George Washington Cowles.

Landmarks of Wayne County, New York online

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1829. This town derives its appellation from Lake Ontario, which
forms its northern boundary; Williamson lies on the east, Walworth on
the south, and Monroe county on the west. It contains an area of
19,171 acres.

Excellent drainage is afforded by Bear, Deer, and Davis Creeks,
which flow northerly into the lake. The surface is generally level,
with a slight inclination northward; through the south part of the town
extends the famous ridge, to the north of which the soil is a clay loam ;
on the south it is largely a gravelly loam and muck. The chief in-
dustry is farming. Wheat, oats, barley and fruit are grown in abun-
dance. Considerable attention is given to raspberries and apples, and
there are a number of well equipped evaporators scattered throughont
the town.

In 1810 Noah Fuller, while hunting, found two salt springs, which
he secured by title and sold to Stimson & Schanks, who commenced
manufacturing salt the same year. They continued the business five
or six years, but it proved unprofitable and they abandoned it.

In 1811 a Mr. Knickerbocker, in digging a well near the center of
the town, discovered the first bed of iron ore here in the form of red
oxide. Extending east and west, it had an average width of half a
mile and a depth of from six to forty inches. Little notice was taken
of Knickerbocker's discovery until four or five years later, when
Samuel Smith, one of Walworth's pioneers, constructed a forge near


the furnace dam and began manufacturing iron at the rate of 400
pounds per day. Soon afterward two more forges were erected. In
L825 Henry S. Gilbert built the first furnace on the site of the one re-
cently abandoned at Furnaceville. Its capacity was three or four tons
daily, and the iron was drawn to Rochester. In 1840 the Clinton Iron
Company erected another furnace of six or seven tons capacity on the
property subsequently owned by Joseph La Frois. This was carried
on until 1867, when the plant was burned.

In February, 1870, the Ontario Iron Company was organized with
these officers: James Brackett, president; Isaac Palmer, vice-president;
W. H. Bowman, secretary and treasurer; the latter was succeeded by
John H. White in 1873, and two years later William H. Averill became
secretary, and Isaac S. Averill treasurer. A large furnace, containing
two blast ovens and two blooming tubes, was erected in 1870 at Fur-
naceville, the site of Gilbert's pioneer establishment, and the first iron
was manufactured October 10. The capacity was twenty tons of No. 1
iron per clay, and, including the miners, from 100 to -200 men were
employed. A switch connected the furnace with the R., W. & O. Rail-
road at Ontario village, and upon it a locomotive and several cars were
placed by the company. About $200,000 were expended in the enter-
prise, and several ore beds were opened and worked. The business
eventually declined, and in 1887 the works were permanently aban-
doned. The old stone walls, the railroad, the adjacent ore beds and
heaps of iron refuse are the only evidences left of one of the largest
manufacturing establishments ever founded in Wayne county.

The town was originally covered with heavy timber; portions of the
surface were marshy and conducive to the creation and spread of mias-
matic diseases, which troubled the early settlers for many years. Suf-
fering from all the hardships and privations incident to a new country,
it is not surprising that many of them became discouraged, but if they
did history fails to record the fact. The pioneers braved the perils of
frontier life witli commendable heroism, and established for succeeding
generations comfortable homes, thriving villages, nourishing churches,
and excellent schools. The fruits of their labors, seen on every hand,
attest their Sterling characteristics and exalted ideas of civilization.

The Lake Ontario Shore Railroad (now the R., \Y. & ().) was con-
structed through the town and opened in is 1 ; I, for which bonds were
voted to theamountof $85,000 on December 24, L870, when Lorenzo R.
Boyington, Ilezekiah Hill, and Alonzo \V. Casey were appointed rail-


road commissioners. In May, 1871, $5, <)<)(> <>l stock of said railroad was
subscribed for at par, and in September following $51,000 in bonds
were issued, the balance of $34,000 being issued about September,
1.873. December 4, 1893, the net indebtedness of the town was esti-
mated at $50,517.21. The opening of the road imparted a new impetus
to this section. Prior to its construction transportation and communica-
tion were carried on by teams or by water from Pultneyville.

