A History of The Madison County Hotel
and Associated Properties
36 and 42 Albany Street
 
 Daniel H. Weiskotten
 July 13, 1998 (modified November 1999)
 (modern photo of the house at 42 Albany Street courtesy of Bruce Van Brocklen)
 
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A History of The Madison County Hotel and Associated Properties
36 and 42 Albany Street, Cazenovia, NY

        The property at 42 Albany Street, is one that is steeped in not only local history, but also local prehistory.  The area to the south of Cazenovia's Public Square (aka "Cannon Park") to the bank of the old mill pond/swamp is loaded with history and each parcel has its own story to tell, but each also helps to define Cazenovia's history as a part of the whole.  Because of the long and active history of these properties their stories are important and complex.
        Again, as you might gather from what I present below, there is more to the history of a property than just the buildings thereon.  As an historian I am concerned with the history of the property and not just the building, and as an archaeologist I am concerned with the information that is buried underground - prehistoric as much as historic.  Just about everything that has happened on that property has left some sort of evidence in the ground, be it Indian camps, a blacksmith shop, a silversmith's shop, a tavern, Masonic Lodge, a livery stable, or a residence (hopefully not much indicating a funeral home!).  We have to be concerned about all of the information that a property holds and not just that there is an old building upon it.  Without the other stuff that old house is nothing more than another old building.
 

Prehistory

        The property on which the former Smith's Funeral Home (42 Albany Street) now stands is located on the broad high ground along upon which John Lincklaen chose to center his village in 1793.  This ground not only provided a high and dry location suitable for planting a small community, it was also near the juncture of the outlet of Cazenovia Lake and Chittenango Creek.
        Long before John Lincklaen ever stepped foot on this spot the area had been the domain of the Native Americans.  We're not sure if it was the Oneidas, who had their homes to the east, or the Onondagas who had their homes to the west, but there is evidence that this area has been continuously used for thousands of years.  Most of the evidence is found in the last century when Cazenovia was busy building itself and there are a few scant references to the findings.  No controlled archaeological examination has been made of the area but it is certain that evidence of occupation (pit features, soil stains indicating structures, and other signs) as well as burials are to be found in the immediate vicinity of the property.
        In the 1880s and 1890s, when the village's water and sewer systems were being constructed, workmen found several prehistoric burials along South Street adjacent to the property.  Several other burials were reported to have been found in the 1930s and 1940s when other work was being done along the same street.  No artifacts were reported from the graves and it appears that they were pre-Iroquoian in age (Iroquoian burials after c. AD 1500 tend to have artifacts).  Burials have also been reported from the south side of the creek, some of which did contain Iroquois artifacts.
        Since this property lies very near the bank of the mill pond which would have been the perfect spot to hunt and fish it is no wonder that the Native Americans chose this spot to set up camps or perhaps a small semi-permanent village.  Evidence of possible occupation was noted when the first settlers came to the area.  Samuel Forman, John Lincklaen's storekeeper, wrote in an 1837 reminiscence that "on the bank of the out-let of the Lake, where the Hay scales now stand (south of the Public Square on the bank of the old mill pond), there was an old fort which from the regularity of its appearance and other circumstances must have been the work of a civilized people.  The embankment, the holes where the pickets were put into the ground and two circular holes, supposed to have been wells, were easily perceptible; and frequently pieces of earthen ware, were found at this spot."  Forman continued that he had "always regretted that we had not curiosity enough to have these supposed wells opened and examined."
        Besides the evidence of this "fort" which indicates a settled village at this location, there is likely to be thousands of years worth of smaller temporary camps which were used on a seasonal basis by the Native Americans while hunting, fishing, and collecting local foods that grew in natural abundance in the area.  Such sites might now be evidenced by small clusters fractured rocks that were used in cooking, large patches of blackened soil with fractured rocks where fish were roasted, storage pits, small soil stains indicating where wooden house stakes were driven into the ground, and the ubiquitous broken pottery, stone tools, and flakes of chert.
 

