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pp. 243 - 247

This town was erected by an act of April 15th, 1841, from Alexandria, with its present limits, the first town meeting being directed to be held at the house of Marcius B. Ashley, in the village of Theresa. An election was held May 11th, to fill vacancies occasioned by the act, those elected at the last meeting in Alexandria, being still the incumbents in the towns in which they resided, till the expiration of their terms.

Supervisors. -- 1841, Alexander Salisbury; 1842-3, John D. Davison; 1844-5, Archibald Fisher; 1846, Jesse Kelsey; 1847-8, Zalmon Pool, Jr.; 1849-50, Anson Ranney; 1851, P. D. Bullard; 1852-3, A. Ramsey.

This town was named after the daughter of J. Le Ray, who married Marquis de Gouvello, and resides in France.

The Falls on Indian River in this town, were early marked as an eligible point for a village, and about 1810, Mr. Le Ray caused several “jobs” to be cleared in town, one of one hundred acres on the James Shurtliff farm, a mile and a quarter south of the falls, another of forty acres, nearer the falls, at the forks of the roads near Mr. J. Fayel’s residence, and one or two others in this town, and Alexandria. He also caused a saw mill to be erected at the Falls, at which many thousand feet of lumber were made, and sent down to Rossie and Ogdensburgh.

The war which soon ensued checked these improvements, and left a large quantity of lumber on the premises, much of which rotted on the ground. The clearings having been seeded with grass, were occupied in the summer of 1813, as pasturage for a herd of sixty cattle, twenty horses, and about four hundred and fifty sheep, of which Capt. John Hoover, and a hired man (John A. Evans) were employed as keepers. The hazard attending the trust may be inferred from the fact that the clearing was surrounded by a dense forest, which extended to the St. Lawrence, and to a great distance to the east, west, and south, the nearest neighbor being at Evans’ Mills, 9 miles, and Friends Settlement, 7 miles distant, to the former of which, a blind path led through the woods. Should the enemy make an incursion in force, the only chance of safety was in a strongly built log house, which had been erected for the storage of wheat, and which they had fitted for hasty barricades, should these be necessary; nor was this frontier station without incident. On the occasion of the affair of Goose Creek, in July, 1813, which we have more fully detained in its place, Capt. Hoover rallied his company in Le Ray, and took part in the action, which for the number engaged, conferred as much honor upon the American name as any that occurred in the war. The prisoners were marched past the little camp on their way to Sackets Harbor, and Capt. H. resumed his lonely vigil with no society but his wife, and hired man, a few trusty guns, and a plenty of ammunition. A few days after, near sunset, being out a short distance in the border of the woods that separated the two clearings, in which were the stock he was watching, he noticed five of the enemy cautiously approaching, who, without noticing him, crept into a barn on the premises, to spend the night. Not doubting but that they had come to spy out the weakness of the place, he returned, and securely fastened himself in his house, and at dawn crept out with his gun to watch their movements, and perhaps attempt some achievement if circumstances favored. Having taken a station a few rods from the clearing near the present corners of the roads, at the house of Mr. Fayel, he soon perceived the five soldiers approaching, and challenged them after the manner of a sentinel, demanding who they were, to which they replied “friends.” He then ordered them to advance, and lay down their arms, upon which two approached, and the others fled. These two he assured “should not be molested by his regiment,” if they continued, orderly and quiet, and having disarmed them, and mounted them upon horses, himself fully armed, riding behind on a spirited horse, he conducted them to the camp at Sackets Harbor.

In 1814, a bridge was built at the High Falls (Theresa), and about 1818, a reservation of 1000 acres, was surveyed for Mr. Le Ray, by Musgrove Evans. In 1819, a grist mill was erected for Le Ray, and in 1819, a tavern, which the next year was burned. The town began to open for settlement at about this time, and the first inhabitants were not exposed to the inconvenience of distant mills, as these were among the earliest improvements. In an original map of the village, are the names of the following purchasers of lots. Azariah Walton (5 acres on the east bank at the falls), Ebenezer Lull, Samuel Hall, Mrs. Keeler, E. F. Cook, M. Huntington, H. Money, G. Locke and P. Lehman. Mr. Lull opened the first store here in 1820. Among the first settlers in town were James Shurtliff,* (*Mr. S. died at Plessis, August 1st, 1846, aged 79.) Anson Cheeseman, Marcius B. Ashley, Col. Bull, and others. Dr. James Brooks settled as the first physician in 1822, and died the next year.

The village of Theresa, on the west bank of Indian River, at the High Falls, possesses an immense water power, which has been but partially improved. There were in September, 1853, 2 grist mills with nine run of stones, 3 saw mills, 2 furnaces and shops, 1 machine shop, 1 plaster mill, 1 shingle mill, 1 wagon shop, 1 clothing works, 2 cabinet shops, 4 dry goods stores, 4 groceries and drug stores, 2 inns, 1 marble shop, 1 tin shop, 1 tannery, 6 shoe shops, 4 blacksmith shops, 2 tailors, 2 saddlers, 1 goldsmith, and about 600 inhabitants. There were 5 physicians, 2 lawyers, and churches of the Presbyterian, Episcopal, and Methodist orders. The census of 1850, gave 101 houses, 104 families, and 516 inhabitants. The lower fall is said to be 62½ feet, and the total fall within a quarter of a mile about 85 feet. The still water at the foot of the falls is, according to Broadhead’s report, 66 feet above the St. Lawrence at Ogdensburgh. From this place to Rossie, it is still water, and flows a considerable extent of swamp, which in certain seasons have occasioned sickness along the borders. There being no further obstruction to the draining of these drowned lands, than a reef of rocks adjacent to the old lead furnace at Rossie, the legislature was petition for the powers necessary for their removal. An act was accordingly passed on the 10th of April, 1850, appointing A. Fisher and Abram Morrow of Theresa, and George W. Clark of Alexandria, commissioners to remove the obstructions in Indian River that were alledged (sic) to cause sickness by flowing lands in the towns of Theresa and Rossie. The damages caused by the removal of these obstructions, with the cost of removal were to be assessed upon the lands to be benefited. The work not being effected under this act, another was passed.

