Historical Papers by Jabez
W. Abell Jr.
from the Cazenovia Republican,
Daniel H. Weiskotten
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Cherry Valley Turnpike,
Built Before Syracuse was even a Village
by Jabez W. Abell in the Cazenovia Republican
September 30, 1926
see the introduction
here to go to the Alphabetical List of Titles
here to go to the List Arranged by Date
(typographical errors corrected, additional notes by DHW in square
brackets [ ])
Cherry Valley Turnpike,
Built Before Syracuse was even a Village
The important part Cazenovia
had in the building of the old Cherry Valley Turnpike back in 1803 is shown
by the fact that the president of the original corporation together with
the secretary and treasurer and a majority of their associates were all
residents of this village and the old records indicate that Cazenovia always
bad a controlling interest in the road. This was back only ten years
after Cazenovia was founded by Colonel John Lincklaen  and twenty-two
years before Syracuse was even incorporated as a village .
Soon after the settlement
of this country, it became evident that if progress was to be made in its
development, roads were necessary. As Cazenovia in particular felt
the necessity of having means of communication with Albany the legislature
was petitioned to corporate what was afterwards known as "The Third Great
Western Turnpike Company" which was to be an extension of turnpikes already
made from Cherry Valley to Manlius Square.
The old records say:
The stockholders in the
new company having met at the house of Ebenezer Hale in the town of Sangerfield
in the county of Chenango on the 15th day of November in the year 1803
agreeable to a notice thereof inserted in three several newspapers, one
printed in Albany and one in Utica and one in Cooperstown, proceeded to
the election of directors agreeably to the statutes in such cases made
and provided - when after canvassing the ballot it appeared that John Lincklaen,
Asahel Jackson, Samuel Coleman, Oliver Norton, James Green, Joshua Lovejoy,
Ansena L. Howland, James Moore, Anon Morse, Elija Holt, Benjamin Gilbert,
John Diell, and S. Sidney Breeze, were elected directors by a majority
of the stockholders present.
A meeting of the directors
of the "Third Great Western Turnpike Road Company" held at the house of
Ebenezer Hale in the town of Sangerfield in the County of Chenango on the
16th day of November 1803. The said directors being so met, proceeded
to elect by ballot John Lincklaen, president; James Green, treasurer; and
S. Sidney Breese secretary of said company.
It was soon discovered that
there were onerous conditions in the charter that prevented the sale of
the stock, and the directors proceeded to petition the legislature for
an amendment to the act of incorporation.
It seems by this petition,
that there was great objection to the clause empowering the Governor and
Council of Appointment to appoint commissioners to have a general supervision
of the road at their discretion, the directors having them to pay for the
services which they might see fit to render or charge for rendering.
That Legislature looked
out for a chance for the governor to have a soft place to bestow upon supernumerous
politicians - "Political scavengers who are too lazy to work and too cowardly
The western terminus was
also to be where the Seneca turnpike crossed the outlet of Skaneateles
Lake, which we will state in the words of the directors in the petition
That it is the opinion
of your petitioners that the road ought to commence in the Village of Cherry
Valley, a place which has already made rapid advances towards prosperity
and bids fair in time to become of mercantile importance. That the
country between the Village of Cazenovia and the outlet of Skaneateles
Lake in extremely mountainous so that it is almost impracticable to construct
a passable road through it and that if such road was constructed it would
for a great number of miles ran nearly parallel to and at a trifling distance
from the Seneca Turnpike road, approaching nearer and nearer to it, until
they would both meet at the outlet of the Skaneateles Lake, a circumstance
which would eventually be detrimental to both roads.
It was doubtless the intention
at the start to run the turnpike over the hill at the foot of the lake,
into Pompey Hollow, over the continuous hills and into the intervening
valleys [the route of present US 20], that might well discourage even a
more energetic class of men and it would have rendered the road at that
time and for the immediate purpose wanted, nearly worthless. [The
Hamilton & Skaneateles Turnpike, chartered in 1806 and running just
to the south, covered much of this territory].
When the Cherry Valley Turnpike
was completed to Manlius (1810-1811) the embargo was raised and everything
desirable in facilities for travel seemed to be accomplished. It
was not at that time supposed that better facilities for travel could ever
It was the ne-plus-ultra
[pinnacle of achievement] of the time.
