- EARLY SETTLERS - TOWN of CICERO, NEW YORK -

FROM THE AUTHOR:

Asa Eastwood lived such an extraordinary life, that I'm shocked  how little I've been able to locate when researching his past. Thankfully, he kept a personal diary, in which he wrote entries, from his early years, at sea, followed with occasional notes, and observations, continuing (on & off) throughout his long, and eventful, lifetime. Born simultaneously with the United States of America (Feb.1781), and growing up in  the new nation's first capital city, the center of maritime trade, and incoming immigration, New York City.

 

Source: Dwight H. Bruce, Onondaga's Centennial.
 Boston History Co. 1896, Vol I, pp. 807-824

In Indian history the town, with one exception, occupies no conspicuous place, yet outside of the swampy sections it was for many years the haunt of hunting parties and the scene of warlike and other excursions, especially along the shores of Oneida Lake and River, which constitute the northern boundary. At the foot of the lake the Indians had a famous fishing village, which Le Moyne mentions in 1654 as being on the south side of the Oneida River, but which Charlevoix, on a map published in 1744, locates on the north bank on or near the site of Fort Brewerton. The village was called Techiroguen, while the locality was known as Oh-saha-u-ny-tak se-ugh-kah ("where the waters run out of Oneida Lake").

.....The first white settler in Cicero was a blacksmith named Dexter, who located opposite Fort Brewerton, on the site of Brewerton village, in 1790, and lived there many years. Oliver Stevens had already resided about a year on the north side of the river and had a garden on the south side in this town, whither he removed soon after, and died in 1813. Mr. Stevens located at this point through representations of its natural beauty made by his two brothers, who had been in the garrison of the fort, carried on trade with the Indians and kept a boatmen's tavern. In the exciting times from 1790 to 1794, when there was general fear of Indian troubles, Mr. Stevens was commissioned by Governor Clinton to build a block-house, which was used for a dwelling in later years in 1811. In 1798 he was appointed the first clerk of the great town of Mexico, in Oswego county. In his isolated situation he was forced to endure many hardships and privations, and his life in the wilderness was replete with incident. His experience on a journey to Mexico to town meeting in March, 1792, is thus related by Clark:

He started off early in the morning with his gun in hand and a knapsack of provisions on his back. There was no road, nor scarcely a path; he relied mainly on his skill as a woodsman and his knowledge of the sun to guide him safely through his journey. He traveled on, unconscious of harm, till near the middle of the afternoon, when he found himself in the vicinity of a pack of wolves. By their howling he was aroused not only to a sense of his danger, but to the fact that he had lost his way, and that he had no means of recovering it. He set forward with vigor in hope of coming out at a "clearing" in the vicinity of the place of his destination, but all to no purpose; the more he exerted himself the more he became convinced of the peril of his situation. The wolves drew nearer and nearer, and seemed by their boldness to be meditating an attack. At length one, bolder than his companions, a large black one, advanced to within a few paces of him, upon which he fired and killed him dead. The scent of the blood of the dead wolf seemed to increase the voracity of the survivors, and for a time he thought he should in turn be slain. Nothing daunted, he stood at bay looking them firmly in the eye, and after awhile they retired a respectful distance, sitting around on their haunches, as if holding a council of war. During this cessation of hostilities Mr. Stevens struck a fire and kindled it, reloaded his gun, and sallied forth, dragging the dead wolf by the heels to his fiery fortress. * * * Here the solitary wanderer stood all night, not daring to refresh himself with sleep, amid the din and howlings of the hungry wolves. Towards morning he was relieved from his anxiety by the retreat of the wolves, who left and disturbed him no more. He now prepared a hasty meal at the fire, partook of it, and concluded to retrace his steps. Packing up his wolf-skin he proceeded homeward. The sun rose to meridian, and still he traveled on; night came, and for aught he could tell he was no nearer home than when he started in the morning. Being weary with his day's journey he again kindled a fire, laid himself down to rest, and slept soundly till morning. At early dawn he again set forward in quest of home, and about ten in the morning, to his indescribable joy, discovered the British flag flying at the fort at Oswego. * * * The day following, being the fifth from his departure, he arrived safely to the bosom of his family, who had already become somewhat alarmed for his safety. The bounty then paid by the State for a full-grown wolf was $40, which he in due time received.

Mr. Stevens passed some of the winter seasons in Salina, and there in 1802 was born his son, John L. Stevens, who became a judge and justice of the peace in Onondaga county, and died in 1874.


