1) Formation & Early Settlement of the Town of Ellisburg
2) Barber-Weser Cemetery
3) Gallea Cemetery
4) Battle of Big Sandy Creek
Formation and early settlement of the Town of Ellisburg
On September 22, 1788 the Oneida Indians signed a treaty with New York State giving the state land which
included the present day Jefferson County. On October 2, 1792 Alexander Macomb, in company with Daniel McCormack and William
Constable, bought the territory embraced in what is now St. Lawrence, Jefferson & Lewis Counties and portions of Franklin
and Oswego County, for a total of 1,920,000 acres at 8 pence sterling per acre. William Constable's purchase included tract
#4 which is now Jefferson County.
On April 11, 1796, Marvel and Lyman Ellis purchased over 51,000 acres of land, that later comprised
the Town of Ellisburg, for $98,943.50. They paid $22,111.50 in cash and received a mortgage for the remainder. In the
spring of 1797 Lyman Ellis made his way into the town through dense forests. He employed several men to build a shelter
and then build a dam across the Sandy Creek and a sawmill. The mill was put into operation in the fall, but was swept away
in the spring by a freshet. The mill and dam were rebuilt, but were destroyed again in 1799.
The town of Ellisburg was created from the Town of Mexico on Febrary 22, 1803 and originally included what
later became the Town of Henderson. Henderson was set off as a separte town on February 17, 1806. Ellisburg is bounded on
the north by Adams and Henderson, on the east of Lorraine, on the south by the Oswego County town of Sandy Creek, and on the
west by Lake Ontario.
Due to major financial setbacks from the loss of the dams and mills, plus the death of Marvel
Ellis in 1803, the Constable Estate foreclosed on Lyman Ellis in 1804 and he was compelled to give up the land. The
Constable Estate paid him for the improvements he had made and released to him certain tracts of land. Lyman Ellis spent the
rest of his years helping to build up the Town of Ellisburg. He died March 13, 1847 and is buried at Ellisburg Cemetery. On
his monument is the following inscription:
Lyman Ellis died March 13, 1847
at the ripe old age of 87,
almost fifty years to a day
after he set foot upon this soil.
'Modesty, honesty and charity
adorned his walk in life.'
Another tribute to Lyman Ellis reads:
Father of This Town
First to till its soil
First to harness its streams,
First in civic leadership.
Settlers in 1798
Lyman & Marvel Ellis sold the following tracts of land in 1798:
Joseph Caldwell, 126 acres
Elijah Pettibone, 100 acres
Asahel Humphrey, 419 acres
Hezekiah Pierce, 149 acres (his son, Ontario Pierce, was the first child born in the town)
Caleb Ellis, 126 acres (his daughter, Mary Ellis, was the first death in the town, she was 2 yrs. old)
John Paddock, 50 acres
Elisha Phillips, 100 acres
Vial Salisbury, 100 acres
Isaac Sutherland, 130 acres
Levi Root, 140 acres.
The 1800 Census shows that the area that later became Ellisburg consisted of about 20 families:
Lyman Ellis, Caleb Ellis, Caleb Boomer, Samuel Cole, Elijah Clark, Phineas Davis, John Eaton, Richard
Gafford, Reuben Hamilton, Gideon Howard, John Howard, William Joiner, Simeon King, Dyer McCumber, Joshua Linch, George Marsden,
Daniel Masters, Luman Pease, Jonathan Parkhurst and Hezekiah Pierce.
By 1810 the town of Ellisburg had:
4 gristmills, 6 sawmills, 6 schoolhouses which also served as churches, 2 fulling mills, 1 trip-hammer,
and 1 distillery.
By 1820 there were:
5 gristmills, 14 sawmills, 1 oil mill, 5 fulling mills, 4 carding machines, 3 trip-hammers, 2 distilleries,
13 asheries and 23 school districts.
Barber-Weser Cemetery, Town of Ellisburg, NY is located on County Route 87 (the Ellisburg-Sandy Creek Road) just north
of the Oswego County line, at edge of field, about 500 feet off the road, not visible from the road. Very early burials. Known
Barber, Isaac - d. 1819 81y6m
Barber, Joanna - d. 12/6/1819 33y
Weser, Nicholas - d. 1/20/1813 67y
Weser, Margaret - d. 9/29/1820, wife of Nicholas
Gallea Cemetery, Town of Ellisburg, NY is located on Benton Road, off State Route 3. Burials are:
Bemis, Demis (Spink) - d. 1/13/1872 87y, wife of William Gallea & Benjamin Bemis
Bruce, Edwin B. - d. 11/7/1838 15m, s. of Timothy & Hannah Bruce
Gallea, Clarissa M. - d. 10/24/1848 23y, da. of William & Demis
Gallea, Demis A. - d. 10/27/1848 1y2m
Gallea, James - d. 2/21/1855 51y, s. of William & Demis
Gallea, Parismus - d. 7/26/1858 38y, s. of William & Demis
Gallea, William - d. 10/1/1830 50y, War of 1812 vet.
Gifford, Canaan - d. 5/12/1825 39y
Gifford, Lucy - d. 11/25/1832 33y, wife of Canaan Gifford
Battle of Big Sandy Creek
Oswego had not been occupied by regular troops since the Revolution, so the guns at the fort were
not ready for use. The British planned with great foresight their descent upon Oswego, where all our naval stores had been.
They approached the village of Oswego and fired three hours after landing, their men and their guns doing much damage. Colonel
Mitchell, who had charge of our stores there, fled to Oswego Falls (now Fulton), taking with him everything possible, destroying
the bridges and filling the roads after him with timber. The enemy thought it inexpedient to follow him and returned with
their fleet to their station near the Galloup Islands. They hoped thus to blockade the passage of the stores, which it was
known must pass them enroute to Sackets Harbor.
