George Washington Cowles.

Landmarks of Wayne County, New York online

. (page 4 of 107)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

1,200,000 acres, was ^35,000. The sale included, of course, the terri-
tory of Wayne county west of the pre-emption line.

As bearing upon what has been stated in respect to apprehensions of
danger from the Indians and British the following extract from a letter
written by Mr. Morris to Mr. Colquhoun, soon after the sale to the
association, is given. He said:

These worthy but timid people had grown afraid 'since the Indian war at the
westward had become so general as it is, to let their sons go out even to the town-
ships they have bought, lest the Six Nations should become parties, and attack the
Genesee settlements. Now as there is not the least danger of this happening, the
Six Nations having already decided for peace, yet these timid people will await their
own time. I will, however, announce to them that I can supply them with the lands
they wanted, and as I think the Indian war will be of short duration, there is little
doubt but they will buy when it is over."

The London association who purchased of Mr. Morris took imme-
diate steps towards sale and settlement on their lands. In this work
Mr. Colquhoun seems to have been the most conspicuous of the three.
As their active agent they secured. Charles Williamson, a native Scot,
who had held a captain's commission in the British army at the
outbreak of the Revolutionary War, but the ship in which he sailed for
this country was captured and he was taken to Boston and held a
prisoner until the close of the war. He returned to England with a
valuable store of information relating to this country, and when the
attention of European capitalists began to be drawn in this direction,
he very naturally became associated with them. After his appointment
as agent by the association he sailed for America with his family and
two intelligent Scotchmen, John Johnstone and Charles Cameron, who
came as his assistants. From the day of his arrival in this country
Charles Williamson became a most important factor in the settlement



30 LANDMARKS OF

of the Genesee country. He learned from various sources of the great
beauty, fertility, and value of the lands placed in his hands, and began
energetically and intelligently to push forward the work expected of
him by his employers. "Want of communication," he wrote to the
association, "is the great draw back on back settlements distant from
the rivers that run into the Atlantic. Remove this difficulty and there
can be no doubt that the gentlemen of the association will reap an
advantage fifty times their outlay; and come to their purpose many
years sooner. Nothing will draw the attention of the people of
America more readily than the idea of their settling under the protec-
tion of an association who will take every means to render their farms
convenient an profitable."

In the winter of 1701-2, leaving his party in Northumberland, Pa.,
he made a hurried trip through the Genesee country. Of this trip he
wrote Mr Colquhoun that he passed through an uninhabited wilderness
more than one hundred miles before reaching Geneva, " which consisted
of a few straggling huts." " There is not a road within one hundred
miles of the Genesee country," said he, "that will admit of any sort
of conveyance, otherwise than on horseback, or on a sled, when the
ground is covered with snow." "The price of land has, in a few
instances, exceeded two shillings per acre; some few farms of
first rate quality have been sold on a credit for four shillings per
acre. "

After full consideration of the subject of opening communications
between the east and the Genesee country, Mr. Williamson determined
that the proper outlet for the country was southward to the Susque-
hanna River. He accordingly took steps to construct a road from what
is now Williamsport, Pa., to the mouth of the Canaserga Creek on the
Genesee River, a distance of about 150 miles. Before the road could
be opened, a ship load of goods reached Baltimore consigned to Will-
iamson by Mr. Colquhoun. The heaviest of the cargo was sold off in
Baltimore, and the lighter portion sent westward via Albany. Before
the close of 1792, Mr. Williamson had determined to make his first
settlement at the termination of his road on the Genesee River; in
pursuance of this plan he laid out a village there and called it Williams-
burg; he built a long row of structures, plowed some land and pre-
pared for the reception of a proposed German colony. Here were
settled a large colony who came over through the immediate influence
of one Berezy, who gained the confidence of Mr. Coloquhoun. While
they proved useful to Mr. Williamson in building his road, before men-



WAYNE COUNTY. 31

tioned, they proved an undesirable acquisition in every other way.
They remained in Pennsylvania until the spring of 1703, when they
removed to Williamsburg. Each family had a house, fifty acres of
land, tools, stock, and provisions appropriated to its use ; but they
developed into an idle and more or less dissolute colony, with Berezy
at their head. Mr. Williamson finally determined to rid his country of
their presence, and in his efforts to accomplish this result, provoked a
riot and had to call on the authorities of Ontario county to aid him and
his friends. The Germans were at last scattered, many of them
ultimately settling in Canada. Other attempts to colonize Europeans
were scarcely more successful.

