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The Town of Henderson
pp 165-170

This town comprises number six of the eleven towns, and is the most westerly in the county, if we except the Galloo and Stony islands, which belong to Houndsfleld. It was formed with its present limits, February 17th, 1806, from Ellisburgh.

The first town meeting was held at the house of Reuben Putnam, March 11th, 1806, at which Jesse Hopkins was chosen supervisor, Mark Hopkins clerk, Lodowick Salisbury, Daniel Spencer, and Emory Osgood, assessors, Elijah Williams, constable and collector, John B. Carpenter, Samuel Hubbard, poor masters, Marval Danly, Asa Smith and Anthony Sprague, Commissioners highways, George W. Clark, Willes Fellows, and Jedediah McCumber, fence viewers; Reuben Putnam, pound master, Israel Thomas, James Barney, Levi Scofield, Thomas Drury, Calvin Bishop, Robert Farrel, Benjamin Barney, John B. Carpenter, William White, Simeon Porter, path masters.

Supervisors, 1806-10, Jesse Hopkins; 1811, James Henderson, Jr.; 1812, Asa Smith; 1813, Mark Hopkins; 1814-15, Asa Smith; 1816, Mark Hopkins; 1817, John S. Porter; 1818, Noah Tubbs; 1819, Asa Smith; 182O-24, Noah Tubbs; 1825-26, Caleb Harris; 1827, Jonathan Bullard; 1828-31, Caleb Harris; 1832, Peter N. Cushman; 1833-4, Caleb Harris; 183~7, Peter N. Cushman; 1838-40, David Montague; 1841, George Jeffers; 1842-43, John Carpenter, 1844, Joseph A. Montague; 1845, William McNeil; 1846-51, Henry Green, Jr.; 1852 Washington Bullard; 1853, H. Green, Jr.

1811-12. Voted that Canada thistles shall be mowed in the old of the moon) in June, July, and August. Penalty $5.00, one half to the complainant, one half to the overseers of poor. Wolf bounties of $10.00 in 1807, to 1815 except in 1809, when $5.00 were offered for Wolves, wild cats and panthers.

This town fell to the share of William Henderson of New York, one of the four who bought the eleven towns of Constable, and from him it derived its name. He was accustomed to spend a part of each summer here for several years, and remained interested in the title of the town till his death.

There was an ancient portage from the head of Henderson Bay to Stony Creek across this town, by which the exposure of passing Stony Point, which forms a cape difficult to navigate with small boats, was avoided. At the head of the bay, there is said to be a trace, thought to be the remains of a kind of wharf or landing. The evidences of aboriginal occupation were noticed at one or two places in this town, and near an ancient trench enclosure there is said to have been found a golden cross, about two inches long, and furnished with a ring to be worn on the neck. In our first chapter we have noticed the trace of a stockade, supposed to have been built by the French. The figure in the margin represents a plan and section of this fort. This trace occurs on Six Town Point, so named from its being a part of township No. 6, which extends in a narrow peninsula, that in high water becomes an island, more than two miles into the bay, and forms in the rear a harbor, which for extent, safety, and facility of access, has not its superior on the lake. This circumstance gave value to the township, in the opinion of the early proprietors, and had a beginning been properly made and directed with suitable energy, the place might at this time have been an important commercial point.

The town was surveyed into lots, in 1801, by Benjamin Wright of Rome, the plan of subdivision being similar to that of Adams, into lots and quarters. In 1805, lot No. 20, near the present village of Henderson Harbor, was surveyed into twenty lots, or four ranges, of ten lots each, for the purpose of a village.

The town of Henderson began to settle under the agency of Asher Miller, of Rutland, about 1802, the land books showing that Thomas Clark, Samuel Stewart, Philip Crumett, John Stafford, and Peter Cramer, had taken up lands in this town, to the extent of 1,195 acres, on the 26th of October previous. Moses Barret, William Petty, Daniel Spencer, Capt. John Bishop and sons, Calvin, Luther, Asa and Sylvester, Jedediah and James McCumber, Samuel Hubbard, Elijah Williams, Levi Scofield, William Johnson, David Bronson, John and Marvel Danley, Andrew Darymple, Luman Peck, Jonathan Crapo, George W. Clark, Thomas Drury, Anthony Sprague, Daniel Forbes, Emory Osgood and many others, whose names were not procured, settled within two or three years from the opening of settlement, being mostly emigrants from New England. Calvin Bishop died January 24th, 1850. aged 68. Samuel Hubbard died July 14th, 1843, aged 82.

On Henderson Bay, three miles east of the little village of Henderson Harbor, a Scotch settlement was formed in 18O3-07, by John and Duncan Drummond, Charles and Peter Barrie, Duncan Campbell, Thomas Bell, James Crawe, Daniel Scott, and John McCraull, from Perthshire in Scotland. A store was opened by C. Barrie in 1823, in this settlement, and kept several years. Abel Shepard located in the same settlement in 1806.