In 1791 Rial Bingham and Patrick McGee settled at Brewerton, whence the former subsequently removed to Salina, where he became a prominent citizen.  McGee built the first frame house, in which he kept the first tavern in town, and which stood on the site of the later Brewerton House, which was burned in 1836.  This pioneer hostelry was a popular resort for boatmen and others and was kept from about 1812 by Jonathan Emmons.  In 1793 McGee became the first white settler in the town of Clay at Three River Point, where he died.  The same year (1791) John Thayer, an acquaintance of Oliver Stevens, arrived at Salina, and learning there that his friend had settled in  Brewerton resolved to visit him.  It was mid-winter.  He was directed to follow the Indian trail and the blazed trees, but he lost his way, became bewildered, and wandered hopelessly in the woods three days and two nights without food or shelter.  Finally, striking Oneida River three and one-half miles west of the fort, he started to cross on the ice, but broke through, and before he reached his friend's dwelling his feet were badly frozen.  Mortification set in, and he was conveyed to Cherry Valley, N.Y., on a handsled, where both of his feet were amputated.  He afterwards lived in Palermo, Oswego county.

The first settlement on the site of Cicero Corners was made in 1802 by John Leach, who for several years kept tavern in a log house.  He was the grandfather of T. J. Leach, of Syracuse.  Elijah Loomis was the first settler at South Bay, where he purchased land in 1804.  He was a Revolutionary soldier and drew a pension.  Near him Martin Woodruff settled in the same year, and their nearest neighbors were at Brewerton, five miles distant.

The Emmons family has always been conspicuous in the history of the town, especially in Brewerton, where members have lived for five generations.  Jonathan Emmons and Mary, his wife, came here in 1804 from Nassau, Rensselaer county, and settled on lot 10, purchasing 600 acres of land, a part of which has ever since been vested in the name.  They had eighteen children.  Their sixth child, Samuel, born in Nassau in February, 1794, lived to be the oldest settler in Cicero, dying aged nearly 100 years, and had six children, of whom Jonathan, the youngest, succeeded to the homestead, while another son, Leonard Franklin, was for eighteen years janitor of the court house in Syracuse.  A legislative act of 1813 gave Jonathan Emmons, father of Benjamin, and great-grandfather of Edward N. Emmons, the exclusive privilege of conducting a ferry across the river at Brewerton, which he continued many years.

When Jonathan Emmons made his settlement at Brewerton the site of the present village contained only a few log cabins.  There were no roads in the town.  The nearest physician was Dr. Gordon Needham at Onondaga Valley.  There was no mill nearer than those on the south and at Rotterdam (Constantia) on the east, the latter being built in 1800 by George Scriba, the great landed proprietor of Oswego county.  Mr. Emmons hollowed the top of a white oak stump in the usual pioneer manner, and with a large pestle on a spring pole pounded his corn and that of his neighbors into coarse meal.


Capt. John Shepard was the only grantee among the fifty...Revolutionary soldiers who drew lots in the present town who became an actual resident of Cicero.  He settled at an early day on his claim (lot 11) between Brewerton and the lake, but sold a part of it, and cleared and improved the remainder, where he lived with his family until his death in 1824.  He became a Presbyterian preacher in the later years of his life and was one of the first justices of the peace in the town.

All the early settlers in this town located along Oneida Lake and River, and they found it an unwholesome locality, like many others that in later years became healthful.  The pioneers suffered much from fever and ague and other diseases common to the miasmic influence of new countries, and some of them were at times distressed for food.  The lack of water power postponed the erection of saw mills, the first one not being built until 1823 by Moses and Freeman Hotchkiss.  The absence of grist mills long compelled the inhabitants to go great distances for their flour, while the clearing of land was unrenumerative because of no early saw mills to convert the forests into lumber.  These drawbacks involved the loss of time and money, militated against the rapid development of the town, and are the chief reasons why the inhabitants were less prosperous in early years than those of other localities.  As the settlements advanced, however, in the western and northern parts, a source of income was developed which greatly benefited later comers.  This was through the manufacture of barrels for the salt industry at Salina.  For many years Cicero and Clay supplied a large portion of the salt packages used, and employed so large a part of the men and boys in the town that agriculture was generally neglected.  This brought a revenue, but it was not conducive to permanent settlement nor to the best interests of the community.  When the timber had been cut and made into barrels the people turned their attention to farm improvement and inaugurated the period of prosperity that has ever since continued.

