With the responsibilities of preserving the past for the future, Clay Historical Association is always looking for new members. Meetings are on the fourth Monday of each month @ 6:30 PM at the Clay Historical Park Visitor Center, 4939 State Route 31, Clay, NY 13041
Programs of historical interest are presented to members and guests. The membership fee is $10.00 per person each year.
Please come and join us in preserving our local history. Visit our Contact us page for an application.
If you would like a tour of the Clay Historical Park or the schoolhouse please call the town historian or one of the officers to set up a time. Phone numbers are listed on our Contact us page.
Mailing address: Clay Historical Association
PO Box 302
Clay, NY 13041-0302
You can also contact us through our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Clay-Historical-Association/125903540774423?fref=ts
Local History Lesson
The Town of Clay,NY was originally a part of the Town of Cicero. On April 16, 1827 the western portion of Cicero became the Town of Clay.
Prior to that time the first white settler, Patrick McGee, had taken up residence in what is known as Three River Point. Three River Point is located in the north western corner of the town where the Oneida River, The Seneca River, and Oswego River meet.
This area had often been used by the great councils of the Iroquois Confederacy, and here the great chiefs addressed the braves of the Hurons, Adirondacks and Abenaquis. The French and English met with the Chiefs, orators and diplomats, equal to themselves to discuss the pertinent issues of the day.
Patrick McGee first saw Three River Point in 1780 as a prisoner of the British. He said that he selected the site while tied to a tree during the Revolutionary War while they had stopped there to camp on the way to Canada. He was charmed by the beauty of the area and was determined to return.
After the war he came back to the place he remembered and built a log cabin in 1793. He spent the rest of his life there and was buried on the spot.
By 1810 when DeWitt Clinton passed through the area looking for the best location for the proposed canal there was a house that served meals and provided lodging.
In 1815 Mary Eno had a store and hotel that supplied traveler's for years. Both camping and permanent residents settled in the area and in 1852 a post office was established with Joseph Warren Williams named as the first Post Master.
Fred Barnum established Barnum's Hotel in 1889 which became a popular attractions for people from all over Central New York. People came by all modes of transportation including boat, horse and carriage, train and for a ten cent fare, they could make a round trip on board the steamer "Bessie Lang" between Phoenix and Three Rivers.
After many owners and changes to the building's use and prohibition and the depression the building became the "Three Rivers Inn". With "Dom" Bruno as the manager it became the popular entertainment center, which featured well-known artists of stage, screen and radio fame. On December 19th, 1973, the Three Rivers Inn burned.
Since that time little activity has been happening in the Three River Point area. The Town of Clay gained access to the property and is currently planning to develop it for more park and recreation area along the point.
Pine Plains Cemetery
Originally Pine Plains Cemetery was known as the Old Town Cemetery, April 9, 1812.
Peter Young, killed by a falling tree became the first interment on April 26, 1812. The location was what is now known as Section One and is at the Southeast corner of the present cemetery. To the west was what was known as the Tobias Shaver Cemetery and as time went on this was acquired and incorporated along with land to the north which was acquired from a Sarah Button.
June 12, 1886 the cemetery was incorporated and known as Pine Plains Cemetery.
In June of 1930 Dr .D.A. Young donated $1000 toward the erection of a storage vault and the board members were to raise another $1000 by subscription. The vault was erected in 1930. We have a large Kinney Monument in section one and it is believed a Miss Kinney was the first school teacher in the Town of Clay. There is also a very large Baldwin monument believed to be related to one of the earliest mayors of Syracuse.
There are a number of metal monuments, made in Bridgeport, Connecticut and believed to have been sold through Sears, Roebuck and Company. The most unique epitaph to my knowledge is on one of these metal monuments (Hackett).
Section 5 toward the east end of the cemetery was first used in 1978. Sections 6 and 7 more to the east were acquired from William Scanlon and at the same time land was purchased to the north from Paul Bednarski. At the present time interments are being made in the Scanlon property known as Sections 6 & 7. In Section 7 there is a family mousoleum (Shannon Bissel) and in it is where his wife Karen rests. This was erected and first used November 7, 1986.
Originally markers were made from marble and today most are granite which is much harder and longer lasting.
In 1971 by order of the Board of Trustees, plastic flowers, ornaments and glass were prohibited for the safety of workers and visitors.
Among our interments are veterans of all the wars from the Revolution on through date.
Until the early 1930's, Pine Plains was known chiefly as a Protestant Cemetery (Priests and family choice)
Traditional interments face the east and was standard in the older sections of the cemetery. In sections 6 & 7, however, a modular plan was adopted and burials may face North, South, East or West. Also in these two new sections, monuments must have bases and in ground (flush) markers maybe used. There are restrictions which must be followed very carefully.
Author and date unknown. This article was found in the Clay Historcial files.