History
 

        The history of the property is as early as any in the village and the building that stands upon it is one of our earliest and has an interesting and varied history.  The pattern of village streets as we know it today, with the Public Square at the center, was apparently laid out in that first summer of settlement in 1793.  Benjamin Weston started the survey but other more pressing matters called him away and it was completed by Calvin Guiteau.
        The original Great Lots of this property are Lots 47 and 64 of the Village Plot (marked E.C. Litchfield and E. Litchfield on the 1852 Hart Map of Cazenovia).  Lot 47 faced the Public Square and Lot 64 lay to the back of this along the bank of the old Mill Pond (now a willow swamp).  In 1799 these combined lots were divided down the middle to form the properties upon which now stand the houses at #36 and 42 Albany Street (Century House and the former Smith Funeral Home) and extend from the Public Square to the bank of the old Mill Pond.  The first know occupant of this property was Elnathan Andrews who came to Cazenovia with John Lincklaen in 1793 as the Holland Land Company blacksmith.  Andrews' first shop was probably located near the initial camps near where the Cazenovia Club is today, but it seems that he moved to the south side of the Public Square as early as 1795.  In the next few years he was joined by Hiram Roberts who eventually acquired an interest in the property and shop.  In 1795, the "Cazenovia Establishment," as the local branch of the Holland Land Company was known, paid out $690.00 to Elnathan Andrews for expenses incurred in building his house and improving the company-owned lot.  An August 1, 1797 account of the Company's holdings indicates that there was a frame house with a blacksmiths shop, valued together at $600.00, on lots 47 & 64.  The following year the same frame dwelling and blacksmith shop were valued at $510.40, and in 1799 they were not listed as company property.
        Until 1799 the property had been owned by the Holland Land Company and used by Elnathan Andrews and Hiram Roberts who had their residence and blacksmith shop there.  The nature of their partnership, if they had one, is not clear for they are never mentioned together, but they are both mentioned throughout the period as being the occupants and or owners of the lot and it gets somewhat confusing.  Where upon the 3 acres or so of this property the house and shop were located is not known, but they most certainly faced the public square.  In August of 1799 the eastern part of the property, now 42 Albany Street,  was noted as being occupied by Hiram Roberts.  At that time John Lincklaen sold the western part of the lots, now 36 Albany Street, to Eliakim Roberts for $400.00 which indicates that there was a substantial improvement upon it, probably the Company house built for Andrews.  (Since the Company already had a tavern nearby [the Johnson House] the house on this property would not have been a tavern at this time).  Later that year, in December of 1799 John Lincklaen made a gift of the eastern part of the lot, now #42 Albany Street, to Elnathan Andrews (without mention of Hiram Roberts) and it is probable that this is where his blacksmith shop was located.
        Lincklaen made such gifts of land to friends and others who had showed their value to the growing community and a blacksmith was definitely a valuable asset to a small frontier community with big plans.  The lots on the Public Square were particularly valuable as these were intended to be the commercial center of the community with taverns, stores, and other shops around its perimeter.  It wasn't until just before 1840 that residences began to replace some of the stores and taverns - more on that later.
        I found no documents that would indicate that Andrews or Hiram Roberts sold the land and it may be that Andrews left Cazenovia some time after the turn of the new century (1800) and the property reverted to Hiram Roberts' possession.  I have not found any record of Hiram Roberts ownership other than as an occupant, so it may be that the property reverted to John Lincklaen who had made the original gift to Andrews in 1799.  Hiram Roberts died before 1814 and the property had long since passed into the hands of others.  In 1805 it was sold by Lincklaen to Horace Paddock, but before we get into that avenue of history, we need to turn around a bit and look at the neighboring property where things were happening.
 