Previous to and during the course of the events we have briefly
chronicled, a colony of Quakers, or "Friends," under the leadership of
a woman, a native of Rhode Island, whose correct name was Jemima
Wilkinson, had settled in 1787-88 in what is now Yates county, about
a mile south of the site of Dresden village. The original party con-
sisted of twenty-five members, who had sent delegates ahead to search
for an eligible location. Their first land purchase was on "The Gore,"
previous to the establishment to the new pre-emption line, and comprised
a tract of 14,000 acres lying in the east part of the present town of
Milo, and a part of Starkey, in Yates county. Soon afterward their
delegates purchased what is now the town of Jerusalem, in that county.
It was through the agency of these settlers that the first grist mill was
built in Western New York ; it was situated two and a half miles from
Penn Yan, and turned out flour in the year 1789. The woman
"Jemima," as she was known, exercised a powerful influence over her
followers in all their affairs, public and private. The community,
while apparently thriving and successful for a time, showed evidences
of decline before many years. They had settled there in quest of
seclusion from the world and its wickedness; but their selection of
lands was too wise to enable them to long hold a monopoly over the
region ; and they soon found themselves in a thickly settled neighbor-
hood. Jemima died in 1819, and was succeeded by Rachel Malin; but
their teachings were long ago forgotten, though their descendants are
still numerous in that section of the State.

In 1793 operations towards settlement began at Bath and rapidly
progressed under Mr. Williamson's energetic direction. 1 Mills were

1 In 1799 an advertisement of the "Bath Theater" appeared in the Bath Gazette;
the plays announced were "The Mock Doctor, or The Dumb Lady Cured." "A



32 LANDMARKS OF

built there and immigration from Pennsylvania and Maryland became
active. l In the following- year (17 ( .)-t-) improvements were begun at
Geneva, a feature of which was the building of the Geneva Hotel,
which was finished in December and soon gained a widespread fame.
It had no competitor for some time between there and Qtica.

Canandaigua, also, was a point of importance in the early settlement
of the Genesee country and the great county of Ontario — mother of
Wayne and many other counties. After Mr. Phelps had decided on
the foot of Canandaigua Lake as a desirable and central point for the
founding of a village, he took measures to open primitive roads over
which to reach the site. Operations were begun at Geneva and a pass-
age way opened to the foot of Canandaigua Lake, following substan-
tially the old Indian trail. Joseph Smith was the first settler west of
Seneca Lake and located at Canandaigua in the spring of 1789. He
built a block house and opened a tavern. In May of that year Gen.
Israel Chapin arrived at the outlet and built his log house. With him
and interested in surveys and land sales w r ere eight or ten others, and
they were soon followed by a Mr. Walker, agent of Phelps and Gorham.
The settlement progressed rapidly, much of its growth and the toler-
ably peaceful relations with the Indians being due for a number of
years to General Chapin. In 1700 the heads of families on township
10, range 3, were as follows: Nathaniel Gorham, jr., Nathaniel San-
born, John Fellows, James D. Fish, Joseph Smith, Israel Chapin, John
Clark, Martin Dudley, Phineas Bates, Caleb Walker, Judah Colt, Abner
Barlow, Daniel Brainard, Seth Holcomb, James Brocklebank, Lemuel
Castle, Benjamin W T ells, John Freeman. To these were added quite a

Peep into the .Seraglio." The prices of admission were: "Pit six shillings; Gallery
three shillings." The Bath Races were also advertised.

1 The proprietors of the Pultney estate indulged in visions of boundless wealth to
result from the settlement of their lands. They supposed that the natural avenue to
market from the rich Genesee country was down the Susquehanna, and that a city
might be founded upon some of the headwaters of that stream which would command
the entire trade of the West. After a survey of the region, the present site of Hath
was selected as the location of the future city. Every inducement was held out to
lure settlers; and for several years the markets of Bath proved a mine of wealth to
the few who raised more grain than enough for their own use. Williamson erected
a theater within a few years after the first settlement, in anticipation of the future
metropolitan character of the place. A race course was also established, which for
many years attracted sportsmen from all parts of the country. The golden visions
of civic grandeur were never realized. — French 's Gazetteer, />. (>jj.



WAYNE COUNTY.



33



number of settlers during L790-1. The place was made the county
scat in L793, and in the same year a court house, jail and clerk's office
were built; and here the first courts were held, as described further on
in these pages.

