HISTORY of the City of Watertown

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

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The town of Watertown was organized from Mexico on March 14, 1800 and comprised at that time townships Nos. 1, 2, and 3, or Hounsfield, Watertown, and Rutland. The name of the town was probably suggested by the great amount of water power at the rapids where the city now stands. It is not on record who suggested it.

By the erection of Hounsfield and Rutland the original limits have been reduced to their present outline. Up to 1869, the village of Watertown formed a part of the township. In that year the village was erected into a city, and a portion of the town of Pamelia was at the same time included in the chartered limits. The town was surveyed in 1796 by Benjamin Wright, and subdivided into fifty-two lots, ranging in size from 450 to 625 acres, and having a total area of 26,485 acres. A subsequent survey, by Robert McDowell, gave 26,667 acres. In 1801 the town was again subdivided by Joseph Crary, under the direction of Silas Stow. Upon the division of these towns, this, with Adams and Lowville, fell to the share of Nicholas Low, under whom it was settled. The first agent employed was Silas Stow, who was followed in 1804, by Morris S. Miller, and in March 1806, the latter was succeeded by Isaac W. Bostwick, Esq., of Lowville. Mr. Wright surveyed the "Black River Eleven Towns," and made a report accompanied by remarks upon the soil, timber, water power, etc. ...

Simultaneously with the organization of the town, settlements were commenced by Henry Coffeen and Zachariah Butterfield, who arrived in March, 1800. They had visited the country the previous autumn and purchased farms. They were from Schuyler, Oneida County, and brought their families and began their settlements on the site of Watertown village. Coffeen arrived a little in advance of Butterfield, coming via Lowville, with his family and household goods upon an ox sled. He had purchased parts of lots 2, 3, 13, 21 and 165 acres on the westerly part of lot No. 7, now covered by the city. He erected his hut on the ground just west of the Iron Block, and Butterfield settled on the spot now covered by the Merchants' Exchange, newly erected on the corner of Washington Street and the Public square. Oliver Bartholomew arrived in town in March, 1800, and settled one and a half miles from the present village of Brownville. Deacon Bartholomew was born in Connecticut, October 20, 1757; served through the Revolution; settled in Oneida County in 1794, and died in Watertown, June 18, 1850. In 1803 he assisted in forming one of the first Baptist churches in the county. Simeon and Benjamin Woodruff and others visited the town, with the view of settlement, and in the ensuing winter but three families wintered in town, viz.: Coffeen, Bartholomew, and Butterfield. The land books of Mr. Low show the following list of purchasers, some of whom may not have been actual settlers:

"1799, May 16. John Whitney, 450 acres on lot 8, at $2.50 per acre; this probably reverted. In October, E. Allen, Silas Alden, S. and B. Woodruff, Jas. Rogers, O. Bartholomew, Thos. Delano, Elisha Gustin, Z. Butterfield. In 1800, Heman Pellit, Thos. and John Sawyer, John Blevan, Abram Fisk, Wm. Lampson, Joseph Tuttle, N. Jewett, J. Wait, Abram Jewett, Hart Massey, Joseph Wadley, Jonathan Bentley, J. Sikes, S. Norris, Chas. Galloway, Jonathan Talcott, Josiah Bentley, Friend Dayton, John Patrick, David Bent, Luther Demming, Ephraim Edwards, Tilson Barrows, Thomas Butterfield, J. and L. Stebbins, Asaph Mather, Benj. Allen, E. Lazelle, Henry Jewett, Lewis Drury, S. Fay, ___Stanley, James Glass, Ira Brown, W. P. and N. Crandall, Calvin Brown, Aaron Bacon, Bennet Rice, Thomas H. Biddlecom."

During the following season many of these persons, who were mostly from Oneida County, settled, and, in 1802, Jonathan Cowen began the erection of a grist mill at the bridge that crosses to Beebee's Island. Cowen was a millwright, and an uncle of Judge Eseck Cowen, of Saratoga County. He died near Evans' Mills, November 27, 1840, at the age of 80. The extraordinary water power which this place presented afforded ground for the expectation that it would become the centre of a great amount of business. The first deeds were given August 20, 1802, to Elijah Allen, Jotham Ives, David Bent, Ezra Parker, William Parker, Joseph Tuttle and Joseph Moore.

