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History of Niagara county, N. Y., with illustrations descriptive of its scenery, private residences, public buildings, fine blocks, and important manufactories, and portraits of old pioneers and prominent residents online

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molasses.

EARLY TAVERNS.

Carrington Fisk was probably the first tavern-keeper
in the town. He came in from the Ridge road in 1808,
and opened a tavern at Royalton Center.

In 1816 Benjamin Barlow kept tavern half a mile south
of what is now Middleport. The locality was called by
turns "Peeneyville," "Pucker,'' "Tea Pot Hollow,"
" Barlow's Corners," " Taylor's Corners,'' " Ewing's
Corners," and is at present "Freeman's Corners.''

In 1818 John McNall opened a tavern at what is now
McNall's Corners, west of Royalton Center, on the old
Niagara road.

In 1820 Alexander Lafferty kept tavern southeast of
Royalton Center, on the old Lewiston road, where John
Weyand now lives.

About this time Levi Cole opened a hotel in a little log
house that stood where the drug store now stands at the
corner of Main and State streets, Middleport. Soon
after this a frame house was put up on the opposite cor-
ner, when Squire Cole changed locations, and kept there
until after the canal went through the place.

FIRST SCHOOLS.

The firpt. school-house in the town was probably in the
Slaton Settlement, or near it, as that was the neighborhood
earliest settled. In those days schools were few and far
between. In 1818 there was a school-house on the farm
now owned by S. Weyand, in what is now district No. 23,



35°



HISTORY OF NIAGARA COUNTY, NEW YORK.



and it was the only one south of the old Military road at
that time. The first teacher was Margaret Pixley; she
taught during the summer, and Dr. John McLoth during
the winter of the same year. Among the surviving pupils
are Heman Swift and his brothers and sisters.

COURSE OF TRADE AND MANUFACTURE.

In 1804 Marvin Harwood, from Vermont, opened- a
small store in the Slaton Settlement. He had to haul his
goods, what few he had, from some eastern point by ox-
teams, on carts, wagons or sleds, as circumstances and
the condition of the roads would permit.

About 1818 a store was opened at McNall's Corners,
also one at Barlow's, now Freeman's Corners.

James Northam was the first merchant at Middleport,
beginning business in 1822.

The exact date cannot be obtained of the building of
the first saw-niills in this town, but enough is known to
warrant saying that previous to 1820 there were saw-mills
at Mabee's and Asher Freeman's, and a Mr. Sleeper had
a mill where the paper-mill now stands in Middleport.
Mr. Bennet also had a mill in the early days of the town
on the site of De Lano's mill in Middleport, and Welch
worked one near Green's burying ground.

Mabee's, a little east of Gasport, was probably the first
grist-mill in the town, yet Middleport also claims the
honor, while some of the oldest inhabitants say the first
mill was southwest from where Colonel Odell now lives,
on J. Richardson's farm. F. B. Lane and James North-
am had mills here quite early. The earliest date is prob-
ably about 1820.

In 1828 there was a carding-mill on the mill-site now
occupied by the Heading mill in Middleport. Mr. Welch
also operated a carding-mill near the Green burying
ground, on the farm now owned by J. Richardson.

Mr. Benjamin B. Barlow operated a distillery in 1817
at Barlow's Corners. He also had, an ashery, and was
extensively engaged in the manufacture of potash. John
Mabee, at what is known as Mabee's Station, ran a dis-
tillery in 1 82 1.

G. and E Mather operated a small tannery, and also
carried on the boot and shoe trade, at Middleport in 1824.
In 1840 John Van Brocklin built and operated the first
and only blast furnace in this town, located at the corner
of Vernon qnd State streets, Middleport. It is still stand-
ing, and operated by his son.

Varney Gaskill opened the first shop for blacksmithing
in the town in 1803. Asa Scott carried on the black-
smith business at Barlow's Corners in 1817. In 1820 or
1821 Smith & Calkin's did a large business at blacksmith-
ing at what is now Middleport.

