Town History from the Child’s Gazetteer of Jefferson County, N. Y.

pp. 555-563

LYME was formed from Brownville, by an act of March 6, 1818, embracing the present towns of Lyme and Cape Vincent, adjacent islands, and that part of Clayton lying west of Penet’s Square. A part of Clayton was taken off in 1833, and Cape Vincent in 1849. The town lies in the western part of the county, upon Chaumont Bay, which, with its tributaries, deeply indent its western border. It is bounded on the northwest by Cape Vincent, on the northeast by Clayton, on the southeast by Brownville, and on the southwest by Lake Ontario, and contains an area 28,912 acres. It received its name from Lyme, in Connecticut. The town includes Grenadier and Fox islands, in Lake Ontario, and Cherry Island, in Chaumont Bay. The surface of the town is level, and the soil is principally clay. The most important stream is Chaumont River, which empties into the bay of that name. Several smaller streams discharge into Three Mile Bay, an arm of Chaumont Bay.

At the first town meeting held at the house of Luther Britton, March 3,1818, Richard M. Esselstyn was chosen supervisor; John Dayan, clerk; John B. Esselstyn, Luther Britton, and Benjamin Estes, assessors; R. M. Esselstyne, James M. Craw, and Benjamin T. Bliss, commissioners of schools; J. B. Esselstyne, L. Britton, overseers of the poor; John M. Tremper, Eber Kelsey, and Thaddeus Smith, fence viewers and poundmasters; Elnathan Judd, John Dayan, and Joseph Rider, commissioners of highways; Alexander Gage and Daniel Robbins, constables.

At this meeting it was voted to divide the town into eight road districts, to give $100 to the poor, and to forbid hogs to run at large without yokes about their necks and rings in their noses, the penalty for the violation of this last regulation being a fine of 50 cents. Regulations were also made regarding horses and horned cattle; and the second year (1819) $40 was voted to build two pounds, one at Cape Vincent and the other at Chaumont. It would appear from the records that the hog law was frequently evaded, for, in 1821, it was voted that all the porkers running at large should have “a sufficient yoke around his or her neck”; and that the fines collected should be paid over to the commissioners of schools. The usual bounties for wolves, etc., were offered.

From Spafford’s Gazetteer of 1824 we quote: --

“In 1821 the town included Cape Vincent and part of Clayton, and contained three post-offices, one at Chaumont, where was a growing trade, one at Cape Vincent, where were several stores, boats, and considerable business, and one on Carleton Island, where was also a store and wooding station. The fisheries of Chaumont Bay had at that time assumed considerable proportions, as upwards of 3,000 barrels of white fish and siscoes were the yearly catch in this town, and were sold at an average of $3 a barrel. In the whole of that large town there was $124,994 of taxable property, 3,629 acres of improved land; 1,034 cattle, 129 horses, 1,082 sheep; two grist-mills, three saw-mills, 22 asheries, and six school districts.”

In 1880 Lyme had a population of 2,277. The town is located in the third school district of Jefferson County, and in 1888 had 16 school districts, in which 21 teachers were employed 28 weeks or more. There were 563 scholars attending school, and the aggregate days attendance during the year was 58,070. The total value of school buildings and sites was $12,983, while the assessed valuation of all the districts was $1,379,210. The whole amount raised for school purposes was $5,546.73, $3,176.99 of which was received by local tax. Charles E. Whitney was school commissioner.

In 1805, four years after the settlement of the town, Nancy Smith opened a school on the south side of the bay, which was the first school in the town.

CHAUMONT is an incorporated village and postoffice and station on the R., W. & O. Railroad, 14 miles from Watertown, 196 from Albany, and 338 from New York. It has telegraph, telephone, and express offices, two hotels, two churches (M. E. and Presbyterian), three general stores, several dealers in hay, grain, and produce, a hardware store, two or three groceries, a drug store, bending works, several cheese factories, limekiln, stone quarries, a number of blacksmith and shoe shops, harness shops, numerous dressmaking establishments, an extensive seed growing establishment, several coal dealers, a jewelry store, meat market, a number of livery stables, and about 700 inhabitants.

THREE MILE BAY is a post village and station on the R., W. & O. Railroad, 18 miles from Watertown, 200 miles from Albany, and 342 from New York. The village is about one mile south from the station, with which it is connected by stage. It has telegraph, telephone, and express offices, two churches (M. E. and Baptist), one hotel, three general stores, two groceries, two hardware and stove stores, a drug store, two furniture stores, a merchant tailor, marble works, coal dealers, several blacksmith shops and carriagemakers, meat market, restaurant, billiard saloon, dressmakers, shoemakers, a saw, shingle, and planing-mill, grist-mill, several manufacturing establishments, and a population of about 500. This village suffered from a disastrous fire in 1877.

