The Town of Seneca Falls was organized on March 26, 1829 out of the Town of Junius. A few years later, the area originally known as Mynderse Mills officially became the Village of Seneca Falls when it was incorporated on April 22, 1831. The new Village was represented by its first President Ansel Bascom in that same year. One hundred and eighty years later, at the close of 2011, the Village of Seneca Falls was dissolved and the Town assumed the former village.
As the Town Board is now the rule of order, its Board is comprised of five elected officials including the Town Supervisor and four councilors; each serving a four-year term. The Town Supervisor is the presiding officer and along with the members of Town Board, they meet monthly to act on business.
Since 1829, Seneca Falls has been represented at the Seneca County Board of Supervisors by each elected Town Supervisor. Judge Gary V. Sackett was the first Town Supervisor to represent the newly organized Town Seneca Falls in that same year.
Gary V. Sackett is probably the most important person contributing to the development of Seneca Falls on the south side of the Seneca River. Gary was born August 9, 1790, in Tredford, Vermont, and was a descendant of Puritan ancestors. He was the second son of William and Parthena Patterson Sackett in Tredford, Vermont. His father has enlisted in the Revolutionary War in Connecticut whereabout he was living at the time. In 1788, William and his wife moved their family to Vermont. In 1805, the family consisting of
William and Parthena and their 3 sons and 5 daughters, moved to a farm in the town of Aurelius in Cayuga County, NY.
He was the dominant person in this company’s operations. He remained on his father’s farm in the town of Fayette until he was 21 and had earned enough money to “go out into the world.” For a year, he sold pumps in Ohio for a Mr. Kelly, ingeniously bringing back in his otherwise empty wagon a wagon full of timothy seed which he would then sell to local farmers. He then started work for Cowing & Seymour, selling pumps on commission in the New England states for five years.
His father, William Sackett, offered each of his sons 50 acres of his farm when the son reached his legal age of “maturity,” but Gary decided that he would become a lawyer. Gary studied law with Thomas Mumford, in the village of Cayuga, on the east shore of Cayuga Lake, and was admitted to the bar in 1813. His first law practice was in West Cayuga, which became known as Bridgeport, on the west side of Cayuga Lake. In 1814, he became a Judge in the court of common pleas until 1838.
Judge Sackett married Nancy Torrins Vance, the daughter of William and Elizabeth Harris Vance, at Cayuga on May 18, 1812, and moved his law practice across Cayuga Lake to Bridgeport. He soon entered into partnership with Luther F. Stevens and it became the first law office in Seneca Falls. In 1814, Gary Sackett moved to Mynderse Mills, having realized community offered great potential for economic growth making use of the water power of the over 40-foot drop in the Seneca River. The firm was dissolved in 1823 when Stevens was appointed county judge and Sackett one of the judges of the court of common pleas.
Wilhelmus Mynderse, the on-site agent and partner in the Bayard Land Company, which owned all the property on both sides of the Seneca River in the village of Seneca Falls, took a liking to Sackett. This friendship with Mynderse helped Sackett to become a major player in the economic development of Seneca Falls. In 1816, Sackett, Mynderse, and Abijah Mann and Luther Stevens built Mechanics Hall. Sackett’s wife Nancy died in Seneca Falls on July 29, 1820, leaving behind 4 children. In 1825, he constructed a distillery, a grist mill and an oil mill.
On February 6, 1826, Sackett married his second wife, Harriet Haigh, the daughter of a Captain John Haigh who was an English officer stationed in Calcutta, India. They would grow their family adding one daughter and three sons. Harriet passed away on March 18, 1851, survived by her husband and son John H. Sackett.
In Sackett, in partnership with Chauncey Marshal and Ansel Bascom, erected a cotton mill and paper mill in the village. Sackett, in partnership with Bascom and Andrew P. Tillman bought up about 600 acres of property on the south side of the Seneca River and canal. They laid out much of it into lots which were sold to new village settlers. In 1827, Judge Sackett built a brick house on his farm at the western edge of the third ward. In 1828-29, he built what is known as the “Sackett block” of 6 brick two-story buildings at the intersection of West Bayard and Bridge Streets. These buildings were the center of mercantile trade in the village of Seneca Falls for many years and today make up a portion of the Seneca Falls Historic District.