It is impossible to ascertain any information concerning the earliest
town meetings as the records prior to 1878 are destroyed. The first
town meeting after Walworth was set off was held at Ashville Culver's
tavern in Ontario village in April, 1830, and among the officers chosen
were the following : Henry S. Gilbert, supervisor; John Stolph, town
clerk: Joseph Patterson and Ashville Culver, magistrates; Daniel In-
man, collector; Alonzo Peckham, constable. The supervisors since
1878 have been :

Stephen N. Maine, 1878-82. Russell Johnson, 1889-91.

Francis A. Hill, 1883-88. Freeman Pintler, 1892-93.

Charles J. Nash was elected town clerk in 1879 and has served con-
tinuously to the present time. The Board of Health was organized
April 20, 1882. The officers for 1894 are E. D. Willits, supervisor;
Charles J. Nash, town clerk; Walter L. Cone, Chauncey C. Norton,
Harvey Jones, assessors; George H. Brown, Russell Johnson, Oscar
C. Palmer, Horatio Waldo, justices of the peace; William Jamieson,
collector; Charles Fewster, highway commissioner; Charles Gurney,
overseer of the poor.

The first settler in Ontario was Freeman Hopkins, who came from
Rhode Island and located on the lake shore in 1806. Being a Quaker,
and consequently deprecating warfare, he returned with his family to
the east upon the beginning of hostilities with the British in 1812, but
came again to this town in 1818. He built the first saw -mill, and be-
coming blind in old age he drowned himself in a cistern. The birth of
his daughter Melissa on May 7, 1806, was the first in Ontario.

In 1807 Peter Thatcher settled with his family in the north part of
the town in a log cabin which he had caused to be built the )^ear be-
fore. He came in a one-horse wagon from Oneida county, and was the
pioneer blacksmith in Ontario, building a log shop near his home in
1811. Daniel Inman came here from Connecticut in 1807 and pur-
chased 400 acres where Ontario village now stands. He erected his log



dwelling on the site of the old steam mill. In L810 lie built the first
tavern and at an early day put up a saw mill. He was the first post-
master and collector in town, and a prominent and influential man for
many years. With his son Joseph, he finally went west. The same
year James Lavens, also from Connecticut, purchased 99^ acres of lot
76 for $298.50 and settled his family upon it. His daughter was Mrs.
Joseph W. Gates.

In L808 Jonas Davis located on the farm which finally passed to his
nephew, Munson Davis. About the same time came Noah Fuller from
Massachusetts, Major Inglesby, from Connecticut, and Messrs. Fifer and
Kilburn. The latter died in Webster and Fifer in this town. Major
Inglesby was a Revolutionary soldier, and eventually moved west.
Elder Wilkins came from Massachusetts with a large family and settled
near the lake shore. He died soon afterward and the family removed.

From this date to 1810 few settlers arrived. In the latter year Isaac
Simmons came in from Connecticut, and in 1815 built a tavern, which he
kept a few years, when he moved to Monroe county. Amos, Amasa, and
Levi Thayer removed from Rhode Island and located on the ridge in
the west part of the town, but they soon went to Palmyra and engaged
in merchandising. Willard Church (on the lake shore), John Case, and
David Jennings settled in Ontario about the same time.

In 1811 Zebedee Hodges came in; he was the father of Zebedee J.
and Isaac Z. Hodges and Mrs. Jesse Hurley. The same year Dr. Will-
iam Greenwood, the pioneer physician, located at Ontario village and
practiced until his death in 1829. Milton Worster, who had settled in
Macedon in 1810, came here in 1811 and began the manufacture of axes
in a log shop, an occupation he followed in Ontario village many years.
Alfred Town located on the Peter Freer farm and died here. losiah
Goodman, a Vermonter, removed hither from Oneida county with his
son Alanson, then fifteen years of age. William Billings and Nathaniel
Grant were pioneers in the west and center parts of the town respect-
ively; the latter died here and the former in Webster. The death of
Harriet Kilburn occurred in 1811, and was the first in town.

