Grindstone Island, formerly known as Gore Island, was the residence of the Algonquin Indians around the 1600’s. After the Iroquois Indian invasion around 1660, the Algonquin Indians were defeated. The Iroquois controlled the Island for almost a half-century. In 1709, the French explorers, led by Champlain, joined the Algonquin Indians and briefly defeated the Iroquois. However, in the period from 1754 to 1763, the English and the Iroquois regained control. Once the American colonies gained their independence, the Iroquois were punished for their cooperation with the English.
During the 1700’s the Senaca’s were in control of the island and leased much of the land to timber companies who sold the lumber to the English. A brief disturbance, called the “Grindstone Island War,” was a dispute where the American militia attempted to prevent the removal of this timber.
In 1818, the Islands of Grindstone, Wellesley, along with adjoining islands, became part of New York State. They were patented to Elisha Camp of Sackets Harbor in 1823. Individual deeds to the island were dispersed and settlers came and cleared the land on Grindstone. Some of the new settlers to the Island were Tories, such as the Basses, Marshalls, Murdocks, and Cummings. Others were English, such as the Kendalls, Johnsons, Howes, Slates, Chases, Garnseys, and Kittles. There were other nationalities as well, such as the Spanish Rushos and the Irish Hutchinsons, Robinsons, and Blacks.
It is said that the first settlers to the Island was Amariel Howe in 1802, followed by the Marshall’s and the Johnson’s.
The first school was established on the Island about 1840. It was built near the center of the Island and was owned by the Cumming’s. It was the first school in the Town of Clayton. Even children from Washington Island attended this school.