The Madison County Hotel

        Despite erroneous historical writings of the past decades the Madison County Hotel did not stand on the very southeast corner of the Public Square, now the site of Smith's Funeral Home at 42 Albany Street.  It stood on the southeast side of the Square where the "Century House" now stands at 36 Albany Street.  The house that stands at 42 Albany Street today, used for many years as the Smith Funeral Home, is a part of the old hotel, but it was moved here and converted to a residence after the tavern was closed.
        As I noted above, the property at 36 Albany Street was purchased by Eliakim Roberts from John Lincklaen in August of 1799.  The purchase price of $400.00 indicates that there may have been a substantial building there at that time, and this was probably the house built at Company expense in 1795 for Elnathan Andrews.  What Roberts did with the property is not known as he owned many such properties about the village, but it is unlikely that is was used as a tavern.  The history of the village taverns is relatively well known and there are none that could have been here during Roberts' time.  Roberts was a store keeper in the village, selling all sorts of general merchandise, but his store stood on the site of the Oneida Savings Bank at 48 Albany Street and his house stood a little bit to the east where Albert's restaurant is now located.
        The earliest recorded or identified proprietor of the Madison County Hotel was Eliphalet S. Jackson, who held the annual Town Meeting at his "house" in March 1811.  Jackson had purchased the lot from Eliakim Roberts in 1806 and the price paid was $250.00 which indicates that there was a substantial building there at the time.  What this building was, if there was a building!) is not known, but one day while I was doing research in the Town of Dryden, Tompkins County, I found that Horace Paddock, formerly of Cazenovia, had gone to Dryden and by 1810 he was operating a tavern!  This makes me wonder if Paddock had a tavern at the site before the Madison County Hotel was built in 1807.  (For more information on the Paddocks, see the autobiography of Nathan Paddock on the Onondaga County RootsWeb page.)
    According to a wonderful letter, written in 1807 by Ebenezer and Elizabeth Backus, now in the Cazenovia Public Library,  "Mr. E.S. Jackson has a House 54 feet Long Ready to Raise adjoining to the House Where Horace Paddock Lived".  This is none other than the beginnings of the Madison County Hotel.
       The appearance of the hotel is shown in an old engraving made about 1830 to be a long front, easily the 54 feet mentioned in the 1807 letter, with a long wing extending out the back. The L shape of the foot print and the hipped roof line made it similar in form to many other taverns that were found throughout New York State, two of which, the Coonrod in Pratts Hollow and the Ozark in Delphi Falls, are still standing and used as places of merriment.  Take a trip around the village and compare the detailed "dental" work under the cornice of the houses at #42 Albany Street and 21- 23 Sullivan Street and you will see that they were one part of the same building.  Take a drive out to Pratts Hollow or Delphi Falls and see what form the hotel had in its days as a complete hotel (I don't know if those other places, now devoid of any architectural detail, had once been so adorned as the Madison County Hotel).
        The proprietors of the Madison County Hotel were many and included some who owned and operated the place and others who managed it under the ownership of others.  The owners of the hotel property at 36 Albany Street were Eliphalet S. Jackson (1806-1816), Lemuel White (1816-1828), Salter Cleaveland (1828-1829), Salter Cleaveland and John I. Gilchrist (1829- 1834), Oliver E. Huntington (1834-1837), Simon C. Hitchcock (1837), and finally John Williams and Electus B. Litchfield (1837-1840).  The proprietors of the Madison County Hotel are known to include Eliphalet S. Jackson (1807-1813), William Hatch (1813-1816), Lemuel White (1816-1824), Timothy G. Chidsey (1824-1827), S. Bass (1827), Salter & Giles Cleaveland (1827-1830), John I. Gilchrist (1830-1831), and Ira Loomis (1833-1835).  In 1834 the old hotel was purchased by a stock company which had been formed to build the Lincklaen House and the old hotel would have been closed by November 1836 when the Lincklaen House was opened.
        The owners and proprietors were active in Cazenovia society and history.  Eliphalet S. Jackson was a prominent merchant and wealthy landowner; William Hatch hosted the first visit of a living elephant in the village in 1813 and he was also the second Sheriff of Madison County in 1810 (I am not sure if this William Hatch was also the same William Hatch which had been among the soldiers captured by the British at Canaseraga with Walter Vrooman on October 23, 1780 - several of the soldiers settled in Madison County after the war); John I Gilchrist and Salter Cleaveland were stove makers and tin smiths with a shop and store nearby, Lemuel White went on to be a prominent merchant on Albany Street.
        The hotels were active places where meetings were held and where visitors and traveling shows stayed.  I can't get into the varied and extensive details of the events surrounding the hotels in the village, but I find that the Madison County Hotel was the host to Cazenovia's first "living elephant" in 1813 and a real "Egyptian Mummy" in 1827!
        In association with the hotel there was the Masonic Lodge which was formed in Cazenovia in 1799 but first appeared in connection with the hotel in 1828.  Lemuel White, who had been the owner and proprietor since 1816, was an active Mason and they may have been meeting there for some time before 1828.  In February, 1828, just before White sold the hotel to Salter Cleaveland, he sold the south wing of the hotel to the Cazenovia Chapter 105 of the United Brethren Lodge 78 for use as a Masonic Hall.  The hall, erected by Lemuel White, and valued at $500.00, measured 42 feet long and 24 feet wide.  I contained a "Tyler" and Preparation Rooms with the Hall on the second floor.  Right-of-way to and from the Hall was gained through the front door and hall of the hotel.
        The hotel was not to be in existence much longer, for the village was changing and the old places like this were fast being phased out.  In 1834 the stock company that was to build the Lincklaen House, with John Williams and E.B. Litchfield at the helm, purchased the old hotel and began the closure.  It is not clear how long it remained opened but it may have operated until November 1836 when the Lincklaen House opened its doors.  It is known that the back wing was used by the Masonic Lodge until their disbanding on December 24, 1838.
        When the building was last used as a hotel about 1836 it was not destroyed, but nearly every piece of it was moved off the property to make way for the Century House.  The primary northwest corner chunk, with the large front door, was moved a few feet to the east and became a residence at 42 Albany Street, the back wing (long occupied by the Masons) and a lesser chunk of the front were moved up Sullivan Street where they were used as houses (the back wing still stands as a double house at 21-23 Sullivan Street while the smaller piece at 19 Sullivan Street was torn down in 1971 to make way for the St. James parking lot entrance), and another small piece was placed at the rear of the Lincklaen House but burned in 1895.
        In the illustrations here you can see the northwest part of the hotel which still stands at 42 Albany Street and the northwest part which was mocved to 19 Sullivan Street.  The second photo was taken in 1970 just before this section was demolished.  Note the similarity of form and the detailed cornice.  The building to the right in the second picture still stands at 21-23 Sullivan Street and was the back wing occupied by the Masonic Lodge.  It has been somewhat changed but still retains the original form and the detialed cornice which matches that of the house at 42 Albany Street!  Compare all of these parts to the whole building shown in the c. 1830 drawing.
 
