George Washington Cowles.

Landmarks of Wayne County, New York online

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L, 918, 572 bushels spring wheat. 261,403 bushels potatoes, 509, 626 bush-
els-apples, 1,446,080 pounds butter, L63, 764 pounds cheese; and 13,065
yards domestic cloths.

The population of Wayne county by decades isas follows: 1800, 1,410;
1810, 6,575; 1820, 20,309; L830, 33,643; 1840, 42,057; 1850, 44,953;
1860, 47,762; L870, 17,710; L880, 51,700; and 1890, 49,729.


In 1855 the county had 226 blacksmiths, 205 shoemakers, 05 cabinet-
makers and dealers, .501 carpenters, 83 clergymen, 126 wagonmakers,
etc., 150 coopers, 6,494 farmers, 66 grocers, 4:5 tavern-keepers, 43 law-
yers, 44 machinists, 161 masons, etc., 180 merchants, 07 millers, 103
milliners, 83 painters, etc., 110 physicians, 14 printers, 85 harness mak-
ers, etc., 257 tailors, 45 tanners and curriers, 203 teachers, 4!) tinsmiths,
and 7 weavers.

In 1893 the 349,012 acres of land in the county were assessed at $13,
252,206; village and mill property, $0,121,401 ; value of railroads and
telegraphs, $4,010,470; personal property, value, $2,398,508; total as-
sessed value, $25,782, 230.

Schedule of taxes, 1893: town contingent funds, $32,009.33; town
poor funds, $12,798.48; roads and bridges, $6, 914. 42; special town tax-
es, $34,389.17; re-assessed on towns, $254. 53; audited by supervisors,
$4,015.73; reimburse county poor fund, $7,195.14; school taxes, $23,-
588.81; county tax, $50,438.93; state tax, $31,100.91; state insane tax,
$8,023.41. Total tax, $210,728.80; dog tax, $2,077.50.

The county has forty-five election districts, and at the general elec-
tion in 1893 polled 9,143 votes.

Wayne county is divided into two school commissioner districts, named
respectively First and Second. The First district comprises the towns
of Butler, Galen, Huron, Lyons, Rose, Savannah, Sodus, and Wolcott,
and the annual report of Everett O'Neill, school chmmissioner, for 1892
-93 gives the following; Districts with school houses, 114; teachers
employed during legal term, 170; whole number of children attending
school, 0,138; value school buildings and sites, $202,530; assessed val-
uation of districts, $13,300,408; public money received from the State,
$23,993.11; raised by local tax, $40,007.24; trees planted in 1893, 121.

The Second school commissioner district embraces the towns of Ar-
cadia, Macedon, Marion, Ontario, Palmyra, Walworth, and Williamson,
and from the report of M. C. Finley, commissioner, for 1892-93, is ob-
tained the following: Districts with school houses, 101; teachers em-
played during legal term, 132; whole number of children attending
school, 5,172; value of school buildings and sites, $153,040; assessed
valuation of districts, $12,003,000; public money received from the
State, $18,450.74; raised by local tax, $34,048.62; trees planted in 1893,


Civil List.

At the convention held in Albany in Oetober, 1801, to consider the
powers of the governor and of the Council of Appointments (which were
decided as equal) the number of vState senators was fixed at thirty-two
and assemblymen at one hundred. Members of this convention from
Onondaga, Ontario and Steuben were Messrs. Carpenter, Moses At-
water, and John Knox. A canal commissioner was appointed on April
17, 1810, from Lyons, Wayne county, in the person of Myron Holley.
The second constitution was adopted by an election held in February,
1822. Many changes were made and a large number of offices were
made elective. These measures were carried by a vote of 71,732, to
41,102. The constitution finally grew into disfavor, and a third consti-
tution was formed during the year 1810. The delegates to this conven-
tion from Wayne county were Ornon Archer and Horatio N. Taft.

