Livingston County Historical Society (N.Y.).

Annual meeting of the Livingston County Historical Society, Volumes 1-15 online

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Online LibraryLivingston County Historical Society (N.Y.)Annual meeting of the Livingston County Historical Society, Volumes 1-15 → online text (page 39 of 64)
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minus to the Erie rail road and completed it in 1852.

After a four year rest work was resumed on the canal, but its
completion in 1857 was like the respite that reaches the victim after
his execution. The lumber it had been designed to float away had
been hauled at heavy cost to Mt. Morris. Though all were ready to
welcome the G. V. R. R. in its stead the town is now tantalized by a
rail road without a depot " Mountains and rivers interposed make
enemies of nations," and of neighborhoods as well. Neither Portage-
ville, Oakland or Hunts Hollow was centrally located. Local feuds
became more bitter than party strife. In the spring of 1 846 the
electors in town meeting assembled at Portageville voted almost
unanimously for a division of the town along the course of the river.
By a similar vote the east side retaining the name and three-fifths of

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the area chose to go with Nunda into Livingston county, while the
west side, the ninth town derived from the first Nunda, went with
Pike and Eagle into Wyoming county, named Genesee Falls.

The Phoenix grist mill containing the town clerk's office and
records was burned in 1868; another does not rise from its ashes.
The waters of the Genesee now turn no mill wheel in Portage. The
Kishaqua dances down its course unvexed by the many mill dams
that stayed its course and taxed its power, till it reaches the grist mill
and machine shop of Oakland. Every summer its bed is dry near
the Erie rail road where once were busy mills. The only saw mill
run by water left, is driven by an intermittent pond in a tiny brook.
Unlike the older towns the population of Portage has been ever
-changing. In district number one. where once were near a hundred
relativeis, mostly Drakes and Millers, not one of the lineage remains.
The descendants of the pioneers of Portage remaining in its limits
are comparatively few, while the earlier pioneers whose children oc-
cupy their original locations may be counted on one's hand, viz :
David Bennett, Frederick Gearhart, H. M. and R. W. Thompson
and George Williams.

On motion of Dr. Mills, the papers submitted were referred to
the Committee on Publication for preparation for the society pam-

On motion of President Perine, Vice-President Richmond in
the chair. Dr. James C. Jackson and Rev. Dr. Geo. W. Peck were
made honorary members of the society. Dr. Perine presented also
the foUomng list of applicants for membership in the society, and
they were duly elected ; Messrs. John T. McCurdy, B. H. Oberdorf,
C. H. Rowe, W. R. McFarren, J. M. McNair, Chas. Sutfin, A. B.
VanNuys, H. C. Sedgwick, Albert Sweet, Leonard Kuhn, W. T.
Spinning, F. H. Dyer, F. W. Noyes, G. W. DeLong, J. M. Edwards,
E. H. Readshaw, O. Woodruff, James Faulkner, Thos. Fowler, J.
A. VanDerlip, Emerson Johnson, J. J. Bailey, L. B. Faulkner, J. E.
Crisfield, Albert Leffingwell, E. D. Leflftngwell, James H. Jackson,
<}. Bastian, A. P. Burkhart, S. Sturgeon, J. C. W^hitehead, C. W.
Woolever, H. W. DeLong, James Krein, Fritz Durr, J. S. Murdock,
<Jeo. A. Sweet, Wm. Kramer, M. McCartney, B. P. Andrews, all of
Dansville, and S. W. Tenney and William Driesbach of Sparta.

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Mrs. Majigaret Stillwell and F. D. Lake of Nunda, Ezra W. Clark of
Conesus and H. D. Kingsbury of Livonia were also elected members.
The following officers and committees were chosen for the en-
suing year :

President— Hon. Isaac Hampton.

Vice-President— Hon. William Hamilton.

Secretary and Treasurer — Norman Seymour.

Board of Councilmen— M. H. Mills, Chairman, B. F. Angd, Charles Shep-
ard, William Hamilton, David McNair, J. A. Dana, C. D. Bennett, C. H. Swan,
E. L. McFetridge.

Standing Committees. *

Publication— M. H. Mills, N. Seymour, F. D. Lake.

Fmance— E. H. Davis, M. Wiard, C. K. Sanders.

Membership — H. D. Kingsbury, A. D. Coe, F. M. Ferine.

Necrology— W. A. Brodie, A. O. Bunnell, E. H. Davis.

