Augustus Sackett

From Jefferson County NY Wiki
Augustus was born Nov. 10, 1769 in New York City to Samuel and Mary (Betts) Sackett. He married on Jan. 19, 1795 to Minerva Camp. They continued to live in New York City until 1803, when the family moved to their new home in Sackets Harbor . During that time, Minerva had given birth to three boys, two of whom survived to 1809: Augustus H. (1800-1860) and Elisha C. (1802-1851). Augustus and Minerva had two more children while living in Sackets Harbor: Minerva (1804-1851), and Edward (1806-1866). They would have ten children in all (Association 2008).

In 1801, he purchased a large tract of land on Lake Ontario adjacent to the harbor that would later bear his name. Having heard of this harbor from advertisements, he came to the place in early 1801 to assess the location. Being satisfied of its potential, he returned to New York City and secured the purchase at the Tontine Coffee House, June 20th, 1801 (Hough 1854). The original deed now resides in the archives of the Jefferson County Historical Society in Watertown.

Mr. Sacket returned to the harbor later that year to commence improvements. He built a dam and sawmill in the first year, on Mill Creek, along with a few temporary buildings and warehouses overlooking the harbor. In the second and third year, he built his home, a one and a half story Paladian style dwelling with matching rear wings on each side. The roof was hipped with dormers for second-story widows. The standing full basement was cut two feet into bedrock, and the detritus was used to form the foundation of the structure. Eight brick fireplaces provided heat.

By 1804, advertisements again appeared in area newspapers extolling the advantages and swift development of “Mr. Sacket’s village.” This development was spurred even further by Mr. Sacket’s establishment of a customs station at the harbor in 1805, and his appointment as customs collector that same year. Merchant shipping became the chief industry of the village, attracting a typical mix of merchant, proprietary and professional settlers, many from England. By 1805, there were nearly 20 families living in the village.

All this prosperity came to a crashing halt, however, after the passage of the Embargo Act of 1807. In retaliation for English depredations on the high seas and frontier, the Federal government under Thomas Jefferson banned trade with France and Britain, effectively killing the economy of Sackets Harbor. Law-abiding merchants were forced into smuggling by the act, and Augustus Sacket was powerless to curtail it. Development all but ceased, and by 1808, the depredations of the smugglers were more feared than those of the British, and Sacket resigned his position as Customs Agent (Lossing 1868).

On March 5th, 1809, Augustus Sacket sold his remaining holdings to a company formed by wealthy New York City investors, under the agency of Elisha Camp, Sacket’s brother-in-law. Sacket moved to Long Island, then Pennsylvania, only returning to the region shortly before his death in 1827 (Hough 1854).

Association, Sackett Family

2008 Augustus Sacket. The Sackett Family Association, edited by Chris Sacket. Website of the Sacket Family Association. [1]]

Hough, Franklin B.

1854 History of Jefferson County in the State of New York from the Earliest Period to the Present Time. Joel Munsell, Albany.

Lossing, Benson J.

1868 The Pictorial Field Book of the War of 1812. Harper, New York.

Jefferson County Pioneers