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. 659—670

Originally transcribed by Laura Perkins (2004).


Parish, so named by legislative enactment in honor of David Parish, is an inland town lying immediately east or southeast of the center of Oswego county. It was set off from Mexico on the 20th of March, 1828, and comprises an area of 25,321 acres. It is survey township number 23 of Scriba's patent and was called Strasburg by that proprietor from the capital of Alsace-Lorraine. George Scriba sold the survey township to David Parish, who disposed of it in parcels. The Stocton tract, lying in the north and northwest parts of the town, and the Bloomfield tract, occupying the northeast part, were divided into large lots, while the southern half of the town was surveyed into small lots. A tract known as the "Reservation" lies just north of Parish village.

The town of Parish, on an average, lies about 260 feet above Lake Ontario, and was originally covered with a thick growth of heavy timber, consisting mainly of beech, birch, hemlock, and sugar maple. A few swamps of pine and cedar exist, and in the eastern part is St. Mary's Lake, which contains about 40 acres. Ample drainage is afforded by several small streams, the largest of which is the north branch of Salmon Creek. The surface is undulating, broken considerably by ravines, and in places rough and stony.

Down to 1860 less than half the town was under cultivation. At that time there were twelve saw mills, four shingle mills, and other wood manufacturing establishments in operation, lumbering being the principal industry. A decade or so afterward agriculture had superseded other interests, and since then farming has been the chief occupation of the inhabitants. About 1865 dairying began to receive attention, and so steadily has it developed that it now holds the leading place in the business of the town. At present there are two cheese factories in the the town, both being operated by incorporated companies. Apples and pears are raised to a limited extent, and potatoes are grown and shipped in large quantities. Many other products, notably grain and hay are are profitably cultivated.

In early days, when lumbering was at its height, the manufacture of barrels for the Syracuse salt and Oswego flour trades was extensively carried on and brought considerable revenue to the town.

The first thoroughfare in Parish was the Rotterdam road leading from what is now Constantia village to Vera Cruz (Mexico Point). This was laid out and opened by George Scriba in 1794. About 1803 a road was surveyed through the town from the last named point to Camden. In 1828 twenty-three road districts were formed and an overseer was chosen for each. Many of the roads had been previously surveyed, and a number were laid out afterward. In 1840 the town had fifty road districts. In March, 1850, at a special meeting, the citizens resolved to aid in constructing a plank road through Parish from Constantia to Sand Bank. In 1870—71 the Syracuse Northern (now the R., W. & O.) Railroad was built and opened, the first train being run over it November 14,1871. To aid this work the town was bonded for $35,000, the most of which remains unpaid. The town now has fifty-nine road districts. Daily stages run from Parish via Colosse to Mexico and from Parish to Amboy.

The first town meeting was held in the "Parishville school house," near the residence of Simeon Adams, on the first Tuesday in May, 1828, and the following officers were chosen:

Paul Allen, supervisor; John Becker, town clerk; Thomas Nutting, Stutely Palmer, and Marks Edick, assessors; Isam Simons, collector; Benajah Whitney, Jacob J. Miller, and Denison B. Palmer, highway commissioners; William Wightman and William D. Wightman, poormasters; Erastus Tyler, Samuel Barber and Richard Cleveland, commissioners of common schools; Isaac B. Mead, Denison B. Palmer and Charles Gardner, inspectors of common schools; Peter Edick, George Earles, Squire Palmer, and Chauncey Whitney, constables; Joseph Maybee, Jacob J. Mead and Benajah Whitney, poundmasters; John Becker, sealer of weights and measures. In the following fall Marks Edick, Luny Thayer, Paul Perry and Jacob Slingerland were elected justices of the peace.

