Helped Bury The Dead.
A Man Who Remembers When The British Captured Oswego.
Mr. Alanson Himes, a Resident of Oswego County for Seventy-Four Years, Celebrates His 90th Birthday - He Planted the Big Elms That Skirt the Park.
Mr. Alanson Himes, one of the pioneer settlers of Oswego County, and one of the oldest citizens of Oswego, celebrated his ninetieth birthday yesterday at his home, No. 12 Ellen street, surrounded by his wife, children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and numerous relatives and friends. For seventy-four years he has been a resident of this county and during that time has never been further north than Sandy Creek nor further south than Albany.
He is a remarkably well preserved man and has the appearance of being much younger than he really is. He enjoys remarkable good health and on Tuesday accompanied his son, Mr. James M. Himes down town. For a number of years, however, his sight has not been good, and he has had to forgo the pleasures of reading. He is also slightly deaf, but otherwise is strong and vigorous, mentally as well as physically.
A Palladium reporter who called upon him yesterday had a very interesting conversation with him. He is one of the very few persons living who saw the many changes through which this city has passed; he remembers it as a hamlet when there were no wharves on our river front, and he has seen it spread itself out and gradually develop into its present importance. Mr. Himes was born in the town of Exeter, Washington county, Rhode Island, April 4, 1798.
For years later, with his parents, he moved into the town of Norway, Herkimer county, this state, where they lived until March 1814, when the family removed to Oswego county and settled in the town of Scriba. about four miles from the city. At that time the country was little more than a wilderness. The roads were few and bad and Mr. Himes remembers when he helped lay out and build the road leading from this city into the town of Scriba, known as the "Hall Road."
At the time of the capture of this city by the British on May 6th, 1814, Mr. Himes was a lad of 16 years, engaged on his father's farm. He remembers the battle well, and although not allowed to take any part in it, he agreed to stay home and sow spring wheat while his two brothers and a brother-in-law went down to the city to help defend the fort.
The battle began on the morning of May 5th, and all day at intervals, young Himes at home on his father's farm, could hear the boom of the cannon.
As the afternoon advanced he began to get impatient and a welcome shower of rain which came up was a sufficient excuse for him to stop work, jump the back of a horse and gallop to the city. Before he reached the scene, however, the firing had ceased, but he saw the British fleet at anchor in Baldwin's Bay, and there Mr. Himes saw for the first time a full rigged war vessel. In the fort the "boys" were all cheerful, and he laughed pleasantly as he called to mind the boasts of a "little fellow" who told how they had "peppered" the Britishers.
Next day the fort was captured about noon, and the English remained until about midnight but they left, taking with them a vessel owned by Alvin Bronson. The other one which comprised the Oswego fleet, was owned by Theopolis S. Morgan and was scuttled to save her from the hands of the enemy." The next day, Sunday, the dead were buried. There were thirteen, and the bodies wee put into rough wooden boxes and placed side by side in a trench. Mr. Himes was among those who assisted at the burial. At that time there were but two log houses on the East Side of the river, while on the West Side Mr. Himes thinks there were about one hundred.
He remembers distinctly the old light house that stood on the Fort bank, and one of the first jobs he obtained after leaving his farm was the digging of a well for the light-keeper, after which he helped build docks and was employed on one of the first wharves built on the river front by Alvin Bronson near the foot of Cayuga Street. he remembers the launch of the first vessel ever built at this port by Alvin Bronson, and tells how he walked four miles to be present at the launching.
Early in life he began taking contracts and he was prominently connected with many enterprises. He was connected with the building of the first wooden bridge to span Oswego river, and also had a contract on the Varick canal and at one time had charge of the pumping on the old Marine railway. Mr. Himes says he has probably opened up more streets for the city than any man living. He received many contracts from the village officers by whom he was held in high esteem. He, it was, who planted the elm and maple trees around the West Park in the spring of 1833, on a contract from the village.
The oak trees that now ornament the park were left standing when the land was cleared off. The row of soft maples on the Cayuga street side were planted at the request of Mr. Alvin Bronson, it having been the intention to plant Elm all around the park. About this time Mr. Himes went to live on the Murray farm, but continued his contracting business and made money. He at one time owned all that tract of land known as the Tallman and Babcock tract lying in the vicinity of Ellen street.
Forty years ago he built the house in which he has lived constantly for forty years. Mr. Himes has been twice married. First in 1822 and again in 1831. his second wife is still living and will in May celebrate her 84th birthday. In his very long and busy life Mr. Himes says he never had but one fit of sickness, and that was an attack of bilious fever. he attributes his good health and long life to regular and temperate habits. All day yesterday Mr. Himes and his estimable wife received their old friends and talked together of the days that have gone. Mr. Himes has six children, twenty-three grandchildren and twenty-five great-grandchildren.