A History of Lewis County
Franklin Benjamin Hough
North to the St. Lawrence
Marnie Reed Crowell
Castorland: French Refugees in the Western Adirondacks, 1793-1814
|Other County Resources||
This county was formed from Oneida, March 28, 1805, and named in honor of Governor Morgan Lewis. Slight changes were made in the boundary on the erection of Pinckney, in 1808, and of Wilna, in 1813. It lies mostly within the valley of Black River, north of the center of the State. It is centrally distant 116 mi. from Albany, and contains 1,288 sq. mi. Its surface consists of the broad intervales which extend along the course of Black River, and uplands which rise upon the east and west. The eastern half rises gradually to the eastern border of the county, where it attains an elevation of about 1400 feet above tide. This part of the county forms a portion of the great wilderness of Northern N. Y. The surface in many places is broken by low ridges or isolated masses of naked gneiss. The streams generally flow over rocky beds, and in places through wild ravines. The soil is a light, yellow, sandy loam and unprofitable for cultivation. In the eastern forests are great numbers of picturesque lakes, many of which are scarcely known except to hunters and fishermen. The streams flowing from the plateau are generally rapid, furnishing an abundance of water power. (The water of these streams is discolored by organic matter, manganese, and iron, and imparts to Black River the color which has given it its name.) Magnetic iron ore has been found interstratified with gneiss and red specular ore on the northeasterm border of the county, and along the margins of the streams is an abundance of iron sand. At the junction of the gneiss and white limestone in Diana are a great number of interesting minerals. (Zircom, sphene, tabular spar, pyroxene, nuttallite, blue calcite, bright crystallized iron pyrities, Rensselaerite, and coccolite are found near Natural Bridge.)
The western side rises from the valley of Black River by a series of terraces to near the center of the western half of the county, whence it spreads out toward Lake Ontario. These terraces are occasionally broken by oblique valleys from the northwest. The summit is 1500 to 1700 feet above tide. The intervale along the river, and the banks which immediately border upon it, are underlaid by Black River limestone. Next above this, in an irregular terrace, rises the Trenton limestone, 300 feet thick in the northern part of the county and gradually diminishing toward the south. This limestone is very compact and strongly resists the action of the elements. In many places it presents the face of steep declivities approaching the perpendicular, and the streams from the western plateau generally flow over this formation in a single perpendicular fall. This rock underlies an extremely fertile and nearly level tract of 1 to 3 mi. wide. Above it, on the west, the strata of the Utica slate and Lorraine shales rise about 500 feet higher, and from the summit the surface spreads out into a nearly level region, with its waters flowing both toward the east and west. (The highest part of the range is said to be on Lot 50, in High Market, and is 1700 feet above tide. On a clear day the hills of Madison County can be seen from this place.) This range in Lewis County is known as Tug Hill. The soil in the limestone region is sometimes thin, but is everywhere productive. Near the foot of Tug Hill is a strip of stiff clay a few rods wide, extending the whole length of the county, and marked by a line of springs and swamps. The soil upon the slate is deep and well adapted to grazing, but, from its great elevation, it is liable to late and early frosts. Upon the summit of the slate table lands are extensive swamps, which give rise to streams flowing into Black River, Lake Ontario, Oneida Lake, and the Mohawk. Drift deposits are scattered promiscuously, and sometimes lie at a great depth, more particularly upon the northerly sides of the oblique valleys before mentioned.
