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The History of the Township of Granger and the Village of Short Tract

by Bernice Perry
continued from theGranger page.

The first settlement was made in February 1816, when Reuben Smith and his two sons, Wilcox and Isaac and sons-in-law, James McCoon, Rufus Trumball and a man named Ellis, all from Vermont and Elias Smith from Otsego County, located on the south end of the township.

The village "Short Tract" derived its name from the purchase of a large tract of land by William Short in the early part of the nineteenth century. The name applied to a large part of the town, particularly to the territory through which the main central road runs from North to South.

In March 1817, Olive Smith, the first white child was born, daughter of Elias Smith. As to the first death in town, one account states that Olive Linee was the first one to die in 1817. The first marriage was in the spring of 1821, Isaac Hatch and Clarissa Pratt.

The first town meeting was held at the house of Orville Hitchings, March 5, 1839.

The first school meeting was held May 21, 1819, when it was resolved to build a schoolhouse of logs, 22 feet long (how wide?) to be ready by June 20, 1819. The first school was taught by Miss Arzivilla Williams the same season.

Elias Smith kept the first Inn at Short Tract in 1819 which was a log structure. The next year he built a framed structure in which he also keep a store (1820). The Short Tract Post Office was located in the Inn in 1824, Smith also being the Postmaster. he "Smith Tavern" was one of the many wayside Inns which were rest-stops for the stagecoaches.

In 1818 the first religious meeting was held by a Methodist preacher the Rev. Mr. Hill. Pastors at this time were Circuit Riders from Mt. Morris to Angelica, services were held in homes. The Methodist Episcopal Society was organized in 1826 by Rev. William Buell. The first church structure was started in 1841 but not dedicated until 1843. This structure was destroyed by fire March 22, 1908. A meeting was called at the Town Hall and subscriptons were taken to rebuild a new structure. Dedication services were held in the Church February 23,1909. The First Wesleyan Church of Granger was organized with about 50 members, by Rev. John Watson, in 1843; the Church edifice was erected in 1844 at the cost of $500.

The settelment of Granger was between 1816 and 1840 and little land had been cleared. The settlers wanted to preserve the fine tall trees, mostly pine, but the pressing need for land to raise crops to feed the livestock and families was a greater force then preservation at the time, so clearing the land was the main business of the settlers. The ashes were sold or worked up into "black salts" which found a ready market and brought in the only money the first few years. Braiding palm-leaf hats was an industry which some of the wives and daughters were engaged in from 1830 to 1850. Merchants would bring in a stock of palm leaves, and sell them to the braiders some very good hats were made.

The first cheese factory was built by John Barnes, in the south part of town, and was later abandoned. The main factory was in the center of the town, on the main highway. The second factory was on the State Road. Granger had the credit of having a prominent station on the underground railroad. John Broughton and Dr Reuben H. Smith were early surveyers. John Backus was the first Postmaster at "Church Tract" office located on the State Road, sometimes called East Granger. Elias Smith was the first postmaster at Short Tract. "Hickory Swale" was an early post office in the north part of town. It was moved further south and changed to Granger. Previous to these establishments, Nunda and Mt Morris offices supplied the people.

Among the settlers in 1830 was William Pitt from England. He purchased 140 acres, made a pleasant home, and became a leading citizen, at various times being assessor, town clerk and highway commissioner. One of his ten children, Prof Wm. H. Pitt, has attained fame as a scientist. Lieut George W. Pitt of the 85th New York Volunteers, and John S. Pitt of the 104th New York, were his sons. Montgomery Thorp was a early settler at Short Tract. He reared a family of much more than ordinary ability and accomplishments. Simon M. became state superintendent of public instruction of Kansas. He was a pominent "Free State" and Union man, and was shot dead in his own door yard in one of the famous Quantrell raids. He was then state senator. Capt. Alexander K., another son, and Union officer, was shot in the battle of Winchester. Thomas J., another son, had just graduated from Union College when the war broke out. He helped organize the 85th New York and was commissioned lietenant-colonel of the 130th N.Y.(1st NY Dragoons) while on furlough. He acheived high distinction with that regiment, and was promoted colonel March 1, 1865. After the war he moved to Oregon and was prominent in education matters. The Thorp family erected a elegant "soldiers" monument in the Town of Granger. According to the census of 1840, the population was 1,064; in 1850 1,309; in 1860 1,257; in 1875 1,159. In 1878 Short Tract contained three stores, two churches, a cheese factory, two wagon shops, three blacksmith shops, a school house and a commodious town hall, built by Jonas R. Collister in 1872.

Sources: from the files of Gladys (Smith) Sylor, 1902-1996


Last updated on October 28, 1999
© 1998 by Bernice Perry, all rights reserved; used by permission
Last updated on July 20, 2006
© copyright 1999, Vivian Karen Bush
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