George Washington Cowles.

Landmarks of Wayne County, New York online

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out. The first officers were: Joseph Watson, president; Benjamin H.
Streeter, secretary; Matthew Mackie, treasurer; Jacob T. Van Buskirk,
librarian. Owing to the determined opposition of the early officers to
horse racing, the organization passed through a period of decline, and
on December 27, 1856, the last board of officers of the old association
was elected as follows: Maynard Dayton, president; E. D. Kellog, A.
Snedaker, E. Ringer, S. J. Lape, P. T. Chamberlain, vice-presidents;
George W. Cowles, secretary ; Thomas Plumtree, treasurer. Just prior
to this date a new interest had been awakened in the annual fairs and
prosperity seemed about to dawn. Having no legal existence, the of-
ficers and members met March 14, 1857, and dissolved the old associa-
tion, immediately reorganizing as the Galen Agricultural Society, which
was duly incorporated. The following officers were chosen : Maynard
Dayton, president; Matthew Mackie, vice-president; George W. Cowles,
secretary; Thomas Plumtree, treasurer. From this time until 1888. in-
clusive, the society held fairs and had exhibitions of trotting horses in
the park established by William H. Saunders, where commodious build-


ings had been erected. January 21, 1888, the name was changed to the
Eastern Wayne Agricultural Society, with William S. Hunt, president;
L. N. Snow, vice-president; E. W. Sherman, secretary; and Frank
Backman, treasurer. The exhibition of 1889 was held at Wolcott, and
soon afterward the society disbanded.

The Newark Fair Association was organized at Newark in 1891, with
these officers: J. Dupha Reeves, president; C. E. Leggett, treasurer;
C. H. Perkins, secretary. Successful fairs were held for three years.
In 1894 the association disbanded and the property passed to another

The Sodus Agricultural Society was organized August 16, 1878, with
the following as the first officers : H. C. Weaver, president; H. B. Pulver,
vice-president; L. H. Clark, secretary; W. J. Filkins, treasurer; E.
Rogers, general superintendent; R. F. Norn's, J. Vosburgh, J. A.
Boyd, Milton Proseus, John Hopp, Orville Carpenter, directors. Grounds
owned by Lorenzo Whitney, on which he had constructed a half-mile
track, were leased by the society, and successful fairs have been regu-
larly held since the first organization. The successive presidents of this
society have been as follows: Harvey C. Weaver, 1879-81; M. Tinkle-
paugh, 1882-84; C. A. Whitbeck, 1883; John A. Boyd, 1885-86; M.
Tinklepaugh, 1887-93; C. R. Sprong, 1888-90; C. A. Whitbeck, 1891-
93. The officers for 1894 are as follows: M. Tinklepaugh, president;
E. B. Whitbeck, vice-president; W. J. Toor, secretary; A. J. Maxon,
treasurer; D. L. Weaver, general superintendent; H. M. Barnes, M.J.
Seymour, M. Tinklepaugh, John A. Sargent, John Gulick, William
Tinklepaugh, directors.

The Marion Horse Trotters' Association was organized August 1,
L890, its name indicating its objects. Officers: T. M. Clark, president;
J. C. Rich, secretary; A. P. Williams, treasurer. A tract of land, one-
half mile north of Marion village, was leased of B. D. Davis for five
years, and a half-mile track constructed. The Executive Committee
consists <>f A. P. Williams, J. B. Malcolm, F. C. Rich, T. M. Clark, and
J. C. Rich.

County Poor House. — The buildings of the Wayne county poor-house
are situated upon the county farm, which lies some two miles west of
the village of Lyons. The farm contains 190 acres, the greater part of
which is tillable. The buildings consist of a main part (sixty by eighty
I and two stories above the basement; a wooden structure connects
with the 'same, in size twenty by forty feet; there is a wood, a wash,


and other out-buildings; there is also in the same inclosure an asylum
for lunatics, built of brick (twenty-six by fifty-four feet), and one story
high. A project is now (1894) on foot for the erection of a hospital
building. Rooms are kept clean and well ventilated. James T. Wisner
was superintendent a number of years, and made many improvements.
Annually the supervisors visit the farm on a tour of inspection.


