"...The town of La Fayette was for many years a part of the famous Onondaga country, the seat of the central government of the Iroquois Confederacy, and the scene of notable Indian gatherings, ceremonies, and traditions...Adjoining the present Onondaga Reservation on the south and east, to which portions of the town formerly belonged, the territory under consideration is rich in aboriginal lore as well as interesting in missionary and colonial achievements. Ample evidences of former occupancy were discovered by the early settlers, and even after their arrival the Indians often visited the section in quest of game and adventure. The dense forest abounded with bears, deer, panthers, wolves, foxes, and other wild animals, while the two principal streams, Onondaga and Butternut Creeks, flowing northerly through the valleys on the west and east sides of the ridge respectively, together with their small tributaries, supplied plenty of fish. One of the latter watercourses, Conklin's Brook, descends 500 feet within the space of a mile.
The first settlement in what is now La Fayette, and likewise the first within the military township and the late civil town of Pompey, was made by a Revolutionary soldier, John Wilcox, on lot 13, in 1791, in which year his daughter Amy was born, which was the first white birth in the territory under consideration. He located on Haskins Hill, a little east of an abandoned Indian orchard, which he owned, and which covered about twenty acres of land. This old orchard was in full bearing at the time of his arrival, and was situated on a commanding eminence, on the place later owned by Cornelius Vandenburg, and on the highway leading from La Fayette to Jamesville, as subsequently laid out, and from it he supplied his neighbors with apples for several years. It produced large quantities of fruit until near the middle of this century, when it went to decay. On lots 76 and 91, in Sherman Hollow, was another old Indian orchard, when the Shermans, James Pierce, and Solomon Owen settled there, and one of the early enterprises in that locality was raising nursery stock for the settlers, even for Otisco and other remote towns, from seeds of the Indian apple trees.
The second settler was Comfort Rounds, who came in 1792 and took up his residence about two miles north of the center of the town. He was a plain and pious man and attained the great age of 105 years. The first marriage was that of Solomon Owen to Lois Rounds, Comfort's daughter, in 1793, at which time Owen settled in Sherman Hollow. In 1792, also, William Haskins located on and gave his name to Haskins Hill. The same year Daniel Danforth arrived and cleared and improved the farm later occupied by his nephew, Thomas Danforth. Another prominent settler of 1792 was Asa Drake, of the fourth generation from Benjamin Drake, who migrated from England to America in 1680. Asa Drake was born near Boston, Mass., December 13, 1765, and first visited this section in 1785, when he purchased of Capt. Elisha Harvey one-half of the latter's lot, No. 24, upon which he permanently located in 1794, bringing with him from the east a considerable store of household and other necessities. February 11, 1799, he married Experience Esty and they had six daughters and two sons. In 1806 he built a large frame barn and in 1811 a commodious brick house, the brick for which were burned on his own land,, and which is still standing. Honest, hospitable, and enterprising, he was long an influential citizen, active in church and school affairs, and died here at the age of eighty-three. His grandchildren are Mrs. Martha Sherwood Edwards and Asa L. Sherwood, of Skaneateles, and the late wife of Gen. R. M. Richardson, of Syracuse, a daughter of the late Hon. Thomas Sherwood, of Jamesville. Another grandson, Capt. John Drake, son of the late E. Stephen Drake, of Jordan, was killed at Gettysburg, while leading his company in the 111th N. Y. Vols.
In 1793 James Sherman located in and gave his name to Sherman Hollow, in the east part of the town; he kept a tavern in his house and soon afterward built the first saw mill in La Fayette on Butternut Creek. From the time of his arrival the itinerant M. E. preachers found a welcome and a shelter at his home and a willing helper in the person of his wife, Lucina Sherman. They were the parents of Dr. J. De B. Sherman, a prominent physician of Pompey Hill, and of Joseph Sherman, who served as justice of the peace from 1830 to 1840.
