Col. Elisha Camp was born in 1786. He married Sophia Hale in 1811. He graduated from Columbia college in 1804 with high honors. After school, he studied law, the same profession his brother-in-law Augustus Sacket (founder of Sackets Harbor, New York) was in.
He traveled to Jefferson County, New York and bought land there. He also owned all of the land on the American side of the Thousand Islands.
In 1804, after graduating law school, Camp moved to Sackets Harbor and was said to be one of the most noted men in the North Country. He held many titles such as postmaster, newspaper owner, state district attorney, militia officer, editor, lawyer, banker, politician and landowner. Camp’s interest lay with what might benefit Sackets Harbor and the North Country like local mills, shipping on Lake Ontario, land and water transportation (promotion of roads, a canal, railroads).
In the summer of 1812, the United States declared war on Great Britain and Elisha camp a well respected citizen, called together a band of militia men and they offered their services in defense of the village of Sackets harbor. This was known as the First Battle of Sackets Harbor.
July 19, 1812 started off with five British ships spotted attempting to enter the harbor. Through the strength and effort of the entire fort, including Camp’s men, the British were barred from the harbor and the first engagement of the war in the U.S. territory was a victory and went into the history books as such.
Aside from the man known as Elisha Camp, there are what is known as The Elisha Camp Papers, which detail many aspects of the development of Sackets Harbor and the surrounding area. Some of the information in these papers shows agreements in 1816, between the heirs of Sackets Harbor residents giving steamboat privileges on Sackets Harbor. The heirs were: R.L. Livingston, E.P. Livingston, Robert Fulton, Charles Smith, Joseph C. Yates, James C. Duane and David Boyd.
There are also items in the papers relating to the Lake Ontario Steamship Company, Articles of Association between Elisha Camp, Butterfield, and Kendall for the Sackets Harbor Steam and Ferry Boat Company. There is more information related to the construction, machine maintenance and labor costs of the steamboat Sophia and the list of passengers and freight for the first four trips.
Other papers were related to different ships such as the steamboats Ontario, Sir William Wallace, and Telegraph; the schooners George N. Walker, William S. Maloon, Baltic and the brig Col. E. Camp.
Come 1819, Elisha Camp led the demonstration for a canal to connect Black River with Lake Ontario at Sackets Harbor. In these papers, are the complaints by settlers, farmers and rival interests over flooding of land and roads due to water surplus. Due to these negative results, the canal project was unsuccessful.
There are mentions in the Camp Papers about the development as such institutions as the Sackets Harbor and Ellisburg railroad, proposed railroad between Sackets Harbor and Saratoga railroad, Union Academy at Belleville, Sackets Harbor Bank, Jefferson County Bank, the Watertown and Rome railroad, Jefferson County Agricultural Society and churches and local governments.
There is more to the Elisha Camp Papers but more information can only be found in a local library such as the Roswell P. Flower Memorial Library in Watertown, New York.
For more information on the Elisha Camp Papers contact the Flower Memorial Library at:
Roswell P. Flower Memorial Library
229 Washington Street
Watertown, New York 13601
Tel. (315) 785-7705
Fax. (315) 788-2584