Town Of Pinckney
History of Town of Pinckney:

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The Town of Pinckney

By Susan C. Townsend

August 24, 1999

The Township of Pinckney in Lewis County, New York was formed on

February 12, 1808. It was the second town formed, Denmark being the first,

after Lewis County was created. (At the time of it formation, Lewis County

consisted of only 5 towns, namely: Leyden, Harrisburg, Lowville,

Martinsburg, and Turin.) Pinckney was formed from tracts of land taken

from the Towns of Harrisburg and Harrison (now the Town of Rodman) and

named by the state legislature in honor of Revolutionary War General and

statesman, Thomas Pinckney of South Carolina.


Settlement was mainly by Americans, from the New England states, and

began several years before the township was formed. The first known

settlers were Samuel and Joseph Clear, who located in the southwest part of

the town in about 1803, They soon left, however, and the next known to

settle in-were Ethan Russell and J. Greene of Rhode Island in·1804. Then in

1805 Levi and Elisha Barnes, from Middleton, Connecticut settled in what

we now know as Barnes Comers, which Was named for Elisha. They also

later left the area either just before or after the War of 1812, sources differ.

When Ehsha left, he apparently sold his property to Eber Lucas, also from

Middleton who had arrived in 1806.


By 1809, John W. Lucas, James and Stephen Hart, James Armstrong,

Phineas Woolworth, Joel Webb, Silas Slater, David Canfield and several

Stoddard families had come into the town. Mr. Canfield made the first real

improvement in the town when he cleared a large area of land in what is now

known as New Boston, erected a sawmill and built a bridge over Deer River.


Other early settlers were Richard Dye, Asa Cooley, Elijah Yarrington,

Henry Warner, Noah and Jesse Merwin, Reuben Waite, lra P0ollack, Amos

Barrett, Mr. Needum, Daniel Hall, Orasmus Streeter, and ita Odell, who

built the first saw mill in Barnes Corners.


As the town grew and changed, so did the families. The first birth

occurred in the family of James Hunt or John Stoddard and the first death

was Mrs. Elisha Moody.


Schools and churches were built and a Grange Hall was erected. Town

government was formed, post offices assigned and businesses created.


The first school in Pinckney was the Dye Schoolhouse, which was built

near the Richard Dye home. The first church services were also held in this

schoolhouse. The first  school ih Barnes Cornes was held in the log cabin

built by Elisha Barnes, where the Barnes Comers Hotel now stands. As the

years progressed schools were located in several areas of the town.

There were schools at  New Boston, Cronks Corners, on the 7x9 Road (White

School District), Pinckney Corners, the Hardscrabble School located about

two miles down the Copenhagen Road from Barnes Corners, the River Road

School and one at Barnes Corners


There were several churches in the town at different times. The First

Methodist Episcopal Society formed and erected a meetinghouse at

Boynton's Comers on August 8, 1831. The Pinckney Corners Methodist

Episcopal Church was built in 1851. The First Baptist Church of Barnes

Corners was built in 1856 and a Methodist church was built in Barnes

Cornets in 1857. Also started in 1856 and finished in 1860 was the Roman

Catholic Church at New Boston. The first building for the Catholic Church

was originally 1 1/2 miles from New Boston. At present, only the Methodist

church survives to conduct services.


When the town government was formed in 1808, The first  meeting

was held at the home of Stephen Hart, where Ethan Green was elected the

first supervisor. An interesting note; although there had been a town clerk

for many years, the first marriage license wasn't issued until l1908. It was 

issued by Charles D. Lucas for the marriage of Hattie Edwards to Harry



Post offices were first located at Boynton's Corners, Cronks Corners and

Barnes Corners, which was the last to close; the residents now receiving

their mail rural route from Copenhagen.


As in any period of history, the first settlers in an area are often farmers.

So it was in Pinckney. The economy was agriculturally based (as much of it

is also today) and most everything for a family's use was produced at home.

Before businesses were developed and built within the town, most people

had to travel to Watertown, Copenhagen or Lowville for the things they

couldn't provide for themselves.  By 1840, though. businesses had started to 

spring up.


The first Tavern and Hotel was built by Horace Lucas in 1846. It was

located in Barnes Comers on South Main St. (7x9 Road) Just south of Elisha

Barnes' log cabin on the comer. The first building used as a store in Barnes

Comers was-built in the 1840"s by a Mr. Delano. It Was located where the

cheese factory now stands, but was bought, moved and turned into a store by

Joseph Davis. William Mahar built and conducted, for many years, a store at

New Boston and Amos Stoddard was engaged for many years in the

mercantile business in a store located about 3 1/2 miles from Barnes Corners

on the Copenhagen Road.


Many more stores, shops and businesses opened and closed over the

years. There were general mercantile stores, feed stores, harness shops,

blacksmith shops, a carriage shop, and two more hotels, the Savell House,

built in 1887, (later called the Hotel Curtis and then the Barnes Comer's

Hotel, now closed) and the Central House. The Central House was built in

New Boston in 1888, and operated as a hotel until September 1, 1917 when

it was turned into a store. Also there were a drug store, barber shops,

weavers, dressmakers, milliners (hat makers), grocery stores, a meat store,

cheese factories, a creamery (where the Grange Hall in Barnes Corners now

stands), saw mills, a manufacturer of agricultural implements, a furniture

factory (made and repaired furniture, also made sleighs and skis), a hoop

factory, a printing press, a shingle mill, a grist mill (the grist mill was tater

changed into a potash and cooper factory), a gun shop, an opera house and

poolroom, and even a 10 Cent store. At different times, there were four

doctors who practiced in the town, a watch repair shop, and (for when the

doctors could do no more and your time had run out) undertakers.


The residents of Pinckney were-not without amusements and-pleasures.

The Grange at one time had a ball club that played at several surrounding

communities. Plays, dances and programs of interest were put on by the

Grange. The Churches and Ladies Aid Society held dinners, socials and

bazaars. The schools held field days and dances were held at nearly all the

hotels in town on a weekly basis. Then, for ten years, 1933-1943, Barnes

Comers held a community Old Home- Days that was sponsored by both the

Grange and-the Methodist Church.


History, they say, repeats itself. The Town of Pinckney was settled and

then nearly abandoned. Many businesses that prospered no longer exist.

Today there are few commercial businesses in the town outside of Barnes

Comers. Although these businesses. are concentrated in a small area, they

serve all the residents and also a fluctuating but growing population of

campers, hunters and tourists. Perhaps Pinckney is again being slowly

settled, for oft times they  come for the weekend and stay a lifetime.



Sources: History of Lewis County by Franklin B. Hough

History of Lewis County 1880-1965, Edited by G, Byron Bowen

Tyler Notebooks by Ella O. Tyler

Gazetteer& Business Directory of Lewis Co., N.Y. 1872-1873by Child Hamilton

Business Directory of Lewis Co., N.Y 1895-1896 by William Adams

History of the North County, Vol. 1 by Henry F. Landon


Pinckney Corners Cemetery:

Cemetery Added To Historic Places


Community members involved with the restoration of the Pinckney Corners Cemetery in Copenhagen grather beside a fallen gravestone July 31, 2014.

Roughly $10,000 is needed to complete the restoration project

Shown in photo from left are project volunteer Alfred Dening: David Shelmidine of Artisan Engraving: Chuck Bunke, Lewis County Historical Society vice president: Sherry Harmych, Town of Pinckney Supervisor: Sid abnd Boni Schafer of Anne Davis with Daughters of 1812 

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