Palnryra, including Macedon, originally formed a part of the district
of Tolland in the County of Ontario; this district was organized in a
primitive manner in January, 1780, being contemporary with the great
district of Sodus on the north and west. Macedon was set off January
29, 1823, and upon the organization of Wayne county on April 11, of
that year, the town of Palmyra comprised its present area of 19,430
acres. It includes township 12, second range, of the Pultney estate.
It is bounded on the north by Marion, on the east by Arcadia, on the
south by Ontario county, and on the west by Macedon, and lies in the
southwest part of Wayne county.

The surface is broken into hills and valleys, which trend generally
north and south. The soil is a calcareous loam, with marl on the creek
bottoms, and drift, sand, and gravel on the highlands. Ganargwa
(Mud) Creek, the principal stream, flows easterly through the town,
and affords some good mill sites; in earlier days it was utilized for
navigation. Its main tributaries are Red Creeks, one joining it at
Palmyra village, and the other a little east of East Palmyra. The soil
is well adapted to agricultural purposes, and throughout the town are
found many excellent farms. It was originally covered with heavy
timber, which long afforded employment for several saw mills. These
dense forests have long since given place to fertile fields, productive
orchards, and pleasant homes. The inhabitants, some of whom are
descended from the original settlers, ably maintain the thrifty principles
implanted by the sturdy pioneers, who opened the way for commercial
progress and personal enjoyment. Wheat raising, once the chief agri-


cultural production, has been suspended by a system of mixed farming;
for many years considerable attention has been devoted to fruit grow-
ing, especially to apples. Here the famous Osband pear originated.
Of late years the production of peppermint has been profitably carried

The first highway was what is now Canandaigua street, leading south-
ward from Palmyra village; it was opened about 1703, and for many
years was maintained as a plank road. An extension of this thorough-
fare was the old Sodus road, which ran north and northeast to Sodus
Point, and which was opened in 1704 by Captain Charles Williamson,
who paid $757 for its construction. In 1703 a road was surveyed from
Deacon Foster's house, westwardly, by the houses of Joel Foster, Wil-
liam Wilison, Weaver Osband, Gideon Durfee, and Swift's Ash Works,
to Webb Harwood's. In the old book of records appears this notice
under date of June 6, 1706: "A division of the highways in the district
of' Tolland in County of Ontario are as follows:" and the record pro-
ceeds to describe twelve road districts; William Rogers and Reuben
Town, highway commissioners, and Jonathan Edwards, town clerk. In
1707 another division was made. In 1805 the town had 15 road districts;
1807, 18; 1810, 23; 1816, 32. A part of the present road from Palmyra
to Pultneyville was surveyed June 13, 1<^20, by Isaac Durfee and Luman
Harrison, highway commissioners, "with the poor old town compass."
Canandaigua street, above mentioned, was resurveyed in 1810, and
October 8, L828, was again surveyed, this time five rods wide, to Man-
chester, Ontario county; it then became a State road, and at this time
George Crane, Alva Hendee, and Joshua Downer were commissioners
of highways. The town now has 47 road districts.

January L6, L799, "Mud Creek" (Ganargwa Creek) was officially de-
clared a navigable stream from the west line of road district 12, second
range, to mouth of same (creek), by Benjamin Wells and John Swift,
"superintendents of highways."

The completion of the Erie Canal through the town in L825 imparted
a new impetus to local settlement and commercial prosperity, and the
advent of the New York Central Railroad in 1853, with stations at Pal-
myra and East Palmyra, added another improvement. The West Shore
Railroad, with a station at Palmyra village, was opened in 1884. These
thoroughfares afford unsurpassed transportation facilities.

Tlic town was primitively known by the name of Swift, tor John Swift,
the first settler, but it was soon changed to Tolland, or the District of



Tolland, which remained the designation until January 4-, ll'.iii, when,
at a meeting held for the purpose, the historic name of Palmyra was de-
cided upon, in this wise: Daniel Sawyer, brother of Mrs. Swift, was en-
gaged to Miss Dosha Boughton, the first school teacher, and had been
reading ancient history ; and as Palmyra of old had a Zenobia he thought
it proper his future wife should have a Palmyra, so the name was adopted
without dissent.