Adjacent facilities and activities.

        A number of other facilities were found in the immediate vicinity of the Madison County Hotel.  Because of its excellent location on the southeast side of the Public Square, the hotel was in the midst of the early commercial center.  At the time the hotel was closed this center was moving eastward to where it is today, and the old place is on the margin between the business and residential cores (thus the threat to the building).
        The Public Square was the center of activity in the first half of the 19th century.  At all corners were found taverns, shops, stores, and offices.  In the immediate vicinity f the Madison County Hotel were the Village Pound, Hay Scale, a livery stable, tinsmiths, blacksmiths, and a silversmith.  The c. 1830 engraving of the hotel shows that the property at 42 Albany Street was occupied by the hotel's large livery stable.  This has been confused in recent years with the old barn which had stood until the 1970s where the present Oneida Savings Bank parking lot is - they are entirely different buildings.  The engraving shows a broad gabled front with two large doors, windows on the second floor and a fan light in the gable.  Carriages can be seen in the open doors and a path led along the side of the barn to the area out back.
        To the left of the hotel, and between the hotel and the livery barn, was a small building over the door to which hangs a large golden watch.  This was the silvers smiths shop of Joab Gillette where he seems to have been located continuously as early as 1810 and up to 1827.  Here he repaired watches and clocks and made silver spoons and perhaps jewelry.  In later years the shop was occupied by the offices of Edward Allen, an attorney, and Elisha Farnham, a local manufacturer.
        To the east of the hotel, perhaps before the large livery stable was built were found the tailor's shop of John McNeil in 1814 and the dress making shop of Mrs. D. and C.S. Storms in 1818.
 

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