William Middleton removed from New Jersey to Montgomery
county, N. V., and thence to Ontario. In 1S10 he purchased 300 acres
of land on the lake shore for $3 per acre, and settled his family thereon
in L812. He was the first hatter in town and prosecuted the business
t twenty years. His son Joseph succeeded to the paternal home-
stead. John Stolph, the first clerk of the present township, became a


settler the same year; he finally removed to Illinois. Nathan Ilalloek,
the first tailor, resided near the lake shore until his death. George
Sawyer came from Connecticut and located on the Ridge road west of
Ontario Center, whence he moved eighteen years later to Michigan.

The war of 1812 checked the tide of immigration and few settlers ar-
rived until that conflict subsided. In 1813 George Putnam, the father of
Mrs. Chauncey Smith, located in the northwest corner of the town and
Burton Simmons and Jared Putnam near the Monroe county line. The
three were from Connecticut. Among others who came in about this
time were Samuel Sabin, John Edmonds, Lewis Janes, and Abraham

In 1815 Ezekiel Alcott settled in town and commenced the manu-
facture of pearlash. He was a man of considerable enterprise and in-
fluence. The following year Ashviile Culver and Isaac Gates came to
Ontario. The former was an early tavern keeper and one of the first
magistrates of the present town. Mr. Gates had eighteen children, all
but four of whom accompanied him hither from Chenango county. In
1817 Joseph W. Gates, a son of Isaac, made a visit here and in 1818
settled permanently. He taught school winters, was married in 1820,
and purchased an article of Stephen Sabin for fifty acres of land at $5
per acre.

Hezekiah Hill was born in 1811, in Walworth, where his parents
had settled in 1800, and where his father died in 1815. He early
taught school, held several town offices, married a daughter of Samuel
Strickland, and moved to Ontario village in 1848. He laid out the site
into village lots and sold them. He was a very prominent man and
always highly respected.

Other early settlers were Gardner Robb, Samul Gilbert, Henry Barn-
hart, Henry S. Gilbert, a Mr. Knickerbocker, Alonzo Peckham, Messrs.
Stimson & Schanks, Alanson* Goodnow, Joseph Middleton, Cyrus
Thatcher, Reynolds K. Northrup, Israc Pratt and Jonathan Chandler.
Nathan K. Pound came here in March, 1835, and held various town

Prominent among subsequent settlers and present residents of On-
tario may be mentioned the names of:

Freeman Pintler, Alanson Warner, Charles Pease.

A. W. Casey, D. L. Reed, Aldrich Thayer, and

G. W. Crandall, O. F. Whitney, Joseph W. Gates, two

Dr. F. M. Ellsworth, Dr. L. D. Rhodes, of the oldest citizens.


W. E. Clark, E. Rood, jr., Melvin B. Gates,

X. A. Pitts, B. B. Weeks, E. D. Willits,

B. W. Gates, M. A. Risley, J. C. Howk,

F. A. Hill, J. A. Stokes, Alexander Sands,

P.H.Norton, N. C. Richmond, G.P.Norton,

B.J, Hopkins, Edson Smith, Charles J. Nash,

J. B. Pratt, Flynn Whitcomb (ex- R. A. Woodhams,

member of Assembly,)

And many others noticed a little farther on and in Part II. of this

The first grist mill in town was erected about 1825 by Henry Barn-
hart, on the farm subsequently owned by Henry Brewer. It has long
been discontinued for milling purposes. In an old warehouse in the
northeast corner of Ontario, an early, and probably the first, store was
opened in 1830 by Henry S. Gilbert, who closed out at the end of two

