The colorful history of Sackets Harbor is full of interesting milestones.
Here we provide some highlights for the period from 1801
Sackets Harbor is founded by Augustus Sacket, a New
York City lawyer. The Village of Sackets Harbor is incorporated into the
township of Hounsfield, named for Ezra Hounsfield, who had purchased land
Augustus Sacket is appointed U.S. Customs Officer for
the Sackets Harbor District, which extends from Ogdensburg to Oswego.
Elisha Camp, Augustus Sacket's brother-in-law, moves
to Sackets Harbor.
The Ontario Lodge of the Masonic Order organizes in
International tensions between the United States and
Great Britain led to the U.S. Embargo Act of 1807 which forbade trade with
Great Britain and Canada. This was understandably unpopular with local
residents, and resulted in widespread smuggling along the U.S./Canada border.
Until this time there had been a very profitable trade in flour and potash.
Potash is an alkaline substance used in the manufacture of fertilizer, gun
powder, and explosives. It was produced by burning timber from around Sackets
Harbor, and was selling in Canada for $320 per ton.
Augustus Sacket resigns as U. S. Customs Agent due to
unpopularity of the Embargo Act of 1807. He is replaced by Hart Massey.
United States Troops are stationed at Sackets Harbor
to enforce Embargo Act of 1807 and stop smuggling.
Typhus Fever breaks out among the troops and spreads
through the town.
The brig Oneida, built in Oswego, is
sent to Sackets Harbor to patrol Lake Ontario and enforce U.S. Embargos and
stop smuggling activities.
The U.S. declares war on Great Britain. Sackets
Harbor becomes headquarters for the U.S. Army and Navy on the northern
On July 19 the Canadian Provincial Marine Fleet
attacks Sackets Harbor, but is repulsed by the guns of the Oneida and a long 32 pound cannon mounted on shore.
On May 29 British and Canadian forces attack Sackets
Harbor and are repulsed by U.S. troops after a lengthy battle. The British and
Canadians retreat, but American supplies are destroyed, delaying American
efforts to launch a campaign into Canada.
Several forays into Canada are mounted from Sackets
Harbor, including the American attack on York (Toronto) on April 27. This
attack culminated in an American victory, at the price of the life of Brigadier
General Zebulon M. Pike. On November 11 the American forces were defeated in an
attack on Canada at Chrysler's Farm.
Supply boats from New York City, carrying guns,
rigging, and supplies for the U.S. frigate the Superior, are
halted near Sandy Creek, NY by British forces. But American troops trick the
British in an ambush at Sandy Creek and succeed in transporting the supplies
overland to Sackets Harbor, allowing the Superior to be
The U.S. and Great Britain sign a peace treaty in
Ghent, Belgium on Christmas Eve. The terms of the treaty call for peace without
territorial concessions from either side, and disposal of most of the armaments
and ships amassed during the War of 1812.
The U.S. Congress ratifies the peace treaty on
February 16, 1815. When word reaches Sackets Harbor, work stops on two
unfinished ships under construction, the New Orleans and the Chippewa.
Sackets Harbor's first library, the Union Library, is
The Presbyterians organize their first Society at
1816 to 1819
The first phase of Madison Barracks is constructed by
the Second U.S. Infantry. The Second Infantry, under the command of Colonel
Hugh Brady, earns the nickname "Brady's Saints" because they march to
church in a group on Sundays.
George Camp prints the first issue of the Sackets Harbor Gazette on March 18.
President James Monroe visits Sackets Harbor to view
construction of Madison Barracks.
The Steamship Ontario is built at
Sackets Harbor and makes the first steam-powered voyage on Lake Ontario from
the village. She continues to serve Lake Ontario until 1832 when she is
scrapped at Oswego.
The Athol Lodge of the Masonic Order is formed at
Sackets Harbor and meets in the Union Hotel.
