From History of Niagara County 1821-1878 (1878):
James Sweeney located first in Buffalo in 1811. As one of the proprietors in the original purchase of the land upon which the village of North Tonawanda has been erected, he located on it in 1828, and built the first frame dwelling. The clearing of the land was commenced for the purpose of furnishing timber for the Buffalo pier, and to prepare the way for the sale of village lots. He pursued a liberal policy in advancing his individual interests, or those of others whom he sought to interest in becoming citizens. The lots for the first Methodist church, built in 1837, and the first school-house, were donated by him. Not alone in these generous public benefits was he conspicuous as a citizen. As the advance of landed property added to his means, his benefactions increased, and he aided worthy objects wherever aid was needed. He worked earnestly to extend the benefits of local schools, manifesting the interest he felt by furnishing books and often clothing to destitute children, placing them in a condition to be benefitted by them. Leaving to posterity the legacy of a respectable name as a valuable citizen and man of integrity, he died January 13th, 1850, aged 57. His son John, who died in the midst of a career of business enterprises, managed the building of the first railroad depot, and was the first, and for several years the station manager at this point. He caused the first dock to be built on the creek, next to the bridge, afterwards extending it 250 feet along the bank of the creek in the direction of the river; employing Elijah V. Day to supply the foundations and planking. He built the first and only grist-mill, which was afterwards destroyed by fire. Colonel John Sweeney built a saw-mill on the dam at the present position of the waste gates, the only one existing in this section of the country.