Landmarks of Oswego County, New York; by John Charles (1821—1905). Churchill, H. P. (Henry Perry) Smith (1839—1925) and W. Stanley Child; 1895; pgs. 570—606
Originally transcribed by Natalie Runyan (2005).
THE TOWN OF MEXICO
In a history of Oswego county, Mexico may be appropriately termed "the mother of towns." It is the oldest civil division in this county, and has the unique distinction of having been twice formed by legislative enactment. The act originally creating it from Whitestown, Herkimer county, was passed April 10, 1792, and provided as follows:
And be it further enacted that all that part of Whitestown, aforesaid, bounded on the east by the east boundaries of the Military Tract (so called), and a line drawn north from the mouth of Canaseraga Creek across Oneida Lake to Lake Ontario;1 south by Tioga county; west by the west bounds of the townships Homer, Tully, Marcellus, Camillus, Lysander, and Hannibal, of the said Military Tract, and north by Lake Ontario, be erected into a separate town by the name of Mexico.
The first town meeting "shall be held at the house of Benjamin Morehouse." Apparently this provision was not carried out.
The first Mexico, as thus constituted, comprised the present counties of Onondaga and Cortland, and all of Oswego lying west of the before-mentioned line, which would strike a point near the northwest corner of Williamstown. March 5, 1794, Onondaga county was formed from Herkimer, and on the same day Lysander, including that part of the county of Oswego lying west of Oswego River, was erected into a township. At this time nearly all of the settlers were located in Onondaga county, leaving but three or four families in this town, and consequently the erection and organization of the original Mexico was abandoned for a time. The second legislative act was passed February 26, 1796, and reads as follows:
Be it enacted by the people of the State of New York represented in Senate and Assembly, and it is herby enacted by the authority of the same that so much of the county of Herkimer as is contained within the limits and bounds following, to wit: Beginning at the northwest corner of a tract of land commonly called Fonda's Forty-thousand Acre Patent, thence down and along the west side of Canada Creek to its junction with Wood Creek, thence down and along the waters of Wood Creek to the Oneida Lake, thence through the middle of said lake to the west end thereof, thence to the north shore of the Onondaga River, thence down and along the north side of the said river to Lake Ontario, thence easterly and northerly along the said lake to the mouth of Black River, thence up and along the said river to the northernmost corner of twenty-five thousand acres of land sold by William Constable to William Inman, thence south thirty-seven degrees and thirty minutes west along the northwesterly bounds of the said tract to the northwest corner of the tract commonly called Oothout's Patent, thence south one degree west along the westerly line of the said tract to the place of beginning, shall be, and hereby is erected into a separate town by the name of Mexico, and that from and after the first day of April next the freeholders and inhabitants of the said town shall have and may exercise all and every power and privilege which the freeholders and inhabitants of the other towns in this State have and may exercise by law, and the first town meeting in the said town shall be held at the dwelling house of John Myer, situate at Rotterdam, within the said town of Mexico.
Secretary's office of the State of New York, March 11, 1796.
I certify the preceding to be a true copy of an original act of the Legislature of the State, filed in this office, compared therewith by me.
JASPER HOPPER, D. Secretary
The second Mexico, thus formed, included all of Oswego county east of Oswego River and north of Oneida River and Lake, and portions of the counties of Jefferson, Lewis and Oneida. These bounds remained intact until March 15, 1799, when Camden (including Vienna and Florence) was taken off. Lowville and Turin, forming the southwest part of Lewis county, and Champion and Watertown (including Rutland and Hounsfield), in Jefferson county, were taken off March 14, 1800, as was also Redfield in this county. Ellisburg, including Henderson, in Jefferson county, was set off February 22, 1803, and Lorraine (including Worth, in the same county), March 24, 1804. This left Mexico wholly within the present county of Oswego, of which it became an integral part on March 1, 1816. Williamstown (including Amboy, Richland, Albion, Boylston, Orwell, and Sandy Creek), was set off March 24, 1804; Volney (including Scriba, Schroeppel, and Palermo), on March 21, 1806; Constantia (including Hastings and West Monroe), on April 8, 1808; New Haven on April 2, 1813; and Parish on March 20, 1828. March 31, 1817, lots 137 to 148 inclusive of survey township number 21 were taken from Richland and annexed to this town. May 9, 1836, lots 24, 25, 26, and 27 of the nineteenth township were taken from New Haven, and lots 93, 94, 95, 96, 97, and 110 of the twenty-first township were taken from Richland and all annexed to Mexico, leaving Mexico with its present area of 28,217 acres divided into 184 lots. It comprises township 20 and parts of townships 19 and 21 of Scriba's Patent.
Mexico is somewhat irregular in outline, and lies near the center of the northwest boundary of Oswego county. The surface is gently rolling, and there is scarcely a foot of waste land in the town. Excellent drainage is afforded by several streams, the largest of which are Salmon and Sage Creeks.
The soil is a clay, sand and gravelly loam, underlaid with a strata of gray sandstone, deeply covered with alluvial deposits. Quarrying is carried on to a limited extent along Little Salmon Creek, and peat exists in some localities. The soil is very fertile, and produces large crops of hay, grain and fruit. Strawberries are extensively cultivated. Dairying is now the chief industry. The first cheese factory in town was built at Colosse in 1863, and in 1864 another was located at Prattham. At present there are eight in operation, all doing an excellent business.
The town was originally covered with a heavy growth of timber, and for many years a number of saw mills did an extensive business. In 1858 there were nineteen in operation. The manufacture of barrels comprised at one time quite an important industry. But destruction of the primitive forests finally stopped these enterprises, leaving the inhabitants to pursue the steadier occupations of agriculture.
Experts claim that Mexico lies within the great natural gas belt, which extends northeasterly from south of Potter county, Pa. In 1890 the Mexico Natural Gas, Oil and Mineral Company was organized, and in the following year a well was sunk. Gas was discovered, but not in sufficient quantities to induce further operations.
The present Mexico, with all the surrounding towns, was contracted by the State to John and Nicholas Roosevelt in 1791, for about thirty-nine cents an acre. On April 7, 1792, they conveyed their contract to George Frederick William Augustus Scriba, who received a patent for the tract in December, 1794. The next year he employed Benjamin Wright to survey the purchase into townships, and the latter gave such favorable accounts of the natural advantages of this section that Mr. Scriba immediately raised the price of his land. He also inserted in the contracts to settlers, the conditional clause; "There must be a forfeiture of this contract unless four acres shall be cleared and sown the first year, and an actual settlement made a short time after." These conditions greatly retarded early settlement and discouraged not a few of the pioneers, who soon abandoned their improvements and moved elsewhere. Mr. Scriba, seeing his mistake, reduced his prices and abolished the conditions, and the town then rapidly filled up with a class of thrifty, substantial settlers.
As early as 1795, Mr. Scriba opened a road from what is now Mexico Point to the present village of Constantia. This was the thoroughfare in the town. Soon afterwards a highway was established from the first named place to Oswego, following mainly the beach of Lake Ontario. Other roads were opened, as settlement increased and made them necessary. In 1847 the Rome and Oswego Plank Road Company was organized, and a plank road was completed between those points in the spring of 1848 it passed through Mexico, and did an immense business in through traffic; but its business was diverted when the railroad reached Oswego, and it was long since abandoned as a plank road.
Early in the present century a stage and mail route was established between Mexico and Oswego. It soon had daily stages which were continued until superseded by the railroad. In July, 1861, Kenyon & Barrett, who were the proprietors of the line, put on a Concord coach "at a cost of $600," which created no little enthusiasm. In the fall of 1865 the Oswego and Rome Railroad (now part of the R. W. & O.) was completed from Oswego to Richland Station, passing through Mexico, and regular trains commenced running on the first of January, 1866. This gave a new impetus to the town, and especially to Mexico village, the effect of which still continues.
The act creating this town designated the time and place of holding the first town meeting—at the house of John Myer in Rotterdam (now Constantia)—but for some reason still unexplained the settlers failed to convene and elect the usual officers. The next year also passed by without a town election, and hence on May 30, 1797, Sanford Clark, Michael Myers, and Elizur Mosely, three justices of the peace for Herkimer county, appointed the following town officers for Mexico:
Oliver Stevens, town clerk; Elijah Carter, constable; Amos Mathews, Solomon Waring, and Luke Mason, assessors; Amos Mathews and Solomon Waring, overseers of the poor; Soloman Waring, collector.
The first town meeting was held at the house of John Myer on the 3d of April, 1798, at which these officers were elected:
John Myer, supervisor; Benjamin Wright, town clerk; John Bloomfield, Amos Mathews, Benjamin Gilbert, and Luke Mason, assessors; Reuben Hamilton and Solomon Waring, overseers of the poor; Solomon Waring, collector; John W. Bloomfield, Samuel Jarvis, and Reuben Hamilton, highway commissioners; Jared Shepard, Amos Mathews and Aaron Van Valkenburgh, constables; Amos Mathews and Henry Fall, fenceviewers; John Myer, Samuel Royce, and Benjamin Wright, school, commissioners.
April 2, 1799, the second town meeting was held at the house of Luke Mason and Calvin Tiffany was chosen town clerk. The third town meeting convened at the house of Benjamin Winch, at the mouth of Salmon River, in Richland. For several years following this, the annual meetings alternated between the houses of Calvin Tiffany and Phineas Davis. At Mr. Tiffany's, one an one-half miles east of Mexico village, the first meeting of the Board of Supervisors of Oswego county was held.
In 1798 Isaac Alden, John W. Bloomfield, Benjamin Wright, Joseph Strickland (all residents of the present county of Oswego), and Samuel Royce (of Camden) were appointed justices of the peace. Following them were Reuben Hamilton in 1800; G. W. Wood, in 1804; Reuben Hamilton, Samuel Tiffany, and William Burt, in 1805; William Cole and Thomas Nutting, in 1806; David Williams and David Easton, in 1807; Reuben Hamilton, William Burt, and John Nutting, in 1809; Joseph Bailey and Dyer Burnham, in 1810; David Easton, David Williams, and Peter Pratt, in 1811; Jonathan Wing and Joseph Bailey, in 1812; Benjamin Wright and Peter Pratt, in 1813; David Wing, in 1814; Paul Allen and Solomon Everts, in 1815.
