Hart Massey (1771-1853)

Hart Massey
Hart Massey
Hart Massey was one of Watertown's first settlers, and is considered one of the city's founding fathers.

Massey was born into a family of eight children in Salem, New Hampshire on December 5, 1771. He moved with his family in 1792 to Windsor, Vermont. Massey married in 1795, and moved with his wife to Lyme, New Hampshire.

In the winter of 1800, Massey moved to Watertown, purchasing 90 acres that was roughly bounded today by Washington, Arsenal, Massey, and Clinton Streets. Massey built his first dwelling, a log cabin, on the site of the current Paddock Arcade. His family joined him in March of 1801. His family, then, was his wife, Lucy Swain, a daughter Mary, and sons Solon Massey and Stillman Massey. The first organized religious services held in Watertown were held in Massey's house on the first Sunday after his family's arrival.

Hart Massey Jr. was born in that cabin in September, 1802.

In 1803, Massey built a timber frame dwelling on the site currently occupied by the Paddock Mansion, today home of the Jefferson County Historical Society. Edward Swain Massey was born in that house on October 18, 1806. Edward was the builder of the First Presbyterian Church on Washington Street.

In the summer of 1807, Hart Massey moved his young but growing family into a frame house near the western end of his property. A proper brick mansion was soon constructed adjacent to the frame dwelling. At ths location were born the younger of the Massey children, Albert, Serena, Marcellus, and Jane Massey. Hart Massey sold the timber frame house to Erastus Baker, who then sold it to Jabez Foster. In 1808, the house was moved to the corner of Sterling and Arsenal Sts., to make room for Jabez Foster's spacious mansion. When the Paddock Mansion was constructed in 1876, Massey's house was moved behind the mansion, where it still stands today. The Massey House is currently Watertown's oldest standing structure.
The Massey House
The Massey House

In 1805, Massey was among those who donated land for the creation of what is today Public Square.

Massey was soon to become a well liked and respected member of the community. His early years were spent working in government service. In 1808, he was made colonel and inspector to the regiment of Colonel Abijah Putnam. Soon after he served as collector of the Port and District of Sackets Harbor during the trade embargo with Canada, and during the War of 1812. One of Massey's duties in this position was to curb the corruption that occurred by merchants illegally trading with Canada.

Massey Mansion
In 1812, Massey moved into his third and final home, to a newly constructed brick mansion on what is today Rexford Place, but what was once known as Massey Avenue..

After the war, Massey retired from his post as collector, returning to private life. Massey remained active in the community, however. He became a founding member, and first president, of the Jefferson County Agricultural Society, and in 1820 he was appointed a Jefferson County judge. He was a popular judge, being well know for his intelligence, fair mindedness as well as his devotion to religion and family. Massey's papers from his tenure as judge are today housed in the New York State Archives in Albany.

Hart Massey died in Watertown in 1853 at the age of 82. He is buried in the Arsenal Street Cemetery. Massey Street in Watertown was named for him.

See Also

Notable Personalities Living and Dead
Jefferson County Pioneers

This page was created by AJRII & has been edited 14 times. The last modification was made by - lrcorbett lrcorbett on Jun 14, 2011 2:01 pm