1864 Map of Brownville New York

Brownville New York History from Childs 1890 Gazetteer

1864 Map of Brownville New York
New Topographical Atlas of Jefferson Co. New York From Actual Surveys By S.N. & D.G. Beers And Assistants. C.K. Stone, Publisher, Philadelphia. 1864.

Brownville, was formed from Leyden, April 1, 1802, and was named in honor of its founder and first settler, Jacob Brown, who afterwards became major-general in the United States army. The town originally embraced all that portion north of Black River from a line running from the northwest corner of Champion, north 45 degrees east to the southwesterly bounds of the county of St. Lawrence. Le Ray was taken off in 1806; Lyme in 1818; Pamelia in 1819; and Orleans and a part of Alexandria in 1821. It is situated on the north side of Black River and Black River Bay, which separate it from Hounsfield and Watertown, is bounded on the north by Clayton and Orleans, on the east by Pamelia, on the west by Lake Ontario, and on the northwest by Guffin’s Bay (an arm of Chaumont Bay) and the town of Lyme. The present limits of the town include 33, 994 acres. Railroad facilities are afforded by the R., W. & O. Railroad, which passes through the town, with stations at Brownville village and Limerick.

The first town meeting was held at the house of Samuel and Jacob Brown, and adjourned to Brownville Hotel, March 1, 1803, at which the following town officers were elected: Jacob Brown, supervisor; Isaac Collins, clerk; John W. Collins, Richard Smith, and Peter Pratt, assessors; J. W. Collins, Ozias Preston, Samuel Starr, commissioners of highways; O. Preston, Richardson Avery, Henry A. Delamater, Samuel Brown, Benjamin Brown, William Rogers, Abijah Putnam, fence viewers; S. Brown, S. Starr, overseers of the poor; S. Brown, Sanford Langworthy, Caleb J. Bates, Sylvanus Fish, H. A. Delamater, Frederick Sprague, George Waffle, Ethni Evans, pathmasters; J. W. Collins, H. A. Delamater, and S. Brown, poundmasters.

Prior to 1788 these lands were in the possession of the Oneida Indians of the Iroquois Confederacy. In September of that year the Oneidas, by treaty, conveyed, for a consideration, the greater part of their lands to the state. The United States confirmed this treaty November 11, 1794. In 1791 Alexander Macomb bargained for a large tract embracing this section, and in 1792 employed William Constable to sell lands in Europe. April 12, 1793, Constable effected a sale of 210,000 acres of this land to Peter Chassanis, of Paris; and Chassanis appointed Rodolph Tillier, of New York, to manage and sell this property.

Macomb’s tract No. 4 was surveyed in 1796 by C. C. Broadhead, assisted by Jonas Smith, Timothy Wheeler, Joshua Northrup, Elias Marvin, John Young, Isaac Le Fevre, Elijah Blake, Samuel Tupper, Eliakim Hammond, and Abraham B. Smede, each with a corps of assistants, and the whole having a general camp or rendezvous at Pillar Point, at a place called Peck’s Cove, near where the Chassanis line crosses the bay.

When Chassanis first arranged for this tract of land it was proposed to divide it into lots of 50 acres each, giving title and possession of one lot to each purchaser, and reserving for each purchaser another lot of 50 acres, of which he was not to come into possession until a future period. Provision was also made for two cities, one of which was to be located between Brownville and Dexter; 600 acres were set aside for that purpose, to be called the “city of Basle.”

The surface of Brownville is level or gently undulating. The soil is sandy or clayey loam. Sulphate of barytes is found on Pillar Point, and the vein has been worked to some extent for lithic paint. Upon the west bank of Perch River, a few rods below Limerick, is a cave extending 150 yards into the bank and 30 feet below the surface. Perch River enters the town in the northeast corner, and taking a southwesterly direction empties into Black River Bay. It is a dull, sluggish stream, and the lay of the land along its course is flat and in many places marshy. A dam was built at Limerick at an early day, but it was found to overflow the flats above and render them unhealthful, when it was removed by order of the court, and afterwards built below.