April 7, 1801, it was voted that "no hog shall run at large without a goose-poke" between May 10 and October 26. March 6, 1804, a bounty of $10 was placed on wolf scalps, which in 1812 was increased to $30, and Daniel H. Southard is said to have received $1,500 in bounties from this provision. In 1804 a bounty of six cents (formerly four cents) was voted on each "black, gray, or striped squirrel, blue jay, or blackbird killed in the town."
May 13, 1846, a special act of the Legislature authorized a tax levy of $500 to procure a town hall. March 23, 1857, the town hall trustees were empowered to sell the same for $500, and the trustees, supervisor, and town clerk were authorized to buy or lease a new site and erect another building, which was erected, and was burned in 1862. March 6, 1877, it was voted to build the present Washington Hall in Mexico village, but work was not commenced until June 12, 1878. It is of brick, and cost complete, including the lot, $6,000. It stands just east of the Mexico Hotel, and has a town clock in a sightly tower.
The supervisors of Mexico have been as follows:
John Myer, 1797—98; Reuben Hamilton, 1799—1800; Jonathan Parkhurst, 1801; Calvin Tiffany, 1802; Reuben Hamilton, 1803—05; Dyer Burnham, 1806—08; David Easton, 1809; Dyer Burnham, 1810; David Williams, 1811; Dyer Burnham, 1812—15; Elias Brewster, 1816—17; David Burnham, 1818—20; Peter Pratt, 1821; W. S. Fitch, 1822; Peter Pratt, 1823—28; Joseph Lamb, 1829; Joseph W. Houghton, 1830—34; Luther S. Conklin, 1835—36; Joseph Gowg, 1837; Charles Brewster, 1838—39; Elias Brewster, 1840—41; Orville Robinson, 1842; Starr Clark, 1843; Elias Brewster, 1844; John M. Richardson, 1845—48; James S. Chandler, 1849; Bradley Higgins, 1850—53; L. D. Smith, 1854—55; Calvin G. Hinckley, 1856; A. S. Fuller, 1857; M. Newell, 1858—59; Calvin Smith, 1860; Leonard Ames, 1861; Seabury A. Tuller, 1862—67; John C. Taylor, 1868—69; William J. Menter, 1870—75; Asa L. Sampson, 1876—82; George H. Goodwin, 1883; L. Lasseur Virgil, 1884; John W. Ladd, 1885—86; M. W. Collins, 1887—88; John W. Ladd, 1889; Rufus P. Calkins, 1890; Asa L. Sampson, 1891—93; Edward L. Huntington, 1894—95.
The town officers for 1894—95 were:
Edward L. Huntington, supervisor; Norval D. Hart, town clerk; William C. Shumway, Webster M. Richardson, Charles W. House and Edward Midlam, justices of the peace; Van Halen Walton, John E. Jones and John Ramsey, assessors; Grove Halsey, highway commissioner; Robert Aird, overseer of the poor; Charles H. Fellows, collector; Jesse L. Burdick, Orson Webb and Roderick A. Orvis, excise commissioners.
It is uncertain in what year the first settlement in the present town of Mexico was made, but it would seem that it occurred as early as 1795, when Scriba's great road from Rotterdam (Constantia) to Vera Cruz (Mexico Point) was opened. This was about simultaneous with the first settlement of Redfield.
Mr. Scriba, like many another land proprietor, held somewhat visionary ideas regarding the future of the mouth of Little Salmon Creek, superinduced, no doubt, by the highley colored reports which he received from his agent, Benjamin Wright. Mr. Wright being a surveyor, was employed, as previously stated, to lay out Scriba's patent into townships and town lots, and was most favorably impressed with the excellent water power, valuable timber, and fertile soil of this particular locality, which he reported as being the best in all the patent. In 1796 he took up his residence at the mouth of the creek, surveyed a city into lots as far back as the present hamlet of Texas, and named it "Vera Cruz." He built a store, the first in town, and in November wrote to Mr. Scriba that it was "almost ready to hold goods." The entrance to the creek was improved and an immense amount of money and labor expended. For a few years the place promised a brilliant future, and efforts were made to make it one of the best harbors on the lake. Mr. Scriba erected a tavern and five or six houses, and a little farther up the creek a saw and grist mill, the first in Mexico. He also reserved a site for a city park, and pushed the improvements with commendable vigor.
According to an assessment roll of 1798 Benjamin Wright, as Scriba's agent, was assessed on a store, barn, log house, saw mill and blacksmith shop. Other freeholders at "Vera Cruz" in that year were Benjamin Winch, Archibald Fairfield and Benjamin Gilbert. Within the present town were also Simon King, Jonathan Parkhurst, Nathaniel Rood, Elias Rose, Isaac Burlingham, Stephen Spinner, Chipman Wheadon, Hezekiah Stanley and — Miles.
About this year (1798), or early in 1799, a Captain Geerman established a ship yard at "Vera Cruz" and built a small schooner, and in the following autumn an event occurred which cast a gloom over the pioneer settlement. Food had become scarce, and with young Welcome Spencer, Captain Geerman volunteered to sail over to Kingston, Canada for a supply. The two men set out in the new craft, and as the days slipped by the settlers began to look anxiously for their return. A report was circulated that a light had been seen on Stony Island; but weeks passed, and still no tidings came, and suspense and excitement finally culminated into action. Chipman Wheadon, Nathaniel Rood, Greene Clark, Miles Doolittle and the father of young Spencer volunteered as a search party, but after a fruitless absence they began the return trip. Their open boat encountered a terrific gale, capsized, and they found a watery grave. The scene was witnessed from the shore, but all were powerless to extend aid. Wheadon was the last man to go down. Vague rumors of Geermans' schooner subsequently gained more or less credence, but the fate of the two brave mariners was never known. It remains an unsolved mystery. The untimely fate of these seven strong men had a most depressing effect upon the infant "city" of Vera Cruz, and also upon the surrounding settlements. The former never fully recovered, and indeed it may be said that with that calamity began the period of its decline. Among the surviving male inhabitants of the place were Benjamin Wright and Archibald Fairfield. Soon afterward the number of families had dwindled to six. No more vessels were built here, but the store and mills were continued, and in a later year it is stated that more goods were sold at "Vera Cruz" than at either Oswego or Utica. The earlier settlers located along Scriba's road, and this was their most convenient trading point. It finally became the resort of successful smugglers, and tradition implicates some of the inhabitants in that illegal traffic.
At a very early date, probably about 1800, Silas Town came to what is now Mexico village, whence he soon removed to "Vera Cruz." He was a Revolutionary hero, serving as a volunteer spy in the Canadas, and as one of Washington's aids. He was possessed of more than ordinary ability, and became a favorite among the settlers. In 1806 he died at the house of Reuben Hamilton, and was buried on what has ever since been called Grave Island, situated in the mouth of Little Salmon Creek. His grave was dug by Walter Everts and Brainard Selby, and on July 4, 1871, a monument erected on the spot was dedicated to his memory with appropriate ceremonies.
The disaster on the lake, and President Jefferson's restrictive policy, followed by the War of 1812, wholly extinguished the flattering prospects of "Vera Cruz." A fire about 1820 destroyed the business portion, and this, and the changes of three-quarters of a century, have obliterated all traces of the once promising "city."
In 1798 there were about twenty-five persons in the present town of Mexico. Many of the pioneers came from eastern counties in this State, and from New England, and were characterized by principles of thrift, honesty and perseverance. Their rude log houses dotted the little clearings in the forests and with indomitable energy they by degrees converted the dense wilderness into productive farms and pleasant homes. In 1798 Benjamin Wright was appointed a justice of the peace, probably the second in Oswego county, although three others within the present territory received a similar appointment at or about the same time. Reuben Hamilton settled in town prior to this date, on the farm subsequently owned by Isaac Burlingham. He was long supervisor, and a prominent citizen.
Nathaniel Rood also came in early, and was the first white settler inside the corporate limits of Mexico village. In the spring of 1799 he removed to "Vera Cruz" and built a log house about thirty rods east of Hamilton's. He was a victim of the lake disaster of that fall, and in 1800 his widow married Richard Gafford, theirs being the first marriage in the town. The birth of Mr. Rood's son Truman on August 10, 1799, was the first in Mexico. Truman Rood died in the town in April, 1877.
Other settlers of about 1798 were Chipman Wheadon, Luke Mason, Sylvester Spencer, Greene Clark, Edmund Mathews, Miles Doolittle and Archibald Fairfield.
Phineas Davis and Calvin Tiffany became residents of this town February 20, 1799. They moved from Connecticut on a sled drawn by two yoke of oxen, and until the next year occupied jointly a single log cabin. Mr. Tiffany located on lot 55, and opened his house as a tavern as early as 1810. Here was held the first town meeting within the present Mexico; the first meeting of the Board of Supervisors of Oswego county; and many of the earliest religious services. "For six months," it is said, Mr. Tiffany's family "had but one loaf of bread in the house, subsisting mainly upon cracked corn and an occasional piece of venison." Mr. Davis died in 1844, aged seventy, and was succeeded by his son, Phineas, who was born here in 1820. Mrs. Davis attained the age of ninety-six. They had seven sons.
On the same lot Martin Kellogg, Joel Savage and Asa Beebe were also pioneers. Mr. Kellogg, in 1804, secured a title to the farm adjoining Peter Pratt's subsequent place, and brought his family hither in 1805. Asa Beebe was born in November, 1792, and died June 10, 1878. He served in the War of 1812, and at one time had a foundry and sash and blind factory in Mexico village. Salem T. Beebe died in February, 1871. Mr. Savage was born in Middletown, Conn., in 1761, and served three years in the Revolutionary war.
In 1801 Asa Davis became the first settler on lot 90, and the first between Lamb's Corners and Mexico village. He was succeeded on the homestead by his son, Benjamin D., whose son, a soldier in the Rebellion, fell at New Orleans.
The first building in the town that was destroyed by fire was the log house occupied by Calvin Tiffany. It stood half a mile northeast of the depot, and was burned in February, 1801. Mr. Tiffany rebuilt on the site and was again burned out in 1807.
