JEFFERSON COUNTY NEW YORK

PHILADELPHIA VISITED BY DURANT & PIERCE, 1878

Extracted by Marilyn Sapienza from The History of Jefferson County NY
by Durant & Peirce, Cornell University Library, 1878


The Friends' Settlement in 1828, later Philadelphia:


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The increase in population of the Quaker Settlement, later known as Philadelphia, was very slow. In 1828 it was nearly a quarter of a century; the heads of families were: Edmund Tucker and Miles Strickland, proprietors of the flour mill; Platt Homan, the miller; Samuel C. Fey and Cyrus Dodge, both innkeepers; Harvy Hamblin, John Cross, W. Mosher, shoemakers; James Cromwell, cabinetmaker; Stephen Roberts, Orrin Cloyse, Elijah Comstock, John Roat, Justin Gibbs, Edmund Hall, Robert Gray, merchant and successor of Samuel Case, who opened the first store in Philadelphia on the corner of Antwerp and Main Streets. Seth Otis, the other storekeeper of the place, was opposite the present post office; Dr. Almon Pitcher was on Antwerp Street, where later Gardner Clarke lived; Horace Ball, who built and started the first fulling mill which he later sold to William Comstock and it passed to Milo Shattuck; still later to a Mr. Houghton and eventually became the cabinet works of Mr. Potter. Mr. Gray, the merchant above, was a son-in-law of John Strickland. Gray afterwards built a distillery on the west side of the river, at the settlement.

In 1835, tenants began to resist payment of rents, which eventually led to abandonment of the land lease system. The problem involved several leases which were repeatedly conveyed , unknown to the Quaker trustees, who found themselves in arrears due on lots of which they only had but a part. A public meetings was called to address the issue. John F. Latimer, Samuel Rogers, and Jesse Smith were made a committee to represent the tenants. The defiant tenants, who vowed they would pay no more rent were subsequently sued. The anti-renters made their point and in March of 1844, the society petitioned for a law authorizing the trustees to sell the center lot; the problem was referred by the senate to the attorney general for an opinion but he declined to become involved. To resolve the issue, lessees were willing to pay certain amounts, which were agreed to, and to accept quit claim deeds from the meeting on 9 January 1845. About 25 deeds were given to the tenants who paid all arrears of rent up to 1 April 1844. Two or three of the members preferred, instead to hold their perpetuity leases at the low figure of $1 per acre or less, in annual rent.

In the northerly corner of the town, on the line of Theresa on lots 543 and 544, iron ore was discovered at about the time of the opening of the Sterling mines in Antwerp; the beds were opened on the farms of Almon Fuller and Abiel Shurtliff in about 1836. The ore was worked in the furnaces at Sterlingville, Carthage, Antwerp and Redwood, the land owners receiving a 50 cents per ton royalty. The lean quality of the ore slowed the working until a greater depth was reached and the quality improved.

The first furnace on Black Creek in Philadelphia was begun by James Sterling in 1836 for the purpose of working the ores from the Sterling bed in Antwerp, which he had just purchased from David Parrish. In the fall of 1837 Sterling associated with Orville Hungerford, George Walton, Caleb Essington and George C. Sherman as the Sterling Iron Company with a capital of $20,000 in 200 equal shares. In 1840 the company went out of business and a new one was form under the name of The Philadelphia Iron Company; owners were: Ephraim Taylor, Fred Van Ostrand, George Dickerson, William Skinner and John Gates, who incorporated on 19 May 1840. This company also went out of business and was followed by Samuel G. Sterling, brother of James Sterling, the father, and Samuel retired in 1859 and passed away in 1863. The furnace was destroyed by fire in 1849 and rebuilt two years later. Between 1859 and 1869 it was carried on by A. P. Sterling of Antwerp who sold it to the Jefferson Iron Company, Edwin B. Bulkley, president—his offices were in Antwerp Village. It was Caleb Essington who erected the first forge in about 1839.

The post office of Philadelphia was opened in 1822 with Edmund Tucker as first postmaster; it was located in his brick house. He held the job until he died on 6 January 1836. The post office at Sterlingville was opened in February 1839 with George Walton as the first postmaster there. In 1850 the post office of Whitney's Corners was opened and its first postmaster was Carey Z. Eddy, followed by William M. Whitney. At Pogeland a post office as opened in 1852 and Daniel Smith was postmaster, followed by Theodore Cross.

In 1815 the first tavern was built and opened by Samuel Case, son-in-law of John Strickland. It was on the site of the Eagle Hotel. Case was followed by Harvey Hamblin until 1823 and then Samuel C. Frey as landlord. Men whose names were Ferrin, Jackman and Edmund Hall followed; then William Comstock, Butterfield, Howard, Paul, Washburn and Elliott and Springsteen. The other public house was built and opened by Mr. Crofoot in 1825. One of its first landlords was Cyrus Dodge, who was instantly killed in Philadelphia by the burst of a cannon on 4 July 1829. John Cross followed by Charles G. Bunnell, William Mosher and Daniel Rogers. Hiram Cross was an early proprietor and the last was Dr. French.

A hotel opened at Sterlingville before 1840 by Rufus Hatch and in 1852 Seth Hatch was the proprietor. The Sterling House was built and opened by Frederick Van Ostrand in 1841 with William Conley a later proprietor. At Barber's Corners, 2 ˝ miles east of Philadelphia Village, a tavern was kept by Van Ostrand, Van Valkenburgh and at Pogeland , Van Ostrand and Daniel Smith, the latter hotel destroyed by fire.