The supervisors of the town have been as follows:

Paul Allen, 1828—32; Alfred Phelps, 1833—40; Ephraim E. Ford, 1841—43; Luny Thayer, 1844; John Clapsaddle, 1845; Harvey Palmer. 1846; Luny Thayer, 1847—50; Joseph Osborn, 1851—53; Paul W. Allen, 1854; Harvey Palmer, 1855; John C. Warn, 1856; Austin White, 1857; Andrew Ashton, 1858—59; John Becker, 1860—61; Jonathan Irish, 1862; James David, 1863—64; Jonathan Irish, 1865—66; Frank H. Argensinger, 1867—69; Jonathan Irish, 1870; Romayne C. Robertson, 1871; Jerry Foley, 1872; Daniel Edick, 1873; Jerry Foley, 1874—75; Romayne C. Robertson, 1876; Judson J. Taylor, 1877; John W. Northrop, 1878—79; Cornelius Edick, 1880; C. F. Trowbridge, 1881 Dr. I. J. Green, 1882; Lewis David, 1883—85; Fowler H. Berry, 1886—88; James David, 1889; Fowler H. Berry, 1890—91; Melvin Alsover, 1892; Fowler H. Berry, 1893: Willard C. Richards, 1894.

The town officers for 1894—95 were:

Willard C. Richards, supervisor; Frank B. Warn, town clerk; W. George Baxter, Cheney D. Barney, S. H. Crosby and Martin De Garmo, justices of the peace; Horace J. Roode, Albert H. Coan and Hosea Pickens, assessors; B. C. Purington, highway commissioner; George Thayer, overseer of the poor; Lewis D. Rulison, collector.

Settlement was commenced in Parish by Rev. Gamaliel Barnes and his son-in-law, Stephen D. Morse, in 1803. They came from Otsego county by way of Camden and Amboy and settled in the extreme west part of the town on small lot 60, their guides being blazed trees and Indian trails. Rev. Mr. Barnes had prospected here in 1802, but Mr. Morse was really the pioneer in felling the first timber and clearing the first land, and during his life doubtless did more of that work than any other settler the town ever had. Elder Barnes was a Baptist preacher, and built the first log house, the first barn, and the first frame dwelling in Parish. He was born in Connecticut, served in the Revolution, learned the trades of tanner and shoemaker, and became a minister of the Baptist Church, but he supported himself chiefly by manual labor. He was forty-six years of age when he settled in Oswego county, where he was, it is believed, the second actual preacher of the gospel. He ministered to the pioneers, in barns, houses, and the open air, performed marriage ceremonies for miles around, carried on his trades in a small way, and died at the great age of ninety-six, loved and revered by a wide circle of acquaintances. His daughter Hannah married William Huntley and died May 20, 1814. She was buried on her father's farm. Subsequently her remains were disinterred and removed to Colosse.

Other settlers of 1803 were Thomas Nutting, Elvider Orton, Amos Williams and Jonathan Bedell. Mr. Nutting, then twenty-three years of age, came from Otsego county and located on small lot 6. He was a soldier of the War of 1812 and held several town offices. Surviving all the other early settlers, he died in 1873, and his wife's death occurred one day later. He was the grandfather of Judge Newton W. Nutting, deceased, and of Harmon D. Nutting, now a lawyer in Parish. Mr. Orton settled on small lot 5. The birth of his son Ransom in 1805 was the first in town. Jonathan Bedell was killed by the falling of a tree on small lot 4 about 1806, which was the first death of a white person in Parish. He was buried on the Charles Ford farm. His widow married Nathan Parkhurst, which was the first marriage. Amos Williams died April 19, 1813, and was buried on the Genney farm.

In 1804 Paul Allen, a native of Berkshire county, Mass., came from Otsego county, N. Y., and located on small lot 2. He became a lieutenant in the war of 1812 and was elected the first supervisor of Parish, an office he held five consecutive years. He was a leading and an influential man, a substantial farmer, and a prominent member of the Baptist Church and died in 1849.

In 1805 William Wightman, William D. Wightman and Stutely Palmer, jr., became settlers, all coming from Herkimer county. William D. Wightman settled on small lot 3, the others on lot 61. A few years afterward Dennison B. Palmer located on small lot 60 and subsequently became the first justice of the peace in Parish. Harvey Palmer was born here September 8, 1816, became a colonel and inspector-general of militia, supervisor, assessor, farmer, merchant, justice of the peace, and served as assemblyman in 1863 and 1864.