In 1803 Joseph Lamb, a surveyor, came from Connecticut and located at what has since been called "Lamb's Corners." John Lamb, his brother, followed in 1804 and settled on lot 91. David Lamb came here from Connecticut in 1803, and at an early day opened and kept a tavern. He was a substantial farmer and a prominent citizen.
In 1804 there was a large influx of settlers. Among them were Noah Smith, John Morton (on lot 65), Solomon Huntington (on lot 143), Oliver Richardson (on lot 95), and Jonathan Williams (on lot 105). Mr. Richardson was a native of Vermont, an energetic pioneer, and the father of a family of sons who became prominent men and whose names were Oliver, jr., Reuben F., John M., Alvin, and Edward. John M. Richardson, born in 1798, was member of assembly in 1838, and later Alvin was similarly honored. John M. died June 15, 1876. Oliver Richardson, sr., was an iron forger by trade, but soon after coming here he built and for several years kept a tavern. He died in town, as did also Reuben F., the father of H. D. Richardson. Reuben F. Richardson was drafted in the War of 1812 and served at Sackett's Harbor. Noah Smith located near Prattham, and Mr. Huntington, father in law of Hon. Avery Skinner, lived and died in town.
Ebenezer Everts, accompanied by his sons Philo and Frederick, came to Mexico in 1804 and purchased a large tract of land in the northwest part of the town. Frederick located on lot 27. Samuel Everts, a brother of Ebenezer, came in with his family the same year. Leonard Ames was also a settler of this period, and with him came Peleg Brown and Daniel Eames. Mr. Ames died here in February, 1867, and was buried with Masonic honors. His son Orson was born in Connecticut in 1798 and accompanied the party thither. William C. Ames was born here March 9, 1807, and died January 4, 1881. Edwin Ames was born February 23, 1810, and died April 27, 1880.
Among the settlers of 1805 were Isaac Slack, Solomon Peck, and George Rickard. Mr. Slack came from Oneida county and located on lot 79; Nathaniel, his son, settled on lot 81 soon afterward. Mr. Peck was accompanied by his sons, Dennis, Solomon, Hopkins, and Samuel. Mr. Rickard took up a residence on lot 67, and soon afterwards the farm passed to George Kingsbury.
In 1806 there were living within two miles of the site of Mexico village the families of Calvin Tiffany, Phineas Davis, Samuel Cole, John King, Reuben Lay, John Morton, Leonard Ames, and Bailey Morton. At this time land sold for $3 to $4 per acre. Mr. Cole came in that year, settling on lot 54, and other arrivals were Capt. Stephen Douglass on lot 120, Guerdon Cone on lot 107, and Jonathan Elderkin. James, a son of Mr. Cone, afterwards located on lot 108. Elbert J. Cone was born in town in 1822. Samuel Cole was a Mason, and the father of Rev. Samuel Cole, and died in January, 1809. His was the first burial in the old Primitive cemetery, his funeral being conducted with Masonic ceremonies.
John Morton built a house on east hill and also a saw mill in 1804, and to the latter he soon added a rude grist mill. Dr. Tennant, the first physician in Mexico, settled at Colosse in 1806 and was later succeeded by Dr. Sardius Brewster. The same year came Col. Sherman Hosmer. He became an officer in the war of 1812, had eight children, and died in 1877, aged ninety-one.
In March, 1807, Levi Mathews became a resident; he died in August, 1889. Prior to 1807 James Tuller built the first frame house in town, between the two creeks. His son Simon, born in May, 1796, was long a merchant in Mexico village, and died in February, 1879.
In 1809 Edmund Wheeler settled on a farm, where he long lived, and died in 1820. He served in the war of 1812 and had eight children, of whom Charles E. was born in 1815. Thomas Webb came to Mexico in 1812, bur war prospects sent him back to Whitestown, where he remained until 1820, when he came again and made a permanent settlement and died January 4, 1885.
Loring Webb was also an early comer. Oliver C. Whitney came here with his parents in 1812, he being then six years old. For forty-three years he was a class leader and for nearly forty eight years steward of the M. E. Church. He died in November, 1879. Ebenezer G. Whitney, when three years of age, accompanied his parents hither and died November 8, 1881.
The war of 1812 checked the tide of immigration, and scarcely a settler came in until its close. Those who had braved pioneer life were in constant fear of molestation, and a few resolved to seek safer homes by removal. Many, if not all, of the able-bodied men in town were called out as soldiers, and the boom of cannon occasionally reached the ears of those who were left. Added to this was an epidemic that strongly resembled Asiatic cholera. It raged severely during the year 1812, and many died for want of proper care. Before this, as well as afterwards, the settlers experienced the usual diseases arising from miasmatic swamps and decomposition of vegetable matter.
Henry L. Cole, who was born in Rome, N. Y., in 1815, came here with his parents in 1816; served as magistrate about twenty years; and died September 15, 1886. Enoch M. Ferris came in 1816, and Aaron Green, a mason, in 1817. In 1820 the population was 1,590. During this year almost every family furnished one or more victims to the ravages of a fatal form of dysentery, and this and other diseases incident to a new country "probably carried off more than one-half of all who located here during the first twenty years."2 Prior to 1820 Nathaniel Butler, a jeweler, became a settler and owned a tract of land in Mexico village. He was the father of Rawson A. Butler, for many years a merchant and postmaster there.
During the next decade, came Daniel Letson, 1828; Silas Wilmarth, 1824, died in 1880; Josiah Alexander, father of Solomon (a shoemaker), who settled near Colosse about 1822, moved to Mexico village in 1862, and died January 29, 1872; Edwin C. Knight, a mason, 1824; Elisha Hamilton, 1829, died in March, 1884; Reuben Rice, 1830; Anson Gustin, 1828; Nehemiah P. Webb, born 1801, came here in 1823, and died November 20, 1885; William Webb, a carpenter, 1825; Charles L. Webb, 1825, died in November, 1885; Samuel H. and Benjamin S. Stone, merchants, 1826; Reuben Sherman, 1827; C. F. Tuller, 1829; Joseph R. Dawley, 1830, died in 1880; Philip Smith, hatter, 1824; Richard Hamilton, 1823, died March 16, 1882; Solomon Doolittle, who was blind from childhood, 1828; Joshua Wadley, sr., 1829; Simeon Parkhurst, shoe dealer, 1828; John C. Norton, 1829; Horace B. Whitney, a shoemaker, 1830.
Hon. Avery Skinner was born in Westmoreland, N. H., June 9, 1796, was the brother of Hiram, and the fourth of a family of nine children. In 1816 he came on horseback to Watertown, N. Y., and in the spring of 1823 settled in Union Square, where he died November 24, 1876. He gave the place its name, erected the first tavern, established a mail route, and was appointed the first postmaster, serving as such until his death. In 1831, and again in 1832, he was elected member of assembly, and from 1838 to 1844 was State senator. In 1846 he was defeated for Congress by William Duer. In 1826 he was appointed county treasurer, and held the office twelve years, and from 1828 to 1839 he was by appointment one of the judges of the court of Common Pleas. He was always a Democrat, ever highly respected, and reared a family of prominent sons and daughters. He was an original promoter of the Syracuse Northern Railroad, of which he was also a director.
Between 1830 and 1840, the following became settlers in the town:
David P. Taylor, 1835; Henry C. Peck, merchant, 1834; Sylvester R. Spooner, 1840; Theodore J. Wheeler, 1838; John and James B. Driggs, 1839; Stephen Kenyon and David Nichols, 1838; William Penfield, blacksmith, 1839; George A. Penfield, 1839; Samuel Smith, cooper, 1836; Sardius E. Ball, 1835; William O. Ball, 1840, died October 27, 1886; Holland Wilder, blacksmith, and Horace W. Southworth, 1836; Sterling Newell, lumber dealer, and Richard Quigg, 1836.
From 1840 to 1850 came, among others, John McCann (butcher), 1844, died in 1880; John W. Blakesly, 1850, died in 1879; Henry Hallock, 1842; Francis Villiard (carpenter), 1841; Charles Kirby (tailor), 1849; Lawrence Stevens (carpenter), 1843; Peter Sandhovel, 1842; J. R. Drake (produce dealer), 1850; Russell Burlingham, 1844; Noah Hosford, 1842. A few other residents of the town of whom something has been learned are: Elijah Hills, who became a settler in 1816; his son, Eugene N., who was born in 1821 and died in 1876; Joseph Remington, who settled at South Mexico about 1820. He was the father of Leroy and Benjamin Remington. Henry Webb located in Colosse, in 1825, where he was a successful merchant; he removed to Mexico village in 1841, and died in 1882. Harmon Halsey, the father of Grove Halsey, came to the town about 1820. Eldad Smith, a tinsmith by trade, located in Union Square in 1824, and moved thence to Mexico village in 1833. He was a hardware merchant there, and died in May, 1885, leaving five children. Bradley Higgins, born in Connecticut in 1794, came to Richland in 1835, to Mexico in 1847, and died April 30, 1885. Luther H. Conklin was born in 1823, and for many years was prominently identified with the town and county, serving the latter as treasurer from 1858 until his death in December, 1878. Jones D. Clark, born in 1818, came here in 1844, and died in June, 1890.
Among those who were born in this town, with the dates of their respective births, may be mentioned:
William A. Davis, 1807, died May 19, 1871; Orville Roberts, 1809; Edmond Wheeler, 1815; Riley O. Whitney, carpenter, 1819; Justice P. Cunningham, 1820; Edwin Emory, carpenter, 1821; Stebbins Orvis, William O. Johnson (grocer, died in May 1881), 1822; Leander Tuller, Jesse H. Halladay, 1823; John A. Rickard, 1827; Hermon C. Ames, Dwight Smith, 1828; John Whipple, 1831; Frank Saladin, 1833; John M. Aldrich, mason, Fred J. A. Webb, 1834; George W. Stone, 1836; Gardner S. Tuller, 1838; Edwin L. Huntington, druggist, 1839; William H. Penfield, 1841.