Brownville, In 1812, was about 24 miles north and south, and nearly the same in breadth. The village contained at that time about 20 houses, several stores, a school-house, a grain and a saw-mill, and a distillery.

In 1820 the village contained about 60 dwellings, a stone church, schoolhouse, two grist-mills, three saw-mills, one fulling-mill, one carding machine, a woolen factory, a cotton factory with 1,000 spindles, a rolling and slitting-mill, a trip-hammer and nail factory, and a number of stores; and there were besides these in the town five grist-mills, seven saw-mills, one fulling-mill, two distilleries, and 33 asheries. There were 15 school districts.

In 1880 Brownville had a population of 2,624. The town is located in the first school district of Jefferson County, and in 1888 had 20 school districts, in which 24 teachers were employed 28 weeks or more. There were 632 scholars attending school, and the aggregate days attendance during the year was 57,589. The total value of school buildings and sites was $16,600, while the assessed valuation of all the districts was $1,654,733. The whole amount raised for school purposes was $5,913,19, $3,194.39 of which was received by local tax. S. Whitford Maxson was school commissioner.

Brownville Village

Brownville village, a station on the R., W. & O. Railroad, was incorporated April 5, 1828. It is located on Black River, four miles from Watertown, has telephone, telegraph, and American Express offices, one hotel, several churches, three or four paper and pulp-mills, a foundry and machine shop, two blacksmith shops, shoe shops, harness-maker, livery stable, a general store, two groceries, a dry goods store, and a population of about 600. Many of the residences and other buildings are constructed of stone, which give the village an ancient appearance.


Dexter is an incorporated village and post-office, situated at the mouth of Black River, from which it derives a valuable water-power, and one and a half miles from the station on the R., W. & O. Railroad at Limerick. It has telegraph, telephone, and express offices, four churches, three pulp-mills, two paper-mills, a sash, door, and a blind factory, two grist-mills, saw-mill, wool-carding-mill, three general stores, drug store, several groceries, meat markets, restaurants, dressmakers, wheelwrights, blacksmiths, etc., and about 700 inhabitants. The post-office was established here in 1836, and the village was incorporated May 8, 1855, under general law, and amended by special act April 15, 1857, and January 28, 1865. It is one of the most enterprising villages in the county, and will doubtless grow in importance. Steps have been taken towards erecting a large summer hotel here, which the healthful and desirable location of the village warrants.


Limerick is a post-office and station on the R., W. & O. Railroad, eight miles from Watertown. It is located on Perch River, has telephone, telegraph, and American Express offices, a hotel, store, a few shops, and about 75 inhabitants.

Perch River

Perch River (p. o.) is a small hamlet on the river of the same name, and is located in the northern part of the town. At an early day it was known as Moffattville. It has telephone and express offices, a church, a few shops, and about a dozen dwellings.

Pillar Point

Pillar Point (p. o.) is located in the southern part of the town on Black River Bay, opposite Sackets Harbor. It owes its name to the appearance of certain rocks along the shore in this part of the town, which the action of the water has left standing, partly supported. A church, a few shops, and about two dozen dwellings are located here.

Manufacturing of Brownville New York

Ontario Paper Co.

Ontario Paper Co., G. W. Knowlton, president; S. F. Bagg, vice-president; E. B. Sterling, secretary and treasurer, manufactures news paper and wood pulp. Employment is furnished to 100 persons at this mill, which is one of the largest and best equipped paper mills in the state. It is situated on Black River, three and a half miles from Watertown, in the town of Brownville. This mill has an excellent water-power, and uses ten six-feet waterwheels and two 1,500-lb. and six 1,000-lb. engines to furnish motive power. The mill has in successful operation one 86-inch and one 96-inch paper machine, on which is manufactured 20 tons of news paper every 24 hours; also eight pulp and six wet machines, which turn out 16 tons of wood pulp in the same time.

