This brief memoir was
written and presented to me by Mary A. Dominy, maiden, to commemorate the
passing of a former generation —
to install in the minds of the future,
the privations and suffering our ancestors had to endure —
to we could enjoy the blessings this great country of ours had in store
for us. As I knew her, in her declining years of life, at the ripe age of 98
years young, her mind and body was free and clear, and she had a steady hand
with her pen.
Dated: March 29, 1931.
NEWTON J. DOMINY,
There is nothing remarkable
about the DOMINY’S that tempts me to pass on the scant knowledge of them that
I have obtained from one source or another. There is a mystery about their early
history. From what country did they come? Who were their forebearers? One claims
they were Dutch from Holland, another that they were English, and another that
they were Irish. Not until 1910, or about that time, was the question
settled by the proof-readers for “Wilson’s History of Noted Men of Northern
New York,” who seemed to know them all, and spoke of them as men of noted
integrity and skill in mechanical work and inventions, and later by one from the
Long Island branch, whose sister and neice had found them in their early home
while visiting England.
History tells us that in 1630
“No less than seventeen ships sailed from England, with more than fourteen
hundred Puritan emigrants landing at Salem, Massachusetts,” John Winthrop at
the head, who were founders of Colonial Massachusetts.
It is possible that our
ancestors came over at that time, for we find that many of them went to other
parts of New England. Rhode Island was settled by them and we believe that
others may have drifted to Long Island, the east end being in possession of the
English since 1620. Evidently they were of the middle class of people in their
English homes. But there are indications that they were well-to-do, yet as a
race, scarcely worth preserving.
Hedges, in his “History of
Long Island,” mentions eight generations, the name preserved by one son only
in each family. This brings us to NATHANIEL DOMINY, who married ANNIE COREY,
November 28, 1706. He was born July 14, 1684. They settled in East Hampton, Long
Island, New York. Evidently they were the beginning of the family in America.
Four daughters and two sons were given them. One son died at the age of
thirty-five, unmarried. NATHANIEL, born December 3, 1714, married ELIZABETH
EYERS. With this generation the family began to branch out.
There were three sons in this
family. The oldest, NATHANIEL, kept the home. HENRY lived at DOMINY’S POINT at
the THREE MILE HARBOR on Gardner’s Bay. He married ELIZABETH DAYTON,
November 4, 1773. JOHN, his brother, married REBECCA LEEK.
All of them had large families.
The children were growing up and the outlook for them was becoming a serious
problem. How were they to provide for the growing needs of the children? HENRY
and JOHN sold their interest in a sloop, named “Betsy,” John was the
master (or captain), they sometimes took cargoes of horses, cattle and sheep
out to the Bermudas and returned with sugar, molasses and other merchandise for
the stores at Three Mile Harbor. HENRY was a surveyor and taught navigation.
HENRY and JOHN were the first
to break away from the Long Island home. NATHANIEL, of the fourth generation,
was born October 23, 1770, married TEMPERENCE MILLER, and remained in the home
of his father.
His brother FELIX, settled on
Fire Island, and John, born October 23, 1775, went to the SANDWICH ISLANDS. His
son JOHN was governor of Hawaii and married Queen Lill. So near is the name
connected with royalty.
On the twenty-seventh day of
March, 1796, a grant of 30,000 acres of land in Clinton County, New York, was
given to William Beckman, of New York, who located Beekmantown. Nathaniel
Treadwell was his agent. He had settled on one of the fertile Champlain valley
farms in Plattsburgh, now Beekmantown.
In some way the news of this
grant came to far away East Hampton. They were told that this land would be sold
cheap, William, the oldest son, was eighteen, the age of adventure. His father
was fifty, and the mother, in her prime and of a hardy race, was ready to do her
part in what they hoped would be best for all. So the adventure was settled and
600 acres of this land was purchased and in the spring of 1796 found HENRY and
his son William on their way to locate a new home and make a dwelling place for
the family when they returned the next spring..
They arrived, after a four-week
journey, to find the place a dense wilderness with neighbors few and far
between, and the soil in which there would “not be found a scone to throw at
the birds.” This was true of the farm where Mr. Treadwell located, but
untrue of the upland farms bordering on the foothills of the Adirondacks.
The southern boundary of their
purchase was about a half-mile from Beekmanrown corners on both sides of the
road that leads north from Plattsburgh. The place selected for the house was a
rise of ground near the road, with a rippling brook running near in which, at
that time, were found an abundance of brook trout and other small fish. This was
near Beaver’s meadow, at the north of them. Here they built their home of logs
from the virgin forest, covering the roof from the bark of the trees.
The summer quickly passed in
the endeavor to make a comfortable home for the family and clear the land for
needful support. They were soon taking the long journey to the Long Island home
and friends. While this work was being done in the north country, we may imagine
the mother and children were not idle in the Long Island Home. The care of the
home must go on as usual. There must be no lack of clothing and linens for the
household. All these were manufactured by hand in those days. Woolens from the
sheep’s back to the cloth or yarn; linen from straw even to a pocket
handkerchief, (as I find in an old account book of that date) or men’s
trousers. The wool, after careful picking, was made into batts or rolls for
spinning, the finest combed for the fine work, for dresses or knitting. There
was no machinery for this work —the cards, spinning wheel and hand loom were
There were professional weavers
in those days. Often they were men. JOHN DOMINY was a weaver, but we find that
Isaac Payn was the weaver for this family. There were linens of different widths
for blankets and other necessities.