The streams which rise on the summit of Tug Hill in many places flow through ancient beaver meadows, and upon the brow of the hill they have invariably worn deep ravines into the slates, and shales, in some instances 3 or 4 mi. in length and 100 to 300 feet deep. Chimney Point and Whetstone Gulf, in Martinsburgh, are localities of this kind. There are but few ravines in the limestone terraces, though the Deer River Falls, near Copenhagen, are in a gorge worn in this rock. A think layer of Potsdam sandstone rests immediately upon the gneiss in Martinsburgh. Waterlime of excellent quality has been made from the lower strata of Black River limestone, and veins of lead ore have been worked in the upper part of the Trenton limestone in Martinsburgh and Lowville. (About the year 1828 a silver mine was announced as discovered near Lowville; and in 1837 a lead mine was somewhat extensively wrought 1 mi. northwest of Martinsburgh Village, and several tons of lead were made at a great loss. More recently a company of speculators have bought the premises; but work has not been resumed, and probably will not be. Black oxyd of manganese has been found in swamps upon the summit of Tug Hill in the southwest part of Martinsburgh.) The outline of the hills readily indicates the character of the underlying rocks. (In the primary region the upheavals retain their original forms without change; the limestone terraces rise by steep slopes to their level summit; and the slate and shale hills exhibit the yielding character of the rocks which compose them, by their rounded outline and the gorges which every spring torrent has worn upon their sides.)
The southwest part of the county is drained by Fish Creek and its branches, and the headwaters of the Mohawk. Salmon River rises upon the western border, and the Oswegatchie and Indian (Called by the Indians O-jeŽquack, Nut River) Rivers take their rise in the northeast. The principal tributaries of Black River are Moose (Indian name Te-kaŽhun-di-anŽdo, clearing and opening) and Beaver Rivers (Indian name Ne-ba-saŽne, crossing on a stick of timber), Otter (Indian name Da-ween-net, the otter), Independence, and Fish Creeks, and Fall Brook, on the east; and Sugar River, Mill, Houses, and Whetstone Creeks, Roaring Brook, Lowville Creek, and Deer River (Indian name Ga-neŽga-toŽdo, corn pounder) upon the west. Several mineral springs are found within the county. (The largest of these arises from the limestone in Lowville, near the line of Harrisburgh. Others rise from the slate upon Tug Hill. All of them emit sulphuretted hydrogen gas, and some have been used for medicinal purposes.) Spring grains are readily cultivated; but this county is particularly adapted to pasturage, dairying forming the principal pursuit of the people. Droughts seldom occur; but the uplands are noted for their deep snows. Within a few years, several extensive establishments have been erected upon Black, Moose, Beaver, and Deer Rivers, for the manufacture of leather, paper, lumber, and articles of wood. Two furnaces for the manufacture of iron from the ore are located near the northern border.
The county seat is located at Martinsburgh. A wooden courthouse and jail were built here in 1810-11, upon a site given by Gen. Martin. (The county seat was located by the same commissioners that were appointed for Jefferson County Benj. Van Vleeck, Daniel Kelly, and Jonathan Collins, by act of 1811, were appointed to superintend the completion of these buildings. The first county officers were Daniel Kelly, First Judge; Jonathan Collins, Judah Barnes, and Solomon King, Judges; Lewis Graves and Asa Brayton, Asst. Justices; Asa Lord, Coroner; Chillus Doty, Sheriff; Richard Coxe, Clerk; and Isaac W. Bostwick, Surrogate.) The present clerk's office was erected by citizens of Martinsburgh in 1847. Active efforts were made at an early day, and renewed in 1852, to obtain the removal of the county seat to Lowville, and a fine edifice was built at the place for the courts, in the hope of securing their removal. The county poorhouse is located upon a farm of 59 acres 1 mi. west of Lowville. The average number of inmates is about 90. The institution is well managed in regard to economy, neatness, and the health of the inmates. The only internal improvement in the county is the Black River Canal, connecting Black River below Lyons Falls with the Erie Canal at Rome. (The Black River & Utica R. R., now finished to Boonville, will probably be extended through the Black River Valley.) From Lyons Falls the river is navigated to Carthage, a distance of 42-1/2 mi., by small steamers. Three newspapers are now published in the county:
The Lewis Co. Sentinel was started at Martinsburgh, Oct. 12, 1824, by Charles Nichols, and continued 1 year.
The Martinsburgh Sentinel was commenced in 1828 by ___Pearson, and continued until March, 1830.
The Lewis County Republican was established at Martinsburgh, in 1831 or '32, by James Wheeler, who sold it to Daniel S. Bailey, its present publisher, in 1837. It was removed to Lowville in 1844, but has since been returned to Martinsburgh.
