of Canada and the Western States forms the leading article manufactured. The Oswego mills, 18
in number, with an aggregate of 100 run of stone, are capable of grinding and packing 10,000
barrels of flour per day,—a greater amount than is manufactured at any other’place on the continent.1
Shipyards and 2 marine railways rank among the important manufacturing establishments of
the city, and give large employment to labor. The Oswego Starch Factory, erected in 1848, upon
the hydraulic canal, on the w. bank of the river, is one of the most prosperous and extensive esta¬
blishments of the kind in the world.2 Lumber is extensively dressed in the city for the
Western markets, from Canadian sawed lumber entered free under the Reciprocity Treaty. The
Oswego Cotton Mills is a well managed and productive establishment, operating 83 looms, 2,664
spindles, and giving employment to 65 operators. A little above, on the same canal, is an exten¬
sive tannery. The Ontario Foundery, Steam Engine and Machine Works, is one of the most
extensive and prosperous establishments of the kind in the State. Many other branches of manu¬
factures are carried on in the city.
The early history of Oswego has already been noticed in the general history of the co.3 Its
distinctive and modern history dates from its surrender by the British in 1796. The withdrawal
of the British garrison took away from the place all that had ever been established of civilized
society, and left it as new as though man had never resided there. During the year following the
evacuation, Neil McMullin, a merchant of Kingston, moved thither, bringing with him a house
framed at Kingston.4 In 1802 but 2 or 3 vessels were owned on the American side of the lake,
trade being principally carried on by vessels belonging to the Northwest Fur Company. During
this year Benajah Boyington built a warehouse on the w. side of the river, and Arch. Fairfield became
a forwarding merchant. Salt from the Onondaga Springs was at that time the most important
item in the commerce of Oswego. In 1803, Matthew McNair engaged in the forwarding business
and purchased a schooner. In 1804 he built another, and, in connection with other gentlemen,
purchased a number of Canadian vessels.5 From this period shipbuilding was carried on briskly,
and it formed a leading interest until the breaking out of the War of 1812.
The war put an end to commercial transactions; but the place became the scene of stirring mili¬
tary events. The fort was garrisoned and commanded by Col. Mitchell. On the 5th of May, 1814,
the British fleet under Sir James Yeo appeared off the harbor and opened a heavy fire upon the
place. The fire was returned by the 4 small guns which constituted the only armament of Fori
Ontario, and by a small battery on the w. side of the river. The next morning the British took
position still nearer the shore, and under the cover of a heavy fire 2 columns of the enemy effected
a landing. After a gallant but vain defense, Col. Mitchell retreated, leaving the fort and town in
possession of the enemy.6 The principal object of the attack was to secure the naval stores destined
for the new vessels building at Sackets Harbor; but a large share of these were at Oswego Falls,
12 mi. above, and were not taken. Several cannon and other heavy articles lying upon the wharf
were sunk in the river, at the command of Col. Mitchell; these were afterward recovered. On the
morning of the 7th the British retired, and the fleet proceeded n. to blockade Sackets Harbor. Lieut.
Woolsey, who had charge of the stores, immediately dropped down the river, and, with 19 boats
laden with stores, set out on the lake under cover of night, and supported by a body of riflemen
and Indians, under Maj. Appling, on shore. The boats were pursued, and took refuge in Sandy
Creek, where an action took place, resulting in the capture of the entire attacking party.7
Oswego recovered slowly from the effects of the war, and its commercial transactions were com¬
paratively unimportant until the opening of the Oswego and Welland Canals.8 In the mean time
Matthew McNair and BradnerBurt and his father came in 1802;
Henry Eagle in 1808; Alvin Bronson in 1810; and Wm. Dolio-
way in 1811. In 1810 the population numbeBed 300. Rp.nkin
McMullin, son of Neil McMullin, born in 1800, was the first
child born within the present limits of the city.
6 In 1804 all commercial transactions were carried on with
unrestricted freedom. No ship papers, licenses, reports, or oaths
were required, the keen-scented custom house officers not having
yet smelt out the commerce of the lakes.
6 The British loss in the action was about 200, and the Ame¬
rican 60. Tho British carried off several of the prominent citi¬
zens, and kept them prisoners until they were duly discharged.
Among the prisoners were Alvan Bronson, Abraham Hugunin,
and Eli Stevens.
7 See page 358.
8 In 1818,10 years before the Oswego Canal was completed,
36,000 barrels of Onondaga salt were received at Oswego, of
which 26,000 barrels went to Western States hy the portages
round Niagara Falls. At that period the price of salt at Oswego
was $2.50 per barrel, and the cost of transportation from Salina,
by Oswego, to Black Rock $1.41 per barrel. In 1856 there were
received at Oswego 700,000 barrels, of which over 500,000 went
to upper lake ports through the Welland Canal, at a cost of
Five of these mills are located on the harbor, and elevate
their grain from lake vessels and discharge flour and grain into
canal boats. Six grain warehouses on the harbor elevate and
discharge in the same way. The other mills, located above,
elevate from and discharge into canal boats. The elevating
capacity on the harbor is 37,500 bushels per hour, and the
storage room over 2,000,000 bushels of grain,—rendering Oswego
the best receiving port on the lakes.
This factory was founded by a stock company, with a capital of
$50,000; and, under the supervision of Thos. Kingsford & Sons,
its capital has been increased to $450,000, and its main block
of buildings have grown to the enormous dimensions of 510 feet
front hy 250 feet deep, with numerous detached buildings and
»n extensive box factory. The main establishment works up
100,000 bushels of grain (mostly corn) and makes 12,000,000
■pounds of starch per annum. Large quantities of the article
»re sold and used in London, Liverpool, and the principal cities
,»n the continent of Europe. It gives employment to 200 men.
8 See page 51f>.
When Mr. McMullin and his family landed at Oswego they
found two American residents,—John Love and Ziba Phillips.
They were traders, and left soon after. Capt. Edward O’Conner,
of the Revolutionary Army, came in during the same year.