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Articles & Local History > From “History of Port Henry New York” by Dr. C.B.Warner and C. Eleanor Hall

Submitted by Connie Essig

From “History of Port Henry New York”

by Dr. C.B.Warner and C. Eleanor Hall 1931

The Tuttle Company Rutland, Vermont The man whose name is associated with almost everything in the early history of this town and village was William McKenzie, whose father Alexander, and two uncles were in the English army at Crown Point under General Amherst, and received grants of two hundred acres of land, all of which eventually came into William’s possession. One hundred acres of this land was situated at what has always been known as McKenzie City, in the southern part of the village. The first house, built in May, 1784, still stands. Here McKenzie, with his wife and one child lived, the only inhabitants of this wilderness, surrounded by hostile Indians, bears and wolves, until 1788, when Mr. Walker came with his family.

Facilities For Travel

The first pilgrims to Journey to Port Henry either walked, rode horseback, or paddled themselves in canoes. The first public means of conveyance was naturally by water and a ferry was established in 1785 by William McKenzie, between his part of the woods and Vermont.


The existing interest in political affairs in this village dates from April 26, 1803, when the first election was held at William McKenzie’s. Sixty-seven ballots were cast. The election lasted for three days. William McKenzie was the first Justice of peace, and also the first supervisor. Alexander McKenzie was elected constable and collector in 1809. The first town meeting was held the first Tuesday in April, 1808.

Alexander McKenzie was elected constable and collector in 1809; he was also supervisor in 1829.

In 1818, it was voted to raise by tax, the sum of five dollars to build public stocks, and Alexander McKenzie was appointed a committee of one to superintend their construction, but for some reason they were never built.

The Early Militia – War of 1812

As the summer of 1814 progressed, the tension grew. A fleet was under construction at Vergennes. Rumors became more persistant, and the invasion became a reality. The “masse” militia was called out on August 31.

 From McKenzie City, four McKenzies were enrolled in Captain Alexander McKenzies’s Company, Alexander, the first native Port Henry man, William, Robert and John. During the battle of Plattsburgh, Captain McKenzie’s company held an advanced position near Chazy, where they captured several men and horses.

After the war. The militia continued to flourish. A commission of William McKenzie, Jr., dated March 14, 1817, shows that he was appointed Cornet (a Commissioned officer below a second lieutenant) of a troop of 7th Cavalry. Evidently the long march to Plattsburg had been conducive to the organization of a cavalry unit.

Notes 2. William McKenzie, Known as “Old Squire McKenzie,” was born in Scotland in 1759, and died in Port Henry April 18, 1815. He emigrated to Canada where he Married Deborah Towner (1766-1848) at St. Johns, Quebec. From whence, they with their daughter Ann in 1784 sailed up Lake Champlain to the McKenzie Patent. Family tradition says that William McKenzie’s father, Alexander, had remained at Crown Point since the French and Indian War and after he established his son in McKenzie City, he returned to Scotland..There were 10 childred; Ann (1783-1816), who was sometimes called Nancy and who married George H Andrews; Alexander (1785-1873), who was the first white child born in the township; Thomas(1805-1843); Ithiel (1801-1826) William Jr., (1790-1841), who was the father of Milton McKenzie; Hiram who was the father of George T. McKenzie; Crosbie; Robert; John; and Sarah who married into the Havens family and became the mother of Alexander and Martha Havens. 3. The McKenzie landing was at the back of the old McKenzie house in McKenzie City. The Deleware and Hudson R.R. roadbed passes over this spot. When the house was built in 1785, it faced the lakeshore. This fact is substantiated by the dormer windows towards the east and a more elaborate entrance on that side of the house.

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