By act act of April 17, 1822, Ontario, Seneca, Wayne, erected in 182:;,
and Yates, same date, were constituted the Twenty-sixth Congressional
District. By act of June 2!), 1832, Senecaand Wayne became the Twen-
ty-fifth District, changed to the Twenty-seventh by act of September 0,
1812. Cayuga and Wayne were made the Twenty-fifth District by act
of July 19, 1851, and Seneca was added by act of April 23, 1802, and
the three constituted the Twenty-fourth District. By act of April 13
L892, Wayne, Cayuga, Cortland, Ontario and Yates were made the
Twenty-eighth District. The following citizens of Wayne county have
been elected to Congress: Esbon Blackmar, 1818-19; Martin Butter-
field, 1859-01; George W. Cowles, 1809; John M. Holley, 1847-48;
John H. Camp, 1876.

The office of presidential elector has been held by the following res-
idents of Wayne county: Solomon W. John, appointed by the Legisla-
ture in 1824. John Beal, elected in 1828; Alanson M. Knapp, 1830;
Charles Bradish, 1810; Jonathan Boynton, 1814 ; Joseph W. Gates, IS is ;
William VanMarter, 1800; and George W. Knowles, 1870.

The State of New York was divided into eight senatorial districts,
and each entitled to four senators; term four years, one elected each
year. On April 11, L823, Wayne was annexed to the Seventh District,
which then included Cayuga, ( )nondaga, ( hitario, Seneca, Yates, Wayne,
and, in L836, Cortland counties. By an act passed April 30, 1892, Wayne,
Cayuga, Tompkins, Ontario and Yates were made the Twenty-sixth
Senatorial • District. Senators from Wayne have been By ram Green,


L823-24; Truman Hart, 1826-29; Thomas Armstrong, L830^37; Lyman
Sherwood, 1840-41; William Clark, 1854-55; Alexander B. Williams,
L858-61; Stephen K. Williams, 1864-69, Samuel C. Cuyler, 1846-47;
Thomas Robinson, 1884-85 ; Charles T. Saxton, 1889, the present sen-

Upon the organization of Wayne county it was entitled to two repre-
sentatives by appointment. The following' persons have held the office
from Wayne county from the respective dates given: 1824, James Dick-
son, Russell Whipple; 1825, Wm. H. Adams, Enoch Moore; 1820,
Thomas Armstrong, Jonathan Boynton; 1830, Luther Chapin, Seth
Eddy; 1831, A. Wells, Seth Eddy; 1832-33, James Humeston, A. Salis-
bury; 1834, James P. Bartle, Russell Whipple; 1835, E. Benjamin,
W. D. Wylie; 1836, Reuben H. Foster, Robert Alsop; 1837, David
Arne, jr., Pomeroy Tucker ; 1838, John M. Holley, Esbon Blackmar;
1839, T. Armstrong, A. Salisbury; 1840, Horace Morley, Durfee Os-
band; 1841, J. M. Halley, E. Blackmar; 1842, James M. Wilson, The-
ron R. Strons; 1843, Philip Sours, Fred U. Sheffield; 1844, Austin Roe,
Isaac R. Sanford; 1845, John J. Dickson, A. M. Knapp; 1846, James
T. Wisner, Elias Durfee; 1847, I. R. Southard, S. Moore; 1848, E.
Pettit, John Lapham; 1849, Isaac Leavenworth, Peter Boyce; 1850,
James M. Wilson, Elihu Dunfee; 1851, Ed. W. Bottom, T. G. Yeomans;
1852, William Dutton, T. G. Yeomans; 1853, B. H. Streeter, L. Whit-
comb; 1854, Willis G. Wade, John P. Bennett; 1856, Harlow Hyde,
Thomas Barnes; 1857, Thomas Johnson, Joseph Peacock; 1858, Ed-
ward W. Sentell, Charles Estes; 1859, Henry K. Graves, John A. Laing;
1860, James M. Servis, Abel J. Bixby; 1861, J. S. L'Amoreaux, J. W.
Corning; 1862, E. N. Thomas, Abram Payne; 1863-64, Thaddeus W.
Collins, Lemuel Durfee; 1865, Thaddeus W. Collins, W. H. Rogers;
1866, John Vandenburg, W. H. Rogers; 1867, John Vandenburg, Ornon
Archer; 1868, De Witt Parshall, Elijah M. K. Glenn; 1869, Merritt
Thornton, Elijah M. K. Glenn; 1870, Anson S. Wood, Amasa Hall;
1871, Anson S. Wood, Henry Durfee; 1872-73, Edward B. Wells, Lu-
cien T. Yeomans; 1874, Emory W. Gurnee, H. H. Clark; 1875, Will-
iam H. Clark, A. S Russell; 1876, Emory W. Gurnee, A. S. Russell;
1877, Jackson Valentine, Jeremiah Thistlethwaite ; 1878, Jackson Val-
entine, James H. Miller; 1879, John A. Munson, Jefferson Sherman;
1880, Alfred P. Crafts, Jefferson Sherman; 1881, Rowland Robinson,
Addison W. Gates; 1882, Oscar Weed, William E. Greenwood; 1883,
Oscar Weed, Lemon Hotchkiss; 1884, Ammon S. Farnum, Silas S.



