George Washington Cowles.

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thoroughly informed and safe legal adviser — a reputation which was shown by the term
almost invariably applied to him, and by which he came to be everywhere known, that
of "Counselor" Clark.

Mr. Clark was married October 13, 1847, to Miss Amelia R. Heermans, formerly of
Nassau, N. Y., who died Oct. 16, 1880. Of their six children two died while quite young.
The surviving ones are William H. Clark, of Cortland, N. Y., now editor of the Cort-
land Standard; John H. Clark, for many years principal of the Lyons Union School,
afterwards superintendent of schools at Flushing, N. Y., and now connected with
Gunton's College of Social Economics in New York city; and Mrs. James H. Brown
and Miss Carrie Clark, of Denver, Col.

In December, 1878, Mr. Clark removed to Denver, Col., for the benefit of his health,
he having for many. years suffered severely from asthma. It was while on his return to
that city from a visit at Lyons that he fell from a train near Clyde, 0., July 9, 1890, and
was instantly killed. He was a member, at the time of his death, of the Central Presby-
terian Church of Denver. '

The Wayne Democratic Press, speaking of him after his death, said :

" In his profession he was an able counselor and an advanced thinker. He was a man
of intelligence, well-read, mentally trained. His character nobody ever assailed. He
was an honest, faithful man. He filled with honor the office of State Senator, and as
chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee and servant of the people was clear-
headed and firm. He left the legislative hall with a clean record, and during his life he
was held up to the young men of his time as an example to follow.'"

The Lyons Republican spoke of him as follows:

" Few men in Wayne county were better known at the time of his removal to Denver
than Mr. Clark, and few commanded a larger measure of genuine respect and esteem.
He was a man of decided opinions and fearless in their expression ; but beneath a
positive manner he carried a warm heart and kindly disposition that attached his friends
to him as with hooks of steel. He was a keen observer of events, and his extensive
and varied information made him an instructive and delightful companion. None who
met him during his recent visit to his old home in Lyons will forget how happy he
seemed to be in greeting his old time friends again, or the interest he displayed in the
growth and improvement of the village that was for so many years his home. Though


past his four score years, his step was firm, his voice sonorous, and his bodily health
apparently unimpaired."

The following resolutions were adopted by the bar of Wayne county following Mr.
Clark's death :

Whereas, Hon. William Clark was for many years a distinguished citizen of Wayne
county, an eminent member of the bar and filled with distinction while among us high
public office, and

Whereas, His choice of a home always remained in Wayne county, and he resided
away only because afflicted with a physical malady from which he could only find relief
by absence. Therefore,

Resolved, That as citizens and members of the bar of Wayne county, we mourn his
lamentable death and honor and cherish his memory. That we remember him as a
citizen of great ability, pure life and ever interested in the public welfare ; as a
lawyer eminent in counsel, able in argument, and true and honorable in his dealings with
clients and with the members of his profession ; and as a statesman enlightened, incor-
ruptible, without reproach.

Resolved, That these resolutions be filed with the records of the county and copies
sent to the friends of our deceased brother and also to the press for publication."

The portrait of Mr. Clark which appears in this volume is from a photograph taken
not long before his death.


It is a pleasant as well as an imperative duty to place in this historical work on Wayne
county, a brief account of the life and character of the man whose name stands above.
In general terms it is wholly proper to state that no one has exerted a wider influence
for good in this community.

Pliny Sexton was born in Springfield, Massachusetts, on -January 31, 1796, and was
brought into what was then Ontario county (now Wayne) by his parents in 1799. The
family settled temporarily near the present village of Marion, but soon removed to
what is now the village of Palmyra. In December, 1801, the boy made a journey with
his mother to visit her mother in Suffield, Conn. This long and trying journey, made
in a sleigh, was always remembered as replete with incident. They remained east
until 1803, when they again made the journey westward and lived for a period at what
has locally been called " the Huddle " on the road to Walworth. In 1805, when the
boy was only nine years old, he went to work for Sylvanus Conant in a brick yard on
the creek flats about two miles west of Palmyra. In those early years of arduous toil
were laid the foundations of character, energy, perseverance, and fidelity which marked
his personality through life. And the conditions of life and the physical surroundings
of the people in this part of the country at that time, were far different from those of
this day. In every direction extended an almost unbroken forest, through which
roamed at will, wild animals. Speaking of his boyhood experiences, he mentioned