C. R. Remington & Son’s

C. R. Remington & Son’s paper and pulp-mill. — This mill is located on Black River, three miles below Watertown, in the town of Brownville, and gives employment to 75 men. Remington & Son have the whole of Black River for a water-power, with a good fall, which furnishes a good head. Eight six-foot wheels are used for a motive power, together with one Jordan and four 700-lb. engines. The mill has one 86-inch Fourdrinier paper machine, which makes eight tons of news paper every 24 hours; also eight pulp and four wet machines, from which is manufactured 15 tons of wood pulp every 24 hours.

Dexter Sulphite Pulp and Paper Co.

The Dexter Sulphite Pulp and Paper Co. — The Ontario woolen-mills were built in 1838 at a cost of $150,000. In 1868 the mills were closed, and in 1887 were purchased by the Dexter Sulphite and Paper Co., and converted into a wood-pulp and paper-mill. The officers of the company are C. E. Campbell, president; E. F. Bermingham, secretary and treasurer; James A. Outterson, superintendent.

Frontenac Paper Company

Frontenac Mill Dexter New York
Frontenac Mill Dexter New York

The Frontenac Paper Company is located in the village of Dexter. C. E. Campbell, president; J. A. Outterson, vice-president; F. W. Spicer, secretary and treasurer; H. S. Rice, superintendent.

St. Lawrence Paper Company

The St. Lawrence Paper Company is located at Dexter with a capital stock of $60,000. The officers are Hon. Henry Binninger, of Dexter, president; Charles M. Otis, of Watertown, vice-president; Joseph Green, of Watertown, secretary and treasurer.

Dexter Flouring-mill

The Dexter flouring-mill was built of wood in 1875, by Whitney & Francis, at a cost of $10,000, and was conducted by them for seven years. The present proprietors are Osborn & Cook. It has a turbine wheel, and is the only custom flouring-mill in the town of Brownville.

Binninger & Strainge’s

Binninger & Strainge’s planing-mill and sash and blind factory, located at Dexter village, was built by Henry Binninger, who is now one of the proprietors.

Leonard, Gilmore & Co.

Leonard, Gilmore & Co’s sash and blind factory, located at Dexter, was built by Edgar Leonard in 1862. The machinery is run by water-power and a prosperous business is done.

Reeves & Taylor’s

Reeves & Taylor’s cheese factory, located near Pillar Point, was built in 1885, by James A. Reeves and Andrew Taylor. It has an annual capacity of 50 tons of cheese.

History of Brownville New York

Fire Swept District, Brownville NY
Fire Swept District, Brownville NY

This town was first explored, with a view of settlement, by Jacob Brown, 1)Jacob Brown was born in Pennsylvania in May, 1775, of Quaker parentage. He died in the city of Washington, in February 1828. He was first a school teacher, then a land surveyor, and finally became a lawyer. While General Hamilton was acting chief commander of the army intended to fight the French in 1798, Brown was his secretary. He settled upon lands he had purchased upon the Black River, and was the founder of Brownville. He became county judge, a militia general, and was placed in command of the northern frontier of New York in 1812. He performed eminent service during the war, and received the thanks of Congress and a gold medal. He was made general-in-chief of the army in 1821. At his death his remains were buried in Congressional burying-ground. — Lossing. afterwards a distinguished citizen, who, while teaching school in New York, had met with Rodolph Tillier, the general agent for the Chassanis lands, and was induced to purchase a large tract and become the agent for commencing a settlement, at a time when the difficulties attending such an enterprise were very great. Having engaged in this business he repaired, in 1799, to the location of the French company, at the High Falls, and made several journeys to Utica, when, having completed his arrangements, and collected provisions at the Long Falls, he, in March, 1799, passed down the old French road, in company of three or four hired men, and happening to reach the river at the mouth of Philomel Creek, he was charmed at the prospect of a water-power, apparently perennial, and at once decided upon stopping here. He commenced clearing land, having sent for his father’s family, who started on the 22d of April, from Bucks County, Pa., and after stopping a few days at New York and Schenectady, and hiring at Utica an extra boat, at length arrived at the location on May 17, 1799, having been nearly three weeks on the road. George Brown, a relative, came on in the same company, with a part of his family, making, with the boatmen, a party of nearly 20.

