Back in the 1800's, getting from place to place was not an easy feat. With only a horse or traveling on foot as options, people in the North Country had to fend for themselves and form sustainable communities. As our Cara Thomas tells us in this edition of Your Hometown, that's exactly what the town of Malone did, through new industries that had an impact in the North Country.
To view our videos, you need to
install Adobe Flash 9 or above. Install now.
Then come back here and refresh the page.
When Malone first came to be, it was much different than it is today. In fact, Malone didn't even get its present name until 1812. In the beginning it was named after its founder, Richard Harrison in 1805 and only a few years later, the town was given a name change. Harrison decided to name it after a friend named Ezra, and changed the name to Ezraville. But there were even more changes occurring in the town. Industry was beginning to take over.
Cheryl Learned, Franklin County Historical Society Board President said, “They had to establish mills and factories to meet what needs they had. And as more and more people came in they thought every family doesn't need to be self sufficient and do everything themselves."
When Harrison first came to the area, it was predominantly forest. Using that resource, the town established saw mills about 18 were built along the Salmon River, using it as an energy source.
Learned said, “A huge number but again everybody needed something done with the trees that they were cutting down."
But saw mills weren't the only industries popping up in the area. In 1806, only a year after the town was established, a grist mill was built by Harem Horton. This was the first grist mill in the area, giving the community a way to grind up wheat for their animals. And they didn't service only people in Ezraville, it was the only grist mill between Rauses Point and Ogdensburg.
Learned said, “It was a good booming business because all the other places that were being established around, even in St. Lawrence County were bringing their wheat here to be ground. Remember there was nothing around. Remember Chategeay is about 15 miles from here but 15 miles when all you had is a horse, you know was a long distance."
By 1812, the town underwent yet another name change. This time, Harrison decided to name the town after another friend, a Shakespearean scholar who never actually came to the town at all, Edmund Malone. As the town continued to grow and expand, more mills and factories were created.
Learned said, “I think the people were very innovative and very smart to just figure out what they needed and very brave to say ok we need this so we're going to make it."
They had iron mills, wool mills, distilleries, pail, broom, sandstone and brick factories, a paper mill, and machine shops, once the railroad came to town.
"Some of those factories wouldn't be the caliber that we picture a factory today. You know, maybe they had like 12 employees or some of them might have had a couple dozen employees,” said Learned. “A mill might be smaller than this building you know, a mill wasn't a huge, wasn't a huge place.”
But over time, as necessities became more accessible and transportation became easier, the mills and factories slowly began to close.
Learned said, “Especially once the automobile came along and people could move you know and get around and do different things then they didn't have to be so dependent on everything being done right here in a small factory."
Today only two mills are left standing. The old wool mill now holds Malone's branch of North Country Community College and Horton's first grist mill stands here in the center of the village. And with Malone's Local Waterfront Revitalization Project, they're hoping to fix up this old mill, and bring back a piece of Malone's industrial history.