The first town meeting was held at the house of Gideon Durfee in
April, 1796, more than eight years after the District of Tolland was
formed. The first officers elected were: John Swift, " moderator, in-
spector, and supervisor;" Jonathan Edwards, town clerk: Festus Gold-
smith, Jonathan Warner, Humphrey Sherman, assessors; William Por-
ter, collector; Noah Porter and Thomas Goldsmith, overseers of the poor;
JaredComstock, Reuben Town, William Rogers, commissioners of high-
ways; James Bradish, and James Reeves, constables; James Reeves,
John Hurlbut, Joel Foster, Luther Sanford, David Warner, Benjamin
Wood, Abner Hill, Cyrus Parker, Thomas Hamilton, Henry Lovell,
Nerman Merry, Nathan Harris, Jacob Gannett, pathmasters; David
Warner, John Hurlbut, Elias Reeves, f ence viewers ; Isaac Kelly, pound-
master. Joel Foster bid off the first earmark and Jonah Howell the
second ; forty-nine persons paid for earmarks at this meeting. A bounty
of $5 was voted on wolves and two cents each on " crows, squirrels,
woodpeckers, and blackbirds." It was voted that a pound be erected
"near Daniel Sawyer's old house."

The following list of those who had " earmarks " for stock recorded
embraces nearly all of the heads of families in the District of Tolland
in 1796;

James Reeves,
Lemuel Spear,
William Porter,
Israel Delano,
Timothy Conant,
Festus Goldsmith,
William Jackway,
John Crandall,
Pardon Wilcox,
Henry Lovetell,
Reuben Town,
Benjamin Luce,
Luther Sanford,
Alexander Rowley,

David Warner,
Isaac Howell,
John Russell,
David Culver,
Gideon Durfee, jr. ,
Reuben Town,
John Gibson,
Noah Porter,
Oliver Clark,
Thomas Goldsmith,
Joseph Bradish,
John Hulburt,
Benjamin Clark,
Benjamin Woods,

Joel W. Foster,
David H. Foster,
John Swift,
Nathan Reeves,
Gideon Durfee,
Humphrey Sherman,
Job Durfee,
Moses Culver,
Elias Reeves,
Thomas Rogers,
Edward Durfee,
Bennett Bates,
Darius Comstock,
Nathan Harriss,



Elisha San ford.
Jonah Howell,

Jonathan Warner,
Joel Foster,

Robert Hinds.

The supervisors of Palmyra have been as follows:

John Swift, 1796,
Jonah Howell, 1797-98,
John Swift, 1799-02,
Nathan Comstoek, 1803,
John Swift, 1804-06,
William Rogers, 1807-08,
Pardon Durfee, 1809-14,
David White, 1815-20,
James White, 1821-22,
William Rogers, 1823,
Stephen Sherman, 1N2 4,
Frederick Smith, 1825,
Stephen Sherman,- 1826,
Frederick Smith, 1827-28,
Ambrose Salisbury, 1829-31,
Frederick Smith, 1832-34,
Ambrose Salisbury, 1835.37,
George W. Cuyler, 1838-39,
James Hubbell, 1840-41,
Ambrose Salisbury, 1842,
Samuel Cole, 1843,
Samuel E. Hudson, 1844,
Pomeroy Tucker, 1845,

William Beal, 1846,
Augustus Elmendorf, 1S47-48
Thomas W. Gurney, 1849,
Augustus Elmendorf, 1850,
Pomeroy Tucker, 1851-52,
Abraham I. Carle, 1853,
Philip Palmer, 1854,
Charles E. Thurber. 1855,
A. P. Crandall, 1856-58,
William H. Bowman, 1859,
William B. Crandall, I860,
Henry S. Flower, 1861-65,
Charles I. Ferrin, 1866,
Charles D. Johnson, 1867-70.
William Foster, 1871,
Henry P. Knowles, 1872-73,
Robert Johnson, 1874,
Geoi'ge Harrison, 1875-79,
Henry M. Clark, 1880-81,
Nelson Reeves, 1882-84,
Henry R. Durfeee, 1885-88,
James O. Clark, 1889-92.
William W. Edgerton, 1898-94,