I |The first man who made tailoring a business in this
town, was John Macker, in the year 1830. His shop was
in Middleport. He was succeeded in turn by Brideman,
Snell, Stone and Charles Wilcox.

Mrs. Bentley and Mrs. Colton, both living near
McNall's Corners, were the first in the town who made
a business of weaving for their neighbors, thus earning a
large share of the support for their families.



PROFESSIONAL MEN.

Dr. Packard was the earliest resident physician in this
town. He located here in 181 7. He lived about a mile
southwest of what is now Middleport. Dr. Chatterton
soon followed Dr. Packard, and resided here for some
time.

In 1820 Dr. John McLoth was the resident physician
for the south end of the town, and boarded at Lafferty's
tavern on the old Niagara road.

Dr. Peter P. Murphy located at Royalton Center in
1835, and has been a practicing physician at that place
ever since.

Dr. P. Faling is the oldest physician at Reynale's
Basin, on the Erie Canal, and resided there for many
years.

Dr. F. L. Knapp resides at Mabee's, on the canal, east
of Gasport.

Dr. Moore, an old and respected physician, resides on
the mountain opposite Mabee's.

Dr. E. Hurd was one of the early physicians of this
town. Dr. John Duff located at Royalton Center in
1874, and is still in the line of his duty.

Doctors Cole, Gedney, Gould and Garbeck are located
in Middleport.

William Smith came to the settlement in 1804. For a
while his services as surveyor were not required; but as
soon as the country began to be settled, and large land
holders began to divide up their tracts, and new settlers
came in, Mr. Smith's compass and chain were brought
into requisition, when he soon gained a reputation second
to none, as a surveyor in this section of country.

POST-OFFICES.

Previous to the establishment of post routes in this
town, which was not until 1826, Batavia was the nearest
office. The neighbors would club together, put a boy
on a horse, and about once a month he could be seen
wending his way through forest and stream, around the
swamps, and along the seldom-used trail, to get, perchance,
half a dozen letters and papers for four times that num-
ber of families. Patiently the longing settlers waited the
return of their faithful post rider, and when he returned,
if no tidings came from loved ones, they did their best to
suppress the silent tears that would often betray their
sadness. But the advent of the Erie Canal, with its
swift-floating packets, gave the post-office department a
new lease of hfe, and post-offices were established all
along its banks. The first in this town was at Reynale's
Basin, and was called Royalton post-office. In a very
few years the office was moved to Royalton Center, by
which name it is still known; while Reynale's Basin was
dignified with a post-office by that name, which it still
retains, although receiving its mail through the Gasport
office. Since then the mail facilities have increased, so
that the town is well supplied. There are now six post-
offices in the town, viz., Middleport, Reynale's Basin,
Orangeport, Royalton Center, Gasport and Wolcotts-
ville.



ASSOCIATIONS AND LODGES IN ROYALTON.



351



FIRST BIRTH, MARRIAGE AND DEATH.

Daniel Vaughn was the first male child born in this
town, about 1806.

The first matrimonial affair in the town was in the
spring of 1810. Henry Ellsworth and Polly Cornish
were the contracting parties.

The first death that occurred in the town was that of
Mr. Ellsworth, in 1804.

ASSOCIATIONS AND LODGES.

CEMETERY ASSOCIATION.

The Mountain Ridge Cemetery Association was or-
ganized on the i6th of June, 1848. The cemetery is
located on the ridge, four and a half miles southwest of
Middleport, on the east side of the road leading to Roy-
alton Center, and contains eight and two-tenths acres
of land.

At the first meeting of the association Mr. Pynchon
Dwight was made chairman, and Hathaway Kurd secre-
tary. The trustees were divided into three classes, as
follows: first class, Philip Freeman, Alanson T. Odell,
N. W. Baldwin; second class, Oliver Brown, James Cul-
ver; third class, E. Odell, Stephen Green, Franklin
Knapp.

At a subsequent meeting, A. T. Odell was elected
president of the association, and has held the ofiice ever
since. Silas Knapp is the treasurer, and Linus S. Free-
man secretary.

