Excerpt from
Pages 233-242
published by
Wm. J. Moses' Publishing House
16 Clark St., Auburn, N.Y.


assisted by
Albert Beardsley & C. Winegar.

The village of Union Springs derives its name from the Springs, which in two different localities near the lake, pour forth such quantities of water as to furnish an extensive and never failing mill power.

These Springs which have since become so celebrated for their force, and their remarkable situation, have given rise to numerous speculations in regard to their source. While some have surmised that they came from Owasco Lake, which is several hundred feet higher than Cayuga, others have assigned their origin to still stranger causes. Skillful geologists assert that the formation of rocks are such as to render it utterly impossible for a stream to pass underground from the Owasco to the Cayuga. But from several places, from two to four miles east of the Cayuga Lake, and about forty-five feet underground , large streams have been discovered which were running from the east to the west. Thus from these conflicting accounts, it is difficult to form a correct theory.

About the year 1790, Edward Richardson dammed up the north pond, and a log grist mill was built soon after. The south Spring was not used for such purposes until several years later.

The village of Union Springs is beautifully situated, on a bay of the Cayuga Lake, six miles from Cayuga Bridge and is surrounded by one of the most fertile tracts of land to be found in our State.

In approaching from the Lake, we see the town gradually ascending from the water, so that every house and every tree is brought distinctly to view. We know of no hamlet, borough, or city, so admirably situated in this respect. The white houses peer out of the luxuriant foliage by which they are all surrounded, the rich meadows adjacent to, and the rounding hills overlooking the village, with the Island of Frontenac, that gem of the western lakes, form a scene worthy of the pencil of an artist.

This Island, lying three quarters of a mile from the town, and two miles from the shore of Seneca county, contains about one acre of land, and was formerly a burial place of the Aborigines. The numerous relics of Indian warfare, and the large amount of human bones found here, attest this fact. This Island was deeded to the village of Union Springs in accordance with the following:

"An Act to vest in the trustees of the village of Union Springs, the title, use, and occupation of the Island in Cayuga Lake, opposite to said village.

"Passed April, 1856.

"The people of the State of New York, represented in the Senate and Assembly, do enact as follows:

"1. The commissioners of the land office, are hereby authorized and directed to sell and convey to the trustees of the village of Union Springs, the Island lying in the Cayuga Lake, opposite to said village, for the sum of one dollar, in trust, to be forever held, kept, and maintained by said trustees and their successors, for the use and benefit of the citizens of said village, as a park and pleasure ground.

2nd. The said trustees shall, immediately upon the receipt of the deed or conveyance of said Island, make such regulations and by-laws, and they are hereby authorized so to do, and shall cause the trees on said Island to be preserved uninjured, and the grounds kept from injury, and whatever other regulations may be necessary in their judgment, to carry out the true intent and meaning of the act, And the said regulations may be enforced by such penalties as said trustees shall determine.

"3d. This act shall take effect immediately."

Soon after the granting of the deed, a public meeting was held in the village, in order to carry out the intent of this act, and Frontenac Island was greatly improved by the citizens. Brushwood was cleared away, gravel walks were made, and seats were fitted up, rendering it a fine pleasure ground.

Great interest attaches to this little spot, as no other Island is found in this tier of Lakes. It has furnished the theme of one of Street's most beautiful poems:


Sweet Sylvan Lake! one single gem
Is in thy liquid diadem,
No sister has this little lake
To give its beauty smile for smile,
With it to hear the bluebirds sing
"Wake, leaves and flowers, here comes the spring"-
With it to weave for summer's tread,
Mosses beneath and bowers o'erhead.
With it to flash to gorgeous skies,
The opal pomp of autumn's dyes,
And when the winter's tempests blow,
To shrink beneath his robes of snow.
Sweet Sylvan Lake! that lake of thine
Is like one hope through grief to shine,
Is like one tie our life to cheer,
Is like one flower when all is sere,
One ray amidst the tempest's might,
One star amidst the gloom of night.
Sweet Sylvan Lake! In memory's gold
Is set the time when first mine eye
From thy green shores beheld thee hold
Thy mirror to the sunset sky!
Oh! who could view this scene, nor feel
Its gentle peace within him steal,
Nor in his inmost bosom bless
Its purer and radiant loveliness.