The town officers for 1894 are: W. W. Edgerton, supervisor; Alex-
ander P. Milne, town clerk; Charles P. Winslow, Charles H. Chapman,
Jones L. Warner, assessors; Charles H. Brown, overseer of the poor;
Sylvester Selleck, collector; Salem W. Sweezey, highway commissioner;
E. H. Clark, Joseph J. Rogers, James P. Tuttle, Mark C. Finley, jus-
tices of the peace. The first record of incumbents of the latter office
appears in 1805, when William Rogers and Pardon Durfee became jus-

In 17(52 a colony of 200 settlers located in the beautiful valley of
Wyoming in Northeast Pennsylvania; in 1774 their number had in-
creased to about 2,000. Conflicting claims led to the Pennamite war,
and several of the settlers, forming a company, decided to emigrate.
They chose John Swift and John Jenkins their agents to select and buy
new lands. Jenkins had previously been a surveyor for the Phelps and
Gorham purchase, and with Mr. Swift he came to Canandaigua, where
they contracted for township twelve, second range (the present town of

(2f. C/V. <2fczwLy,m


Palmyra). Mr. Jenkins at once began the survey of farm lots along
the Ganargwa (Mud Creek) ; he built a cabin about two miles below
Palmyra village, which sheltered his surveying party, consisting of Solo-
mon Earle, Alpheus Harris, Daniel Ranson, and a Mr. Barker. Early
one morning, while asleep, they were attacked by a party of Tuscarora
Indians, who fired through the unchinked logs of their cabin. Barker
was killed and Earle was wounded ; the others put the assailants to
flight, and at daylight buried Barker. They immediately went to
Geneva, gave the alarm, pursued the savages, and captured two on the
Chemung; one was executed under "committee law" with a hatchet,
but the other escaped; Earle recovered and became the pioneer ferry-
man on the Seneca outlet.

This incident caused the abandonment of the Pennsylvania move-
ment. John Swift went to New England, where he labored to induce
emigration, and in September, 1790, established his family in a bark-
covered log house just north of the lower end of Main street in Palmyra
village. This was the first permanent white settlement in the present
town, and his location was long known as Swift's landing. His wife
was a typical pioneer woman, and had more than one encounter with
the dusky Indians. He was a very prominent man in the pioneer set-
tlement, being supervisor in all eight years, and holding several other
positions of trust. In 1810 he built the first grist mill in town opposite
the old Harrison mill, and at his cabin, as captain, held the first militia
training; there also the first church in Palmyra and the third west of
Onondaga county was organized. He also gave lots for the first school
house, the first burial place, and the first church in Palmyra village.
His son, Asa Swift, was the first white male child born in town. Mr.
Swift became brevet general in the war of 1812, and at Queenston
Heights led a force against Fort George, where he captured a picket-
post and about sixty men. " An oversight permitted the prisoners to
retain their arms," and one of them asking, " Who is General Swift? "
he replied: "/am General Swift!" Instantly a fatal shot mortally
wounded the gallant man; he was taken to the nearest house and died,
and was buried July 12, 1814. Afterwards the citizens of Palmyra re-
moved his remains to the old cemetery, and the Legislature, as an ac-
knowledgment of his patriotism and services, presented a sword to his
eldest son, and ordered a full length portrait of the general hung in the
City Hall in New York.