The association about the ist of August, 1878, contracted
for an iron fence in front of the cemetery, the expense of
which was to be about $r,ooo.

MASONIC.

Cataract Lodge, No. 295, F. and A. M., located at
Middleport, was organized June nth, 1853, with the fol-
lowing charter members: Charles Craig, W. M.; Avery
S. Delano, S. W.; William S. Fenn, J. W. In October
following, twenty-two members appear on the roll of the
lodge. From that time to May, 1878, two hundred and
six had been raised to the degree of master mason in
this lodge.

The officers for the present year are: L. H. Spalding,
W. M.; E. J. Tuttle, S. W.; E. L. Downey, J. W.; B. F.
Freeman, treasurer; H. A. Robertson, secretary. The
present number of members enrolled is one hundred and
ten.

LIBRARY ASSOCIATION.

The Middleport Library Association was instituted in
1873 by Rev. James H. Dennis, who was then a resident
of that place. The first officers of the association were:
President, C. W. Gould; secretary, E. L. Downey; libra-
rian and treasurer, E. A. Phillips. The following were
the members: Rev. J. H. Dennis, Rev. W. McGovern,
Rev. H. H. Baker, H. K. Taylor, J. Densmore, Dr. Dow-
ney, Dr. Gould, H. A. Wilmot, E. A. Phillips. Their first
books were donated by the citizens of Middleport. In
order to procure a library worthy the cause a course of



lectures was inaugurated, and quite a sum was added to
the treasury. In the winter of 1874-75 the same means
was resorted to, and home talent put upon the lecture
course, which resulted in quite an addition to the library,
making in all 144 volumes of choice reading matter. The
present officers of the association are: President, C. W.
Gould; librarian and treasurer, Charles W. Laskey; trus-
tees, Linus Spalding, A. D. Filer, L. E. Chubbuck.

A. o. u. w.

Middleport Lodge, No. 54, Ancient Order of United
Workmen was organized January 3rd, 1877, by E. M.
Clark, D. D. G. M. W. This is a beneficiary institution
on the life-insurance plan. The heirs of a third de-
gree member receive two thousand dollars at his death.
The present officers are as follows : C. M. Garlock, W.
M.; C.W. Laskey, P. M. W.; S. S. Ballou, G. F.; G. Pew,
R.; C. M. Garlock, F.; C.W. Platts, Rec; James Lucor,
G.; G. E. Smith, O.; Henry Armstrong. J. W.; Charles
Hinman, O. W.; Dr. C. M. Garlock, medical examiner.
The number of members May 4th, 1878, was 34.

Cataract Lodge, No. 94, located at Gasport, was in-
stituted June 4th, 1877. At present there are thirty mem-
bers, and the following are the officers: Thomas Sterritt,
P. M. W.; C. H. Mitchell, M. W.; C. V. Mesler, record-
er; H. H. Bugby, receiver; I. W. Hayner, F.; Ruthvan
Kill, G.; J. S. Maynard, G. F.; E. Hunt, O.; J. R. Sha-
fer, J. W.; A. J. Smith, O. W. The lodge meets on the
first and third Tuesdays of each month.

TEMPERANCE.

Middleport Council, No. 23, Royal Templars of Tem-
perance, was instituted January 12th, 1871, with the fol-
lowing members, viz. : Linus S. Freeman, A. S. Freeman,
W. J. Sterritt, John Sage, A. D. Filer, R. B. Oliver, G. H.
Ohlendorf, B. V. Oliver, Henry McClean, George King,
C. W. Gould and H. R. Webber.