The Jefferson, a War of 1812 brig designed to carry
20 cannon, begins to settle into the mud off Navy Point. The ship's skeleton
lies there today and has been the subject of serious underwater archeology
An Episcopal congregation is organized in Sackets
1827 to 1836
Elisha Camp excavates a canal to divert water from
the Black River to supply water power for industries that he expects to be
established near the port of Sackets Harbor. Elisha Camp's plan becomes know
derisively as "Camp's Ditch" and is abandoned in 1836.
Dr. Samuel Guthrie, a Town of Hounsfield resident,
conducts experiments which lead to the first known use of chloroform.
Capt. August Pickering of Sackets Harbor is the first
entrepreneur to sail a commercial vessel into the frontier town of Chicago.
1834 to 1836
The Sackets Harbor Bank is chartered and its stone
building at the corner of Main and Broad Streets is completed.
The Trenton & Sackets Harbor Railroad Company is
chartered. This first attempt to bring a railroad into Sackets Harbor is never
1837 to 1840
The Patriots' War, a rebellion that attempts to expel
British rule from Canada, takes place in Canada. The U.S. border with Canada,
including the Sackets Harbor Naval Station, is reinforced in response to the
President Martin Van Buren visits Madison Barracks. A
volley of muskets fired in his honor nearly results in tragedy when a ramrod,
left in the musket barrel by one of the soldiers, flies through the air like an
arrow and pierces the ground near the President.
The Eighth Regiment leaves Madison Barracks to serve
in the war against the Seminoles in Florida.
The population of the Village of Sackets Harbor
reaches its peak at 4,146.
A two story schoolhouse is built on the corner of
Broad and Washington Streets at a cost of $2,000.00.
Cinders from the steamboat St.
Lawrence start a devastating fire which sweeps from the wharves to
destroy forty buildings in Sackets Harbor.
The McKee Iron Foundry begins manufacturing
agricultural equipment in Sackets Harbor.
1847 to 1848
The U.S. Navy builds the Commandant's House and the
Lieutenant's House near the harbor, on land that is now part of the Sackets
Harbor Battlefield State Historic Site.
The New York State Senate proposes to build a
railroad from Sackets Harbor through the Adirondack Mountains to Saratoga
Springs. The railroad, intended to encourage settlement in the Adirondacks and
improve communication between eastern and western New York State, in never
1848 to 1849
Lieutenant Ulysses S. Grant and his
wife, Julia Dent Grant, are stationed at Madison Barracks.
Captain Ulysses S. Grant, accompanied by his
wife and son, returns to Madison Barracks for a second tour of duty.
The Sackets Harbor & Ellisburg Railroad Company,
founded in 1850, begins service. At Sackets Harbor, the railroad connects with
the Ontario and St. Lawrence Steamboat Company. At Pierrepont Manor, it
connects with the Rome, Watertown & Ogdensburg Railway.
1861 to 1865
During the Civil War, Madison Barracks serves as a
recruiting and training center under Colonel Walter B. Camp.
The Sackets Harbor & Ellisburg Railroad Company
1870 to 1930
Sackets Harbor enjoys tremendous popularity as a
summer resort community.
The Utica and Black River Railroad opens service to
Fire destroys nearly half of the Officers Quarters at
Madison Barracks. U.S. President Ulysses S. Grant decides to re-invest
in and improve Madison Barracks.
A storm destroys the building that protects the New Orleans, a ship kept in Sackets Harbor by the U.S. Navy since the
War of 1812.
The remains of the New Orleans are sold at
auction by the U.S. Navy for $427.50.
Heirs of Elisha Camp donate land for the "Old
Battlefield Park," to commemorate those who served in Sackets Harbor
during the War of 1812.
The U.S. Army expands Madison Barracks by
constructing several new brick buildings and the stone water tower.
The New York Central Railroad absorbs the rail link
at Sackets Harbor, incorporating it into one of the world's most extensive rail
1898 to 1901
The Ninth U.S. Infantry, stationed at Sackets Harbor,
fights in Cuba and the Philippines during the Spanish American War, and in
China during the Boxer Rebellion.
A new passenger railroad station is built at Sackets
Harbor to accommodate travelers and tourists.
The U.S. Army establishes Pine Camp eleven miles east
of Watertown. The post is later renamed Camp Drum and today Fort Drum.