Webb Harwood, who came from Adams, Mass., with his wife, in the
fall of L789, settled just over the line inMacedon; with him came Jona-
than Warner, Noah Porter, and Bennett Bates, three single men. David
White moved in with his family in 1790; he died soon afterward, and
his was the first funeral in this. town. Of those who settled soon after
were James Galloway, sr., John Hurlburt, Nathan Parshall, William
Jaekway, Barney Horton, Jonathan Millett, and Mrs. Tiffany. Lemuel
Spear had purchased land of Isaac Hathaway, a mile west of Palmyra
village, for twenty-five cents an acre, and moved his family of eleven
children hither in February, 1791, bringing two yoke of oxen, some
cows, and a few sheep. He was a Revolutionary soldier, and came
from Massachusetts. He died in 1809, and his last surviving children
were Ebenezer, Abraham, and Stephen. Ebenezer Spear burned for
Gen. Othniel Taylor, of Canandaigua, the first limekiln west of Seneca
Lake. The first corn carried to mill from this town was by Noah Por-
ter in 1790, who made the trip to Jerusalem, Yates county. Mr. Por-
ter erected the first frame barn in Palmyra, and Lemuel Spear the

In 1790 Gideon and Edward Durfee came on foot from Tiverton, R. I.,
to the Genesee country and purchased 1,600 acres of John Swift, paying
for the same in coin. Swift had been unable to meet his payments to
Phelps and Gorham, but this deal enabled him to secure a warranty
deed of the town. Gideon Durfee moved the entire family to Palmyra
in 1791, and settled on their tract, long known as Durfee street, below
the village. With them came Isaac Springer, and the three men built
a log house and planted six acres of corn ; they also planted apple seeds,
from which grew the old Durfee orchard — the first cultivated apples
raised in Palmyra. Pardon Durfee subsequently planted some pear
seeds, which produced a seedling that he gave to his brother-in-law,
Weaver Osband; the latter brought it into bearing, and in this way
originated the famous Osband pear. Pardon, Stephen, and Job Durfee
were brothers of Gideon, and became settlers soon after 1791, as did
also the father, Gideon, sr. , and a sister, Ruth. The latter married
Captain William Wilcox, which was the first marriage in the town; she
died November 13, 1858. Lemuel Durfee came here in 1794. Gideon
Durfee, jr., had eleven children and numerous grandchildren. Stephen
Durfee, in raising his frame house in 181 1, inaugurated the first prac-
tical temperance movement in Palmyra.


Gideon Durfee opened as a tavern his log house, which stood on the
site of the subsequent residence of George H. Townsend, and Louis
Philippe, afterwards king of France, is said to have stopped with him
while on a visit to this country in 1796. Pardon Durfee established a
rope-walk, and continued it until his death, April 28, 1828. Job Durfee
purchased 375 acres of land, March 7, 1792, and died in town in 1813.
His son, Job, built a stone house on his farm on the Marion road about
1860, and died soon afterward.

In 1794 a block house was erected to protect the settlers in case of
hostilities with the Indians; in stood under the brow of " Wintergreen

Following the Durfees from Rhode Island came Weaver Osband,
William, James, and Thomas Rogers, Zebulon Williams, Isaac and
Festus Goldsmith, and Humphrey Sherman. The Rogers brothers
came in 1792. William was a judge of Ontario county, a magistrate,
and a member of the Legislature. Himself a widower, he married the
widow of his brother James, and died in 1836. A daughter became the
wife of Noah Porter. A son, William, was an early packetmaster on
the Erie Canal. Thomas Rogers, son of James and the father of
David, assisted in surveying the town.

David Wilcox, from Rhode Island, came with his wife and two chil-
dren in April, 1791 ; his daughter, Mary (Mrs. Alvah Hendee), born
June 29, 1791, was the first white child born in Palmyra. Nathan
Harris, father of Martin Harris, the Mormon, was a noted hunter and
fisherman. His wife was Rhoda, and in 1793 they moved from Rhode
Island to this town. February 3, 1794, he purchased of John Swift 600
acres of land at fifty cents an acre. He was familiarly known as
"Trout Harris."