Among the settlers of 1794 were Isaac and Elias Conklin, John Hotaling, Amaziah Branch, Benjamin June, James Pierce, Samuel Hyatt, Amasa Wright, and Reuben Bryan. The Conklins located on Conklin's Brook, which was named from them, and on which they soon erected a saw mill and in 1798 a grist mill, which is said to have been the first in the town (then Pompey). Amaziah Branch was a Congregationalist from Norwich, Conn., and had studied for the ministry, but was not licensed to preach. Nevertheless, being a man of piety, he held religious meetings in private houses and barns for several years, and was the first school teacher in town. He located in Sherman Hollow and died about 1818. Benjamin June, of French descent, was a Revolutionary soldier, as was also Samuel Humphrey of later date, and both were pioneers. Mr. Bryan was the father of Hon. John A. Bryan, who served in the State Legislature, was assistant postmaster-general under President Tyler's administration, charge-des-affaires to Peru, and auditor of the State of Ohio. The first death within the present town was that of Major Moses De Witt, whose remains are buried near the Jamesville reservoir, between the highway and the railroad track. His grave is marked by a time-wrecked tombstone, which bears the following inscription: Here lies the remains of Moses De Witt, Major of Militia, and Judge of the County Courts, one of the first, most active and useful settlers of the county. He was born on the 15th day of October, 1766, and died on the 15th day of August, 1794, being nearly 28 years of age.
The early settlers found the present town of La Fayette a somewhat attractive and picturesque section, covered with dense forests of hemlock, maple, beech, birch, pine, basswood, ash, etc., which supplied abundant timber for building and other purposes and long afforded lucrative employment to numerous saw mills and lumbermen. Several water privileges were utilized, even before the opening of the present century, and proved valuable auxiliaries in developing the natural resources, not only of this town, but of adjacent territory. Wild game abounded and often harassed the settlements, but for many years bounties were offered for the destruction of certain animals, such as wild cats, wolves and bears. Stories of adventure are still extant, notably one in which Dr. Silas Park figured as a hero, when one of the party was so thoroughly frightened at sight of a huge bear that he actually tumbled down hill and fired his gun in the tree tops. Paul King and Erastus Baker killed a large wolf in Christian Hollow near the Tully line, while George King slew another in the vicinity of Suydenham Baker's, near the present village of La Fayette. As the forests receded agriculture superseded nearly all other interests. The soil, composed of calcareous loam intermixed with vegetable mold, provided very productive and easy of cultivation, even on the highest hills. In various parts of the town iron ore, petrifactions, corals, shells, and other deposits were brought to light, while in several places sulphur springs, some of them emitting sulphureted hydrogen gas, have been discovered and sometimes used mechanically. These springs were often favorite deer-licks in early days.
Early in 1795 Michael Christian, a Revolutionary soldier who had drawn lot 18, Tully, arranged with Phineas Henderson, his neighbor in New Jersey, agreeing to give him 100 acres of his grant if he would built on it and begin a clearing. Henderson came in the spring with his wife, one child, horse, cow, and some household goods, built a log house, and commenced making improvements. His location was about a mile south of the Tully and La Fayette town line. In a few years Christian came to settle on his claim, but first sold the land improved by Henderson and offered the latter another 100 acres on an undesirable portion of the same lot. From Christian is derived the name of Christian Hollow, which extends northward into this town.
In 1795 Ebenezer Hill became a settler in the north part of the town. He was a man of powerful physique, a noted hunter, and on one occasion killed a wolf in Christian Hollow for which he received a State bounty of $18. Among other settlers in or before 1800 were Col. Jeremiah Gould, Gen. Isaac Hall, Lemuel Smith, and Erastus Baker. Colonel Gould erected the first frame house in the town in 1800. General Hall arrived before that year from Great Barrington, Mass., and settled one mile south of La Fayette village, where he built the second frame dwelling in 1801. It is said that he brought hither a half bushel of silver dollars, and for some time was the wealthiest man in all the region. He purchased about 1,200 acres of land, gave his attention to raising stock, and at his death in 1830 left some $70,000 worth of property. It was his custom to let cows, sheep, etc., to his neighbors to double. Lemuel Smith was the first blacksmith in the village of La Fayette in 1800 and died there in 1817. His shop occupied the site of the Presbyterian church. He was the father of Rev. Marcus Smith. Deacon Erastus Baker was the father of Charles A. Baker, who was born in Lenox, Mass., in 1798, came here with his parents in 1800, and died in Syracuse in 1881.
During the first decade of the town's history little effort was made towards the establishment of passable roads except what became absolutely necessary from time to time in connecting the several communities. Improvised thoroughfares were opened to Danforth's at Onondaga, to Pompey Hill, to Jamesville, and perhaps to a few other nearly points, but it was not until the first years of this century that regular highways were laid out. The settlers arrived mainly over the Indian trail from Utica, previous to the construction of the turnpike, and for some time found their way through the forests by means of blazed trees. Grain was carried long distances to mill on a man's shoulders or on horseback, and mail and household necessities were brought in and distributed in the same manner. The first routes of travel and many of the subsequent roads nearly or quite confirmed to the original Indian trails, which traversed the town in all directions. In 1801 a State road from Cazenovia to Skaneateles, passing through La Fayette Square, as it was then called, and Cardiff, was surveyed and opened, and Colonel Olcott, the surveyor, was suddenly taken sick and died at the house of Erastus Baker. About this same time an epidemic of small-pox ravaged the region, causing a number of deaths in the town. This road afforded the first important means of communication with distant centers of population, and was long the scene of considerable activity.
