Town History from Child’s Gazetteer of Jefferson County, N. Y. (1890)

pp. 600 - 604

(For this one, you might need the Child’s maps - both north and south, which are available on Nan Dixon’s NYGenWeb Jeff. Co., N. Y. site)

PAMELIA was formed from Brownville, April 12, 1819, and was named in honor of the wife of Gen. Jacob Brown, whose maiden name was Pamelia Williams. In 1824 its name was changed to “Leander,” but soon after the former name was restored. By an act of April 1, 1824, a small part of Penet’s Square, southeast of Perch Lake, was annexed from Orleans, which gave the town its present limits, with the addition of the portion subsequently incorporated in the city of Watertown. It is the central town of the county, and is bounded on the north by Orleans, on the east by Le Ray, on the south by Black River, which separates it from the town of Watertown, and on the west by Brownville. The surface of the town is level, or gently undulating, and the soil is clay or sand. It is entirely underlaid with Limestone, which frequently crops out at the top of the ground. A few evidences of the drift period, in the form of large granite bowlders (sic), are found in the town. Upon the northeastern border of the town, lying partly in Orleans, is Perch Lake, a beautiful little body of water nearly three miles long and three-fourths of a mile in width at the widest place. The territory of Pamelia is drained by several small streams, of which Perch River (the outlet of Perch Lake), Philomel Creek, and Cowen’s Creek are the principal, all three running in a southwesterly direction, and all, previous to the clearing off of the forest, containing a considerable quantity of water.

The first town meeting was directed to be held “at the school-house near Elias Wager,” in the spring of 1820, when the following town officers were elected: John Stewart, supervisor; Henry Gotham, clerk; Russel Weaver, Benjamin Still, and Simeon Woodruff, assessors; S. Woodruff, B. Still, overseers of the poor; Alfred Comins, S. Woodruff, B. Still, commissioners of highways; Horace Mather, collector; Osman Banister, Nehemiah Van Nest, Joseph Mayo, commissioners of common schools; Amos Eames, William Usher, R. Weaver, John R. Gunn, Baker Massey, Charles Brown, inspectors of schools; Jacob J. Greene, Benjamin Pease, Horace Mather, constables.

Spafford’s Gazetteer of 1824 says of this town in 1820: --

“The hamlet of Williamsville, or Williamstown, is pleasantly situated on the river, directly opposite the court-house in Watertown, a half-mile distant, and contains 25 houses, a grist-mill, saw-mill, clothier’s works, an oil-mill, two taverns, and several different kinds of mechanics. The Pamelia postoffice is in this place.

“The population of the town is 1,342; taxable property, $72,248; acres of improved land, 6,323, 1,389 cattle, 318 horses, 2,644 sheep; 8,206 yards of cloth were made in families. There are also five grist-mills, one saw-mill, one fulling-mill, one carding machine, and two asheries.”

In 1880 Pamelia had a population of 1,143. The town is located in the third school district of Jefferson County, and in 1888 had 10 school districts, in which the same number of teachers were employed 28 weeks or more. There were 191 scholars attending school, and the aggregate days attendance during the year was 18,389. The total value of school buildings and sites was $4,550, while the assessed valuation of all the districts was $722,107. The whole amount raised for school purposes was $1,941.18, $876.77 of which was received by local tax. Charles E. Whitney was school commissioner.

PAMELIA FOUR CORNERS is a small post village in the northeastern part of the town, nine miles from Watertown, 181 from Albany, and 333 from New York. It has telephone, telegraph, and express offices, a general store, church, dealer in farm implements, two blacksmith shops, and about 75 inhabitants.

Seldon L. Scovill’s Limburger cheese factory, on road 30, manufactures about 50,000 pounds of cheese annually.

John L. Parish’s Limburger cheese factory, on road 10, has the capacity for manufacturing 40,000 pounds of cheese annually. It is not now in operation.

Deep Rock Limburger cheese factory, on road 10, has the capacity for manufacturing about 46,000 pounds annually.

The Limburger cheese factory owned by C. E. Makepeace, Ward M. Nichols, and William Mills, on road 21, manufactures about 35,000 pounds annually.

George W. Otis’s Limburger cheese factory, on road 54, has the capacity for manufacturing 45,000 pounds annually. It is not now in operation.

Charles G. Wagoner’s Limburger cheese factory, on road 5, manufactures about 85,000 pounds of cheese annually.

Reuben Timmerman’s cheese factory, on road 1, has the capacity for manufacturing 75,000 pounds per year.

Charles Fox’s Limburger cheese factory, on road 11, has the capacity for manufacturing 40,000 pounds annually.

The American cheese factory, on road 13, owned by a stock company, has the capacity for manufacturing 200,000 pounds annually.

Andrew P. Baltz’s cheese factory, on road 40, has the capacity for manufacturing 40,000 pounds annually. Mr. Baltz also has a factory on road 38, with the capacity of 35,000 pounds.


The first settlement in the town of Pamelia was made in 1799, by two men named Boshart and Kitts, who located with their families about three miles northeast from Watertown, near where Le Ray street now runs, erected log houses, and began clearings. They became dissatisfied, however, and on the approach of winter removed to the territory now called Lewis County (then a part of Oneida County, as was also Jefferson County), where they became permanent settlers.