Luther Calkins settled on what became the old plank road in this town in 1826; he was the father of James, who was born in 1812. John Bennett, born in Chenango county in 1802, came here in 1823, and for thirty years followed merchant tailoring. He was keeper of the county poor farm four years, and died February 25, 1877. Dennison Ladd came to Oswego county about 1824, and died in 1859. His son, John W., was born in Mexico in 1832, and for several years followed school teaching. Orrin Rose, an early comer, died in 1887; and Joseph C. Vorce, another early settler, died in 1876. Alexander Virgil located in Richland when a young man, whence he finally removed to this town, settling where his son James now lives. He died in 1892. L. L. Virgil, supervisor and merchant, died July 2, 1885.
La Fayette Alfred was born here October 19, 1818. He was prominently identified with public affairs, and served as president and for several years as postmaster of Mexico village, and also as deputy collector of internal revenue. He died in Fulton in May, 1885. Ranslow L. Alfred was born in this town December 22, 1809. George W. Pruyn, born in Oneida county in 1830, came here with his parents in 1837, followed harness making, and died January 24, 1881. Moses W. Pruyn died in 1883. Henry and Daniel Austin, twin brothers, born in Vermont in 1800, came to Mexico in 1825, and took 160 acres, a part of which is now owned by Daniel, son of Henry. Benjamin Midlam, a native of England, settled here in 1826, and died in 1877. His son, Edwin, has been a justice of the peace since 1860. Daniel Menter came in 1835, accompanied by his son, Ebenezer E. William J. Menter, several years supervisor, died August 20, 1881. Stephen Gardner was an early settler, and died in 1879. His son, Nicholas W., resides on the homestead. Marcus Gillett located in town in 1836; he had fourteen children, and died here. Joel Gillett settled about 1840 on the farm now occupied by his son Everett. Alvin Lawrence was long an active man in town, serving as president of the Oswego County Agricultural Society and one term as sheriff. He also kept hotel, and died in August, 1882. Bezaleel Thayer settled in Mexico village in June, 1819. He was born in Otsego county in 1795, and died here July 20, 1875. Hiram Walker was also a prominent resident. Born in Whiting, Vt., February 9, 1804, he became treasurer of Oswego county in 1845, superintendent of the poor in 1848, and again in 1853, and died April 6, 1883. Louis Kenyon came with his family from the eastern part of the State prior to 1820, and died here in 1886. Of his eight sons, Joseph settled on the farm now occupied by Edwin, son of Joseph. Samuel Manwaren came from Vermont to Mexico about 1805 and died leaving six sons and two daughters. James, the third child, was born in 1795 and served as a volunteer substitute in the war of 1812. He became a Thompsonian physician, and practiced until his death in 1874. Samuel, jr., born in 1788, had nine children, and died in 1872. John C. Taylor was born in Litchfield, Herkimer county, February 25, 1831; came here with his father, David P., in 1835, and died in the town December 6, 1887. He held several local offices, was for some time a school teacher, and for more than twenty years a druggist in Mexico village, being succeeded by his son, Curtiss. In 1856 he married Ann J. Cooper, who, with three of their seven children, survives him.
Benjamin Dennis, a native of Vermont, came to this town about 1818, and died in 1875, aged eighty-one. He had seven children. Aaron Killam, also a native of Vermont, was an early settler, and died in June, 1873. H. P. Perkins was born in Palermo in 1835, and for thirty years has been engaged in the manufacture of cheese boxes in Mexico. He also has a feed and cider mill. D. P. Smith, born in Vermont in 1800, came to this county in 1833, and died March, 1861.
Almeron Thomas was born in Rutland, N. Y., June 22, 1812, and during the most of his active life was a miller. About 1850 he purchased a grist mill at Pulaski, which he traded in 1855 for a farm in Mexico. Later he became proprietor of the Railroad (formerly the Sandhovel) Mills, and the Toronto Mills, in Mexico village, and also a mill at Parish, another at West Amboy, and still another at Holmesville. During his life he owned seventeen different milling establishments. The mill in Mexico village is now conducted by his son, Frederick A., who recently succeeded his brother, Amos C. Thomas.
Samuel H. Stone, born in Vermont in 1818, came here with his father, Isaac, in November, 1826, and died in 1887. He was first a clerk, and then long time a merchant, and for two terms following 1848 was county treasurer. A son, Vincent S., died in 1891, and his mother followed in 1892. Mr. Stone was a brother of Benjamin S., who has, perhaps, been longer identified with the business interests of Mexico village than any other man now living.
William Cook was one of the earliest settlers of the town. He was seven years in the Revolution, and came from Hartford, Conn., taking up 160 acres, on a part of which his grandson, Ansel S. Cook, now resides. His only son was Allen. William Halsey, a shoemaker, came to Prattham in 1832, and died in 1861. Edward Halsey is now, at the age of seventy-eight, still a resident of that hamlet. Solomon Tillapaugh, born in Montgomery county in 1805, came to Mexico when a young man. His son, Rev. H. H. Tillapaugh, was born in 1840 on the farm he occupies; his wife is a daughter of Daniel Austin.
Prominent among other residents of the town, are recalled the names of Marcus D. Richardson, of Colosse, who died in October, 1889; William A. Tillapaugh, who was born here in 1838; Joseph Simons, who died in September, 1890; James R. Law, born in 1812, who died in town; George F. Mason, a cooper, who came in 1855; Leander Tuller, who was born in Mexico in 1822; Amasa Decker, who came in 1814, and died in 1879; William Goit; Charles Tiffany, sr., who died in June 1868; and Col. Sherman Hosmer, whose death occurred June 1, 1877.
In the vicinity of Colosse quite a French settlement sprang up after about 1840. Many of its members came from the eastern part of France. A few were natives of Alsace-Lorraine. All arrived in poor circumstances, yet by thrift and perseverance they have generally acquired comfortable homes. One of the most prominent of these settlers is Peter Gray, who came in 1842. He became a merchant and the owner of a saw mill, but by trade, at which he first engaged, was a wagonmaker and a carpenter. His son James is now a merchant of Colosse, succeeding his father in business in 1890.
Among the French families that Mr. Gray found here in 1842, were Frederick Le Clair, Mr. Lande, and Mr. Shapny. Francis Le Clair died in 1887. Among other settlers in the neighborhood have been Francis Henry, Francis Matty, George and Peter Boigeol, George Tourot and his father, John Perot, Jacob Racine, Fred Pettit, Francis and Louis Lorombarderer, George Rollen, Antoine Salladin (father of George), Telfus Boprey, and Frederick and George Beley. The settlement now consists of about sixty families, all good, substantial citizens.
The first burial place in town was the Primitive Cemetery, located on the hill west of Mexico village. The plot was given for the purpose by George Scriba, and the first person buried therein was Samuel Cole, as previously stated, in January, 1809. In 1838 the Mexico Village Cemetery was opened, and the first to be placed in its sacred dust were the remains of Luther H. Conklin, in September of that year. The first trustees were John Bennett, James S. Chandler, and Calvin Goodwin. Additional land was annexed May 11, 1861, and April 1, 1873. The present trustees are George Goodwin, Benjamin S. Stone, James B. Driggs, and E. L. Huntington.
The population has been as follows: In 1830, 2,671; 1835, 3,138; 1840, 3,799; 1845, 3,768; 1850, 4,221; 1855, 4,022; 1860, 4,074; 1865, 3,828; 1870, 3,802; 1875, 3,813; 1880, 3,687; 1890, 3,404.
To the war of the Rebellion the town sent a large number of her citizens. Among those who attained commissioned offices were Earl Law, Nelson Ames, George Barse, F. B. Gregory, and S. D. King, all of whom became captains. John Fletcher was a surgeon in the 2d Massachusetts Cavalry. In September, 1863, the Freedmen's Relief Association was organized in Mexico, with Cyrus Whitney as president, and during the remainder of the war performed many laudable acts in relieving suffering and hardship. In May, 1883, Post Melzar Richards, No. 367, G. A. R., was organized, with M. L. Wright as the first commander. June 28, 1877, the Soldier's Monument Association was formed, with these officers: Luther H. Conklin, president; C. L. Webb, secretary; H. C. Peck, treasurer; executive committee, J. M. Hood, E. L. Huntington, La Fayette Alfred, Phineas Davis, Asa L. Sampson, and Lewis Miller. The object was the erection of a suitable memorial in the village cemetery, but nothing was done until 1888, when the town voted $2,000 for the purpose. The monument was erected in 1889, and dedicated on July 4, of that year. It is thirty-four feet high, and cost complete $2,689.34. Upon it are chiseled the names of seventy-one soldiers who were killed in battle or died in service, and the names of 315 veterans who entered the service from this town.
Supervisors' statistics of 1894: Assessed valuation of real estate, $1,206,570, equalized, $1,247,756; personal property, $74,400; railroads, nine and one-half miles, $95,000; town tax, $4,469.42; county tax, $7,404.07; total tax levy, $14,631.61; ratio of tax on $100, $1.14; dog tax, $95.50. In the two election districts into which the town is divided 750 votes were polled in November, 1894.
The first school in town was taught by Sanford Douglass at Colosse, in 1806, and the first in Mexico village by Harriet Easton in 1811 in Shuball Alfred's barn. Other early teachers were Isaac Douglass and John Howard.
The first record of public schools in Mexico is as follows:
At a special town meeting held at the house of Calvin Tiffany, June 3, 1813, in compliance with the act for the establishment of common schools, Stuteley Palmer, Peter Pratt, and Jonathan Wing were chosen commissioners of common schools in said town, and Timothy Norton, Dennison Palmer, Elijah Everts, William D. Wightman, Joseph Bailey, and Elias Brewster, inspectors of said schools. Voted, to allow the school commissioners seventy-five cents per day for their services, and to raise tax on said town for the use of said schools, sixty dollars.
