History of Madrid

 Town of Madrid
From Child's Gazetteer of St. Lawrence County


Link to listing of Individuals in Madrid Business Directory

Link to listing of Businesses in Madrid Business Directory

MADRID(1) was formed from Lisbon, March 3, 1802.(2).  Potsdam was taken off Feb. 21, 1806, and Waddington, Nov. 22, 1859.  It lies north-west of the center of the county, being separated from the St. Lawrence by Waddington, and contains 29,919 acres.  It is generally level, fertile, and is well watered by Grass River, which flows diagonally through the town, in a north-east direction, and Trout and Brandy brooks, the former of which crosses the east angle and the latter the west.  It is best adapted to grazing.

The Ogdensburg & Lake Champlain R.R. crosses the south angle of the town.

The population of the town in 1870 was 2,071, of whom 1,648 were native, 423, foreign and all, except eight, white.

During the year ending Sept. 30, 1872, the town contained ten school districts and employed eleven teachers.  The number of children of school age was 645; the number attending school 538; the average attendance, 244; the amount expended for school purposes, $2,806.23; and the value of the school houses and sites, $5,250.

MADRID,(3) (p.v.) situated on Grass River, in the south part, and distant one mile from the station on the O. & L. C. R. R., contains five churches, (Baptist, Catholic, Congregationalist, M.E. and Universalist, one hotel, several stores, a tannery(4), grist and saw mills(5), woolen factory, several mechanic shops, and had, in 1870, 670 inhabitants.  The river furnishes a good water-power.

The saw and shingle mill, situated on Grass River, four miles below Madrid, and owned by John Armstrong, manufactures about 1,500,000 feet of lumber and 20,000 shingles per annum.

MADRID SPRINGS, (p.v.) situated on the O. & L. C. R. R., one miles south-west of Madrid, contains a Baptist Church, two stores, two hotels, a blacksmith shop, two cooper shops, a shoe shop and about 150 inhabitants.  There are two mineral springs here whose waters are said to possess the same properties as those of the Empire spring at Saratoga.

The settlement of the town was commenced about the beginning of the present century.  Joseph, Asa, Elisha and Rufus Freeman, natives of Dalton, Mass., removed to Madrid in 1800.  The former was born May 7, 1773, and removed to Johnstown, Canada, in 1798, and thence to Madrid.  He crossed the river on the ice and by an accident lost his stock of provisions.  Cyrus Abernethy, from Vermont, Jesse Goss, and Richard and Walter Rutherford, from Roxburghshire, Scotland, settled in 1801.  Goss settled at Madrid village, and in 1823, built the first house east of the river at that place, which was locally known as Brooklyn.  The Rutherford brothers emigrated to New York in 1801, and meeting with Mr. Ogden they were induced to visit the town with a view to settling.  They came with their families and occupied tow months in removing from Pittstown, N.Y., by the tedious water route via Oswego.  The place where they settled was known as “Rutherford’s Ridge.”.  In 1803 mills were erected at Madrid village, by Seth Roberts, from whom it was often called Robert’s Mills.  The first school was taught in the town by Dorothy Fields.  Dean Franklin was an early settler in the town.  He came here from the town of Washington, Berkshire county, Mass., in 1807.  The town was visited at an early day by two appalling calamities; the first occurred March 4, 1806, when the dwelling of Uel Gray, which stood about three-fourths of a mile from the present village of Madrid, was burned, and two children, aged five and seven years respectively, perished in the flames; the other, April 9, 1818, when six men, viz: Asa Lord, Abraham and Joseph Loomis, Ezra Bigelow, Asa Dagett and Leonard Reed were carried over the dam at Madrid village in a boat, and although many were witnesses of the scene, they could render the unfortunate victims no succor, and they were drowned.

In January, 1814, a party of Canadians, under Capt. Reuben Sherwood, a daring and active loyalist, crossed the St. Lawrence near Point Iroquois, and having pressed teams into their service, proceeded to Madrid village to recover some goods, which Benj. Richards, of Waddington, had captured the preceding October from bateaux which were being taken up the river, under the Canadian shore.  A part of the goods captured were stored in a warehouse in Waddington village, but the cloths and lighter articles were taken to Madrid for greater security.  That part of the goods stored at Waddington were recaptured in November, 1813, by Col. Morrison, who was attached to the army which hung upon the rear of Gen. Wilkinson’s forces, while the latter were moving down the St. Lawrence.  No attempt could be made to defeat Col. Morrison’s object, and he proceeded to gather together, with the aid of his troops, such of the goods as could be found.  While thus engaged, cannonading was heard down the river, which made him impatient of delay, and he ordered the goods and building in which they were stored to be set on fire.  As this threatened the destruction of a considerable part of the village, the principal citizens dissuaded him from executing the project, under the stipulation that all the captured goods then in the village should be landed upon the Canadian shore the next day – an agreement which they fulfilled.  No resistance was offered to the recovery of the goods stored at Madrid.  Indeed, the suddenness of this extremely bold and hazardous expedition, which was altogether unexpected, left them no time to concert any measures.