The first school house was a log structure erected about 1816 on the
lake road, on the farm latterly owned by Abraham Albright. It was
finally demolished and a stone building put up near by ; the latter in turn
gave place to a brick school house. In 1820 a school building was
erected on the Daniel Eldridge place in which Lucy Chandler taught
the first three terms. In 1835 the structure was torn down. In June,
L894, districts 5 and 6, comprising the villages of Ontario and Ontario
Center, were united to form a union free school district, and the sum
of $8,000 was voted for the erection of a suitable school house near the
old dividing line. It is expected to have the building in readiness for
the fall term of school.

The town has fourteen districts, with a school house in each, taught
during the year L892— 3 by sixteen teachers and attended by 069 scholars;
value of buildings and sites, $11,450; assessed valuation of districts,
sl. 1 76,000; public money received from the State, $2,057.82; raised by
local tax, $3, 146.49.

No town in Wayne county, in proportion to the size, can show a bet-
ter record in the war of the rebellion than Ontario. During that
sanguinary struggle a total of L90 brave and heroic citizens went out
from within her borders to fight the nation's battles. Many of them
met untimely deaths on Southern fields, or in Rebel prisons; a few
were promoted to commissioned officers. The veterans who remain to
tell the thrilling story of that conflict are steadily joining their comrades
gon< and on each Memorial day the survivors and the dead are

tenderly remembered by a grateful country.


In 1858 the town had 13,887 acres improved land, real estate assessed
at $464,509, personal property valued at $72,588, 1,222 male and L,10J
female inhabitants, 451 dwellings, 466 families, 371 freeholders, 1 1
school districts, 1,319 school children, 886 horses, 1,201 oxen and
calves, 923 cows, 4,020 sheep and 1,286 swine. There were produced
that year 9,510 bushels winter and 83,610 bushels spring- wheat, 2,686
tons hay, 15,272 bushels potatoes, 17,431 bushels apples, 86,375 pounds
butter, 17,400 pounds cheese, and 1,669 yards domestic cloths.

In 1890 the population was 6,211, or 351 less than in 1880. In 1893
the assessed value of land aggregated $754,832 (equalized $686,561);
village and mill property, $183,143 (equalized $176,153); railroads and
telegraphs, $86,482; personal property, $72,400. Schedule for taxes
for 1893: Contingent fund, $1,476.36; town poor fund, $300; roads and
bridges, $200; special town tax, $3,789.34; school tax, $934.68; county
tax, $2,236.34; State tax, $1,232.34; State insane tax, $317.92; dog-
tax, $121.50. Total tax levy, $11,173.10; rate per cent., .01018646.
The town has two election districts, and in 1893 polled 475 votes.

Ontario Village is situated in the southwest part of the town
about a mile east of Ontario Center. It lies on the ridge road, running
east and west, and is a station and post-office on the south side of the
R., W. & O. Railroad. The site was originally settled in 1807 b) T
Daniel Inman, who built a saw mill and tavern as previously noted.

Ashville Culver erected a second public house in 1827, and Gardner
Robb subsequently put up a third hostelry on the site of the present
hotel. In 1828 the village contained two taverns, one blacksmith shop,
a saw mill, and about ten houses. Robert Horton in 1854 erected and
kept the first store, which was finally destroyed by fire. In 1873 the
Ontario Sun, afterward changed to the Lake Shore Independent, was
started, and after a brief existence discontinued publication. The ad-
vent of the railroad gave new impetus to the village, and since then it
has developed rapidly and steadily. Its broad streets are lined with
commodious business houses and attractive dwellings. June 21, 1885,
the hotel and other buildings were burned, entailing a loss of $30,000,
but upon its site a new and better hostelry was at once erected.

A foundry and agricultural implement manufactory was started a
number of years ago by George Parnell, sr. , who continued it until his
death, when the business passed to his son, George, jr.

