Isaac S. Signor.

Landmarks of Orleans County, New York online

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OENEALOGY COL-LBCTION



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LANDMARKS



ORLEANS County



NEW YORK



1fllU5tl•ate^



EDITED BY



HON. ISAAC S. SIGNOR

OF ALBION, N. Y.



ASSISTED BY H. P. SMITH AND OTHERS



SYRACUSE, N. Y.

D. MASON & COMPANY, PUBLISHERS

1894



r4



INTRODUCTORY. 12061G9



^,



\(^; In presenting this historical and biographical record of Orleans county
!to its readers, the editor and his associates feel that no apology is de-
manded, either for the motives which first prompted the undertaking or
for the accomplished results. While several more or less incomplete
works treating upon the history of this locality have been published prior
to the inception of this volume, it is true that the field has never been
properly occupied. This fact was realized and appreciated by the rep-
resentative people of the county, most of whom had long entertained
the desire that a work worthy of the subject, and comprehensive and
reasonably correct, might be published before many of the sources of
information should become extinct,

No person unfamiliar with work of this kind can properly appreciate
its difficulties. Were it otherwise, and could the many who will turn
these pages have followed the long course of the task, their censure
would fall very lightly upon the heads of the editor and his helpers.
No writer ever has — probably never will — ^produce such a volume, con-
taining a great mass of material and thousands of names and dates,
without numerous errors. For this reason, if for no other, absolute
accuracy will not be expected herein. It is believed that all who may
read these pages will feel kindly disposed and pass over the occasional
flaw, to the perusal of that which fully meets their expectations.

A great amount of time and space has been devoted to the record of
the earliest purchases of the land in Orleans county and it is confidently
believed that this will be found an exceedingly interesting and impor-
tant part of the work, not only as giving, as nearly as could be done, a
complete record of the earliest owners of each lot, but also as giving



iv INTRODrCTORY.

the names of hundreds of the very earliest settlers in the county, many
of whose names might otherwise be forgotten.

To all who have aided in the preparation of this work (and they are
so numerous as to render it impracticable to name them here), the grat-
itude of editors and publishers is due and hereby expressed. No worthy
history of this county could have been written without such aid. Es-
pecialh^ valuable has been the volume published long ago by Judge
iVrad Thomas; the manuscripts embodying the researches of Dr.
Thomas F. Gushing, which he has generously placed in the custody of
the Orleans County Pioneer Association ; the work of Prof. Freeman
A. Greene in aiding in the preparation of the history of the educational
institutions of the county; the history of Free Masonry by George A.
Newell; the account of the Odd Fellows Order by John H. White; the
History of the Town of Clarendon recently published by David S. Cope-
land, and the personal assistance of county and town officers, newspaper
editors, and many others.

The editor of the work desires to make especial acknowledgment of
the great assistance rendered him in his part of the labor by Edwin L.
Wage and Herbert T. Reed, and to render due acknowledgment to
Dr. Thomas Gushing for his part in the preparation of the articles on
the land purchases, and for several articles, some of which were pre-
pared especially for this work and others of which were prepared bv
him for other works and rewritten, in whole or in part, by him and used
in this work by his permission.



CONTENTS-



CHAPTER I.

Original Counties — Montgomery County and its Subdivisions— Act Erecting

Orleans Count}-— Map of Original Genesee Count} - The County Seat_ 1

CHAPTER 11.

General Topography of the County— " The Ridge "—Geological Formations

— Tonawanda Swamp — SaltSprings — Streams. 8

CHAPTER HI.

Original Occupants of the Soil — Cessions of Lands— Pre-Historic and Indian Re-
mains — Review of Events Leading to Settlement by White Men. 20

CHAPTER IV.

Original Claims and Titles — Boundaries of the Province of New York — Gradual
Encroachment of White Men upon Indian Territory — Conflicting Claims of
New York and Massachusetts — The Dispute Settled at Hartford — The Phelps
and Gorham Purchase — The Morris Reserve — The Transit Line— The Con-
necticut Tract — The Holland Land Company — Indian Title Extinguished —
Survey of Orleans County — Policy of the Holland Land Company 81

CHAPTER V.

Indian Trails — The Ridge and the Ridge Road — The Lake as an Early Avenue
of Transportation and Travel — Construction of Early Roads — Building of
Mills — Legislation in relation to Roadmaking — Map of 1809. _ . 50

CHAPTER VI.

