Cape Vincent Area

Cape Vincent

Settlement of Cape Vincent Township Proper

St. Lawrence Village


Millen's Bay

Cape Vincent

Cape Vincent is beautifully situated on the shore of the St. Lawrence river, about two miles below Lake Ontario.

The streets are at right angles with each other, those of the north and south running down to the water's edge.

The line of hills in the rear of the village commands a fine view of the river and the lake, with the shores of Wolf island, twenty miles in length, on the Canadian side.

Three miles to the northeast are dimly seen the weird chimneys of the old fort on Carlton island. The sunsets are gorgeous beyond description, and well does it deserve the name of being one of the pleasantest summer resorts on the St. Lawrence river. The Rathbun House is fitted up expressly for summer visitors, being closed in the winter. There is no bar at this house. The St. Lawrence Hotel has likewise been full; both are under the same management. In this connection should be mentioned two large camping associations that annually spend the summer on their spacious grounds at the head of Carlton island; both are organized, and the ladies as well as the gentlemen do some good fishing. In 1852, and for three or four years after the completion of the railroad, there was every prospect that a wonderful growth and business for Cape Vincent, but those great expectations were not fully realized. The village was incorporated on the 14th of April, 1853, with a population of 1218.

Jere. Carier, Judah T. Ainsworth, James L. Folger, Theophilus Peugnet, and L. H. Ainsworth were the first trustees. The presidents of the village since that date have been as follows:

Jere, Carrier 1854
John H. Roseboom; Otis P. Starkey 1856
Zebulon Converse 1857
Calvin Fletcher 1858
Alfred Fox 1859
Gideon S. Sacket 1860
Charles Smith 1861-63
A. F. Smith 1865
John H. Roseboom 1866
Sidney Ainsworth 1867
John B. Grapotte 1868
Charles Smith 1869
Levi Anthony 1870
G. W. Warren 1871-1872
John H. Roseboom 1873
W. M. Johnson, 1874
John B. Grapotte 1875-76

The officers of the village at the present time are E. K. Burnham, president; John F. Brunot, Philip Marks, and J. Albert Scobell, trustees. Since 1860 M. E. Lee has served the village as clerk and attorney.


The postmasters have been R. M. Esselstyn,
till his death in 1822

Henry Ainsworth for a period not known
John Duvillard 1841-45
Otis P. Starkey 1845-49
Augustus Ainsworth 1849-61
Zebulon Converse 1861-65

John Moore is the present postmaster, and began his duties in 1865.

The lawyers of the village are M. E. Lee and Ezra D. Hilts. The physicians are Martin Braun, Thomas Masson, O. S. Smith, H. N. Bushnell, and Philip Cole. (Jefferson County History, by L. H. Everts, 1878 - Transcribed by Holice B.Young. Original HTML by Debbie Axtman)  top

The Settlement of the Town Proper

The man who built the first log-house in Cape Vincent on the mainland was Abijah Putnam; and it stood about two miles below the railroad depot. This was in 1801. Some traces of the old site of the village which he founded and named Port Putnam are still visible. In 1804, Mr. Putnam sold his property to John Macombs and Peter Sternberg, from NewYork, who made improvements immediately, and drew the plan for a prosperous town. On of the original maps of Port Putnam, now in the possession of Mr. William Esseltyn, indicates that it was to be in the form of a parallelogram, with a public square of five or six acres, and public buildings sanding on the upper side of it, facing the water. As a matter of curiosity, the names of the streets may be given. Parallel with the river were Water street, First, Second, Third, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, and Seventh streets. Pleasant street was also laid down on two sides of the square. Intersecting these at right angles were Green, Montgomery, Herkimer, Washington, Jefferson, Clinton and Hancock.

The chief business of that day is made known by what Messrss. Macombs and Sternberg said of the advantages of Port Putnam over other towns in this new region. To vary the language of the map a little they stated:

"That since it is the outlet of Lake Ontario it forms a natural place of deposit for the lake trade. Lumber of all kinds is rafted from the village on a large scale to MontreaL and Quebec, and it takes only from nine to thirteen days to make a trip. Besides the Great Black river State road from Johnston, Montgomery county, receiving in its course the roads from Little Falls, Herkimer, Utica, and Rome, runs through the middle of this village, and connects with Kingstown and Upper Canada by ferry."

This site was subsequently abandoned through the influence of Mr. Le Ray, who caused a piece of ground to be surveyed, in 1811, on Gravelly Point, where stood five or six houses, and named it Cape Vincent, after one of his sons. Millen's Bay was then known as Hubbard's Bay; Clayton was called French Creek; Depauville, Cat Fish Falls; Dexter, Fish Island; and Carthage, Long Falls. The original survey of Cape Vincent, however, was not followed when it was incorporated. (Jefferson County History, by L. H. Everts, 1878 - Transcribed by Holice B.Young. Original HTML by Debbie Axtman)  top

St. Lawrence Village

St. Lawrence is a village of considerable local business, a little back from the railroad. The station is Rosiere. It has a temperance hotel, church, shops, and is in a good farming region.

The postmasters of this village have been:

Dyer E. Pierce 1848-56
G. W. Fairman 1857
N. P. Tuttle; D. E. Pierce re-appointed, 1859-65
W. Johnson 1865
Truman Rice September 1, 1865-67
W. H. Caige 1867
Samuel Dillen 1869
A. P. Ladd August 12, 1868-72
G. A. Swartwout 1872-74

The present postmaster is H. W. Reed,
who was appointed in January, 1874.

The physicians at St. Lawrence are G. Mason McCombs, who is a graduate of the Bellevue Hospital medical college, New York city, D. E. Pierce, and M. B. Ladd. (Jefferson County History, by L. H. Everts, 1878 - Transcribed by Holice B.Young. Original HTML by Debbie Axtman)  top


Rosiere is the name which was given to the first station on the railroad out from Cape Vincent. It is now but a hamlet, with a handful of buildings and a store. The parsonage of the Roman Catholic priest is here, and the question of building a new church at this place is being very seriously agitated. It is likely to grow. (Jefferson County History, by L. H. Everts, 1878 - Transcribed by Holice B.Young. Original HTML by Debbie Axtman)  top

Millen's Bay

Millen's Bay is pleasantly situated on the river, about six miles below CapeVincent, and was named after one of the early settlers. It is also attracting attention as a summer resort. There is a Union church building, a hotel, shops, and a few dwellings. The post-office was discontinued a few years ago,--a transaction which had not been any source of gratification to the people of this vicinity. (Jefferson County History, by L. H. Everts, 1878 - Transcribed by Holice B.Young. Original HTML by Debbie Axtman)  top


© 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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