Oneida Lake and River presented a busy scene in early years with the passage of the many boats of the Inland Lock and Navigation Company, which was chartered in 1792.  By the improvements made by this company Durham boats, sixty feet or more in length, carrying twenty tons, and drawing two feet of water; passed from Schenectady to Seneca Lake or Oswego with only short portages.  As many as three hundred boats passed the Rome portage in a single year.  It was over this route that nearly all the early settlers of this section of the State arrived.

On the 20th of February, 1807, the civil town of Cicero, comprising military township No. 6, of the same name, and including the present town of Clay, was erected into a separate town by an act of the State Legislature, and soon afterward the first town meeting convened at the house of Patrick McGee at Three River Point, the moderator being Moses Kinne.  The first officers were Thomas Pool, supervisor, and Elijah Loomis, town clerk.  The town records were burned in 1851, with the store of Charles H. Carr, who was at that time town clerk, and it is therefore impossible to preserve in these pages the many names and interesting items of local history which they would necessarily contain.

One of the earliest roads of much importance in Cicero was authorized by the State Legislature in 1812 and opened soon afterward direct from Salina to Brewerton.  This became well known as the "Salt Road."  The money necessary for the poor thoroughfare that resulted was advanced by the State, and a tax levied on contiguous lands to repay it, and along the route of this highway the first plank road in the United States was constructed in 1846, extending from Salina to Central Square (Oswego county), at a cost of about $1,500 per mile.  In 1873 this plank road was abandoned from Central Square to Brewerton and in 1876 from Brewerton to Cicero Corners, and from the latter point to Salina is still maintained.


The war of 1812-15 caused much excitement throughout the settled portions of the town, not only from the sight of soldiers passing down the lake and river to Oswego, but from alarming reports which spread among the inhabitants from time to time.  Many settlers joined in the defense of Oswego and Sackett's Harbor, while nearly the entire male population was kept in readiness to march in case of emergency.  No sooner had this struggle ceased than the famous "cold season" of 1816 swept over the country, bringing with the following winter a universal scarcity of provisions and causing great suffering to both man and beast.  But from these two events the pioneers soon recovered, and thenceforward general prosperity prevailed.

At this point we may briefly refer again to the settlements and name some citizens whose public spirit and enterprise contributed materially to the development of not only this territory, but the entire county north of Syracuse.  The following list of early settlers, pioneers, and prominent men, residents of the present towns of Cicero, Clay and Salina between the years 1795 and 1824, was preserved by Lewis H. Redfield, editor of the Onondaga Register from 18114 to 1831:  Dioclesian and Elisha Alvord, Dr. William Kirkpatrick, Benjamin Byington, Ashbel Kellogg, Daniel Gilbert, Thomas McCarthy, John G. Forbes, James Lynch, William Clark, Fisher Curtis, Dr. Daniels, Thomas Wheeler, Matthew Van Vleck, John Leach, Oliver Stevens, Patrick McGee (the first settler of Clay), Isaac Cody, Jonathan Emmons, Moses Kinne, Elijah Loomis, Dr. Orcutt, William Wheadon, David Hamlin, Abraham Van Vleck, Ira Gilchrist, John O'Blennis, Amos P. Granger, John Wilkinson, Archy Kasson, Timothy Gilchrist, Rufus Stanton, Cornelius Scouten, Mars Nearing, Dr. Brace, Judge Stevens, Rev. John Shepard, James and Orsamus Johnson, Asa Eastwood, Judah Gage, Dean Richmond, Moses D. Burnet, Thomas Pool, James Bogardus, Rev. Mr. Barlow, Dr. David S. Colvin, Richard Adams, E. W. Leavenworth, S. W. Cadwell, Dr. Mather Williams, John Durnford, Stephen Smith, Philo D. Mickles, Matthew M. David, Thomas Spencer, Harvey Baldwin, Joseph Slocum, William D. Stewart, John Rogers, A. N. Van Patten, Schuyler Strong, Rev. J. Watson Adams, Henry Davis, Jr., Gen. Jonas Mann, Homer Wheaton, Thomas G. Alvord, Elihu L. Phillips, John F. Wyman, Henry Gifford, Paschal Thurbor, Henry Newton, Sterling Cossit, Charles A. Baker, Dr. Jonathan Day, Ichabod Brackett, Columbus C. Bradley, Hathaway Richmond, David Stewart, Sampson Jaqueth, William Winton, and David S. Earll.