The first religious meetings were held in the mills erected at Madrid, by Seth Roberts.

The Congregational Church, at Madrid, was organized with ten members, by Rev. Amos Pettengill, Feb. 17, 1807.  Meetings were conducted by missionaries until 1809, in which year Rev. Chauncey Cook became their pastor.  A stone church edifice was erected in 1825-6 at a cost of $4,000.  Their house will seat 350 persons.  The present number of members is 87; and Rev. Geo. Strasenburgh is the pastor.  This is the oldest church in town.  No less than twenty-eight ministers have fulfilled stations in home or foreign missions, who received religious instruction here.  The primitive means to which the early settlers resorted to secure the benefits of religious instruction is strikingly illustrated by the following extract relative to this church, from Dr. Hough’s History of St. Lawrence and Franklin Counties.  “In 1811,” he says, “Rev. John Winchester hired for three years, on a salary of $91 in cash and $273 in wheat, at the going price. * * * In 1824, numbers pledged the crops on certain pieces of land, be the same more or less, for the support of the gospel.  These were half an acre, ten rods of corn, etc, etc.  One subscription was ‘a place for onions’”.

The First Universalist Church of Madrid, at Madrid Village, was organized with 109 members, March 31, 1841, though a society for holding divine service was formed in 1914, and was first ministered to by John Foster.  Rev. J. Baker was the first pastor after its organization.  A church edifice was erected in 1842 or ‘3 at a cost of $3,000, in which the present society continues to worship.  It will seat 250 persons.  The present pastor is Rev. A. U. Hutchins.  The Church property is valued at $8.000.(6)

The First M.E. Church of Madrid, at Madrid Village, was organized with ten members in 1847, by S. S. Martin, S. F. Palmer and Wm. L. Read, who were the first trustees.  The first church edifice was erected in 1847; the present one in 1868, at a cost of $14,000.  It will seat 350 persons.  The first pastor was S. F. Kenyon; the present one is A. G. Markham.  The Church property is valued at $15,000.(7)

The First Baptist Evangelical Society, at Madrid, erected its first house of worship in 1836; and the present one in 1872, at a cost of $10,000.  It will seat 350 persons.  The present number of members is 89; and the pastor, Rev. C. H. Johnson, our informant.  The Church property is valued at $15,000.  We are not advised of the date of the organization of the society.  In 1871 it purchased the Union Church at Madrid Springs for $3,000.



(1) It originally embraced townships Nos. 3 and 4 of the Ten Townships and still retains the name of the latter.

(2) The first town meeting was held on the first Tuesday in April, 1802, and the following officers were elected:  Joseph Edsall, Supervisor; Jacob Redington, Town Clerk; Cyrus Abernathy, Reuben Fields and Alex. Brush, Assessors; John Sharp, Isaac Bartholomew and Ephraim S> Raymond, Commissioners of Highways; Asa Freeman, Jonathan Allen, Cyrus Abernethy, Fence Viewers; Edward Lawrence, Pound Keeper; Henry Erwin, Constable and Collector; Jonathan Tuttle and Solomon Linsley, Overseers of the Poor; and Jonathan Allen, Alex. Brush, Thomas Rutherford, Oliver Linsley and Solomon Linsley, Overseers of Highways.

(3) Formerly known as Columbia Village, and at an early day, as Grass River Falls

(4) This establishment tans about 12,000 calf skins and 3,000 sides of rough leather annually.

(5) The Douglass custom and flouring mill contains five runs of stones and annually grinds about 60,000 bushels of grain.  Dr. Douglass has also a saw and shingle mill, in the former of which about 600,000 feet of lumber are cut per annum.

(6) Information obtained from Rev. A. U. Hutchins and Hough’s History of St. Lawrence and Franklin Counties

(7) Information furnished by Rev. A. G. Markham.