Depauville is a hamlet (and census-designated place) located in the southern region of the Town of Clayton, which resides in Jefferson County, within the state of New York, one of fifty states that make up the United States of America. The population was at 577 people on the 2010 Census. Depauville is approximately 14.5 miles from Watertown.
In 1784, the Oneida clan of Native Americans ceded all territory to the State of New York except for a tract of land around 100 square miles known as Penet Square. Penet Square was a plot of land excluded from the Board of Land Commissioners under the Oneida treaty of 1784; the Oneida considered it as a gift to Pierre Penet. After Penet’s death, rights of land ownership were blurred and squatters occupied the territory as early as 1785. A squatter is a person who settles on land or occupies property without title, right, or payment of rent. Catfish Falls was a settlement at the head of the Chaumont River, named after the 25’ vertical waterfall within the settlement. The squatters that inhabited this area were often called ‘Catfish People,’ marking their settlement from the clearing of trees establishing its boundaries. In 1816, merchant Francis Depau purchased several lots in Penet Square including Catfish Falls, later renaming the settlement Depauville after himself.
Depauville during the early 1800s was a site of manufacturing; the settlement consisted of both a Grist and Saw Mill. Lumber was a profitable resource for this region. Depauville also produced limewater, nearly 1,000 barrels after two years of production, a first for the county. Around 1868 the Depauville Steamboat Company was established and produced side-wheel steamboats. The M.W.Wright was constructed in 1968, a steam powered vessel seventy feet from bow to stern and a width of 14 ft, weighing in at nearly 43 tons. The ship was large enough to bring arise concerns on the ships capability to navigate the shallow waters of the Chaumont River before reaching Lake Ontario.
Depauville’s first Fire District was created in 1932 and during the Great Depression housed a camp of the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC). The CCC established a headquarters consisting of ten camps at the Madison Barracks in Sackets Harbor. Depauville saw damage from a microburst on July 15 of 1995. In 1996, the Town of Clayton Fire District formed, bringing the Depauville Fire Department under the same umbrella with the Clayton Fire Department, although each retained its identity. Depauville in January 1998 witnessed one of the most destructive natural disasters that Jefferson County had ever endured, the Ice Storm of 1998, 36 hours of freezing rain left damaged homes and properties, impassable roadways and many people powerless and hungry for weeks.