Our Home Towns


In 1795, the family of John Bernhard, of Dutch ancestry, came here from Staten Island. His persistent effort to clear the land was rewarded by the hamlet being named Bernhards Bay. The Legion Club site was built in 1888 and was a bank run by Potter and Marsden. Both of these men had ancestors who came in the 1700's and early 1800's. Captain and Adjutant Marsden was a personal friend of general George Washington. He was even visited by President George Washington in 1783 while he was on tour of inspection of Central New York fortifications. Today's activities include pallet production, lumber, tire, fishing, camping, and marinas.


Brewerton is located on the water route at the outlet of Oneida Lake. The first settlers came to Brewerton in 1789, opened a fur trading business and ran a tavern until 1811. As the influx of people increased it became obvious that the water route from Schenectady to Oswego and beyond was crucial to the areas future growth and development. By 1865 there were over 700 inhabitants. In 1759 General Prideaux and Sir William Johnson built Fort Brewerton, one of the series of Forts built to control the waterways. A replica of the blockhouse has been erected and called the Oliver Stevens Block Museum and house many artifacts of the era.


The first settlers came to Caughdenoy in 1797. The major occupation in Caughdenoy was eel trapping. Eel weirs were built in the river and eels were trapped daily. They were skinned and smoked, then shipped to many cities where they were considered to be of high quality. When the dams in the St. Lawrence River were built, it prevented the eels from coming upstream to spawn and hampered the business. In 1841, the Barge Canal opened and locks were built parallel to the river. When Lock 23 was built, the locks at Caughdenoy were no longer used, but the brick house still stands where the lock tender liver.


Central Square Village was incorporated in 1890. The Native Americans had worn a trail from the Onondaga Long House to their fishing ground on Lake Ontario. The Oneida Indians and perhaps others had worn a trail west from Oneida Lake to Oswego Falls. Those trails crossed the site of Central Square. Since the village was at a crossroads, it became a trading center. The first newcomers were hunters and fishermen. In 1871, the Rome Watertown and Ogdensburg Railroad was built. This created another crossroads and brought more business to Central Square. The early settlers whose roots were in Europe were mostly religious people.


In 1794, Francis Adrian Van Der Kemp purchased a portion of the Scriba Patent from George Scriba for 12 cents an acre. The settlement was first called Black Creek and in 1826 when a post office was established, the name Cleveland was chosen. In 1821, the person said to be the first settler in the area was Christopher Martin. He started the first school, held religious meetings and supervised the building of the Methodist church. Because of the hemlock forests and the water sources, Cleveland became a thriving community. It was incorporated in 1857.


The first settler was a man named Bruce, who built a crude cabin on the site of Constantia Village in 1791 or 1792. He was evidently a squatter and remained but a short time. In 1791, John and Nicholas Roosevelt acquired possession from New York State a large tract of land which included this town. In 1792, they sold their contract to George Scriba who started a settlement called Rotterdam. Mr. Scriba built fine roads, sawmills and a great store. For a while the settlement boomed. His tract became a handicap and his town loaded him with burdens too great to carry. The Post Office was established in Rotterdam in 1798 at the same time the village name was changed to Constantia.


The hamlet of Hastings is six miles north of Central Square. In 1854, Mr. Corning built a steam sawmill in the town which in 1863 passed into the possession of Aaron Benson. With his brother, he invented the famous "Benson Water Wheel" which was the principle one in used in this section for many years. The HalfWay house was built by Bilbert Parkhurst halfway between Hastings and Central Square to accommodate the stagecoach travelers on their way to Watertown. It was also the stopping place for drivers hauling barrels from Syracuse into the North Country over the Plank Road.


The settlement was first called Smithville in 1810, Brewerterville in 1851, and Mallory Mills in 1866. The main occupations were lumberman, sawyers, coopers, farmer and blacksmiths, carpenters and proprietors of hotels, mills, cheese factories and stores. After the Civil War, the R.W. & O. Railroad had its first train stop at Mallory. Many of the sawmills, and gristmills were located here because of Mallory pond and Big Bay Creek which powered the water wheels.


The first settlers arrived in West Monroe shortly after 1783. Originally called the George Scriba Township #12, in 1839 became the West Monroe Township of Oswego County. During the next century the pioneers conquered adversity to become lumbermen, farmers, sawyers, coopers, blacksmiths, carpenters, boatmen, etc. During the 1800's, the development of connecting roads, a simple barge landing at Toad Harbor and eventually the O. & W. Railroad encouraged the influx of settlers. In 1860, the census recorded a total of 1416 townspeople.