History found in Child’s Gazetteer of Jefferson County, N. Y.

pp. 542-548

LORRAINE was formed from Mexico, March 24, 1804, as Malta, which was changed to the present name, April 6, 1808, on account of there being another Malta in the state, in Saratoga County. When first erected it included, besides its present limits, the town of Worth, which was set off in 1848. It is the central town in the southern border of the county, and is bounded on the north by Adams and Rodman, east by Worth, south by Oswego County, and west by Ellisburgh. The surface or (sic) the town is elevated, and very much broken by hills and gorges. The soil is underlaid by shales so finely developed that the Lorraine shales has been applied to the formation. The layers of this rock are alternately soft and hard, so that they yield with great facility to the disintegrating agencies of frost, atmospheric action, and running water of the streams which traverse the town. Deep and immense gulfs or channels have been worn wherever these means of natural drainage exist. These chasms are in most places impassable, and have caused the town much inconvenience and great expense in the location of roads, and the building of bridges, while some of them are invested with tragic interest. Numerous accidents have happened to person who have attempted to cross some of the deeper ones, and the loss of animals from falling over the steep and treacherous banks is frequently reported. Yet the gulfs afford attractions, in their ever-changing beauty and quiet grandeur, that will repay the labor of a visit.

All the streams of the town have romantic gorges, but the gulf on the south branch of Sandy Creek is particularly impressive, and will convey a fair idea of the nature and proportions of the many others in the town. “Its depth varies from one to two hundred feet, and its breadth from four to ten rods. The bottoms, and in many cases the sides, are overgrown with timber, and the stream wanders alternately from right to left, affording, wherever it washes the base, a cliff nearly vertical and of imposing grandeur. As the visitor follows the sinuous channel, which the stream through a long lapse of ages has quietly wrought deep into the earth, the scenery constantly changes, affording an endless success of beauties.”

The south branch of Big Sandy Creek traverses the northern part of the town, having a western course, and with its tributaries affords good drainage and some water-power, although the steepness of their banks generally prevents this from being fully utilized. In the central and southern portions of the town are Hull and Deer creeks, streams of moderate size, and flowing in a northwesterly direction; while farther south are large brooks whose water-power has been more or less improved. The soil generally is fertile, but is better adapted to grazing than the culture of the cereals. In the northwest corner of town the surface is nearly level, and here and along Sandy Creek are some productive farms.

The first town meeting was held at the house of John Alger, March 5, 1805, at which the following town officers were elected: Asa Brown, supervisor; William Hosford, clerk; Clark Allen, Ormond Butler, Warner Flowers, assessors; O. Butler, constable and collector; William Hunter, C. Allen, poormasters; William Hosford, Michael Frost, Asa Sweet, commissioners of highways; William Lanfear, Joseph Case, Elijah Fox, fence viewers; James McKee, John Griswold, poundmasters.

From Spafford’s Gazetteer of 1813, we quote: --

“In 1810 the town contained three religious societies (Congregational, Baptist, and Methodist), six school-houses, two grist-mills, and four saw-mills. The houses were mostly of logs, only about 30 being framed.”

The same author in 1824 says: --

In 1820 the town included Worth, and there were of improved land 3,156 acres, 1,288 cattle, 243 horses, and 2,355 sheep. There were two grist-mills, six saw-mills, one fulling-mill, one carding machine, one distillery, and one ashery.”

In 1880 Lorraine had a population of 1,435. The town is situated in the first school district of Jefferson County, and in 1888 had 13 school districts, two of which were joint, in which 13 teachers were employed 28 weeks or more. There were 366 scholars attending school, and the aggregate days attendance during the year was 26,396. The total value of school buildings and sites was $6,920, while the assessed valuation of all the districts was $594,722. The whole amount raised for school purposes was $2,631.97, of which $1,142.80 was received by local tax. S. Whitford Maxson was school commissioner.