Several other settlers arrived prior to the war of 1812, mainly from the counties of Herkimer and Otsego. Among them was the Hatch family, of whom Jarvis Hatch, born in 1806, subsequently resided in Mexico. The exact date of the coming of many others cannot be determined. The war and the celebrated "cold season" of 1816, materially checked immigration and caused much suffering, while the miasma arising from the marshes added to the general discomfort. Those who had arrived, however, braved the privations of frontier life with fortitude. Among the settlers during this period and down to the year 1825 were Jacob J. Miller, Luman Brockway, Benjamin Whitney, Joseph Maybee, William Avery, J. W. Scriber, Simeon Adams, John Miller, Joseph Edick, Abram Hoose, Erastus Fyler, Milo M. and Asahel Coan, James David, C. Edick, Daniel Edick, J. H. Miller, G. Rider, and J. Sampson. Asahel Coan died here January 1,1895, being at the
time of his death the oldest correspondent of the Parish Mirror and one of the oldest citizens of the town. Milo M. Coan died in October, 1891. Jacob J. Miller furnished the first accommodations to travelers, though he did not keep a regular tavern. Joseph Storer was the first blacksmith as early as 1815; he remained until 1822, when he moved away. Abram Hoose died in Mexico, August 14, 1889. Simeon Adams died January 29 and his wife February 25, 1817, in a log house which stood about on the site of the store of H. F. Graves in Parish village. Prominent among those who were born in the county prior to 1825 and became honored residents of Parish were M. Avery, R. Burnham, A. M. Gillespie, George W. Moore, Edwin Palmer and J. R. Smith. The Edick family has been prominently identified with the town from an early day and many of its members are still respected residents and active business men.

Of the settlers prior to 1830 were Joseph Brown, John Becker, Ephraim E. Ford, Paul W. Allen, Isam Simons, James A. Burnett, John De Garmo, R. H. Orton, and Luny Thayer. Mr. Thayer was a member of assembly in 1845. Mr. Ford opend the first store in Parish in 1829, and Mr. Simons built the first regular tavern the same year.

Between 1830 and 1840 the following came in: John Simplot, Alfred Phelps, John C. Warn, Dr. Austin White, H. M. Bliss, C. Cummins, William O. Comstock, C. H. Edick, C. H. Ford, J. W. Harter, Leonard House, Jonathan Irish, Ransom H. Orton, Melzar Richards, A. Smith, C. and F. Tisdale, and Dr. Judson J. Taylor. Dr. White settled in town in 1832 and remained until his death in 1876. He was the first physician in Parish. Melzar Richards was born in Steuben county, N. Y., Christmas day. 1822. At the breaking out of the Rebellion he organized Co. D, 24th N. Y. Vols, and went out as captain.  In 1863 he was commissioned major, and on April 5, 1865, at Amelia Springs, while pressing Lee's retreating army; he was mortally wounded and soon after died. He was buried with Masonic and military honors on the 25th of that month. Some of those mentioned were natives of the county.

Prominent among the settlers from 1840 to 1850 were John Clapsaddle, Dr. Tobias J. Green, Archibald N. Ludington, E. C. Buell, C. Baldwin, W. G. Baxter, P. Finster, H. E. Holden, H. Jones, G. B. Mosier, W. B. Parkhurst, and F. Simmons. Dr. Green was born in Rensselaer county, was graduated from the medical department of the University of New York, settled in Parish in 1847, and a few years ago removed to Mexico, where he now resides. He was a director and vice-president of the Syracuse Northern Railroad Company prior to its incorporation with the R. W. & O. corporation.

Among other prominent residents of the town may be mentioned S. T. Parsons (a lawyer), Dr. Cornelius S. House (deceased), J. H. Hoose (born here and subsequently the principal of the State Normal School at Cortland), Romain C. Robertson, Hon. Newton W. Nutting, a brother of Harmon D. Nutting, both lawyers, the latter still in practice here, Edwin G. Lynch (a practicing attorney in Parish), John Osborn, Andrew Ashton, Dr. C. D. Barney (dentist), J. W. Bliss (died March 11, 1895), William Carley, Jerry Foley, W. T. Seymour, L. D. Snell, Daniel White, Charles Le Clair (died in November, 1894), George R. and Hamilton A. Mosher (brothers), Rev. A. P. Phinney, Fowler H. Berry, C. Sayles Talcott (prominent in Masonry), George Luddington, and Melzar H. Thayer (brother of Luna). The latter died October 10,1894. William Edick owns a grist mill on Little Salmon Creek about one mile east of Parish village. Two centenarians at least have died in the town, viz.: Mrs. Sarah Herrick in September, 1877, aged 100 years and four months, and James Pete October 5, 1893, at the age of 103 years, five months and five days. Other prominent settlers and residents of Parish are noticed more fully in Part III of this volume.

