This article is an excerpt from History of Onondaga County, New York, by W. W. Clayton, published in 1878 by D. Mason & Co., Syracuse, NY. Retrieved from https://www.archive.org/stream/historyofonondag00clay#page/n577/mode/2up
There are no streams of water of any note in the town, except the Oneida Lake and River on its northern boundary, and the Chittenango Creek lying along its eastern border. On this Creek is an excellent water-power at Bridgeport, part of which is in Cicero and part in Madison county. The surface of the town is usually level, the prevailing soil being of a rich sazidy loam, and capable of a great variety of productions. The town was originally covered with a heavy growth of timber, chiefly pine, hemlock, beech and sugar-maple, with considerable cedar and tamarack in the swampy portions.
Cicero and Clay furnished for many years a large proportion of the barrels used for packing salt at Salina, Geddes, Liverpool and Syracuse. Such, indeed, was the attention given to coopering that for a long time the farming interests were in a great measure neglected. At length, however, the timber being exhausted, an impulse was given to the development of the resources of the soil. This has been followed up with an enterprise and a success which have made the town one of the first farming sections of Onondaga County. The lands are well improved, and the buildings show thrift and prosperity.
Ryal Bingham settled at Fort Brewerton in 1791, and subsequently removed to Salina, where he was appointed the first Justice of the Peace.
All the first settlements in the town of Cicero were made along the Oneida River and Lake. John Leach settled at Cicero Corners in 1802, and for several years kept a tavern in a small log cabin.
Elijah Loomis was the first settler at South Bay, on the lake shore, in 1804, where he purchased a lot on which he resided.
He was a Revolutionary soldier and received a pension from the Government. Martin Woodruff settled near him the same year. Their nearest neighbors were at Brewerton, five miles distant.
Captain John Shepard, who served in the Revolutionary war, drew Lot No. 11, of the township of Cicero, lying on the lake shore east of Brewerton. At an early day he took possession of his lot, sold part, cleared and cultivated the rest, and with his family lived upon it till his death, in 1824. He was the only man who occupied a lot in this town for which he served. He was the first Justice of the Peace in the town in 1804.
The first town meeting for the town of Cicero, (then including Clay,) was held at the house of. Patrick McGee, at Three River Point, in 1807. Moses Kinne was Moderator; Thomas Pool was elected Supervisor, and Elijah Loomis, Town Clerk. Isaac Cody was the first merchant in town. He erected a store at Cicero Corners in 1818, filled it with goods, and did quite an extensive business. Samuel Warren opened the next store in 1825. Daniel Olcott was the first regular physician; located in the town in 1817, and had an extensive practice. Alexander Cook, Esq., settled in the. town as the first practicing attorney, in 1841. In 1820 a post office was established at the Corners, Isaac Cody, Postmaster. The mail was then carried once a week on horseback.
The octagonal fort seen here by the early settlers, and known as “Fort Brewerton.” was built by the English during the French War. In 1758, General Stanwix had erected a strong fortress at what is now Rome, N. Y. It was at the point where the portage was made from the Mohawk across to Wood Creek, connecting thence with Oneida Lake. The cost of this fort was $266,400. Also a stockade enclosure was erected at the same time as a defense against attacks by the Indians at the foot of the lake. After the reduction of Fort Frontenac by Colonel Bradstreet in 1758, he retook possession of the forts at Oswego, which were again garrisoned. At this time, General Abercrombie formed the design of erecting a substantial fort to command the entrance to Oneida Lake from the west, as it was already commanded on the east by Fort Stanwix. A detachment was accordingly sent from Oswego the following year to cooperate with one from Fort Stanwix; and Fort Brewerton was erected and named in honor of Captain Brewerton, whose name appears in the papers of that day as an active and meritorious officer. It was garrisoned during part of the summer of 1759 by Lieutenant-Colonel Bull, and was made a depot of military stores with a small garrison till the close of the French War, in 1762. During the Pontiac War, it was again garrisoned by a company under Captain Mungo Campbell, of the 55th Highlanders, and was a place of deposit for considerable military stores. In the spring of 1764, Capt. Thomas Morris was stationed here for a short time, and during the following summer proceeded to Niagara and Detroit.
Fort Brewerton was a favorite resting place for the troops passing and repassing from Fort Stanwix to Oswego and Niagara, and is often mentioned in the diary of Sir William Johnson and other English officers of that period. When the fort was built by the English it was considered of great consequence to the safety and protection of the frontier.
The fort was in a good state of preservation when first seen by the early settlers. Its site is on the north side of the river, a short distance northwest of the present Fort Brewerton House.