The Lewis Co. Gazette was started at Lowville, in the spring of 1821, by Lewis G.
Hoffman, and continued 2 years. The Black River Gazette was issued at Lowville, Oct. 19, 1825, by Wm. L.
Easton. It was sold in 1830 to J. M. Farr, by whom it was continued a year or more.
The Lewis Democrat was started at Lowville, March 25, 1834, by Le Grand Byington, and continued 1 year.
The Northern Journal was commenced at Lowville, Feb. 14, 1838, by A. W. Clark. It has frequently changed owners, and is now published by Henry A. Phillips.
The Lewis County Banner was started at Lowville, Sept. 3, 1856, by N. B. Sylvester, and is now published by Henry Allgoever.
The Lewis Co. Democrat was commenced Sept. 23, 1856, at Turin, by H. R. Labe. It was removed to Martinsburgh in 1849 and discontinued a few weeks after.
The Dollar Weekly Northern Blade was started at Constableville in 1854. It was changed to
The News Register in April, 1857, by Merrill & Cook, its publishers, and was afterward removed to Carthage.
This county is entirely within Macomb's Purchase, and includes a part of GreatTract No. IV, most of the Chassanis Purchase, Watson's West Tract, the Brantingham Tract, and a small part of John Brown's Tract, on the eastern side of the river; and 4 of the "Eleven Towns, 5 of the Thirteen Towns of the Boylston Tract, Constable's Five Towns, and Inman's Triangle on the west.
This tract was bought by the Antwerp Company, and embraced an area of 450,950 acres. (See Jeff. Co.)
It has been said that all of these social virtues are needed for the settlement of this region. The first 4 townships are partly in Lewis County.
Numbers 5, 9, 10 and 11, -- now Denmark, Pinckney, Harrisburgh, and Lowville.
Named from Thos. Boylston, of Boston, who held the title a few days. Nos. 3, 4, 8, 9 and 13, now Montague, Osceola, and parts of Martinsburgh and High Market, are in Lewis County. The whole tract included 817,155 acres.
These towns were Xenophon, Flora, Lucretia, Pomona, and Porcia, and now form parts of Lewis, High Market, and Martinsburgh and the whole of Turin and West Turin.
Leyden as it existed before Lewis was erected. It included 26,250 acres, forming a perfect triangle.
The first settlers came from New England and settled at Leyden in 1794. The fame of the "Black River country spread through Mass. and Conn., and within the next ten years the country between Tug Hill and the river rapidly filled up with a laborious, intelligent, and enterprising population. A romantic project of settlement formed by refugees of the French Revolution, in which Arcadian dreams of rural felicity were to be realized, was abandoned after a short experience of the real hardships of pioneer life. Except an expensive but ineffectual attempt by Brown to settle his tract, toward the close of the last century, little improvement was made east of the river until about 1820; and this section has at present time less than one-fourth of the population, and a still less proportion of the wealth, of the county. A systematic effort at settlement of the extreme western part was first made in 1840-46, under Seymour Green and Diodate Pease, agents of the Pierrepont estate. Much of this region is still a wilderness.
LEWIS COUNTY - TOWNS PORTION:CROGHAN -- was formed from Watson and Diana, April 5, 1841, and a part of New Bremen was taken off in 1848. It lies east of Black River, in the northern part of the county. The surface has an inclination toward the west and north, and in the central and eastern parts it is broken and hilly. Oswegatchie and Indian Rivers rise in the town and flow northerly into Diana; and Beaver River forms a portion of its southern boundary. In the eastern part of the town are several lakes. The soil is light and sandy, and along the river intervales it is moderately fertile. The town is thinly settled along Black and Beaver Rivers, but in the north and east it is still a wilderness. Croghan, (p.o.,) on Beaver River, and Naumburg, (p.o.,) in the western part of the town, are small villages. Indian River, (p.o.,) north of the center of the town, and Belfort, on Beaver River, are hamlets. Settlement commenced before 1830, under P. S. Stewart, agent for Le Ray. Many of the settlers are French and Germans. There are 5 churches in town.
Named in honor of Col. Geo. Croghan. It is locally pronounced "CroŽgan;" its proper pronunciation is "Crawn."