The population of Parish at different periods has been as follows: In 1830, 868; 1835, 1,295; 1840, 1,543; 1845, 1,456; 1850, 1,799; 1855, 1,675; 1860, 2,027; 1865, 1,814; 1870, 1,929; 1875, 2,058; 1880, 1,817; 1890, 1,770.

During the war of the Rebellion the town contributed nearly 100 of her citizens to the Union forces and raised about $9,000 for bounties to volunteers. Among those who received merited promotions in the service were Lt.-Col. Melzar Richards, Capt. R. W. Slayton, Chaplain A. R. Wells. Capt. S Beaulin, Surgeon T. J. Green, and Regimental Postmaster C. H. Edick. The survivors now residents of the town are fraternally banded together in the G. W. Simons Post, No. 599, G. A. R., of which Truman Redington is the present commander.

The first school house in town was a small log structure which cost only $15, and which stood on the site of the present town hall in Parish village. Samuel Phileo was the first teacher, and one of his successors was Joseph Torrey, subsequently surrogate of the county. This primitive building was erected in 1808 and served its purpose until 1816, when it was replaced by a frame structure. The first frame school house was built on small lot 60 in 1814. It cost $150 and was situated in what was called district No. I of Mexico. In 1828 the town was divided into five whole and four joint school districts, and since then local educational movements have kept pace with the excellent school system of the State. May 15, 1883, the Parish Union Free School and Academy was organized with James S. Luddington, Hosea Pickens, C. S. Tallcott, Hamilton A. Mosher, and Edwin Palmer as members of the first Board of Education. The site upon which the school house stands had been purchased in 1878 at a cost of $100, and a frame school building erected thereon during the same year for $2,400. The structure has since been enlarged at an expense of about $1,000. The Board of Education for 1894—5 consists of C. D. Barney, president; W. B. Harter. clerk; H. M. Mosher, P. D. Edick, and Dr. J. B. Todd. The principal is Prof. W. F. Canough.

The town now has thirteen school districts with a school house in each, in which schools were taught in 1892—3 by seventeen teachers and attended by 477 scholars. The school buildings and sites are valued at $11,085; assessed valuation of districts, $380,212; public money received from the State, $2,076.55; raised by local tax, $1,824.04. The districts are designated: No. 1, Parish; 2, Fritts; 3, Churchill; 4, Searls; 5, Bidwell; 6, Laing; 7, Getman; 8, Jennings; 9, Old Dutch Hill; 10, Devendorf; 11, Miller; 12, Red Mills; 13, New Dutch Hill.

Pleasant Lawn Cemetery, situated near the village of Parish, had its origin in a half acre of ground which was set aside for burial purposes by Rev. Gamaliel Barnes soon after the death of his daughter Hannah (Mrs. William Huntley), which occurred May 20, 1814. This plot comprised a part of Elder Barnes's farm, and Mrs. Huntley was the first person interred therein. Her remains were subsequently removed to Colosse. The second burial in the Parish graveyard was that of Allen Mead and the third that of an infant grandchild of Elder Barnes. The oldest tombstone marks the grave of Uriah Tracy Orton, who died July 15, 1825. The cemetery was enlarged to accommodate the increasing number of burials, and in 1890 it was incorporated under its present name.

Supervisors' statistics for 1894:  assessed valuation of real estate, $329,593, equalized, $405,121; personal property, $18,450; railroads, 2.69 miles, $27,500; town tax, $3,412.48; county tax, $2,372; ratio of tax on $100, $1.92; total tax levy, $6,668.09; dog tax, $108.50. The town has two election districts and in November, 1894, polled 398 votes.

