1864 Map of Adams New York

History of Smithville Village, New York

1864 Map of Adams New York
1864 Map of Adams New York clearly shows Smithville Village on the left side of the map.

Smithville Village, which was founded by Jesse Smith, is partly in Henderson. The portion lying in Adams is on lots 9 and 17, on Stony creek, which here affords excellent water-power. Settlement was begun here in 1804 by Daniel Hardy, although a little east of this point Chauncey Mills, from Connecticut, took up land in 1803. In 1805 he built a saw-mill on Stony creek, the first in the west part of town. He lived here until his death, in 1821, having reared a family, of which John Mills, now residing on the homestead, is the only survivor. In 1805, Abel Myrick, Henry Knapp, Samuel and Andrew McNitt, and others located in this vicinity. Soon after a couple of young men, named Kendall and Powell, built a dam across the creek, and put up a small saw-mill. This mill and all the improvements made by them were purchased by Jesse Smith, from whose settlement at this place dates its real history. Few men have lived in the county who have been more active or energetic than he. Beginning life as a jobber in clearing land and making potash, he extended his business until it included milling, distilling, and general merchandising. Gradually he became interested in the lumber trade and the commerce of the lakes, until his operations extended unto every lake city. From comparative poverty he arose to affluence, and controlled a business which for extent and importance has had few parallels in the country. He remained identified with the interests of Smithville and Sacket’s until 1838, when he moved to Newark, Ohio. There are yet living people who can remember “Uncle Jesse,” and the time (about 1825) when the cash sales of his several business enterprises at Smithville amounted to more than $1200 per day. Smith erected a large frame grist-mill opposite his saw-mill, which being deemed insufficient for his requirements was sold to the Carter brothers, and a substantial stone mill built down the stream on the Henderson side. This is the present structure owned and operated by Babbitt & Benjamin. The saw-mill, after having numerous owners, is now the property of Leonard A. Wheeler. In connection with his mill Smith had a large distillery, whose products were conveyed to Sacket’s Harbor and shipped to Montreal and Quebec.

A Mr. Sprague built a tannery which was conducted at various times by him, O. H. Rundell, and Abram Cromer, and was destroyed by fire while belonging to the latter. Upon vacating the old mill it was turned into a wagon-shop by Carter Bros. This, also, was destroyed by fire and a new one rebuilt on the site. Afterwards F. B. Hallett and others used it for a cabinet-shop, and it is at present occupied for this purpose by Hallett. Among the other wheel-wrights were H. Yates & Co., John Downie, and A. Wakefield & Co., who carry on a shop.

A carding-mill was operated at Smithville about 1830 by Samuel Eaton, and afterwards by D. Hardy and Willard Dodge. This, too, was consumed by fire. Jesse Smith had a large cooper-shop, giving employment to many men. Other shops were carried on by Elisha Peck and Duane Cooley, the cooper for the past twenty-five years. John Ivery was perhaps the first blacksmith. He was succeeded by his son Jonas. Other sons of Vulcan were John Corey, David Hunter, and Joel Smith. John Corey and F. Babcock are the present smiths, each conducting a good shop. Shoemakers abounded, Vernon Brigham being one of the pioneers. O. H. Rundell carried on the trade on a large scale, having from five to ten workmen. George Lewis and Captain Collins have shops at present. Duncan Campbell and Wetherill were clothiers at an early day, and had a large establishment.

The first tavern was kept by Daniel Hardy, prior to 1810. He was succeeded by Brooks Harrington, who erected a frame house for this purpose. In 1828 he built a large brick house on the Henderson side, which is yet occupied as the Smithville Hotel by Alfred Seeley. In connection with the house is a large hall, where the public meetings of the place are held.

The first store was kept in a small frame house on the corner opposite the inn, by Jesse Smith. He enlarged the building from time to time, and it has been used for mercantile purposes ever since, being at present occupied by William H. Rice. In 1831 Jesse Smith erected a splendid stone store-house on the south corner, at present the stand of A. P. Hall. Besides these mentioned, Robert McGregor, Dudley and Burr, John Bishop, Bliss and Gibbs, Abram Cromer, George Babbitt, Thomas Angel, H. Knapp, and A. Schuyler were also engaged in business as general merchants.