The first physician who settled in town was Elias Skinner, and the second Daniel Barney, the latter having settled in 1807. Alfred Forbes is said to have taught the first school in the winter of 1808-09. Dr. Barney died May 19, 1828.

A paper before us, showing the balance due from settlers in this town, January 1, 1809, contains the following names of those who were living in town, at that time: A. Jones, R. Favel, Jeremiah Harris, Horace Heath, Samuel McNitt, Amos Hart, Daniel Hardy, Benj. Hammond, Samuel Jones, Daniel McNeil, Martin T. Morseman, Appleton Skinner, Asa and Ira Smith, Samuel Foster, William Waring, William White, Daniel Pierce, John B. Carpenter, Luther S. Kullinger, Lodowick Salisbury, T. Hunsden, W. White and Thomas Bull, who owed an aggregate of $17,734.87, for lands. Dr. Isaac Bronson became an owner of a large tract in 1807, which was sold and settled by a separate agency, Abel French succeeded Miller, a few months, in the agency, and April 8, 1805, an agreement was made between William Henderson and Jesse Hopkins, by which the latter became the agent of this town and Pinckney, and continued in the employment of Mr. Henderson many years. Some difficulty growing out of the agency, led to the publication of a pamphlet by Mr. Hopkins in 1823, which affords some interesting data relative to the early history of the town.

In 1803-04, but ten families wintered in town. In May, 1806, there were seventy families, generally middle aged and young people, with small property, but industrious and contented, although many were quite poor, who had exhausted their means in getting into the town, and were destitute of provisions. A contract was made soon after for clearing twenty-five acres of lands at the harbor, which the proprietor had hoped to establish as a commercial port, and caused to be surveyed into a village plot to which he gave the name of Naples.

The bay, which is unsurpassed for beauty, as it is unrivaled for safety and convenience of access, was named the Bay of Naples, and high expectations were founded upon the future greatness of this port. On the declaration of war, Sackets Harbor was selected as the great naval station of the lake, and both Mr. Henderson and his agent, were, it is said, being opposed to that measure, averse to having any military or naval operations undertaken at this place. It in consequence lost the opportunity which with judicious management and decided natural advantages, it might have been secured of being a place of importance.

Mr. Hopkins built a house and opened a land office near the town of Naples, which he had laid out, the provisions used for his laborers being brought from Kingston, and the lumber from Ellisburgh and Sackets Harbor. In 1807, a small store was opened, and several unsuccessful attempts were made to bring business to the place. Among other measures, Mr. Henderson procured the passage of a law for the opening of a State Road from Lowville to Henderson Harbor, which was laid out from Lowville into Pinckney, but never completed. He also in 1809, caused a dam and saw mill to be built on Stony Creek, near the head of navigation, but the former gave way and the enterprise resulted in a total loss. In the next season the dam was rebuilt, and a mill erected at great expense. In 1811, a negotiation was held with General Matoon, of Massachusetts, for the sale of the township, but failed on account of the prospects of war.

In 1812, Mr. Hopkins erected a large sized school house at the harbor, which was to serve also as a place for religious meetings. He also commenced the building of vessels at this place, the first of which was a schooner of twenty tons. Several large clearings were made on account of Henderson, the year previous.

In the year 1814, a second vessel, of forty tons, and soon after two others were built, and the place began to present the appearance of considerable business. Mr. Hopkins continued in the agency until 1822, engaged with varied success in a series of speculations, some of which were successful and some very unfortunate, when, having fallen considerably in arrears, he was superseded in the agency, and his improvements taken to apply on his liabilities.

On the 25th of May, 1814, an association styled the Henderson Woolen Manufacturing Company, was formed, having Allen Kilby, Hezekiah Doolittle, Joseph Dickey, Tilley F. Smead and Chester Norton, its first trustees. This company never went into operation, but organized and expended a considerable sum in improvements.

Henderson Village, sometimes called Salisbury's Mills, from Lodowick Salisbury, a prominent citizen at an early day, is situated in the valley of Stony Creek, and mostly on the south bank, 3 and 1/2 miles from its mouth. It has three stores, an inn, two tanneries, a saw mill, a grist mill, a small woolen factory, most kinds of mechanic shops, and about sixty families. It has churches of the Methodist, Baptist, and Universalist orders.

Henderson Harbor is a place one and a half miles distant from Henderson Village, has less business than formerly, and consists of about a dozen houses. The shore here rises by a gentle slope to a spacious plain, and the prospect presented by the bay and islands, is one of romantic interest.

Near the mouth of Stony Creek, at the head of navigation, are mills, and two or three vessels have been built here. On Stony Point, a light has been maintained since 1837, an appropriation of $3000.00 having been made for its erection on the 3d of March in that year.