To conclude this necessarily brief description of the early settlement
at various points in the old county of Ontario, before turning our at-
tention to the immediate locality in which our readers will be more
deeply interested, it will be desirable to reproduce from the census
report of 1700 a list of all the heads of families who had settled west of
the old pre-emption line, as follows; the list is given by townships and
ranges as shown in the abbreviated headings:



No. 9, 7th R.
William Wadsworth
Phineas Bates
Daniel Ross
Henry Brown
Enoch Noble
Nicholas Rosecrantz
David Robb
Nahum Fairbanks

No. 1, 2d R.
Eleazer Lindley

Daniels

Samuel Lindley
John Seely
Ezekiel Mumford
Eleazer Lindley, jr.

No. 2, 2d R.
Arthur Erwine
Henry Culp
William Anchor
Martin Young
Peter Gardner

Nos. 3 & 4, 5th & 6th R's.
James Headley
William Baker
Jedediah Stevens
Uriah Stephens
Uriah Stephens, jr.
John Stephens
Richard Crosby
Solomon Bennett
Andrew Bennett
John Jameson

5



No. 11, 2 R.

Sweet

Ezra Phelps

No. 10, 3d R.
Nathaniel Gorham, jr.
Nathaniel Sanborn

No. 11, 5th R.
Jonathan Ball
William Moores

No. 13, 5th R.
John Lusk
Chauncey Hyde
Timothy Allen
Jacob Walker

No. 10, 6th R.
John Minor
Asel Burchard
Abner Miles
Davison

No. 11, 6th R.
John Ganson
Philemon Winship
Abel Wilsey
Elijah Morgan
Solomon Hovey
John Morgan
William Webber
William Markham
Abraham Devans

No. 7, 7th R.
Niel

No. 9, 1st R.
James Latta



David Benton
Samuel Wheaton
Rice

No. 10, 3d R.
John Fellows
Joseph Smith
James D. Fisk
Israel Chapin
John Clark
Martin Dudley
Phineas Bates
Caleb Walker
Judah Colt
Abner Barlow
Daniel Brainard
Seth Holcomb
James Brocklebank
Lemuel Castle
Benjamin Wells
John Freeman

No. 11, 3d R.
Abraham Lapham
Isaac Hathaway
Nathan Harrington
John McCumber
Joshua Harrington
Elijah Smith
John Paine
Jacob Smith
John Russell
Nathan Comstock
Israel Weed



34



LANDMARKS OF



Reuben Allen

No. L2, 3d R.
Webb Harwood

David White
Darius Com stock
Jerome Smith

No. 8, 4th R.
Gamaliel Wilder
Ephraim Wilder
Aaron Rice
Aaron Spencer

No. 9, 1st R.
David Smith
Phineas Pierce
Esther Forsyth
Thomas Smith
Harry Smith
Thomas Barden

No. 10, 1st R.
Seth Reed
Thaddeus Oaks
Jonathan Whitney
Solomon Warner
Jonathan Oaks
Joseph Kilbourne
John Whitcomb
Phineas Stevens
Benjamin Tuttle

No. 11, 1st R.
John D. Robinson
Pierce Granger

No. 8, 2d R.
Francis Briggs
Michael Pierce
Benjamin Tibbits
Henry Lovell
John Walford

In order to give
families by towns,
what is now Wayn
census of 1790 :



William Hall
Arnold Potter

No. 10, 2d R.

Sweet

No. 9, 4th R.
James Goodwin
William Goodwin
Nathaniel Fisher

No. 10, 4th R.
Ephraim Rew
Lot Rew
Matthew Hubble
John Barnes
Oliver Chapin
Nathaniel Norton
John Adams
Michael Rodgers
Allen Sage

No. 11, 4th R.
Seymour Boughton
Jared Boughton
Zebulon Norton
Elijah Taylor

No. 9, 5th R.
Gideon Pitts

No. 10, 5th R.
Peregrine Gardner
Amos Hall
Benjamin Gardner
Peck Sears
Samuel Miller
John Alger
Sylvanus Thayer

No. 12, 5th R.
Jared Stone
Simon Stone
Israel Pan-
tile reader a clearer idea of
and to aid him in locating
e county, we reprint the fol