A quarter of a mile east of the fort was built at the same time a mole of huge rocks extending about ten rods into the river, at the end of which was placed a sentry-box, where a sentinel was continually posted to watch for enemies passing up the river. From this position the eye of the sentinel could command a view of the river for a considerable distance.
Within the enclosure and around the old fort have been found quite a number of relics-warlike implements, blacksmith’s forges, wrought nails, the remains of chimneys constructed of small, hard, red brick, &c. Many such relics were found by the early settlers, and have been exhumed from time to time.
THE OLD BLOCK-HOUSE.
Patrick McGee settled at Brewerton in 1791 and erected the first frame house, which was occupied by him as a tavern, and afterwards by Jonathan Emmons. It stood near where the Brewerton House was afterwards erected and was a great place of resort for boatmen and townspeople.
The first school was kept at Brewerton in 1792. It was taught by Deacon George Ramsey, a Scotch Presbyterian. He died at Brewerton many years ago.
In the spring of 1804, when there were but few huts on the site of the present village, Jonathan Emmons settled on what is known as the Hoskins farm, Lot No. 9. Here he erected what has been termed the first “mill” in that region of country for grinding corn in a somewhat primitive style. It consisted of a white-oak stump hollowed out in the shape of a mortar, with a pestle made of an oaken block, to which a spring-pole was attached. The nearest mill on the south side of the lake was at Onondaga Hollow, eighteen miles distant. On the north side, at Rotterdam, Mr. Scriba, from Holland, had erected mills in 1800. The grist mill was sufficient to grind all the grain in the country for a hundred miles around.
In 1812, Jonathan Emmons opened as a tavern the house formerly built and kept by Patrick McGee. In 1813 he was authorized by the Legislature to establish a ferry across the outlet of Oneida Lake at Brewerton, which he kept for many years. Mr. Emmons was the father of eighteen children, of whom the sixth, Samuel Emmons, (born Feb. 24, 1794) is now residing at Brewerton. In 1824, the first bridge was built across the Oneida River at Brewerton. The next, and present bridge, was built in 1847.
The village of Brewerton was laid out by Orsamus Johnson, Daniel Wardwell, Miles – W. Bennet and Harvey Baldwin, Esqs., in 1836. Its position at the foot of the lake is remarkably beautiful and healthy, and being surrounded by a fertile and thriving country, it has grown to be a village of considerable importance. Since 1873 it has been connected with Syracuse by railroad communication, via the Syracuse Northern Railroad.
Brewerton was incorporated in i 872, the first election of officers occurring on the 9th of September, when the following persons were chosen:
Hon. John L. Stevens, President; E. N. Emmons, Clerk; William H. Carter, William H. Sherwood, D. H. Waterbury, William H. Merritt, Trustees.
The following have since served as Presidents of the village: John L. Stevens, 1873 ; F. A. Strong, 1874; Wm. H. Carter, 1875 ; B. M. Genung, 1876; A. N. Everson, 1877.
The officers for 1878 are: E. N. Emmons, President ; George H. Smith, Clerk; Milton Miller, Charles E. Waterbury, Monroe Pierce, Trustees; Wm. H. Merritt, Collector; James R. Loomis, Treasurer; Thomas Hughs, Street Commissioner.
Brewerton has a graded school, occupying a brick building, erected in 1855, at a cost of $1,000. Two teachers are employed, and the average attendance is eighty.
Brewerton Lodge I. O. of G. T., No. 51. Instituted January 5, 1875, with fifteen charter members. Among the most active may be named C. D. Walkup, Lodge Deputy; V. E. Campbell, Miss Phcebe Klock and Miss Clara Van Warmer. This lodge, though young is active and vigorous, and for several years has held the Silver Gavel over all the lodges in the State. Officers-V. E. Campbell, W. C. T.; Almira Cummins, W. V. T.; Miss Aggie Campbell, W. S. Regular meetings every Saturday evening.
In 1846 a line of steamers, consisting of four boats, named after the four counties bordering on the lake, viz: the Oneida, Oswego, Madison and Onondaga, was put upon the lake and river by a company at Oswego. Henry Guest was the first agent, and afterwards William H. Carter. who with Mr. Cushing purchased the remaining boats. The Oswego is still run by Mr. Carter.
THE PLANK ROAD.
On the completion of the Syracuse Northern Railroad in 1873, the plank road was abandoned from Central Square to Brewerton, and in 1876, from Brewerton to Cicero Corners. The enterprising citizens along the road between Brewerton and Cicero, at once organized the Cicero Turnpike Company, built a gravel turnpike, erected a gate for the collection of toll, and now have the best road in the town. The officers of this company are Jos. M. Moulton, President; H. H. Lawrence, Secretary ; John Moulton, Treasurer; W. D. Wright, Gate Keeper. Its capital stock is $4,600.
