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Early Days of Ticonderoga and the Flint Family

This writer in an attempt to review and organize a bit of  the stored material accumulated over  the last several decades in my attic came upon this old newspaper article.  It reveals some historical footnotes to Ticonderoga’s early history that I thought may be of some interest to more than a few of our readers.

(It was found pasted over a page in an old business ledger with dates of entries from the late 1800s. The article had no author attributed to it; however, based on its personal content I believe it was written by attorney Peter Flint.  Mr. Flint was born in Ticonderoga on December 6, 1856 and died December 8, 1943 in Port Henry, NY where he was buried in the Union Cemetery of that place.

An 1880 graduate of Yale University, Peter was the son of Charles Northrup Flint and Aura Marie Thompson. He married Alice Morlan in June, 1899.  His grandfather was Lt. Peter Flint a veteran of the Battle of Sackets Harbor during the War of 1812.   Mr. Flint also owned a summer cottage on Eagle Lake here in Ticonderoga. )

“.. In the year 1816 William Sweet, a prosperous farmer and nursery man moved from Hartford, NY to Ticonderoga where he and several sons cleared a small piece of land on his two hundred acre purchase from the state or from the owner of a patent in the beautiful valley at the foot of Buck Mountain, between that steep ridge and Miller Mountain at the back of which is the famous Sugar Hill, mentioned by (General James) Burgoyne ( British – American Revolution) when his army was encamped (1777) at Puts (sic) Creek.  He and his four sons erected probably the first house of squared logs in the town.  It stood, the home of himself and three generations of his immediate descendants, on what was then the Old Military Road from Fort Amherst (British built at Crown Point) to Fort Ticonderoga, now the earth road from Ti Street to Renne Corners, near Crown Point Center, which you have already had in print as William Street.  His sons were called to fight at the Battle of Plattsburgh (1814) and the writer’s grandmother, Hannah Sweet Thompson, late of Port Henry, relates that the family heard the thunder of artillery quite plainly during the great historic battle on the lake.

William later on cleared about 100 acres of his farm called “The Vineyard” by the early French, who used the old road from Fort Frederic (French built at Crown Point) to (Fort) Carillon (at) Ticonderoga.  He at once started a nursery, raising chiefly all kinds of apple favorites, then the Spitzenberg, Red Fair, Gilly Flower, No Core, August Sweet, Snow and other kinds, as well as blue plums and red cherries.

In time people used to come from all the back country as far as Schroon (Lake) for his famous apples.  The Grants soon had a large cider mill and presses on a little cold brook at the foot of the Bliss Hill about a mile down the east road to what was then called the lower road.

When he built, there was then standing east of the log house what they called the old log barn of uncertain origin, though some think it was an outpost of Burgoyne in the 1777 Campaign.

It was used to house the sheep from attacks of wolves.  These animals were so abundant that a squad of troopers en route to the Battle of Plattsburgh (1814) were driven back south in the lonely pass between the upper and lower vineyard by these fierce animals.  This log house was only recently burned by accident and is listed among Ticonderoga’s ancient landmarks by the D. & H Railroad in its recent publications from a photograph made by L.(LaFayette) F. Perry, Esquire, (1862-1948) secretary of (the) Ticonderoga Chamber of Commerce.  In this house everything used was made on the place except that a traveling Crispin called each fall and made the shoes and boots from leather tanned at Crown Point Center by the Gray Tannery on Puts (sic) Creek and the wool rolls were prepared from washed fleeces at the old Stone Woolen Mills near the Tannery (More – C.P. News.)  My grandmother and Aunt Maria spun flax and (the) two made heavy woolen cloth on the looms that were long in the barn that lately burned down.  Flax was raised a good deal and the mills for it were on Buck Mt. Brook at Street Road  where were also saw mills, and General Training was held there just west of the present cemetery where the monument of my grandfather, George Thompson, stands by the gate about thirty feet from the State Highway.  (Today the area next to the old Methodist Church and old Street Road School House.)

Streetroad – Methodist Church & Hall (Location of the Training Grounds)

His father, Curtis Thompson, and family came about 1800 from Williamstown, Mass., and are living in Ticonderoga today.  My grandfather early engaged in lumbering occupations and married Hannah Sweet of the The Vineyard Farm and moved away up on Buck Mt., west of Ti Street, not far from the residence of his father.  After the birth of my mother on the mountain, he secured a rather poor canal boat and spent the rest of the year running to Buffalo and New York City, making as much as five hundred dollars besides paying for his boat.  He said, “Han, we will never be without money again,” and it was true, for more boats were bought.  He bought out the old Vineyard Farm, purchased nearly all the land where Chilson (Ticonderoga hamlet) now stands, built a store at the foot of Weedville Hill and just above it the finest private residence then in Ticonderoga, with its old colonial architecture and beautiful fan shaped window over the front door.  He was an active member of the Congregational Church that stood on the Mt. Hope slope back from the “Store” and where the writer was taken when a lad by his father, a Ticonderoga lawyer, to hear the famous founder of New York Tribune, Horace Greeley, who earnestly urged the people to unite in preservation of The Union.  The Wideawakes  (A paramilitary political club associated with the Republican Party during the 1860 election.  The Democratic Party had a similar Club with various names) were out in force with their oil lamps on long poles wearing tarpaulin capes.  The first Ticonderoga Band played Nellly Bly, the writer recalls, standing at the bars just across the bridge at the end of the closed lane between the residence and store leading to the church where his mother formerly had led the choir.

