Henry Coffeen[edit | edit source]
In 1805, Coffeen, along with others, donated their land in the of the village to the public for the creation of a mall, later to be known as Public Square. The square immediately became the hub of Watertown's business and commerce. Also in 1805, Jefferson County was formed from Oneida County, and Coffeen was instrumental in Watertown being named the county seat. Coffeen started Jefferson County's first newspaper, The American Eagle, in 1809.
Public Square, wanted to create another business district that would rival the square's success. He acquired land that today occupies upper Court, lower Coffeen, Arsenal and Massey Streets and formed what he called Madison Square, after then U.S. president James Madison. Coffeen even built a large wooden structure on the site to show the project's possibilities. The public did not respond to this opportunity, notably because of Madison Square's distance away from the village , and the presence of county buildings at the end of the square on Court Street, notably the jail and courthouse.
Coffeen, discouraged at the failure of the Madison Square venture, left Watertown in 1819 and settled in Illinois, where he later died.