Many of these will be remembered as very prominent in Onondaga history.  Asa Eastwood, born in Allentown, N.J., in 1781, came to Cicero in 1817, bringing the first wagon and threshing machine into the town.  He was particularly interested in the welfare of the county agricultural society.  March 13, 1821, he was appointed a justice of the peace and the same year was elected a delegate to the Constitutional Convention.  From 1822 to 1825 he lived in New York city, and afterward was engaged for a short time in the salt business at Salina.  In 1832, he was elected to the Assembly.  He was a Democrat until 1856, when, being opposed to slavery, he affiliated with the Republican party, and died in this town February 25, 1870.  Orsamus Johnson was born in Massachusetts in 1800, and for a time followed merchandising in Brewerton.  He held several town offices, and took the Albany Journal for over sixty years.  Dr. Daniel Olcott, the first physician in Cicero village, located there in 1817.


By 1818 Cicero Corners had assumed sufficient proportions as to warrant Mrs. Isaac Cody opening a store there, and when the post-office was established in 1820 her husband became the first postmaster.  At that time mail was carried once a week on horseback.  Mrs. Cody visited New York twice a year to buy goods, which were brought by sloop or schooner to Albany and thence by wagon to Cicero.  On these trips she wore a bombazine dress, then a fashionable fabric, and carried her money in gold in a belt about her person.  Her small store was in the building which was also the tavern, the latter being kept by her husband.  From them the place was called "Cody's Corners."  Mrs. Cody was the first "new woman" in Onondaga county, as well as the first female to engage in mercantile business.  The second merchant was Samuel Warren in 1825.  In 1841 Alexander Cook became the first practicing attorneyThe first church in the town was built here by the Presbyterian society in 1819.  It was of logs and in 1830 gave place to a frame structure.  The first settled pastor was Rev. Truman Baldwin.  In 1832 his society was changed to a Reformed church having such members as Isaac Coonley, Lot Hamilton, Ezra and Calvin Hart, Noah Merriam, and Peter Collier.  The church was burned in the fall of 1881, and on the same site a new edifice was erected and dedicated in 1882 at a cost of about $3,000.

Dr. Hezekiah Joslyn settled in Cicero in 1823 and for many years was the principal physician in town.  having completed his medical studies he left Sandville, Oneida county, on horseback, and traveled around Oneida Lake to Cicero, where he found Dr. Orcutt, who wished to sell his practice, which he purchased.  Two years later Dr. Joslyn married Helen, youngest daughter of Sir George Leslie, a Scotch gentleman, and a half-sister of Mrs. Cody.  They began housekeeping in a style quite beyond that of the ordinary pioneer.  Mrs. Joslyn was a fine musician, and besides carpets and handsome furniture, possessed a piano, the first or one of the first in Onondaga county.  It was made in London by G. Astor, a brother of John Jacob Astor, and is now in the possession of Dr. Joslyn's daughter, Mrs. Matilda Joslyn Gage, of Fayetteville.  Generous, kindly and hospitable, Dr. Joslyn at different times gave a home to homeless ones.  The first Baptist minister in Cicero was Elder Samuel Thompson, an Englishman, who, against her father's consent, had married a lovely English girl, the daughter of an English gentleman of wealth and high position.  So unforgiving was the father for the marriage of his daughter with a dissenting minister, that the young couple sailed away from the old country, eventually drifting to Cicero.  There, far from all the luxuries of her early life this tenderly reared woman died, and no lot for a cemetery having been laid out, was buried in a field belonging to Mr. Cody, by the side of a son of his own.  After the death of his wife Elder Thompson found a home for a year with Dr. Joslyn.  The doctor's father, a Revolutionary soldier, died at his house in 1836.

Dr. Joslyn was a staunch Abolitionist, one of the founders of the 'Liberty Party,' and always a profound thinker and liberal supporter of every good movement.  His ride extended throughout the surrounding country, often to a distance of fifty miles.  He died at the home of his daughter, Mrs. M. J. Gage, in Fayetteville, in 1865.


In 1824 the first bridge across the Oneida River at Brewerton was erected, and in 1847 gave place to a new structure.  The opening of the Erie Canal through Syracuse in 1825 inaugurated a new era of prosperity among the settlers of Cicero, chiefly because of its placing distant markets for their produce within what was then considered easy reach.  Three years later the Oswego Canal was opened and also imparted a wholesome impulse to local industries, which derived an outlet through the established water route between Brewerton and Three River point.  In 1827 the town of Cicero was reduced to its present limits by the erection of Clay, and at the first available census, taken in 1830, this territory contained 1,808 inhabitants, while both towns together in 1825 had a population of 2,462.

