Arad Thomas.

Pioneer history of Orleans county, New York. Containing some account of the civil divisions of western New York, with brief biographical notices of early settlers, and of the hardships and privations online

. (page 18 of 32)
Online LibraryArad ThomasPioneer history of Orleans county, New York. Containing some account of the civil divisions of western New York, with brief biographical notices of early settlers, and of the hardships and privations → online text (page 18 of 32)
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ed tlie tops so that ever}' leaf was held in a tight
dead envelope. ]My mother cut oil' the to])s with lier
scissors and a fail- cro}) was harvested.


In order to save the pig from tlie beai'^s itt^pen was
made close to tlu^ liouse, and a i)iece of rlnnldnt!;
left out to halloo ' shoo ' through.

One day mother' 3 attention was attracted l)y Jin
nnusnal hackling of the pig. Looking througli the
crevice she saw a large rattlesnake coiled n}) in tlif
hog-trough, with head erect, buzzing like a nest of
bees. Fearing to attack the old fellow, she ran to
the neighbors for help and Avhen she returned the
snake had gone.

In 1816 they had a patcli of oats near tlie house
from which the deer had to be driven frequentl}'.

Their first child, and only daughter, Elizabeth, was
born June 22d, 1817. She married Ezbon CI. Fuller,
and settled at Coldwater, Michigan, where she died in
1853. Their only son, your humble servant, was born
September 24th, 1810. I think I must have been one
of the first draymen in the count}^ as I remembei-
wdien a very small bo}' seizing the reins and backing
my father's liorse and cart loaded with merchandise,
part of which was a demijolin of aquafortis, down a
cellar gangwa}^ Some smoke and some hurraing
were among the consequences.

A few years later a young clerk and mj'self sent a
hogshead of molasses from a wagon down the same
gangway at one ' pop.' The ' pop ' carried away
the lieads of tlie cask and poured the sweet out to
the rats.

At the age of fourteen I tried clerking in a dry
goods store for Fanning ct Orton, in Albion. After
six months probation I felt no furtlu^r inspiration oi-
as]Diration in that line and resigned, I presume witli
the iK^arty consent of my employers, though they liat-
tered me b}^ expressing their regret, which I tliought
was proof of their politeness rather than my abilit}-.
I then attended Gaines Academy until I was eighteen
years old, when I commenced studying medicine with


Drs. Niclioson & Paine, in An)ion ; afterwards with
Dr. Pinkney, at Esperance, and gradnating at the
Albany Medical College in 1841.

I practiced ni}^ profession from tlie old Jiomestead
until 1850, then removed to Coldwater, Michigan,
where I have been engaged in the same business
since, except during the rebellion, in the greater part
of which I served in the army as surgeon, first of
Battery D. First Michigan Artillery; afterwards of
Tvfenty-Fourth Michigan Volunteers, in the Army of
the Potomac. The greater ^ymt of the time, besides
performing my regimental duties, acting as Surgeon-
in-Chief of the First Brigade, Plrst Division, First
Army Corps.

In January, 1842, I married Mary Jane Perry, of
Clarkson, IST. Y. '- ^- - '-

We have mentioned the anticipations of the people
of securing the location of the county buildings at
Gaines. The brick building standing on the hill south
of the village, was built by contributions started with
the intent to donate it to the county for a court house.
It was originally three stories high, about forty by
seventy feet on the ground. Tliese anticipations of
the contributors being blasted, they converted their
building into an academy.

At the organization of Orleans county, the village
of Gaines contained three stores, three asheries, three
tanneries, two taverns, one chair factory, one carriage
factory, one cabinet shop, three blacksmith shops,
one distillery, one cloth-dressing and wool-carding
establishment, two brick yards, one printing office
where a nev/spaper was published, one liat factory,
and one saddle and harness shop. Works requiring
motive power weie driven by horses. '■ '■'

The first chapter of royal arch nuisons in tlie county
No. 82, was |organized at Gaines. Dr. Jesse Beech
was H. 1^ in 1826.


Previous to 1825, Col. Boardman's Cavalry was a
marvel in the eyes of us youngsters. Dr. Jesse Beech
w^as its surgeon.

I find by an old receipt among my father' s 23apers,
that Gaines Basin, in the canal, was excavated by a
subscription fund, subscribed mainly by G-uernsey,
Bushnell & Co., E. & E. B. Nichols, and James

Dr. Jesse Beech was a temperance man even to total
abstinence, enforcing his princii^les by banishing de-
canters and wine glasses from his sideboard — a pro-
ceeding rather unusual in those times.

He was a fine horseman and occasionall}^ ofiiciated
as marshal on public occasions. He was always ex-
ceedingly particular in his dress and personal apj)ear-
ance, and always wore an elaborate ruffle shirt. His
dress never was allowed to interfere with business re-
quiring his attention, and sometimes, when ofl" pro-
fessional duty, he would go into his field where his
men were clearing land, and though he was small in
stature, he would show by his agility and energy in
working with his men that he was a match for their

A few of the last years of my father' s life, he kept
a store of drugs and medicines on sale in connexion
with his practice as a phj'-sician and surgeon.

In February or March, 1828, he v/as hurt by a
vicious horse from which he suffered greatly as long-
as he lived. He died March 4th, 1829. His widow
afterwards married Captain Eliliu Mather, and re-
moved to Coldwater, Michigan, where she died March
IGth, 18G9.

.1. 11. BEECH."

Oliver Booth was a Avell-known tavern keeper on
the Ridffe Road in Gaines. He came here from


Wayne couiitj^ in the spring of 1811, and settled on
tlie farm north of the Ridge and east of the Oak Or-
chard Road in the village of Gaines. He cleared his
farm and built a double log house, with a huge chim-
ney in the middle. Here he kept tavern a number
of years.