Middleport Lodge, No. 396, 1. O. of G. T., was organiz-
ed September 4th, 1867, with the following charter mem-
bers : L. S. Freeman, Mrs. L. S. Freeman, James S.
Wilkins, M. E. McKie, G. P. Stirling, C. J. Eddy, Jennie
Le "Valley, Mary McDonald, Josephine Reynolds, H. O.
Gregory, W. Bowman, J. Seaman, J. Johnson, R. Hunt,
Letty Gregory, Mrs. Hiram Porter, Myra Duncan, C.
Hinchey, J. Bennett, W. Youngs, S. Stride, W. Downs,
C. B. Strain. The following were the charter officers:

L. S. Freeman, W. C. T.; Jennie Le Valley, W. V. T.;
S. C. Church, W. C; John Seaman, W. S.; Mrs. L. S.
Freeman, W. A. S.; H. O. Gregory, W. F. S.; C. S. Eddy,
W. T.; W. Young, W. M.; Mary McDonald, W. D. M.;
Josephine Reynolds, W. I. G. ; John Johnson, W. O. G. ;
Letty Gregory, W. R. S.; Myra Duncan, W. L. S.; J_ S.
Wilkins, P. W. C. T.

WOLCOTTSVILLE.

This village is located in the southern part of the town,
a little northwest of the Tonawanda Reservation. The
land upon which the village is located was formerly
owned by Anson Wolcott, who purchased two thousand



3S2



HISTORY OF NIAGARA COUNTY, NEW YORK.



acres of the Holland Land Company, and located upon it
in 1847 and 1848. Previous to this,a Mr. Ehrick Sutherland
had "squatted" upon the southwest corner of the same
land. When Mr. Wolcott settled, he built a steam saw-
mill on the lot opposite, where Mr. Charles H. Schad now
has his store and residence. The well which he dug for
a supply of water for his mill is still in good condition
and ready for use. He employed a large number of
men in the manufacture of lumber, and the building he
used for a boarding house is now used by Mr. Schad as
his store, he having added a dwelling house to it.

At that time this place was a dense wilderness. Cleared
spots soon began to show themselves, and in 185 1 Mr.
Wolcott deeded his whole tract of land to four trustees,
viz.: Frederick Moll, Christian Moll, Frederick Weiland
and Carl Martins, who divided it into small lots, and in
1872 and 1873, seventy-five families of Germans from Prus-
sia settled here and located on such pieces of the land as
they drew by lot, as that was the way in which the differ-
ent parcels were disposed of, they being all of the same
price per acre and equally well located. About this time
Mr. Wolcott removed his saw-mill to Erie county. The
first hotel in the village was opened by Joseph Rhodes
in i856. The village contains two churches, seven hotels,
one cigar manufactory, five stores, three scnool-houses —
one a district school and two belonging to the two
churches; five wagon and blacksmith shops, one saw-
mill, about an equal number of log and frame houses,
and about one thousand inhabitants.

ROY ALTON CENTER
is located near the center of the town, on the Niagara
road, and was settled as early as 1808. A post-office was
established here soon after opening the Erie Canal. The
land upon which the village is located was formerly owned
by Mr. Fisk on the east of the corners, and on the
west of the road running north and south by Mr. Dewey.

In 1837 an academy was established at this place.
The means for putting up the necessary building was
raised by subscription, and when it was completed. Dr.
Peter P. Murphy, Anson Baldwin and William Sibley
were elected trustees. The building was forty by eighty
feet and two stories high, with a wing. The average at-
tendance of pupils was ninety. Donald G. Frazer was
the principal. In 1847 and 1848 the school was closed for
want of pecuniary aid, and the building taken down.

This village contains, beside dwellings, one church, one
hotel, two stores, a post-office, a school-house, a black-
smith and wagon shop, and a population of about three
hundred. The resident physicians are Dr. P. P. Murphy
and Dr. J. Duff. Mrs. Lewis is the oldest person living
here, being in her ninety-second year, with all her facul-
ties well preserved.

ORANGEPORT
is located in the northwest corner of the town, on the
Erie Canal, about one mile west of Gasport, and contains
one church, a hotel, store, a post-office, wagon and black-
smith shop, and was once a railroad station. There are
about fifty dwellings, and some two hundred inhabitants.



The post-office at this place was established about 1850,
with Mr. Hart as postmaster. The present postmaster
is Garret Gifford.