The boatmen soon returned, leaving one boat that served the means of communication with Kingston, whence they derived most of their provisions, the stock left at Long Falls having been sold. When this company had arrived the first had cleared a small piece and got up the body of a log house, 20 feet square, which occupied a site in the village. The same season a log house was erected, 25 x 30 feet, and two stories high. This was not completed for occupation, however, till the spring of 1801. In the fall of 1800 a saw-mill was built at the mouth of Philomel Creek, the millwrights being Noah Durrin and Ebenezer Hills, and late in the fall a grist-mill was built for Mr. Brown by Ethni Evans, afterwards the pioneer of Evans Mills. In 1799 a great number came in to look for lands, many of whom selected farms on Perch River, and between that place and Brownville. Among these were John W. Collins, Richardson Avery, Nathan Parish, Horace Mathers, and others. In the summer of 1800 a great number settled, and the clearings had extended from the bank of the river nearly half a mile. The first settlers on Perch River incurred an obligation to clear a certain amount of land and erect a cabin.

About 1800 Jacob Brown brought to his new home a bride. Her maiden name was Pamelia Williams, daughter of Captain Judge Williams, of Williamstown, a lady who proved herself in every way worthy of her distinguished husband. During the same year Charles Welch and Otis Britton, from Remsen, settled here. They took a job of chopping out a road from a point on the river, at Brownville, to the ferry at Chaumont, a distance of 10 miles. They began their job in November, but before it was completed a heavy fall of snow came; their shoes were worn out. They could get no others, and were obliged to finish their work and travel to Herkimer County, a distance of more than 80 miles, in their bare feet. Before leaving, however, they assisted Samuel Britton, an uncle of Otis, to put up the body of a log house. By some mishap Otis had his leg broken, and was drawn on an ox sled to Floyd, Charles preceding the team with his axe to clear the road. The following fall Charles Welch married Eunice, daughter of Moses Cole, of Newport, and they settled in this town and commenced house-keeping in the little log cabin built by the Browns and used for a smoke-house. Nathan, twin brother of Charles, came in with him, and they took up a farm in the Parish neighborhood, where a son was born to Charles and Eunice, the first white child born in the new town north of Black River, and named Charles. Charles Welch afterwards settled on Prospect hill.

The first bridge at Brownville was built by Oliver Bartholomew, at the mouth of Philomel Creek, in the summer of 1802, and the price, $1,000, was raised by subscription. This bridge was carried off by the great flood in the spring of 1806, and was rebuilt by Mr. Bartholomew and his sons in 1807, on the site of the present bridge.

Ruins of Blacksmith Shop, Brownville New York
Ruins of Blacksmith Shop, Brownville New York

The first public house in Brownville was built by Jeremiah Phelps, in 1805, on the site of the present stone hotel. The latter was built about 1820, by Henry Caswell and a Mr. Emerson, who soon afterward sold it to a company made up of William Lord, H. Lawrence, W. S. Ely, E. Kirby, I. Shields, and John E. Brown. In 1805 John Brown (afterwards Judge Brown) bought the lands on the south side of the river and built the mills there; and in 1806 the first dam was thrown across the river at that place. In 1805 Samuel Starr built a log distillery down by the brook near his house, where was made the first whisky in town. Nathaniel Peck married a daughter of Mr. Starr and was in company with him in the manufacture of whisky; he afterwards removed the distillery to what was known as the Nathaniel Peck farm.

Alexander Moffatt, or “Conkey,” as he was called, was the first settler in the vicinity of Limerick, about 1805. A Mr. Smith, Samuel Shelley, and Isaac Day were also early settlers here. Mr. Shelley once owned a mill at Limerick.

