Watertown Daily Times, March 13, 1872 -
(Correspondence of the Daily Times and Reformer)
A few lines descriptive of this place may not
be uninteresting to the readers of the Times and Reformer. This
village is situated in the northeastern corner of the town of Wilna,
on the Indian River. It is said to have derived its name from the
fact that the river formerly ran some eighty rods underground,
coming out upon the other side of the hill. The main stream now runs
upon the surface around the hill. The old watercourse through the
hill is yet open. It has been explored and is said to abound in
geological specimens, bats, etc.
The village contains three churches, three
stores, a gristmill, cloth dressing establishment, three wagon
shops, three blacksmith shops, three shoe shops, a hotel, and of
course a schoolhouse and six saw mills. These saw mills use the
circular saw, and are propelled by water, with one exception, where
steam is employed. They cut an immense amount of lumber during the
Two of the churches, the Universalistic and
Methodist, were built last summer. The latter, which is a
particularly fine looking structure, was built by Geo. Nelson - a
first-class architect and millwright.
The "Bonaparte House" is one of the primitive
structures of the place. It is a large, square, two-story house, and
was built by Joseph Bonaparte in 1828-9, who resided here for two
The Wilna Tannery owned by T. E. Proctor, of
Boston, and conducted by C.H. Starkey, formerly of Penobscot County,
Me., employs forty hands. This tannery is heated by steam, and the
machinery is run by steam, except the hide mill, which is propelled
by water. It was burned twice in one year. The first burning
occurred in the fall, necessitating the building in the winter, but
Mr. Starkey, the energetic superintendent, proved equal to the
emergency, and it was rebuilt and running by May, when it was again
burned and again rebuilt. The present building is fireproof. It has
the capacity of tanning 20,000 hides per year, which are shipped
from Boston, and the leather is returned to that place. The
proprietor, Mr. Proctor, has two other tanneries in this State, and
is one of the largest leather dealers in Boston. This establishment
is a great help to the place, paying a large of money monthly to the
hands, which of course is ultimately distributed among the people.
The amount paid for bark and labor for the month of February will be
$1,000. The price of bark is $4 per cord, and they have now on hand
6,000 cords. There is a store connected with the tannery, which
sells goods to the amount of $20,000 annually.
The Lumber Business of Graves & Averell, of
Cooperstown, who own four or five thousand acres of land in this
region, is conducted by P.E. Johnson and A. S. Russell. They employ
a good number of hands and teams, and have a store for the
accommodation of their customers as well as the public. They report
one of the best seasons for the lumbering business that has been
known for a long time. The average depth of snow has been but little
over a foot. This firm gives employment to a large number of people,
and distributes a good amount of cash among their employees.
The village is immediately on the line of the
tram railroad (Black River & St. Lawrence), which it was proposed to
build from Carthage to DeKalb Junction, by way of Edwards. This
railroad was completed to this point, and operated for a season. It
is said that parties were only waiting for its completion five miles
further, when they intended to build to extensive steam sawmills,
but the construction of the railroads being stopped, of course the
mills were not built.
These parties own a large amount of timbered
land in that region, on a section of 500 acres, of which it is
estimated that there are 12 million feet of excellent pine lumber.
It is said that there is a belt of excellent timbered land, from 5
to 10 miles in breadth, adjacent to the line of this proposed road
and parallel with it, and it is estimated by competent judges, that
were this road completed with iron track, the lumber trade would pay
the running expenses the first ten years.
The town of Edwards was bonded for $25,000, and
subscriptions were received sufficient to swell this amount to
$40,000, with the condition that the amount should be paid when they
commenced to lay an iron track on the Carthage end of the road.
Pitcairn will bond when it is determined to build an iron track
road, but as the plan of building a tram road has been abandoned,
the whole project seems to have fallen through for the present.
Should the project of building an iron track road be taken up soon,
the work already performed upon the road is available, as also the
amount subscribed by Edwards, with a good prospect of aid from
Pitcairn, and the probability that even Wilna would consent to be
financially squeezed a little more in order to make available what
she has already contributed.
Watertown Daily Times, Feb. 8, 1874
Natural Bridge -The people here is looking
forward to the time when they will have a railroad. They have tasted
the "sweets" of bonding, without having any return. We have no doubt
that five years time will see the "iron horse" on his daily passage
through or near this village. There's a company seriously
considering the project of building the road. This company, we
understand, have received an offer of the road as it now stands, if
they will iron it within a given time, and they have until some time
next summer to determine whether they will accept the proposition or