Irishtown 2003

New York
Irish History in Essex County
Town of Minerva, New York

Minerva Historical Society

Irishtown 2003


A History of Irishtown,
Town of Minerva
including Hamlets of
Irishtown, Leonardsville, Minerva, Olmstedville
by Town Historian
Minerva Historical Society

Minerva Historical Society
      Located in Old Methodist Church
      Olmstedville, NY
      Photo by EEHealyIn order to give a history of Irishtown, I first need to give you a brief resume of the Town of Minerva.  The Totten and Crossfield Purchase was bought in 1771 from the Mohawk Indians for 1,135 pounds and covered over one million acres.  In 1786 patents on this land were granted to Totten and Crossfield Associates.  Francis Dominick had his land (12,600 acres) surveyed and made a settlement in what later became known as Minerva.

From the Stafford Gazeteer of 1813: "The settlement called Dominick was first begun about 1800 and contains a few families who have one sawmill, a grain mill and a school house in which are held the meetings for worship.  The state road from Chester to Canton lies through this settlement."  At that time the settlement was known as Dominick.

Ebenezer West and five sons came to Dominick in 1800, settling near the crossroads of what now would be known as 28N, 14th Road and Shed Road.  The West holdings were called "The West Side".  William Hill settled in what is now known as Olmstedville, and built a sawmill and gristmill.  This settlement was called the "Four Corners".

Irishtown 2003
     Photo by EEHealy
View of Irishtown and Cemetery Fall 2003

Fresh Snow on Irishtown
Photos by W. Brannon - Feb. 15, 2007

March 17, 1817
St. Patrick's Day

Absalom P. Morse became Supervisor in 1817 when Minerva was named a Town by the State Legislator and he named the town "Minerva" after the Greek goddess of wisdom.  The West Side became known as Minerva:  The Four Corners was named Olmstedville after the Olmsteds who started the tannery: The section of town taken over from Schroon Lake was called Leonardsville: The northeastern section of town where the O'Neils, Donnellys, Doughertys, and Kellys who brought their land directly from the Dominick heirs and was called Irishtown.  A.P. Morse acted as their agent in 1823.

St.Mary's Church
      established 1848
      Photo by EEHealy
Irishtown Church Built in 1848

St.Mary's Church 2003
      Irishtown, NY
      Photo by EEHealy
St. Mary's Church in Irishtown, NY

In 1848 St. Mary's Church was built in Irishtown with the cemetery surrounding it.  A larger St. Joseph's Catholic Church was built in Olmstedville in 1871 and St. Mary's (in Irishtown) has been periodically repaired  and a Memorial Mass is held there every May and sometimes a baptism or wedding is held there (in Irishtown).

Inside St.Mary's Church 2003
     Photo by EEHealy
Inside St. Mary's Church in Irishtown

St. Mary's Church - Irishtown, NY - March 17, 2004
St. Mary's Church in Irishtown March 17, 2004

Irishtown Thyme

Beneath the fragrance of thyme
lie the memories of days gone by.

The sounds of spring and the summer sun
fade away as time passes by.

Memories of loved ones, joys and sorrows,
fade as thyme comes and goes.

Lying here in the church yard of thyme,
holding the memories till time is no more.

When the bright morning star arises the soul
and we meet once again on that yonder green shore.

by EEHealy

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Irishtown School: In 1847 the Town Board authorized $14 for a school to be built in District #4.  It was made of logs.  School was held 4 months of the year.  In 1860 a school was built to replace the log school, and was situated just east of the church and cemetery.

Irishtown School 2003
     Photo by EEHealy
Irishtown Public School Built 1860

In 1878, 38 children ranging in age from 5 to 19 attended the Irishtown school.  In 1800 to 1900 Irishtown teacher's salaries ranged from $70 to $106.  In 1931 a Central District was formed in Minerva and all students went to a larger school in Olmstedville. The Irishtown school was closed.

Inside Irishtown School 2003
     Photo by EEHealy
View from entering Irishtown public school.

The Minerva Historical Society has acquired the Irishtown school and is in the process of restoring it as it is the only one room school left in the town.

Inside Irishtown School 2003
     Photo by EEHealy
Inside Irishtown Public School

The Irishtown families suffered during the periodic epidemics which took the lives of so many children.  In 1861, three children of Patrick Lynn died during the month of June.  In 1882 there was a diphtheria epidemic.  John Dougherty's children; Willie, 8 months; Nellie, 7 years; Sadie, 6 years; and David, 11 years; all died within 3 months.  In the David Lynch family a child died in October, November and December.  Mary Ann O'Neil, age 11, and Esther O'Neil, age 9, died within days of each other.  Gillilands lost one child.  Laheys lost three daughters in July.  Three year ole John Ratigan died April 15th.  The William Brannon family lost three infants.  Between 1864 and 1882, the McKenna family lost five of their nine girls.  In the McInerney family three children died and then their mother in 1892.  The father, Patrick McInerney, died of consumption in 1893 and the four children left in the family were cared for by aunts and uncles. Their grave markers can be seen in the Irishtown Cemetery.


Mines in Irishtown:

Irishtown Iron Mining:
  In 1864 iron mines in Irishtown were opened.  Peter O'Connor was boss.  Also, he and his wife kept borders.  The scene of this enterprise was Lot 21, Township 25.  In 1869 it was assessed at $2,000 and by 1874 the assessment had gone down to $1,000.  The venture didn't last as the character of the ore was not good, the distance inland, and depression in values made it unprofitable.

Photos by W. Brannon - Sept. 2007

Iron Mine Foundation

Iron Mine Dig

Iron Mine Slag

Iron Mine Map
(Click to Download)

Irishtown Marble Quarry:  on Dan Lynch's property.  He opened a marble quarry and sold several gravestones.  A headstone from the quarry is in St.Mary's Cemetery.  However, the marble proved to be too soft and the project was abandoned.  It has been said that the dynamiting spoiled the quarry.

Irishtown Silver Mine: Located above the Burns place.  Dan Lynch had a claim filed on it.  Billy Burns, it was reported, put in a thousand dollars to start the mine and lost the thousand.

Irishtown Garnet Mine:  Thousands of tons were mined at O'Connors, but it hadn't the cutting power pocket garnet has - looked as thought it had been burned.  Walter O'Connor and Patrick Sullivan filed a claim to mine.  From Dan O'Neil's garnet was also drawn away for about a year.  (Dan claimed he was a millionaire, but there never was any evidence of same.)  A small amount of garnet was also drawn from Mike Clifford's.

Mills in Irishtown:

A Irishtown Shingle mill was owned by Daniel Lynch, located near the head of Minerva Creek about three miles beyond Burns' the place.  Two dams were built; one at the mill and another called the Wesley Dam was about a mile above the first.  The purpose of the latter dam was to hold water until they were ready to drive logs.

A Irishtown Lumber mill owned by John Daugherty was located on a little brook north of the Eastman place.  Softwood was the only kind milled unless there was a special order for hardwood.

A Irishtown Saw mill owned by John Daugherty.  This mill and dam was built on property now owned by the Pacetta family.  The dam is nearly washed away.

Syracuse University Library
Special Collections Research Center

  Optional Background Music - Irishtown Breakdown
by John Kirk & Trish Miller
Fiddle Tunes of the North Country

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