WILCOXVILLE (Point Peninsula postoffice) is a small hamlet about 12 miles from Three Mile Bay, with which it is connected by stage semi-weekly. It has a telephone office, one church (Methodist Episcopal), two stores, one hotel, blacksmith and millinery shops, and a population of about 100.

The Union School at Chaumont village was built in 1880 by Ira Inman, and cost $6,000. Three teachers are employed, and 125 scholars attend school. This school is under the able principalship of Prof. John T. Delany.

Copley’s saw mill, at Chaumont village, was built in 1880, and in 1885 became the property of Hiram Copley. It is run by steam-power, and has the capacity for cutting 2,000,000 feet of lumber annually. It also has a shingle-mill attached.

The saw-mill at Three Mile Bay was built in 1820, by Peter and Richard Estus, who ran it many years. It was rebuilt in 1860 by Menzo Wheeler, the present proprietor. It is run by water-power, and has the capacity for cutting 500,000 feet of lumber annually.

The grist and flouring-mill at Three-Mile Bay was built in 1862, by Lewis P. Phelps, the present owner. It is run by water-power, has three turbine wheels, and three runs of stones.

The first settlement in the town of Lyme was commenced in 1801, on the north shore of Chaumont River, about two miles above the village. These pioneers came by the way of Oswego and the lake, and among them were Jonas Smith, Henry A. Delamater, from Ulster County, Richard M. Esselstyne, from Clavarack, then in Albany County, David Soper, T. Wheeler, James Soper, Peter Pratt, and Timothy Soper. The first site chosen for a village proved to be an unfortunate one, on account of the unhealthful character of the locality, and the next spring it was abandoned. The winter of 1801 and 1802 was spent by the settlers in the respective homes from which they had emigrated, having returned there in the fall, after their summer’s clearing and building. In 1802 Mr. Delamater cleared the first land on Point Salubrious. The sickness resulting at an early period from the noxious miasma of Chaumont River did not extend to this place, which suggested its present name, first applied by Mr. Le Ray. In 1803 a part of the colony settled on the site of the present village of Chaumont, built a saw-mill and warehouse, and put in operation a log tavern. Their number was increased by several other families from Ulster County, among whom were a few unmarried men, and an occasional immigrant from Canada.

In 1805 James Horton moved the families of Daniel and John Tremper to the Chaumont settlement, and the next year came with his own family from Colchester, Delaware County, and located on Point Salubrious, where he was the first permanent settler. The Trempers were tanners, in which business they engaged soon after locating there. A Mr. Mills was probably the second settler on Point Salubrious. After him came Joseph Rider, Silas Taft, Stephen Fisher, and David Rider, who settled about 1807. Harry Horton and many others were here in 1810, but no village was established, and Chaumont continued to retain its position in that respect.

In 1806 Smith and Delamater, who were the agents of Le Ray, failed, which fact, with the discouraging sickness from malarial fever, from which several had died, greatly disheartened the afflicted settlers, and several returned to their old homes. A majority of the people however, remained, and decided to start once more anew.

Chaumont village has been visited by two quite insalubrious seasons. In 1828 malignant fevers prevailed very fatally, and in 1875 50 deaths occurred within the limits of the corporation from typhoid pneumonia and diphtheria. With these exceptions the region has been considered healthy.

When the War of 1812 was declared the settlements of Chaumont village and Point Salubrious contained about 15 families. The country north and west, to near the St. Lawrence River, was an almost unbroken wilderness. In June, 1812, with the advice of General Brown, the inhabitants begun to build a block-house on the north shore of the bay, in front of the stone house of F. Coffeen, which had been commenced in 1806, but was unfinished. During the summer the place was visited by the British, and their fort was demolished by the inhabitants, under an assurance that in this case their property should be respected. An iron cannon had been found on the isthmus of Point Peninsula, which Jonas Smith had purchased for two gallons of rum. Mr. Camp, of Sackets Harbor, subsequently purchased it for $8, and it was afterwards taken to Ogdensburg, where it was finally captured by the British.

The first celebration of the Fourth of July in Jefferson County was held at Chaumont in 1802. The settlers came from miles around, and some of them were most hilarious in their manner of demonstrating their patriotism. The exercises, which consisted of athletic sports, songs, shooting at a mark, chasing the lubricated swine, and climbing the greased pole, were interspersed with martial music of the most inspiring nature. The veterans of the war rehearsed tales of strife, and fought over again the battles of their youth, for the entertainment of their patriotic sons.