being sent, when about eleven years old, alone to drive a cow from Walworth to Lake
Ontario, all of the way through the woods, and of his fear of meeting bears, which then
abounded. Even when, after his apprenticeship, he returned to Palmyra, in 1819, as a
young business man, the country was still in quite a primeval state. The Brie Canal
was not dug until several years afterward ; railroads were unthought of, and the only
mode of travel was upon the rude highways by private conveyance or in the public
stage coach. His journeys to New York for goods, and the return, easily consumed a
month of time, by stage to Albany and from there by sail vessel down the Hudson
Eiver, a voyage which baffling winds often extended to a week. The surplus products
of this country were hauled to Albany by teamsters, who brought back loads of mer-
chandise. .

In the year 1808 the family removed to Mayfield, in what is now Fulton county,
N. Y., and in 1809, when he was thirteen years old, the boy was apprenticed to Caleb
Johnson, in Johnstown, in the same county, to learn the silversmith's and watch making
trade. He served there faithfully for eight years as an apprentice, until he was twenty-
one years old, receiving for his labor his board and clothing and nine months schooling
— a period of devoted service to acquire properly the means of earning a future liveli-
hood that is unheard of at the present day. In the fall of 1818 he worked in Auburn
at his trade and in the manufacture of mathematical instruments, principally surveyor's
compasses. One of these compasses bearing his name as maker, is now owned by the
town of Palmyra. In the following year (1819) he returned to Palmyra and made that
place his home until death. It was only a mere hamlet at that time and finding no
suitable building for a shop, the young man proceeded to erect one. He was cheerfully
aided by his brethren of the Society of Friends, kindness that he never forgot or failed
to recognize on all proper occasions. He had his tools and very little money; but he
was given credit for lumber, while others aided him in his work on the shop, Asa
Stoddard building it and taking a brass watch for his pay. It stood about on the site of
the present Episcopal church. There he began work, making almost anything he was
called upon for, including sleigh bells, silver spoons, compasses, repairing watches, and
gradually increasing his stock of goods.

In 1822 he married, but heiiad already begun building a house, which is still standing
on the corner of Main and Washington streets, which he occupied before it was finished,
his previous housekeeping having been in the chambers of Orrin White's dwelling, on
the site of the Episcopal church lot. In 1823 he brought into the town and sold the
first cooking stoves. In 1825 he joined with others in erecting the Jenner Block, the
middle section of which he occupied with his rapidly growing business. In 1828 he
built and removed to the " corner hardware store," which stood until 1878 on the corner
of Main and Market streets. There he remained in the hardware business many years.
His business was conducted as almost all really successful business is — upon principles of
integrity, fairness, and proper regard for the rights of all ; and of course he was success-
ful ; successful not alone in acquiring money, but in making for himself a most enviable
place in the hearts of his fellow citizens. When, therefore, in 1844 he determined upon
organizing the Palmyra Bank, under the then new free banking law, he found no
trouble in doing so, for there was no lack of confidence in the enterprise under his


management. He soon afterward entered into partnership with the late George W.
Cuyler in the banking business, which was conducted under the name of '' Cuyler's
Bank," until 1864, when they organized the present First National Bank of Palmyra,
of which Mr. Sexton remained vice-president until his death.

