Cape Vincent

The custom-house district of Cape Vincent was organized on the 18th of April, 1818. Previous to this date Cape Vincent was only a port of entry in charge of a deputy, with Sacket's Harbor as the headquarters. It is now the point where the chief officer is stationed, and comprises the entire coast of Jefferson County, Sacket's Harbor having been consolidated with the Cape Vincent district March 3, 1863. During the period of the non-intercourse laws and the embargo, smuggling was a very animated business, without much injury to the consciences of the people, since they firmly believed that those regulations were wrong as well as unnecessary. For many years it was an unsettled question whether Carlton island belonged to the United States or the Dominion. A quantity of goods was seized on the territory during the administration of President Monroe, and more than one cabinet meeting was held at Washington to determine what disposition should be made of the seizures. In June, 1812, Elijah Fields, Jr., a deputy collector stationed at Cape Vincent, seized two schooners and their cargoes--the "Niagara" and the "Ontario"--under the belief that they were engaged in smuggling. After an examination of the case the "Ontario" was released for want of sufficient evidence, but the "Niagara" and her load were sold. The first collector was John B. Esselstyn, who served the government more than forty years before any salary was established, and this was started at $250 per annum. The exports were comparatively of no consequence, before the building of the railroad; and no record of exports is made in the quarterly report which was drawn up just before the running of the regular trains. The next report had an item of exports set down at $20,000. There are forty-five vessels owned in the district of Cape Vincent, of which thirty-one are sail vessel and fourteen steam. The tonnage of the former is 4538 and the latter 598. The number of vessels entered and cleared is about a thousand a year. The exports of American manufactures through the district of Cape Vincent for the last ten years have been about $550,000 annually, of which $250,000 are exports in bond. The imports for the same time have been about $500,000, annually. The imports in the fur trade were $112,000, and fresh fish from Canada were 700,000 pounds for the year 1875. The collections for duties on imports, since 1860, have averaged $100,000 annually. The ports of the Cape Vincent district, subordinate to Cape Vincent, are Alexandria Bay, Clayton, Millen's Bay, Three-Mile Bay, Chaumont, Dexter, Sacket's Harbor, Henderson, and Sandy Creek.

The collectors of the district have been:

John B. Esselstyn 1818-29
Jere. Carrier 1829-41
Judah T. Ainsworth 1841-43
Peleg Burchard 1843-49
S. G. Sacket, 1849-53
Alfred Fox 1853-57
Theophilus Peugnet 1857-61
John W. Ingalls 1861-65
William Huntington acting collector for a few months
John B. Carpenter 1866-67
David Owen 1867-71

The present officers are Sidney Cooper, collector, 1871; Charles Gardner, special collector; Charles Burnham, deputy; William Grant, N. W. Warren, and N. R. Starkey, inspectors. Peleg Burchard was county clerk for twelve years before his appointment as collector. He died at Cape Vincent, February 2, 1851, of bronchial disease, aged sixty-one years. (Jefferson County History, by L. H. Everts, 1878 - Transcribed by Holice B.Young. Original HTML by Debbie Axtmantop


© Kevin Subra.   This site was begun September 7, 2000 in order to encourage interest in the history and ancestry of Cape Vincent. Thank you for visiting! E-mail the webmaster, or visit his Subra Family website which he is developing to help his family get to know THEIR history!

Thanks to Holice B. Young and Debbie Axtman for their previous efforts in launching this project!


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