During the first summer of the settlement, it being entirely impossible to procure grinding at any mills nearer than Canada, a stump standing on the Public square, a few rods east of the American Hotel, had been formed into a mortar, and, with a spring pole and pestle attached, served the purpose of a grain mill to the settlement. This primitive implement, suggestive of rustic life and the privations of a new colony, relieved the pioneers, in some degree, from the necessity of long journeys to mill, through a pathless forest...These hardy adventurers were mostly poor. They possessed few of the comforts of life, yet they had few wants. The needful articles of the household were mostly made by their own hands, and artificial grades of society were unknown. The first death of the settlement is thus described by J. P. Fitch, in the preface of the first village directory, published in 1840:

"Late at the close of a still, sultry day in summer, Mrs. I. Thornton, the wife of one of the young settlers, gave the alarm that her husband had not returned from the forest, whither he had gone in the afternoon to procure a piece of timber. Immediately every man in the settlement answered to the call, and hastened to the place designated for meeting, to concert a plan for search. Here all armed themselves with torches of lighted pine knots, or birch bark and calling every gun in the place into use for firing alarms and signals, started out in small companies into the forest, in all directions. After a search of several hours, the preconcerted signal gun announced that the 'lost was found.' All hurried to the spot, and upon the ground where now stands the Black River Institute, crushed beneath a tree which he had felled, lay the lifeless body of their companion. He was laid upon a bier hastily prepared for the occasion, and conveyed through the gloom of midnight, by the light of their torches, back to his house. What must have been the emotion of the bereaved young widow when the mangled corpse of her husband, so suddenly fallen a victim to death, was brought in and laid before her! She did not, however, mourn alone. As the remains were borne to their last resting place--the first grave that was opened in Trinity Church yard--it needed no sable emblems of mourning to tell of the grief that hung dark around every heart. Each one of the little company, as he returned from performing the last duties to his departed companion, felt as if from his own family one had been taken. A similar incident occurred a short time after, in the death of a child which was killed by the falling of a tree, on the present site of the courthouse; thus designating with blood, as one can imagine, the location of the halls of justice and science in our village, and consecrating the ground of each by a human sacrifice."

In 1802 an inn was opened by Dr. Isaiah Massey, and settlers began to locate in every part of the town, which, in September of that year, numbered 70 or 80 families. A dam was built by Cowan in 1802 and in 1803 he got in operation of a small grist mill. During two or three succeeding years, John Paddock, Chauncey Calhoun, Philo Johnson, Jesse Doolittle, William Smith, Medad Canfield, Aaron Keyes, Wm. Huntingdon, (died at Watertown, May 11, 1842, age 85; he was a native of Connecticut and came to Watertown in 1804), John Hathaway, Set Bailey, Gershom Tuttle, and others, several of whom were mechanics, joined the settlement, and, at a very early day, a schoolhouse was built on the site of the Universalist Church, which served also as a place of religious meetings. In 1805, John Paddock and William Smith opened the first store in the place, their goods being brought from Utica in wagons. An idea may be had of the hardships of that period, compared with modern facilities, from the fact that in March, 1807, 17 sleighs, laden with goods for Smith and Paddock, were 23 days in getting from Oneida County to Watertown by way of Redfield. The snows were in some places seven feet deep, and the valleys almost impassable from wild torrents resulting from the melting of snows. The winter had been remarkable for its severity, and the spring for destructive floods.

In 1802 a bridge was built below the village, near the Courthouse, by Henry Coffeen and Andrew Edmunds, over which the State Road afterward passed, and in 1805 the dam was built below the bridge, at which, the same year, a sawmill was built on the north side, and in 1806 a gristmill by Seth Bailey and Gershom Tuttle. A sawmill was built on the Watertown side by R. and T. Potter, a little below, and a saw and gristmill soon after by H. H. Coffeen, since which time many mills have been erected along the river.

The first brick building erected in the county was built by William Smith, in the summer of 1806. It was two stories in height, with a stone basement, Mr. Smith working upon it with his own hands. The bricks were manufactured by Eli Rogers, on the point of land between the mall and Franklin Street. The site of this building is now occupied by Washington Hall.