On April 22, 1831, the Village of Seneca Falls was organized out of the area known as Mynderse Mills. That same year, Sackett built two blocks of frame dwelling houses on Canal Street. In the 1840’s in partnership with a Van Rensselaer, they operated a general store on Canal Street. Significantly, he tended to construct these new business ventures and then sell them to others to operate.
Sackett was involved in many community efforts. He was the first warden of Trinity Episcopal Church, he gave land for the location of the Catholic Church and he was a major contributor to and trustee of the Seneca Falls Academy that was built in 1833. Sackett was a key leader in the formation of the Seneca County Agricultural Society in 1835.
Sackett kept 600 acres as his own farm. The property at that time extended from Kingdom Road to Bridge Street, a distance of over two miles. In 1833, he sold off about 400 acres, keeping 200 acres as his own farm.
About 1833, Sackett started building a new home on what is today 115 West Bayard Street, just west of St. Patrick’s church and rectory. This new home, 40 by 45 feet, was built entirely of cut stone, and he said that it cost him more than $6,000 to construct. The house had an L-shaped wing to the rear, to provide housing for the 50 servants who cared for the farm and the house.
It needed to be a large residence, as he took great pleasure in entertaining his numerous friends—both within the village and at a great distance. He was a close friend of William Henry Seward of Auburn, including his years as New York State Governor and U.S. Secretary of State. That friendship led to Seward giving one set of china and a table from the White House. Red Jacket, the great Seneca Chief orator, was a frequent guest. It was on one of his several visits to this residence that Red Jacket confirmed he was born near Canoga in 1750 and not at other places that were being claimed as his birthplace. Sackett also hosted Abraham Lincoln who left his signature in a Bible that he gave to Sackett.
In the fall of 1830, Judge Sackett traveled throughout New England, tracing his family roots. He documented his ancestors back to the arrival of Simon and John Sackett in Boston in 1631. His research became the basis of an autobiography that he compiled.
Judge Sackett was described as “dignified, in manner courteous, in sympathies warm, a man of great generosity, and one who always desired the friendship of others.” He passed away on June 15, 1865. He is buried in Restvale Cemetery in Seneca Falls.
A list of past Town Supervisors is seen here through to present day.
|1829||Hon. Gary V. Sackett|
|1830-1831||Hon. Jacob Larzelere|
|1838||Hon. Ansel Bascom|
|1839-1841||Israel W. Squires|
|1842||H. John Maurice|
|1844||Hon. Geo. B. Daniels|
|1845||Col. S. W. Edwards|
|1846-1847||Horace C. Silsby|
|1848||Hon. Elisha Foote|
|1851-1853||William P. Pollard|
|1855||Edward S. Latham|
|1856||Martin L. Bellows|
|1858||John A. Rumsey|
|1859||George W. Davis|
|1860-1863||Geroge B. Daniels|
|1870||LeRoy C. Partridge|
|1871-1873||Peter H. VanAuken|
|1874||George M. Guion|
|1875||James D. Pollard|
|1876||William G. Wayne|
|1882-1883||M. DeLancy Bellows|
|1884||Edward W. Addison|
|1887||Bronson S. Wessell|
|1888-1889||William J. Pollard|
|1893||Horace N. Rumsey|
|1894-1897||Wm. V. Ran Rensselaer|
|1898||Moses S. Gould|
|1899-1901||George W. Pontius|
|1902-1903||H. DeLancey Knight|
|1904-1907||William B. Harper|
|1908-1909||William H. Hurley|
|1910-1913||William E. Hull|
|1916||James E. Medden**|
|1916-1923||William H. Savage|
|1924-1929||J. Devillo Pollard|
|1934-1949||Edward A. McArdle|
|1950-1959||Thomas B. Masten Jr.|
|1990-1995||John D. Sinicropi|
|1996-1999||Janette T. Pfeiff|
|2000-2011||Peter W. Same|
|2012-2015||Donald M. Earle|
|2016-2019||Gregory P. Lazzaro|
“Prominent Seneca Falls Resident”, May 24, 2019, Finger Lakes Times; Article adapted from Seneca County Historian Walter Gable.
** Medden died February 11, 1916 and was proceeded by William H. Savage.