When the Cayuga Indians sold their territory to the State of New York, they reserved a strip, four miles in width, extending from Aurora to Montezuma. The road running west from Sherwoods, was the southern line of this Reservation. As early as 1789, William Richardson and many others had settled on it. The Indians, however, entered complaints against them, and they were compelled to leave, by the forces of the State. Mr. Richardson removed to the west shore of Cayuga Lake, near the site of the present village of Canoga.

Thus the land in the vicinity of Union Springs was not permanently occupied, as early as that part of the country lying farther south, for no title could be given until after the Indians transferred their Reservation also to the State of New York.

The last of these Indians lived on the point south of the village. One of their Chiefs remained there, (with only a boy to take care of him, and after all his family had removed west,) saying that it was "impossible for him to leave the beautiful water. He finally died, and was buried near the waters he had loved so well.

It is said that before a house was erected in this village, there was a hamlet three miles east of the Lake, which contained a store and several dwelling houses; but now not even a road runs by the place which was thus occupied.

The water power was the first cause of the growth of the village. Some of the earliest settlers had to go eighty miles to get their grists ground. The first mill on this place was erected about the time that Hardenburgh's mills were in Auburn. Edward Richardson was the first proprietor of the mill property. It was afterwards transferred to Longnecker.

Besides the men previously named, Mr.Carr, William S. Burling, Dr. John Mosher, Dr. Stephen Mosher, John Earl, William Barker, and Captain Cozzens, were among the earliest settlers. The Post Office was established in 1800, Dr. John Mosher being the first post-master.

Messrs. Hoskins and Wood opened their store about 1810.

Mr. Winegar came here in 1816, and started a factory in 1830. The grist mill at the south pond, was erected five years later, for a woolen mill, and was but a few years since arranged for its present business.

The town, from the time of its first settlement, gradually spread, owing its increase not only to the mill power, but also to the large quarries of limestone and gypsum near the village, which were worked at a very early period. Besides these minerals, sulphur abounds in this section to such an extent, as to impregnate much of the spring and well water. Salt has also been found near the lake in such quantities as to cause numerous plans to be laid for the erection of salt works, and many now believe that such an investment would be profitable to capitalists, and a source of prosperity to the village. There was a salt spring where the Basin is, which furnished to the first residents a good supply of that article, and many of the wells in the vicinity have salt, brackish water.

Previous to 1835, George Howland, Esq., of New Bedford, purchased a large amount of property in and about the village, new vigor being added to its growth by his enterprise and liberality. At this time he erected the large flouring mill at the north pond. This mill is four stories high, is built of limestone, cost forty thousand dollars, and has four runs of stone. There is adjoining it, a mill for grinding plaster, and a saw mill.

These three mills are connected with the Lake by a canal, so that all articles from them can be shipped without cartage. The pond covers four and a half acres, the water rising in it two and a half inches per hour. The fall is about eighteen feet. These mills are now the property of Messrs. Howland, Robinson & Co. This firm is now building a propeller of forty horse power, fourteen inch cylinder, and sixteen inch stroke, to make trips between Ithaca and Syracuse, by way of the Cayuga Lake, and Seneca and Erie Canals. It is to carry both freight and passengers.

In 1854, the prosperity of the town received a sever shock by fire. The entire agricultural works of Anthony and Rowentree, besides numerous stores and offices were destroyed. These works had employed a large number of hands, who shortly after this disaster moved away.

In the Fall of 1861, another conflagration broke out in buildings, which though adjacent, had escaped the former fire. By it were consumed a leather harness and shoe store, a grocery, a dentist's office, a jeweler's store and a large amount of other property. In spite, however, of these great losses, the village promised to again become very prosperous. In addition to the large and flourishing schools, other improvements are being made, and new buildings erected.