Thomas Cleland
Silas Nye
Josiah (iiminson
Alexander 1 )unn
1 )avid Davis

No. 10, 2d R.
Daniel Gates
Thomas Warren
Israel Chapin

Piatt

Day

West of Genesee River
Gilbert R. Berry
Darling Havens
1 )avid Bailey
William Rice
Gershom Smith
Hill Carney
Morgan Desha
William Desha
Horatio Jones
William Ewing
Nathan Fowler
Jeremiah Gregory
Nicholas Philips
Jacob Philips
Caleb Forsyth
Nathan Chapman
Nicholas Miller
Asa Utley
Peter Shaeffer
Ebenezer Allen
Christopher Dugan
Zephaniah Hough
Edward Harp
[oscph Skinner

the distribution of these
those who had settled in
owing: list, also from the



Painted Post ID

Milo 11

Benton 3

Seneca, including Geneva is



59
65



115



Phelps 2 11

Middlesex T 38

Hopewell II 14

East Farmington 2 4



WAYNE COUNTY. 35

West Farming-ton 12 55 Brighton 4 20

Canandaigua 8 106 Lima 4 23

West Palmyra 4 14 Rush 9 :,(;

South Bristol 4 20 Henrietta 1 s

North Bristol 4 13 Sparta 1 5

East Bloomrield 10 65 Geneseo s 34

West Bloomfield 7 26 Wayne 1 9

Indian Lands (Leicester) 4 17 Erwin 11 59

Victor 4 2(1 Canisteo 10 50

Richmond... ... 1 2 Avon 10 W

Mendon 2 10 Caledonia 10 44

Pittsford 8 28

Total 205 1081

Most of the pioneers of Ontario county and the military tract who
came in prior to the beginning- of the present century, and who did not
come from southward, as before mentioned, took the water route from
Albany, by way of the Mohawk River, Wood Creek, Oneida Lake, Os-
wego River, and the Clyde. In 1701 what was called the "Geneva
road" was built, extending from Whitestown to Geneva, and thence on
to Canandaigua. It was for much of the distance merely a cleared
track through the forest ; but bad as it was it was influential in pro-
moting the western settlements. Here is what Charles Williamson
wrote to England regarding it :

To improve our communication with the coast seemed to be all that was necessary
to render the country equal to any part of America for comfort and convenience ; in
many things, particularly the climate, we had much the advantage. To remedy this
inconvenience as to roads, the Legislature of the State had, tw an act passed
in the Sessions of 1797* taken the road from Fort Schuyler to Geneva under their
patronage. A lottery had been granted for the opening and improving of certain
great roads ; among these this road was included. The inhabitants made a volun-
tary offer of their services, to aid the State commissioner, and subscribed 4,000 days
work, which they performed with fidelity and cheerfulness. By this generous and
uncommon exertion, and by some other contributions, the State commissioner was
enabled to complete this road of near one hundred miles, opening it sixty-four feet
wide, and paving with logs and gravel the moist parts of the low country. Hence
the road from Fort Schuyler on the Mohawk River, to Genesee, from being in the
month of June, 1797, little better than an Indian path, was so far improved that a
stage started from Fort Schuyler on the 30th of September, and arrived at the hotel
in Geneva, in the afternoon of the third day, with four passengers.

Settlements along this road were rapidly increased after its opening.
This highway was greatly improved within a few years, particularly in
1794, when a commission was appointed to open " The Great Genesee



36 LANDMARKS OF

Road" six rods wide from old Fort Schuyler to the Cayuga Ferry; and
again in L796-7, when a considerable sum was expended in improving
the road. In the year 1800, what was called "The Seneca Road Com-
pany " was chartered for the improvement of the highway from Utica
to Canandaigua. The capital stock of the company was $11,000, and
[edediah Sanger, Charles Williamson, Benjamin Walker, and Israel
Chapin were appointed commissioners. In L798 the first State roads
were laid out from Conewagas, on the Genesee River, to the mouth of
Buffalo Creek, and to Lewiston, on Niagara River. Other early roads
more directly connected with the settlement of Wayne county will be
described in the next chapter.

This chapter may be properly closed with a quotation from a descript-
ive letter on the Genesee country written in 1792, as follows:

On the 12th of February, 1792, I left Albany on my route to the Genesee country;
but the country was thought so remote and so very little known, that I could not
prevail on the owner of the sled I had engaged to go further than Whitestown, a new
settlement on the head of the Mohawk River, one hundred miles west of Albany.
The road, as far as Whitestown, had been made passable for wagons, but from that
to the Genesee River it was little better than an Indian path, just sufficiently opened
to allow a sled to pass, and the most impassable streams bridged. At Whitestown I
was obliged to change my sled; the Albany driver would proceed no further. He
found that the next 150 miles we were not only obliged to take provision for our-
selves and our horses, but also blankets as a substitute for beds. After leaving
Whitestown we found only a few straggling huts scattered along the the path at the
distance of ten to twenty miles, and they affording nothing but the convenience of
fire and a kind of shelter from the snow. On the evening of the third day's journey
from Whitestown we were very agreeably surprised to find ourselves on the east side
of Seneca Lake, which we found perfectly open and free from ice as in the month
of June; and what added to our surprise and admiration, was to see a boat ami
canoe plying on the lake This, after having passed from New York over 360 miles
of country completely frozen, was a sight pleasing and interesting.