LORRAINE (p.o.) is a small village located at the confluence of Deer and Hull creeks, near the center of the town, 18 miles from Watertown, 174 from Albany, and 316 from New York. It has telephone and express offices, two churches, (Baptist and Congregational), three stores, a hotel, three blacksmith shops, two saw-mills, a grist-mill, three cheese-box factories, a wagon shop, harness shop, and cheese factory. Calkins & Grow do an extensive business in packing eggs, and have handled as many as 170,000 dozens in a year. The village has a population of about 200. Its location is romantic, amidst picturesque scenery, which, with the medicinal springs near by, render the place a pleasant resort for summer tourists in quest of health and quietude. The first house in Lorraine village was erected in 1803, by John Alger. Others were built a few years later, and the settlement acquired the name of “Lorraine Huddle,” or “The Huddle,” which appellation attached to it to some extent for many years. It has always been the principal point in the town, and is the only postoffice within its limits. The first store in the village was opened by Aaron Brown about 1809, who afterwards associated with him Joel Brown. About six years later John Caulkins and Alanson Russell opened a store, which was consumed by fire in 1825. John Alger was the first to open a house of entertainment in the village, in 1803, and this was the first regular hotel in the town, although McKee and Fox accommodated travelers as early as 1802, at their humble log cabin south of the present village, on the State road. In 1807 Aaron Brown built a saw-mill at Lorraine village, and in 1808 a grist-mill with two runs of stones. Ward Fox was the first blacksmith here, and a man named Curry was the first wheelwright. A fulling-mill was erected by John Boyden in the gulf below the old Fox blacksmith shop. It did such an extensive business that a new and larger shop was erected on Hull Creek. Boyden was succeeded by Sardis Abbey. About 1808 Aaron Brown built a distillery on Deer Creek, which was continued about six or seven years. The postoffice was established here in 1806, and Benjamin Gates was the first postmaster. Simeon Parkhurst was the mail carrier from Rome to points north. William Corruth was also one of the early postmasters. The first physician to locate in the village was Dr. Isaac Weston. It is said he once prescribed blood-letting and calomel to a man who had accidentally cut himself while chopping wood.

WATERVILLE, in the eastern part of the town, on Hull Creek, is a small hamlet of a dozen houses. A chair factory was formerly carried on here by L. Warner. At present its manufacturing interests are limited to a saw-mill.

ALLENDALE is a small hamlet in the western part of the town, on Sandy Creek, about two miles south of Adams village. It received its name in honor of Gen. Clark Allen. A postoffice was established here in 1871, under the name of Caulkin’s Mills, with Lorenzo Reed as postmaster. I (sic) has since been discontinued. About 1830 Martin Rice built a small factory here for the spinning and weaving of flax. It proved unprofitable, and was discontinued after about seven years. The proximity of Adams detracts from the business importance of this place.

George A. Fox’s cheese factory, located on the State road, south of Lorraine village, was established in 1870. It has the patronage of 275 cows.

Grow Brothers’ cheese factory, located at Lorraine village, was established in 1882, and has the patronage of about 300 cows.

Erwin Pitkin’s cheese factory, about three and one-half miles south of Lorraine village, has been in operation several years, and is doing a business quite satisfactory to its numerous patrons.

Maple Grove cheese factory, about one and a half miles northeast of Lorraine village, owned and operated by E. M. Brown, receives a liberal patronage.

Mr. Stone’s cheese factory, near the southwest corner of the town, does quite an extensive business.

John Bridgeman’s saw-mill, in the southwest part of the town, does a small custom business.

H. D., Bartlett’s saw-mill, located on road 37, on Deer Creek, does custom work.

William N. Standish’s lumber and shingle-mill, on Deer Creek, manufactures about 300,000 feet of lumber and 200,000 shingles annually.

Abeel Wagoner’s saw-mill and cheese-box factory is operated by both steam and water-power. About 11,000 cheese-boxes are manufactured annually.

Caulkins & Grow’s egg-pickling establishment, at Lorraine village, has been in operation several years. About 170,000 eggs are handled annually.

The Rural Cemetery Association of the village of Lorraine was formed January 8, 1852, by John Boyden, Aaron Brown, John Bentley, Eben Brown, Knapp Macumber, Joseph Grimshaw, Allen Pitkin, Lorenzo Reed, John Hancock, Moses Brown, Elihu Gillet, Augustus L. Baker, Sardis Abbey, Peter Hanson, Leonard A. Parker, Joel Buel, Luther Lanfear, and Parley Brown. ‘Tis here

“Neath yonder spreading elm, the yew tree’s shade,
Where heaves the turf in many a mouldering heap,
Each in his narrow cell forever laid,
The rude forefathers of the hamlet sleep.”