Baldwin Stages at the Central House – Circa 1874

The Ti Band was later on led by a blind clarinet player, Mr. Rogers, and had always been active until about thirty years ago, when the ladies of the village organized a good band of their own, led by a Mr. Wells, I think.  During a Mt. Hope Fair about 1865 my father took me to a real horse trot and there was the then famous Port Henry Band playing away with its Negro snare drummer and led by Thomas F. Witherbee, just back from the Civil War, in which he had been a musician.  There was then some jealousy shown by the Ti Band on account of the intrusion and Mr. Rogers and his men serenaded the sleeping visitors at Flemming’s Central House, where the famous Baldwin coaches, drawn by four or six handsome horses, used to stop when certain frisky passengers entered the hostelry pour se refraichir, (sic) the Port Henry bandsmen had to play host to their musical rivals.

This story has been forgotten by most people living today.  George Thompson, my grandfather, who died from pneumonia in 1849, besides his store and farm, was actually engaged in the lumber business, which was transported in his twenty-five or more canal boats to all points south and west.  It was landed at his piers in the creek at Port Marshall, (near today’s Fort View Inn)  below the lower falls.  In his store as clerks, learning the business, were at one time both Henry G. and Brackett W. Burleigh, the well-known Burleigh Brothers, who had the first banking business in the village, which then had a number of lawyers:  Moses Clough, Mr. Sheldon, Capt. Alfred Weed and Charles Northrop Flint, my father, a native of Canajoharie, NY, who came there in the autumn of 1849, hung out his shingle, taught school at the Upper Falls, (Ticonderoga – Alexandria Section) and later married Aura Maria Thompson, the second of grandfather’s five daughters.

Weed’s Pinehurst

Father practiced law extensively or several years in Ticonderoga and Elizabethtown, then called “The Valley” by everyone.  His closest friend in Ti was Joseph Weed, Esquire, whose store and place of business was at the top of Weedville Hill and his brick mansion (Pine crest) still stands there, formerly next to the Thompson Homestead.  He, like all the Weed family, were and since have been engaged in saw mill activities on Lake George Creek, and I am informed that the mills were acquired by a member of the Count De Grasse family, famous in the (American) Revolution, the name De Grasse having been changed to Weed as the story goes.  In Civil War times the principal physicians were Dr. (John) Smith and Dr. (William P.) Gannon.  The tailor of fashion was Jimmy McCormick, who used to sit cross-legged on a table with his men, right where the Bank now stands.  J.Q. A. Treadway had extensive woolen mills in the village and in the winter the first theatrical performance every given on a stage in Essex County was that of The Thespian Society, directed by the noted tragedian, George W. (Shakespeare) Howard, who had previously been in stock companies with the elder Booth, Lester Wallack, and others in New York, Philadelphia and Buffalo.

Sailing Canal Boat

This has all been given in Ti and country papers by me Quod Vide!  I might add the names of the leading farmers in the north part of the town as my native section was then designated.  Up Dibble Hollow way were – North – George Thompson and Charles Miller and the old Grant family, relatives of the famous General (and) President of the U.S.A.  The Grants had a famous old cider press by a cold trout brook and a store, behind which Tom Stewart, a Civil War veteran, found a fine horn handled razor, now treasured by the writer.  Then came the great farm of Uncle Hiram Kimpton, whose son, Hiram H., (him and his wife’s portraits hang today in the Front Parlor of the Hancock House) was the first native of Ticonderoga to be graduated at Yale College and is now buried beside his father at Streetroad Cemetery. Toward the east came the Phelps family, originally from Vermont, the two sons Plingy and Oleny being well known.  Then came the Rowells, and south of Kimpton’s came the Clark and Delano Estates.  Chauncey Sawyer was the principal farmer at Ti Street.  He was a brother of U.S. Senator of Michigan, a leading figure at Washington, DC. Along toward Ti came the Atwood and McCaughin farms, the last being nearly on square mile in area.  Mr. Wicker’s large farm came just as you turn toward Chilson and the old Village of Ticonderoga.

For further reading please refer to “Ticonderoga Patches and Patterns from its Past” and “Home Sketches.”   Both publications are available at the Hancock House’s ~ Olde Post Office Book & Gift Shop.

12/18/16 WGD

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