Around 1940, a young woman from the Washburn
Farm in Hounsfield and a young man from the neighboring town
of Adams were set up on a blind date by a mutual friend. They
met in the driveway of a nearby store, situated on Mill Creek at
the intersection of Old Salt Point Road and Parker Road, in an area
known as Camp's Mills. Love blossomed, and on February 26,
Ethel Washburn and Donald
Thorp Jenkins were married.
the old store property, and over the next few years they converted
it into a home where they lived the remainder of their lives, running
a television repair and sales service and other small businesses,
while raising two children.
The property they seemed fated to have was an historic one.
Daniel Smith, from Columbia County, New York, located in
Hounsfield about 1804 or 1805 on a creek that flowed to the outskirts
of the nearby village of Sackets Harbor, situated on Lake Ontario.
He erected a saw mill on its north bank (thus the name "Mill Creek")
which he conducted for about 12 years, before selling it to Elisha
Camp and removing to the Town of Rutland.
Camp, was brother-in-law to Augustus
Sackett, a lawyer and founder of the village. Camp's
family held vast tracts of land in the area during the early 1800ís,
and was instrumental in the early political and military development
of the region, particularly at Sackets Harbor. Elisha himself
was Colonel of an artillery unit that defended the local settlements
against a British-Canadian attack at the first Battle of Sackets
Harbor on June 19th, 1812. Coincidentally, Beulah's great-great-grandfather,
Manley, participated in that engagement as a private under
Col. Camp's command.
Augustus Sackett signed as a witness present when Asa Manley collected
his pay for services in 1812.
tradition tells that the place was once "the center of town,"
and indeed it wasCamp's Ditch,
an early water canal, ran through the property from 1832 to its
demise around 1842, supplying power for the operation of the mills,
including "E. Camp G.M." or "Elisha Camp's Grist Mill" visible
on the 1855 land ownership map.
A record in the county clerk's office shows that on 2 September
Elisha Camp and wife Sophia Hale of Sackets Harbor
sold all of the real estate known as Camp's Mills, consisting
of a saw mill, grist mill, stone house and about ten acres of
land east of the road to Benjamin
Orchard for $1,000. Benjamin, an English immigrant
who located on a farm across the street
from the property in 1832, continued operation of the mills, and
he is probably the one who ordered built the store, which first
appeared on the 1864 land owners map.
In later years, a cotton
mill and textile factory were established behind the store along
the creekbed, and a rail line was laid next to it, the remains
of which can be seen today.
The store/house is one of the most ancient of its kind in the
region. The structure was built of wood, with no insulation,
atop a dirt-floor cellar made of bedrock from the nearby creek.
There was no running water, due to salt and sulpher contamination
in the ground (thus the name "Sulpher Springs"). In early
days, water would have been taken from the creek, but in the last
century, water has been trucked in weekly from the village and
pumped into the cistern in the cellar. Hot water could only
be had by drawing it from the cistern and boiling it on the stove.
A working iron hand pump still stands at the northeast corner
of the house. The house had no insulation or modern furnace.
In the early or mid-1900's, a wood-driven "space heater" was installed
in the dining room which warmed the downstairs and transmitted
heat to the second story through large vents in the ceiling.
Even in the 1980's, it was common for residents to be greeted
by frost on the interior of the windows during cold weather.
of the store was converted into a home. As late as 1985,
the north wing of the house, which had been a sort of inventory
room for the original store, was still as the last keepers had
left it -- the earthen foundation could be seen through the worn
seams of the wooden floorboards, the walls were stuffed with local
newspapers telling stories from the 1870's and sporting advertisements
of the latest industrial innovations, and the shelves were stacked
with unused items ready for sale, like carpet sweepers, straight
razors, and fishing gear.
Outside, the ground was a cornucopia of historical artifacts.
An original storage barn, standing until the 1990's, was littered
two stories high with old machinery and farm implements.
In the 1980's an automobile license plate commemorating the 1939
World's Fair was unearthed near the driveway, the rusted blade
of a scythe was found buried nearby, and the old trash heap behind
the kitchen harbored tin cans, apothocary jars, and beautiful
cobalt blue medicine bottles.
Beulah died in 1980, leaving Don a widower.
In August 1984, to honor the place where her family had begun,
their daughter, Ann, exchanged wedding vows for a second
time in the front lawn near the "Old Maple." Don died just
after Christmas the following year, at which time the property
passed out of the family. Today the home stands as a reminder
of Hounsfield's once vital "center of town" -- still known as
The "Old Maple" in the
front lawn, escaped
the logger's chain when the first settlements were made.
Sunset as viewed from
the kitchen window, showing
the former site of the old textile factory.
preceding narrative, written by Mark A. Wentling, was published
in the March 2000 issue of "The Town Hound," a local newsletter
distributed quarterly by Lazarus Studios, Sackets Harbor, New York.
The text on this website was updated on 11 June 2000. For more information
about Camps Mills and the Jenkins Home, contact the author at <email@example.com>