DENMARK -- was formed from Harrisburgh, April 3, 1807. It lies west of Black River, on the northern border of the county. Its surface descends to Black River on the east by a succession of irregular terraces. Deer River flows through the town, and upon its course are several falls, affording an abundant water power. The High Falls, one mi. below Copenhagen, descend 160 feet, at an angle of about 80o, and are celebrated for their picturesque beauty. Kings Fall, 2 mi. below, has a descent of about 40 feet. The eastern part of the town is covered with deep deposits of drift. Near the mouth of Deer River are extensive flats; and Black River is bordered by a cedar swamp. The soil is very fertile. Copenhagen, (p.v.,) on Deer River, in the western part, contains 3 churches and several manufactories. Pop. 505. Denmark, (p.v.,) in the eastern part, contains about 50 houses; and Deer River, (p.v.,) on the river of the same name, 2 mi. from its mouth, 35. The first settlement was made in 1800, by Jesse Blodget. The census reports 6 churches in town.
This town embraces Township No. 6 (illegible), or Mantua, of the Eleven Towns.
DIANA -- was formed from Watson, April 16, 1830, and a part of Croghan was taken off in 1841. This is the extreme northeast town in the county. Its surface is level, or gently rolling. In the eastern part are 2 isolated hills, 300 to 500 feet above the surrounding surface. The principal streams are Oswegatchie and Indian Rivers and their branches. Bonaparte and Indian Lakes, in the northern part, and Cranberry, Legiers, and Sweets Lakes, in the east, are the principal bodies of water. The greater part of this town is yet a wilderness. The soil is light and sandy. Iron ore is found in the northern and eastern parts, and coarse, crystalline marble, of a sky-blue tint, on the banks of Indian River, near Natural Bridge. Sterlingbush, (p.v.,) in the western part, contains 15 houses; and Harrisville 12. Blanchards Settlement (Diana Center p.o.) is in the southern part. Diana is a p.o., and Alpina is a hamlet. There are 2 churches in town, (Bap. and M.E.,) but no church edifice.
Bonaparte Lake was so called in honor of Joseph Bonaparte, who built a log house upon its banks, for the accommodation of himself and friends while upon hunting and fishing excursions, during his stay at his summer residence at Natural Bridge.
GREIG -- was formed from Watson, April 5, 1828, as "Brantingham." Its name was changed Feb. 20, 1832. It is the southeast corner town of the county. Its surface is rolling in the west, but it is broken, rocky, and in some places hilly, in the east. The principal streams all tributaries of Black River, are Moose River, Otter, Stony, and Fish Creeks, and Cole and Fall Brooks. The scenery along Moose River is celebrated for its wildness and beauty. The greater part of the town is yet a wilderness. In the eastern part are several small lakes, which constitute some of the favorite resorts of fishermen. The soil is principally a light, sandy loam. Iron ore and ocher are found, and near Brantingham Lake is a sulphur spring. Lumber, leather, and paper are made, and on Otter Creek is an extensive match box factory. Lyonsdale, on Moose River, 3 mi. from its mouth, and Greig and Brantingham, near Black River, are post offices. In 1796 the French, under Rodolph Tillier, settled on the Chassanis Tract, near Black River, below the High Falls. The only church in town (Presb.) was formed in 1807.
Named from the late John Greig, of Canandaigua, who owned large tracts of land in the town.
HARRISBURGH -- was formed from Lowville, Champion, (Jefferson County) and Mexico, (Oswego County,) Feb. 22, 1803. Denmark was taken off in 1807, and a part of Pinckney in 1808. It lies upon the slate hills and limestone terraces northwest of the center of the county. Its general inclination is toward the northeast, its southwest corner being 300 to 500 feet above Black River. Its surface is generally rolling, but on the southwest it is moderately hilly. Deer River and its tributaries are the principal streams. The soil is generally a rich loam largely intermixed with disintegrated limestone and slate. Harrisburgh, in the northeast part, and South Harrisburgh, in the south, are post offices. Settlement commenced a short time previous to the War of 1812. The first religious services were conducted by Elder Amasa Dodge, a Free Will Baptist minister. There are 4 churches in town.