Among the early settlers in the neighborhood of Pillar Point were Horatio Sprague, Eleazar Ball, Peter and Solomon Ingalls, Mr. Sherwin, Eliphalet Peck, Isaac Luther, Mr. Burlingame, Daniel Ackerman, Jeremiah Carpenter, Jesse Stone, George Rounds, James Douglass, Henry Adams, Samuel Reed, Mr. Fulsom, Luther Reed, and Henry Ward. Samuel Knap (sic) bought and cleared up 150 acres of land on the road to Limerick. Jeremiah Phelps, David Lyttle, and Solomon Stone located at Dexter, and later Mr. Willis and Jeremiah Winegar, and still later Kendall Hursley, Joshua Eaton, Jesse Babcock, Sylvanus Pool, John T. Wood, James A. Bell, Solomon Moyer, John P. Shelley, and others.

After the erection of Jefferson County a strenuous effort was made by Mr. Brown and others to have the county buildings located here; but a greater influence was brought to bear in favor of Watertown, and that village was selected as the county seat, greatly to the disappointment of the settlers in Brownville.

In 1802 there were six frame and four log houses in the village of Brownville. In 1807 there were in the town 81 legal voters, with proper qualifications. The bounties on wolves ranged between $5 and $25 between 1806 and 1821. During the same years fox bounties were from 50 cents to $2.50. In 1806 a bounty of $10, and in 1807 of $5, was offered for panthers.

The navigation of the mouth of the Black River, up as far as Brownville, was a subject of much importance in the early days. It was thought that by making the river navigable to Brownville it would be made a port of entry for the commerce of the lakes, and a shipping port for the produce of the country. In 1810 the legislature passed an act to improve the navigation of the mouth of the river up to Brownville. With so good a harbor and port as was afforded by the bay at Sackets Harbor the project failed. June 5, 1810, the Black River Navigation Company was formed. The object of the company was the construction of locks at the rapids in the river at Fish Island (now Dexter). In 1815 wooden locks were built of capacity sufficient to allow the passage of Durham boats. About 1828, these wooden locks having decayed, they were replaced by stone ones.

April 10, 1810, a post route was established from Utica, by Whitestown, Rome, Camden, Adams, and Sackets Harbor, to Brownville; and another from Harrisburg, by Champion, Watertown, and Brownville, to Port Putnam; April 30, 1816, from Brownville to Cape Vincent; June 15, 1832, from Watertown, by Brownville and La Fargeville, to Cornelia, at the mouth of French Creek, thence by Depauville to Brownville. April 12, 1816, an act was passed allowing Mr. Le Ray to extend the Cape Vincent turnpike road to Brownville village. By an act of April 21, 1831, this road was surrendered to the public. In 1817 a military road was projected to unite the two prominent stations of Plattsburgh and Sackets Harbor, which was commenced, but only a portion completed. The western extremity from Sackets Harbor passes through this town to Pamelia Four Corners. After being opened by the government it passed into the hands of the town.

On the announcement of the declaration of war Brownville became the seat of much activity and excitement, from its being the headquarters of General Brown, who had the personal direction of military operations on this frontier during most of the first season. A hospital was established here, and troops were stationed in the village and vicinity at various times during that period. The greatest alarm prevailed throughout the country upon the arrival of the first tidings of war, but this soon wore away.

The inhabitants living on Perch River on receiving the news were greatly alarmed, from their supposed exposure on the frontier, and some of the timid ones resolved to leave the country. To dissuade them from this it was proposed to build a block-house, which was forthwith done by voluntary labor, but when completed only served as a storehouse for the wheat of a neighbor. The apprehensions soon subsided, however, and men resumed their customary pursuits, except when occasional drafts, or general alarms, called out the militia, or the emergencies of the service required the assembling of teams for the transportation of the munitions of war. Prices of produce were, of course, extremely high, and from the large amount of government money expended here the basis of many fortunes in the county were laid at that period.

Samuel Brown, the father of Jacob Brown, resided in Bucks County, Pa., on the banks of the Delaware River. He was a man of wealth, and Jacob, with an older brother, was being educated at an academy in Trenton when his father, through unfortunate speculation, sustained financial reverses, and Jacob, at the age of 16, was obliged to leave school and become the teacher of his younger brothers and sisters. He afterwards taught a large school at Crosswicks, N. J., in the meantime preparing himself for his chosen profession of land surveyor. He spent a year as surveyor in the Miami country, Ohio, thus early developing those sterling qualities of energy and self-reliance that fitted him for pioneer life, as well as the arduous duties of his brilliant military career.