School districts were also formed. The first school house was a log structure, erected near the site formerly occupied by the East Presbyterian church. The town now contains nineteen school districts, locally designated as follows: No. 1, Texas; 2, North Church; 3, Arthur; 4, Fort Eleazer; 5, Union Square; 6, Miller; 7, 8, and 9, Mexico village, consolidated July 27, 1869, and generally known as Union School District No. 8; 10, Prattham; 11, Eddy; 12, South Mexico; 13, Lamb's Corners; 14, Grafton Square; 15, French street; 16, Colosse; 17, Popple Ridge; 18, Villiard; 19, Kenyon. These were taught during 1892—93 by twenty-three teachers and attended by 530 scholars. The school buildings and sites are valued at $11,700; assessed valuation of the districts, $1,227,026; public money received from the State, $2,793.43; raised by local tax, $3,639.22.
Mexico Military Academy.—April 13, 1826, the Rensselaer Oswego Academy was incorporated by a special act of the Legislature. The first Board of Trustees consisted of Elias Brewster, president; Avery skinner, secretary; Peter Pratt, treasurer; Chester Hayden, Moses P. Hatch, Nathaniel Butler, David R. Dixon, James Abel, Seth Severance, Orris Hart, Hastings Curtiss, Samuel Emery, George B. Davis, John A. Payne, William Williams, Myron W. Southworth, Henry Williams and Oliver Ayer.
The first meeting occurred June 10, 1826, and the first election took place "at the Slack school house," May 9, 1827. There was considerable rivalry between Mexico village and Prattham as to the location of the building. A site was finally selected between the two places and material procured, but the advocates of the present site secured a change.
A brick structure was erected and school opened early in 1827 with John Howard, principal and Laura Fish, preceptress. In 1835 a wooden building was built in front of the old brick edifice, and thenceforward the academy was regarded as one of the most successful in the State. This frame structure did service until 1855, when it was removed and converted into, and ever since used as, a carriage factory by Lewis Miller. On the site the present brick structure was erected, the building committee being Benjamin S. Stone, Dr. Benjamin E. Bowen, Leonard Ames, and James S. Chandler. Prior to this, Rev. Thomas A. Webb, from the pulpit and elsewhere, exerted a powerful influence in favor of advanced education, and largely through him enthusiasm was created which made the erection of this substantial structure possible. It is 100 by 50 feet, three stories high, and heated by hot water, and lighted by electricity. May 9, 1845, the name was changed to the Mexico Academy, and in 1893 it was again changed to the Mexico Military Academy, which it now bears, the latter being adopted in consequence of the addition of a military system of discipline. It is non-sectarian, and affords five courses of study, viz: English, Academic, Classical, Commercial, and Civil Engineering, The military department is under the inspection of the War Department, and instruction in military tactics is given by an officer of the United States Army. The library contains about 1,600 volumes, and there are also philosophical apparatus, geological cabinet, and chemical laboratory. The academy is under the visitation of the Board of Regents, and at present has an attendance of about 125 students.
The successive principals of the academy, so far as ascertained, have been,
M.W. Southworth, E. Dorchester, — White, — Brooks, — Shepard, O. H. Whitney, M. W. Southworth again, George G. Hapgood, Benjamin E. Devendorf, Russell Whiting, W. H. Gillespie, George G. Hapgood again, W. H. Gillespie again, E. E. Bragdon, Abner Davison, W. H. Gillespie again , John R. French, J. Dorman Steele, S. B. Potter, A. B. Dunlap, S. H. Adams, William M. McLaughlin, William H. Reese, S. Mortimer Coon, Charles E. Havens, J. M. Gifford, John H. Butler, Henry R. Fancher, Professor More, Frank B. Severance, and Melzar C. Richards.
Prominent among those who have in some form or other had connection with the Mexico Academy, are recalled the names of J. T. Headley, author, teacher, and secretary of state in 1855; Prof. J. Dorman Steele, the distinguished author and teacher; Andrew and Luke Parsons, respectively governor and lieutenant-governor of Wisconsin; Charles R. Skinner, N. W. Nutting and Columbus Upson, members of congress; J. F. Kinney, judge of the Supreme Court of Iowa; Asa Wing, the great anti-slavery champion; George F. Comstock, chief justice of the Court of Appeals; and many others.
The Board of Trustees for 1894—95 was as follows:
President, Benjamin S. Stone; secretary, G. H. Goodwin; treasurer, George W. Stone; for business management, R. H. Baker, L. B. Cobb, George Davis, J. B. Driggs, Greg G. French, G. H. Goodwin, T. J. Green, C. L. Griffiths, J. M. Hood, E. L. Huntington, G. P. Johnson, J. W. Ladd, Lewis Miller, C. A. Peck, Timothy W. Skinner, George W. Stone, Asa L. Sampson, Benjamin S. Stone, M. L Wright.
Mexico Village.—Old in settlement as well as in name, and possessing natural and picturesque advantages seldom found in similar communities, the village of Mexico, as it stands to-day, enjoys a position, the importance of which is recognized throughout the county. The site early became the nucleus of a busy colony, and the place took the name of Mexicoville. In 1812 there were a dozen houses within its present bounds. Nathaniel Rood was the first settler—the Rood who lost his life in the lamentable lake disaster off "Vera Cruz" in 1799. The first frame house was built by Shubael Alfred in 1807. It was 20 by 24 feet, and in it the Masonic Lodge held one or more meetings in 1808. Both this and his barn were afterward sanctified by religious services, and in the latter were held several of the earlier sessions of school.
John Morton located here in 1801, and a few years later Leonard Ames became a settler. The second frame house was erected about 1811 by Capt. Daniel Murdock who opened it as a tavern; it was long occupied by R. A. Butler, and was burned in 1864. The third was built in 1812 by Matthias Whitney, who purchased seventy-five acres on the east side of Church street, and settled here in February of that year. Phineas Davis erected the fourth one in 1813. John Morton built a saw mill in 1804, where Goit's mill afterward stood, and a few yeas later added a run of stone for grinding corn. In 1811 the property passed to Matthias Whitney, who put in another run of stone, and about 1827 sold to Dennis Peck. William Goit subsequently became the owner, and following him were successively, David Goit, Almeron Thomas in 1864, and Amos C. Thomas. From 1855 until his death Almeron Thomas was the most extensive mill owner in town. He was succeeded by his son, Amos C., who was followed at his death by a brother, Frederick A., the present proprietor of the Toronto and the State Mills. The Railroad Mills were formerly known as the Sandhovel Mills, and among the several proprietors have been Almeron Thomas, Brooks & Rider, Amos Rider & Son in 1863, A. Beebe & Son, Lyman Robbins & Son, and G. H. Meeker. They were burned in June, 1887, and rebuilt in their present form.
The first blacksmith in the village was Brainard Selby, who was born in Massachusetts in 1779. He settled at "Fort Eleazer," in this town, in 1804, but soon afterwards removed to Mexico village and located at the foot of Morton Hill, where he made scythes, forks, axes, plows, etc. In 1820 his wife died, and in 1821, he went to Paris, O., where he died in April, 1870.
The first regular hotel was built by Matthias Whitney on the site of the Mexico House, in 1823. It was subsequently replaced by a better building, which burned July 22, 1864, under the proprietorship of Albin Meyer. Among the landlords previous to the latter, were A. S. Chamberlain, Chamberlin & Robbins, and J. B. Taylor. It was rebuilt in 1865, and opened by Ira Biddlecome as landlord, who was followed in 1886 by J. B. Davis. In January, 1867, it passed to C. S. Mayo, who changed the name to the Mayo House. It later assumed its older and present appellation, and has had various proprietors.
About 1837 Judge Whitney erected a frame tavern on the site of the Boyd House, and in 1851 Dr. C. D. Snell built a brick structure, using the wood part as a wing. The whole, costing $8,500, was called the Empire House and block, and on June 29, 1866, was destroyed by fire, the proprietor at that time being J. B. Taylor. Previous to him I. L. Dillenbeck, L. Millington, C. Tickner, and others had conducted it as landlords. It was rebuilt as at present and opened as the Empire House, in March, 1867, by J. B. Taylor and George Swanson. Afterwards J. B. Gillson was proprietor, and when Capt. David Boyd assumed charge, its name became the Boyd House.
As early as 1818 Mathew McNair and T. S. Morgan, of Oswego, built a store, ashery and distillery. The ashery stood on the west bank of the creek and on the north side of the road. The distillery was run by Simon Tuller, who was succeeded by Lamb, Webb & Tuller. In 1825 Bazaleel Thayer established a wool-carding and cloth-dressing mill, and Jabin Wood a tannery. The latter soon after started the first shoe shop, and was succeeded in the tanning business by Archibald Ross, William Merriam and others.
The first merchant in the village was William S. Fitch, who kept the store built by McNair & Morgan. About 1827 he erected a store building, and this in a remodeled form, is now the billiard room of William Simons. The upper part was used as a place for holding religious and Masonic meetings, and for a select school kept by Miss Eggleston, a sister of Mrs. Fitch.
Moses P. Hatch very early had a store and dwelling combined, in front of what is now B. F. French's stone house. He also had a distillery on the opposite side of the creek from the Toronto Mills.
Peter Chandler came here in 1828 and commenced business in the old Fitch store. Later he built a brick store just east of George W. Stone's building, which was torn down in 1852. He retired from trade in 1843 and died in 1848. He was a successful merchant, was prominent in the town and county, and became wealthy. He built the stone house above mentioned, in 1838.
George T. Butler, brother of Rawson A., had an early mercantile establishment on the site of the store of G. W. Stone. He also conducted an ashery.
Robert A. Stitt was a brother-in-law of Dr. Benjamin E. Bowen. They came from Oneida county about 1836 and opened a store in the old Hatch building. Dr. Bowen was succeeded by Jonathan Goodwin, and he by Rawson A. Butler as Stitt & Butler, who built on the southwest corner of Main and Church streets. The business finally passed to Mr. Butler who was burned out in 1864. Mr. Stitt was an active politician, was appointed county treasurer, and removed to Oswego.
About 1839 Joseph N. Barrows started a store near where Hall's barber shop now stands. He afterward had other locations, and at one time Calvin G. Hinckley was his partner. The store he once occupied was removed from near the grist mill, and is now used by John J. Cobb.