Named from Richard Harrison, of N. Y., one of the early proprietors. The town embraces No. 10, or Platina, of the Eleven Towns.
HIGH MARKET -- was formed from West Turin, Nov. 11, 1852. It lies upon the elevated slate region west of Black River, a little south of the center of the county. Its general inclination is toward the southeast. Its surface is rolling in the south, but broken and moderately hilly in the north and west. Its streams are Fish Creek and its branches, the principal of which are Big and Little Alder Creeks. The soil is a loam mixed with disintegrated slate, and is best adapted to pasturage. High Market (p.o.) is in the southeast part of the town. Most of the town is still unsettled. Among the first settlers were Alfred Hovey, L. Fairchild, John Felshaw, Sol. Wells, and Benj. Martin. A large proportion of the people are of Irish nativity. There are no churches in town.
This town embraces Township No. 9, or Penelope, of the Boylston Tract, and parts of Nos. 2 and 3, or Flora and Lucretia, of Constable's Towns.
LEWIS -- was formed from West Turin and Leyden, Nov. 11, 1852. It lies upon the elevated plateau in the southern angle of the county. Its surface is generally rolling, but in the western part it is broken and hilly. Its entire surface is 700 to 1200 feet above the valley of Black River. The principal streams are Fish Creek, the western branch of the Mohawk, and the western branch of Salmon River. Most of the town is yet an uninhabited wilderness. The soil is generally a sandy loam, moderately fertile and best adapted to grazing. Owing to the elevation of the town, spring is late, autumn early, and snows deep. West Leyden, (p.v.,) situated on the headwaters of the Mohawk, in the eastern part of the town, contains about 20 houses. Settlement was commenced about 1800; but the present inhabitants of the town are mostly new comers, of German nativity. The first church (Presb.) was organized in 1826. There are now 4 churches in town.
1Named from the county
LEYDEN1 -- was formed from Steuben, (Oneida County) March 20, 1797. Brownville (Jefferson County) was taken off in 1802, Boonville (Oneida County) in 1805, a part of Wilna (Jefferson County) in 1813, Watson in 1821, and a part of Lewis in 1852. It lies on the west bank of Black River, upon the southern border of the county. Its inclination is toward the eastern, the western border being about 500 feet above the river. Its surface is undulating. Its principal streams are Sugar River and Moose Creek.2 The soil is a fertile loam mixed with disintegrated slate and limestone. Port Leyden, (p.v.,) on Black River, has a population of 192. Talcottville, (Leyden p.o,) in the center of the town, of 50; and Leyden Hill, in the northern part, of 40. Settlement began in 1794,3 under the owners of the Triangle. A Cong. church was formed at a very early period, by Rev. ___Ely, and a Bap. church in 1798. There are now 6 churches in town.4
1This town, with that part of Lewis which was set off from it, forms the tract known as "Inman's Triangle."
LOWVILLE1 -- was formed from Mexico, (Oswego County) March 14, 1800, and a part of Harrisburgh was taken off in 1803. It lies upon the west bank of Black River, a little north of the center of the county. Its western border is about 400 feet above the river. Its surface is gently rolling. A wide intervale, the northern part of which is swampy, extends along the course of the river. The soil is a deep, fertile loam intermixed with disintegrated limestone.2 A mineral spring is found near the northern border of the town. Lowville, (p.v.,) incorp. under the act of 1847,3 is situated near the southern border of the town. It contains 5 churches, an academy,4 2 printing offices, and a bank. Pop. 908. West Lowville, (p.o.,) in the western part of the town, Stows Square, about 3 mi. north of Lowville, and Smiths Landing, on Black River, are hamlets. Settlement was commenced about 1797, under Silas Stow, agent for N. Low, and the town was rapidly filled with immigrants from New England.5 The first church (M. E.) was founded in 1804. There are now 6 churches in town.6
1This town embraces No. 11 of the Eleven Towns. It was named from Nicholas Low, of N. Y., the early pioneer.