Mr. Sexton had other objects and views besides the mere gaining of wealth. Always
public spirited, he was active and influential in promoting the foundation of the excellent
Union School at Palmyra, and in aiding other movements that benefited the place. In
later years, when he could free himself in a measure from exacting business duties, he
occupied himself in building up and improving a neglected portion of the village. He
bought and drained the ''old mill pond property," and converted it into a habitable
region, at the same time removing a dreaded source of disease and discomfort. Of his
long business career in Palmyra it was written at the time of his death as follows :

" Viewed simply as a business life it affords a worthy and encouraging example to
young men. He began with nothing, and following a life of industry and economy,
coupled with strict integrity, gained for himself, long before life's close, if not so great
wealth as some have supposed, all thereof that man need want. And of all his gains
nothing ever came to him from another's injury. In all his business plans he studied to
be helpful to others as well as himself. And the one thing to be noted above all else,
is that the most potent factor in his material success r was the perfect trust and confi-
dence which his fellow men early came to repose in him, and which he never failed to
justify. That confidence was typified in the financial panic of 1857. when standing in
the entrance of the bank of which he was part owner, he found the frightened deposit-
ors, who were unwilling to longer trust their money to the keeping of the bank, not
only willing but anxious to take his individual note, without security, and go home con-
tent leaving their treasure in his hands."

This is all high praise, but his character eminently deserved it. For it was not alone
in business that he was accounted successful. He left behind a name and reputation
of stainless purity. During his mature life he was a member of the Society of Friends
and imbued with their high ideal of manhood in all of life's relations. Deprived of
early opportunity for obtaining an education, he began a course of self- teaching and
reading which ultimately gave him a cultured and refined mind and a large fund of
general information. All movements for the betterment of his fellows, all ins'ances
deserving aid and sympathy, found in him a ready and generous benefactor ; and par-
ticularly was this true of efforts to uplift the moral tone of a community, or the undoing
of a wrong. He was, therefore, an ardent and active participator in the anti-slavery
movement, believing slavery not only a curse, but a crime. His house became a well-
known station on the famous "underground railroad," and many a poor fugitive from
bondage was aided and protected by Pliny Sexton.

Mr. Sexton died at his home in Palmyra March 26, 1881, in his 86th year. He left
surviving the wife of his later years ; a daughter, Mrs. David S. Aldrich, and his son,
Pliny T. Sexton.

" He left behind him no one who could owe him an unkind thought, and carried with
him to the better land the respect and affection of all who knew him."



Pliny T. Sexton, of Palmyra, son of the foregoing, was born in Palmyra, June 12,
1840. His mother was Hannah Sexton, a highly cultivated and 'gifted woman, who,
like her husband, was a member of the Society of Friends, among whom she is still well
remembered as a preacher of unusual power.

The son's early circumstances were vastly different from those under which his father
began life, and were such as would be expected for one blessed with such a father and
mother. The doors to educational opportunity were early opened wide for him. In
the Palmyra Classical Union School and in private institutions he acquired a broad
general education, which was succeeded by a course at the noted Rensselaer Polytechnic
Institute at Troy, N. Y., whose range of studies extends over a more practically useful
field than the usual college course. It was desired that he should also have a business
knowledge of the law, and to that end he entered the New York State and National
Law School, from which he graduated with the degree of LL.B. in 1859. He was a
hard student, mastering whatever he read. On attaining to his majority in 1861, he was
admitted fo the bar of this State, and since has been admitted to practice in the Supreme
Court of the United States. Mr. Sexton was not destined to closely follow his pro-
fession. Other interests connected with the business of his father and that later
developed by himself have occupied his attention and time. It should not be inferred,
however, that he has altogether neglected the law, which has never lost its attract-
iveness to him. His interest in the development of legal science has remained deep and
abiding, and possessing a judicial quality of mind he has thoroughly grounded himself
in the principles of his profession by continued and careful study in his law library,
which is one of the best in his vicinity.

Mr. Sexton succeeded his father in an important banking house, and under his liberal
and progressive management it has become one of the leading financial institutions of
the State outside of large cities. It was in 1864 that the First National Bank of Palmyra
was organized, in the dark days of the Rebellion, when a loan of money to the govern-
ment was an exhibition of patriotism. He was made its first cashier and since 1876 has
been its president. His practical financial knowledge and judgment have been manifest
in the entire history of the institution of which he is the head.