Henry Webb owned about forty acres of land opposite the academy, on which he built, about 1840, a house that is still standing. He erected a brick store where the Webb block stands, and about the same time a three-story frame building was put up by Dr. Bowen and James H. Tuller, on the adjoining corner of Main and North Jefferson streets. All were burned in 1854, and the present Webb block was built the next year. Mr. Webb was long a prominent merchant here. A general store was early kept by James B. Driggs, and J. J. Parker, who finally dissolved partnership. The latter opened a dry goods store where W. H. Penfield now is, and continued until he was burned out in 1864, when he removed to Chicago. In 1865 James B. Driggs and Cyrus Whitney, erected a store on the southwest corner of Main and South Jefferson streets, and the same year Benjamin S. Stone built another adjoining. Mr. Driggs continued business there until he was succeeded by William Cooper, who eventually sold to Eleazer Rulison, and moved to Syracuse.
James S. Chandler was an early and successful merchant. With Leonard Ames, he built the block in which G. G. French's banking office is located. On this site Mr. Hatch originally erected a building for the storage of grain and produce, in which he was an extensive dealer; it was finally removed to the corner of Main and Water streets, and occupied by Mr. Bailey, as a clothing store. Benjamin S. Stone has been a merchant in Mexico village since 1843, starting on the site occupied by R. T. Simpson. With his brother, Samuel H.,3 as S. H. & B. S. Stone, he early had a general store, from which, in 1857, in partnership with S. A. Tuller, he drew out their stock of hardware, and thus established the first exclusively hardware store in town. In 1864 the firm dissolved, and Mr. Stone bought and built on his present lot. From then until 1868, he was associated with his brother, J. R., who died in the latter year. Since then the firm has been B. S. Stone & Co. Samuel H. Stone continued in business after his brother's withdrawal, and was succeeded by George W. Stone.
The first jeweler was Nathaniel Butler. The first drug store was opened by Dr. Levi F. Warner, who died in Boston a few years ago. Dr. Warner was associated for a time with a Mr. Elliott, and subsequently sold to Chauncey Sims, who sold to Rulison Brothers, one of whom afterward became a surgeon in the army. They were succeeded by George S. Thrall & Co., and the latter by Butler & Higgins. After Mr. Butler's death Mr. Higgins continued alone until he sold to John C. Taylor. The latter died in 1887, and the business passed to his heirs. The second drug store in the village was started by Edwin L. Huntington.
Starr Clark came here in 1832, and engaged in mercantile trade, continuing until about the time of his death. He was appointed county treasurer, and was an active and influential citizen. He was born in Lee, Mass., August 2, 1793, and died here September 1, 1866.
Among other merchants were Henry C. Peck, who succeeded Samuel H. Stone as county treasurer; Bailey & Ayers, clothing; C. F. Tuller, and Baird & Griffiths, groceries; Clinton & Eaton, general dealers; Peck & Conklin, dry goods (a partnership that continued from 1849 to 1868); Ames, Alexander & Co., shoes; Albin Meyer, tailor; James Lamb; Elias May; J. F. (died 1885), and D. D. Becker; J. P. Plank & Son; Taylor & Meyer; S. W. Plank; Huntington & Rickard; Stone Robinson & Co.; Goit & Richardson; Pierce & Brown; L. H. Sayles (succeeded by A. W. Waters); Ball & Mond; E. J. Parmelee (succeeded by Chamberlin & Wallace): W. O. & Charles C. Johnson; Jesse H. Holmes (succeeded in 1865 by B. G. Eaton and T. G. Brown); C. H. Clinton; Brooks & Huntington; J. R. Norton; Cobb & Woodruff; L. G. Ballard; L. L. Virgil; C. P. Whipple; George G. Tubbs; and H. L. Alfred.
The first newspaper was the Oswego County Democrat, which was started by Thomas Messenger in 1837 or 1838, was soon changed to the Messenger, and was discontinued in 1839. It is said that another effort was made at an early day to establish a journal in the village, but like the Messenger venture, it was soon abandoned. On March 19, 1861, the first number of the Mexico Independent appeared. It was founded by Henry Humphries and James M. Scarritt under the firm name of Humphries & Scarritt, and has ever since had a successful career. In December, 1865, Mr. Scarritt sold his interest to Henry Humphries, the present editor and proprietor. It was started as an eight page sheet, but on January 2, 1862, appeared in folio form. October 2, 1872, it adopted the title of the Mexico Independent and Deaf Mutes' Journal, and added a department of one page, bearing the last name, of which Henry C. Rider, a deaf mute, had charge. For this purpose Mr. Rider secured an appropriation from the State of $300. The combined publications were continued until November 5, 1874, when they separated, each taking its respective title. The Deaf Mutes' Journal was published in Mexico about two years thereafter, when it removed elsewhere in the State. The Independent is non-political and ably represents the best public thought and general interests of its immediate field. Mr. Humphries is a native of England and has visited Europe three times, besides traveling extensively in this country. In point of continuous journalistic service he is the oldest editor in the county outside the city of Oswego. In November 1884, Frederick A. Thomas started the Mexico Republican, which expired about three years later.
The first banking business was instituted in a private way by O. H. Whitney, who was succeeded by Cyrus Whitney and Timothy W. Skinner. About 1855 Stone, Ames & Co. started a banking office in the upper part of the present building of George W. Stone, and were succeeded by Chandler & Ames. The latter finally disposed of the business to James S. Chandler, who was followed by Luther H. Conklin, who for more than twenty years served as county treasurer. George G. French became interested in the Second National Bank of Oswego, and upon severing his connection with that institution, he opened a private bank in Mexico with his brother Benjamin F. as cashier.
The village of Mexico has been noted in past years for its many fires. The first of importance occurred in 1832 or '33, when the distillery of Simon Tuller, and the blacksmith shop of Asa Beebe were burned. The others in chronological order were as follows:4 1844, tannery of Orson Ames; 1850, November, unfinished store of John Fort, store of Albin Lawrence, Methodist church, and barn of Levi Downing; 1852, November 27, Robert Kelley's brick hotel, two small tenements, and house of Luke D. Smith, formerly belonging to the estate of Luther S. Conklin; 1854, March 25, store of Forsyth & Whitney, clothing store of John Butler, "an old red house" and other small buildings; 1854, August 26, three story store of Peck & Conklin, and stores of Henry Webb and William Rulison; 1857, November 24, blacksmith shop of Charles Johnson, and wagon shop of Haven & Smith; 1860, February 14, Whitney's brick block; 1861, March 10, store of Almeron Thomas; 1862, March 14, Town Hall, store of Stone & Tuller, store and house of Solomon Doolittle, millinery shop of Miss Chubb, shoe shops of M. W. Babcock, and R. Howard, office of Luke D. Smith, etc,; 1864, July 22, Mexico Hotel, Whitney block, Dr. C. D. Snell's block, post-office, and twelve other buildings, loss about $67,000; 1866, June 29, Empire House and block, and other buildings, loss $24,000.
From the first settlement of the town to August, 1867, a total of seventy-six building had been burned in the village and vicinity, entailing an aggregate loss of about $179,000. Following this, three stores were destroyed by fire in November, 1868; Homer Ames's saw mill and cheese box factory in August, 1879; Homes Ames and Henry Cook's sash and door factory and heading mill in July, 1880; Homer Ames's planing mill in February, 1881; the Phoenix block, March 14, 1882; L. J. Clark's foundry in August, 1888; and Almeron Thomas's old saw mill in May, 1889.
During most of these years there was a regularly organized fire department which, in many instances, rendered valuable services. June 2, 1852, the sum of seventy dollars was voted to purchase a hook and ladder truck, and on December 10, thirty firemen were appointed as members of Hook and Ladder Company No. 1. April 7, 1860, twenty-one persons were designated to form Engine Company No. 1. In 1882 the department was reorganized and in 1887 a Silsby steamer and hose cart were procured at a cost of $4,000. During the latter year the last of a series of four reservoirs was completed.
The present officers of the fire Department are: John M. Wing, chief; Pratt Sweeting, assistant chief; Edward F. Hollister, secretary; Anson J. Hallock, foreman engine company; Thomas Pepper, foreman hook and ladder company.
In 1890 the Mexico Electric Light, Heat and Power Company was organized, and early in 1891 an adequate electric light system was placed in operation. It is controlled by Edwin L. Huntington, Linus B. Cobb, and Charles E. Hocknel.
Among the manufactures of the past, were S. N. Gustin's animal-poke and tub pail factory; Salem T. Beebe's iron foundry, which he bought in March, 1863, of the estate of J. H. Tuller, A. C. Erskine's sash and blind factory; Bews & Walton's iron foundry "near the academy;" the cabinet shops of J. A. Rickard an Simon Leroy; and the butter-dish factory of Frank M. Earle. The Wilson Corn Canning Factory was started in 1886, and has a capacity of 50,000 cans daily. In 1852 Lewis Miller established a carriage factory, and a few years afterward he secured the old academy building, which has ever since been occupied for the purpose. For a time the concern was operated under the name of Alfred & Miller, but in 1868 Mr. Miller became sole proprietor. Afterward the firm became Miller & Snow. In the spring of 1890 the Miller Spring Wagon Company was organized, with a capital stock of $25,000. John H. Gass is president; Henry Humphries, vice president; H. H. Dobson, secretary; and J. Hoose, treasurer.
Among the postmasters of Mexico have been Rawson A. Butler, Starr Clark, S. B. Barnes, John J. Lamoree, La Fayette Alfred, George P. Johnson, and George D. Babcock. The present incumbent is Wilfred A. Robbins.
Mexico village was incorporated January 15, 1851, and on March 26 O. H. Whitney, Dr. Clark D. Snell, James. S. Chandler, David Goit and Asa Sprague were chosen the first trustees; Seabury A. Tuller, treasurer; Cyrus Whitney, clerk; William W. Merriam, Ezra C. Mitchell and R. L. Alfred, assessors; John A. Fort, collector; Grandus Gregory, poundmaster.
April 21, 1864, the village was authorized to raise by tax $2,000 to aid in building the Oswego & Rome Railroad through the town. In 1866 the corporate limits were enlarged to the present area, of nearly 636 acres.
August 22, 1876, and again June 24, 1881, new by-laws and ordinances were adopted, and in March of the latter year, a special act passed by the Legislature legalized all previous acts of the village trustees.