A stranger who had merely passed through the main street could form no idea of the large amount of business done here. It is by the Lake that the life of the village is to be found. On the south side of the town, we first see the large limestone quarries of Hamburg, connected with the Lake by a pier and horse railroad, so that the stone can be loaded directly on the canal boats; then on the right, in entering the village, is one of the large nurseries of Thomas & Herendeen; on the left, a tile yard, a lumber yard, large store house for grain, etc., the basin and the pier. Four schooners and several canal boats owned in the village, are employed in carrying away the grain, flour, plaster, limestone, and manufactures of the place. The town is connected with New York, Buffalo, and intermediate places by water, through the Erie and Seneca canals and Cayuga Lake, with Cayuga Bridge by two daily steamers, and with Auburn by a daily stage. We next come to the agricultural works and foundry close by the Lake shore, a grist mill and saw mill by the south pond, then the various establishments of Howland, Robinson & Co., on the north pond. These include, besides what we have already mentioned, a lumber yard, and a steam factory, on an extensive scale, for the manufacture of felloes and other articles of wood, then another tile yard, and finally, north of the village, the large plaster and limestone quarries belonging to Mr. Howland, and several other proprietors. The amount of ground plaster shipped from this place annually, is estimated at from seventeen to eighteen thousand dollars worth, and the limestone and underground plaster to over eighty thousand dollars.

Union Springs has sent three companies of soldiers to the war. At the first call, Captain Angell raised a company for the 19th. When in the following autumn, that regiment was changed from infantry to artillery, and his company was consolidated with others, he returned; and raised another company for the same regiment.

A third company was raised for the 111th regiment, in the summer of 1862, by Capt. Tremaine, Lieut. Capron, and Lieut. Smith, of Aurora, the last named officer being the present commandant of the company. At Gettysburg, they suffered terribly, all the officers being wounded, Lieut. Capron seriously, and nearly half the men being either killed or wounded.


Friends' Academy, at Union Springs, belongs to the New York Yearly Meeting of Orthodox Friends. It was founded by subscription in 1858, and has gradually increased in size until the present time. The building, with apparatus, has cost $20,000. The former will accommodate one hundred boarders, and consists chiefly of a brick edifice, one hundred and thirty-five feet long and three stories high, besides the basement. It is supported entirely by current receipts, all the profits being devoted to improvements. The scholars include both sexes, the Institution having carried out very successfully this combination; both dining in the same room, and reciting in classes together, and meeting once a week at a general party.

The attempt has also been carried out with great success, to unite in one common interest, scholars, teachers, and managers, and much harmony of action has existed among them. The scholars, generally, have shown great interest in their improvement, and have exerted a high and beneficial influence. This is not a local Institution. The pupils, most of whom are children of members of the Society of Friends, come from all parts of this and other States. A thorough triennial course of study has been adopted, including English literature, French, Latin, Greek, Mathematics, and the leading Natural Sciences.

For healthfulness and beauty of location, this Institution is unsurpassed. Situated high above the Lake, it escapes all malaria from the low lands, and commands a fine view of Frontenac Island, and of the country and Lake for many miles around. It is but a short drive from the Cayuga Depot, on the New York Central Railroad, which, however, can be reached in the summer by two steamers daily.

This school was first organized with Mr. and Mrs. Ezra Willits, as Superintendents, and Mr. F. B. Hill and Miss Sarah Lapham as teachers. The present officers are, Mr. and Mrs. Egbert Carey, Superintendents. and Mr. T. A. Burgess and Miss Sarah Lapham, as principal teachers. There are besides, several assistant teachers. J.J. Thomas is Secretary and Acting President of the Board of Managers.

There is now being completed in the village of Union Springs, under the supervision of Robert B. Howland, Esq., a fine Gothic edifice, for a Young Ladies' Collegiate Institute. It is built of brick, on the comer of Main and Burritt streets.

The objects of this enterprise are given as follows: The Trustees of the fund left by the late George Howland, of New Bedford, for the "thorough moral, intellectual and religious training of young females, finding that some time must yet necessarily transpire before the income will be adequate, and the permanent structure ready for use, agreed at a meeting held on the 20th of last June, to grant to R. B. Howland, --one of their number, -certain funds, to assist to organize and establish a school preparatory to the object for which the Trustees were appointed."