Parish village was for many years called Parishville, but as a post-office and railroad station it has always borne its present designation, derived from the name of the town. It commenced with the rude log school house of 1808. As early as 1815 Joseph Storer established a blacksmith shop inside what are now the corporate limits and remained about seven years. In 1828 Joseph Brown set up his anvil and forge, and during the same year Paul Allen and John Becker erected a grist mill with three runs of stone on the north branch of Salmon Creek. This was the first mill of the kind in town. It was subsequently remodeled by Almeron Thomas, of Mexico, and January 26, 1872, it was burned, causing a loss of about $8,000. On the site the present structure was erected the same year by Jesse A. Slawson and Romaine C. Robertson at a cost of $18,000, and named "Ceresco Mill" by Edwin Palmer. It is now owned by Romaine C. Robertson and managed by J. W. Bliss. The first store was built and opened by Ephraim E. Ford in 1829, who kept it until 1856. For a time Mr. Ford was in partnership with Paul W. Allen. The building was eventually enlarged and occupied by the Mosher Brothers. Isam Simons erected the first regular tavern in 1829 and kept it until 1857. It was burned in 1871, and on the site the Ludington block was erected, burned. and rebuilt. In 1830 a tannery, the first regular establishment of the kind in town, was built near the grist mill by a Frenchman named John Simplot. John C. Warn became proprietor about 1833 and in 1859 it was burned. Mr. Warn rebuilt it and in 1865 sold the plant to Robertson & Co. It was materially enlarged and for a time employed a capital of about $150,000. A few years ago it was torn down and on the site the Crandall typewriter factory, now vacant, was erected.

In 1832 Dr. Austin White, the first physician in town, became a resident, and the same year a post route was established from Camden to Colosse, passing through Parish. Mail was carried each way once a week, the carriers being Cyrus H. Harvey and Dexter Howard. Ephraim E. Ford was appointed the first postmaster and held the office until his removal in 1856. Among his successors were Charles H. Edick, Charles F. Trowbridge, W. H. Baker, E. D. Edick,William B. Harter, and Burr J. Morgan, incumbent. The first lawyer, Archibald N. Ludington, settled in Parish in 1848 and remained three years. Among the old time merchants were the Mosher Brothers, G. W. Ludington, William Carley (still in business and the oldest dealer in town), C. D. Edick & Co., G. G. Houghton, Ludington & Brown, B. C. Purrington & Son, Slayton, Slawson & Le Clair, Lewis Rider, E. E. Blinn, George Paddock, Charles Casler, Wightman Brothers, J. J. Taylor, J. W. Harter (furniture and undertaking), Philip Fellows (shoes, succeeded by Willis Fellows, where Jocelyn & Owen now are), and Hathaway & Vroman (cabinet makers). C. D. Barney, dentist, and C. C. Barrett, shoemaker, have been in business here many years. There are now about sixteen stores in the village, besides a meat market, and harness shops. The merchants now are Jocelyn & Owen, Frank Butler, W. H. Baker, William Carley, George J. Pitcher, and Albert Alger (at the depot), general stores; Edick & Edick, and Dayton R. Fritts, hardware; R. E. Borst and Forest Houghton, groceries; Herbert F. Graves, jewelry; C. S. Tallcott & Sons, liquors; W. B. Harter, furniture; Burr J. Morgan and Emmett Lewis, drugs and notions. There are two hotels: The Snell House, L. D. Snell, proprietor, and the Commercial House, kept by the Ackley Brothers. Twenty years or more ago the former was known as the Boyd House from its landlord, D. Boyd. The present owner, Mr. Snell, has long been in charge and is one of the oldest and best known hotel-keepers in the county. There are also two public houses at the depot, one of which, the Railroad House, was built by William Pickens in 1873, over a well dug by the pioneer, Paul Allen. The village also contains four blacksmith shops; the town hall, which was purchased in 1857; a Masonic lodge organized May 14, 1874, with Samuel Porter (first master) Avery Skinner, Hiram Walker, John B. Ackley, and Samuel T. Parsons as charter members; two saw mills, one of which is owned by L. C. Brockway; the Parish Exchange Bank, Potter & Marsden, proprietors; and a large canning factory near the depot owned by Louis Windholz, of Syracuse.

May 14, 1874, John W. Northrop issued the first number of the Parish Mirror. He continued as editor and proprietor for several years. Among his successors were Galen Oderkirk, Arthur White, Prof. J. M. Moore, Burton M. Hicks, and since March, 1894, Fred H. Gee. Mr. Gee was born in Cortland county March 8, 1854, and has been engaged in the printing business since he attained the age of fifteen.