Pierson; 1885, Amnion S. Farnum, Edwin K. Burnham ; 188(5, William
Wood, Barnet H. Davis; 1887-88, Charles T. Saxton, Barnet H. Davis;
L889, Charles T. Saxton, Richard P. Groat; 1890, John P. Bennett,
Richard P. Groat; 1801, Elliott B. Norris, Richard P. Groat; 1802,
George W. Brinkerhoff, Flynn Whitcomb. By the act of April 30,
1 <S'.r>, Wayne county was entitled to but one member of assembly. 1893,
; 1804, George S. Horton.

Prior to 1857 school commissioners were appointed by the Boards of
Supervisors; since then they have been elected by ballot. The first
election under the act was held in November, 1850. In Wayne county
the commissioners of the First District have been as follows : Mortimer
F. Sweeting, Thomas Robinson, Alonzo M. Winchester, John McGon-
egal, Joseph G. L. Roe, Sidney G. Cook, E. C. Delano, Everett O'Neill,
and Samuel Cosad. In the Second District : Albert S. Todd ; Myron
W. Reed, Jefferson Sherman, Ethel M. Allen, W. T. Goodnough, M.
C. Finley, and Freeman Pintler.

County Treasurers. — Bartlett R. Rogers, 1848; Philander P. Brad-
ish, 1851; John Adams, 1857; Smith A. Dewey, 1802, re-elected 1865,
and 1868; Wm. B. Stultz, 1871, and re-elected 1874 and 1877; L. F.
Taylor, appointed 1870; Dr. A. F. Sheldon, 1870, and re-elected 1882
and 1885; Volney H. Sweeting, 1888, present imcumbent.

Sheriffs during the colonial period were appointed annuall)' in Octo-
ber, unless otherwise noticed. Under the first constitution they were
appointed annually by the council of appointment, and no person could
hold the office more than four successive years. The sheriff could hold
no other office and must be a freeholder in the county to which appointed.
Since the constitution of 1821, sheriffs have been elected for a term of
three years, and are ineligible for election for the succeeding term.