Town Commitiees.

Avon— E. H. Davis. N. Dansville— Frank Fielder.

Caledonia— A. H. McLean. Nunda— E. W. Packard.

Conesus— A. D. Coe. Ossian— W. M. White.

Geneseo— W. A. Brodie. Portage— C. D. Bennett

Groveland — W. W. Wise. Sparta — John Logan.

Leicester — A. M. Wooster. Springwater— E. N. Curtice.

Lima— A. T. Norton. West Sparta — David McNair.

Livonia — H. D. Kingsbury. York— Alexander Reid.
Mt. Morris — L. J.Ames.

The Evening Meeting.

A public meeting was held at Music Hall in the evening, which
was attend by a fine audience of ladies and gentlemen. Exercises
were commenced with prayer by Rev. George K. Ward. President
Ferine then delivered the following address : •

Ladies and Gentlemen, Members of the Livingston County Historical Society :

In behalf of the citizens of Dansville I extend to you a cordial
welcome to the eleventh annual meeting of this society. I shall tax
your patience but briefly. Then you shall have the pleasure of listen-
mg to one whose address will be to your edification and pleasure.

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The object of this society is lo collect and compile fragments of
iiistory of Western New York and of Livingston County in particular.
The society is young, but il has done much in its important line of
work. A brief resume of its history can best be told by reproducing
the following from the Advertiser of recent date : * * *

Thus you see our efforts have not been altogether in vain.
Much has been accomplished, but much remains yet to be done.
The field is wide, research fruitful, the accomplishments great But
we lack for laborers. I fear too litttle has been done by some of
our town committeemen, and that our members generally have Been
too lax in efforts to secure a larger attendance at our annual meet-
ings and to increase our membership in each town.

Since our last meeting death has removed from us two of our
•oldest members, Solomon Hitchcock and Jotham Clark, Sr., both *,
of Conesus. A record of their lives has been referred to the Com-
mittee on Necrology. Death has been especially busy in the nation.
Within the past year we have been called upon to chronicle the death
of more noted men in our country than probably for any twelvemonth
in our national history, — great and noble men, eminent in their re-
spective callings, men whose lives are made conspicuous by great
deeds in both civil and military life. The noble patriot and briUiant
military genius, Gen. U. S. Grant, Gen. McClellan, Gen. Hancock,
Gov. Tilden, Gov. Seymour (an honorary member of our society),
Vice-President Hendricks, Ex-President Arthur, and latest but by no
means least, Gen. Logan, the soldier's friend and idoL As has been
tersely and truthfully said of him by a recent wnter, " Not a stain
could any where be found, not a shadow of a suspicion which reflect-
ed upon his honor. In thirty years of public life he was seen to have
been utterly irreproachable. He died with a reputation white as the
driven snow. Such is the legacy he leaves to the nation, to her who
was so long his companion and his help-meet, and to the children
who have blessed his home. Capable, courageous, pure — such was
John A. Logan. Long will he live in the memory of his country-
men ; long will his impress remain upon the legislation of the country.
Great soul ! a nation mourns thy departure, but coming millions
await to do thee honor."

Western New York, Livingston County, Dansville, yea, the very
spot upon which this village stands, is historic ground. This valley
extending from the city of Rochester to our beautiful village, bound-
ed by forest-crowned hills and vine-clad slopes, with its deep alluvial
soil spreading out for many miles at the north, and then narrowing
until it is lost in the hills south of us — displays as beautiful and pro-
ductive territory as lies beneath the canopy of heaven.

Is it a wonder that the red men selected this as their abode and
garden ? Their favorite camping ground was a little east of Main

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and north of Ferine street in this village ; their burial place a little
north from here on Main street, about where the German Lutheran
-church now stands. Many fragments of skeletons have been there
exhumed, with implements of warfare and cooking utensils. The
first white settler came to this locality in 1787, just one century ago.
Among and succeeding them were revolutionary soldiers who had
endured hardships and privations (which only a soldier can appreciate
or comprehend) to leave to future generations a constitution and
government which we of to-day enjoy, and challenge the civilized
world to equal But their toils and theh* hardships were not ended
with their settlement here. They were entering upon the trials and
perplexities of a pioneer life which were in many respects greater and
more arduous than those of a soldier's life. But they were equal to
the emergency, and we see and reap the fruits of their labors.

