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Joppa at Oneida Lake

For many years as a tour guide and doing research on the Oneida Community for genealogy purposes I’ve often heard about Joppa.  Where was Joppa and how was the name Joppa chosen. I knew that there was a Joppa in the Bible but how did that acquaint with the Oneida community. Over the years many people told me that it was located at Lewis Point. I knew this couldn’t be because in many of the journals that I’ve researched the people talked about a sandy beach and one is not found at Lewis Point.

Joppa area Oneida LakeI was told that there was a painting of Joppa at the Vienna town hall.  It was painted in 1877 by a J. F. Frazier from Utica. I went and looked at it and it is a picture of a shoreline sandy beach and trees.  Using a great deal of imagination you might think that there was a camp there.

Sewell Newhouse,  a Oneida Community member was a trapper over on the Oneida Lake and he’d made many friends. The Spencer family owned the majority of the land we now know as Sylvan Beach.  In the 1870’s this area was all woods. Community members would often go down to Oneida Lake for fishing during the year. They discussed the possibility of having a camp at the lake. Newhouse representing the community struck up a deal with the Spencer family and he obtained a 99 year lease for the property. The lease is recorded in the Oneida County records of property transaction book 339,  page 46. This lays out the area where the Community built their camp.   It is now where the Canal View Restaurant sits.

This lease was drawn up September 19, 1873. One of the interesting statements specifies that the second party is not to carry on or let to carry on any liquor traffic on said premises.   This lease was signed by Ruben Spencer, Amy Spencer, Lyman Spencer and Mary Spencer. Sewell Newhouse signed on behalf of the Oneida Community

The Community built a 16” x 24′ two-story building that consisted of two rooms downstairs and one up. The community had several discussions regarding naming this place and offered for anyone with a suggestion to put a name in the box. Stated in the Oneida Circular on December 23, 1872 page 413 Joppa was suggested. We like the name because it was short unique and scriptural; and no sooner had we appropriated it that Augustine found from the books, that the word Joppa signifies coldly, pleasant, so that seems we had unwittingly made another good day at. A reference to Robinson’s Calmat gives following items of interest concerning Joppa.

Joppa lying on the South Eastern Mediterranean coast is one of the most ancient seaports in the world. It was in Joppa, while residing at the house of Simeon the tanner, Peter was taught during a vision not to despise the Gentiles, and it was here that he performed the miracle of raising Tabitha. Many believed that this is where Noah lived and built the ark.

The retreat house was right on the beach 10 feet from the water and was about 1 mile from Fish Creek station.

Community members would leave the community on the 10 o’clock train and they would arrive at the lake within an hour and would remain the lake until the next day taking the train home at night.   On July 14th there were some girls who wanted to do an experiment of walking all the way back to the Oneida community which was 12 miles. They started at Fish Creek station at 10 o’clock and they arrived at the Community around 4:30 stopping at a small farmhouse for an hour and a half during a thunderstorm.  They experienced very little fatigue, but had an excellent appetite for supper.

It was mentioned that in September 1873 that they had a snug little kitchen “handy as a pocket in an apron”.   Many people who came to the camp were surprised at the disorder.  The way things were in the house, many of the people who came to the retreat liked the idea of roughing it.

In November 1873 they built an ice house 16 feet square.  Lately they took 4 feet off from one end so they could have a woodshed and coal bin.

Sewell Newhouse built a rowboat to be used at the lake.

In December 1873 they constructed a small fisherman house to be used at Joppa. It was placed on runners so it could be pushed on the ice ad libitum. It is to contain a small camp stove and the “Canadian Trapper” says to have hot coffee can be served if the sportsman can make it compatible with “roughing it”.

The groups numbered 6 to 8 people and would stay for a week.  Others would come for the day and go back to the Community at night. This was the first building on the eastern end of Oneida the lake.

Below is a list of the Oneida Community Circulars and the pages where information can be found about the experiences of the community members at Joppa.

These are for anyone interested in doing more research.   There are several articles about Sewell Newhouse teaching young boys about wildlife on the lake. Teaching how to use tip ups while ice fishing.  Several references were made to the many Bald Eagles on the lake at that time.

Oneida Circular                 Dec 23, 1872                       page 413

Oneida Circular                 Jan 6, 1873                         page 16

Oneida Circular                 April 21, 1873                     page  389 – 390

Oneida Circular                 May 5, 1873                        page 150

Oneida Circular                 May 19, 1873                      page 165

Oneida Circular                July 21, 1873                        page 236

Oneida Circular               July 28, 1873                        page 244

Oneida Circular                 Aug 4, 1873                         page 253

Oneida Circular                Aug 11, 1873                         pages 261 – 262

Oneida Circular               Aug 18, 1873                          page 266 – 267

Oneida Circular                 Aug 18, 1873                        page 269

Oneida Circular                 Aug 25, 1873                        page 273

Oneida Circular                 Aug 25, 1873                        page 278

Oneida Circular               Sept 15, 1873                          page 301

Oneida Circular               Sept 22, 1873                         page 309

Oneida Circular               Nov  1873                                page 357

Oneida Circular               Nov 10, 1873                          page 365

Oneida Circular               Nov 17, 1873                           page 373

Oneida Circular               Dec 8, 1873                            page 396

Oneida Circular                Dec 15, 1873                          page 405

Oneida Circular                Dec 22, 1873                         pages 413 – 414

Oneida Circular                 Sept 7, 1874                         page 29

Oneida Circular                 Nov 2, 1874                          page 357

Oneida Circular                 Nov 8, 1874

Oneida Circular                 Nov 9, 1874                         page 365

Oneida Circular                 Dec 14, 1874                       page 405

Oneida Circular                 March 22, 1875                  page 93

Oneida Circular                 Nov 10, 1875

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