History of Warren County, H. P. Smith
Chapter XXXIV: History of the Town of Horicon
This transcription was produced through the use of Readiris Pro 11 OCR software. Contributed by Tim Varney.
Horicon Page 596is situated on the northern border of the county, east of Schroon Lake and Schroon River. It is bounded on the north by Essex county, on the east by Hague, on the south by Bolton, and on the west by Chestertown. The two branches of the Kayaderosseras Mountains, separated by the valley of Brant Lake, extend in a northeasterly and southwesterly direction through the town and render the surface uneven and precipitous in the extreme. Page 597 In the north and east these ranges rise in a number of sharp, rocky peaks, which attain an elevation varying from 1,600 to 2,000 feet above sea level, but in the south and west they descend into an uneven plateau. The soil, like the entire county around it, is a sandy loam, and the surface so thickly studded with rocks and boulders as to render cultivation a labor of considerable difficulty. Not more than one-third of the surface is arable, and there are good authorities in the town who hold that not one-tenth part of the surface is really cultivated. The principal products are buckwheat, corn, oats and potatoes. Among the mountains are a great many small lakes lying imbedded in more or less huge and towering amphitheatres of rocky slopes and precipices. The largest of these, Brant Lake, is ten miles long, and has for years been a favorite resort of the hunter and fisherman. But the most famous and the most beautiful of all the waters that indent her territory is the lovely Schroon. We cannot do better than to insert here, almost bodily, an article written by Dr. A. W. Holden for a recent number of the Warrensburgn News: -
Conspicuous among the myriad lakelets and ponds with which the northern wilderness abounds is the Schroon. Lying partly in the town of Schroon, in Essex county, and partly in Horicon, Warren county, it forms with its associate river a beautiful contrast to the fringe of forest bordering on the great waste of woods and water's known to the Iroquois by the term Conchsachraga, "the great dismal wilderness."
It is but an expansion of the river to which it imparts its name, and lies embosomed between the sloping hillsides, once wooded to its very brink, but now, by the industry of man, changed to a civilized aspect, with tilled fields, pasture lands, and here and there an old-time farm-house, or rustic cottage, or more pretentious summer hotel.
Prior to the voyages and discoveries of the French navigator, Jacques Cartier, and only forty-two years subsequent to the first voyage of discovery of Christopher Columbus, all of the great peninsula, bounded by Lakes George and Champlain on the east, and the St. Lawrence River on the west, was claimed and occupied by a powerful tribe of the great Odjibway family, known to the French as the Algonquin nation, and to the Iroquois as the Adirondack tribe. A family of, this tribe, according to tradition, had its seat on the shores of this beautiful lake. The derivation of the name Schroon rests in obscurity. A mythical correspondent, mentioned by Da Costa in his Schroon Lake and the Adirondacks, is credited with saying "that a few years ago a Sappho-like origin of the name was derived from Scarona, a squaw, who, like Winona and many others, had leaped over a precipice into the lake and was drowned." Whether from blighted affections is not recorded. Another legend, referring perhaps to the same maiden, states that the name was conferred in honor of the beautiful daughter of a distinguished Algonquin chief, the name signifying "the child of the mountains." According to Gordon's Gazetteer of the State Page 598 of New York it is a corruption of the Indian word "Skanetaghrowakna," "the largest lake." An unauthenticated derivation is attributed to Madame Scarron, wife of the French poet Scarron, who lived in the time of Madame de Maintenon - named by a party of French officers who visited the lake. "In an effervescence of sentimental gush the ceremony of dedication and claim of discovery has been embellished with formal declarations and the breaking of a bottle of wine on the occasion. It might be worth the while of some antiquarian to drag the lake in search of the bottle. I have not the least doubt but what success would attend the experiment if the drag was drawn near the shore of the beautiful island, and so a long, vexed question put to rest."
Whatever the conclusion, it is certain that the name is recorded as Scaron on several of the earlier maps of this region, notably Sauthier's Chronological Map of the Province of New York, published in 1779 and reprinted in the first volume of the Documentary History of New York, and on a map engraved and published in 1777 by Matthew Albert Lottier.
