Town Historian Barb Daniels
Phone # 315-379-0804 ; cell 315-276-9811
Museum open May 30 - Sept 1 on Saturdays 10:00 AM to 1:00 PM
Other times by appointment. Located at 864 State Highway 68, Canton, NY 13617.
The Town of Pierrepont was the sixteenth town erected by an Act of the Legislature, passed April 15, 1818. The territory was originally a large one in area, and was taken from Russell and Potsdam on April 15, 1818.
The first town meeting was held at the house of Cyrus Grannis, March 1, 1819, and the following officers elected: Cyrus Grannis, Supervisor; Andrew A. Crampton, Clerk; William Yale, Elisha Woodruff, Gardner Cox, Assessors; Peter R. Leonard, Joseph Dorothy, Poor masters; Flavius J. Curtis, Ezra Craw, Samuel Belding, Commissioners of Roads; Richard Weller, Constable and Collector; Seth Hale, Overseer of Highways; F.J. Curtis, Ebenezer Tupper, Gardner Cox, Commissioners of Schools; Cyrus Grannis, Wiliam Yale, A.A. Crampton, Inspectors of Schools; Joseph Dorothy, Seth Hale, F.J. Curtis, Henry Axtell, Fence-Viewers; and E. Tupper, P.R. Leonard, Pound keepers.
Pierrepont received its name from Hezekiah B. Pierrepont, who owned a large share of its territory, and under whose administration, through agents, most of it has been settled. Portions of it are still owned by his descendants. The surface of the town is diversified with hills and valleys, and the soil is especially adapted to grazing. The principal occupation of the inhabitants was the making of cheese and butter, for which there were five or six factories in operation.
It is a remarkable fact in the history of this locality that the celebrated Frenchwoman, Madam De Stael, once owned a portion of the township of Clare, which was in the township of Pierrepont until later years.
In the summer of 1799 Judge Raymond and others, engaged in surveying into townships the great northern purchase. A provision camp was established near the village of East Pierrepont.
There was a tradition among the Indians which was told when the surveyors went running out of the Town of Pierrepont, that there was a silver mine near the falls on Grass River, in the Township No. 3, which was worked a little about 1776, but it was stopped by order of the government soon after it was begun. The Indian trail from St. Regis to Black River runs through Pierrepont by way of Fall River.
The first settlement in this town was made by Flavius J. Curtis, who located in the northeast corner about 1806-7. Further settlement was mostly postponed until after the opening of the turnpike from Plattsburgh to Carthage in 1812-13, which passed through the town and called settlers to its vicinity. Henry Axtell came from Vermont in 1813 and settled on lot 44. His son, Henry Edwin Axtell was born the next year and was the first birth in the town. About the same time Cyrus Grannis, then agent for Mr. Pierrepont, built a large frame house near Pierrepont Center and opened a tavern, which was probably the first in the town. Ebenezer Tupper came in 1813 and settled on the east side of the Racquette River, where the turnpike crosses it. He also opened a public house. Andrew A. Crampton came from Pittsford, Vt., in 1815, and settled a quarter of a mile southwest of the Center. He was a leading citizen
and was elected town clerk at the first town meeting, held several other offices, and was postmaster twenty-four years. His son also lived at the Center.
Pierrepont Center – This small village is situated at the intersection of the Canton and Colton road with the St. Lawrence turnpike, nine miles from Canton and ten from Potsdam. The first grist and saw mills in the town were erected on Grannis Brook by Cyrus Grannis, near this village. The grist mill long ago disappeared and a saw mill later occupied the site. There were two other saw mills in the town. A cheese factory was located here, operated by John Coon. The cheese factory was one of the five cheese factories established in the town. There was also one creamery. Chauncey Thomas was an early blacksmith at this place, and built the first frame house. Benjamin Squire was the first merchant and Andrew Crampton the first postmaster. B.P. Hubbard, filled the position a great many years and carried on a store. Charles Beekman was the other merchant of the place.
Hannawa Falls-This place has had other names such as “Cox’s Mills”, “East Pierrepont” and “Ellsworth.” It is a small village in the northeast part of the town on the Raquette River. In 1818 Gardner and Benjamin Cox and John P. Dimick, got out the frame for a saw mill. In the summer of 1819 the dam was built and the mill erected. In 1822 Gardner Cox built a grist mill on the west bank of the river, with a single run of rock stones. Two years later a run of burr stones was added and the place took the name of “Cox’s Mills.” A bridge was built across the river in 1828, and in 1836 the first mill was replaced by a stone mill which was burned in 1869. It was rebuilt in 1877 and was operated as a feed mill under the ownership of Thomas Bicknell who also owned a small saw mill. In 1845 Gardner Cox built a starch factory which produced about thirty tons annually. In 1858 it was changed to a corn starch factory which continued another three years. The building was burned in 1872. In 1852 a large gang saw mill was erected, which was operated for a time and was burned. A woolen factory, wagon factory and machine shop have been operated here in the past; but they have all been abandoned. Cybele Kelsey and Martin Welch were the first merchants and had an ashery and a starch factory. The first tavern was erected about 1835 and was kept by Sidney Lanphear. The first postmaster was John P. Dimick, in 1832. Mrs. H.G. Carpenter was an official and also kept a store.
In 1846 the town voted the sum of $800, legalized by an act of the Legislature, and a town hall was erected near where the Canton and Colton road crosses the turnpike. The hall served the purpose of a church, there being no meeting-house in town at that time.
Supervisors of the town: C. Granuis, 1819: John Axtell, 1820-21; Ezra Crary, 1822-23; Benjamin Squire, 1824-29; August 22, 1829, Gardner Cox, to fill vacancy; G. Cox, 1830-32, ’40; Samuel Northrup, 1833-38; Paine Converse, 1839; A.A. Crampton, 1841-42: Joshua Manley, 1843,’44,’46,’47; Orrin A. Howard, 1845,’57,’58,’66,’67, ’68, Truman Smith, 1848-49; Asa W. Briggs, 1850-51, Peter F. Ryerson, 1852-53, Edwin A. Merritt, 1854, ’55,’56; Benjamin F. Hamilton, 1859-60; Martin Welch, 1801,’62,’63, Ansel B. Hamilton, 1864-65; L. Crampton, 1866-70; A.C. Leonard, 1871-72; William A. Sherman, 1873,’74,’75,’76,; 1877-86, Darwin H. Merritt; 1887-88, J. Ingraham Leonard; 1889-94, John B. Squires.
On January 3, 1844, the Methodist Episcopal Church at East Pierrepont (Hannawa Falls) was incorporated, with Gardner Cox, Nathan Christy, Levi Fuller, John Hicks and Harry Train, trustees. Rev. Mathew Bennett was the first pastor.
A Free Will Baptist Church was organized at the Center, September 14, 1850, by Rev. J. W. Lewis. Rev. William Whitfield was chosen pastor and continued there many years.
The First Methodist Episcopal Church of Pierrepont was located at “Curtis Corners,” was organized January 5, 1853, at the house of Joseph Martin. The first trustees were Charles Smead, Chester Mott, John Martin, Daniel Church and Darius N. Curtis. A church was soon erected, for which a bell was presented by H.E. Pierrepont of Brooklyn, N.Y.
What was called the Free Church Association of this town was organized at the Center in September,1884, and a building was erected the same year. A similar organization was effected under the name of the Beech Plains Free Church in 1875. A church was erected in 1880.