According to a State Gazetteer published in 1836 Cicero contained 235 militia, 439 voters, 6,289 acres of improved land, 1,620 cattle, 550 horses, 2,011 sheep, 1,278 swine, six saw-mills, three asheries, one tannery, thirteen school districts, 714 school children, public money, including teacher's wages, expended for school purposes, $822; assessed value of real estate $309,337; personal property, $2,730.  At this time there were in Cicero Corners one Presbyterian and one Baptist church, a post-office, two stores, two taverns, and fifteen dwellings.

In early days the village of Cicero was known as Cody's Corner's from Mr. and Mrs. Isaac Cody, as previously mentioned, who moved away about 1833, after building a part of the Parker House, in which Samuel Cushing at one time had a store.  This hostelry was rebuilt under Judson Settle and was kept by Ebenezer Crowell, Ira Colson, A. S. Auborn, George Crownhart and his father, Spencer Hawn, and others.  Asa Eastwood and son Enos erected what was long known as the "old yellow store," which, after them, was kept by Julius Dunham, Allen Merriam, Irving Coonley, Horace D. Parks, and James Van Alstine.  Other merchants in the place were Samuel Warren, Harry and Lewis Gage, Joseph Carr (under whom the "Brick store" was burned and rebuilt), John Hamilton, Sylvester Brunt, Lorenzo Brown, William Youngs, Robert Lower, John Kloshien, A. L. Shepard, Frank Coville, and Mr. Bettinger.  The village has also had as blacksmiths Cyrus Chapman, John R. Cook, Adam Kirshenbaum and sons, and John Kloshein, sr.; wagonmakers, Mr. Littlefield, George W. Stevens, and H. A. Moyer; tailors, William Andrews and Nicholas Rector.  Another early tavern stood on the corner east of Mrs. Electa Fox's dwelling and was kept by Albro Leach, Ebenezer Crowell, John Van Bramer, Noah C. Frary, and Lester Herrick and their widows, James Anderson, and James Robinson, under whom it burned.  In the village was also at one time a saw mill owned by Josiah H. Young and a stave mill run by Sylvester Brunt.


Among other settlers before 1840 the following are still remembered:  Alexander and Quartus Cushing, David Shepard, Hiram and John R. Wright, Charles Wright, Myrick and Emery Moulton, sr., Joseph Douglass, Cornelius Van Alstine and sons Daniel and James, Isaac Brown, Gibbs Skiff, Ira Hall, James Anderson, Bartholomew Andrews, Noah Merriam, Nathan Botsford, Isaac Myers, William Hill, Dr. H. Joslyn, John Slosson, Jonathan E. Pierce, Nathan Allen, James Lynn, Allen Merriam (brother of Noah), Guernsey Andrews, Lot Hamilton, Waterbury Fancher, William McKinley, Simon Bort, John Mead, Horace Cole, Alonzo Plant (brother of Lauren), William White, Timothy Loomis, the Babcock and Gillett families, David Hoyt, Isaac and Daniel Baum, George Butler, sr., Burr Hackett, Benjamin Eastwood, Zebulon Weaver.

Chester Loomis came to Cicero in 1823 and purchased the farm of 150 acres upon which a Mr. Lynch had built a substantial dwelling in 1809.  Here he died September 5, 1851, aged sixty-six years.  His son Addison J. succeeded to the homestead.  Another son, Henry H., the youngest of his twelve children, was born here April 20, 1833, served as county superintendent of the poor from 1875 to 1881, and finally became a partner of Hoyt H. Freeman, of Syracuse, in manufacturing willow baskets on an extensive scale.  in 1877 he associated himself with others in the erection of a large canning factory in Cicero village, which is now owned by Loomis, Allen & Co.

Lauren Plant, born in Benson, Vt., March 7, 1817, came to this town in 1833 and for thirty-five years served as constable.  He was also collector and town clerk, carried on butchering for a quarter of a century, manufactured salt barrels, and being a carpenter by trade assisted in erecting many of the buildings standing in Cicero and vicinity.  His son Byron is the present town clerk (January, 1896).

David H. Hoyt, born in 1813, migrated to Cicero in 1836, and with his brother Jacob purchase 136 acres of land.  He married a daughter of Bartholomew Andrews, who was born here in 1823 and died in 1877.