The busy winter soon passed and
on April 30, we find that all accounts were closed up, some of them marked
“closed to the end of the world.” Final preparation for the four week’s
journey was made and their stuff loaded on wagons to be taken to Sag Harbor.
There it was transferred to boats that would take them through Long
Island Sound to New York City, through Hell Gate up the Hudson River through
Lake George. From the Lake to White Hall on wagon, through Lake Champlain to
Plattsburgh and, again with the wagon, to the new home seven miles distant.
While passing through Hell
Gate, ELIZABETH and some of the other young folks, climbed into the long boat so
they could say that they sailed through Hell Gate in an open boat, which was, at
that rime, a dangerous trip, but the sport of the Larks. This, no doubt, helped
to relieve the tediousness of their wearisome journey. As all journeys have an
end, so does this one, and its end was a new home. Of the farewells to relatives
and friends in East Hampton, Long. Island, we must leave to the imagination.
There could be small chance that they would meet again in this world.
The change from the restless
shores of Gardner’s Bay, with its comforts and pleasant association, to
the log cabin in the wilderness and its privations, only the pioneer can
They made the venture and here
would build their home. New associations would soon be formed and with health
and perseverance, in the work before them, there will be little space for
A school has been established
and a comfortable house built near the Corner, about a half mile distance from
the home, where the younger children could go on with their education. The older
ones taking advantage of the winter term.
There was plenty of work for
those who could wield an axe. There was much land to be cleared. Often the trees
were cut down and laid in large piles and burned for the ashes. These were
gathered and taken to the ashery, where they were leached and converted into
potash and barreled for the market. This was necessary to clear the land to
provide sustenance for the inhabitants.
How long they lived in the
cabin, along with many other happenings of interest, is long buried with the
past. In 1798, we find where boards, shingles and nails were bought, but for
what purpose is not given.
We know very little of their
life in those days. One incident given by George Anderson, a grandson, tells how
they brought the cows home at night. The cows were let out in the morning to
roam at will in the woods. At night, two boys were sent to bring them in,
and if they didn’t return at a given hour, another boy or girl was went to the
roof top of the house with a sea shell, used as a horn, to give alarm. The sound
of which would give them the direction of the house.
One very crying circumstance
was the loss of money received from the sale of their possessions on Long
Island. They were paid in Continental money, which very soon was of no value.
1400 pounds ($4,000) became a dead loss, causing a great setback to their hopes,
but they did not give up in despair, but kept on bravely at cleaning
their land and making improvements on their home, though the work went on
As settlers came, there
was work enough for the surveyor. So he, (HENRY) was often called away —
sometimes to distant parts of the country. At one time, while surveying
in Essex County, his compass would not work properly. He said to Mr. Treadwell,
who was working with him, “There is mineral here.” Mr. Treadwell
laughed at him and told him it was his threncher box chat caused it. He had made
a box for his compass, for convenience in carrying. Time has proved he was
correct. Essex county is noted for its output of iron ore —
largest in this empire state.
Sometime, very early in the
history of Plattsburgh, while it was sparsely settled, he made a complete survey
of the township, including Cumberland Head, which seems to have been taken up
entirely, according to his pen and ink map of the survey. This map shows
the boundary of each separate lot, and the name, of the owner of the lots. Many
of them were men of note in the early history of the town.
Time passed on and a change was
inevitable. WILLIAM, the oldest, married Catherine Stafford, took his fifty
acres and built a house on the hill. EZRA married Rhoda Smith and settled near
the homestead on the south. JEREMIAH married young, to ABIGAIL NORTON, and went
to Ohio with her family. He returned for a short visit in the fall of
1840. PHOEBE married John Gale and had her fifty acres between William and the
homestead. MARY married Joshua Bosworth, of Moors, and died at the birth of a
daughter, whom HENRY adopted and kept till she married. ELIZABETH married Doctor
Sharp McFadden of Argyle, who settled in Lisbon, St. Lawrence County, New York,
where she remained a very efficient helper to her husband until her death in
1864. She visited her old home but once. She had a large family.
One of her sons tells
how she left her family to care for themselves, while she voluntarily isolated
herself to care for a family which had Small Pox.
One by one we see the children
go out of the old home into new ones. Few events, that were not common to the
early settlers, came to relieve the monotony of their lives. There may
have been many, but they are with the forgotten past. One, however, is
remembered still. At one time, having dressed a sheep for their own use, they
thought to share it with a neighbor not far away. To go across lots was the
shortest way, but a part of the way was through a dense piece of woods. When
about middle way of the lot, he encountered a pack of hungry wolves. He managed
to climb a tree out of their reach. A loud halloo and the howl of the wolves was
heard a half-mile away, the men came with lanterns and the light soon frightened
the wolves away. So he went on his way with the meat and returned in safety from
his thrilling experience.