It is a singular fact that the village of Watertown, in common with the whole county of Jefferson, while it vies in wealth and enterprise with the most favored portions of the State, owes very little if anything to imported capital...With a strong conviction that the place would at a future time become an important village, Jonathan Cowen, Henry Coffeen, Zachariah Butterfield, Jesse Coolittle, Medad Canfield, Aaron Keyes, Hart Massey, and Isaiah Massey, who owned property adjoining the present Public square and Washington Street in Watertown, held early in 1805, an informal meeting, and agreed to give forever to the public for a public mall a piece of land twelve rods wide and 28 long, and another, running south at right angles to this, nine rods wide, and about 32 long. They then directed to be made by John Simons, a surveyor, a map of the premises, which was done, and deposited in the town clerk's office, but this was afterward lost. An attempt was subsequently made to resume the title, and sell portions of the public square, but the question having come into the courts, was decided by Judge Nathan Williams in favor of the public, as Mr. Cowen, the claimant, although he had never deeded land on the Public square, had acknowledge its existence by his bounding certain conveyances upon it. In the same year, the site of the Courthouse was determined by the commissioners appointed by the governor for that purpose, not without the most active influences being used at Brownville, and it is said to have been located in its present site, at some distance below the business portion of the village, by way of compromise.


An act of 1808 directed 500 stand of arms to be deposited at Champion, the destination of which was, by an act of March 27, 1809, changed to Watertown, and an arsenal erected in that year. The arsenal was built under the direction of Hart Massey, Esq., collector of the district of Sacket's Harbor, at an expense of $1,940.99. It has given its name to the street on which it stands, which was previously called "Columbia Street", and was maintained by the State as an arsenal until sold under the Act of April 9, 1850. The bricks of which it was built were furnished by Abraham Jewett at a cost of $339.63; stone was cut by Thaddeus Smith and Joseph Cook, at a cost of $110.80; and the lime furnished by David Stafford and Benjamin Goodale at 22 cents per bushel.

In Watertown, as in other sections, the manufacture of potash formed the first means of realizing cash, and many paid in whole or in part for their lands by this means. In 1808, $9,000 worth of this staple was exchanged, the market being at that time in Montreal. In 1870 the firm of Paddock & Smith purchased 2,800 barrels, averaging $40 per barrel, making for that period the enormous aggregate of $112,000. The embargo which preceded the War did not prevent but rather increased the trade by the high prices that it created, but the declaration of war entirely prostrated that and every other energy of the country, except that the military operations of that period required large supplies of provisions and forage for the armies on the frontier. At Watertown bodies of troops were stationed for short periods and the sick were often sent thither for that attendance which could not be secured at Sacket's Harbor. In 1811 the citizens had adopted measures for securing the benefits of an academy, and erected on the site of the First Presbyterian Church a brick building for that purpose...this building was used as a hospital for a considerable time.


The Village of Watertown was incorporated April 5, 1816. The act provided for the election of five trustees, who were to possess the powers and immunities usually vested in similar corporations. These extended to the formation of a fire department, the construction of waterworks, regulation of markets, streets, etc.; the building of hay scales, supervision of weights and measures, and whatever related to the preservation of health or the suppression of nuisances. Three assessors, a treasurer, collector, and five fire wards were to be elected. Fines, not exceeding $25, might be imposed. The annual election was to occur on the first Monday of May, and the trustees were to choose one of their number for president, and some proper person for clerk. The president, with the advice of the trustees, was to appoint a company, not exceeding twenty, of firemen, and to enforce, in the name of the trustees, the ordinances and regulations which they might establish. The Village of Watertown was constituted one road district, and exempted from the jurisdiction of the town commissioners.

On April 7, 1820, an act was passed altering the bounds of the village and amending the charter; and on April 17, 1826, and April 26, 1831, the charter was still further amended. March 22, 1832, the trustees were empowered by an act to borrow a sum, not exceeding $2,000 to improve the fire department of the village, and supply it with water to be used in fires, and April 21, 1832, the doings at an election were confirmed. An act was passed April 23, 1835, granting additional powers to the trustees, repealing former provisions of the charter, and authorizing the erection of a market. The village charter was amended by an act of April 16, 1852, by which its bounds were increased, the district included directed to be divided into from five to seven wards. A president, three assessors, a clerk, treasurer, collector, and two police constables were to be elected annually, and one trustee to each ward, of which there are five. Elections are held on the first Monday of March, and the powers and duties of the trustees were much extending.