Early Settlements— Character of the Pioneers— Their Hardships and Privations ,
—The War of 1812-15— Effects of the ' ' Cold Summer "—Early Mills and Man-
ufactures—The Morgan Case— The Lake and its Traffic— Town Organiza-
tions and Formation of the County — Establishment of Schools and Churches. 55



vi CONTENTS.

CHAPTER VII.

Modes of Transportation and Travel in Early Years — Opening of the Erie Canal
— Changes Wrought by this Waterway — Early Public Legislation — The First
and Second Locations of the County Seat — The First Banks — Railroads — The
' ' Hard Times " of 1837-38— A Deplorable Accident. 61

CHAPTER YIII.

Outbreak of the Great Civil War — Enthusiasm of the People — The First Organi-
zation to Leave this County for the Seat of War — Formation of Other Organ-
izations—Number of Volunteers from the Various Towns — Death Roll of
Orleans Volunteers. 70

CHAPTER IX.

Sin ce the War — Business Activity and Plentitude of Money — Establishment of
Various Business and Public Undertakings — County Statistics— Civil List
— Political — Orleans County Pioneer and Historical Association 91

CHAPTER X.

Comparison of State Law with the Common Law — Evolution of the Courts— The
Court of Appeals — The Supreme Court — The Court of Chancery — The Coimtj-
Court — The Surrogate's Court — Justice's Court — District Attorneys — Sheriffs
— Court House — Judicial Officers — Personal Notes , 98

CHAPTER XI.
The Medical Profession 133

CHAPTER XII.
The Press of Orleans County. 145

CHAPTER XIII.

The Quarrying Industrj^— Its Development and Present Proportions— First

Quarry Opened — Operators and Owners — Statistics 152

CHAPTER XIV.
Secret Societies, Public Institutions, etc 161



CONTENTS. vii

CHAPTER XV.
Schools of Orleans County 1 m;

CHAPTER XVI.

The Town and Village of Albion. -jk;

CHAPTER XVn.
The Town of Ridgeway and Village of Medina. _ _ J'.i'J

CHAPTER XVni.
The Town of Murray ,. 378

CHAPTER XIX.
The Town of Gaines. 410

CHAPTER XX.
The Town of Barre. 4(51

CHAPTER XXI.
The Town of Shelby. •'••'■^

CHAPTER XXII.
The Town of Clarendon 556

CHAPTER XXIII.

The Town of Yates 588

CHAPTER XXIV.
The Town of Carlton ^-^

CHAPTER XXV.
The Town of Kendall - ^^'"^



viii CONTENTS.

PART II.
Biographies, 1-48

PART III.

Family Sketches, . 1-230

Index to Part I 331-234

Index to Part II ^335

Index to Part III 235-241

Index to Portraits 241-242



Landmarks of Orleans County.



CHAPTER I



Original Counties — Montgomery County and its Subdivisions— Act Erecting Orleans
County — Map of Original Genesee County — The County Seat.

The original ten counties of what is now the State of New York
were created November i, 1683, and named Albany, New York,
Dutchess, Kings, Queens, Orange, Richmond, Suffolk, Ulster, and
Westchester. On the nth of March, 1772, Montgomery county was
erected under the name of " Tryon," in honor of William Tryon,
governor of New York in 1771. The change in name was made in
1784, on account of the odium that attached to Tryon's name. He
was made a colonel in 1772 and a major-general in 1777, and led in
person the expeditions that destroyed Danbury, Fairfield, and Norwalk,
Conn. Montgomery county embraced nearly the whole of the western
and central part of the State. In 1789 all that part of the State lying
west of Phelps and Gorham's "pre-emption line," was erected into the
county of Ontario. In 1802 Genesee county was formed from that
part of the State lying west of the Genesee river. At the same time
the town of Northampton, which had theretofore embraced the whole of
the great Holland purchase, was divided into four towns, of which
Batavia included all of the State west of the west transit line, to be
described a little further on. In 1804 Batavia was likewise divided
into four towns, the easternmost one retaining the original name and
embracing the territory as far west as a line crossing the State from
Lake Ontario southward through the middle of what are now the towns
of Yates, Ridgeway, and Shelby, in Orleans county. The town next
west of this was named Willinck.
1