Isaac Coonley, great-grandson of John Coonley, who emigrated from Germany to Dutchess county, N.Y., about 1750, was born in Albany county in 1810, taught school and learned the weaver's trade, and in 1838 settled in Jamesville, whence he moved to this town in 1849, where he died November 16, 1876.  He was supervisor four terms, justice of the peace four years, and the father of Irving Coonley, who for sixteen years was postmaster and long a merchant at Cicero, being in partnership with Isaac Merriam and later with Russell Z. Sadler.

The village of Brewerton, meanwhile, had received many additional settlers and business enterprises.  In 1836 the site was systematically laid out into lots by Orsamus Johnson, Daniel Wardwell, Miles W. Bennett, and Harvey Baldwin, and a few years later the place became noted for its extensive eel fisheries, in which Asa U. Emmons was largely identified.  As many as 3,000 eels were taken from the river in a single night, but the business ceased about 1845, when the channel was deepened for navigation purposes.  A large cooperage trade also contributed to the growth of the village.  In 1846 four steamboats, named Oneida, Oswego, Madison, and Onondaga, were put upon the lake and river by an Oswego company, for which Henry Guest was local agent.  He was followed by William H. Carter, who subsequently became one of the company's successors and continued the enterprise many years.  Among the old-time merchants were John L. Stevens, Asa U. Emmons, Isaac Cody, Alexander Cushing, J. R. Loomis, E. E. Blinn, F. C. & A. A. Cushing, Edward N. Emmons, John W. Emmons, George Carter, and David H. Waterbury, jeweler and druggist, who was succeeded by his sons.  Of the postmasters there were George Walkup, Orsamus Johnson, Asa U. Emmons, William H. Carter, Edward N. Emmons, W. W. Dority, Modestus Holbrook, and Mrs. E. C. Holbrook, incumbent.  Edward N. Emmons served as deputy postmaster under Johnson, Asa U. Emmons, and Carter and afterward held the office for seventeen consecutive years until the second year of Cleveland's first administration.  He was also in mercantile trade here from 1858 to 1895.  The village has had as carriage makers Joseph Livingston, father of James E. and grandfather of Charles H., and Robert McChesney, whose son Elmer is an undertaker; tailors, Cornell J. Wood, who lost a leg at Chancellorsville in the 149th N. Y. Vols., and Adelbert Wood, his son, who succeeded him; and blacksmiths, George Walkup, followed by his sons, Christopher D. and Andrew, Noel Kenyon, and Charles Stokes.  Dr. Henry F. Marks was an early physician.  The old Brewerton House was long an important feature of the village.  It as kept at one time by John Van Bramer, father of William, and also by Harvey Bennett, L. W. Marsh, Cyrus Chapman, Henry Shute, and others.  The brick hotel was built about 1868 by Charles E. Washburn, the present proprietor.  Besides the establishments carried on by the foregoing citizens there was a tannery built by Philip Carter which was burned under the ownership of his son H. K.; a large saw mill near by, having upright and circular saws, which was also destroyed by fire; another saw mill on the lake shore erected by John B. Kathan, run several years by Hopkins & Benson, and burned while operated by a Mr. Foster; and a patent meat block factory and feed mill conducted by F. A. Strong and L. C. Pierce.


In fostering the two important elements of local advancement--schools and religious worship--the inhabitants of Brewerton as well as those of the town were from the first zealously inclined towards the highest excellence and regularity.  Educational advantages were inaugurated in 1793 by Dea. George Ramsey, a Scotch Presbyterian, who passed the remainder of his life in the village.  This pioneer teacher planted a standard that has ever since been maintained.  As the village advanced schools were correspondingly increased in size and courses of study until 1855 a graded school house was built of brick at a cost of $1,000.  This was torn down in 1892 and a new structure costing $3,500 erected on the same site....

Cicero swamp became the subject of legislative action as early as 1836, when, on January 21, an act was passed naming Hezekiah Joslyn, John Leach, Jr., and Benjamin French, commissioners to cause a map to be made and estimate the cost of systematic drainage, the expense to be assessed to the lands benefited.  On March 3, 1852, the Legislature appointed Seth Spencer, of Manlius, and John W. Devoe and John S. Blodgett, of Dewitt, commissioners to drain wet lands in Manlius, Dewitt, and Cicero, by removing flood wood, bars, etc.  They were also authorized to employ a surveyor and engineer and have accurate maps and surveys made, the cost being assessed as before.  This act was repealed July 18, 1853, and on April 16, 1858, another act was passed designating Mars Nearing, John B. Kathan, and Freeman Sadler as commissioners to drain the wet land in lots 11,12, 20, and 21, locally known as "Muskrat Swamp," between South Bay and Brewerton.  The result of these various acts was the construction of ditches which have redeemed considerable portions of the swampy lands to cultivation.