The village of Ontario now consists of four general stores, a drug-
store, one furniture and undertaking establishment, one hardware


store, a meat market, harness shop, two blacksmith shops, an hotel and
livery, one clothing and shoe shore, one jeweler, four milliners, a
bakery, one variety store, a shoe shop, one lumber and coal yard, two
produce dealers, a foundry, an agricultural implement dealer, three
physicians, three ehurches, a district school, and about 600 inhabitants.
The present postmaster is H. E. Van Derveer.

( >NTARio Center is a post village on the Ridge road a little south of
the center of the town and about one mile west of Ontario. It lies
south of the R. , W. & O. Railroad, the station being nearly midway
between the two villages. Reynolds K. Northrup built a tavern on the
site of the present hotel in 1830; this was finally removed and a portion
converted into a hardware store. Another hotel was erected in which
the Masons held their meetings until its destruction by fire. Soon af-
terward the lodge was moved at midnight to Ontario village, where it
is still continued. The old hotel burned in 1886, under the proprietor-
ship of E. A. Booth, who also built and keeps the present one. Foote
& Northrup erected a store on the southwest corner about 1830, and
in it business was conducted until it was burned in 1844. The village
now contains three general stores, a hardware store, one drug store, an
hotel and livery, harness shop, blacksmith shop, a carriage repository,
one church, a district school, one physician, and about 300 inhabitants.
The postmaster is John Freeh.

Furnaceville, situated in the eastern part of the town, derives its
name from the blast furnace that was operated there almost contin-
uously from 1825 to L887. It owes its existence to that establishment,
and for fifteen years following 1870 was a very busy hamlet. In is;:;
the post-office was established with L. J. Bundy as postmaster. Since
the furnace was abandoned the place has lost nearly all its former pres-
tige, and consists now of merely a store and post-office and a number of
dwellings. The postmaster is Arthur L. Fries.

Fruitland (Lakeside station) is a post-office on the R., W. & O.
Railroad, about two miles west of Ontario Center. The postmaster is
1). J. Fitzgerald.

Lakeside is a postal hamlet two and one-half miles north of Fruit-
land. The postmistress is .Mrs. W. G. Willard.

hes. — The Baptist Church of Ontario was organized July 3,
lsi ;, with Jonathan Chandler and Abraham Foster as deacons and Rev.
George B. Davis as first pastor. In 18o4 a church edifice was built at
Ontario Center; it was repaired in L849 and used as a house of worship


until 1884, when the society moved to Ontario village. The old build-
ing" is now owned and occupied by Charles J. Nash as a storehouse and
carriage repository ; for a few years the elections were held in it. In
1884 the society purchased the old Advent Church in Ontario village,
repaired it, and have since used it as a place of worship. There are
about 100 members and a Sunday school of which S. S. Russell is
superintendent. Among- the pastors succeeding Rev. Mr. Davis were
Revs. James Davis, Kinney, James Going, Draper (sixteen years), Sam-
uel Culver, Willam Corbin, Orin Munger, and others. The present
pastor is Rev. Lazarus Golden, who was installed in April, 1891.

The First Wesleyan Methodist Church of Ontario was organized by
Rev. George Pegler in March, 1857, with these members: William and
Mary Pye, John and Elizabeth Clark, John and Elizabeth Pye, Robert
Norgate, Henry Alton, Thomas Barnsdale, Thomas and Ann Smith,
George Smith, Aaron W. Graham, Francis Eaton, Matilda Cooper,
Seth Easton, Sarah and Eliza King, O. B. and Caroline Turner, and
William Brandish. The first trustees were John Clark, O. B. Turner,
and Seth Easton, and the first class leader was William Pye. In 1865
their present frame edifice was built in Ontario village, and was dedi-
cated May 15, 1869, by Rev. Adam Crooks. The Sunday school was
organized with the church with John Cooper as superintendent. The
church was remodeled a few years since and connected with it is a
frame parsonage. There are about 100 members under the pastoral
care of Rev. F. J. Wilson. The superintendent of the Sunday school
is Flynn Whitcomb.