2 LANDMARKS OF

From Genesee county was erected Orleans county by the following
act of Legislature :

" Be it enacted by the people of the State of New York, represented in Senate and
Assembly, That all that part of the County of Genesee comprising the territory herein-
after mentioned, viz., the towns of Gaines, Barre, Murray, Clarendon, Ridgeway,
Yates and Oak Orchard, in the County of Genesee, shall, from and after the first day of
January, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and twenty-six, be a
separate and distinct county of the State of New York, and shall be known and distin-
guished by the name of "Orleans," and the freeholders and other inhabitants of the
County of Orleans shall have and enjoy all and every the same rights, powers and
privileges, as the freeholders and inhabitants of any of the counties of this State are by
Idw entitled to have and enjoy.

II. And be it further enacted, That there shall be held in and for the said county of
Orleans, a Court of Common Pleas and a Court of General Sessions of the Peace, to be
held in three terms, to commence as follows, to wit: The first term of the said courts
shall begin on the third Tuesday of February, the second term shall begin on the third
Tuesday of May, and the third term shall begin on the third Tuesday of September in
each and every year; and each of the teims of said courts may continue to be held
until the next Saturday following the third Tuesdays inclusive. And the said Courts
of Common Pleas and General Sessions of the Peace shall have the same jurisdiction,
powers and authority in the said county, as Courts of Common Pleas and General
Sessions of the Peace in the other counties of the State in their respective counties:
Provided, That nothing in this act shall be construed to affect any writ or action in
any court or action whatsoever already commenced, or which shall be commenced
before the third Tnesday of May, 1826, so as to work a wrong or to prejudice the
parties therein, or to affect any criminal or other proceeding on the part of the people
of this State; but all such civil and criminal proceedings shall and may be prosecuted
to trial, judgment and execution, as if this act had not been passed.

III. And be it further enacted, That Samuel G. Hathaway, of the county of Cort-
land, Philetus Swift, of Ontario county, and Victory Birdseye of Onondaga county,
shall be commissioners for the purpose of examining and impartially determining the
proper site for a court house and gaol to be erected in the said county of Orleans; and
when the said commissioners, or any two of them, having so determined, shall put
their determination in writing, with their signatures and seals affixed thereto, and
cause the same to be filed in the clerk's office of the said county of Orleans, such deter-
mination shall be final and conclusive in the premises ; and it shall be the duty of the
said commissioners to meet and examine, and to make known their said determination
of the site of the said court house and gaol, on or before the first Monday of June,
1826. And the said commissioners shall be entitled to receive the sum of three dollars
per day for every day they may be necessarily employed on said service, which sum
shall be levied, collected and paid, as part of the contingent expenses of the said county
of Orleans.

IV. And be it further enacted. That the first term of the Court of Common Pleas
and General Sessions of the Peace for the said county, shall be held at the house of



ORLEANS COUNTY. 3

Selah Bronson, in the town of Gaines, and all of the subsequent terms of the said
Courts of Common Pleas and General Sessions of the Peace in and for the said county,
at such place within the said county of Orleans as the Judges of the Courts of
Common Pleas in and for said county shall from time to time appoint, until the court
house in and for said county shall be erected, and so far furnished as to be, in the
opinion of the Judges, convenient to hold their courts therein, and said Courts of Com-
mon Pleas and General Sessions of the Peace shall thenceforth be holden in and for
said county in said court house.

V. And be it further enacted, That it shall and may be lawful for all courts and
officers in said county of Orleans, in all cases civil and criminal, to confine the prisoners
in the gaol of the county of Genesee; and it shall be the duty of the sheriif of the
county of Genesee to receive the said prisoners into custody, and retain them until such
time as there shall be a sufficient gaol prepared in the county of Orleans, or they shall
be discharged by due course of law.

VI. And be it further enacted. That it shall be the duty of the Judges of the Court
of Common Pleas and General Sessions of the Peace in and for the said county of
Orieans, as soon as a site of the court house and gaol shall be fixed and determined
on by said commissioners appointed for that purpose, to lay out the gaol liberties in
such manner as they shall deem most suitable and convenient for the prisoners who
may be confined thereon, not exceeding one hundred acres, in a square or parallelo-
gram, as near as may be.

VII. And be it further enacted, That the said county of Orleans shall be entitled to
elect one Member of Assembly, in the same manner as the other counties of this State
are by law entitled to elect; and the county of Genesee shall be entitled to elect three
Members of Assembly.