The villiage of Parish was incorporated in 1883 and the first meeting of the trustees occurred October 5 of that year. The corporation comprises a square mile. The first officers were George R. Mosher, president; William H. Baker, Lester D. Pickens, and Lorenzo D. Snell, trustees; J. S. Ludington, clerk. The presidents have been as follows:

G. R. Mosher, 1883—4; C. S. Tallcott, 1885—6; Dr. John B. Todd, 1887; C. D. Barney, 1888—9; G. D. Houghton, 1890—91; George R. Mosher, 1892; L. D. Pickens, 1893: H. A. Mosher, 1894; L. D. Pickens, 1895.

The village officers for 1894—5 were:

I. B. Niles, P. P. Ford, A. A. Davey, trustees; W. G. Baxter, clerk; George Gray, A. M. Seley, police constables; W. E. McAllister, collector; B. J. Morgan, treasurer; Henry A. Davey, street commissioner.

The village has been visited by several serious conflagrations, among the number not already noticed being those of May 1, 1886, loss $25,000; August, 1887, loss $6,000; September 30 and October 1, 1888, loss about $10,000 each time. With commendable energy it has in every instance quickly recovered, and now presents the appearance of a healthy, thrifty village of about 540 people.

East Parish was formerly a post-office, and at one time about 1852, Guy C. Comstock was postmaster there. It is now merely a rural settlement.

Wrightson is a post-office three miles east of Parish village. It contains a scattered collection of houses and one saw mill. The postmaster is Richard Hakes, who succeeded John Stagner, jr.

Churches.—As early as 1815 a class of the M. E. church was formed at the school house in what was then district No. 1, Mexico, with Richard Ford as leader. Several other classes were afterward organized in the town all of which have long since ceased to exist. During the winter of 1840—41 a revival occurred, which resulted in the erection of a frame church edifice in Parish the following summer at a cost of $1,800, the site being donated by John Becker. It was called Congregational, but its supporters were Presbyterians, Congregationalists, Baptists, and Lutherans, all of whom, except the Baptists, united in the Congregational discipline and selected Rev. S. W. Champlin (Lutheran) as pastor. John Wright and Nicholas Oxner were elected deacons. This form of worship continued about five years. The church, however, was occupied by the Baptists almost alone for several years, yet other denominations were free to use it. The edifice was dedicated in October, 1841, by Rev. Ralph Robinson (Congregationalist) and Rev. Mr. Van Alstyne (Lutheran). Down to 1869 it was used alternately by the various religious organizations and classes of the town; since then it has been occupied by the Methodists. This latter society was formed as a class in 1855 with Archibald C. Garrison as leader. In 1869 the edifice was purchased by the M. E. Society, who repaired, refurnished, and rededicated it December 8 of that year, at which time Rev. A. J. Cowles was their pastor. The cost of remodeling the structure was about $1,800. It was again enlarged and repaired and rededicated on October 24, 1888, the expense being $3,200; it is now valued, including a parsonage, at about $5,800. The society has 115 members with Rev. G. W. Gardner as pastor. The first Sunday school in town was organized about 1830 and one of the earliest superintendents was John Becker, who held the position most of the time until his death in 1862. The society now maintains two Sabbath schools in Parish whose combined membershjp is about 275.

A Freewill Baptist Society was organized with some twenty members in school district No. 2 about 1858 and another was formed with twenty three members in district No. 6 March 14, 1869. Of the latter Rev. Albert P. Phinney was the first pastor and George C. Brown and Austin Smith were the first deacons. Neither society ever erected a house of worship. In the eastern part of the town two or three Methodist Protestant classes are maintained and supplied from Dugway.

The First Presbyterian church of Parish was organized in August, 1889. The first trustees were:  J. L. Davis, Hosea Pickens, L. S. Crandall, J. W. Harter, Frank Mills, and Arthur White. The earlier meetings were held in the town hall. The church society was legally organized March 28, 1893, with eleven members, to take charge of the frame church edifice that had been erected in 1892 and dedicated November 22 of that year by Rev. A. H. Fahnestock, of Syracuse. The structure cost about $2,000. Rev. E. W. Twichell, who is still in charge, became the first settled pastor May 1, 1893. He is also superintendent of the Sunday school, which has an average attendance of seventy pupils. The society has about twenty members.



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