The Brown family was now casting about to retrieve their fortunes, and Jacob, as well as his father, had strong proclivities towards a home in Ohio, and, with that in view, had entered into some negotiations for a tract of land now the site of the city of Cincinnati. These plans were not matured, and Jacob returned to New York in 1798 and took charge of a Quaker school; and while thus engaged formed the acquaintance of Tillier, the agent of Chassanis, and the prospect of coming into the Black River country was discussed. Tillier accompanied him on a visit to his father’s house, and a written agreement was entered into by which Tillier agreed to pay all the expense of a prospecting trip, whether he purchased or not. In February, 1799, having closed his school in New York, he proceeded to the French settlement at the High Falls, finding his way from Utica by marked trees. Here he remained to complete his plans, making several journeys to Utica, and returning with such supplies as would be needed in his projected trip.

In March he launched his boat upon the swollen waters of Black River and floated down to Long Falls (Carthage), and thence, in company with two men by the name of Chambers and Samuel Ward, and a few hired men, he took the route of the “French road,” so-called, which Tillier had caused to be opened at the expense of the French company from the High Falls on Black River to Great Bend, thence nearly direct to Clayton or French Creek. Traveling this road until they thought they had gone far enough, he struck off towards the river, which he reached at the Basin, one and a half miles below the present village of Brownville. Here he heard the sound of a waterfall and followed the river up till he came to a point where a creek, 2)Philomel Creek, so named by Mr. Brown from hearing the song of a bird resembling the nightingale, or philomela, among the trees that skirted its banks. swollen by the spring freshet, poured its torrent of waters into Black River. This creek did not then run in its present channel, but at a point near the present railroad bridge it made an angle, and found a channel down through Scrabble Hollow into the river. A straight channel was afterwards cut through the rocks to the river, as at the present day.

Former Residence of Maj-Gen Jacob Brown at Brownville
Former Residence of Maj-Gen Jacob Brown at Brownville

It was the intention of Jacob Brown to establish himself at the head of navigation, and believing this creek would afford water sufficient for mills and all manufacturing purposes, and the river below need but little improvement to make it navigable for boats, he determined to locate here, and thus began the settlement of Brownville.

He first set about clearing land, and built a log cabin. In the meantime he sent for his father’s family, who arrived May 27, 1799, having found their way by the tedious navigation of the Mohawk, Oneida Lake, and Lake Ontario, pitching their tent at night on the shore and resuming their way by day. When the family arrived the log house had neither roof nor floor, door or window. It was built of pine logs, and a sail cloth taken from the boat and stretched across the upper timbers served as a roof. The openings for doors and windows were closed as well as possible by quilts and blankets. In this rude domicile, 20 feet square, were gathered the 10 persons, male and female, old and young, who composed this little colony.

At this time there were not more than three families within 45 miles, and nothing like a settlement for 24 miles, all north of Black River being a dense wilderness. The Brown family at this time consisted of Samuel Brown and wife, Christopher, Jacob, John (afterwards Judge Brown), Joseph, Mary, Benjamin, Samuel, Hannah, William (who was drowned in Lake Erie while acting as aid to his brother, Major General Brown, during the War of 1812), Abi, and Joseph. With them had come George Brown, a relative, with his two sons, Henry and Thomas, aged respectively 14 and eight years. These hardy pioneers endured hardships and overcame obstacles which would now be considered almost impossible even to those enured to the hardest kind of manual labor. Do we who are now enjoying the fruits of their toil ever stop to consider how fortunate we are that we were not men and women here 100 years ago?

Thomas Y. How, from Trenton, N. J., a graduate of Princeton College, was one of the pioneers in this town, and brought with him his patrimony of $10,000. He loaned large sums to the Browns to aid them in carrying on their enterprises. He took up 100 acres of land on Perch River flats, which Jacob Brown engaged to clear fro him. Mr. How was an agreeable companion and valuable acquisition to the colony, but as a business man he was not successful.