The following persons have held the office of sheriff of Wayne county
from the respective dates given ; The elections have been held in No-
vember of each year. Reuben H. Foster, 1825; Cullen Foster, 1828;
Calvin D. Palmeter, 1831; Truman Heminway, 1834; Hiram Mann,
L837; vSimon V. W. Stout, 1840; John Borrowdale, 1843; George W.
Barnard, 1846; Chester A. Ward, 1840; George W. Paddock, 1852;
William P Nottingham, 1855; Adrastus Snedeker, 1858; John P. Ben-
nett, L861; Bartlett R. Rogers, 1864; John P. Bennett, 18(17; John N.
Brownell, 1870; Richard P. Groat, 1873; Thomas M. Clark, 187<i; Wil-
liam J. Glenn, 1870; Vernon R. Howell, 1882; Rossman J. Parshall,
lssf); Charles E. Reed, 1888; Geo. W. Knowles, 1890, appointed;
Walter Thornton, 1801; Chas. H. Ford, 1894, appointed.


In the comparatively brief period of a century — a period that is some-
times lived through by one person — what a transformation has been ef-
fected in the region of Western New York which embraces the county
of which this work treats ! The mind that is accustomed only to super-
ficial thought and observation, fails utterly to comprehend it. At the
one extreme of the period was a wilderness, untrodden by man other
than the red natives who are now fast disapearing from the face of the
earth. A wilderness of forest and stream and lake; thickly peopled. by
wild animals and feathered tribes. At the other extreme of the cen-
tury we look upon as fair a land as lies beneath the sun. Every evi-
dence of civilization greets the observer's eye. Surely the deeds of the
men and women who have wrought this marvelous transformation de-
serve to be enshrined on the pages of history.

Our forefathers did not begin their work under favorable conditions.
They had just passed through a long and harassing war, which was fol-
lowed by a period of stagnation of all kinds of business, leading to con-
tinued privation and suffering at many firesides. One observant writer
has said that " as a nation, or a people in the aggregate, ours was the
poorest that had ever entered upon the experience of separate and in-
dependent existence ; and the settlement of this region [Western New
York] commenced at the lowest point of depression. Those who had
homes in New England and elsewhere- -the means of comfortable sub-
sistence — generally chose to remain where they were, leaving it mostly
for those who were impelled to it by necessity to encounter the then
hard task of settling and improving the wilderness. No new region of
our entire country has been settled by a class of emigrants as poor, in
the aggregate, as were the pioneers of the Genesee country. The in-
stances of those who had enough to pay the expenses of immigration,
get possession of their lands, and make any considerable improvements,
were few; those who had enough to place themselves in their new
homes and purchase the necessaries of life, until they could produce
them, were not numerous; while the great bulk of the pioneers had
but little left when they had planted themselves in the forest and erected
their rude log cabins. The instances were not few of those who parted
with necessary raiment, with household furniture that could not easily
be spared — with things essential to their comfort — either to pay the ex-
penses of emigration, or to piece out the means of subsistence.

"Located in a widely extended forest, in sparse settlements, or in
solitar3 T or detached homes — the long and tedious journey of emigration


consummated, log huts erected, small openings made, and a rude and
primitive agriculture commenced — they had but just entered upon a
long series of difficulties and hindrances; disease and apprehensions of
Indian wars, came upon them in their years of extreme weakness; in
busy seasons when health and strength were most needed, whole house-
holds and neighborhoods were stricken down with agues and fevers,
and the services of households and neighborhoods that escaped would
be required to aid those less fortunate; then would come Indian alarms,
demonstrations of renewal of Indian hostilities which would render the
tenure by which they held their wilderness homes precarious — desertion
and flight, not an improbable necessity. These difficulties subsiding
and warded off, when lands that been cleared, soil that had been sub-
dued, began to yield a surplus, they had no markets; their wheat
moulded in the stack or in the bark-covered log barns ; or, when thrashed
and drawn over long and tedious wood roads, at a low price, could not
be exchanged for many of the most common necessaries of life. A
gleam of sunshine came, a better day dawned for a brief season, but
soon came the national exigencies of embargo and non-intercourse,
which bore especcially hard on all this region.