It seems hardly credible that this vast region of Western New
York was then one unbroken wilderness with scarcely a clearing
for purposes of cultivation. Yet it is true. Within the past century
the whole county has been developed. The city of Rochester (the
founder of which first settled in Dansville) has grown from a little ham-
let to one of the most thriving cities in the state. With a population
of 125,000 and with numerous industries constantly increasing, it bids
fair to rival the largest cities. Buffalo has grown from a small village
in 1802 to be one of the first commercial cities of the state, with a
corresponding growth of large villages, and a growth of agricultural
interests, keeping steady pace with the improvements of the nine-
teenth century. But the progress of Western New York is not ex-
ceptional. The whole country has made gigantic strides. Its de-
velopment has been the wonder of the world, the marvel of the age.

Members of the Livingston County Historical Society, shall we
not, catching this spirit of progress, redouble our energies to increase
the membership of the society until it shall include the public-spirited
citizens of every town, and thus increasing the number of laborers in
the historical vineyard, be enabled to endow with rich fruitage those
who may succeed us ?

The following memorials were then read :


Edward P. Fuller, a member of the Livingston County Histori-
cal Society, who died since the last annual meeting, was born in the
village of Geneseo, Livingston County, N. Y., October 29th, 1820,
in a house now standing on Second street in that village and occu-
pied by Zirmi H. Austin, but then located on Main street on the
site of the Allen Ayrault residence, now the Big Tree Inn. He

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came of good stock, being a direct descendant of Dr. Samuel Fuller
who landed on the western shores from the historic Mayflower, and
for many years was physician to the Plymouth colony and a deacon
in the church — quoting the language of the subject of this sketd),
" thus accounting, partially, for a very small vein of piety coursing
through my veins, which I could not possibly have received except
by inheritance." His father, Philo C. Fuller, was a prominent figure
in the early history of Livingston County, a soldier in the war of
i8i 2, a lawyer by profession, a trusted clerk of the elder James
Wadsworth and a representative in both state and national legisla-

Edward P. Fuller's early years were spent in Geneseo where he
attended the district school and afterwards the Geneseo academy on
Temple Hill, with Prof. Felton afterward president of Harvard col-
lege as one of his teachers, and having as classmates, among others,
£ben N. Hosford afterward a professor in Harvard, also Henry V.
Colt, Charles Jones and Zimri H. Austin, each of whom yet reside
in sight of historic Temple Hill. He finished his education at the
age of seventeen years at the Canandaigua academy and then entered
upon a few weeks experience as clerk in a village store, which not bc-
mg to his liking he accompanied his parents to Adrian, Mich., to which
place his father removed to accept the position of bank cashier and
presiient of the first railroad built in Ohio or Michigan. In 1845 he
returned to this county and entered the land office of Hon. Charles
Carroll, whose daughter Cornelia Granger he married in May, 1850,
their home being in the town of Groveland. From this time until
1862 he was actively engaged in cattle raising and other branches of
farming, in the management of his own and his wife's prop^ty, and
was one of the most prominent citizens of the town, representing it
the board of supervisors in 185 1, 1859, i860, 1861 and 1862. For
five or six years prior to 1868 he made Geneseo his home, in which
year he removed to Grand Rapids, Mich., where he engaged in bank-
ing with his brother Samuel L. Fuller. I believe he aJso engaged
quite extensively in cattle raising, his good business qualifications
ensuring his success in both callings. Retiring from active business
pursuits in 1875, he passed the remaining years of his life in caring
for his property and in the enjoyment of social and domestic happi-
ness with his gifted wife who survives him. His death occured June
20th, 1886.

Mr Fuller was not a man of many words and were he to express
a desire respecting such a paper as this, it would be that words be
not multiplied. A few years ago at a semi-centennial reunion of the
" old boys of Temple Hill," he used these words of himself in a vein
of pleasantry, which I quote as characteristic and true — " Financially,
and I reckon socially, if not piously, I have been a success. Have

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aimed through life to keep my character, credit and record dear and
without blemish, and flatter myself I have done about as well as most

I will use in closing the words of a classmate and life long friend :

Mr. Fuller possessed marked traits of character. As a boy and
man he was unusually ardent in his friendships. For his early asso-
ciates he ever retained the fondest affection, in their success he. inter-
ested himself personally, and no misfortunes lessened his zeal in their
behalf. He passionately loved his birthplace, absence never weaned
him from it He always returned with increasing delight to ** the
Valley," charmed by its beauty and fertility and venerating the indus-
try, probity and intelligence of its inhabitants. Our friend scorned
meanness, in denunciation of it he was outspoken and unsparing.

