Today’s Town of Lyme is composed of lands once part of the Town of Brownville. The Town of Lyme was formed in 1818. The somewhat unusual name was suggested by a resident of Cape Vincent, Eben Kelsy, a former resident of Lyme, Connecticut.
Since its inception the Town of Lyme had given up some of its land mass so other towns could be formed (as Brownville did for Lyme). In 1833, lands were given to help form the Town of Clayton. Again, in1849 further land was relinquished when Cape Vincent became a separate town.
The first attempt, at a non-Aboriginal settlement was undertaken in 1801; in the region today know as Old Town Springs, off the Chaumont River. This location would prove to be an unhealthy choice as born out in epidemics of typhoid, malaria and diphtheria. The original settlement would be abandoned in favor of a location near the mouth of the Chaumont River in 1803. The village would be named Chaumont in honor of the French Estates of J. Leray DeChaumont. James Leray had acquired some 350,000 acres of land in Northern New York as payment for assisting the fledgling United States during the American Revolution. Today not only Chaumont but Cape Vincent, Theresa and the Town of Leray all bear the family name in one form or another. The village would become officially incorporated in 1874.
After 1803 other settlements within the town would rapidly follow. Point Salubrious; a word meaning healthful, thus named in the hopes that this area would be free from the sickness that had plagued the other settlements, would first be settled in either 1806 or 1807. Point Peninsula’s earliest settlers appear to be circa 1808. Three Mile Point and and Three Mile Bays’ settlement dates to between 1816 and 1818.
All of the settlements had direct access to the surest source of transport available at the time, the water ways of Lake Ontario and the surrounding rivers and streams. The close proximity to the water transport system would prove to be one of the greatest economic motivators for settlement and expansion. Not only could new settlers come in to the area but the all important transportation routes worked in reverse to export the goods produced to outside markets. Until the advent of the railroad, modern roads and bridges, water was the fastest, surest and cheapest way to ship products both in and out of the town.
In its nearly 2 centuries, a short list of industries, trades and professions that served the Town would include; fur trapping, commercial fishing, farms, dairies, pot and pearl ash production, lumber and lumber mills, ice harvesting, seed companies, blacksmiths, lime kilns, hotels, motels, spas, boat and ship building, barrel makers, rock quarries, bakeries, grist mills and marinas. Sadly most are gone but some still thrive today.
Patriotic fervor has never lacked in the Town. Many of its earliest settlers were veterans of the Revolution and The War of 1812 (including at least one British soldier, who fought in one of the battles at Sackets Harbor) over the centuries the area has been traveled through by forces of many different nations, including the French, British and naturally the United States. At least two blockhouses have been have been recorded. As a matter of record the first independence celebration in the county took place on Independence Point in 1802, thus the name. The Town has sent many of it residence to every large, and some smaller, conflicts that the United States Has been embroiled in, including the War of 1812, the Patriots War, Civil War, both World Wars, Korea and Vietnam.
As in the past a large amount of economy is still benefits directly from the waterways, including many seasonal residences, boating, recreational fishing, restaurants, motels and marinas.
Sources: History Town of Lyme, by Charles and Harriet Knapp (Copy proved courtesy of the Lyme Heritage Center)
Our Heritage 1874-1974- Centennial of Chaumont, by Helen and Cora Brown.