George Washington Cowles.

Landmarks of Wayne County, New York online

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D. Mason & Company, Publishers





Albert Adsit demons

Aug. 24, 1938

(Not available for exchange)


In presenting this historical and biographical record of Wayne
county to its readers, the editor and his associates feel that no
apology is demanded, 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 representative people of
the county, most of whom had. lqng.entertained the desire that a
work worthy of the subjeet, and comprehensive and reasonably cor-
rect, might be published before many "of the sources of information
should become extinct.

No person unfamiliar with work of this kind can properly appre-
ciate 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, containing 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 errors to the perusal of that which
fully meets their expectations.


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 gratitude of editors and publishers is due and hereby expressed.
No worthy history of this county could have been written without
such aid.

The editor of the work desires to make especial acknowledgment
of the assistance rendered him in his part of the work by H. P.
Smith and W. Stanley Child, for their intelligent and faithful co-
operation ; and to the press of the county, county officers, pastors
of churches, school officials, and all of the many who have other
wise contributed to the work.



Original Civil Divisions of New York State — Subsequent Divisions — Physical
Characteristics of Wayne County — Fish and Animals of this Locality — Cli-
matic Peculiarities — Effects of the Climate upon the Health of the Settlers
— Coming of Wayne County Pioneers. i


Indian Occupation of Western New York — Treatment of Indians by White Men
— Relation of the Indians to Wayne County — The Jesuits and their Work —
Local Operations in the War of the Revolution — Indian Remains 9


Early Conditions in Western New York — Sketches of the "Genesee Country"
and the Phelps andGorham Purchase — The Pre-emption Lines — Organization
of Companies to Secure Lands in Western New York — A Very Extensive
" Mill-Yard "—The Morris Reserve— The Military Tract as Related to Wayne
County. ...14


Early Conditions in the "Genesee Country" — Efforts of Great Britain to Retain
the Territory — Fears of Indian Invasion — Lack of Means of Communication
with the East — Charles Williams and his Work — Colony on the Genesee River
— Quaker Settlement at Jerusalem — Settlement at Canandaigua — List of Set-
tlers West of Pre-emption Line — Opening of Roads — A Journey Westward
from Albany — Privations of Pioneers. . . _ 26


Beginning of Settlement in the Territory of Wayne County — Early Map of West-
ern New York — Map of the "Genesee Lands" — Localities First Settled in
Wayne County — Beginning at East Palmyra — Importance of Ganargwa
Creek — First Improvement at Sodus Bay — Improvement of Highways — Set-
tlements in Various Localities — The Threatened Canadian Invaion — Final
Establishment of Peaceful Conditions — Estimate of Williamson's Policy 39



Circumstances of the Pioneers — Current Prices of Produce — Inconvenience of
Distant Markets — Gradual Improvement of Roads — Old Stage Lines — Erec-
tion of Early Mills— Outbreak of the War of 1812— Effects of the Conflict in
Wayne County — Military Operations at Sodus Bay — Account of a Skirmish
— Descent upon Pultneyville — General Improvements Following the Close of
the War. - 52


Further Improvement in Means of Transportation — Discussion of the "Grand
Canal" — Investigation and Surveys — Progress and Completion of the Great
Work — Its Effect upon Wayne County — Other Public Improvements — The
First Railroad — The Railroads of Wajne County — Brief History of Mormon-
ism — Inception of Spiritualism 65


End of the Reign of Peace — The First Gun — Military Enthusiasm — Wayne County
The President's First Proclamation — The First Company Recruited in Wayne
County — Sketches of the Various other Wayne County Organizations 83


Since the War — Internal Improvements — Legislative Acts— Agricultural Pro-
ductions — Peppermint — Statistics, etc. — Civil List — Recapitulation. 91


Comparison of State Law with the Common Law — Evolution of the Courts — The
Court of Appeals — The Supreme Court — The Court of Chancery — The County
Court — The Surrogate's Court — Justice's Court — District Attorneys — Sheriffs
— Court House — Judicial Officers — Personal Notes. 101