St. Mary's of the Lake Roman Catholic church of Ontario was or-
ganized by Rev. P. C. McGrath in August, 1869, with about forty
families. In 1870 the present edifice was erected in Ontario village,
and is valued at $4,000. Rev. Father McGrath became the first pastor,
and remained in that capacity many years. The present incumbent is
Rev. Joseph Maguin, of Webster.

The Free Advent Christian church was legally, organized by Revs.
R. C. Brown and James E. Wells, December 23, 1874, with the follow-
ing members : Levi L. Allen, James Woodhams, Willard T. Bishop,
Sarah Briggs, Roxa Decker, Amelia E. Decker, John Freeh, Rebecca
Hutson, Melvin and Melvina A. Howe, Sylvester Howe, Mrs. George
Near, Charles and Helen Prentiss, Laura Truax, George Wilson, and
Jacob Wemesfelder. The first trustees were William Birdsall, Heze-
kiah Hill, and Willard T. Bishop. The first pastor was Rev. James


E. Wells. In 1875 a frame church was creeled, mainly through the
efforts and liberality of Hezekiah Hill; it was dedicated on December,
;;, L875, by Rev. Miles Grant. In 1878 Rev. Milton Miles became
pastor and served until October 1, 1879; on the 20th of the preceding
January the society was reorganized, but soon after that year it dis-
banded and the property reverted to Mr. Hill, who sold it in L884 to
the baptist society for $1,000. A Sunday school was organized January
3d, 187(1, with Henry E. Van Derveer as superintendent.

ddie Presbyterian church of Ontario Center was organized by Rev. Mr.
bliss in L832. The Congregational form of government was adopted,
which was afterward changed to Presbyterian, and the first meetings
were held in a school house in Ontario village. The constituent mem-
bers were Mr. and Mrs. Sutphin, Mr. and Mrs. Curtis, Mr. and Mrs.
Mack, and Mr. Decker. In 1 S42 the present stone edfice in Ontario
Center was built and dedicated. The earlier pastors were Revs. Bliss,
Merritt, judson, Eddy, Burbank, Manley, Halcomb, Young - , Bosworth,
and others. The present pastor is Rev. H. G. C. Halloek and J. C.
Ilowk is superintendent of the Sunday school. The society has about
seventy-five members.

The first Methodist Episcopal church of Ontario was organized as a
class about 1812, at the dwelling of Zebedee Hodges, where many of
the earlier meetings were held. In 1836 a stone edifice, 36x46 feet,
was built two and one-half miles north of Ontario Center. This was
torn down in L865, and in 1866 the corner stone of the present structure
was laid by Rev. I. II. Kellogg. It is of brick and was dedicated in
August, 1867. In May, L872, this church became a separate charge-
prior to that it was connected with the Walworth circuit. The society
has about eight}- members under the pastorship of Rev. Joseph S.
Duxbury. II. S. Stanford is superintendent of the Sunday school.

The Second Methodist Episcopal church of Webster, locally known
as the " Boston Church " from the fact that it is situated in a locality
called New boston, was organized in the summer of 1838 by Rev. Mr.
Osborne with about nine members. In 1849 the present frame edifice
was built near tin- county line in the northwest part of the town. It
was dedicatad by Rev. John 1 )ennis, and is valued at ,si ,000. The society
has about fifty memb rs and a Sunday school of sixty scholars. The
first name on the record as pastor is Rev. L. 1!. Chase, who presided
this and the church in Webster from L869 to L872; in L872— 3 Rev.
P. W. Chandler was pastor of this and the First M. E. church previ-


ously mentioned, since which time the two have constituted one charge.
The present pastor is Rev. Joseph S. Duxbury. The two societies