The land upon which the village stands was formerly
owned by Joshua Slaton and his brother Thomas. About
half a mile north of this place is the Slaton Settlement.
The Erie Canal and Central railroad also pass through
the lands formerly owned by the Slatons. The two
places are so near each other, and their interests so closely
allied, that one post-office answers for both places.
Joshua Slaton, who was really the founder, and whose
name should have been perpetuated in the name of the
village, was, perhaps, the most public spirited man in the
settlement. He first gave land and shop to Mr. Gaskill,
the first blacksmith in the town. The same old shop,
with its four roofs, is said to be standing yet, upon the
old site, closed up, and kept as a memento of the past.
Mr. Slaton also gave the land upon which the church
stands and the land where the graveyard is located, both
the oldest in the town.

Joseph Slaton, the present owner of a large portion of
the original Slaton property, was born here in 181 1, and
is the oldest person living at this place who was born
here. The school lot at this place is the oldest in the
town, and the gift of Mr. Slaton.

The graveyard at Orangeport is the oldest one in the
town. Mr. Ellsworth was buried here in 1804.

GASPORT.

Gasport is situated on the Erie Canal and Central rail-
road, about five miles east of Lockport. It derives its
name from two sources : First, from the fact of its being
a port or stopping place for canal boats, where they re-
ceive large quantities of grain and other farm produce
for transportation ; and, second, from the discovery of
flowing springs containing large quantities of gas. About
the first experiment tried in using this gas was by a sci-
entist from Albany, N. Y. Having procured a large cask,
he set it over one of the springs, and at the proper time,
as he supposed, he applied a match. The next seen of
our scientific friend, he was making a " spread eagle'' in
a mud hole near by. Other experiments, however, being
satisfactory, the proper arrangements were made, pipes
laid, burners attached, and one large warehouse and store
were lighted by gas from this spring, with a sufficient
quantity for the use of fourteen burners in the two build-
ings. When the canal was enlarged, it took in the gas
springs, as they were situated on its south bank at this
place, west of the bridge, thereby destroying the Gasport
gasworks, and leaving the warehouse and store to return
to tallow dips, as in days of yore. The village at the
present time contains one church, a hotel, a blacksmith
and wagOn shop, two warehouses, three stores, one steam
shingle factory, cider and vinegar works, a railroad depot,
canal station, and a population of three hundred and
thirty.

Samuel Hitchcock built the first house in this place
about 1824, on the north side of the canal, and he also
kept the first hotel or tavern.



GASPORT, REYNALE'S BASIN AND MIDDLEPORT.



353



Alfred Colwell erected the first warehouse at this place,
on the west side of the bridge and south side of the canal.
Samuel Hitchcock also built one about the same time,
where Martin's ware house now stands.

Among the early settlers at this place were a Mr. Wool-
worth, wagon-maker; Mr. Marcy, blacksmith, and Timothy
Y. G. Page, first physician. The first flouring mill and
saw-mill was built by Colonel John Mabee, a little north-
east of the village, on Johnson's creek, while Andrew and
Amos Brown had a saw-mill south of the village about
the same time. The first store in this place was kept by
Sextus Shearer in 1823. A. Colwell was the first post-
master at Gasport. The railroad station was located
here in 1854.

The land upon which the village stands was owned by
Melick, Mabee and Hitchcock. In 1850, an organization
was effected, a stock company formed, and an academy
built. The building is of brick, about twenty-five by
forty feet, two stories high, with grounds suitable for such
an institution. William Crocker was the principal, and
taught all the branches of an academic course of study.
Alfred Colwell, Elisha Smedley, O. L. Wilcox, Jason
Sawyer and Lewis Griffin were the trustees. The attend-
ance of pupils averaged about seventy. In or about the
year 1870 the institution was closed, and the property sold
to the Congregational society for a parsonage. '

REYNA-LE'S BASIN.

■ Reynale's Basin is about five miles west of Middleport,
on the Erie Canal. The first post-office established in
the town was at this place.