The Medical Profession — Wayne County Medical Society — Wayne County Homeo-
pathic Medical Society — Sketches and Reminiscences. 121

The Press of Wayne County. - - . 131

Secret Societies 146


Agricultural Societies, County Institutions, &c. 159

History of the Town of Palmyra. 165

History of the Town of Sodus. 197

History of the Town and Village of Lyons. . . 221

History of the Town of Galen. 251

History of the Town of Wolcott 282

History of the Town of Williamson. 304

History of the Town of Ontario 319

History of the Town of Macedon 329

History of the Town of Savannah 346

History of the Town of Arcadia. __ 357

History of the Town of Marion. ..382


History of the Town of Walworth. ... . .' 394

History of the Town of Rose. . - . 402

History of the Town of Huron. . . . . 417

History of the Town of Butler. . 427

Biographies 1-42

Family Sketches ...1-321

Index to Part I 323-328

Index to Part II 329

Index to Part III 330-343

Index to Portraits.. 343

Landmarks of Wayne County.


Original Civil Divisions of New York State — Subsequent Divisions — Physical
Characteristics of Wayne County — Fish and Animals of this Locality — Climatic
Peculiarities — Effects of the Climate upon Health of the Settlers — Coming of Wayne
County Pioneers.

The original ten counties of what is now the State of New York were
created November 1, 1683, and named Albany, Dutchess, Kings, New
York, Orange, Queens, Richmond, Suffolk, Ulster, and Westchester.
On the 11th of March, 1772, Montgomery county was erected under the
name of " Tryon " (the change in name was made in 1784), and em-
braced nearly the whole of the central and western part of the State.
In 1789 all that part of the State lying west of Phelps & Gorham's pre-
emption line (see outline map of the county on a later page), was
erected into the county of Ontario, which ultimately gave a part of its
territory to Wayne county. Two years later (1791), Herkimer county
was taken from Montgomery; in 1794, Onondaga county was set off
from Herkimer ; in 1799, Cayuga was taken from Onondaga, and in
1804, Seneca county was taken from Cayuga, and ultimately gave a
part of its territory to Wayne county. Seneca county was embraced
in the military tract, described herein. From the two counties of On-
tario and Seneca, Wayne county was erected on the 11th of April,
1823. Most of that part of the county lying east of the pre-emption
line was taken from the military tract, and now embraces the towns of
Savannah, Galen, Butler, Rose, Wolcott and Huron; and all of the
county west of that line, embracing the towns of Lyons, Arcadia,
Sodus, Williamson, Marion, Palmyra, Ontario, Walworth and Macedon,
was taken from Ontario county. The dates of the formation of the
fifteen towns now composing Wayne county were as follows : Palmyra


and Sodus, January, 1780; Williamson, February 20, 1802; Ontario,
March 27, 1807; Wolcott, March 24, 1807; Lyons, March 1, 1811;
Galen, February 14, 1812; Macedon, January 21), 1823; Savannah,
November 24, 1824; Arcadia, February 15, 1825; Rose, February 5,
1826; Huron, February 25, 182(3; Butler, February 26, 1826; Wal-
worth, April 20, 1829. It will be noticed that several of these towns
have been erected since the formation of the county.

The law erecting Wayne county states that it should contain the
towns of Wolcott and Galen, in Seneca county (from which have been
taken four other towns), and Lyons, Sodus, Williamson, Ontario, and
Macedon, and all that part of Phelps north of an east and west line
from the southwest corner of Galen to the east line of Manchester,
from Ontario county; from these six towns, three others have been
erected since the county was set off, making the present fifteen. That
part of Phelps above described was added to the town of Lyons. The
act of organization also gave the new county two members of Assem-
bly, and ordered the first election to be held on the first Tuesday of
May, 1824, and the two succeeding days. It also made the county a
part of the Twenty-sixth Congressional District, and of the Seventh
Senatorial District, now in Twenty-eighth Senatorial District. The
county received its name in honor of Gen. Anthony Wayne, of the
Revolutionary Army. It is bounded on the north by Lake Ontario;
east by Cayuga county; south by Seneca and Ontario counties, and
west by Monroe county.