was held at the house of Isaac Lee, in May, 1816, David Bucklin, Esq, presiding, and the following officers were chosen: Timothy Burr, Egbert Ten Eyck, Olney Pearce, Marianus W. Gilbert, and Norris M. Woodruff, trustees; Reuben Goodale, William Smith, Orville Hungerford, assessors; Micah Sterling, treasurer; Seth Otis, collector; Jabez Foster, Samuel Watson, Jr., Rufus Backus, William Fletcher, Joseph Henry, fire wardens...A fire company was organized May 28, 1817, and at a meeting of freeholders called for the purpose June 10, the sum of $200 was voted for the purchase of a fire engine. February 6, 1818, $500 was voted to assist in building a bridge near Newel's brewery. May 4, 1818, a committee of three appointed to confer with the supervisors concerning the purchase of a bell for the Courthouse. October 27, 1823, a plan for a cemetery, previously purchased of H. Massey, was accepted, and on December 6, 1825, the lots, one rod square each, were balloted for, each taxable resident being entitled to one share. To non-residents lots might be sold, the proceeds to be applied to the building of a tomb. A hook and ladder company was voted to be formed in May, 1826...

On June 19, 1832, a special meeting of trustees was held to adopt measures to prevent the spread of the Asiatic cholera, which was at that time spreading terror throughout the country...Three days after the passage of the act of June 22, for the preservation of the public health, the following persons, viz: Marianus W. Gilbert, Levi Beebee, John Sigourney, Orville Hungerford, William Smith, Norris M. Woodruff and Peleg Burchard, were appointed a board of health, and Dr. I. B. Crawe was elected health officer. On the 3d of May, 1833, the board of health consisted of William Smith, Levi Beebee, P. Burchard, N. M. Woodruff and John Sigourney with Dr. I. B. Crawe, health officer...


A census of Watertown, taken in April, 1827, gave 1,098 males and 941 females; a gain of 500 in two years. There were 321 buildings, of which 224 were dwellings; 3 stone churches (Methodist, Universalist, and Presbyterian); courthouse and jail; clerk's office; arsenal; 1 cotton factory with 1,300 spindles, another (Beebee's) then building; 1 woolen factory; 3 papermills; 3 large tanneries; 3 flouring mills; 1 furnace; 1 nail factory; 2 machine shops; 2 fulling mills; 3 carding machines; 2 distilleries; 1 ashery; 2 pail factories; 1 sash factory; 2 chair factories; 1 hat factory; 4 wagon shops; 2 paint shops; 4 cabinet and joiner shops; 8 blacksmiths; 4 tailor shops; 7 shoe shops; 3 saddle and harness shops; 8 taverns; 15 dry goods stores; 2 hardware stores; 2 hat stores; 2 book stores; 2 leather stores; 1 paint store; 2 druggists; 2 jewelers; 2 weekly papers; 7 public schools; 6 physicians and 10 lawyers.

In 1829 an association was formed for boring for water on Factory Square, and a hole two and a half inches in diameter was drilled to the depth of 127 feet, when water was obtained that rose to the surface, and, having been tubed, has since discharged a copious volume of water, slightly charged with sulfur and iron. The cost of the work was about $800. On Sewall's Island, a similar well was bored, which at 80 feet discharged water and inflammable gas; but upon being sunk further these were both lost...


...four dams were built in 1803, 1805, 1814 and 1835, and none of them have been impaired by the spring floods. The river is crossed by three bridges, of which the lower one was first erected...


