This small booklet of local history was prepared as a tribute to our Village in 1972, Norwoods Centennial Year, and was made through the cooperation of many citizens. In spite of the vigilance of the editorial staff errors are bound to creep in. We invite your corrections.
A publication such as this cannot give a detailed story on any subject. Of necessity each account must be very brief: Additional information may be found in the Norwood Museum in any one of a number of illustrated volumes compiled over the past years.
Norwood began in the early 1800 's with the arrival of New England farmers, and with the coming of the railroads in the 1850 's, progressed to become a railroad center and industrial village surrounded by many out lying prosperous farms. This pattern of living continued into the first quarter of this century when the increased use of the automobile spelled doom for the railroads and other factors lead to the closing of the mills.
The Village of Norwood has survived an earthquake, severe fires, floods and mild depression but recovered to become a friendly residential village. Men and women make their homes here and commute to their places of work in area schools, hospitals, offices, stores and a variety of manufacturing establishments.
We are proud of Norwood 's history and confident of its future.
Susan C. Lyman, Municipal Historian, 1995
All of what is now Norwood was once Indian country, a part of a vast hunting and fishing territory of rival Indian tribes, the Adirondacks and Iroquois being the chief contenders. The Raquette River was full of fish and the forests full of game.
By 1650 the Iroquois had driven the Adirondacks into Canada and the Mohawks, one of the Iroquois tribes, claimed northern New York as their territory, their headquarters were in the Mohawk Valley. The profusion of Indian pottery, clay pipes and other artifacts uncovered on the Dublin Road Haggett farm are certain indication that an Indian village was once situated on the ridge sloping down to the river. Local legend calls this village Ka-na-ta-seke, meaning New Village, and tells of final skirmishes of the French and Indian War taking place there. However an anthropologist from an area college dates the village as much earlier.
After the four "French and English Wars" Great Britain, represented by the Province of New York, was the owner of northern New York. The American Revolution drove the British out and left the State of New York in possession of hundreds of thousands of acres of land "in the wilderness" unknown, unsurveyed and unsettled, with an English possession, Canada, just across the St. Lawrence River.
Deeming it advisable to get the land sold and settled as quickly as possible, a land sale was held in New York City in 1787, even before Washington became president, and almost the whole area went to one man, Alexander Macomb. He made two large land purchases, one in 1787 and the other in 1792, and through purchase and private agreements acquired title to the Ten Towns already established by New York State as well as most of Franklin, St. Lawrence, Lewis and part of Oswego Counties.
The Ten Towns, each ten miles square, involved in Macomb's original purchase were Louisville, Stockholm, Potsdam, Madrid, Lisbon, Canton, Dekalb, Oswegatchie, Hague (Morristown) and Chambray (Gouverneur).
Mr. Macomb had over extended his resources and was compelled to call on wealthy New York City men, about 25 of them, to help him out. One of these men, William Constable, in 1792 bought Potsdam, Madrid, part of Louisville and part of Stockholm for 1500 English pounds and he immediately began to sell the land, including the Town of Potsdam, in smaller size tracts. A wealthy and large new York City family, the Clarksons, bought most of Potsdam. A strip along the Potsdam-Madrid Town line had been divided in two parts and sold, the west part to the Ogdens and the east part which includes a small portion of Norwood to Charles LeRoux. The boundary between the Clarkson and LeRoux Tracts ran almost to the northwest corner of River Street and in a south westerly and north easterly direction across Bernard Avenue, Prospect Street almost to the Main Street end and across North Main Street to the Norfolk Town Line.
The Clarksons in turn began to sell their big holdings. One of the purchasers was Benjamin G. Baldwin who bought just south of the Clarkson-LeRoux Tracts in a series of six good size purchases.
LeRoux also sold smaller tracts, one purchaser was James Symonds, ancestor of Albert Simonds, Mildred Wells Reynolds and Mary Hall Seeley of Norwood. Mr. Symonds' purchase included some of River Street, most of Prospect St. and North Main Street. His later land holdings were bounded by Bicknell, Morgan and South Main Streets.
Mr. Baldwin planned a village to be situated on the Raquette River with its potential for ample water power for mills and industry to support the village. His careful planning for the little hamlet he named Racquetteville is shown by his 1856 map which clearly defines all his lots as well as those of James Symonds and the Water Company, the school plot and the village green.
With his plan firmly outlined and the Northern Railroad running through his dream village, largely because of his generous gift of land for a right of way and depot and the prospect of a railroad being built from Watertown to Potsdam, Mr. Baldwin, lawyer, landowner, village planner and public spirited citizen, was ready to sell building lots to those wishing to establish their homes in what promised to become a thriving community.
His sales spanned the years 1851 to 1873 when he died leaving about fifty lots still unsold. His widow continued to dispose of the land for several years.