Everything seemed to be going
on smoothly until September 1814, when the inhabitants, on the route to
Plattsburgh, were notified that an army of 7000 British soldiers were on their
way to Plattsburgh and would pass over the road the next day. To safeguard the
people, they were to notify headquarters immediately of any misdemeanors of the
soldiers on the march. The grandmother was much alarmed at first, but she soon
found there was no cause for alarm. The main part of the army encamped about a
half of a mile back, but the officers chose a higher ground on the opposite side
of the brook from the house, within hearing distance, so that the orders for the
next day were distinctly heard.
The Essex Militia were
stationed at the bend of the road and had been discovered by the commanding
officer. A mounted guard was stationed at the house for the night to make sure
no one would leave it to give the militia any information they might have
gained. The next morning, some of the officers with Mollie, who followed the
army, came to the house. Mollie cooked breakfast for them over the big
fireplace in the kitchen. She was still there while the army marched on their
way to carnage. Grandmother remarked that it was the largest body of men she had
ever seen. “Why, bless you,” said Mollie, “I have seen more dead men than
you ever saw alive. I came from the battle of Waterloo.”
What became of Mollie is a
mystery. History has never mentioned her. I think she was killed at Halsey’s
Corners, where 1,000 men were surprised by our militia and many British were
killed. After the battle, Grandfather Henry, Junior, took his seven year old son
to see the scene of the battle. There, he saw, half-buried men, and other scenes
of war, in the last bloody conflict between the United States and Great Britain.
Three years have passed since
the invasion of the British, and peace and happiness is restored, but the past
is not forgotten. In many a home, as the families gather around the open fire in
the evening, the thrilling scenes of the conflict lives over again and again in
after years, but, there still remains a vacant chair.
It is the evening of January
23, 1817 — the family of HENRY DOMINY is gathered together for evening
worship. The aging father takes his Bible from its accustomed place, reads a portion
from its sacred pages, kneels in prayer — commanding his family and himself to
his heavenly Father’s care, and retires for the night.
In the early morning a scream,
from his faithful wife, brought his son to their bedside to find him stiff and
cold in death.
the silent watches of the night
weary soul had taken flight
the haven of rest o’er the shining shore
and compass to need no more
duty done, at set of sun
heaven at last.
Sixteen uneventful years have
passed. The grandmother has seen her children grow up and go out to homes of
their own, and another generation on its way. She, too, passed on to join the
loved ones gone before to the home of the blessed.
Before the passing of the
grandmother, the cherished pieces of furniture (relics from the English home)
had been parceled out to the daughters for their homes. To Elizabeth, wife of
Dr. Sharp McFadden, was given the famous Brass Clock, which is now (1928) the
property of Mrs. Medill of Ogdensburg, New York. Ticking the present time
away as it did when made, a century ago. To Phoebe Gail, the high post bedstead,
with its blue linen curtains, the chest of drawers, a few pieces of old silver
teaspoons, and the wedding dress and slippers. The bookcase and desk was sold
out of the family. It is a rare piece of furniture, built of rosewood,
that does not grow on this part of the globe, and was trimmed with mahogany and
bright brass. Grandfather, unwilling to have it go out of the family, paid the
price and took it to his own home. Later, my father, HARRY DOMINY, purchased it
from his mother. It is still in the family. This furniture was given to HENRY,
(the first) by will, in 1771.
Grandfather Henry, (Junior)
married Charity Hubbard, daughter of Ezekiel Hubbard, who came from Huntington,
Long Island, New York, three years before the Dominys. There is no record of the
date of their marriage, but it must have been about 1804. They remained in the
home to relieve and care for the aging father and mother in their declining
years. The old homestead had become dear to them, and now that the father had
been taken away, it was necessary that they should remain to relieve and
comfort the aged mother in her sorrow and loneliness.
September 15, 1834, only
fours years since the father was taken away, the grim reaper again entered the
home. “True, ‘tis Death loves a shining mark” for then he
set his seal on Henry Dominy, Jr., it was on no ordinary man. Tall and well
proportioned, he stood well above his fellow men. His commanding personality and
genial and friendly spirit had endeared him to all who knew him. By an act of
friendliness, he became the victim of a fatal disease. One week of intense
suffering brought his life to a close at the age of 51 years, leaving his family
desolate. The mother is left with three younger sons, the oldest twelve
The elder son, Henry L. or
(Harry) and a daughter are married and in their homes. Harry is working for a
Mr. Leek on Point Au Roche. He was called home and made administrator of the
estate and came to his mother’s, with his family, to live.
After a time Ezekiel went to
Plattsburgh to learn the blacksmith trade. Harry helped the boys about the
farming, and taught the district school during the winter. His two boys were
among his scholars. After about three years, the business of settling the estate
was finished. The farm was sold, and what was left, divided and given to the
Ezekiel had served his
apprenticeship and was opening a shop in West Chazy, New York. From the home —
home no more. Harry took his family and
mother and followed his brother, to work with him and acquire the trade.
Thus ends the first home of the
Dominy’s in Beekmantown, Clinton County, New York.
March 19, 1928.
A. DOMINY. Historian