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Lisbon Center


Beginnings [1]

Previous to the laying out and working of the Ogdensburg and Lake Champlain Railroad in 1848, which railroad crosses the town of Lisbon diagonally, there was only a farm house on the Flackville road near where the railroad crossed it. This house with a small farm was owned by James Rowen, who permitted the building of a blacksmith shop near the railroad for the repair of the laborers' tools; the shop was conducted by Robert Armstrong. Samuel Wells built a small boarding house or hotel for the accommodation of the working men on the road and shortly afterward built a larger one of stone. A Mr. Dix, of Ogdensburg, built a store. The railroad company built the present depot, and Joseph E. Robinson was placed in charge of the station. Mr. Robinson was born in New Hampshire, September 6, 18 14. At his majority he went to Cumberland, Md., and was connected with the B. & O. railroad several years, after which he became a contractor on the public works at Cumberland. He married a Miss Collins in the spring of 1846. A few years later he returned to his eastern home and engaged in the construction department of railroad building. A few years later he was employed on the O. & L. C. road during its construction from 1848 to 1850, thereby acquiring the title of "Boss Robinson." He lived in one end of the depot, keeping grocery store with the assistance of his son for more than fifteen years. During this time he purchased a farm near by on which he spent his remaining days; he died February 15, 1888. The place being located, near the center of the town gave it the name of Lisbon Centre. As business increased, more stores, shops and houses were built, and at the present time (1893) there is a population of about two hundred, four stores that keep a general stock, a millinery shop, a cabinet shop, a shoe shop, a carriage shop, three blacksmith shops, a hotel, post-office, a physician, a splendid town hall in place of the former one, and three fine churches. A steam saw mill was built just south of the village and operated a few years by G. W. Flack and his brother about 1865; they also sawed shingles and ground provender. The mill was burned and in 1873 John Kent built a saw and grist mill in the village, which was driven by a thirty-five horse power engine. The mill did a fair business a few years when it was burned.

E. Billing built a steam saw and grist mill at his place near the river in 1878, which was sold a few years later to James North, who removed the machinery to his place near the Centre, where it has since been successfully operated.

During the epidemic which pervaded the country in 1813, great numbers died and Lisbon is said to have suffered more severely than any other town in the county. The unusual cold summers of 1816-17 caused great suffering in consequence of short crops and want of provisions. Corn sold for $2.50 per bushel, potatoes, $1.00 and wheat in the same proportion. The wild game about here and the fish caught in the St. Lawrence constituted a large part of the food used.

The Indians located on Indian Point, previously mentioned, were very lawless and troublesome, and the inhabitants of Lisbon gladly united with those of Oswegatchie in a petition to the Legislature to have them removed, which was accomplished in 1807. During the war of 1812-15 there was very little hostile demonstration in the town of Lisbon; yet threats and rumors of raids kept the people in constant fear. During the fall of 1813 a company of about sixty dragoons were established at the house of Peter Wells, four or five miles back from the river on the Canton road. About a dozen of these rode out to Galloupville, stopped at Scott's hotel and placed several sentries around the house. During the night a party of 200 men from Canada landed on Tibbets's Point, came down and surprised the sentinels and surrounded the house. It is said that the dragoons made a very gallant resistance, but were overpowered by the unequal numbers. During the melee several escaped to the woods. One named Smith was shot and another named Mercer was wounded and brutally stabbed with bayonets several times after resistance ceased, and he was left for dead, but subsequently recovered; it was found impossible for the British to take Smith and Mercer alive. Two dragoons, Scott, the landlord, and his son, and all the horses that could be found were taken to Canada.

During the cholera epidemic in 1832 a board of health was formed, with Dr. Wooster Carpenter as health officer. The river opposite the house of Obadiah Piatt, and not less than three hundred yards from the shore, was assigned as quarantine ground for craft from Canada.

On the 11th of March, 1828, a circulating library was incorporated in Lisbon, with Wm. Marshal, Andrew O'Neil, Albert Tyler, John Glass, Joshua G. Pike, James Douglass and James Moncrief, trustees.

  1. Curtis, Gates, ed., Our County and Its People: A Memorial Record of St. Lawrence County New York, D. Mason & Company, Publishers, Syracuse, N.Y., 1894

Lisbon Center Map

Street Names
Church Street • Hall Road • Lisbon Center State Highway • Main Street • Rossie-Heuvelton-Lisbon Road

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