The town of Lorraine was settled under the agency of Benjamin Wright, and others; for a long time the unsettled interests being owned by Hon. William C. Pierrepont. On September 1, 1806, there were 128 settlers in the town who had either acquired titles to their lands or long terms in which to pay for them. The practice of issuing certificates led to speculation in these papers, which was strongly condemned by the original owners, who desired actual settlers. In a journal kept by James Constable, under the date of August 10, 1805, appears the following: --

“Town No. 1 is settling very fast, and, indeed, all that part watered by Sandy Creek has a name that brings settlers in great numbers. The practice of giving certificates to the people, and allowing them a certain time after exploring to do for their families before they take contracts for their lots, has been productive of speculation, and must not be continued. A Mr. Salisbury, who had formerly taken a contract, sold it to another, and bought or procured, one of these certificates, came to us, apparently to ask indulgence as to time of payment, but really with a view to ascertain what our intentions were in respect to such instruments; when we explained to him that they were given to assist the first real settlers, and by no means to be transferable to second or third parties, as that led to speculation upon the persons who ought to have indulgence, not to the speculators, who profited to the disadvantage of both the proprietors and the actual settlers. We, of course, would oppose all such attempts, and as he has seen fit to change his situation from holding a contract under us to speculating in certificates, which he must know were intended only as an accommodation to the first parties, we could not treat with him, since the indulgence intended for them could not be transferred. Upon conversation with Mr. Wright we found that the certificates had already occasioned some mischief, and we discovered from the others that some of the holders of them had caused it to be believed that the best part of the town was taken up, so that new comers were obliged to apply to them or go to some other town. Mr. Wright had no books or accounts here, but supposed that one-half of the town was sold, either by contract or by conditional agreement, and would average $3, though the sales were begun, and a good deal sold, at $ . (no amount here)

The lowest price was now $3, and it might at once be raised to $4 for the whole, from the great immigration to this quarter. He gave it as his opinion that it would not be for our interest to hurry sales, as this town would speedily settle, and the price might be raised.”

James McKee and Elijah Fox, brothers-in-law, the latter unmarried, were the first permanent settlers in this town. They came on in November, 1802, and took up a lot of 50 acres on the State road south of the present village of Lorraine. Here they erected a log cabin, in which they passed the winter, Fox subsequently disposing of his interest in the lot to McKee. In this rude cabin the early land-hunter found entertainment until the regular inn of John Alger was opened at the present village. Mr. Fox returned to Oneida County and married, and in the spring came back and purchased the tract of land now occupied by his son George A., where he soon after erected a house. During the winter and spring of 1803 a number of families from Herkimer County settled along the State road from Rome to Brownville, in the neighborhood of McKee and Fox. Among the best known of these were Comfort Stancliff, Seth Cutler, Benjamin Gates, and John Alger. The latter, as has been previously mentioned, built the first house on the site of Lorraine village. Several months later, the same year, 1803, Clark Allen, a native of Connecticut, took up his abode in the northwestern part of the town, on Sandy Creek, on land still occupied by his descendants. Mr. Allen, from his service in the War of 1812, was known as General Allen. He was a man of more than ordinary ability, and served this town as supervisor for nearly 20 years.

Isaac and William Lanfear, from Columbia County, and Asa and Aaron Brown, the last two named not being related to each other, came in about the same time, in 1804. Asa Brown was the first supervisor of Lorraine, but removed from the town several years after. Aaron Brown married Betsey Burbee, who had come to the town as a school teacher, and many of their descendants still reside here. Miss Burbee taught the first school in town, in 1807, in a log house erected for this purpose near where the Baptist Church now stands in Lorraine village. The principal settlers of the town prior to 1810, in addition to those already mentioned, were William Hosford, Ormond Butler, William Hunter, Asa Sweet, John Griswold, Calvin Clifford, James Perry, Elnathan Doane, Ebenezer Brown, Ozias Barton, Allen Pitkin, Michael Risley, Thomas Stancliff, Allen Hills, Oliver Miller, Henry Voners, David Steadman, Nathan Gould, Charles Thompson, Hubbard Randall, John Cowles, Isaac Weston, Abner Baker, Timothy Heath, George Sampson, John Brewer, Joseph Studly, and William Adams. Most of these cleared their farms and made permanent improvements. Michael Risley and Allen Pitkin, brothers-in-law, started a tavern on the old State road. This was the second regular inn in the town. I was only conducted for a few years. Dr. Isaac Weston erected a hotel in 1807, in Lorraine village. It was a large structure for those times, being two stories high, and became a popular place in which to hold dances, and many a rustic’s heart has quickened with the thought of taking his “best girl” to a New Year’s ball, held in this favorite hostelry. The building was demolished in 1850, the Doctor having several years previously removed to Watertown. Another old-time tavern, about two miles south of the village, on the State road, was opened about 1816, by David Webb. Elisha Allen, Sr., kept an hotel in the western part of the town for about 40 years.