Norwood was founded on the farmland and holdings of three men, James Symonds, Benjamin G. Baldwin, who sold lots and larger holdings east of the Raquette River, and Charles McCarty whose farm lay west of the river. These three men formed the Racquetteville Water Company to develop the water power and sell house lots along the river.
Perhaps one reason for the friendly feeling which has always existed between the churches of the village stems from these men, Symonds, a Methodist, Baldwin, a Congregationalist, and McCarty, a Catholic, a truly ecumenical founding.
James Symonds was born in Burlington, Vermont, Aug. 8, 1790. He was married to Hannah Glass of Litchfield, Conn. on June 4, 1816. The young couple migrated to the northern New York wilderness in 1816 and built a log farmhouse just west of Harrison Street. They became the parents of seven children, five sons and two daughters, James, Mahala, (who was responsible for the founding of the Methodist Society in Norwood) Judson, Royal, (whose wife joined Mahala in holding prayer meetings as early as 1848) Lydia, John and Chester.
The sons became millwrights and helped build many of the mills in the community. Chester worked on the building of the 1852 dam. In later years several of the sons went to Grand Rapids, Mich. to make their homes. Mahala married Harry Chittenden who built the brick house at 49 North Main Street.
When Mr. Symonds died in 1862, Mr. Chittenden was one of the executors of his estate.
Shortly before his death Mr. Symonds deeded a plot of land on Prospect Street for the building of the Methodist Church.
Hannah Symonds died June 2, 1855 at the age of 64 and Mr. Symonds died May 6, 1862 at the age of 71. Both are buried in the Riverside Cemetery, Norwood.
Data on Charles McCarty is not readily available. His farm bordered on the west side of the Raquette River and along the side of "McCarty Hill" and along both sides of McCarty Road. The 1865 map locates his farm as being on "Pig Street."
His 1852 purchase of a business block on "Plank Road" (Main Street) was one of the first land sales, the site is now occupied by the Community Bank, NA. He was one of the three men who formed and ran the Water Company.
He died Feb. 6, 1858 but both his birth date and place of burial is unknown. Benjamin G. Baldwin, then St. Lawrence County Clerk, was named as executor of the McCarty estate.
His surviving brothers and sisters were Owen, Mary, Calvin, Ellen and Jeremiah who lived in Cork, Ireland. A cousin Calvin is also named.
Owen received the business block, the interest in the Water Company and some farm land. In 1865, Baldwin paid $2332.50 for the Water Company interest and farm land along both sides of McCarty Road.
The name "McCarty Road" was changed to Ridge Street by the Norwood Village Board on May 7, 1872.
Benjamin Gordon Baldwin was born in Bradford, Vt., May 13, 1806, the eighth of eleven children born to Capt. Benjamin and Mehitable Gordon Baldwin. His father was a farmer, surveyor, justice of the peace and owner of mills.
Among young Benjamin's progenitors with large families were Henry and Phebe Richardson Benjamin of Woburn (1630) with 11 children; Benjamin and Hannah Baldwin, 8 children; Benjamin and Elizabeth Longbottom Baldwin, 5 children and Benjamin and Lydia Peters Baldwin, 9 children.
Lydia was a midwife and often rode off into the night to help a new life into the world. She practiced until 80 years of age and delivered 926 babies including 10 sets of twins, losing only one mother and few babies.
The Benjamin Baldwins of each generation moved, making new hamlets in the unsettled parts of Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Vermont, and finally in the most northern part of northern New York.
The Norwood home of Benjamin G. Baldwin
As a young boy Benjamin Gordon Baldwin suffered a serious accident which resulted in the permanent crippling of his foot. This helped to determine his choice of a sedentary career in law. He was tutored for admission to Dartmouth, was graduated in 1827 at the age of 20. He taught briefly, then spent a few months in the law office of Judge Jermain in White Creek near Cambridge, N.Y. In 1828, he came to the Potsdam office of Horace Alien, a widely known lawyer. He was the pupil and later the partner of Judge Alien who doubtless aided his gifted pupil in his start on a successful career in both law and public service.
He married Mary Ann Lamphier of Alstead, NH, Aug. 2, 1833,soon after his admission to the bar. Mary Ann died Oct. 2, 1835. Two years later Benjamin married her older sister, Emeline, the familiar Emeline of Baldwin deeds. She outlived her husband by 12 years. She died June 20, 1885. They had no children but large families of relatives, some of them residing with the Baldwins.
The Lamphier sisters came from a family as distinguished as the Baldwins, the Wellingtons of Charleston, Mass. Roger Wellington married the daughter of Dr. Richard Palgrave and their son, Palgrave Wellington, was Miss Lamphier' s grandfather. Mr. Palgrave, a 1770 Harvard graduate, married Abigail Sparhawk Sewell. Several of their daughters and granddaughters had connections with Parishville, Potsdam or Norwood history.