His house was always full of company. Travelers
on the Ridge Road stoj^ped liere because it was a
tavern and there was no other. Here he dispensed a
vast amount of wliisk}^, — for everybody was thirst}^ in
those days, — and some victuals to such strangers as
were not acquainted with the proverbial lilthiness of
the kitchen.

Aftei" Gaines had become a village, and laid claims
to the count}' seat, and peopL^ had come in who
wanted more style, and wliose stomachs could not
stand such fare as Booth' s tavern supplied, another
tavern was opened and Booth sold out and moved
away. He finally settled in Micliigan where he

No description of Booth or his tavern would be
complete without including Sam. Wooster. Sam's
father lived in the neighborhood, and he (Sam.) then a
great lazy boy, strayed uj) to Booth' s tavern, where
b}' hanging about he occasionally got a taste of
Booth's whisky in consideration of l)ringing in wood
for the fire and doing a few other chores, l^or tiiese
services and the pleasure of his company. Booth gave
him v.'hat ht^ ate and drank, with a place to sleej) on
the bar-room lioor. His clotlies did not cost much.
He never Avore a hat of au}^ sort, seldom had on
stockings or shoes, x^obody can remember that he
wore a shirt, and his coats and i)ants Aver(> such as
came to him, nobody coidd tell how or from Avhence.
Sam. never washed his face and hands, or combed his
head, and his general appearance, shirtless and shoe-
less, with his great black, frowsy luvad 1)ar(.s his i)ants


ragged and torn, and his coat, if lie had an}", minus
one sleeve, or half the skirt, to one who did know him
might befit a crazy prisoner just escaped from Bed-
lam. Yet Sam. was not a fool or crazy. His wit was
keen and ready, and his jokes timely and sharp. He
would not work, or do anj^thing which required much
effort any way. He was a good lisher however, and
with his old friend Booth, he would sit patiently by
the hour and angle in the Oak Orchard, or any other
stream that had lish, perfectly content, if he had an
occasional nibble at his hook.

One year while he lived in Gaines, some wag for
the fun of the thing nominated him for overseer of
highway's in the Gaines village district, and he was
elected. He told the people the}' had elected him
thinking he was too lazy to attend to the business,
and v.'ould let them satisf}' their assessments by mel"e
nominal labor on the road; but tlie}^ would hnd them-
selves much mistaken, and the}' did. Sam. warned
them to work as th[ .T. BABBITT.

William J. Babbitt was born in Providence, Rhode
Island, September 1786. He learned the blacksmiths
trade of his father and worked at that business main-
ly until he came to reside in Gaines, where he had a
small shop and occasionally worked at his trade for
several years. In the year 1812, he took up the farm
on which he ever afterwards resided, part of lot thirty,
township lifteen, rang(^ one, and moved his family
there in 1813.

For many 3'ears after Mr. Babbitt settled in
Gaines no professional law}T'r had come into what is
now Orleans county. The people however would in-
dulge occasionally in a lawsuit, and Mr. Babbitt be-
ing a good talker, and a man of more than common
shrewdness, tl^y frequently employed him to try
their cases in their Justices' courts. He improved
under his practice until he became the most noted
"pettifogger"' north of the Tonawauda Swamp,
and whichever of the litigants secured the services of
Esq. Babbitt, was quite sure to win his case. He
was active in getting the town of Gaines set off from
Ridgeway in the winter of 1816, and July 1st of the
same 3^ear, on his application a postofRce was estab-
lished in Gaines and he was appointed postmaster,
which office he held liv(> years. This was the first
postoffice and he was the first postmaster in Gaines.

In 1831-2 he represented Orleans county in the As-
sembly of the State. He was appointed a Justice of
the Peace by the council of appointment in 1815, and
reapi^ointed from time to time until the elections to


that office were given to the people under the consti-
tution, when he was elected by the peo2:)le holding
the office of Justice of the Peace in Gaines, in all 23

He was several times Supervisor of his town, and
held various other town offices from time to time.
He took pleasure in serving in official and fiduciary
positions, and was largely gratified in this particular
by his fellow citizens.

He was remarkable for promptness in keeping en-
gagements. Late in life he was heard to say he was
never behind set time in being present in any legal
proceeding to be had before him. He acquired a
character for uncompromising fidelity in business
matters, and by a life of industry and economy laid
up a large i)roperty.

He died July 20th, 1863.

He married Eunice Losey, June 27th 1810. She
died April 4th, 1867.


Gideon Freeman was born in Stillwater, Saratoga
county, January 11th, 1787. About 1799, he moved
with his father to Ledyard, Ca3aiga county, and in
March 1812, he settled northwest of what is called
Long Bridge, and took up the southwest section of
land now in the town of Gaines. He was the first
settler in this locality south of tlie Ridge, and founder
of wliat was for many years known as "Freeman

He cleared up a large farm and carried on a large
business as a farmer. His son, Chester Freeman,
now of Barre, relates that in the cold season of 1816,
liis father planted forty acres to corn, wliich was a
total failure. He had a large stock of hogs that year
which lie expected to fatten on his corn, from the loss
of whi(,*h, having nothing tq f(3ed them, many of them


starved to death in tlie next fall and winter. He had
a large stock of cattle at that time and but little food
for them.

Online LibraryArad ThomasPioneer history of Orleans county, New York. Containing some account of the civil divisions of western New York, with brief biographical notices of early settlers, and of the hardships and privations → online text (page 18 of 32)