Editor's note: Village Historian Pat Blackler gave this talk at a Living History in the Round event at the Skaneateles Historical Society on Tuesday Aug. 24. The title of the evening's meeting was "The Ghost of Morris's Past." A commemorative card with that same title was the genesis. It is an illustrated poem done in colored pencil by poet Mary Gardner and artist/designer Marian Settineri. At the end of Blackler's history, the poem was recited and then the crowd took turns getting up and telling stories about Morris's Grill.
A history of the site, building and the business that was called Morris's Grill:
I'm Pat Blackler, the village historian, and I am ashamed to tell you that I have lived here 45 years and I have only been into Morris's Grill once in my life. I am not speaking for my family, but only for me. So I'll quickly go to what I do best, and that is to give you a little history of the site, the building and the business that we call Morris's.
The land we stand on is a part of the Great Military Tract. The land that was given to revolutionary war soldiers, the ones who fought on the New York Line. New York had to raise many regiments for the war, and since New York had more land than money, land was promised to the soldiers as bounty as well as their pay. The Military Tract was surveyed into 600-acre parcels, one square mile, and awarded to the soldiers with their pay. #36 parcel contained the whole of the village of Skaneateles. The parcels were given out by lottery and John Symonds was the one who drew #36. He sold it to Charles Platt who in turn Jeremiah Sanger, who in turn divided it into lots.