VIII. And be it further enacted. That it shall be the duty of the supervisors and
county treasurers of the counties of Genesee and Orleans, to meet on the first Monday
of June, 1826, and at the court house in the town of Batavia, in the county of Genesee,
and apportion and divide all debts belonging to the county of Genesee, and apportion
such part thereof as shall be just and equitable to the said county of Orleans.

IX. And be it further enacted. That it shall be the duty of the supervisors of the said
county of Orleans, to meet at the house of Selah Bronson, in Gaines, on the first Mon-
day of June, 1826, and that the supervisors, or a majority of them, shall there appoint
commissioners to supervise the erection and building of a court house and gaol, on such
site within the county of Orleans, as the commissioners for that purpose in and by this
act appointed, shall designate; Provided, that a suitable and convenient lot or lots
therefor shall have been first conveyed to the supervisors of said county of Orleans, and
to their successors forever : and whenever a gaol shall be so far completed, as, in the
opinion of the sheriff of the said county it will be safe to remove the prisoners thereto, it
shall and may be lawful for the said sheriff to remove all his prisoners then confined
in the gaol of the county of Genesee, to the gaol of the county of Orleans, and such
removal shall not be considered or deemed an escape.

X. And be it further enacted, That the first annual meeting of the Board of Super-
visors for said county shall be held at the house now occupied by the said Selah Bron-



4 LANDMARKS OF

son, in Gaines aforesaid, on the first Tuesday of October, 1826, and being so met they
sliall cause to be assessed, levied, collected and paid into the treasury of the said county,
the sum of $3,000, and at the first annual meeting thereafter, the further sum of $3,000,
over and above the ordinary fees of collection and distribution, in like manner as taxes
to defray the contingent charges and expenses of said county are assessed, levied and
collected.

XI. And be it further enacted, That said commissioners, or a majority of them, may
contract with workmen, and purchase materials, for building the said court house and
gaol, and shall from time to time draw upon the treasurer of said county for such sums
of money, for the purpose aforesaid, as shall come into the treasury by virtue of this
act; and the treasurer is hereby required, out of the monies aforesaid, to pay to the
order of said commissioners, or a majority of them, the several sums of money to be by
them drawn for : and it is hereby made the duty of the said commissioners to account
with the supervisors of the said county of Orleans for the monies which they shall
have received from the treasurer, when thereunto required.

• XII. And be it further enacted. That the commissioners appointed in and by this
act, for the superintending the erection of the public buildings in and for the said
county of Orleans, shall, before they enter upon the duties of said office, give bonds,
with approved sureties, to the supervisors of said county, for the faithful expenditure
of the monies committed to their charge for that purpose ; and they shall each of them
be entitled to receive the sum of two dollars per day for each day they may be employed
in the duties of that office : and the amount of their charge shall be levied and collected
in like manner as other contingent expenses of said county are levied and collected.

XIII. And be it further enacted, That the sheriff of the county of Orleans shall be
liable to the supervisors of the county of Genesee for the maintenance of all criminal
prisoners which he may commit for confinement in the gaol of the county of Genesee,
and that the supervisors of the said county of Orleans are required to levy the amount
of the charges for the maintenance of such persons in the same manner as other con-
tingent expenses are levied and collected in the said county, and to order the treasurer
to pay over the same to the sheriff for the payment of the supervisors of the said
county of Genesee.

XIV. And be it further enacted. That it shall be the duty of the supervisors and
judges of the court of Common Pleas of the county of Orleans to meet at the house of
Selah Bronson, in said county, on the third Monday of May, 1826, for the purposes of
nominating justices of the peace in said county, and when thus assembled, they shall
proceed in the manner directed by the act entitled, "An act regulating the time and
manner of electing general State officers, justices of the peace, and prescribing the num-
ber of coroners to be elected in each county, by the people," passed April 12, 1822, and
the proceedings therein shall be as valid and effectual as if the same had taken place at
the time prescribed in said act ; and that the presentjustices of the peace in said county
shall hold their offices until the new appomtments are made.