The year 1802 brought to the town of La Fayette many valuable settlers, among whom were Clark Bailey and his wife Sarah, with several sons and one daughter, several of them married. They came from Rhode Island, and brought thither a fair property. Clark and his son Richard settled on lot 88 in this town, and the other sons on lot 8, now of Tully. The father laid out, donated, and dedicated the cemetery near by; his son Stephen opened a tavern, and soon built and managed the large hotel so long a place of exchange for stages between Syracuse and Cortland; John conducted a general store and an ashery, both much needed and prized by the inhabitants, and Richard built and placed in operation the saw and grist mills now known as the Tully Valley mills.
The south slope of the hill known as Bear Mountain, on the west side of Christian Hollow, was infested with rattlesnakes, and for many years a part of a dozen or less, generally under direction of Richard Bailey, a skilled hunter, would go to the mountain on a warm summer day in May and carefully examine the flat slabs of stone for snakes, and when one was out in the sun often others were found under loose stones. On one hunt fifteen of the poisonous reptiles were slain. The last one captured in that vicinity was by Solomon White in 1854.
The opening of the Cazenovia and Skaneateles State road in 1801 was the signal for the systematic laying out of the then hamlet of La Fayette Square, now La Fayette. Upon all sides and upon the site thriving settlers were rapidly subduing the wilderness, and the natural consequence was the founding of a centrally located trading point. In accordance with an old New England custom, Caleb Green and Erastus Baker donated a plot of ground for a public square, which Dr. Silas W. Park cleared of its virginal forest. Around this the village was built up. Johnson Hall, son of Gen. Isaac Hall, and Harvey G. Andrews, his partner and brother-in-law, were among the earliest merchants, their store being a part of the present Presbyterian parsonage, and situated on that corner. Dr. Park, who practiced medicine here during his lifetime, lived on the southwest corner of the cross-roads, near where George L. Hoyt resides, while diagonally opposite stood the famous tavern of Orange King, in front of which was conspicuously displayed a sign board with "O King" painted upon it in large letters. This old hostelry was preceded by an inn kept by a Mr. Cheney, as was also the store of Hall & Andrews, by a small mercantile affair opened by Rice & Hill about 1802.
In 1803 Thomas Baker settled in Sherman Hollow, and about the same time Amos Palmeter located a mile south of the village. In 1804 came Joseph and Lemuel Baker, of whom the former very soon went on to Otisco and the latter to the far west. The Baker family has long been a prominent one in the town, and much of their landed property is still vested in the name. James, Joseph, and Asa McMillen, brothers, and carpenters, settled about a mile north of the Square at a very early day. Joseph and James built the first frame hotel in La Fayette, which was kept by Stoughton Morse, and which succeeded a log tavern kept by James Higgins. Morse also had a small store, while William Farren was an early blacksmith. Another pioneer carpenter and joiner was Nathaniel Sterling, who built the Baptist church at Pompey Hill, and the Presbyterian edifice in La Fayette village; took an active part in religious and educational matters, and died in Connecticut.
Among the pioneers in the northeast part of the town were Isaac Keeler, Col. Jeremiah Gould, Elkanah Hine and Noah Hoyt (on he farm later occupied by George Bishop), Joel Canfield, Job Andrews, Ezekiel Hoyt, Minnah Hyatt, Ebenezer Carr, Joshua Slocum (where E. V. W. Dox subsequently lived), and Calojius Vinell. In the west part were such settlers as Samuel Coleman, Nathan Park, Ozias and Zenas Northway (tavernkeepers), John and Archibald Garfield, Grandus Cuddeback (whose wife was a niece of Maj. Moses De Witt), William Sniffen, Hendrick Upperhousen, and John Hill. The last two mentioned were Hessian soldiers, who were captured from the British army in the war of the Revolution. In the south part of La Fayette were Gen. Isaac Hall and Amos Palmeter (previously mentioned), Jacob Johnson and son Jacob, William Alexander, Capt. Joseph C. Howe (on what was later the Cole farm), Abner and Rufus Kinney, Peter Abbott, Elijah Hall, and Obadiah Johnson. In the vicinity of La Fayette village there were the Bakers--Erastus, Thomas, Seth, and Suydenham--all prominent men from Massachusetts, Joseph Smith, Jeremiah Fuller, Daniel Share, Mr. Paine, Dr. Silas W. Park, Joseph S. and Daniel Cole, John Carlisle, Caleb Green, Orange King, Joseph Rhoades, Gershom Richardson, and Paul King.