In 1845 the town contained 223 militia, 597 voters, 624 school children, 8,192 acres of improved land, one saw mill, two asheries, three tanneries, three churches (Baptist, M. E., and Dutch Reformed), sixteen common schools, four taverns, six stores, 450 farmers, seven merchants, fifty mechanics, two physicians, and two lawyers.  Contrast these with the following statistics of 1860:  Acres of improved land, 14,376; valuation of real estate, $628,523, and personal property, $42,200; dwellings, 642; families, 689; freeholders, 529; school district, 15; school children, 1,305; horses, 901; oxen and calves, 1,274; cows, 1,324; sheep, 2,253; swine, 1,552; winter wheat, 1,920 bushels; spring wheat, 113,649 bushels; hay, 3,391 tons; potatoes, 24,842 bushels; apples, 20,131 bushels; butter, 129,140 pounds; cheese, 28,035 pounds; domestic cloths, 2,905 yards.


Referring once more to the settlers and residents of the town, whose enterprise and energy contributed to local development, it is pertinent to notice briefly such men as Capt. Valentine Dunham, who was born in Hamilton, N.Y., in 1816, finally located on Dunham's Island in Oneida Lake, later moved to South  Bay, and kept a boat livery there some thirty years; Benjamin French, who built a saw mill on the west bank of Chittenango Creek near Bridgeport in 1825 and carried it on until 1854, when he was succeeded by Oney Sayles, who continued it a long time; James Terpenny, proprietor of the South  Bay Hotel, who died February 3, 1847, aged sixty; Elijah Everson, father of A. Nelson and grandfather of William, who settled adjoining Frank Emmons; Joseph M. Moulton, father of Charles, William, and Alfred, who was president of the Cicero Turnpike Company and a large farmer south of Brewerton; Dr. M. H. Blynn, brevet lieutenant-colonel in the Rebellion, and long an active physician in Cicero; Henry C. Hart, a cavalryman at Sackett's Harbor in the war of 1812, whose wife, Eva Bellinger, was born in January, 1777, and died July 1, 1890, aged 113 years, and who had children John, Henry, Daniel, Jacob, William, and Peter Hart, and Mrs. Mary A. Nelson; Jesse Daniels, who started the first hop yard in 1874; and William H. Sherwood, Daniel Van Alstine, Benjamin F. Sweet (long a justice of the peace), Asahel Saunders, Noah Merriam, Ambrose Sadler, Robert Lower, Joseph Douglass and Emory Moulton (sons of Emory, sr.), William Van Bramer (who built a cheese factory in 1863), William H. Merritt, and John Baum.  Hector B. Johnson, born in Germany in 1844, was first a farmer and later a merchant in Brewerton, and served as supervisor (being chairman of the board), member of assembly in 1887 and 1888, sheriff of the county in 1887-91, and commissioner of public works of Syracuse from March, 1892, until his death August 24, 1895.

During the war of the Rebellion from 1861 to 1865 the town contributed a large number of brave and heroic soldiers to the Union armies, responding promptly to every call.  Patriotism and excitement ran high.  Numerous war meetings were held, notably one on May 4, 1861, at Brewerton, when the names of fifty-four citizens were enrolled with Henry Emmons as captain.  Cicero's record in that eventful struggle is pre-eminently a brilliant one and will forever illuminate the pages of history.

Among the various industries that sprang up and contributed to local prosperity was the old Bridgeport tannery, which was built as early as 1825 and continued successfully until 1869.  In 1855 a cheese factory was started one mile north of Cicero village, which is still running, the owner being Addison J. Loomis, while in 1867 another was erected in Cicero Center by William Sternberg, which afterward passed into the possession of O. J. Daniels.  There are now four cheese factories in town.  In 1870 a steam flour, saw, and stave mill was built in Cicero village by the Cicero Mill Company, capitalized at $25,000, at a cost of $23,000.  The present owner is A. J. Loomis, who also manufactures cheese boxes.

On November 9, 1871, the Syracuse Northern Railroad was opened through Brewerton and the northwest corner of the town, and again all local industries received a wholesome impulse.  In 1875 it became a part of the Rome, Watertown, and Ogdensburg system, and is now operated by the New York Central under lease.