The village presidents have been as follows:
1851, Asa Sprague; 1852, Luke D. Smith; 1853, William W. Merriam; 1854, Dr. Clark D. Snell; 1855, Marlow Newell; 1856, Luther H. Conklin; 1857, George G. French; 1858—59, La Fayette Alfred; 1860—61, Perley J. Babcock; 1862—63, Marlow Newell; 1864—65, David Goit; 1866, Dr. Benjamin E. Bowen; 1867, Daniel H. Stone; 1868, Calvin F. Brooks; 1869, Henry L. Cole; 1870, Winsor Beebe; 1871, Seabury A. Tuller; 1872, La Fayette Alfred; 1873—77, Luther H. Conklin; 1878, George H. Goodwin; 1879, Amos C. Thomas; 1880—82, Maurice L. Wright; 1883—85, John D. Hartson; 1886—87, Robert H. Baker; 1888, James B. Driggs; 1889, Solomon L. Alexander; 1890, Timothy W. Skinner; 1891—92, Frank M. Earle; 1893, Hiram W. Loomis; 1894, George H. Wilson; 1895, Dr. S. M. Bennett.
The Mexico village officers for 1894—5 were as follows:
George H. Wilson, president; George H. Patten, Weeden P. Lyons, George A. Davis, trustees; George G. Stone, treasurer; George A. Penfield, collector (died May 7, 1894, and George H. Utter appointed; John Everts elected in March, 1895); Webster M. Richardson, clerk; Charles G. Rice, street commissioner; Wilfred S. Sweetland, police constable. The population in 1890 was 1,315.
Texas.—This is a post village on Little Salmon Creek, about one-half mile above the mouth of that stream. Its history under the original name of "Vera Cruz," down to its destruction by fire in about 1820, has already been detailed. Soon after that date, S. P. Robinson established a boat yard and built boats there for five or six years, and later a paper mill and store were conducted for a time. Finally a post-office was established, the present postmaster being Richard Mosher, who succeeded John Ramsey. For several years a life-saving station was maintained by the Government, but it burned March 27, 1886, and has never been rebuilt. On either side of the mouth of the creek bordering on the lake, are pleasant summer resorts, known collectively as Mexico Point. On the east side is "Twice Told," owned by Frank M. Earle, who erected in 1891 an imposing frame hotel that cost about $15,000. On the west bank is Ontario Park, which is owned by a company of that name. Within a decade or so the place has become the most important point in Oswego county for summer tourists seeking rest and recreation, and it is yearly increasing in importance and in the number of its visitors.
Colosse received its name from French settlers who located there at an early day. It was originally known as "Mexico Four Corners." It lies in the southeast part of the town, on the old Syracuse and Watertown plank road, and its post-office is one of the oldest in the county. During the pioneer period it was generally believed that it would become a very important place, and for many years no little rivalry existed between this and near-by villages. The first settlers on the site were Perry Allen and Elisha Huntley. Mr. Allen located on lot 133. With Mr. Huntley came his sons, William, Lorenzo, Lyman, and Elisha, jr., of whom the latter took up a large farm on lots 132 and 133. William located on lot 118, while Lorenzo remained on the homestead. Lyman became a physician, and settled on the northwest one of the four corners. On the southwest corner Judge Bates erected a story-and-a-half inn, which he kept until 1817, where he was followed successively by many other hosts. Adjoining this tavern was the store of Rufus Tiffany, started about 1816, and among its subsequent proprietors were Milton Harmon and Leander Parkhurst. Henry Webb was an early merchant here, but about 1840 sold out to his brothers, Thomas and Charles L., and moved to Mexico village. A union store was established at an early day by a stock company, whose successor was John Becker. The latter was succeeded by his son, John F. and Marcus D. Richardson, as Becker and Richardson. Mr. Becker later acquired his partner's interest, and finally sold to Joseph A. Richardson.
R. A. Burke, another merchant, was followed by George C. Brown & Son, who were succeeded by Peter Gray, whose son James is now in business. Other merchants were William A. and J. A. Johnson, of whom the latter was burned out in December, 1853, and is now a lawyer in Mexico village. In 1821 Paul Allen built a second tavern and a few years before, an ashery and distillery had commenced operation.
Joseph Devendorf started a tannery and shoeshop in 1822, and soon after was succeeded by Truman Rood. About the same year Marshall Fairchild began making hats. F. L. Barnes, L. D. Snell, and Seymour Worden were among the hotel keepers down to 1875. Early blacksmiths were Alvin Richardson and Sidney D. Markham.
Perhaps nothing more clearly indicates the future importance which the early settlers anticipated for the then thriving village of Colosse, than an act of the Legislature, passed April 12, 1842, incorporating the "Colosse Hydraulic Company," with Cyrus Allen, Sidney D. Markham, Leander Parkhurst, Alvin Richardson, Chas. L. Webb, William A. Bates, Thomas Webb, Artemas Church, and John M. Richardson as the first trustees. The capital stock was $5,000, and the scheme was the construction of a canal from the "pond of Nicholas E. Chambers," to Lake Ontario, through Colosse, using Little Salmon Creek as a portion of the channel. For some reason the project was abandoned.
Among the former postmasters at Colosse were Alvin Richardson, Orange Frary, Chauncey S. Frary (son of Orange), Cyrus H. Harvey, Edwin T. Johnson, Webster M. Richardson, and Peter Gray. The present official is James Gray, who succeeded Cyrus F. Allen. The village now has about 125 inhabitants.
Prattham, named in honor of Judge Peter Pratt, is a postal hamlet, about two and one-half miles east of Mexico village. It was originally known as "Prattville," and for several years constituted a formidable rival of the more populous center of business. It early fostered the cause of education, religion and material improvement, but the natural advantages of Mexico eventually superseded whatever expectations the first settlers of this place may have entertained. Mr. Pratt built the first saw mill and distillery and with Elias Brewster, kept the first general store and tinshop. Messrs. Pratt & Brewster, with Dr. Sardius Brewster, also conducted a woolen factory for a time. The first tavern was opened by Joel Savage, and the first tannery and harness shop by Edmund Smith. Simon Leroy had the first cabinet shop and George Finney was the pioneer blacksmith. The latter finally became a minister.
Upon the establishment of the post-office the place assumed its present name. The postmaster is William F. Everts.
Union Square.—This is a station on the R., W. & O. Railroad, situated four miles east of Mexico village. Two of its most conspicuous citizens were Avery and Hiram Skinner, the former of whom has already been noticed. Hiram Skinner was an early school teacher, justice of the peace and postmaster, and died November 4, 1865. At an early day Robert Kelley opened a tavern, which he kept for more than thirty years, being succeeded in 1867 by John B. Davis. The present postmaster is William H. Davis. The place contains about 175 inhabitants.
Wellwood is a postal hamlet about three miles south of Mexico village. The place was formerly, and is sometimes yet, locally known as "South Mexico," the post-office being named in honor of the Wellwood family, of whom James settled there in 1838. His son John is still a resident. Mahlon Remington was succeeded as postmaster by his brother Ellsworth; the present incumbent is William M. Harris, whose predecessor was Mrs. Emma Preston. Mr. Harris also has a store, and besides this and a church the place contains the Cusick Cheese Factory.
Arthur is a post office about two miles below the village of Mexico, on the east side of Little Salmon Creek, and was established under President Arthur's administration, in whose honor it was name. The postmaster is Byron A. Myers. Near here is the principal stone quarry in town.
The Colosse Baptist Church.—On Sunday, June 15, 1806, after divine services by Rev. Gamaliel Barnes, at the house of Amos Williams, in what is now the town of Parish, a meeting was held which had for its object the formation of a church. Several conferences were had, and the 7th of January, 1807, was the day appointed to meet and perfect an organization, but the councils failed to attend. After further consultation it was decided to assume church authority on October 15, 1807. This was the first church in the town of Mexico, the First Baptist church in Oswego county, and the second of any denomination, the first being one at Redfield. July 2, 1814, the society dissolved, but soon afterward a few brethren reconsidered the vote of dissolution and decided to resume church labor. A council of recognition, composed of twelve delegates, convened at a school house in the present town of Parish on August 23 1815, and the next day gave the right hand of fellowship to eighteen brothers and sisters as the Baptist Church of Mexico. Rev. Emory Osgood was moderator, and Rev. Martin E. Cook clerk, and the eighteen members of the new society were: Gamaliel Barnes, Barnet Whipple, William R. Huntley, James Roberts, Samuel Manwaren, John Manwaren, Asa Barnes, Stutely Palmer, jr., Hannah Barnes, Hannah Roberts, Fannie Manwaren, Eunice Manwaren, Prudence Carr, Lowry Barnes, Caroline Barnes, Lydia Barnes, Polly Morse and Bethiah Williams. The first officers were Rev. Gamaliel Barnes, pastor; Perry Allen and Stutely Palmer, jr., deacons; and Stutely Palmer, jr., clerk. The first meetings were held, at the school house where the church was organized, in other school houses, in private houses, in barns, at Colosse (then Mexico Four Corners), Red Mills, and the present village of Parish. November 5, 1821, a society for building a house of worship was organized, but the edifice was not commenced until 1823. It was finished in 1824, and cost about $2,500. It stands in Colosse, on the west side of lot 145, in the 20th township of Scriba's patent, and was the first church edifice erected in Oswego county.5 It was dedicated in the winter of 1824—25, by Rev. Nathaniel Gilbert. After several repairs it was rededicated December 30, 1873, by Rev. G. A. Ames. Since then it has received minor alterations, and was reopened in November, 1883. About twenty-five years after the organization of 1815 the name was changed to the Baptist Church of Colosse. The first Sunday school was started in 1828, one of the earliest superintendents being Stutely Palmer, jr. Among the earlier pastors were:
Enoch Ferris, William Watkins, George B. Davis, John I. Fulton, Edmund Goodenough, William Storrs, Charles Marshall, Newell Boughton, David McFarland, Peter Goo, Ira Dudley, Albert Cole, Judson Davis, Mortimer V. Wilson, Lemon Q. Galpin, and Jones L. Davis. At present the church has a stated supply.