The Henderson Social Library, was formed February 9, 1819, of which, Percival Bullard, Peter N. Cushman, Chester Norton, Rufus Hatch, Thomas Fobes, Allen Kilbey, and Elijah Williams, were elected the first trustees.

Religious Societies: The first Baptist Church of Henderson, was formed June 26, 1806, at the house of Merril Danly by Emory Osgood, who officiated as pastor until September 11, 1823. In October 1818, the members being scattered, a new church was formed from this, the parent body being the same that now worships at Smithville, and the colony that of Henderson Village. The first Baptist society of Smithville was formed September 9, 1823, with Henry Keith, Austin Robbins, and Ebenezer Sumner, trustees. This society in concert with the Congregationalists in 1832, erected a stone church at Smithville, forty four by sixty feet, at a cost of about $3000.00. It is still owned in equal shares by the two societies. The clergy employed since Mr. Osgood have been, Elders Elisha Morgan, Jesse Elliott, Norman Chase, J. N. Webb, Daniel D. Reed, Elisha Sawyer, Henry Ward, Joshua Freeman, and Amasa Heath.

The First Baptist Society, of Henderson, was formed June 5, 1824, with Samuel Cole, Shuball Athiston, and Amasa Brown, trustees. In 1824, this society, assisted by the Masonic fraternity, erected a church, the latter using the second story as a lodge room. They sold their interest about 1832. In 1853, this building, which stood a little south of Henderson Village, was taken down, and a new one erected near the center of the village. The Same clergy have generally been employed here as at Smithville.

The Smithville Congregational church was formed January 3, 1824, by Rev. Abel L. Crandall, of ten males, and twenty-two females. March 13, 1824, the church resolved to unite with the St. Lawrence Presbytery, on the accommodation plan. Rev. Messr. J. Ingersoll, D. Spear, L. A. Sawyer, J. Covert, A. Putnam, H. Doane, George J. King, Charles Halsey, L. M. Shepard, George Turner, and Henry Budge, have since been employed, mostly oDe-half of the time, the remainder being at North Adams. In 1829 the church joined the Black River Association, and has since so remained. Meetings were held in a school house, built with the view of holding meetings, until the present church was built. The Congregational Society of Smithville was formed September 16, 1823, having William Gilbert, Joseph T. French, and Daniel McNeil, trustees, who united with the Baptists in erecting a church as above stated.

The Presbyterians, about 182O, erected a small church in Henderson Village, that has been for many years taken down, and they have no place of worship at present, in town. A society was formed on the 28th of October, 1819, with Adonijah Wheaton, Ralph French, and Jesse Hopkins, trustees.

The Methodists first organized a society in this town July 29, 1830, with Beebee Smith, Cyrus Hall, Amos White, Joseph J. Hatch and Calvin Bishop, trustees. The first society at the village of Henderson was formed April 9, 1844, with Harvey Crittenden, Amos White and Sylvanus Ward, trustees. The Methodists have two churches in town, one on Bishop Street, and one in the village, erected by the above societies respectively.

The First Universalist Society of Henderson was formed January 13, 1823, with John S. Porter, Roswell Davis, and Amasa Hungerford, trustees. The Henderson Universalist Charitable Society had been formed February 5, 1819, of thirteen members, but not legally perfected until four years later. In 1839 a church 40 by 60 feet was erected in the village, at a cost of $3,000.00, and dedicated in December, 1839. On the 9th of March, 1822, a church organization was effected by Rev. Pitt Morse, of nineteen members. The clergy since employed have been P. Morse, C. G. Person, Seth Jones, P. Morse, L. Rice, and Alfred Peck.

On the 25th of December, 1825, a society of the New Jerusalem (commonly called Swedenborgian), was formed in Ellisburgh, at Brewster's school house, of thirteen members, in that town and Henderson, but mostly in the latter. Rev. Holland Weeks, formerly a Congregational minister, of Abington, Mass., who came into Henderson to reside in 1821, and who soon began to hold meetings in school houses, was the promulgator of these doctrines in town, and preached gratuitously for many years. The meetings of the new church were kept up regularly by him, till near his death, at the school house in Henderson Village, and are still more or less regularly held, as reading meetings. The greatest number of members has been between thirty and forty; present number seventeen. The Rev. Mr. Weeks died in town July 24, 1843, aged 75 years. The first members of the New Jerusalem in this town were Holland Weeks, Joseph Dickey, Moses J. Morseman, Edward Leslie, Jeremiah Sias, Charles Stearns, Jr., John Burt Blanchard, Lucy Ann Blanchard, Alvin Wood, Lydia Wood, Ann H. Adams, Hannah M. Goodale, and Harriet A. Weeks.

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