The business of the place early centered around the public square, especially at its west end and on Court and Washington Streets; and in 1815 John Paddock erected a three-story block, which was the first edifice of its size and class in the town. The corner of Washington and Arsenal Streets became, at an early day, the site of a two-story wooden tavern, and was occupied until 1827, when an association of citizens desiring to have a hotel in the place...was formed under the name of the Watertown Hotel Company, having a capital of $20,000. In the same year they erected the American Hotel, and this establishment continued to be owned by the company until burned in 1849, when the site was sold for $10,000 and the present building of the same name was erected on its site by individual enterprise...On February 7, 1833, a fire occurred which burned the extensive tannery and oil mill of Mr. J. Fairbanks, the paper mill and printing office of Knowlton & Rice, and a morocco factory and dewelling of Kitts & Carpenter; loss about $30,000. The destruction of Beebee's Factory occurred on July 7, 1833. On December 22, 1841, the Black River Woolen Mills, in Factory Village, were burned. On March 21, 1848, a fire occurred in an old stone shop, near the Union Mills, which spread rapidly to the buildings on the island opposite, and to others above, which, with the bridge were rapidly consumed; two men named Leonard Wright and Levi Palmer, perished in the flames, having entered a woolen mill for the purpose of rescuing property. Among the buildings burned were the paper mill of Knowlton & Rice, the satinet factory of Mr. Patridge, occupied by W. Conkey, a row of mechanics shops on the island, etc. This fire threw many laborers and mechanics out of employment, and was seriously felt by the public. Contributions for the sufferers were raised in the village, and nearly $1,100 was distributed among them.

Early in the morning of May 13, 1849, a fire occurred in the rear of the American Hotel, corner of Arsenal and Washington Streets, which swept over a considerable portion of the business part of the village, and consumed an immense amount of property. The American Hotel. Paddock's block, Woodruff's Iron Block, and all the buildings on both sides of Court Street, as far down as the clerk's office were burned The Episcopal Church, 3 printing offices, about 30 extensive stores, the post office, Black River Bank, Wooster Sherman's Bank, Henry Keep's Bank, town clerk's office, Young Men's Association, surrogate's office and many dwelling houses were in the burnt district. This was by far the most disastrous fire that has occurred in the county...During the ensuing summer the village exhibited an industry among masons and carpenters which had never been equaled and the external appearance of the village was decidedly improved.

On September 24, 1850, a fire occurred on Sterling Street, from which the burning shingles were wafted to the steeple of the Universalist Church, and when first noticed had kindled a flame not large than that of a candle; but before the place could be reached, it had enveloped the spire in flames beyond hope of arresting it, and the building was consumed...January 27, 1861, Perkins' Hotel, on the site of the Merchants' Exchange, was burned, with a large block on Washington Street adjacent. The loss was estimated at about $25,000...In the autumn of 1862, six different fires occurred, on six successive Friday evenings, and at very near the same hour of the day, all evidently incendiary, which created a great amount of excitement. Among the buildings burned was the old "Sugar House" on the corner of Massey and Coffeen Streets, built by Henry Coffeen...October 16, 1852, a fire occurred on the opposite, or west, side of Washington Street, which consumed all the buildings south of Paddock's block, viz: Hungerford's Block, Citizen's Bank and Sherman Block. The loss was estimated at about $14,000, of which the greater part was insured. Mechanics' Row below the Union Mills, was burned November 5, 1852; loss about $20,000, of which between $6,000 and $7,000 was insured. From fifty to sixty mechanics were thrown out of employment; and one young man, Hudson Hadcock, perished in the flames while endeavoring to rescue property. On the evening of July 23, 1863, a fire broke out in the extensive foundry, car factory, and machine shop of Horace W. Woodruff, Esq., on the north bank of the river, opposite Beebee's Island, which, with all its contents was rapidly consumed. About 70 men were thrown out of employment by this calamity, which was felt by great numbers indirectly concerned in the works, and by the public generally. On the night of December 11, 1853, a fire consumed the building erected for a tannery, but used as a sash and butter tub factory, on the south side of Beebee's Island, adjoining the bridge, and owned by Messrs. Farnham and Button. Soon after the fire of 1849, Norris M. Woodruff erected the spacious and elegant hotel that adorns the north side of the square...and a range of buildings extending down Court Street and on Washington Street, fronting upon the public mall...Prominent among these are the Paddock buildings, including the "Arcade"...this building extends from Washington to Arcade Street, is roofed with glass and contains, on each side, both on the ground floor and a gallery, a range of stores and offices...


Watertown was incorporated as a city under an act passed May 8, 1869. The original charter has been twice amended, to wit, on April 27, 1870, and April 28, 1871. The limits of the village were greatly enlarged upon its erection into a city, and made to include a large area taken from the town of Pamelia, embracing all the built up portions upon the right bank of the river and extensive tracts besides. The total area occupied by the city approximates 6,500 acres, nearly three-fourths of which is upon the south side of Black River, and originally constituted a part of Town No. 2, of the "Black River Eleven Towns."


