Town of Sullivan

 An early map of the town of Sullivan shows a surprising number of 
roads crisscrossing its territory. Many of these may have been Indian 
paths, but as settlers came to the area, the roads were improved and 
extended, making it possible for farmers to market their excess produce. 
 This expansion encouraged more migration, with the newcomers settling  
first just outside the present village of Chittenango, in the hills of  
Perryville, and on the plains just south of Bridgeport. Several roads  
converged at Chittenango, which led to its development as the business  
center of the town. 
 The "Great Genesee Road" which was cut through to the western part of  
the state by the Wadsworth brothers in 1790 was reincorporated by the  
Seneca Turnpike Company in 1800. It passed through Chittenango and over  
Brinkerhoff Hill to Manlius, following the direction of today's Route  
173. Later the turnpike turned toward Syracuse before leaving the 
village and followed the general direction that Route 5 does today. 
 Another road, the Madison County Turnpike, left Chittenarlgo to pass 
over the hills to the sculttleasr and connect with Peterboro and places 
beyond. The Chittenango-Cazenovia Plank Road which eventually reached 
Oneida Lake was another artery of travel which served this area. Many 
stagecoaches made Chittenango their stopping place, which spurred the 
development of at least four hotels to accommodate travelers. 
 Because Chittenango had the advantage of abundant water power from the 
creek, the town and village grew and the usual industries sprang up  
gristmills, sawmills, and tanneries. Consequently, among other industries  
there was a woolen mill (which later manufactured cotton goods) and a  
foundry which made many products from iron such as plows, stoves, and even 
bridges. The textile mill operated from 1824 to 1883 and the foundry was 
active a few years longer. 
 Chittenango Claims some enterprising men amongst her ranks - in  
particular one named John B. Yates who promoted many ambitious projects.  
One of the most important was a sidecut canal which connected Chittenango  
with the Erie Canal just north of the village. This lateral canal allowed  
for a great deal of shipping business in and out of the community between  
1819 (when the canal was built) and the late 1860s (when it was filled in).  
Before its state of disuse, there were canal boats going both east and  
west daily on the Erie. However, after the turn of the century and the  
building of the Erie/Barge Canal system, the boat business at Chittenango  
Landing was gone. 
 Another trail, an old Indian one, extended across the northern part of 
the town of Sullivan providing a beginning for the present Route 31. Where 
the road crossed the creek on the western boundary of the town a settlement 
was founded and named Bridgeport. There the waterpower enabled the 
innabitants to operate a sawmill, tannery, carding mill, broom factory and 
other businesses. The creek at Bridgeport was also used for fishing as was 
Oneida Lake. Today a research station maintained by Cornell University and 
an organization known as the Oneida Lake Association are evidence that 
efforts are being made to preserve this natural resource. 
 Along the shores of the lake beginning in the latter half of the 19th 
century there were many resorts maintained at Damons Point, Shackeltons 
Point, Larkin Grove and other places along the south shore where people 
gathered for recreation during the summer. Lakeport grew up as a result of 
this summer trade. Located here were a post office, hotels, and a store. 
 Tourism within the town became important not only along Oneida Lake, but  
at Chittenango. White Sulphur Springs which was a big attraction in the 
health-conscious nineteenth century. A summer resort was also located about 
two miles south of Chittenango where a large hotel and some cottages  
across the creek provided accommodations for two or three hundred guests.  
Unfortunately, as with many of the early industries, little remains to  
remind us of these popular attractions. 
 Believed to be the oldest settlement in the town of Sullivan is  
Canaseraga, about one mile east of Chiittenango. A Frenchman, the 
Marquis Angel de Ferrier married an Oneida Indian princess and lived 
there before white men arrived. The post office, stores and church are 
long gone but the hamlet remains and is now called Sullivan. Another 
early place was Gates' Settlement, on the road toward North Manlius, 
was first called Mathews Mills. It was located on Chittenango Creek 
which split it in half so that half lies in the site of an old Indian 
stockade where a skirmish occurred during the Revolutionary War. Another 
hamlet is Perryville, which is partly in the town of Sullivan. It was 
not only located on the Madison County Tumpike but on the Lehigh Valley 
Railroad with a stop there called Blakeslee. Chittenango Station grew up 
as a result of the railroad going through that area. The West Shore line 
was located just south or tile New York Central and connected the town with  
Syracuse and Utica with electric interurban cars for many years. A stage  
took passengers to and from both stations. 
 As in many communities the social life in the settlements of Sullivan  
revolved around the church and the school. One school called the Yates  
Polytechnic Institute, was begun very early in Chittenango. Students 
came from all over the state to attend, boarding at the school or in 
the community. There were plans to make the academy into an agricultural 
or trade school but they never materialized because of Yates' death and 
lack of state support. 
 Officially, the town of Sullivan was formed in 1803 from a part of the 
town of Cazenovia. It was named for General John Sullivan, whose men 
marched through the area during the Revolutionary War. It was 1842 
before the village of Chittenango, the only community of any size, was 
incorporated. Later, in 1872, it was reincorporated under a revised 
state law. Officials were then elected, laws enacted, and services such 
as fire protection instituted. 
 As Chittenango and the town both grew, so did local interest in outside,  
state, and national affairs. A newspaper, the Chittensmgo Herald was  
established in 1831 and later became known by various other names. It also  
served as the forerunner of the Madison County Times, which excelled in 
its widespread coverage. 
 Today, the face of Sullivan reflects that times have changed and the  
economy has shifted. Chittenango is considered a bedroom community to 
Syracuse, yet the vast cultivated and open lands remaining in the rest of  
the town call to mind a rural tradition which still survives. 

Date: Friday, December 04, 1998 03:15 PM

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