The village of Brewerton was incorporated in 1872, the first officers, elected September 9 of that year, being John L. Stevens, president; E. N. Emmons, clerk; William H. Carter, D. H. Waterbury, William H. Sherwood, and William H. Merritt, trustees.  Here in 1852, on January 10, Fort Brewerton Lodge, No. 256, F. & A. M. was chartered with thirteen members, the charter officers being John Baum, W. M.; H. V. Keller, S. W.; and James J. Anderson, J. W.  In August, 1874, the Weekly Visitor, the first and only newspaper, was started in the village, but very soon discontinued publication.


The hamlets of Cicero Center and South Bay were the scenes of some activity before the beginning of the last half of this century.  The former in later years obtained a post-office, an M. E. church, and one or two stores, while the latter had its first settler in the person of Elijah Loomis, a Revolutionary soldier, as early as 1804.  South Bay has more recently sprung into prominence as a summer resort and also as the northern terminal of the Syracuse and South Bay Railroad lately projected.  A little to the north, in Oneida Lake, is Frenchman's Island, so named from its original white settler, a Frenchman named Desvatine, commonly known as Count St. Hiliary, who with his wife, a daughter of the noble house of Clermont, sought refuge here about 1793, where he was discovered by Chancellor Livingston.  After Bonaparte had put an end to the reign of terror these titled exiles returned to France.  The island belongs to Constantia in Oswego county and within the past twenty-five or thirty years has developed into quite a popular summer resort.  The hamlet of Centerville or North Syracuse is noticed fully in the chapter devoted to Clay.

In closing this narrative brief allusion may be made to the agricultural products which enhance the revenue of the town and distinguish it somewhat from other towns in the county.  Among the important crops are tobacco, potatoes, and vegetables, especially cabbage, while fruit is also grown in abundance.  Dairying has within recent years become one of the leading industries, the milk being both manufactured into cheese and butter and sold in Syracuse to consumers.  Hay, grain, hops, etc., are also produced in considerable quantities.

Oneida Lake has always been exceedingly productive of several species of fish, it being remarkable for fish breeding.  Vast quantities of fish have been shipped from it to home and eastern markets, in other years, giving employment and profit to large numbers of men.  After the Northern railway was built Brewerton became the chief point of shipment, and for many years Hector B. Johnson was an extensive shipper.  Since State laws for the protection of fish were enacted and passed, the catch has been comparatively light.  The lake was mainly  fed with the very best of water from the Adirondack regions, until saw mills were established along the stream to pollute the water.  There are still many streams of pure spring water entering from the north shore, so that the water of the lake is still unsurpassed for the breeding of fish.

Owing to the burning of the town records in 1851, as previously noted, it is impossible to give a complete list of the supervisors of Cicero.  The following are all that can be ascertained:

Judson Gage, 1825-28; Hezekiah Joslyn, 1829-31; Truman Rathburn, 1832-33; Benjamin French, 1834; Judson Gage, 1835-36; Hezekiah Joslyn, 1837; Judson Carr, 1838-40; blank, 1841; Benjamin French, 1842; blank, 1843-44; Isaac Baum, 1845-47; James B. Benedict, 1848; Orsamus Johnson, 1849; Fernando C. Cushing, 1850-1852; John B. Kathan, 1853; Josiah H. Young, 1854-55; Oney Sayles, 1856; Josiah H. Young, 1856; Byron D. Benson, 1858-59; Isaac Coonley, 1860-61;  Daniel Becker, 1862-63; Benjamin F. Sweet, 1864; Josiah H. Young, 1865-66; Isaac Coonley, 1867-68; Henry H. Loomis, 1869; William McKinley, 1870-71; Frank A. Strong, 1872-73; Addison J. Loomis, 1874-75; Nelson P. Eastwood, 1876-78; William Van Bramer, 1879-82; Hector B. Johnson, 1883-86; Irving Coonley, 1887-89; Melville Jackson, 1890; Walstein J. Snyder, 1891-93; Jacob Sneller, jr., 1894-95.  Byron Plant has been town clerk since 1839.

The population of the town has been as follows:  In 1820, 1,303; 1825, 2,462; 1830, 1,808; 1835, 2,191; 1840, 2,464; 1845, 2,651; 1850, 2,980; 1855, 3,388; 1860, 3,277; 1865, 3,166; 1870, 2,902; 1875, 2,800; 1880, 2,934; 1890, 2,636; 1892, State count, 2,553.