The surface of Wayne county is level or slightly rolling, and is gen-
erally admirably adapted to agriculture. It has a general slope north-
ward towards the great lake. Proceeding southward from the lake a
quite uniform rise continues to what is known as " The Ridge." This
is an elevation extending across the county from east to west, follow-
ing to a certain extent the shore conformation of the lake and continuing
on westward through Monroe, Orleans, and Niagara counties. Its
height is from 150 to 188 feet. This peculiar elevation, its situation
with reference to the lake shore, its constituent soil, have revealed to
ardent and persistent students of geology the assurance that in past
ages it constituted the southern shore of Lake Ontario, the waters of
which have since receded northward. J The accompanying outline

1 Professor Hall, State geologist, says of this ridge: "It bears all the marks of
having been the boundary of a large body of water, and of having been produced in


geological map indicates not only the line of the ridge, but also other
interesting matters, with the probable location of the once great glacier
that is believed to have existed to the northward.

Map of Lake Iroquois.

Showing the line of the present lake shore, the original shore line, the former supposed outlet of the
lake by the Mohawk River, and the situation of the great northern ice sheet. 1

On the Wayne county lake shore is by far the largest indentation on
the southern shore of the lake — Sodus Bay. It is a safe as well as a
beautiful harbor, its projecting headlands, varied shore line and
pictnesque island commanding unqualified admiration. One traveler
of early times described it as "rivalling the Bay of Naples in the purity
of its waters and the romantic nature of its scenery." It was visited

the same manner as the elevated beaches bordering the ocean or our larger lakes.
. . Its seaward side is usually covered with coarse gravel and often with large
pebbles, resembling the shingle of the sea beaches. The top is generally of coarse
sand and gravel, though sometimes of fine sand, as if blown up by the wind, similar
to modern beaches."

1 From "The Niagara Book," Underhill & Nichols, Buffalo, 1893.


by the Jesuits and given by them the name "Assorodus," or "silver
waters." It was also a noted loeality with the Indians, who made it a
meeting place for various purposes.

The ridge has an upper surface width of from fifty to two hundred
feet, and southward of this the surface of the county is somewhat
broken by north and south ridges, with rather abrupt northward head-
ings and sloping of southward, rising in some places to the dignity of
hills, but in almost all sections susceptible of tillage. These ridges are
composed of clay, sand and gravel, and seem to be deposits from strong
currents of water.

The soil of the county generally is derived from drift deposits and
composed of a sandy or gravelly loam, with minor intermixture of clay.
Along the lake shore it is principally derived from the disintegration
of the Medina sand stone, making a reddish, sandy loam. In the val-
ley of Clyde River is a rich soil of gravelly loam and alluvium. There
is considerable marsh land in the county, along the Clyde and Seneca
Rivers and north of the ridge, the surface of which when drained is
covered with a deep and rich vegetable mold, which is very fertile.

The lowest rock in this county is the Medina sandstone, which is so
extensively quarried in various localities in Western New York for
building and paving purposes. It appears on the lake and in the ravines
near to it, occupying a strip about two miles in average width and
widest in the western part. This sandstone embraces four species,
which are geologically described as the red marl, which decomposes by
exposure and is the source of the red clay of this locality; the gray
quartzose sandstone, which succeeds the one just mentioned, and is
the hardest of the group; the red shale, or sandstone, a red shaly or
marly mass, as its title indicates, mottled with spots of greenish gray;
and the greenish -gray argillaceous sandstone, similar to the one last
named, except in its color. The extent of the Medina group seems
quite limited when compared with the remaining rocks of this period.
It occurs through Western New York, thinning out to the eastward and
is not found beyond Utica. Southward of the Appalachian region it
extends through to Pennsylvania and Virginia, attaining in some places
a thickness of 1,500 feet. On the Niagara River it is from 350 to 400
feet thick, passes into Canada and has been found as far north as the
Straits of Mackinac.