We then crossed the outlet of the lake, and arrived at the settlement of Geneva,
consisting of a few families, who had been drawn thither from the convenience of the
situation and the beauty of the adjoining country. . . . From Geneva to Cana-
darqua the road is only the Indian path, a little improved the first five miles over
gentle swellings of land, interspersed with bottoms seemingly rich; the remainder of
the road to Canadarqua, the county town, sixteen miles, was, the greatest part of the
distance, through a rich, heavy-timbered land. On this road there were only two
families settled. Canadarqua, the county town, consisted of only two small frame
houses and a few lints, surrounded with thick woods. The few inhabitants received
me with much hospitality 1 found there abundance of excellent venison. From
Canadarqua to the Genesee River, twenty-six miles, it is almost totally uninhabited,
only four families residing on the road. The country is beautifully diversified with
hill and dale, and, m many places, we found openings of two and three hundred



WAYNE COUNTY. :!?

acres, free from all timber and even bushes, which, on our examining, proved to be
of a rich, deep soil. It seemed that, by only enclosing with one of these openings a
proportionable quantity of timbered land, an enclosure might be made similar to the
parks of England.

At the Genesee River I found a small Indian store and tavern; the river was not
then frozen over, but was low enough to be forded. As yet there are no settlements
of any consequence in the Genesee country. That established by a society of
Friends, on the west side of the Seneca Lake, is the most considerable ; it consists
of about forty families. But the number of Indians in the adjoining country, when
compared with the few inhabitants who ventured to winter in the country, is so
great, that I found them under serious apprehensions for their^safety. Even in this
state of nature, the county of Ontario shows every sign of future respectability.

In subsequent letters descriptive of the county in 1796, four years
later, the same writer pictures the country under somewhat different
conditions. Various settlements, he said, "had begun to assume an
appearance of respectability never before instanced in so new a country."
It is probably true that not in the history of the country has a wil-
derness country been so rapidly peopled and improved as the old county
of Ontario. " Much pains had been taken," continued the writer, "to
induce the different settlers at an early period to build mills, and every
encouragement was given them." A newspaper had been established
at Bath. The town of Canadarqua (Canandaigua), had assumed the
appearance of a handsome village. The town of Geneva in that year
had received a great addition by the laying out of a street on the sum-
mit of a rising ground, along the west bank of the lake ; at the present
day one of the handsomest village streets to be found anywhere. A
sloop was on the stocks to run between Geneva and Catharine's Town,
at the head of the lake. A printing office was established in Geneva,
and several new settlements had been begun. The Mud Creek region
in which we are especially interested, received the writer's attention
also. Speaking of new mills, he said that one was built on the outlet
of Canadarqua Lake near its junction with Mud Creek (Lyons), both
of which are very considerable streams, and "run through a great
extent of country already well settled." "In the settlement of Mud
Creek alone, there were for sale, last fall, not less than 10,000 bushels
of wheat, of an excellent quality."

The settlers on the Genesee River were then receiving their salt
from the Onondaga works, and their stores from Albany. "Mr.
Granger," he continues, "last winter built a schooner of forty tons
which was launched early in April; before the middle of May she made
a trip to Niagara, with two hundred barrels of provisions, and there



38 LANDMARKS OF

were then laying on the beach two hundred barrels more, ready to be
put on board on her return." As to the character of the people who
were settling in this section the writer said: "The rapid progress of
this new country, in every comfort and convenience, has not only
caused the emigration of vast numbers of substantial farmers, but also
of men of liberal education, who- find here a society not inferior to that
in the oldest country settlements in America. The schools are far
from being indifferent, and even the foundations of public libraries are
already laid." After describing the climate and soil of the country in
favorable terms, the writer continues: "The settlements already
formed on the principal navigations, and whose inhabitants are used to
business, and respectably connected, find, at an early period, the most
advantageous markets for their surplus produce. To Canada, beef,
salt, pork, flour, and whisky, are already sent to a great amount."
" The success of every individual who has emigrated to the Genesee
country, has stamped a greater value on the lands than was ever known
in any place so recently settled, and so distant from the old settled
country."

As to the facilities for reaching this section near the close of the cen-
tury, the writer said: "The most convenient route for Europeans to