In 1799 the south part of the territory afterwards called Pamelia was owned by Pierre Chassanis, a French gentleman, it being a portion of what was known as “Castorland,” “the Chassanis tract,” or “The French Company’s land.” The central and northern portions were part of “Great Tract No. 4,” of Macomb’s purchase, except the territory east and northeast of Perch Lake, which was embraced in Penet’s Square. Tract No. 4 was then actually owned by the Antwerp Company, an association of Holland gentlemen residing in the city of Antwerp, though, being foreigners, the title was held by others for them. In 1800 the southwest half of tract No. 4 (which included the Pamelia portion) was conveyed in trust for the Antwerp Company to James Le Ray de Chaumont. He was made the agent of the company for the sale of territory thus conveyed, and 10 years later he purchased all the unsold land in tract No. 4. Le Ray soon acquired an interest in the Chassanis tract also, and made all the sales after 1801, either as principal or agent. Thus it will be seen that all land titles in Pamelia (except in the small tract embraced in Penet’s Square) may be traced back to Le Ray de Chaumont, acting for himself or others.

After Boshart and Kitts one of the earliest settlers was Mr. Makepeace, grandfather of Elliott Makepeace, who settled in the north part of the town and built the first frame house within the present limits of Pamelia. As early as 1804 a few settlers located on the north shore of Black River, in what is now Watertown. The following year Mr. Haven settled a mile from the river, just inside the city limits, and it is fair to presume that as early as that year some immigrants located in the present Pamelia. Previous to 1812 some 20 or 30 families came into town, among whom were John Gould and J. M. Parish, who both settled in the northwest part. Elijah Ainsworth, Philip Ainsworth, Mr. Brintnall, Caleb J. Bates, Isaac and Jacob Meacham, William Morse, and Jacob Lowell all settled in the northwest part of the town before 1812. Benjamin Cole, Obadiah Rhodes, and Stephen Farr settled during the same period, near Pamelia Four Corners, while Aaron Dresser, Curtis Goulding, Henry Becker, and Alvin Twing were the founders of that village itself.

About 1812 John Folts settled in the southwestern part of the town. He was soon after followed by Simeon Woodruff, Peter Acker, and David and Belshazzar Tillipaugh. Two families, named Baker and Cooper, were among the earliest settlers in the southwestern part of the town. Smith Scoville located here before 1811, and afterwards opened a hotel. John Brown came from Brownville in 1812 and built the first frame house in the southeast part of the town. David Augsbury, with his family, settled in the northwest part of the town in 1811, and in 1812 he was followed by his father, John Augsbury, with his three younger sons, Benjamin, Nicholas, and Daniel. After the War of 1812 two other sons, John and Abraham, came in with their families. John Augsbury, Sr., purchased Mr. Makepeace’s farm, and the latter located upon another in the same neighborhood. In 1814-15 Theron Converse put up a log house on what is now Le Ray street, just north of the present city line. At this time the country was all a dense wilderness eastward, almost to Carthage. William McGinnis settled in the southwest part of the town in 1815, and at this time, it has been said, there were between 30 and 40 families in the town.

Among those who came in before 1819 were Elijah Wright, William Wafful, John Wafful, Russel Weaver, Benjamin Still, John Stewart, Capt. Joseph May, ______Nichols, John Stewart, Joel Nims, James Wright, Isaac C. Pettit, Daniel Pettit, Osman Banister, Nehemiah Van Nest, John N. Gunn, _____Gardner, Conrad Wafful, Benjamin Pease, William Sixbury, John Sixbury, Isaac Sixbury, Elias Wager, _____Combs, Charles Brown, Thomas Goodrich, and Abram Spalsbury. Joel Nims settled in the Thomas Brown neighborhood in 1818, where he bought the farm upon which William Wafful had made improvements.

The first tavern in town was opened by Aaron Dresser, at Pamelia Four Corners, soon after the War of 1812. The first store was kept by John N. Gunn in the western part of the town, and was opened about 1816. The first saw-mill was built on Philomel Creek, at the crossing of the Clayton road, by Mr. Abbey.

Log houses were almost universal in 1818, but at this time a number of frame barns were built, giving the country quite a civilized appearance. Stone was so abundant that a building of that material was almost as cheap as one of wood. Between stone and frame the log houses were rapidly superseded, and by 1830 they had mostly disappeared.

Postoffices were established at Pamelia, then Williamsville village and later North Watertown (in the present city district), previous to 1824, and at Pamelia Four Corners as early as 1830. In 1831 the postmaster at the latter place was S. Comstock, and in 1837 it was Abram M. Harger. In 1854 the Potsdam & Watertown Railroad was finished, running through the southeastern corner of the town. It afterwards became a part of the R., W. & O. a small portion of which runs through the southwestern corner of the town. Upon the incorporation of the city of Watertown, May 8, 1869, about 700 acres of the territory of Pamelia, comprising the villages of North Watertown and Juhelville, containing over 1,200 of its inhabitants and its principal business establishments, were absorbed by the city. The town is especially adapted to dairying, which is the principal occupation of its thrifty inhabitants.



The First Methodist Episcopal Church of Pamelia, located at Pamelia Four Corners, was organized February 28, 1847, by James Jones, Orvis Goulding, and others, with seven members, Rev. O. C. Cole being the first pastor. Their house of worship, the present wooden structure, was erected in 1840, at a cost of about $1,600. It will comfortably seat 300 persons, and is valued, including grounds, etc., at $3,000. The present membership is 22. No regular pastor is employed.

The Protestant Methodist Church, located two miles and a half north of Pamelia Four Corners, was organized about 1845, by Peter Busler, Warner Nellis, and Jacob Wagoner, with 30 members, Rev. Philip Swift being the first pastor. Their house of worship, the present wooden structure, was erected in 1867, at a cost of $1,800. It will comfortably seat 250 persons, and is valued, including grounds, etc., at $2,375. The society has 22 members, under the pastoral charge of Rev. S. P. Watson. The Sunday school has a membership of 45, under the superintendency of Peter Busler.

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

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