The plank road from Cicero to Syracuse is still continued.
THE FIRST CHURCH OF DISCIPLES, Brewerton, is an outgrowth of the religious principles promulgated in this country by the late Alexander Campbell and others. The views of this distinguished scholar and theologian gained acceptance in the Baptist Churches at Pompey, Tully and Cicero, as early as 1834, and by some of the leading members of the latter body, were soon after planted in this village. The first series of meetings for the public advocacy of these views in Brewerton, was held by Elder Jasper J. Moss, of Ohio, in 1835, and the present church was organized under the ministry of Elder Josiah I. Lowell, who the year previous had formed the Church of the Disciples of Christ at Pompey Hill. The Elders of the original Church at Brewerton were George Walkup and Lewis Fancher; among the leading members were Hon. John L. Stevens, James Spire, Ephraim Smedley, Mrs. Ann Emmons, Mrs. George Walkup and Mrs. E. Manville.
The present church edifice was erected in the year 1851, at a cost of $1,500, and an additional cost of about $700 was incurred for refurnishing and repairs in 1875. The present membership is about one hundred and twenty-five, with an attendance of one hundred in the Sunday School. The officers of the Church are Jacob Ottman, C. D. Walkup and E. N. Emmons, Elders; P. VanWormer, Jas. E. Livingston and Martin Emmons, Deacons. Mr. E. N. Emmons has officiated as Superintendent of the Sunday School for the past twenty years.
THE UNION CHURCH, Brewerton, was built in 1849, by the contributions of gentlemen of the Baptist, Methodist, Presbyterian and Universalist faith. The most liberal contributors were Orsemus Johnson, Wm. Milton, Asa U. Emmons, Alexander Cushing, J. B. Kathan, Stephen Markham and William Bailey. The cost of the building was about $1,700. It was occupied in common by the different denominations till 1869, since which it has been used exclusively by the Methodists, who in that year organized under the pastorate of Rev. Ebenezer Arnold, and expended about $500 in repairing the church. Since Mr. Arnold’s ministry, the following clergymen have officiated:
Rev. E. C. Tuttle, two years; Rev. R. Brewster, two years; Rev. W. Witham, one year; Rev. J. D. Phelps, two years; Rev. M. J. Wells, one year The present pastor, Rev. E. Lyon, took charge in October, 1877.
The membership of the church is one hundred and forty; Sabbath School, one hundred and thirty; Mrs. H. 0. Johnson, Superintendent. Trustees: William Telford, William H. Sherwood, Ira Shell, John Young and William Wickham.
Some of the oldest citizens now living in the village and vicinity are Noah Merriam, B. F. Sweet, Asahel Saunders and his oldest daughter, Mrs. Emily Crampton, Daniel Vanaistine, Ambrose Sadler, Robert Lower, Joseph Douglass, John R. Wright, Barney Rawley, John and Emery Moulton. Addison J. and Henry H. Loomis are among the prominent farmers and business men.
The officers of the company are: Ambrose Sadler, President; A. J. Loomis, Secretary, and Robert Lower, Treasurer; who are ex-cfficio Directors, with Daniel Coonley and Emery Moulton, the other stockholders being Samuel Cushing and Alonzo Baum.
In connection with these mills, I. S. Auborn has a cheese box factory which employs three hands and turns out about 10,000 cheese-boxes a year.
The Cheese Factory of A. J. Loomis, situated one mile south of the village of Cicero, on the road to Syracuse; established in 1855 ; has two vats, employs three hands, makes 150,000 pounds per annum; owns one hundred cows and uses the milk of four hundred others. Mr. Loomis has $40,000 invested in the business.
Cicero Center Cheese Factory, built in 1867 by William Sternberg, now owned and conducted by O. J. Daniels, who manufactures cheese for neighboring farmers. Annual product 50,000 pounds.
William Van Bramer’s Cheese Factory, built in 1863 ; manufactures the milk of one’ hundred and fifty cows, keeping forty of his own. The product of this factory is 45,000 pounds per annum, $10,000 capital invested and two hands employed. It is situated two miles south of Cicero village.
FARMERS’ AND MECHANICS’ CLUB.
