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Waddington Village

Waddington Village Hall, 48 Maple Street, Waddington NY 13694; phone: 315-388-5534.

Beginnings [1]

The village of Waddington is located on the south shore of the St. Lawrence River, a major transportation route of the region which flows north to the Atlantic Ocean. Prior to European contact, tribes of the Iroquois Confederacy inhabited this area, fishing in the rivers and streams. Upon the arrival of French missionaries and traders in the mid-seventeenth century, many of the Native Americans left the area. Along the banks of the St. Lawrence River, in what was to become known as the village of Waddington, the French discovered an abundant source of waterpower. Over a narrow two mile stretch between Waddington and Ogden's Island, the St. Lawrence River dropped eight to nine feet. The French named this portion of the river "le petit sault" (the little jump); to the Native Americans this fast stretch of water between Ogdensburg and Massena was known as "Little River," and the area that was to become the village of Waddington was called Ka-na-ta-ra-ken, meaning "Wet Village."

This natural source of hydraulic power provided the impetus for the early settlement of Waddington. By 1793 the first settlers had arrived in Waddington. In 1798 entrepreneurs from Vermont, David A. Ogden and Thomas L. Ogden, envisioning an industrial empire at this water power center, purchased large blocks of land in the town of Madrid, which until 1884 encompassed the village of Waddington. The Ogdens immediately hired Joseph Edsal of to act as their land agent. Edsal began surveying and clearing the land, selling lots, and developing the area. By 1803 settlers were being supplied with lumber from a sawmill powered by water through a raceway, and by 1808 a dam, power canal, and a lock to make this portion of river navigable had been built. The Ogdens' dream of creating an industrial water-powered empire was underway. An 1810 listing of industries in operation includes two sawmills, a grist mill, a fulling mill and a trip hammer shop.

As industry grew and more settlers were attracted to the area, the need for a place of worship for this growing community became evident. David Ogden appealed to the vestry of Trinity Church in New York City for aid in establishing a church in Waddington. The Vestry agreed to grant $3,000 toward the construction of a church in exchange for 300 acres of land adjacent to the village as well as a village lot for the church site. When this was agreed to, Ogden proceeded to enlist the services of an architect friend visiting from France, Joseph-Jacques Ramee. Ramee drew up the plans for St. Paul's Episcopal Church, which today is the oldest extant church building in St. Lawrence County, and its parish one of the oldest north of the Mohawk River Valley. However, construction of the church was hampered by the outbreak of the War of 1812, and was not completed until 1818 at a cost of $8,000. The tower was erected in 1827 when Joshua Waddington donated money for that purpose. The chancel window was presented in 1858 by Mrs. Susan Roebuck (daughter of David A. Ogden) and friends. The pipe organ is also dated 1858.

  1. Linda M. Garofalini, New York State Division for Historic Preservation, Waddington Historic District, nomination document, 1992, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places, Washington, D.C.
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