As a man of business he was enthusiasic, methodical and far
seeing. His success was not accidental but the legitimate result of
close attention and good judgment. Mr. Fuller possessed in a large
d^ree that greatest of gifts. Charity. His benevolerice was not that
kind that seeks notoriety, but the better sort that lets not the left
hand know what the right hand doeth.

As friend, neighbor, citizen, husband and father he acted well
his part. To those who knew him best, his death will be the great-
est loss,


[Read by H. D. Kingsbury].

IcHABOD Clark was born at Bedford, Westchester county, N. Y.,
in 1 766, and at the age of twenty was married to Sarah Weed aged
fifteen years. They remained in Westchester county a few years and
then with others sought a home in a new country, going up the Hud-
son to Albany and thence to Milton, Saratoga county, N. Y. Here
the young farmer encountered many of the responsibilities and priva-
tions of pioneer life when nothing but perseverance would enable
him to pay interest and principal on land, feed, clothe and educate an
increasing family. Here Jotham was born March 8th, 1794, and
was the fourth son of a family of fifteen, consisting of ten sons and
five daughters. The father's idea of an education was that it was
sufficient for a young man to read, spell and write, understand ciph-
ering as far as the rule of three, and to be able to compute interest.
These requirements Jotham had mastered before he was fifteen, and
for two or three years had only attended school in winter, the older
boys having been kept in school that they might arrive at the desired
educational limit. In 1809 the father sold his farm and moved to
Caynga county, settling in the town of Springport. Here the son

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resided with the parents in the pursuit of husbandry seven years. Ini
Nov., 1816, he made a trip to the Genesee counUy on horseback,
and purchased a right to a farm in what was then Groveland, Ontario-
county, now Conesus, Livingston county, N. Y. April 6th, 181 7, he-
was married to Marry Ann Adams, and one week from the day of
their marriage arrived with his bride in a f lumber wagon which
brought all their possessions. That farm was the home of both to^
the day of their death. The wife who was only a few months the
younger, died May 13th, 1881, in her 87th year. The husband
January 5th, 1887, aged 92 years and 10 months. Their family con-
sisted of nine children, five sons and four dai^hters. Four of the
family preceded the father to the tomb, Mrs. Harriet C. Baker died
1844, Wealthy in 1846. J. Adams in 1858, Dewitt C. in 1882. The
five surviving children are Ozro Clark of Mt Morris, Ezra W., Mrs.
Mary Ann, wife of Wm. S. Gray, Jotham, Jr., and Miss Matilda, all
of Conesus.

The funeral was largely attended from the old homestead Satur-
day, Jan. 8th. The services were conducted by Rev. Mr. Barber of
Livonia and Rev. Mr. Marean of Rochester. Very peacefully this
long life ebbed away. He told those around him on New Year's
day how well he remembered the almanac hung beneath his mother's
looking-glass with the figures 1800 on it. And to a recent date how
much he could recount of the changes wrought in the intervening 86
years, impressing those with whom he conversed of the vigor of the
intellect of the nonagenarian. But although he had reached such
longevity, he never possessed extraordinary physical strength, and
often affirmed that he could not have lived had he not taken good
care of himself. His was a busy life. In the early settlement of the
country he had much to do in a public capacity, in his own town,
holding various offices from highway commissioner to supervisor,
holding the latter office several times. He was much interested in
the scheme for a railroad through Livingston county and when the
Buffalo & Conhocton Valley railroad company opened books for sub-
scription to stock he took an active part in getting subscribers and
afterward in collecting for the company. He was the last survivor of
thirteen directors, appointed to build the road. In 1855 and for sev-
eral years he was interested in pine lands at the North West and
made eight trips to the Mississippi, to St. Paul and Eau Claire, Wis.
Suffering from a paralytic stroke twenty years ago although not ap-
parently enfeebled he was admonished he must lessen his business,
cares and seek such comfort and ease as his home offered. He out-
lived by several years all his brothers and sisters. His parents were
Baptist people, his father a deacon in the church, and all of Mr.
Clark's early teachings were in conformity to that church, but for
fifty years he had entertained Unitarian sentiments vhich had

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Strengthened with advancing years and the growth of liberal
doctrines. He never was a church member, but was charitably dis-
posed towards all denominations, doing much to keep up religious
worship in his own town.