These settlers, imbued as they were with sterling Christian principles, early planted the standard of religious worship among the several communities. The arrival of James and Lucina Sherman in 1793 and of Amaziah Branch, a zealous school teacher and gospel worker, in 1794, was the first impulse given to the inception and growth of local Christianity, and from that time onward itinerant missionaries held occasional services in barns, private dwellings, and school houses. Between 1798 and 1805 the central ridge, extending north and south near the center of the town, was settled by a cultured class of citizens largely from Massachusetts. On the 14th of October, 1805, the Columbian Congregational Society was organized. In October, 1809, the Congregational church (now Presbyterian) of La Fayette was formed by Rev. Benjamin Bell at the tavern of Stoughton Morse where the Temperance House afterward stood. The society consisted of Deacon Noah Hoyt, Deacon Nathan Abbott, Ezekiel and Philander Hoyt, Polly and Mary Hoyt, Anna and Sally Baker, Apollos Hewitt, Esther Maxwell, Corrinna Abbott, Achsah Johnson, Rebecca Bates, Anna Hewitt, and Sally Danforth. Other early members were the Halls, Porters, and Coles. In 1819-20 a church was erected, to which a session house was added in 1846. The latter was replaced in 1861 by a similar structure costing $1,000, which has also been used as a town hall. The site was donated by Capt. Joseph Rhoades and Erastus Baker. The property is still owned by the Columbian society; the church has been under the 'plan of union,' since 1808, and the name Congregational was maintained until August 24, 1884, when the First Presbyterian church of La Fayette succeeded. Early in this century a Methodist Episcopal church was organized and a house of worship erected about a mile east of Onativia Station. In 1853 the site was changed and the edifice moved to and rebuilt near that hamlet, where it remains fully equipped for church work. Among those early prominent in this society were Rev. H. A. Case, Enoch Everingham, Lyman Bush, Charles Johnson, Thomas Weller, Lucina Sherman, and Rev. E. M. Mills, D.D., who served as its pastor for three years.
The war of 1812-15 spread no little excitement among the settlers of this town, yet they were sufficiently distant from the actual scenes of conflict as to escape the trials which disturbed the more contiguous communities. Richard Bailey, who was captain of infantry for the then west half of Pompey, was twice called out with his command on alarms--once from Oswego, when the company proceeded as far as Oswego Falls, and once from Sackett's Harbor, when they reached Ellisburg, some fifteen miles beyond the Salmon River. The sword owned and carried by Captain Bailey is now the property of his granddaughter, Mrs. Rose Rude, of Minnesota. Closely following this warlike struggle came the celebrated 'cold season' of 1816, which proved so disastrous everywhere to all growing crops and caused wide-spread suffering to both man and beast. Succeeding years, however, revived general prosperity, which has continued almost uninterruptedly down to the present time.
Among the first settlers in Tully Valley, which extends northward into this town, were Clark Bailey and his family from Rhode Island. Regular religious meetings were soon instituted, being often held under the direction of 'Aunt Sally,' a zealous Baptist, as Mrs. Bailey was then called. In 1818 this Baptist group united with others from Tully village and Vesper in constituting the Tully Baptist church and erecting a house of worship at Tully Center. In 1835 a church of thirty-seven members, nearly all from this society, was organized in Tully Valley as the First Baptist Church of La Fayette and held services in a school house near the Tully Valley mills. The pastors were Rev. Randolph Streeter seven years, Rev. Barton Capron two years, and Rev. A. R. Palmer, then a licentiate, about three years. The names prominent on the records of the church are Gaylord, Haynes, Irish, Palmer, and Shue. Both Streeter and Palmer were in great request as teachers of public schools. The church never owned any real estate, and although receiving double the number of new members that it had to begin with, yet in eleven years its membership was diminished owing to a decrease in the population and the settlement of the younger element in other places; so in 1846 the society disbanded, most of the members joining churches either at Tully or Vesper.