Undoubtedly there have been sporodic settlements in Horicon since the earlier years of the century, but industry never was organized here before the formation of the town, and as late as 1831, as will be seen, the aspect of the territory was, even in comparison with its present condition, wild and, apparently untenantable.
One of the most intelligent and well-informed of the residents of Horicon, J. N. Barton, came here in 1831 from Warrensburgh, He was born on the 7th of October, 1820, on the mile strip that was afterward transferred from Warrensburgh to Chester. When he first came to the territory which seven years later became Horicon, he lived in the little farming settlement called Hayesburgh. Among those who then lived here was Bishop Carpenter, a prominent farmer and lumberman, residing at the outlet of Schroon Lake. One of his sons, Sylvester, now lives in Horicon, and another, Thomas J. Carpenter, is a resident of Chestertown. Timothy Bennett, another of the original settlers, lived then in Hayesburgh. He has no descendants now in Horicon. Howard Waters carried on a farm at Hayesburgh. Harvey S. Waters, now living here, is his son. Nathan Hayes, senior and junior, were also farmers at Hayesburgh, four or five miles east of South Horicon. They leave no descendants. Benjamin Hayes, sr., - brother to Nathan Hayes, sr., - and Benjamin Hayes, jr., were neighbors of their relatives, and have descendants here now. James Hayes, another son of Nathan Hayes, sr., moved away from his farm in Hayesburgh thirty-five years ago. Another resident of that neighborhood was John Robbins, farmer and laborer. As Mr. Barton figuratively observed, "he was a moving planet." James Frazier and Benjamin Wright were also farmers in Hayesburgh, and both have descendants still living hereabouts.
In 1831, Mr. Barton says, the country was all new. There were only two Page 599 or three frame-houses in what is now the town of Horicon. No tavern, nor store, nor ashery, nor distillery, nor church in the whole town. There were three school districts in the territory, and religious meetings were occasionally held in one of the log school-houses, which were then wont to serve the public in all capacities.
There was no post-office in town in 1831. The first one was established at Hayesburgh under the name Horicon about 1840, and Howard Waters had the honor of first distributing the mails. Charles Osborn followed him until about 1862, when Alonzo Davis was made postmaster. In 1865 Homer Davis was made postmaster. In 1867 Charles W. Osborn succeeded Davis, and remained until 1869, when Oren Burge took the oath of office. In April, 1882, the present postmaster, Scott Barton, was appointed as successor to Oren Burge. In the mean time the post-office had been removed from Hayesburgh to South Horicon, or more familiarly "The Pit," and from there to the Emerson tannery, and soon after to its present location at Bartonville.
When Mr. Barton came here in 1831, the principal business of the inhabitants, besides farming, was lumbering. About their only occupation winters was logging. Glens Falls lumbermen made money by floating logs down the Schroon to the Hudson, thence direct to Glens Falls. Pine timber grew here in great abundance, but is now about all gone. Moses Stickney then had a saw-mill at Bartonville, on the site of Smith Barton's present mill. All the little streams in town had one or more "mud mills" as they were called. The practice of these primitive lumbermen was to "stock up" in winter, and saw the timber in the summer, as well as to draw logs to Ticonderoga. Of these small mills one was owned and run by John J. Harris at the head of Brant Lake; near him was the saw-mill of Jonathan Griffin; east of The Pit were two owned severally by Arnold Young and Henry Hopkins. The same gristmill now operated by L. D. Waters was then the only one in town, and was the property and under the management of Moses Stickney. In 1865 J. N. Barton bought him out and ran the mill until 1880, when Thomas J. Smith purchased the property. His grantee and successor was Smith Barton. L. D. Waters bought it in the spring of 1885.
Horicon was formed from Bolton and Hague on March 29th, 1838. It is impossible to give the list of first officers because the records were destroyed by fire in 1868. In addition to what has been incidentally given of the present business interests, may be stated the milling, mercantile and hotel interests of the town. It has been stated that in 1831 Moses Stickney owned the gristmill and saw-mill at Bartonville. He built them both. The latter, as well as the former, became in 1865 the property of J. N. Barton, who retained his title until June, 1885, when his son, Smith Barton, bought it, and now operates it. The capacity of the saw-mill is given at 2,500 market logs a year.