He was often heard to quote a remark of Theodore Parker,
" Fain would I live a little longer, the world is so beautiful and
friends so dear," and seemed as desirous to live as any young person.
Close, very close was the silken tie that bound him to his children
and descendants. When time shall have leveled the frozen earth on
his grave the numerous friends who partook of his hospitality and
delighted in the conversation of their aged friend rejoicing in the
strength of his well stored mind will find

" They never quite leave us, our friends who have passed
Through the shadow of death to the sunlight above.
A thousand sweet memories are holding them fast.
To the places they blessed with their presence and love."


Since our last meeting two of the most venerable members of
this society have died — Solomon Hitc .cock and Jotham Clark, Sr.,
both of the town of Conesus. Mr. Hitchcock died June 2d, 1886,
Mr. Clark within the past week. I have been requested by the
Chairman of the Committee on Necrology to present at this meeting
a memorial of Mr. Hitchcock. Solomon Hitchcock joined the
society at its sixth annual meeting in 1882, and the accession of this
venerable and thoughtful citizen was hailed as of good omen to the
society, an indication that it was growing into the estimation of
those whose good opinion it coveted, and whose sympathy and valu-
able services it would enlist. From the first Mr. Hitchcock took
active interest in all the work of the society, and braved cold and
storm to attend every meeting until the year of his death. He was
made Town Committeeman in 1882, and in 1885 contributed a val-
uable paper relative to pioneer days in Conesus, which was pub-
lished m the county newspapers and in the society pamphlet.

Solomon Hitchcock was born in Dutchess county in this state,
Nov. 14, 1809. He was a lineal descendant of Samuel Hitchcock,,
who about the year 1750 emigrated to America from Wales, and set-
tled in in Sharon Connecticut. When 17 years old Solomon went
.to Cornwall, Conn., and bound himself out to learn the carding wool
and cloth-dressing trade. But woolen factories soon destroyed that
trade, and at 22 he started on foot with all his worldly goods in a
handkerchief and came to Livingston county. This journey took
him a week, a distance since traveled by him in sixteen hours. Here
he got his fiarst start in the world by working on a farm at $12 per

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month in the summer and teaching school in log school houses for
from $12 to $14 per month in the winter, making his own fires,
^fitting most of his own wood and boarding around Referring to this
period in his life Mr. Hitchcock said : ** The branches taught in dis-
trict schools at that time were reading, writing, grammar, geography
and arithmetic. But now we send our sons to the normal school,
or some academic institution, where they learn Greek, Latin and
some of the * ologies,' but they can't hoe com, swing an axe or
scythe or flail, as their fathers did before them." A bit of keen
criticism on the modem dude worthy the sturdy old man.

Mr. Hiscock was married in November, 1 841, to Laura M. Coc,
who died February 9th, 1885. She was a daught^ of John C. Coe,
for many years a prominent citizen of Livonia. Mr. Hitchcock's
business was always farming ; at one time he engaged quite exten-
sively in raising fine wool sheep and was one of the first in the busi-
ness in this county. He was never a sp>eculator, and always believed
that no one so well knew the value of property as he who had by
hard labor acquired it He was scrupulously exact in every business
transaction, and had a clearly defined sense of the right He was
straightforward in all his intercourse with others, and no one needed
. to guess as to what were his opinions. He was a man seldom ia
humorous mood, yet he had a keen sense of the humorous and
enjoyed a good joke. He was not a politician, and never aspired to
any office higher than that of supervisor, in which position he fault-
lessly served his town in 1847, 1848, and 1868.

In religion he was a thorough and devout believer in the doc-
trines of universal salvation, the doctrine of the final hotioess and
happiness of all intelligent beings. He always cotributed generously
for the support of Universalism, locally and at large, and it was
mainly through his effcnts that the Universalist churdi in Conesus
was built and the new cemetery established.

At the time of his death he had been a resident of Cooesus 55
years. He lived to be the oldest male Hitchcock of whom we have
any record. He left one son, Mr. S. E. Hitchcock, heir to a hand-
some property honestly gained, and what is of infinitely greater value,

Online LibraryLivingston County Historical Society (N.Y.)Annual meeting of the Livingston County Historical Society, Volumes 1-15 → online text (page 39 of 64)