Next above the Medina stone comes the Clinton group of limestone
and shales, extending to the foot of the limestone ridge. Then sue-


ceeds the Niagara limestone, forming the summit ridge and occupying
a strip about three miles in width. This gradually increases in depth
to the westward; is thirty to forty feet thick in Wayne county, from
seventy to eighty in Rochester, while at Niagara Falls it is more than
160 feet thick. In Pennsylvania its thickness exceeds 1,500 feet.
Minerals are found in this stone, but none of great value. South of
the lim&stone in this county is the Onondaga salt group of red and
green shales and gypsum, extending to the southern border and oc-
cupying nearly one-half of the county. These rocks are mostly covered
with thick deposits of drift, and are not extensively exposed except in
ravines. Weak salt and sulphur springs are found in various localities
in the Medina sandstone and the red shales of the Onondaga salt group.

Wayne county is well watered Ganargwa, or Mud Creek, enters
the southwest corner of the county from Ontario, flows in a general
easterly course to Lyons, where it unites with the Canandaigua outlet
and forms the Clyde River. This considerable stream received its name
from William McNab, a Scotch settler; it continues eastward to the
eastern bounds of the county, where it discharges its waters into Seneca
River. The Clyde, like all other streams, was once of considerable
more volume than it now has and was navigable as far as Lyons and
the Ganargwa (Mud Creek), even farther, constituting a highway for
the pioneers and a link in the chain of interrupted waterways from
Albany westward. Mud Creek and the Clyde receive from the north-
west Red Creek, East Red Creek, and Bear Creek, and several small
brooks from the south. The streams flowing into Lake Ontario are
Bear, Ueer, Davis, Salmon, Thomas, Wolcott, and Big and Little Red
Creeks. First, Second, and Third creeks flow into Sodus Bay. The
only considerable body of water in the county is Crusoe Lake, in the
southeast corner.

The climate of Wayne county is more equable and healthful than in
many other localities of the same latitude. This was not fully under-
stood in earl}'' years, and much of the sickness of those times was at-
tributed to climatic influences. This was undoubtedly an error ; the
causes of prevailing diseases were more specific and local, such as clear-
ing the lands along streams like Ganargwa Creek, thus lowering the
water and leaving decaying vegetation exposed to the sun; the plowing
up of new lands, etc. With the termination of these causes, their ill
effects also disappeared in large measure. The equable climate of this
locality is rightly attributed to the proximity of the great lake, whose


waters it is believed absorb the excessive sun heat of summer and
modify the severe cold of winter. The mean temperature here extend-
ing over a period of several years has been shown to be a little over
forty-eight degrees. No section of the State of New York at the present
time has a more varied and at the same time delightful climate than
Wayne county.

The prevailing sickness of early years was fever, and it was wide
spread and often fatal in all parts of the Genesee country. In an essay
prepared by Dr. Ludlow on this subject he said: None were exempt
from the intermittent fevers which prevailed (in 1801). Peruvian bark
was generally a remedy, but was of rare use. When left to nature,
the disease became typhoid, and endangered recovery. All fevers,
except fever and ague, were called by the people, "Lake or Genesee

After tracing the course of these diseases through several years, Dr.
Ludlow said that the principal disease up to 1822 was dysentery, which
was most fatal to children. While after 1828 fevers became rarely
fatal, and that now records of health and longevity are favorable to
Wayne county.

Into this region came during the last decade of the preceding century
and the early years of the present century, a class of pioneers who
were, as a rule, well adapted to the work of founding homes and com-
munities in the wilderness. They were men and women endowed with
ambition, firmness of purpose, industrious, and frugal. Such qualifica-
tions were necessary to enable them to succeed in their undertaking;
and their success was in very many instances dearly bought, as the
reader of these pages will learn. Aside from the natural sources of
food before mentioned, provisions were scarce and costly. Even the
necessary article of salt was almost impossible to obtain, except by a
long and tedious journey to Onondaga. As an example of what it cost
to secure a little salt, it is related that three men started from the town
of Victor (Ontario county), in the fall of 1790 for Palmyra on their way
to the salt springs, they and their neighbors being destitute of the
article. At Palmyra they took a Schenectady boat and went their toil-
some way. A little below the junction of Ganargwa Creek and the
outlet, they encountered a stretch of drift wood fifteen rods or more in
extent, and had to haul their boat up a steep shore and around the ob-
struction on rollers, and re-embark below. After days of hard labor
they reached the salt works of Asa Danforth at Salina, where they pro-