A post-office was established at Smithville at an early day, with Brooks Harrington postmaster. Among others who had charge of the office were George Babbitt, C. A. Mills, — Davis, A. P. Hall, and W. H. Rice, the present incumbent. The mail service was from various points, but it is at present daily from Sacket’s Harbor. The business transacted amounted to about $100 per year; letters daily, 30; and papers, 250 per week. When the Sacket’s Harbor & Ellisburg Railroad was in operation it passed near the village, and had a station on the Henderson side.

The “Smithville Library” was formed Feb. 16, 1824, with Abel L. Crandall, Henry Keith, Daniel Hall, Jr., John M. Bart, C. M. Adams, Roswell Bosworth, and Brooks Harrington as trustees. Quite a library (362 volumes of standard books) was collected, but on account of the removal of some of its members the library was dissolved in 1845.

Dr. E. Adams was located at the village, about 1825, as one of the first physicians. Since then Doctors Seymour, Breed, Pierson, and Lord have been practicing the healing art. The latter is the present physician.

Smithville has about 200 inhabitants, most of whom have become residents within the past twenty years. As a business centre its importance has departed, but as a quiet, cozy village, with beautiful surroundings, it must ever attract attention.

In 1820 a large frame school-house was erected jointly by the district and the several religious denominations of the village. This house was used for meetings and school purposes until 1845, when a new school-house was built.

The First Methodist Episcopal Church

The First Methodist Episcopal Church and Society of Smithville was formed Oct. 31, 1844, with Horace Ivery, John Shanley, John D Gillett, James Morton, and John Bailey, trustees. The old school-house was purchased and repaired as a place for meetings. It was used eight or ten years, when the meetings were discontinued, the society abandoned, and the house used for other purposes. 1)Source:  Durant, Samuel W. and Henry B. Peirce. History of Jefferson County, New York, With Illustrations and Biographical Sketches of Some of its Prominent Men and Pioneers. Philadelphia: L.H. Everts & Co., 1878. p 248-249.

Records Available for the The First Methodist Episcopal Church

The following items are available at the Flowers Memorial Library in Watertown New York.

  • Alphabetical membership roll 1811 — 1888.

More than 500 volumes of original records of churches, associations, and state bodies have been placed in the American Baptist – Samuel Colgate Historical Library, in Atlanta Georgia. See: New York Baptist Church Records at the Samuel Colgate Historical Library for more information.

  • Smithville Baptist Church – (Photo Copied, Typescript); 1807-1921.


1Source:  Durant, Samuel W. and Henry B. Peirce. History of Jefferson County, New York, With Illustrations and Biographical Sketches of Some of its Prominent Men and Pioneers. Philadelphia: L.H. Everts & Co., 1878. p 248-249.

5 thoughts on “History of Smithville Village, New York”

  1. I just learned my gr-grandfather’s sister Mary Jane Baker’s 1856 Wisconsin marriage certificate says she was born in Smithville, Jefferson, NY Feb. 7, 1833. Her parents, Thomas and Johanna Baker (1804 – 1883) had 6 of their 8 children in New York between 1833 and 1842. I would love to know if there are records of the family in Smithville, where they may have put down roots. State and federal census records indicate Thomas and Johanna claimed to be from Ireland. I’ve written a family history but never dreamed I’d learn where in New York they may have lived so I could continue my search. Any tips welcome!

    1. I lived in Smithville, NY as a teenager from 1932-1939. Lived across the road from the cemetery. Parents never told of all our relatives buried there. Pastor Cash was very active with children of the church – we had Young Peoples Meetings at the church basement. Contact the South Jefferson Historical Society at 29 E. Church St., Adams, NY 13605-1129. Telephone: 315-232-2616.

  2. Florence,

    I just saw this reply and am so grateful for your interest in helping me find my gr-great grandparents. What a lovely place to call home it must have been. I will follow your leads and if I learn more I will reply to you here.


  3. I am excited to join the genealogy group. My father’s side of the family is mostly a mystery. There are few people who have names or places, and with years of research, I have found that Albert W. Cabot and Mary Jane (Hall) were my 3rd GG parents. Today I learned that Mary Jane Hall, daughter of Zurial Hall and Mary Polly ??, was born in Smithville (prior to, I only knew the county). It will be fun to learn more about the village, the other families from the village, and the history of the village during her years there. Have a joyous day! Constance Fay.

    1. I live in smithville on stony creek it’s a shame I can’t post pictures here. It really is a beautiful little village. Last few years everyone has been fixing up the houses as well.

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