In 1812 an unsuccessful attempt was made to settle Point Peninsula. The war interfered, and the project was abandoned. In 1818 Sebra Howard, William Wilcox, Oliver Wilcox, and John Wilcox, with their families, made a permanent settlement. They were soon after followed by Brittle Minor, Asahel Hoisington, Asa Collins, John Combs, and others. In 1823 but one man was living at Three Mile Bay, in a log shanty east of village, where also was a toll-gate. Point Peninsula was nearly all taken up before the Bay was permanently occupied. John Reed, Charles Leonard, and Benjamin Estes were the only settlers there in 1835. Daniel Borden lived about half a mile to the west of the village site, and within a distance of two miles eight families by the name of Wells subsequently located. Daniel J. Schuyler settled at Three Mile Bay in 1835, and was the first merchant. About this time Asa Wilcox located here, and engaged extensively in building lake vessels and smaller sailing craft.

In 1818 Musgrove Evans, a surveyor, and an agent of Mr. Le Ray in this region, brought a colony of Quakers from Philadelphia, Pa., and located them at Chaumont. The sickness already referred to discouraged them, and they soon after moved away. Mr. Evans removed to Michigan, where he founded the town of Tecumseh in 1823.

William Dewey and his father, Timothy Dewey, purchased 1,000 acres of land from Vincent Le Ray, in 1833, located near Three Mile Bay. This same year Alexander Copley came to Lyme. Mr. Copley was for many years the largest land-owner in all this region of country. On June 7, 1833, he purchased 2,562 acres of Vincent Le Ray de Chaumont, and on October 5, 1836, the large tract of 16, 961 acres from Gouverneur Morris. These lands were in the towns of Clayton, Brownville, and Lyme. He afterwards added to his estate 10,000 acres situated in Antwerp. Mr. Copley did much to advance the interests of this locality. He made his home at Chaumont, although business often called him elsewhere. The mantle of his business in this section has fallen upon the shoulders of his son, Hiram Copley, who is now the largest land-owner in the town, and probably possesses more farming lands in this county than any other man residing in it.

The fisheries in the waters adjacent to the town of Lyme have afforded, from an early period, a leading pursuit for many persons living in the vicinity, and have proved of much commercial importance to the locality. It has been estimated that, for 30 years from 1815 to 1816, 10,000 barrels of ciscoes and white fish were annually obtained. The business is not now so extensive as formerly. In 1875 the shipment from Chaumont station was about 5,000 barrels, of which number 2,000 barrels were fresh fish. For some years the ciscoes have been conspicuous by their absence from these waters, but indications now are that they may return to their old haunts.

Near the village of Chaumont are extensive lime-stone quarries, which were opened as early as 1825. About 1875 a quarry was opened at Three Mile Bay. The industry is an important one in the town, the value of the product reaching as high as $45,000 in a single year. The principal firms in Chaumont are Adams Brothers and F. Duford & Son, and H. Copley, manufacture of quick-lime. There are 10 quarries here, four of which are owned by H. Copley, two by Adams Brothers, and one each by Adams & Enos, Silas Davis, A. J. Dewey, and T. Gale. Mr. Copley’s quarries are principally worked by F. Duford & Son. The combined quarries in Chaumont have a working face two miles in extent. The quality of the stone is first-class, as is also that at Three Mile Bay. The only dealer in the latter place is John Barron, who does a business of about $2,000 a year. The insufficient shipping facilities at Three Mile Bay prevent the quarries there from coming into strong competition with those in Chaumont. Adams Brothers also manufacture about $3,500 worth of quick-lime annually. For building purposes the stone is noted for its firm texture, freedom from seams and other imperfections, and its ability to withstand exposure to the weather without cracking.

Ship building was at one time an important industry at Chaumont and Three Mile Bay, especially at the latter place, where the largest proportion of the vessels were built by Asa Wilcox, who in his life-time was an extensive builder. The aggregate tonnage of the vessels constructed by Mr. Wilcox, between 1835 and 1852, amounted to 6,410 tons, the largest having a measurement of 395 tons. From 1832 to 1837 several vessels were built on Point Peninsula. Among the vessels launched from the Chaumont ship yard have been the Stephen Girard, 60 tons, built in 1832 by William Clark; Alleghan, 100 tons, built in 1835 by Robert Masters; R. C. Smead, 75 tons, built in 1839 by S. and A. Davis; Copley & Main built, in 1847, Rip Van Winkle, 235 tons; in 1848, Oxford, 244 tons; and the Palmyra, 180 tons; in 1851, A. L. Hazelton, 230 tons; in September, 1873, Mary Copley, 275 tons, owned by Hiram Copley, A. Wilcox, and J. Gilmore; in June, 1874, Watertown, 309 tons, owned by H. Copley, Folger Brothers, and W. W. Enos; in October, 1874, A. J. Dewey, 270 tons, owned by H. Copley, A. J. Dewey, and W. W. Enos; in 1879, the scow, Pinafore. There is this year (1890) building at Chaumont a small steamboat for Westminster Park Association. In 1874 Pluche Brothers launched a small steamer, the Edith Sewell.

