Turin, the Settlement of New Lands

Turin was originally land belonging to that of the Oneida Nation of the Native Americans that were here before settlement from Europeans.[1]  The land where Turin sits was originally part of the Macomb Purchase, the tract of land some four-million acres in northern New York in 1791.[2]  This vast piece of land was then sold into smaller pieces to settlers and land developers from Europe. 

The First Settlers

The first individual to build a home in what is now the township of Turin was Judah Barnes.[1]  Picking a plot of land near the modern site of the South Lewis Central School, he crafted his home and then returned to Connecticut to retrieve his family during that winter.  The journey for his family to their new home took six weeks by ox cart.  After establishing a home, Judah and his father built the first sawmill in the area around Turin.

Caption

Post Card of Snow Ridge Ski Resort.  Notice the cars, and the plane, that are parked out front.  Snow Ridge was immediately popular due to the deep snow and strong management.

Citation

"Snow Ridge." Digital image. CardCow.com. Accessed April 26, 2017.

Industry of the Woods

Being as remote as early Turin was, the main industry was farming.[1] The process of turning forest to farmland was not easy however, but did create a cash crop that was then available to them, potash. A residue of ash from burnt trees, potash was used in urban areas for washing wool. Farming was a laborious process, taking years to fully turn forest to fully functional fields. Corn and wheat were often the crops planted, due to their ability to grow easily despite the less than ideal ground conditions.[2]

Establishment of Government

The town of Turin was not officially formed until April 14, 1800.[1]  Much larger than what the town exists as today, it was part of Oneida County originally.  Elections were held at a private home on the West Road, and there were twenty-one individuals elected to nine different positions.  The Town was headed by a supervisor, Mr. Jonathan Collins, who’s home the election was completed at.  It chose the name of Turin after the large city located in the Kingdom of Sardinia, in hopes of eventually being as grand in some form.  Matching population would be very difficult, as the newly crafted town had a population of 440.[2]  Despite the lack of population, Turin had high hopes for what laid ahead for the rural town.

Turin Hits Its Stride

Turin quickly set out in forming the pillars of a strong community at the time; churches, roads, and an urban center.  Roads were particularly difficult and were the most expensive part of town business for several years.[1]  Originally there were two roads, the East and West roads, and were basic dirt roads.  Turin engaged with the State of New York in an attempt to get a major road that ran from Utica, through Turin, to Brownville (further north in Jefferson County).[2]  The State approved the project and it would become the basis for route 26 later on.  Turin was also a hub for religion in the region along the Black River.  Congregational clergymen established the first formal church group in 1802, which was followed up by Methodists two years later.[3]  The Methodist chapter for the Black River was based out of Turin, as would two chapters of Baptists, which shortly after forming combined. 

Caption

Unknown map of Turin, New York, from gettyimages, there were no details provided.  The best assumption is that it was a surveyor's map.

Citation

"New York, 1875, Turin, Lewis County." Digital image. Gettyimages. Accessed May 2, 2017.

Job Opportunities Expand

Consistently, albeit at a slow pace, new business popped up in Turin.  It was often focused on the four-corners, an intersection of the State Road and another road that ran east-west.[1]  Soon an inn was opened, the town added a Sealers of Weights and measures as commerce expanded, and houses dotted the four-corners.  As the 1820’s went on, Turin continued to grow, adding businesses and the Village concurrently grew.  The main industry of the town did not change, forestry and agriculture.  Those have remained the dominate forms of employment to the present day.  The exception to that would be the South Lewis Middle-High School located within Turin.  The school employees several dozen and is the biggest sole employer in the Town.

A Steady Population

In 1800, there were 440 individuals living inside the town, and predominantly young and white.[1]  Actually, there were only three African-Americans in Turin, of which information besides their existence there was not provided.  The current population of the town is 548 per the 2011-2015 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimate.[2]  While there have been decades of population expansion, as jobs have dried up in the area, many have chosen to leave Turin.  The diversity of Turin hasn’t improved much in nearly 217 years, now having only two African-Americans and no other minorities.  Income levels in Turin, according to the 2016 Census Bureau, have remained at a smaller than the rest of the state, coming in at $42,734.[3]  That is 16.7% smaller than the median income for the state, but one of the highest in the area.  While certainly economically depressed, it has always been a place of humble means, and it has helped that the cost of living has remained low in the area.

The County Fair

Starting in 1847 the Lewis County Agriculture Society decided to have Turin host the county fair.[1]  They would proceed to host the county fair for ten years, before the Agriculture Society decided to rotate the fair between Turin and Lowville.  In an effort to compete with Lowville, Turin choose to build a new fairground in 1857, but their efforts would come up short and eventually the fair would be permanently located in Lowville.  Yet the fairground would not be wasted, as the Lewis County Annual Cattle Show & Fair was held there in 1860.  It would see continued use in a multitude of fashions until the Brick School was built there in 1922.[2]

Contributor Biography

Caption

Luke Evans delivers a speech at a political dinner in the fall of 2014.

Citation

Luke Evans delivers a speech at a political dinner., 3g Fire Hall, Glenfield, NY. Personal photograph by author. Fall 2014.

Luke Evans is a member of the Class of 2017 at St. Lawrence University.  A native of the North Country, Luke grew up outside of Watertown, New York, and attended school at Copenhagen Central.  As a history major, Luke’s focus was on American government and Middle Eastern studies.  He has spent much of his time at St. Lawrence getting involved in local politics, taking two semesters off to work on Congressional campaigns.  Luke chose to focus on Turin, New York due to his family's long history with the town.  

Bibliography:

"Turin town-NY, New York Economy Data." Town Charter. Accessed March 28, 2017.

http://www.towncharts.com/New-York/Economy/Turin-town-NY-Economy-data.h….

United States of America, Department of Commerce, Census Bureau, American Fact Finder,

Turin town, Lewis County, New York.

Williams, Emily, and Ethel Evans Markham. The History of Turin: Lewis County New York.

Boonville, NY: Boonville Graphics, 1974.

Endnotes:

Banner Image

The picture is of a group of skiers attending Sunday mass at Snow Ridge Skier's Chapel in 1955.  

Williams, Emily “Sunday Service at Snow Ridge Skier's Chapel, 1955.” In A History of Turin: Lewis County, New York, Williams, Emily and Evans Markham, Ethel, Section Four. Lakemount, NY: North Country Books, 1974.

Turin, the Settlement of New Lands

[1] Emily Williams and Ethel Evans Markham, The History of Turin: Lewis County New York (Boonville, NY: Boonville Graphics, 1974), 2.

[2] Williams and Markham, 2.

The First Settlers

[1] Williams and Markham, 3.

Industry of the Woods

[1] Williams and Markham, 5.

[2] Williams and Markham, 6.

Establishment of Government

[1] Williams and Markham, 6.

[2] Williams and Markham, 7.

Turin Hits Its Stride

[1] Williams and Markham, 9.

[2] Williams and Markham, 10.

[3] Williams and Markham, 12.

Job Opportunities Expand

[1] Williams and Markham, 15.

A Steady Population

[1] Williams and Markham, 7.

[2] United States of America, Department of Commerce, Census Bureau, American Fact Finder, Turin town, Lewis County, New York.

[3] "Turin town-NY, New York Economy Data," Town Charter, , accessed March 28, 2017, http://www.towncharts.com/New-York/Economy/Turin-town-NY-Economy-data.h….

The County Fair

[1] Williams and Markham, 31.

[2] Williams and Markham, 31.