Area History

History Lesson

The Town of Clay was originally a part of the Town of Cicero. On April 16, 1827 the western portion of Cicero became the Town of Clay.

Prior to that time the first white settler, Patrick McGee, in the town had taken up residence in what is known as Three River Point. Three River Point is located in the north western corner of the town where the Oneida River, The Seneca River, and Oswego River.

This area had often been used by the great councils of the Iroquois Confederacy, and here the great chiefs addressed the braves of the Hurons, Adirondacks and Abenaquis. The French and English met with the Chiefs, orators and diplomats, equal to themselves to discuss the pertinent issues of the day.

Patrick McGee first saw Three River Point in 1780 as a prisoner of the British. He said that he selected the site while tied to a tree during the Revolutionary War. They had stopped there to camp on the way to Canada. He was charmed by the beauty of the area and was determined to return.

After the war he came back to the place he remembered and built a log cabin in 1793. He spent the rest of his life and was buried on the spot.By 1810 when DeWitt Clinton passed through the area looking for the best location for the proposed canal there was a house that served meals and provided lodging.


In 1815 Mary Eno had a store and hotel that supplied traveler for years. Both camping and permanent residents settled in the area and in 1852 a post office was established with Joseph Warren Williams named as the first Post Master.

Fred Barnum established Barnum's Hotel in 1889 which became a popular attractions for people from all over Central New York. People came by all modes of transportation including boat, horse and carriage, train and for ten cents fare, they could make a round trip on board the steamer "Bessie Lang" between Phoenix and Three Rivers.

After many owners and changes to the building's use and prohibition and the depression the building became the "Three Rivers Inn". With "Dom" Bruno as the manager it became the popular entertainment center, which featured well-known artists of stage, screen and radio fame. On December 19th, 1973, the Three Rivers Inn burned.

Since that time little activity has been happening in the Three River Point area. The Town of Clay gained access to the property and is currently planning to develop it for more park and recreation area along the point.

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