From the Three Mile Bay ship yard have been launched the following: in 1835, the Florida and Elon Bronson; in 1836, Pennsylvania and Kentucky, 1837, Missouri; 1838, Patriot; 1841, Asa Wilcox and Havana; 1842, D. D. Calvin and Rocky Mountains; 1843, Cambridge (brig), Empire, and Neptune; 1844, Cuba, Oregon, and (brig) Ontario; in 1845, Milan and (brig) Hampton; 1846, (propeller) Clifton, Champion (brig), Iroquois, and (brig) Hampton; 1847, Palmetto, Seminole, Portland, Acadia, and (brig) H. R. Seymour; 1848, (brigs) Saxton and Ocean; 1849, D. J. Schuyler; 1852, Melrose; 1853, (three-master) Hungarian. In 1836 Asa Wilcox built the Congress on Pillar Point. In 1843 Schuyler & Powers launched the Col. Powers, and William Combs the Bogart, both of 80 tons, at Three Mile Bay. In 1845 E. Cline completed the Rush, 52 tons, and Peter Estes the Breeze, 100 tons. In 1832 S. Howard built the New York, 80 tons, on Point Peninsula. In 1834 G. C. Rand built the William Buckley, 112 tons, in 1836 the Bancroft and in 1837 the G. C. Rand, each of the same tonnage and at the same place. This important industry has gradually been attracted to western localities where the facilities are greater and lumber cheaper.



The first Sunday-school in town was opened on Point Salubrious at an early date, but given up after a short experience. The first church in town was formed on Point Salubrious, by Elder Joseph Matby, of the Baptist order, September 25, 1816. Delegates from churches in Brownville, Rutland, Rodman, Le Ray, Lorraine, Henderson, and Watertown were present, and 26 persons united. In 1835 there was no regular Sabbath worship at Chaumont. This year Solon Massey settled in the place and soon after started a Sunday-school, which gave an impulse to religious matters and resulted in the subsequent establishment of Presbyterian and Methodist churches.

The First Presbyterian Church, of Chaumont, was organized in 1838, with 12 members, by Rev. Joseph A. Canfield, the first pastor, now retired from active duties as a clergyman and residing in Antwerp. Their house of worship, a wooden structure, was built in 1844 at a cost of $3,000. It will comfortably seat 400 persons, and is now valued, including grounds and other church property, at $7,000. The present membership is 78, under the pastoral charge of Rev. F. W. Johnson. The Sunday-school has 130 scholars and 15 teachers.

The Methodist Episcopal Church at Chaumont was organized by Rev. D. W. Aylesworth, the first pastor, in 1877, and at its organization consisted of 20 members. Their church edifice was erected in 1877 at a cost of $5,000. It will comfortably seat 400 persons, and is valued, including grounds, etc., at $6,500. The present pastor is Rev. Mr. Joy, and the membership is 80. The Sunday-school has a membership of 80 scholars and 10 teachers.

The Methodist Episcopal Church, at Three Mile Bay, was organized in 1838, with five members, by Benjamin Dyten. The first pastor was Rev. William Tripp, and the first class-leader David McComber. Their house of worship, a wooden building, was erected in 1845 at a cost of about $5,000. It will seat 300 persons, and is valued, including grounds, etc., at $6,000. The present membership is 70, under the pastoral charge of Rev. W. P. Hall. The Sunday-school has a membership of 81 scholars and nine teachers.

The Baptist Church at Three Mile Bay was organized October 4, 1834, with 32 members, by Elder Matthew Wilkie; Rev. John S. Whitman was the first pastor. Their first house of worship, a wooden structure, was erected in 1840 at a cost of about $3,000. The present building will comfortably seat 300 persons, and is valued, including grounds, etc., at $4,000. The present membership of the church is 154, under the pastoral charge of Rev. William H. Merriman. The Sunday-school has a membership of 10 teachers and 100 scholars.

The Methodist Episcopal Church, located on Point Peninsula, was organized in 1834 by Hiram Shepherd and Freeman H. Stanton. The society had no meeting-house until 1880, when it was organized, and a building erected at a cost of $2,100. It will comfortably seat 250 persons, and is now valued, including grounds, etc., at $2,800. The present membership is 37, under the pastoral charge of Rev. Waley P. Hall. The Sunday-school has a membership of five teachers and about 40 scholars.

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

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