"When all these difficulties had been surmounted, to which should
have been added, at least, one unfruitful season, and consequent scar-
city of food for man, and hay and grain for stock, causing in many lo-
calities actual suffering — when the whole region of the Genesee country
had just begun to realize something of prosperity, war upon its imme-
diate borders, in its weak and exposed condition, came upon it — a local
calamity, the magnitude of which can now hardly be realized."



Comparison of State Law with the Common Law — Evolution of the Courts — The
Court of Appeals — The Supreme Court — The Court of Chancery — The County Court
— The Surrogate's Court — Justice's Court — District Attorneys — Sheriffs — Court
House — Judicial Officers — Personal Notes.

The statement is commonly expressed that the judicial system of
the State of New York is largely founded upon the common law of
England. While this is true to a great extent, there are important
differences revealed by a close study of the history of the laws of this
State, showing that our system is in many important respects an
original growth. In the simple, yet initiative matter of entitling a
criminal process for example, there is a radical difference between our
method and that which must be followed in England. Here it is " The
People Versus the Criminal; " there, " Rex versus the Criminal." In
the one it is an independent judiciary responsible directly to the
people ; in the other to the king.

This principle of the sovereignty of the people over our laws, as well
as their dominance in other respects, has had a slow, conservative, yet
steadily progressive and systematic growth. In the colonial history of
the State the governor was in effect the maker, interpreter and en-
forcer of the laws. He was the chief judge of the court of final resort,
while his councillors were generally his obedient followers. The execu-
tion of the English and Colonial statutes rested with him, as did also
the exercise of royal authority in the province ; and it was not until the
adoption of the first Constitution, in 1777, that he ceased to contend for
these prerogatives and to act as though the only functions of the court
and councillors were to do its bidding as servants and helpers, while
the Legislature should adopt only such laws as the executive should
suggest and approve. By the first Constitution the governor w r as
wholly stripped of the judicial power which he possessed under the
Colonial rule, and such power was vested in the lieutenant-governor
and the Senate, the chancellor and the justices of the Supreme Court;
the former to be elected by the people, and the latter to be appointed
by the council. Under this Constitution there was the first radical


separation of the judicial and the legislative powers, and the advance-
ment of the judiciary to the position of a co-ordinate department of the
government, and subject to the limitation consequent upon the ap-
pointment of its members by the council.

But even this restriction was soon felt to be incompatible, though it
was not until the adoption of the Constitution of 1840 that the last con-
nection between the purely political and the judicial parts of the State
government was abolished; and with it disappeared the last remaining
relic of the colonial period as regards the laws. From this time on the
judiciary became more directly representative of the people in the
election by them of its members. The development of the idea of the
responsibility of the courts to the people, from the time when all its
members were at the beck and nod of one well-nigh irresponsible
master, to the time when all judges, even of the court of last resort,
are voted for by the people, has been remarkable. Yet, through all
this change there has prevailed the idea of one ultimate tribunal from
whose decision there can be no appeal.

Noting briefly the present arrangement and powers of the courts of
this State and the elements from which they have grown, we see that
the whole scheme is involved in the idea of, first, a trial before a magis-
trate and jury — arbiters respectively of law and fact — and then a review
by a higher tribunal of the facts and law, and ultimately of the law by
a court of last resort. To accomplish the purposes of this scheme
there has been devised and established, first, the present Court of
Appeals, the ultimate tribunal of the State, perfected in its present
form by the Conventions of 1807 and 1868, and ratified by a vote of the
people in 1809; and taking the place of the old "Court for the trial of
impeachment and correction of errors" to the extent of correcting
errors of law. As first organized under the Constitution of 1846, the
Court of Appeals was composed of eight judges, four of whom were
elected by the people and the remainder chosen from the justices of
the Supreme Court having the shortest time to serve. As organized
in 1861), and now existing, the court consists of the chief judge and six
associates judges, who hold office for a term of fourteen years from and
including the first day of January after their election. This court is
continually in session at the capitol in Albany, except as it takes recess
from time to time on its own motion. It has full power to correct or
reverse the decisions of all inferior courts when properly before it for
review. Five judges constitute a quorum, and four must concur to