Mr. Baldwin' s home for 27 years was in Potsdam on the corner of Depot and Market Streets. He gave a strip of land off his long lot to make Depot Street, his short lot ran to the early burial ground on Willow Street.
He served as President of the Village of Potsdam in 1841, he wasinterested in the mills on Fall Island and as early as 1836 began investing in Clarkson lands at the north east corner of the town. The last of his six purchases, made in 1843, brought his holdings up to 400 acres for which he had paid a total of $2726.73 . These acres were bounded on the north by the Clarkson-LeRoux line, on the east by the Norfolk Town line, on the south by the flats near the present day Lobster House and on the west by the Raquette River, excluding a large rectangle of land owned by James Symonds.
Even though Racquetteville was not in existence, in 1846 he induced the Northern Railroad to run their tracks through the unsettled area by giving a right of way over his farm in addition to 15 acres of land for a depot. When the first train went through Racquetteville in the fall of 1850, Mr. Baldwin had erected a hotel, a business block which housed the station agent's office he was the station agent and later the telegraph office and post office.
Mr. Baldwin was a director of the Plank Road from Potsdam, a toll road with three toll houses, and the toll road to Norfolk. He began laying out lots, had an official survey made, formed the Racquetteville Water Company, served as postmaster, sold a large holding of 217 acres (the Bartlett farm) for $5728.50 and during the 1850's sold many house lots.
In 1847 he had been the first elected surrogate under the 1 846 New York constitution, serving until Nov. 1, 1855 when he was elected County clerk. At that time he left Potsdam, moved to Canton, then on Jan. 1, 1859 moved officially to Racquetteville, already a flourishing hamlet. He was involved with the Mill Branch Railroad, buying and selling house lots, serving in public office as justice of the peace, he was supervisor of the Town of Potsdam, and later, in 1871, was elected the first president of the newly incorporated Village of Potsdam Junction.
About 1861 he had the handsome Raymondville Italianate bracketed brick "mansion" built on the cedar knell adjacent to his farm-house, later owned by Lawrence Smith. In the short decade before his death, Mr. B Baldwin must have enjoyed his lovely home and the Fletcher family who succeeded the Baldwin ownership have felt ever grateful to him for its substantialness and beauty.
Mr. Baldwin continued to buy and sell property, some in Norfolk and some in Stockholm. He served two years as Referee in Bankruptcy. He deeded the park to the village in 1872, he paid the Stiles mortgage on the new Riverside Cemetery, he was active in the Congregational Church and did business until a few days before his death Jan. 21, 1873. He was not yet 67 years of age.
The newspaper notices of his death record the grief of the village.
He had bought a wilderness farm in 1836-42, and in some 35 years had turned it into a well planned incorporated village with railroads, hotels, churches, a school, businesses and homes.
Mr. Baldwin, Mary Ann, Emeline and members of their family, lie in Riverside Cemetery, Norwood.
Mr. Baldwin's will ends in a characteristic way - giving the residue of his estate, if any, to "the president and trustees of the Village of Potsdam Junction to be used in such way as they may think best to promote the cause of education and good morals in said village."
One hundred years ago the streets in this community, as in all other villages, were of dirt and people walked either on the edge of the roadway or on paths. At the present time the Incorporated Village of Norwood maintains more than 13 miles of streets in addition to the sidewalks. Snow removal is done by huge trucks fitted with large plows and wings. A special vehicle was purchased sometime ago for sidewalk snow removal.
In the early days each lot owner was responsible for the building and maintaining of walks along his land.
A few months after the first meeting of the Board of Trustees of the Incorporated Village of Potsdam Junction the lot owners on the north side of Junction (Mechanic) Street and the proprietors of the famous Whitney House were told to build sidewalks. Specifications were given and included the use of 3 good hemlock planks 1 foot wide and 4 inches thick so laid as to make a walk 5-6 feet wide. A walk was apparently laid from the residence-office of Dr. Truman Pease, now the Norwood Museum, to the post office after residents petitioned the Board. Lot owners on Ashley and Prospect were ordered to remove obstructions from their streets and build walks. One Prospect Street man was told to repair the portion of Prospect Street he had plowed up and restore it to as "good a condition as when he commenced."
Sidewalk construction was continuing in 1889 when walks were laid on the south side on Mechanic Street and the west side of Leonard Street. A few years later someone tore up portions of the Mechanic Street walks during the night, the guilty party was never apprehended and the evidence was probably burned, wood was used for cooking and heating in those days.
The first indication of village snow removal came in 1890 when the Board put $200 in the budget for that purpose. By 1899 the estimated expenditure for streets, highways and walks had risen to $2250 but the increase was due in part to the 1895 decision of the village to be responsible for construction, repair and maintenance of all walks within the corporation.