A lifelong Republican in politics, Mr. Sexton might have been highly honored in that
field had he so desired. The strife of party politics for personal ends has had little
attraction for him, but he has never been reluctant to give expression to his enlightened
views on public questions or active aid to local movements which he believed were for
the good of the community. Without solicitation on his part he was for four successive
terms elected president of his native village and retired from the office at his own
request. For six years he was president of the Board of Education of the Palmyra
Classical Union School, an office the duties of which were in entire harmony with his
natural and acquired tastes and in which his influence was most salutary. In 1883 he
received without his own seeking or attendance at the convention the nomination for
the honorable and responsible office of State treasurer. This was in the year following


the Cleveland tidal wave of 200,000 majority for governor, and of course no Republican
could be elected.

In 1890 the Legislature of the State chose Mr. Sexton one of the Regents of the Uni-
versity of the State of New York. This honorable position gave him opportunity for
the public development and advancement of theories of education which he had long
entertained ; and his reputation for scholarship and rare mental vigor and acquirements
was still further recognized in 1893, when he was elected honorary chancellor of Un:on
University, Schenectady, and as such delivered the annual address June 28, of that year.
At that time he received from that institution the degree of Doctor of Laws. He
chose as his theme on the occasion alluded to, '' Educational Extension,'' his treatment
of which was in direct line with his previous efforts for that cause.

This subject of " Educational Extension " has occupied Mr. Sexton's thoughts for
some years. It is founded upon his belief that educational facilities should not stop at
the time in young people's lives when they usually leave our schools and colleges, but
should continue through life, even if they have to be supplied through State aid. He
was chiefly instrumental in securing the passage by the Legislature in 1891 of the
so-called University Extension Law, which is only the established name for the objects
sought by him. Abandoning his private business he spent most of the session in
Albany. Equipped with facts and ample argument, gifted with rare powers of persua-
sion, and armed with the conviction of the importance of his mission, he worked as
lobbyists have seldom worked. He had aid, but he is generally recognized as the parent
of the measure, which finally became a law. The system has been put into operation to
some extent and promises great usefulnes, as the projectors anticipated. University
Extension centers have been established at various points and educators with progressive
ideas have entered into the work with enthusiasm. While the system had its beginning,
in name, in England, Mr. Sexton, as well as others, have originated and incorporated in
it and contemplate for it new ideas which will undoubtedly develop into useful practical
features. This educational movement was the inspiration of Mr. Sexton's address at
Union before referred to, which was a clear and unanswerable argument in favor
of educational extension.

Mr. Sexton has been thoughtfully interested also in electoral reform, and has recently
(1894) published a pamphlet suggesting a plan for practicable " Independent voting
within political party lines," which seeks to bring the election of public officers more
fully under actual popular control.

The tastes of Mr. Sexton are domestic and his life and manner unpretentious and
modest. He was married in September, 1860, to Harriot Hyde, daughter of the late
Stephen Hyde, of Palmyra, and granddaughter of the Rev. Alvan Hyde, D. D., formerly
a noted Presbyterian divine, of Lee, Mass. Their Palmyra home is hospitable and
pleasant. They have also a summer home on Lake George, one of the loveliest spots in
the country. Both Mrs. and Mr. Sexton are fond of outdoor life, and several years ago
made a winter horseback tour of the Southern States, traveling in that manner from
Palmyra to Savannah, G-a. They have no children.



Carl Botciier was born in Mechlenberg, Germany, February 28, 1842. His parents,
Carl and Henrietta (Miller) Botcher, farmers, left their fatherland with their family of
four sons — two of whom were by Mrs. Botcher's first husband, Christopher Swartz —
on the 31st of October, 1853, and arrived in New York city January 18, 1854. They
came direct to Rochester, where they remained two months, and then settled perma-
nently in the town of Arcadia, Wayne county. Their first home was three miles north
of Newark village, where Frank Swartz, the eldest of Mrs. Botcher's first children now
lives. Four years later they removed to the present farm of Carl Botcher, where the
parents died — the mother in October, 1882, and the father in September, 1884. They
both possessed the sterling characteristics of native Germans, and were ever first and
foremost in all matters affecting their countrymen. For many years they were promi-
nently identified with the Lutheran church of Newark, sustaining it with continued
liberality and encouraging it by personal attendance and labor. Mr. Botcher was a
Republican, but never sought political preferment, yet he always gave his influence to
the betterment of his adopted country.