render judgment. If four do not agree the case must be reargued;
hut no more than two rehearings can be had, and if then four judges
do not concur, the judgment of the court below stands affirmed. The
Legislature has provided by statute how and when proceedings and
decisions of inferior tribunals may be reviewed in the Court of Appeals,
and may in its discretion alter or amend the same. Upon the reor-
ganization of the court in 1869 its work was far in arrears, and the law
commoniy known as the " Judiciary Act " provided for a commission
of appeals to aid the Court of Appeals. And still more recently, in
1888, the Legislature passed a concurrent resolution that section 6
of article 6 of the Constitution be amended so that upon the certificate
of the Court of Appeals to the governor of such an accumulation of
causes on the calendar of the Court of Appeals that the public interests
required a more speedy disposition thereof, the governor may desig-
nate seven justices of the Supreme Court to act as associate judges, for
the time being, of the Court of Appeals, and to form a second division
of that court, and to be dissolved by the governor when the necessity
for their services ceased to exist. This amendment was submitted to
the people of the State at the general election of that year and was
ratified, and in accordance therewith the governor selected seven
Supreme Court justices, who were constituted the Second Division of
the Court of Appeals.

Second to the Court of Appeals in rank and jurisdiction stands the
Supreme Court, which, as it now exists, is made up of many and widely
different elements, it was originally created by act of the Colonial
Legislature May 6, 1691, and finally by ordinance of the governor and
council May 15, 1699, and empowered to try all issues to the same ex-
tent as the English Courts of King's Bench, Common Pleas and Exche-
quer, except in the exercise of equity powers. It had jurisdiction in
actions involving $100 and over, and to revise and correct the decisions
of inferior courts. An appeal lay from it to the governor and council.
The judges — at first there were five of them — annually made a circuit
of the counties, under a commission naming them, issued by the gov-
ernor, and giving them Nisi Prius, Oyer and Terminer, and jail de-
livery powers. Under the first Constitution the court was reorganized,
the judges being then named by the council of appointment. All pro-
ceedings were directed to be entitled in the name of the people instead
of that of the king.


By the Constitution of 1821 many and important changes were made
in the character and methods of this court. The judges were reduced
in number to three and appointed by the governor, with the consent of
the Senate, to hold office during good behavior, or until sixty years of
age. They were removable by the Legislature when two-thirds of the
Assembly and a majority of the Senate so voted. Four times each
year the full court sat in review of their decisions upon questions of
law. By the Constitution of 1840 the Supreme Court, as it then ex-
isted, was abolished, and a new court of the same name, and having
general jurisdiction in law and equity, was established in its place.
This court was divided into General Terms, Circuits, Special Terms,
and Oyer and Terminer. Its members were composed of thirty-three
justices, to be elected by the people, and to reside, five in the first and
four in each of the other seven judicial districts into which the State
was divided. By the judiciary act of 1847 General Terms were to be
held at least once in each year in counties having more than forty
thousand inhabitants, and in other counties at least once in two years;
and at least two Special Terms and two Circuit Courts were to be held
yearly in each county except Hamilton. By this act the court
was authorized to name the times and places of holding its terms, and
those of Oyer and Terminer; the latter being a part of the Circuit
Court and held by the justice, the county judge and two justices of
sessions. Since 1882 the Oyer and Terminer has consisted of a single
justice of the Supreme Court.

It is proper at this point to describe one of the old courts, the powers
of which have been vested in the Supreme Court. We refer to the
Chancery Court, an heirloom of the Colonial period, which had its
origin in the Court of Assizes, the latter being invested with equity
powers under the duke's laws. The court was established in 1G83, and
the governor or such person as he should appoint, assisted by the coun-

Online LibraryGeorge Washington CowlesLandmarks of Wayne County, New York → online text (page 11 of 107)