These naval stores were also under the charge of Lieutenant Woolsey, son of an officer of the Revolution,
who had also won honors in the battle of Sackets Harbor. He was escorted by Major D. Appling, a young Georgian officer, who
rendered himself conspicuous for his personal valor.
On the evening of May 28, 1814, Lieutenant Woolsey, Major Appling and the rifle regiment of 150 men
left Oswego in 19 boats in the hope of gaining Sandy Creek unmolested from where there would be but three miles of land
carriage for the heavy stores to Henderson Harbor, 12 miles from Sackets Harbor.
The evening was dark and rainy. The brigade of boats rowed all night, at dawn Sunday morning, May
29, entering Sandy Creek, with the exception of one boat, which fell into the hands of the enemy. From those on board this
boat the British learned the particulars of the expedition, for they had followed and discovered Woolsey's retreat. Upon entering
Sandy Creek, Woolsey sent a swift Indian runner to notify Commodore Chauncey at Sackets Harbor of his arrival. Couriers were
also dispatched in all directions to rally teams to get the stores removed by land to their destination.
Enter Sandy Creek
The boats entered Sandy Creek and were run up the south branch. On Monday morning a lookout boat discovered the
enemy making for the creek and soon transmitted the news to Lieutenant Woolsey, who sent messengers to call in the neighboring
militia and made hasty arrangements to meet the enemy.
The Enemy Advances
A squadron of dragoons, a company of light artillery and two six-pounders with the militia of the immediate
locality arrived and were placed in position best calculated to assist those who were already there. Late in the forenoon
the enemy slowly advanced up the creek and landed on the south side, but finding it impossible to proceed on account of the
slippery marsh, they re-embarked and proceeded to within a few rods of the woods. Here they again landed and formed on the
Men Concealed in Woods
Lieutenant Woolsey had so skillfully placed his men that they were concealed behind bushes, log fences
and in the thick woods. The cannon was posted in a position where it could be used with the effect necessary. The boats were
in the rear. The enemy advanced to within ten rods of the ambush, where on a signal, the riflemen of Major Appling's command
arose from their concealment and fired. Several fell, among them their leader, pierced with eleven balls.
So sudden and effectual was this movement that it threw the enemy into confusion and after a fire of a few
minutes, the order was given to charge, upon which the riflemen rushed forward with loud cheers, holding their rifles in the
position of charged bayonets. The result was the surrender of the enemy. This was scarcely done, when the Indians, true to
their character as savages, came furiously on, yelling and brandishing their weapons. It was with great difficulty that they
were prevented from murdering the disarmed prisoners. It is believed that one or two of the British men were scalped.
Their loss was 19 killed, 50 wounded and 133 taken prisoners. A few landed, were pursued,, and not one escaped.
Our loss was one Indian killed and one rifleman wounded. The wounded of the enemy were taken to neighboring houses and cared
for. The dead were buried and the prisoners were marched to Sackets Harbor.
The roads were new and almost impassable and the labor of removing guns, cable and rigging was one of no
ordinary magnitude. A cable and two guns had been lost with the boat that fell in with the enemy. The prizes in the creek
were one 24-pounder, a 68-pound cannonade, with several ssmaller cannon, and a considerrable amount of small arms and ammunition.
A Signal Victory
The affair at arms was now over, and though destined to be practically unrecorded, it was one of the most
signal victories for American arms during the war, and was, moreover, an engagement in which the British failed absolutely
to gain their object, except in the single transport before the battle. Had our forces been larger and had Commodore Chauncey
been there, the British fleet would doubtless have been captured.
Carrying the Cables
The ships cables are said to have been six inches in diameter, 600 feet long and weighing
about five tons each. All the oxen and teams in our part of the country were used to convey the first with the stores and
guns. But how to get the second cable to Sackets Harbor when all the available oxen and teams were already on their way, was
It was at lasat suggested to bear it upon the shoulders of men, and the proposal was cheerfully adopted
by the citizens who came to assist. Marsh grass was plaited into mats for the shoulders of the men, and they were arranged
accoording to their stature. At the word of command they shouldered the ponderous cable and took up their line of march for
Sackets Harbor, 20 miles distant. They were as near together as they could conveniently walk amd seemed to stretch like a
long serpent, bank into the dim greenness of the woods, until they finally laid down their burden, sleeping the night at Ellisburg.
The next day the bearers of the strange burden made about eight miles, being fed and lodged most comforably by the residents
of the small settlements where they stopped. There were constantly a hundred men at the last, working in relays. New volunteers
were arriving all the time, the old ones dropping out, for most could not stand the strain long.
On Saturday the cable was taken through from Smithville, where they spend the second night, to the Harbor.
As they approached the town, the sailors came out to meet them, and the crash of bands, the roll of drums and the boom of
artillery were most gratifying to the tired men. Massed on either side of the main street of the village were cheering
multitudes, for the garrison was emptied of its soldiers and the country side for miles around was there to cheer.
The ship yard was gained and amid a tumult of shouting, the great rope was throown down before the sailors.
It was a memorable day. The Superior, which was waiting for this cable, was soon equipped, and with its appearance the British
sailed away. During no time of the war was a victory gained at less expense than this.
Some who took part in the battle lived in other sections of the county, but thosse who carried the cable
lived in Ellisburg and neighboring communities. Lieutenant Woolsey remained in command at Sackets Harbor after peace was restored,
and attained the rank of commodore.
(Jefferson County Journal - November 22, 1916)