The first saw-mill in the town of Lorraine was built in 1804, on Sandy Creek, in the western part of the town, by a Mr. Frost, but a freshet swept both mill and dam away before the builder had realized anything from his labors. In 1810 Mabb and Aldrich erected a mill on the same site, which subsequently became the property of Clark Allen. This was burned, but was rebuilt by Mr. Allen and operated by him until 1820, when he sold to Jared and Asa Gleason, who erected a grist-mill here. The first grist-mill in town was built in 1805, on Hull Creek, a short distance from the village, by Seth Cutler. It had an existence of about 10 years. Thomas Stancliff also built a saw-mill on the same stream, and at about the same time. John Alger erected a saw-mill on Deer Creek, on lot 31, at an early day. It became the property of C. P. Totman, and was carried away by a freshet. On lower Deer Creek, about three miles southwest from Lorraine village, were located small grist and saw-mills, known as Gillams, which have passed away. Several mills are still locate don this stream, near the site of the old mills. In the southern part of the town, on a small brook, a cheese-box factory was once in operation, the property of Henry Brigham, who came to his death by falling upon the saw in his mill. Just below this factory a small grist- and saw-mill was operated at an early day. David Smith built a saw-mill on Abijah Brook, in the northern part of the town, which was operated by Eli Moore for many years. Farther to the west, on Sandy Creek, and the stream flowing into it from the north, Sylvanus Lockwood built a saw-mill. Daniel Wheeler and Mr. Chafin also built saw-mills in the northern part of the town at an early day. As the timber supply decreased these mills were mostly discontinued, and very few are now in operation in the town.


The Methodist Episcopal Church of Lorraine, located in Lorraine village, was organized in 1853, and Rev. Whitmore was the first pastor. The first house of worship of the society, which is still in use, was built in 1857, and cost $2,500. It is a wooden structure, will seat 260 persons, and is valued, including grounds, etc., at $3,200. The present membership is 70, with Rev. George Ernst, pastor. The Sunday-school has 13 officers and teachers, and 74 scholars.

The Baptist Church of Lorraine was formed in 1806, with 13 members. Rev. Amos Lamson, who was ordained October 7, 1806, was the first pastor. He was succeeded in 1815 by Solomon Johnson, and 1819 Rev. Benjamin W. Capron was employed. He was succeeded in 1830 by Rev. John F. Bishop, who served one year. Subsequent pastors were Charles B. Taylor, three years; Henry Ward, three years; Elisha Robbins, one year; Luther Humphrey, three years; O. L. Crittendon, one year. The church was without a pastor until 1850, when J. F. Bishop was called. Following him came Philadner Persons, who continued several years. From 1859 L. P. Day was pastor for two or three years, and in 1864 L. G. Brown came and remained three years. In 1870 W. H. Taylor became pastor, and in 1871 he was followed by E. G. Blount, who remained 15 months. The next pastor, E. H. Lovett, came in 1875, and remained two years. Since 1877 the pastors have been N. Wright, E. H. Lovett, and William Warner. In 1854, the society was reorganized and incorporated under the laws of the state as “The First Baptist Church and Society of Lorraine.” Their house of worship, a wooden building, was erected in 1830, at a cost of $1,200. It was repaired in 1878, at a cost of $1,500, will comfortably seat 260 persons, and is valued at $3,500. The present membership of the church is 66, and Rev. Charles Coon is pastor. The Sunday-school has about 50 scholars.

The Congregational Church of Lorraine was formed December 3, 1829. As early as 1807 services were occasionally held by Elder Bliss, who had settled in the town, and also by Elder Spear, of Rodman. The trustees of the society were Silas Lyman, William Corruth, and Alfred Webb. A small church was erected in 1830, which was used by the society as long as it had an existence, when it was sold to the Methodists. Services were discontinued about 1850.

Note: The family sketches followed. Those are presented on Nan Dixon's NYGenWeb site for Jefferson County, N. Y.

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