Franklin D. Roosevelt, Assistant Secretary of the
Navy, visits Sackets Harbor to dedicate a monument at the Sackets Harbor
Battlefield to those who served in the War of 1812.
1917 to 1918
Madison Barracks trains officers for service in World
War I. As many as 2,500 men are stationed here during this period.
1918 to 1919
Madison Barracks is uses as a hospital for
shell-shocked veterans and other World War I wounded.
The "Red Legs," the second Battalion of the
Seventh Field Artillery, arrive at Madison Barracks. The Red Legs acquired
their nickname due to distinctive red piping on the seams of their trousers.
A Citizens Military Training Camp is established at
Madison Barracks by the U.S. War Department to bring young men together to
"stimulate patriotism and promote military preparedness."
The Sackets Harbor "Civic Improvement
League" is formed by the women of Sackets Harbor to help convey the
history of the village and foster improvements in the village. The Civic League
operates the Pickering-Beach Historical Museum for many years.
Metro-Goldwyn-Meyer, Fox, Paramount and Pathe film
the maneuvers of the Seventh Field Artillery and the Twenty-Eighth Infantry on
the ice of Lake Ontario.
A camp of the Civilian Conservation Corps, a
Depression Era mobilization of young men to carry out environmental projects,
is established at Madison Barracks. In 1934, Madison Barracks becomes the
headquarters for ten CCC Camps in the region.
Old Battlefield Park is given to the State of New
York, under the auspices of the Thousand Islands State Park Commission, by the
Jefferson County Historical Society and the Village of Sackets Harbor.
1934 to 1935
The Army's motorization of the Twenty-fifth Field
Artillery replaces horses and mules with trucks at Madison Barracks.
The United States subchaser, S.C. 431, explodes at
anchor off Navy Point, mortally wounding Chief Petty Officer Steven Kafka, who
dies three days later.
The Pickering-Beach family donates its home to the
Village of Sackets Harbor for use as a museum.
1941 to 1944
Madison Barracks is used by the National Guard, and
medical and quartermaster units during World War II.
The U.S. government considers closing both Pine Camp
and Madison Barracks. Ultimately, Pine Camp is expanded and Madison Barracks is
Madison Barracks is declared surplus property by the
The New York Central Railroad abandons its line to
Madison Barracks is sold to a private individual.
The U.S. Government property on Navy Point is
The U.S. Government property on Horse Island is
1967 to 1974
The State of New York purchases the Union Hotel and
several parcels of land adjacent to the Old Battlefield Park and implements a
program to open the historic site to the public.
The Village of Sackets Harbor adopts an Historic
Zoning Law and establishes an Historic Zoning Board.
Madison Barracks is listed on the National Register
of Historic Places but remains mostly vacant and continues to deteriorate.
The Sackets Harbor Battlefield is listed on the
National Register of Historic Places.
The Sackets Harbor Historical Society is created by
village residents to stimulate community revitalization and promote the history
of the village.
The Sackets Harbor Historic Society purchases the Old
Bank Building and the USO Building, and begins to renovate both buildings.
Numerous private individuals also begin to join in the effort to revitalize
Sackets Harbor, beginning a movement that transforms Sackets Harbor and
continues to this day.
The Village of Sackets Harbor and the Sackets Harbor
Historical Society write an application and receive a federal grant to re-pave
and beautify Main Street.
The Village of Sackets Harbor begins work to be
designated as a New York State Urban Cultural Park.
The Sackets Harbor Village Historic District is
listed on the Nattional Register of Historic Places.
The Village of Sackets Harbor completes the Sackets
Harbor Urban Cultural Park Management Plan.
The Village of Sackets Harbor develops a Local
Waterfront Revitalization Program to guide development of the Village's
Madison Barracks is purchased by developers who begin
renovation, still underway today.
The Village of Sackets Harbor and the Sackets Harbor
Historical Society begin major renovation work on the Pickering-Beach
Historical Museum building.
The Sackets Harbor Urban Cultural Park Visitors
Center opens in the Augustus Sacket House.