Edmund Kirby, 3)From Hough’s History of Jefferson County a son of Ephraim, was an officer in the Revolution, a member of the Order of Cincinnati, and afterwards judge of the Supreme Count of Connecticut. He was born at Litchfield, Conn., April 18, 1794, and entered the army in 1812, as lieutenant, and served during the war upon the Northern and Western frontiers. From 1815 to 1820 he was stationed at Detroit, and in the latter year he joined Major-Gen. Jacob Brown at Brownville, as an aid de camp. From 1821 to 1823 he discharged the duties of adjutant-general at Washington, and in 1824 was appointed to the pay department, and again took post at Brownville. From 1832 to 1840 he was engaged in the Black Hawk, Creek and Seminole wars, in which he was actively employed, as well in the fulfillment of his duty as the exercise of humanity to the sick and wounded, for whom he voluntarily encountered many dangers. During the Mexican war he was chief of the pay department, and disbursed many millions of dollars. A volunteer aid to General Taylor at the storming of Monterey, and in like capacity to General Scott at Vera Cruz, Cerro Gordo, Contreas, Cherubusco, Chepultepec, and the Mexico capital, he was ever distinguished for courage, bravery, and devotion to this country’s cause. He died at Avon Spring, N. Y., August 20, 1849, and was buried at Brownville cemetery with military honors, where a granite monument has been erected to his memory. Major Kirby married a daughter of General Brown, and subsequently purchased his family estate in the village of Brownville.

Church History of Brownville New York

The First Presbyterian Church, located at Brownville village, was organized March 18, 1818, with eight members, and Rev. Noah M. Wells was the first pastor. Their church edifice is a wooden building, cost $2,000, and will comfortably seat 300 persons. The present value of church property is $2,000, including grounds, etc. The present membership is 56, and Rev. Alfred S. Vail is the pastor. The Sunday-school has a membership of six teachers and 60 scholars.

St. Paul’s Episcopal Church at Brownville was organized October 13, 1826. The first rector was William Linn Keese; the first wardens were Thomas Y. How and Thomas Loomis. Asa Whitney, Tracy S. Knapp, Sylvester Reed, S. Brown, William S. Ely, Peleg Burchard, Edmund Kirby, and Hoel Lawrence were the first vestrymen. We have not the data for giving its present condition and officers.

The Methodist Episcopal Church at Brownville village was organized August 3, 1829, by Joshua Heminway, H. W. Chapman, S. Knap, Isaac Meecham, Daniel Case, and William Lord, trustees, and at its organization had a membership of 20. Rev. B. Phillips was the first settled pastor. Their house of worship, a wooden structure, was built in 1831, at a cost of $2,000. It will comfortably seat 300 persons, and is now valued, including grounds and other property, at $3,000. Rev. Charles E. Beebee is the present pastor. The Sunday-school has a membership of nine teachers and 50 scholars.

The Universalist Church at Brownville village was organized in 1847, by Luther Rice, its first pastor. A church building was erected in 1847, costing about $2,000, with a seating capacity of 250. It has no present organization.

The Methodist Episcopal Church, located at Dexter village, was organized in 1847, with 50 members, and Rev. S. F. Danforth was the first pastor. Their first house of worship, a wooden structure, was built in 1874, at a cost of $2,000. It will seat 200 persons and is valued at $2,500. The present number of members is 60, under the pastoral charge of Rev. Mr. Beebee, of Brownville. The Sunday-school has six teachers and 50 scholars.

The First Presbyterian Church of Dexter, located at Dexter village, was organized July 2, 1839, at a public meeting held in a school-house, after a sermon by Rev. Marcus Smith, pastor of the Second Presbyterian Church in Watertown. At its organization it consisted of 18 members, and Rev. Dexter Clary was the first pastor. The house of worship, a brick structure, was built in 1849, will comfortably seat 300 persons, and is valued, including grounds, at $3,000. The society is one of the strongest in the village of Dexter, and has 63 members. There are at present no regular services. The Sunday-school has a membership of 300.