By the year 1825 the territory under consideration contained about 2,400 inhabitants, and embraced not only the thirty-two lots of township No. 10, Pompey...but also twenty-two smaller lots which had been purchased by the State from the Onondaga Indian Reservation--lots 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, about 4,000 acres, on the east side, on February 25, 1817, and lots 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7, 800 acres, from the south end, February 11, 1822. All these lots were sold by the State to white settlers, and excepting the two tracts named the town never comprehended, for civil, judicial, and administrative purposes, any part of the Reservation as originally defined. On the 25th of April, 1825, the State Legislature created the present town of La Fayette by passing the subjoined act: That from and after the second Monday in March next, all that part of the town of Pompey lying west of a line running north and south, on the east line of lots number 3, 15, 25, 36, 46, 62, 77, and 92, together with so much of Onondaga as lies south of a line running east and west on the north line of lots number 13, 14, and 15 of the State's purchase of the Onondaga Indians in 1817, and through a portion of land now owned by said Indians to a line running north and south on the west line of lots number 1 and 4 of the State's purchase of the aforesaid Indians in 1822, shall be and the same is hereby erected into a separate town, by the name of La Fayette.
Why the south half of the Onondaga Reservation, embracing about 6,400 acres of land, was included within the bounds of this town, as the above law clearly shows, has never been explained, but in following the lines as defined by that act it has always received such recognition by writers, historians, and mapmakers. It is known, however, that the portion of the Reservation alluded to has never been legally considered as a civil part of La Fayette, but has continually existed under the jurisdiction of the State. The present civil town, therefore, contains about 22,200 acres of land, and is bounded on the east by Pompey, on the north by Dewitt, Onondaga, and the Reservation, on the west by Onondaga, the Reservation and Otisco, and on the south by Otisco, Tully, and Fabius. It was named in honor of the Marquis de Marie Jean Paul Roch Yves Gilbert Motier La Fayette, the distinguished general, and friend of Washington during the Revolutionary war, who visited the Onondaga country in June, 1825.
The first town meeting was held at the house of Johnson Hall in La Fayette village, on March 14, 1826, thirteen months after the passage of the foregoing act, and Charles Jackson acted as chairman.
The first officers elected were: Charles Jackson, supervisor; Johnson Hall, town clerk; Epenetus Hoyt, George Northway, and Thomas Newell, assessors; David Campbell, Freeman Northway, and Nathaniel Sterling, commissioners of highways; Willard Farrington and Ebenezer Coleman, overseers of the poor; Noah Hoyt, jr., Asa Farrington, and Freeman Northway, constables; Asa Farrington, collector; Ezra Dyer, Chauncey Williams, and John Spencer, commissioners of common schools; Pitt Dyer, Rial Wright, and George Northway, inspectors of common schools; Cornelius Vandenburg, John S. Fort, Edmund Morse, James Gould, Erastus Baker, Ebenezer Coleman, Joseph S. Cole, John P. King, Charles Jackson, 2d, Charles Johnson, Hiram Gilbert, George Northway, Harry Avery, Charles I. Davis, John Talbot, William Westcott, Anson W. Jackson, Ichabod Smith, Grandus Cuddeback, Harry Reed, Joseph Ackles, Samuel Hoyt, Ira Dodge, Simeon Larkin, William Dean, John Sniffen, John Whitney, Levi Mayhew, and Thomas C. Safford, overseers of highways.
These names suggest many prominent early settlers, not hitherto mentioned, while the subsequent list of supervisors contains others of equal worth and enterprise. At this meeting the town voted $300 for the support of the poor and $200 for the support of common schools, and designated Ebenezer Coleman as poundkeeper. At the next town meeting, and for several years thereafter but $150 was appropriated for school purposes.
The supervisors of La Fayette have been as follows: Charles Jackson, 1826; Johnson Hall, 1827-31; Charles Jackson, January, 1832, to February, 1832, in place of Jackson, resigned; John B. Miller, 1832; John Spencer, 1833-35; Johnson Hall, 1836; John Spencer, 1837-38; Conradt G. Houghtailing, 1839-40; Epenetus Hoyt, 1841; Hiram Gilbert, 1842; Jesse Fuller, 1843-46; Samuel A. Keen, 1847-48; Joel Fuller, 1849; Jesse Fuller, 1850; Valentine Baker, 1851-52; Caleb B. Jackson, 1857-58; Calvin Cole, 1859-60; Elijah Park, 1861-63; Barzilla L. Coleman, 1864; John M. Conklin, 1865-66; Charles Hiscock, 1867-72; Avery R. Palmer, 1873-74; George W. McIntyre, 1875-78; Avery R. Palmer, 1879; George W. McIntyre, 1880-81; George L. Hoyt, elected November, 1881, to fill vacancy, and re-elected in February, 1882; Homer Case, 1883; William Alexander, 1884; Homer Case, 1885; Frank J. Farrington, 1886-89; Nicholas Aungier, 1890; Henry L. Cole, 1891; Seneca E. Clark, 1892-95.