MARTINSBURGH1 -- was formed from Turin, Feb. 22, 1803, and a part of Turin was annexed in 1819. It lies upon the west bank of Black River, near the center of the county. It has an easterly inclination, its western border being nearly 1000 feet above the river valley. Its surface is rolling, with a wide, level intervale bordering upon the river. The principal streams are Martins and Whetstone Creeks.2 The soil is a deep, fertile loam, except along the river, where it is sandy. Near the head of Whetstone Gulf is a sulphur spring. Martinsburgh (p.v.) is situated on Martins Creek, near the center of the town. It contains the county buildings, 3 churches, and a newspaper office. Pop. 2l0. West Martinsburgh, (p.v.,) in the northern part of the town, has a pop. of 164. Glensdale, (p.o.,) in the southeast part, is a hamlet of about 12 dwellings. Settlement was begun by Gen. Walter Martin, at Martinsburgh, in 1801.3 The first church (Presb.) was organized in 1804, by Rev. Elijah Norton. There are 7 churches in town.4
1This town embraces Township No. 4, or Cornells, of the Boylston Tract, and Porcia and a part of Lucretia, of Constable's Towns.
MONTAGUE1 (Mon-ta-guŽ) -- was formed from West Turin, Nov. 14, 1850. It lies near the center of the western border of the county. Its inclination is toward the northwest, and its elevation is 1200 to 1600 ft. above tide. Its surface is generally rolling, but in some places it is broken and hilly. It is watered by numerous small streams, flowing into Deer River. The northern branch of Salmon River flows through the southwest corner. Upon lot 22, in the northwest part, is a sulphur spring. The soil is a moderately fertile, sandy and gravelly loam. Gardners Corners (Montague p.o.) is in the northern part of the town. Settlement commenced in 1846, under the agency of Diadate Pease, agent of the Pierrepont estate. There are 2 churches in town; M. E. and Bap.
1This town embraces Township No. 3, or Shakespeare, of the Boylston Tract. It was named from the daughter of H. B. Pierrepont, the proprietor.
NEW BREMEN -- was formed from Watson and Croghan, March 31, 1848. It lies upon the eastern bank of Black River, north of the center of the county Its surface is level in the west, but rolling, broken, and rocky in the east. It is watered by several tributaries of Black River, the largest of which is Beaver River, on the northern boundary. The eastern part is sparsely settled. The soil is a light, sandy loam. Dayansville1 (New Bremen p.o.) is in the western part of the town. Pop. 200. Settlement was commenced in 1798, by Samuel Illingworth and some French families.2 In the western part is a settlement of Germans, and in the north one of French. There are 4 churches in town.3
1This place was laid out in 1826, by Charles Dayan.
OSCEOLA1 -- was formed from West Turin, Feb. 28, 1844. It lies upon the high region in the southwest corner of the county. Its general inclination is toward the southwest. Its surface is undulating, and the highest points are 1500 to 1600 ft. above tide. The streams are branches of Fish Creek and Salmon River. The soil is a moderately fertile, sandy loam. Nearly all the town is yet a wilderness. Osceola is a p.o. in the southern part. Settlement was commenced about 1838, by Seymour Green, agent for Pierrepont. There are 2 churches in town, M. E. and Ind.
1This town embraces Townships 13 and 8, or Rurabella nd Hybia, of the Boyslton Tract. It was named from the celebrated Seminole chief.
PINCKNEY1 -- was formed from Harrisburgh and "Harrison," (now Rodman, Jefferson County) February 12, 1808. It lies upon the highlands in the northwest corner of the county, and has an average elevation of 1300 ft. above tide. It forms the watershed between Deer River and Sandy Creek, the head branches of which constitute the principal streams. A series of swamps extend along the eastern border. In the town are several mineral springs, one of which has acquired considerable local notoriety for its medicinal qualities. The soil is a light, slaty loam upon the hills, and a deep black laom in the valleys. Pinckney, New Boston, Barnes Corners, and Cronks Corners are post offices. Settlement was commenced in 1804, under Abel French, agent of Mr. Henderson.2 The first church (Bap.) was formed in 1810. There are now 4 churches in town.3
1By the act organizing this town, Township No. 9, or Handel, of the Eleven Towns, was annexed to Lewis County. The town was named in honor of Charles C. Pinckney, a statesman of S. C.