At one time this place was of some importance, having
the only post-office, and doing quite a large business in
shipping farm produce. But the young America of Mid-
dleport and Gasport, one on each side of it, soon drew the
trade. It still retains a post-office by the name of the
place.

It is a large hamlet, beautifully located, with school-
house, cheese factory, driving park, etc. Dr. P. Failing
is the resident physician, and one of its most prominent
citizens. There are about one hundred inhabitants. This
place derived its name from the first settler, George Rey-
nale, who settled here as soon as the canal was opened
for navigation and transportation, and put up a small
frame building on the north side of the canal, and west
side of the road crossing at this place. Here Mr. Rey-
nale opened a small grocery, and soon became a large
dealer in staves and heading, which he purchased of the
settlers north of the canal.

MIDDLEPORT.

Middleport, the only incorporated village, is located on
the Erie Canal, and in the northeast corner of the town,
the corporation extending over into the town of Hart-
land, which joins this town on the north. Previous to
the construction of the Erie Canal, this was known only
as a wilderness, all the business being done at what is
now Freeman's Corners, half a mile south of this place.
But the advent of the_canal brought the business all to



this point, and from the fact of its being equi-distant be-
tween Lockport and Freeport, now Albion, it was christ-
ened Middleport.

It soon became quite extensively known as a good
grain market, and soon began to assume the appearance
of a village. On the 25th of December, 1858, an order
was issued from the Niagara County Court of Sessions,
empowering certain parties to hold a corporation election,
February 26th, 1859. Noticeswerepostedfor the purpose,
and on the 22nd day of March A. J. Baker, B. P. Barnes,
Horace Pierce, Thomas F. Smith and F. S. Taylor were
elected trustees of the village of Middleport. On the
28th they held their first official meeting, and elected
Francis S. Taylor president of the board for the ensuing
year, and Peter B. Knower was appointed village clerk.

The trustees were elected annually, and continued to
appoint one of their own number president, as follows :
In i860, Milton Seaman ; i86t, Francis S. Taylor ;
1862, i863,Allen H. Pierce; 1864, A. S. Baker; 1865 1, 867,
Milton Seaman ; 1868, Avery S. Delano ; 1869, John
Todd ; 1870, John N. Dunn; 187 1, A. H. Pierce ; 1872,
Henry McClean, jr., who was appointed March 26th, and
served until June 3rd, 1872, when, under their new char-
ter, the people voted directly for a president of the vil-
lage, and Avery S. Delano was elected by popular
vote.

At this time the number of trustees was reduced to
three, and Henry McClean, jr., Bruce V. Oliver and
Jeremiah Tracy were elected.

Since then the presidents of the village have been :
In 1873, C. R. Blakslee ; 1874, H. McClean, jr. ; 1875,
Charles H. Francis; 1876, J. H. Dunn; 1877, 1878, Charles
H. Francis. Charles W. Laskey has been clerk of the
village for the last three terms.

At the present time the population is estimated to be
about one thousand four hundred. The assessed valua-
tion has increased from $129,422 in 1859, to $320,800 in
1878, which shows a healthy state of affairs.

The business enterprises of the place are various. The
lumber, grocery, warehouse, and the dry goods trades
are doing a large business. The hve stock and produce
trade is the means of leaving a large amount of money at
this point. A dry dock, for the building and repair of
canal boats, is one of the live institutions of the place. -
All other trades are doing a good business.

There are four churches in the village, viz. : Method-
ist Episcopal, Protestant Episcopal, Universalist and
Roman CathoHc, and a movement is on foot for a
fifth — Presbyterian. There are two hotels, one opera
house, several civic societies, foundry and machine shops,
heading-mill, and one paper-mill, turning out a ton of
manilla paper per day. There was at one time a banking
institution here, but the financial pressure of 1877 caused
it to suspend operations, since which the experiment has
not been tried. The village has but one lawyer, Charles
W. Laskey, Esq.

The land upon which the village now stands was for-
merly owned by Messrs. Bennett, Taylor, Lane and



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