cured twelve barrels of salt and started homeward. While in Seneca
River a snow storm came on and ice formed in the stream. Often the
men were forced to get into the freezing water in order to proceed at
all. Both boat and salt had to be transported around the driftwood,
and at Lyon's landing boat and cargo were left, and later were carried
from there to their destination by the aid of six yoke of oxen, wagons
and sleds, through the wilderness. This is only an incident, but it
clearly indicates what the pioneers often had to undergo to avoid suf-
fering and keep their families in even tolerable comfort.

Those who live in the comfortable homes of Wayne county to-day,
and especially those of the younger generation, can scarcely realize the
hardships endured by their ancestors, except as they may have heard
their stories related, or have read them in the records that have been
laboriously gathered and preserved in the few volumes devoted to local

The lake shore in Wayne county is generally bold and varies greatly
in height ; at the mouth of Salmon Creek it is ten feet high, a little
lower in Williamston, and at Sodus Point, from eighty to a hundred
feet. The Erie Canal is carried along the valley cf the Clyde, from
both sides of which the surface rises very gradually. Canandaigua,
Crooked, Seneca and Cayuga Lakes charge northwardly into the stream
which traverses this valley. The stream is known first as Mud Creek,
(it has recently taken the more euphonius Indian name of Ganargwa),
until joined by the Canandaigua outlet, when it becomes Clyde River,
and so continues eastward to Montezuma, where it receives through
the Seneca outlet, the waters of Crooked, Seneca and Cayuga Lakes,
continues east into Onondaga county, where it joins the outlet of Oneida
Lake to form the Oswego River.

The Cayuga (or Montezuma) marshes occupy a part of the town of
Savannah, surrounding both sides of Crusoe Island, and extend into
the south part of Butler. What is known as Cooper's swamp is situated
in the south part of Williamston. There is also a cranberry swamp
at the head of Port Bay. These swamps contain deposits of marl, in
which are found quantities of fresh-water shells.

There are several sulphur springs about one and a half miles south
of Newark. Another is situated on Salmon Creek in Sodus; others
near Palmyra, Clyde and Marion Center. The waters of these springs
have not been used extensively.


111 the early history of this locality, a large salt spring was dis-
covered in the town of Savannah on the western edge of the Cayuga
marshes. Salt was manufactured here in limited quantities in early
years. Salt springs were also discovered in the town of Wolcott,
where an impure salt was made as early as L815. A salt spring was
found on a small creek emptying into the bay near Sodus Point. Bor-
ings were made many years ago for salt about two miles east of Lock-
pit near the canal, and originally a spring existed at tins point. A
limited product was manufactured here for a time. In 1832, a company
was organized and borings for salt begun near Clyde village. The im-
mediate locality showed no indications of salt, but at a depth of four
hundred feet salt water was obtained of good strength, but in limited
quantity. No salt is now made in the county.

Iron ore has been discovered in various places. About a mile east of
Lockpit bog-iron occurs near the surface. A bed of argillaceous oxide
of iron crosses the county from east to west at about two miles from the
lake. This ore has been worked in furnaces in the towns of Wolcott,
Sodus and Ontario; it lias also been ground for paint. Further details
of the iron manufacturing industry will be given in the later town

In the towns of Butler, Rose, Sodus, Marion and Walworth the
Niagara limestone occurs and has been extensively burned for lime.
A slaty limestone is found near Newark, and also in the southern part
of Williamston, from which lime has been made. The Niagara lime-
stone before mentioned furnishes in man}' localities excellent building

Online LibraryGeorge Washington CowlesLandmarks of Wayne County, New York → online text (page 1 of 107)