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Historical Association of South Jefferson

Town of Ellisburg


Ellis Village


Pierrepont Manor


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:

Lyman Ellis

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 burials are:

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 north bank.
        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 a problem.
   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)

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