Humphrey Sherman married Mary, eldest daughter of Gideon
Durfee, sr. , December 2, 1761. He purchased of John Swift for
eighteen cents per acre a tract of 1,000 acres, lying south of the creek
and bordering Arcadia. With his brother David Mr. Sherman began
clearing, and in 1793 built a log house and sowed ten acres of wheat.
In September, 1794, the family, consisting of eight children (including
Alexander, the father of Durfee A. Sherman), moved to their new
home. Humphrey Sherman built a blacksmith shop, and an ashery in
1794, a distillery in 1795, and a large brick building in 1801, which he
opened as a tavern. His wife died in 1794, and her burial was the first
at East Palmyra. The Sherman tract was sold in various parcels,


about as follows: Gideon Durfee, 200 acres, who sold to Israel Perry;
James Finney, 100 acres; Ashur Doolittle, a tract on the northwest;
Lnke Mason, south of Doolittle; and the remainder was divided between
the sons Gideon, Stephen, Alexander, Samuel, and Jacob. Ashur
Doolittle built and operated quite a large tannery for that period.

On lot 71 a Mr. Seeleyhad a small distillery; the land passed to P. D.
Fellows. Lot 70 was occupied by Joshua Zeny, then by B. J. Jordan,
and later by Peter Whitbeck; on lot 65, afterward the Hudson farm,
lived John Patrick; George P. Stever owned lot 69, and sold to P. D.
Zeller, who was succeeded by his son. Other residents in the neighbor-
hood were: Alexander Forcett, Charles Curtis, B. Franklin, and Thomas
and A. T. Goldsmith. James Galloway, sr., purchased 100 acres south
of the creek, paying for the same with a sow and litter of pigs ; this
tract passed to his son, James, jr. A large tract in the south part of the
town was owned by the Rogers family, and west of them lived E. Cornell
and Thomas Galloway.

The Long Island colony was perhaps the most important body of
settlers to take up their residence in Palmyra. A company consisting
of eleven persons was formed at Southampton, L. I., in 1788, and in the
spring of 1700 they sent their agents, Elias Reeves and Joel Foster, to
purchase a suitable location. These men visited Pittsburg, Pa., where
they were joined by Luke Foster, and the three went on to Fort Wash-
ington (now Cincinnati, O. ). There they bought land on the Turkey
bottoms, and leaving Luke Foster to build a log house returned to re-
port their success. Arriving home they found William Hopkins (uncle
to Elias Reeves and a son of Hon. Stephen Hopkins, a signer of the
Declaration of Independence) and Abraham Foster on a visit from New
Jersey. William Hopkins, who had been informed of the Genesee
country, induced the colon}" to relinquish their Ohio lands and seek a
location in Ontario county.

Accordingly Reeves and Hopkins were sent to Western New York,
and Joel and Abraham Foster and Luther Sanford were detailed to ex-
plore Northern Pennsylvania. The former left Long Island on the 20th
of August, 1791, and arriving in what is now Palmyra cut their names
upon some trees as a pre-emption mark. They soon joined the other
party at Lindleytown (now Corning), where the following compact was
drawn and signed :

This instrument of writing witnesseth, that William Hopkins, of the State of New
Jersey, Elias Reeves, Joel Foster, Abraham Foster, and Luther Sanford, all of the


State of New York, do agree and bind themselves severally, each to the other, under
the penalty of fifty pounds, to abide by and make good any purchase of land, which
Elias Reeves and Abraham Foster shall make of Oliver Phelps, esq., or. any other
person, within twenty days from the date hereof. The proportion of the land which
each of us shall have is to be concluded among ourselves hereafter. In witness of all
of which we have hereunto set our hands and seals, in Ontario county, State of New-
York, this ninth day of September, in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hun-
dred and ninety-one.

William Hopkins,
Elias Reeves,
Joel Foster,
Abraham Foster,
Luther Sanford.

A contract was made with Oliver Phelps in September, 1791, for
5,500 acres for 1,100 pounds New York currency; 100 pounds were paid
down. John Swift was unable to meet his payments, the title was in
doubt, and the purchase was made directly of Phelps & Gorham ;
Durfee's arrival, previously noted, enabled Swift to pay for his tract,
and in 1792 the Long- Island company took their deed from him. This
is the second recorded deed of East Palmyra land, the first being that
for the 600 acres south of the creek, sold and deeded to Gideon Durfee,