In 1862, Rev. Augustus Tibbits became pastor, and with occasional preaching by Rev. Dolphus Skinner, D. D., and others, the time was filled till 1867, when Rev. John M. Austin became pastor, residing in Auburn and preaching in one or two other places at the same time. Under Mr. Austin, in 1867, a church organization was effected, some of the members joining at that time being John R. Wright, Warren Wright, John McCulloch, Mrs. Robert Lower, Mrs. Ambrose Sadler and Mrs. J. A. Dunham. Mr. Austin continued to officiate as pastor till 1875, since which the church has been supplied by Rev. J. M. Weeks, Rev. Geo. B. Stocking, and Rev. R. Fisk.
The church in which the services have been held from the first was built in the year 1832 by the Baptists, who disbanded and sold the building to Hezekiah Joslyn, John Leach and Hon. John L. Stevens. In a few years they sold it to the First Congregation of Disciples, which was an organization formed mainly of former members of the Baptist society, who in 1867, under a special act of the Legislature, sold it to the Universalists, the Disciples’ organization having been for some years discontinued. The proceeds of the sale were appropriated to the “Church of Christ,” of Syracuse. In 1871, the edifice was rebuilt at a Cost of $3,000.
The present church membership is about sixty, with an attendance of eighty-five in the Sunday School.
REFORMED CHURCH, CICERO. – ThIs church was organized in 1835, from a congregation of Presbyterians who had for many years previous occupied the present edifice. The most prominent persons in the formation of the Reformed Church were Isaac Coonley, Lott Hamilton, Peter Collier, Ezra Hart, Calvin Hart, Noah Merriam and Mrs. P. Andrews. The two last mentioned are the only survivors at this writing, (1878.)
Among the pastors have been Rev. Wm. Cranse, Rev. A. W. Seeley, Rev. John Dubois, Rev. Samuel N. Robinson, Rev. John Gray, Rev. F. Hibbard, Rev. G. W. Hemperly.
The church is at present without a settled pastor. Membership about fifty; Sunday School, seventyfive.
CICERO METHODIST EPISCOPAL CHURCH. – For many years this was one of the North Manlius District charges. At what time it became a regular charge is not known, but in the year 1850, Rev. Browning Nichols was located at this place, and for a time meetings were, as formerly, held in the school house, but under his auspices a deep religious feeling was aroused, and the society was reorganized and in the following year the lot was purchased and church building erected at a cost of thirteen hundred dollars. Rev. Hiram Nichols was the next pastor. Since then Rev. Nickerson, Rev. Munger, Rev. Tuttle, G. B. Bush, D. D., Rev. J. C. Nichols and the present pastor, Rev. Ebenezer Arnold, who also officiates over Stone Arabia charge.
The present membership is seventy-six. Sabbath School attendance eighty-five, Mr. J. W. Jewel is the efficient and worthy Sabbath School Superintendent. The Trustees are J. Bradford, Daniel Vanalstine and Noah Andrew.
STONE ARABIA M. E. CHURCH. – Situated about one mile west of Cicero Centre, was organized in January, 1845, at the school house. The prominent members at that time were William S. Fuller, Solomon Wheeler, Harrison Hall, Palmer Brown, John Wilcox, John Salter, William Van Alstine, Daniel Terpenny, Simon Drusbeck, Seth Hall, Jonathan Houghtaling, Mary Benedict, Conrad Brought, and Samuel Sizer. In 1847 the present church building was built, and rebuilt in 1869, at a cost of $2,200.
Present membership thirty-seven. Sabbath School attendance sixty. Rev. Ebenezer Arnold, pastor of this and Cicero charge. This church was originally in the North Manlius Circuit. Present Trustees are John Cranse, S. K. Button and Ashley Graves.
TAFT METHODIST EPISCOPAL CHURCH was organized by the labors of Rev. Barnard Peck in 1847. Other classes had been formed prior to this, but had been disbanded. The present church edifice was erected in 1857 on ground donated by David Tompkins. Among the members of the class of 1847, were Caleb Tompkins, David Borst, John Richmond, John Bennett and John Taft, from whom the church takes its name. This was part of what was known as the North Manlius District, comprising six congregations, and is about a mile southeast of Centerville.
The present membership is about forty. Pastor in charge Rev. Joel Houd, who also officiates at Centerville.
BRIDGEPORT SAW MILL AND TANNERY. – This mill stands on the west bank of the Chittenango Creek. It was built by Benjamin French about 1825, who run the mill until 1854, when the present owner, Oney Sayles, purchased it and has run it ever since. This is the oldest mill now standing in the vicinity ; it is an old-fashioned upright waterpower saw mill.
Bridgeport tannery was built in 1825, and was run until 1869. The old building, vats and machinery are still standing between the mill race and creek, but is unoccupied.
In 1874, Jesse Daniels planted a hop-yard, and in 1877 increased it to four acres, which is now a very thriving and profitable yard-the only one in the town.