It has always suggested a never answered problem to our minds.
We refer to the distance at which some railroad depots are located away from the nearest business center. Our mental enquiries run somewhat after this fashion. Was the railroad constructed for the accommodation of the town or village or was the town or village built up in order to augment the business capacities of the railway company?
Our cogitations invariably run in this groove when we visit the pleasant village of Belmont. And the railroad problem is not the only one which puzzles us as we stroll from the depot westward along the highroad and across the bridge, past the flour mills into the village itself. Why, we find ourselves asking ourselves, why is the fine water power not better utilized? Why is Belmont not more of a mercantile and manufacturing center? Why is the place a sort of ruined commercial tombstone on which is written a painful epitaph of unrealized expectations? Belmont, like one of its most noted residents, the veteran parent of the Republican party, at one time appeared to have a bright and prosperous future before it. But both Belmont and Cole are in the condition of an old war horse that is broken down and its energies well nigh spent after having helped to draw the provisions and haul the heavy cannons that have helped to secure victory but has never been honored because it has never borne some gallant leader to the front. Belmont is yet a pleasant place and is the home of not a few exceedingly pleasant people and we may in future ramble speak of them more fully. Just now our space must be devoted to another matter, to other deeds in fact.
We recently spent two or three hours in the County Clerk's office. Before we speak of our researches among the musty records of the past a few words in reference to the personnel of the office will be in order. First there is the Clerk himself a thorough gentleman and a prompt and active official. An empty sleeve tells an eloquent story of his honorable military career. The name of George H. Blackman is honored where ever it is known and not one tittle of the honor is misplaced. He is now enjoying his fourth year of office. During those four years he has fairly brought order out of chaos. The office is neatly furnished, its walls are clean, its pigeon holes arranged in order, its many books are kept with strictest clerical accuracy, its floors formerly of rough boards and brick are covered with oil cloth, in fact where formerly was dirt and confusion, order and cleanliness now reign supreme. Captain Blackman's efforts are very ably seconded by his present admirable corps of assistants. His Deputy Will E. Smith has a good word for everybody, even when suffering the torments of a diseased molar. Will has all the details of the office ticked off most accurately on the tablets of his memory and is always polite and prompt in attending to the business of his department. H. B. Crandall, the Recording clerk is a rosy faced young gentleman who is thoroughly competent for the business that falls to his charge and who writes a hand that would make a jealous writing master turn pea green with envy. Len Grover is the special Deputy and every body in the county knows and has a good word to speak for young Len. It is no wonder then that with such a quartet of courteous and able aids the business of the office is done promptly and most efficiently.
By permission of Clerk Blackman we spent a considerable time among the County archives, now placed in the inner room at the north end of the building. We inspected the first deed book of the county, then spelled Alleghany, a volume of 527 pages, paged by hand. The first deed recorded therein was written in December 26, 1806, and is a conveyance of 502 acres of land in the County of Genesee (now the town of New Hudson) from Victor Dupont de Hemors to John B. Churchand wife, Angelica. Jacob S. Holt was then the County Clerk.
The book now in use exhibits as marked a difference compared with that of 1806 as there exists between a stage coach of that period and a Pullman palace car of to-day.
In the office is a map published by Stone & Clark of Ithica [sic], dated 1839. On it appear as part of the County of Allegany the following townships: -- Nunda, Portage, Pike and Eagle cut off in 1846 and Ossian cut off in 1856.
There is also a curious diagram of this section of Western New York in which the county is partioned [sic] out into small tracts, such as 800,000 and 1,000,000 acres to the Holland Land Co., 199,680 acres to W. & J Willink and to W. & J. Willink Junior and 100,000 acres to John B. Church.
The records of the Holland Land Company's transactions occupy many pages of the earlier books. The old Company embraced several names that will sound somewhat odd to the ear of the rising generation. For instance the names of Wilhelm Willink and many other members of the Willink family, Walrave Van Henklom, Nicolas Van Beeftinghle, Jan Van Eeghan, Garvet Schimmelpenninck, Rutger Jans Son, Van Bennebreck.
The name of Moses Van Campen occurs quite frequently in the register.
Turning over the leaves of these records the feeling of man's imperfect presience was more fully impressed upon us than it had ever been before. In the space of three score years what vast changes had taken place even in this comparatively slowly moving locality. Within the span of a man's life everything has been changed about. Few of the names familiar half a century ago still live in the memory of the present generation, yet how many are lost in the unfathomable oblivion of an inexorable past.
Finding so much of general interest and knowing the circumscribed limits of the CHRONICLE we passed over many deeds worthy of notice and selected a few of particularly local significance.
Early in the first book of the county we found the following:--
July List for the Town of Friendship 1816, Joseph Culver, Timothy Hyde, Luther Axtell, Zibe Cowen, Ezra S. Peters, Harvey Axtell, Joseph Grover, Martin Darby, Ebenezerr Steenrod, Stephen Cole, Bethiel Clark, John Niver, Azel Buckley, Charles Hurlbard, William Hungerfore, Hira Axtell, Jno Harrison Jr., Elisha Strong, John Hopkins, Levi Couch, Samuel Darby, Benjamin Crabtree, Lemuel Haskins, John Benet, Daniel Willard, John Utter, Harris Cetcham, Josiah Utter, Hery Utter, Peter Zeilie, Othello Church, Zebedee Gates, Edward Steenrod, Ralph Ingersol. A True Copy, Talcot Gold, Town Clerk,
Return of Constables from Friendship, [first two names illegible] Orin Hull.