The year 1825 was otherwise eventful in the town's history from the fact that it witnessed the opening of the Erie Canal through Syracuse. That great waterway, although passing some little distance to the north, imparted a new impulse to the growth and prosperity of this section, which had now been largely divested of its heavier forests and more uninviting wilderness conditions. In the same year the Ebenezer Methodist Episcopal church of Cardiff was organized and a house of worship erected, which, in 1857, was burned. A new edifice was immediately built at a cost of $2,400, and dedicated in December under the pastorship of Rev. D. W. Bristol, D. D. The church is now in a prosperous condition. Another former pastor was Rev. J. . Newman, D. D., while not a few persons prominent as missionaries, preachers, and teachers began their religious life here. Among the original or early promoters of the society were John Spencer, Usual Coleman, Benjamin D. Sniffen, Grandus Cuddeback, Annanias Westcott, Reuben Wright, John Bottle, and the Park and Stearns families. About 1826 the Reformed Methodist church of La Fayette was constituted at Webb Hollow, two miles northwesterly from the village. For many years it had no edifice, but held services in school house and private dwellings and quarterly meetings in barns. Among its pastors were Rev. James Bailey, Foster Bailey, W. J. Bailey, and Albert Taylor. The society became extinct about 1885, and its house of worship, nearly new, and in good order, passed under control of the Wesleyan branch of the Methodist church.
In 1836 the town contained two grist mills, sixteen saw mills, three tanneries, two fulling mills, three carding machines, three asheries, fifteen school districts, and 819 school children, while ten years later there were four grist mills, eighteen saw mills, two fulling mills, two carding machines, two tanneries, one ashery, one clover mill, five taverns, four stores, seven manufactories, sixty-six mechanics, four physicians, 392 farmers, five merchants, 204 militia, 606 voters, thirteen common schools, 737 school children, and 16,857 acres of improved land. The census of 1860 gave 18,004 acres of improved land, 481 dwellings, 473 families, 365 freeholders, twelve school districts, 783 school children, 811 horses, 2,082 cows and other cattle, 3,359 sheep, 1,382 swine, 4,862 bushels of winter wheat, 133,968 bushels spring wheat, 2,528 tons hay, 15,291 bushels potatoes, 36,368 bushels apples, 114,382 pounds butter, 6,915 pounds cheese, 606 yards domestic cloth, and real estate valued at $516,045, and personal property at $59,925.
The town now has nine school districts and about 375 school children. On April 23, 1836, the La Fayette High School was incorporated for the purpose of furnishing a higher education to the youth of the locality. A brick school house was built by Asahel Smith, but after a few years the institution declined and ceased to exist under its corporate privileges, and the building became a dwelling house.
About 1838 the hamlet of Cardiff, nearly at the head of the Onondaga valley, began to assume some activity as a business center. The Syracuse and Tully turnpike, chartered April 16, 1827, and re-chartered in April, 1831, had given its existence, and in 1839 John F. Card erected a large grist mill, which was operated by water power. About 1862 it became the property of Edward Voigt, who added a saw mill and steam power, and in March, 1877, the establishment passed to George Dermon, under whom it was burned in April, 1878. Since then another grist mill has been erected near the village. Mr. Card also had a store and distillery, and for many years was a leading man. When a name for the hamlet and post-office was sought some favored perpetuating his memory by such designations as Cardville, Cardbury, etc. John Spencer, of great influence, and a former citizen of England, suggested Cardiff, from a thriving city in Wales, which was adopted. Here in early days were Isaac Garfield, sr., tavernkeeper; Arnold Woodard, merchant; John Spencer, tanner and shoemaker; Volney Houghton, wagonmaker; and now Henry W. McIntyre and George Bennett, merchants, and Sabra Park, widow of Robert Park, a soldier in the Rebellion, postmaster. Onondaga Creek was long the scene of great activity, as far as grist and saw mills, a tannery, and the distillery were concerned. It was on the farm of 'Stubb' Newell, about one mile southwest of Cardiff, that the celebrated 'Cardiff Giant' was unearthed in 1869. For many weeks the whole country was agitated over the great uncouth statue, which was cut from gypsum in Fort Dodge, Iowa, shipped here and buried, 'discovered' while digging a well that Newell had ordered, and foisted upon the public as a petrifaction centuries old. Thousands of dollars were paid by the people to see the monstrous fraud..
