft Factory built in 1866 by Tifft, Wilcox & Bailey, was destroyed by fire in February 1869; in 1873 John Wilcox built near the old site and it later belonged to Poole & Graves, operated by Elgin McTaggart.

The State Road from Rome to Brownville was located through Lorraine in 1804, and became an important thoroughfare, as well as a potent agent in the rapid settlement of the town. In 1805, there were six districts formed with James McKee, William Maynard, Stanton Brown, Nathan Chever, Warren Flower and Joseph Case as overseers. By 1807, the number of districts had increased to 18 and in 1877 there were 47 districts.

The Rural Cemetery Association was formed on 8 Jan. 1852 by John Boyden, Aaron Brown, John Bentley, Eben Brown, Knapp Macomber, Joseph Grimshaw, Allen Pitkin, Lorenzo Reed, John Hancock, Moses Brown, Elihu Gillet, Sardis Abbey, Augustus L. Baker, Peter Hanson, Leonard A. Parker, Joel Buel, Luther Lanfear and Parley Brown. The later board of trustees were: Latham Lanfear, John W. Brown, Philo M. Brown, David Gillet, Almond Harrington, Ransom R. Corbin, Henry M. Brown, Joseph Grimshaw and Elihu Gillet. It is thought that Elizabeth Brown, wife of Josiah Brown, was the first to be buried in the Rural Cemetery. The first town death was a Mr. Child, who was chopping a tree when it fell on him.

Betsey Burpee taught the first school in the summer of 1807.

Lorraine was home to several Revolutionary War soldiers: Elijah Fox Sr., Jacob Weaver, Benjamin Fletcher, Caleb Tifft, Martin Rice and John Wiswell. John Wiswell claimed to have been one of the Boston Tea Party of 1773.

The War of 1812 took a large number of citizens for the defense of Sackett's Harbor. Gen. Clark Allen stood out for distinguished service. In addition to the response from men who were subject to duty, there was a company of "Silver Grays", men who were exempted from military duty by law but chose to serve.

When the Civil War call was made for troops and in 1862 an additional call for 300,000 troops, a special town meeting was held in Lorraine to hasten the response. The town minutes were headed by the words "WAR!WAR!" And it was voted that a bounty of $50 per man over and above the amounts of State and county bounties be raised and an addition inducement of $5 per man was voted to all who would enlist that day, 13 May 1862.

The act of incorporation directed the first town meeting of Lorraine to be held at John Alger's house on 5 March 1805. The town officers who were elected: Asa Brown, Supervisor; William Hosford, Clerk; Clark Allen, Ormond Butler, Warner Flowers, Assessors; O. Butler, Collector; William Hunter and C. Allen, Poor masters; O. Butler, Constable; William Hosford, Comm. Of Highways with Michael Frost, Asa Sweet; William Lanfear, Joseph Case, Elijah Fox were Fenceviewers; James McKee, John Griswold were Pound masters and Seth Cutler was Sealer of Weights.

In 1811 the Griffin family - Samuel age 13; James 7 and Mary 9, were left in destitute circumstances and were legally indentured to Joseph Odell, Elihu Gillet and Timothy Risley. The boys were to learn the art and ministry of farming and Mary in the art and ministry of housekeeping. In consideration of faithful serve from the boys, each was to get on obtaining his freedom, one new Bible, durable wearing apparel, one suit, 60 dollars in neat cattle. Mary was to receive, besides the Bible, one good cow, one good feather bed with bolsters and pillows to be of geese feathers.

Waterville in the eastern part of the town on Hull Creek was a small hamlet of a dozen houses. A chair factory was carried on there by S. Warner.

Allendale was called such in honor of Gen. Clark Allen. It was but a hamlet on Sandy Creek. There was a grist mill by L. Caulkins, a cabinet shop by A. E. Baker; a cider mill and blacksmith shop by George Ripley and a small store by Grove Heath. The post office, established in 1871 was in Heath's store, under the name of Caulkin's Mill but changed to Allendale in 1873. Early mechanics of Allendale were: Elisha Allen and Lyman Heath, blacksmiths and L. Heath, shoemaker. In 1830 Martin Rice built a small factory for spinning and weaving flax. A distillery was carried on for several years by Alexander Allen and Loren Bushnell. E. Allen converted it to a horse barn. The school house at Allendale was the finest in town and erected in 1876 by Martin and Ira Tole for $1,000. The house was also used for religious meetings by the Mormons and other sects.

John Alger built the first house in Lorraine Village in 1803. Besides the public house of John Alger and Dr. Weston there were other hotels. Alger was succeeded by Pardon Peck and he by Lemuel Hunt until his death in 1865. In 1841 C. Gillman purchased a small house of Loren Bushnell which he enlarged for a tavern, known as Gillman's Inn. In 1862 D. B. Lockwood became the proprietor and further enlarged the house.

In 1809, Aaron Brown built a small store where he opened a stock of goods and associated Joel Brown with him. The house stood on the site occupied by Elijah Bellinger's residence. Six years later, John Caulkins and Alanson Russell opened in another building, where Albert Streeter's house stood, but it was consumed by fire in 1825. The house was rebuilt and Loren Bushnell and Luther Lampson put in a stock of goods. They continued until 1840 and were succeeded by Baker & Gillet. Elihu Gillet took the interest alone and sold out to Caulkins & Brown; it was demolished in 1870. In 1840 Moses Brown and Luther Lamson built a store where they were in trade for seven years; Brown had the store alone until his death in 1853. Philo M. Brown followed until 1867. Then, A. W. Grow, Brown & Moore and Philo Brown. Lastly was C. D. Grimshaw. In 1857 Elihu Gillet built a store room where Philo Brown carried on trade for several years and it was taken over by CC Moore in Sept. 1870. Aaron Brown built a saw mill in Lorraine in 1807 and when the water failed, Eli Maltby added an engine in 1860. Abel Wagoner was the later owner and made cheese boxes.

The blacksmiths of Lorrraine were: Ward Fox, William Carruth, Elihu Gillet, Joel Buel, H. B. Harrington, Almon Harrington.

The first wheelwright was named Curry; Thomas White followed there as did Asa Copeland and finally Elijah Bellinger.

John Boyden had a fulling mill and was succeeded by Sardis Abbey. In 1808 Aaron Brown built a distillery.

The post office was established in 1806; Simeon Parkhurst was the carrier and Benjamin Gates the postmaster. William Carruth was also an early postmaster.

Dr. Isaac Weston was the first doctor. Others were: Drs. French, Bagg, Tuttle, Hathaway and Nugent. Later, Drs. Z. K. Babcock and M. L. Overton became the physicians of the town.


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



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