Carl Botcher, the third child in the family and the eldest of the two children of Carl
sr., obtained his education before leaving his native land, and acquired a good knowl-
edge of all the branches taught in the public schools of Germany. His father had been
accustomed from early youth to the methods of agriculture as carried on under the
German nobility, and after coming to the United States could never wholly eradicate
the principles thus formed from his mind. The son. therefore, at the early age of fif-
teen, was compelled to take active charge of the farm and ever afterward had the gen-
eral management of affairs. He readily adopted the most modern methods, applying
them with unusual success, and in many instances instituted new ideas. His present
fine farm of 136 acres, adcrned with spacious and substant ; al buildings, all of which
have been practically erected under his personal supervision, attests the degree of suc-
cess which has attended his efforts.

November 16, 1865, Mr. Botcher married Miss Kate Bloom, born March 7, 1846, a
native of Germany, and the daughter of Conrad Bloom. They have had two children
a daughter and a son. The latter. Clarence G. Botcher, was born October 18 1871
was educated at the Newark Union Free School and Academy, and assists his father
on the homestead.

Conrad Bloom, the father of Mrs. Carl Botcher, came to America with his family in
1853 and settled in what is now East Newark. They removed to Missouri in May,
1867, where he died in February, 1892. and where his widow still resides. They had
six children, of whom five are living.


Theron G. Teomans was born in Greene county. New York, January 31, 1815. His
father, Gilbert Yeomans, was born in Dutchess county, N. Y., November 30, 1775.


His grandfather, Eliab Yeomans, was born in Dutchess county, N. Y., in 1735. The
two latter moved to Greene county, N. Y., in 1778. Eliab Yeomans, the grandfather,
was a noted land surveyor of that early period, and died at the age of ninety-three

The mother of our subject was Sarah Bullock, daughter of Asa Bullock. His parent's
were married October 14, 1802, and Lad born to them ten children, Theron G being
the only survivor, aged eighty years. He was accustomed to farm life till fifteen yeai
of age, when he came to Walworth to assist an older brother in mercantile business for
six years. At the age of twenty-one years he succeeded his brother in the same busi-
ness, from 1836 to 1845.

He was married to Lydia A. Stearns, daughter of Royal Stearns of Ontario county,
N. Y., September 27, 1837! They have three children living: Lucien T., Elon L. and
Francis C. ; the two former of the firm of T. C. Yeomans & Sons, and the latter, Francis
C , a resident of the State of Washington. They lost one son, Vaniah G., aged fifteen
months, and one daughter, Ellen L., aged seven years.

Mr. Yeomans engaged in the nursery business in 1840, and continued it on an exten-
sive scale individually about thiity years ; and thereafter in the name of T. G. Yeomans
& Sons about twenty yeais. Their fine farm is noted for its large orchards, well cared
for, and for many years celebrated for its large production of choice fruit. A very
important feature of this farm is the thorough system of drainage adopted many years
ago, and carried on to the extent of having laid over sixty miles of tile drains; their
noted drawf pear orchard having a tile drain passing within five feet of every tree.
The New York State Agricultural Society, in 1852, awarded Mr. Yeomans a silver cup
valued at twenty-five dollars as a prize for his successful experiments in draining.

From about 1850 to about 1870 he planted out orchards to the extent of one hun-
dred and fifty acres, most of which are now in bearing and producing a fair reve-
nue to the firm. In 1851 he imported from France about three thousand dwarf pear
trees for an orchard, which at that time was a new departure in the fruit business,
of which most people predicted failure, though it proved a gratifying success, and

Online LibraryGeorge Washington CowlesLandmarks of Wayne County, New York → online text (page 48 of 107)