In 1800 there were 119 voters and in 1801, 134 voters in what was then the town of Watertown, according to the first official "count" ever made of the voting population of the then "far west Black River River country." The census returns of 1807, the first formal figures obtained, gave the number of legal voters with property qualifications only. The following table shows the growth of the village and city:

1800 - 119
1801 - 134
1807 - 231
1810 - 1,841
1814 - 2,458
1820 - 2, 766
1825 - 3,425
1830 - 4,768
1835 - 4,279
1840 - 5,027
1845 - 5,432
1850 - 7,201
1855 - 7,557
1860 - 7,567
1865 - 8,194
1870 - 9,336
1875 - 10,041

There is every reason to believe that the census of 1875 was hastily taken and incorrect, and a private census, taken in 18?6, places the population at over 11,000.


On the 23d of November, 1853, the water works were completed, and the water for the first time was pumped into the reservoir and let into pipes communicating with residences and fire hydrants...


Early in 1852, measures were taken for supplying the village with gas light...and February 27, 1852, an association, styled the Watertown Gas-Light Company, was organized, with a capital of $20,000...and during the summer of 1853 pipes were laid through many of the principal streets and to private houses...

is situated at the corner of Arsenal and Benedict Streets...The building was erected in 1862 at a cost of $50,000. It is built of brick and stone, is two stories high, and 100 by 50 feet...It contains the surrogate's office, and the county clerk's office is located in the rear.

occupies the angle formed by Franklin Street and Public Square. It was erected by Hon. Norris Winslow in 1874. It fronts 174 feet on the Square and 194 on Franklin Street and varies in width from 12 to 130 feet. It is five stories high, built substantially of brick...the first floor contains eight stores, and there are several others on the second floor. The remainder of the building is devoted to offices, halls and private rooms. The three upper stories are reached by a broad stairway, and contain an arcade 125 feet long and three stories high...

stands at the corner of Washington Street and Public Square, and is one of the finest and most conspicuous structures in Watertown. It was built in 1853 on the site of Perkins' Hotel, and the site of the second dwelling erected in the city. It was built by Walter and Gilbert Woodruff, and came into the possession of John A. Sherman in July, 1859, who has since owned and improved it. The building is of brick, 90 by 120 feet in size and three stories high. The first floor is occupied by eight stores, the second story by offices, and the third is devoted to one of the finest halls in the State, capable of seating 1,200 persons, with standing room for 300 more. Its height is 37 feet, and it is elaborately frescoed. The stage is 40 by 46 feet.

located on Washington Street near Washington Hall, is the best and most substantial office building in northern New York. It was erected in 1873 at a cost of $50, was erected by John W. Griffin and is occupied by the Agricultural and Watertown Fire Insurance Companies.

is situated on Public Square, a short distance east of the Woodruff House. It was built in 1871 by L. D. Doolittle and R. H. Hall...

is one of the most prominent of the private blocks. It was built in 1873 by Richard Van Namee...

is located on the corner of Public Square and Mill Street...there are seven stores in the building and was erected in 1843 by different parties...

on Arsenal Street, was erected in is constructed of wood and covered with iron...

is on the north side of the Public Square...four stories in height...

at the corner of Public Square and Franklin Street, is one of the best private business blocks in the city.

is a triangular structure, situated on Arsenal and Court Streets. It is of brick, four stories high, built by Jason Fairbanks.

Adjoining the Paddock buildings on the south are four imposing business blocks, including Masonic Hall. Union Bank is located in one of these buildings, and the National Bank and Loan Company occupies and owns the corner on the south. Adjoining the Iron Block on the west is the Merchants' Bank building; the Safford and Hayes blocks extending north on Court Street.

is on Franklin Street...about 30 orphans are here cared for and taught...

is pleasantly located on Main Street, just outside the city limits on the bank of Black River...connected with this institution is a productive farm, managed in the interest of the county.


THE WOODRUFF HOUSE...built soon after the great fire of 1849 by Norris M. Woodruff...

THE CROWNER HOUSE..built in 1853 by J. D. Crowner...

THE AMERICAN HOTEL...built after the fire of 1849, by T. W. Wheeler...