The Philadelphia Flour Mill was a successor of the first grist mill built by the Townsend Brothers in 1805. The old mill passed into the possession of: John Strickland Sr. in 1809 and then Edmund Tucker, followed by E. Tucker, Miles Strickland, Samuel Rogers, Houck and Frazier, George Frazier, S. Graves, Frederick Happ, Holmes and Scofield, Clark & Brown and Robert Melrose, William McNeil and Henry Ford.

The Aldrich Saw Mill was built in about 1826 by Hamblin and Crofoot and included in the property sold by E. Tucker and Miles Strickland to Samuel Rogers in 1836. After that time it was used as a buttertub factory, then returned to its original use. In 1878 it was owned by Martin E. Aldrich.

The Plaster and Feed Mills of John Wait were located on the island below the iron bridges at Philadelphia Village and begun in 1872. The original building was erected in 1851 by Henry Baxter as a machine shop. Later it was a flax mill by Hamilton Child and passed to John Cooper and from his estate was purchased by John Wait.

Farnham's Tannery on the east side of the river at the village, was built in 1842 by James Short, who purchased it from H. E. Farnham.

Potter's Cabinet Works occupied the building formerly used by Milo Shattuck as a clothiery, and both this and the wagon shop which adjoined, received their power from the canal constructed by Horace Ball for his fulling mill.

Monroe Bros' Saw Mill on the upper dam at the village was built by William Strong and Bracket Ackerman followed.

The Sterlingville Grist Mill and saw mill were built and owned by Caleb Esslington. At some point a foundry was built by Aaron Baxter and the machine shop (iron working) by Henry Baxter, both of which were located on the island at the village and both carried away by flood. The first saw mill built by William Strong, which stood near Farnham's tannery, decayed and disappeared. Otis Brooks erected a tub and cheesebox factory on Indian River below the Village. The saw mill at Sterlingville was built in 1824 by Hamblin and Crofoot for Edmund Tucker but was owned by Joseph Bonbaparte. Another was built at the same location by James Sterling in 1836 but both were gone by 1878.

The first school, taught by Anna Comstock in 1810, was held in the frame dwelling which John Strickland had added to the blockhouse purchased by him from Thomas Townsend. Anna Comstock was also the first teacher of the school in the Quaker meetinghouse. Mr. Blackman taught a short time in 1816 but became sick and was followed by Elias Roberts. Anna Strickland also taught and Samuel Rogers for $11 a month, a school of 30 pupils.

The Philadelphia Library was formed 13 Sept. 1831 with the following trustees: Edmund Tucker, Alvah Murdock, Henry W. Marshall, Joel Haworth, John F. Latimer, Samuel Rogers, Azel Danforth, Weeden Mosher and John R. Taylor.

In addition to the Quaker Settlement, other religious churches in Philadelphia were: the Philadelphia Congregational Church in 28 June 1859; the Presbyterian Church in 1841; the M. E. Church of Philadelphia formed on 9 March 1838; St. Nicholas Catholic church in 1838; The Baptist Church of Philadelphia on 5 Nov. 1840; the Free Baptist Church of Philadelphia on 25 July 1852; the Union Church edifice which was a shared meeting house by the Episcopalians, Universalists, Baptists, Methodists, Disciples and others. The Disciples' began after 1850.

Cemeteries in the area included the ground which adjoined the first Quaker meetinghouse in 1807 with the interment of the victims of the malignant fever of that year. The first burials were John Merrick and two children of Robert Comfort. Quakers by sectarian rule were forbidden to erect monuments and for nearly 25 years that rule was enforced, whether Friends or others. The first stone erected was for Alanson Mosher in 1831. The first sexton was Stephen Roberts and then his son, Elias Roberts. After 30 years the Quaker ground could not accommodate both Friends and townspeople so a spot adjoining the Quaker cemetery was issued by deed on 15 Feb. 1840 to Miles Strickland, town supervisor, by Joseph A. Child, Harmon Ackert and Jacob Chase, all trustees of the estate and funds from a donation made by James D. LeRay de Chaumont. In 1859, William Allis, Seth Strickland and Henry Wilson were appointed to acquire additional burial grounds and when this committee accomplished nothing, John F. Latimer, Charles D. Nims and Thaddeus Scofield were appointed to get a large lot and sell small lots from it. In 1861 they had a favorable report on land of Seth Strickland but in trying to bargain the price of the land the deed was canceled. The committee then purchased four acres from John H. Comstock, a part of the Thaddeus Scofield farm. The burial ground near Sterlingville of about one acre was purchased of Aaron Comstock in 1850. The first burial was Aaron Bristol in 1851. James Sterling was buried there in 1863.

Philadelphia Village was incorporated as a village in 1872, having been surveyed by Martin E. Aldrich on 4 Dec. 1871; in 1878 there was about 700 inhabitants. The incorporation was ratified at J. H. Washburn's public house on 11 January 1872. Sterlingville in 1865 had a population of 276.

The Rome, Watertown and Ogdensburgh Railroad opened from Watertown to Philadelphia in June of 1855. The Utica and Black River Railroad was opened in February of 1872. The Black River and Morristown Road was opened to Theresa in the fall of 1873. The first telegraph in Philadelphia opened in June 1868, and opened in the store of John Wait—the first operator was William J. Wait.

From the record number of farmers in Jefferson County, good dairy cows led to the production of cheese. Varieties that were mentioned: Yankee cheese, limburger cheese.

Doctors in the Philadelphia area included: Dr. Almon Pitcher, Dr. Alvah Murdock, Dr. A. M. Van Ostrade, Dr. Coan, Dr. James B. Carpenter, Dr. A. Welch, Dr. O. S. Copeland, Dr. V. B. Ayres, Dr. E. Seymoure, Dr. H. S. Lane, Dr. E. W. Trowbridge and Dr. R. A. Stevens and Dr. C. Heath. Dr. Weeden Mosher was included as a botanic physician.


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