A line of stages was run,
"Four Horse Post Coaches" they were called at the Post Office Department,
and no one was allowed to carry the mails on such routes without means
for conveying passengers, nor even then without buying the existing line,
thus effectually guarding the interest of the parties first taking the
venture and giving them an undisturbed monopoly. That monopoly which
might have assumed odious and perhaps dangerous proportions was effectually
crushed and extinguished by later improvements in travel and transportation.
It was supposed to be necessary to secure the parties who took the risk
of putting on the first line of stages. It was a bonus to secure
an important service.
A stage passenger was considered
to be above the common herd and was charged double price for what he had
at the tavern, and like McGregor, where he sat was the head of the table.
Those of us who used to
sit in front of Hikok's tavern (now Cazenovia House) [Joseph Hickox, first
in tavern 1817, died 1821] during the intermissions of the meeting Sunday
noon have seen Jerry White, who drew the reins over the foaming steed for
many a long year, drive up with prolonged toot of horn and crack of whip.
The landlord would open the door of the coach, let down the steps and assist
the exhausted people, who were sufficiently wealthy to afford a ride in
a stage coach, into the sitting room, the wonder of the gazing crowd of
children of all ages from ten to four-score years. Then might be
seen the obsequious landlord with a salver containing goblets of prepared
beverages to renew the flagging spirits of the aristocratic, but wearied
Meanwhile the ‘lackeys"
that always hung around the tavern, would bring water for Jerry to water
his team of which he would allow each one a prudent share, rubbing their
noses with it first, adjusting their headstalls, and portions of the harness
that seemed misplaced. Then a boy would bring the Great Western Mail
from the post office nearby (often swinging it around his head by way of
amusement) which he would toss up to Jerry to be deposited under his seat.
When "all board" would ring
out in stentorian tones, the refreshed passengers would resume their seats
in the coach, Jerry placing the four reins properly between his fingers,
the long lash of the whip would crack like a horse pistol, and away with
dashing speed would go this most brilliant equipage, the stage coach.
How boys used to crave and aspire to be elevated to the position of stage
driver! Two days and nights were required to reach Albany, one hundred
and thirteen miles distant.
Before the Presbyterian
meeting house was moved from the "Green" to its present site , one
standing in front of Hikok's tavern (now the Cazenovia House) [Joseph Hickox,
first in tavern 1817, died 1821] could see the stage approaching from the
west as it came down what is now known as McCarthy hill [NY 92] the other
side of the lake.
The 113th mile board from
Albany stood at the southwest comer of William Whipple's front yard at
about where the south entrance to the basement of the Lincklaen House now
The stage driver never gave
half of the road to any team he met, but common teamsters invariably gave
up the road. Not that the stage had any lawful right to it, but it
was yielded voluntarily. It is homage weakness pays to power and
is seldom refused at the present day.
The first dividend was declared
in 1811, eight years from the passage of the first act of incorporation,
and soon after the road was completed, being about 70 miles long.
Toll gates were established 10 miles apart.
The Presidency of the Cherry
Valley Turnpike was continuously in the hands of Mr. Lincklaen until he
resigned a short time previous to his death in 1822 when General Ledyard
became president until the final collapse, when turnpike roads and turnpike
gates became a thing of the past and now, at this present time there are
comparatively few who know anything about this corporation that died so
quietly that none but the stockholders really knew whether it was buried
alive or not. They kept on taking at the gates the six pences and
shillings as long as any one would pay, and it would greatly gratify our
idle curiosity to know who paid the last expiring fare.
The last toll gate on the
road to disappear is said to have been just this side of Morrisville at
the top of the hill, and here is the story passed down as to how it disappeared.
A farmer is said to have come along and upon refusing to pay the toll and
being denied passage, hooked a rope on the toll gate and drew it back in
the lot. And there it stayed. We don't vouch for the accuracy
of the story but it was told us by an older resident to whom it was told
by a still older resident long since dead. [I believe that the toll
house on the west side of Cazenovia Lake stood until the 1890s].
END of Jabez W. Abell's "Cherry Valley Turnpike ..."