All Saints Protestant Episcopal Church, at Dexter village, was organized with 100 members by Rev. F. Rogers, the first rector, in 1839. The present house of worship, a wood structure, was built in 1839, at a cost of $2,000, about its present value. It will seat 250 persons. It has a congregation of about 400, and Rev. J. Winslow is the rector.

The First Universalist Society, located at Dexter village, was organized by T. Broadbent, J. Maynard, Solon Stone, David Baker, Eleazer Parker, and F. W. Winn, the trustees of the society, September 5, 1841, and Rev. H. L. Hayward was the first pastor. Rev. Dr. Richard Fisk, of Watertown, now holds services on alternate Sundays. Their church edifice, a wooden structure, was built in 1841, at an original cost of $1,500. It was repaired and painted in 1887, and is now valued at about $2,000. It will comfortably seat about 250 persons. The Sunday-school has a membership of 10 teachers and 40 scholars.

The First Methodist Episcopal Church, of Pillar Point, was organized January 9, 1836, the first trustees being Isaac Luther, John D. Ingerson, Smith Luther, Lyman Ackerman, and Stephen P. Brackett. It has been once or twice reorganized. Their house of worship will seat 250 persons and cost $2,000, about its present value. The present membership is 95, and Clement E. Hoag is pastor. The Sunday-school has a membership of 25 teachers and 135 scholars.

The Brownville Baptist Church 4)Hough’s History of Jefferson County (at Perch River) was organized September 7, 1806, and at an ecclesiastical council, held at the house of John W. Collins, October 10, they were fellowshipped by delegates from Champion, Rutland, and Adams. It at first numbered 10 members. Elder Sardis Little was ordained over this church January 10, 1816, and preached many years. A society was legally organized April 25, 1825, at which Melvin Moffatt, Walter Cole, George Brown, Nathaniel Peck, and William Webb were chosen trustees. It was reorganized February 11, 1833. In 1827 they erected a stone church at a cost of $2,800. Previous to 1812 they had built a log church, and in the war enclosed it with pickets, but the defense was never completed. Here the timid ones of the settlement were accustomed, in the early days of the war, to spend the night, enhancing each other’s fears by relating tales of massacre, but these apprehensions were ridiculed by the more reflective, and were soon laid aside. A Baptist church was formed on Pillar Point in 1838, and the next year reported 30 members.

A Union church building was built at Perch River in 1851, at a cost of $800. It comfortably seats 400 persons, and is now valued, including grounds and other property, at $1,000. Elder Zimmerman was the first pastor. It is principally used by the Methodists, who have a society of 25 members under the pastoral charge of R. F. Whipple. The Sunday-school organization consists of six teachers and 40 scholars.

Source: Child, Hamilton. Geographical gazetteer of Jefferson county, N.Y., 1685-1890, part one, p. 282-293.  Syracuse, N.Y.: The Syracuse journal company, printers and binders. 1890.


1Jacob Brown was born in Pennsylvania in May, 1775, of Quaker parentage. He died in the city of Washington, in February 1828. He was first a school teacher, then a land surveyor, and finally became a lawyer. While General Hamilton was acting chief commander of the army intended to fight the French in 1798, Brown was his secretary. He settled upon lands he had purchased upon the Black River, and was the founder of Brownville. He became county judge, a militia general, and was placed in command of the northern frontier of New York in 1812. He performed eminent service during the war, and received the thanks of Congress and a gold medal. He was made general-in-chief of the army in 1821. At his death his remains were buried in Congressional burying-ground. — Lossing.
2Philomel Creek, so named by Mr. Brown from hearing the song of a bird resembling the nightingale, or philomela, among the trees that skirted its banks.
3From Hough’s History of Jefferson County
4Hough’s History of Jefferson County

1 thought on “Brownville New York History from Childs 1890 Gazetteer”

  1. My great great grandfather was born and n Brownville NY in 1838 or 1839. Would there be any record of his birth in the town or church records? Hie father was Levy George and his mother was Diana Worden George. I appreciate any help you can give.
    Barbara P.

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