THE HANCHETT known as the Globe Hotel

THE KIRBY HOUSE...conducted by Messrs. A. M. Harris & Son...

THE CITY HOTEL...recently enlarged by its proprietor, Wm. M. Roach

HARRIS HOUSE...Helmer and Parish proprietors

The "Old Coffeen House" which burned on October 4, 1856, ...was located in the very centre of the wide street called Madison street...

The Old Failing Hotel...stood for nearly 60 years..and was either taken down to make room for progress or destroyed by the elements (burned to the ground on the night of Feb. 7, 1865)...The Emerson House on State Street destroyed by fire...the old Potter House on Lepper Street


In 1808 a paper mill was built above Cowan's grist mill by Gurden Caswell who came in from Oenida County a few years before.

The Black River Cotton & Woolen Manufacturing Co. formed December 28, 1813 with a capital of $100,000.

In 1827 the Jefferson Cotton Mills were erected on Beebee's Island by Levi Beebee who came here from Cooperstown, NY. Destroyed by fire on 7 July 1833.

The Watertown Cotton Mills Company, with $100,000 capital, was formed January 10, 1834; replaced by:

The Watertown Cotton Company with a capital of $12,000, formed January 7, 1846.

The Hamilton Woolen Mills Co., formed February 10, 1835, with a capital of $50,000 and on March 10th capital increased to $100,000 under the name of the Hamilton Manufacturing Co.; in May, 1842, the mill was bought by the Black River Woolen Company, formed 7 Nov. 1836 with a capital of $50,000...

The Watertown Woolen Co. formed Feb. 4, 1834...

The Watertown Woolen Mfg. Co. formed Dec. 24, 1835...

The Williams Woolen Co., formed November 7, 1836...

The first tannery, built by Jason Fairbanks in 1823; burned and rebuilt in 1833. Two other large tanneries were built before 1827.

The first machine shop for the manufacture of iron into castings and machinery was built by N. Wiley in 1820 and the first foundry by R. Bingham.

In 1823, George Goulding began the manufacture of iron and in 1825 William Smith also engaged in making iron. Goulding was on Norton's (now Sewall's) Island. Smith was located on Beebee's Island.

In 1841 Cooper & Woodruff built on the north side of the river opposite Beebee's Island, a foundry and machine shop; these works burned on July 22, 1853...

The Watertown Spring Wagon Co., Manufactory on Factory Square, built in 1870 and was for several years occupied by the Davis Sewing Machine Co., which was organized in 1868...from Factory Square it moved to Sewall's Island. and built their own building in 1875.

The Watertown Steam Engine Co., originated in 1850 by Hoard and Bradford, pioneers in foundry machinists' business...

Taggarts & Davis Paper and Paper Bag Manufactory erected by sections in 1843-45...

m Knowlton Brothers Paper Mill on Mill St., occupies the site of the paper mill first erected in 1808...

The Remington Paper Co., established 1865...

The Watertown Paper Co. on Sewall's Island...incorporated in 1864...

Flour Mills:

The Union Mills on the site of the first mill built by Jonathan Cowan...presently erected in 1835

The Jefferson Mills, erected in 1855...

Cataract Mills, built in 1839...

The Excelsior Mill...built in 1845...

Crescent Mills...built in 1870...

V. P. Kimball's Pearl-Barley Mill...established 1847...

City Mills...built 1876...

The Eagle Mills built by Henry H. Coffeen early, partially carried away by the flood of the Black River in 1869...


The first by Jason Fairbanks in 1823; he was in the saddle and harness business in 1808, in company with C. McKnight. In 1810 he added shoemaking..

Messrs. Holt & Beecher carried on a tannery for many years on Beebee's Island; it was twice destroyed by fire...

In 1844 the tannery conducted by Farwell Hall & Co., was located at the lower dam and built by Messrs. Fisk & Bates...

Farwell Hall & Co...established in 1837 by Milton Clark and George Burr

George Parker & Son founded in 1854..

Gates & Gillet...built in 1868


Andrew Newell was the first brewer in Watertown and was succeeded by Peter Hass... P. Mundy's Malt House built in 1875


The Hitchcock Lamp Co., incorporated April 19, 1872...

Bagley & Sewall's extensive machine shop on Sewall's Island, established by George Goulding in 1823...