The First Presbyterian Church of Mexico was instituted in the barn of Shubael Alfred, by Rev. Simeon Waterman, August 20, 1810, with a membership composed entirely of women, as follows: Mrs. Shubael Alfred, Mrs. Mary Wheeler, Mrs. Rebecca Matthews, Mrs. Sarah Beebe, Mrs. Eunice Williams, Mrs. Miriam Southworth and Mrs. Hannah Hosmer. This was the result of the labors of two missionaries, Messrs. Cleveland and Waterman, whom the Connecticut Missionary Society sent into this region in 1808.
In May, 1811, at the same place, the First Congregational Society of Mexico was regularly organized, the first trustees being Peter Pratt, Barnet Whipple, Col. Sherman Hosmer, Calvin Tiffany, and Shubael Alfred. In May, 1818, the name "Congregational" was replaced by "Presbyterian," and from this period its progress was vigorous and successful. In 1829 the society numbered 420 members, but in that year it divided. A movement had been started to build a meeting house, but the location could not be amicably agreed upon. Mexico Village and Prattville (as it was then called) each wanted the edifice, and all attempts to compromise failed. George Scriba in 1813, had given the society fifty acres of land on Prattham Hill,6 and in 1829 the Prattville branch erected a frame church thereon, which was dedicated by Rev. Israel Brainard about Christmas time of that year. The society continued until 1859, when it disbanded, and in August, 1863, their meetinghouse was demolished. Among the ministers before the division in 1829 and after, were Revs. Israel Brainard, Oliver Leavitt, M. Dunlap, David R. Dixon, William B. Stowe, John L. Marvin, Ezra Scoville and Ralph Robinson.
The Wesleyan Methodist Church of Prattville (Prattham) was organized in 1859, immediately after the dissolution of the Presbyterian society, and in 1863 a house of worship was erected. It was dedicated December 11 of that year by Rev. H. B. Knight. Seventeen years later it was repaired at a cost of $333 and rededicated December 19, 1880. Among the pastors have been Revs. L. N. Stratton, A. F. Dempsey and G. L. Payne.
The First Presbyterian Church of Mexico village, an offshoot of the Presbyterian Society, previously described, was organized May 5, 1829, and instituted by Revs. Oliver Ayer, Ralph Robinson and Oliver Leavitt, February 24, 1830, as the First Presbyterian Church of Mexicoville.
The constituent members were:
Shubael and Lucinda Alfred, Nathaniel and Lucinda Butler, Isaac and Lydia Stone, Anson and Eliza Gustin, Samuel and Caroline Wilson, Alexander and Mary McNitt, Edmund, Levi, Mary, Lucy and Louisa Matthews, Sally and Louisa Davis, Clark and Abigail Beebe, Jabin and Melinda Wood, Asa Allen, Catharine Wheeler, Laura Goit, Sally Ames, Nancy Lord, Sophia Taft, Fanny Wood and Eunice Killam.
The first pastor was Rev. Ralph Robinson, who was followed by Revs. Oliver Ayer, Alfred White, J. A. Hart, Charles Bowles, D. R. Dixon, William Blodgett, John Eastman, Josiah Leonard, Russell Whiting, and others. The present pastor is Rev. George Bayless. A church edifice was erected soon after the organization; it was repaired in 1858, and again in 1879 at a cost of $5,000; a new organ, costing $1,400 was placed in position in December of that year; and the church was reopened February 8, 1880.
The Methodist Episcopal Church of Mexico Village.—The first to cherish and foster Methodism in the town of Mexico was Mrs. Minerva Ames, wife of Leonard Ames, in whose house Rev. Jonathan Heustis preached the first Methodist sermon in town about 1809, and organized the first class, which consisted of Mrs. Ames, Messrs. Place, Calkins and Chesebro, and Wilson Armstrong, the latter being the first leader and local exhorter. With Rev. Mr. Heustis came Rev. Benjamin Paddock, who also officiated. In 1810, upon the formation of the Genesee Conference, this region became a part of the Cayuga district, which included the circuits of Mexico and Black River. Rev. Jonathan Heustis was the first pastor (then known as a circuit rider) and was followed by Rev. S. Rowley. Rev. Ira Fairbanks was appointed in 1811, his salary for that year being twenty-five dollars. In 1821 this charge was a part of the Oswego circuit. In 1828 it was included in the Salmon River circuit, and Rev. Elisha Wheeler was appointed, and in 1831 it became the Mexico circuit, with Rev. Charles Northrup in charge. A legal organization of the society was probably effected in 1833, and for that year and the next Revs. Anson Tuller and Joseph Cross were pastors. In 1835 it became a separate station, with Rev. Jesse Penfield in charge. In 1833 a brick church edifice was erected. It was burned in 1851 and in the next year the present structure was built. It was repaired in 1878 at a cost of $2,028, and rededicated April 6, 1879, by Rev. W. F. Hemenway, pastor. In March of that year a new pipe organ was put in, and in the summer of 1864 six windows were placed in position in memory of Daniel and Henry Austin, Leonard and Minerva Ames, Rev. W. W. Rundell, Reuben Halliday, Lewis Miller, Orrin an Oliver Whitney, David B. Mains, and Mrs. S. Elizabeth Skinner. The present pastor is Rev. H. W. Bennett.
The Baptist Church of Mexico Village was organized as the Baptist Church of Mexicoville, January 24, 1832, by Rev. Jonathan Goodwin, the first pastor. In 1833 it had fifty-six members, among the first of whom were Jonathan and Calvin Goodwin, Reuben Smith and wife, Calvin Tiffany and Mrs. Robinson. In 1835 the Baptist Church in the northwest part of the town was united with this body, which reported for that year 115 members, with Rev. S. Davison pastor. A church edifice was erected and dedicated in 1833, which was rebuilt in 1872 at a cost of over $3,300, and rededicated January 12, 1873, by Rev. I. Butterfield. It is a brick structure and the property includes a parsonage. The present pastor is Rev. E. F. Maine, who this year (1894) completes a half century of continuous ministry.
Christ Universalist Church of Mexico was organized as the Universalist Society of Mexico, at the school house April 12, 1832, with twenty-four members. The first trustees were Alexander J. Danby, Avery Skinner, Joseph Lamb, Pliny Sabin and Amos Church. The moderator was Rev. O. Whiston, who was installed the first pastor, and was succeeded by Revs. Charles B. Brown, Henry Van Campen, J. S. Kibbe and others. In 1849 during the pastorate of Rev. William Sias, the society refused to be represented in association and it became extinct. January 16, 1853, it was revived at a meeting conducted by W. S. Goodell, and in 1868 a legal organization was effected with fifteen members. Rev. W. N. Barber became pastor and was followed by Rev. James Vincent and by the Rev. E. B. Cooper. In 1870—71 an edifice was erected and dedicated November 16, 1871.
Grace Episcopal Church of Mexico was organized in the town hall December 4, 1848, by Rev. Edward De Zeng, as Grace Church of the village of Mexico. The first officers were Charles Benedict and Alexander Whaley, senior and junior wardens, and Joseph E. Bloomfield, Luther H. Conklin, Cyrus Whitney, Levi Downing, William Cooper, Hiram Allen, Levi Warner and Luke D. Smith, vestrymen. In 1871 the present handsome stone edifice was built, the corner stone of which was laid June 22 of that year by Bishop Huntington. It was opened for worship by the rector, Rev. George H. Watson, June 15, 1871, and after being freed from debt was consecrated by Bishop Huntington October 3, 1880. The bell was the gift of Luther H. and Miss Frances M. Conklin, in memory of their mother. The parish is now (1894) without a rector.
The North Mexico Methodist Episcopal Church was built as a union edifice by the Methodists and Baptists in 1846. In 1875 the former purchased the Baptist interest and since then have occupied it. Prior to 1875 it was a branch of the Holmesville society. Among the early members and supporters of the church were:
Frederick, Adaline, Philo and Sally Everts, Joes and Electa Roberts, Benjamin and Sarah Midlam, Mrs. Joseph Copp, Deacon and Lydia Manwaren, James Manwaren, David and Mary Everts, William and Louisa Manwaren, Lyman Loomis, Esther Roberts, Philander Ormsby, Thomas R. Howlett and Albert Everts.
The Wesleyan Methodist Church of Texas was organized as a society by Rev. L. N. Stratton May 24, 1867, with about twenty members. June 22, 1868, the corner-stone was laid under the title "Texas Union Church," and the building was dedicated March 11, 1869. In December, 1871, it was burned and the next year the present one was erected. It was dedicated December 12, and was considerably repaired in 1889. The first pastor was Rev. L. N. Stratton; the society is small.
The South Mexico Methodist Episcopal Church had its nucleus in a class that was attached at an early day to the church in Mexico village. Later it became a part of the Palermo circuit and on March 1, 1849, the present society was organized with about 120 members. In 1850 the church edifice was built and was dedicated in March, 1851. Among the early pastors were Revs. Charles Northrop, Anson Tuller, Harris Kingsley, J. N. Brown and others.
The Roman Catholic Church of Mexico, situated on French street about two miles southwest of Colosse, was erected about 1840, at which time the parish comprised about sixty communicants. Services have generally been regularly maintained.
The Protestant Lutheran Church of Mexico, situated about two miles south of Colosse, was first organized with sixteen communicants. In 1841—42 a house of worship was built, mainly through the efforts of John Gridley; it was dedicated in 1842, by Rev. N. Van Alstyne.
1. Evidently the legislators of that period were not familiar with the geography of this portion of the State, as a line thus described would run considerably east of Lake Ontario.
2. Crisfield Johnson's History
3. Samuel H. Stone, first treasurer elected in Oswego county. He ran on the Free Soil ticket, and held the office two terms.
4. Condensed from a similar list prepared by Starr Clark, and published in the Mexico Independent.
5. From a document dated October 18, 1824, and signed by "Paul Allen, Lewis Mead, Rufus Tiffany, Lyman Huntley, Reuben Smith, trustees."
6. Here, in 1814, Amanda Brewster organized the first Sunday school in the town, and perhaps the first in the present county of Oswego.
Return to Town of Mexico Page
Return to Main Page
© 2018 Oswego County Genealogy