XV. And be it further enacted, That an election for sheriff, clerk and coroner in said
county shall be held therein on the first Tuesday of April, 1826, and the two succeed-
ing days, which election shall be conducted in all respects in the manner now prescribed



ORLEANS COrNTY. 5

by "An act to regulate elections," passed April 17, 1822 ; and the sheriff, clerk and
coroner then elected shall hold their respective oiBces for the same time as if they had
been chosen at the last election held in this State agreeably to the requirements of said
act.

XVI. And be it further enacted. That the clerk of said county of Orleans shall do
and perform all the duties enjoined by law on county treasurer, until there shall be a
treasurer appointed.

XVII. And be it furtherenacted, That the said county of Orleans shall be a part of
the Twenty-ninth Congressional District, and shall remain a part of the eighth Senate
District of this State.

XVIII. And be it further enacted, That the inhabitants of the territory by this act
incorporated into a new county, shall until the organization of the same as such, be
exempted from all taxes, other than the contingent and ordinary taxes which may
hereafter be assessed or imposed upon the said county of Genesee. This act was passed
November 12, 1824.

The town of Shelby was annexed to Orleans county from Genesee
county, April 5, 1825. Later subdivisons of the territory in this region
have left the present boundaries of this county as follows : On the
north by Lake Ontario; on the east by Monroe county; on the south
by Genesee county, and on the west by Niagara county. The county
seat was at first established in the town of Gaines, and the act provided
for the organization of courts and the county government, as described
in a later chapter.

The whole of the county west of the transit line (all embraced in the
Holland Purchase) was originally included in the town of Ridgeway,
which was erected from the great town of Batavia June 8, 18 12. Mur-
ray was taken from the old town of Northampton April 8, 1808, and
originally included Kendall, which was taken from it April 7, 1837.
Clarendon was taken from Sweden February 23, 1821 (then in the
county of Genesee.) Ridgeway was first divided by setting ofif the
town of Gaines February 4, 1816, the latter then including the present
towns of Barre (taken off March 6, 1813); Albion, (taken off from Barre
in 1875) ; and a part of Carlton. Carlton was formed from Gaines and
Ridgeway April 3, 1825. Shelby and Yates were taken from Ridge-
way, the former March 6, 18 18, and the latter April 17, 1822.

The first meeting of the Board of Supervisors of Orleans county was
held at the house of Selah Bronson, in the village of Gaines, in pursu-
ance of the act above quoted. A joint meeting of the Boards of Super-
visors of the counties of Genesee and Orleans was held in Batavia on



LANDMARKS OF



the 7th of June, 1825, for the purpose of efifecting a settlement between
the two counties. An agreement was there consummated that the
county of Orleans should be considered one-fourth of the whole valua-
tion of both counties, and the moneys and indebtedness of the two
counties was apportioned on that basis^.




Outlines of the Original County of Genfsee, from the NORxnEAST corner of which Orleans County

WAS TAKEN.



ORLEANS COUXTY. 7

Gaines was made the county seat of the new county, but only for a
short time. Commissioners, consisting of Victory Birdseye, of Onon-
daga county; Philetus Swift, of Ontario county; and Samuel G. Hath-
away, of Cortland county, were appointed to locate the county seat,
and the public buildings, as before stated. Gaines was then the most
prosperous village in the new county, while Albion had the advantage
of being located on the new canal as well as on the Sandy Creek. There
was considerable strife over the matter, but the activity and persistence
of the leading men of Albion finally prevailed, and the county seat was
fixed at that village. It has since been sufficiently demonstrated in
various ways that this was a wise choice.^

The first meeting of the Board of Supervisors held in Albion took
place on the i6th of June, 1826, at which steps were taken towards
providing court and other county buildings, as described in the chapter
devoted to the legal profession.

1 " The commissioners came to consider the claims of the rival villages about the middle of the
dry season. Mr. Nehemiah IngersoUj Philetus Bumpiis, Henry Henderson, and a few other
Albion men determined to use a little strategy to help Albion. Knowing when the commissioners
would be here, the creek would be too low to move the saw mills, and foreseeing the advantage
a good mill stream would give them, they patched the two dams and flumes and closed the gates
to hold all the water some days before the commissioners would arrive ; sent some teams to haul
logs and lumber about the saw mill and mill yard in the village, to mark the ground and give the
appearance of business there. When the commissioners came to see Albion, having been gener-
ously dined and wined by hospitable people, they were taken in a carriage to see the place, and in



Online LibraryIsaac S. SignorLandmarks of Orleans County, New York → online text (page 1 of 115)