The store now at Bartonville, under the management of Scott and John Page 600 Barton, was started in 1869. J. Barton had had for a partner in the grist-mill Albert Rand. In 1869 they opened the store. In 1871 E. B. Bentley succeeded Albert Rand and in 1874 Scott Barton succeeded Bentley. J. N. Barton sold his interest, in 1882, to John Barton. The stock which is owned by the managers, Scott and John Barton, is valued at about $4,000. The building is the property of J. N. Barton.
The tavern now kept in Bartonville by J. B. Smith was erected by him in 1882, and is the first and only hotel in the place. There was one at South Horicon (The Pit) soon after 1840, kept first by F. B. Coolidge, and afterwards by Walter Pritchard. It stood on the site of R. P. Smith's residence, and was burned a short time before the war while under the management of Caroline, widow of Loren Davis. There is now a hotel just across the road from the old one, kept by Marcus Granger, who bought a private house and fitted it up for a tavern. In 1880 he kept a hotel where R. P. Smith now lives and moved from there to his present location. There is no store at The Pit now. Harmon A. Brace kept one there for about two years but stopped in May, 1885.
The place called Starbuckville derived its name from Isaac Starbuck, who started a large tannery there about two and a half miles west of Bartonville in the vicinity of 1845. His brothers, Edward and George, were associated with him for some time. They finally suspended the tannery and began to operate a wholesale shoe manufactory there. In 1870 it burned. Isaac Starbuck is now in St. Lawrence county, and Starbuckville is a name alone.
Mill Brook or Adirondack. - This hamlet can trace its origin back to about 1850. In 1849, when Benjamin T. Wells, father of J. F. and Thomas Wells, came to the site from the south part of the town, the place was, as J. F. Wells says, a dismal wilderness. There were no roads nor buildings here. Benjamin T. Wells erected the first tannery on the site of the present establishment, and so fast did the community grow that in five years it had attained almost its present proportions. The old road to Chester had not been extended to Mill Brook until about 1851. The road connecting this place with Pottersville was constructed about 1875.
The tannery now owned by Fraser, Major & Co., of New York, was, as above stated, erected in 1849. Benjamin T. Wells was the mechanic who built it, under the supervision of Joseph Russell and a Mr. Leet. After numerous changes it became before 1860 the property of Thomas Fraser & Brother (James). The individual names of the present members of the firm are James, George and William Fraser, and William K. Major. The superintendent, E. A. Bush, has held his present position since 1860. In 1864 the property was destroyed by fire, but was immediately rebuilt. The tannery has now a capacity for producing 20,000 finished sides of leather annually.
The general store of J. M. Bush has been in his hands since 1872, when he bought out Thomas Weils, who had conducted the business for some time before. Mr. Bush carries about $2,500 of stock.Page 601
The Wells House was erected in 1872, and opened on the 28th of June in that year. The proprietor now is and always has been Thomas Wells. The dimensions at first were three stories in height, and sixty-five feet in length by thirty-five feet in depth. In 1875, Mr. Wells added forty feet to the length, and in 1878 erected an ell extending seventy-four feet to the east. The house with a cottage built in 1878 will accommodate one hundred and fifty guests, and is open from June 1st to October 1st in each year. The two other cottages are occupied each summer by Judge John K. Porter and G. W. Cotterill, of New York, who take their meals at the Wells House.
The churches of Horicon have not been uniformly blessed with ostensible prosperity. The first church in town was the Baptist Church in the south part of the town, organized in 1831, under the name of the Baptist Church of Brant Lake. The original membership numbered twenty-five. Revs. Norman Fox, of Chestertown, and William Grant, of Bolton, filled the pulpit from time to time for the first two years. The first regular pastor was Jonathan Trumbell, a licentiate, who was ordained in 1841. He preached here from 1840 to 1842. Then occurred a vacancy which lasted several years, the name in the mean time being changed to the Horicon Baptist Church. The second pastor was the Rev. D. A. Cobb. There is no regular pastor of this church now. They have no house of worship except the one at Mill Brook.
The Methodist Church of South Horicon was organized and the edifice erected in about 1850. The first pastor was Rev. H. L. Taylor, then of Warrensburgh. There is no society here now.
