Thomas Henry Scott

Posted on February 2, 2017

REMEMBERING CLAY

Thomas Henry Scott

One of the largest landowners and farmers in our area, Thomas Henry Scott was born August 2, 1835 in Clay to Stewart and Catherine (Vanderwerken) Scott and was baptized May 15, 1836 at Immanuel Lutheran Church. Stewart had moved to Clay from Albany about 1830 and was a highly educated man engaged in constant study, with an extensive library of books. His father, Hugh Scott (Thomas’s grandfather) was an immigrant from Londonberry (Derry) Ireland. He was a Protestant of Scotch-Irish descent and came to America to have greater religious freedom. When Thomas’s father, Stewart, passed away in 1850, he was only 15 years old. Thomas inherited most of his father’s modest estate, after provisions were made for his mother and sister, Catherine Maria, who was born January 15, 1838 and baptized on June 11. One stipulation in Stewart’s will was that Thomas was required to provide horses and carriages for his mother so that she could attend church services and he was to accompany her to church as often as possible. At the age of 26, Thomas enlisted on July 28, 1862 at Syracuse to serve three years in the Civil War. He served in Company B, 122nd NY Volunteer Infantry Regiment. He mustered in as a private on August 1. His appearance was described as: light hair, light eyes, light complexion and height of 5 ft. 4 in. tall. During the battle of Culp’s Hill at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania on July 3, 1863, he was wounded. In a letter written home on June 8, 1864, he detailed his job as a sharp shooter (sniper), a job he normally would not have wanted, but he was willing to do to avenge the death of his fallen comrades. On July 1, 1864, he was promoted to sergeant and on July 12 at the battle of Fort Stevens, he was wounded again (a slight contusion of the right elbow). He was promoted to first sergeant January 14, 1865 and on May 11, he was commissioned as second lieutenant. On June 23, 1865, he mustered out in Washington, D. C. Returning home to Clay, he married Harriet Webb in 1866. The couple had at least five children: Stewart, Laura, Edwin, Thomas H., Jr. and Hawley. By 1874, he owned 75 acres at his homestead at 8702 Henry Clay Boulevard north of Pine Plains Cemetery. He was the Supervisor of a group called the “Principal Farmers, Manufacturers and Merchants” of the Town of Clay section. The census of 1875 shows he owned a farm of 84 acres producing/raising winter wheat, oats, winter rye, apples, grapes, cattle, milk, butter, horse, pigs and poultry, The farm was worth $6,000 cash. Onondaga County records show that he was Onondaga County Clerk 1876-1877. He was one of the founding members of the Onondaga County Agricultural Society and was chosen Vice-President for the Town of Clay on February 9, 1878. By the census of 1880, he owned several farms in Clay and Cicero occupying 619 acres. The value of the farms was estimated at $27,950, not including animals, produce or tools/farm implements. It is felt that the massive expansion of Thomas Scott’s real estate empire in the 1870’s may have been the result of the Long Depression of 1873-1879, which forced many farmers out of business. He may have snatched up small farms at low prices. On page 82 of WELCOME TO CLAY published by the Clay Historical Association in 1978, there is a line drawing of his farm on Henry Clay Blvd. Although it is not known what happened to all his holdings from 1880, the main part of the homestead is still standing. Thomas passed away in 1903 and is buried in Pine Plains Cemetery.

Dorothy Heller, Historian

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