A Hindergarten -- a model infant school -- will be maintained for those who wish instruction in object teaching. Every attention will be given by all concerned with the Institution, to make it a Christian Family. No unnecessary restraints, but every effort, will be made by the officers to inculcate the best principles of action... and to stimulate true culture and refined self-possession. The first term is to commence November 12th, 1863, under the following officers:

Charles Atherton, of Philadelphia, President and Teacher of Mathematics and Education; William James Beal, A. B., late of Harvard School of Natural Sciences, Teacher of Natural Sciences, Latin and Greek, and of Dio Lewis' System of Physical Developments; Caroline A. Comstock, of Rochester, Teacher of History, English Literature and Painting; L. J. Reeves, Teacher of Drawing and Singing; Ann Elizabeth McLallen, Matron and Superintendent of the Household.

Both of these Institutions are destined to exert a wide and highly beneficial influence, and to add greatly to the prosperity of the village. It is truly a high honor to that town, that it has been chosen for such a purpose, and that it contains the enterprise which will found and conduct such institutions successfully. Both of these institutions also have been founded by members of the Society of Friends - not for the purpose of profit, but for the sole object of doing good. The first, though exclusively the property of that Society, receives pupils from all denominations.

The latter owes it foundation still more to private benevolence, and we feel assured that from the noble basis on which it is to be carried out, and the liberal views and well known generosity of Mr. R. B. Howland, to whom, chiefly, the citizens of Union Springs are indebted for its location within their limits, that its course will be ever successful -- that it will be extensively patronized, and that the great end for which such noble exertions are being made, will be fully attained.

The village is dividend into two school districts, the north one having a stone school house on Main street and the other a frame one on Central street. Great efforts have been made to join the districts, and erect a large edifice for a Union School. When this shall be accomplished, the town will take its place in the first rank as to that one great object, thorough education.


The "First Christian Church and Society of Springport," was organized in 1839, with Rev. J. W. Guthrie as first pastor. The church is situated on Homer street, is thirty-two feet by fifty-six, and cost about three thousand dollars. Rev. B. S. Fanton is the present pastor, and A. A. Quigley is the Superintendent of the Sabbath School. There are fifty members of the Church, six Sabbath School teachers, and fifty scholars.

The Presbyterian Church of Union Springs has long been organized; but the present edifice was moved to the village from the north part of the town, in 1840. It will seat three hundred people, and cost about three thousand dollars. There are one hundred members of the Church. Rev. Mr. Clark was first pastor, and Rev. N. A. Prince the present. Albert W. Allen is the Superintendent of the Sabbath School, which has nine teachers and one hundred scholars.

The Methodist Episcopal Church of Union Springs, was organized in 1846; is located on Seminary street, has eighty-five members, and will seat three hundred people. It was built at a cost of three thousand dollars. Rev. A. B. Gregg is the present pastor. There are twelve teachers and eighty-four scholars in the Sabbath School, of which Joshua Hamblin is the Superintendent.

The Baptist Church of Union Springs has been organized for many years. Their first church was erected at Springport Centre. In 1861 it was removed to a lot in the village, and was greatly improved and enlarged. Rev. Edgar Smith has officiated as pastor from the commencement of its present organization. The edifice cost four thousand dollars, and will accommodate three hundred people. There are seventy church members. Rev. Edgar Smith is the Superintendent of the Sabbath School, which has ten teachers and sixty-three scholars.

St. Michael's Church, (Roman Catholic,) was built in 1850, at a cost of about two thousand five hundred dollars, and will seat two hundred and sixty people. There are three hundred church members. Rev. Mr. Tuhey officiates at present, Rev. Mr. Quigley having been the first pastor.

The Society of Hicksite Friends have a large meeting house at the upper end of Burritt street. The Orthodox Friends formerly worshiped in a meeting house on Seminary Street. In 1860 they erected, on Main street, the present neat edifice, which they now occupy. It cost one thousand five hundred dollars and will seat four hundred people.