At Mill Brook, in 1881, an association was formed, containing members of the Baptists and Methodists denominations, and non-sectarian members. A board of trustees was elected comprising two Baptists, two Methodists and two of neither denomination. The Baptists and Methodists had each a separate organization. Under this, arrangement the present union edifice was erected at an expense of $1,700. Preaching has always been done one Sunday by a Baptist clergyman, and on the following Sunday by a Methodist - a member of some other denomination preaching also occasionally. The preaching is now done by Rev. I. C. Hill, of the Baptist denomination, and Elder Town of the Methodist. There are now in the society about thirty-five Baptist members, and the same number of Methodists, making, with the members from outside, a membership of about eighty. The present trustees are Riley Nichols, S. B. Carpenter, Edgar Hawley, James Floyd, E. A. Bush and Orange B. Ingraham. Before the present association was formed there had been for ten or twelve years both a Baptist and a Methodist church organization. Meetings were held in the school-house. The first preacher here was Rev. Spears, a Methodist clergyman.
There is a regular steamship line in Schroon Lake which makes three trips daily the whole length of the lake, by the steamer Effingham, owned by Mrs. Page 602 P. S. Russell, of Schroon Lake village. Mrs. Russell also owns the excursion steamer, Gypsie. Other steamers are the Wilhelmina, by Wilhelm Pickhardt, and the Ellen by E. A. Bush.
The first post-office established at Mill Brook dates its origin sometime between 1850 and 1855, when the name of the office was Mill Brook. The first postmaster was John A. Russell. In 1856 he was followed by Edwin A. Bush. In 1865 the office was discontinued, and remained in suspension until 1872, when it was re-established under the name of Adirondack, and the present incumbent, J. M. Bush, was appointed postmaster.
The following is as nearly complete a list of supervisors as in the absence of town records, can be obtained: 1838-40, John H. Smith; 1841, Benjamin T. Wells; 1842, John Ransom; 1843, Benjamin Culver; 1844, '45, F. B. Coolidge; (not obtained between 1840 and 1860); 1860, Powell Smith; 1861, Thomas Wells; 1862, Joseph A. J. Smith; 1863-65, Judson N. Barton; 1866, Lemuel Stafford; 1867, S. B Carpenter; 1868, J. N. Barton; 1869, '70, Charles Hill; 1871, S. B. Carpenter; 1872, Lemuel Stafford; 1873, C. P. Hill; 1874, George Carpenter; 1875, Owen Burge; 1876, Walter P. Smith; 1877, '78, Oren Burge; 1879, Judson N. Barton; 1880, J. Freeman Wells; 1881, Thomas J. Smith; 1882, '83, Scott Barton; 1884, '85, J. Freeman Wells.
The present town officers are as follows: supervisor, J. Freeman WeIls; town clerk, John Barton; assessors, Lemuel Stafford, Edwin R. Smith, A. J, Barton; highway commissioner, Austin A. Ross; justices of the peace, Charles W. Gregory, J. N. Barton, Starling Walters, J. Freeman Wells; overseers of the poor, John Streeter and Orange B. Ingraham; collector, R. E. D. Paige; constables, R. E. D. Paige, John McLaughlin, A. J. Huntington, Richard Bolton; game constable, E. Morris Sexton; inspectors of election, district No. 1, Newton Church, George Walters, 2d, William Ovens; No.2, Joseph F. Anderson, Austin A. Ross, George Hawley.
The population of the town of Horicon since 1850 has been as follows: 1850, 1,152; 1855, 1,246; 1860, 1,542; 1865, 1,398; 1870, 1,500; 1875, 1,539; 1880, 1,633. The diminution in between the years 1860 and 1865 is due to the noble effort put forth by the town to aid in crushing the Rebellion. It has been said that Horicon, in proportion to her population, furnished more men for the war than any other town in the State of New York. The town paid $3,500 in bounties in one year, when her population did not exceed one thousand five hundred. It is estimated that two hundred volunteers went from Horicon into the various regiments made up in this county, principally the One Hundred and Eighteenth, Twenty-second, Ninety-third and One Hundred and Forty-second. Only one man was drafted.