By an act of April 12th, 1852, Archibald Fisher, of Theresa and Lawrence W. DeZeng, of Redwood, in this county, and Abel P. Morse of Hammond were appointed commissioners to drain certain wet lands on Indian River in Rossie and Theresa, by removing a certain ledge of rocks at the smelting works to the depth of five feet, with other obstructions within three quarters of a mile below, including the dam at the Dayton Falls. Damages were to be assessed and paid by an assessment upon the lands to be benefited. Nothing hitherto been accomplished under the act, difficulties having occurred, it is said, in failing to agree with Mr. Parish upon the terms to be paid for the losses that will result to him in the water power in Rossie.

A furnace was built near Mill Seat (sic) Lake, about one and a half miles from Redwood, in 1847, by Joseph C. Budd, Wm. Bones, and Samuel T. Hooker; the latter becoming an associate, while building. It was started in the fall of 1848, and run nine weeks, making two tons a day; a second blast was run in the spring of 1849, of fourteen weeks, making three and a half tons a day, and a third blast in the spring of 1850, of fourteen weeks, making six tons a day. Since this time the furnace has laid idle. At the first two blasts the furnace was principally supplied by ore from the vicinity, with a little from the mines near the line of Philadelphia and Theresa. The third blast was with ores from the Kearney, Thompson, Sterling, and Shurtliff ore beds. The furnace is 30 feet square, 35 feet high, 8 feet 8 inches inside diameter, and cost with fixtures about $8000. It was supplied by the hot blast, and two tewels. No castings were made on the premises.

The town is underlaid by primary rock and Potsdam sandstone, the former exhibiting a succession of hills and deep valleys, while the latter presents a more uniform surface. Accumulations of drift cover these rocks in many places, but the soil is generally fertile. The most remarkable feature in town is the number and romantic beauty of its lakes. In this and adjoining towns there are, within a radius of ten miles, nearly twenty lakes, of which Muskelunge, Red, Moose, Hyde, Mill Seat, Thompson, Sixbury, Grass, Mud, and Butterfield lakes are wholly or in part in this town. Most of them are surrounded on one or more sides by bold rocky shores, with deep bays, prolonged in woody swamps, and with rocky islands, densely covered with wood. These romantic sheets of water, form delightful places of resort to the pleasure-seeking and sporting, where both fish and wild fowl afford attractive objects of pursuit, while the shores, overhanging cliffs, and tangled ravines, offer a perfect paradise to the geologist, and the mineral collector. The islands and shores of Muskelunge and Butterfield Lakes, in particular, are celebrated for the variety and number of their mineral productions. Most of these lakes are apparently fed by springs, and one of them, (Thompson’s Lake) has neither visible inlet nor outlet, yet abounds in fish.

It is possible that the wild primitive portion of the county, may hereafter become one of interest for mining purposes, as the geological features of the section do not differ from those of the adjoining town of Rossie, which has attained much celebrity for its lead mines. The indications of copper, and the well established fact of the presence of iron ore, favor this inference.

Religious Societies -- The Presbyterian Church of Theresa, was formed May 8, 1825, at the house of Abraham Morrow, of four males and eight females. The clergy have been Wm. B. Stowe, Roswell Pettibone, Lewis M. Shepard, Wm. Chittenden, Leemand Wilcox, Revilo Cone, Harvey Smith, W. Chittenden, and Chas. W. Treadwell. A society was formed Dec. 22, 1835, with James Shurtliff, Anson Ranney, and Nathan M. Howe, trustees; and these, with the Methodists, built in 1836-8,a church, which was completed at a cost of $1,800, and dedicated by the Rev. R. Pettibone and ___Peck, of the two denominations, in Sept. 1838. In 1849, the Methodists having sold their interest in the Union church, formed a society, and built a chapel, at a cost of about $2,200, which was completed and dedicated Sept. 14, 1850. A class had been formed in 1827.

St. James Church, of Theresa (Episcopal), was organized July 16, 1848, the place having been previously occupied by Rev. W. A. Fisk, as a mission, about a year. In 1850 there was reported a growing regard for the service, and an increase of numbers, and in the same summer was begun the erection of a Gothic church, after the plans of R. Upjohn, of N. Y., which was finished at a cost of $2,600, and consecrated Aug. 7, 1851. The incorporation of the church was obtained July 16, 1848, in which Horace Parker, and Daniel Parker, were named first wardens; and Willet R. Jarvis, P. B. Salisbury, Franklin Parker, Thomas Robinson, A. M. Ferris, E. W. Lewis, S. L. George, and Joseph Fayel, vestrymen. The number of communicants was fifteen in 1850; nineteen in 1851; twenty-five in 1852.

In erecting their edifice, this society received $250, from Trinity Church, N. Y., $125, from Hon. Wm. C. Pierrepont, and several sums of $25 each from others in the county. Mr. Fish was succeeded by Rev. B. W. Whiteher, the present missionary.

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