Sunday, June 5, 2016

Memorial Day Thanks and the Skaneateles Turnpike History all in one!

This weekend's Memorial Day Event was a success and in reality it was because of a lot of folks who stood up to help and to the many who attended.  We had a bunch of winning rafflers and a bunch of different people who baked and it was a true blessing for me to have the co-operation of so many, truly I and the Eaton Museum needed it.  
The thank you list is long and I will try to list as more as the month goes on.  Here is a short list... a thank you to Jen Caloia, Michele Kelly, Jim Monahan, Barbara Keough, Cathy Nagle, Pat Utter, Steve and Judy Goodfriend, & Judy Oplinger ...our main group who held it together. Also to the press...the O-D, Mid York Weekly, Hi Neighbor, Madison County Courier and my friends at the Oneida Dispatch.
The stone Morse House...the little brick land office
 is across from the hour itself on Rt.26.
While at the museum main question I received queries about was about the stone Morse House and the little brick building that is standing with a large gash in its roof.  The Morse house is one of the most historic landmarks in southern Madison County and the little brick building....well, it was responsible in part for the communities that sprang up from Monticello and Richfield Springs to Otisco Lake...including West Eaton, Erieville, New WoodStock, Fabius, Tully and so on  westward. So I thought I would give you so history on it. The building was the land office from which the Skaneateles Turnpike was mostly formed.
The Skaneateles Turnpike that wended its way through town was incorporated on April 2, 1805, under the title “The President and Directors of the Hamilton and Skaneateles Turnpike Company”. The route was to begin in Richfield, located on the Third Great Western Road (Cherry Valley Turnpike, today’s Route 20) and continue through Plainfield in Otsego County, through Hamilton, Eaton, Erieville, New Woodstock and on to the northern part of the town of Fabius, then through the northern part of the town of Tully to Otisco Lake’s outlet, and on to Skaneateles. A venture that was no easy feat to accomplish considering the unbelievably steep hills and the dense forests of the early 1800s.
Skaneateles Turnpike thru - Eaton
*The original New York State Act set out the dimensions and nature of the proposed road as follows: “ The road is to be laid out four rods wide, 26 feet of which to be bedded with wood, stone, gravel or any other hard substance well compacted together of a sufficient depth to secure a solid foundation and was to be faced with gravel or stone pounded or another hard substance in such a manner as to secure an even firm surface, rising toward the middle by a gradual arch. There was also to be a side cut that was to be used by sleds.”
The capital stock of the road fund was to be comprised of 4,000 shares of stock at $20 a share. The Act also allowed for a short fall.
if needed, the company could add two extra dollars per share. This amount of money proved less than enough for the daunting work at hand and by an Act of April 11, 1808, the company was authorized to raise further subscription by selling 1,000 more shares.
Last standing stop on Skaneateles Turnpike in Eaton
The need for this road was evident to the businessmen who were in existence at that time. They needed a way to get their goods and livestock to market. Mill businesses along the swift-flowing streams of southern Madison County needed a way to get the finished products to market, while Joseph and Ellis Morse’s Distillery needed a way to not only ship their goods, but also a way to bring grain and corn to the large business in this early time. This indeed was the reason that Joseph Morse of Eaton invested the unbelievable sum of $30,000 in the endeavor.
The Morse family owned mills and foundries, as well as the large Morse Distillery. Its millponds ran sawmills and gristmills. Morse’s sons each had a business or opened a business along the turnpike’s proposed route: Joseph, a woolen mill; Alpheus, foundries in Eaton and Erieville; and Bigelow, a foundry in Fabius. The foundries needed iron ore from the east and the Morse cattle business needed to get its cattle to the Albany market. All in all, it is recorded that the road would never have been built except for the money of Joseph Morse. *
By 1813, a New York State Act had to be passed allowing the directors more time to finish this road and so the completion date was extended to December 1, 1817. As money continued in shortfall, a supply bill of 1814 gave the company authority to collect tolls under the regulations that were set down in a general Act in regards to turnpike tolls dated March 13, 1807. Even though the road collected tolls, it never recouped the money spent by its many investors.

The small communities & the people along its route ultimately garnered the benefit if they were headed east or west looking for a place to settle. It is in this vein that the roadway was a success.

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