A lodge of Free and Accepted Masons was organized in Union Springs, on the 9th day of April, 1851. The officers for the present year are, Albert Beardsley, W. M.,; H. L. Cook, Sec'y; Isaac Eldridge, S.W.; D. P. Mersereau, J. W.; James L. Hammond, S.D.; J. M. Hoaglan, J.D.; J. P. Burger, T.

In concluding the foregoing sketch, we would return our thanks to Albert Beardsley and C. Winnegar, Esqrs., for their assistance in collecting the facts.


CURRY & HOWELL, leather manufacturers and dealers. This business was established by Curry & Hathorn, in the spring of 1854, who continued to conduct it until August, 1861, when Mr. Howell purchased the interest of Mr. Hathorn, and the firm became Curry & Howell. They have a large and conveniently arranged building for their manufactory, and the quality of their leather is proven by their extensive trade. They employ a steam engine of fifteen horse-power, for grinding bark and propelling machinery connected with their business. They also have a leather store, on Main street, where they keep a complete stock of leather and findings. See card, page 2438.

NEW YORK CENTRAL INSURANCE COMPANY, Albert Beardsley, President, William Clarke, Vice President, J. B. Clarke, Secretary. This is a stock company, organized in January, 1863, with a cash capital of $50,0000, and they now have a surplus of $415,000. The President, Mr. Beardsley, is one of the most extensive and able business men of Union Springs. Mr. William Clarke, the Vice President, was Secretary of the Empire Insurance Company from the time of its organization, in 1852, until October, 1862. Mr. J. B. Clarke, the Secretary, has been connected with the Empire Insurance Company during the last ten years, and was chosen Secretary of the Central on its organization. The Directors of this Company are among the most reliable citizens of Cayuga county. From the well known ability of the gentlemen who have the management of the affairs of this Company, no doubt can be entertained of its success. See card, page 244.

The business of T. J. MERSEREAU & CO., merchants, on Cayuga street, was established more than thirty-five years ago, by D. Mersereau, and passed into the hands of the present firm in 1853, who well sustain the former enviable reputation of the house. They have a store 30 by 60, occupying three floors, with a large and well selected stock of dry goods, groceries, clothing, hardware, crockery, paints, oils, etc. See card, page 250.

W. & H. H. McFARLAND, manufacturers of threshing machines and other agricultural implements, are the proprietors of a business established in 1855, by the firm of McFarland Brothers. In the spring of 1860, the present firm was formed. Their manufactory, erected in 1855 of stone and brick, consists of a machine shop, 32 by 50; foundry 32 by 50; store-house and office, 26 by 120. They employ, constantly, twelve men, and by the merit of their machines, together with the ability manifested in the conducting of their business, they find all their facilities taxed to the utmost to meet the wants of their numerous patrons. Much mechanical ingenuity in design, and skill in execution, is employed in the manufacture of McFarland's Separator, the reputation of which is so well established that it needs no comment from us. See card, page 252.

The firm of HOWLAND, ROBINSON & CO., flour, lumber and plaster manufacturers, and dealers in grain, timber, shingles, fencing, coal, &c, was formed in 1860. Their flour and plaster mills were erected in 1840, by George Howland; and built of stone; flour mills 60 by 86, four stories, including basement, provided with five runs of stone, capable of manufacturing one hundred barrels of flour per day, leaving three runs of stone for custom grinding. The plaster mill is 36 by 60, three stories, including basement, and can manufacture twenty tons per day. Saw-mill, erected in 1842, by George Howland, is 40 by 100, furnished with circular saws, lath-mill, &c. They also have a cooper shop, 24 by 30. This property was purchased by the present firm, on its formation in 860, and the success which has attended them, together with their popularity as business men, is but a just reward for their liberality of dealing and superior business ability. See card, page 246.

BERTRAM'S HOTEL, S. B. Bertram, proprietor. Mr. B. purchased this house in the spring of 1863, and has since made many additions and improvements--has refurnished the house throughout, and is resolute in his determination to make his house unexceptionable in all its appointments. His reputation as a caterer, is sufficient to fill his house "full to the brim," and his ability sufficient to please all. See card, page 250.