We then traced up the records of the foundation of the various religious societies in our midst. According to the deeds recorded the Friendship 1st Baptist Society was organized at a meeting held in the School House near Ira Hickcox Wednesday 17th Oct. 1821, Othello Church, Benjamin Crabtree and David Brayman were chosen Trustees.
This was Recorded Oct. 24, 1821.
The Friendship 1st Seventh Day Baptist Society was organized at a meeting held in 7th Day Baptist Meeting House Sunday 5th Day of July 1820. Walter B. Gillette* and James Maxson Presidents. Richard B. Davis, Secretary. Abel Maxon, Samuel Crandall and Henry Smally Jr., were chosen Trustees.
Recorded Dec. 7th 1829.
A few months later the Friendship Methodist Episcopal Church was organized at a meeting held th September 1829. Sylvester Cary and Jacob J. Stebbins acting as President. Frederick Lambert, Nelson Hoyt, Miles Carter*, Samuel Mott and Jacob J. Stebbens were chosen Trustees.
The following is a copy of the record in connection with the organization of the Frist Congregational Church of Freindship: --
Agreeable to previous and public notice according to the provision of the Statue for the incorporation of Religious Societies a meeting was held at the Baptist Meeting House in the Town of Friendship and County Allegany on the Twenty-eight day of April in the year of our Lord one thousand and eight hundred and thirty-five for the purpose of organizing a Society in said Town for religious purposes according to provision of said Statute, Timothy Pearce and Obadiah Rouse were chosen to preside as officers of the Election of Trustees. The meeting then proceeded to ballot for the choice of three trustees when upon canvassing the vote it appeared that Elisha Strong, Ira Cotton and Obadiah Rouse were by a plurality of votes chosen.
Resolved unanimously that this Society shall be called and known by the Title or name of first congregational society of Friendship. We certify the above to be a true record of the meeting. In testimony whereof we have hereunto set our hands and seals the day and year first above written.
Timothy Pierce; Obadiah Rouse.
The Universalist Society of Friendship is the latest church organization, having been effected at a Meeting held at the house of Martin Scott, May 22nd 1854; L. A. Reynolds Presiding. M. Scott Sec. Trustees chosen Royal Adams 1 year S. A. Merrimon* 2 years, L. A. Reynolds 3 years. Recorded 5th June 1854.
Another record of interest is that of the old cemetery association known as the Friendship Rural Cemetery Association, organized on 8th day of Dec. 1853, at a meeting at the house of Wm. Bradley. There were present Samuel C. Cotton, Wm. Colwell, William H. King, Homer C. Buskirk, Samuel N. Horum, Royal H. Adams, Sidney Rigdon, Ira D. Hartshorn, Henry Baxter, Martin Scott, Benjamin Robinson, Gideon Sisson, William Bradley, Ambrose S. Ferris, Sidney Rigdon Chairman. The following were chosen:
Trustees 1st class S. C. Cotton, G. W. Robinson, W. H. King.
Trustees 2nd class S. W. Colwell, Rigdon, H. Baxter.
Trustees 3d class Ben. Robinson, G. Sisson, I. D. Harshorn
Recorded Dec. 12, 1853.
The following is a copy of the record of the Friendship Library Society organized in 1825.
I hereby certify that a number of persons in the town of Friendship excluding (sic) twenty having subscribed for the purpose of a Library, One Thousand Dollars, agreed to meet at the School House near Abram C. Crandalls in the said town on Thursday the 11th day of January 1825 for the purpose of choosing trustees for the Friendship Library Society and that those of the said subscribers who meet (sic) on the day aforesaid did choose the following persons as trustees. -- Asa Lee Davison, Lorenzo Dana, John Utter, Josiah Utter, Abram C. Crandall, Sylvanus Meriman and Peter G. Chapman*.
Promising ourselves a repetition which this ramble through the County records had afforded us we bade an affectionate adieu to the Clerks Office and its most interesting contents.[Friendship Chronicle, May 12, 1880, Vol. 1, No. 2)
Mr. Samuel Cotton has kindly called our attention to some inaccuracies which are manifested in the names given in our Random Ramblings last week. These names were copied as faithfully as possible from the records in the county Clerks' office but as the calligraphy of those records was by no means the best the errors noted are quite excusable on our part.
In the record of the organization of the Seventh Day Baptist Church the name of Walter B. Gilbert should be Gillette.
In that of the M. E. Church, Mr. Carter's given name was Miles, not Mills.
In that of the Universalist Socity, S. A. Merriam should read Merrimon.
In the record of the Friendhsip Cemetery Association read Homer C. Buskirk instead of R. C. Buskirk. In the record of the organization of the Friendship Library Society the name of Peter G. Choseman should be Chapman.[Friendship Chronicle, Vol. 1, No. 3]