The Eames Vacuum Brake Co., begun in July 1875...

H. H. Babcock & Sons Pump Manufactory established 1847...

Remington Paper Co.'s cotton yarn mill established 1875...

Gilderoy Lord's foundry on Beebee's Island

York & Moore, established 1870, makers of sash, doors and blinds..

L. Case and Son, established 1869; makers of sash, doors and blinds, etc.

Lewis, Henrich & Rounds, established 1871, makers of furniture

Service, Georges & DuBois established 1865; makers of furniture

Mill & Jess, confectionery, cigars and bakery, established in 1863...

George C. Chambers, established April 1875, cigar manufacturing...

H. V. Caldwell & Co, confectionery and cigars

Baker & Chittenden, established 1851, cigar manufacturing

W. Allingham & Co, established 1876, makers of boots and shoes

Holden and Tilden, established 1852, makers of tin ware

Gates & Spratt, established 1872, makers of tin, cooper, sheet iron, roofing, plumbing and furnace work

L. Quencer baker

Holbrook Patent Blind Hinge Mfg. Co.

Cooperate of John L. Putnam at 19 Pine Street and W. Tucker at 9 Front St.


During the administration of President Monroe from 1817 to 1824 inclusive, the Watertown post office was kept on the corner of Court St. and the Public Square, on the site now occupied by the Merchants Bank. Dr. Henry H. Sherwood officiated as postmaster until 1825 when he was succeeded in the office by Daniel Lee, an appointee of John Quincy Adams. In 1829, Alpheus S. Greene was appointed by Pres. Jackson and he kept the office until 1839, followed by Alvin Hunt, an appointee of President Van Buren. John F. Hutchinson appointed in 1841 by Pres. John Tyler. Pres. Polk appointed Pearson Mundy in 1845...


The first school house in Watertown was a barn, and the oldest school teacher was a little girl. In the summer of 1802, two years after Henry Coffeen and Zachariah Butterfield made the first settlement within the present city, Sally Coffeen, a daughter of the former, only 14 or 15 years old, began a school for the still younger children of the four or five families who then constituted the population of Watertown Village, in a barn on the site of "Despatch" block on Arcade Street. The same year her sister, bearing the peculiar name of Heiress Coffeen, took her place, occupying a log house on the Adams Road, now Washington St., where she taught for three summers. A Mr. Goodrich taught there one or two winters, being the first male teacher in the village. These were all private schools...In 1804 a school district was organized, embracing the whole town of Watertown, except the Burrville district. the first school was completed in 1805...the first teacher was a Scotchman named McGregor...Joel Everett kept the school during the greater part of the War of 1812...and he continued until 1816...Avery Skinner, a youth of 20...taught from 1817 to 1823.


The oldest burial place in the city is the Trinity Church yard, wherein several of the old residents of the county were laid to rest, the remains of many whom have since been exhumed and re-interred in "Brookside." The monument of Phineas Sherman, deceased in 1813 and his wife, who died in 1847, still remains in the old burial place. The receiving vault for the dead of the city, for use in the winter season, is located in this burial ground and was built by the city in the year 1873... The first plan of a cemetery was adopted October 27, 1823 by the village council, the land having been previously bought of Hart Massey...

Brookside Cemetery Association was organized in September 1853...the cemetery was dedicated June 20, 1854...the grounds include about 70 acres...the most noted work is the granite mausoleum of Henry Keep, erected by his widow at a cost of $70,000. The granite mausoleum of Howell Cooper is a solidly constructed tomb as is also that of Orville Hungerford which is built of birds eye limestone. Among the monuments, that of Loveland Paddock is the most striking and costly. The monument of Alexander Copley, a shaft cut from the Chaumont quarries; the granite shafts of George C. Sherman, John Winslow, George B. Phelps; the Mundy casket of variegated marble; the exquisite white marble pile of Gilbert Bradford, and many others.

Calvary Cemetery was organized September 29, 1869, for the purpose of the burial of such as should die in the communion of the Roman Catholic churches of the city and adjacent country...

The North Watertown Rural Cemetery is about two acres situated on Bradley Street and laid out in 1838 as the Pamelia burying ground...


The first instrumental organization effected in Watertown was one known as the Watertown Band, organized in 1835...Capt. Rugg. led the band...

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