TURIN -- was formed from Mexico, (Oswego County) March 14, 1800. Martinsburgh was taken off in 1803, another portion was annexed to Martinsburgh in 1819, and West Turin was taken off in 1830. It lies upon the west bank of Black River, south of the center of the county. Its western boundary is 800 to 1000 ft. above the river, giving to the town an easterly inclination. The surface is level, except near the western border, where it ascends to the slate hills, and in the east, where it descends to the river intervale. The soil is generally a deep, fertile loam mixed with disintegrated slate and limestone. Turin, (p.v.,) situated in the southern part, contains 3 churches and several manufactories.1 Pop. 438. Houseville,2 (p.v.,) in the northern part, has a pop. of 90. The first settlement was made about 1797, by Nathaniel Shaler, of Middletown, agent of Wm. Constable and part owner, and the town was rapidly settled by immigrants from New England.3 The first church (Presb.) was organized Sept. 19, 1802, by Rev. John Taylor. There are six churches in town.4
1There are 3 gristmills upon Mill Creek, near Turin, and a woolen factory 1 mi. below the village.
WATSON1 -- was formed from Leyden, March 30, 1821. "Brantingham" (now Greig) was taken off in 1828, Diana in 1830, a part of Croghan in 1841, and a part of New Bremen in 1848. It lies upon the eastern bank of Black River, and extends from near the center of the county to its eastern border. Its surface is level or gently rolling in the western part, but in the central and eastern parts it is more hilly and broken. It is watered by Beaver River, Independence Creek, and several smaller branches of Black River. The central and eastern parts are yet covered with unbroken forests; and a large tract upon the extreme eastern border constitutes a portion of the far famed "John Brown's Tract." In the recesses of these forests are numerous beautiful lakes that are scarcely known except to hunters. Chases Lake, on the southern border, is noted for its beautiful scenery and is much visited by tourists. The soil is light and sandy. Watson,2 (p.o.,) situated on Black River, in the western part of the town, is a hamlet. The early settlers located along the river, and settlements were not made in the interior until about 1815.3 The first church (M. E.) was organized in 1820. There are 3 churches and 1 church edifice (M. E.) in town.4
1Named from James Watson, of N. Y., former proprietor.
WEST TURIN -- was formed from Turin, March 25, 1830. Osceola was taken off in 1844, Montague in 1850, and High Market and a part of Lewis in 1852. It lies upon the west bank of Black River, south of the center of the county. Its inclination is toward the east, its surface rising by successive terraces from the intervale of Black River to the hills 800 feet above. Its streams are Sugar River, which flows easterly through near the center of the town, and numerous smaller creeks and brooks. Lyons Falls, upon Black River, plunge over a ledge of gneiss rock 63 feet in height, at an angle of about 60o.1 These falls form an excellent water power but little used. The soil is a deep, fertile loam upon the river valley, and a slaty loam upon the western hills. Constableville2 (p.v.) is satuated upon Sugar River, at the foot of the Slate Hills, near the center of the town. Pop. 472. Collinsville,3 (p.v.,) in the eastern part of the town, contains 2 churches and a population of about 200. Lyons Falls, 4 (p.o.,) on Black River, is a hamlet. The first settlement was made at Constableville, in 1796, by Nathaniel Shaler.5 There are 9 churches in town.6
1Formerly called, "High Falls." The rock has been but slightly worn; but the iron which enters into its composition has gradually dissolved, and the precipitous banks at and below the falls are so colored by it that they seem to have been painted by art; hence they are called the "Pictured Rocks."
NOTE: Charts, which appeared in the Towns Portion, have not been reproduced here. Those charts consist of statistical data: Acreage of land, valuations in 1858, population, number of schools, live stock, and agriculutral products.
Source: J. H. French. Gazetteer of the State of New York. Syracuse: R. Pearsall Smith, 1860.
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