Many early settlers have been named in the preceding pages, but the names of other pioneers and residents of La Fayette may be briefly noticed at this point:
In the east part of the town there also lived before 1840 Frederick Gilbert and his father, Samuel Kean, John Davis, Enoch and Jeremiah Everingham, George and Clinton Whitman, Samuel Sherwood, Cornelius and Andrew Vandenburg (Andrew being a Universalist preacher), Edmund Morse, Leander Hine and others of the name, Charles and Stephen Drake, John Dox, Joel Canfield, Bethuel Shepard (son of Samuel), Joel Morton, James Clute, Amos and Nathaniel Gage, Albert Becker (father of James), Eldert Vandenburg, Lewis O. Hill, Charles Hoyt (son of Isaac), Valentine Baker (father of Daniel and George), Charles I. Davis, Daniel Share (father of Jeremiah, William, and Andrew), Calvin and Luther Cole (in Collingwood), Joseph and Henry R. Cole, and the families of Gould, Bush, Hotaling, Miller, Sherman, Rounds, Hoyt and others.
In the west part there were Augustinus Shue and his three sons, Peter, Matthew, and John, who came from Esopus, Ulster county, in 1808, and settled on lot 88. They brought two colored servants, Jack and Phoebe. On the marriage of the youngest daughter Phoebe was added to the wedding gifts, but Jack was given to the youngest son John, with whom the old people also lived. Phoebe died about 1850, but Jack lived until 1880, and on the fine granite family monument in the Cardiff cemetery is this inscription: 'Jack, 27 years a slave in the State of New York.' The Shues brought with them several implements of husbandry and books that were manufactured in Germany and Holland. The illustrated bible of Mrs. Shue, with maps and notes, is now the property of a grandson, Avery P. Shue, of Garfield avenue, in Syracuse. There were also Dwelly Spaulding and Jacob S. Hollenbeck, William Savery and Henry Pierce, millers; Joseph Hill, L. L. Benjamin and Arby A. Payne, blacksmiths; and Ebenezer Coleman (father of Barzilla), Russell Green (father of Clark), Joel and Jesse Fuller, Asel King, Bennett Wooster, Peter Abbott (father of James and John), Ezra Knapp, Charles Jackson (a justice of the peace and father of Caleb and Charles jr.), Turpin Green, and the Ackles, Garfield, Stearns, Seeley, Woodmansee, Northway, Winchell, Baker (Seth, Erastus, Suydenham, Thomas, Lewis, Chester, Quartus, Morris, Luther, Charles A., Rodney, Porter, Dwight, Lyman, and King), Samuel Hall, and Danforth families.
In the village of La Fayette were such settlers as Dorus Porter, (Cabinetmaker), Mr. Smith (tailor), Nathaniel Sterling (who built the Presbyterian church), Asahel King (tanner and shoemaker), and Reuben and John King (sons of 'Squire King). Johnson Hall was member of assembly in 1829 and 1830, sheriff in 1832, and assistant judge of the county in 1838. George W. McIntyre was for two terms county superintendent of the poor.
Hiram Gilbert was the first or one of the first justices of the peace, and Abiel Davidson was elected to that office in 1831. Epenetus Hoyt was the father of Harrison Hoyt, the well-known criminal lawyer of Syracuse. Ebenezer Coleman was also justice of sessions. Albert Becker, born in Half Moon, Saratoga county, in 1797, came here in 1828. His son Daniel became a prominent jeweler in Syracuse, and another son, James, is one of the leading citizens of this town. Jacob C. Wilcox was born here in 1814 and died in 1893.
Other early settlers were John Shaw (grandfather of George), Mr. Webb (in Webb Hollow, grandfather of Emery Webb), John Morse, Eli Cook (proprietor of a saw mill about one mile east of La Fayette), Joseph Thomas (born in 1797, came here in 1817, and died in 1865, brother of Harrison and Albert), and Avery F. Palmer, who was born in Stonington, Conn., in 1795, came to this section with his father, Rowland, in 1815, married Sarah, daughter of Capt. Richard Bailey, in 1819, and died in 1873. His son, Dr. Stewart B. Palmer, is one of the oldest and leading dentists in Syracuse, while another son, Rev. Avery R. Palmer, of Collingwood, is the oldest Baptist pastor in the county. The latter was at one time superintendent of the penitentiary and has filled various offices of trust.
In La Fayette village there have been such physicians as Drs. Elijah Park, Squires, Rial Wright, Ward Bassett, Elijah Park (son of Silas W. and nephew of Elijah), and Lyman Rose. Dr. Silas W. Park practiced his profession here till his death, as did also his son Elijah, who died about 1872. Dr. Rose died here in 1867. Among the merchants may be mentioned Dr. Williams and son Chauncey, whose residence and store were combined; Dunning & Yelverton, just south of the present hotel; Andrews & Hall (George W. Hall), of whom Mr. Hall died in Michigan in 1895; and Philander Trowbridge. Milton S. Price, later the merchant prince of Syracuse, began his mercantile career in this village, occupying the old store of Andrews & Hall, which forms part of the present hotel. He was followed by his brother, Edwin Price, Charles G. Robinson, George W. McIntyre, and James J. Conan. The first drug store was started by Dr. Charles A. Gillett. The third store was kept in what is now the Odd Fellows Hall by Asahel Palmer. Still another was opened by Willis C. Newell, now kept by James and Michael Crow. The post-office was kept in the Andrews & Hall store for many years. Later postmasters were Chester Baker, George W. McIntyre, John Cary, Asahel Palmer, James J. Conan, and James Crowe. Stephen Weller was long a wagonmaker in the Thomas district, so-called from Joseph Thomas, who owned a large farm there. After, Harvey Robinson had a wagon shop and also made grain cradles. Among the blacksmiths were Morris Clapp, Arthur Westcott, John Matthews, and Jacob Eckert. The school house here was burned October 29, 1894.
In 1854 the Syracuse and Binghamton Railroad was opened through the town, with a station known as La Fayette, afterward Onatavia, about one-half mile east of La Fayette village, and the stage business of former years practically ceased. The railroad while bringing agricultural interests into closer touch with distant markets, drew much of the trade from the villages of La Fayette and Cardiff, yet these centers continued to maintain quite a thrifty activity even if they failed to increase in size. Around Onatavia a small and scattered settlement sprang up.
The Union armies during the war of the Rebellion from 1861 to 1865 contained many brave and patriotic soldiers from La Fayette, which promptly responded to the several calls with both money and men. The record made by the town in that memorable struggle shines in history with imperishable splendor.
By this period the hamlet of Collingwood has sprung into active existence, mainly through the operation of the Collingwood grist, flouring and saw mills, which were established by Calvin Cole about 1838. They passed in 1862 to A. R. Palmer and in 1876 to J. D. Palmer, the present proprietor, who is also postmaster. Gilbert Vandenburg also has a store here and A. W. Cole a carriage factory.
Among the various industries of the town is the old Webb saw and grist mill in Webb Hollow, owned by Ira West; the saw mill of Ira French, south of Cardiff; the grist mill on Conklin's Brook, operated by Milton Conklin; the saw mill of Daniel Woodford, in the same locality; and the Tully Valley mills, conducted successively by Roswell P. Loomis, Franklin Loomis, and Gideon Seeley.
For several years the Roman Catholic of the town held services in a hall in La Fayette village, and in 1888 St. Joseph's church was erected there under the pastoral charge of Father Michael O'Reilley. It is now used by a large congregation under Father J. V. Simmons, of Pompey.
About 1888 the Syracuse Water Company projected the construction of a reservoir for supplying the city with water by building a dam 120 feet in height across the narrows at Indian Hill, north of Cardiff. The valley above was surveyed and extensive borings were made in the west hill with a view to ascertaining its formation and safety for the anchorage of a dam. This investigation showed the hill to be composed wholly of 'drift' material, while the east side was solid shale. Eight feet beneath the surface of the earth, on a line across the narrows, a perfectly flat bed of rock in place was found. These discoveries were of geological interest, since they contributed valuable information respecting the theory that the Susquehanna River at one time flowed through the Onondaga Valley, before the Tully hills were formed. The project of a reservoir was, however, abandoned when municipal ownership of the Syracuse water works became an established fact.
The population of La Fayette has been as follows: In 1825, about 2,400; in 1830, 2,560; 1835: 2,592; 1850, 2,600; 1845, 2,527; 1850, 2,532; 1855, 2,340; 1860, 2,537; 1865, 2,397; 1870, 2,233; 1875, 2,192; 1880, 2,160; 1890, 1,874; 1892, 1,702.
Submitted 10 July 1998